Campaigning together for the first time in weeks, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her running-mate Tim Kaine stopped in Philadelphia Saturday night, where they told a crowd that it's time to turn attention to down-ballot races - particularly that of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Katie McGinty.
Speaking to a crowd of more than 7,000 on a particularly blustery October night on the University of Pennsylvania's campus, Clinton's focus on down-ballot races marked a new direction in her campaign. With the election nearing and polls suggesting that Clinton has gained a wider advantage against Republican candidate Donald Trump, Clinton's attention to McGinty suggests that she is looking beyond the presidential race and toward ensuring a Democratic Senate or Congress.
"[McGinty] is the person I hope you will get behind this election . . . She's running against someone who refuses to stand up to Donald Trump," Clinton said, referring to McGinty's Republican opponent, incumbent Pat Toomey.
"How will he stand up to special interests and powerful forces that are going to be trying to have their way in Washington?"
In one of the most hotly contested elections in Pennsylvania this year, recent polls show that the race between the Senatorial candidates remains close. And before Clinton took the stage around 9:30 p.m., McGinty, alongside other Democratic candidates for Pennsylvania races, including Attorney General candidate Josh Shapiro, spoke to the crowd, urging them to back the top of the ticket before taking swings at their own opponents.
"What more does Pat Toomey need to hear?" McGinty shouted, lambasting her opponent for his unclear stance - that he remains unpersuaded - on whether he will vote Trump. "You're fired, that's a good one!"
(In a statement, a spokesman for Toomey said the candidate was an "independent leader in the Senate on issues ranging from gun safety to ending Wall Street bailouts.")
Clinton's stop in heavily Democratic Philadelphia - as of Oct. 17, Democratic voter registration in the city outnumbered that of the GOP by more than 700,000 - comes just one day after Trump made a similar stop in Bucks County Friday night. There, he energized a crowd of thousands as he slammed his opponent, calling her "the most corrupt person to ever for the presidency."
But Saturday night, Clinton and Kaine did not hold back.
Kaine noted that after a campaign of insulting immigrants, women, and many more, Trump had come to declaring that the election could be rigged.
"He got to the end of the campaign and there was nobody left to insult," Kaine said, "so he decided to insult the central pillars of our democratic traditions."
With just 17 days until Election Day, both candidates' focus on the region reinforces again what pollsters and political academics have, for many months, predicted: Pennsylvania could be a "tipping point state" that could give either candidate his or her 270th electoral vote. Pennsylvania has twenty of those votes up for grabs.
For much of the summer and as recently as September, neither candidate could claim a definitive grip on the state, with polls suggesting only a few percentages points separated the two.
But recent polls suggest any lead Trump once had here has slipped - and rapidly.
On Oct. 12, results from a five-day Bloomberg Politics Pennsylvania poll were released, finding that 70 percent of likely voters in the Philadelphia suburbs have a negative impression of Trump. (The poll began the same day a video was released showing the candidate boasting about groping women.)
Then, on Monday, a new Quinnipiac University poll found Clinton held a 6-point lead - 47 percent to 41 percent - against Trump.
Still, in their 45-minute appearance here after a swing through Pittsburgh earlier in the day, Clinton and Kaine argued Clinton was the person to fight for women and children. And, they made clear their work in the Keystone State is not over, imploring attendees who know Trump supporters to "stage an intervention."
"Friends don't let friends vote Donald Trump," Clinton said, as the crowd cheered wildly.