Donald Trump’s path to the presidency is narrow but not impossible


The first joint interview with Donald Trump and Mike Pence will air tonight on “60 Minutes.”

In middle of emotional plea on Benghazi, Donald Trump calls into Fox News

Patricia Smith, the mother of a State Department officer killed in Benghazi, Libya, delivered a searing, emotional speech about the death of her son on the opening night of the Republican National Convention.

But in an odd scheduling decision, Donald Trump decided to call into Fox News at the same time, meaning viewers of the conservative news channel were listening to him riff on the day’s news — topics included his “60 Minutes” interview and his wife’s upcoming speech tonight — rather than Smith.


Images from Cleveland: Police prepare, nude photo shoot


Who is Jamiel Shaw, and why is he speaking in prime time at the Republican National Convention?

Jamiel Shaw's son was killed in 2008.
(Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)

Presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump’s convention lineup features a number of Californians, notably the father of a Los Angeles teen who was killed by a gang member in the country illegally.

The prime-time inclusion of Jamiel Shaw, whose son shared his name, indicates that Trump is not backing down from the hard-line stance he took on immigration during the primaries. He kicked off his campaign by declaring that many of those in the country illegally from Mexico were criminals and rapists, and he repeatedly called for mass deportation and the construction of a large border wall.

Shaw will speak Monday. His son, a high school football standout, was killed in 2008. Shaw has appeared previously with Trump, including at a Costa Mesa rally in April and a news conference in 2015.

Other Californians scheduled to speak include House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy; multimillionaire real estate investor and longtime Trump friend Tom Barrack, who hosted Trump’s first big fundraiser; PayPal founder Peter Thiel and actors Scott Baio and Antonio Sabato, Jr.


No need to change Ohio’s open-carry gun law, GOP official says

The Republican convention will be able to proceed safely without changing Ohio’s open-carry law, which allows citizens to display rifles and other guns on public streets, including those near the convention arena, the convention’s chief executive said Sunday.

“Security is important, and I think that they have been planning around the security issues here for over nine months. The open-carry laws in Ohio haven’t changed recently. It’s been in effect for quite some time,” Jeff Larson, chief executive officer of the Republican National Convention, told reporters at a news conference in Cleveland.

“They’ve had a number of big events that have taken place with open carry without any issues. They’ve been planning their security around that issue,” Larson added.

The head of the Cleveland police union earlier in the day called on Gov. John Kasich to suspend the open-carry law in the area around the convention site. But Larson said he disagreed with that.

“It is the constitution in Ohio. The governor can’t simply say, ‘I’m going to relax it for a day or tighten it up for a five-day period of time.’”

“There’s going to be plenty of law enforcement in downtown Cleveland,” he said. “There are a lot of people coming here to execute their 1st Amendment rights. And I mean we’re going to be supportive of that. This is the United States of America, and people get a chance to do that in an orderly fashion.”

“When they start getting disorderly, I think that the police will move in and take an effort. But I feel good about the security and what we’ve done and what we’ve planned. And I think it’s going to be fine.”


The GOP finally unveils its program for Cleveland. The goal: Make conventions great again!

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Less than 24 hours before the opening gavel falls, the GOP announced the program for this week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

As Paul Manafort, the chairman of Donald Trump’s campaign, said earlier Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” the confab will truly be a Trumpian affair.

Seizing on the slogan of red ballcap fame, each night is themed along similar lines, to wit: Make America Safe Again, Make America Work Again, Make America First Again and Make America One Again.

The lineup of speakers is notably short of political luster. The two living Republican presidents, George H.W. Bush and his son, George W., are staying away. So are Sen. John McCain of Arizona and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the party’s last two presidential nominees.

In a highly unusual snub, the host state’s governor, Trump’s erstwhile opponent John Kasich, will also be absent.

But there will be no shortage of Trumps, in addition to the presumptive GOP nominee, who is set to deliver the traditionally climactic acceptance speech Thursday night. (His running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, gets his turn Wednesday night.)

