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Donald Trump, former campaign aide settle confidentiality dispute

Donald Trump has settled a $10 million legal dispute with a former political consultant he had accused of violating a nondisclosure agreement. Terms of the settlement, which included a counter lawsuit against Trump, were confidential.

The decision brings to a close the latest move by the GOP presidential nominee to aggressively enforce terms of confidentiality agreements he requires nearly every employee to sign.

Trump had sought $10 million in damages from Sam Nunberg after accusing the former aide of leaking information to reporters after Nunberg was fired. In response, Nunberg filed a lawsuit in New York state court, accusing Trump of trying to silence him because he chose to support Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the GOP primary.

The details of the settlement were not disclosed in court papers, and attorneys on either side declined to provide further details.

“All I can say it that it was amicably resolved, the whole dispute,” said Alan Garten, general counsel for the Trump Organization.

Nunberg’s attorney, Andrew Miltenberg, issued a similar statement in an email to The Associated Press. Nunberg did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Hillary Clinton campaign reports 34.2 percent tax rate

Hillary Clinton‘s campaign says the Democratic nominee and her husband paid a federal tax rate of 34.2 percent and donated 9.8 percent of their income to charity last year.

The Clintons are releasing their 2015 filings on Friday. Her campaign is also releasing returns from running mate Tim Kaine and his wife.

The campaign says the Kaines have donated 7.5 percent of their income to charity over the last decade. They paid an effective tax rate of 25.6 percent in 2015.

Clinton is trying to undercut the trustworthiness of rival Donald Trump. He has refused to disclose any returns, breaking tradition with all recent presidential candidates.

Trump says he won’t release them until Internal Revenue Service completes audits of his returns.

The Clintons have disclosed returns for every year since 1977.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Donald Trump’s trap: GOP nominee can’t let go of perceived slights

For Donald Trump, it’s become a familiar pattern. The Republican nominee can’t let go of a perceived slight, no matter the potential damage to his presidential campaign or political reputation.

Trump spent the days after winning the Republican nomination criticizing a U.S. district court judge’s Mexican heritage. The morning after accepting the Republican nomination at the party’s convention, Trump re-litigated months-old grievances with primary rival Ted Cruz. Now, he’s sparring with an American Muslim family whose son was killed in Iraq.

Republican leaders have urged Trump to drop his attacks on Khizr and Ghazala Khan, who appeared at last week’s Democratic convention and harshly criticized the GOP nominee. It’s not just the optics of picking a fight with a military family that has GOP officials eager for Trump to move on, but the timing of his attacks: Election Day is just three months away.

Those who have worked with Trump say that in private meetings, he can often appear amenable to putting a controversy aside. But the businessman can quickly be drawn back in by an interview, especially if he believes he’s already answered the question, or if he grows irritated by commentary on cable television.

“It’s just who he is,” said Stuart Jolly, a former campaign staffer and current political director for the pro-Trump Great America PAC.

Others who have worked with Trump say the only way to ensure he moves on is to wait for him to tire of an issue or get drawn into another matter. Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker who has advised Trump, said the candidate’s inability to back away from a political land mine “makes him vulnerable.”

“His whole experience up until running for office was in a very combative New York media market,” Gingrich said. “He’s been doing it now for over 30 years. It’s a very deeply held habit.”

Khizr Kahn delivered an emotional address at last week’s Democratic convention, with his wife standing by his side. The Pakistan-born Khan told the story of his son, U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, who was posthumously awarded a Bronze Star and Purple Heart after his death in 2004.

Khan said that if Trump were president and enacted his proposed temporary ban on foreign Muslims coming to the U.S., a position Trump has backed away from in recent weeks, his son would have never been allowed into the country. He also questioned whether Trump had ever read the Constitution.

Trump responded by implying Ghazala Khan’s religion preventing her from speaking at the convention, though she later said talking publicly about her late son was still too difficult. On Monday, Trump tweeted that he was being “viciously attacked” by Khizr Khan.

Trump’s unwillingness to let the matter subside sparked outrage Monday from a chorus of Republicans.

Arizona Sen. John McCain, a former prisoner of war, said Trump did not have “unfettered license to defame those who are the best among us.” Rep. Mike Coffman, a vulnerable Republican in a competitive Colorado district, said he was “deeply offended when Donald Trump fails to honor the sacrifices of all of our brave soldiers who were lost in that war.” Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt said the Khans “deserve to be heard and respected.”

“My advice to Donald Trump has been and will continue to be to focus on jobs and national security and stop responding to every criticism whether it’s from a grieving family or Hillary Clinton,” Blunt said in a statement.

