Campaign 2016 updates: Donald Trump refuses -- again -- to answer the ‘birther’ question


Hillary Clinton rejoins the campaign trail Thursday in North Carolina after taking time off to recover from pneumonia. Donald Trump heads to New Hampshire after delivering an economic speech in New York.

  • Trump continues to side-step the birther question
  • Clinton returns to campaigning and says being sidelined at home was “the last place I wanted to be”
  • Trump finally releases the letter summarizing his recent medical exam
  • Voters are already casting ballots in North Carolina, underscoring the urgency for Clinton as she returns to the trail
  • Ivanka Trump abruptly cut off an interview she didn’t like

Clinton urges Latino voters to get off the sidelines

(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

President Obama is a “tough act to follow, in more ways than one,” Hillary Clinton said as she followed him onstage at a gala dinner in Washington on Thursday night.

And in her remarks that followed, the former secretary of State urged the diverse coalition of voters who powered Obama to two national victories to be just as committed to turn out to vote for her.

“We cannot be on the sidelines,” she said at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute dinner. “This is the most consequential election of our lifetimes.”

Clinton thanked the group for traveling throughout the country to help register new voters she hopes will turn out for her.

“You stayed focused no matter what kind of outlandish and offensive comments we have heard from my opponent and his supporters,” she said before adding to laughter and applause: “By the way, I personally think a taco truck on every corner sounds absolutely delicious.” (A Trump supporter had warned last month that a flood of new immigrants would result in such a scenario.)

Clinton praised the role immigrants have played in American history, saying Latino voters in particular are “not strangers” or “intruders,” but “our neighbors, our colleagues, our friends.”

She also continued to test-drive a closing message for the final seven weeks to election day.

“I intend to close my campaign the way I began my career: fighting for kids and families. It is the cause of my life. It will be the passion of my presidency,” she said.

Donald Trump “sinks even lower” just when it seems he has already hit “rock bottom,” she said. She cited a newly released interview the Republican nominee did with the Washington Post in which he again declined to answer a question about whether Obama was born in the United States.

“He still wouldn’t say Hawaii. He still wouldn’t say America,” she said. “This man wants to be our next president? When will he stop this ugliness, this bigotry?”

Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, and his running mate, Mike Pence, both have said Obama was born in the U.S. The campaign often has attempted to clarify Trump’s positions when he has chosen not to do so himself.

Clinton said there were “no dog whistles” anymore with Trump, meaning he wasn’t sending out messages only select followers could hear.

“It’s all right out there in the open now,” she said. “So we’ve got to come back twice as strong and twice as clear.”

Clinton and Obama spent 15 minutes together between their two speeches, their first face-to-face interaction in weeks. The White House had previously not said whether the president had spoken with Clinton since she was diagnosed with pneumonia last week.


Donald Trump refuses -- again -- to answer the ‘birther’ question

(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

His running mate and senior aides have answered the question, but Donald Trump still refuses.

Is President Obama an American citizen?

“I’ll answer that question at the right time,” Trump said in an interview with the Washington Post. “I just don’t want to answer it yet.

“I don’t talk about it anymore. The reason I don’t is because then everyone is going to be talking about it as opposed to jobs, the military, the vets, security.”

It’s a recurring theme for Trump, who in 2011 became a vocal spokesman for the fringe conservative “birther” movement, raising questions in television interviews about whether the nation’s first black president was actually born in Kenya.

He called on Obama to release his birth certificate — which Obama did in 2011. Many have viewed Trump’s rhetoric as racially charged.

Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, and his campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, have sought to put the issue to rest in recent days, saying that indeed Obama was born in the country. Moreover, some surrogates, such as retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, have even suggested Trump should apologize for suggesting otherwise.

Late Thursday night, Trump’s spokesman released a statement saying the GOP nominee believed Obama was born in the United States.

In the Washington Post interview, Trump also looked ahead to the upcoming debates, assailing CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

“I don’t think Anderson Cooper should be a moderator because Anderson Cooper works for CNN, and over the last couple of days I’ve seen how Anderson Cooper behaves,” Trump told the Post. “He’ll be very biased, very biased. I don’t think he should be a moderator. I’ll participate, but I don’t think he should be a moderator. CNN is the Clinton News Network and Anderson Cooper, I don’t think he can be fair.”

