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Campaign 2016 updates: Donald Trump had a chance to talk about bad news for Obamacare. He got distracted

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Donald Trump spends a second day campaigning in Florida on Tuesday. Hillary Clinton also campaigns in Florida.

  • Donald Trump held an unorthodox media event at his golf resort in Doral, melding talk about his businesses, his employees, their healthcare and the “rigged” election.
  • Gold Star father hits the stump for Hillary Clinton.
  • Here’s why Florida matters even more right now.
  • The No. 2 man in the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, is a lot more comfortable with Trump than the No. 1.
  • Some of Trump’s critics are taking their anger out on his daughter Ivanka’s bottom line.

Trump ends major cash source for GOP, and donors spend $25 million to try to save Senate majority

(Joe Burbank / Orlando Sentinel)

Two fundraising developments Tuesday highlighted the vulnerability of down-ballot Republican candidates with two weeks to go before election day.

Donald Trump cut off a major cash source for the Republican Party, while a super PAC dumped $25 million into six races in the hopes of preserving the GOP’s majority in the Senate, according to two reports published Tuesday.

All this points to the predicament that Republicans face as polls show their presidential nominee likely to lose and potentially dragging down vulnerable GOP candidates with him.

A Trump advisor told the Washington Post that the candidate was done raising money for Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee between the party and the campaign. This was the group that raised six-figure checks from donors, with the bulk of the money going to the national and state parties that are tasked with the get-out-the-vote operation.

Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s national finance chairman, said Trump Victory held its last fundraiser on Wednesday before the third and final presidential debate in Las Vegas.

“We’ve kind of wound down,” Mnuchin told the Post, saying that the campaign wanted to free up Trump’s time so he could focus on campaigning, and would still be raising money online.

The GOP standard-bearer’s online fundraising has broken records, but far less of the money he raises online goes to party coffers.

A super PAC is stepping up to supplement the party’s efforts in six crucial Senate races, a move that was first reported by Politico. The powerful Senate Leadership Fund raised $25 million to try to hold on to a majority in the Senate. The money will be spent over the next two weeks defending Republican-held Senate seats in Nevada, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Indiana, New Hampshire and Missouri.

“We’re going to go out guns blazing,” Steven Law, the super PAC’s president, told Politico.

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Trump campaign lashes out at Pentagon over repayment demands

It is wholly unacceptable to demand that these brave men and women give back the bonuses they accepted in good faith, when they made the very difficult decision to enlist or reenlist knowing that a combat deployment was likely.

Maj. Gen. Bert Mizusawa, an advisor to Donald Trump, in response to a <a href=https://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-national-guard-bonus-20161020-snap-story.html>series of Times stories</a> about the Pentagon demanding soldiers and veterans repay enlistment bonuses.

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Trump on Biden

Biden wants to take me to the back of the barn? Me? I’d love that. He’s Mr. Tough Guy.

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Trump says defeating Islamic State is more important than ousting Syrian President Assad

Donald Trump reiterated his strategy for Syria on Tuesday, saying his goal would be focused on stopping Islamic State rather than pushing out President Bashar Assad.

The Republican presidential nominee’s comments, made in an exclusive interview with Reuters, differ sharply from the Obama administration position that Assad must also go because his regime has contributed to the country’s instability.

“Assad is secondary, to me, to ISIS,” Trump said, using another term for Islamic State.

He also suggested that Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s strategy for the region would lead “to World War III,” because of the potential for military conflict with a nuclear-armed Russia, which is backing the Assad regime.

“What we should do is focus on ISIS. We should not be focusing on Syria,” said Trump over fried eggs and sausage at his Trump National Doral golf resort. “You’re going to end up in World War III over Syria if we listen to Hillary Clinton.”

The interview largely focused on foreign policy, but Trump also took the opportunity to criticize Republican Party leaders for failing to come together behind his candidacy.

“If we had party unity, we couldn’t lose this election to Hillary Clinton,” he said.

