Campaign 2016 updates: Trump says his caustic comments about women were ‘entertainment’

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Donald Trump campaigns in New Hampshire. Hillary Clinton raises money in Manhattan.

  • Donald Trump says he respects women, disparaging remarks notwithstanding.
  • Hillary Clinton yanks ads after GOP accuses her of exploiting hurricane fears.
  • A scathing letter by former lawmakers urges fellow Republicans to reject Trump.
  • Bygones? House Speaker Paul D. Ryan to campaign with Trump in Wisconsin.

Trump insists town hall is not debate prep, but he has a lot to say about Sunday’s debate

(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

The format was a town hall, just like Sunday’s debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, but on Thursday night in New Hampshire Trump immediately and repeatedly batted away the notion that the event had any connection to the upcoming clash with his Democratic opponent.

“They were saying this is practice for Sunday. This isn’t practice; this has nothing to do with Sunday,” said the GOP presidential nominee, whose performance in the first debate against Clinton was widely panned. “We’re just here because we just wanted to be here.”

Clinton’s announced preparation for the upcoming debate was actually an excuse for the Democratic nominee to rest, added Trump, who then shook his head as he said incredulously, “Debate prep?”

But the nearly hourlong gathering with voters in Sandown, N.H., moderated by conservative radio host Howie Carr, sure felt like a practice session for Sunday’s debate, which begins at 6 p.m. Pacific.

Trump, who rarely holds town halls, gave an opening statement, reciting a list of polls that were favorable to him. Then he responded to about a dozen pre-screened questions from the audience, about topics such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, foreign policy and job creation. Carr gave him two minutes to respond -- roughly the time candidates get during real debates.

Some queries concerned the debates themselves, such as one question from a Bedford resident about whether Trump would go after Clinton more aggressively than he did in their first debate. (Trump previously said he didn’t raise former President Bill Clinton’s “indiscretions” because the Clintons’ daughter, Chelsea, was in the audience.)

“I did hold back. I thought it was inappropriate to say what I was thinking,” Trump said Thursday. “I’d much rather have it be on policy.”

He said he preferred to keep the debates out of the “gutter,” but then indicated he was open to raising the matter on Sunday.

“Let’s see what happens,” Trump said.

Another voter asked Trump about reports that he was upset that running mate Mike Pence outperformed him in the vice presidential debate this week. Trump responded by trashing reporters who had cited anonymous sources claiming he was displeased, and said he was ecstatic over Pence’s widely praised performance against Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine.

“We were jumping up and down,” Trump said. “And I’ll tell you what, he’s a great human being. You can’t root against him, you can’t.”

New Hampshire is renowned in political circles for its town halls, where voters often aggressively question candidates. But Thursday’s event was invitation-only, full of Trump supporters.

The questions were softballs, such as his favorite memory – sitting by his father’s knee as he negotiated – and who would win the World Series.

“Of course it’s Boston,” said Trump, whose demeanor and tone during the town hall were far calmer than during the first debate.

He recognized the crowd was friendly, noting after a Sandown woman asked about taxes and repeated Trump’s campaign slogan of “Make America Great Again.”

“I like this audience,” Trump said. “I like this audience.”

The event concluded with Carr thanking Trump, calling him the next president of the United States and wishing him luck in the debate. The crowd members leaped to their feet and chanted, “Trump!”

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White nationalist super PAC funds new radio ads urging votes for Donald Trump

(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

A white nationalist who funded robocalls for Donald Trump during the primary season will be out with a new radio ad this weekend urging votes for the Republican nominee.

Trump has repeatedly disavowed support from white supremacists, after initially failing to do so, but the organizations and their members are more energized to vote for Trump than any mainstream candidate in decades.

William Johnson, a Los Angeles attorney -- and self-described “deplorable” -- is funding the ads, through the American National Super PAC. He notes that they are not authorized by Trump.

Johnson is targeting swing-state markets with the $7,000 buy with themes that resonate with white nationalists and similar groups.

“Our country is at a crossroads and time is running out,” the ad says.

“Do you want a strong leader who will secure our borders and stop the flow of illegal aliens and radical Islamic terrorists?... Do you want a president who will safeguard the interests of Christians?”

The ad outlines concerns over trade deals, gun rights and the Supreme Court.

