BREAKING NEWS
Politics
NATION POLITICS ESSENTIAL WASHINGTON

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders campaign together Wednesday in New Hampshire. Donald Trump heads to Iowa and Wisconsin.

Trump keeps on criticizing the Venezuelan beauty queen he once called 'Miss Piggy'

Miss Aruba Taryn Mansell looks on as Miss Venezuela Alicia Machado is named 1996 Miss Universe. (Eric Draper / Associated Press)
Miss Aruba Taryn Mansell looks on as Miss Venezuela Alicia Machado is named 1996 Miss Universe. (Eric Draper / Associated Press)

Donald Trump resumed his attack on a beauty pageant winner he had criticized for gaining weight, saying she had “a lot of difficulties” as Miss Universe and that now “a lot of things are coming out about her.”

Alicia Machado, who won the beauty contest in 1996, has emerged as a symbol of what critics of the Republican presidential nominee view as his misogyny. Trump’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, rattled him in Monday’s debate by reminding him that he’d called Machado “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping.”

In a Fox News interview Wednesday evening, Trump, who owned the pageant when Machado won, said she was an unsuccessful beauty queen.

“She did not do well,” Trump told anchor Bill O’Reilly. “She had a lot of difficulties.”

Managers of the Miss Universe pageant wanted to fire Machado for putting on what Trump described Tuesday as “a massive amount of weight.” Trump said he preferred to “let her try and lose weight.”

During the year she presided as Miss Universe, Trump turned Machado’s weight gain into a media spectacle, inviting news cameras to record her – against her will – working out at a gym.

On Tuesday, Trump said Machado, a Venezuelan immigrant, was no “Mother Teresa.” On Wednesday, he stepped up his attack on her character.

“They say she threatened the life of a judge,” he told Fox News.

According to PolitiFact, a Tampa Bay Times fact-checking site, a Venezuelan judge once said that Machado threatened his career and life over her boyfriend’s indictment for attempted murder. She denied it, and nothing came of the accusation, PolitiFact reported.

Machado was charged as an accomplice in the attempted murder for allegedly driving her boyfriend from the scene of the shooting, but the charges were dropped.

Machado, now an actress, has sharply criticized Trump this week in interviews, saying he humiliated her. She has also appeared in a Clinton campaign video attacking Trump for the way he treated her.

Gary Johnson, who couldn't remember Aleppo, can't name a foreign leader he admires

Once again, Gary Johnson has drawn a blank.

Appearing on MSNBC on Wednesday night, Johnson, the Libertarian nominee for president, was repeatedly pressed by "Hardball" host Chris Matthews to name his favorite foreign leader, but couldn't cough up a name.

"I guess I'm having an Aleppo moment," Johnson said, a nod to his notorious space-out when he appeared unfamiliar with the war-torn Syrian city.

Johnson said he was grasping for the name of the former president of Mexico but was "having a brain freeze."

After a helpful hint from his vice presidential pick, Bill Weld — once nominated to be ambassador to Mexico — Johnson clarified who he was thinking of: Vicente Fox, Mexico's president from 2000 to 2006. 

The pair were appearing at a town hall at the University of New Hampshire, in front of an audience of younger voters with whom the third-party ticket is garnering significant support. Johnson and Weld have drawn enough millennial support to make Democrats nervous, with President Obama explicitly stating Wednesday that a third-party vote is "a vote for Trump."

Johnson and Weld — former GOP governors of New Mexico and Massachusetts, respectively — differed on which of their two main opponents worried them most when it comes to national security.

Weld said he was most concerned with Donald Trump having access to the nuclear codes, saying he would not trust the GOP nominee to make the high-pressure decision on how to fend off an incoming attack.

"Hillary Clinton is clearly qualified to be commander in chief and president of the United States," Weld said. "Donald Trump is clearly not qualified, and I'd encourage him, almost with affection, to think of some other job or profession he'd like. I've suggested the laundry business."

But Johnson disagreed, saying he feared Clinton would be too hawkish.