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When it comes to social media, Republicans and Democrats agree: They’re tired of your political posts

(Associated Press)

Scroll through your Facebook and Twitter feeds, and you’re likely to be inundated with posts debating the policies of presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Not surprisingly, more than a third of social media users, 37%, say they are worn out by election news, according to a report from the nonpartisan Pew Research Center.

Almost two-thirds, 64%, said their online encounters with people from across the aisle left them with a disappointing realization that they have less in common with the opposition than they initially believed.

About 39% of social media users have tried to avoid the political discussion of others on Twitter and Facebook. Some have gone as far as to block someone entirely from view.

(Pew Research Center)

Not everyone has completely ignored political comments, of course. Roughly one in five of those surveyed said a social media post from a fellow voter or candidate had actually changed their political perspective.

Here’s a sample of those responses:

“Became more wary of Hillary Clinton based on what I saw on social media.”

“Trump continues to voice his opinion incredibly ignorantly about immigration and made my respect for him tank.”

“My opinion on Trump is MUCH worse after reading his tweets.”

“All the videos circulating about Hillary Clinton and her email debauchery. Now I think she is even more evil and corrupt than originally thought.”

Election fatigue and frustration doesn’t permeate solely within these social media spaces. Roughly 39% of users said they believed the discourse they see on Twitter and Facebook mirrors the political climate at large.

Despite the annoyance that many express, there is at least one bit of good news: The majority of social media users, eight in 10, believe that these platforms allow new voices to enter the political conversation when they might otherwise have remained silent.

Social media may not be as vast an echo chamber after all.

The Pew study was based on a poll of 4,579 social media users polled, the margin of error is 2.4 percentage points in either direction.

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Florida Senate candidates see benefit or peril in their parties’ presidential nominees

(Joe Skipper/Getty Images)

In one of the most closely watched U.S. Senate races in the country, Democrat Rep. Patrick Murphy sought the warm embrace of Hillary Clinton on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Republican he’s trying to unseat, Sen. Marco Rubio, steered clear of Donald Trump.

The divergent approaches show the way each party’s down-ballot candidates are maneuvering to capitalize on, or avoid fallout from, the presidential campaign.

At a college campus in Broward County, Murphy introduced Clinton and denounced Rubio for supporting Trump.

“We’re not going to strengthen our economy with Donald Trump’s racist bullying and Marco Rubio’s silence,” Murphy told the crowd of 1,750 people. He added, “When Donald Trump goes low, Marco Rubio is right there with him.”

When Clinton took the stage, she showered praise on Murphy, calling him “exactly the kind of senator Florida needs and deserves.”

“Unlike his opponent, Patrick Murphy has never been afraid to stand up to Donald Trump,” she said.

Murphy has campaigned with Clinton multiple times as he tries to catch up to Rubio. While Clinton is leading in the polls in Florida, Murphy is trailing.

(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

In contrast, Rubio has steered clear of Trump as the Republican nominee made a multi-day swing through the state, a decision that shows the dilemma faced by GOP candidates around the country.

The senator cannot afford to be seen too closely aligned with Trump or he risks chasing off Latinos and college-educated suburban voters who have long been his strongest supporters. At the same time, Rubio must back Trump if he hopes to keep Republican base voters from abandoning him in frustration.

Trump has a similar calculation to make in deciding how much to embrace Rubio.

After routinely bashing leaders in Washington, Trump has shown more interest in recent days in promoting congressional Republicans he says will be needed to back his agenda. He’s welcomed several House Republican lawmakers and candidates who have shown up at his rallies.

But Trump may not gain much by having Rubio, whom he derided during the primary as “Little Marco,” join him on the trail.

For both Trump and Rubio, it may be best for them to remain apart.

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Former Secretary of State Colin Powell to vote for Hillary Clinton

(Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who served in three Republican White Houses, said Tuesday that he will vote for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

“She is smart, she is capable, she was a good secretary of State,” Powell said, according to Newsday. “She is balanced, she has temperament and no matter what anyone says, she has stamina ... I think she is fully qualified to serve as the president of the United States and will serve it with distinction.”

