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John McCain responds to Donald Trump: Apologize to veterans

Welcome to the Trail Guide, a daily tour of what’s happening in the 2016 presidential campaign. It’s Monday, July 20, and here’s what we’re watching:

  • Sen. John McCain says Donald Trump should apologize to all veterans for comments
  • Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush vowed to tackle "sheer incompetence" in Washington
  • Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodhman Clinton will outline a plan to raise the capital gains tax
  • New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie leaves his New Hampshire comfort zone to campaign in South Carolina
  • More Donald Trump fallout? We'll track the latest since his controversial comments about Sen. John McCain .

It's time for Donald Trump to drop out of the race for president of the United States.
The Des Moines Register editorial board. Iowa holds the first presidential nominating contest.

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Bush and Clinton highlight sharp contrast in dueling policy speeches

 (Mark Wallheiser / Associated Press)

(Mark Wallheiser / Associated Press)

Jeb Bush pledged to cut government spending by reforming the “culture in our nation's capital” in a speech Monday that hit themes long popular with conservative voters, including a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution and a freeze in pay for many government workers.

The speech drew a sharp contrast in tone and content with Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, who has begun rolling out a series of policy proposals, many of which would involve expanding government's role.

Clinton, in a speech a week ago outlining her economic ideas, called for what she termed a “growth and fairness economy,” one in which she would harness the power of the federal government in an effort to “raise incomes for hardworking Americans so they can afford a middle-class life.” She criticized “arbitrary growth targets untethered to people's lives and livelihoods," an implicit censure of Bush's pledge that the economy would grow at a rate of 4% under his presidency.

Bush, by contrast, made clear that he sees government as the problem and economic growth as the measure of success.

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Trump leads by double digits in ABC News/Washington Post poll

 (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

(Nati Harnik / Associated Press)

Donald Trump, the businessman turned reality television star, led the crowded field of Republican presidential hopefuls by a double-digit margin over the weekend, according to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll released Monday.

The poll, mostly taken before Trump's criticism of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), illustrated his strength at what may turn out to have been his peak.

Among Republicans and Republican-leaning voters, Trump was at 24%, while Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker had support from 13% and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was in third place at 12%.

Still, despite his lead, the poll showed Trump's vulnerability. More than half, 54%, of Republicans surveyed did not believe Trump's views reflected the core values of the party, compared to 34% who believed his views did reflect the party.

The survey's final night of polling took place after Trump faced strong criticism for saying McCain was not a war hero. (McCain spent more than five years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam.)

In that last bit of the survey, Trump's standing dropped sharply, although the margin of error on a single night's sample makes quantifying his decline imprecise.

The ABC/Washington Post poll also revealed a majority of Americans - 62% - said they would definitely not vote for Trump were he to capture the Republican presidential nomination, compared with 20% who said they would consider voting for him.

In a statement, Trump called the poll validation that voters are “tired of incompetent leaders.”

"Politicians have completely failed the American people,” he said.

The poll was conducted July 16-19 among 1,000 adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for the full sample.

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Some background on John Kasich ahead of announcement

 (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)

(Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)

Age: 63

Occupation: Ohio governor, second term. Elected in 2010

Previous occupation: Served in the U.S. House from 1983 to 2001

Family: Wife, Karen. Children Emma and Reese

Strengths: Has won gubernatorial elections as a relative centrist in a swing state. In those victories he's managed to win Democratic counties, such as Cuyahoga, where Cleveland is situated. He has recent executive experience and while in Congress served as chairman of the House Budget Committee.

Weaknesses: As governor he oversaw the state's expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act — an issue that drew strong rebuke from his GOP base. Moreover, he's a supporter of Common Core, the national education standard being implemented in dozens of states over vehement objections from conservative politicians, parents and others.

Path to victory: Capture support from establishment Republicans who might be disenchanted with Jeb Bush and Scott Walker. Must boost name identification ¿ his relatively late entry into the contest could hurt this effort.

