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Trump cancels Chicago rally amid safety concerns; police say they weren’t consulted

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Donald Trump canceled a rally in Chicago because he was concerned about safety amid protests.

Hillary Clinton responds to violence at Donald Trump’s rally in Chicago

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Campaign violence and Donald Trump: Hardly surprising, entirely predictable

Violence splashed across the television screen Friday night like a horrific flashback from the 1960s, as fistfights and shoving broke out among thousands of supporters and opponents at a Donald Trump event in Chicago, drawing memories of police and protesters fighting in the streets of the same city during another political gathering in 1968.

Nothing about it was surprising.

What many had feared as Trump’s campaign has proceeded had finally happened on a large scale: A flammable brew of populist anger, campaign mismanagement, a candidate’s own provocative encouragement and protesters fighting back — quite literally — finally found its fuse. The explosion was predictable, given tensions in the country around its changing demographic face and economic displacement that has left many fearful and upset, receptive audiences for Trump’s surprisingly strong candidacy.

Trump himself was not present; he canceled his event half an hour after it was due to begin, citing security concerns. The candidate’s statement said that the campaign had determined that “for the safety of all of the tens of thousands of people that have gathered in and around the arena,” the event would not be held. It was after the cancellation that clashes broke out among audience members and between audience members and police.

“Please go in peace,” the Trump statement said.

Peace will be a hard sell, because much of this plays to the desires of the participants.

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Obama says Republicans sowed their own discontent

(Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images)

President Obama, shortly before the Friday evening fracas at a Donald Trump rally in his hometown of Chicago, criticized the fractured Republican Party and reiterated his view that Republicans brought the dissonance upon themselves.

“We’ve got a debate inside the other party that is fantasy and schoolyard taunts and selling stuff like it’s the Home Shopping Network,” he told supporters at a fundraiser in Austin, before turning to the incendiary statements that Trump has made about Muslims and Latinos.

“And then you’ve got the Republican establishment -- they’re very exercised: ‘We’re shocked that somebody would be saying these things. We’re shocked that somebody is fanning anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-Muslim sentiment. We’re shocked!’”

Obama spoke shortly before protesters clashed with Trump supporters at the site of a rally in Chicago, prompting Trump to cancel the event.

Obama seemed to relish mocking the GOP establishment’s struggle to deal with the possibility that Trump would be their standard-bearer, recalling when Trump was at the forefront of the so-called birther movement that questioned whether Obama was constitutionally eligible to be president.

“This is the guy, remember, who was sure that I was born in Kenya. Who just wouldn’t let it go,” said Obama, who released his long-form birth certificate in 2011 as Trump increasingly hammered the false notion that the president was born overseas and therefore ineligible to be president. “And all this same Republican establishment, they weren’t saying nothing. As long as it was directed at me, they were fine with it. They thought it was a hoot. Wanted to get his endorsement. And then now, suddenly, we’re shocked that there’s gambling going on in this establishment.”

Obama argued that the seeds that Republicans and sympathetic media outlets have sown throughout his presidency were now flowering, to the GOP’s detriment.

“I don’t take pleasure in seeing what’s going on in the other side,” he said.

“We need a healthy two-party system. We’ve got to have serious debate. And Democrats need to have somebody who is questioning and challenging some of our own dogmas and our own blind spots. And each party has to have some mechanism to be self-critical and step back and say, all right, are we really trying to solve problems here or just trying to score points and win elections?”

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Chicago police: We were not consulted in decision to cancel Trump rally

Chicago police “were not consulted” and “did not provide an opinion” on Donald Trump’s decision to cancel a rally in Chicago, the department said Friday night.

The department made clear to the Trump campaign that “we were confident we had the proper amount of resources dedicated to the event,” interim Supt. of Police John Escalante said in a news conference.

Escalante said 200 Chicago police officers were initially deployed to the event and an additional 100 were sent as a precaution upon word that the rally might be canceled.

He said the police were “taken by surprise” at the decision to cancel, particularly since his officers told the campaign they could “could guarantee safe access and exit to Mr. Trump.”

Once the rally was called off, Escalante said, “several scuffles had broken out inside the pavilion.”

Two people were arrested by the Chicago police, two by University of Illinois at Chicago officers, and one by state police.