Trump’s wife, Melania, will address the convention as will his sons Donald Jr. and Eric and daughters, Ivanka and Tiffany.

There will be a generous sprinkling of reality TV celebrities, including Willie Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” and Rep. Sean P. Duffy of Wisconsin and his wife, Rachel Campos-Duffy, who met on MTV’s “The Real World.”

Several of Trump’s vanquished opponents will appear as well: Texas’ former governor, Rick Perry, and junior senator, Ted Cruz, as well as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Cruz, who was Trump’s longest-lasting and most bitter rival, was granted a speaking slot although he has yet to formally endorse his former opponent.


A key super PAC backing Donald Trump has just $571,000 on hand

A well-connected pro-Donald Trump super PAC has failed to raise big money to support the Republican’s presidential bid, leaving him without outside resources to fight the well-stocked super PAC backing Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Rebuilding America Now, a group assembled by allies of top Trump advisor Paul Manafort, has just $571,000 in cash on hand, according to federal elections reports for the second quarter of 2016. It raised $2.1 million in start-up money and spent more than $1.5 million.

Wealthy donors have been slow to give — and Trump has signaled he doesn’t want or need the outside groups.

The influential Koch brothers and billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson remain on the sidelines. And though Trump has stepped up his own campaign fundraising, he is without support from a PAC that can raise unlimited funds – and attack Clinton.

On the other side, Priorities USA, the pro-Clinton PAC, has raised almost $100 million, with more committed. It is running TV ads bashing Trump in key states.

Rebuilding America Now operatives had boasted of big-money backers, including Trump’s longtime friend Tom Barrack. But the funds have not arrived, and the wealthy Los Angeles developer continues to raise money separately for Trump’s campaign and a joint operation with the Republican Party.

Another pro-Trump PAC, Committee for American Sovereignty, run by former allies of another Trump supporter and former presidential candidate, Ben Carson, has also struggled. It reported just $33,231 cash on hand for the quarter.

Quarterly reports for the newer groups were due Friday, and monthly summaries will be out in days as various entities compete for cash.

One brighter spot for Trump could be the Great America PAC, headed by veteran GOP strategist Ed Rollins and operatives in California. It has been steadily raising and spending funds to build a massive database of Trump supporters to turn out the vote in target states.

Read More


Cleveland police union leader calls for suspending open-carry gun law during GOP convention

Retired Marine Steve Thacker, center, is interviewed by journalists in downtown Cleveland.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

The head of Cleveland’s police union said Sunday he would ask Ohio Gov. John Kasich to suspend open-carry gun rights for a week after several police officers were gunned down in Baton Rouge, La.

“It’s a heartbreaking day,” said union president Steven Loomis. The union’s attorneys are also asking Kasich to declare a state of emergency in the city during the Republican National Convention, which begins Monday.

But a spokesperson for Kasich said he lacks legal authority to do what the union asked.

“Ohio governors do not have the power to arbitrarily suspend federal and state constitutional rights or state laws as suggested,” said spokesperson Emmalee Kalmbach.

Loomis repeatedly said he was not “against the 2nd Amendment,” but that recent killings of police in Dallas and Louisiana, combined with volatile confrontations that could occur outside the convention, will create situations that are too risky for city police.

Under the law in Ohio and many other states, people have a legal right to openly carry rifles and other long guns. As a result, although police have prohibited a wide variety of items from the protest zone near the conventions — tennis balls, water pistols, chains and practically anything else that could be used as a weapon — they can’t ban guns.

Officers will have to take extra precautions around anyone who chooses to carry a rifle, which might distract them from necessary law enforcement actions, Loomis said.

Kasich should be able to enact an executive order, Loomis said, because firearms are already banned inside the “hard security zone” along the immediate perimeter of the convention site.


Trump suggests Baton Rouge killings caused by ‘lack of leadership’ in U.S.


