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Campaign 2016 updates: Donald Trump concedes Obama was born in U.S. after years of stoking conspiracy theory

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Donald Trump backs off his longstanding embrace of the false assertion that President Obama was born outside the U.S.

Clinton: ‘You don’t talk about ISIS with a big grin on your face’

(NBC Universal)

Hillary Clinton on Friday slapped at a Republican critique of her lack of smile during a national security forum.

“The other night I was on a show being asked about ISIS and Iran and I was serious. These are important issues that the country needs to talk about and the Republicans were saying, ‘Oh, she looks so serious.’ Well, you don’t talk about ISIS with a big grin on your face,” Clinton said, using an acronym for the Islamic State terrorist organization. “They’re a barbaric, evil group that we have to defeat and wipe out.”

Clinton appeared to be referring to a national security forum last week. Afterward, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus tweeted about Clinton’s demeanor and that she wasn’t smiling during the event.

Clinton made the remarks during a taping of “The Tonight Show” that will air at 11:35 p.m. Monday on NBC.

The comment was in response to a question from host Jimmy Fallon about the trickiness of showing her optimistic side on the campaign trail with “the bad-ass Hillary” that some voters want to see “who’s going to protect us and be tough.”

Clinton responded that it was a balancing act and “tricky,” especially for a female candidate.

Earlier, when she walked onto the set, Fallon put on a face mask, a reference to Clinton’s recent bout of pneumonia that prompted her to take a break from the campaign trail.

Clinton laughed heartily and gave Fallon a high five. The late-night host immediately whipped out a bottle of hand sanitizer and rubbed his hands, prompting more laughter from the Democratic nominee and the audience.

GOP rival Donald Trump appeared on the show on Thursday, when Fallon mussed his famous bouffant.

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Analysis: With a self-inflicted wound, Trump puts himself in new peril against Clinton

The 2016 presidential campaign has followed a pattern: In a contest featuring two widely disliked candidates, each has risen in response to the other’s failings and each has fallen due to self-inflicted wounds.

Hillary Clinton rose in polls late this summer after Donald Trump’s undisciplined attacks on a Gold Star family, and other remarks that insulted racial or ethnic minorities, pushed away centrist voters.

Trump, more recently, has risen on concerns about Clinton’s family foundation, her comment that half of his voters belonged in “a basket of deplorables,” and her reluctance to be fully transparent about her health.

Just when he might have sought to cement and extend his new, narrow lead in some swing states, Trump on Friday delved into a topic he recently had tried to avoid — his long effort to prove President Obama is not an American citizen. And he did so by making fresh, and demonstrably inaccurate, accusations against Clinton.

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Michelle Obama’s campaign trail debut is a reminder of the enthusiasm other Democrats can inspire for Clinton

“Elections aren’t just about who votes, but who doesn’t vote,” Michelle Obama told a crowd of students at George Mason University on Friday afternoon during her debut as an energetic surrogate for Hillary Clinton. “And that is especially true for young people like all of you.”

The Clinton campaign is hoping the first lady can help reignite the diverse coalition of voters that propelled President Obama to office by turning out in record numbers — but has been less enthusiastic about Clinton.

Michelle Obama showered praise on Clinton, attacked Donald Trump as unstable and intolerant, and cautioned the 3,000 or so students assembled that they will put her husband’s legacy at risk if they stay home on election day.

And, of course, Obama took advantage of Trump’s pronouncement Friday that he no longer believes her husband was born outside the U.S.

Obama took aim at those “who continued to question for the past eight years and right up to this very day whether my husband was even born in this country.”

“Barack has answered those questions with the examples he set, by going high when they go low,” Obama said, a nod to a passage in her well-received Democratic convention speech about the lessons she and the president have taught their daughters.

She sparked a level of enthusiasm among the crowd that Clinton does not always manage, even when she rattled off statistics about President Obama’s margin of error in swing states in his reelection and how he would have lost several of them if young voters stayed home.

If any question remained about how crucial Clinton’s all-star cast of surrogates will be in these final weeks of the campaign, the first lady put them to rest.

“The presidency doesn’t change who you are, it reveals who you are,” Obama said, picking up on a theme Clinton regularly raises in her stump speeches. “If a candidate is erratic and threatening, if a candidate traffics in prejudice lies and fear on the trail … that is who they are.”

