Clinton, Trump take campaign fight to Ohio, Pennsylvania

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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump attends a campaign event in Selma, North Carolina, U.S. November 3, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
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By Amanda Becker and Emily Stephenson

WHITE PLANS, N.Y./ATKINSON, N.H.(Reuters) – The U.S. presidential campaign moves back to Ohio and Pennsylvania on Friday as Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump try to put their best message forward leading up to the final weekend of a bruising race.

The race for the White House tightened significantly in the past week, as several swing states that Trump must win shifted from favouring Clinton to toss-ups, according to the Reuters/Ipsos States of the Nation project.

The two candidates are now tied in Florida and North Carolina, and Clinton’s lead in Michigan has narrowed so much that the state is too close to call. Ohio remains a dead heat and Pennsylvania is now tilting to Clinton.

Clinton is still the favourite to win Tuesday’s election, but Trump now has a plausible route to victory, especially if there is a sharp fall in turnout among African-Americans from the levels of the 2012 election.

The race tightened in the week since FBI Directory James Comey revealed the existence of more emails possibly related to the private server Clinton used while she was secretary of state.

That announcement, which did not indicate wrongdoing by Clinton, gave Trump the opening he needed to shift the spotlight from allegations of sexual assault that followed the release last month of a 2005 video in which he boasted about groping women. Trump has denied the allegations.

With four days until Election Day, Trump and Clinton are touring the states that are key to their path to the White House.

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Clinton planned to highlight the economy in a speech in Pittsburgh, contrasting “her vision for an economy that works for everyone with Donald Trump’s plans to build an economy that works for people like him,” a campaign aide said.

“She’ll focus on the pressures facing women – who are either the sole or primary breadwinner in four out of 10 families – and working families, who are facing rising costs for everything from childcare to prescription drugs,” the aide said.

She planned to travel to Detroit afterward and end her day in Ohio.

Trump, a New York real estate magnate who has never run for political office, was scheduled to visit New Hampshire, where many polls are showing a close race, before heading to Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Both candidates campaigned in North Carolina on Thursday. President Barack Obama will continue his campaign blitz for Clinton in that state on Friday. The Clinton campaign is trying to drum up more support from African-Americans who are a key voting bloc for her in North Carolina.

Trump focused on military issues in North Carolina, home to Army base Fort Bragg and Marine base Camp Lejeune. In Florida later on Thursday, he was joined by seven Medal of Honor recipients. Trump described the heroes as being brave in ways he wasn’t.

“I wouldn’t have done what they did. I’m brave in other ways,” said Trump, who says his business experience qualifies him to be commander in chief. “I’m financially brave.”

(Additional reporting by Maurice Tamman in New York; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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