Immigration moves from campaign trail to halls of Congress

 (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Jim Steinle, the father of a woman killed along San Francisco's waterfront this month, allegedly by a man in the country illegally, will tell his story to lawmakers Tuesday as part of a broader discussion on immigration policy, expected to be a heated issue in the 2016 presidential election.

The death of his daughter, 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle, has raised questions about so-called "sanctuary cities" and communication between local law enforcement and federal immigration officials. Other people whose relatives were killed by people in the country illegally are also expected to testify at the Senate Judiciary Committee proceeding.

In recent weeks, Kathryn Steinle's death has been invoked several times on the campaign trail by Republican candidate Donald Trump. The real-estate mogul has called her that “beautiful girl” when assailing the nation's immigration polices for, among other things, allowing violent criminals to remain in the country.

Trump, who in several national surveys is polling toward the top of the 2016 field of GOP presidential hopefuls, has been criticized by some members of the Steinle family for what they see as him using Kathryn as a political prop for his campaign.

“Donald Trump talks about Kate Steinle like he knows her. I've never heard a word from his campaign manager, never heard a word from him,” her brother, Brad Steinle, told CNN recently. “It's disconcerting, and I don't want to be affiliated with somebody who doesn't have the common courtesy to reach out and ask about Kate and ask about our political views and what we want.”

Still, Trump's message has been embraced by some other victims' family members.

Jamiel Shaw Sr., whose son was killed in Los Angeles in 2008 by a man in the country illegally, has attended several rallies alongside Trump and lauded his outspokenness on the issue.

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Clinton: 'Black lives matter'

Hillary Clinton was off the campaign trail Monday after a busy stretch on the road, which included her first New Hampshire town hall meeting and one of the first Democratic candidate cattle-calls in Iowa. But she took some time to engage in a digital Q-and-A with both the public and the press on Facebook for the first time, mixing substantive topics with some conspicuously light moments.

During the session Clinton addressed some details of a forthcoming speech on corporate responsibility, and teased another rollout on another policy front that's becoming a priority for Democratic primary voters: student loan debt. Notably she also addressed an issue that previously tripped up her and more recently one of her primary rivals this weekend, as she promised to take action on some of the systemic challenges facing the African American community in the U.S.

“Black lives matter,” the candidate wrote. “Everyone in this country should stand firmly behind that.”

Former Maryland governor and Baltimore mayor Martin O'Malley faced criticism for his response to a demonstration at this weekend's Netroots Nation gathering, first agreeing that “black lives matter” before adding that “white lives matter” and “all lives matter.” Activists say that by altering the rallying cry O'Malley took the focus off the injustices specifically endured by African Americans.

O'Malley said in a subsequent interview that he meant no disrespect.

Clinton also has tripped up on this issue. She was criticized last month for saying "all lives matter" during a visit to a black church near Ferguson, Mo.

On Monday, Clinton also drew some contrasts with potential Republican opponents, accusing Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush of sharing the same core views on immigration reform as Donald Trump, and an apparent criticism from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) who said of her campaign, according to one report, that “the gender card alone isn't enough.”

“Wow. If that's what he said, Mitch McConnell really doesn't get it,” she wrote. “There is a gender card being played in this campaign. It's played every time Republicans vote against giving women equal pay, deny families access to affordable child care or family leave, refuse to let women make decisions about their health or have access to free contraception.”

Clinton also, as she has been on the campaign trail, seemed to look for moments to reveal more of her personal side. When one commenter asked about a “hair and makeup tax” that women in the workplace face, Clinton responded: “Amen, sister - you're preaching to the choir. ¿ I do the best I can - and as you may have noticed, some days are better than others!” When another asked her about how she enjoyed life as a grandmother, she turned to all-caps: “IT'S THE BEST THING EVER!”

And she ended by poking fun at herself, using a GIF from the not-entirely-flattering “Saturday Night Live” portrayal of her beckoning a staffer to give her a high-five.