"She's going to press the button," Johnson said, adding he believed she would more likely pick an aggressive response to provocation than Trump. Libertarians are typically non-interventionist on foreign affairs, although Johnson blanched at Matthews' description of his views as "dovish."

'Should we keep them?' Donald Trump says about non-Christians at his rally

 (John Locher / Associated Press)
(John Locher / Associated Press)

He's called for a ban on Muslims entering the country. 

So on Wednesday, when Donald Trump --  jokingly -- asked supporters whether he should give the boot to non-Christians at his rally in Iowa, it raised some concerns from, among others, Muslim groups. 

"Raise your hand if you're not a Christian conservative. There is a couple of people," he said at a rally in Council Bluffs. "... Should we keep them in the room? I think so."

Trump proposed a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. last December following terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. His comments have been assailed by Democrats and Republicans alike.

His statements Wednesday were castigated by some on social media, who didn't seem to care they were apparently made in jest and that Trump did not ask for the non-Christians to leave the room.   

In a statement, Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director  of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Trump's comments were disturbing. 

"Given Mr. Trump’s history of targeting religious and ethnic minorities, it is disturbing that he would single out non-Christians during his rally in Iowa," Hooper said. "It is clear that his vision of America is one of division and exclusion, not unity and acceptance.”

On Wednesday, Trump rallied supporters in Iowa and Wisconsin -- two states with large evangelical voting blocs, which largely backed him during the Republican primary. 

A Pew Research Center survey released over the summer showed Trump polling stronger with evangelicals than Mitt Romney did four years ago. In the survey, Trump netted 78% of white evangelical voters compared with 73% who supported Romney at the same point in the 2012 presidential race.

Voters say Clinton won the debate, but whether it has improved her standing remains uncertain

More than half a dozen polls show that voters say Hillary Clinton won Monday night's debate against Donald Trump, but it's still too early to know how much impact that will have on the candidates' standings.

The latest evidence comes from an NBC/SurveyMonkey poll that found more than half of likely voters viewed Clinton as the winner of the televised debate. About one in five voters said Trump had won, and one quarter said neither did.

The survey showed that the debate helped Clinton solidify her support among fellow Democrats. It also found a majority of voters said that she has the temperament to serve as president. By contrast, more than 60% of voters said that Trump does not have the temperament for the job. 

Similar results about who won the debate have come from polls by CNN, YouGov and other polling organizations. The YouGov poll, for example, showed voters saying 57% to 30% that Clinton won.

Trump and his supporters repeatedly have cited what they refer to as polls that show him as the winner. The surveys they point to, however, are not scientific polls that try to get a representative sample of the population. Instead, they are so-called opt-in surveys, which measure the reactions of anyone who chooses to participate.

Whether Clinton's advantage in the debate has given her a boost in the race won't be known for sure for a few more days.

A survey released Wednesday by Morning Consult, which has been regularly polling the race, found a four-point swing in Clinton's direction.

A second poll released Wednesday, by Echelon Insights, a Republican firm, showed her leading Trump by five points. But the firm hadn't polled the race since July, so it's unclear if that result represented a post-debate improvement for Clinton.

Our own USC/LA Times "Daybreak" tracking poll of the election still shows Trump with about a four point lead. But the Daybreak poll uses a seven-day average, so nearly all of the data currently comes from polling done before the debate.

 

Trump: 'How many more Clinton scandals can this country take?'

Donald Trump ramped up his attacks on Hillary Clinton’s integrity Wednesday, saying the former secretary of State “would put the Oval Office up for sale” if she wins the presidency.

“How many more Clinton scandals can this country take?” the Republican presidential nominee asked supporters at a rally of Christian conservatives in this western Iowa city on the Missouri River. “One after another after another — you know the story, folks.”

Trump did not mention the White House sex scandal that led to the impeachment of his Democratic rival’s husband, Bill Clinton, even as surrogates continued to raise the issue in television interviews. Trump said Tuesday that he considered mentioning the former president’s marital infidelity at Monday's debate, but refrained out of respect for the couple’s daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

But at the Iowa rally, Trump did accuse Hillary Clinton of a “criminal cover-up” of the emails she exchanged on a private server when she was secretary of State. The Justice Department declined to prosecute Clinton her after an extensive investigation that concluded, as FBI Director James Comey put it, that Clinton was “extremely careless” with government secrets.