Escalante said two officers were injured, including one who was struck in the head with a bottle, suffering a cut that required stitches.

“It’s unfortunate that parties on both sides allowed their political views to become confrontational,” he said.

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Rubio: ‘We have reached a breaking point in our politics’

Marco Rubio tried to have it both ways Friday night, saying that the disturbances at Friday’s Donald Trump rally were due to organized, perhaps professional protesters, but that the GOP front-runner bears responsibility for a divisive message.

“We have reached a breaking point in our politics,” Rubio said in an interview on CNN.

The Florida senator said the protests that erupted at Trump’s Chicago rally were not “organic,” but he simultaneously faulted the message the businessman has put forward as divisive.

“He bears responsibility for … the general tone and atmosphere of his campaign, which has been about things like the reason why things are going wrong in your life or in this country is because of this group of people versus that group of people,” Rubio said, in comments similar to ones he made on Fox News.

He noted that violent protests have not broken out at his rallies, nor those of GOP rivals Ted Cruz or John Kasich, or Democrats Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.

“There’s something different going on here,” Rubio said.

“Trump needs to own up to the fact that the rhetoric he has used at some of his events has contributed to the climate that you’ve seen in other rallies he’s had,” said Rubio, who is facing a critical test in Tuesday’s Florida primary. “There are consequences to the things people say in politics. A president, for example, can’t just speak his mind.”

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Ben Carson: Protests can stem from frustrations of urban life

Former presidential hopeful Ben Carson suggested that the frustrations of urban life can lead to protests like those at the canceled Donald Trump rally in Chicago on Friday.

College campuses are also breeding intolerance to opposing views, said Carson, who endorsed Trump earlier in the day.

“We need to recognize what’s happening, particularly in a lot of our inner cities,” Carson told Fox News’ Sean Hannity.

“President Obama came along with the hope-and-change model. It’s been a lot of hope and but not much change. That leaves people very, very frustrated and makes them easy to manipulate,” he said.

“It’s craziness,” Carson said. “What they really need to be doing is teaching, particularly the younger generation, what the meaning of the 1st Amendment is about.

“On a lot of our college campuses, intolerance reigns supreme; tolerance is only taught in one direction,” he said.

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Kasich: Division sown by Trump is ‘ugly’

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who has generally taken a kinder, gentler tone in this raucous GOP nominating contest, called for unity in response to Friday night’s mayhem ahead of a scrapped Donald Trump event in Chicago.

“The seeds of division that Donald Trump has been sowing this whole campaign finally bore fruit, and it was ugly,” Kasich said in a statement. “Some let their opposition to his views slip beyond protest into violence, but we can never let that happen. I urge people to resist that temptation and rise to a higher level.”

Kasich appealed to Americans’ sense of togetherness, saying, “We are great because we are a peaceful people who live by the rule of law.

“We are stronger together, we will reject those who try to divide us for personal gain and we will do it the right way—at the ballot box,” he said.

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CBS reporter detained at Trump Chicago event

A CBS News reporter was detained by police while covering the turmoil at Donald Trump’s canceled Chicago rally Friday night, the network said.

The detained reporter is Sopan Deb, who covers Trump for the network. CBS posted this statement at the bottom of its story on the Chicago upheaval:

“In the midst of reporting on this event, CBS News’ Sopan Deb was detained by law enforcement. We are awaiting more information on the circumstances and will continue to update our report.”

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MoveOn: Get used to anti-Trump protests

“Welcome to the general election.”

That’s the message the director of a major progressive group endorsing Bernie Sanders had for Donald Trump on Friday night after hundreds of protesters clashed with Trump supporters at a planned Trump campaign rally in Chicago.

Ilya Sheyman, executive director of MoveOn.org’s political action group, blamed Trump for the evening’s unrest in a statement issued to the group’s members.

“Mr. Trump and the Republican leaders who support him and his hate-filled rhetoric should be on notice after tonight’s events,” Sheyman said. “These protests are a direct result of the violence that has occurred at Trump rallies and that has been encouraged by Trump himself from the stage.”

Sheyman, representing one of several left-leaning groups working to elect Sanders, thanked the protesters for their actions.

