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Donald Trump triumphs as GOP nominee, completing stunning climb

United for a night, Republicans nominated Donald Trump Tuesday as their presidential standard-bearer, capping the billionaire businessman’s stunning takeover of the GOP and propelling him into a November faceoff with Democrat Hillary Clinton.

“I will work hard and never let you down!” Trump quickly wrote on Twitter following the roll call vote.

Trump’s campaign hoped the formal nomination would both end the discord surging through the Republican Party and overshadow the convention’s chaotic kickoff, including a plagiarism charge involving Melania Trump‘s address on opening night.

There were flurries of dissent on the convention floor as states that Trump did not win recorded their votes, but he far outdistanced his primary rivals. His vice presidential pick, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, was also formally nominated.

Trump was put over the top by his home state of New York. Four of his children joined the state’s delegation on the convention floor for the historic moment and appeared overwhelmed with emotion.

“Congratulations, Dad, we love you,” declared Donald Trump Jr.

Some delegates emphasized a need for a televised display of unity after the deeply divisive GOP primary. “United we stand, divided we fall,” said Johnny McMahan, a Trump delegate from Arkansas.

But Colorado’s Kendal Unruh, a leader of the anti-Trump forces, called the convention a “sham” and warned party leaders that their efforts to silence opposition would keep some Republicans on the sidelines in the fall campaign against Clinton.

This week’s four-day convention is Trump’s highest-profile opportunity to convince voters that he’s better suited for the presidency than Clinton, who will be nominated at next week’s Democratic gathering. A parade of Trump’s campaign rivals and Republican leaders lukewarm about his nomination were taking the stage Tuesday night to vouch for the real estate mogul, including House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Still, the plagiarism controversy and other unforced errors by the campaign cast a shadow over the convention and raised fresh questions about Trump’s oversight of his campaign, which gives voters a window into how a candidate might handle the pressures of the presidency.

The plagiarism accusations follow Monday night’s speech by Trump’s wife. Two passages from her address — each 30 words or longer — matched a 2008 Democratic convention address by Michelle Obama nearly word-for-word.

Trump’s campaign failed to quell the controversy on Day 2 of the convention by insisting there was no evidence of plagiarism, while offering no explanation for how the strikingly similar passages wound up in Mrs. Trump’s address. The matter consumed news coverage from Cleveland until the evening vote, obscuring Mrs. Trump’s broader effort to show her husband’s softer side.

Clinton pounced on the tumult, saying the Republican gathering had so far been “surreal,” comparing it to the classic fantasy film “Wizard of Oz.”

“When you pull back the curtain, it was just Donald Trump with nothing to offer to the American people,” Clinton said during a speech in Las Vegas.

Top Trump adviser Paul Manafort said the matter had been “totally blown out of proportion.”

“They’re not even sentences. They’re literally phrases,” Manafort told The Associated Press.

Conventions are massive organizational undertakings, with thousands of attendees to manage and dozens of speakers to oversee. But the weeklong gathering pales in comparison to the scope of a president’s responsibilities as head of the U.S. government.

It was unclear whether there would be much if any effect on how voters view Trump. The businessman has survived numerous politically perilous moments that might have doomed other candidates.

Manafort, a longtime Republican operative, has been a central figure in Trump’s Cleveland operations. He led efforts to successfully tamp down a rebellion on the convention floor Monday, though the campaign still had to contend with angry outbursts from anti-Trump delegates.

The campaign chairman also upended Republicans’ unity message by slamming Ohio Gov. John Kasich in his home state. He called Kasich “petulant” and “embarrassing” for not endorsing Trump or attending the convention, drawing quick condemnation from other GOP leaders worried about angering the popular governor of one of the most important election states.

Trump’s campaign hoped the convention would also highlight a kinder, gentler side of the brash candidate. Mrs. Trump was the first in a series of family members and friends who were taking the stage to vouch for the man they know.

Mrs. Trump was widely praised for her success in doing just that, despite the plagiarism charges. She spoke of her husband’s “simple goodness” and his loyalty and love of family — while noting the “drama” that comes with Trump in politics.

Tiffany Trump, the candidate’s 22-year-old daughter from his marriage to Marla Maples, and Donald Jr., his eldest son and an executive vice president at The Trump Organization, were to speak about their father Tuesday night.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Former rivals, military leaders, actors to take stage at RNC

Former presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, Scott Walker and Marco Rubio — the latter by video link — are among those set to speak at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Military leaders, members of Congress, actors, faith leaders and family members of presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump are also set to speak in what the Republican National Committee calls “an unconventional lineup” that will challenge the status quo and press for Trump’s agenda.

