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Forget the popcorn; Donald Trump says he won’t debate Bernie Sanders after all

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Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are campaigning in California.

  • Donald Trump says he won’t debate Sanders
  • Both supporters and protesters flock to Donald Trump’s rally in Fresno
  • Meet the Chinese-American immigrants who back Trump
  • Why Sanders keeps popping up in out-of-the-way California towns

In agricultural heartland, Trump sides with California farmers over environmentalists

Donald Trump waded into California’s perennial water wars Friday, taking the side of agriculture and vowing to boost the state’s farmers even if it means cutting back environmental protections.

“If I win, believe me, we’re going to start opening up the water so that you can have your farmers survive, so that your job market will get better,” Trump told a few thousand cheering supporters at a sports arena in Fresno.

After a private half-hour meeting with farmers, Trump said the group told him there was no drought in California, but rather a failure to preserve and wisely use the water the state has on tap.

“You have a water problem that is so insane,” he said. “It is so ridiculous, where they’re taking the water and shoving it out to sea.”

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Trump trashes judge overseeing Trump University fraud case, says it’s fine that he’s Mexican

Donald Trump used a huge campaign rally in San Diego on Friday as a forum to trash the federal judge overseeing his upcoming trial in a civil fraud lawsuit alleging that his defunct real-estate school was a sham.

The Republican Party’s presidential nominee-in-waiting said Gonzalo P. Curiel, a San Diego judge, was “very hostile” toward him and should recuse himself from the class-action suit against Trump University.

Thousands of Trump supporters, spread across the vast floor of the San Diego Convention Center, booed when the candidate told them Curiel was appointed to the bench by President Obama. Trump brought up the judge’s ethnicity, but did not say why.

“The judge, who happens to be, we believe, Mexican, which is great, I think that’s fine,” said Trump, whose plan to build a wall on the nation’s southern border has offended many Mexican Americans. “You know what? I think the Mexicans are going to end up loving Donald Trump when I give all these jobs, OK?”

Curiel recently postponed Trump’s trial until late November, saying he was concerned about the potential for a “media frenzy” if it took place during the presidential campaign.

Former students say they spent as much as $35,000 apiece to take Trump University real-estate classes that proved worthless. Trump denies the allegation.

“I’m getting railroaded by the legal system,” Trump said. “Frankly, they should be ashamed.”

Trump appeared unfazed by the risk that his attack might anger the judge.

“I’ve been treated very unfairly,” he said.

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Bernie Sanders says Hillary Clinton could lose in a general election

Bernie Sanders said Friday that Hillary Clinton, his rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, could lose in the fall general election.

He offered his assessment of Clinton’s chances running against the presumptive GOP nominee, Donald Trump, in an interview on The Young Turks, a left-leaning political web series recorded in Los Angeles.

“Can she lose? Absolutely she can lose,” Sanders said. “The reason I’m here, the reason I’m running all over California, is because I think I’m a much stronger candidate.”

Sanders, who has largely avoided criticizing Clinton during stump speeches across California in recent days, said that she must take responsibility for her poll numbers. Some Democrats have said that Sanders, trailing in the number of delegates needed to win the nomination, is merely playing spoiler and is hurting Clinton in general election polls.

A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll showed Clinton tied with Trump. That same poll found her unfavorables at 53%.

“She will have to take some responsibility,” Sanders said of Clinton’s negative ratings.

Sanders demurred when asked by Cenk Uygur, host of the show and a Sanders supporter, why he has not criticized Clinton for the controversy surrounding her emails.

“There are investigations underway,” Sanders said. “They will play out.”

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Tom Steyer launches Spanish-language ads attacking Donald Trump

California billionaire Tom Steyer stars in a new Spanish-language television commercial attacking presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

The advertisement, which Steyer’s group NextGen Climate Action is airing statewide ahead of California’s June 7 primary on Univision, Telemundo, and Spanish-language websites, features video clips of Trump calling immigrants from Mexico “rapists” and calling for a deportation force to send home those in the country illegally.

Steyer, who is considering a run for California governor in 2018, then appears onscreen and introduces himself in Spanish.

