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President Obama says Republicans should take back their Donald Trump endorsements.

Meg Whitman joins chorus of Republicans supporting Hillary Clinton

 (Los Angeles Times)
(Los Angeles Times)

Meg Whitman, the Hewlett-Packard chief executive who ran unsuccessfully for governor of California in 2010, will back Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, joining other prominent Republicans troubled by Donald Trump's candidacy.

"As a proud Republican, casting my vote for president has usually been a simple matter. This year is different,” Whitman wrote on Facebook. “Donald Trump’s demagoguery has undermined the fabric of our national character.”

Whitman, a major GOP fundraiser whose net worth is about $2 billion, also told the New York Times that she planned to raise money for Clinton.

Whitman has already donated more than $100,000 to anti-Trump efforts, but her decision to actively solicit donations for Clinton is a major blow to Trump's fundraising, which has deeply lagged behind Clinton. Last month, Clinton raised $90 million for her campaign and that of other Democrats, while Trump said he raised a bit more than one-third of that.

“Trump’s unsteady hand would endanger our prosperity and national security. His authoritarian character could threaten much more,” wrote Whitman, urging fellow Republicans to reject his nomination.

In recent days, Trump has drawn scorn from Democrats and Republicans alike for his criticism of an American Muslim family whose son died in combat in Iraq, and several leading Republican operatives have backed off from supporting Trump. 

Sally Bradshaw, an influential GOP strategist in Florida who advised former Gov. Jeb Bush during his primary campaign, announced Monday that she would leave the party.

A day later, Maria Comella, a top former advisor to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, also called Trump a demagogue and signaled her support for Clinton.

Trump, she said, "has been a demagogue this whole time, preying on people's anxieties with loose information and salacious rhetoric, drumming up fear and hatred of the 'other.' "

The move by several Republican women to back Clinton underscores the issues the GOP nominee has had with female voters.

Trump's comments about women, including suggesting that a Fox News reporter was menstruating when she questioned him in a Republican debate, have been the subject of advertising by Clinton and super PACs supporting her campaign.

While speaking to reporters Tuesday, President Obama declared Trump “unfit” to become president and said Republican denunciations of Trump’s actions were hollow if they continued to endorse him.

“There has to come a point at which you say, 'Enough,' " he said. "... The alternative is that the entire party effectively endorses and validates the positions that are being articulated.”

Whitman echoed some of the president’s themes in her Facebook post: “Trump’s reckless and uninformed positions on critical issues – from immigration to our economy to foreign policy – have made it abundantly clear that he lacks both the policy depth and sound judgment required as president.”

She added that in a “tumultuous world, America needs the kind of stable and aspirational leadership Secretary Clinton can provide."

Updated at 9:16 p.m.: The post was updated with additional comments from Whitman. 

No regrets for taking on fallen soldier's parents, Trump says

Donald Trump said Tuesday that he had no regrets about taking on the parents of a Muslim American soldier killed in Iraq, sticking with his case that the father “viciously” attacked him in a speech at the Democratic convention.

“I said nice things about the son, and I feel that very strongly,” the Republican presidential nominee told Sinclair Broadcast Group in an interview. “But of course, I was hit very hard from the stage, and you know it’s just one of those things. But no, I don’t regret anything.”

Democrats and Republicans alike have roundly condemned Trump for criticizing Khizr Khan for his appearance last week alongside his wife, Ghazala, at the Democratic gathering in Philadelphia. Trump had speculated that aides to Hillary Clinton wrote Khan’s emotionally charged remarks and that his wife kept quiet because she wasn’t allowed to speak.

The couple’s son, Humayun, 27, was killed by a car bomb in 2004. Khan called on Americans to honor his sacrifice by voting for Clinton, and he criticized Trump’s plans to build a border wall and ban Muslims from entering the U.S.

“Am I supposed to not have the right to at least say something back?” Trump asked Tuesday on Fox News.

Trump also voiced concern Tuesday that the election would be rigged in November.

