CLEVELAND — Four days before Election Day, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton pleaded with the crowd of 10,000 to help her crack the glass ceiling of the U.S. presidency.
“This is what America is," Hillary Clinton shouted, seeking to excite northeast Ohio voters after a free concert given by Jay-Z and, in a poorly kept surprise, his wife, Beyoncé.
The crowd, many of whom were blacks in their 20s and 30s, comprised exactly the voters that Clinton must turn out Tuesday to win Ohio. An occasional Donald Trump supporter showed up, too — mostly to see the hip-hop stars.
Chance the Rapper, Big Sean and J. Cole also performed.
"This is history," Beyoncé said. "There was a time when a woman's opinion did not matter. ... Look how far we've come from having no voice to being on the brink of making history."
Clinton is trying to prevail in a tight race in the swing-state Ohio, where polls show her trailing Republican Donald Trump by a couple of percentage points. In several other swing states, she enjoys a more comfortable margin — raising the possibility that a candidate could lose Ohio but win the election for the first time since 1960.
“If you didn’t hear, this is what they call a battleground state," Chance the Rapper said. And Clinton's supporters, he said, are "ready to go to war."
The concert was authentic, from the lyrics to the smell of a certain banned substance, performed in front of not-so-subtle messages such as "VOTE" or “And on that day I did nothing,” superimposed in front of a photo of a mushroom cloud.
African-Americans and millennials tend to support Clinton, but in many cases lack the enthusiasm they had for President Barack Obama's election. Hours before Clinton and Jay-Z tried to rally those voters, Trump was appealing to his base in Wilmington, a southwest Ohio town that lost 8,000 jobs in the recession.
"If I could get another four years of Barack, I sure would," said Adrienne Burroughs, 36, a Cleveland factory worker. Still, she plans an early vote for Clinton on Saturday or Monday. "She has an actual plan. This man has no plan. Nothing. No fiscal. Nothing."
Clinton's campaign sought to use the concert at Cleveland State University's Wolstein Center to her benefit. Supporters with clipboards asked people standing in line at concession stands whether they wanted to volunteer with the campaign.
Before the concert, the deejay gave reminders to vote early Saturday, Sunday or Monday.
"Remember to get out to vote," said a volunteer fastening hot pink bracelets around concertgoers' wrists. "Four days to go, man."
The Democratic nominee plans to return Sunday to Cleveland to campaign with Cavaliers star Lebron James.
Her appearance Friday may have appealed to her target audience, but it drew criticism from a prominent African-American minister in Cleveland who supports Trump.
"For all of her talk about fighting for kids, she has no problem sharing a stage with someone who glamorizes acts of violence and having pushed drugs in our local communities," the Rev. Darrell Scott said in a statement.