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Trump at Iran rally: We are led by very, very stupid people

Welcome to Trail Guide, your daily look at the highlights of the 2016 presidential campaign. It's Wednesday, Sept. 9, and this is what we're watching:

 

In Anaheim, Ben Carson seeks to highlight how he's different from Donald Trump

Dr. Ben Carson arrived in Southern California on Wednesday, touting a pair of key pillars to his insurgent candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination: his faith and his groundbreaking career as a neurosurgeon.

Carson, who in several recent national polls has drawn enough support to put him second behind Donald Trump in the crowded GOP primary field, sought to showcase a key difference between himself and the billionaire businessman.

"I realize where my successes come from and I don't in any way deny my faith in God," Carson told reporters prior to his rally inside a cavernous Anaheim Convention Center arena.

In Iowa, which will hold the first nominating contest five months from now, Carson is polling strongly among evangelical voters.

When asked by The Times why his support is so strong among the important voting bloc, Carson spoke of his values.

"We are a people who are governed not just by the rule of law, but by values and principles. By compassion and caring about our neighbor," he said. "Those are some things that characterize the rampant rise of our nation -- from nowhere to the highest pinnacle any nation has reached."

In the arena, hundreds waved signs emblazoned with his campaign message: "Heal. Inspire. Revive."

At the onset of his remarks, Carson noted how in the late 1980s he entered medical history, becoming the first doctor to separate conjoined twins. Carson retired in 2013 from his post as head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Carson hit on, among other topics, immigration ("we need to seal the border") and lowering the federal deficit ("we need logic and common sense if we're going to save our nation"). Carson, as with his San Francisco appearance on Tuesday, only offered vague plans for solving each issue.

Among those in the crowd was Gavin Williams, who traveled from his nearby Santa Ana home to see Carson.

"He's soft-spoken and composed," Williams said. "We need composure in the White House."

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Ben Carson hits GOP highlights in Anaheim

Follow The Times' Kurtis Lee for more from Carson's rally in Anaheim.

Who went to the rally against the Iran nuclear deal?

 (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

(Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

Thousands of tea party supporters from Baltimore to Houston braved 95-degree heat and flocked to the steps of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday to show their disapproval of the Iran nuclear deal and witness this summer's chief political phenomenon, Republican front-runner Donald Trump.

The attendees urged Congress to fight the deal, as the White House declared victory and Republicans searched for increasingly far-fetched ways to kill the agreement.

Rallygoers ranged from eager college freshmen to seasoned politicos, and they had varied methods of showing their disapproval. Some brandished signs saying, "We the people vs. Obama" while one man wore an elaborate gas mask and was dressed all in black. Another was dressed as George Washington.

"I just started college and this is my first political rally," said another attendee, Towson University freshman Matt Pipkin, who plans to major in political science. He said he liked what Trump said.

Keith Thompson, a recently retired intelligence community officer, attended the rally "to express my deep concern." He said President Obama was ignoring national security implications of the deal.

"Some of the known details are sufficient in and of themselves to warrant rejection of this deal, but together, it is unfathomable that our own president and even Congress ignores these and presses on, against the wishes of the nation at large," Thompson said. "It was reported that the deal will require the U.S. to defend Iran against attacks and acts of sabotage, whether cyber or physical."

Though Trump and others have made such claims, experts have said they are at best exaggerated.

John Ritchie, student action director for the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, a nonpartisan Catholic group promoting moral values in society, arrived with a group of about 20 men ages 18 to 25. They held up 14-foot American flags and signs for three hours. The signs quoted the words of Winston Churchill, defining an appeaser as "the one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last."

Ritchie said, "I'd like to see the Iran deal completely shelved and maintain sanctions on Iran as long as they're calling for the destruction of America."

Fallon Patton, a sophomore political science major and Towson College Republican, attended her first rally because she's against the deal and concerned about Iran's ties to terrorism.

Joanne Horell, a retired teacher, and her husband, Frank, who owns a commercial air conditioning company, came from Houston just for the rally. They said, "Our grandkids will be fighting this. Iran's promise of death to American and Israel should have signaled the end to the talks a long time ago."

Chriss Rainey, a seasoned rallygoer from West Virginia, had a more general reason for her attendance. "I have been coming to these since 2008 because I think people don't read enough, don't know enough history and are fooled by a message. We never get beyond talking points," she said.

Rainey voiced her approval of Trump. "I would not hesitate at all to vote for Donald Trump," she said.

Opponents to Iran nuclear deal, including Donald Trump, gather on Capitol Hill

Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are headlining a rally outside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, touting their opposition to the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration.