“To all of those who took to the streets of Chicago, we say thank you for standing up and saying enough is enough,” Sheyman said. “To Donald Trump, and the GOP, we say, welcome to the general election.”

It was unclear exactly how Friday’s action was organized, and by whom. Protesters at the rally included Latinos, some of whom held signs decrying Trump’s comments about Mexican immigrants, and Muslims, who disparaged Trump’s vow to indefinitely bar Muslims from entering the country.

Another group that also supports Sanders, People for Bernie — an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement — sent a tweet warning that even bigger battles may be ahead.

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Dispatches from a reporter amid fracas

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Rubio implies that Obama and Trump both bear responsibility in Chicago chaos

Reacting to the upheaval at Donald Trump’s canceled Chicago rally, Sen. Marco Rubio said Friday night that this is a “very disturbing moment in our political discourse” and pointed to “real significant anger and frustration at the direction of the country.”

“America is better than this,” Rubio said on a call to Fox News. “We don’t have to tear each other apart.”

Rubio said he did not blame Trump for tonight’s events but the Republican front-runner “does bear responsibility for other things that have happened at his events,” citing one instance in which Trump said he wished he could punch a protester in the face.

Rubio also pinned some of the blame on President Obama.

“President Obama has spent the last eight years dividing Americans along haves and have-nots, along ethnic lines, racial lines in order to win elections,” Rubio said. “I think this has gone to the next level here and I think we’re seeing the consequences in it.”

Rubio also blamed the “professional protesters,” some of whom, he asserted, were being paid to be there.

He said that on the political left, there’s “a sense that if you don’t like what someone’s saying, you can just shut them down.”

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Ted Cruz: Trump campaign ‘affirmatively encourages violence’

In a gaggle with reporters Friday night, Ted Cruz said Donald Trump shares blame for the violence at his events with the protesters.

“In any campaign, responsibility starts at the top,” he said. “Any candidate is responsible for the culture of the campaign. When you have a campaign that disrespects the voters. When you have a campaign that affirmatively encourages violence. When you have a campaign that is facing allegations of physical violence against members of the press, you create an environment that only encourages this sort of nasty discord.”

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Scene from St. Louis earlier today

The Associated Press captured this striking photo as a protester was removed by police during a Donald Trump rally at the Peabody Opera House in St. Louis.

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Donald Trump has a history of endorsing violence against protesters

Hours before Donald Trump canceled a Chicago rally Friday amid a racially charged clash between protesters and his supporters, the New York real estate mogul taunted demonstrators whose shouting interrupted him in St. Louis.

“Go home and get a job,” Trump snapped at the Missouri protesters. “Go home to mommy.”

For months, the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination has used protester disruptions as a theatrical device at his raucous rallies in sports arenas across the nation.

“Get ‘em out,” he shouts, as he did in St. Louis. “Get ‘em out. Come on. Let’s go. Get ‘em out.”

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Photos: Before and after protests erupted at Trump rally in Chicago

Protesters against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump chant after it was announced that a rally for Trump was canceled.
(Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated Press)

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Former top Bush aide rips Trump over Chicago violence

A senior advisor to Jeb Bush’s unsuccessful presidential campaign said the blame for the violence Friday at a Donald Trump rally in Chicago should be placed solely on the GOP front-runner.

David Kochel, a former top aide to Bush, urged Trump to read the biblical verse Galatians 6:7: “For you reap what you sow.”

“None of this should be surprising to anyone, especially Mr. Trump. He knows what he’s doing, and he knows what it’s unleashing,” Kochel said. “It’s despicable.”

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Ted Cruz on Trump: ‘A campaign bears responsibility for creating an environment’

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Bernie Sanders: We are not going to hate

Bernie Sanders took aim at the situation at Donald Trump’s rally while addressing supporters in Summit, Ill.

What this campaign is about is bringing our people together, not letting Donald Trump or anybody else divide us up.  No, we are not going to hate Mexicans. We are not going to hate Muslims.  We are not going to insult women. We are not going to insult veterans. We are not going to insult African Americans. We are going to bring our people together.

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In Trump’s own words: His history of endorsing violence against protesters

Donald Trump encourages his supporters to surround and shout down protesters with chants of “USA,” and has openly pined for “the old days,” when, he says, noisy demonstrators would be carried out of a political rally on stretchers. Here are some of his comments during previous rallies:

At a Missouri rally:

Go home and get a job. Go home to mommy.

