NBC’s forum draws 14.7 million viewers, but Matt Lauer gets pummeled
Matt Lauer, the anchor of NBC’s “Today” show, moderated the NBC News presidential nominee forum on Wednesday and later faced criticism for his performance.
The first joint appearance of presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on NBC’s “Commander in Chief Forum” drew strong ratings, averaging 14.7 million viewers on Wednesday.
But the reviews for the performance by moderator Matt Lauer, co-anchor of “Today,” during and after the event held at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York, have been less than stellar.
Lauer received harsh feedback — most of it from media critics and supporters of Clinton, the Democratic nominee — after he failed to press Trump on his insistence that he was opposed to the Iraq war. Clinton had earlier mentioned a 2002 radio interview with Howard Stern in which Trump said he favored the U.S. invasion. But the Republican nominee maintained Wednesday night that he was opposed to it, with no follow-up from Lauer.
Voting restrictions echo Jim Crow laws, Hillary Clinton says
Hillary Clinton told an audience of black parishioners on Thursday that she would fight voting restrictions that make it harder for minorities to cast ballots.
“It is a blast from the Jim Crow past,” she said at the National Baptist Convention in Kansas City, Mo.
Democrats have been fighting Republican-created laws in some states that restrict early voting or require government identification, winning a recent battle in North Carolina.
The reference to voting rights was one of several appeals Clinton made to black voters, who polls show overwhelmingly support her over Republican candidate Donald Trump.
“Our nation’s values are being questioned in this election,” Clinton said, pointing to allegations that the Trump family’s company refused to rent to black residents. The case resulted in a settlement with the federal government years ago.
“We are facing a candidate with a long history of racial discrimination in his business,” she said.
Clinton also lingered on her Methodist faith, saying Americans deserve “a president that will pray with you and for you.”
And she talked about how Jesus commanded people to love one another.
“That’s a hard commandment to obey,” she said wryly. “Sometimes it’s really hard for me.”
Mike Pence agrees with Trump that Russia’s Putin is ‘stronger’ leader than Obama
It’s been settled.
The Republican presidential ticket believes, without a doubt, that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a more effective leader than President Obama.
A day after Donald Trump made this claim during a forum on national security and veterans issues, his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, stood by the comments.
“I think it’s inarguable that Vladimir Putin has been a stronger leader in his country than Barack Obama has been in this country,” Pence said on CNN.
During the forum Trump said the Russian head of state was a “far more” capable leader than Obama.
Earlier on Thursday, some Republicans, including House Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, distanced themselves from Trump, assailing Putin as an “adversary.” Critics of the authoritarian Kremlin leader point to his annexation of Crimea, military intervention in Ukraine and support for Syrian President Bashar Assad.
“Putin is an aggressor that does not share our interests,” Ryan said, adding that it “certainly appears that [Putin] is conducting ... state-sponsored cyberattacks on what appears to be our political system.”
Despite Pence siding with Trump on Putin’s leadership compared to Obama, he did break with the Republican presidential nominee this week on a separate issue related to Obama.
As Trump continues to raise questions about the president’s citizenship, Pence was direct in his view, seeking to put to rest so-called “birther” speculation.
“I believe Barack Obama was born in Hawaii. I accept his birthplace,” Pence said.
Trump chats by phone with backers on Capitol Hill, plans to visit again
Donald Trump chatted by phone Thursday with his earliest boosters on Capitol Hill, a pep talk that included plans for a return visit to Republicans in Congress before the November election.
“He said things are going well and he’s appreciative of what we’re doing,” said Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.), one of Trump’s first backers.
The potential that Trump will bring a down-ballot drag for lawmakers was not a topic among this crowd.
The Trump caucus on Capitol Hill first launched as a lonely affair, half a dozen House Republicans lawmakers who would meet to support their candidate.
Now, dozens of lawmakers, including the top GOP leadership of the House and Senate, back Trump. About 25 attended Thursday’s meeting.
Leadership has largely skipped these sessions.
In fact, attendees said it was Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) who dialed up Trump and got him on the phone to chat with the group.
Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told the group about the latest polling, which listeners largely heard as a sign that their nominee was narrowing the gap with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
“The enthusiasm for Donald Trump is off the charts,” Barletta said, adding that he does not believe polling in his state — which shows Clinton ahead in Pennsylvania — captures the grass-roots energy he sees among those who do not usually vote.
“Pennsylvania is loaded with people like that,” he said.
Earlier in the week, Hill aides doubted Trump would be returning to Capitol Hill any time soon. His last tour hit a rough patch after he sparred with senators who have been critical of his divisive campaign rhetoric.
But on Thursday, Trump told the lawmakers he looked forward to another visit.
Trump praises Mexican official whose resignation he cheered
Donald Trump on Thursday lavished praise on a high-ranking Mexican official whose resignation he characterized as a personal victory less than 24 hours earlier.
On Wednesday night, Trump pointed to the resignation of Finance Minister Luis Videgaray as a sign of success for his trip last week to Mexico. Videgaray, long considered President Enrique Peña Nieto’s closest advisor, reportedly lobbied hard to invite Trump to meet with Peña Nieto.
“Look at the aftermath today, where the people that arranged the trip in Mexico have been forced out of government. That’s how well we did,” Trump said during an NBC News presidential forum.
But on Thursday, Trump took to Twitter to praise Videgaray and implied that his resignation was a loss for both nations.
“Mexico has lost a brilliant finance minister and wonderful man who I know is highly respected by President Peña Nieto,” Trump tweeted. “With Luis, Mexico and the United States would have made wonderful deals together -- where both Mexico and the US would have benefitted.”
Trump’s son raises Clinton earpiece conspiracy
Donald Trump Jr. tweeted a link Thursday to a conspiracy theory website story alleging that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton may have worn an earpiece during a forum the previous night.
“Was Hillary Wearing an Earpiece During Last Night’s Presidential Forum?” said the tweet by the son of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, along with a link to an article on the Infowars site.
Infowars is run by radio host Alex Jones, a controversial figure who espouses fringe conspiracies, including that the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax.
A spokesman for Clinton denied that she wore an earpiece.
“There was nothing in her ear. I’ll leave it to others to mull what the explanation is,” said Nick Merrill.
Earlier, Merrill mockingly tweeted at Trump Jr. and Jones a picture of Clinton in front of her new campaign plane and wrote, “Guys, wanted to call your attention to the Boeing 737 in HRC’s ear. #MSM ignoring.”
Who does Islamic State want to see elected? Clinton and Trump point to each other
It’s become a back-and-forth about whom the terrorists want to see elected president.
Hillary Clinton insists that Islamic State extremists are “rooting” for Donald Trump. But he says the group would “love” to see Clinton in office.
In a bold proclamation on Thursday, Clinton suggested that the terrorist group is “praying” that Trump is elected president.
Clinton told an Israeli television station that members of Islamic State are imploring, “Please, Allah, make Trump president of America,” adding they are “rooting for Donald Trump’s victory.”
During a news conference earlier in the day, Clinton said Islamic State has “said that they hope [Trump] is the president because it would give even more motivation to every jihadi.”
The comments from Clinton, which were dismissed by Trump aides as dishonest, came a day after the two appeared back-to-back at a town hall on foreign policy and veterans issues.
During the forum, Trump struggled to offer specifics on how he would defeat Islamic State terrorists, only noting that he would seek advice from a team of generals and national security experts.
Last year, shortly after Trump called for a ban on all Muslims from entering the country, Clinton said the billionaire businessman was becoming Islamic State’s “best recruiter.”
Speculating who Islamic State terrorists want to see win the presidential election is a tactic Trump often uses. He has insisted that Islamic State is “laughing” at Clinton and has even asserted, repeatedly, that she and President Obama help found the terrorist group.
A recent CNN/ORC poll released this month found that 51% of likely voters believe Trump is best to specifically combat terrorism, compared to 45% for Clinton.
In July, the poll showed both Clinton and Trump at 48%.
