Campaign 2016 updates: Trump denies groping allegations, blames media and Clinton campaign


Donald Trump campaigns in Florida and Ohio. Hillary Clinton raises money in San Francisco.

Obama says GOP ‘stood by’ while Donald Trump happened

(Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)

President Obama railed against the Republican Party on Thursday night, mocking GOP officeholders who he says created Donald Trump but now distance themselves from him.

Republicans who tolerated years of insults against the Democratic president helped create the environment in which Trump could take over the party, Obama told a crowd in Columbus, Ohio.

“The people who knew better didn’t say anything,” Obama said. “They didn’t say ... we can’t allow our politics to descend into the gutter. They stood by while this happened.”

Obama echoed the words of First Lady Michelle Obama, who said at a campaign event for Democrat Hillary Clinton earlier Thursday that Trump’s words on a 2005 audio tape, in which he brags about sexually assaulting women, had “shaken me to my core.” Dozens of Republicans have unendorsed or stepped away from Trump since the recording came to light.

Voters shouldn’t give those Republicans “points,” Obama told the crowd at the annual “state dinner” of the Ohio Democratic Party. He specifically called out Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman, who is fighting off a challenge from former Democratic governor Ted Strickland.

Obama repeatedly pointed to Portman as one of those Republicans who stood by while members of the party questioned Obama’s citizenship and religion, and opposed almost everything he tried to achieve.

“They don’t get credit for, at the very last minute, when finally the guy that they nominated … is caught on tape saying things that no decent person would even think, much less say, much less brag about.… You can’t wait until that finally happens and then say, ‘That’s too much,’” Obama said.


Melania Trump demands partial retraction of article by one of her husband’s accusers

Melania Trump, the wife of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, demanded Thursday that People magazine retract a portion of an article that alleged he made an unwanted advance on the author while she visited the Trumps’ Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida to write about the couple’s first wedding anniversary.

But the letter does not mention the most provocative parts of the article – that as Melania Trump, then pregnant, went upstairs to change, Donald Trump guided writer Natasha Stoynoff into a room, closed the door behind them, pushed her against a wall and shoved his tongue down her throat.

Stoynoff, in an article published on People’s website Wednesday night, wrote that she tried to “unpin” herself, but that Donald Trump only stopped when a butler interrupted them to say that his wife was returning.

Melania Trump is demanding a retraction and apology about a portion of the article where Stoynoff recounts running into the former model months later in front of Trump Tower in New York. Stoynoff wrote that Melania Trump asked why the couple no longer saw the author and gave her a hug. By then, Melania Trump had given birth to a boy, Barron, and Stoynoff wrote that she affectionately squeezed the boy’s foot.

Trump’s attorney says all of this is false.

“The true facts are these: Mrs. Trump did not encounter Ms. Stoynoff on the street, nor have any conversation with her. The two are not friends and were never friends or even friendly. At the time in question, Mrs. Trump would not have even recognized Ms. Stoynoff if they had encountered one another on the street,” wrote attorney Charles J. Harder.

The letter says if People magazine does not make a retraction and apology within 24 hours, Trump would consider legal action against the magazine.

Marnie Perez, a spokeswoman for People, confirmed the magazine had received Trump’s letter and said People stands by the story.

The retraction demand comes as Donald Trump battles allegations from multiple women that he touched their bodies and kissed them against their will. The women, including Stoynoff, said they decided to speak out about their years-old experiences because the GOP presidential nominee dismissed a recording of him speaking crassly about women as “locker room talk.”

Trump has responded by dismissing all the allegations as false concoctions and threatening to sue the New York Times.

He also spoke out against Stoynoff on the campaign trail on Thursday, saying that the writer wrote a beautiful “love story” about the couple and questioned why she did not include the groping allegation in her piece, which he said would have made it “one of the biggest stories of the year.”

Trump, speaking to supporters in West Palm Beach, Fla., then alluded to the writer’s looks.

“Take a look at her. Take a look at her words. You tell me what you think,” Trump said. “I don’t think so.”


Trump, reeling from groping allegations, makes pitch to young people

(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

Reeling from accusations that he groped women, a subdued Donald Trump told a crowd of young people in Ohio on Thursday that the media was working with his opponent to unfairly discredit him.

