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USC/Times poll: Sanders and Clinton locked in a tight race in final days before California primary

Bernie Sanders is challenging Hillary Clinton’s popularity in California, the new USC Dornsife/Times poll finds.

  • The outcome of Tuesday’s primary appears likely to depend on turnout, the poll shows
  • Donald Trump’s rally in San Jose erupts in violence
  • Clinton says Trump should never have nuclear codes
  • Clinton begins a final blitz of campaign stops ahead of California’s primary
  • Trump promises he’ll go after both Clintons
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Clinton campaign chair denounces violent protesters at Trump rally in San Jose

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Protesters punch, throw eggs at Trump supporters in San Jose

A group of protesters attacked Donald Trump supporters who were leaving the candidate’s rally in San Jose on Thursday night. A dozen or more people were punched, at least one person was pelted with an egg, and Trump hats grabbed from supporters were set on fire on the ground.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or arrests, but police had declared the gathering an unlawful assembly about half an hour after the rally ended.

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Violence erupts outside Donald Trump rally in San Jose as protesters clash with his supporters

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Trump’s words make his uphill climb in California an even steeper trek

Donald Trump says he can be the first Republican presidential nominee to win California since 1988, but his rhetoric on immigration, the environment and guns risks pushing the strongly Democratic state even further out of his reach.

In recent travels across the state, Trump has shown no inclination to modulate his language the way nominees normally do as they turn from their party’s primary toward a wider general-election audience.

Instead, he has emphasized positions that are not only out of step with independents and Democrats whose support he would need to carry California, but also with many fellow Republicans in the state.

“He’s reinforcing all of the negative stereotypes of the Republican brand that have been hurting us for 20 years, which is a peculiar approach to putting California back in play,” said Mike Madrid, a Republican campaign consultant in Sacramento.

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Donald Trump says U.S.-born judge has conflict in Trump University case because he’s of Mexican heritage

Donald Trump’s latest verbal assault on the San Diego judge presiding over the Trump University lawsuits ushered in a fresh round of criticism of Trump and his treatment of Mexican-Americans.

Trump told the Wall Street Journal on Thursday that Judge Gonzalo Curiel has a conflict of interest because of his ethnic background. The judge was born in Indiana to immigrants from Mexico.

“In an interview, Mr. Trump said U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel had ‘an absolute conflict’ in presiding over the litigation given that he was ‘of Mexican heritage’ and a member of a Latino lawyers’ association,” the Journal reported.

“I’m building a wall. It’s an inherent conflict of interest,” Trump told the newspaper.

The response from both legal scholars and fellow Republicans was quick and fierce.

One legal expert called Truimp’s claim “nonsense” while a former President George W. Bush aide suggested racism.

Trump had said last week that the judge was being “very hostile” toward him. Curiel ordered documents to be released this week that revealed that those who taught the Trump University real-estate seminars were themselves instructed to aggressively sell students on new products that could cost tens of thousands of dollars.

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Trump’s response to Clinton’s attack: He says she is in legal jeopardy

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New USC/Los Angeles Times poll: Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton in tight California race

Hillary Clinton’s popularity has slumped in California under an unrelenting challenge from Bernie Sanders, who has succeeded in breaching the demographic wall Clinton had counted on to protect her in the state’s presidential primary, a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll has found.

As he has done across the country this primary season, Sanders commands the support of younger voters by huge margins in advance of Tuesday’s primary — even among Latinos and Asians, voter groups that Clinton easily won when she ran eight years ago. Many of his backers come from a large pool of voters who have registered for the first time in the weeks before the election.

Yet Tuesday’s outcome remains difficult to predict, precisely because of the untested nature of Sanders’ following. That portends an intense fight in the final days of the campaign.

The Vermont senator has battled Clinton to a draw among all voters eligible for the Democratic primary, with 44% siding with him to 43% for Clinton. That represented a nine-point swing from a USC/Los Angeles Times poll in March, in which Clinton led handily.

But among those most likely to vote, based on their voting history and stated intentions this time around, Clinton led, 49%-39%, in the new poll. Her standing is bolstered by the reliability of her older supporters, who have a proven record of casting ballots.

