Campaign 2016 updates: New sex assault allegations emerge against Donald Trump
Donald Trump continues to campaign in Florida on Wednesday, as Hillary Clinton hosts two rallies in Colorado and Nevada.
- Two women step forward and allege Trump groped them. Clinton’s campaign responds.
- Russia’s response to U.S. accusations that it hacked Democratic emails? How flattering.
- A top Bernie Sanders aide comes to the defense of Donna Brazile in email flap.
- They wanted Trump off the ballot, now they are voting for him.
- Trump backers tweet #repealthe19th after polls show he’d win if only men voted.
Clinton campaign says new assault allegations against Trump show he lied during debate
Hillary Clinton’s campaign called new allegations of sexual assault against Donald Trump “disturbing,” but said the account “sadly fits everything we know about the way Donald Trump has treated women.”
“These reports suggest that he lied on the debate stage and that the disgusting behavior he bragged about in the tape is more than just words,” campaign communications director Jennifer Palmieri said.
Joe Biden: Donald Trump acknowledged ‘textbook sexual assault’
One of Vice President Joe Biden’s signature accomplishments as a senator for more than three decades was the Violence Against Women Act. And so as he ends his career, it is “astonishing,” he said Wednesday, to see a presidential candidate acknowledge engaging in behavior that would be considered “textbook sexual assault.”
“This is absolutely outrageous behavior,” Biden said in an appearance on “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” recorded before the publication of a New York Times story with accounts from women who allege that the Republican nominee assaulted them.
Biden expressed his disappointment “to come across someone like Trump” after having worked for years “trying to figure out how to change the culture in this country so that we treat women with respect and dignity.”
He also weighed in on Trump’s recent debate performance, saying he couldn’t believe what he was watching.
“It’s a frightening notion that the vice president and the president don’t understand each other’s [positions],” he said, referring to when Trump said he disagreed with running mate Mike Pence over Russia’s involvement in the Syria conflict.
John Podesta’s Twitter account hacked
John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, had his Twitter account hacked on Wednesday.
The campaign was aware of the hack.
In recent days, WikiLeaks has published hundreds of personal emails written by Podesta.
New sex assault allegations against Trump: ‘He was like an octopus’
As Donald Trump reels from the fallout of his sexually aggressive comments caught on tape, two women alleged that the GOP presidential nominee accosted them in a new report published Wednesday.
Jessica Leeds, 74, told the New York Times that Trump grabbed her breasts and tried to slip his hand up her skirt in the first-class cabin of a plane more than three decades ago.
“He was like an octopus,” Leeds told the paper. “His hands were everywhere.”
Rachel Crooks told the New York Times that Trump kissed her on the mouth when she introduced herself to him in front of an elevator when she worked in Trump Tower in 2005 as a 22-year-old secretary.
The Trump campaign denied the allegations, and accused the newspaper of trying to sink his candidacy.
“This entire article is fiction, and for the New York Times to launch a completely false, coordinated character assassination against Mr. Trump on a topic like this is dangerous,” said Trump spokesman Jason Miller in a statement. “To reach back decades in an attempt to smear Mr. Trump trivializes sexual assault, and it sets a new low for where the media is willing to go in its efforts to determine this election.”
The New York Times article said the newspaper’s reporters verified the stories with friends and relatives of the women who told the paper they had heard the allegations previously.
The thrice-married Trump has a long history of making controversial remarks about women, their appearance, their weight and his attraction to them.
But the issue came into heightened focus with the emergence of a 2005 “Access Hollywood” video Friday that shows Trump claiming he could kiss women and grab their genitals without their consent because he is a celebrity. He used vulgar language to describe women’s anatomy and recalled his efforts to sleep with a married woman.
The political fallout was immediate. Dozens of Republican elected officials and others who stood by Trump when he made controversial comments about women’s appearances, Mexican immigrants, Muslims, the disabled and prisoners of war said they could no longer support him.
House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the nation’s highest-ranking Republican, did not revoke his endorsement but said on Monday that he would no longer defend his party’s standard-bearer and would spend the rest of the election focused on down-ballot races.
Trump apologized for his remarks, but also dismissed them as “locker room” talk. The new allegations squarely place the candidate’s actions, not words, under scrutiny.
