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Mike Pence: ‘Building the wall, establishing border security, has to be job one’

Donald Trump reveals his choice after a day of frenzied speculation.

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Tim Tebow says he won’t be speaking at the Republican convention

If the idea of Tim Tebow speaking in support of Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention blew your mind, you’re not alone.

Tebow posted a video on Instagram that night saying the first he heard of the notion was earlier in the day when it was all over the news. He called his inclusion on the Republican Party’s list of speakers “a rumor,” saying that he’s not ready to enter the world of politics just yet.

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Mike Pence stresses an unyielding support of Trump’s plans for a border wall and ban on Muslims

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence affirmed his support of two key tenets of Donald Trump’s candidacy — building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and a ban on Muslims entering the country — in his first interview since being tapped as the billionaire businessman’s running mate.

“Building the wall, establishing border security, has to be job one,” said Pence on Fox News’ “Hannity” on Friday night. "... We need to focus first and foremost ... on border integrity and building the wall.”

But Pence, who is in his first term as governor of Indiana, had criticized Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims soon after it was announced, saying that such a ban was “offensive and unconstitutional.”

On Friday, Pence sought to tamp down any areas of division with Trump, saying he should have chosen his words more carefully.

“I don’t think things came out quite right or how I would have done it, but I want folks to know that I strongly agree with Donald Trump’s call that we’ve got to do something different,” he said.

Trump and Pence are set to appear together as running mates for the first time on Saturday at a news conference in New York.

Pence also demurred Friday when asked about his vote as a member of the House in favor of the Iraq war. Trump has insisted he was against the war, despite audio in which he says he supported entering Iraq.

“Reasonable people can differ on whether or not we should have gone into Iraq,” Pence said before then casting blame on President Obama and Hillary Clinton over the phased withdrawal of troops from the country.

“Barack Obama’s precipitous withdrawal from Iraq created a vacuum in which ISIS was created,” Pence said, using an acronym for the Islamic State militant group.

When pressed about his views on the violent coup attempt in Turkey that killed dozens, Pence said that he and Trump were monitoring the situation and that it was evidence the world needs stronger leadership from America.

“America needs to be strong for the world to be safe and secure, and Donald Trump is going to provide the kind of broad-shouldered American leadership on the world stage that I think will make the world a more stable place,” Pence said.

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Head of the California Democratic Party won’t attend the national convention

John Burton, the chairman of the California Democratic Party, plans to skip the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this month.

Burton says the partisan confab will be a staid affair because Hillary Clinton has the party’s nomination wrapped up and has been endorsed by her main rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“Nothing is going to happen,” said Burton, a former California congressman and past president pro tem of the state Senate. “The platform has been worked out. Bernie has endorsed Hillary. It’s going to be a lovefest.”

Burton plans to send a Sacramento high school “Dreamer” – a young Latino immigrant brought to the country illegally as child – in his place.

“He’ll remember it his whole life,” said Burton, who is in his final year as party chairman.

Burton said he’s already been to plenty of Democratic conventions, the most memorable being the 1968 convention in Chicago, which erupted in violent street protests as the party nominated Hubert H. Humphrey.

“If you went one way, you could get beat up. If you went the other way, you’d go to jail. If you went a third way, you could keep walking,” Burton said. “I kept walking.”

Gov. Jerry Brown will be leading the California delegation to Philadelphia, and will be joined some of the state’s other top elected leaders, including: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Alex Padilla, Treasurer John Chiang, Controller Betty Yee and Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.

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Obama says Republicans’ idea for Muslim ban is ‘repugnant’

President Obama took a shot Friday at Newt Gingrich’s suggestion of a widespread ban on Muslims after the terrorist attack in France, condemning the idea of a “religious test” that was originally proposed by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and expanded on by Gingrich.

“In the wake of last night’s attacks, we’ve heard more suggestions that all Muslims in America be targeted, tested for their beliefs, some deported or jailed,” Obama said Friday, without naming Gingrich. “The very suggestion is repugnant and an affront to everything that we stand for as Americans.”

Gingrich said in the hours after the attack that killed scores in France that any Muslim who believes in Sharia law should be ejected from the U.S.

“Western civilization is in a war,” Gingrich said in an interview on Fox News after the Bastille Day truck attack. “We should frankly test every person here who is of a Muslim background. And if they believe in Sharia, they should be deported.”

