Clinton, Trump clash over economy

US Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton joins Jay Z and Beyonce onstage at a campaign concert in Cleveland, Ohio (Reuters)
US Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton joins Jay Z and Beyonce onstage at a campaign concert in Cleveland, Ohio (Reuters)

Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump battled over the strength of the economy in the final stretch of their race for the White House on Friday, with Clinton praising the latest US jobs report and Trump dismissing it as a fraudulent disaster.

With four days left in an often bitter contest that has tightened in the last week, each candidate attacked the other as unfit to be president ahead of Tuesday's election.

Clinton leads Trump by 5 percentage points, according to a Reuters/Ipsos tracking poll released on Friday, maintaining her advantage in the national survey even as the race tightens in several crucial swing states.

In the October 30-Nov. 3 opinion poll, 44 percent of likely voters supported Clinton while 39 percent supported Trump.

Clinton wrapped up her day of campaigning with a nighttime concert in Cleveland headlined by rapper Jay Z. He was joined by rappers Big Sean, Chance the Rapper, and J. Cole, and by his wife, popular singer Beyonce, as a surprise guest.

"We have unfinished work to do, more barriers to break, and with your help, a glass ceiling to crack once and for all," Clinton said at the concert.

At his final rally of the day in Pennsylvania, Trump mocked Clinton for her celebrity supporters.

"I am here all by myself. Just me, no guitar, no piano, no nothing," he said.

Earlier in the day at a rally in Pittsburgh, Clinton cited the government's latest jobs report as evidence of the economy's strength.

The report showed higher wages for workers as well as the creation of 161,000 jobs in October and a dip in the unemployment rate to 4.9 percent from 5 percent.

"I believe our economy is poised to really take off and thrive," Clinton told the gathering. "When the middle class thrives, America thrives."

Trump disputed Clinton's rosy view, telling a crowd in New Hampshire that the jobs report was "an absolute disaster" and was skewed by the large number of people who have stopped looking for jobs.

"Nobody believes the numbers anyway. The numbers they put out are phony," he said.

The economy and the candidates' competing visions for the future could be critical in swaying voters in ailing Rust Belt states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Both candidates made stops in Ohio and Pennsylvania on Friday, with Trump adding a stop in New Hampshire and Clinton adding one in Michigan. Each of those states is key in the state-by-state quest for the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House.

The two candidates are now tied in Florida and North Carolina, and Clinton's lead in Michigan has narrowed so much that the state is too close to call. Ohio remains a dead heat, and Clinton has a slight lead in Pennsylvania.

US President Barack Obama chastised supporters at a rally for Clinton on Friday after they booed when a supporter of Trump began protesting.

The incident happened in clear view of reporters covering the rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where Obama had just said Trump was unfit to lead the country.

He was interrupted by a white-haired white man in a beret and suit jacket with what appeared to be military patches, who stood up and waved a Trump campaign sign.

The crowd turned its attention to the protester, screaming and booing at the man.

Obama repeatedly told the irate crowd to "focus" and to "settle down."

"Everybody sit down and be quiet for a second!" Obama said. "You've got an older gentleman who is supporting his candidate," he said as the protester was led away.

"We live in a country that respects free speech," he said. "It looks like he might have served in our military - we've got to respect that."

But at his own campaign rally, Trump told a completely opposite version of what happened, condemning Obama for screaming at the protester, not the crowd.

"He was talking to the protester, screaming at him, really screaming at him," Trump said.

"By the way, if I spoke the way Obama spoke to that protester they would say, 'He became unhinged,'" Trump said.