Speaker highlights at the four-day convention, which begins Monday at the Quicken Loans Arena.

MONDAY

Theme: Make America Safe Again

Headliners: Trump’s wife, Melania; Lt. Gen. (ret.) Michael Flynn, U.S. Army; Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; and Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont.

Others: Willie Robertson, star of “Duck Dynasty”; former Texas Gov. Rick Perry; Marcus Luttrell, retired U.S. Navy SEAL; Scott Baio, actor; Pat Smith, mother of Sean Smith, killed in the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya; Mark “Oz” Geist, member of a security team that fought in Benghazi; John Tiegen, member of Benghazi security team and co-author of the book “13 Hours,” an account of the attacks; Kent Terry and Kelly Terry-Willis, siblings of Brian Terry, a Border Patrol agent whose shooting death revealed the botched “Fast and Furious” gun-smuggling operation; Antonio Sabato Jr., actor; Mary Ann Mendoza, Sabine Durden and Jamiel Shaw, immigration reform advocates; Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas; David Clarke, sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wis.; Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis.; Rachel Campos-Duffy, LIBRE Initiative for Hispanic economic empowerment; Darryl Glenn, Senate candidate in Colorado; Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.; Karen Vaughn, mother of a U.S. Navy SEAL killed in Afghanistan; Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.; former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani; and Jason Beardsley of Concerned Veterans for America.

___

TUESDAY

Theme: Make America Work Again

Headliners: Tiffany Trump, candidate’s daughter; Kerry Woolard, general manager, Trump Winery in Virginia; Donald Trump Jr.; Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.; former GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson; and actress Kimberlin Brown.

Others: Sharon Day, co-chairwoman of Republican National Committee; Dana White, president, Ultimate Fighting Championship; Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson; Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge; former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey; Andy Wist, founder of Standard Waterproofing Co.; Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.; Chris Cox, executive director, NRA Institute for Legislative Action; golfer Natalie Gulbis; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.; House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

___

WEDNESDAY

Theme: Make America First Again

Headliners: Former presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio; Eric Trump, son of the candidate; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich; and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Trump’s pick to be vice president.

Others: radio host Laura Ingraham; Phil Ruffin, businessman with interests in real estate, lodging, manufacturing and energy; Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi; retired astronaut Eileen Collins; Michelle Van Etten, small business owner; Kentucky state Sen. Ralph Alvarado Jr.; Darrell Scott, senior pastor and co-founder of New Spirit Revival Center Ministries, Cleveland; Harold Hamm, oil executive; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; Lynne Patton, vice president, Eric Trump Foundation; Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. (by video); Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas; Callista Gingrich, wife of Newt Gingrich.

___

THURSDAY

Theme: Make America One Again

Headliners: Peter Thiel, co-founder PayPal; Tom Barrack, CEO of Colony Capital; Ivanka Trump, daughter of the candidate; and Donald Trump, GOP nominee for president.

Others: Brock Mealer, motivational speaker; Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.; Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin; Dr. Lisa Shin, owner of Los Alamos Family Eyecare in New Mexico; RNC Chairman Reince Priebus; Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University and evangelical leader.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

GOP team addresses America Saturday

After frenzied, final decision-making, Donald Trump announced Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate Friday, adding an experienced politician with deep Washington connections to the Republican presidential ticket.

Trump’s pick was aimed in part at easing some Republicans’ concerns about his temperament and lack of political experience. Pence spent 12 years in Congress before being elected governor and his demeanor is as calm as Trump’s is fiery. While some conservatives are skeptical of Trump’s political leanings, Pence has been a stalwart ally on social issues.

Yet Pence is largely unknown to many Americans. And his solidly conventional political background runs counter to Trump’s anti-establishment mantra.

The two men scheduled a news conference for Saturday in New York to present themselves to America as the Republican team that will take on Hillary Clinton and her Democratic running mate in November. The duo will head to Cleveland next week for the Republican National Convention.

As Pence arrived for a private meeting with Trump Friday, he told reporters he “couldn’t be more happy for the opportunity to run with and serve with the next president of the United States.”

In choosing Pence, Trump appears to be looking past their numerous policy differences. The governor has been a longtime advocate of trade deals such as NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, both of which Trump aggressively opposes. Pence also has been critical of Trump’s proposed temporary ban on foreign Muslims entering the United States, calling the idea “offensive and unconstitutional.”

The reaction to the Pence choice from Republican officials was overwhelmingly positive — no small feat for Trump, given how polarizing he’s been within his own party.

