Campaign 2016 updates: Bill Clinton says he feels bad for Melania Trump

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Donald Trump makes stops in New Hampshire, Ohio and Pennsylvania on Friday. Hillary Clinton heads to both Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Hillary Clinton’s big campaign concert finale? Beyonce (and backup dancers in pantsuits)

Backed up by pantsuit-clad dancers, Beyonce sang “Who run the world? Girls!” and declared: “I’m with her.”

Queen Bey’s performance followed her husband, Jay Z, and a collection of other top rappers at a get-out-the-vote concert here Friday that doubled as a high-wattage campaign event for Hillary Clinton.

Clinton quoted Jay Z, referring to him as “Jay,” in tracing the civil rights movement to President Obama’s election.

“We have unfinished business to do, more barriers to break, and with your help, a glass ceiling to crack once and for all,” she said to the raucous crowd. “So please take this energy out with you.

(Matt Rourke / AP)

Clinton’s stop in Cleveland came amid a furious final week of
campaigning with some of her biggest supporters from the political and entertainment worlds.

On Thursday she was joined by Bernie Sanders and Pharrell Williams in North Carolina. She’ll return to Cleveland again Sunday for an event with LeBron James. And Monday she will close her campaign with her husband, daughter and the Obamas.

Friday night’s event was originally advertised as featuring only Jay Z, but as Clinton headed for Cleveland after a pair of stops in Pennsylvania and Michigan, her campaign informed reporters that the rapper was bringing some special guests as well.

The series of performances, vulgar lyrics and all, were interspersed with pitches for Clinton.

“I’m here tonight because respect matters to me,” Jay Z said.

“It doesn’t really matter who I am. I’m here to celebrate our next and first woman president,” Chance the Rapper said.

Beyonce, though, was the show-stopper, including a duet with her husband.

Beyonce recalled the pride she felt in seeing Obama, the nation’s first black president, elected eight years ago. Now, the nation was on the cusp of history again, she predicted.

“But we have to vote,” she said. “... We have to think about the future of our daughters, our sons, and vote for someone who believes in them as much as we do. And that’s why I’m with her.”

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Giuliani on new Clinton email review: ‘You’re darn right I heard about it’

Donald Trump backer Rudolph W. Giuliani said former FBI agents told him in advance that the agency was launching a review of newly discovered emails possibly linked to Hillary Clinton.

“I did nothing to get it out, I had no role in it,” he said Friday in an interview on Fox News. “Did I hear about it? You’re darn right I heard about it, and I can’t even repeat the language that I heard from the former FBI agent.”

FBI Director James Comey caused an uproar when he disclosed last week that the agency was going to review a new trove of emails possibly linked to Clinton’s private server.

Agents found the emails as they examined a computer that top Clinton aide Huma Abedin shared with her now-estranged husband, Anthony Weiner, the former congressman who is the subject of an investigation into whether he broke the law when he exchanged sexually charged messages with a 15-year-old.

Before Comey’s announcement, Giuliani repeatedly said he expected a major development to upend the race. The former federal prosecutor is known to have close ties to the FBI, leading some to speculate that the bureau had leaked information to the Trump campaign.

During the interview, Giuliani said he had spoken with former FBI agents.

“All I heard were former FBI agents telling me that there’s a revolution going on inside the FBI and it’s now at a boiling point,” he said. “I had expected this for the last -- honestly, to tell you the truth, I thought it was gonna be about three or four weeks ago.”

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Obama calls Comey a ‘good man,’ says he does not believe he is trying to tip the election

(Gerry Broome/AP)

President Obama defended FBI Director James Comey on Friday, days after criticizing the timing of his announcement that the bureau was looking into new emails that might be relevant to Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server.

“Now I’ve said before and I’ll say again, Jim Comey is a good man,” Obama said in an interview with the Rev. Al Sharpton on MSNBC. “And I do not believe that he is in any way trying to influence the election one way or another. I think he is a serious public servant who wants to do the right thing.”

Earlier this week, Obama condemned Comey’s decision to announce the investigation so close to the presidential election.

“There is a norm that when there are investigations, we don’t operate on innuendo and we don’t operate on incomplete information and we don’t operate on leaks,” Obama said, without naming Comey.

Comey has not commented publicly about the new emails his agency is poring over since he told lawmakers of their existence a week ago. Democrats, and a few Republicans, have assailed Comey for the timing of his announcement and have called on him to offer more transparency on the new emails.

In his wide-ranging interview with Sharpton, Obama also said that if Donald Trump wins Tuesday’s election, he would be concerned.