The “Access Hollywood” video, reported by the Washington Post, also led to a scurry among the news media for additional recordings of the GOP nominee, particularly the unaired footage from his years of hosting “The Apprentice” on NBC.
Several reports have emerged since Friday, notably a CNN report on Sunday about newly unearthed Trump appearances on Howard Stern’s radio show.
The GOP nominee told the shock jock he had taken part in threesomes and described going backstage at his beauty pageants to look at the contestants when they were naked.
The Palm Beach Post published a report Wednesday from a 36-year-old woman who said Trump grabbed her posterior when she was assisting a photographer friend hired by the businessman to document a Ray Charles’ concert at his Mar-a-Lago estate 13 years ago.
On Wednesday, CBS News also reported about footage from an “Entertainment Tonight” Christmas special in 1992, where Trump asks a 10-year-old girl if she is riding the escalator at Trump Tower. After the girl replies, “Yeah,” Trump, then 46, says to the camera, “I am going to be dating her in 10 years. Can you believe it?”
Final debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will focus on immigration, Supreme Court
The Commission on Presidential Debates released topics on Wednesday for the third — and final — presidential debate next week.
Fox News anchor Chris Wallace will moderate the debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and has selected topics focused on debt and entitlements, immigration, the economy, the Supreme Court, foreign hot spots and the candidates’ fitness to be president.
The debate will be held Oct. 19 at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas and will consist of six segments that will last 15 minutes.
The topics are subject to change as the topsy-turvy campaign inches closer to the Nov. 8 election, the commission said.
In Sunday’s town-hall style debate in St. Louis, Trump and Clinton traded personal jabs in a debate that drew 66.5 million viewers, down from the record-setting 84 million viewers who watched their Sept. 26 debate.
Clinton laughs off pro-Trump hecklers: ‘They’ve had a really bad couple of weeks’
Hillary Clinton, who has been dealing with regular interruptions at her rallies by Donald Trump supporters, approached one heckler Wednesday with mock sympathy.
“You do have to feel a little sorry for them. They’ve had a really bad couple of weeks,” she said before a crowd of more than 2,000 in Pueblo, Colo.
It was her take on how President Obama handled a similar interruption the day before, when he told another demonstrator to “try to get your own rally.”
The interruptions appear to be more than the typical fare of a tight presidential race. A conservative website is reportedly paying individuals who can successfully repeat allegations against former President Bill Clinton at rallies.
Clinton focused more on Trump’s tactics, citing a Wall Street Journal report that suggested he would run a “scorched earth” campaign in the final four weeks.
“This just shows how desperate they are. That’s all they have left. Pure negativity and pessimism,” she said. “And we’re not going to let Donald Trump get away with it, are we?”
Clinton said the election would “demonstrate that America is better than what Donald Trump says and represents.”
The Democratic nominee urged her Colorado supporters to take advantage of voting by mail to avoid a “backlog” on election day and also to urge friends and neighbors in Arizona and Utah — states that the campaign is again considering contesting more aggressively — to do the same.
Across the country, Clinton said, early voting numbers “are bigger than anybody thought, and bigger than they’ve been in the past.”
“We are competing everywhere, and the polls are tightening. Because, I think, Americans want to turn out in as big a number as possible to reject the dark and divisive and hateful campaign that is being run by my opponent,” she said.
Republicans, the debate commission and the media: Just some of the forces Trump says are working against him
A fiery and free-wheeling Donald Trump regaled supporters Wednesday with allegations of near-ubiquitous backroom deals and secret schemes all meant to undermine his presidential bid.
In a pair of rallies in Ocala and Lakeland, both in central Florida, Trump ticked off a litany of forces conspiring against him, including congressional Republicans, the media and even the panel that oversees the presidential debates.
“Ai yai yai, what a rigged deal this is,” Trump said of the Commission on Presidential Debates, of which a former official in Bill Clinton’s administration is a co-chairman, along with a former GOP party chair.
But the sentiment could have applied to myriad riffs as Trump energetically meandered through his speeches.
The failure of Congress to push for tougher consequences for Hillary Clinton’s private email server after the Department of Justice declined to press charges?