However, none of the Republican lawmakers pulled back their support of Trump’s White House campaign.

In his first rally after a weekend of controversy, Trump spoke at length and took several questions at an event Monday in Columbus, Ohio — never once mentioning the Khans.

But when asked about Khizr Khan on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity,” Trump responded, “I guess it’s part of my life.”

“His son died 12 years ago,” Trump added. “If I were president, his son wouldn’t have died, because I wouldn’t have been in the war, if I was president back then.”

Trump backers attending the Ohio rally dismissed the issue, underscoring how the businessman was able to survive numerous such firestorms in the GOP primaries.

“I think the Democrats laid a trap for him,” said Tom McClanahan, a 54-year-old from Johnston, Ohio. “I think they knew what they were doing when they asked that family to speak at the convention. They knew he’d respond.”

Dale Brown, a maintenance supervisor from Grove City, Ohio, whose son is in the Navy, said Democrats were blowing Trump’s comments out of proportion and had “politicized this by asking that family to speak.”

But the real test for Trump isn’t the opinion of the loyal supporters who attend his rallies. It’s the broader general election audience, a far more diverse group still weighing Trump’s readiness for the White House.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Hillary Clinton aide says Bernie Sanders backers to come around

The Latest on the Democratic National Convention and 2016 presidential campaign. (all times EDT):

7:10 p.m.

A Hillary Clinton campaign adviser says he’s not worried about winning over Bernie Sanders’ supporters.

“Most of them are going to come around.”

That’s what John Podesta thinks.

Podesta says he knows there are some in the Sanders camp who are still “emotional” and wish Clinton didn’t win more votes than the Vermont senator in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

But Podesta says most of Sanders’ supporters are looking at the election as a choice between Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.

Podesta spoke after some Sanders delegates at the party’s convention wore neon yellow shirts to protest Clinton’s nomination.

6:50 p.m.

Some Bernie Sanders supporters are wearing glow-in-the-dark shirts on the final night of Democrats convention in Philadelphia.

They say it’s a way to remind presidential nominee Hillary Clinton that she hasn’t brought them all on board yet.

For Clinton, the silent protest probably is preferable to the heckling and booing from that marked the early days of the convention.

Sanders delegate Davena Norris says her bright shirt is meant to send a message that more needs to be done to curb the influence of money in politics.

6:45 p.m.

Donald Trump is campaigning in Iowa and largely avoiding the topic that earned him lots of criticism this week.

Only a day ago Trump encouraged Russia to find and make public missing emails deleted by his Democratic presidential opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Trump’s comments raised the question of whether he was condoning foreign government hacking of U.S. computers and the public release of information stolen from political adversaries.

Trump was condemned by Clinton and even some of his fellow Republicans. Running mate Mike Pence warned of “serious consequences” if Russia interfered in the election.

Trump has since insisted he was being sarcastic.

At the Iowa rally, he did say he wanted better relations with Russia and joked that writing letters was more secure than “putting something on a computer.”

5:40 p.m.

Donald Trump says “a lot of lies are being told” about him in the speeches at the Democratic National Convention this week.

The Republican presidential nominee is joking about it during a campaign rally in Davenport, Iowa.

“Boy, I’m getting hit” by Democrats – he says. “I guess they have to do their thing.”

Trump is criticizing Democrats for not talking about terrorism or laying out a plan to aid the economy.

4:25 p.m.

Die-hard Bernie Sanders supporters from Oregon’s delegation say they’re demanding a nationally televised apology at the Democratic National Convention before Hillary Clinton takes the stage Thursday night to accept the presidential nomination.

The matter involves leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee that indicated party officials were biased against the Vermont senator.

The DNC has apologized and the party’s leader, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, is resigning her post.

But Melissa Pancurak tells The Associated Press that those steps don’t go far enough. She says the Oregon delegates are part of a coalition of Sanders supporters working to get their demand to appropriate DNC officials before Clinton’s speech.

4:20 p.m.

Donald Trump’s stand on abortion has been inconsistent, but his running says Trump would be a “pro-life president.”

Mike Pence is campaigning in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and he makes clear he opposes abortion. And the Indiana governor tells a town hall rally, “I don’t apologize for it.”

Pence drew the ire of abortion rights advocates in March after he signed a law banning abortions that were being sought because of fetal genetic defects. That law has since been blocked pending the outcome of a court challenge.

Pence says Trump would appoint conservatives to the Supreme Court who would send the Roe v. Wade abortion ruling to the “ash heap of history.”

4 p.m.