“I would feel deeply frustrated not because of anything he said about me, but because I would fear for the future of our country,” Obama said.

In recent weeks, Obama has hit the campaign trail delivering fiery speeches castigating Trump and highlighting his inflammatory rhetoric.

“Imagine if I, when I had been running, had said one-tenth of the things that Donald Trump has said. People would have immediately said that person is not qualified to be president,” said Obama, noting, among other things, Trump’s call to ban Muslims from entering the country.

On Friday, Obama campaigned for Clinton in North Carolina. And on Monday, the Obamas and the Clintons will hold a rally in Philadelphia to close out the campaign.

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Republicans say Trump is outperforming Romney four years ago in key states

As polls showed a tightening race, Donald Trump’s campaign and GOP officials said on Friday that their early investment in battleground states and targeting early and absentee voters were paying dividends.

“Each battleground state is growing more and more competitive as our momentum continues to build,” said David Bossie, Trump’s deputy campaign manager, adding that Trump and running mate Mike Pence will visit 12 states over the weekend. “We know the next few days are going to be critical to make our final push to victory.”

The party has three times as many paid field organizers in battleground states as in 2012, and volunteers have knocked on millions more doors, said Chris Young, the Republican National Committee’s national field director.

Republicans believe that has them outperforming in early voting and Democrats underperforming compared with the 2012 presidential race, pointing to ballot requests, return rates and early in-person voting in Florida, Iowa, Michigan and North Carolina.

In Florida, which is crucial to Trump’s path to victory, Republicans have 1.5% more of the early vote share compared with four years ago, while Democrats have 5% less, said Bill Dunn, the RNC’s director of early and absentee voting. He also said Republicans have requested 20,000 more absentee ballots than 2012, but did not mention that Democrats had also requested more ballots.

Earlier in the day, the Clinton campaign argued that they had built a firewall with minority voters in crucial battleground states such as Florida. Campaign manager Robby Mook said more Latinos in Florida have already cast ballots in early voting than in the entire election in 2012.

The race in the Sunshine State is tight. Of the 5.3 million ballots that have been mailed or voted in person, Republicans hold a tiny edge of 1,833 as of Friday morning, according the Tampa Bay Times.

Republicans said they were optimistic that the tide would turn Trump’s way.

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Beyoncé, too, will join in at the Hillary Clinton rally where Jay Z is performing tonight


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Trump revels in Clinton email trouble, stays on script in Ohio

Donald Trump stuck tightly to his script Friday and sought to avoid the sort of unfiltered remarks that have landed him in trouble time and again in his campaign for president.

At an airplane hangar rally in this small town between Cincinnati and Columbus, the Republican nominee vowed to restore manufacturing jobs, build up the military, stop Syrian refugees from entering the United States and wall off the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Build that wall!” his supporters chanted.

But most of all, Trump tried to capitalize on FBI Director James B. Comey’s announcement last week that agents are examining thousands of newly found emails to see if any are relevant to the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server as secretary of State.

“Honestly, shouldn’t Huma be fired?” Trump said, referring to Huma Abedin, the top Clinton advisor whose emails the FBI is examining.

Trump’s argument that Clinton was “corrupt” was complicated by the conviction Friday of two aides to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in the so-called Bridgegate scandal. Christie leads Trump’s transition team.

During the trial, prosecutors alleged that Christie knew his aides shut down lanes of the George Washington Bridge as retaliation against a local mayor who declined to back his reelection in 2012.

Trump also reveled in the hacking of the private email account of John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman.

U.S. intelligence agencies last month blamed senior Russian officials of hacking Democrats’ emails and leaking them to WikiLeaks and other websites to interfere with the U.S. election.

Trump mentioned that Podesta wrote in one private email that Clinton had bad instincts, saying he would have fired him after disclosure of his emails.

But Trump conceded he was enjoying the spectacle of the leaked emails stirring up trouble for his Democratic rival. “I love reading those WikiLeaks,” he said.

“Oh, some beauties coming out,” he told the crowd.

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Obama gets testy with pro-Clinton crowd for yelling at elderly Trump protester

President Obama got testy with a crowd of Hillary Clinton supporters in eastern North Carolina when they began shouting at a man in the audience holding a Donald Trump sign.

Obama was speaking on a college campus in Fayetteville when the Trump supporter held up his sign, spurring Clinton supporters to shout their objections.

“Hold up! Hold up! Hold up!” the president insisted. The crowd finally calmed enough to hear his message.

