Campaign 2016 updates: Trump has a new warning about voter fraud

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Donald Trump heads to Green Bay, Wis. Hillary Clinton takes a lighter schedule ahead of the final presidential debate this week.

  • Donald Trump talks abut a “rigged” election, but Republicans oversee most of the balloting.
  • Want to get your friends to vote for Clinton? There’s an app for that.
  • The Clinton camp links Trump to Biff and other bullies.
  • Trump’s scorched-earth campaign fuels distrusting opinions that will likely last beyond the election.

White House snorts at Trump’s drug-testing demand

(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

After Donald Trump hinted that he thinks Hillary Clinton is on drugs, the White House fired back Monday in kind -- with the same sort of oblique, maybe-maybe not accusation that now characterizes the presidential campaign.

“You’re telling me the candidate who snorted his way through the first two debates is accusing the other candidate of taking drugs?” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said. “That’s a curious development in the campaign.”

Trump didn’t come right out and say he thought Clinton was high at their last debate. He just said he thinks there ought to be a drug test before the next one.

Earnest was straight-faced in refusing to explain exactly what he meant during the Monday briefing.

Was he saying that Trump’s sniffling in the debate might’ve been related to drug use?

“Not at all,” he said. “Just trying to have a little fun. You guys are so serious today.”

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Dodgers’ Adrian Gonzalez wouldn’t join his teammates at a Donald Trump-owned hotel

When the Dodgers visited Chicago to play the Cubs this spring, they stayed at Trump International Hotel and Tower.

All of the Dodgers except one. First baseman Adrian Gonzalez opted to stay elsewhere.

“I didn’t stay there,” Gonzalez told the Southern California News Group. “I had my reasons.”

He added with a smile, “We’re here to play baseball, not talk politics.”

It seems likely Gonzalez’s decision had something to do with the hotel’s owner, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

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Melania Trump accuses media of colluding with Hillary Clinton against her husband

Melania Trump, a rare figure on the campaign trail, said she believed the media and Hillary Clinton’s campaign were working together to launch false sexual misconduct allegations against her husband, GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.

“My husband is kind and he’s a gentleman and he would never do that,” Trump told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Monday. “Everything was organized and put together to hurt him, to hurt his candidacy.”

Asked whether she believed the Clintons and the media were working together, Trump replied, “Yes, of course.”

Trump dismissed her husband’s lewd comments in a 2005 recording as “boy talk,” not action. She added that she repeatedly saw women throw themselves at her husband. “And I see many women coming to him and giving the phone numbers and … inappropriate stuff from women. And they know he’s married … It was in front of me, and I said, ‘Why you need to give your number to my husband?’”

Unlike most presidential candidates’ spouses, Trump has taken a markedly low-key role in the campaign. Her interviews with CNN and Fox News about the sexual abuse allegations buffeting her husband were her most prominent moment since her speech at the Republican National Convention.

Trump said her husband and his campaign would like her to be on the stump, but she decided she didn’t want to.

“It was my decision not to be on the campaign trail,” she said. “They would have me on the trail all the time…. I made the decision I will be a parent to our boy.”

But Trump said she is involved in the campaign and offers the GOP presidential nominee advice, such as not tweeting as frequently.

“But that’s his decision. He’s an adult. He knows the consequences,” Trump said. “I give him many advices. Sometimes he listens; sometimes he doesn’t.”

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Billy Bush is officially out at NBC

NBC News has reached a settlement with Billy Bush, who is leaving the “Today” show after remarks he made in a vulgar videotaped conversation with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Bush’s departure, expected for several days, was made official in a message sent to the program’s staff Monday by Noah Oppenheim, the executive in charge of “Today.”

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Media figures and officials are suckered by a troll’s Ohio voter fraud joke

There’s not much of a mystery what happened here: Some folks who should’ve known better got hoaxed by a rando from the Internet.

Let’s start from the beginning, with the culprit.