Trump also hammered the Clintons for taking big speaking fees and donations to their family foundation from Wall Street, saying his opponent sold access to her government office.

“She disgraced the office of secretary of State by putting it up for sale and if she ever got the chance, she would put the Oval Office up for sale too,” said Trump, whose chief fundraiser is former Goldman Sachs banker Steven Mnuchin.

Trump’s attacks are aimed at exploiting one of Clinton’s top vulnerabilities: Many voters find her untrustworthy. Independent fact checkers have found that Trump makes demonstrably false statements more often than any other modern presidential candidate, but polls have that he scores higher than Clinton on questions of who is more honest.

Alec Baldwin will channel Donald Trump for 'Saturday Night Live' debate sketch

As "Saturday Night Live" rightly asserts, it's what we've all been waiting for: the comedy show's take on the first presidential debate. 

A 15-second promo released on Twitter revealed that Alec Baldwin will take on the role of Donald Trump, while SNL cast member Kate McKinnon will reprise her regular role as Hillary Clinton.

The clip wordlessly shows McKinnon and Baldwin putting their literal game faces on, as they apply makeup (and in Baldwin's case, false eyebrows) to resemble the nominees.

Baldwin plans to keep up the Trump role into the fall, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

This is Baldwin's second time playing a presidential contender this election season. Last year, he portrayed former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, whose short-lived Democratic bid was best-known for his clamor for debate airtime.

Democratic senator suggests Trump be body-shamed

As Donald Trump's "Miss Piggy" insult of a former Miss Universe winner continues to make headlines, Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri suggested "public daily weigh-ins" for the GOP nominee.

McCaskill, a surrogate for the Clinton campaign, subsequently said the suggestion was a joke — "a pointed one."

Watch: Donald Trump hits the trail in Iowa

Obama: 'If you don't vote, that's a vote for Trump'

 (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)
(Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)

President Obama's message to black voters is simple: Stay at home on election day and it equates to a vote for Donald Trump. 

In an interview on the "Steve Harvey Morning Show" that aired Wednesday, Obama warned against complacency. 

"If you don’t vote, that’s a vote for Trump,” said Obama, who has become Hillary Clinton's chief surrogate in appealing to African American voters.

“If you vote for a third-party candidate who’s got no chance to win, that’s a vote for Trump. So the notion somehow that, ‘Well, you know, I’m not as inspired because Barack and Michelle, they’re not on the ballot this time, and, you know, maybe we kind of take it easy’ — my legacy’s on the ballot. You know, all the work we’ve done over the last eight years is on the ballot.”

In recent weeks, Obama has delivered fiery calls to black voters, urging them to get to the polls and support Clinton.

"I will consider it a personal insult — an insult to my legacy — if this community lets down its guard and fails to activate itself in this election," he said at a gala hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus this month. 

National and swing state polls show Clinton has strong support among African American voters. Still, as polls narrow in several swing states, such as Ohio and Florida, Clinton is banking on black voters to help carry those states.

In 2008 and 2012, turnout among African Americans reached all-time highs. Democrats' challenge this cycle is to replicate that turnout in November with the nation’s first black president absent from the ballot.

During the interview, which was recorded Tuesday, Obama praised Clinton's performance in the first debate a night earlier, saying she showed that she "is capable, tough, does her homework, cares about the same things I care about."

"And then on the other side, you've got Mr. Trump, who is unqualified, doesn't do his homework, doesn't know basic facts that you need to know if you're going to be president," he added.

Obama referred to Trump's comments about the former Miss Universe contestant he criticized after gaining weight, saying that someone who judges a person based on how they look and not based on "the content of their character ... is not somebody I want in the Oval Office that my daughters are listening to, and that sons are listening to."

"Across the board, you've got somebody who appears to only care about himself," he said.

Los Angeles Times staff writer Michael A. Memoli contributed to this post. 