The man with the sign was “doin’ nothin,’” Obama said, noting that besides being peaceful, the protester looked to be both elderly and a military veteran.

“We live in a country that respects free speech,” Obama said. “We ought to respect that.”

The crowd turned on a dime, suddenly supporting Obama’s profession of support for the 1st Amendment.

And then, according to reporters who were there, the man was escorted out of the rally – despite that other part of the 1st Amendment, about the right of the people peaceably to assembly.

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Clinton ties Obama’s legacy to her candidacy in push for votes in Detroit

(Paul Sancya / Associated Press)

Hillary Clinton made a last-minute push for votes in Michigan, saying those who helped put President Obama win the White House twice needed to elect her to continue the progress he’d made.

“Barack Obama wasn’t put into the White House by one person alone. It took everybody working and organizing and, yes, voting,” she said. “So really, it all comes down to you, my friends. ... Everything that has happened up until this point is on the line.”

Democrats downplay talk from Republicans that Michigan is truly in play four days before the election. They say Clinton’s visit helped kick off get-out-the-vote efforts in a state that lacks the early voting opportunities increasingly prevalent in much of the country.

Clinton’s team has been heartened by strong turnout of Hispanic voters in other states.

But John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman, conceded that turnout so far from Michigan’s African-American voters -- more than 14% of the population and nearly three times more than the state’s Hispanics -- hasn’t been as strong.

“President Obama was the first African American president. So he had a level of enthusiasm, commitment that we’re trying to push towards meeting,” Podesta told reporters.

Clinton received a fiery introduction from Wendell Anthony, president of the local NAACP chapter, who compared her to the first African American woman elected to Congress, Shirley Chisolm.

Clinton “understands that we are fighting for the very soul of our nation,” Anthony said. She had a plan to rebuild urban communities “when the other fella just discovered urban America.”

“Don’t go for the okey-doke. Don’t be bamboozled,” Anthony added. “If this woman, this first lady, this senator, this secretary of State, if this mother, if this wife, if this grandmother, if this friend through it all can stand up for us, we sure enough can [show] up for her.”

Clinton, as she did a day before, referred to Trump’s view that the so-called Central Park Five should still be in prison even though DNA evidence exonerated them in a decades-old rape case in New York.

This time, she added a joking reference to how his supporters often refer to her.

“It doesn’t matter if you are innocent if he decides that you should be in prison. Or you should be locked up,” she said.

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Kaine’s college roommate recalls the VP nominee doesn’t like to clean bathrooms

(Matt York / Associated Press)

Tim Kaine’s college roommate – an entertainment executive who lives in Pacific Palisades – spoke out about the man he shared a home with nearly four decades ago and may be the nation’s next vice president.

Spoiler alert: Aside from some mildly embarrassing tidbits about how Kaine didn’t like to clean the shared bathroom and has no fashion sense, there are no “TMZ”-worthy stories about young men living it up in Boston.

But the Facebook post by Charles Hirschhorn does shed some light on the man Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton picked to be her running mate, describing his commitment to social justice and consensus, their continued friendship and the times that Kaine has been there for Hirschhorn.

“Thirty-five years ago … my parents called and asked what I thought of [my new roommate]. Long distance calls were expensive, so my answer was short and to the point,” he wrote. Today, “my parents still call to ask questions about Tim. Voice plans now allow for unlimited talk, but my brief answer has never changed: ‘He’s the best person I have ever met.’ ”

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Russian hackers seek to embarrass the U.S. this election season

(Alexei Nikolsky / Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via Associated Press))

In February 2014, the Obama administration was embarrassed when a secretly recorded phone conversation between the U.S. ambassador in Ukraine and Victoria Nuland, a senior State Department official, was posted on YouTube.

The two officials could be heard privately picking who should be in the new government in Kiev, and at one point, Nuland used a four-letter word to dismiss slow-moving diplomats at the European Union.

The intercepted call, which U.S. officials traced to Russian intelligence, created friction between U.S. and EU envoys. But its real significance is only now clear — Russia was publicly willing to use the fruits of espionage to upend U.S. foreign policy.

“Instead of using their capability to write secret memos, they decided, ‘Well, let’s see what happens if we release it,’” said Stewart Baker, former general council to the National Security Agency.

Russia’s government, he added, has “decided that getting fingered isn’t all that bad.”

That analysis helps explain Russia’s apparent efforts to influence the U.S. presidential campaign: under Vladimir Putin, a former Soviet-era KGB officer, spying once done in secret is increasingly public.

