By the numbers
Welcome to Trail Guide, your daily tour through the wilds of the 2016 presidential campaign. It's Tuesday, Aug. 25, and this is what we're watching:
- Jeb Bush and Stephen Colbert will link up Sept. 8 on the premiere of the new "Late Show."
- Fox News chief Roger Ailes says Donald Trump's criticism of Megyn Kelly is "disturbing" as the battle between the media mogul and the GOP candidate flares up .
- Republicans Scott Walker and Donald Trump use the stock market fall to go after China - and President Obama.
- Rand Paul is back from Haiti and has veered off the beaten path again. He's stumping in Alaska today.
- Jeb Bush will talk about veterans issues in Colorado, where a new, over-budget VA hospital is stoking frustrations with the Obama administration.
- Candidate, interrupted: The Times' Kurtis Lee takes a look at the expanded role of the heckler on the campaign trail .
With Donald Trump's ongoing commentary about Megyn Kelly, the Fox New journalists show, "The Kelly File," has seen increased ratings.
The show delivered 3.1 million viewers on Monday, the program's largest audience of the year and more than the rest of the cable news competition on CNN, MSNBC and HLN combined in the 9 p.m. Eastern hour, Nielsen data showed.
Donald Trump, Univision's Jorge Ramos battle at news conference
Donald Trump and Univision anchor Jorge Ramos battled Tuesday at a news conference in Dubuque, Iowa.
When Ramos stood and began asking questions -- without being called on -- Trump's security escorted him out of the room.
”Go back to Univison,” said Trump before Ramos was led out of the news conference.
However, shortly thereafter he was allowed back in and asked Trump a host of questions about immigration and what has become his controversial support of using the term "anchor babies" to describe children who are U.S. citizens but have parents in the country illegally.
When Ramos asked Trump about his plan to deny birthright citizenship – a move that would lead to mass deportations -- the real-estate mogul alluded to preventing crime, a key argument in his plan to combat illegal immigration.
”Listen, we have tremendous crime,” he said.
”We have some very bad ones,” Trump said alluding to some of the estimated 11 million people in the country illegally.”
Since his campaign kickoff announcement in June, Trump has been consistently assailed for his comments about Mexican immigrants, calling them “rapists” and drug runners.
As Joe Biden mulls White House run, Hillary Clinton nets endorsement from within Obama administration
Hillary Rodham Clinton rolled out an important endorsement Tuesday when her campaign announced the backing of Tom Vilsack, a prominent Democrat that a news release identifies as “a former governor of Iowa.”
Not incidental, though, is Vilsack's other title -- as one of the original members of President Obama's Cabinet. He has been Agriculture secretary since 2009.
Vilsack's unmentioned status is of special significance this week as Vice President Joe Biden steps up his conversations with fellow Democrats about whether he should seek the party's nomination for president.
The political class spent Tuesday trying to figure out what it means that Obama has expressed his support for Biden's right to make up his own mind about whether to run.
Some see it as a hint that Obama might endorse Biden if he ran against Clinton, who served alongside Biden in that same Cabinet as secretary of State.
Obama might make an endorsement in a Democratic primary, top White House aides say, but he isn't doing so right now.
His decision to do so would no doubt influence the race significantly. In the meantime, a Biden candidacy would have enormous obstacles to overcome, starting with the fact that Clinton has been locking down support for months.
A friendly reminder of that fact came late Tuesday, when the Vilsack announcement popped into email boxes all over town, under a Clinton logo picturing a lush green farm field.
A super PAC urging Biden to run is on track to have a presence in every state by next week.
But in the important early caucus state of Iowa, to cite one example, Clinton has been organizing for months.
Vilsack put a just-folks spin on his announcement.
“On Feb. 1, 2016, I intend to proudly caucus for Hillary Clinton,” he said. “Plain and simple.”
In Colorado, Bush talks veterans issues as hospital debate roars
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush traveled to the Denver suburbs Tuesday, touting a platform to better assist the nation's veterans returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has been enveloped in scandal during President Obama's second term after a whistle blower exposed wait times so long that dozens of veterans may have died because they were unable to schedule appointments to see a doctor.
Key tenets outlined by Bush in his speech in Englewood, Colo., included improving healthcare access for veterans and modernizing technology used by the VA. Bush noted that “unreliable scheduling software systems” led to fatal delays.
“In this day and age, veterans should be able to log in, make or cancel an appointment, and check on the status of that appointment with little hassle,” said Bush.
The backdrop for his visit was political wrangling over a long-delayed new Veteran Affairs hospital under construction in the Denver suburb of Aurora.
While Bush, a Republican, did not cast blame on Democrats, he did allude to the delays as a “complete, unmitigated disaster.”
The massive project, originally budgeted at about $600 million, has ballooned to $1.67 billion and is three years behind schedule. Lawmakers from both parties have called for federal investigations into the project's mismanagement and delays. Republicans in Congress are calling on Obama to personally help find the remaining $600 million needed to complete the project.
"The president has been silent on this issue," Florida GOP Rep. Jeff Miller, a vocal critic of the VA, recently told the Denver Post. "The president has to get involved."