The first lady directly confronted the lackluster enthusiasm for Clinton among millennials. “When I hear folks saying they don’t feel inspired in this election, let me tell you: I disagree. I am inspired. For eight years, I have had the privilege to see what it actually takes to do this job.

“We have an opportunity to elect one of the most qualified people who ever endeavored to become president.”

Obama ticked off all the virtues she admired in Clinton, and then delivered a line that was met with loud approval from the crowd: “And, yes, she happens to be a woman.”

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Donald Trump nets endorsement from largest police union in the country

(Evan Vucci/AP)

Donald Trump, who has called himself the “law-and-order” candidate, secured the endorsement Friday of the National Fraternal Order of Police, the nation’s largest police union.

“He understands and supports our priorities and our members believe he will make America safe again,” wrote Chuck Canterbury, president of the National Fraternal Order of Police, in the union’s endorsement letter.

The union, which has nearly 330,000 members, traditionally backs Republicans, but declined in 2012 to support either President Obama or GOP nominee Mitt Romney. Members of the union were rankled by Romney’s opposition to collective bargaining.

On the stump and in interviews, Trump has sought to cast himself as a law and order candidate in the 2016 campaign.

“Police are the most mistreated people in this country,” Trump said at a GOP debate in January. “We have to give power back to the police because crime is rampant.”

Earlier this year, Trump invited members of the union to Manhattan for a meeting and he’s made stops on the campaign trail to visit with local chapters.

And after high-profile police killings this summer of unarmed black men in Louisiana and Minnesota, followed by the shooting deaths of five Dallas officers, Trump suggested that black activists were to blame and said he might direct his attorney general to investigate the Black Lives Matter movement.

Democrats, including the party’s nominee, Hillary Clinton, dismissed this assertion.

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Johnson and Stein won’t appear in first presidential debate

(Molly Riley / AFP/Getty Images)

It’s official – Gary Johnson and Jill Stein failed to make the cut for the first presidential debate.

The exclusion is a major blow to the already long-shot bids of Johnson, the Libertarian Party nominee, and Stein, the Green Party nominee. The debate would have offered Johnson and Stein the largest audiences of their campaigns.

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced Friday that Johnson and Stein failed to meet one criteria for participating in the debate – receiving an average of 15% support in five national polls.

“… the Board determined that the polling averages … are as follows: Hillary Clinton (43%), Donald Trump (40.4%), Gary Johnson (8.4%) and Jill Stein (3.2%). Accordingly, Hillary Clinton and her running mate, Tim Kaine, and Donald Trump and his running mate, Mike Pence, qualify to participate in the Sept. 26 presidential debate and the Oct. 4 vice-presidential debate, respectively,” the board said in a statement. “No other candidates satisfied the criteria for inclusion in the September 26 and October 4 debates.”

Some notable Republicans who have expressed disdain or skepticism of Trump have been calling for the inclusion of Johnson and running-mate William Weld in the debates, including 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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Mark Cuban offers Donald Trump $10 million to talk policy for four hours

(Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)

Billionaire Mark Cuban offered GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump $10 million to sit down with him for a four-hour policy interview in a series of tweets on Friday.

“What do you have to lose?” tweeted Cuban, repeating Trump’s own words, after initially offering to give the money to the charity of Trump’s choice but then saying he would give the money directly to the Republican standard-bearer.

Cuban, an investor and the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, has said he was excited at first about Trump’s candidacy because of the New York businessman’s outsider perspective and unscripted nature. But as he spoke with the candidate and watched the campaign unfold, Cuban said he grew unnerved by Trump’s worldview and endorsed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in July.

“The tipping issues were Trump’s positions on NATO, our treaties, dealing with our allies, his comments on nuclear weapons, and his lack of understanding of the concept of deterrence,” Cuban told Bloomberg Businessweek. “His ignorance of these issues scared ... me.”

Here’s Cuban’s tweet-storm on his proposal to Trump.

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Clinton reacts: ‘What Trump just did is a disgrace’

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Donald Trump finally concedes that Obama was born in the U.S.

(Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty Images)

Donald Trump, who for years has stoked unfounded conspiracies about President Obama’s birthplace, said Friday that he is now convinced the president is an American-born citizen.

“President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period. Now we all want to get back to making America strong and great again,” he said, then walked offstage after a 30-minute event consisting mostly of praise for him from veterans and Medal of Honor recipients.

He also incorrectly blamed Hillary Clinton for fueling the birther controversy. No evidence exists that Clinton or her 2008 campaign team, when she ran against Obama in a prolonged fight for the Democratic nomination, did so.