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Sen. Claire McCaskill says FBI letter has ‘blunted’ some of Hillary Clinton’s momentum

(Kris Connor / Getty Images)

The recent announcement by FBI director James Comey that his agency is looking into new emails that might be related to Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server has upset Democrats nationwide.

And on Friday, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), a staunch Clinton ally, was pointed in her assessment.

“I certainly think what [Comey] did was unprecedented,” she said on MSNBC, adding that it “blunted some of Clinton’s momentum.”

Indeed, recent polls from swing states, like Florida and Ohio, have tightened between Clinton and Donald Trump over the past several days.

Clinton’s campaign has urged Comey to be more transparent. Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, said Comey “owes the public the full story, or he shouldn’t have cracked open the door in the first place.”

McCaskill, who has campaigned for Clinton in recent days, said Comey did not fully understand what he was doing.

“I think he was not thinking through the consequences,” she said.

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Bill Clinton says he feels bad for Melania Trump

(Ethan Miller / Getty Images )

As the spouses of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Bill Clinton and Melania Trump have had limited interactions this election, mostly brief, cordial handshakes at the presidential debates.

On Friday, the former president said he feels sorry for Melania Trump, especially after her speech a day earlier in Pennsylvania lamenting the need to curb cyber bullying.

He scoffed at those comments, noting some of Donald Trump’s recent early morning Twitter rants in which he has criticized, among others, a former Miss Universe winner and dozens of politicians.

“I never felt so bad for anybody in my life as I did for his wife going out giving a speech saying, ‘Oh, cyber bullying was a terrible thing,’” Clinton said while campaigning in Colorado. “I thought, ‘Yeah, especially if it’s done at 3 o’clock in the morning against a former Miss Universe by a guy running for president.’”

Melania Trump’s speech was assailed by some on social media, with critics pointing toward her husband’s well-documented history of attacking those he doesn’t like on Twitter.

“None of this is real. You couldn’t make it up,” Clinton said to laughter from supporters. “The problem is we’re laughing, but it isn’t funny because people’s lives are going to be changed by this.”

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In Missouri, Donald Trump turns a sleeper Senate race into a toss-up — with a message that helps Democrats

As control of the U.S. Senate comes down to a handful of states, Democrats are benefiting from an unlikely ally in one of the closest races in the country: Donald Trump.

Six years ago, Republican Roy Blunt was easily elected in Missouri, fending off allegations he’d gone native and forgotten the folks back home after more than a decade on Capitol Hill.

Now, facing the same accusation, Blunt is in serious jeopardy, thanks in good part to the GOP’s presidential nominee, whose take-a-torch-to-Washington message is keyed perfectly to the pitch of Democrat Jason Kander.

The youthful Army veteran, a relative newcomer to politics, portrays Blunt as the living embodiment of what many loathe about their national government.

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Obama tells young and black voters, ‘You have a chance to shape history’

President Obama urged supporters of Hillary Clinton on Friday to get friends and family to vote like “our future depends on it ... because our future depends on it.”

In a pitch to a campus crowd in Fayetteville, N.C., Obama focused not just on selling Clinton but also the commitment to vote.

“We have four days to decide the future of this country,” Obama said in the rally at Fayetteville State University. “You have a chance to shape history.”

“I need you to vote,” he said, adding, “we have to finish what we started eight years ago.”

The pitch came as the Clinton campaign is implementing a massive get-out-the-vote operation. Campaign officials said Friday that they expect at least 40% of voters in some battleground states to cast ballots by the end of Monday.

They’re aiming in particular to get sporadic and first-time voters to the polls in advance of Tuesday’s election day.

They are also focusing on black voters as early statistics suggest they are turning out in smaller numbers than they did at this point in 2008 and 2012.

On Friday, Obama urged Clinton supporters at the historically black college not to let up.

“Do not get weary,” he told an overflow crowd at the rally. “Don’t get complacent. Don’t get discouraged.”

Voting, he said, would be the best send-off they could give to him and First Lady Michelle Obama.

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Clinton campaign says Trump should ‘drain the swamp’ by removing Chris Christie as transition chief

(Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman called on Donald Trump to remove New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as his transition chairman after Friday’s Bridgegate verdict.

“Rather than just crisscrossing the country and hopscotching talking about cleaning up the swamp, he might start by draining his own swamp,” Clinton campaign chief John Podesta told reporters.

Podesta chaired President-elect Obama’s transition in 2008, overseeing the massive undertaking of not only developing policies for the new president to implement but also filling thousands of executive branch jobs.