Update, 8:09 p.m.: The post was updated with a comment from Trump’s campaign.


Donald Trump begins New Hampshire rally while reporters are still on the bus

They’re gonna be about 30 minutes late. They called us and said, ‘Could you wait?’ I said, ‘Absolutely not.’ 

— Donald Trump at a rally in New Hampshire on Thursday night


Fallon musses Trump’s hair on ‘Tonight Show’

Talk show host Jimmy Fallon had a question for the man running for the most powerful elected office on the planet.

The request wasn’t very presidential, Fallon admitted during Donald Trump’s appearance Thursday on “The Tonight Show.”

“I’m not liking the sound of this,” Trump said.

Could he, Fallon asked, mess with his hair?

According to excerpts released by NBC, Trump allowed Fallon to muss his famous bouffant.

Trump gave the late-night television host permission but added that he hoped voters in New Hampshire, where he was headed after finishing the taping in New York, would understand.

Fallon put his fingers through Trump’s coif, leaving him with a shock of unkempt locks. Smiling, Trump tried, but failed, to fix his mop.

Earlier, Fallon had thanked Trump for giving him fodder for his show.

“You say some shocking things,” Fallon said.

Trump, who has repeatedly come under fire for remarks he made before running for president and during the campaign, replied, “But I’m trying not to anymore.”

Trump’s appearance on “The Tonight Show” will air at 11:35 p.m. Thursday on NBC.


Hillary Clinton says she didn’t think pneumonia diagnosis was worth ‘a big fuss’

(Brendan Smialowski / AFP-Getty Images)

After returning to the campaign trail Thursday, Hillary Clinton defended her delayed disclosure of the pneumonia diagnosis that sidelined her for three days — and whether her own running mate was among those in the dark.

Speaking to reporters after a rally here, Clinton said her “senior staff” was aware of the illness, and information was “provided to a number of people.”

Asked twice whether Tim Kaine knew of the illness, Clinton did not answer specifically but said they did speak again Wednesday night.

“I am not going to go into our personal conversations. And I feel very comfortable and confident about our relationship, and I really look forward to working with him closely,” she said.

She sought several times to brush off questions about being sick, saying she thought that “there really wasn’t any reason to make a big fuss about it.”

“This was an ailment that many people just power through, and that’s what I thought I would do as well,” she said. “I didn’t want to stop. I didn’t want to quit campaigning.”

Clinton was diagnosed Friday but didn’t reveal her illness until Sunday, hours after she left a Sept. 11 memorial ceremony earlier than planned because she fell ill. Video showed her stumbling as she got into a van to leave.

“I certainly didn’t want to miss the 9/11 memorial. As a senator at that time, I consider it a sacred moment and I was determined to get there,” she said.

“It didn’t work out. So I got the antibiotics up and going. Got the rest that I needed. And we’re going on from there,” she said.


Donald Trump Jr. faces backlash for ‘gas chamber’ remark

(Robyn Beck / Associated Press)

Donald Trump Jr., the son of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, was blasted Thursday for making what many took to be an unseemly Holocaust reference while defending his father.

Trump Jr. accused the media of propping up Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, adding that “they’d be warming up the gas chamber” if Republicans acted as they had.

“Without the media, this wouldn’t even be a contest, but the media has built her up. They’ve let her slide on every indiscrepancy, on every lie, on every DNC game trying to get Bernie Sanders out of this thing,” Trump Jr. told a Philadelphia radio station Wednesday.

“If Republicans were doing that, they’d be warming up the gas chamber right now,” he added.

He was roundly criticized for the remark. The Anti-Defamation League, which seeks to fight anti-Semitism, called out Trump Jr. for making what it called “Holocaust jokes” and urged him to retract the statement.

“Trivialization of the Holocaust and gas chambers is NEVER okay,” the group said on Twitter.

Trump Jr. told MSNBC that when he said gas chamber, he was referring to “corporal punishment,” not the Holocaust.

It’s not the first time Trump Jr. has found himself at the center of controversy in this campaign. He also has been criticized for associating with white supremacists on social media, and for pushing conspiracy theories.