“It was a pick that clearly shows he is pivoting to the general election,” said GOP chairman Reince Priebus, who was in the midst of an interview with The Associated Press when Trump announced his decision. “He is choosing a person who has the experience inside and outside Washington, Christian conservative, very different style that I think shows a lot of maturity.”

Pence, a staunchly conservative 57-year-old, served six terms in Congress before being elected governor and could help Trump navigate Capitol Hill. He is well-regarded by evangelical Christians, particularly after signing a law that critics said would allow businesses to deny service to gay people for religious reasons.

Clinton’s campaign moved quickly to paint him as the “most extreme pick in a generation.”

“By picking Mike Pence as his running mate, Donald Trump has doubled down on some of his most disturbing beliefs by choosing an incredibly divisive and unpopular running mate,” said John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman.

Clinton spent Friday holding meetings in Washington about her own vice presidential choice. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a favorite of liberals and one of the Democrats’ most effective Trump critics, and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, were seen in separate cars that left Clinton’s home. Housing Secretary Julian Castro also met with Clinton, according to a person familiar with the meeting who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the private gathering.

Trump spent weeks weighing vice presidential contenders, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and only zeroed in on Pence in recent days. In fact, the selection process appeared on the verge of sliding out of control in the final hours before the announcement, sparking speculation that Trump might be changing his mind.

Word that Pence would be joining the Republican ticket began trickling out in news reports Thursday before Trump had made a final decision or called Pence to offer him the job, according to a Republican familiar with the situation. Trump was in California for fundraisers, separated from his closest aides, and was fuming about leaks that he viewed as an attempt to pressure him into the decision.

Still, Trump called Pence Thursday afternoon to offer him the job and ask him to fly to New York for a Friday morning news conference. Pence accepted and boarded a private plane, along with his wife.

A few hours later, a huge truck barreled through a crowded holiday celebration in Nice, France, killing more than 80 people. With Pence sitting in a New York hotel, Trump decided to postpone the announcement.

The billionaire businessman then went on Fox News to say he had not yet settled on his “final, final” choice. He also held a midnight conference call with his top aides to discuss the situation, according to two people with knowledge of the call.

By Friday, plans were back on track.

Trump sent out a Twitter message saying he was pleased to announce Pence as his running mate. Moments later, one of Pence’s aides filed paperwork with the Indiana Secretary of State’s office withdrawing him from the governor’s race.

Pence was up for re-election, and state law prohibits candidates from being on ballots in two contests. Trump’s formal announcement came about an hour before Pence’s noon Friday deadline for withdrawing.

Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chairman, strongly rejected suggestions that the candidate considered changing his mind about Pence.

“Never waffled once he made his decision,” Manafort wrote in an email.

Gingrich, one of the finalists for the vice presidential spot, said he was “very comfortable” with Trump’s decision and praised Pence as someone who could help unite the party.

But as of Friday afternoon, Gingrich had yet to share his support with Trump himself. He told The Associated Press he had not received a call from Trump telling him he wasn’t getting the job.

Meanwhile, Trump did speak with Christie, according to a person familiar with their conversation. Ironically, Christie traveled with Trump to Indiana in April to help introduce the candidate to Pence when Trump was trying to win his endorsement ahead of India’s primary.

Pence endorsed Trump’s rival Ted Cruz instead.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Tim Tebow: Speaking slot at Republican convention ‘a rumor’

Thursday morning he was among the biggest stars featured on Donald Trump‘s convention lineup. Thursday night, Tim Tebow declared his attendance at next week’s Republican National Convention was nothing more than “a rumor.”

“I wake up this morning to find out that I’m speaking at the Republican National Convention,” Tebow said in a video posted on Facebook. “It’s amazing how fast rumors fly. And that’s exactly what it is, a rumor.”

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to questions about Tebow’s departure from a convention program the New York billionaire’s team had long teased would be an extraordinary display of political entertainment. But instead of sports stars and celebrities, as promised, the campaign is relying heavily on the party’s establishment for the four-day convention, which begins Monday.

The presumptive presidential nominee has approved a convention program featuring at least 20 current or former elected officials, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a primary rival.

Still, there is no shortage of political outsiders.

Peter Thiel, PayPal co-founder, may be the first-openly gay speaker featured at a national Republican convention. His appearance comes as party leaders refuse to soften the GOP’s formal opposition to gay marriage.

Other speakers will include four of Trump’s children, Las Vegas casino owner Phil Ruffin, and actor and former underwear model Antonio Sabàto Jr.

Mark Geist and John Tiegen, survivors of the deadly 2012 attack on the American diplomatic consulate in Benghazi, Libya, will speak.

