Raleigh, N.C. — With less than 24 hours before polls open on Election Day, presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump made their final pitches to North Carolina voters on Monday – and into early Tuesday.
Trump, the Republican nominee, returned to Dorton Arena at the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, the site of his first campaign appearance in North Carolina last December, for an afternoon rally. He revved up an almost full house with frequent attacks on Clinton and the Washington, D.C., establishment.
"She threatened national security. She sold her office to the highest bidder," he said of questions over Clinton's use of a private email server donations by foreign dignitaries to the Clinton Foundation while she served as secretary of state.
"She's being protected by a totally rigged system," he continued. "It's up to the American people to deliver the justice we deserve as the ballot box."
Meanwhile, Clinton held a late-night rally at North Carolina State University's Reynolds Coliseum, where she was joined by her husband, former President Bill Clinton, their daughter, Chelsea Clinton, and pop music stars Lady Gaga and Jon Bon Jovi.
Trump ridiculed Clinton's use of celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Beyonce to attract more people to her rallies.
"I get bigger crowds than they do," he said. "I don't have a guitar, and I don't have a piano. All we have is great concepts for our country."
Trump reiterated his usual talking points about a border wall with Mexico, repealing the Affordable Care Act, renegotiating trade deals and bringing manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. He said North Carolina bases would benefit from his plans to increase military spending.
He also criticized Clinton's work as secretary of state, blaming her and President Barack Obama for the rise of Islamic State forces in the Middle East.
"Hillary and our failed establishment have spent, listen to this, $6 trillion on wars in the Middle East that we never win. We just keep fighting and fighting," he said. "Now, the Middle East is in worse shape, by far, than it's ever been."
North Carolina is seen as one of the few toss-up states in the presidential race. A WRAL News poll released last week showed Trump with a 7-point lead in the state, but other polls have shown the race to be much tighter.
"I think this is a really important election. A lot hangs in the balance," said Hab Baker, who drove from Virginia on his birthday to attend the rally.
"We’re going to have a big celebration when he wins, and we’re going to lock her up. We’re going to lock Hillary in prison," said Joshua Flores of Richmond County, who has attended 53 Trump rallies. "We’re tired of her attitude. We’re tired of her lying to the American people."
Abby Tilley of Raleigh took her four children, ages 12 to 4, to their third Trump rally in two weeks.
"I think they need to be here. I think it’s a big part of their lives," Tilley said. "It’s a very pivotal moment for our country, and it would be a shame to miss out on part of it."
Both candidates have made frequent trips to North Carolina and have brought in campaign surrogates in recent days energize supporters and push get-out-the-vote efforts.
"You have one day ... to make every dream you've ever dreamed for your country and for your family to come true. You have one magnificent chance," Trump said. "If we don't win, all of us, honestly, we all will have wasted our time."
Lady Gaga, Bon Jovi join Clinton for midnight rally
The fact that Monday was a school night did not stop N.C. State students and thousands more from lining up to attend Clinton's late-night rally.
For many students, the draw was the chance to witness the history of the potential first female president.
"This is history. This could go down in the books as another groundbreaking election, just like when Obama was elected. So, I am excited and I am ready to be here until 2 a.m.," said student Skylar Skinner.
"Essentially, in the next 24 hours, you could be shaking the hand of the next president of the United States. It is an historic opportunity here today," said student Colin McSwain.
The rally kicked off with Lady Gaga, who took the stage shortly after midnight and performed four songs while calling on all voters to make sure Tuesday's election is a peaceful one.
"I know it is important for this message to be spread that we do not need to hate [Trump's] followers. If we are true Americans, then we must go from viewing his followers as our adversaries to viewing them as our allies," she said.
Following a duet of "Livin' on a Prayer" by Lady Gaga and Bon Jovi, the entire Clinton family took to the stage to hammer home the importance of voters in North Carolina.
"You've got a chance to point the way to a unified future. So, I ask you not to quit until the polls close," Bill Clinton said.
Hillary Clinton said she wanted voters to turn out with the same passion and intensity as they showed for the musical performances that preceded her speech and emphasized the importance of local elections in conjunction with the presidential race.
"I really believe it's the most important election of our lifetimes because we've never had a clearer choice. It is a choice between division and unity. It is a choice between strong, steady leadership or a loose cannon who could lose everything," she said. "It is a choice that really goes to the heart of who we are as Americans."
Hillary Clinton briefly touched on her usual talking points, including affordable education, but mainly focused on urging voters to get to the polls on Tuesday.
"None of us want to wake up Wednesday morning and wish we had done more," she said. "Years from today, when your kids and grandkids ask what you did in 2016 when everything was on the line, you'll be able to say you voted for a stronger, fairer America."