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Democrats to Bernie Sanders: TIme to unite behind Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton seizes the Democratic nomination and a decisive victory in California’s primary.

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Obama: ‘I am worried about the Republican Party’

Asked during a taping of “The Tonight Show” whether he thought Republicans were happy with their presidential nominee, President Obama had a quick answer.

“We are,” he said to immediate laughter.

“I don’t know how they’re feeling.”

But while Obama and fellow Democrats are feeling more confident about the general-election matchup shaping up between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, Obama said that what is good politics for Democrats in the short term isn’t necessarily good for the country.

“I am worried about the Republican Party,” he told host Jimmy Fallon in the interview, which will air in full Thursday.

“Democracy works; this country works when you have two parties that are serious and trying to solve problems.”

Obama said the public should want a Republican nominee “to be somebody who could do the job if they win” — implying he does not think Trump could. And Obama said he views Trump’s rise as an outgrowth of the GOP’s tactics during his presidency.

“I haven’t been enjoying over the last seven years, watching some of the things that have happened in the Republican Party,” he said. “What’s happened in that party, culminating in this current nomination, I think is not actually good for the country as a whole. It’s not something Democrats should wish for.”

In the interview, Obama also discussed the Democratic race, praising Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton while expressing confidence the party will unite for the general election.

“My hope is, is that over the next couple of weeks, we’re able to pull things together,” he said.

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San Diego Latino lawyers condemn Trump’s attack on judge as racist

A group of Latino lawyers and judges in San Diego condemned as racist Donald Trump’s attacks on a federal judge.

The U.S. District Court judge, Gonzalo Curiel, is a member of the group, San Diego La Raza Lawyers Assn. But he was unaware the association was releasing the statement accusing Trump of “abject impropriety” in attacking Curiel, its president, Luis Osuna, said Wednesday.

“The comments made by Trump have been misleading, blatant lies and even racist in nature,” the statement said.

The Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting has called for Curiel to recuse himself from presiding over a San Diego fraud suit against Trump University, Trump’s defunct real estate school.

Trump, who says the judge is hostile toward him, has come under withering criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike. The New York mogul says that Curiel’s Mexican ancestry poses a conflict of interest because Trump has proposed building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump has also suggested that Curiel’s membership in the lawyers group shows bias.

“His persistent attacks on Judge Curiel,” the group said, “are not only racist, but they provide an ominous portent of how Trump would use the power of the presidency to intimidate federal judges. Such wielding of executive power poses a threat to all Americans, as it is an independent judiciary and a respect of the separation of powers mandated by the Constitution that secures our civil liberties and freedom.”

Curiel, a former narcotics prosecutor who was born in Indiana, is barred by judicial conduct rules from discussing the matter publicly.

Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks declined to comment.

Trump and his supporters have cited Curiel’s membership in the lawyers group as one of the reasons he should be barred from overseeing the fraud case. It is a nonpartisan organization that promotes diversity on the bench and provides networking opportunities for Latinos in the legal profession, as many similar groups do for women, African Americans and other groups.

Curiel is one of three judges listed in the membership directory on the group’s website. It is not affiliated with National Council of La Raza, a major civil rights organization. But the lawyers group’s website includes a link to NCLR on a list of national organizations that serve Latinos.

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Donald Trump is his own chief strategist and campaign spokesman. So what could go wrong?

Everything was supposed to change once Donald Trump became the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee.

He would stop with the barking and bickering and racist comments, hunker down in the dozen or so states deemed likely to decide the November election and go on the sort of hiring and campaign-building spree that, history suggests, a candidate needs to seriously vie for the White House.

But the Manhattan business executive and reality TV star continues to defy expectations.

Rather than seek to unite the party, he keeps picking fights with fellow Republicans. He let go the strategist he had hired to expand his team in battleground states and devoted several days to campaigning across California, which he vows to contest in the fall — along with strongly Democratic New York — despite vanishingly small odds of success.

Donald Trump ended the day by doing something he rarely does: reading a prime-time speech from a teleprompter. Here are some highlights.

He soon plans to go abroad — at a time when he could be fundraising to replenish the GOP’s drained coffers — not to meet with foreign leaders, but to promote his golf resorts in Ireland and Scotland.

In short, Trump continues to be Trump, an approach that accounts for a great part of his success to this point but represents a considerable gamble: a wager that the gravity-defying strategy that won him the GOP nomination can succeed under the far greater rigors ahead.