On his profile, the anonymous Twitter user @randygdub (who says he is a man) calls himself “the cool and chill guy of online.” What he is, more accurately, is an adherent of Weird Twitter – a surrealist style of Twitter humor known for fake anecdotes, lefty politics and copious trolling.

Basically, Weird Twitter enjoys taking advantage of strangers who aren’t in on the joke.

Typically – if you were, say, a normal person – you wouldn’t need to pay much attention to Weird Twitter. But then Election 2016 happened and Donald Trump started alleging mass voter fraud (with no evidence), and @randygdub took advantage of the situation.

Other users took the bait.

The trap was set.

The situation only escalated.

Though not everybody missed the joke.

And so on and so forth, trolly troll troll troll troll.

But then @randygdub’s tweets got picked up by the conservative blogger Jim Hoft, also known as Gateway Pundit, who missed the signs of blatant and egregious trolling. Hoft posted a story titled: “POSTAL WORKER Brags Online About Destroying Trump Ballots

Then Gateway Pundit’s post got picked up by Matt Drudge’s Drudge Report, an influential conservative aggregator:

Then the story got picked up by conservative talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh.

“Let me ask you this,” Limbaugh said, according to the Daily Beast. “If a postal worker went on social media — I don’t care what it was, Facebook Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit, you name it — and was bragging about destroying Hillary absentee ballots, do you think they’d be trying to hunt this guy down and put him in jail with the guy who made the video about the started Benghazi?”

The cops got involved.

Ohio’s secretary of state got involved.

The U.S. Postal Service – inundated by tweets from concerned users, who themselves had been inundated by paranoid yet strangely unskeptical media outlets – got involved.

And after some investigating, it looks like the Postal Service got a handle on the situation.

“The Postal Service has completed an initial investigation of the mentioned tweets and does not believe these tweets were made by a postal employee,” the Postal Service said in a statement to anybody who tweeted at them for help. “However, the Postal Service will continue to monitor this situation and if it is determined that the individual making the tweets is a postal employee and there is substantiated evidence of mail being tampered with or destroyed, then the Postal Service will take appropriate corrective action to address the situation.”

Meanwhile, back on planet @randygdub, the heist was complete. He even made it on TV.

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When it comes to Southern California real estate, Trump has been outbid, outhustled and outmuscled

Nate Holden, left, Ivana Trump, Donald Trump and Tom Bradley in 1990.
(Mindy Schauer / For The Times)

In the world of real estate, the Trump name is a symbol of opulence and daring.

It’s a name stamped on buildings in New York, Chicago and Las Vegas in the U.S. In cities around the world, including Rio de Janeiro, Istanbul and Mumbai, Donald Trump has licensed his brand to other developers.

In 1990, Trump vowed to build the tallest building in the world in Los Angeles on the site of the once-glamorous Ambassador Hotel on Wilshire Boulevard.

It was the New York developer’s first major deal on the West Coast and a potentially skyline-redefining project for L.A. The 125-story, $1-billion-plus residential and commercial complex would overshadow everything else in the neighborhood, a towering testament to Trump’s ambition.

Twenty-six years later, there is still is no Trump Tower in L.A.

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A new favorite chant has overtaken Donald Trump’s rallies

For months it was “build that wall.” Then it was “lock her up.”

Now, a new favorite chant is emerging at Donald Trump’s rallies: “CNN sucks!”

The crowd at the large ballroom within the KI Convention Center here started chanting it more than an hour before Trump was set to take the stage Monday.

It was followed by, “Tell the truth!”

Don’t worry. Trump’s most ardent backers haven’t abandoned the other chants. “Build that wall” and “lock her up” remain popular. And here in Wisconsin, they even added another one for the GOP House speaker, himself from Wisconsin: “Paul Ryan sucks!”

But anger at reporters has grown stronger in recent weeks as Trump has slid in the polls and lashed out at what he calls the dishonest and corrupt media, accusing journalists of colluding with Hillary Clinton as part of a broad conspiracy against him.

