MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are steering clear of Florida as the state deals with the impact of Hurricane Matthew.
The campaigns have rushed to move staff and volunteers, close offices and cancel events in the path of the storm. And as many Floridians heed calls to evacuate, both candidates have begun the delicate and difficult task of pursuing votes during a crisis.
“My thoughts and prayers are with everyone in the path of Hurricane Matthew, and my heart is broken for the victims and their families in Haiti, Cuba, the Caribbean, and Florida,” said Clinton in a statement. “To the people of Florida and the Southeast, and everyone in the eye of the storm: Stay safe, and know that America is with you. In times of disaster, we pull together. We’ll have your back every step of the way – today, and in the weeks and months to come.”
On Twitter, Trump posted, “Thoughts & prayers with the millions of people in the path of Hurricane Matthew. Look out for neighbors, and listen to your local officials.”
The Clinton campaign has pulled its ads from the Weather Channel, amid criticism about insensitivity, and the Trump team pulled its negative TV ads. The hurricane was expected to hit Trump’s prized Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach.
Both the campaigns and state officials are watching closely for any impact the storm may have on Floridian votes. It arrived five days before the voter registration deadline, which prompted the Clinton campaign to ask state officials for an extension. Republican Gov. Rick Scott refused, saying “everyone has had a lot of time to register.”
On Friday, Trump received the endorsement of the 16,500-person National Border Patrol Council.
The Republican nominee said border patrol agents have been told to allow immigrants into the United States illegally “so they can vote in the election.” Neither Trump nor a border patrol union official supporting him offered evidence Friday to back up the claim.
Newly admitted immigrants are not eligible to vote, a right reserved to citizens.
Union official Art Del Cueto says agents have told him they had directives to ignore immigrants’ criminal records, so they can quickly become citizens and gain the right to vote.
Trump, who repeatedly said he fears the election will be rigged, called it a huge story. He’s made a hardline stance on immigration the centerpiece of his campaign.
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