ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
The presidential candidates and their surrogates are back campaigning in battleground states today. Donald Trump was in North Carolina. We'll hear about him elsewhere in the show. His vice presidential pick Mike Pence was in New Hampshire. Tim Kaine was in Pennsylvania, Bill Clinton in Florida, and Hillary Clinton went to Ohio. And here to talk about her week is NPR's Tamara Keith, who's been following the Clinton campaign. Hiya, Tam.
TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Hi, Robert.
SIEGEL: Why was she in Cleveland, Ohio?
KEITH: Well, she was in Cleveland, Ohio, because of all of the battleground states, it is among the most challenging for her. In many polls, Trump has a narrow lead there. And if she's going to find a way to win there, it will be with large voter turnout in Cleveland, where she was, and other cities where Democrats are clustered. Early voting is already underway in Ohio, and the Clinton campaign is putting an emphasis on that. Clinton herself put an emphasis on that in her speech today.
You know, this was really her first time out on the campaign trail in more than a week. It was her first time really able to respond to what Donald Trump said in the debate, suggesting that maybe he wouldn't honor the results of the election. So she talked about that, and she also made a pitch, not just to true-blue Democrats, but to voters across the political spectrum.
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HILLARY CLINTON: People are coming together - Democrats, Republicans, Independents - all of us to reject hate and division.
CLINTON: People are motivated to vote early, to defend core American values.
SIEGEL: Tam, you mentioned true-blue Democrats and others. Last night, it was white-tie Democrats...
SIEGEL: ...And Republicans. She was at the Al Smith Dinner in New York, the fundraiser for Catholic charities, supposed to be very lighthearted. It was a little less so this time.
KEITH: Yeah, it seems that this election has taken a toll on humor, as well as everything else. You know, in the past it's been sort of a friendly roast with heavy emphasis on self-deprecating humor. But last night, there wasn't as much of the self-deprecation. Donald Trump started out with a few good, solid jokes and then it quickly turned more negative, and then the crowd turned on him, and he was actually booed.
Clinton was somewhat more lighthearted, but she also had jokes that cut deep. And then at the end, though, she got more serious and called for respect and decency in public life. And I'm just going to read a little bit of what she said. She said (reading) to ask how we can do more for each other and better for each other because I believe that for each of us, our greatest monument on this Earth won't be what we build but the lives we touch.
SIEGEL: In 18 days, it's Election Day, and it's time when candidates make their closing arguments, as they say. Is that Hillary Clinton's closing argument, a call for decency and to do more for each other and better for each other?
KEITH: That's certainly part of it. The campaign is up today with a new ad featuring Khizr Khan. He's the Gold Star father who spoke at the Democratic convention and who then got into a feud with Donald Trump. The ad doesn't mention that feud, but it is aiming right at people's emotions. Here's just a little bit of it.
(SOUNDBITE OF POLITICAL AD)
KHIZR KHAN: My son was Captain Humayun Khan. He was 27 years old, and he was a Muslim-American. I want to ask Mr. Trump, would my son have a place in your America?
KEITH: The question that the campaign is asking voters to consider with this ad and with the speeches Clinton has been giving is when they go to vote, what kind of America do they want to live in?
SIEGEL: NPR's Tamara Keith, who covers the Clinton campaign. Tam, thanks.
KEITH: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.