“This impressive lineup of veterans, political outsiders, faith leaders and those who know Donald Trump the best — his family and longtime friends — represent a cross-section of real people facing the same challenges as every American household,” said Trump spokesman Jason Miller.

Some of the GOP’s biggest names are declining to participate in the convention.

Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, and the party’s two most recent presidential nominees, John McCain and Mitt Romney, plan to skip the event, as does Ohio Gov. John Kasich, another Trump primary challenger.

Shrugging off such absences, Trump’s team suggested the convention lineup would help highlight Trump’s outsider appeal.

“We are totally overbooked. We have great speakers, we have winners, we have people that aren’t only political people,” Trump told Fox News Channel on Tuesday. “We have a lot of people that are just champions and winners.”

He acknowledged in recent days that he’d stick a little closer to tradition.

“Look, I have great respect for the institution of the conventions. I mean to me, it’s very important. So we’re not going to change the wheel,” he said on Fox.

Tom Brady was initially floated as a possible speaker, but he won’t appear. Neither will former Indiana University basketball coach Bobby Knight or boxing promoter Don King, a Cleveland resident and passionate Trump supporter.

The program will feature people such pro golfer Natalie Gulbis, retired astronaut Eileen Collins, and Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White. Former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, author of the book, “Lone Survivor,” about a 2005 firefight in Afghanistan, will make an appearance, along with a Wisconsin sheriff, David Clarke, who is a vocal critic of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The convention will highlight religious leaders such as Jerry Falwell Jr. and Haskel Lookstein, the New York rabbi who converted Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, to Judaism.

Trump does not forget his business relationships, giving speaking slots to real estate investor Tom Barrack and even the general manager for Virginia’s Trump Winery, Kerry Woolard.

In a nod toward party unity, Trump will feature several former presidential competitors, including Cruz, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Ben Carson and Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Two finalists in Trump’s search for a running mate made the list as well: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Newt Gingrich. The other finalist, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, was not included in the program obtained by the AP.

Donald Trump postpones VP announcement, citing France attacks

Donald Trump abruptly postponed plans to announce his vice presidential pick following a day of rampant speculation, citing the “horrible attack” in Nice, France, that left scores dead.

Trump had planned to hold his first event with his yet-to-be-named running mate Friday morning in New York. He announced the change of plans Thursday evening on Twitter.

The stunning announcement raised questions about the status of Trump’s selection process. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence had emerged as a late favorite for the job, though Trump said he had not finalized the pick and advisers cautioned he could change his mind.

“I haven’t made my final, final decision,” Trump said on Fox News.

After spending much of Thursday in Indianapolis, Pence flew to New York late in the day, according to a Republican familiar with the process. Indianapolis television station WTHR posted a video showing Pence arriving at a private airport in New Jersey early Thursday evening.

Trump did not say when he planned to announce his running mate. He’s up against a clock: The Republican convention kicks off in Cleveland Monday.

In addition to Pence, Trump’s shortlist included former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, according to people familiar with the candidate’s thinking.

In tapping Pence, a staunch conservative with six terms in Congress, Trump would likely ease GOP leaders’ concerns about his own political inexperience and volatile temperament.

Pence has influential allies in Trump’s inner circle. But some of Trump’s children, who have been closely advising their father, are said to favor different candidates.

Campaign chair Paul Manafort was among those urging caution in assuming any decision on Thursday, saying on Twitter that Trump’s choice “will be made in the near future.”

As the day began, it appeared the decision would come quickly. Gingrich, the fiery Republican who helped define the political battles of the 1990s, told The Associated Press Trump was supposed to let him know something in the afternoon. But by early evening, Gingrich told the AP he had heard nothing from Trump or others in the campaign.

Other Republicans with knowledge of the process said there had been no calls to Pence or Christie, either.

The top contenders have been vetted by a top Washington lawyer and all have spent time with Trump in recent days. But the final decision rests with the candidate, who is known for making decisions more on instinct than other factors — and for sometimes changing his mind.

Trump was in California Thursday for several fundraisers. His schedule put him at a distance from many of his closest advisers, including Manafort and his three oldest children.

Pence is running for re-election, but Indiana law prevents him from seeking two offices at once. He faces a Friday deadline to withdraw from the governor’s race.

The paperwork has been drawn up for him to take that step, according to a Republican, who insisted on anonymity because that person was not authorized to publicly discuss the plans. However, those documents have not been filed.

Christie, in New Jersey, said in an interview with MSNBC: “No matter what phone call (Trump) makes to me today, I will take a deep breath and prepare for tomorrow.” The interview came hours before David Samson, whom Christie appointed to chair the powerful Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, pleaded guilty to scheming to get United Airlines to run direct flights between New Jersey and South Carolina where he has a vacation home.

