So, about the latest Donald Trump vs. Fox News battle

Welcome to Trail Guide, your daily host through the wilds of the 2016 presidential campaign. It's Wednesday, Sept. 23, and this is what we're watching:

  • Carly Fiorina's positions have shifted since her failed 2010 Senate run, note The Times' Mark Z. Barabak and Seema Mehta.
  • Pope Francis' arrival creates a political opening for some White House hopefuls, reports The Times' Kurtis Lee.
  • Ben Carson  returns to his home state of Michigan for a rally amid fallout over his assertion that Muslims should not be president.  
  • Sen. Marco Rubio supports a path to citizenship for those in the country illegally but insists it's not a prime issue for him in the immigration debate.
  • Donald Trump  avoided  the toughest questions on Stephen Colbert's " Late Show ."

That time Pope Francis met Obama's dogs

So, about the latest Trump vs. Fox News battle

 (John Minchillo / Associated Press)

(John Minchillo / Associated Press)

When coverage doesn't go his way, he engages in personal attacks on our anchors, which have grown stale and tiresome. He doesn't seem to grasp that candidates telling journalists what to ask is not how media works in this country.
A spokesman for Fox News talking about Donald Trump

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Trump hurls insults while in South Carolina

Donald Trump offers little shame in hurling insults at his opponents -- Democrats and Republicans alike.

For example, on Wednesday in South Carolina he called Hillary Rodham Clinton "shrill," Carly Fiorina a "disaster" and Marco Rubio a "politically correct brat," according to the Washington Post.

The attacks have seemed to help Trump, the GOP front-runner, as he continues to lead in the polls.

Business Insider created an interesting timeline of Trump's Twitter jabs at rivals in recent months.

Here are a few:

Carly Fiorina's views shift in quest for GOP nomination

 (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

Carly Fiorina is plowing ahead after her strong GOP presidential debate performance, but is she just another politician?

Fiorina, who champions herself as a political outsider, ran an unsuccessful 2010 Senate race in California, where she was trounced by incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer.

Over the last five years, Fiorina's positions on issues have shifted.

The Times' Mark Z. Barabak and Seema Mehta explore.

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FBI says it's recovered some of Hillary Clinton's deleted emails

 (Charlie Neibergall / AP)

(Charlie Neibergall / AP)

FBI technicians have recovered some of the personal and work-related emails that Hillary Rodham Clinton said were deleted from a computer server she used at home during her years as secretary of state, a federal government official said Wednesday.

The official, speaking anonymously because the FBI investigation is continuing, cautioned that it could be months before the computer forensics work is completed and the emails are recovered and examined.

The bureau has opened an investigation to determine whether any classified government material went through her personal computer, and whether any of that material may have been breached by outside foreign governments.

For Clinton, running for the Democratic presidential nomination, the news Wednesday could have ominous political overtones. It means the FBI findings may not be finished until later this year or early next year, around the time of the first caucus and primary voting in the 2016 campaign.

The findings are the latest sign that Clinton's email scandal is not going away any time soon. It also raises the possibility of future embarrassing disclosures or evidence that she deleted work-related emails after first maintaining they were "personal."

Clinton has said the emails were deleted from the server after her aides separated personal and work messages. Last month, the server was given to FBI lab technicians for their review.

News of the initial FBI recovery of the emails was first reported by Bloomberg News.

Pope Francis' arrival creates political opening for some White House hopefuls

 (Win McName/Getty)

(Win McName/Getty)

Though Pope Francis appears eager to avoid taking sides in the partisan fight between Democrats and Republicans, his historic visit to Washington has been, not surprisingly, dragged into the 2016 presidential race.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal claimed Wednesday that Obama "lied" to Francis during their meeting.

"The president told the pope that, in America, people must be free to live out their faith without fear of intimidation. That's the opposite of reality in America today, Mr. President," he said in a statement. "We have Christians who are jailed for their closely held religious beliefs. We have Christians fined thousands of dollars by the government simply because they didn't bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple."

His comments come on the heels of Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis being temporarily jailed after she refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, citing her Christian faith.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, in an op-ed for The Federalist, praised Francis as a defender of "life, marriage, and religious liberty in a time when these God-given rights are facing great threats."

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who converted to Catholicism because of his wife, Columba, attended a Mass led by Francis at Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

By calling for action against climate change and voicing empathy with immigrants, the pope did dabble into some of the political battles currently on the campaign trail.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said earlier this week that he respected the pope's views on religion, but not necessarily on politics. "The pope as an individual has political opinions," Rubio said. "And those, of course, we are free to disagree with."