“The Clintons and the corporate media are one in the same,” Trump told hundreds of millennials at an invitation-only event in Columbus. “They collaborate and conspire together.”

He alluded to recently published emails by WikiLeaks that show communications earlier this year between Donna Brazile, then-Democratic National Committee vice chairwoman and CNN contributor, and the Clinton campaign about questions posed to candidates at a CNN town hall event in March.

“This Washington establishment will stop at nothing to stop all of us,” Trump said.

In national polls, young voters widely offer unfavorable opinions of both candidates. Trump called for college affordability and said he would simplify student loan programs to make it easier for students to pay back college debt.

“A vote for me is a vote for you,” he said.

Earlier on Thursday while in Florida, a much more animated Trump lashed out at the women stepping forward to tell their stories about being kissed and touched by him against their will.

A writer for People magazine said Trump forced himself on her when she was in Florida conducting an interview in 2005 at his Mar-A-Lago estate.

Trump appeared to allude to the writer’s looks in his speech.

“Take a look at her,” Trump said. “Take a look at her words. You tell me what you think. I don’t think so.”


Donald Trump once told 14-year-old girls, ‘In a couple of years, I’ll be dating you’

Donald Trump appears to have a pattern of trying to charm young girls with a line about dating him.

In a December 1992 wire brief in the Chicago Tribune, Trump is described as having spotted a youth choir singing Christmas carols at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. He asked two girls how old they were. When they said they were 14, Trump, then 46, replied, “Wow! Just think — in a couple of years, I’ll be dating you.”

On Wednesday, CBS News reported a similar scenario involving a 10-year-old girl around the same time, when Trump was between his first and second marriages.

In footage from the archives of CBS-owned “Entertainment Tonight,” Trump asks the child if she is planning to ride the escalator at Trump Tower. After she says yes, Trump turns to cameras taping a Christmas special for the show and says, “I am going to be dating her in 10 years. Can you believe it?”

In both instances, the line appears to be somewhat in jest, though the girls’ ages and recent accusations of sex assault against Trump call that into question.

The Trump campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.

The revelations come as Trump is being buffeted by allegations by multiple women that he groped and kissed them against their will. The women said they decided to come forth publicly after Trump dismissed a recording of him speaking crassly about women as “locker room talk” rather than an indication of sexually aggressive behavior. Trump has vehemently denied the allegations made by the women.


Hillary Clinton’s advice for coping with a negative campaign: Watch cat GIFs

(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

Don’t boo, GIF!

That’s Hillary Clinton’s digitally inspired take on one of President Obama’s favorite edicts to supporters when they jeer their political opponents -- “Don’t boo, vote!”

Speaking at a fundraiser in San Francisco on Thursday, the Democratic presidential nominee reflected on the starkly negative turn of the campaign’s final month.

“It makes you want to turn off the news. It makes you want to unplug the Internet or just look at cat GIFs,” she said. “Believe me, I get it. In the last few weeks I’ve watched a lot of cats do a lot of weird and interesting things.”

But Clinton urged supporters not to succumb to the temptation to tune out the campaign and stay away from the polls on election day.

“We have a job to do, and it’ll be good for people and for cats,” she said. “We need to demonstrate that we have a hopeful, positive, unifying vision for our country in the face of all this ugly [rhetoric].”

Clinton made no specific reference to new allegations that GOP nominee Donald Trump inappropriately touched women against their will. But the “whole world has heard Trump brag about how he mistreats women,” she said.

“The disturbing stories just keep coming, but it’s more than just the way he degrades women, as horrible as that is,” she added. “He has attacked immigrants, African Americans, Latinos, people with disabilities, POWs, Muslims, and our military, which he’s called a disaster. There’s hardly any part of America that he’s not targeted.”

For those needing a break from the news, here’s a cat GIF to get you started:


In leaked emails, top advisor asks how Tom Steyer could help Hillary Clinton’s campaign

A team of advisors to Hillary Clinton debated how billionaire California environmentalist Tom Steyer could help the campaign without violating campaign finance laws, according to newly leaked emails.

The exchange is part of a new batch of emails from the private account of Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta, obtained and posted on Thursday by WikiLeaks.

Steyer, who spent more than $74 million on congressional and gubernatorial campaigns in 2014, oversees the political action group NextGen Climate Action Committee.