“The media’s rigging it, just like President Trump says,” said Tim McNichol, a 53-year-old computer salesman who attended the rally. “They’re making up a bunch of garbage about Trump.”

The crowd here was particularly fired up, cheering wildly when Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr., a warm-up speaker, repeated a controversial Tweet with gusto:

“Like I said and I’ll continue to say: It is pitchfork and torches time in America!” he said.

That elicited another chant: “U-S-A! U-S-A!”

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Melania Trump defends husband’s words about women as ‘boy talk’

Melania Trump, the wife of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, took to the airwaves Monday to defend her husband over sexually aggressive language he used to describe women in a 2005 recording that recently became public.

It’s the first time Melania Trump has spoken publicly since the recording emerged on Oct. 7, in which Donald Trump used vulgar language to describe women and said he could kiss and grope them without their consent because of his celebrity.

Saying her husband had been “egged on” by Billy Bush, the then-host of “Access Hollywood,” Melania Trump said she found the language offensive but dismissed it as “boy talk.”

“I said to my husband that, you know, the language was inappropriate. It’s not acceptable. And I was surprised, because that is not the man that I know,” Trump told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in an interview that is scheduled to air at 5 p.m. Pacific time Monday.

Trump said her husband and Bush were engaged in “boy talk, and he was led on -- like, egged on -- from the host to say dirty and bad stuff.”

Asked in a separate interview whether it was fair for the media or her husband to raise former President Bill Clinton’s past, Trump responded that it was fair because her own past as a model has been raised.

“Well, if they bring up my past, why not?” she told Fox News’ Ainsley Earhardt in an interview that is scheduled to air Tuesday morning.

“They’re asking for it. They started. They started from the -- from the beginning of the campaign putting my -- my picture from modeling days,” Trump said. “That was my modeling days, and I’m proud what I did. I worked very hard.”

Trump seemed to be saying that the campaign of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton had highlighted her modeling pictures. That does not appear to be true.

During the Republican primaries, a super PAC that opposed her husband circulated a nude picture of Trump to voters in Utah. That effort called for the nomination of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

After the Republican National Convention, the New York Post also published 21-year-old nude pictures of Trump. But there has been no evidence that Democratic campaign operatives were involved.

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Howard Stern: I knew what I was doing when I had Donald Trump on my show to talk about sex

Donald Trump’s frequent appearances on Howard Stern’s radio show have repeatedly come back to haunt the GOP presidential nominee, with his rating scale for women’s appearances, his sex life and his position on the Iraq war all fodder for election-season discussion.

Now, the shock jock is speaking out for the first time about Trump, the role his radio show has played in the campaign and the controversial statements Trump made about women.

Stern, a Democrat, said he wasn’t replaying his interviews with Trump because to do so would be a “betrayal.”

“Donald Trump did the show in an effort to be entertaining and have fun with us,” Stern said on his show on Sirius satellite radio. “I fully knew what I was doing when I interviewed Trump. I knew I had a guy who loved to talk about sex.… I had a guy who loved to evaluate women on a scale of 1 to 10. These are avenues I went down because I knew it would entertain the audience.”

Stern, who considers Trump a friend, said he has asked why Trump is running for president and said he was surprised the recordings from his radio show didn’t emerge earlier.

“I said, ‘Why are you doing this?’” Stern said he asked Trump earlier this year. “‘Why would a guy with billions of dollars [run for president]?... Don’t you know what they’re gonna do to you? Don’t you know they’re gonna open up everything?’”

Stern, whose radio career was built on raunchy talk, also weighed in on the videotape that recently emerged where Trump says he can kiss and grope women without their consent because of his celebrity. Stern disputed Trump’s defense that the words were merely “locker room talk.”

“I have never been in the room when someone has said, ‘Grab them by the pussy,” said Stern, repeating the phrase Trump used in the 2005 recording. “No one’s ever advocated going that step where you get a little bit, ‘Hey I’m going to invade someone’s space.’”