“We’re all Californians,” Steyer says. “Now it’s time to raise the voice. Vote.”

Earlier this year, Steyer announced a $25-million effort to register young voters ahead of the November election.

Steyer, whose activism has largely been focused on environmental issues in the past, has spent tens of millions of dollars in previous elections backing candidates who support boosting renewable energy and other efforts aimed at combating climate change.

He spent $74 million in 2014 alone, leading some to describe him as the Democratic equivalent of the Koch brothers.

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Donald Trump pulls the plug on debating Bernie Sanders, despite the promise of an ‘easy payday’

Cable television producers’ daydreams of a Bernie Sanders-Donald Trump debate were dashed Friday afternoon when Trump finally pulled out of what he called an “easy payday.”

For days, the two had publicly weighed such an unusual spectacle after Trump mentioned the possibility during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel’s late-night show.

Trump blamed his withdrawal on “the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and crooked Hillary Clinton and [Democratic National Committee chair] Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win.”

Trump added that it would be “inappropriate that I would debate the second-place finisher.”

Sanders seemed more than willing, even as he would have infuriated many in the Democratic establishment.

“I hope that he changes his mind,” Sanders said at a campaign stop near the Inglewood Oil Field. "… Mr. Trump is known to change his mind many times in a day. ... Well, Mr. Trump, what are you afraid of? Why do you not want to see a debate here in California?”

Sanders said he has plenty of questions for Trump about his insults of Muslims, Mexicans and women.

Trump had said he would debate Sanders if he could raise $10 million for charity, but it was never clear how serious he was about the whole thing.

The debate would have added yet another unprecedented moment to the 2016 campaign: Sanders’ odds of winning the Democratic nomination are dubious at best.

Times staff writer Kurtis Lee contributed to this report.

2:16 p.m.: This post was udpated with comment from Sanders.

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Officers ask protesters to disperse at Trump rally in Fresno

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Protesters ready for Trump’s arrival in San Diego

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Donald Trump sides with agriculture over environmentalists in California water clash

Donald Trump cast the unending controversies over California’s water supply as a fight between farmers and environmentalists on Friday, and he took the side of agriculture.

“If I win, believe me, we’re going to start opening up the water so that you can have your farmers survive, so that your job market will get better,” Trump told a few thousand cheering supporters at a rally in Fresno.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee mocked environmentalists for “trying to protect a certain kind of 3-inch fish.”

For more than a century, competition over California’s often scarce water supply has pitted a wide array of powerful forces against one another — big cities, the agriculture industry and conservationists among them.

After a half-hour meeting with farmers, Trump said the group had told him there was no drought in California.

“You have a water problem that is so insane,” he said. “It is so ridiculous, where they’re taking the water and shoving it out to sea.”

Without mentioning their names, he cast California’s Democratic senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, as adversaries of farming who try to “play both sides.”

“When you’re with the senators, they want you,” he told the crowd, including many waving “Farmers for Trump” signs. “And then they go over to the environmental side, and they want them. And then you say, ‘Gee, that’s strange. They’re for me. We want the water, but the environmentalists just endorsed them. I wonder why.’ ”

Trump also lashed out against various other adversaries, above all, his presumed Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. He bashed her use of a private email server when she was secretary of State and recalled the Whitewater scandal of the 1990s.

“She’s always skirted the edge,” he said.

Trump also defied critics who have described his attacks on Clinton’s speaking manner as sexist. He said he wanted to be politically correct, “so I refuse to say that I cannot stand her screaming into the microphone all the time.”

“Actually, that’s why I turned it off last night,” he said of a Clinton television appearance. “It wasn’t that she was lying about me in every single corner. I just couldn’t stand it.”

Trump covered his ears with his hands. “I got such a headache — ahh, please. But I won’t say it. Because we’re not allowed to say that, right? Talking to these women in front: Is that right? Was I good in not saying it?”

Noting his strong support among men and his unpopularity among women, Trump said: “I love women. Believe me, I love women. I loooove women. And you know what else? I have great respect for women. Believe me.”