Gingrich was the most visible of the contenders. As speculation about his future swirled, he calmly answered questions about the selection process on Facebook Live, including saying he had told Trump the choice was between having “two pirates on the ticket or a pirate and a relatively stable, more normal person.”

Each of Trump’s top contenders would add significant political experience to the GOP ticket. Trump has said for weeks that he wanted a running mate who could help him work with Congress.

Beyond their political backgrounds, the finalists bring different strengths to the ticket.

Pence, 57, has deep ties to evangelical Christians and other conservatives, particularly after signing a law last year that critics said would have allowed businesses to deny service to gay people for religious reasons. But the move alienated some moderates in the party.

Trump took notice of Pence during the Indiana primary, noting the governor had high praise for him despite endorsing one of his rivals.

Gingrich is something of a rabble-rouser who has spent decades in Washington. The 73-year-old would be the oldest candidate ever to become vice president.

Gingrich has been a steadfast Trump defender for months and has become a trusted adviser to the businessman.

So, too, has Christie. The New Jersey governor quickly endorsed Trump after ending his own presidential bid, stunning many of his supporters.

A former U.S. attorney, Christie, 53, is widely seen as one of his party’s most talented politicians and has proven himself an effective “attack dog” on the trail. He has also taken on the important role of heading Trump’s transition planning.

Dan Coats says Donald Trump hasn’t made up his mind on VP

The Latest on the 2016 presidential campaign ahead of the Republican and Democratic national conventions (all times EDT):

1:30 p.m.

Indiana Sen. Dan Coats says Donald Trump hasn’t made up his mind about who to select as his running mate.

Coats told The Associated Press Wednesday that he spoke with Gov. Mike Pence late Tuesday — one of the names on Trump’s shortlist of potential running mates — and Pence told him there’s still no decision.

“I think he’s the front-runner,” Coats said, adding, “I think he ought to be the front-runner.”

Coats said Pence is “pretty calm about the whole thing.”

He added that Trump is cognizant that he needs to make a decision by Friday given gubernatorial succession rules in Indiana.

But he concluded that “reading Donald Trump’s mind is not the easiest thing to do.”

___

1:20 p.m.

Hillary Clinton says the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln has been transformed into “the party of Trump.”

Rattling off a series of attacks against her GOP rival, Clinton says Trump is “dangerous,” ”divisive,” ”fear-mongering” and is “pitting American against American.” Even stalwart Republicans, she says, should be alarmed by Trump’s policies and racist rhetoric.

Clinton is casting Trump as ignorant of the Constitution, dismissive of U.S. law and lacking the character to be trusted with American security.

“Imagine if he had not just Twitter and cable news to go after his critics and opponents, but also the IRS – or for that matter, our entire military,” she says. “Do any of us think he’d be restrained?”

___

1:07 p.m.

Hillary Clinton is calling on the country — including herself — to “do a better job of listening” rather than fueling political and other divisions after a series of high-profile shootings.

Clinton says the country must address both gun violence, criminal justice reform and find ways to better support police departments.

“I know that just saying these things together may upset some people,” she says. “But all these things can be true at once.”

Clinton is speaking in the Illinois Old State House chamber in Springfield, the site of Abraham Lincoln’s his famous address about the perils of slavery. She is trying to use the symbolic site to contrast her call for civility with what she sees as rival Donald Trump’s polarizing campaign.

Clinton said she has work to do, as well.

She says that as someone “in the middle of a hotly fought political campaign, I cannot claim that my words and actions haven’t sometimes fueled the partisanship that often stands in the way of our progress.”

Clinton adds, “I recognize that I have to do better too.”

___

12:29 p.m.

Donald Trump is meeting with finalists for the job of his vice presidential running mate.

Trump met Tuesday with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and his family. Early Wednesday, Trump and his children met with Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and his family. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich also was said to be a finalist.

All three have auditioned for the job by opening for Trump at campaign rallies over the past week.

Trump was expected to make an announcement on Friday.

___

10:20 a.m.

Republican Donald Trump huddled with Indiana Gov. Mike Pence at the governor’s mansion in Indiana on Wednesday morning amid swirling speculation about Trump’s vice presidential deliberations.

Pence and Trump walked out of the residence together just before 10:30 a.m. The pair was joined inside by Pence’s wife, Karen, as well as Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and his son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Trump is said to have narrowed his short list down to a trio of top contenders, including Pence.

Pence joined Trump at a fundraiser and a rally on Tuesday where he received a warm reception from the crowd.

___

10:15 a.m.