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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker latest Republican to move away from Trump

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker moved off his support of Donald Trump on Wednesday, saying he wanted to first hear the presumed presidential nominee renounce his racial comments about a federal judge.

“He’s not yet the nominee,” Walker told WKOW-TV in Wisconsin.

Walker, who had previously supported Trump, becomes the latest high-ranking Republican to grow uneasy over Trump ahead of the summer convention.

“Officially that won’t happen until the middle of July and so for me that’s kind of the time frame that, in particular, I want to make sure he renounces what he says - at least in regards to this judge,” Walker told the station.

Trump’s attack on Judge Gonzalo Curiel have deeply threatened his support from Republican leaders.

The Indiana-born Curiel is overseeing a fraud lawsuit against the now-defunct Trump University, but Trump, who has proposed building a wall along the Mexican border to stop illegal immigration, said the judge had a conflict of interest because of his Mexican heritage.

On Tuesday, Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois rescinded his endorsement.

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Donald Trump: Jesus is someone ‘I can totally rely on’

(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

Donald Trump tried to show his softer side in an interview published Wednesday, discussing what his faith means to him after a rough few days on the campaign trail.

Trump said he hopefully “won’t have to be asking for much forgiveness” from God.

In an interview with columnist Cal Thomas, Trump discussed his religious convictions as a Presbyterian and said he would treat Christianity itself “with great respect and care.”

The interview came amid a difficult stretch during which Trump was put on notice by Republican leaders regarding his assertion that the judge presiding over the Trump University case cannot do so fairly because of his Mexican heritage.

Trump presented a more polished version of himself following his primary victories as the only remaining Republican candidate Tuesday. He told supporters in New York, “I understand the responsibility of carrying the mantle and I will never, ever let you down.”

The candidate also discussed his view of Jesus Christ and how it guides him spiritually.

“Jesus to me is somebody I can think about for security and confidence,” Trump said. “Somebody I can revere in terms of bravery and in terms of courage and, because I consider the Christian religion so important, somebody I can totally rely on in my own mind.”

Trump said he maintains great relationships with ministers and other members of the clergy, which, he said, will help him garner support from evangelicals and Christians during the general election.

But Trump hasn’t always gotten along with religious leaders. He and Pope Francis had a very public disagreement in February regarding Trump’s immigration policy and his promise to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, with Francis saying, “A person who only thinks about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.”

Trump called the pope’s questioning of his religious conviction “disgraceful,” and added, “if and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS — which, as everyone knows, is ISIS’ ultimate trophy — I can promise you that the pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president.”

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Clinton’s campaign manager says raising the specter of a Trump presidency helped seal her win in California

After some nervous moments for Hillary Clinton’s campaign amid Bernie Sanders’ all-out blitz in California, the state gave her the exclamation point she had hoped for — a double-digit victory to cap off her historic nomination battle.

Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, chalked up the result to a solid get-out-the-vote effort, and to a Republican: Donald Trump.

Clinton’s campaign worked aggressively to lock down support through early voting by mail, and ensuring that ballots were sent in quickly, Mook said in an interview Wednesday. Its strategy was informed in particular by what worked — and what didn’t — in earlier contests with voting by mail, such as the Nebraska caucuses.

And as Clinton ramped up her campaigning in California, aides ensured she targeted communities that Mook called “the bedrock of the Democratic Party generally, but in California in particular”: Latinos, African Americans and Asian Americans.

Mook said Clinton finished strong as Democrats recognized the urgency of trying to defeat Trump, agreeing that her speech attacking him last week in San Diego represented a turning point.

“This was the first time that she really had a chance to lay out the case against Donald Trump,” he said. “She used his own words to help people to understand what a threat he is, not just to our security, but to our values as Americans. And that’s what we’re going to continue to do as we move forward on the campaign.”

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Trump alternatives? Fresh chatter about contested GOP convention in Cleveland

About that contested Republican convention.

Key Republican figures are again entertaining an alternative to Donald Trump as their party’s nominee, sparking fresh talk about a contested convention this summer in Cleveland.

Talk radio host Hugh Hewitt lobbed a devastating assessment of Trump on his radio show Wednesday, saying the party faced “Waterloo” level losses with Trump as the nominee.

“‘Bigot, bigot, bigot. Racist. Racist Racist,’” Hewitt said, recapping the morning’s headlines. “We are going to get killed.”

“The Republican National Committee needs to step in and step up and go see Donald Trump and tell him to get out of the race,” Hewitt said.

