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Trump calls gunman in Planned Parenthood shooting a 'maniac'

Welcome to Trail Guide, your host through the wilds of the 2016 presidential campaign. It's Sunday, Nov. 29, and here's what we're talking about:

I think any hateful rhetoric directed at anyone from any source is too much. It's something that we need to get away from. We have to stop allowing ourselves to be pushed into different corners and then throwing hateful barbs at each other, you know.
Dr. Ben Carson on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, when asked whether strong rhetoric about Planned Parenthood may have led to Friday's attack on a clinic in Colorado.

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Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper calls for ways to keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill

 (Joe Amon/Denver Post)

(Joe Amon/Denver Post)

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, was a staunch supporter of new gun laws in the state after the 2012 Aurora theater rampage. He's again speaking out on gun violence following Friday's Planned Parenthood attack.

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Hillary Clinton in Boston meeting with union workers

Hillary Clinton has racked up several key union endorsements in recent weeks, including the Service Employees International Union, and on Sunday she's in Boston meeting with organized labor.

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Columbine, Aurora and now Planned Parenthood -- Colorado is no stranger to mass shootings and debate over guns

 (Daniel Owen / Colorado Springs Gazette)

(Daniel Owen / Colorado Springs Gazette)

In this slice of the Rocky Mountains, bloodshed has arrived yet again, renewing passionate debate over whether gun control makes a community safer or places it more at risk.

While mass shootings have become more common all across the country, in Colorado, home to Columbine High School, the Aurora movie theater and, now, a targeted Planned Parenthood clinic, the events resonate with profound power. And in a state neatly divided among Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated voters, no one side in the gun debate prevails for long.

Time and again in the wake of these shootings, Democrats demand tougher gun laws, while Republicans call reforms unnecessary and unlikely to stop violence.

"There's no reason this should continue to happen," Tom Sullivan said of Friday's violence that left a police officer, Garrett Swasey, and two civilians dead after a gunman opened fire in a Planned Parenthood clinic here. Sullivan's son, Alex, was killed three years ago in the theater shooting on what was his 27th birthday. "People who should not have guns walking around with guns shooting people. Why? Because they're mad?"

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On Planned Parenthood shooting, Donald Trump calls gunman a 'maniac'

 (Cheryl Senter / Associated Press)

(Cheryl Senter / Associated Press)

Donald Trump made his first pointed comments on Sunday about the shooting at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic, calling the alleged gunman who killed three people -- including a police officer -- a “maniac” and an “extremist.”

“ I think it's terrible,” he said, speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press." “It's more of the same. And I think it's a terrible thing. He's a maniac.”

Planned Parenthood has been at the center of a heated national debate after a secretly recorded video emerged this summer, showing executives talking about the donation of fetal tissue from abortions for research. Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, has denied any wrongdoing by the organization. Many Republican presidential hopefuls have called for federal funds to be stripped from the group.

When asked on Sunday if heated rhetoric toward Planned Parenthood might lead people to commit acts of violence against the group, Trump, the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination, said that it was not an issue and pointed blame toward the gunman.

“ I think he's a sick person. And I think he was probably a person ready to go,” said Trump of the alleged shooter, Robert Lewis Dear, 57, who according to law enforcement sources said "no more baby parts" when he was arrested.

Trump did note that the videos from Planned Parenthood were disturbing.

“I will tell you there is a tremendous group of people that think it's terrible, all of the videos that they've seen with some of these people from Planned Parenthood talking about it like you're selling parts to a car,” he said. “ I mean, there are a lot of people that are very unhappy about that.”

During Sunday’s “Meet the Press” interview, Trump also continued to vehemently defend his recollection of Arabs in New Jersey allegedly cheering as the World Trade Center collapsed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, despite local elected officials and law enforcement assailing the claim as false.

“I saw it on television. I saw clips. And so did many other people. And many people saw it in person,” Trump said. “I've had hundreds of phone calls to the Trump Organization saying, ‘We saw it. It was dancing in the streets.’”

Meanwhile, appearing on CBS' “Face the Nation” former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush assailed Trump as “uninformed” and unfit to become president, citing Trump’s false statements on several issues, including the billionaire businessman’s claims that the Obama administration will allow 250,000 Syrian refugees into the country. (The White House has agreed to at least 10,000 refugees this fiscal year).

“Look, I just think he's uninformed,” Bush said. “The simple fact is that he's been wrong on Syria and on the refugees pretty consistently.”

In his quest for the GOP presidential nomination, Bush has struggled to gain much traction, remaining near the middle of the field for several months.

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Huckabee calls Planned Parenthood shooting 'domestic terrorism'

Donald Trump often says things that stretch the truth, so why does it fire up the faithful?

 (Ty Wright / Getty Images)

(Ty Wright / Getty Images)

Donald Trump’s campaign trail commentary flows seamlessly but is often vague on specifics, and even facts.

He says he saw “thousands of people” cheering in New Jersey as the World Trade Center towers collapsed in the Sept. 11 attacks. Not true, say local law enforcement and elected officials.

He is open to shuttering mosques, saying there’s “absolutely no choice.” But the 1st Amendment protects the free exercise of religion.

And he has assailed the federal government for accepting “250,000” Syrian refugees. The Obama administration has agreed to allow in at least 10,000 this fiscal year.

It’s become almost standard for Trump in his quest for the Republican presidential nomination: Make statements that defy truth, or promises that go beyond the power of the presidency. Yet his rhetoric resonates with supporters, who laud Trump for his blunt and politically incorrect style and have put him atop polls since he announced his candidacy in June.

Nearly 47% of Republican-leaning voters both support the deportation of people in the U.S. illegally and oppose the acceptance of refugees from Syria, a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll found.

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