Miller called on Obama to find the additional funds by pulling from the federal budget -- a move that officials within the administration have said is an option.
New medical centers in Las Vegas, New Orleans and Orlando, Fla., have also faced delays and are hundreds of millions of dollars over original cost estimates.
Bush to sit down in guest chair for 'Late Show' premiere
Among Stephen Colbert's first guests when he debuts as host of the "Late Show" next month will be a man seeking the White House.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a top-tier candidate in a crowded field of Republicans vying for the party's nomination, will sit down in the guest chair Sept. 8.
Bush, who has faced criticism as of late for his comments about "anchor babies," will be joined by actor George Clooney, according to CBS.
GOP strategist Frank Luntz was visibly shaken by what he heard in a focus group of Donald Trump backers Monday night. The upshot: Trump's support is solid and real, and he isn't easily stopped, Luntz declared.
"This is stronger than Perot. This is more intense than Perot."
Fox News chief Roger Ailes calls Donald Trump's comments 'disturbing'
Fox News chief Roger Ailes is defending the host Megyn Kelly after another Donald Trump Twitter attack.
Ailes released a statement Tuesday calling Trump's latest broadside "as unacceptable as it is disturbing" and "unprovoked." He called on Trump to apologize.
"Donald Trump rarely apologizes, although in this case, he should," Ailes said.
Trump first assailed Kelly for her line of questioning at the first GOP primary debate earlier this month. On Twitter, he appeared to endorse dismissive insults and in an interview with CNN he suggested she had it out for him because she had her period.
Ailes has said little about the comments publicly, although the network acknowledged he has spoken with Trump privately. After that conversation, Trump appeared on Fox News programs and the feud between the two powerful forces in conservative politics appeared to have been settled.
It erupted again late Monday, as Kelly returned to her program "The Kelly File" after a vacation and Trump returned to tweeting his criticism.
Ailes' statement included a vigorous defense of Kelly's journalism against what he said were "crude and irresponsible" attacks.
"I could not be more proud of Megyn for her professionalism and class in the face of all of Mr. Trump's verbal assaults," he said. "Her questioning of Mr. Trump at the debate was tough but fair, and I fully support her as she continues to ask the probing and challenging questions that all presidential candidates may find difficult to answer."
Fox News won't be cowed, Ailes said. "We have never been deterred by politicians or anyone else attacking us for doing our job, much less allowed ourselves to be bullied by anyone and we're certainly not going to start now."
Kelly's colleagues also chimed in with messages of support Tuesday.
Presidential candidates being interrupted on the campaign trail is nothing new.
But this election cycle -- as issues surrounding immigration and racial disparities are at the forefront -- White House hopefuls are being targeted often, and how they respond can be telling.
The Times' Kurtis Lee explores how candidates are dealing with interruptions in 2016.
Donald Trump welcomes Megyn Kelly back from vacation with another Twitter rant
If you thought Donald Trump had moved past his post-debate tirade against Megyn Kelly, think again. It appears he was just observing Kelly's vacation. She's back and so is he.
When it comes to a Biden bid for president, the White House is starting to sound like a mom being asked to pick which kid she likes more. There's no right way to answer the question. And so you don't -- at least not in front of them.
Picking Joe Biden as his vice president was the best decision President Obama made, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Monday. But that doesn't take away from Obama's love for Hillary Rodham Clinton, he added.
The Times' Christi Parsons captured this amusing White House parenting moment on yesterday's Trail Guide. She notes:
"The awkward doublespeak could go on for a while. Biden aides have said he'll make a decision about running by the end of summer (a period Earnest noted Monday could last another month). The first Democratic debate is Oct. 13."
Obama's China policy becomes Republican target amid market worries
Taking aim at and playing off voter anxiety about China is a campaign-year tradition for candidates in both parties. On Monday, with Wall Street in turmoil over instability in Chinese market, it was Republicans' turn to unleash.
Donald Trump pounced first, almost immediately labeling the market fall a "crash," predicting future trouble and laying the blame on "poor planning and allowing China and Asia to dictate the agenda."
It took Scott Walker a few hours to go even further. Walker released a statement Monday afternoon calling on Obama to cancel a planned state visit with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“Americans are struggling to cope with the fall in today's markets driven in part by China's slowing economy and the fact that they actively manipulate their economy," Walker said. "Rather than honoring Chinese President Xi Jinping with an official state visit next month, President Obama should focus on holding China accountable over its increasing attempts to undermine U.S. interests."
The visit from the Chinese leader is a follow up to Obama's trip to Beijing last year. The White House argues that it uses such face time to raise the points of contention between the two countries -- including currency manipulation -- and to press China on the issues. During the November trip, Obama announced a major climate agreement.
Climate, however, doesn't top Walker's list of beefs with China.
He listed "massive cyber attacks against America, its militarization of the South China Sea, continued state interference with its economy, and persistent persecution of Christians and human rights activists" as reasons for Obama to cancel the formal, state party for Xi.
"There's serious work to be done rather than pomp and circumstance. We need to see some backbone from President Obama on U.S.-China relations," Walker said.