“It's been a pleasure chatting. Until next time. H”

Bush vs. Clinton, on the economy

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush hit several conservative sweet spots in a speech today on the need to limit government spending, drawing a contrast from Hillary Rodham Clinton's call last week for a more expansive government intended to help bring more people into the middle class. The Times' David Lauter digs into the differences.

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Clinton on race, hair, grandmothers and gigs

The Times' Mike Memoli is covering Hillary Rodham Clinton's wide-ranging Q & A on Facebook. More to come soon.

A brief musical interlude

The Trump-McCain volley continues

Bush and Walker spar on Iran deal

 (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)

(AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)

Most of the GOP 2016 field has said they would probably tear up President Obama's Iran deal if elected. But Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin has taken it a step further, saying this weekend that “it's very possible” he would take military action on his first day in office.

The dispute came amid one of the first significant foreign policy disputes between Walker and former Florida governor Jeb Bush, two leading contenders for the nomination. Walker is trying to present himself as the more aggressive alternative in a field of Republican candidates who, with the exception of Sen. Rand Paul, have promised a more assertive foreign policy than Obama. Bush, while not trying to cede ground in criticizing Obama, questioned Walker's maturity.

Walker has been attacking Obama's Iran negotiations for months, amping up his criticism as a deal was reached last week. His critique of the deal is usually a big applause line in his stump speech.

“Looking ahead, we need to terminate the bad deal with Iran on day one, put in place crippling economic sanctions, and convince our allies to do the same,” he said in announcing his candidacy last Monday.

Bush mocked that approach in a town hall meeting on Friday, during a response to a voter's question about the deal, according to the Weekly Standard.

“One thing that I won't do is just say, as a candidate, 'I'm going to tear up the agreement on the first day,'” said Bush, who was also highly critical of Obama and the deal in his comments. “That sounds great, but maybe you ought to check in with your allies first. Maybe you ought to appoint a secretary of state, maybe secretary of defense. You might want to have your team in place before you take an act like that.”

On Saturday, Walker was asked by reporters about Bush's statement, and responded that the next president may not have the luxury of time.

“It's very possible -- God forbid -- but it's very possible that the next president could be called to take aggressive actions, including military action, on the first day in office,” Walker said. “And I don't want a president who is not prepared to act on day one. So, as far as me, as far as my position, I'm going to be prepared to be president on day one.”

The dispute echoes, to some degree, the clash between Obama and Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary. Obama said he would meet with leaders from outlaw nations such as Cuba, Iran, and North Korea without preconditions. Clinton called that naive. “I don't want to be used for propaganda purposes,” she said during a 2007 debate.

Such debates can have serious policy implications. Fast forward to 2015: Obama has brokered a nuclear deal with Iran and, today, he officially restored diplomatic ties with Cuba.

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Hillary Clinton to call for capital gains tax increase

 (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Hillary Rodham Clinton vows that if she is elected President, she will push to infuse fresh ideas into the nation's economic policy ¿ but the one she is unveiling this week is not so new.

Democrats have been pushing hard for some time to boost taxes on capital gains, a movement a Clinton aide confirmed the candidate will endorse in a speech later this week.

Clinton is ironing out the specific details, but campaign officials told the Wall Street Journal that her proposal will call for boosting the rate even higher than President Obama proposed in his State of the Union address earlier this year.

The move is part of Clinton's agenda for steering Wall Street away from a focus on short term gains and the churn of investments that some economists argue inhibits corporate investment in infrastructure, talent, research and other things that are the underpinnings of a durable economy.

The argument does not go unchallenged. Other economists say that boosting taxes on investments, even in the targeted ways Clinton is considering, merely encourages Americans to invest less.

Regardless, the debate will likely remain academic as long as the GOP controls Congress and a Democrats holds the White House. Republicans have no appetite for boosting the rate, meaning its only prospects in a Congress that is expected to remain at least partially ¿ if not fully ¿ controlled by them would be as part of some grand bargain that overhauls the tax code. What are the chances of that happening?