“I’m talking about at the voter booth – I mean we’ve seen a lot of things over the years,” Trump told Sinclair reporter Scott Thuman. "And now, without the IDs, the voter IDs, and all the things going on – and some bad court cases have come down.”

Trump provided no evidence of planned voter fraud. “I just hear things, and I just feel it,” he said.

Trump’s remarks came after a string of court rulings blocking enforcement of voter identification laws enacted by Republican governors and legislatures. Democrats say those laws are aimed at depressing turnout of minority voters who favor Democrats.

Over the last two weeks, federal appeals courts blocked voter-ID laws in North Carolina and Texas, finding they were aimed at reducing minority turnout. On Monday, a federal judge blocked North Dakota from enforcing its voter-ID law, citing the trouble it would create for rural Native Americans trying to cast ballots.

Trump also responded to President Obama, who on Tuesday said Trump was unfit for the presidency. “He’ll probably go down as the worst president in the history of our country,” Trump said.

And Trump denied his rhetoric was unduly harsh when he called Clinton “the devil” at a Pennsylvania rally on Monday. “I don’t think that’s too far at all,” he said.

Sarah Palin's son-in-law hits Trump

The Medal of Honor winner had some advice for the Republican presidential nominee. 

Donald Trump declines to endorse Paul Ryan and John McCain

 (European Pressphoto Agency)
(European Pressphoto Agency)

Apparently not content with facing off against Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump invited open warfare with his own party Tuesday, saying he was not yet ready to endorse House Speaker Paul D. Ryan or Sen. John McCain in their 2016 reelection bids.

A day after he tweeted praise for Paul Nehlen, who is challenging Ryan in his Wisconsin district's primary next week, Trump went further in an interview with the Washington Post.

"I like Paul, but these are horrible times for our country," Trump said. "We need very strong leadership. We need very, very strong leadership. And I'm just not quite there yet. I'm not quite there yet."

In a statement, a spokesman for Ryan said no endorsement was ever sought and expressed confidence in winning the primary.

Trump's comments mirrored Ryan's own public hand-wringing in the days before he reluctantly endorsed Trump, who by that time had clinched the party's nomination.

In the interview, Trump also targeted other sitting Republicans who have been critical of him, whether explicitly or through condemnation of his recent public statements or policy views.

McCain, the party's 2008 presidential nominee, faces a Republican primary for reelection in Arizona this month. He issued a lengthy statement Monday saying Trump's criticisms of Khizr and Ghazala Khan, parents of an Army captain killed in Iraq, "do not represent the views of our Republican Party, its officers, or candidates." The couple appeared at the Democratic National Convention, where Khizr Khan spoke emotionally against Trump's call for a ban on Muslims entering the country.

Though McCain said he still supported Trump, he said the fact that the businessman was the nominee is "not accompanied by unfettered license to defame those who are the best among us."

Trump turned the tables Tuesday.

"I've never been there with John McCain because I’ve always felt that he should have done a much better job for the vets," Trump said. "He has not done a good job for the vets and I've always felt he should have done a much better job for the vets. So I've always had a difficult time with John for that reason, because our vets are not being treated properly. They’re not being treated fairly."

The interview was posted online just hours after President Obama called on Republican leaders to make a clearer break from Trump, whom he called unfit to serve as president.

"I don't doubt that they were outraged about some of the statements that Mr. Trump and his supporters made about the Khan family," Obama said at a news conference. "But there has to come a point at which you say somebody who makes those kinds of statements doesn't have the judgment, the temperament, the understanding to occupy the most powerful position in the world."

Update - 3:22 p.m.: This post was updated to note a comment from Ryan's campaign. 

He has not done a good job for the vets and I’ve always felt that he should have done a much better job for the vets. 

Donald Trump's views on Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in an interview with the Washington Post. McCain was a prisoner of war during Vietnam.

Former Chris Christie advisor says she'll vote for Hillary Clinton

 (Eduardo Munoz Alvarez / AFP/Getty Images)
(Eduardo Munoz Alvarez / AFP/Getty Images)

Gov. Chris Christie may be committed to helping elect Donald Trump, but a former advisor who helped the New Jersey politician launch his career said Tuesday that she'll be voting for Hillary Clinton.