Clinton seeks to raise cash off Matt Lauer interview of Trump
The reviews of Lauer’s interview have been horrendous.
All in one speech: Donald Trump complains about the media, repeats false Iraq war claim, unveils education policy
Donald Trump unveiled a $20-billion school voucher plan at a charter school in Cleveland on Thursday, hoping to make inroads with the suburban women he needs to catch up with Hillary Clinton.
Though the speech was dedicated to education, Trump began his remarks by spending several minutes lambasting Clinton’s foreign policy experience and renewing his false claim that he opposed the war in Iraq before it began.
“The media is so terribly dishonest,” Trump said, criticizing reporters who called him out for repeating the claim that he opposed the war during a forum in New York on Wednesday night.
Trump insisted that he would have voted against the war if he had not been a private citizen and blamed Clinton’s policies for unleashing Islamic State.
Trump again called Clinton, who voted for the war as a senator, “trigger-happy,” and he called Iraq “one of the biggest differences in this race.”
Trump’s scant public comments before the war began, made to Howard Stern, indicate that he supported the war.
The Trump education plan would use a block grant – sent to states – to support 11 million poor children. It would encourage states, which largely control education policy and funding, to allow students to enroll in private, charter, magnet or public schools.
The brief plan, outlined in a 232-word news release, says the money would come from redirecting existing education dollars, but did not specify which programs would need to be cut.
Clinton is supported heavily by teachers unions, which oppose such programs, arguing that they weaken the public education system. Trump also endorsed merit pay for teachers, another policy often opposed by unions that support seniority-based pay structures.
The issues could have resonance among parents, given that education often ranks as a top concern.
“This is the new civil rights agenda of our time,” Trump said.
“I will use the pulpit of the presidency to campaign for this in all 50 states,” Trump said, pledging to support politicians in state and local races who favor school choice.
Trump cited Cleveland’s voucher program as a model, though a recent study found that the 20,000 students who receive the vouchers performed worse on standardized tests than their public school peers.
Clinton tells Humans of New York: ‘I don’t view myself as cold or unemotional’
Humans of New York, the popular photo project created by Brandon Stanton, has turned its attention to Hillary Clinton.
In a newly published portrait of the Democratic presidential nominee, Clinton recounts her law school admissions test experience, during which she said she felt alienated by men in the room and had to learn to “control my emotions.”
“I don’t view myself as cold or unemotional ... but if that sometimes is the perception I create, then I can’t blame people for thinking that,” she said
Hundreds of thousands of people have already responded to or shared the post on Facebook.
Stanton is no stranger to this election. In March, he penned an open letter in opposition to Donald Trump.
“I’ve come to realize that opposing you is no longer a political decision. It is a moral one,” Stanton wrote in the viral post.
Pence says Trump is a modern-day Reagan
Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence on Thursday argued the same forces that propelled Ronald Reagan into the White House will secure Donald Trump a victory in November.
“Like Ronald Reagan, Donald Trump has the honesty and the bluntness to confront the challenges facing the American people,” Pence said in a speech to hundreds of people at the late president’s library in Simi Valley.
“And like Reagan, I believe Donald Trump has the toughness to rebuild our economy and command the respect of the world,” Pence said.
More than a dozen times, Pence argued that Reagan and Trump shared traits, including a confidence in their own voices despite initial skepticism from inside the GOP to their economic and foreign policies.
“The smart set in Washington, D.C., mocked and dismissed the California governor in many ways,” Pence said. “They said he was little bit more than a celebrity and entertainer who entered politics late in life. Sound familiar?”
Pence also compared the economic and overseas upheaval in the late 1970s to the nation’s current state, and predicted that moderate Democrats and working-class voters would align behind Trump as some did behind Reagan.
“The spirit of 1980 that propelled Ronald Reagan into the White House is alive and kicking again,” Pence said. “I see it every day.”
Donald Trump announces he raised $90 million in August, but he’s still playing catch-up to Hillary Clinton
Donald Trump announced a $90-million fundraising haul Thursday for the month of August, an impressive total but one that still leaves him lagging behind Hillary Clinton in the drive for cash.