To a Las Vegas casino rally crowd last month when one protester was ejected:

I’d like to punch him in the face.

After telling a Missouri crowd that protesters were “destroying our country.”

These are not good people, folks, just so you understand. I heard this was going to happen. They said, ‘Mr. Trump, would you like to cancel?’ I said, ‘Absolutely not.’ These are not good people.”

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Trump says violence at Chicago rally caused by unemployment, not his words

Donald Trump said his rhetoric did not cause the violence at his canceled Chicago rally Friday night, but rather that it was caused by unemployment, notably among young black Americans.

“I think it’s largely economic,” Trump said on CNN, lamenting that Americans were losing jobs to Mexico and other nations. “If you look at African American youth, they have a 59% unemployment rate -- 59%. I think it’s largely an economic problem, absolutely.”

Asked whether he regretted any of his rhetoric, which some political observers believe fueled the protests in Chicago, Trump repeatedly said he did not.

In recent weeks, Trump has come under fire for urging his crowds to harm protesters, and there have been increasing reports of violence against protesters and the media at Trump rallies, notably allegations that his campaign manager roughed up a Breitbart reporter, and a video showing an African American protester getting sucker-punched by a Trump supporter.

Trump said that no one had been “seriously hurt” at his rallies and that he did not condone or incite violence. The blame for prior confrontations, he said, lies with “violent” protesters, including “some very tough dudes.”

“We will have protesters stand up and be very, very abusive, unbelievably abusive, and in some cases swinging, punching and swinging,” he said. “Overall, I think we’ve been very mild with protesters.”

Trump noted his rallies, which he deemed “love fests,” have attracted tens of thousands of supporters.

“There’s great love in those big stadiums,” he said.

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31 arrested at Trump rally in St. Louis hours before Chicago protests

Hours before protests erupted in Chicago, Donald Trump appeared at the Peabody Opera House in St. Louis, where he faced intensifying criticism for the violent clashes between supporters and protesters at his rallies.

The rally was interrupted repeatedly by protesters, and police said 31 people were arrested and charged with general peace disturbance. One person arrested outside the event was charged with third-degree assault.

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Republican head of anti-Trump effort says Chicago violence is unsurprising

The GOP leader of an anti-Donald Trump effort said Friday evening that the violence that forced the cancellation of his Chicago rally was unsurprising given the candidate’s harsh language.

“When you use incendiary speech and you encourage your own supporters and your staff to be violent and aggressive, and when you ignore the cries of victims in your midst, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that violence and aggression follow you,” said Katie Packer, the head of the Our Principles PAC and former deputy campaign manager to 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

The group is spending millions advertising heavily against Trump in the run-up to Tuesday’s primaries, notably in Florida. They have received increased funding and attention in recent days as establishment Republicans try to unite and stop Trump from winning the GOP nomination.

Packer said it was wrong for protesters to shut down a political rally, but she also said it was inevitable given Trump’s rhetoric.

“It’s only a matter of time before someone gets seriously hurt. And when that happens, Donald Trump will have a lot to answer for,” she said.

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Physical clashes are nothing new at Trump rallies

Donald Trump has said on the campaign trail that he’d like to “punch,” people who protest his rallies.

Tonight, Chicago police informed him of a chaotic situation at the arena where he was set to address supporters.

“They said we have a massive crowd of supporters going into the arena at the same time we have a lot of protesters -- a couple of thousand protesters,” Trump told Fox News. ‘I told them, I said ‘I don’t want to see them clash, because if they clash a lot of bad things are going to happen.”

When it comes to physical altercations, Trump rallies offer plenty.

From Alabama to Nevada, protesters and Trump supporters have clashed. Trump frequently blames the media for highlighting the clashes with protesters.

Above is an image from a December rally in Las Vegas.

In that rally one person can be heard saying: “Light that [expletive] on fire,” as an African American demonstrator sat on the ground and was pulled up by security.

A scuffle erupts at a Donald Trump rally in Las Vegas.

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Video: Protests erupt ahead of Trump rally

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has canceled a rally in Chicago due to safety concerns after protesters packed into the arena where it was to take place.  