“Assume he can’t host an event with her or one of us,” wrote Podesta in an April 2015 email. “Correct?”

Campaign finance rules prohibit coordination between campaigns and outside groups that can spend unlimited sums in support of a candidate.

“Not easily. If important to do so, let me know and we can come up with our best options (which may not be good),” wrote Marc Elias, a lawyer at the firm Perkins Coie, which serves as the campaign’s general counsel.

Dennis Cheng, Clinton’s national finance director, suggested Steyer host an event for Clinton, then focus on his group.

In May 2015, Steyer did host a fundraiser in San Francisco for Clinton, separate from NextGen Climate Action.

Steyer’s group has spent millions on ads in opposition to Donald Trump. Many of the ads, in both Spanish and English, urge young people to get out and vote.

The San Francisco Democrat is considered by many to be a potential California gubernatorial candidate in 2018.


Trump denies groping allegations, lashes out at media

(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

Donald Trump angrily denied allegations by several women of sexual misconduct and lashed out against the media as an arm of Hillary Clinton’s campaign hell-bent on preventing him from winning the White House.

“These vicious claims about me of inappropriate conduct with women are totally and absolutely false,” the Republican nominee told a rally in West Palm Beach, Fla. “These claims are all fabricated. They’re pure fiction and they’re outright lies. These events never happened.”

Trump said the allegations that he kissed and groped women without their consent, emerging four weeks before the election, are evidence that the political establishment and special interests are frightened by Trump’s campaign and his supporters.

“Our campaign represents a true existential threat like they haven’t seen before,” Trump said. “This is not simply another four-year election. This is a crossroads in the history of our civilization.”

Trump response came after multiple women complained in news accounts about Trump touching their bodies and kissing them against their will.

The women said they decided to speak out, years after the alleged misconduct, because Trump had dismissed a recording of him making crude comments about women as “locker room talk” rather than sexually aggressive behavior.

Trump had special ire for the New York Times, which published a page one story Thursday about two women who allege that Trump made unwanted advances years ago. One said Trump had groped her on an airplane and the other said Trump had forcibly kissed her at Trump Tower.

In an exchange of letters Thursday, the newspaper’s lawyer rejected a demand from Trump’s lawyers to retract the article and to apologize.

Trump also mocked an article published Wednesday night by a former People magazine writer who wrote that Trump mauled her when she visited his Mar-A-Lago club in Florida to write a story about the first anniversary of Trump’s marriage to Melania, his third wife.

Trump said the writer wrote a “beautiful” story about the couple, and questioned why she did not include the groping allegation in her piece, which he said would have made it “one of the biggest stories of the year.”

Trump then appeared to allude to the writer’s looks.

“Take a look at her. Take a look at her words. You tell me what you think,” Trump said. “I don’t think so.”

Trump said the allegations had been personally painful and he tried to use them to rally his supporters to go to the polls.

“The only thing that can stop this corrupt machine is you,” he said.


New York Times rejects Donald Trump’s demand for a retraction

An attorney for the New York Times has rejected a demand from a law firm representing Donald Trump to remove and retract a story about women who claimed the Republican presidential nominee had engaged in sexual misconduct with them.

Trump’s attorneys claimed the newspaper committed libel when it published a report Wednesday that quoted two women who said that Trump had groped them, and Trump publicly vowed to sue the newspaper.

“You ask that we ‘remove it from [our] website, and issue a full and immediate retraction and apology,’ ” David E. McCraw, the newspaper’s lawyer, responded Thursday. “We decline to do so.”

McCraw all but dared Trump to sue the paper, writing that the newspaper welcomes “the opportunity to have a court set him straight” about libel law.

McCraw denied that the paper had committed libel, noting that “the essence of a libel claim, of course, is the protection of one’s reputation.”

“Mr. Trump has bragged about his non-consensual sexual touching of women” and he has “acquiesced to a radio host’s request to discuss Mr. Trump’s own daughter as a ‘piece of ass,’ ” he wrote, alluding to a 2005 tape of Trump making lewd comments about women and his past appearances on the “Howard Stern Show,” in which he has talked about his daughter Ivanka.

Moreover, McCraw wrote that the two women quoted in the front-page article “spoke out on an issue of national importance” because of the presidential election.