The assertion by Gingrich, who was on the shortlist to be Trump’s running mate, resurrected one of Trump’s most controversial proposals of the presidential campaign. After December’s massacre in San Bernardino, he called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

But in an afternoon address at the White House before diplomatic officials from around the world, Obama took issue with Gingrich’s amplified suggestion. He argued that nations should try to protect freedom, not surrender in fear.

“We cannot give in to fear or turn on each other or sacrifice our way of life,” Obama said. “We cannot let ourselves be divided by religion because that’s exactly what the terrorists want. We should never do their work for them. And here in the United States, our freedoms … keep us strong and safe.”

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Prominent rabbi says he won’t speak at the Republican convention

Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, the highly regarded Orthodox rabbi in New York who oversaw Ivanka Trump’s conversion to Judaism, has pulled out of a planned appearance at the Republican National Convention.

Lookstein’s name was prominently featured on the list of speakers for next week’s convention that the GOP released this week, but his presence generated almost immediate controversy within Jewish circles, including at Ramaz, the private school he once headed.

In a letter he addressed to the “Ramaz family,” Lookstein said he had planned to give an invocation at the opening day of the convention, honoring a personal request from Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump’s elder daughter who converted to Judaism before marrying Jared Kushner in 2009.

“The whole matter turned from rabbinic to political, something which was never intended,” Lookstein wrote, according to the Forward, a Jewish newspaper in New York that obtained a copy.

“Like my father before me, I have never been involved in politics. Politics divides people. My life has been devoted to uniting a community,” he added.

Lookstein’s plans to appear at the convention had sparked a petition drive by former Ramaz students, who said the invocation would amount to “public support of this dangerous man,” referring to Trump.

Trump has received support from a number of white nationalist figures and organizations, some of which are openly anti-Semitic. He has frequently retweeted messages linked to some of those groups, including one attacking Hillary Clinton as corrupt that included the image of a pile of cash topped by a six-pointed star — a well-known Jewish symbol.

Trump’s campaign has denied any involvement with anti-Semitism, but critics have said he has done too little to discourage some of the virulent characters who have come forward to back him.

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Cornel West endorses Jill Stein and says she – not Hillary Clinton – is the ‘only progressive woman in the race’

Cornel West
(Eduardo Munoz / European Pressphoto Agency)

Not all of Bernie Sanders’ high-profile supporters are backing Hillary Clinton.

In a sharply worded op-ed article in the Guardian, Cornel West, an influential scholar and civil rights activist who was a staunch supporter of Sanders in the Democratic presidential primaries, endorsed Green Party candidate Jill Stein, calling her the “only progressive woman in the race.”

“This November, we need change. Yet we are tied in a choice between [Donald] Trump, who would be a neo-fascist catastrophe, and Clinton, a neo-liberal disaster,” wrote West. “That’s why I am supporting Jill Stein. I am with her – the only progressive woman in the race.”

West’s overt jab at Clinton and support of Stein, who was also the Green Party’s nominee in 2012, comes just days after Sanders endorsed Clinton’s candidacy as the two campaigned together in New Hampshire.

“I have a deep love for my brother Bernie Sanders, but I disagree with him on Hillary Clinton,” West wrote. “I don’t think she would be an ‘outstanding president.’ Her militarism makes the world a less safe place.”

Throughout the primaries, Sanders, along with many liberals such as West, consistently assailed Clinton for, among other things, her vote in support of the Iraq war.

In his op-ed, West, who has also been a vocal critic of President Obama, hit Clinton for her support of anti-crime legislation signed by her husband, former president Bill Clinton, in the 1990s. Critics say the measure helped contribute to the trend of greater levels of incarceration for black men. She has since said she believes that the legislation is flawed.

“Clinton policies of the 1990s generated inequality, mass incarceration, privatization of schools,” West wrote.

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Democrats preview Philadelphia lineup -- with one glaring omission

Democrats have released the initial speaker schedule for their convention in Philadelphia later this month. Not a lot of surprises, but one notable omission. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is not yet on it.

That is likely by design – and not because Warren won’t be speaking. She almost certainly will. In fact, the senator has been invited to fill a keynote slot early in the week. But putting her on the calendar for such a time in permanent ink removes some of the intrigue around Hillary Clinton’s search for a running mate. The vice presidential pick traditionally speaks later in the week, and the Clinton campaign has not confirmed that Warren is off its short list of candidates.

The party says more speakers will be added to its list as the convention nears. Here is who is on it for now:

Monday: First Lady Michelle Obama, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Astrid Silva. Silva is a “Dreamer” from Nevada who will talk about her personal immigration story and her activism.