The lead super PAC backing Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has begun targeting Spanish-speaking voters in Colorado, Nevada and Florida as part of a $35 million online effort it announced earlier this year.

An online ad from Priorities USA features video clips of Trump calling Hispanics “drug dealers” and “criminals” and leading his supporters in the chant: “Build that wall! Build that wall! Build that wall!”

In Spanish, an on-screen message declares that “hatred is growing in our country.”

The ad campaign also includes a website: unidoscontratrump.org, which means “united against Trump.” The same message will appear in banner ads on social media.

The three targeted states all have significant Latino populations. Trump insists he can do better among Hispanics than the less-than-30 percent Republican Mitt Romney drew in 2012 after calling for “self-deportation” for immigrants in the country illegally.

___

7:35 a.m.

Bernie Sanders says he agrees with the harsh remarks that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has made about Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

The Vermont senator declined to say whether it is appropriate for a sitting Supreme Court justice to openly criticize a White House contender. But he tells ABC’s “Good Morning America” that he agrees Trump is a “total opportunist” and said “the record clear is quite clear that he lies just a whole lot of the time.”

Ginsburg in a series of interviews with The Associated Press, The New York Times and CNN has called Trump unqualified to be president and joked that she would move to New Zealand if he won. Trump said in a tweet that Ginsburg should resign.

Sanders’s comments came a day after he formally endorsed Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee for president.

Asked if he is open to being her running mate, Sanders said, “I doubt that will happen.” He said his focus is on helping Clinton win. He says, “We cannot have a man with Trump’s temperament with the nuclear code and running this country.”

5:25 a.m.

Hillary Clinton is turning to the symbolism of Abraham Lincoln’s “House Divided” speech to argue that the nation needs to repair its divisions after high-profile shootings in Texas, Louisiana and Minnesota.

Clinton’s campaign says the Democratic presidential candidate will talk about the importance of uniting the country at the Old State House in Springfield, Illinois, later Wednesday. It’s the site of Lincoln’s famous address in 1858.

Clinton plans to say the nation needs to determine ways to close the divides exposed in the recent shootings.

But she will say that the problems facing the country are much broader and show the need to heal divisions in the nation’s politics and culture.

Heading into the Democratic convention, Clinton has tried to present herself as a unifying figure against Republican Donald Trump.

12:40 a.m.

Donald Trump is urging Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to resign in the wake of harsh remarks she’s made about his presidential campaign.

“Justice Ginsburg of the U.S. Supreme Court has embarrassed all by making very dumb political statements about me,” he tweeted on @realDonaldTrump.

Ginsburg had said that she felt Trump was unqualified for the position. In an interview with The Associated Press last week, she said she didn’t want “to think about that possibility.”

In his Twitter post, Trump said, “Her mind is shot — resign.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that it was “totally inappropriate” for Ginsburg to criticize Trump.

McConnell said that members of the Supreme Court shouldn’t weigh in on American elections.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Give a politician a hug

Hugs may be attempting a comeback in politics.

For several years now, they seemed to be dangerous. Just ask Charlie Crist. Just ask Chris Christie. Just ask Carlos Beruff, who seems to think they still are dangerous. He sent out a news release slamming his U.S. Senate Republican primary opponent, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, and featuring an old picture Beruff’s campaign dug up of then-Speaker of the House Rubio and then-Gov. Crist sharing a man hug.

The news release was entitled, “The Hug.”

And it included that picture of the very moment that Crist likely spread political cooties to Rubio.

But that image as a warning from Beruff just might be so ancient history now. Certainly, no one in Orlando begrudges anyone’s hug.

Orlando may be a special case. Since the horrific June 12 massacre at the city’s popular gay nightclub Pulse, everyone is hugging everyone in the City Beautiful.

President Barack Obama is hugging Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, and then hugging Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, a Republican. There’s Jacobs and U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, a Democrat, sharing a nice, warm embrace. There’s Orlando Commissioner Patty Sheehan and other city commissioners, and Orange County commissioners, hugging everyone in sight. There’s Gov. Rick Scott … wait, what? … fondly putting his arm around Jacobs.

OK, Scott and Jacobs are both Republicans. But still, isn’t it possible she caught political cooties from one those earlier hugs, and might she be contagious? And who else has he hugged?

Most political professionals are skeptical and dubious of the hug. Context of hugs matters. So does the reality that there always are political enemies. Pictures are forever, and once they fall into the wrong hands, well, anyone you hug can and will be used against you in the court of politics.

There have been too many infamous political hugs. Crist and Obama. Christie and Obama. John McCain and George W. Bush. Caitlyn Jenner and Hillary Clinton. Nelson Mandela and Fidel Castro. Ted and Heidi Cruz. Plenty more.