Hillary Clinton returns to the campaign trail

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Paul Ryan on Donald Trump’s tax returns: ‘I released mine. I think he should release his’

(Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan released his tax returns four years ago when he was Mitt Romney’s running mate, and now he thinks it’s incumbent on Donald Trump to do the same.

“I released mine. I think he should release his,” the Republican leader told reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday.

Yet Ryan did give Trump, the GOP nominee, some wiggle room.

“I know he is under an audit and he has got an opinion about when to release those. I will defer to him on that,” he said.

Trump has repeatedly said he won’t release any of his recent returns until an audit by the Internal Revenue Service is complete. But the IRS says all taxpayers are free to make their returns public, regardless of whether they are being audited.

Every major party nominee since Richard Nixon has released tax returns.

Last week, Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, released 10 years of tax returns, which showed an adjusted gross income of $113,026 on the low end and $187,495 on the high end. His effective state and federal tax rate ranged from 10.4% to 16.5%.

Even as Pence has released his returns, aides to Trump in recent days have insisted that voters do not care about his returns.

Still, Democrats have called for transparency and continue to press for the billionaire businessman to release his returns.

In August, Bill and Hillary Clinton released their tax returns, which showed the couple earning $10.6 million in 2015.


Donald Trump’s campaign outlines broad strokes of economic plan

Donald Trump made an audacious promise to create 25 million jobs over the next decade, with an economic plan that cuts taxes and regulations – including clean energy rules – and reduces spending on a host of federal programs.

The plan, outlined by Trump’s campaign Thursday morning ahead of a speech at the New York Economic Club, promises to reduce taxes for every bracket, with the largest reductions by percentage for lower income families and a drastic reduction in the corporate tax rate.

Many elements of the plan, including decreased environmental regulations on energy companies and a halt to certain U.S. trade deals, have long been part of Trump’s stated plans. The newest iteration was intended to bring them together into a cohesive economic philosophy.

But the plan lacks details on costs and how it will affect the deficit.

9:20 a.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Trump promised to reduce tax cuts. He promised to reduce taxes.


Donald Trump releases new doctor’s letter declaring clean bill of health

(Mandel Ngan / AFP/Getty Images)

Donald Trump released a new doctor’s letter Thursday saying he is “in excellent physical health,” but offered limited details about his medical history apart from his use of a drug that lowers cholesterol.

Trump’s longtime Manhattan doctor, Harold N. Bornstein, said the 70-year-old Republican presidential nominee also takes low-dose aspirin. Trump had an appendectomy when he was 11 years old, but has not been hospitalized since, Bornstein wrote in the one-page letter.

Trump, who is 6 foot 3 and weighs 236 pounds, has had a physical every year since 1980, according to Bornstein. His last colonoscopy, in 2013, “was normal and found no polyps,” he said. Bornstein reported Trump’s testosterone level as 441.6.

Trump’s release of the letter comes as his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, is recovering from a bout of pneumonia that caused her to cancel events this week in California and Nevada.

Trump’s campaign released a statement claiming incorrectly that Trump was “setting records for number of events, size of crowds, and breadth of travel on the campaign trail.” Presidential candidates routinely travel more than Trump does, and President Obama’s crowds in 2008 were far larger than Trump’s.

For months, Trump has said Clinton lacks the strength and stamina to lead the nation.

“We are pleased to disclose all of the test results which show that Mr. Trump is in excellent health, and has the stamina to endure — uninterrupted — the rigors of a punishing and unprecedented presidential campaign and, more importantly, the singularly demanding job of president,” his statement said.


Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders will hit Ohio to campaign for Clinton as polls tighten

(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren will both campaign this weekend in Ohio for Hillary Clinton, underscoring the need for both presidential nominees to turn out core supporters in the tightening election.

Sanders, the democratic socialist from Vermont who ran a tough campaign against Clinton, and Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat viewed as the leader of her party’s progressive wing, have both given Clinton a qualified embrace. The two have made it clear they will work hard to defeat Donald Trump, but will continue to hold Clinton accountable from the left.

Ohio, with large numbers of white working-class voters who were drawn to Trump during the GOP primary, is one of a small group of crucial swing states. Polls there have tightened to a dead heat, with more recent surveys showing an edge for Trump.

Both Warren and Sanders, who have emphasized college affordability, plan to pitch the candidate to millennial voters, with stops scheduled for college campuses.