Jessica Leeds, 74, told the newspaper that Trump had grabbed her breasts and tried to slip his hand up her skirt as they sat 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 Times that Trump abruptly kissed her on the mouth when she introduced herself to him in front of an elevator in 2005 while she was working as a 22-year-old secretary in Trump Tower in New York.

In a rally in West Palm Beach, Fla., Trump angrily denied the women’s claims and blamed his rival, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, for the story.

“These vicious claims about me of inappropriate conduct with women are totally and absolutely false,” Trump said. “And the Clintons know it, and they know it very well. These claims are all fabricated. They’re pure fiction, and they’re outright lies.”


Michelle Obama delivers emotional rebuke of Trump

First Lady Michelle Obama delivered a powerful rebuke of Donald Trump and his behavior toward women during one of the most emotional speeches of the presidential campaign on Thursday.

“This is not normal,” Obama said in the New Hampshire address. “This is not politics as usual. This is disgraceful. This is intolerable.”

Obama framed the election as a crucial moment for the history of women — not just because voters have the opportunity to elect their first female president, but because they can send a message that the country no longer tolerates the attitudes toward women that Trump represents. She said that tolerating another minute of Trump’s behavior, including the lewd remarks caught on a hot mic and the allegations several women are now making that he groped and kissed them against their will, is hurting women and sending a dangerous message to America’s youth.

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Kaine: How did Trump not see this coming?

Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine said he is not surprised to see multiple women stepping forward to accuse Trump of groping and kissing them against their will. During an interview on ABC’s “The View,” Kaine said what surprises him is that Trump didn’t see it coming.

“I was surprised onstage Sunday night when he said, ‘I just said that, I never did it,’ ” Kaine said, referring to Trump’s insistence during the presidential debate that his bragging about making unwanted sexual advances on a recently disclosed video was just “locker room talk.”

“I felt like, OK, how many days is it going to be until folks are coming out and saying, ‘No that’s exactly the way he treated me,’ and now we are seeing that happen,” Kaine said. He added that he is “not surprised, but it is shocking.”

Kaine predicted voters are unlikely to be impressed by the Trump campaign’s effort to paint Bill and Hillary Clinton as even worse victimizers of women, mostly by putting the spotlight on Bill Clinton’s alleged bad behavior.

“Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the two on the ballot,” Kaine said. “That is the relevant comparison. After Donald lost the first debate, he said, ‘Now I’ve got to make the Clintons’ marriage an issue.’ It’s not an issue for the voters.”


These astrologists vow to predict who the next president will be

(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

Are the celestial bodies aligned in favor of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump?

The answer may emerge during a meeting this week of astrologists from around the globe, who are vowing to study charts and planetary positions to predict who will be the next U.S. president.

About 500 members of the International Society for Astrological Research will gather in Costa Mesa from Thursday to Sunday for a symposium tackling a wide variety of topics, including the financial markets, relationships and roller-coaster politics.

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New York Times story ‘total fabrication,’ Trump tweets


The actress in the Trump video speaks out: ‘They are offensive comments for women. Period.’

Several of the women who stepped forward Wednesday with allegations of Donald Trump groping them and kissing them against their will say they were motivated to go public by his response to a leaked video in which he boasted of exactly that behavior.

Trump denied he ever did the things he bragged about on the tape.

The footage came from “Access Hollywood,” taping a segment about a Trump cameo on “Days of Our Lives.” He and host Billy Bush were greeted on set by Arianne Zucker, an actress on the show, and just before they met her, Trump boasted that he might just start kissing her, and how being a star enabled him to just grab women’s genitalia.

Now, she has given her first interview.

“They are offensive comments for women. Period,” Zucker told NBC’s “Today” show. Zucker said Trump has not reached out to her since the video became public Friday, and she hesitated when asked her thoughts on the apology Trump made for the remarks, during which he pivoted into an attack on Hillary and Bill Clinton. “That was an interesting apology,” Zucker said.

But she also said the type of behavior Trump exhibited was familiar to her as a television actress. Asked whether she was shocked by Trump’s boasting, Zucker said, “Not with that type of personality. It doesn’t mean a lot to me.”


Bill Weld defends Gary Johnson’s foreign policy knowledge

Pop quizzes, snap quizzes on television — not his forte. ... Oh he knew what Aleppo was, he just didn’t copy on the context. He thought it was an acronym.