“Disrespectful.”

That’s what Elijah Cummings thinks of liberal supporters of Bernie Sanders who chanted an anti-trade slogan during the Maryland congressman’s speech at the Democratic National Convention.

But Cummings says he’s not upset about it because he’s a veteran of civil rights protests and understands the passion that drove the mostly young delegates to shout over his speech Monday.

Cummings says in an interview that most of those who were shouting probably didn’t know he worked with Sanders to draft the Democratic platform and he’s “never voted for a trade bill in 20 years in Congress.”

He says more than 100 people have apologized to him for the outbursts.

2:37 p.m.

President Barack Obama‘s mention of “fascists” and “homegrown demagogues” in his convention speech wasn’t aimed at Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

That’s what White House press secretary Josh Earnest is telling reporters the day after Obama argued for Democrat Hillary Clinton’s election over Trump.

Obama said “anyone who threatens our values, whether fascists or communists or jihadists or homegrown demagogues, will always fail in the end.”

Obama had criticized Trump several times before arriving at that particular line in the speech, including saying that American power “doesn’t come from a self-declared savior promising that he alone can restore order as long as we do things his way.”

Trump said in his acceptance speech at last week’s GOP convention that “I alone can fix” a political system he says is rigged.

2:19 p.m.

Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is giving Hillary Clinton credit for her work on behalf of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Giuliani was asked at a Republican Party briefing Thursday in Philadelphia whether he took issue with the Democratic convention speakers who’d been praising Clinton. Giuliani said she was “enormously supportive and helpful.” Clinton was a U.S. senator from New York at the time.

He says Clinton “has a right to tell people that she worked hard on behalf of the 9/11 families.” He adds that, “She did.”

But Giuliani adds that “on all other aspects she fails the test.” Clinton and Democrats, he says, have “not done anything to prevent another attack.”

1:50 p.m.

This time, Bill Clinton will be the adoring spouse, rapt and smiling when the cameras cut away from the candidate in the spotlight.

He’ll be the He in the VIP box watching as She accepts the presidential nomination at the Democratic convention on Thursday.

It’s one small step in the role reversal Americans will need to get used to if Hillary Clinton wins the White House in November.

Already, satires and spoofs are circulating, taking note of Bill’s fashion choices, accessories and hair style. How about that fetching pantsuit! And that nice head of hair! Whose shoes is he wearing?

After all, that’s what political wives have come to expect.

Bill Clinton, utterly comfortable in his own skin, seems to be just fine with trading places with his wife, the former first lady.

10:28 a.m.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid says the CIA should give Donald Trump “fake intelligence briefings” because he can’t be trusted.

The Nevada lawmaker tells reporters in Philadelphia that “they shouldn’t give him anything that means anything because you can’t trust him.”

Reid was responding to Trump’s call for Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails.

He says he’s sure the agency is aware of his suggestion.

He also says Trump may have violated the Logan Act that bars unauthorized U.S. citizens from negotiating with foreign governments.

9:56 a.m.

The North Carolina Republican Party has removed a tweet criticizing Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine for wearing a pin honoring his son’s military service.

The tweet posted during Kaine’s Democratic National Convention speech Wednesday night said Kaine “wears a Honduras flag pin on his jacket but no American flag. Shameful.”

The pin in question has a single blue star against a white background outlined in red. It’s the same design as the Service Flag, which is reserved for families who have members serving in the military during wartime. The flag of Honduras has five stars against a blue and white striped background. Kaine’s son is a Marine set to be deployed to Europe.

The party hasn’t responded to a request for comment from The Associated Press.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Joe Henderson: DNC Day 3 — organization is everything

Florida Democrats have long since undertaken the groundwork to deliver the Sunshine State to Hillary Clinton in November. In fact, you could say that began in 2008 and continued four years later when Barack Obama carried Florida in both of his presidential campaigns.

The local operatives, so critical in big elections, who turned out the vote for Obama have stayed busy trying to do the same for Clinton.

“They never left,” Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said. “Some of the players might be different now, but the model is still the same.”

That organization stands in stark contrast now to Republican nominee Donald Trump, who appears to have little visible infrastructure in place here.

Clinton has a major head start on him and that could the difference in what shapes up as a closely contested contest.

The work of turning out the vote will take on a new urgency after the balloons drop at the end of Clinton’s acceptance speech Thursday night. Buckhorn, who has solidly been in the Clinton camp, figures to be an important part of all that.

“Organization is everything,” Buckhorn said. “In Florida presidential races it’s all about the turnout and not so much about TV or radio (ads). Building connections matter. Field organization matters. Gathering data is important. It becomes a combination of analytics and data mining. Marry the two of those and you’ve got something.”