Perhaps, Trump mused, politicians “make a deal where everybody protects each other in Washington? I really believe it.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan’s decision to no longer campaign with Trump?
“There’s a whole sinister deal going on,” Trump suggested.
And Trump relished in lacerating the media, which he accused of propping up Clinton’s campaign and suppressing news of the hacked emails of her campaign chairman that were released by WikiLeaks over recent days.
“Honestly, without the press, without the media, Hillary Clinton is nothing,” Trump said. “She’s nothing.”
The revelations in the leaked emails have become central to Trump’s narrative of a rigged system. He told supporters Clinton’s position supporting “open trade and open borders” — according to speech transcripts released in the hack —underscored how Clinton was misrepresenting her positions to the public.
More ominously, he warned, Clinton’s globalized outlook threatened the sovereignty of the U.S.
The dire warnings notwithstanding, Trump appeared peppy and energized by the throngs of supporters, who loudly cheered his signature crowd-pleasers such as his vow to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall and his emphatic pledge to “keep radical Islamic terrorists the hell out of our country.”
The latter was a favorite line of Wyatt Griner, 18, and his friend Dawson Steele, 19, both from Gainesville.
The two friends were popular in their own right after the Ocala rally, holding black and white signs reading “Don’t be a pussy — vote for Trump” signs alongside traffic, a vulgar reference to Trump’s graphic comments from 2005 that emerged last week. Cars honked and cheered.
Steele said the negative coverage of Trump’s remarks, in which he talked of using his celebrity to sexually assault women, were overblown.
“That’s what guys say,” he said. “You look at the actions of Bill Clinton — it doesn’t even compare,” he added, referring to allegations of sexual assault or misconduct against the former president.
The recent high school graduates said they were confident that Trump would win, but they too saw forces working against their preferred candidate.
“It’s going to be Trump in a landslide,” Steele said, but immediately warned: “There’s going to be voter fraud going on.”
Clinton staffer wondered: ‘Can we survive not answering questions from press’
Shortly after Hillary Clinton declared her candidacy, her aides pondered how long they could go avoiding reporters’ questions at campaign events, according to emails released Wednesday by Wikileaks.
“Can we survive not answering questions from press at message events,” asked top aide Huma Abedin in a May 2015 email to the campaign’s chairman, John Podesta.
Clinton’s apparent concern was not having her message on issues such as immigration be overshadowed by questions she might receive from reporters at events.
In recent days, WikiLeaks has released hundreds of internal emails it claims are from the Clinton campaign, highlighting conversations among her closest aides.
The campaign has refused to confirm or deny the authenticity of the emails, which it says were hacked by the Russian government in an attempt to help GOP nominee Donald Trump.
Podesta was blunt in his response to Abedin.
“If she [Clinton] thinks we can get to Labor Day without taking press questions, I think that’s suicidal,” he wrote in May 2015. “We have to find some mechanism to let the stream out of the pressure cooker.”
A year later, Clinton was being hounded by the media and Republicans for rarely holding news conferences.
Clinton went 275 days without holding a formal news conference until breaking the streak in September, based on a tally by the Hill.
Hustler publisher Larry Flynt says he may move to Canada if Trump wins
Publisher Larry Flynt, a longtime Democratic supporter, said he may leave the country if Donald Trump wins the White House.
“The thought of Donald Trump becoming president nauseates me in a big way,” Flynt said in an interview with Toronto-based HOSS magazine. Asked what he would do if Trump wins, he replied, “I don’t know, maybe move to Canada.”
Flynt, the Beverly Hills-based publisher of Hustler magazine and other publications, said one of his pastimes is staying up to date on politics.
“I wish I didn’t. I don’t know why I let it obsess me the way it does,” he said.
Flynt, a Democrat, endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2015, and has repeatedly poked fun of Trump during this year’s campaign. After the GOP nominee made allusions to the size of his genitals during a primary debate, Flynt challenged him to verify his claim in front of a team of doctors. Flynt also created a pornographic parody video about Trump’s search for a running mate.
Flynt has a long history of involvement in politics, such as offering a $1-million reward for evidence of Republican politicians’ affairs during the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1998.