In the spring, Trump had appointed Christie, who offered a well-timed endorsement after dropping his own presidential bid, to lead his transition should he win the election.

Podesta took the opportunity to tweak Trump in noting that Christie had a difficult job developing policy given Trump “has been obviously short” on it.

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Clinton campaign says ‘firewall’ of minority support will stop any Trump surge

(David Goldman / Associated Press)

Even as Hillary Clinton’s once-commanding lead dissipates in the polls, her advisors argue that early voting numbers show they have successfully built a “firewall” of minority voters in key swing states that Donald Trump won’t be able to get over.

In a call with reporters on Friday, campaign manager Robby Mook said the Clinton campaign remains encouraged by what it is seeing in Florida, North Carolina and Nevada in terms of who has already come out to cast their ballots. He said the campaign’s get-out-the-vote effort has shown it can “turn out our supporters early and build a lead Donald Trump is incapable of overcoming.”

The briefing came amid early reports that turnout among African Americans, a key part of the Clinton coalition, has been weak so far. But Mook countered that it has picked up in various places, and he also presented figures suggesting surging Latino turnout that could offset a downward tic in the number of blacks coming out to vote Democratic as compared with 2012.

Mook said more Latinos in Florida have already cast ballots in early voting than in the entire election in 2012. He also said more Democrats overall have voted in Florida at this point than Republicans, which was not the case in 2012, when the Obama campaign calculated that it was behind in Florida at this point in the race. “We believe we are winning voting in Florida by 170,000” votes as of Friday, Mook said.

The Clinton campaign has also been focusing heavily on voters who did not cast ballots in 2014. Mook said that group represents one in four voters it has turned out in Iowa so far. He argued that the early-voting surge of minority voters in Nevada could leave Trump with a 10-point deficit to overcome in that state on election day, despite some polls showing Trump has opened a lead there. “If he hasn’t banked his base by this point, he is going to have an even taller task in these last few days,” Mook said.

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Here’s why Gary Johnson is campaigning in California tonight

(Molly Riley / AFP/Getty Images)

California rarely sees presidential candidates in a general election, unless they are raising money from the state’s well-heeled donors.

But on Friday night, five days before election day, libertarian nominee Gary Johnson will rally supporters in Sacramento.

Johnson’s appearance is unusual, but can be explained by two factors.

The former New Mexico governor is a supporter of the measure to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in California. He is also an admitted marijuana consumer, though he did stop during his campaign.

Second, states where the outcome is certain offer third-party candidates the best chance of picking up votes.

Barring an unprecedented turn of events, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton will win California’s 55 electoral votes on Tuesday. So voters who like third-party candidates such as Johnson may feel more comfortable voting for them as opposed to voters who live in states where the race is tight.

In 2012, Johnson won 143,221 votes in California, just over 1% of the vote. In recent polling, he notches slightly more support.

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Hillary Clinton tries to bait Donald Trump with Mark Cuban

(Gene J. Puskar / AP)

All week, Hillary Clinton has warned about Donald Trump’s past and his policies, conventional attacks on an unconventional candidate. Trump has mostly ignored the bait.

So perhaps with an eye at trying to knock him off-message, she opted Friday for a blunter approach: Mark Cuban.

The billionaire and Pittsburgh native introduced Clinton here with a takedown of Trump, knocking his finances and his temperament.

“You cannot be president of the United States if you don’t know when to shut up,” Cuban bluntly asserted at the event at the Pittsburgh Steelers’ stadium.

Cuban floated the idea that Trump might take a $20-billion bribe from a foreign agent to act against U.S. interests. He accused Trump of using his defunct real estate school, Trump University, to steal from the people he now claims to be the champion of.

“Who does that?” Cuban said.

Clinton took a more upbeat approach in her remarks than she has recently, focusing on her economic agenda.

“I’m all about making sure the American dream is big enough for everybody, and we’re going to knock down the barriers that stand in the way,” she said.

She also praised Cuban, who has had some profit-sharing arrangements with employees.

“What he does is to worry about and take care of the people who helped make him successful in the first place,” she said.

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Judge issues restraining order against Trump campaign over voter-harassment fears

(John Minchillo / Associated Press)

A judge in Cleveland on Friday issued a temporary restraining order against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign and a GOP political operative, preventing them from harassing or intimidating Ohio voters.