Tuesday: Bill Clinton will be joined by Mothers of the Movement, mothers of black men and women who have been killed by gun violence or in police custody, including the mothers of Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.

Wednesday: President Obama and Vice President Biden.

Thursday: Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton.

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This is why Mike Pence is Donald Trump’s vice presidential pick

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Donald Trump announced Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his vice presidential running mate.

What does Mike Pence bring to the Donald Trump campaign?

GOP establishment favorite
Trump is on an anti-establishment run, but Pence was a favorite of conservative GOP leaders who have resisted embracing Trump as their party’s standard-bearer.

Christian conservative favorite
Pence was also a favorite among the party’s Christian conservatives, many of whom wished for Ted Cruz to win the nomination. Cruz is scheduled to speak at the Republican National Convention next week.

Less risk
Pence is known as a low-key guy, a contrast to Trump, whose free-wheeling, ad-hoc style often creates self-inflicted trouble for him.

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After French terrorist attack, Newt Gingrich calls for religious test of Muslims in the U.S.

Newt Gingrich stood by his provocative call for a loyalty test for Muslims in the U.S. on Friday, insisting that Americans must re-examine the balance of privacy and security in the wake of recent terrorist attacks.

Gingrich, who was passed over as Donald Trump’s vice-presidential pick, defended his proposal for extraordinary scrutiny of Muslims in a Facebook live video.

“How many times do we have to witness this kind of death and destruction?” he said.

Gingrich made no mention of Trump tapping Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as a running mate. Instead, he focused solely on expanding his Thursday night interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, which he gave hours after a truck careened into a crowd in Nice, killing at least 84 people.

“Let me be as blunt and as direct as I can be,” Gingrich said on Thursday. “Western civilization is in a war. We should frankly test every person here who is of Muslim background and if they believe in sharia, they should be deported. Sharia is incompatible with Western civilization.”

He continued: “Modern Muslims who have given up sharia--glad to have them as citizens, perfectly happy to have them next door. But we need to be relentless about defining who our enemies are.”

In the Thursday night interview, which came amid heated speculation about whether Trump had indeed settled on Pence, the former House speaker went on to say that visiting websites that support terrorist organizations like Islamic State and Al Qaeda should be a felony. He also called mosques the primary recruitment centers for terrorist activity and called for their surveillance.

“I am sick and tired of being told that the wealthiest, most powerful civilization in history -- all of Western civilization -- is helpless in the face of medieval barbarians,” he said.

The proposal immediately raised questions of the practicality and legality of imposing a religious test.

On Friday, Gingrich said the media “went into hysteria overnight in trying to grossly exaggerate what I was saying.”

He said that different levels of scrutiny should be applied to Muslims living outside the country seeking to emigrate, those who live in the U.S. but are not citizens and those with American citizenship.

Gingrich insisted the West was under siege from attack, and it was in U.S. interests to evaluate how faithful current and would-be residents are to the Constitution. But he did not specify how such loyalty would be measured.

“I don’t think anyone has the complete answer, but at least let’s have the courage to start the conversation,” he said.

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Hillary Clinton campaign brands Donald Trump’s choice of Mike Pence as ‘extreme’

Hillary Clinton’s campaign quickly branded Donald Trump’s announcement of his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, as the “most extreme VP pick in a generation,” and a further reflection of Trump’s divisive bid for the presidency.

“By picking Mike Pence as his running mate, Donald Trump has doubled down on some of his most disturbing beliefs by choosing an incredibly divisive and unpopular running mate known for supporting discriminatory politics and failed economic policies that favor millionaires and corporations over working families,” Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta said in a statement.

A Clinton campaign video, above, released moments after Trump tweeted his choice, focused on the economic impact of Pence’s support for legislation that gay rights group had warned would allow businesses to claim religious objections in order to deny service to gays and lesbians, as well as his strict anti-abortion views and opposition to immigration reform.

The Trump-Pence ticket, the video said, was “building a great, big, beautiful wall between American and progress.” A Spanish-language version was also produced.

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Pence’s reaction: He is ‘honored’ to join Donald Trump’s ticket

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Donald Trump says he has chosen Mike Pence as his running mate

Donald Trump has chosen Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate, he said Friday on Twitter, a sign that the volatile Republican business mogul hopes to stabilize his campaign for president as he and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton prepare to claim their party nominations over the next two weeks.

A longtime champion of conservative and evangelical causes, Pence, 57, was a favorite of GOP leaders who have resisted embracing Trump as their party’s standard-bearer.