"It's a clear indication that corporate America isn't waiting for D.C. to make the tax code any simpler," said Chris Krueger, a policy analyst at financial services firm Guggenheim Partners in Washington told the Times earlier this year that tax reform is "the greatest legislative unicorn of them all."

He put the odds of its passage at less than 10%.

Walker leads latest Iowa poll, Trump in second

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is the top pick for 22% of likely GOP caucusgoers, with Donald Trump behind him at 13%, according to the Monmouth University poll released Monday. Pollster Patrick Murrary notes the survey found no immediate fallout from Trump's controversial comments about John McCain on Saturday. From the poll:

"In interviews conducted Thursday and Friday, Trump garnered 13% of the vote to 19% for Walker. This is only slightly different than results from the Saturday and Sunday interviews, which put Trump at 13% to 25% for Walker."

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Walker tells immigrant to 'follow the law'

 (Matthew Putney/The Courier via AP)

(Matthew Putney/The Courier via AP)

The Washington Post captured an exchange between Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and an immigrant living in the U.S. illegally who confront him after a campaign event. Walker shifted to the right on immigration as he prepared to launch his presidential bid and does not support President Obama's executive actions. Here's the key passage:

"We're a nation of laws," Walker, the Republican governor of Wisconsin, repeatedly told Jose Flores, 38, who was joined by two of his four children, Luis, 7, and Leslie, 13, who had tears rolling down her cheeks throughout the exchange. Flores, who lives in Waukesha and works for a medical supply factory, said he and his wife live in fear of being deported and separated from their children, who he said were all born in the United States."

"My point," Walker said, "is that you have to follow the law, follow the process."

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I don't think so. But I think he may owe an apology to the families of those who have sacrificed in conflict and those who have undergone the prison experience in serving our country.
Sen. John McCain on whether Donald Trump owes him an apology for suggesting he isn't a war hero. McCain, who was held in a North Vietnamese prison for more than five years, spoke Monday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

Bush camp remembers 'Veto Corleone'

Jeb Bush will promise to take on "the overspending, the overreaching, the arrogance, and the sheer incompetence in Washington," in a speech he's slated to deliver later today in Tallahassee.

"We used to call this city 'Mount Tallahassee' because it was so remote from the people, so caught up in the settled ways of a comfortable establishment," the former Florida governor is to say. "Should I win this election, you will not find me deferring to the settled ways of 'Mount Washington' either."

Bush will promise to "disrupt" he establishment and shrink the federal government. He'll specifically target civil service workers who are "are hired, promoted, and given pay increases often without regard to performance," according to the excerpts released by his campaign.

Ahead of the speech, Bush's camp is trying to revive a nickname Bush reportedly earned thanks to his love for "whacking" lawmakers' pet projects.

Trump op-ed: 'I don't need to be lectured'

Under fire for mocking Sen. John McCain's war record, Donald Trump tries to focus the conversation on veterans health services in an op-ed in USA Today . He then continues to unleash on the Arizona senator who last week lashed out at Trump for firing up "the crazies" with his immigration stance.

"The reality is that John McCain the politician has made America less safe, sent our brave soldiers into wrong-headed foreign adventures, covered up for President Obama with the VA scandal and has spent most of his time in the Senate pushing amnesty. He would rather protect the Iraqi border than Arizona's," Trump writes.

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GOP's Trump trouble the talk of the trail

 (Nati Harnik / Associated Press)

(Nati Harnik / Associated Press)

Donald Trump isn't backing down from his comments mocking Sen. John McCain's military record and he says he's not going anywhere, reports the Times' Noah Bierman in this look at the GOP's Trump trouble. Here's a roundup of the best of the Trump coverage:

> Trump's Vietnam draft deferment is getting fresh scrutiny from Politico.

> Former McCain advisor Steve Schmidt is calling on Republican candidate to confront Trump as a "cancer on our politics" in the Washington Post.

> Sen. Marco Rubio called the remarks a "disqualifier" for being commander in chief.

> The New York Times looks at Trump's off-the-cuff campaign.

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