Powell said GOP nominee Donald Trump was unqualified, and cited his insults of Latinos, African Americans, women, fellow Republicans, America’s allies and veterans.

“He has insulted America in one way almost every day,” Powell said, speaking at the annual fall luncheon of the Long Island Assn.

Powell is a Republican but this is not the first time he has broken with his party. He caused an uproar when he endorsed then-Sen. Barack Obama in 2008 over Sen. John McCain.

The retired four-star general also created headlines earlier this year when his email was hacked and his unvarnished thoughts on Trump and Clinton were revealed.

Powell called Trump a “national disgrace” and an “international pariah,” and noted his role in the birther movement, which Powell called “racist.” In the emails, Powell described Clinton as a respected friend, but also someone he would rather not vote for. “Everything [Clinton] touches, she kind of screws up with hubris,” he wrote.

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Trump ‘makes me fear for the ultimate well-being of the country,’ says Libertarian Bill Weld

(Bryan R. Smith / AFP)

Bill Weld, the Libertarian vice presidential nominee, explicitly warned Tuesday against the dangers of a Donald Trump presidency in a message aimed at voters torn between the two major parties’ nominees.

The Republican nominee, he warned, would not be able to stand up to the pressure and criticism that comes with the Oval Office job “without becoming unhinged and unable to perform competently the duties of his office.”

The former Massachusetts governor and former Republican stopped well short of endorsing Democrat Hillary Clinton. Weld is running with Gary Johnson, a former governor of New Mexico, and their third-party bid is drawing low single digits in the polls.

Earlier this month, Weld announced that his goal for the remaining days of the election was to deny Trump the White House and then to help rebuild the Republican Party in the aftermath.

On Tuesday, at a press conference in Boston, Weld effectively acknowledged that he and Johnson would not win on Nov. 8. He said third parties typically face long odds because they fail to meet the criteria to participate in candidates’ debates.

“Against that backdrop, I would like to address myself to all those in the electorate who remain torn between two so-called major party candidates whom they cannot enthusiastically support,” Weld said.

“I’m speaking particularly to those Republicans who feel that our president should exhibit commonly accepted standards of decency and discipline.”

Weld said Trump is unstable, has run a grievance campaign, sees those who look or speak differently than he does as enemies, and has proved himself incapable of handling criticism.

All this makes Trump different from other politicians with whom he may have had political differences with in the past, Weld said.

“Not in my lifetime … has there been a candidate for president who actually makes me fear for the ultimate well-being of the country, a candidate who might in fact put at risk the solid foundation of America that allows us to endure even ill-advised policies and the normal ebb and flow of politics,” Weld said.

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Watch: Hillary Clinton campaigns in Florida

Visit NBCNews.com for a live feed.

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Trump says he has no interest in launching Trump TV

(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

Tamping down speculation about what he will do if he loses the election, Donald Trump said Tuesday he has no intention of starting a media empire.

“I have no interest in Trump TV,” Trump told an Ohio radio host. “I hear it all over the place, and you know, I have a tremendous fan base. … But I just don’t have any interest in that. I have one interest, and that’s on Nov. 8.”

Rumors have been swirling for weeks that Trump was interested in starting his own television network or taking over an existing one. They intensified last week when the Financial Times reported that Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner had spoken about the matter with Aryeh Bourkoff, chief executive of LionTree, an investment bank that has advised on media deals in the past.

On Monday night, the campaign rolled out the first installment of “Trump Tower Live,” a nightly online broadcast from his campaign’s war room that was viewed as a possible dry-run for a Trump television show.

In the radio interview, Trump added that he was focused on voters who were already casting ballots, and he is doing well in Florida, Iowa, Ohio and elsewhere.

“We’re leading in states that we really have to win,” Trump said. “So no, I have no interest in -- beyond that. I have interest in making America great again.”

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Hillary Clinton in Florida to boost early voting

(Robyn Beck / AFP / Getty)

Hillary Clinton touched down on Tuesday afternoon in Florida to kick off a two-day visit intended to drive up early voting turnout among her supporters.