The prominent conservative joins a list of party leaders openly having second thoughts about Trump after his refusal to fully back away from his race-based criticism of a federal judge.

“What Trump has been doing, without knowing it, is giving an increasing number of Republicans a free pass to run lke hell,” said longtime Trump critic Rick Wilson, a GOP strategist.

“They’re willing to take the heat of having his crazy followers troll them on their Facebook page... because they realize the damage Trump is doing is catastrophic.”

So far, only one Republican, Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, who is in perhaps the toughest Senate re-election battle, has rescinded his endorsement of Trump.

But Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker threatened to do the same Wednesday, saying he wanted to hear Trump renounce his comments.

Others warned that Trump must show improvement or put his support at risk.

“He’s got a period of time where he can assess and understand the incredible opportunity before him and he could change direction,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who has visited with the nominee at Trump Tower.

“If not, if it starts moving closer to the convention and it’s similar, I think it’s very problematic.”

One scenario Hewitt discussed would be to change the RNC’s rules to make the first nomination ballots advisory.

Another, which Hewitt culled from top elections lawyer Ben Ginsberg, would be to set higher ballot thresholds for approving the nomination.

Those, presumably, would open the convention floor to options other than Trump.

Meanwhile, the discomfort on Capitol Hill this week was notable.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has not endorsed Trump, said if the nominee keeps up his outbursts, “he’s putting his support at risk.”

Rivals Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. Ted Cruz have both condemned Trump’s remark; others have been similarly displeased.

And others have been similarly displeased by his performance.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, also running for re-election, reminded that even though she will vote Republican, she’s “not endorsing anyone.”

“I will continue to disagree with him when he makes statements like he did about the judge,” she said.

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Analysis: Hillary Clinton up, Donald Trump down after a week that flipped the presidential campaign

The trajectory the presidential contest took over the last week could be seen from the tone and content of the speeches that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton gave Tuesday night — to Trump’s detriment.

Trump insisted that his party’s voters could trust him to not let them down: He had to offer that reassurance after the division he sowed by his repeated race-based attacks on the judge hearing a case brought against him by former students at the now-dormant Trump University.

Trump delivered lengthy criticisms of Clinton and her husband Bill’s dealings, red meat to conservatives animated by disdain for the duo, but issues that do not appear top of mind for many voters.

And he repeatedly used the term “America first” to define his domestic and international priorities — a term that duplicates the name of an isolationist and in some cases anti-Semitic group active before World War II.

Clinton heralded her unofficial standing as the first woman to be the nominee of a major political party, describing that victory as part of a continuum of achievements for the country that she said were under threat from Trump.

She placed herself and her loyalists on turf defined by values that could also be occupied by supporters of Bernie Sanders, her Democratic rival, and Republican candidates defeated by Trump.

She signaled a campaign theme of inclusion and acceptance that seemed in direct opposition to the tone set by the presumptive Republican nominee.

The twin speeches represented a remarkable shift.

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Democrats nudge Bernie Sanders toward party unity as he returns to Capitol Hill

Democrats appear to be engaging in soft diplomacy as they celebrate Hillary Clinton’s history-making presidential rise while quietly nudging rival Bernie Sanders to call it quits — but only when he’s ready.

Sanders is heading to Capitol Hill to speak Thursday with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and hold an afternoon rally ahead of the District of Columbia’s primary next week.

Top Democratic leaders said they were confident Sanders would unite behind Clinton.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York, the incoming Democratic leader, called Sanders a “very constructive man.”

“We have a mutual goal, which is to make sure that Democrats stay in the White House,” Schumer said Wednesday.

“We’re on a path to unity,” Schumer said. “The Democratic Party will shortly be unified for two reasons: One, we know what would happen if there were a President Trump. And two, we know the good things that would happen — getting middle-class incomes moving, bringing America together — if there’s President Clinton.”

Even Sanders’ allies among progressive leadership in Congress said the time was approaching to end the long primary campaign.

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), a Sanders backer who co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said he expected the Vermont senator’s pursuit of superdelegates to subside.

“The reality is unattainable at some point,” Grijalva told the Washington Post. “You deal with that. Bernie is going to deal with this much more rapidly than you think.”

The lone Sanders supporter in the Senate, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, told the Post it’s time for the Clinton and Sanders teams to unify the party.

“This is the moment when we need to start bringing parts of the party together so they can go into the convention with locked arms and go out of the convention unified into the general election,” Merkley said.

