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Campaign 2016 updates: Donald Trump focuses on Florida, where he will hold several rallies over the next few days

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Hillary Clinton is in North Carolina, while Donald Trump hits the trail in Florida.

Obama focuses on Nevada Senate race, castigates Republican candidate for support of Trump

(Susan Walsh / Associated Press)

President Obama, who in recent weeks has crisscrossed the country rallying supporters for Hillary Clinton, focused his message Sunday on Nevada’s Senate contest, one of the most competitive races in the country.

With early voting underway in the state, Obama urged supporters to get out to the polls and support the state’s former attorney general, Catherine Cortez Masto, who is vying for the seat being vacated by her mentor, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.

Obama castigated her opponent, Rep. Joe Heck, for his past support of Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee.

“Finally get [Trump] on tape bragging about actions that qualify as sexual assault ... suddenly that’s a deal breaker,” said Obama, noting Heck’s comments from the summer in which he attested to having “high hopes” Trump would become president.

“What the heck,” he added in a word play on the Republican’s last name, drawing chants of “what the Heck” from those packed inside a high school gymnasium here.

After a recording was released this month of a 2005 conversation in which Trump boasted about groping women, Heck quickly withdrew his support and called for Trump to step down as nominee.

Yet Obama, much like he did last week in Miami when he criticized Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for supporting Trump, questioned why Republicans have stood by Trump despite his disparaging comments about, among others, women and Mexican immigrants. (Unlike Heck, Rubio, who is also in a competitive Senate contest, has not withdrawn his support of Trump or called on him to step aside.)

“Why did you not walk away months ago?” Obama prodded. “You don’t have to be a husband or a father to stand up for women.… You don’t have to have a disability to say it’s wrong to mock somebody with a disability… you just have to be a decent human being.”

With Clinton leading in several battleground states, including Nevada, the campaign has sought to focus on down-ticket races as Democrats look to take control of the Senate. On Saturday, while campaigning in Pennsylvania, Clinton targeted Republican Sen. Patrick J. Toomey’s support of Trump. The senator faces a competitive challenge from Democrat Katie McGinty.

An average of several polls in Nevada shows Cortez Masto leading Heck by about 2 percentage points.

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Hillary Clinton’s path to victory in North Carolina counts on high turnout among black voters

(Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

Hillary Clinton inserted a sly remark near the end of her speech from a Baptist church pulpit here Sunday, telling the crowd, “I’m not going to tell you who to vote for.”

She didn’t need to, of course. The black congregants who packed the pews laughed and applauded, and when Clinton finished speaking, they said goodbye with the same standing ovation with which they had greeted her.

Driving up turnout among black voters is a key element of Clinton’s campaign strategy in North Carolina. At an estimated one-quarter of this year’s electorate, African Americans are a larger percentage here than in any other traditional battleground state.

The problem for Clinton in North Carolina, where polls continue to show a close race with Donald Trump, is not opposition — by all accounts, she’ll win overwhelmingly among those blacks who do vote — it’s the risk of apathy.

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Tim Kaine: ‘We like what we see’ in early voting. But Democrats aren’t taking victory for granted

Sen. Tim Kaine insisted Sunday that the election outcome was far from certain, and Republicans largely agreed with him.

But in a series of Sunday television interviews, neither side did much to rebut the conventional wisdom that Hillary Clinton is in the driver’s seat with just over two weeks until election day.

Kaine, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, said on “Meet The Press” that a look at his and Clinton’s schedule for the final weeks will make clear “we’re not taking anything for granted.”

But, he added, when it comes to trends from early voting underway in many states, “we like what we see.”

“It’s been a season of surprises,” he said. “We like the early voting activity and the absentee-ballot requests coming in in other states. But we are not taking anything for granted.”

NBC’s Chuck Todd posed as many questions to the Virginia senator about the responsibilities of governing that would fall to him and Clinton as about the campaign. One key consideration: how Clinton would manage relationships with both Republicans and her party’s liberal base, particularly given the candid observations revealed from the Wikileaks release of emails hacked from campaign chairman John Podesta’s account.

Kaine said all parties will have to come together after the election to tackle the major challenges ahead.

“After election day, the public expects us to reach across the aisle. That’s what I have done in my career in Virginia and now in the Senate, and that’s Hillary’s track record too,” he said.

An early test of Clinton’s fidelity to positions staked out in the Democratic primary might be on the Trans Pacific Partnership, a major 12-nation trade pact that is a major priority for President Obama, but opposed by many liberals.