One thing the polls agree on: Voters don’t like their choices

The eve of the GOP convention has brought a surfeit of new polls, and although they differ slightly on the standing of the two major candidates, they concur that voters don’t like their choices.

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll, for example, finds 58% of voters are dissatisfied with the choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Among those surveyed, 64% had an unfavorable view of Trump, while 54% felt unfavorably toward Clinton.

A new NBC News/Wall St. Journal survey offered a similar verdict: Trump was viewed favorably by 27% of those surveyed and unfavorably by 60%. That net negative rating of -33 points is the worst in the history of the poll.

But Clinton’s image is only somewhat better: 34% positive, 56% negative.

Despite the unpopularity of the two major-party presumptive nominees, third parties aren’t garnering a huge lot of support. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian nominee, and Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, drew 8% and 5%, respectively, in the ABC/Washington Post survey when their names were offered to voters. They got 11% and 6%, respectively, in the NBC/Wall St. Journal survey.

The two drew roughly equally from both Clinton and Trump at this point, the polls found.

Rather than flocking to a third choice, many voters are being driven by negative feelings about the candidate they don’t like, more than positive feelings about their own candidate. That’s particularly true for Trump, who leads a party still badly divided between his supporters and detractors.

Among registered voters who said they backed Trump, fewer than 4 in 10 in the ABC/Washington Post poll said they did so mainly because they supported him. The majority, 57%, said they mostly opposed Clinton.

On the other side, the picture is only slightly more optimistic: 44% who mainly supported Clinton, 54% who mostly opposed Trump.

One political figure Americans do like: President Obama. His job approval continues to stay above 50%, at some of the highest levels of his presidency. That has helped buoy Clinton, even as concerns over her handling of classified information in her email while secretary of State have pulled her downward.

As for who is winning, the new surveys all show a very close race: The NBC/Wall St. Journal poll has Clinton ahead 46%-41%. The Washington Post/ABC poll has her leading 47%-43%. Both leads are within the surveys’ margins of error.

Our own USC Dornsife/L.A. Times Daybreak poll, which tracks voter preferences daily, now has the two effectively tied, Trump 42%, Clinton 41%. The small lead that Trump had in the poll last week appears to have dwindled.

Similar verdicts come from new polls of swing states, which show close contests in Ohio, Michigan, Iowa and Virginia.


Next stop: Donald Trump’s ‘Hispanic engagement tour’

Trying to boost his standing in minority communities, Donald Trump will embark soon on a “Hispanic engagement tour,” GOP officials said Sunday.

“We have a long way to go,” Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee chairman, said on “Fox News Sunday,” about the party’s minority voter outreach. “Donald Trump is committed to making that happen.”

Trump, he said, “understands we need to grow the party – it’s the party of the open door, tone, rhetoric, spirit — all of those things matter.”

“Donald Trump is going to be doing a Hispanic engagement tour coming up soon.”

GOP officials have struggled to broaden their base of support beyond white voters to minority groups, but have beefed up staff in black, Latino and Asian communities for this election.

Priebus mentioned Nevada and Florida — states with robust and diverse Latino populations — as areas where he believes Trump can flip support to the GOP.

“We are not isolating our campaign to just segments of the population; we’re going to be focusing on all of society,” top Trump aide Paul Manafort said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“We think there is a basis of support for us to go in and carry our message.”

Republicans once drew as much as 30% of the African American electorate, but black support plummeted with the civil rights battles of the 1960s. Republican presidential candidates now win average less than 6% of the African American vote.

Many observers worry the GOP is similarly poised to risk losing Latinos for a generation — as happened in California — with Trump’s harsh rhetoric against Mexicans as “rapists” and his plan to build a wall to block illegal immigration.

His Cinco de Mayo taco bowl tweet appeared to be an effort to improve his standing, but drew backlash.

Republicans hit a high-water mark of 40% Latino support for President George W. Bush, but have lost ground since.

Read More


Chinese Americans for Trump arrive for GOP convention

As the California delegation waits for the convention to kick off, a small group of Chinese Americans showed up at a welcome party Saturday evening wearing matching Trump shirts.