Trump tweeted Friday that he had settled on Pence after a day of frenzied speculation centering on the governor. Trump was to have publicly introduced his pick Friday but said Thursday night that he was postponing his planned announcement at Trump Tower because of the terrorist attack in Nice, France.

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Trump finally confirms: His running mate is Mike Pence

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Republican stalwarts just blocked the last big push to stop Donald Trump’s nomination

(Eva Hambach / AFP-Getty Images)

The last-ditch push to block Donald Trump’s nomination for president fizzled late Thursday, swatted back by GOP officials anxious to unify the party and stop the renegade effort.

Members of the committee setting rules for next week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland decisively rejected the move to allow delegates to vote for anyone they want, rather than follow the results of the primary season. Instead, they passed a measure making clear that most delegates’ votes are bound to primary and caucus results for at least one round of balloting, which would all but ensure Trump is nominated.

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You can’t bring a water gun to protest the RNC, but you can bring an AK-47

(Angelo Merendino / Getty Images)

If a single sentence could capture the madness about to hit Cleveland, it’s this: You can’t bring a water gun to demonstrate outside the Republican National Convention, but you can bring an AK-47.

As tens of thousands of Donald Trump supporters and opposing activists begin arriving for next week’s nominating convention, law enforcement officials say they are ready for anything. They’ll have to be.

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‘Never Trump is nevermore,’ Trump campaign chairman says

Donald Trump’s campaign celebrated a blow to the anti-Trump movement that’s fighting for a showdown on the floor at the Republican National Convention next week, while the faction aligned against the candidate tried to regroup after the defeat.

The convention’s rulemaking body voted late Thursday against an effort to allow delegates to vote freely rather than based on the results of their states’ nominating contests. The vote further secures Trump’s nomination, and he and his campaign celebrated by slamming the movement against them.

“We crushed them. … Never Trump is nevermore,” campaign chairman Paul Manafort said on CNN’s “New Day,” and Trump echoed him hours later on Twitter.

Trump’s tone of celebration at having vanquished fellow Republicans is sure to aggrieve party leaders, who had a momentary glimpse of party unity after the delegates aligned against Trump were defeated.

The anti-Trump faction, led by delegate Kendal Unruh of Colorado, vowed to press on. Convention rules allow something of a Hail Mary pass on Monday that could still allow them to vote as they wish, and they also plan other forms of protest during the convention.

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New USC/L.A. Times election tracking poll debuts with Trump holding slim lead

(Steve Helber / Associated Press)

The Los Angeles Times and the USC Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research have launched a national tracking poll of the presidential election, and it debuts today with Donald Trump holding an apparent slim lead over Hillary Clinton.

Trump’s lead is within the poll’s margin of error, but it comes amid a flurry of other surveys that have shown support for Clinton waning after the sharp criticism leveled against her last week by FBI Director James Comey.

The tracking survey, done in partnership with USC’s Unruh Institute of Politics, will be updated every night between now and the election.

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Paul Ryan hauls in $15.6 million for House Republicans

(Andy Manis / Associated Press)

Turns out that House Speaker Paul D. Ryan isn’t just a policy wonk. He’s also a fundraising powerhouse as he works to preserve the Republican majority this fall.

Ryan hauled in nearly $15.6 million for the second quarter ending June 30, his team said, for a total of $37.9 million since he became speaker last fall.

That’s providing record levels of “cash on hand” for House Republicans, who hold a robust majority but could face political headwinds with Donald Trump as the party’s nominee.

“Paul Ryan is committed to doing whatever it takes to make sure Republicans are reelected on election day,” said Kevin Seifert, executive director of Team Ryan, the speaker’s political operation. “These funds will provide the tactical support for incumbents and challengers to be successful.”

Fundraising reports are due Friday. Ryan has transferred $25 million to the National Republican Congressional Committee, the House GOP’s campaign arm, including $5.4 million in June.

Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), the NRCC chairman, said Ryan is sought after among donors who are “hungry” for his ability to jump into the policy weeds and present his legislative ideas for the GOP majority.

Ryan emerged as a reluctant speaker, who rose to leadership on the condition he would still be able to spend weekends at home in Wisconsin with his family and young children.

But he has managed to visit 18 states since taking the speaker’s gavel, hitting more than 71 events in 43 cities across the country, his team said.

As Congress recesses for the long summer break, Ryan has an “aggressive stretch” ahead, according to his team, popping into 12 states in August in another push for donations ahead of the November election.