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Sanders and Cruz respond to Trump rally in Chicago

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The hall is quiet

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Watch: Video from Donald Trump protest

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Donald Trump: ‘You can’t even have a rally anymore’

Donald Trump, the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination, blamed violent protesters for leading to his campaign’s cancellation of a rally in Chicago on Friday evening.

“You can’t even have a rally anymore in this country,” said Trump in an appearance on MSNBC as the station aired images of protesters flooding the streets around the University of Illinois-Chicago Pavilion.

In recent months, buoyed by his caustic rhetoric, Trump rallies have been the scene of numerous outbreaks of violence.

This week, Trump supporter John McGraw was charged with assault and disorderly conduct in an assault on Rakeem Jones, who was protesting at a Trump rally in Fayetteville, N.C.

Sheriff’s deputies detained Jones after he was punched. Jones was not charged with any crime and was only escorted out of the arena, said Sean Swain, a spokesman for the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office.

On Friday, while speaking on MSNBC, Trump said he canceled his rally out of safety for the community.

“Whatever happened to freedom of speech?” he said of the events in Chicago.

On Fox News, Trump told viewers: “I’m a unifer. I’ll bring people together.”

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Trump rally canceled in Chicago because of safety concerns

A rally for presidential candidate Donald Trump was canceled Friday after protestors gathered near the event space.

Reporters and photographers from the Chicago Tribune were at the scene.

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Donald Trump backers face off with protesters outside Chicago rally

(Chris Sweda / Chicago Tribune)

Masses of protesters clashed with Donald Trump supporters inside and outside a rally for the Republican presidential front-runner tonight, leading to the cancellation of the event at the University of Illinois-Chicago Pavilion due to security concerns.

Thousands of mostly young protesters had gathered outside the arena before Trump was due to appear, and at least some inside the venue were removed. Meanwhile, police attempted to keep hundreds of protesters and supporters separated on the streets outside.

Outside Donald Trump’s rally protesters chanted, “Hey, hey. Ho, ho. Donald Trump has got to go.”

A few Trump backers lashed back at demonstrators, shouting, “Build the wall!” -- a reference to Trump’s pledge to build a wall on the Mexican border and have Mexico pay for it.

The situation was so tense that officials announced shortly after 4:30 p.m. that Trump’s rally was canceled.

Thousands had turned out to see Trump, while an estimated 500 protesters were on hand.

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Teens win Ohio court fight on youth vote

Chalk one up for Bernie Sanders.

A state judge in Columbus ruled Friday that 17-year-olds who reach the age of 18 before the fall election can participate in Ohio’s presidential primary on Tuesday.

The question turned on a technicality.

Ohio’s elections overseer, Secretary of State Jon Husted, issued instructions last year stating that 17-year-olds can vote “solely on the nomination of candidates” and not in the presidential primary “because delegates are elected and not nominated.”

That would have prevented them from participating in a primary that has grown in import since Sanders’ upset Tuesday of Hillary Clinton in neighboring Michigan.

Nine teen voters sued, claiming the interpretation denied their voting rights, and Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Richard Frye issued an emergency order blocking Husted’s interpretation from taking effect.

A spokesman said Husted would not appeal the decision.

Sanders’ campaign had filed a separate federal lawsuit over the limit on 17-year-olds voting but a federal judge set it aside, pending a decision from the state court.

Young voters have been a crucial constituency for Sanders, favoring the Vermont senator in overwhelming numbers against Clinton.

The Sanders campaign hailed the judge’s decision. “This is a victory for young voters and a great day for democracy in Ohio,” Sanders’ state campaign chief, Jeff Rusnak, said in a statement.

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Thanks, but no thanks

Earlier Friday, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio endorsed the notion of his Ohio supporters backing their governor, John Kasich, in Tuesday’s primary in a bid to stop Donald Trump from clinching the GOP nomination.

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After outrage, Hillary Clinton walks back praise for Nancy Reagan on AIDS activism

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton said she misspoke Friday when she praised former First Lady Nancy Reagan for helping to start “a national conversation” about AIDS.

Her comments, in an interview on MSNBC, had outraged gay activists who remember the Reagan Administration as a time of indifference about a deadly disease.

