— GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- It was past midnight when Donald Trump took the stage for his final rally of the election, capping off more than a year of grueling campaigning amid intense media scrutiny.
Fluorescent lights hung from the metal rafters. A simple black backdrop and stage sat in the middle of the room.
“We’re going to win in Michigan! It’s going red, baby!” one passerby yelled as he walked past the press.
The Republican nominee railed against celebrities campaigning for Hillary Clinton. Earlier in the day, he called it “demeaning to the political process.”
“We don’t need, we don’t need Jay Z or Beyonce. We don’t need Jon Bon Jovi. We don’t need Lady Gaga. All we need is great ideas to make America great again. That’s all that we need,” he said.
As he swooped through battleground states in the eastern half of the country to the Midwest, Trump was met with boisterous crowds. Their enthusiasm buoyed him on his long slog through Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Michigan.
In Scranton, Pennsylvania, where Vice President Joe Biden campaigned the day before, Trump said, “They say we’re tied in Pennsylvania. I don’t think so. I don’t think so. I think we’re going to blow them out tomorrow in a lot of different ways, blow them out. No way,” he said.
As the crowd roared, Trump proclaimed, “This is not the sound of a second-place finisher, that I can tell you.”
He also lambasted his Democratic rival.
“Hillary is the face of failure,” he said. “She’s the face of failed foreign policy." He continued to excoriate Clinton in the wake of FBI Director James Comey’s announcement that he still isn’t recommending prosecution over her use of a private server to send and receive emails when she was secretary of state.
At each campaign stop, Trump declared imminent victory. Yet the real estate mogul and former reality TV star faces an uphill battle to the White House. Clinton maintains a decided advantage in the Electoral College, according to the most recent ABC News tracking poll, which shows her grip strengthening on key swing states, while Trump is forced to defend a handful of what are typically GOP strongholds.
But a narrow path still exists for Trump. Toss-ups in North Carolina and Florida — as well as optimism that states like Pennsylvania and Michigan might tip back into play — leave his supporters hopeful.
Trump told his followers that the path to victory rested in their hands.
“This is it. This is it,” he said in Florida. “Good luck. Get out there. I did my thing. I mean, I worked yesterday.” On Sunday, he hosted five rallies throughout the country.
While Clinton held her biggest rally of the cycle in Pennsylvania on Monday evening, Trump made what had been scheduled as his final appeal, in New Hampshire, the state that delivered his first win of the election cycle, a surprise triumph in the state’s Republican primary back in February.
Close to 12,000 people packed the arena. A laser show cut through the fog emanating from a machine. It felt like a rock concert, as Trump boasted before, but there were no guitars, only the candidate and his inner circle: the three eldest Trump children; vice presidential nominee Mike Pence and his wife, Karen Pence; and ardent supporter Rudy Giuliani.
Trump touted an endorsement from Tom Brady and read a letter he said he received from New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
He continued his feud with the media, condemned President Barack Obama for playing golf too frequently and slipped in an attack on interim Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Donna Brazile.
“A lot of my people, they say, ‘Oh, it’s not — can you not talk about that?’ I said, ‘Talk about it! Donna Brazile got the questions.’”
But that rally in its symbolic location was not his last.
Instead, he ended his improbable campaign with a last-minute stop in Michigan, in a last-ditch effort to flip the state red. As his speech wore on into the early morning hours, the crowd started to dwindle, leaving huge gaps on the floor.
But Trump bore down, undeterred, as he has throughout his campaign.
"The corrupt politicians and their special interests have ruled over this country for a very long time," he told the crowd. "Today is our Independence Day. Today the American working class is going to strike back, finally."
John Kruzel and Ryan Struyk contributed to this report.