“Do the right thing. On Nov. 8, vote Trump!”

The spot will begin running Saturday on “The Political Cesspool” with James Edwards, which the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as an “overtly racist” show based in Tennessee that has hosted David Duke and a “wide roster of white supremacists, anti-Semites and other extremists.”

The ad will continue through election day. It will also run on other radio shows, including “Liberty RoundTable,” which People for the American Way says has ties to Edwards.

The radio shows are not unfamiliar to Trump’s team.

Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., appeared on “Liberty RoundTable” this year with Edwards, but the campaign suggested confusion about the arrangement, according to reports. This week, another of Trump’s sons, Eric, also appeared on the show, and Trump economic advisor Stephen Moore also recently appeared, according to People for the American Way’s “Right Wing Watch.”

Johnson, chairman of the separatist American Freedom Party, had funded robocalls in support of Trump during the primary election and was a delegate for Trump before the campaign said his inclusion on a list was a mistake.

The ad will run in Florida, Arizona, Missouri, Alabama, Oregon, Nevada and Tennessee.

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Ted Cruz works the phones for Donald Trump without mentioning Trump

He never explicitly said “vote for Donald Trump,” but Texas Sen. Ted Cruz did sit in front of a wall of Trump campaign posters as he urged voters to come out to “support freedom, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.”

A video, originally shot Wednesday by the Dallas Morning News, shows a glistening Cruz leaving a voicemail while at a Republican phone bank in Texas. It’s all of 28 seconds, but long enough to leave its mark.

The footage was ripped and used as meme fodder across the Internet. Someone went so far as to turn it into a “Curb –” or rather, “Cruz your Enthusiasm” parody.

After endless “will he or won’t he” speculation, Cruz endorsed Trump in September.

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With Hurricane Matthew approaching Florida, Clinton campaign seeks extension of voter-registration deadline

Florida Gov. Rick Scott rejected a request by Hillary Clinton’s campaign to consider extending the state’s voter-registration deadline because of the potential disruption from Hurricane Matthew.

“I’m not going to extend it,” the Republican governor told reporters in Tallahassee, according to the Miami Herald. “Everybody has had a lot of time to register. On top of that, we have lots of opportunities to vote: early voting, absentee voting, Election Day. So I don’t intend to make any changes.”

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook emphasized that the chief concern is the safety of Florida citizens and the campaign’s army of paid staff and volunteers working in the key state.

“We have been doing everything we can through our social media and our email list to make sure that all Floridians heed the warnings of public officials that are saying this could be a very deadly storm,” he said. “That is our priority and we’ll get back to campaigning when it is appropriate.”

Still, with less than five weeks until election day and the state’s deadline for new voter registration set for Tuesday, Mook said they are “hoping and expecting” that state officials will “adapt” their deadlines.

“Our hope would be that a little bit more time would be given for people who were expecting to be able to get registered before the election, and we certainly expect that the governor and local officials will make that possible,” he said.

Mook touted promising signs for the Democratic ticket based on early voting by mail. More than 2.7 million Floridians have requested ballots, compared with 1.8 million at the same point four years ago. Ballot requests from registered Democrats are now outpacing requests from Republicans, Mook said, and requests from Hispanic voters are up 77% from the same point in 2012.

5:04 p.m. This post was updated to include Gov. Rick Scott’s response to the Clinton campaign’s request.

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Donald Trump on his caustic comments about women: It was ‘entertainment’

(Robyn Beck / Associated Press)

Donald Trump has a problem appealing to female voters.

So, when asked this week by a Nevada television station about some of his disparaging remarks, he had a terse reply.

“A lot of that was done for the purpose of entertainment,” Trump said. “There’s nobody that has more respect for women than I do.”

Following last week’s presidential debate, in which Hillary Clinton castigated Trump for his comments about a Miss Universe winner whom he called “Miss Piggy” after she gained weight and “Miss Housekeeping” for her Latina roots, his support among women has declined, according to polls.

An NBC News/Survey Monkey poll taken after the debate showed 27% of likely female voters said the debate made them think worse of Trump. About 30% said their opinion of Clinton had improved.

Throughout the campaign, Trump’s poll numbers among women have been far from stellar. Clinton and her Democratic allies have hammered him in television and radio ads for his caustic comments that date back to the 1980s.