The former secretary of state, who was interviewed shortly before she attended Nancy Reagan’s funeral in California, noted the difficulties and stigma that people with HIV/AIDS faced in the 1980s.

“Because of both President and Mrs. Reagan -- in particular Mrs. Reagan -- we started a national conversation,” she said.

Before them, she said, “nobody would talk about it, nobody wanted to do anything about it.” She praised Mrs. Reagan’s “very effective, low key advocacy,” saying “it penetrated the public conscious.”

Activists responded angrily, saying Clinton was distorting the historical record.

According to a piece published this week by Teen Vogue, the World Health Organization was holding meetings about AIDS by 1983. But the Reagan White House offered little support.

Critics say the Reagan administration’s slow response to HIV/AIDS led to the deaths of thousands of people, including many in the LGBT community.

Among Clinton’s critics Friday was Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, which has endorsed Clinton.

Clinton offered an apology on Twitter, saying she had misspoke.

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Shonda Rhimes and stars of her shows stump for Hillary Clinton

Shonda Rhimes, creator of ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal” and executive producer of “How to Get Away with Murder” got political Thursday night when she and stars of the three hit dramas banded together to share public support for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

In a political ad directed by Tony Goldwyn (“Scandal”), Rhimes and actresses Viola Davis (“How to Get Away with Murder”), Ellen Pompeo (“Grey’s Anatomy”) and Kerry Washington (“Scandal”) discuss creating and portraying “brilliant, complex, overqualified, get-it-done” women and the real-life equivalent found in Clinton.

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Hillary Clinton struggles to reassure voters about big money’s influence, focus group indicates

The participants in a Cleveland focus group were read a presidential candidate’s diatribe against the influence of secret political donations, then asked whose opinion it represented – Bernie Sanders’ or Hillary Clinton’s?

All of the participants were likely Clinton supporters, and almost all of them incorrectly identified the statement as coming from Sanders. In fact, it was from Clinton’s campaign website.

“I just felt like I could just picture him out there saying it,” one said.

The conversation was a glimpse of the problem Clinton faces when trying to reassure Democratic primary voters that she isn’t beholden to some of the special interests, including Wall Street donors, that have supported her candidacy.

“She’s not breaking through at all,” said David Donnelly, president of Every Voice, an advocacy group trying to reduce the influence of big money in politics. Every Voice hired Democracy Corps, a public opinion firm founded by former Clinton advisors, to conduct the focus group last week in Ohio, which holds its primary on Tuesday.

Both candidates have strong proposals regarding campaign finance, Donnelly said, including overturning the so-called Citizens United ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that helped unleash a flood of big money in politics.

But Sanders has been able to turn his message into practice by relying on small donors to fuel his candidacy. That’s given him the credibility to turn the issue into a potent criticism of Clinton.

By defending herself against Sanders, Donnelly said, “what she’s left doing is defending the status quo.”

Clinton should spend more time emphasizing what she’d do to fix the problem, he said, especially if Donald Trump becomes the Republican nominee and continues to claim his wealth makes him independent of special interests.

“She’s going to have to go a little extra distance given the trust deficit she has with some voters, even Democratic voters,” Donnelly said.

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Pro-Trump PAC gets a boost from a well-connected GOP operative

Donald Trump at a rally in Fayetteville, N.C.
(Gerry Broome / Associated Press)

The “Never Trump” movement has a new headache.

A longtime GOP operative with deep ties to Republican Sens. Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell has joined a pro-Trump super PAC.

The Great America PAC doesn’t expect to hammer Trump’s rivals with negative ads. Rather, the group, which depicts Trump as the GOP’s inevitable nominee, plans to air positive messages about his candidacy. It may run ads ahead of next week’s voting in Florida.

“We’re going to try to unify this party,” said Jesse Benton, who ran Paul’s presidential bid and McConnell’s most recent Senate reelection campaign.

Benton joins tea party leader Amy Kremer and California GOP operative Eric Beach on the Great American PAC team even as “never Trump” groups are boosting their own last-ditch efforts against the GOP front-runner.

The PAC, which has financial backing from Bill Doddridge, the wealthy owner of the Jewelry Exchange, launched under a different name earlier in this election cycle and produced some radio advertising in Iowa.

