The Clinton campaign on Sunday denied assertions that it thinks the White House race is now a lock and has 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, Sen. Pat Toomey, to Trump.
“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 told reporters, “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 has tightened and Democratic Senate candidates are in position to upset an incumbent GOP senator.
He said the campaign has 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 is seeking a sixth term.
“Every campaign wants to win by the biggest margin possible,” Mook said, dismissing the suggestion that the campaign wants 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 is not over and that three new polls show 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-percent threshold in the handful of battleground states that will decide the race.
Democratic vice-presidential nominee Virginia Gov. 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 thinks the White House race is 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 had 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.
The Clinton optimism appears based on the number of registered Democrats vs. registered Republicans who have voted early.
More than 46 million people are expected to vote before Election Day — or as much as 40 percent of all votes cast.