Campaign 2016 updates: Hillary Clinton calls Donald Trump’s praise of Putin ‘unseemly’

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Donald Trump is in Washington, D.C., today for several events.

  • Hillary Clinton talks about Donald Trump’s praise of Vladmir Putin, calling it ‘unseemly’
  • When it comes to North Korea, Clinton and Trump offer differing views
  • Trump’s campaign says he didn’t know his interview would be aired on Russian television
  • Clinton can’t coast in this election against Trump’s resilience

Hillary Clinton on some Donald Trump supporters: ‘a basket of deplorables’

(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Even as she’s hurled criticism after criticism at Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton has avoided slamming his fans.

But that changed Friday night.

During brief remarks at the LGBT for Hillary Gala in lower Manhattan, Clinton called “half” of those supporting the Republican nominee a “basket of deplorables.”

“Right?” she said to laughter from attendees, which included entertainer Barbra Streisand. “The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic -- you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.”

Clinton assailed Trump for emboldening such individuals through social media and his own rhetoric. In a deluge of television advertisements in battleground states, Clinton and her Democratic allies have cast Trump as divisive and lacking the even temperament required of a president.

Still, recent national polls show support for Trump, as Clinton outpaces him by about 3 percentage points, according to an average of polls compiled by Real Clear Politics. Moreover, in several swing states, such as Florida and Ohio, Trump has gained ground in recent weeks.

Clinton didn’t slam all Trump supporters. While she called some “irredeemable,” she said that others are just seeking a better future for their families.

“They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead-end,” she said at the gala. “Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.”

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Trump: Iranians who harass U.S. Navy ‘will be shot out of the water’

(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

Days after Iranian sailors harassed an American Navy vessel, GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump said on Friday he would have had them “shot out of the water.”

“With Iran, when they circle our beautiful destroyers with their little boats and they make gestures at our people that they shouldn’t be allowed to make, they will be shot out of the water,” Trump said.

Last weekend, seven boats containing the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy approached the U.S. coastal patrol ship Firebolt in the Persian Gulf. One of the boats stopped directly in the ship’s path, forcing it to maneuver to avoid a collision.

Trump made the remarks Friday night in Pensacola, Fla., in a speech that was heavy on criticism of Hillary Clinton, including labeling the Democratic nominee “an unstable person.”

Trump said Clinton avoiding prosecution over her email scandal was her single greatest accomplishment, and added that she could kill somebody at the rally and get away with it.

“Because she’s being so protected, she could walk into this arena right now and shoot someone with 20,000 people watching, right smack in the middle of the heart, and she wouldn’t be prosecuted,” Trump said. “That’s what’s happened to our country.”

The comments brought to mind a statement Trump made in the GOP primary, when he said he could kill people and not lose the favor of his supporters.

“I have the most loyal people, did you ever see that? I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot people and I wouldn’t lose voters,” he said in Iowa in January.

Clinton supporters say Trump on Friday was trying to distract from recent revelations that his foundation made a $25,000 political donation to a group supporting Florida Atty. Gen. Pam Bondi at the same time Bondi’s office was looking into allegations that Trump University defrauded its students. The foundation was fined by the IRS.

“Donald Trump used outrageous and violent language about Hillary Clinton at his rally in Bondi’s home state to distract from the latest revelations,” said Brad Woodhouse, president of Correct The Record, a pro-Clinton Super PAC.

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NBC News chief praises Matt Lauer’s forum performance

NBC News Chairman Andy Lack is standing up for Matt Lauer after the “Today” co-anchor was torched for his moderating skills at Wednesday’s “Commander In Chief Forum.”

Lack issued an internal memo to staffers late Friday congratulating them on the news division’s one-hour special, in which presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump answered questions regarding national security and defense issues.

“Because of our event, national security has dominated the news cycle for days,” Lack wrote. “Every major paper and news broadcast around the world has led with headlines about Putin, Iraq, ISIS, and intelligence briefings. Matt did a tremendous job – driving one of the most serious discussions to date on these topics. Nearly 15 million people watched the event, and over 26 million tuned in at some point during the hour.”

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Pence releases 10 years of tax returns

(Andrew Jansen / Springfield News-Leader via AP)

GOP vice presidential nominee Mike Pence released a decade’s worth of tax returns on Friday, a disclosure his running mate, Donald Trump, has been criticized for being unwilling to make.