Trump might try to persuade Democrats to stay home, but it won’t work, Clinton campaign insists
Donald Trump’s “scorched-earth” bid to depress voter turnout is backfiring, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign insisted Wednesday.
Rather than turning off voters from the process, the Republican nominee’s ever-more-hostile public tone is increasing enthusiasm among Democrats just when Clinton needs it the most, with early voting underway and voter registration deadlines passing in key states, campaign communications director Jennifer Palmieri told reporters traveling with Clinton to Colorado on Wednesday.
Instead, Trump is making it harder for the same Republican leaders who legitimized and supported his candidacy to now seek distance from him, Palmieri said, a point Clinton intends to make herself at events in Colorado and Nevada later Wednesday.
“Donald Trump did not become the nominee of the Republican Party on his own. He did it with a lot of buy-in and support from leaders in the party that are trying to run away from him now,” she said.
Even before Trump, Palmieri said, Republicans opted for a strategy of dividing Americans and pursued economic policies that favored the wealthy over the middle class.
“And I think all of that caught up to them in the nomination of Trump,” she said. “You saw in the Republican primary, there were not candidates that were willing to stand up to Trump. ... Now people are trying to walk away from him. But ... just as their policies were linked in the primary, I think they own his nomination almost as much as Trump does, and bear responsibility for it.”
As Clinton’s poll numbers improve nationwide, the campaign is again looking more closely at efforts to expand the battleground map. Palmieri said that vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine will be doing interviews in Arizona and Utah — where a new poll showed a three-way race between Trump, Clinton and independent candidate Evan McMullin — as something of a scouting expedition to see whether victory is possible there.
“Our bottom-line concern, of course, is what you need to get 270 electoral votes, and we don’t want to do anything that would be a waste of resources or a waste of time,” she said.
Trump backers tweet #repealthe19th after polls show he’d win if only men voted
As polls show that Donald Trump would overwhelmingly win if only men were allowed to vote, the GOP nominee’s supporters have spawned a new Twitter hashtag: #repealthe19th.
That’s a reference to the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.
The Twitter commentary began after Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight published an article Tuesday looking at men’s and women’s voting patterns.
He found that if the election only counted the male vote, Trump would swamp Clinton, 350 electoral votes to 188. A candidate must win 270 electoral votes to win the presidency.
It’s not only men tweeting #repealthe19th. Here are some women who have also seized upon the poll results.
8:30 p.m.: This post was updated to remove a tweet that commented on Silver’s maps but didn’t use the #repealthe19th hashtag.
Former Bernie Sanders aide defends DNC chairwoman Donna Brazile in leaked emails kerfuffle
As leaked emails show communications earlier this year between Donna Brazile, then-Democratic National Committee vice-chair, and the Clinton campaign about town hall questions, a top aide to Bernie Sanders’ campaign is coming to the defense of the party official.
Tad Devine, who was a senior aide to Sanders, said this week it was not unusual for Brazile, who is currently the interim chairwoman of the DNC, to contact their campaign and give guidance.
“She would get in touch all the time for guidance, so I can verify her recollection on this issue,” Devine told NBC News.
At issue are March emails, obtained and posted by WikiLeaks, that show Brazile discussing questions with the Clinton campaign ahead of a CNN sponsored town hall forum.
“From time to time I get the questions in advance,” Brazile writes in a March 12 email to Clinton’s communications director Jennifer Palmieri.
“Here’s one that worries me about HRC,” she writes, attaching an inquiry about the death penalty.
In the March 13 town hall, Clinton was asked a question about the death penalty that was different from the one in the email.
Brazile has pushed back, denying any wrongdoing. She said in a statement released on Tuesday she has “deep ties” to the party and “supported all of our candidates for president.”
“I often shared my thoughts with each and every campaign, and any suggestions that indicate otherwise are simply untrue,” she said. “As it pertains to the CNN debates, I never had access to questions and would never have shared them with the candidates if I did.”
CNN has said it does not give questions to candidates ahead of any events.
Still, Republicans, including Donald Trump, have castigated Democrats for rigging their primary against Sanders.