Last year, after Trump faced tough debate questions from Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, he speculated that it was because she was menstruating.

Trump, who has also referred to actress Rosie O’Donnell as a “pig,” defended himself during the debate with Clinton.

“Hillary is hitting me with tremendous commercials. Some of it I said in entertainment, some of it said to somebody who has been very vicious to me, Rosie O’Donnell,” Trump said. “I said very tough things to her and I think everybody would agree she deserves it and nobody feels sorry for her.”

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Clinton yanks Weather Channel ads after GOP accuses her of exploiting hurricane fears

(Tim Aylen / Associated Press)

Hillary Clinton’s campaign suspended its advertising on the Weather Channel in Florida on Thursday after Republicans accused her of exploiting fears of deadly Hurricane Matthew.

“Since the storm has clearly become very serious, we have asked the Weather Channel to roll back that buy until the storm is concluded,” Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook told reporters in a conference call.

“We don’t think that the voters in Florida need this election to get mixed up in their efforts to get information on this storm.”

The Weather Channel’s ratings spike dramatically when severe storms strike. Nearly 2 million residents of Florida, Georgia and other states on the Atlantic were urged to flee their homes Friday as Matthew, a Category 4 hurricane, spun toward the coast.

The Clinton campaign said its ad buy in Florida was less than 1% of what it was purchasing nationally this week on hundreds of different media outlets in battleground states.

“Pulling these ads after getting caught won’t cut it,” Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, wrote on Twitter. He demanded an apology.

Mook said it was unfortunate that Priebus was “trying to politicize the hurricane.”

Steven Cheung, a spokesman for Donald Trump’s campaign, called the Clinton ad plan “appalling.”

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Paul Ryan to campaign in Wisconsin with Donald Trump

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan plans to campaign with Donald Trump for the first time on Saturday, embracing a GOP presidential nominee whom he once denounced for making “a racist comment” about a federal judge.

Trump and Ryan, the nation’s highest-ranking elected Republican, have had tense relations for months.

In an oddly worded announcement, Ryan’s campaign office said he would attend Wisconsin Fall Fest, a GOP fundraiser in his congressional district, with Sen. Ron Johnson, Gov. Scott Walker and other Republicans.

Trump, the statement added, “will also join Wisconsin Republicans” at the event. Normally, the name of a party’s presidential nominee would come first in that type of statement.

While Ryan stayed neutral in Wisconsin’s presidential primary, Walker and most of the state’s other GOP leaders backed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz over Trump.

Ryan was one of the last Republican leaders to endorse Trump for president in June. Trump, in turn, spoke favorably of Ryan’s GOP primary challenger before announcing his support for the speaker’s reelection on the eve of the primary.

From time to time, Ryan has denounced Trump. He opposes Trump’s proposed “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” a plan that Trump running mate Mike Pence renounced Thursday even though it remains on the campaign’s website.

In June, Ryan criticized Trump for making what he called “the textbook definition of a racist comment.” He was referring to Trump’s argument that the Mexican ancestry of an Indiana-born judge made it impossible for him to preside impartially over a federal fraud suit against Trump University, the nominee’s defunct real estate education program.

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Republican foe warns Donald Trump against saying the election is rigged

(Jim Cole / Associated Press)

The two have battled in the press since the Republican primary, and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham has some last-minute advice for Donald Trump: Don’t say the election was rigged if you lose.

Whether Trump -- who has sent mixed messages on the topic -- heeds it remains to be seen.

“I don’t think it’s good for democracy to have a major candidate for president doubt the outcome,” Graham, who has indicated he will not vote for Trump or Hillary Clinton, said Thursday on CNN. “But being rigged means it’s rigged against you, and I think Mr. Trump’s fate is in his own hands.”

In averages of national and swing state polls, Trump trails Clinton with less than five weeks until election day. Clinton, whose path to 270 electoral votes is much easier than Trump’s, has continuously outspent the GOP nominee on television ads and other campaign efforts in several battleground states.

Still, Trump has told supporters that if he loses, it might be because of a rigged election.

“The only way we can lose, in my opinion, I really mean this, Pennsylvania, is if cheating goes on. I really believe it,” Trump told supporters in a rural part of that state in August. At the rally, Trump urged the mostly white audience to go to places like Philadelphia, which is predominantly black, to oversee polling stations in an effort to prevent voter fraud.