Trump was under increasing pressure to distance himself from the controversy, which helped fuel his rise but also aligned him with white nationalists and alienated many mainstream voters. Trump refused to concede regarding Obama’s American birthplace as recently as Thursday.

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Obama on revival of birther discussion: Let’s get serious

(Win McNamee / Getty Images)

President Obama dismissed the renewed attention on Donald Trump’s high-profile doubts about Obama’s birthplace, telling reporters he “was pretty confident about where I was born.”

“I think most people were as well,” Obama said Friday in the Oval Office before a meeting he convened with a bipartisan group of elected officials and business leaders to discuss his trade agenda.

“And my hope would be that the presidential election reflects more serious issues than that.”

Obama, who has indulged in some media criticism of late about the state of press coverage of the presidential campaign, feigned surprise that Trump’s attempts to move beyond the birther conspiracy theories — which he helped amplify — would rise to the level of a topic for questioning the Oval Office.

“I’m shocked that a question like that would come up at a time when we got so many other things to do,” the president said when asked for his reaction to the Republican presidential nominee’s planned announcement.

“I’m not that shocked, actually. It’s fairly typical. We’ve got other business to attend to.”

Obama did release his long-form birth certificate in 2011 as Trump was making high-profile appeals for the disclosure. He told reporters on the day it was released that the country had serious business to attend to, and he hoped to put the issue to rest so Americans wouldn’t be “distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers.”

Days later he then filleted Trump, who was in the audience, during his comedic speech at the annual White House Correspondents Assn. dinner.

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Scenes from Donald Trump’s new hotel: Gold and neon inside; protesters outside

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Hillary Clinton on Donald Trump’s birtherism: ‘There is no erasing it in history’

As Hillary Clinton struggles to energize black voters, Donald Trump gave her efforts a boost by refusing during a Washington Post interview to state that he accepts that President Obama is an American citizen.

Clinton ripped into Trump for his refusal to disavow the so-called birther movement, as the crowd at a meeting of the Black Women’s Agenda in Washington roared with approval.

“You know who Donald Trump is,” Clinton said, just before Trump was expected to address the issue across town at his new hotel near the White House. “For five years, he has led the birther movement to delegitimize our first black president. His campaign was founded on this outrageous lie. There is no erasing it in history.

“Just yesterday, Trump again refused to say with his own words that the president was born in the United States,” she went on, referring to the newspaper interview. “Donald Trump’s advisors had the temerity to say he is doing the country a service by pushing these lies. No he isn’t.”

Clinton demanded that Trump apologize. And in warning the conference-goers about Trump’s efforts of late to moderate his rhetoric and project a more statesmanlike image, she quoted Maya Angelou, as Clinton often does in such speeches. The crowd joined her in reciting the line: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

“There is no new Donald Trump,” Clinton said. “There never will be. Donald Trump looks at President Obama after eight years as our president and he still doesn’t see him as an American. Think of how dangerous that is. Imagine a person in the oval office who traffics in conspiracy theories and refuses to let them go no matter what the facts are. Imagine a president who sees someone who doesn’t look like him and doesn’t agree with him and thinks, ‘that person must not be a real American.’”

Trump’s involvement with the birther movement is a major liability for him with black voters, and one his campaign has repeatedly tried to address by saying that Trump does accept Obama is an American citizen. But Trump himself, famously averse to apologies, has balked at several opportunities to disavow his association with birtherism.

Clinton urged attendees at the campaign to mobilize black women on her behalf. “African American women turned out to vote more than any other group of Americans in 2012,” she said. “This year, once again you have your hands on the wheel of history. And you can write the next chapter of the American story.”

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Tough task for Donald Trump Jr.: Defending father’s ‘birther’ record, then defending his own ‘gas chamber’ remark

Donald Trump Jr., one of his father’s closest advisors, had a tough task on “Good Morning America” on Friday. He had to explain his father’s tortured embrace of the unfounded theory that President Obama was not born in the U.S., while at the same time explaining his own comments that touched awkwardly on the Holocaust.

First, the Obama “birther” question. Donald Trump, who flamed the controversy for years, refused once again in a Washington Post interview Thursday to say whether Obama was born in the United States. His campaign late Thursday put out a statement that falsely blamed Hillary Clinton for starting the controversy in 2008 and claimed credit for bringing “this ugly incident to its conclusion by successfully compelling President Obama to release his birth certificate.” The statement said Trump “believes that President Obama was born in the United States.”