Clinton is popular among Florida Democrats.

In 2008, she received 49 percent of the primary vote to 32 percent for Obama, who by that point was well on his way to winning the nomination. In the March primary this year, Clinton nearly doubled up Bernie Sanders 64 percent to 33 percent.

But Trump received 1.079 million votes in the GOP state primary, nearly as many as Clinton’s 1.1 million.

Even given Trump’s renowned penchant for outrageous and, as Democrats charged after his suggestion that Russia hack more of Hillary’s emails, treasonous behavior, polls show a tight contest between the two for Florida’s 29 electoral votes.

“You never underestimate anybody,” Buckhorn said. “The proof is in the bodies. Organizing means putting those bodies on the road, making those phone calls, knocking the doors. I haven’t seen any evidence of the Trump people doing that (in Florida).”

WEDNESDAY TAKEAWAYS: That was a show of force Wednesday night by the star-packed Democratic lineup.

President Barack Obama, as expected, set Clinton up perfectly to be the right person to accept the baton of leadership from him. I thought former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent, took Trump apart on The Donald’s own playing field in the world of business.

But for the star of the night, give me Vice President Joe Biden. Who else but Biden could call Trump’s claims “a bunch of malarkey” and turn it into a rallying cry. The hashtag “malarkey” quickly started trending on Twitter and prompting many clever memes – the best of which was a signature red Trump ball cap with the word “Malarkey” emblazed instead of his “Make America Great Again” slogan.

Sitting through vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine’s speech was like sitting through a warmup band you don’t really want to hear before the main show begins. I’ll give a tepid thumbs-up to his mocking “Believe Me” impersonation of Trump, but he should have stopped it after one or two times.

I mean, it wasn’t THAT funny.

So it’s all there for Hillary now to see if she can convince the undecided Americans that she is best for the job. Stick to the end for the balloon drop. Balloon drops are cool.

Democratic donors, allies offer reward for Donald Trump tax returns

The wealthy Democratic donors, many of them executives who run complex businesses, know firsthand how revealing tax returns can be. Perhaps that’s why they can’t stop talking about Republican nominee Donald Trump‘s refusal to release his.

In their suites at the Ritz Carlton hotel, where many are staying during this week’s Democratic convention, and at its auxiliary swanky parties, the supporters of Hillary Clinton are sounding the alarm about Trump’s break with decades of presidential campaign tradition.

Clinton put out eight years of recent tax filings last summer, and they lament that voters don’t seem to understand why Trump’s refusal to do the same matters.

Democratic talk of the taxes spilled onto the convention stage Wednesday night. Vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine, mocking Trump, said, “Believe me, there’s nothing suspicious in my tax returns. Believe me!” The crowd laughed.

There’s even a literally a bounty for the Trump documents.

Moishe Mana, a top fundraiser for Clinton, has offered to give $1 million to the charity of Trump’s choice if he makes them public. He joins an unnamed Republican donor working with Clinton ally David Brock who has made a similar offer of $5 million.

“Through his financial documents, we are trying to break into the image that he’s portraying to the American people,” said Mana, a real estate developer in Miami. “He says he’s a successful businessman who wants to do for the country what he did for his company. Well, go ahead, show me the money.”

Trump is unmoved. The billionaire owner of the Trump Organization, an international development company, says the Internal Revenue Service is reviewing his most recent returns and that he’ll release them once that audit is complete.

He reiterated that plan at a news conference Wednesday in Doral, Florida. Asked when he would put out the documents, he said: “I don’t know. Depends on the audit.”

There’s no telling whether that would happen before Election Day, but the IRS says there’s no legal reason Trump can’t make the tax returns public even as they are under review.

The issue has flared up in recent days, in the wake of the hack of emails at the Democratic National Committee that the Obama administration said Wednesday was almost certainly the work of Russia. The group WikiLeaks released the emails on the eve of the convention, a leak its leader Julian Assange has said was timed to inflict political damage on Clinton.

Trump said Wednesday that he has no ties to Russia whatsoever, but that hasn’t stopped Democratic donors in Philadelphia from saying that in the absence of Trump’s tax returns, voters are left to wonder whether there are undisclosed financial ties between Trump and foreign entities.

“Think of what’s gone on just this week and connect the dotted lines,” said top Clinton donor J.B. Pritzker, a billionaire venture capitalist in Chicago. “I’m not sure what’s going on, but it sure doesn’t look good. The question is who his investors are, and whether there are any in China or Russia that are affecting his personal income.”