U.S. District Judge James Gwin ruled in a lawsuit filed by the Ohio Democratic Party that anyone who engages in intimidation or harassment inside or near Ohio polling places would face contempt-of-court charges. Gwin dismissed the Ohio Republican Party as a defendant in the case.

The lawsuit claimed that the Ohio GOP, the Trump campaign, operative Roger Stone and his political action committee, Stop the Steal, were conspiring to suppress minorities in urban areas from casting ballots on Tuesday.

The legal challenge is one of several across the country filed by Democrats claiming Republicans and the Trump campaign are pushing supporters to intimidate and confront voters on election day.

Republicans on Thursday fought back against charges of wrongdoing before judges in Nevada and Arizona. Arguments are to be heard in Pennsylvania on Monday.

An attorney representing Democrats told a judge in Newark, N.J., on Friday that Trump has “repeatedly encouraged his supporters to engage in vigilante efforts” in the guise of ferreting out potential voter fraud. The attorney said that the Republican National Committee is participating in such efforts.

An attorney for Republicans told the judge that party volunteers are engaging in normal poll-watching, and that Democrats haven’t found one instance in which someone was intimidated or prevented from voting.

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Fox News says its report of a possible Clinton indictment is wrong, but Trump keeps citing it

Donald Trump cited an erroneous Fox News report on the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email on Friday as he pressed his case that his Democratic rival is a criminal who belongs in prison.

At a country club rally on a crisp autumn day in southern New Hampshire, Trump pronounced Clinton guilty of perjury, saying she lied to Congress about her use of a private email server when she was secretary of State.

“The FBI agents say their investigation is likely to yield an indictment,” Trump told about 1,000 supporters, alluding to a Fox News report that the network retracted Friday morning.

It was unclear whether Trump was aware that Fox News anchor Bret Baier had just acknowledged that there were no facts to back up his statement Thursday that the federal probe would result in an indictment.

“No one knows if there would or would not be an indictment,” Baier told Fox News viewers in a rare on-air apology.

“It was a mistake, and for that I’m sorry,” Baier said.

Fox News also retracted another element of its reporting that Trump has used to tar Clinton during the week since FBI Director James Comey announced that investigators were examining newly discovered emails to see whether they had any significance in the Clinton probe that was closed in July with no charges.

Fox News reported incorrectly – and Trump has repeated -- that as many as five foreign intelligence agencies might have hacked Clinton’s private server, despite Comey saying in July that there was no evidence of a breach.

Baier acknowledged Friday that there were “still no digital fingerprints of a breach.”

1:15 p.m.: This post was updated to correct that Baier apologized Friday, not Thursday.

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Pot is popular among Clinton’s natural constituencies in Nevada, but she’s quiet on whether to legalize it

(Scott Sonner/Associated Press)

Christina Rourke flashed a grin and folded the flier handed to her promoting a Nevada ballot question allowing legal marijuana sales.

“Already voted for it,” Rourke, 32, who works in real estate, said on a recent afternoon as she stood in a line wrapping around a Las Vegas-area high school where President Obama was to campaign for Hillary Clinton. “Really, it was a big reason for me to even get out and vote. … Pot was big for me. Then came Hillary.”

Public approval of legal marijuana is accelerating, similar to the country’s quick evolution in favor of same-sex marriage. Efforts to legalize pot for recreational use are on the ballot in five states this month, including two battlegrounds — Nevada and Arizona — that Clinton is targeting in the final days of the presidential race. And though its proponents are wooing some of the same constituencies she is, Clinton is keeping the issue at a distance from her campaign, frustrating backers of legal pot who want her endorsement and running the risk of leaving votes on the table.

“Pot is Clinton’s ally, whether her campaign wants to admit it or not — it just is,” said Joe Brezny, a spokesman for the proponents of Question 2, Nevada’s pot measure. “We have the coalition she needs and they’re showing up to the polls to vote for marijuana reform.”

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For Clinton, campaign schedule is as much about the voting calendar as the polls

(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

It’s crunch time in the presidential campaign, and all week the candidates’ itineraries were in flux -- closely guarded secrets and subject to change based on electoral calculations.

So what can be read into Hillary Clinton’s itinerary on Friday, with her first event in Pittsburgh followed by stops in Michigan, Ohio and then ending in Florida?

It’s as much about the candidate’s organizing imperatives as it is any last-minute concern about her standing in states that had been seen as safely in her column.

The stop in Detroit is raising suspicions that the race there may be too close for the Clinton team’s liking. President Obama didn’t set foot in Michigan in the final months of his reelection campaign in 2012, when he ran against the son of a former Michigan governor.