The Pence family reported an adjusted gross income of $113,026 on the low end and $187,495 on the high end, with an effective state and federal tax rate that ranged from 10.4% to 16.5%. The family reported donating an average of 7.4% of their adjusted gross income to charity.

The returns covered the years 2006 to 2015. The bulk of the income came from Pence’s salaries as an Indiana congressman and then governor.

“The Pence family has been honored to serve their state and their nation for the past 16 years, while raising three great children and putting them through college,” Marc Lotter, a Pence spokesman, said in statement. “These tax returns clearly show that Mike and Karen Pence have paid their taxes, supported worthy causes, and, unlike the Clintons, the Pences have not profited from their years in public service.”

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has released decades of tax returns. In the most recent, for 2015, she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, reported $10.6 million in income, an effective local, state and federal tax rate of 44.4%. They donated 9.8% of their adjusted gross income to charity. Her running mate, Tim Kaine, also has released a decade of returns.

Trump, who claims to be worth more than $10 billion, filed a financial disclosure this year that showed that he has assets worth at least $1.5 billion. The filing showed he also has at least $61 million in stocks and bonds, income of least $615 million over the filing period and at least $315 million in liabilities.

The businessman turned reality television star’s finances would be clearer if he released his tax returns, but he has declined to do so, saying he is in the midst of an audit. Democrats have hammered Trump over the move, arguing that he has something to hide about his finances, overseas ties, taxation rate or charitable giving.

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Hillary Clinton calls Donald Trump’s praise of Putin ‘unseemly’

Hillary Clinton called the latest intermingling of Donald Trump with Russian President Vladimir Putin “unseemly” and “beyond one’s imagination,” one day after the Republican nominee appeared on a Kremlin-backed television network.

“Every day that goes by, this just becomes more and more of a reality television show,” Clinton said in response to a reporter’s question Friday after she met with a bipartisan group of national security officials. “It’s not a serious presidential campaign.”

Clinton said she wasn’t surprised to hear Trump making public statements that would support Putin’s interests, but was “certainly disappointed” that Trump continued to identify with and praise such an “autocrat.” She suggested Trump does not even understand fully what Putin has done.

“No one who wants to assume the responsibility of being president and commander in chief should be making the kind of reckless and dangerous statements, and identifying with a regime that has some aggressive tendencies toward our interests, our values, our friends and allies,” Clinton said.

Trump, in an interview Thursday with Larry King on Russia Today’s American outlet, had dismissed the assessment of U.S. officials that Russian agents were seeking to interfere in the election. The comments came just a day after he used a prime-time forum to again praise Putin’s leadership.

“If he says great things about me, I’m going to say great things about him,” he said at the forum.

Clinton’s comments marked the fourth time this week that she took multiple questions from reporters. She also responded to the North Korean nuclear test, which she said required not only a “rethinking” of U.S. strategy toward the rogue nation but an “urgent effort” to seek greater cooperation in thwarting its aggressive behavior from countries in the region, including China.

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Bill Clinton calls on Donald Trump to ‘say the same things at home and abroad’

(Sam Greene/AP)

Former President Bill Clinton assailed Donald Trump’s recent impromptu visit to Mexico as misleading and warned it might endanger trust in the United States by allies around the world.

During a campaign stop in Pennsylvania on Friday for his wife, Clinton said that Trump should have been pressed more about the Mexico trip during a forum earlier this week that centered on national security.

“He said his trip was a success because the finance minister got fired,” Clinton said. “The finance minister lost his job because he wanted Mr. Trump to come down there.”

During the forum, Trump alluded to the recent resignation of Mexican Finance Minister Luis Videgaray.

“If you look at what happened, look at the aftermath today, the people who arranged the trip in Mexico have been forced out of government,” Trump said. “That’s how well we did, and that’s how well we’re going to have to do.”

The sudden resignation of Videgaray, who reportedly lobbied hard to invite Trump to meet with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, fueled furious speculation in Mexico that it was because of Trump’s visit.

The Republican nominee has called for a wall to be built along the U.S.-Mexico border — vowing that Mexico will pay for it — but in subdued remarks in Mexico City last week, he made no mention of it in his prepared statement.

And that rankled former President Clinton.

“If you want to be president, you have to say the same things at home and abroad. You can’t go to some place and make it look like everything’s going to be nice, and come back and jump all over them, because it makes people all over the world not trust America,” Clinton said in Pennsylvania on Friday.