"I'm voting for her because I don't believe it's enough to say you aren't for Donald Trump," said.Maria Comella, previously a close advisor to Christie in the governor's office and on the campaign trail.

Her statement, first reported by CNN, was a fierce rebuke to Trump from someone who was once a member of Christie's inner circle. 

Trump "has been a demagogue this whole time, preying on people's anxieties with loose information and salacious rhetoric, drumming up fear and hatred of the 'other,'" Comella said.

Casting a vote for Clinton was the only option, she added, saying that she didn't want to sit out the election.

Comella's decision comes on the heels of a similar step Monday by Sally Bradshaw, an influential Republican in Florida who advised former Gov. Jeb Bush during his primary campaign.

Bradshaw also worked on the Republican National Committee's so-called autopsy report, which analyzed the party's loss in 2012. That report recommended the party take a more inclusive approach and try to attract Latinos and women -- a suggestion Trump has ignored during his campaign. 

"As much as I don't want another four years of Obama's policies, I can't look my children in the eye and tell them I voted for Donald Trump," Bradshaw said to CNN. 

Three more top Democratic officials are out following email leaks

Former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. (Richard Drew / Associated Press)
Former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. (Richard Drew / Associated Press)

Fallout from leaked emails that cost Debbie Wasserman Schultz her job as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee continued Tuesday with the departures of three other high-profile party officials. 

Chief Executive Amy Dacey, Chief Financial Officer Brad Marshall and Communications Director Luis Miranda all left their posts at the DNC, according to a statement from the party.

Though the statement did not mention the leaked emails, which had shown partiality toward Hillary Clinton in her primary battle against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a person with knowledge of the departures said it was specifically tied to the emails.

Last month, WikiLeaks released nearly 20,000 emails from a 17-month span. In one exchange, Marshall told Miranda and Dacey that he wanted reporters to raise questions about Sanders’ faith.

“Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage,” Marshall wrote. He apologized when the email became public. 

In her statement, Donna Brazile, the DNC's interim chairwoman, lauded the work that each of them has done over the years.

But, she noted, “in order to make history, the Democratic Party depends on the tireless work of everyday drum majors for justice, fairness, and equality.”

From the outset of his campaign, Sanders, who spent most of his political career as an independent, had assailed the DNC for tipping the scales in favor of Clinton by, among other things, limiting debates.

It was an allegation, Wasserman Schultz, a Florida congresswoman, vehemently denied. Yet when the emails were leaked last month, showing some staffers clearly biased toward Clinton, Wasserman Schultz was doomed. 

Israeli firm says it's ready to build Trump's border wall

A fence along the Israel-Egypt border, shown in 2012. (Ariel Schalit / AP)
A fence along the Israel-Egypt border, shown in 2012. (Ariel Schalit / AP)

Israeli government officials and politicians have sought to steer clear of U.S. presidential politics for most of the 2016 campaign, but one local security company said it’s eager to help Republican candidate Donald Trump realize a provocative campaign promise: to build a wall along the length of the U.S.-Mexico border should he win the election.

Magal Security Systems Ltd. has built so-called “smart fences” around the Gaza Strip, along Israel’s border with Egypt and Jordan, and in the West Bank as part of Israel’s controversial barrier to separate its cities from the Palestinian territories. Magal’s systems mix wire fences with video cameras, sensors and satellite surveillance.

Now the company, which is publicly traded in the U.S. and Israel, is eyeing the possibility of pitching in on closing off the 2,000-mile frontier to illegal migrants, according to a report in Bloomberg News.

"The border business was down, but then came ISIS and the Syrian conflict," Magal Chief Executive Saar Koursch told Bloomberg, referring to the Islamic State extremist group. “The world is changing and borders are coming back big time."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu often touts Israel’s recent border fence construction projects as a boost to security, saying they block cross-border attacks by militant groups. He also credits the border fence with drastically reducing the flow of African migrants from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula into southern Israel.   