Yes, the polls have tightened some, campaign officials acknowledge. But as Donald Trump boasts about an opportunity to reshape the map with a win there, Clinton’s team says the stop is in keeping with its focus on the voting calendar.

“This is a game-day state,” campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri said this week. “This is a state that has most of the voting on election day.”

Indeed, the schedule for Clinton and her surrogates has been geared to the rolling series of registration deadlines and early voting windows in the battleground states. Heading into the final weekend of the election, that means a special focus on states where early voting is less prevalent, like Michigan, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.

In the latter two states, more than 90% of ballots cast in the 2012 election were on election day, far higher than a state like Colorado – where more than 70% of ballots were cast early by mail, or Nevada, where three-in-five votes were cast early in person.

Palmieri noted that Clinton’s only other visit to Michigan since the convention was timed just before the voter registration deadline. Now, the visit is about boosting get-out-the-vote-efforts.

“We have a lot of paths to victory. And we just want to be assured that in these closing days, whether it be our financial resources or her time … she’s not taking anything for granted,” Palmieri said.

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Dystopias are fine in fiction, but do you really want to live in one?

Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump cheer at a campaign rally Oct. 10 in Ambridge, Pa.
(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

Just a few days until the election, and a writer’s thoughts naturally turn to dystopias.

Yes, dystopias — those stories where everything has gone to hell, hopefully in a compulsively readable way. Science-fiction is the home genre of dystopian literature, and any knowledgeable student of the form can lay out dystopias like a car salesman can talk up his floor models.

Looking for classic dystopia? Here’s “1984” by George Orwell. Want something newer? Take a gander at “The Windup Girl” by Paolo Bacigalupi. One for the kids? Everyone loves Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games.”

Want zombies? Mira Grant’s “Feed” series is right up your alley. A religious dystopia? Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” is calling to you. America on the rocks in a pseudo-historical dystopia? Philip K. Dick’s “The Man in the High Castle” is just the ticket. Classy dystopia? Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” won a Pulitzer, my friend.

All priced to move! All ready to drive off the lot! What will it take for me to get you in one of these imaginings of a world gone horrifyingly wrong?

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Trump adviser Chris Christie: ‘I will set the record straight’ on bridge lane closures

(Mel Evans / Associated Press)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is leading Republican nominee Donald Trump’s transition plans, rebutted courtroom claims that he knew about a scheme by two former aides to create a large scale traffic jam at the George Washington Bridge.

Bridget Kelly, Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, and Bill Baroni, a Christie appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, were convicted Friday. Prosecutors say the traffic jam was political revenge against the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee for not endorsing Christie for reelection. Testimony at the trial cast doubt on Christie’s claims he knew nothing about the scheme.

“Let me be clear once again, I had no knowledge prior to or during these lane realignments, and had no role in authorizing them. No believable evidence was presented to contradict that fact. Anything said to the contrary over the past six weeks in court is simply untrue,” he said in a statement after the verdict.

He said that, as a former federal prosecutor, he waited to comment until the end of the trial.

“I will set the record straight in the coming days regarding the lies that were told by the media and in the courtroom,” he said.

The scandal helped tank Christie’s presidential bid. Trump accused Christie during the primary of knowing about the lane closures, but told Fox News last week he has “great confidence” in Christie and hadn’t followed the trial.

Christie is in charge of Trump’s transition team, which includes making staff recommendations, and is scheduled to campaign on Trump’s behalf in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania this weekend.

Aides to Trump may have saved him from a big political hit four days before the election by persuading him earlier this year not to pick Christie as his vice-presidential nominee this summer.

Trump reportedly had decided to pick Christie as his running mate after meeting with Gov. Mike Pence in Indiana, but then-campaign manager Paul Manafort, according to one report, lied about a problem with the campaign’s plane in order to give him and other Trump aides an extra day to persuade the nominee it wasn’t the best move politically with the bridge investigation looming over Christie.

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Trump surrogate’s joke: Bill Clinton was talking about Hillary when he said he didn’t have sex with ‘that woman’

Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu joked at a Donald Trump rally on Friday that Bill Clinton might have been referring to Hillary Clinton when he said: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

Even by the standards of the crass 2016 presidential campaign, it was a remarkable statement from a top New Hampshire Republican who served as chief of staff to President George H.W. Bush from 1989 to 1991.

Sununu endorsed Trump only in September, after disavowing him during the primaries.

Sununu, 77, was speaking to hundreds of Trump here at a country club as they awaited the Republican presidential nominee’s arrival for his first rally of the day.