Watch: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders hold rally in New Hampshire

Bernie Sanders to stump with Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire

Trump expresses condolences for death of Shimon Peres

Republican nominee Donald Trump with his wife, Melania, after Monday's first presidential debate in Hempstead, N.Y. (Associated Press)
Republican nominee Donald Trump with his wife, Melania, after Monday's first presidential debate in Hempstead, N.Y. (Associated Press)

Donald Trump and wife Melania expressed condolences for the death of former Israeli President Shimon Peres on Wednesday.

Peres, 93, who died late Tuesday, helped forge interim peace accords with the Palestinians and built the country's nuclear weapons program.

"On the world stage, Shimon Peres was a visible and highly effective patriarch to another, much larger family — the people of Israel, whom he led as prime minister and president. Shimon Peres’ life always pointed toward peace," Trump said in a statement.

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton also expressed their sympathies, and Bill Clinton was expected to travel to Peres' funeral in Jerusalem on Friday with other world leaders.

Trump and Clinton were not expected to make the trip, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Michelle Obama: One 'insincere sentence' doesn't wipe out Trump's birtherism

"An insincere sentence" at a news conference doesn't wipe away years of Donald Trump challenging whether President Obama was born in the United States, First Lady Michelle Obama said Wednesday.

At a Pennsylvania campaign rally for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, Obama called questions about her husband's birthplace "hurtful, deceitful questions deliberately designed to undermine his presidency, questions that cannot be blamed on others."

The Republican nominee began saying he doubted that Obama was a natural-born citizen in 2011. Even after Obama released his long-form Hawaii birth certificate that year, Trump continued to question Obama's birthplace.

Trump finally acknowledged on Sept. 16 that Obama was born in the U.S. with a single sentence at a Washington news conference.

Democrats have repeatedly pushed the issue, labeling Trump's long history of repeating the suspicions racist and hurtful.

During Monday night's debate, moderator Lester Holt asked Trump what he would say to people offended by the challenge to Obama's legitimacy. Trump cast the issue as one he'd put to rest.

"I say nothing. I say nothing, because I was able to get him to produce it. He should have produced it a long time before. I say nothing," Trump said.

Trump announces $18-million haul in fundraising push on day after debate

 (Patrick Semansky / Associated Press)
(Patrick Semansky / Associated Press)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign reported raising $18 million in the 24 hours after Monday's debate as part of a big fundraising push.

The effort was aimed at capturing support from some of the record 84 million people who watched the first debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton. The funds were raised in part by the Republican National Committee.

"This is a movement to make America great again. We are grateful for the support of millions of Americans across the country,” Trump's finance chairman, Steven Mnuchin, said in a statement.

Trump first announced the figure Tuesday during a Florida rally.

Clinton has consistently led in fundraising for the general-election campaign and maintained that edge in the campaign's most recent fundraising disclosure reports, finishing August with $68.4 million in the bank. Trump had $50.2 million.

Trump leads in USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times tracking poll, but results are still mostly pre-debate

Donald Trump continues to lead Hillary Clinton in the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Daybreak tracking poll, a result that some supporters have pointed to as evidence that Monday night's debate helped the Republican nominee.

But because the survey's results are a seven-day rolling average, the current numbers almost entirely reflect polling done before the debate. The results of the debate will start being noticeable in the poll later this week, probably by Friday.

The Daybreak poll tracks about 3,000 people each week through election day, asking on a regular basis about their support for Clinton, Trump or other candidates as well as their likelihood to actually vote.

We update the data daily based on the weighted average of poll responses over the previous week. So, results have less volatility than some other polls, but that also means the poll lags somewhat in responding to major campaign events.

The Daybreak poll has consistently shown Trump doing better than many other surveys, for several reasons. Today's results show him leading Clinton by 46.7% to 42.6%. The average of recent polls show Clinton ahead by about 3 points.