The money was raised both for his campaign and for two joint fundraising committees with the Republican Party.
Trump’s campaign said it ended August with $97 million in available cash between Trump and the committees, compared with Clinton, who had $152 million available at month’s end between her campaign and affiliated committees. She raised a combined $143 million for the month.
The Trump campaign said most of its August money came from small donors, but also includes a “significant” infusion from Trump’s personal wealth. The campaign said Trump has spent $60 million on his presidential bid, though Trump’s businesses and properties have collected some of that back for services and rentals.
Trump did not release other details, including breakdowns of contribution sizes and expenses, which he’s required to report later to the Federal Election Commission.
But Trump did boast that he received more than $5 million on the day he visited Mexico and delivered a hard-line immigration speech. That money, raised on the final day of the month, was above the approximately $3 million-a-day average for the month.
Trump desperately needs to the money to catch up with Clinton, who has spent far more on advertising, state voter organizing, and who leads in polls. Trump’s campaign portrayed those hurdles as advantages.
“Hillary Clinton and her super PACs have spent over $130 million on negative political ads, and yet we are virtually tied (or better) in the most recent national polls and leading in many of the important swing states,” Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s finance chairman, said in a statement.
“Hillary Clinton spent August attending 70 fundraisers; Donald Trump spent August at 34 rallies and speeches. We are very pleased he has continued to dedicate time to fundraise with the RNC to support important ground operations for the Republican Party.”
Paul Ryan disagrees with Trump, calls Putin an “adversary”
Breaking with Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan on Thursday called Russian President Vladimir Putin an “adversary” and an “aggressor” who does not share U.S. interests.
But Ryan could not bring himself to criticize Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, who heaped praise on Putin during a televised candidate forum on national security issues.
“I’m not going to sit up here and do the tit-for-tat on what Donald said last night or the night before in Hillary versus Donald. That is not my job,” Ryan told reporters. “I’m not going to be the election year pundit.”
Ryan has little in common with the Republican presidential nominee, except for a shared goal of defeating Democrat Hillary Clinton.
The speaker reluctantly endorsed Trump, but has repeatedly found himself speaking out against the GOP presidential nominee -- most notably when he called Trump’s attack on a federal judge the “textbook definition of a racist comment.”
Ryan made it clear Thursday he does not share Trump’s view of the Russian leader.
“Vladimir Putin is an aggressor that does not share our interests,” Ryan said, adding that it “certainly appears that he is conducting ... state-sponsored cyberattacks on what appears to be our political system.”
“That is an adversarial stance and he is acting like an adversary,” Ryan said.
Asked if he could still stand by Trump -- who called Putin a better leader than President Obama -- Ryan did not offer much defense of the GOP nominee.
“He won our nomination fair and square,” Ryan said.
Pressed on whether he was comfortable voting for Trump, Ryan deferred: “I’ll leave it at that.”
Clinton asks: What would Reagan think of Trump’s comments?
After avoiding press conferences for months, Hillary Clinton is now finding them to be quite useful.
The Democratic nominee used an airport tarmac availability near her home in New York on Thursday morning to rebound off an uneven performance at Wednesday night’s national security forum and call attention to some of Donald Trump’s strange blustering at the event, much of which went unchallenged by the moderator.
Clinton bored into Trump’s praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin, his disparagement American generals and his suggestion that America should have taken Iraq’s oil, which would have been a violation of international law.
“What would Ronald Reagan say about a Republican nominee who attacks America’s generals and heaps praise on Russia’s president?” Clinton said. On Trump’s musings about stealing Iraqi oil, Clinton said: “The United States of America does not invade other countries to plunder and pillage.”
Clinton sought to contrast some of Trump’s shoot-from-the-hip comments with her foreign policy chops, vowing that a Clinton administration would hunt down the leader of Islamic State just as the Obama administration hunted down Osama bin Laden. She announced Michael Chertoff, who was secretary of Homeland Security under George W. Bush, will be joining her at a campaign meeting Friday of top bipartisan security experts to discuss national defense plans.