Mana also wants that answered. If Trump’s elected president, he said, “how much in debt would we be to other countries? This is about the security of the United States. We have the right to make sure he’s not in debt to other countries.”

While information about Trump’s debts has been made public in personal financial disclosures filed with federal election regulators, the Democratic donors say access to his taxes might shed light on previously unknown business arrangements. The returns would also detail for the first time how much he pays in income tax and how much he gives to charity.

“He is obfuscating in order to avoid being discovered as a liar,” Pritzker said.

The 2012 GOP nominee, Mitt Romney, resisted putting out his 2011 tax return until the September just before the election, after being pressed for months about doing so. The documents showed he paid an effective tax rate of 14.1 percent, far lower than the average person, spawning days of bad headlines.

Other presidential candidates, including Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, have been dinged for not giving much to charity.

Bill and Hillary Clinton paid an overall federal tax rate of 31.6 percent between 2007 and 2014, her returns showed. In 2014, they donated almost 11 percent of their income to charity.

In addition to blaming the IRS audit, Trump has said in interviews that it might not make political sense for him to put out his returns.

Romney’s returns were “a tiny peanut compared to mine,” Trump said on “Meet the Press” in an interview that aired last Sunday. There was little controversial in the Romney documents, he said.

Yet the media “made him look bad,” Trump said. “In fact, I think he lost his election because of that.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Hacked emails overshadow Democratic National Convention

Hacked emails threatened to overshadow the Democratic Party’s upcoming celebration in Philadelphia as progressives expressed disappointment Sunday over the presidential nomination process.

As a result, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced Sunday she will step down as party chair at the end of the Democratic National Convention.

Bitterness and frustration among the more progressive wing came after some 19,000 emails were published on the website Wikileaks that suggested the Democratic National Committee played favorites during the primary, when Sanders fell short against Hillary Clinton.

In one leaked email, a DNC official wondered whether Bernie Sanders‘ religious beliefs could be used against him, questioning whether the candidate may be an atheist.

In televised interviews Sunday, the Vermont senator said the emails proved what he knew was true: The DNC planned to support former Secretary of State Clinton from the start.

“I’m not shocked, but I’m disappointed” by the exchanges in the emails, Sanders told ABC’s “This Week.”

Sanders had pressed for Wasserman Schultz to quit immediately. He also suggested Clinton’s choice of running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, was a disappointment and that he would have preferred Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a favorite of liberals.

“His political views are not my political views. He is more conservative than I am. Would I have preferred to see somebody like an Elizabeth Warren selected by Secretary Clinton? Yes, I would have,” Sanders told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The Clinton team worked to portray their party’s convention in a different light from the just-concluded Republican gathering in Cleveland, where Donald Trump accepted the GOP nomination but party divisions flared when his chief rival, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, refused to endorse the billionaire businessman.

Trump cast himself as the law-and-order candidate in a nation suffering under crime and hobbled by immigration, as the GOP convention stuck to a gloom-and-doom theme. Democrats said they wanted to convey a message of optimism and improving the lives of all Americans.

But party disunity also seems to be a factor in Philadelphia, given Sanders’ demands for a new leader and general unhappiness among his many supporters about how the nomination process unfolded. At least one Sanders’ delegate said there was talk of protests during Kaine’s acceptance speech.

Norman Solomon, a delegate who supports Sanders, says there is talk among Sanders’ delegates of walking out during Kaine’s acceptance speech or turning their backs as a show of protest.

Solomon said he believes a “vast majority” of Sanders delegates support these kinds of protests to express their dismay. Sanders’ supporters say they are concerned Kaine is not progressive enough.

Dan O’Neal, 68, is a retired school teacher and delegate from Arizona, said Wasserman Schultz has to be censured.

“We knew they were stacking the deck against Bernie from the get-go, but this type of stuff coming out is outrageous,” he said. “It proves our point that they’ve tried to marginalize him and make it as difficult as possible.”

Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, agreed, saying Sanders’ supporters “have a lot to complain about.”

“The emails have proven the system was rigged from the start,” Manafort told “Fox News Sunday.”

Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, tried to shift blame away from DNC officials to “Russian state actors” who, he said, may have hacked into DNC computers “for the purpose of helping Donald Trump,” the Republican presidential nominee.

How the emails were stolen hasn’t been confirmed.

“It was concerning last week that Donald Trump changed the Republican platform to become what some experts would regard as pro-Russian,” Mook said.

Clinton is within just days of her long-held ambition to become the party’s official presidential nominee.