Clinton ally Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said of Sanders: “I have a lot of faith in him. He has pledged that he wants unity.”

Potential vice presidential pick Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia tweeted his own call to unity, while Sen. Claire McCaskill praised Sanders’ contributions to the party.

“I think we need to give time,” McCaskill told CBS’ “This Morning.” “I have so much respect for what he’s done and for his supporters. He’s elevated the debate of our party. I think we are stronger because of it. And I think over time, over the next few weeks, this will all come together.”

One key Democrat, though, has been noticeably quiet Wednesday: Elizabeth Warren.

Requests for comment from her office were not immediately answered.

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Billionaire Tom Steyer formally endorses Hillary Clinton

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Libertarian nominee to Bernie Sanders’ supporters: What about me?

For any Bernie Sanders supporters frustrated by his all-but-vanished chances at the Democratic presidential nomination, Libertarian Gary Johnson has a proposal: Give him a chance.

“For all those Bernie supporters out there … how about taking a look at the Libertarian ticket?” Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico, said Wednesday on CNN’s “New Day.”

Johnson and his running mate, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, want to offer a viable alternative to voters who support neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump, he said.

“I offer, along with Bill Weld, the real alternative to the two,” Johnson said.

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Paul Ryan shows up on tabloid cover under the banner ‘I’m With Racist’

Paul Ryan made the early edition of the New York Daily News’ Wednesday cover under the headline “I’m With Racist,” but he was saved from broader circulation — by Hillary Clinton.

The Daily News tweeted a front page featuring Ryan and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, whose attacks on a Mexican American judge were labeled as racist by Ryan on Tuesday. But for later editions, the tabloid splashed “HER” on the cover over a photo of Clinton as she assumed the historic mantle of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

Ryan had called out Trump for his attack on U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel and his Mexican heritage. Trump accused Curiel, the judge assigned to oversee a Trump University lawsuit, of bias based on Trump’s calls to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border.

“Claiming a person can’t do their job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment,” Ryan said.

Nevertheless, the Daily News and other publications noted, Ryan stood by Trump in the race for the White House.

The newspaper characterized the House speaker’s comments thusly: “Donald Trump is a racist, but he’s our racist,”

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Despite Trump’s on-script speech, Republicans are wary of his unpredictability

A day that could have been another victory lap for Donald Trump veered into more chaos for the new Republican standard-bearer, as he faced fury from top party leaders Tuesday and the defection of a GOP senator over racially charged comments calling into question the impartiality of a federal judge because he is of Mexican descent.

The day’s roller coaster was perhaps the clearest sign yet that Trump’s formula of using controversy to fuel his presidential primary campaign presents a stiffer challenge to him and his party in the general election.

Trump ended the day by doing something he rarely does: reading a prime-time speech from a teleprompter.

The 17-minute address, delivered to supporters in front of his family at the Trump National Golf Club Westchester, outside New York City, was designed to reassure the party, with a promise to fight special interests and deliver a broadside attack on Hillary Clinton next week.

“I understand the responsibility of carrying the mantle,” Trump said, “and I will never ever let you down.”

Trump’s attempt to finally end the controversy followed a days-long onslaught of criticism from fellow Republicans, who condemned the remarks about the judge and rushed to distance themselves from the broader backlash against them. Yet most were unwilling to rescind their endorsement of Trump, given the support he still retains among Republican voters.

The party was in full panic Tuesday over how to deal with a candidate who appeared uninterested in the advice of party leaders and some in his own campaign.

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AP calls California primary for Hillary Clinton

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Clinton claims milestone as first female major-party nominee

Hillary Clinton carved her name in history Tuesday, becoming the first woman ever chosen to lead a major party into the fall presidential campaign.

The former secretary of State, making her second try for the White House, laid claim to the nomination at an exuberant rally in Brooklyn, N.Y., the state she represented for two terms in the Senate. Her victory came eight years to the day after she ended her 2008 White House bid.

Addressing a flag-waving crowd filled with women of all ages and ethnicities, Clinton painted her triumph as a major stride in the march for women’s rights, which began more than a century and a half ago at the Seneca Falls Convention in upstate New York.

“Tonight’s victory is not about one person,” said Clinton, who took the stage after a filmed tribute to leaders of the suffrage movement and other political pioneers. “It belongs to generations of women and men who struggled and sacrificed and made this moment possible.”

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Some news outlets begin calling California for Clinton