Palestinians counter that Israel’s border fence around Gaza has created an open-air prison for the territory’s 1.8 million inhabitants, and Western governments have criticized Israel’s West Bank separation barrier as illegal.

While critics of the Mexico border proposal say it’s unrealistic, Koursch told Bloomberg he takes it seriously and believes Magal has the right resume.

"Anybody can give you a very nice PowerPoint, but few can show you such a complex project as Gaza that is constantly battle-tested," he said. 

Today’s Trump target: A crying baby at his rally

Donald Trump was about to have a warm and fuzzy moment, the kind politicians love, reassuring the mother of a crying baby not to worry.

"I hear that baby crying," he said during a rally Tuesday. "I like it! What a beautiful baby."

But a few minutes later, when the baby persisted, Trump had a change of heart.

“Actually, I was only kidding," he said. "You can get the baby out of here. That’s all right. Don’t worry. I think she believed me that I love having a baby crying while I'm speaking.”

Child yells profanity directed at Hillary Clinton during Donald Trump rally

A school-age child at a Donald Trump rally on Tuesday stood up and yelled "Take the bitch down" after the candidate mentioned Hillary Clinton. His mother later defended the child's right to speak and blamed his language on "Democratic schools." 

The child, who looked no more than 10, was sitting next to his mother in the media section.

The mother identified herself in a brief interview with a small group of reporters as Pam Kohler of Mount Vernon, Va., but she would not name her son or say how old he is.

“He's a minor so he can't be interviewed,” Kohler said.

“I think he has a right to speak what he wants to," she said.

Asked where he learned to speak that way, she answered, "Democratic schools."

As more reporters began surrounding her, she walked out of the auditorium at Briar Woods High School, where the rally was held, using a Trump sign to block cameras. Behind her seats was a school sign, encouraging good behavior: "Trustworthy, Respectful, United, Excellent."

Obama says Donald Trump is unfit to be president, 'and he keeps on proving it'

President Obama flatly declared Tuesday that Donald Trump is unfit to serve as commander in chief and dared Republicans to rescind their endorsements of their party's presidential nominee.

Leading Republicans' denunciations of Trump's comments "ring hollow" so long as they continue to endorse his candidacy, Obama said.

"If you are repeatedly having to say, in very strong terms, that what he has said is unacceptable, why are you still endorsing him?" Obama asked at a news conference alongside Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. "What does this say about your party that this is your standard-bearer?

"There has to come a point at which you say, 'Enough,'" he said. "... The alternative is that the entire party effectively endorses and validates the positions that are being articulated" by Trump.

Obama: Trump is unfit to serve as president and Republicans should abandon him

Donald Trump thanks supporter who gave him replica Purple Heart at Virginia rally

Donald Trump kicked off a Virginia rally on Tuesday by thanking a supporter who gave him a replica of his own Purple Heart before he took the stage.

Analysis: Trump's continued distractions come at a difficult point in the campaign — and overshadow Clinton critiques

The controversy over his jibes at the Muslim parents of a soldier killed in action continued to overshadow Donald Trump’s campaign Monday as he struggled to prevent broader defections among nervous Republicans after days of self-induced trouble.

Party leaders worried that Trump’s verbal assault on two non-politicians would hurt his standing with voters more profoundly than did his earlier attacks on fellow candidates and rivals. Several upbraided their nominee as they worked to prevent Trump’s latest imbroglio from consuming the party’s candidates in other races.

Arizona Sen. John McCain issued an emotional rebuke of Trump but stopped short of pulling his endorsement, following in the steps of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

One high-profile Florida Republican, a mainstay in campaigns for more than two decades, announced that she had quit the party and that she would vote for Hillary Clinton if the race in her crucial state seemed close.

Trump used an audience in Ohio, another must-win state for him, to try to symbolically turn the page. After a morning in which he had tweeted another accusation about the father of the Muslim U.S. Army captain killed in Iraq — Khizr Khan had “viciously attacked” him, he said — Trump did not mention the family of Humayun Khan or the four-day feud he had pursued.