In July, former DNC chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned after WikiLeaks released emails that showed DNC staffers discussing strategies that could be used against Sanders. The emails revived long-running suspicions on the part of Sanders supporters that Wasserman Schultz had tilted the scales in favor of Clinton.
In recent months, Sanders has hit the campaign trail on behalf of Clinton.
Devine, who also worked as a senior advisor on the presidential campaigns of Al Gore and John Kerry, stressed he did not believe Brazile did anything wrong.
“I don’t think she gave anybody the questions,” he told NBC News. “I was in touch with her all the time.”
Trump re-ups digs at Paul Ryan at Florida rally
Some of the Republican politicians who wanted Donald Trump off the ballot now will vote for him
It was only days ago that some GOP politicians were so upset with Donald Trump that they declared he should drop out of the race.
Now, they plan to vote for him.
At least four congressional office holders or candidates who denounced Trump over a videotape in which he boasted of sexually assaulting women now say he’s fit for the White House. They include Sen. Deb Fischer and Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska, Sen. John Thune of South Dakota and Darryl Glenn, the GOP nominee in the Colorado Senate race.
“I never said I wasn’t voting for our Republican ticket,” Fischer said on a radio interview, as reported by the Lincoln Journal Star.
It was only Saturday that she asked Trump to vacate the race, calling his remarks on the 2005 video “disgusting and totally unacceptable under any circumstance.”
Fortenberry said he would prefer to see vice presidential nominee Mike Pence take Trump’s place on the ticket, but concluded that is not legally possible. He said he has decided a vote for Trump is the only path to stopping Hillary Clinton.
Thune was the first senator to declare Trump an intolerable nominee who had to go. He called the Trump video “more offensive than anything I had ever seen.” But by midweek, he said Trump would likely get his vote.
“He has a lot of work to do, I think, to win this election,” Thune told the Rapid City Journal. “But I’m certainly not going to vote for Hillary Clinton.”
Glenn, according to the Denver Post, had gone so far as to declare on Facebook that “Trump is simply disqualified from being commander in chief. America cannot have a man who speaks this way about women be the face of our country to the free world.”
The post has been removed, and Glenn is now back on board with the Trump campaign. He told Fox News that he was satisfied by the “contrition” Trump displayed in the presidential debate Sunday.
Russia’s response to U.S. accusations that it hacked Democratic emails? How flattering
The Obama administration has blamed Russia for the email hacks that have created a chronic headache for Hillary Clinton, the latest batch of which, from campaign Chairman John Podesta’s account, was disclosed Wednesday by Wikileaks.
The Russian response? Show us the proof.
“It’s flattering,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “But it has nothing to be explained by the facts; we have not seen a single proof.”
When Amanpour pressed the point, asking whether the Russians deny the Obama administration’s accusation, Lavrov responded with what seemed like a nondenial denial. Or he just lost himself in translation. It was unclear.
“No, we did not deny this, they did not prove it,” he said.
The White House has warned it will be responding in kind to what it alleges is Russian interference in the U.S. election. “We obviously will ensure that a U.S. response is proportional,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Tuesday.
Earnest was vague about what that response might entail, but suggested it could very well be carried out in secret.
“The president has talked before about the significant capabilities that the U.S. government has to both defend our systems in the United States, but also carry out offensive operations in other countries,” Earnest said. “So there are a range of responses that are available to the president, and he will consider a response that’s proportional.”
Asked whether he is concerned, Lavrov waved off the threat.
“It’s not worth speculating,” he said. “If they decided to do something, let them do it.”
Florida voter registration deadline extended until next week
Democrats successfully convinced a federal judge to push back Florida’s voter registration deadline until Oct. 18, a week-long extension they said was necessary because of Hurricane Matthew.
The order from Judge Mark Walker, who was appointed to the federal bench by President Obama, is a rebuke to Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican backing Donald Trump. Scott had argued against extending the deadline past the original date of Oct. 11.
“Hopefully it’s not lost on anyone that it’s the right to have a voice that is why this country exists,” Walker said, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Donald Trump falls behind in the USC/L.A. Times poll, one of his favorites
Among Donald Trump’s favorite polls this election season is the USC/LA Times Daybreak tracking poll because it so often has shown him ahead when most other polls reported he was behind.