Sununu asked the crowd whether Bill Clinton “was referring to Hillary when he said, ‘I did not have sex with that woman.’”

In one of the best remembered lines of his presidency, Bill Clinton wagged his finger and told the American people “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” Clinton’s 1998 statement about his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky turned out to be false.

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Feeling anxious about the election? Here’s how to cope with election stress disorder

(Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

Are you suffering from election stress disorder?

It seems like everyone I know has it. Last week, my kindergartner woke up at 5 a.m. with nightmares about “two people running for president.” One friend wrote on Facebook that she is barely sleeping at all and now fills the pre-dawn hours canning fruit. I’ve heard reports of chest pains and short-term Xanax prescriptions within my circle as Nov. 8 draws near.

Election stress disorder may not be well known, but it’s definitely real, and its impact should not be dismissed, said Dr. Asim Shah, vice chair for community psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

Symptoms of this once-every-four-years disorder include heart palpitations, shortness of breath, sweaty palms, loss of appetite, trouble sleeping and a sinking or doomed feeling, he said.

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Huckabee makes lesser-of-two-evils argument: Trump may be ‘car wreck’ but Clinton is ‘drunk driver’

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a surrogate for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, made an unusual closing argument for his party’s nominee Friday, calling him a “car wreck,” but saying Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton would be worse because she is a “drunk-driver.”

The former preacher and television personality is known for his unusual analogies and word play.

Huckabee has used social media to comment repeatedly on Clinton since dropping out of the presidential race himself after the Iowa caucuses.

His major selling point was that he was the only candidate who had run against the Clinton political machine before. Huckabee was propelled into Arkansas politics shortly after Bill Clinton served as governor and when the family still had strong connections to the Democratic establishment there.

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Eric Trump: David Duke ‘does deserve a bullet’

Former Klu Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke “does deserve a bullet,” Eric Trump told a Denver talk show host.

One of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s three sons spoke against any support Duke has offered the Trump campaign, and called white nationalists like Duke “horrible people.”

So when KHOW-AM host described Duke as “a guy who desperately needs a bullet,” Eric Trump agreed.

“If I said exactly what you said, I’d get killed for it. But I think I’ll say it anyway,” Trump said on the Thursday show. “The guy does deserve a bullet.”

Trump also touted his father’s plans to help the African American community if elected.

In March, Donald Trump disavowed the former KKK grand wizard, who is running for a U.S. Senate seat in Louisiana. Trump’s campaign also denounced the endorsement of KKK newspaper the Crusader earlier this week.

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What the WikiLeaks emails tell us about Hillary Clinton’s campaign (and what they don’t)

Hillary Clinton speaks with an aide backstage before speaking at a rally in Las Vegas on Wednesday.
Hillary Clinton speaks with an aide backstage before speaking at a rally in Las Vegas on Wednesday.
(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

It’s one of the greatest ironies of the 2016 presidential campaign: Hillary Clinton — long averse to public scrutiny — forced to deal with the theft and disclosure of thousands of private emails exchanged by her campaign aides and advisors.

The hacked emails of campaign chairman John Podesta, being released daily by WikiLeaks, have offered unprecedented insight into the way the Democratic nominee and her team grappled with unexpected developments and self-inflicted setbacks.

The Clinton campaign has refused to validate the emails, noting that U.S. intelligence agencies say they were stolen by Russian government hackers in an effort to affect the election.

Here’s a closer look at what’s behind some of the more attention-grabbing emails.

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The Clintons’ old attack dogs have a profitable new role, and sometimes it makes the campaign nervous

David Brock founded Correct the Record, a super PAC that's coordinating directly with Hillary Clinton's campaign.
David Brock founded Correct the Record, a super PAC that’s coordinating directly with Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
(Danny Johnston / Associated Press)

As Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign was about to launch last year, its architects were desperate to dampen the impact of an upcoming book deeply critical of her family’s financial dealings.

They turned to David Brock, who crusaded for the Clinton family during the days of impeachment and scandal in the 1990s.

Clinton’s new inner circle privately called him a “nut bar” and “soulless narcissist,” a wild-eyed mercenary from the old Clinton wars who could be unpredictable. But Brock’s skills in the political dark arts positioned him to hunt down a copy of the book, “Clinton Cash,” before it was on sale.

“Feels like what Brock is good at,” John Podesta, now the campaign chairman, emailed Robby Mook, who would become the campaign manager. “Great idea,” Mook replied. Brock’s team delivered.

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