The White House has secured enough support in Congress for the agreement to pass, but many Republicans -- including a majority of GOP presidential hopefuls -- have assailed the nuclear agreement.

The Times' Kathleen Hennessey and Mary Ann Toman-Miller are on Capitol Hill providing Trail Guide updates.

Politicians are not the only speakers at the Capitol rally.

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As you are aware, for the first debate, Fox unexpectedly (but not to those who know), had one of the largest audiences in the history of cable television, 24 million people plus, and word is that your audience will be even larger.
Donald Trump, in a letter to CNN President Jeff Zucker, calling on him to donate all advertising profits from next week's debate to groups supporting veterans. Trump has said increases in viewership for the debate is due "100%" to his candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination.

Donald Trump and Ted Cruz to lead rally against Iran deal

With the White House nailing down critical Democratic support, the fight in Congress over the Iran nuclear deal is essentially all over but the shouting.

Still, there will be plenty of shouting.

A lineup of conservative politicians and media figures on Wednesday will rally opponents of the deal on Capitol Hill, including two unusually friendly rival GOP presidential candidates: Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz.

The rally will be Trump's first high-profile trip to the Hill since becoming the front-runner for the GOP nomination. It's little surprise that he chose not to visit with his party's increasingly unpopular leadership, but instead rally outside the Capitol at a distance.

But the topic of the rally is a somewhat odd fit for Trump. Unlike most of his GOP rivals and many in his party, Trump hasn't taken the hardest line on the deal that curbs the pace of Iran nuclear development while lifting sanctions.

While he's blasted that agreement as poorly negotiated and "amateur hour," he's not promised to rip it up upon arrival in the White House. Such rhetoric is unrealistic, Trump argued on "Meet the Press" two weeks ago. As a businessman, he's had to abide by bad deals before, he's said. As president, he said he would "police" the deal.

On Tuesday, Trump seemed to take a slightly tougher approach, writing in an op-ed in USA Today that he would "renegotiate" an agreement with Iran.

He also promised to free American prisoners before taking office.

Cruz is likely to stick to his vow not to abide by the deal at the rally of conservatives organized by Tea Party Patriots. The Texas senator has spent the summer making a clear play for any Trump supporters who might grow weary of the billionaire's unpredictable campaign or wary of his conservative credentials.

Jeb Bush is hoping he can help with the latter. On the eve of Wednesday's rally, Bush released a Web video reminding voters that Trump once said he would trust Hillary Rodham Clinton to negotiate with Iran.

The back and forth offers a look at how the long-sought and much-debated deal will play in the 2016 campaign.

As Republicans have argued passionately against it, polls show support for the deal has slipped. A new Pew Research poll found just 21% of respondents said they supported the deal, a drop of 12 percentage points since July. But the debate doesn't seem to be winning new opponents , either. The number of people who said they had no opinion on the deal and had not heard much about it increased.

That latter group will likely be the target of both opponents and supporters of the deal over the next year and a half. Even if the congressional effort to block it looks over, the political debate is set to continue.

On two-day California trip, Ben Carson to rally supporters in Anaheim

 (Eric Risberg / Associated Press)

(Eric Risberg / Associated Press)

Dr. Ben Carson, a devout Seventh-day Adventist, says he would often say a silent prayer prior to performing each surgery.

In his nearly three decades as director of pediatric neurosurgery at Baltimore's Johns Hopkins Hospital, Carson built a pioneering resume -- he was the first surgeon to separate Siamese twins. But despite the accolades, Carson eschewed dabbling in politics: He's never worked on a political campaign. He's never run for political office.

Now, it's those qualities -- his Christian faith, his medical background and his outsider status -- that have made him intriguing to Republicans yearning for something new as voters sift through a crowded cast of presidential candidates.

On Wednesday, he's scheduled to travel to Anaheim for a rally of supporters at the city's convention center.

In many surveys from early nominating states, Carson is polling second behind billionaire businessman Donald Trump in the 17-candidate GOP primary.

Carson's visit to Southern California comes a day after he spoke at a civic club gathering in San Francisco.

During Carson's two-day swing through the state he is set to attend several fundraisers, including one at a posh Bel-Air mansion Wednesday night.

Next week he's to return to the state for the GOP presidential debate in Simi Valley.

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Jeb Bush works on his timing on 'Late Show' debut

 (Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS via AP)

(Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS via AP)

Stephen Colbert taught a little lesson on the value of good timing to GOP presidential hopeful Jeb Bush during his inaugural episode of “The Late Show” on CBS Tuesday night.