He added, “I always favored the toughest language face-to-face, in private. And then try to avoid embarrassing people. By all means, tell the same story at home and abroad. If you don’t, it gets you in real trouble.”

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A year ago at the Value Voters Summit, Trump disparaged teleprompters. This time, he used one

Donald Trump campaigns in Ohio earlier this year.
(Jeff Swensen / Getty Images)

As GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump courted evangelicals at the Values Voter Summit on Friday, he followed his recent practice of reading from teleprompters.

Trump, like many politicians do, has increasingly begun using the devices in recent weeks as his advisors have tried to keep him focused and on message.

A year ago, in the very same setting, Trump had a slightly different take on teleprompters: that people running for president should not use them.

“I see these beautiful teleprompters; believe me, I’m not using them,” Trump said last year. “You know, I said if you run for president, you should not be allowed to use teleprompters. Get these things out of here.”

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When it comes to North Korea, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump offer differing views

In the aftermath of North Korea’s latest nuclear test, the responses from Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were – as is often the case – starkly different.

Clinton, the former secretary of State under President Obama, released a detailed statement on Friday, calling the action by North Korea “outrageous and unacceptable.”

“I strongly condemn this reckless action, which – coupled with its recent series of missile launches – makes clear Pyongyang’s determination to develop a deliverable nuclear weapon,” she said, alluding to four prior nuclear tests. The nuclear launch this week was North Korea’s second in less than a year.

“This constitutes a direct threat to the United States, and we cannot and will never accept this,” she said.

As Clinton voiced staunch support for Obama’s call to strengthen United Nations sanctions against the country, the Trump campaign had a different message: Clinton and Obama are not strong leaders.

“North Korea’s fifth nuclear test, the fourth since Hillary Clinton became secretary of State, is yet one more example of Hillary Clinton’s catastrophic failures,” said Jason Miller, a spokesman for Trump. “Clinton promised to work to end North Korea’s nuclear program as secretary of State, yet the program has only grown in strength and sophistication.”

Yet it’s unclear what Trump would do to halt the nuclear efforts of North Korea. As of Friday afternoon, the Republican nominee had not offered any details, only enlisting aides – who offered vague responses – to speak on his behalf.

Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager, said on CBS that if Trump becomes president and North Korea fired ballistic rockets, he “wouldn’t do what’s done now.” She added that if Trump is elected, North Korea will know that the Americans “aren’t messing around.”

Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who received his first national security briefing on Friday, ignored questions about North Korea that were shouted at him by reporters.

In May, Trump, who has no foreign policy experience, said that he would be open to allowing neighbors of North Korea – such as South Korea and Japan – to build their own nuclear arsenals. Such a move could trigger a nuclear arms race in the region between North Korea and U.S. allies.

“ If they’re not going to take care of us properly, we cannot afford to be the military and the police for the world,” he said on CNN at the time, discussing U.S. armed forces stationed in Japan and South Korea and whether those nations should be able to build nuclear weapons.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger: Let the Libertarians debate

Add the “Governator” to the growing chorus of politicos calling for Libertarian presidential contender Gary Johnson to be included in the presidential debates.

In a Facebook post Friday morning, former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger voiced support for including Johnson and his running mate, Bill Weld, in the televised debates this fall.

“The American people want to hear the voices of Governors Gary Johnson and Bill Weld in the debates this fall. ... I completely agree,” Schwarzenegger wrote.

To qualify for the debates, Johnson must receive an average of 15% support in five post-Labor Day national polls. So far, he’s hovered at around 10%.

“Our political system benefits when we open the conversation instead of closing it — which is why I fought for and the voters passed open primaries in California and why I hope the Commission on Presidential Debates will listen to the people and include the governors,” wrote Schwarzenegger, a Republican who served as California’s governor from 2003 through 2010.

Schwarzenegger’s appeal comes several days after another prominent Republican, former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, also called for the Libertarians’ inclusion on the debate stage.

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‘Stop Trump’ is top motivator among swing-state Latino voters, poll says

Stopping Donald Trump is a main reason swing-state Latinos are motivated to vote this year, with immigration dominating their concerns, according to new polling released Friday.

The survey found that immigration and deportations remain the most important issue among Latino voters in all but one of the seven swing states surveyed. The exception was Florida, where jobs and the economy were the top concerns.