The Trump campaign responded immediately, charging in a statement from spokesman Jason Miller that Clinton had shown she “was unable to answer for her terrible foreign policy judgment, mishandling of classified information and claims that the V.A. wait time scandal was overblown” at Wednesday’s forum.
“These are the desperate attacks of a flailing campaign sinking in the polls,” the statement said.
Gary Johnson: ‘What is Aleppo?’
Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson doesn’t seem to know what Aleppo is.
Aleppo, a war-ravaged city in Syria, has turned into a prime example of the horror and violence continuing to plague the country’s people as the governments of several countries continue to wage military assaults in the Syrian civil war. More than a quarter of a million Syrians have died in the conflict since it started in 2011. In August, the image of a 3-year-old boy, Omran Daqneesh, seated in the back of an ambulance and covered in blood and dust sent fresh shock waves through the global community.
Johnson didn’t initially recognize Aleppo on Thursday during an interview with MSNBC’s Mike Barnicle.
“And what is Aleppo?” Johnson asked.
“You’re kidding,” Barnicle said.
“No,” Johnson responded.
Once Barnicle explained, Johnson seemed to recall the city and violence in Syria. He gave his stance on how the United States, Russia and the forces in Syria should work to end the conflict.
“With regard to Syria, um, I do think that it’s a mess,” Johnson said. “I think that the only way that we deal with Syria is to join hands with Russia to diplomatically bring that at an end.”
“What is Aleppo” started trending on Twitter after Johnson’s interview aired, with users blasting him for the misstep.
Matt Lauer is panned over his handling of candidate forum
The reviews are in for Matt Lauer, and they are horrendous.
The anchor of NBC’s “Today” is finding himself widely panned for his performance as moderator of the NBC News presidential nominee forum in New York on Wednesday night.
Many critics charge that Lauer failed to challenge Donald Trump on some bizarre and outright untrue statements. When Trump claimed -- falsely -- that he was against the Iraq war, Lauer gave no pushback. When Trump boasted that his visit to Mexico was a success because the country’s finance minister resigned in its aftermath, there was no follow-up to the perplexing pronouncement. When Trump contradicted himself on the worth of America’s top military brass, he was barely called on it.
Hillary Clinton was not treated with such kid gloves. She got grilled on the details of her private email server for so much of her allotted time that when discussion moved to weighty policy issues, Lauer cut her off while she tried to answer, saying the clock was ticking.
It’s not the first time a broadcast news star has found moderating such an event to prove anything but the anticipated career boost. CNBC journalist John Harwood received a drubbing for his role in the GOP primary debates — but Harwood got attacked for being too confrontational.
Watch Obama laugh at a call to defend his legacy against Trump’s criticism
Democrats use Reagan children to attack Trump before his running mate’s speech
Hours before GOP vice presidential nominee Mike Pence was to speak Thursday at President Reagan’s library, Democrats blasted out a video of the late president’s three living children excoriating Donald Trump.
“My father would be appalled. I’m certainly appalled on behalf of my father and the Reagan family,” Michael Reagan, the most prominent conservative of the children, says in the Democratic National Committee video, which is a compilation of news clips. He goes on to say that his father never demeaned people, and says in an older clip from before California’s June primary that he would not vote for Trump in that race.
Patti Davis, who had a long, contentious history with her parents, notes the assassination attempt on her father as she castigates Trump for his suggestion that 2nd Amendment supporters could deal with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and her judicial selections.
And Ron Reagan, an unabashed liberal, says his father would be “humiliated and embarrassed” by what has happened to his party.
Trump “is a man who knows nothing about the world and cannot be president of the United States. That amounts to a national emergency,” Ron Reagan says.
Reagan had two other children, Maureen, who died in 2001, and Christine, who lived one day after she was born in 1947.