Former Miss Universe hits the morning shows to tell her side

Former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, seated, campaigns for Hillary Clinton last month in Miami. (Johnny Louis / WireImage)
Former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, seated, campaigns for Hillary Clinton last month in Miami. (Johnny Louis / WireImage)

Former Miss Universe Alicia Machado made stops on several morning shows Wednesday, speaking to reporters on "Good Morning America" and the "Today" show to keep attention on a standout moment from Monday's presidential debate.

She's done several public interviews since Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton mentioned Machado's name Monday night, a comment that appeared to take Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump by surprise.

Trump said Tuesday on "Fox and Friends" that he was rattled when Clinton brought up his past remarks about the 1996 Miss Universe contestant.

Machado has campaigned for Clinton since June, and has appeared in a Clinton campaign ad.

Former GOP senator from Virginia endorses Hillary Clinton

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has gained another endorsement from a prominent Republican: retired Sen. John Warner of Virginia.

Appearing Wednesday with a fellow Virginian, Clinton's running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine, Warner praised Clinton's preparation and experience.

"I will, when I go into the booth, cast a vote for the Clinton-Kaine ticket," Warner said.

Warner, 89, a World War II veteran, former secretary of the Navy and former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has endorsed Democrats before. He supported Democrat Mark Warner to replace him in the Senate.

In his remarks, Warner mentioned Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, only once, referring to his training during WWII, when he had "loose lips sink ships" drilled into him.

"Got that Trump? Loose lips sink ships!" he said. 

Polls indicate that Clinton has a significant lead in Virginia. A heavily contested battleground in the past several elections, the state has trended steadily toward Democrats since 2004.

Bill Clinton to attend Shimon Peres' funeral

Hillary and Bill Clinton expressed their condolences for the death of former Israeli President Shimon Peres in a joint statement. Peres, 93, died late Tuesday.

“The Middle East has lost a fervent advocate for peace and reconciliation and for a future where all the children of Abraham build a better tomorrow together,” the Clintons wrote. “And Hillary and I have lost a true and treasured friend.”

Former President Bill Clinton will travel to Peres' funeral in Jerusalem on Friday. Secretary of State John F. Kerry, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Prince Charles, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and French President Francois Hollande also were expected to attend.

Peres, a Nobel peace laureate, helped Israel reach interim peace accords with the Palestinians and create its nuclear weapons program.

The Israeli foreign ministry said Hillary Clinton also would attend, but her campaign hasn’t confirmed her plans.

Conservative Arizona Republic editorial board backs Clinton

 (Getty)
(Getty)

For the first time in its 126-year history, the Arizona Republic has endorsed a Democrat for president.

In an editorial, the newspaper's editorial board said Hillary Clinton's flaws fade compared with Donald Trump's and her approach to governing is mature and rational.

"That cannot be said of her opponent," the editorial said. "Clinton retains her composure under pressure. She’s tough. She doesn’t back down.

"Trump responds to criticism with the petulance of verbal spit wads."

This year is different. The 2016 Republican candidate is not conservative and he is not qualified.

Arizona Republic editorial board

The editorial also dismissed Republican concerns over Clinton appointing Supreme Court justices.

"Trump’s conversion to conservatism is recent and unconvincing. There is no guarantee he will name solid conservatives to the Supreme Court," the editorial board wrote.

"Her justices might not be in the mold of Antonin Scalia, but they will be accomplished individuals with the experience, education and intelligence to handle the job," it said. "They will be competent. Just as she is competent."

The Republic's conservative editorial board isn't the first to buck Trump. The Cincinnati Enquirer and Dallas Morning News also endorsed Clinton and the Union Leader in Manchester, N.H., broke a 100-year tradition of backing Republicans by endorsing Libertarian Gary Johnson.

Here's a Shaq vs. Clinton shimmy showdown to start your day

People can’t seem to get enough of Hillary Clinton’s onstage shimmy.

Social media users have even credited NBA star Shaquille O’Neal with the inspiration behind the Democratic nominee's carefree wiggle at Monday’s presidential debate. It seems she shimmied to shake off another interruption from Donald Trump, saying, “Woo … OK!”

Here’s a look a the original gif with the Basketball Hall of Fame player and a cunning cat.

Or maybe these ones inspired her.

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
51°