Polls show the Democratic nominee has an edge over Republican Donald Trump, but her team is wary of taking its foot off the gas in what has traditionally been the country’s most hotly contested battleground state.

Clinton spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri said they’ve been carefully calibrating the candidate’s travel around where people are casting ballots early.

“Donald Trump said he could still win, and he could if our people get complacent,” she said. “So that’s what I would say is one of our biggest concerns.”

Palmieri added, “That’s why we’re spending a lot of time where people are voting.”

Early in-person voting began on Monday in some parts of Florida.

So far registered Democrats are returning mail ballots at almost the same rate as registered Republicans, an improvement from four years ago, according to the Elections Project at the University of Florida.

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Donald Trump had a chance to talk about bad news for Obamacare. But he got distracted

Two weeks out from the election, Donald Trump had something rare in politics, the opportunity for an open and clean shot at a core Democratic policy.

But Trump’s unorthodox media event Tuesday at his Doral golf resort offered a case study on the candidate’s struggle to capitalize on bad news for his opponent.

The topic was supposed to be Obamacare and an Obama administration report showing that premiums for mid-level health plans under the program in most states would rise by an average of 25% next year, before subsidies kick in.

A traditional Republican would have talked about that statistic and almost nothing else, making sure the point was driven home that the Affordable Care Act was having serious trouble on the affordability front.

“Obamacare is just blowing up,” Trump said, briefly sticking to the topic.

Here’s what else Trump talked about:

1) His golf resort. “We’ve had tremendous success. The bookings are through the roof.”

2) His newest construction project, the Old Post Office Pavilion renovation in Washington, D.C., “that opens tomorrow.”

“I always said I’m getting to Pennsylvania Avenue one way or the other.”

3) His Florida employees, “80% of them are Hispanic.” Trump asked them to come to the microphone to provide testimonials about Trump, joking they would be fired if they did not say something nice.

4) His employees’ health plans, saying that “what they’re going through is horrible because of Obamacare.”

Almost immediately, the resort’s general manager approached reporters to correct that remark, stating that the vast majority of the club’s employees had employer-based health plans and were not dependent on Obamacare for coverage. Trump conceded that point afterward as well.

5) The “phony number.” When Trump talked about the new Obamacare report, he dwelt on what he said was a “phony” number, insisting premiums were actually up much more than 25%.

The figure is an average, meaning premiums are indeed higher in certain states and for certain customers. They’re up less in other states. Trump provided no evidence that the 25% average is wrong.

Trump did not need to open a debate about the numbers. They were bad.

6) The rigged election.

“Ask Obama,” he told reporters, pointing to a 2008 video circulated by Breitbart News, the conservative website led by his campaign chief, Steve Bannon.

The video shows Obama, then a candidate, joking on the campaign trail after a question about guaranteeing valid elections. “It helps in Ohio that we got Democrats in charge of the machines,” Obama said, before talking about the need for both parties to prevent fraud and make sure people are not discouraged to vote.

“It’s not as if it’s just Republicans who have monkeyed around with elections in the past. Sometimes Democrats have too,” Obama said.

By contrast with Trump’s difficulty staying on message, former President Bill Clinton, campaigning in North Carolina, provided a succinct defense of the Affordable Care Act on behalf of his wife.

Sure, the law has problems, Clinton said, but repealing it, as Trump advocates, would mean “20 million people would lose their health insurance.” Instead, he said, the country should “keep what’s good about the law and attack the problems.”

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Trump has many Latino workers at Doral. He asks them to say a few ‘good’ words or, he jokes, ‘You’re fired!’

None of it was rehearsed, Donald Trump insisted, as he called on workers assembled at his Doral National Golf Club in South Florida to step forward with their praise.

“Anybody would like to say a few words about working for Trump?” the GOP presidential nominee asked the cooks, housekeepers and others at a Tuesday morning campaign event on the lush grounds. “C’mon up.”

“We love you!,” shouted one voice from the dozens gathered.

“I love you too!,” Trump responded.