After the DNC released a slightly trimmed list of superdelegates — those are the party officials who can back any candidate — it now takes 2,382 delegates to formally clinch the nomination. Clinton has 2,814 when including superdelegates, according to an Associated Press count. Sanders has 1,893.

Sanders has endorsed Clinton, but his delegates are pushing for a state-by-state tally. The state-by-state roll call is scheduled for Tuesday.

Also Sunday, Kaine and his wife, Anne Holton, were back at their longtime church in Richmond, Virginia, a day after he made his campaign debut with Clinton.

Kaine, a former choir member at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church, sang a solo during Communion. He later told reporters outside the church: “We needed some prayers today and we got some prayers, and we got some support and it really feels good.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

In Jacksonville, Marco Rubio reiterates support for Donald Trump

Saturday afternoon saw Sen. Marco Rubio hosting a town hall on Jacksonville’s Southbank as part of a two-day swing through the city that included a fundraising event.

The turnout? Maybe 150 people. But for Rubio, this tour of the last week was a re-introduction to the grassroots as a U.S. Senate incumbent, rather than a presidential candidate, and a relaxed Rubio took the stage after an introduction from Duval GOP Chair Cindy Graves and a prayer from Jacksonville City Councilman Sam Newby.

As one might expect, he also was asked to — and did  — vow to support GOP Presidential nominee Donald Trump. Despite not agreeing with Trump on everything, Rubio said he disagrees with Hillary Clinton on everything, and beyond that, there are only two viable candidates on the ballot.

As part of making that case, he talked foreign policy and other issues, while reminding the grassroots he was one of them.

****

Rubio said he was at peace with how the presidential primary election went, before serving up a variety of mainstream conservative policy positions familiar to those who have followed him in national office and in the presidential race.

“That was not what the voters chose. That was not God’s plan for our lives.,” he said.

Then, Rubio had a chance to “reconsider why he got into public service to begin with,” and realized that his commitment to party allowed him to make a difference.

If the GOP loses the Senate?

Chuck Schumer becames majority leader of the Senate.”

This would reap a harvest on the Supreme Court, Rubio said, with a Democratic president nominating “someone who believes it is their job to rewrite the Constitution.”

Rubio believes the next president could appoint up to three Supreme Court justices, which could erode “the rights we hold dear.”

“Ten years from now, 20 years from now,” Rubio said, “there are only two possible outcomes.”

One? “To leave our kids better off than ourselves.”

The other? “History will say we are the first Americans in history to leave our children worse off than ourselves.”

Rubio delivered a traditional small-government, localist Republican message, including “we don’t even need a federal Department of Education,” and qualms about an overly expansive federal government “doing more harm than good.”

Still, there are things the government could do more of, such as military spending for better, newer equipment, a new F-35 program, and “an aircraft carrier stationed here at Mayport.”

The “peace through strength” message Ronald Reagan delivered in the 1980s was on full display.

As well, Rubio noted he had just had an “honest conversation with law enforcement about what’s happening,” saying “nothing justifies the irresponsible rhetoric in the public domain on this issue.”

Rubio, who famously bought a gun last Christmas Eve, restated his dedication to the Second Amendment, and “not just for hunting,” but for self-defense and “sport shooting.”

“You do have a right to protect yourself and your family,” Rubio said.

“These are the challenges we face, and this is why I decided to run for re-election,” Rubio said.

****

 Then the questions.

One: thoughts on the Thursday night speech of Donald Trump, with a grade requested from A to F.

“I don’t know if I want to grade the speech,” Rubio said. “I don’t agree with Donald on everything. I disagree with Hillary on everything.”

Rubio then pivoted back to the speech, addressing concerns that “no one is fighting for them.”

“It also spoke to the insecurity in this country,” Rubio said, including economic and national security insecurity.

“And we have national leaders saying to us that we’ve never been safer? We’ve never been better? There are people in this country … who have been running on a treadmill for 10 years,” Rubio said.

Rubio then went on to balance conservative ideals with “realistic expectations of what can get done,” given the “system that deliberately made it hard for the federal government to pass laws quickly because they wanted the power in the states.”

A pressure the founders never anticipated? The “bureaucracy” and “bringing the bureaucratic state under control.”

Rubio was asked to stand by Trump then, and he did, saying there are “only two people on the ballot with a chance to win.”

To that, he got applause.

****

Rubio reiterated policy staples, including his hard line on Cuba normalization policy, saying that immigrants exploit “wet-foot, dry-foot” by injuring themselves, getting picked up by the Coast Guard, and dropped off at hospitals, where they can stay.

