By the numbers
Welcome to Trail Guide, your daily tour through the wilds of the 2016 presidential campaign. It's Tuesday, July 28, and this is what we're watching:
- A lawyer for Donald Trump is apologizing for declaring, wrongly, "you cannot rape your spouse" in response to questions about Trump's divorce
- President Obama likes his chances for a theoretical third term, but says 'I can't run'
- 'Tis the season for trolling. Mike Huckabee isn't the only one trying to provoke his way into the headlines and onto the debate stage
- Liberals activists are pushing Hillary Rodham Clinton to promise to stop the revolving door on Wall Street
- Sen. Bernie Sanders has buzz , but how long can it last?
- Clinton is heading back to New Hampshire for a town hall
- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is campaigning in Philadelphia
A week into his presidential campaign, John Kasich already taking VP questions
Scott Walker's Philly tally: 2 tourist traps visited, 1.5 cheesesteaks eaten
Scott Walker got his visit to Philadelphia - City of Not-Unfriendly Aggression - and all that comes with it, out of the way early on the campaign trail.
Walker, Wisconsin's Republican governor, visited both of the city's famous cheesesteak places, which lure tourists and politicians alike (locals know better ) to try Philadelphia's iconic sandwich. (This is not a travel column, but as a former resident, I would be remiss if I failed to note Philadelphia's world-class food scene. Try the beets at Zahav or the dirt list at Vedge or the meatballs at Little Nonna's before you set foot in a cheesesteak joint.)
At Geno's, Walker got a classic Philadelphia welcome .
He then went across the street to try Pat's - a Democratic spokesman accused him of pandering - and ate a few bites of a second cheesesteak before leaving the rest behind:
Looks like he'll have time to repair his relations with Philadelphia's chattering classes, though. As Real Clear Politics' Rebecca Berg reports, Walker told supporters he is skipping Florida entirely. (And psst, ordering other kinds of cheese is OK, even preferred, for Philadelphians, those wonderful, opinionated people .)
Ben Carson goes easy on Mike Huckabee
Add Ben Carson to the list of Republican candidates going easy on former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee after his controversial comment about President Obama's Iran policy.
Huckabee found the spotlight over the weekend for saying that Obama, through his proposed Iran deal, would “march [Israelis] to the door of the oven.”
Carson said Tuesday he wouldn't have used that phrasing but he got the point.
“I certainly understand what he was talking about,” Carson said Tuesday at a press conference in Washington. “The language may be a little colorful. I've shied away from colorful language because people can't hear what you're saying.”
Huckabee's comment has drawn condemnation from Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton and groups such as the Anti-Defamation League. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said the comment "doesn't help," while Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, declined to comment.
Carson answered questions after appearing at a rally in support of defunding Planned Parenthood.
Carson said he's looking forward to the Republican presidential debates next week. Slots in the debate will be awarded based on polls, but Carson is likely to make the cut.
“There are so many people who think doctors only know medicine and it will be an eye-opening experience for them,” he said.
The neurosurgeon-turned-politician said he is excited to discuss foreign policy, though he declined to offer a particular region or foreign policy issue he expects to discuss.
“Everything is my strong suit,” he said.
The controversial Keystone XL pipeline should not be the sole litmus test by which environmental advocates judge presidential candidates, Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday.
"I recognize advocates feel strongly, I respect that," Clinton said, but "I would respectfully disagree" with those who say that the Keystone project is the "overriding threat" to the world's climate.
The Times' David Lauter is traveling with Clinton in New Hampshire and has more on the former secretary of State not taking a position on the Keystone XL pipeline.
A lawyer for Donald Trump is apologizing for threatening to financially ruin a reporter who wrote about the GOP candidate's contentious first divorce and for stating, wrongly, that “you can't rape your spouse.”
Michael Cohen, an executive vice president and special counsel for Trump's corporate operations, said in a statement Tuesday that he wanted to “clarify” his comments published in the Daily Beast on Monday.
“As an attorney, husband and father there are many injustices that offend me but nothing more than charges of rape or racism. They hit me at my core,” Cohen wrote. “Rarely am I surprised by the press, but the gall of this particular reporter to make such a reprehensible and false allegation against Mr. Trump truly stunned me. In my moment of shock and anger, I made an inarticulate comment - which I do not believe - and which I apologize for entirely. “
The Daily Beast report detailed Trump's divorce from first wife Ivana, particularly an incident at the couple's New York home which Ivana Trump reportedly described in a deposition as rape according to the 1993 biography "Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump." Ivana Trump has since retracted the statement.
When called for a comment, Cohen defended Trump in an interview with a Daily Beast reporter.
“You're talking about the frontrunner for the GOP, presidential candidate, as well as a private individual who never raped anybody. And, of course, understand that by the very definition, you can't rape your spouse,” he said.
Spousal rape was made illegal in New York in 1984.
Cohen went on to tell the reporter, in a expletive-laden rant, that he would “take you for every penny you still don't have” and “mess your life up,” if he published a story about the allegation.
Clinton drawing a crowd for New Hampshire town hall
The Times' Washington bureau chief is on the road with Hillary Rodham Clinton today. Follow @davidlauter for news from Nashua.