But he delved into another distracting issue, relitigating an argument over remarks he had made about Russia and its behavior toward Ukraine, comments that had unnerved GOP foreign policy experts.

The threat to Trump’s campaign comes largely in its timing. Fewer than 100 days remain before the general election, putting the campaigns in a period in which stumbles become more dangerous because there is less time to craft a recovery.

New York lawmaker becomes first Republican in Congress to say he'll vote for Hillary Clinton

 (Los Angeles Times)
(Los Angeles Times)

A New York lawmaker became the first Republican member of Congress to say he will vote for Hillary Clinton, declaring that Donald Trump will only push the GOP to its extremes.

"I have long held the belief that the Republican Party is becoming increasingly less capable of nominating a person who is electable as president," Rep. Richard Hanna wrote in an op-ed. "The primary process is so geared toward the party's political base, which ignores the fact that we have largely alienated women, Hispanics, the LGBT community, young voters and many others in general."

Hanna represents a swing district in upstate New York and is retiring after three terms.

Hanna's announcement comes after a rough few days for Trump. The Republican nominee has been repeatedly lambasted for criticizing the parents of a fallen U.S. soldier. Hanna called Trump "a national embarrassment," adding that these latest comments, coupled with his attacks on Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) last year, make him unfit to be president.

"I do not expect perfection," Hanna wrote, "but I do require more than the embodiment of at least a short list of the seven deadly sins."

Clinton raises $90 million in July for campaign and Democrats

 (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Hillary Clinton raked in almost $90 million in July for her presidential run and for the Democratic Party, according to her campaign.

About $63 million went to Hillary for America and $26 to the Democratic National Committee, and a little more than half of the total came from new donors, the campaign said. Also, the donations surged in the 24 hours following Clinton’s acceptance of the Democratic nomination on July 28.

"Our goal for the next 98 days is to take the remarkable outpouring of support we saw as Hillary Clinton took the stage in Philadelphia and build on our efforts to organize and mobilize millions of voters to elect progressive candidates up and down the ballot in November,” campaign manager Robby Mook said in a statement.

Clinton’s campaign said it started August with more than $58 million cash on hand.

On Monday, Donald Trump announced in Ohio that his campaign raised about $35.8 million in July, much of it from more than a half-million small donations that averaged around $69 each. 

Trump's son: Attacks on Khan family 'blown hugely out of proportion'

Donald Trump's son on Tuesday defended his father in the ongoing controversy with the parents of a Army captain killed in combat, saying critics blew the situation “hugely out of proportion.”

“He called them a hero ... so many different times,” Eric Trump said of his father on CBS’ “This Morning.”

The Republican presidential nominee didn’t intend to insult Muslims, but he does want to fight Islamic State and closely vet immigrants coming into the U.S., his son said,

Donald Trump has repeatedly attacked Khizr and Ghazala Khan, whose son Humayun died in 2004 in Iraq. Khizr Khan spoke out against the businessman at the Democratic National Convention last week for his proposed ban on Muslims entering the country.

Eric Trump suggested that his father has already apologized to the Khans by calling their son a hero. He added that the nominee is “a fighter” who doesn’t back down easily.

“He was attacked the other day, and he was attacked viciously," Eric Trump said. "... That's politics. You're going to get attacked."

How Khizr and Ghazala Khan went from grieving parents to stars of the presidential race

Ghazala and Khizr Khan at the Democratic National Convention. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Ghazala and Khizr Khan at the Democratic National Convention. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

For all the scripting and stage managing that goes into political conventions, the moments that can change a race are often unanticipated.

Khizr Khan’s speech at the Democratic National Convention last week in Philadelphia was one such moment.

Convention organizers knew Khan would be a powerful speaker, but they had not expected he would be a considerably more potent symbol for the campaign than the other “everyday Americans” invited to the stage to amplify the campaign’s message – and everyone else invited to the stage, period. Long after Americans have forgotten the nearly hourlong address Hillary Clinton delivered while accepting her party’s nomination, the haunting, emotionally charged plea to Donald Trump from a Muslim father whose enlisted son was killed by a suicide bomber in Baghdad will linger.

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