Trump also called President Obama pathetic while saying he respects Russian President Vladimir Putin for being a strong leader.

“Putin did call me a genius, and he said I’m the future of the Republican Party,” Trump said. “He’s off to a good start.”

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Bernie Sanders: ‘Billionaires are not going to run this country’

Although he’s seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, Bernie Sanders delivered a fiery rebuke Friday of both parties as he sought to cast himself as a political outsider.

“It is too late for establishment politics, establishment economics. We need a political revolution,” Sanders said with towering cranes at the Port of Long Beach and Port of Los Angeles looming in the background. “We are tired of politicians in both parties hustling money from the wealthy and the powerful.”

Sanders, who has campaigned across Southern California in recent days, steered away from jabbing Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination. He made only passing reference to the backing she gets from super PACs, as he’s done in most speeches. He did, however, point to casino magnate Sheldon Adelson’s support of Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, to castigate big money in politics.

“It’s an absurdity when you have a billionaire like Sheldon Adelson contributing large sums of money to another billionaire like Donald Trump,” Sanders said. “What a joke. … Our message is: Billionaires are not going to run this country.”

He added, “The American people are sick and tired of the status quo.” He got shouts of “We’re not going to take it anymore!” in response from the several hundred people at his rally outside the Los Angeles Maritime Museum.

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Trump: ‘I think we can win California’

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Donald Trump is greeted by protesters and supporters in Fresno

Donald Trump arrived in Fresno for the first of two California rallies on Friday and was greeted by both supporters and protesters.

There were dozens of protesters outside the venue where the presumptive Republican presidential nominee was to appear, but no reports of problems.

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Trump promises to solve California’s water problems

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Bernie Sanders rails against billionaires supporting billionaires

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Run, Rubio, run? Marco Rubio backs Donald Trump as he is urged to stay in Senate

Marco Rubio ended his presidential bid insisting he would finish his Senate term and then head into the private sector.

No Senate reelection. No interest in being anyone’s vice president. And only tepid support for Donald Trump.

“I have only said, like, 10,000 times I will be a private citizen in January,” he wrote during a particularly robust recent late-night tweetstorm.

Or not.

This week, the Republican senator who bashed Trump on the campaign trail for his “spray tan” and “small hands,” said he would speak in favor of Trump at the GOP convention, if asked.

Then, with a single word, he also appeared to open the door to sticking around the Senate.

“Maybe,” Rubio said during an interview with CNN. “I enjoy my work in the Senate, always did.”

Republicans have two dozen Senate seats to defend this fall and are increasingly worried about holding Florida in their column as they struggle to keep their 54-seat Senate majority.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky encouraged fellow Republican senators to nudge Rubio to reconsider running for a second term, according to a CNN report of the private meeting that was confirmed by the leader’s office.

And then, overnight Thursday, came another push, in a tweet from Trump:

“Poll data shows that @marcorubio does by far the best in holding onto his Senate seat in Florida. Important to keep the MAJORITY. Run Marco!”

But it gets awkward. Rubio has helped raise funds for Florida’s Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera -- a friend running for his seat.

Polling though, has spooked Republicans in what is expected to be a costly brawl this fall in the Sunshine State, even as Democrats face their own primary problems sorting out their nominee.

Rubio, the first-term senator elected on the 2010 tea party wave, has repeatedly pushed back against a report last fall that said he couldn’t stand the Senate, and did so again.

“It still bothers me,” he said, explaining that, sure, he has been “frustrated” with the chamber’s operations. “I don’t hate my job in the Senate.”

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Protesters march outside Donald Trump rally in Fresno as farmers head inside

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Why corporate America is having a hard time jumping on the Trump train

Even as the GOP establishment and leading conservative groups are starting to warm to Donald Trump, a large and important segment of the Republican base has been conspicuously quiet: corporate America.

Wall Street and the nation’s business community have historically been dependable backers of the Republican Party, whose core values of reducing taxes and government regulation are most closely aligned with their own pro-business growth priorities.

