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Hillary Clinton Highlights Voter Registration Efforts In Philadelphia


Pennsylvania is one of the key battlegrounds in this presidential campaign. Republican Donald Trump is well behind in the polls there. He recently told his supporters he believes there is no way he'll lose the state if the election is fair.


DONALD TRUMP: The only way they can beat it, in my opinion - and I mean this 100 percent - if in certain sections of the state they cheat.

SHAPIRO: Trump is asking his supporters to sign up to monitor polling places. Democrat Hillary Clinton is asking her supporters to sign up to vote. She did so in Philadelphia today. NPR's Sarah McCammon was there.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: Outside West Philadelphia High School, a flock of blue-shirted Hillary Clinton campaign workers were spread out around the entrance, passing out voter registration forms amid a crowd of several hundred mostly African-American supporters.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: All registered to vote - awesome.

MCCAMMON: Just down the sidewalk, volunteer Carmenletta Shelton was collecting contact information the campaign can use for organizing and to remind voters to show up in November.

CARMENLETTA SHELTON: Because we need Hillary in there (laughter). We don't want Trump.

MCCAMMON: Did you hear about what Trump said last week about going to certain places in Pennsylvania and monitoring polling sites?

SHELTON: I sure did.

MCCAMMON: What did you think?

SHELTON: That's just his way of saying - he want to say Hillary cheating, or he think that she's going to cheat. And she don't have to cheat because we are not voting for him anyway.

MCCAMMON: Shelton noted that Philadelphia traditionally has been a Democratic stronghold. She speculated that Trump is getting nervous about the prospect of losing Pennsylvania.

SHELTON: Because he's scared to back out after talking all that trash he talking. He know he ain't going to win.

MCCAMMON: Matt Brower, a musician who recently moved to Philadelphia from Michigan, was signing up to vote here. He said Trump's call for supporters to monitor certain areas in Pennsylvania meant one thing to him.

MATT BROWER: Oh, minority communities of course.

MCCAMMON: Why do you say that?

BROWER: Because the Republican Party - their whole history is just trying to restrict votes of African-Americans and minorities because those people vote against them.

MCCAMMON: In an email to NPR, Trump spokesman Jason Miller said, quote, "liberals love to throw out the voter intimidation card" and said the campaign is advocating open, fair and honest elections.

Inside the school gymnasium, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney opened the rally by reminding the crowd about the struggle for voting rights. Kenney said everyone needs to register and vote this year.


JIM KENNEY: We're asking you to register. Get up off your couch, and go to this school. Go to the rec center because if you don't, you disrespect the memory of every one of those folks that went before us.


MCCAMMON: After she took the stage, Hillary Clinton echoed that theme, telling supporters to register themselves and recruit their friends.


HILLARY CLINTON: I think we know what we need to do. The question is whether we will do it, and that all comes down to who shows up and votes.

MCCAMMON: Clinton says her campaign is working to register 3 million voters, a push that could make a major difference in both the presidential election and congressional races in battleground states like this one. Sarah McCammon, NPR News, Philadelphia. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sarah McCammon is a National Correspondent covering the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast for NPR. Her work focuses on political, social and cultural divides in America, including abortion and reproductive rights, and the intersections of politics and religion. She's also a frequent guest host for NPR news magazines, podcasts and special coverage.