The Clinton campaign on Sunday denied assertions that it thought the White House race was now a lock and had moved toward trying for a blowout victory over Republican rival Donald Trump while attempting to take control of the Senate.
“We’re not taking anything for granted,” campaign manager Robby Mook told “Fox News Sunday,” repeating a familiar line from Clinton aides and surrogates.
Mook made the comment one day after Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, devoted a big chunk of her speech in Pittsburgh to touting Katie McGinty, the Democrat challenger for a Senate seat in Pennsylvania, and trying to connect the GOP incumbent, Senator Pat Toomey, to Trump, the Republican presidential nominee.
“If he doesn’t have the courage to stand up to Donald Trump, are you sure he’ll be able to stand up for you?” Clinton asked the crowd.
When asked about the speech afterward, Clinton said, “As we’re traveling in these last 17 days, we’re going to be emphasizing the importance of electing Democrats down the ballot.”
Mook on Sunday acknowledged the campaign was indeed making late forays into traditionally Republican-leaning states such as Arizona, Indiana and Missouri – where polls show the presidential race had tightened and Democratic Senate candidates were in position to upset an incumbent GOP senator.
He said the campaign had put resources into Arizona – or at least shifted them from places like Florida – because of Trump’s “divisive rhetoric,” including the “shameful things” he’s said about Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain, who seeks a sixth term.
“Every campaign wants to win by the biggest margin possible,” Mook said, dismissing the suggestion that the campaign wanted a “mandate” victory on Nov 8 to cement Clinton’s position of authority with voters.
“So that would be great. But we’re not running away with this. This race is going to be competitive up until the end.”
Earlier on “Fox News Sunday,” Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway also said the race was not over and that three new polls showed Clinton’s averaged 6-percentage point lead being cut in recent days.
“We’re not giving up,” said Conway, vowing more TV ad spending in the finals 16 days, amid Clinton failing to break the key, 50% threshold in the handful of battleground states that would decide the race.
Democratic vice-presidential nominee Virginia Governor Tim Kaine gave a response similar to Mook’s when asked on NBC’s “Meet the Press” about the campaign perhaps now being focused on so-called “down ballot” races and whether he thought the White House race was over.
“Neither Hillary nor I do,” he said. “And if you look at our schedules, you’ll see we don’t take anything for granted. It’s been a season of surprises. We’re not taking anything for granted.”
Still Kaine and Mook acknowledged being encouraged by the early-voting numbers, includes those for mail-in ballots, which Mook called “eye-popping.”
As of Saturday, more than 5.3 million early votes have been cast, far ahead of the pace at this time in 2012.
Balloting is underway in 34 out of 37 early-voting states, both in person and by mail.
More than 46 million people are expected to vote before Election Day – or as much as 40% of all votes cast.