Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump traded insults at opposite ends of the country on Friday, taking their fight for the White House to rival battleground states and portraying starkly different visions of America.
One of the most divisive U.S. campaigns in modern history is entering a new chapter with Republicans and Democrats having selected their nominees, leaving the candidates slogging it out before election day on Nov. 8.
Clinton followed her historic acceptance speech last week as the first woman presidential nominee for a major party with a rally in Philadelphia before embarking on a bus tour of Rust Belt states Pennsylvania and Ohio. In Colorado, a key western state, her Republican opponent promised "no more Mr. Nice Guy." He trashed Clinton's speech as "average," called her a liar and promised to end the migration of Syrian refugees.
Just over 100 days before the election, Americans are being asked to choose between two sharply polarized visions – and between two monumentally unpopular candidates.
The 68-year-old Democrat portrays Trump as a threat to democracy, and is seeking to both woo moderate Republicans repelled by the former reality TV star and shore up a coalition with progressives on the left of her party.
"Donald Trump painted a picture, a negative, dark, divisive picture of a country in decline," Clinton said. "I'm not telling you that everything is peachy keen – I'm telling you we've made progress, but we have work to do." She promises to focus on parts of the country that have been "left out and left behind" – constituencies where declining living standards, fears about safety and lost jobs have fueled support for Trump.
Trump, who has never previously held office, portrays himself as the law and order candidate – the outsider who will shake up an out-of-touch Washington, restore jobs, cut the deficit and end illegal immigration. "This country, if they choose her, this country will not be in good shape," Trump told ABC News on Friday. "She doesn't know how to win, she's not a winner," he said in an excerpt of the interview set to air Sunday.
It is not a new thing that candidates use trenchant words to each other. Trump has already used his Twitter account to dub his rival "Crooked Hillary." Last week, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley called Trump "a bully racist."
Trump topped Hillary Clinton 48 to 45 percent in a CNN poll carried out last week on Monday. The figure represents a drastic six-point bounce following the Republican convention. The poll followed a controversy over bias within the party leadership, as the revelation of emails between party leaders favoring Hillary Clinton on Sunday rocked the Democratic Party on the eve of its national convention in Philadelphia. The head of the party, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, announced her resignation after the publication of the emails that indicated party leaders had preferred Clinton over rival Bernie Sanders during the primaries.
Trump sparked global backlash last year after he called for a "total and complete shutdown" of all Muslims entering the U.S. He also called for a wall to be built along the southern border to block out Mexicans, whom he called "rapists" while launching his presidency bid at Trump Tower in New York in June 2015. Trump's proposal to ban Muslims was condemned by Republicans and Democrats alike as un-American and counterproductive, yet his hardline approach on immigration has fueled his popularity among the overwhelmingly white Republican primary electorate.