Yet, at last month’s first presidential debate with Clinton in New York, when asked whether he would accept the outcome in November, Trump said he would.

“If she wins, I will absolutely support her,” he said.

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Rosie O’Donnell, Ivanka Trump cross paths, chat ‘mother to mother’ at New York restaurant

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Former White House ethics lawyers on Trump’s taxes: ‘No president would have dared nominate him’ for a job

(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

A pair of former White House ethics attorneys who served in Democratic and Republican administrations have published a scathing critique of Donald Trump’s taxes.

Their conclusion: No president of either party would nominate Trump to a position that required Senate confirmation.

“If a presidential candidate cannot meet that standard, then we question his qualifications for the highest office in the land,” Norman Eisen and Richard W. Painter, chief White House ethics lawyers for, respectively, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, wrote in the New York Times Thursday.

Trump’s “bad attitude” about paying taxes and his failure to disclose his returns would have disqualified him from consideration by either administration, much less the Senate, the two wrote.

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More than 30 former GOP members of Congress oppose Donald Trump, call his candidacy ‘disgraceful’

More than 30 former Republican members of Congress issued a scathing open letter Thursday announcing their opposition to Donald Trump and urging fellow Republicans to deny him the White House.

The group recants the GOP presidential candidate’s long list of insults and “lies,” and said his “disgraceful candidacy is indefensible.”

“As Republican members of Congress, we took pride in representing a political party that stood for honest and principled public leadership in which the American people could place their trust,” they wrote in an open letter.

“Sadly, our party’s nominee this year is a man who makes a mockery of the principles and values we have cherished and which we sought to represent in Congress.”

The group includes key swing state figures, and is the largest showing of one-time GOP officials refusing to back the party’s presidential nominee this year.

Among those signing are Pennsylvania’s former Rep. Bill Clinger, who was chairman of the House Oversight Committee that investigated Bill and Hillary Clinton in “Travelgate” and other issues during the Clinton administration.

Also on the list are former Iowa Rep. Jim Leach, former Wisconsin Rep. Tom Petri and former Virginia Rep. G. William Whitehurst, all from battleground states.

Three former California Republican lawmakers, Reps. Tom Campbell, Steve Kuykendall, and Pete McCloskey also signed.

“In nominating Donald Trump, the Republican Party has asked the people of the United States to entrust their future to a man who insults women, mocks the handicapped, urges that dissent be met with violence, seeks to impose religious tests for entry into the United States, and applies a de facto ethnicity test to judges,” they wrote.

“He offends our allies and praises dictators. His public statements are peppered with lies. He belittles our heroes and insults the parents of men who have died serving our country. Every day brings a fresh revelation that highlights the unacceptable danger in electing him to lead our nation.”

The group went on: “It is in that spirit that, as Donald Trump’s unfitness for public office has become ever more apparent, we urge our fellow Republicans not to vote for this man whose disgraceful candidacy is indefensible.”

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What’s in a name? Trump mispronounces Nevada, but insists he’s the one saying it right

It’s the attention to detail on the campaign trail that often means so much to voters — like pronouncing the name of the state the way the residents do.

Donald Trump touched down in Nevada this week and got it wrong.

Not only did he repeatedly say the name of the state with the second-syllable emphasis off kilter, Ne-VAH-duh, like out-of-staters often do, he insisted he was right.

“Nobody says it the other way,” he told a rally in Reno.

In fact, most Nevadans prefer calling their state Ne-VAD-uh.

Reaction was quick, fierce and from the highest levelsof power.

“It’s pronounced Nev-AD-a,” tweeted Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

As veteran poltical reporter Jon Ralston noted, Politico even did a video on the mishap.

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Mike Pence dismisses Donald Trump’s many insults as ‘little lines’ taken out of context

Mike Pence doubled down Thursday on his refusal to defend — or provide distance from — Donald Trump’s most inflammatory insults of women and minorities, dismissing them as “little lines” taken out of context.

“I’m honored to stand shoulder to shoulder with him, and also honored to address those very same questions,” Pence, the Republican vice presidential nominee, said on CNN’s “New Day.”

With his cool performance, Pence was widely viewed as winning the vice presidential debate this week with Democrat Tim Kaine. But his approach was also panned as lacking in substance and for his unwillingness to stand up for Trump.

