Donald Trump tries to deflect attention away from recent controversies by pushing economic agenda


Donald Trump pushes his economic agenda in Detroit after controversies hit his polling numbers hard.

Sen. Susan Collins becomes latest Republican to break with Trump

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine will not be voting for Donald Trump.

The four-term senator became the latest Senate Republican to withhold support for Trump.

In a sharply critical op-ed for the Washington Post, the senator said that as a lifelong Republican she had not made her decision lightly. Others in the party expect her to fall in line, she wrote.

But, she said, after watching — and waiting — for a “new” Trump to emerge on the campaign trail, she had come to the conclusion that Trump is set in ways that do not reflect the values of her party and that she cannot support.

“With the passage of time, I have become increasingly dismayed by his constant stream of cruel comments and his inability to admit error or apologize,” Collins wrote.

“But it was his attacks directed at people who could not respond on an equal footing — either because they do not share his power or stature or because professional responsibility precluded them from engaging at such a level — that revealed Mr. Trump as unworthy of being our president.”

“My conclusion about Mr. Trump’s unsuitability for office is based on his disregard for the precept of treating others with respect, an idea that should transcend politics,” she said.

“Instead, he opts to mock the vulnerable and inflame prejudices by attacking ethnic and religious minorities.”

Collins also said that her concerns over Trump fed into broader worries about national security.

“I am also deeply concerned that Mr. Trump’s lack of self-restraint and his barrage of ill-informed comments would make an already perilous world even more so,” she wrote.

Collins is known as one of the few remaining moderate Republicans, and she is not up for reelection this year.

She joins Republican Sens. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Mark Steven Kirk of Illinois in opposing Trump.

See our interactive detailing the Trump support spectrum.


Paul Ryan campaigns by not campaigning

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s primary challenge is drawing national attention. But that wasn’t obvious Monday, less than 24 hours before voters head to the polls here, as Ryan met with manufacturing workers on the eastern edge of his district.

Ryan never mentioned the election, rival Paul Nehlen or last week’s kerfuffle when GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump hedged on backing Ryan before eventually delivering a tepid endorsement. Instead, the nine-term congressman talked about his job as the nation’s highest elected Republican.

“It’s not enough for those of us you elect to go criticize and complain and throw bombs at each other,” Ryan told the employees of a tool manufacturer, touting his six-pronged “Better Way” policy platform. “We have to throw solutions on the table.”

Ryan ignoring Tuesday’s primary election is perhaps unsurprising, given that he trounces Nehlen in polls by large double-digit figures. Nehlen continued to attack Ryan as a tool of the establishment and donor-class who supports open borders and trade policies that harm American workers.

“Paul Ryan is the head of the snake,” Nehlen said at a Saturday rally in Janesville, Ryan’s hometown, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Unlike many Republicans running for office, Nehlen is unique in that he has unequivocally embraced Trump and his controversies. That has led Trump to speak approvingly of Nehlen.

Nehlen has also attracted support from the far right – former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has endorsed him, and conservative author Ann Coulter campaigned with him this weekend. His supporters are hopeful Nehlen can pull off the same upset that David Brat did when he ousted House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in 2014.

That scenario appears unlikely given Ryan’s strong approval ratings in Wisconsin and his connection with his district. He returns to Janesville most weekends to spend time with his wife and three children, and is a familiar sight at the area’s fish fries and festivals.

“For sure, he comes to parades and shakes hands,” said Mark Stillman, 62, of Burlington. “He’s just like a regular guy, way different than some of those people who you don’t even want to listen to… And he knows a lot about the Packers.”

Ryan frequently mentions his love of the football team, in addition to the tax burdens facing Harley-Davidson when the company sells Wisconsin-made motorcycles overseas, or new trade hurdles for the state’s gouda and parmesan cheese makers.

Asked about the team’s prospects this year, Ryan ran through the line-ups, new recruits, the players’ physiques and injuries, and noted that he recently attended a team practice. He called the experience “one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in my life.”

Several voters said they supported Ryan because they believed he was a genuine politician who did not put on airs.

“I really think he’s a good man. Some politicians out there, maybe not so much, but Paul Ryan, I really like,” said Jim Ayotte of Racine. “It’s how you come across and what you’re willing to do for people, and I think Paul Ryan looks to me like he’s going to do good things for us, and he has.”

Ayotte, a registered Republican, said the enthusiasm does not spill over to Trump. He hasn’t decided whether he will vote for the party’s nominee in November, but he also opposes Hillary Clinton .

“To be honest with you, I don’t like either one,” said the 58-year-old.

Oscar Bautista, 62, asked Ryan at a town hall in Pleasant Prairie later in the day if there were some way the Republican Party could get rid of Trump and make Ryan its nominee.

Ryan, the GOP’s 2012 vice presidential nominee, didn’t address his potential White House aspirations, but said that Trump won the party’s nomination definitively.

“He won the votes fair and square. He won more votes than anybody else,” Ryan said. “He is the nominee and that’s how it works in our party.”


Top GOP security advisors warn Trump is ‘dangerous’

Donald Trump’s problems inside his own party were compounded Monday when 50 senior national security officials who have served under GOP administrations stretching back to that of Richard Nixon warned he “would be the most reckless president in American history.”

“None of us will vote for Donald Trump,” said the letter, in which some of the most influential players in defense policy warned he would be “dangerous” in the Oval Office.

Those who signed include Michael Chertoff and Tom Ridge, both former secretaries of Homeland Security, as well as John Negroponte, who served as director of national intelligence.