Kaine, who supported fast-track authority legislation in 2015, said opposing the final agreement was not a condition for him to join the ticket. Both he and Clinton continue to oppose the deal, he said, while opening the door to a different trade agreement.

“We aren’t against trade,” he said. “Whether it’s in Asia or in Europe, if we can find deals that meet those goals — more jobs, higher wages, and good for natural security, and good enforcement provisions — we’re open to them.”

“So no, you never close the door if you can get a deal that’s going to be good for American workers and our economy.”

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Trump campaign manager: ‘We are behind’

Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, conceded Sunday their campaign was trailing.

“We are behind,” she said, offering as an explanation several advantages Hillary Clinton has, including a lopsided ad war heavily tilted her way and all-star surrogates, starting with President Obama, campaigning with her.

“Our advantage is that Donald Trump is just going to continue to take the case directly to the people. He doesn’t expect to be able to cut through the noise or the silence and the way we’re treated by some,” she said.

On CBS’ “Face The Nation,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said he still thought Trump could win. But he also had to answer questions about whether the party stood behind its nominee.

“Of course we’re behind Donald Trump. This is ridiculous, as if we wouldn’t be behind the nominee of the party. Of course we are,” he said.

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Hillary Clinton savors history: The Cubs are in the World Series

Here’s another way of looking at the Chicago Cubs’ championship drought: The last time the North Siders won the World Series, women did not have a universal right to vote in the United States.

And so this picture posted Saturday night by Hillary Clinton’s traveling press secretary has an added sense of history, as the first woman ever nominated for president by a major party watched her hometown Cubs clinch their berth in the Fall Classic.

Clinton was campaigning in Philadelphia on Saturday as the Cubs hosted the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series. One of Clinton’s aides and a big Cubs fan, Connolly Keigher, was livestreaming the final inning on her phone as they traveled back to the campaign plane, watching the double play that ended the 71-year pennant drought at the speed of a motorcade ride.

After boarding the plane, Keigher showed Clinton the celebrations still unfolding at Wrigley Field. Clinton’s reaction came as she saw a replay of the final play of the game.

Clinton, a native of Park Ridge, Ill., is on record as a Cubs fan. As first lady she threw out a ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day in 1994.

“Not a bad heave,” observed the late great Harry Caray.

Clinton did adopt the New York Yankees for a time during her days as New York senator.

So who does she root for in the World Series? Her loyalty may be with the Cubs, but she has a political incentive not to be too forward about it. She won’t want to offend too many Cleveland Indians fans, with Cuyahoga County being a major hub of Democratic votes in the key state of Ohio.

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Jan Brewer says Donald Trump is being ‘waterboarded’ by his accusers

A top Donald Trump supporter compared the stream of allegations of sexual assault against the Republican nominee to a form of torture.

“He’s been waterboarded by these issues,” former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “It seems like it’s really been kind of somewhat of a put-up oppression of Donald Trump from all of these people.”

The remark came in response to a question about why the Trump had pledged on Saturday, in what was billed as a major policy address, to file suit against his accusers once the election is over.

Trump’s campaign manager separately downplayed Trump’s comment as only a small fraction of the speech.

Asked on “Meet The Press” why Trump would wait to file lawsuits after the election and not do so immediately, Kellyanne Conway answered: “Because we’re busy winning the presidency.”

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Donald Trump’s campaign manager denies her tweets are cries for help

Donald Trump’s campaign manager has had some interesting tweets lately.

She was pointing her followers to this tweet:

And this tweet:

Was sent in response to:

So “Fox News Sunday” moderator Chris Wallace asked Kellyanne Conway what many had been wondering: Are you publicly undermining your own candidate?

“I think people read a little too much into it,” she said. “Frankly, a lot of people lack my sense of humor on some of these other tweets. But Donald Trump and I both have a great sense of humor and a wonderful relationship.”

In the tweet Wallace asked about, regarding the Al Smith Dinner on Thursday, Conway said she was reflecting her satisfaction that Trump had indeed made an argument against abortion in a way she has long counseled Republican candidates to do.

“A lot of Republicans just hide under the desk hoping the abortion shrapnel won’t hit them, and there was none other than a Manhattan billionaire giving impassioned defense of pro-life. It’s as simple as that,” she said.

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The race to 270: Which states are in play?

A presidential candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win the White House. Most states predictably vote red or blue, but a small handful swing either way and make up the main election battlegrounds. What does it take to win the presidency?

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