Presidential race turns to Florida with voting underway

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives to speak to a campaign rally, Monday, Oct. 24, 2016, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives to speak to a campaign rally, Monday, Oct. 24, 2016, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

TAMPA, Florida (AP) — With the race for the White House speeding to an end, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are campaigning Tuesday in swing state Florida, where tens of thousands of voters are already flocking to the polls.

Trump, on the final day of a three-day Florida swing, has been denouncing the “disgusting” media that promotes “phony polls” showing him trailing Clinton in this and other battleground states.

“The media isn’t just against me. They’re against all of you,” Trump told cheering supporters Monday in St. Augustine. He added, “I believe we’re actually winning.”

Trump, who must win Florida to have any chance at the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency, is scheduled to attend three Florida campaign events. Clinton, who can win the presidency with or without Florida, is making just one appearance, in the southern part of the state.

Her confidence surging, Clinton is also eyeing a new Democratic majority in the Senate. Her campaign has been attacking Republican Senate candidates in Florida and New Hampshire.

On Monday, the Democratic nominee campaigned alongside New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, who is locked in a tight Senate race against Republican incumbent Kelly Ayotte. They got an assist from Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who was merciless as she seized on recent revelations of Trump’s predatory sexual language and several allegations of sexual assault.

“He thinks that because he has a mouth full of Tic Tacs, he can force himself on any woman within groping distance,” Warren charged. “I’ve got news for you Donald: Women have had it with guys like you.”

Trump, in an interview with WGIR radio in New Hampshire, called the accusations “total fiction.” He lashed out at his latest accuser, former adult film performer Jessica Drake, who said Saturday that he had grabbed and kissed her without permission and offered her money to visit his hotel room a decade ago.

“One said, ‘He grabbed me on the arm.’ And she’s a porn star,” Trump said. He added, “Oh, I’m sure she’s never been grabbed before.”

As the war of words plays out, hundreds of thousands of Floridians are voting. Tuesday marks the second day of early in-person voting. Early voting by mail began two weeks ago.

Nearly 300,000 Florida voters showed up for the first day of in-person early voting on Monday, new totals from state election officials showed. Altogether, more than 1.6 million Floridians have voted so far.

Traditionally, Republicans have run up a large advantage in mail-in-ballots, while Democrats rely on early voting to boost their turnout numbers. But this year the Democrats and Republicans are running early even. So far, slightly more than 665,000 Republican voters have cast ballots in the state, compared to slightly more than 658,000 Democrats. Another 300,000 voters with no party affiliation have also voted.

At the same time, a new national poll shows young voters turning to Clinton now that the race has settled down to two main candidates. Clinton now leads among likely voters 18 to 30 years in age by 60 percent to 19 percent, according to a new GenForward survey.

Young black voters already were solidly in her corner, and now young whites are moving her way, according to the survey by the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago with the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

With Election Day two weeks away, Trump’s electoral map looks bleak.

Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway outlined a path to 270 electoral votes over the weekend that banks on victories in Florida, Ohio, Iowa and North Carolina along with New Hampshire and Maine’s 2nd Congressional District. Assuming Trump wins all of those — and he currently trails in many — he would earn the exact number of electoral votes needed to win the presidency and no more.

Meanwhile, Trump and his party got fresh political ammunition with news that premiums will go up sharply next year under President Barack Obama’s health care law, and many consumers will be down to just one insurer. Before taxpayer-provided subsidies, premiums for a midlevel benchmark plan will increase an average of 25 percent across the 39 states served by the federally run online market, according to a report from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Some states will see much bigger jumps, others less.

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