DADE CITY, Fla.—One week before she may be elected the nation’s first female president, Hillary Clinton listed the titles she has amassed in her life: lawyer, first lady, senator and secretary of State, as well as wife, mother and grandmother.
“And, for my entire life, I’ve been a woman!” she declared, to state the obvious.
But her reference to gender was not about the history she could make but for another tough hit against Donald Trump, contrasting her lifetime of public service to his history of “demeaning, degrading, insulting and assaulting women.”
“Some of this stuff is very upsetting. I would frankly rather be here talking about nearly anything else,” Clinton said at an outdoor rally in which she stepped up her attacks on Trump’s character.
“But I can’t just talk about all the good things we want to do, because people are making up their minds,” she added. “This is a consequential choice, so we’ve got to talk about something that frankly is painful. Because it matters.”
Clinton related a now familiar script of how Trump has called women “disgusting” and rate their bodies.
She recalled Alicia Machado, the former Miss Universe, who had introduced Clinton earlier, and how Trump had criticized the pageant winner for gaining weight and then made a spectacle of her efforts to lose a few pounds.
“I mean, really, can we just stop for a minute and reflect on the absurdity of Donald Trump finding fault with Miss Universe?” she said.
In the final week of the campaign, when candidates normally make their closing arguments to voters, Clinton has reverted to raising Trump’s negatives instead of focusing solely on her own positive vision for the nation.
Tuesday was an example of the difficult balancing act she has faced since Friday, when FBI Director James B. Comey sent a shock wave through the race by announcing a renewed investigation into emails that may have come from Clinton’s private server.
She spoke in personal terms about being a mother, and how she had waited each day even as first lady for daughter Chelsea to come home from school so they could talk about the day—and to make sure her child understood her self-worth and had a sense of confidence.
“So when I look at my granddaughter and my grandson I am on the same mission. I want them to know they’re loved, they’re cared for, they’re respected,” she said.
She then pivoted to warn of the example Trump would set for children if he is elected, alluding to his vulgar language in the leaked “Access Hollywood” tape, and even how he bragged about entering the dressing room of a Miss Teen USA pageant as contestants were dressing.
“We cannot hide from this. We’ve got to be willing to face it. This man wants to be president of the United States of America,” she said. “He has shown us who he is. Let us on Tuesday show him who we are.”
Clinton’s rally in Dade City was the first of three on Tuesday in Florida, a swing state where polls show a tight race.
Rather than a Democratic stronghold, where she often campaigns to turn out her base, this event was in Republican-leaning Pasco County north of Tampa, where Mitt Romney defeated President Barack Obama by nearly 7 percentage points in 2012.