The announcement of Benton’s involvement “means we’re serious,” Kremer said. “We’re in this for the long haul.”

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Rubio to Ohio voters: Vote for Kasich if you don’t want Trump

Sen. Marco Rubio said he “respects” Ohio voters who may decide that voting for John Kasich is the best way to stop Donald Trump on Friday, implicitly blessing a divide-and-conquer strategy to deprive the GOP front-runner from racking up enough delegates to secure the party’s nomination for president.

Rubio, speaking at a news conference at a Jewish temple in West Palm Beach, Fla., stopped short of explicitly encouraging his supporters in Ohio to vote for Kasich.

But Rubio repeatedly said he anticipated that the anti-Trump vote in Ohio would gravitate toward Kasich, the state’s governor.

“I suspect that a voter in Ohio that doesn’t want Donald Trump to win Ohio may very well conclude that the best way to stop him in Ohio is to vote for John Kasich,” Rubio said. “I respect that.”

Rubio’s remarks echoed comments made by his campaign spokesman earlier in the morning to CNN, when he acknowledged that Kasich had “the best chance” to defeat Trump in the Buckeye State.

Rubio, the Florida senator, then made an appeal to consolidate voters against Trump in his home state.

“A vote for Ted Cruz or John Kasich in Florida is a vote for Donald Trump,” Rubio said. “The only one who has a chance to beat Donald Trump in Florida is me.”

Rubio pushed back against the perception that he was aligning with his rivals to take down Trump. He said he has not spoken to Kasich and tamped down on speculation that he would pursue a “unity ticket” with Cruz.

“This is stuff from ‘House of Cards.’ It’s not real life,” he said.

Rubio opened his news conference with a focus on foreign affairs, specifically U.S. policy toward Israel. He slammed Trump for not being sufficiently supportive of Israel.

“It is unfortunate that in this election, the supposed front-runner has said that on the issue of the Palestinians and the Israelis, he will not take a side,” Rubio said. “Let me be abundantly clear: When I am president, we are going to take a side. And we are going to be on Israel’s side.”

Rubio said he would rule out negotiating for a two-state solution, saying that there is no representative for the Palestinians who would negotiate in good faith.

Trump said during Thursday’s GOP debate that he would see “if a deal could be made, the toughest deal, the toughest negotiation there probably is.”

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Donald Trump denies reporter’s assault allegation against his campaign manager

Donald Trump brushed aside accusations Friday from a reporter that his campaign manager grabbed her at a news conference this week, calling the allegation “entirely false.”

“Our staff, which had no knowledge of said situation, not a single camera or reporter of more than 100 in attendance captured the alleged incident,” the billionaire businessman and front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination said in a statement.

The reporter, Michelle Fields, who works for conservative media outlet Breitbart, accused Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski of grabbing her arm and shoving her out of the way as she tried to ask Trump a question following a news conference at the Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., on Tuesday.

Fields had said she didn’t see who grabbed her, but a reporter from the Washington Post identified Lewandowski as having yanked Fields out of the way. She posted photos of her bruised arm on social media and castigated Lewandowski as unprofessional.

The Post reporter stood by his account Friday after Breitbart said that it reviewed video footage and that the man who grabbed Fields was “likely not” Lewandowski.

According to the Jupiter Police Department, a report was filed on Friday and an investigation was launched.

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Trump gets Carson endorsement

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Ben Carson backs Donald Trump, a ‘very intelligent man’

Ben Carson threw his support behind Donald Trump’s presidential campaign Friday, calling the Republican front-runner a “very intelligent man that cares deeply about America.”

Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who captivated some conservative voters with his unconventional campaign before dropping out of the race last week, said Americans need to know that there are “two Donald Trumps.”

There’s the one who dominates headlines with his brash statements, Carson said, and “one that is very cerebral.”

As voters “begin to see the real individual there,” Carson said, “I think we’re going to be comforted as a nation.”

The pair appeared together at a news conference at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., a day after Trump squared off in a surprisingly civil debate -- “elegant,” in Trump parlance -- against his three remaining competitors for the Republican nomination.

Carson implored Republicans to coalesce around Trump.

“A house divided against itself cannot stand,” Carson said, quoting Abraham Lincoln to allude to some Republican leaders who have said they will not back Trump.