Although polls show most Asian Americans opposed to Trump, he has an ardent group of fans among some Chinese immigrants.

The founder of the group at the convention is 32-year-old David Tian Wang, a green-card holder and Los Angeles resident who’s working toward citizenship.

He can’t vote, but he’s here to show support for a candidate he described as “the next Ronald Reagan.”

“I agree with him on immigration. I agree with him on foreign policy,” Wang said. “I agree with him on pretty much everything.”

The California delegation is housed an hour away from the convention site. As the rest of the delegates and guests trickle in Sunday, State Party Chairman Jim Brulte told the delegates to relax for the weekend and enjoy staying at the nation’s largest indoor waterpark – complete with zipline, giant hot tubs, an arcade and African-themed decor.


Woman egged at Trump’s San Jose rally is hailed at GOP convention

Rachel Casey, the young woman who was hit by eggs at a Donald Trump rally in San Jose, is a guest of the California delegation at the Republican National Committee.

Pictures of the 29-year-old wiping egg off her face went viral after she and other Trump supporters were attacked outside of his campaign rally before California’s June 7 primary.

“She’s tough as nails,” said Tim Clark, Trump’s California director, as he introduced Casey at a Saturday night reception for the delegation. “It took a hundred protesters, and they couldn’t take her out. We asked her to come join us in Cleveland because she certainly earned it, right?”

Delegates lined up to take selfies with Casey, who lives in West Palm Beach, Fla., but was working as a traveling physical therapist’s assistant in San Jose at the time of the rally.

“I just wanted to go to the Trump rally and check it out. I bought a [Trump] jersey on the way in so I would have something to represent,” she recounted.

As she left the rally, “a guy started yelling at me in the Mexican language and flicking me off with his finger. So I gave it back to him and then turned around and flexed and showed him my Trump jersey,” Casey said. “They hated it, and they just kind of cornered me.”

Casey was pelted with eggs and a tomato until security officers allowed her to enter a Marriott hotel and took her out a back entrance.


‘This is a Donald Trump convention,’ says top aide Paul Manafort


Reince Priebus on the GOP convention in Cleveland

It’s not disorganized. I think it’s just different.

— Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on Fox News Sunday


Donald Trump didn’t waver on Mike Pence, campaign chair insists

Donald Trump had no second thoughts in choosing Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his presidential running mate, his campaign chief said Sunday, adding that Trump “doesn’t think he’s boring.”

Adding Pence, a conservative midwesterner, to the GOP ticket complements Trump, but won’t change him, Paul Manafort, the campaign chairman, said in an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

And Trump’s penchant for going off script likely won’t change at the convention, he said.

“This is clearly going to be Donald Trump’s convention,” Manafort said.

When Trump takes the stage to accept the Republican Party nomination, probably Thursday night, there’s a decent chance he won’t use a script, Manafort said in a separate interview on Fox News.

“He’s going to be Donald Trump.”

“The convention is going to focus on the man himself,” he said. “He’s going to talk about his life, he’s going to talk about who he is, he’s going to talk about the kinds of things he’s done.”

Manafort disputed reports that Trump had wavered after offering the vice presidential slot to Pence once the two met with their families Wednesday in Indiana.

He said the men have common ground on many issues -- including trade and Trump’s proposed temporary ban on Muslim immigration -- despite big differences in their public statements.

“There was never any doubt,” said Manafort. “The details were what we were talking about, not the decision.”

With Pence, many Republicans see an even-keeled conservative who can help stabilize the GOP ticket and give comfort to those still unsure of Trump’s nomination.

But Manafort said he does not see Pence shaking up the Trump brand.

“It’s not going to change his style, his temperament,” he said. Like many Americans, Pence is “upset, he’s concerned as Americans are concerned the country’s a mess, the world’s a mess,” he said.

Whether Pence’s strict views against abortion and gay rights can attract more moderate swing voters, particularly women and those in the suburbs, is in doubt.