Now we know how much Donald Trump weighs

Donald Trump’s celebrity television fitness reveal continues Thursday, with the “Dr. Oz” show releasing a clip in which Trump discusses his weight: 236 pounds.

“I could lose a little weight,” Trump says in the clip. “I’ve always been a little bit this way ... 15-20 pounds. It would be good.”

There had been some discrepancy Wednesday, with some outlets initially reporting that he said 267 pounds. The press was barred from the show’s taping, so information came from people in the audience.

The campaign has yet to produce documents related to a health exam Trump said he took last week, but promised to do so Thursday morning. Hillary Clinton released a new letter from her doctor Wednesday.


Donald Trump’s lead widens in USC/L.A. Times tracking poll, which points to likely turnout as key shift

Donald Trump’s lead over Hillary Clinton in the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times national tracking poll grew to nearly six percentage points on Thursday, his largest advantage since his post-convention bounce in July.

The biggest reason appears to be an increase in the likelihood of Trump supporters who say they plan to vote, combined with a drop among Clinton supporters on that question. The nominees are now roughly equal in the voting commitment of their supporters, erasing an advantage previously held by Clinton.

The poll shows Trump leading Clinton, 47%-41%.

The question of voter turnout should continue to loom large until election day, making Clinton’s advantage in field organizing and fundraising crucial for her if the race remains tight.

Trump’s overall advantage in the poll coincides with other polls that show him closing the gap with Clinton. Because of differences in methodology, Trump tends to perform about six percentage points better in the USC/L.A. Times poll than in other polls.

On average, Clinton leads Trump by a little more than two percentage points in national polls, according to Real Clear Politics. Clinton has a 64% chance of winning the election in the FiveThirtyEight election forecast.

Here’s why the poll differs from others.


Ivanka Trump shuts down an interview with Cosmopolitan magazine

Ivanka Trump cut off an interview with Cosmopolitan this week when the interviewer started asking hard-hitting questions about her father’s child care plan.

The Republican nominee released his plan outlining policies for six weeks of paid leave, tax deductions for child care and rebates for low-income earners. But when the Cosmo interviewer challenged Trump over whether the plan would cover fathers, as well as Donald Trump’s 2004 comments calling pregnancy an inconvenience, she ended the phone call.

“It’s surprising to see this policy from him today. Can you talk a little bit about those comments, and perhaps what has changed?” interviewer Prachi Gupta asked.

“So I think that you have a lot of negativity in these questions, and I think my father has put forth a very comprehensive and really revolutionary plan to deal with a lot of issues,” Ivanka Trump responded. “So I don’t know how useful it is to spend too much time with you on this if you’re going to make a comment like that.”

Trump defended her father as Gupta pressed her for answers on how he plans to pay for such policies. Trump then told Gupta she had to “run.”


Two more naked Trump statues pop up in New Jersey, Miami

Drivers and residents got a fresh glimpse of Donald Trump — uncensored — Wednesday when the latest installations of naked Trump statues popped up.

Anarchist art collective Indecline placed the statues atop a building near the Holland Tunnel connecting New Jersey and New York City, and on a billboard facing Interstate 95 in Miami.

The statues appeared on the same day Trump told Dr. Mehmet Oz in a television interview that he plans to lose around 15 to 20 pounds. The Trump statues show the Republican nominee with a pot belly, varicose veins and sagging buttocks.

The statue in New Jersey sits on private property owned by the Mana Contemporary art center, which commissioned the two works. But in Miami the police asked the owner to remove it — he plans to relocate it, according to the local TV station WTVJ.

The first statues popped up in August around Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Cleveland. Indecline commissioned an artist who calls himself Ginger — and usually crafts monsters for horror films and haunted houses — to create them.

Here’s drone footage filmed by Indecline and edited by the Washington Post.


Clinton seeks to turn transparency argument against Trump

(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

Hillary Clinton pushed back Thursday on criticism of her level of disclosure, arguing in a radio interview that she has worked hard to be more transparent than any other candidate for president.

In an interview that aired on the “Tom Joyner Morning Show” just as she is set to return to the campaign trail, Clinton said she has now put out more medical information than her predecessors, in addition to 40 years of tax returns.