Obama tells voters to reject Donald Trump’s ‘outright wacky ideas’
At a news conference to end his final trip to Asia while in office, Obama warned that governing is complex, particularly diplomacy, and requires a steady, knowledgeable hand, reiterating his stance that Trump is unqualified for the office.
“I can tell you from the interactions I’ve had over the last eight or nine days with foreign leaders that this is serious business,” Obama said. “You actually have to know what you’re talking about. … When you speak, it should actually reflect thought-out policy that you can implement.”
Voters are finding it harder to commit than usual, posing a challenge for Clinton and Trump
In this election season of discontent, a lot of voters are having trouble committing.
Around 1 in 5 voters nationwide report themselves as undecided or flirting with third-party candidates, with the exact share depending on the poll and how the question is asked. That’s far higher than in the past several elections, where fewer than 1 in 10 voters were still up in the air at this point, and reflects the distaste that large numbers of voters have for both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Those who remain uncertain include a couple of groups that may play an outsized role in determining the election’s outcome — young voters, many of whom loathe Trump but lack enthusiasm for Clinton, and college-educated suburban Republicans, who often find Trump scary but struggle with the idea of voting for a Democrat.
“I’m just lost,” Joanna Gianforcaro, 26, said on a recent afternoon as she sat with her mother at a farmers market in Doylestown, Pa., a swing area in a potentially important battleground state. Both women said they felt barraged by the negativity of the campaign and dismayed by the faults they perceive in both candidates. “I don’t find either of them genuine,” Gianforcaro said.
Trump bucks recent GOP nominee trend of speaking at Reagan Library
Delivering a major speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum is a rite of passage for recent GOP presidential nominees. But Donald Trump has so far bucked the tradition that many of his predecessors and other top Republican leaders have followed since the sprawling library’s opening.
Instead, Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, will speak at the library Thursday morning, comparing Reagan’s legacy with Trump’s vision for the future.
Trump has been invited to speak at the Simi Valley library, a frequent stop on the conservative speaking circuit, but has so far declined because he has not been able to fit it into his schedule, said Melissa Giller, the library’s spokeswoman. He did participate in a GOP primary debate there in 2015.
Mitt Romney, the 2012 nominee, spoke at the library in May 2010. Arizona Sen. John McCain, the party standard-bearer in 2008, spoke there in September 1999 and in June 2006, before his two presidential bids. Former President George W. Bush spoke there in 1999, the year before he was first elected to the White House, and again in 2010.
Former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole, the party’s 1996 nominee, did not speak at the library till after he had lost. And former President George H.W. Bush attended the library’s opening in November 1999, but has never spoken there, though he did accept the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award at a nearby hotel in 2007.
Pence to compare Reagan’s legacy with Trump’s vision in Simi Valley speech
GOP vice presidential nominee Mike Pence will compare President Reagan’s legacy with running mate Donald Trump’s vision in a speech at the late president’s library in Simi Valley on Thursday.
“You’re going to hear the governor making the case that the message that Ronald Reagan brought to America in the ‘70’s and ‘80s is very salient today: the need to strengthen our economy, the need to strengthen our military, the need to improve our standing in the world,” said Marc Lotter, a spokesman for Pence; “the themes of a better America that Ronald Reagan first brought in the late ‘70’s and ‘80’s and what you hear from Donald Trump in making America great again today.”
Lotter said Pence, the governor of Indiana, will also compare President Carter’s tenure with President Obama’s.
These are frequent talking points for Republican politicians who make the pilgrimage to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, a popular stop on the conservative speaking circuit. The sprawling mountaintop library and its grounds are also the site of the graves of the former president and wife Nancy, a portion of the Berlin Wall, a replica of the Oval Office and the plane that served as Air Force One during Reagan’s presidency.
Lotter said the nation’s 40th president has a special place in Pence’s heart because Reagan prompted Pence to switch from a Democrat to a Republican. The Pence family visited the library about a decade ago as tourists.
This time, accompanied by daughter Charlotte, Pence plans to pay his respects at the Reagans’ burial site before he delivers his 10 a.m. speech. Afterward, he will head to Bakersfield for a fundraiser.