Current GOP front-runner Donald Trump focused instead on his favorite topic: Donald Trump. "Well, I think if he knew me, I think he'd like me," Trump told NBC's Chuck Todd earlier this week. "If he doesn't know me, perhaps he wouldn't. But if he knew me, I think he'd probably like me."

Scene inside Trump S.C. event - kinda empty?

2016 general-election debates: Dayton, St. Louis, Las Vegas

Universities in Ohio, Missouri and Nevada will host the 2016 general-election debates in the final weeks before the November election, the commission that oversees the debates announced Wednesday.

Can't wait that long? Don't worry, there are plenty of primary debates yet to come, starting with the first Democratic debate, in Las Vegas in less than three weeks.

The 2016 lineup:

>Monday, Sept. 26, Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio

>Sunday, Oct. 9, Washington University in St. Louis

>Wednesday, Oct. 19, UNLV in Las Vegas

And the vice presidential debate is sandwiched in between on Tuesday, Oct. 4, at Longwood University in Farmville, Va.

Exactly how long is the 'foreseeable future'?

Candidates are finding that tough questions await them from Colbert

Stephen Colbert's "Late Show" has quickly become a hot seat for Republican presidential hopefuls, forcing the attention-hungry candidates to face tough questions and at times an unfriendly studio audience. It's a noted contrast to the NBC competition, where "Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon has been at the very least more accommodating of his political guests.

On Tuesday night, Donald Trump took his turn and appeared relatively subdued, accepting Colbert's jabs at him rather than replying with the barbs he regularly skewers other candidates with.

"I want to thank you not only for being here but I want to thank you for running for president, because I'm not going to say this stuff writes itself, but you certainly do deliver it on time," Colbert said.

Trump was unwilling to engage even on the topic of President Obama's birthplace, once a Trump obsession of sorts.

"Barack Obama: born in the United States. Go," said Colbert. Trump merely raised his hands and tried to skip the question.

Monday night it was Ted Cruz on the receiving end of pointed questions from the former Comedy Central star who inherited David Letterman's time slot and New York studio this month. At first there were some jokes about the indignity of running for president -- and the begging for dollars it required. But Colbert soon turned serious as he questioned whether conservative candidates who speak fondly of Ronald Reagan's presidency were glossing over his more pragmatic style:

"Reagan raised taxes, OK? Reagan actually had an amnesty program for illegal immigrants. Neither of those things would allow Reagan to be nominated today," Colbert said. "So to what level can you truly emulate Ronald Reagan?"

Cruz handled the questions largely unfazed. He pointed out that Reagan also signed the largest tax cut in history and reduced federal government regulations. Colbert then pressed Cruz about his sometimes heated rhetoric, but the Texas senator insisted he made it a point to keep the focus on substance.

"What I'm fighting for are simple principles: live within our means, stop bankrupting our kids and grandkids, and follow the Constitution," he said.

Colbert then challenged Cruz on gay marriage, when he insisted it was a matter for the states. The audience started to jeer the senator, prompting Colbert to defend his guest.

"However you feel, he's my guest, so please don't boo him," he said in a serious turn.

For Rubio, path to citizenship is far from top of list in immigration debate

 (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who is open to a path to citizenship for those in the country illegally, views such a move as a back-burner issue in his approach to immigration.

Rubio said this week on Fox News that Congress first must pass measures to secure the border and update the immigration system. Then, a decade later, lawmakers can turn to legal citizenship for the estimated 11 million people in the U.S. illegally, he said. It's the first time Rubio, who is vying for the GOP presidential nomination, has placed a time frame on such a plan.

"I don't think it's a decision you have to make on the front end," Rubio said, citing his more urgent priorities of stopping illegal immigration and modernizing the immigration system. He then suggested that a debate on how to grant legal status to those in the country illegally would need to play out.

"And then, ultimately, in 10 or 12 years, you could have a broader debate about how has this worked out and should we allow some of them to apply for green cards and eventually citizenship,: said Rubio, who seeks to be the first Latino to win the presidency.

The comments could hurt his standing with Latino voters, many of whom in polls have expressed a desire to see legislation that creates a pathway toward citizenship.

Immigration has been a touchy topic for Rubio, who has toggled back and forth on the issue. In 2013, he was a supporter of a bipartisan immigration bill that passed the Senate but stalled in the GOP-controlled House. But since then, he's backed away from that support.

He says he backs immigration reform, but is in favor of a more piecemeal approach.

In his book, "American Dreams," Rubio says that passage of a comprehensive immigration bill was never realistic. Moreover, in dozens of interviews since he supported the bill, Rubio has said that if he could vote again he would not support the proposal.

"I still believe we need to do immigration reform," Rubio said on Fox News in May. "The problem is, we can't do it in one big piece of legislation."