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Pornographer Larry Flynt offers $1 million for any scandalous Trump tapes

(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Pornographer Larry Flynt announced Monday that he would pay up to $1 million for video or audio recordings of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump engaged in illegal behavior or acting in a sexually demeaning manner toward women.

“I have always celebrated women. Women in all shapes and sizes,” the publisher of Hustler magazine said in a statement. “To treat a woman like Mr. Trump himself has is both disappointing and unbelievable, especially coming from someone who wants to be our president.”

Flynt has also come under fire for exploiting and degrading women through his magazine and online site, which carry explicit pictures of naked women.

Flynt’s effort comes shortly after the emergence of a 2005 recording of Trump using vulgar language to describe women and saying he could kiss them and grope them because of his celebrity. Trump has dismissed his words as “locker room talk” and denied acting in a sexually aggressive manner, leading several women to come out publicly with allegations of sexual misconduct by Trump. He has denied their accusations.

Flynt, a Democrat, has a history of offering to pay for evidence of politicians’ misdeeds. During the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton, Flynt made such an offer and received information about extramarital affairs from Rep. Bob Livingston. The Louisiana Republican, then slated to be the next House Speaker, responded by resigning from Congress.

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The latest sign that Hillary Clinton sees Arizona as a state to win? Michelle Obama will campaign there

(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

First Lady Michelle Obama will campaign for Hillary Clinton in Arizona on Thursday, a clear sign that Democrats see the once-reliable red state as trending in their direction.

Obama will be the third Clinton surrogate there this week, following Bernie Sanders on Tuesday and Chelsea Clinton on Wednesday. In addition, the campaign is boosting its television advertising in the state and will be “dramatically expanding” its direct mail and digital advertising efforts there by more than $2 million, campaign manager Robby Mook announced Monday.

“Donald Trump’s hateful rhetoric and deeply disrespectful remarks about Sen. John McCain have made Arizona more competitive,” Mook told reporters on a conference call. “This is a state that would really foreclose a path for Donald Trump to win the White House.”

Arizona is just one of the states where the Clinton campaign will be expanding its efforts, not only to elect Clinton but to boost Democrats in other key races.

  • The campaign is adding $6 million to its mail and digital advertising efforts in seven traditional battleground states: Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Nevada, North Carolina, Iowa and New Hampshire.
  • It will spend an additional $250,000 for voter turnout efforts in Nebraska’s second congressional district and Maine’s second congressional district, which each account for one electoral vote and where Democrats are seeking to hold or win back seats in the House.
  • The Hillary Victory Fund will spend an additional $1 million in Indiana and Missouri, states where Clinton trails narrowly and where Democrats are also waging competitive campaigns for Senate and governor.

Clinton’s campaign, like both of President Obama’s, toyed with the possibility of expanding the electoral map but ultimately focused on the same nine or 10 states. Mook especially has been a restraining force within the campaign as some have lobbied for them to place additional candidate time and resources in places like Arizona, Georgia and Utah, among others.

“Our mission as a presidential campaign is to make sure that Secretary Clinton wins at least 270 electoral votes, and that will continue to be our primary mission,” he repeated.

But Clinton also wants to see Democrats across the country elected where possible, he added, and Trump’s recent challenges appear to have given them reason to believe those efforts are worthwhile.

“Donald Trump is becoming more unhinged by the day, and that is increasing prospects for Democrats further down the ballot because of higher-than-expected turnout and enthusiasm,” Mook said.

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Donald Trump is warning of election fraud, but GOP officials oversee process in most battleground states

Donald Trump on Monday continued a potentially dangerous drumbeat — questioning the integrity of the American election system.

These warnings are not new and not supported by evidence; they defy numerous studies that have found that voter fraud is minimal.

They also invite a question: If the election is rigged, who is doing the rigging?

Presidential elections are conducted on a state-by-state basis, not nationally. And in most of the states seen as presidential battlegrounds, the chief elections officers are Republicans — most directly accountable to their state’s voters.