Scott Widmeyer, former communications adviser to Jimmy Carter and Jay Rockefeller and a managing partner in Finn Partners public relations agency, advises clients: “the political stage is a politician hug-free zone.”

And yet; can there really be anything in wrong with something that feels so good?

We’re already seeing the rise of U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham as a likely Democratic gubernatorial candidate. Graham is a notorious hugger. If and when she starts her campaign, no one in the state is likely safe from a hug.

Still, we should probably draw the line at letting Joe Biden kisses becoming the next trend.

Many experienced GOP strategists unwilling to work for Donald Trump

Donald Trump has finally acknowledged that to best compete against Hillary Clinton he needs more than the bare-bones campaign team that led him to primary success. But many of the most experienced Republican political advisers aren’t willing to work for him.

From Texas to New Hampshire, well-respected members of the Republican Party’s professional class say they cannot look past their deep personal and professional reservations about the presumptive presidential nominee.

While there are exceptions, many strategists who best understand the mechanics of presidential politics fear that taking a Trump paycheck might stain their resumes, spook other clients and even cause problems at home. They also are reluctant to devote months to a divisive candidate whose campaign has been plagued by infighting and disorganization.

“Right now I feel no obligation to lift a finger to help Donald Trump,” said Brent Swander, an Ohio-based operative who has coordinated nationwide logistics for Republican presidential campaigns dating to George W. Bush.

“Everything that we’re taught as children — not to bully, not to demean, to treat others with respect — everything we’re taught as children is the exact opposite of what the Republican nominee is doing. How do you work for somebody like that? What would I tell my family?” Swander said.

Trump leapt into presidential politics with a small group of aides, some drafted directly from his real estate business, with no experience running a White House campaign. An unquestioned success in the GOP primaries, they have struggled to respond to the increased demands of a general election.

As in years past, the primary season created a pool of battle-tested staffers who worked for other candidates, from which Trump would be expected to draw. But hundreds of such aides have so far declined invitations to work for him.

They include several communications aides to Chris Christie, as well as the New Jersey governor’s senior political adviser, Michael DuHaime, who has rejected direct and indirect inquiries to sign on with the billionaire.

Chris Wilson, a senior aide to Ted Cruz, said the Texas senator’s entire paid staff of more than 150 ignored encouragement from Trump’s team to apply for positions after Cruz quit the presidential race. Wilson said that even now, many unemployed Cruz aides are refusing to work for the man who called their former boss “Lyin’ Ted.”

That’s the case for Scott Smith, a Texas-based operative who traveled the country planning events for Cruz, and earlier worked on presidential bids for Bush and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

“It’s very clear that none of us are going to work for Trump,” Smith said. “Even if I wanted to work for Trump, my wife would kill me.”

Smith, like many experienced strategists interviewed for this story, noted the intense personal sacrifice required of presidential campaigns. Many advisers do not see their families for long stretches, work brutal hours on little sleep and enjoy no job security.

With Trump, Smith said, “I would feel like a mercenary. I can’t be away from my young children if it’s just for money.”

Trump’s need for additional staff is acute. His paltry fundraising network brought in less than $2 million last month. He has just one paid staffer to handle hundreds of daily media requests and only a few operatives in battleground states devoted to his White House bid.

Last month, Trump fired Rick Wiley, who was the campaign manager for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a former 2016 candidate, and was brought on to run Trump’s nationwide get-out-the-vote effort. On Monday, Trump fired campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who acknowledged he lacked the experience needed to expand Trump’s operation.

“This campaign needs to grow rapidly,” Lewandowski told the Fox News Channel. “That’s a hard job and candidly I’ve never grown something that big.”

Trump credited Lewandowski with helping “a small, beautiful, well-unified campaign” during the primary season. “I think it’s time now for a different kind of a campaign,” Trump told Fox.

Campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks did not respond to multiple requests for comment about the campaign’s hiring. A former adviser, Barry Bennett, played down any staffing challenges, suggesting the campaign should be able to double its contingent by the party’s national convention next month.

Trump announced four new hires in the past week, including a human resources chief to help with hiring, to supplement a staff of about 70. That’s compared with Clinton’s paid presence of roughly 700, many of them well-versed in modern political strategy.

Trump’s senior team, including campaign chief Paul Manafort and newly hired political director Jim Murphy, largely represent an older generation of political hands more active in the 1980s and 1990s. The campaign’s new Ohio director, Bob Paduchik, led state efforts for Bush’s 2000 and 2004 campaigns.