If the election were held today, the poll found, rival Hillary Clinton would win well over two-thirds of the Latino vote in most of the swing states -- Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, North Carolina and Virginia.

Trump does best among Latinos in Florida, winning 27%, and Ohio, 22%, the polling said. In both of those states, Trump performs better than his 19% showing among Latinos nationwide.

But Trump’s support in Ohio is within the margin of error, the poll said, and in Florida it is largely among older, Cuban American voters who have historically voted Republican. Trump’s standing among Latinos remains nowhere near the level experts say he needs to win the election.

“This Trump effect is real,” said Gabe Sanchez of Latino Decisions, which conducted the poll for the immigration advocacy group America’s Voice.

Latinos across the swing states say Trump has made the Republican Party more “hostile” to Latinos, the poll reported, with as many as 76% of Latinos in Colorado and North Carolina sharing that view.

More than 70% of Latinos voters in six of the seven swing states say this election is more important than 2012’s, the survey said, with 80% holding that view in North Carolina and 67% in Florida.

More than half the swing-state Latinos said their desire to “stop Trump” made this year’s election more important than the last presidential contest, the poll said.

But the polling also found that the Clinton team still has work to do among Latino voters to ensure their support. Though support for Clinton was strong among Latino swing-state voters, the survey said, enthusiasm was not -- and had dropped off substantially from four years ago.

Millennial Latinos in the swing states, like younger voters elsewhere, continue to pose a challenge for Clinton, the survey said.

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Hillary Clinton to visit ground zero on 9/11

(Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

Hillary Clinton joined Donald Trump in pledging not to campaign on Sept. 11, but she will be making headlines nonetheless.

The Democratic nominee will attend a memorial service at ground zero. She won’t speak at the event. Donald Trump has not yet shared his plans for the day.

Clinton talks often about 9/11 at campaign events, noting the role she played as a senator from New York in securing billions of dollars of federal government money for rebuilding efforts from the administration of George W. Bush.

Invoking 9/11 has not always served Clinton well. When she came under attack in a Democratic primary debate for the millions of dollars in contributions and speaking fees she has accepted from Wall Street, Clinton opened herself to ridicule by suggesting the finance industry was motivated by post-9/11 unity.

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Clinton tries, again, to show voters her warmer side

In a presidential race that has been defined by nasty personal attacks and an electorate that has deep reservations about the character of both major candidates, Hillary Clinton is making yet another effort to introduce herself to voters.

Clinton has worked since she joined the race last year to break through the decades of Clinton political baggage and voter skepticism of her motivations to tell the story of why she entered public service and how her values were shaped. But the narrative is regularly overshadowed by the nominee’s uneasiness with the media, the scripted nature of the campaign she runs and the investigation into her emails.

As the campaign enters its final days, Clinton is trying to define her candidacy as something more meaningful than stopping Donald Trump. She is working to project that more open and warm side of her personality that friends and colleagues talk about but the public almost never sees. In Kansas City on Thursday night, that involved reflecting on her Methodist faith and a value that voters seem to think both candidates lack – humility.

“Humility is not something you hear much about in politics, is it?” Clinton said. “But we should. None of us is perfect .... It’s because of our limitations and imperfections that we must reach out beyond ourselves, to God and to each other. It isn’t easy, but I have learned to be grateful not just for my blessings but also for my faults – and there are plenty! I’ve made my share of mistakes. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t. Everyone here today has stumbled on their own stony paths. It’s grace that lifts us up, and grace that leads us home.”

Clinton’s allies chafe at the suggestion that the softer tone – like so many things in the Clinton campaign – is driven by focus groups and polling. But it does come at a time Clinton is positioned to win the votes of wavering moderate Republicans and independent swing voters if only she can persuade them to stop doubting her motives.

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Trump allies say he now believes Obama born in U.S. — but what does Trump say?

One of the more potent attacks Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign uses against GOP rival Donald Trump involves the “birther” movement. Trump was long one of the most outspoken figures alleging that President Obama was not born in the United States.

Clinton brought it up again Thursday night at the National Baptist Convention in Kansas City, Mo., where she warned that Trump “traffics in toxic conspiracy theories like the lie that President Obama is not a true American.”

The movement fizzled when Obama’s birth certificate emerged and it showed that he was very much an American citizen. But Trump never disavowed birtherism, and his questioning the legitimacy of the first black president has been a source of deep resentment with many African American voters.