The president gave away the store, Rubio said, and “this deal is a one-sided deal that all it’s done is empower them.”

Since the opening with Cuba, Rubio said, “human rights in Cuba have gotten worse, not better.”

This is part of an “abysmal” record of foreign policy, Rubio added, including the “reset with Russia” and “the deal with Iran.”

“For four years of that,” Rubio added, “Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.”

****

Rubio also discussed Turkey and his “concerns” with Erdogan and the more Islamicist direction he’s taken, “which has had an impact on a lot of things, including our relationship with Israel.”

The coup? “An opportunity to grab more power for himself,” another authoritarian play that “jihadists will takes advantage of” by appealing to disenfranchised “disaffected young people.”

“I worry about that happening in Turkey,” Rubio said, while adding our military dependence on our NATO partner is an issue to consider “for the next president.”

“I am very concerned that if Erdogan uses this attempted coup as an opportunity to become more authoritarian … that Turkey will become a prime space for terrorist recruitment.”

****

The last question came back to mass shootings: specifically, Orlando Pulse.

The questioner wanted “common-sense gun reform that addresses the mentally ill.”

Rubio noted the “stigma” related to mental illness, to be remedied with “more treatment options” and “options for that information to be fed into the existing system.”

“This individual … was also a subscriber to radical Islam … this was a terrorist attack,” Rubio said.

“Let me tell you something about the Muslim community. There were two FBI investigations into this guy,” and one of them was initiated by the Muslim community.

“This guy was born and raised in this country … raised in Florida … benefited from all this greatness in this country … and decided to kill 49 people.”

****

Rubio took press questions after the event, and there were no message inconsistencies in those answers.

Asked again about Trump’s convention speech, Rubio noted that was the “message he won the primary on,” and the convention itself has “got to be better than the Democrats’,” given the DNC “under Debbie Wasserman Schultz … actually questioning Bernie Sanders’ faith” during the campaign.

Given the amount of delegates on hand in support of Sanders, Rubio anticipated an interesting time next week in Philadelphia.

Rubio faced a question about Ted Cruz also, who pointedly deferred endorsement of Trump Wednesday evening.

“Everyone makes their own decision,” Rubio said, but it’s “time to come together as a party.”

Meanwhile, regarding Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine, Rubio was complimentary.

“I’ve worked with Tim a lot. I like him. He’s a friend. And I look forward to working with him in the Senate, because Hillary Clinton is going to lose,” Rubio said.

From there, questions went to more local matters, including the primary challenge Rubio faces from Carlos Beruff.

Would there be any debates?

“I just got into the race four weeks ago,” Rubio said, and “I’m not sure any are scheduled.”

The final question worth noting: would Rubio endorse in the 4th Congressional District race?

Short answer: no.

“I usually don’t get involved in primaries. I’ve worked with John Rutherford; I admire him,” Rubio said, noting he also knows Hans Tanzler, who is emerging as the alternative to Rutherford in that race.

However, Rubio added, he is going to endorse Ron DeSantis in Congressional District 6.

****

The crowd was a fraction of the large draws Rubio had in this region ahead of the March presidential preference primary, but those in attendance left happy with what they heard. With operatives from most other Senate campaigns either working for Rubio directly or supporting him tacitly, it’s clear the party will unify behind him in short order, with the pre-March rhetoric an increasingly distant memory.

Hillary Clinton ridicules Donald Trump’s “dark and divisive division” in Tampa speech

(UPDATE: Hillary Clinton chose Tim Kaine to be her VP nominee. That occurred shortly after this post was originally written).

Hillary Clinton did not name her running mate at a rally in Tampa on Friday afternoon. Although that nonevent was probably the most newsworthy part of her campaign appearance late Friday afternoon at the Florida State Fairgrounds, it was also her first time in front of a partisan audience for her to weigh in on the past week of comments from the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where she was bashed nonstop for four days, with several of the speakers participating in chants to “lock her up.”

“Did anyone of you watch that convention in Cleveland,” she asked after getting on taking the stage at 5:45 p.m. While the crowd of more than 3,000 lustily booed, she admitted that the bashing “was kind of perversely flattering.”

Referring to how Texas Senator Ted Cruz was jeered at the RNC for failing to endorse Donald Trump, Clinton said that “something has gone terribly wrong when one speaker says ‘vote your conscience and gets booed.'”

“I mean, I never thought I would say these words. Ted Cruz was right,” as the crowd erupted.