A new generation of top talent active in more recent years has shown little interest in Trump. In Iowa, experienced operative Sara Craig says she will not work for Trump or even support him. “I am more interested in working on down-ballot races,” said Craig, who helped elect Joni Ernst to the Senate from Iowa and directed a pro-Bush super political action committee.

Ryan Williams, who worked on Mitt Romney‘s presidential campaigns, said he’s happy working for a consulting firm, where he’s involved with various other elections across the country, as well as with corporate clients.

“When you sign up for a campaign, you’re putting your name on the effort. Some of the things that Trump has said publicly are very hard for people to get behind,” Williams said.

But Paduchik offered the kind of positive perspective expected of a campaign on the move.

“It’s been great, the response I’ve gotten,” Paduchik said. “Republicans in every corner of Ohio are excited about Mr. Trump’s campaign.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Joe Henderson: Florida Republicans just can’t let go of Marco Rubio

When it comes to Marco Rubio, Florida Republican Party leaders are starting to sound like a jilted lover that can’t quite let it go.

They ignore that Rubio was beaten soundly by Donald Trump in 65 of the state’s 66 counties in the Florida Primary, causing him to drop out of the presidential race. They ignore that he has repeatedly trashed his job as a senator in both word and deed.

They ignore a recent Quinnipiac poll that showed 49 percent of Floridians disapprove of his performance while only 42 percent approve. They’re willing to look past his stumbles on the presidential campaign trail, especially the way Chris Christie made him look foolish and ill-prepared during the New Hampshire primary.

None of this seems to matter.

They are practically crawling to Rubio, all but begging him to change his mind and run for re-election to his seat in the U.S. Senate after he repeatedly said he wouldn’t. Given his serious and considerable baggage, the fact that they see Rubio as their champion says a lot about what they think of their chances to keep that seat in the GOP column.

And while Rubio’s words say “no, no, no” his actions say, “um, maybe … if you ask me real nice.”

For instance, he told CNN he might consider changing his mind if his good friend Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera wasn’t in the race.

“I think he’s put in time and energy to it and he deserves the chance to see where he can take it,” Rubio said.

Of course, friendship didn’t stand in the way of running against Jeb Bush for president. That friendship was strained, too; after he dropped out, Bush refused to endorse Rubio, even after pushing for him to be the vice president for Mitt Romney in 2012.

And while he was still in the campaign, Bush told The Washington Post, “Let me ask you, what has (Rubio) accomplished? What has he done in his life that makes you think he can make the tough calls, develop strategy?”

Good question.

What has Rubio accomplished, other than express disdain for the job he was elected to do? He has name recognition, sure, but as the Quinnipiac poll shows that can cut both ways.

None of that apparently matters to Republicans casting a longing eye in Rubio’s direction. Maybe it should.

___

Joe Henderson has had a 45-year career in newspapers, including the last nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. He covered a large variety of things, primarily in sports but also including hard news. The two intertwined in the decade-long search to bring Major League Baseball to the area. Henderson was also City Hall reporter for two years and covered all sides of the sales tax issue that ultimately led to the construction of Raymond James Stadium. He served as a full-time sports columnist for about 10 years before moving to the metro news columnist for the last 4 ½ years. Henderson has numerous local, state and national writing awards. He has been married to his wife, Elaine, for nearly 35 years and has two grown sons – Ben and Patrick.

Florida Republicans querying donors on possible vice president choice: Rick Scott, Marco Rubio, ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis

So whom do Florida Republicans want to see Donald Trump pick as his running mate? The Republican Party of Florida is asking, in an informal poll attached to a fundraising pitch Monday.

Republican backers are getting a chance to pick from 11 prospects including four of this year’s former presidential candidates such as Florida’s Sen. Marco Rubio and Ohio’s Gov. John Kasich, and some reputed rising stars in the national party such as South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and retired U.S. Marine Corps Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott makes the RPOF’s list or prospects. So does former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, a 2012 presidential candidate. So do 2016 presidential candidates Ben Carson and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

The list also includes few other emerging names and a couple longer-term lawmakers in the GOP, including Alabama’s U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions and three women: Haley, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.

No Jeb Bush.

No Ted Cruz.

“Now that Donald Trump secured the Republican nomination, all attention has turned to who he’ll choose as his nominee for vice president. Thankfully, our party has no shortage of qualified candidates for the job,” the RPOF states in its email.

“Mr. Trump has said that — beyond being ready to be president — there are two main factors he’s looking for in a VP nominee: He’s looking for a ‘political person:’ someone who can work with Congress and help him pass his agenda, and someone who he’ll have great chemistry with.”

The party promises results as soon as they’re completed.

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