Now, several of Trump’s surrogates say Trump has accepted that Obama was born in the United States. Among them is Rudolph Giuliani, who bristled at the question on MSNBC, suggesting it was old news. But the Trump allies are getting pushback from the media, as Trump himself, who is famously averse to apologies, stays silent on his failed crusade to prove Obama was not a citizen.

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Facebook co-founder promises $20 million to stop Trump

A co-founder of Facebook endorsed Hillary Clinton late Thursday, and said he plans to donate $20 million to several Democratic-allied groups in an effort to help defeat Donald Trump this election cycle.

Dustin Moskovitz, who co-founded the social media site with Mark Zuckerberg and others in 2004, penned a Medium article with his wife, Cari Tuna, condemning Trump’s ideas as being driven by “fear” and “tribalism.”

“Will we focus on how to advantage those most similar to us while building barriers to separate us from the rest of the world?” Moskovitz wrote in “Compelled to Act: We’re committing $20 million to help Democrats in the 2016 election.” “Or, alternatively, will we continue in the direction of increased tolerance, diversity and interdependence in the name of mutual prosperity?”

Moskovitz said he and Tuna have not previously endorsed a candidate in an election and have voted Democratic in the past.

“We believe their [the Republican Party’s and Donald Trump’s] positions, especially on immigration, which purport to improve the lives of Americans, would in practice hurt citizens and noncitizens alike,” Moskovitz wrote. “In contrast, the Democratic Party, and Hillary Clinton in particular, is running on a vision of optimism, pragmatism, inclusiveness and mutual benefit.”

The organizations set to receive the funds include: the Hillary Victory Fund, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the League of Conservation Voters Victory Fund (which will receive $5 million), For Our Future PAC (which will also receive $5 million), Political Action, Color of Change PAC and other voter-registration groups.

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Donald Trump defends Putin — on Putin’s TV network

It may not have been the choicest of venues for Donald Trump, as he disputes the charge that he is being played by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But there he was Thursday, being interviewed on Russia Today, the network funded by the Kremlin. Trump’s campaign said it was all a big mistake.

The interviewer was Larry King, whom Trump has known for years. Campaign officials said the candidate’s understanding was that the interview would be used only for King’s podcast.

Some were skeptical of that explanation.

Trump took the opportunity while being interviewed for Putin’s network to say he does not believe Putin is interfering in the American election.

“I think it’s probably unlikely,” Trump said of findings by investigators that hackers working for Putin stole files from the servers of the Democratic National Committee and distributed them to Wikileaks.

Trump’s defense of the Russian president that puts him at odds with other high-profile Republicans, as well as cybersecurity experts who have said the evidence overwhelmingly points to Russia being responsible for the hack.

“Maybe the Democrats are putting that out — who knows,” Trump said in the interview with King. “If they are doing something, I hope that somebody’s going to be able to find out so they can end it. Because that would not be appropriate at all.”

A spokeswoman for King’s production company, Ora Media, said in an email that the program was produced independently, but that Russia Today is among the companies permitted to broadcast it through a licensing agreement.

4:55 p.m.: This post was updated with background on Ora Media’s licensing agreement.

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Coasting is no longer an option for Hillary Clinton, given Donald Trump’s resilience

(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

As Donald Trump’s resilience defies his erratic style, thin policy plans and incendiary pronouncements, Hillary Clinton is confronting the reality that coasting to election day is no longer a viable strategy.

Clinton has abruptly switched gears in her effort to lure the vast numbers of suburban swing voters and moderate Republicans who are still undecided. The carefully scripted candidate cautiously grinding it out has given way to a more aggressive street fighter, one who is eager to force Republican voters to face their party’s uneasiness with its own nominee.

“What would Ronald Reagan say about a Republican nominee who attacks America’s generals and praised Russia’s president?” Clinton said Thursday morning, when she greeted reporters about to board her campaign plane with the type of impromptu news conference she had avoided all summer. It was her third in three days.

The new energy is being infused into Clinton’s campaign alongside an effort with the White House to exploit the uneasiness that swing voters have with Trump’s contradictions and shoot-from-the-hip approach. As the clock runs down, Democrats are working to sow enough doubt to overshadow the concerns many of those same voters have about Clinton’s trustworthiness and motivations.

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