— Bill Weld, vice presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party, speaking to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” about Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson’s blunders on foreign policy questions


Trump campaign strains to respond to his accusers

Donald Trump’s campaign is reeling from the fallout of new allegations by women that he groped and kissed them without consent. The campaign has responded by saying the GOP presidential candidate is the victim, calling the accounts false and defamatory, and threatening to file lawsuits.

But the volume of incidents -- which emerged separately Wednesday evening in the New York Times, People magazine and the Palm Beach Post -- appear to be giving Trump surrogates pause. By 8 a.m. on the East Coast, not a single elected official appeared on CNN to defend Trump. North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, who had been scheduled, canceled his appearance.

The task of defending Trump was left mostly to his former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who is on CNN’s payroll.

“He said unequivocally these things didn’t happen,” Lewandowski said. “What I do find very interesting is the timing of this. ... He’s been running for president for two years now. And they wait until 25 days before an election.”

Lewandowski called the timing of the reports “a little egregious,” as he struggled to pursue the Trump campaign talking point that it is the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, who have victimized women.

“I never saw this,” said Lewandowski, who was a longtime Trump employee before the businessman announced his bid for the presidency. “He was the least sexist boss I ever had.”

On Fox, former presidential candidate Ben Carson, a staunch Trump supporter, strained to make the case that the multiple reports of unwanted sexual advances were a distraction ginned up by the mainstream media.

“Look, if you’re willing to come out and say something, we’ll give you fame, we will give you whatever you need,” Carson said.


Trump bailing on Virginia?

The electoral map for Donald Trump continues to shrink.

The Republican presidential candidate’s vows to make a big push in Virginia have faded amid news reports that his campaign is shifting resources out of the battleground state. The move reflects not just the recent reports of Trump’s inappropriate behavior with women, but the demographic realities of the state.

The population explosion in Virginia’s northern suburbs have, politically at least, turned the once solidly GOP Southern stronghold into a mid-Atlantic swing state that leans Democratic.

At the same time, Trump is also flailing in Pennsylvania. A new Bloomberg poll has Trump 9 points down in that battleground. Any inroads Trump may have made in the economically struggling western part of the state are overshadowed by his tepid support among the moderate voters in the Philadelphia suburbs, who are crucial to victory in Pennsylvania.


Trump attorneys demand New York Times retract story on assault allegations

Donald Trump campaigns Wednesday in Lakeland, Fla.
Donald Trump campaigns Wednesday in Lakeland, Fla.
(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

Multiple women recounted being kissed and groped by Donald Trump without their consent in reports published Wednesday, saying they came forward because the GOP presidential nominee dismissed his lewd comments caught on tape as “locker room talk,” not actual sexual aggression.

Trump, already reeling from the fallout of the 2005 recording that emerged Friday, denied the reports. His attorneys demanded a retraction from the New York Times, saying the paper’s article about two women’s claims is “reckless, defamatory and constitutes libel per se.” If the paper does not retract the article and remove it from its website, says the letter to Dean Baquet, the paper’s executive editor, Trump will “pursue all available actions and remedies.”

Late Wednesday, People magazine also published an account from one of its former writers who described being attacked by the GOP nominee when she went to Mar-a-Lago to interview Trump and his wife, Melania, for a story about their first wedding anniversary.

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Pro-Clinton millennials could make the difference in the swing state of Florida – but there’s a catch

Walter Velasquez frequently volunteers to sign up voters at the University of Central Florida, but many peers are disgusted or disinterested in the presidential race.
Walter Velasquez frequently volunteers to sign up voters at the University of Central Florida, but many peers are disgusted or disinterested in the presidential race.
(Mark Z. Barabak / Los Angeles Times)

Walter Velasquez stood outside the Student Union near the center of campus, beaded with sweat under a blazing sun, as he cheerily called out to passing students, “Have you updated your voter registration?”

Five hours a day, three times a week, the 19-year-old volunteer wields his clipboard at the University of Central Florida, trying to sign up as many young voters as he can in hopes of electing Hillary Clinton president.

Four years ago, Velasquez knocked on doors for Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee, but he can’t abide Donald Trump and his showman’s style of campaigning.

“I’ve never taken him seriously,” said Velasquez, the son of Honduran immigrants, who takes politics and political involvement very seriously.

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