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Hillary Clinton Celebrates Her 69th Birthday In Downtown Tampa

Hillary Clinton spent her 69th birthday in Tampa.

The Democratic presidential nominee was at Curtis Hixon Park in downtown Tampa Wednesday to urge Florida voters to take advantage of in-person early voting.

After thanking the crowd for her birthday greetings, Clinton revved up the crowd alongside the Hillsborough River with an exhortation to get out the vote.

"America's best days can still be ahead of us," she said. "But, we can't make any of this happen if we don't have you voting. Now, Donald Trump says he can still win - and he's right. That's why it's so important that everyone gets out and votes."

Clinton said she's aware of all the bad blood and talk that's been swirling around this election, and said one of her biggest jobs after the election would be to try to bring the country together.

"We need to be lifting each other up, listening to each other, respecting each other - not sowing seeds of hatred and bigotry," she said. "And I think one of my biggest jobs after this election will be bringing this country together. And I'm going to need your help."

Actress Angela Bassett, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Florida Senator Bill Nelson warmed up the crowd for Clinton.

As of last night, the unofficial count for early voting in Hillsborough County was just over 37,000 voters.

Jeff Pruett of Seminole Heights in Tampa was one of those early voters. He says he’s very concerned about the outcome of the race.

"I think the stakes are much higher than they have been at any time in the past,” he said. “I just hope that the people of America do the right thing and vote for Hillary and vote for a candidate that has common sense and leadership ability."

Credit Cathy Carter / WUSF News

The average of recent polls compiled by Real Politics.com shows Clinton leading the Sunshine State by nearly 4 percentage points.

Clinton and GOP nominee Donald Trump have spent plenty of time in Florida over the past few weeks vying to win the state's 29 electoral votes.

Beryl Byles lives in downtown Tampa and literally walked across the street to hear Clinton speak.

And with my granddaughter,” she said. “I think this is historic and  it's very important for our country to be able to not just have a woman but to have a woman who's incredibly well prepared and committed to what this country needs. I'm for Hillary."

During her speech, Clinton stumped for fellow Democrats, urging voters to cast their ballots for Charlie Crist - who's running for Congress in Pinellas County against incumbent David Jolly - and Patrick Murphy, who's running against incumbent Florida Senator Marco Rubio.

As a reporter, my goal is to tell a story that moves you in some way. To me, the best way to do that begins with listening. Talking to people about their lives and the issues they care about is my favorite part of the job.
Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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