One man, who did not initially give his name, stepped up.

“Better say good, or I’ll say you’re fired,” Trump joked.

“Even though I have many issues with my family because I’ve been supporting this man here, I love it,” the worker said. “I support him since the very first day.”

About 80% of the employees are Latinos, Trump said, and many spoke of their home countries -- Cuba, Haiti, Chile.

Trump has used temporary immigrant visas to bring in workers for his hotels and other properties, but the general manager at Doral said most of the 1,000 employees at this venue are local residents.

“I don’t know of any that we have on H2Bs,” David Feder told reporters, using the shorthand for the visa program. “Majority of our employees are Hispanic. They live in the area.”

In all, 10 employees stepped forward to face the cameras -- many to say how much they appreciated their jobs.

Only a few explicitly said they were supporting Trump for president.

One, in a cook’s uniform, donned a red “Make America Great Again” cap.

“That’s what I like,” Trump said.

The worker said he liked his job so much, “it stopped being a job for me a long time ago: it’s something I do simply for enjoyment.”

“Do I still have to pay you?” Trump joked.

And then, with the resort booked full of guests, the employees were back to work.

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Is election rigged? Trump says, ‘Ask Obama’

Donald Trump continued to warn about a “rigged” election Monday and suggested that President Obama in 2008 had acknowledged voter fraud.

“Ask Obama,” Trump told reporters after an event at his Doral golf course resort in Florida. “Tell him to look at his tape when he was running eight years ago.”

Trump was referring to a campaign stop Obama made in Ohio during the 2008 campaign that has been widely circulated in recent days on Breitbart News and other conservative media sites. (Breitbart’s Steve Bannon is now a top Trump adviser.)

At the event, Obama was asked how to guarantee valid elections. he joked, “It helps in Ohio that we got Democrats in charge of the machines.”

Obama’s quip was part of a broader commentary about the need for both parties to uphold the integrity of elections in order to prevent voter fraud and “ensure people aren’t being discouraged to vote.”

“It’s not as if it’s just Republicans who have monkeyed around with elections in the past. Sometimes Democrats have too,” Obama said.

With Trump trailing in most polls, he has been upping his claims of a “rigged” election, unsettling leaders of both parties.

Several senators are in tight reelection battles that will determine control of Congress. Asked repeatedly if the Senate elections were also “rigged,” Trump declined to answer.

Here is the video and headline conservative websites are circulating:

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Donald Trump says his employees have problems with Obamacare, then concedes they don’t depend on it

Donald Trump stood before dozens of his employees at his Doral golf resort Tuesday, lamenting that “what they’re going through with their healthcare is horrible because of Obamacare.”

Trump was using the event to highlight a new government report released Monday showing premiums for midlevel Obamacare health plans in most states would rise by an average of 25% next year, before subsidies kick in.

“Obamacare is just blowing up,” Trump said.

But there was a problem. Most of Trump’s employees are on private insurance, a fact Trump’s general manager was quick to correct.

“There really isn’t a need for the vast majority of our employees to purchase Obamacare,” David Feder, Doral’s general manager, told reporters quickly after the political event wrapped up.

Trump confirmed that as well.

“Some of them are, but most of them, no,” Trump conceded to reporters, when asked whether they were using Obamacare.

Trump also accused President Obama of underplaying the problem.

“That number is so wrong,” Trump said of the 25% average. “That is such a phony number.”

Because the report used an average, residents of some states will experience higher rate increases. But most of the 10 million or so people who purchase insurance through the markets set up by the Affordable Care Act receive subsidies.

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Gold Star father Khizr Khan will stump for Hillary Clinton in Virginia

(Los Angeles Times)

Khizr Khan, the Muslim father of a slain U.S. soldier who electrified the Democratic National Convention this summer with his denunciation of Donald Trump, is hitting the trail for Hillary Clinton in Virginia.

Khan will make three stops around Norfolk on Wednesday, Clinton’s campaign announced.

Khan was scheduled to stop at a mosque to meet with community leaders and veterans, then visit a restaurant to talk with more veterans and elected officials. He is also expected to speak with campaign volunteers at the end of the day.