She also leads convincingly among registered Democrats; 53% of likely Democratic voters supported her, to 37% for Sanders. Throughout the year, she has carried party members in every state but Sanders’ home state of Vermont and next-door New Hampshire, where he won in a landslide.

As he has elsewhere, Sanders benefits here from party rules that allow registered nonpartisan voters — known in California as “no party preference” voters — to take part in the Democratic primary. Among nonpartisans who were likely to vote, he led by 48%-35%.

Sanders’ chances of victory rest on a big turnout of voters who typically don’t vote in primaries and who — in the case of the nonpartisans — will have to navigate complicated voter rules to request a Democratic ballot.

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Clinton calls Trump unstable, dangerous and unfit to hold the nuclear codes

Hillary Clinton delivered a blistering rebuke of Donald Trump’s foreign policy agenda on Thursday, warning he is “temperamentally unfit” to hold the job of commander-in-chief and would destabilize national security with his “bizarre rants, personal feuds and outright lies.”

The San Diego address was Clinton’s most aggressive broadside against Trump yet, and offered a preview of the lines of attack and tone the Democratic front-runner is likely to take as the race moves past the primary and into the general election.

On a stage packed with American flags and before an audience that included military personnel, Clinton presented voters with what her campaign feels confident will be a sobering and provocative question: Whose finger do they want on the nuclear button?

Clinton is capitalizing on Trump’s struggle to explain multiple contradictions and gaps in the foreign policy vision he has laid out. Trump has yet to offer a comprehensive strategy for confronting the most pressing national security concerns.

He has made several remarks that seemed to be made on the fly, such as proposing that Japan be armed with nuclear weapons. Sometimes Trump later retracts such comments, as he did this week in the case of the nuclear weapons remark.

Clinton contrasted Trump’s plans to her own as “not just different, they are dangerously incoherent. They are not even really ideas, just a series of bizarre rants, personal feuds and outright lies.”

“This is not someone who should ever have the nuclear codes,” Clinton said.

The speech marked a notable change in tone for Clinton, who for the past several weeks has vacillated between limited engagement with Trump and leaving that work to her surrogates, as the former secretary of State sought to stay above the fray.

On Thursday, Clinton did not hold back. She mocked Trump relentlessly, while at the same time patiently laying out the thinking behind key diplomatic and national security decisions she has taken part in – and why voters should question whether Trump has the intellectual capacity and mental stability to be trusted to make such decisions.

“It is not hard to imagine Donald Trump leading us to war just because someone got under his very thin skin,” she said, then began quoting some of the remarks Trump has made that national security experts find alarming.

“This is a man who said more countries should have nuclear weapons, including Saudi Arabia,” Clinton said. “He has also said, ‘I know more about ISIS than the generals do. Believe me.’ You know what? I don’t believe him.”

On the nuclear deal Clinton helped negotiate with Iran, which Trump has taken to bashing on the campaign trail, Clinton said Trump “doesn’t know the first thing about Iran or its nuclear program. Ask him. It will become very clear, very quickly.”

Trump quickly retorted that Clinton’s delivery was lacking:

He did not address the substance of her attacks.

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Paul Ryan aide: Trump endorsement wasn’t planned to coincide with Clinton speech

House Speaker Paul Ryan publicly endorsed Donald Trump as Hillary Clinton delivered a scathing speech warning of the dangers of a Trump presidency Thursday in San Diego.

But the timing was just a coincidence, according to one of Ryan’s chief staffers.

The endorsement came one month after Ryan told CNN he was " just not ready” to throw his support behind Trump.

Despite the clarification from Ryan’s camp, some questioned the timing of the announcement.

Ryan’s endorsement referred to conversations he and Trump had about potential Supreme Court nominees and ways for the House to push forward policies.

“Through these conversations, I feel confident he would help us turn the ideas in this agenda into laws to help improve people’s lives” Ryan said in an op-ed published in his hometown newspaper, the Janesville Gazette. “That’s why I’ll be voting for him this fall.”

Ryan’s initial reluctance to support Trump was billed as an attempt to push their candidate to unify the GOP.

A meeting between Ryan and Trump last month seemed to soften tensions, with Ryan saying he was “very encouraged” after that conversation.