  • In Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio and Utah, the chief elections officer of the state is a Republican, elected by voters of the state. Most are secretary of state; Utah’s lieutenant governor oversees elections there.
  • In Florida, the secretary of state is appointed by the state’s Republican governor, Rick Scott — a Trump supporter.
  • In North Carolina, the state board of elections has five members, appointed by the governor — currently a Republican. Its current chairman and three out of five members are Republicans.

There are states with some measure of Democratic control over the process.

  • In Minnesota and Missouri, the chief elections officer is a Democrat elected by the voters of the state.
  • Pennsylvania’s secretary of state was appointed by the state’s Democratic governor.
  • New Hampshire’s longtime secretary of state was once a Democrat, but was reelected to his post by the Republican-led state legislature.
  • Virginia’s Democratic governor, Terry McAuliffe — a longtime Clinton ally — appointed each member of that state’s three-person elections board.

The Clinton campaign has strongly denounced Trump’s rhetoric.

“Campaigns should be hard-fought and elections hard-won, but what is fundamental about the American electoral system is that it is free, fair and open to the people. Participation in the system — and particularly voting — should be encouraged, not dismissed or undermined because a candidate is afraid he’s going to lose,” campaign manager Robby Mook said in a statement Saturday.

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Clinton campaign tries to make it easier to influence your friends’ vote

Hillary Clinton’s campaign just made it easier for supporters to directly message their friends about voting.

An update to the campaign’s smartphone app allows people to upload their iPhone and Facebook contact lists, swipe away friends who they think won’t vote for Clinton and send prepared text messages to others about joining the Clinton supporters.

It puts the campaign a step ahead of Donald Trump, whose app allows only generic messages

President Obama’s campaign used a similar Facebook tool to mine contacts from supporters’ friends lists in his 2012 reelection effort, but Facebook shut it down in 2014 due to privacy concerns.

“People didn’t feel comfortable having their information shared,” according to the social network.

The Clinton campaign has revived and revised it, using updated iOS software that allows users to sync their Facebook contacts’ details with their iPhone contacts. The campaign wants to capitalize on those integrated connections and ability to send personal text messages to potential voters.

The app also shows which supporters have access to voters in battleground states by categorizing the uploaded contacts by area code. It’s available on Android and iPhone, and has more than 150,000 downloads, according to the Clinton campaign.

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To the Clinton campaign, Trump is in league with Regina George and Biff Tannen

Hillary Clinton’s campaign on Monday launched a new television advertisement comparing Donald Trump to some of the most infamous bullies in American popular culture.

The 60-second spot intersperses clips of put-downs from “Back to the Future,” “A Christmas Story,” “Mean Girls” and other films with snippets of the Republican presidential nominee’s campaign rallies and television interviews.

It closes with Clinton responding to a question from a young girl at one of her own campaign events, and her view that the country needs “more love and kindness.” Clinton of late is increasingly bringing a message about the need to unify the country after a difficult election.

The campaign says the new spot will air in the battleground states of Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

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In crucial Ohio, signs of Donald Trump’s get-out-the-vote operation are few

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Cincinnati on Oct. 13.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Cincinnati on Oct. 13.
(John Minchillo / Associated Press)

This is the season when a presidential campaign’s mammoth machinery rumbles into action to pull in every last potential voter, particularly in a state such as Ohio, where presidential contests have been decided by less than 5 points in the last four elections.

If that is happening here for Donald Trump, it’s hardly visible.

With the presidential contest a dead heat in this state and early voting already underway, strategists and groups working here — Republican and Democratic alike — say they have yet to see much evidence of an operation to secure a Trump victory. No Republican has ever won the presidency without carrying Ohio, and the state is almost certainly one Trump would need to carry if he were to have a hope of winning.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign calendar here is loaded with door-knocking and telephone-canvassing events run by hundreds of staff members and thousands of volunteers. Some of Trump’s offices, visited last week, were nearly empty.

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