But the statement, which credits Trump with providing Obama a service, was not in Trump’s name. And Trump’s Post interview, refusing to repudiate the birther theory, came after his own campaign manager and running mate had earlier claimed that Trump no longer believed it.

Trump Jr. said Friday morning that the issue should be settled with the statement of his campaign spokesman.

“That is coming from him,” Trump Jr. said of the campaign statement, “because I was involved in those conversations.”

“He doesn’t want to get off-message,” Trump Jr. said. “He doesn’t want to create another story. He wants to talk about jobs.”

“We don’t want to create a gossip scenario all over this thing,” Trump Jr. said.

Trump Jr. said he did not know whether Trump himself would ever personally say that Obama was an American citizen.

The controversy is an echo of past issues, including Trump’s onetime refusal to denounce David Duke, the white supremacist.

Trump Jr. was pressed several times about his father’s long history of refusing to disavow the birther theory that many have criticized as racially motivated.

And that might have been the easy part. Then it was on to Trump Jr.'s own comments, made Wednesday to Philadelphia radio station.

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

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

Trump Jr. said he meant the comment as a reference to capital punishment, not the Holocaust.

“It was poor choice of words perhaps,” he said. “But in no way shape or form was I ever even remotely talking about the Holocaust.”

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Can Clinton’s top-down organization overcome Trump’s bottom-up enthusiasm?

The Trump International Hotel looms over the Las Vegas Strip. Donald Trump is counting on strong voter enthusiasm to overcome Hillary Clinton's organizational edge in Nevada.
The Trump International Hotel looms over the Las Vegas Strip. Donald Trump is counting on strong voter enthusiasm to overcome Hillary Clinton’s organizational edge in Nevada.
(Los Angeles Times)

The nerve center of Nevada’s Democratic Party was abuzz with activity, like a dorm room full of grown-ups cramming for the Big Exam.

Dozens of campaign workers, arrayed around a hodgepodge of old furniture, tapped at their laptop computers and murmured into cellphones, a cardboard cutout of Hillary Clinton standing sentry in the midst of the well-worn office suite.

A few miles away, in a sleek industrial park, Donald Trump’s recently opened headquarters sat shiny and new and largely empty on a recent midday afternoon.

A riot of red, white and blue campaign signs, several arranged to form a big “T,” overlooked tidy rows of vacant tables and unfilled chairs, like advertisements in a showroom awaiting its first customers.

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Donald Trump says he wants to build suspense over whether he still believes President Obama is not American

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Donald Trump revises his economic plan but leaves many questions unanswered

(Spencer Platt / Getty Images)

Donald Trump scaled back his grandiose plan for tax cuts while proposing more benefits for lower-income households in a speech Thursday, but experts say the numbers in his newly revised economic growth blueprint still don’t add up.

In his most detailed economic plan to date, the Republican presidential nominee essentially halved the amount of tax cuts he will seek to $4.4 trillion over 10 years, in part by capping deductions. At the same time, Trump said his economic strategy — which includes overhauling government regulations, trade and energy policies — would boost U.S. economic growth to 3.5% a year on average, up from 2% in recent years. He promised that his plan would create as many as 25 million jobs over the next decade.

“This is the most pro-growth, pro-jobs, pro-family plan put forth perhaps in the history of our country,” he said in a speech at the Economic Club of New York.

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Top Clinton Foundation donor who was denied entry into the U.S. fires back with a lawsuit

Gilbert Chagoury, a major donor to the Clinton Foundation, was denied entry to the U.S. last year by the State Department.
Gilbert Chagoury, a major donor to the Clinton Foundation, was denied entry to the U.S. last year by the State Department.
(Getty Images)

A Nigerian Lebanese billionaire donor to the Clinton Foundation sued seven federal agencies Thursday over being denied entry to the U.S., saying his reputation was damaged by the disclosure to the Los Angeles Times of reports alleging he may have facilitated fundraising for Hezbollah.

Gilbert Chagoury — a friend of Bill Clinton, an ambassador to the Vatican and owner of a hilltop mansion in Beverly Hills — said he wanted an opportunity to correct what he said was false information. He said it damaged his reputation and prompted a bank in California to close his accounts.

Last month, The Times reported that the State Department denied a visa to Chagoury, a British citizen, on terrorism-related grounds, a broad category that can apply to anyone suspected of providing any kind of support to an extremist group.

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