“The real questions need to be directed toward Donald Trump and his failure to even meet the most minimalistic standards that we expect of someone being the nominee of one of our two major parties,” she said.

Clinton was responding to a question about comments from former Secretary of State Colin Powell in recently disclosed emails, in which he criticized her handling of the controversy over her private emails.

Clinton repeatedly declined to respond to Powell directly, particularly his claim: “Everything HRC touches, she kind of screws up with hubris.”

“I have a great deal of respect for Colin Powell, and I have a lot of sympathy for anyone whose emails become public. I’m not going to start discussing someone else’s private emails,” she said.

Clinton also asserted again that Trump has run “a deplorable campaign,” and criticized running mate Mike Pence for refusing to refer to the former leader of the KKK as such.

“I’m going to keep calling out the bigotry and hateful rhetoric that he’s brought to this campaign because I don’t think you can make our country great by tearing our people down. I really do believe that we are stronger together,” she said.

The hosts only asked Clinton briefly about her health. A diagnosis of pneumonia kept her at home this week.

“I am so much better,” she said.


Hillary Clinton has been on a Twitter rampage against Donald Trump

Hillary Clinton, off the campaign trail since Sunday because of illness, has tried to keep up with Donald Trump using his favorite tool: Twitter.

The Democratic nominee has pushed hard over the last 24 hours at Trump, tweeting out articles and allegations about his financial ties, his lack of charitable giving, and the lack of disclosure of his medical records and tax returns.

Unlike Trump, who appears to write many of his most biting tweets himself, Clinton’s criticism appears to be staff-produced. Most of the tweets do not end with the “-H” signature that indicates Clinton wrote them.


Donald Trump says ‘something was up’ when his speech was cut off in Flint

Donald Trump offered a theory on why his speech in Flint, Mich., was cut off Wednesday by a pastor: He was set up.

“I got unbelievably good treatment from people,” he said Thursday on “Fox & Friends,” which showed a Facebook post from the pastor suggesting the visit would be used to educate Trump. “But something was up. I noticed she was so nervous when she introduced me.”

“She was so nervous she was shaking,” he continued. “She had that in mind. there’s no question about it.”

The pastor, Faith Green Timmons, gave a different reason: “Mr. Trump, I invited you here to thank us for what we’ve done in Flint, not give a political speech,” she said as she approached Trump at the podium.

Trump’s allegation is a familiar one, particularly the phrasing that “something was up,” the kind of vague construction he often uses to suggest unseen forces at work against him and his supporters. But the moment also highlights the deep and residual tension between him and the African American community, which dates back to his promotion of unfounded allegations that President Obama was not born in the United States.


Hillary Clinton returns to the campaign trail after bout with pneumonia

With a little more than 50 days until election day and votes already being cast in many states, the most precious resource a candidate has is time. So Hillary Clinton, sidelined with pneumonia since Sunday, returns to the campaign trail Thursday with some catching up to do.

The Democratic presidential nominee sets off for North Carolina, a state where ballots are already in the mail, ready to make her case again directly to voters while also seeking to dispatch renewed doubts about her candidacy.

The Clinton campaign owns up to the challenge before it. But just as it argued that her post-convention high point was never quite as high as it seemed in polls, her camp views the turbulence of the last week as not quite as dire as those on the outside — even some vocal Democrats — might make it seem.

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The complicated immigration history of Melania Trump: Tourist visas, then work visas

(Robyn Beck / AFP/Getty Images)

While an aspiring model from Slovenia, the future wife of Donald Trump came to the United States on a tourist visa, but never worked illegally, according to a lawyer hired to review her immigration records. But Melania Trump has declined to release those records, and the account still leaves some open questions about her immigration history.

Donald Trump has made illegal immigration a central issue of his campaign, vowing to build a wall on the Mexican border and deport millions of people living in the U.S. illegally. Melania Trump’s immigration status became an issue last month, when the New York Post published nude photos it said were taken during a New York photo shoot in 1995 — raising the question of whether she came here on a tourist visa, and worked illegally, before obtaining an H1-B work visa in 1996.

In an attempt to end the controversy, Melania Trump hired immigration lawyer Michael Wildes, who has done work for Donald Trump’s modeling agency and the Miss Universe pageant, to review her records. She released a letter from him Wednesday via Twitter.

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