“It depends how you define moderate,” Manafort said.

“We think the positions of Donald Trump, the man who’s running for president, and Gov. Pence are in the mainstream of America.”


California delegates arrive in Cleveland. Well, Sandusky, anyway

California Republicans attending their party’s national convention arrived this weekend in Ohio to an African-themed resort, a pig roast and a challenge to a cannon-ball contest.

“I’m going to be on the water slides. I intend to take on all comers in the cannon-ball contest,” said state Party Chairman Jim Brulte as he welcomed delegates at a Saturday evening reception. “I haven’t done it for 30 years, but I bet I can take on just about any one of you.”

At the poolside reception, delegates dined on roasted pork, fried chicken and mashed potatoes.

Hotel space that could fit the more than 500 delegates, alternates and guests was difficult to find, officials said, accounting for the delegation being housed at the Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, an hour away from the convention in Cleveland. The hotel is attached to the nation’s largest indoor water park, which features enormous slides and a lazy river.

The Kalahari is African themed, featuring murals of savannahs, Swahili-named event spaces and sculptures of elephants, lions and other creatures.


Cleveland police chief on the Republican convention: ‘It’s game time, and we’re ready for it’

The stage is set. The metal security fencing has been erected around the site of the Republican National Convention in downtown Cleveland. Thousands of police officers from hundreds of out-of-town agencies have been sworn in with arrest powers in the city. Police officers with dogs are patrolling the streets.

“It’s game time,” Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said Sunday morning, “and we’re ready for it.”

The protests have already begun in Cleveland as delegates and Republican officials arrive from all over the nation to nominate Donald Trump for president. As many as 50,000 to 100,000 visitors are expected in town, and security officials have been working for two years to figure out how best to protect them.

A small black nationalist march through the city Saturday went without a hitch as patrol officers on bicycles and in shorts monitored the action. On Sunday morning, a plane towing a banner sponsored by the conspiracy-theorist site InfoWars circled the city’s downtown, demanding Hillary Clinton’s arrest; it was joined by a separate plane towing an anti-abortion banner.

Organizations planned several rallies and news conferences Sunday, including anti-Trump groups, union advocates and a group called Citizens for Constitutional Reform rallying in support of the 2nd Amendment in the downtown’s newly refurbished Public Square.

Ohio is an open-carry state, meaning protesters can openly carry rifles and handguns. City officials have said they have no intention of dissuading them, “but we want to make sure they understand their responsibilities,” Williams said at a Sunday conference.

Williams emphasized that Cleveland police have handled protesters with guns before without problem, though he said officers from out of state had to be briefed on the open-carry laws to “make sure officers aren’t taken aback if they see that activity.”

Williams added, “So far, so good.”


GOP chair: Trump and Pence differ, but that’s a sign of ‘maturity’

Republican Party Chair Reince Priebus
(Susan Walsh / AP)

Donald Trump and his vice presidential pick, Mike Pence, don’t always see eye to eye on issues, including trade deals or the Iraq war. That’s a good thing, Republican Party Chair Reince Priebus insisted Sunday.

Priebus made the rounds of Sunday talk shows to tout the Pence pick, which was made official last week. Pence, a social conservative with a conventional political resume, is a “good juxtaposition” with Trump, Priebus said on CNN.

“He’s a different personality,” he continued. “They don’t agree with each other on everything, which actually, I think, shows maturity and a pivot to the general election.”

Their differences can be stark: Trump blasts the Iraq war as a mistake, but Pence ardently supported it. Trump has made skepticism on trade deals a signature of his campaign; Pence has been a backer of such deals, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership that the Obama administration has negotiated, which Trump has called a “disaster.”

Priebus emphasized the pick says more about Trump’s personality than the policies of a potential Trump-Pence administration.

“What it does show is that Donald Trump is willing to be challenged by other people,” Priebus said. “It shows that he’s not looking for ‘yes people’ around him.”