Before joining the ticket, the conservative Indiana governor had been critical of Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims entering the U.S. and his attack on the professional competency of an Indiana-born judge with Mexican heritage.

But Thursday, Pence suggested that Trump’s ideas had shifted — though neither the candidate nor the campaign have explicitly changed those views.

“It’s not Donald Trump’s position now,” Pence said of both the ban on Muslims and Trump’s criticism of Curiel.

“Donald Trump has said in this campaign that he has regretted the times that he didn’t chose his words well particularly where it’s created personal pain for people.”

Trump himself, though, has not backed off the ban nor specifically addressed his criticism of Curiel and whether he maintains a harsh view of the judge.

Pence brought up Hillary Clinton labeling many Trump supporters as a “basketful of deplorables.” She described them as racist, xenophobic and homophobic, and has since said she regretted saying “half” of them are in that category.

But Pence said her dismissal of those supporters makes her unfit to lead.

“You can’t lead people you loathe,” he said. “For Clinton to express that kind of contempt for millions of Americans … when Donald Trump becomes president of the United States, whether people agree with him or not, he’s going to respect all of the people of this country.”

Trump took a victory lap after Pence’s debate performance, claiming a win for having chosen a “smart” running mate.

“Donald Trump won the debate,” Pence agreed. “Donald Trump’s vision to make America great again won.”

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Trump calls his past criticisms of women ‘entertainment’

A lot of that was done for the purpose of entertainment. There’s nobody that has more respect for women than I do.

— Donald Trump, the GOP presidential nominee, speaking during <a href=””>an interview with Las Vegas’ KSNV-TV</a> on Wednesday about his past comments attacking women.

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‘I told you his hair wasn’t orange,’ first-grader on Donald Trump

A Las Vegas first grader set the record straight about the true color of Donald Trump’s hair.

“See, I told you his hair wasn’t orange,” the student at the International Christian Academy said when Trump arrived in the classroom. (Listen at 10 seconds in this video.)

The GOP nominee stopped at the school while traveling through Nevada on Wednesday.

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Tim Kaine says Mike Pence’s failure to defend Donald Trump will leave GOP nominee rattled before next debate

Tim Kaine said Thursday that Mike Pence’s failure to defend Donald Trump has rattled the GOP presidential nominee ahead of Sunday’s second presidential showdown.

“That’s going to work on his head a little bit,” Kaine said on CNN’s “New Day.”

“He saw a debate two nights ago where his own running mate threw him under the bus.”

Trump’s campaign team has repeatedly said that the businessman was pleased and “proud” of Pence’s performance.

In fact, Trump took credit for his running mate’s success.

“Mike Pence did an incredible job and I’m getting a lot of credit because that’s really my first so-called choice, that was my first hire,” Trump said at a rally in Nevada.

Stylistically, Kaine’s combative performance at this week’s one-and-only vice presidential debate was widely panned compared with Pence’s even-keeled approach.

But Pence also declined multiple opportunities to push back against Kaine’s criticism of Trump, especially the long list of insults Trump has has leveled at various groups of Americans.

“Gov. Pence had a choice: He could have defended his running mate or not,” Kaine said on “New Day.”

“Again and again he refused to defend Donald Trump,” Kaine said. “If your own running mate won’t defend you, it’s kind of hard to ask people to vote for Donald Trump.”

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Donald Trump and Ronald Reagan have just one thing in common: Both failed to pay their taxes

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a town hall event with the Retired American Warriors in Herndon, Va., on Oct. 3.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a town hall event with the Retired American Warriors in Herndon, Va., on Oct. 3.
(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

Finally we’ve found a similarity between the ignoramus Donald Trump and the iconic Ronald Reagan. Both dodged paying income taxes.

Reagan, of course, was a relative piker. As California’s governor, he avoided state income taxes for just one year that we know about. Billionaire developer Trump, however, may have escaped federal income taxes for nearly two decades. We don’t really know.

Trump isn’t talking. Reagan fessed up immediately. And that helped him contain the political damage.

Other than their mutual tax avoidance, Trump and Reagan are as similar as night and day. Trump is a dark and negative demagogue who bellows that America is failing. Reagan was a positive and optimistic statesman who heralded the U.S. as the “shining city upon a hill.”

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