Obama summoned Jon Stewart to the Oval
Donald Trump continues to have a solid lead over Jeb Bush in New Hampshire, according to a Monmouth University poll out Tuesday.
The survey found no drop-off in Trump's support after his controversial comments about Sen. John McCain's war record. Based on respondents' second choice, Trump appears to be pulling support from Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Sen. Ted Cruz and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
The survey also had relatively good news for Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Check out the details below.
Obama on four more years: If I ran, I could win
President Obama has certainly been enjoying his run of late. But he's not exactly entertaining the idea of "four more years."
"Under our Constitution, I cannot run again," he said in a speech Tuesday to the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. "I actually think I'm a pretty good president. I think if I ran, I could win. But I can't."
"There's a lot that I'd like to do to keep America moving. But the law is the law," he added.
The context for the remark was a criticism of African leaders who stay in office beyond the terms of office, which he said threatens the continent's democratic progress.
It's a practice the president said he just couldn't understand, on a personal level. He called being president an "extraordinary privilege," saying he couldn't imagine a "greater honor" or "more interesting job." But he's clearly looking forward to the next stage of his life.
"I'm looking forward to life after being president," he said. "I won't have such a big security detail all the time. It means I can go take a walk. I can spend time with my family. I can find other ways to serve. I could visit Africa more often. The point is, I don't understand why people want to stay so long. Especially when they've got a lot of money."
Later, Obama made a curious remark in the context of the candidates who are in the 2016 race. Countries benefit from "new blood and new ideas," he said, including his own.
"I'm still a pretty young man but I know that somebody with new energy and new insights will be good for my country," he said.
Some Republicans would like to take him up on that.
Sanders and O'Malley likely flattered
Israeli envoy rips Huckabee comments on Iran
The Times' Mark Barabak has a look at Bernie Sanders and his summer of love. Restless liberal activists are digging it, but how will it last?
"The challenge -- one that outmatched all those insurgents, save Obama -- is turning curiosity into support, and turning that support into something more than a protest movement, or a way for the discontented to let off steam. Politically, it's the difference between long-term commitment and a summer fling," Barabak writes.
Silly stunts and outrageous slams are driving campaign headlines these days and there's a clear reason for it, the Times' Seema Mehta reports.
"Next week brings the first debate of the Republican primary season, and only the top 10 candidates, chosen by poll rankings, get to take part. The candidates on the bubble have responded with a frenzied effort to attract attention -- stunts, accusations and in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising.
"Although the efforts may make sense for each candidate, they have created a group picture that may hurt the Republican Party's efforts to portray its candidates as sober, serious potential presidents."
Carly Fiorina brought her underdog Republican presidential campaign to Southern California on Monday, delivering a speech on foreign policy that listed a series of what she described as failures by President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.
The former Hewlett Packard chief executive, who waged a failed 2010 Senate bid in California, said she would undo the new Iran nuclear deal if she were elected president and accused the administration of emboldening Russian and Chinese aggression.
“I will not shy away from the most important challenges facing our world today,” she said in her 20-minute address before a friendly audience at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley. “Because without American leadership, we face two choices: regional hegemons who challenge America or global chaos.”
Fiorina is the lone woman in the crowded GOP field. After nearly three months of darting through Iowa and New Hampshire -- which hold the first nominating contests about six months from now -- she is polling toward the bottom of the 16-member pack.
Her low polling numbers will most likely keep her off the prime-time debate stage on Aug. 6 in Cleveland -- a setback to her struggling campaign as she looks to bolster her name identification among voters. Fox News, the sponsor of the first debate, says it will take the top 10 candidates based on the five most recent national polls as of Aug. 4, and may add an extra chair or two in the event of a tie.
The Reagan library will be the site of the second presidential debate, hosted by CNN in September.
Fiorina did not take questions from reporters on Monday, but fielded questions from the audience.
One woman who identified herself as a registered Republican said she sometimes votes Democratic because she supports abortion rights and gay marriage. She asked what Fiorina would do as a Republican president to be inclusive of others.
“Our party has to be as diverse as the nation we hope to represent,” said Fiorina, who then targeted Democrats.
“But let us talk about choices for a moment -- it's Democrats who are denying families the choice of how parents educate their children,” she said, alluding to Democratic support for teachers unions that Fiorina said are hurting students.
Fiorina insisted that despite low polling numbers, her campaign has momentum because a majority of Americans are tired of a “professional political class.”
“What I bring to the table is a track record of leadership -- a track record of getting things done,” she said.
She's railing against fat cats and a system out of balance, but Hillary Rodham Clinton hasn't quite convinced the progressive wing of her party that she'll get tough on Wall Street if she makes it to the Oval Office, reports the Times' Evan Halper.
Led by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and labor leaders, activists are pushing Clinton to promise to stop the revolving door between regulators and the big banks, and they remain skeptical of her cadre of advisors. One possible advisor n particular spurs leftover resentment.
“Obama came out and had a platform of hope and change" Larry Hanley, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, told Halper. "Then he sent Larry Summers down to stick a pin in it.”