Asked about how he would combat the blood-sport that politics has become, Bush replied, “I'm going to say something that is heretic, I guess. I don't think Barack Obama has bad motives. I just think he's wrong on a lot of issues.”

The crowd, at the historic Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City, began to react warmly until Bush said the word “wrong.”

“Oh, you were so close to getting them to clap!” Colbert interjected. “You were this close. You've got to pause till they clap and then hit them with what they don't want to hear!”

Bush continued that civility needed to be restored in politics and governance, pointing to state capitals and local government as proof it is possible.

Colbert responded that Bush seemed like a “reasonable guy” and there was a “non-zero” chance he could vote for him. Bush paused, and Colbert balked. “Am I wrong?”

“I'm trying to learn from you,” Bush replied. “I'm trying to pause before I say something and let the crowd kinda move in.”

Colbert's family was in the audience, and he pointed out a brother whom he said he loves but disagrees with politically. Colbert asked Bush if there was anything he disagreed about with his own brother, President George W. Bush.

Bush, who has frequently struggled to differentiate himself from his brother on the campaign trail, notably on foreign policy and the Iraq war, criticized spending during his brother's tenure. Bush, who has an enormous fundraising advantage in the GOP field but has been stumbling in the polls, then turned to Colbert's brother.

“Does Jay live in South Carolina?” Bush asked Colbert. The host's family is native to the state, which holds the third contest in the GOP nominating battle. Colbert replied in the affirmative, and the candidate turned to the prospective supporter. “I want your vote in the primary.”

With deal done, Clinton will stress her plan to get tough on Iran

 (Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press)

(Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press)

Hillary Rodham Clinton will dive into the perilous politics of the Iran nuclear deal on Wednesday, with a call to support the accord while having no illusions about what it means for Iran's relationship with the West.

In a morning speech to be delivered at the Brookings Institution in Washington, Clinton will say the deal is the only viable option for stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear arms. But she will also stress that its approval would in no way be a step toward normalizing relations with the country, according to a senior campaign official.

In the speech, Clinton will seek to strike a balance between supporting President Obama and allaying the concerns of influential groups of voters who are deeply troubled by the agreement, particularly supporters of Israel.

She will try to position herself as the country's best hope of enforcing the deal in a way that does not expose America and its allies to added risk. Clinton will make the case that the president has already lined up the needed votes in Congress to allow the deal to proceed, so it is time to move beyond debating the merits of the accord and focus on additional strategies for containing Iran.

"We need to be clear-eyed about what we can expect from Iran,” Clinton will say, according to prepared remarks. “This isn't the start of some broader diplomatic opening. And we shouldn't expect that this deal will lead to a broader change in their behavior. That shouldn't be a premise for proceeding."

The tough stance is a departure from that of the Obama administration, which is not categorically rejecting the possibility that the deal could later help create openings for broader diplomatic discussions.

Clinton will lay out a hawkish strategy for moving beyond the deal. “We've got to start looking ahead to what comes next: enforcing it, deterring Iran and its proxies, and strengthening our allies,” she will say, according to the excerpts.

While just 21% of the public supports the deal, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center, Wednesday's speech presents an opportunity for Clinton to showcase her expertise in foreign affairs.

She will propose a five-point plan for dealing with Iran beyond the nuclear deal. It calls for boosting military ties with Israel, including increased support for its rocket and missile defenses, as well as a vow to help the country obtain the most sophisticated fighter aircraft technology available anywhere.

Clinton will also propose an expanded U.S. military presence in the Persian Gulf, which would be geared toward helping allies bolster their defenses against attacks from Iran and its proxies. And the U.S. would seek to put new pressure on countries that have enabled Hezbollah and other terrorist groups to obtain shipments of arms.

She will talk about the need to redouble diplomatic efforts aimed at solving some of the regional conflicts that Iran has helped instigate, as well as the need for the U.S. to do more to help refugees displaced by them.

“It's not enough to just say yes to this deal,” the prepared remarks say. “Of course it isn't. We have to say 'Yes -- AND.' Yes, AND we will enforce it with vigor and vigilance. Yes, AND we will embed it in a broader strategy to confront Iran's bad behavior in the region."

Conservatives taking aim at GOP lawmakers

Republican control of Congress hasn't done much for the Republican Party's popularity, reports Mark Barabak.

"After years of raging against President Obama, unhappy conservatives have a new target for their anger and disgust: the Republicans in Congress. ... In short, as many see it, the promise of the 2010 Tea Party movement and its 2014 echo have been dashed on the marble steps of the Capitol."

As we've noted before on Trail Guide, that frustration is part of what is fueling the rise of outsider candidates this campaign cycle.

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