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Speaker Paul Ryan endorses Donald Trump

Perhaps it was only a matter of time.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, the highest-ranking elected Republican who had yet to support Donald Trump, says he will vote for the presumed GOP nominee this fall.

Ryan’s decision was announced Thursday -- exactly one month after he stunned Washington by publicly refusing to endorse Trump.

“It’s no secret that he and I have our differences,” Ryan wrote Thursday in an op-ed for his homestate newspaper.

“I won’t pretend otherwise. And when I feel the need to, I’ll continue to speak my mind. But the reality is, on the issues that make up our agenda, we have more common ground than disagreement.”

Added Ryan: “I feel confident he would help us turn the ideas in this agenda into laws to help improve people’s lives. That’s why I’ll be voting for him this fall.”

Congress is on break, but lawmakers return to Washington next week with House Republicans poised to roll out the first flank of their “Confident America” agenda -- a series of policy papers outlining Republican goals on poverty, taxes and other issues.

Ryan’s staff has been in almost daily contact with the Trump campaign as they have worked to find common ground on policy principles.

The two men have been far apart in both style and substance, with Ryan considered the GOP’s lead policy wonk and keeper of conservative orthodoxy.

The decision could be a career-defining one for Ryan, who has been trying to lead a Republican House majority whose members include those who support and oppose Trump.

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Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy speech billed as ridiculing and attacking Donald Trump

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Donald Trump responds to Clinton’s attacks before she’s even done speaking

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House Speaker Paul Ryan is in: Yes on Donald Trump

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‘Not your typical foreign policy debate’ between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump

Jake Sullivan, who served Hillary Clinton at the Department of State and now works as a top policy advisor in her presidential campaign, is used to debating the pros and cons of various approaches to foreign policy.

He views the approaching general election battle with Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, as something very different.

“This is not your typical foreign policy debate,” Sullivan said in an interview. “He is fundamentally unfit for the job of keeping Americans safe.”

It’s a message that Clinton herself will try to drive home in a speech in San Diego on Thursday, the first stop in a five-day swing through California. Sullivan said Clinton, who is close to locking down the Democratic nomination after a lengthy primary battle with Bernie Sanders, will lay out “a comperhensive and systematic critique of not just Donald Trump’s ideas, but his basic fitness for the job.”

Clinton has made her experience as the country’s top diplomat under President Obama a key part of her campaign. She’s repeatedly painted Trump as too risky for the Oval Office – too willing to discard old alliances, engage in saber-rattling with trading partners and antagonize an entire religious group by proposing a ban on Muslim immigration.

But what if voters are ready to take a risk this year?

“Americans are a people who have a good deal of common sense, sound judgment, and they know the difference between new ideas and terrible, dangerous, bizarre ideas,” Sullivan said. “Donald Trump’s various pronouncements all fall into the latter category.”

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How much does Hillary Clinton want to win California? She and Bill have over 30 events in 5 days

Faced with the prospect of what would be a demoralizing loss in California that would end the Democratic primary season on a low note for her, Hillary Clinton is launching a barnstorming tour of the state in an effort to stop her rival’s momentum.

She and former President Bill Clinton plan to hold more than 30 campaign events starting Thursday in a scramble to eke out victory in a state she once was projected to win handily.

The two arrive in California as polls show a dramatically tightened race. Clinton has much deeper ties to California than does Democratic rival Bernie Sanders, as well as the backing of almost the entire state Democratic establishment. Yet the latest poll released Wednesday, a Marist College survey for NBC and the Wall Street Journal, shows her leading just 49% to 47% among likely Democratic primary voters, a statistical tie considering the poll’s margin of error.

The vigor with which the Clinton campaign is now approaching California comes as an abrupt shift. As of a few days ago, Clinton had planned to be campaigning Thursday in New Jersey, which also holds its primary Tuesday.

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Donald Trump attacks both Clintons to applause in Sacramento

Donald Trump suggested on Wednesday that he intended to wage a summer and fall campaign against both Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton, a one-two attack that drew cheers from a boisterous crowd here.

“These are crooked people,” said the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. “They’ve been crooked from the beginning.”

Trump, who stepped off his private jet to a podium staged inside a hangar on the grounds of Sacramento International Airport, laid out a narrative of alleged mistakes both personal and professional by the Democratic front-runner and the former president.

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