Although this is Khan’s first time on the campaign trail for Clinton, he’s already appeared in an emotional television advertisement to support her candidacy.

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Shoppers boycott Ivanka Trump’s clothes with #GrabYourWallets

Critics of Donald Trump are urging shoppers to boycott the clothing line of the Republican candidate’s eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, and the stores that carry it.

San Francisco marketing specialist Shannon Coulter launched the #GrabYourWallets campaign after a video surfaced on Oct. 7 of Trump talking about groping women. Coulter told the Guardian she has experienced sexual harassment at work before and felt she needed to act.

“If Ivanka Trump had distanced herself from the campaign, I would not be boycotting her,” she said in an interview with the Guardian. “But something changed for me when that tape was released.”

Some Twitter users have expressed support.

Coulter also keeps a running Google Doc list of all the stores that sell the products. The stores include Nordstrom, DSW, Zappos, Amazon, Macy’s and several more. She also encourages others to call stores and ask if they sell the products, to keep the list growing.

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Paul Ryan may be squeamish on Donald Trump, but Kevin McCarthy is all in

Donald Trump’s relationship with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) has been fraught with tension, particularly after Ryan proclaimed he would no longer defend the GOP nominee and told House members they were not bound to endorse him.

No such problem for Trump exists with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, who emphatically voiced support for Trump on Fox Tuesday morning. Unlike Ryan, who has suggested that some members of Congress may be wise to keep a distance from the businessman, McCarthy tied the fortunes of a GOP-led Congress and Trump’s candidacy together.

“We’re going to keep this House,” McCarthy said Tuesday. “We need to elect Donald Trump president.”

“We know the wind is in our face,” the Bakersfield lawmaker continued. “Supporting Donald Trump, supporting our members of Congress, we’re in a fight. This is a direction of what do we want to change this country. ... The only choice is: Are you for Hillary? Are you for Donald?”

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Here’s why Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are in Florida on the same day

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are both campaigning in Florida on Tuesday and there’s a good reason. Not only is it the top battleground prize, but Florida is also a major early voting state.

By election day, more than half of the state’s voters will have already cast a ballot, either by mail or at the voting booth. In-person early voting opened this week, and political analysts have already begun parsing the numbers.

Florida journalists reported Tuesday that 1.6 million ballots had been cast. Republicans have a narrow lead in mail-in ballots -- 42% to 40%, according to the Miami Herald. That’s most of the early voting so far, about 1.3 million ballots.

That lead is likely to vanish among early voters, however. The GOP has long had a better absentee operation, while Democrats do better in person before election day.

A couple of other numbers also point toward Democrats making up the difference, according to Gary Fineout, an Associated Press reporter who knows the state’s politics as well as anyone. He points to ballots from voters registered as “no party affiliation,” where Clinton outpolls Trump:

Fineout also points out that Palm Beach County, large and heavily Democratic, has yet to report its numbers.

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Pope offers a political message

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Obama’s campaign mission: Protect his legacy, pummel Republicans — oh, and elect Hillary Clinton

President Obama campaigns for Hillary Clinton on Oct. 23 in North Las Vegas.
President Obama campaigns for Hillary Clinton on Oct. 23 in North Las Vegas.
(Ethan Miller / Getty Images)

Something is missing from President Obama’s list.

“Progress is on the ballot,” he said at a campaign rally here last week. “Tolerance is on the ballot. Justice is on the ballot. Equality is on the ballot. Our democracy is on the ballot!”

It’s not as if Obama forgot that Hillary Clinton, the nominee he is campaigning for, is also on the ballot. It’s just that the election is about so much more for the outgoing head of state.

More than for most presidents, Obama’s legacy rests in the hands of whoever follows him in office: Clinton, whose platform builds on his record, or Donald Trump, who has vowed to rescind many of Obama’s actions. Thus, Obama is stumping more aggressively for a successor than any president has in modern U.S. history, claiming an unprecedented platform to extol his years in the White House.

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