“I want the will of the people to be heard,” he said. “I want the political process to play out as it should play out.”

Carson’s endorsement could help boost Trump’s support among evangelical Christian voters, many of whom flocked to Carson’s outsider campaign. That could hurt Trump rival Ted Cruz, who counts evangelicals as part of his base.

Carson has had a rocky relationship with Cruz after accusing Cruz of dirty tricks to keep voters from Carson on the night of the Iowa caucuses.

A few days ago, Cruz won the backing of former Republican candidate Carly Fiorina. Another former candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, is said to be meeting with Trump’s rivals, although it is unclear whether he will endorse a candidate ahead of Florida’s Tuesday primary election.

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Ben Carson: There are ‘two Donald Trumps’

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Obama can’t resist a Ted Cruz joke

President Obama commended the efforts by both the U.S. and Canada to provide opportunity regardless of birthright during a state dinner Thursday, especially in the remarkable case of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

“Where else could a boy born in Calgary run for president of the United States?” Obama joked during a speech at the dinner for new Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The questions surrounding the Republican candidate’s eligibility for the presidency have been mostly dismissed, though that didn’t stop Obama from poking fun at Cruz.

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Ben Carson makes endorsement: Trump has ‘guts’

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Analysis: An intently civil Republican debate leaves Donald Trump on top

Millions of people have voted and hundreds of delegates have been allocated in the Republican presidential contest, yet the other candidates are still grasping for ways to take down Donald Trump, the most confounding opponent any of them has faced.

If there was a coherent anti-Trump strategy concocted for Thursday’s presidential debate, it was neither well-executed nor successful.

Ted Cruz hit Trump as the consummate insider, the fox in the chicken coop of Republican politics. Marco Rubio struck at him as a know-nothing naif on foreign policy.

But the voters who have flocked to Trump this election season see him as the ultimate outsider. And if they cared about his foreign policy expertise, he would have been out of the presidential contest months ago.

Instead he’s the GOP front-runner, and nothing that happened Thursday night is likely to change that.

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Marco Rubio doubles down on his skepticism of climate change policy

Climate change policies waste economic resources on a prediction that may not even show measurable benefits in the foreseeable future, Marco Rubio insisted Friday.

Following his claim against the accepted science during Thursday’s GOP debate in Miami, the Florida senator explained his promise to eliminate any federal policies intended to curb climate change if he’s elected president.

Activists “are asking me to support public policies that will do nothing to affect the environment but will have a direct and immediate impact on our economy,” Rubio said on CNN.

About 97% of scientists acknowledge the existence of climate change. But Rubio argued that no one truly knows how much of that change stems from human activity.

He said policies might “make a statement” or set a global precedent, but the economic harm for the U.S. outweighs the science.

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Donald Trump supporter is charged after videos show him punching protester at rally

Donald Trump at a rally in Fayetteville, N.C., where a protester was punched.
(Gerry Broome / Associated Press)

Donald Trump has said he’d like to “punch” protesters who flock to his rallies, and one of his supporters apparently took it upon himself to act.

Videos being circulated on social media Thursday showed a white man punching a black protester at a Trump rally in Fayetteville, N.C., on Wednesday.

According to the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, the suspect, John McGraw, was charged with assault and disorderly conduct in the attack on Rakeem Jones as Jones exited the rally. McGraw was scheduled to appear in court next month.

Sheriff’s deputies detained Jones after he was punched. Jones was not charged with any crime and was escorted out of the arena, said Sean Swain, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office.

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CNN’s Jake Tapper says he expected more fireworks at the Republican debate

Marco Rubio and Donald Trump at the Florida Republican presidential debate.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Jake Tapper did not expect peace to break out at CNN’s Republican presidential debate on Thursday.

The moderator of the event at the University of Miami said he was hopeful the candidates would dial down the mayhem after last week’s showdown in Detroit, where name-calling and double-entendres reached a level never seen in a modern presidential campaign. But with Tuesday’s primaries likely to eliminate one or two of the four remaining candidates for the 2016 Republican nomination, he said he believed that the competitors would try to land more hits then they did.

“I thought they were going to be more civil, but I didn’t think they were going to pass up as many opportunities as they did to differentiate themselves from each other,” Tapper told The Times after the debate.

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