“Mr. Trump lacks the character, values, and experience to be president,” the officials warned. “He weakens U.S. moral authority as the leader of the free world. He appears to lack basic knowledge about and belief in the U.S. Constitution, U.S. laws, and U.S. institutions, including religious tolerance, freedom of the press, and an independent judiciary.”

The letter accuses Trump of showing no interest in educating himself on foreign policy and displaying “an alarming ignorance of basic facts of contemporary international politics” while at the same time boasting of knowing more about Islamic State than military generals.

“He is unable or unwilling to separate truth from falsehood,” the letter said. “He does not encourage conflicting views. He lacks self-control and acts impetuously. He cannot tolerate personal criticism. He has alarmed our closest allies with his erratic behavior. All of these are dangerous qualities in an individual who aspires to be president and commander-in-chief, with command of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.”

See our interactive outlining the full spectrum of Trump support, from Republicans like these to those who are on board the Trump train.


Trump tries to recover from blunders by sketching economic agenda

(Arnulfo Franco / Associated Press)

Reeling from a cascade of blunders that drove his poll ratings downward, Donald Trump sought to regain his standing Monday by laying out an economic agenda that he portrayed as a prescription for a resurgence of American jobs.

“Americanism, not globalism, will be our new credo,” the Republican presidential nominee said in a carefully worded speech to the Detroit Economic Club.

Trump’s proposals were split between traditional GOP policies -- such as tax cuts and a rollback of federal regulations -- and ideas unpopular with the party’s leadership in Congress, including vast new spending on railways, airports, roads and bridges and a sharp curtailment of free-trade pacts.

Trump, who was interrupted by hecklers more than a dozen times, cast Democratic rival Hillary Clinton as a champion of old and ineffective economic ideas that have left millions of Americans unemployed or impoverished as jobs shift to foreign countries.

“Every policy she has tilts the playing field toward other countries at our expense,” Trump said.

Trump portrayed the nation’s economic status as far worse than official statistics indicate, calling the 4.9% unemployment rate “one of the biggest hoaxes in American modern politics.”

Trump’s effort to focus on the economy comes after several weeks of lurching from one campaign controversy to another, including his feud with the family of an Army captain killed in Iraq.


Former CIA officer, Republican policy advisor launches an independent presidential bid against Trump

Donald Trump faces a new independent conservative challenger as of Monday — a former CIA counter-terrorism officer and until Monday chief policy director on the House Republican Conference.

Evan McMullin, 40, announced his candidacy in a statement to ABC News and is expected to officially file later Monday. He told ABC that he wants to offer an alternative to GOP voters unhappy with Trump. His campaign will consist of people who worked for Better for America, a nonprofit fighting for a third-party option in the 2016 election.

“In a year where Americans have lost faith in the candidates of both major parties, it’s time for a generation of new leadership to step up,” McMullin wrote in a statement. “It’s never too late to do the right thing, and America deserves much better than either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton can offer us.”

McMullin resigned from his position at the House Republican Conference on Monday morning to launch his bid, which the spokesman for the conference confirmed.

“The House Republican Conference has zero knowledge of his intentions,” the conference spokesman Nate Hodson said in a statement.

Starting about a month ago, McMullin tweeted and posted to Facebook a few comments showing his distaste for Trump and encouraging another option for conservative voters.

McMullin has never held an elected position. He earned his MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, worked at Goldman Sachs investment firm, spent time as a CIA officer and then started working in policy on Capitol Hill.


Clinton continues to inch up in tracking poll

More than a week after the end of her nominating convention, Hillary Clinton continues to slowly gain ground in the USC Dornsife/L.A. Times “Daybreak” tracking poll of the election.

Since July 28, the Democratic nominee has gained 5 percentage points in the survey and leads Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, 45%-44%. Trump has lost just over 4 percentage points in the same period.

Clinton’s lead, which is well within the survey’s margin of error, is smaller than in many other polls released in the last week. That’s in part because of the design of the Daybreak poll, which is structured in a way that makes it less susceptible to big swings one way or the other than standard surveys.

The Daybreak poll is a panel survey -- roughly 3,200 people who are chosen to be representative of the national voting population are surveyed repeatedly. Because of that design, shifts in the poll represent actual changes by potential voters, rather than fluctuations in who responds to a particular survey. It uses a seven-day rolling average, which tends to make the results less volatile but can cause it to lag behind when public opinion shifts rapidly.

The results are updated daily.

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Which Republicans are endorsing Donald Trump?

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Donald Trump is struggling to unite the Republican Party and has seen a series of high-profile defections following his nominating convention in July. As the presidential campaign continues, we’ll keep track of Republicans standing by Trump, and who’s jumping ship.

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The race to 270

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?

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Are all those Trump controversies raising doubts in Trump Nation? Not really

Donald Trump has dominated the airwaves for much of the 2016 presidential campaign, but the Republican presidential nominee has faltered in recent polls.

His campaign has been dogged by a series of controversies, including Trump’s sparring with the family of a Muslim soldier killed in Iraq, his invitation to Russian hackers to look into Hillary Clinton’s emails, and his initial hesitancy in endorsing House Speaker Paul D. Ryan.

Are those issues causing second thoughts among his most ardent supporters? Earlier this year, we profiled several voters across the country — a personal trainer in Virginia, a retired car salesman in Las Vegas and a Latina immigrant in Texas, among others. All had become, for different reasons, enthusiastic citizens of Trump Nation.

What’s behind Trump’s slipping poll numbers? Have the latest controversies caused these voters to reconsider? We checked back with some of them, and the answer is: not really. The things that made Trump appealing to them to begin with — his willingness to take on the status quo, his calls for building American strength and clamping down on immigration — still hold true, they said.

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