This election year, the choice should be particularly easy between Trump, a lifelong businessman, and a Democratic Party that has been pushed by Sen. Bernie Sanders to adopt an unusually harsh anti-business tone, calling for the breakup of big banks and sharp tax increases for the wealthy.

Yet with the exception of a relatively small number of corporate leaders, such as oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens and casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, the business world, by and large, has been laying low, unwilling to associate publicly with a man whose highly contentious positions and freewheeling talk have raised concerns among a lot of ordinary Americans.

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As they convene in Florida, Libertarians hope to capitalize on frustration with main parties

Nicholas Sarwark, the chairman of the Libertarian Party, likens his party to a cataclysmic chunk of space rock. He means this as a good thing.

Say you’re a fan of Washington’s NFL franchise, as his wife is. “If you see the Cowboys and the Eagles play, you don’t care who wins,” he said in an interview Friday morning. “You kind of wish both could lose. Maybe a meteor could hit the stadium?”

“This is the opportuity for the American people to vote for the meteor,” he said.

Such is the role the Libertarians are looking to play in this election year. Noting the large swath of voters dismayed by the likely Republican and Democratic presidential nominees, Sarwark sees friendly terrain to blow up the established two-party system.

“This is the biggest thing happening in American politics right now,” he said Sarwark just before he kicked off the party’s convention in Orlando, Fla., this weekend. “Because the two old parties are committed to self-destructing in front of us by nominating candidates who are the most hated in the modern era ... we offer that option for people to vote for something that they want instead of something they’re afraid of.”

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Analysis: Why Bernie Sanders keeps popping up in California’s out-of-the-way places

All week Bernie Sanders has galloped about California, showing up in places where presidential candidates usually don’t tread.

On Sunday he was in Vista. On Tuesday he hit Riverside and San Bernardino. On Wednesday he was in Cathedral City and Lancaster. On Thursday, Ventura. On Saturday, he’ll be in Santa Maria.

His Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, has stuck more to the traditional power centers for Democrats, visiting the Los Angeles area, Silicon Valley and San Francisco. Although she, too, meandered to the Inland Empire and Salinas this week.

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Meet the Chinese American immigrants who are supporting Donald Trump

Ling Zeng got celebrity treatment at this week’s Donald Trump rally in Anaheim.

One after another, dozens of Trump supporters approached to snap pictures of Zeng and her friends, who wore matching T-shirts that read: “Chinese Americans love Trump.”

After a campaign staffer invited the group to stand directly behind Trump’s podium, the candidate took note.

“Look at this, Chinese Americans!” Trump bellowed as he shook Zeng’s hand.

T-shirts notwithstanding, most Chinese Americans don’t love Trump. Polls show that they, like Asian Americans more broadly, overwhelmingly disapprove of the brash businessman and presumptive Republican nominee, who has targeted illegal immigration, proposed a ban on Muslims, and frequently criticized China for stealing jobs from U.S. workers.

Still, there is a small but vocal group of Chinese Americans who passionately support the candidate, brushing aside criticism from some Democrats that his rhetoric is racist. And while their numbers are slight, they represent significant trends in some parts of the Chinese immigrant population.

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As the campaign nears the end, Bernie Sanders talks about his mission and goals

Sen. Bernie Sanders sat down with Times reporter Kate Linthicum for a brief interview this week. Read what he had to say about persuading superdelegates to back him, whether he’s having fun and more.

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Trump clinches GOP nomination and vows to back out of global warming pact

(Spencer Platt / Getty Images)

Hours after effectively clinching the Republican presidential nomination, Donald Trump vowed Thursday to withdraw the United States from the historic Paris agreement among 195 nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to stop global warming.

Trump, who has often dismissed the science on climate change as a hoax that threatens American jobs, promised to cut all U.S. spending on United Nations programs on global warming.

Speaking at an oil and gas industry conference in Bismarck, N.D., he laid out an energy agenda that would rely heavily on fossil fuels and rescind Obama administration regulations aimed at addressing climate change.

“In a Trump administration, political activists with extreme agendas will no longer write the rules, because that’s what’s happening now,” Trump said.

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