Priebus also said Trump has “pivoted” on one of his more controversial proposals: a temporary ban on Muslims entering the U.S. The GOP chair said his party’s presumptive nominee has laid out a more nuanced position that would ban people from “countries that harbor or train terrorists” until there is a better vetting system.

“It is not a religious test,” Priebus said. Trump’s public statements on that question have varied in recent weeks, allowing for multiple interpretations of what his ban would mean.

On Fox News, Priebus declared the convention was well-prepared for an anticipated influx of demonstrators, saying planners had taken extra security precautions and tapped thousands of police officers from around the country to help keep things in order.

“We’re ready for anything,” Priebus said. “I can assure you this is going to be safe, and we’re going to have a lot of fun.”


Mike Pence once peddled conspiracy theories about anthrax and Saddam Hussein

(Darron Cummings / AP)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s running mate stirred public concern after the 2001 anthrax letter attacks by asserting — without any scientific evidence — that the material had been “genetically modified” to make it more deadly.

The statement by then-Rep. Mike Pence, now governor of Indiana, suggested that a foreign source — likely Saddam Hussein’s Iraq — was responsible for the letter attacks, which killed five people, disrupted mail delivery and temporarily shut down congressional office buildings.

The FBI ultimately concluded that an Army anthrax scientist, Bruce E. Ivins, carried out the attacks. Ivins, based at Ft. Detrick, Md., committed suicide in July 2008 after his lawyers informed him that he would be indicted.

Pence made his claims in June 2002, nine months after the first of two batches of anthrax-laced letters were put in the mail in Princeton, N.J.

Read More


The California delegation, all Trump supporters, will sit up front at the convention to help Republicans look united

Californians will be in the front row when Donald Trump accepts the nomination at the Republican National Convention this week, according to seating charts released by the party.

The state’s prominent seating is both rare and strategic.

Presidential campaigns typically give priority to states that are competitive in the general election or have significant ties to the ticket or the party.

But California is one of a handful of states where all of the delegates support the presumptive nominee. Because the state’s primary took place after the race was decided and per the state GOP’s rules, all 172 California delegates support Trump and were chosen by his campaign. Placing them in the front of the convention helps Republicans avoid images of disunity.

Additionally, the California delegation was assigned a hotel an hour away from Cleveland, and one of the concessions state party officials sought was prime seating. The state’s delegates will be in the front of Quicken Loans Arena, stage left, during the four days of proceedings.


For Donald Trump to become president, the difficult road begins at the Republican convention

He trails Hillary Clinton in most battleground states. Some of the leading figures in his own party refuse to endorse him. The top Republican in the Senate won’t even say if he considers him qualified to be president.

Still there is a path, albeit narrow, for Donald Trump to win the White House.

It starts on the shores of Lake Erie when the Republican National Convention opens Monday in Cleveland’s downtown sports arena.

Read More


Analysis: In a time of tumult, Trump and Clinton compete to be seen as the better leader

Two successive weeks of political conventions meant to frame the November choice for president kick off this week nearly obscured by violence and terrorism here and abroad.

That has driven a fierce imperative during both gatherings, the Republican convention, which begins Monday, and next week’s Democratic one: convince voters that the party nominee can be an effective leader in a world that seems distraught and divided.

The two presumptive nominees have offered voters very different responses to that need.

Read More


Donald Trump provides unconventional story for TV coverage of convention

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Donald Trump’s rise as the presumptive Republican nominee brings an element of unpredictability to the GOP convention, which is not lost on network executives who have covered the coronation-like conventions of recent decades.

“This is a bit of a wild card,” said CNN Washington Bureau Chief Sam Feist, who has covered 14 political conventions. “There are always elevated ratings levels on CNN for convention coverage, and one might predict that a Donald Trump convention will be even higher.”

Read More


Who will win 270 electoral votes?

A presidential candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win the White House. Most states predictably vote red or blue, but a small handful swing either way and make up the main election battlegrounds. What does it take to win the presidency?

Read More