But Trump is unlikely to cite the poll on Twitter or during any of his campaign events Wednesday. For the first time since early September, even the USC/LA Times poll has Hillary Clinton leading.
The poll often is out of sync with other voter surveys because it uses different methodology. It asks voters to estimate, on a scale of 0 to 100, how likely they are to vote for a particular candidate and crunches the results for a daily forecast.
Using the same technique, the poll predicted President Obama’s margin of victory within half a percentage point in 2012.
But the daily poll results often do not immediately reflect voter attitude shifts following a major event, like the release of a video last week in which Trump boasted of sexually assaulting women. That’s because the voters who participate are given a week to respond to each round of questions, and each day’s results reflect an average of the previous week’s responses. There generally is a nine-day lag before major opinion shifts emerge in the result.
Being a polling outlier has invited no small measure of criticism in this contentious election year. But some, including star pollster Nate Silver of Five Thirty Eight, say “Leave the L.A. Times Poll Alone,” cautioning that it provides useful data and that pollster “herding” — shifting results to match what others are finding — is a terrible habit for the profession.
And the results, as they were for much of Trump’s run in the lead, remain within the margin of error.
Have more questions about the USC/Los Angeles Times tracking poll? Find answers here.
Conservative Utah could pick neither Trump nor Clinton
Utah is very much in play – and not just for the major party nominees.
A new poll published in the Deseret News shows the race in that longtime GOP stronghold is in a dead heat between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, with long-shot candidate Evan McMullin only a few points behind. McMullin is a graduate of Utah’s Brigham Young University.
The last time a third-party candidate won any electoral votes was in 1968, when George Wallace was on the ballot. McMullin is polling at 22%, just four points behind both Trump and Clinton. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is supported by 14% of voters.
“A third-party candidate could win Utah as Utahns settle on one,” said Quin Monson of Y2 Analytics, which conducted the poll.
Utah was seen as a heavy lift for Trump throughout the race, but his troubles there have intensified in recent days. A majority of voters polled say he should drop out. Gov. Gary Herbert and Reps. Jason Chaffetz and Chris Stewart were among those who have recently withdrawn their support of the GOP nominee.
Friday, 1:15 p.m. This post was updated to clarify the poll was conducted by Y2 Analytics.
U.N. human rights chief: Trump would be ‘dangerous’ if elected
The chief of human rights for the United Nations said Wednesday that Donald Trump would be “dangerous” for the world if elected president.
“If Donald Trump is elected, on the basis of what he has said already and unless that changes, I think it’s without any doubt that he would be dangerous from an international point of view,” Zeid Raad Hussein said at news conference, according to a report by the Associated Press.
He said some of Trump’s remarks, particularly regarding the nominee’s support of the use of torture, have been “deeply unsettling and disturbing.”
Hussein, a Jordanian prince, is the high commissioner for human rights at the U.N., and he lately has tangled with diplomats concerning the rise of nationalism in Europe, which he warns is also dangerous.
Earlier this week, the Russian ambassador to the U.N. admonished Hussein for such comments. “This is not his business,” said Vitaly Churkin. “He should be more focused on his specific responsibilities.”
In the case of Trump, Hussein said it was his responsibility to speak up because the Republican nominee has endorsed increased use of torture.
The remarks, though, are unlikely to have an effect on Trump’s support. His base is already deeply skeptical of the United Nations. Such criticism from the international body is expected, and may just strengthen the convictions of pro-Trump voters.
Even without Mark Burnett’s help, more Trump stories from ‘The Apprentice’ surface
Though reality-show producer Mark Burnett (“Survivor,” “Shark Tank”) may assert that he’s unable to release behind-the-scenes video of his hit series “The Apprentice,” that hasn’t stopped news outlets from trying to uncover whatever bits and bobbles they can of pre-GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Monday afternoon, the Huffington Post reported that Burnett used a transcript service for the series and that the outlet had obtained one such document for a Season 9 episode titled “Beauty and Brains,” which included details of both aired and unaired video.
The episode, which aired April 18, 2010, featured the celebrity teams making over two country music stars and presenting them to a panel of industry insiders.