In what sounded like a preview of her acceptance speech next Thursday night in Philly, Clinton said the RNC was all about Trump’s “dark and divisive division,” with fear, anger and resentment being dosed out liberally, but with very few solutions offered.

She also blasted the GOP’s nominee for claiming that he can repair the country’s problems by himself. “I never heard of an American leader, or at least someone who wants to be an American leader, claiming that’s all we need. That’s not a democracy my friends, as I call recall, we had a revolution to make sure we didn’t have someone who said I can fix it alone!”

Clinton also mocked Trump’s comment in his 75-minute acceptance speech that “I am your voice.”

She claimed he didn’t speak for small businesses, for P.O.W’s, or people with disabilities, or immigrants or women or working families.

In some ways, Clinton sounded like Ronald Reagan in the 80’s bashing on Democrats who “blamed America first.” It is Clinton who is the sunny optimist, and Trump who “talks trash about America,” or describes the nation as “dystopian,” as Congresswoman Kathy Castor labeled it in her speech an hour before Clinton hit the stage.

Castor, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Senator Bill Nelson, incoming Florida House Minority Leader Janet Cruz, Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn were the elected officials who warmed the crowd up before Clinton arrived from her earlier stop in Orlando, where she met privately with the families and friends of victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting more than a month after a gunman killed 49 people there.

Wasserman Schultz previewed what will be the theme of the 2016 DNC next week, “Stronger together.”

Clinton said the Democrats vision in Philadelphia will be about “building bridges, not walls between people.” Her biggest cheer came when she said that the county needed to stand for common sense gun control measures.

She also said that she could understand the thoughts of why some voters are supporting Trump, saying that “there’s a lot of angst about all the changes that are happening all over the world,” as she ticked off technology and globalization as two such factors. She said she respected those with such concerns.

The suspense remains regarding her potential VP choice.

Lakeland resident Bill Deveau said he’d love to see Elizabeth Warren on the ticket, but realizes that two older females, both hailing from the Northeast, probably won’t work.

Sean Hayes from Ybor City said he’s good with Tim Kaine, acknowledging that his experience and Spanish language speaking skills will work perfectly.

Clinton will appear at a rally Saturday morning at Florida International University at high noon. We should know by then who will compete against the Trump-Pence ticket in November.

Hillary Clinton looks to steal Donald Trump thunder with VP pick

Hillary Clinton moved closer to introducing her running mate, snatching attention from newly crowned Republican nominee Donald Trump just hours after he closed out his convention with a fiery and foreboding turn at the podium.

Crews were still sweeping confetti from the GOP convention hall floor, as the Clinton campaign signaled an announcement was coming soon. In a tweet Friday morning, her campaign urged supporters to text the campaign to get the first word. Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine had emerged as the leading contender, according to Democrats familiar with Clinton’s search.

The news could quickly steal Trump’s thunder. In a 75-minute speech Thursday night, Trump made forceful promises to be the champion of disaffected Americans, capping his convention on a high note for the party, not a moment too soon after shows of disharmony and assorted flubs before the four-day closer.

Speaking to “the forgotten men and women of our country,” the people who “work hard but no longer have a voice,” he declared: “I am your voice.” With that, he summed up both the paradox and the power of his campaign — a billionaire who made common cause with struggling Americans alienated from the system, or at least a portion of them.

The speech was strikingly dark for a celebratory event and almost entirely lacking in policy details. Trump pledged as president to restore a sense of public safety, strictly curb immigration and save the nation from Clinton’s record of “death, destruction, terrorism and weakness.”

“I have joined the political arena so that the powerful can no longer beat up on people that cannot defend themselves,” Trump said. He shouted throughout as he read off a teleprompter, showing few flashes of humor or even smiles.

Democrats offered a different assessment, with Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta arguing that Trump “offered no real solutions to help working families get ahead or to keep our country safe, just more prejudice and paranoia. America is better than this. America is better than Donald Trump.”

Clinton opens a two-day campaign swing Friday in Florida and is expected to introduce her running mate either at a Friday afternoon rally at the state fairgrounds in Tampa or on Saturday at Florida International University in Miami.

Kaine, 58, appeared to be the favorite for her choice, according to two Democrats, who both cautioned that Clinton has not made a decision and could change direction.

In Cleveland, Trump’s acceptance of the Republican nomination capped his improbable takeover of the GOP, a party that plunges into the general election united in opposition to Clinton but still torn over Trump. Underscoring his unorthodox candidacy, Trump reasserted the hard-line immigration policies that fired up conservatives in the primary but broke with many in his party by expressing support for gays and lesbians.

Ever the showman, he fed off the energy of the crowd, stepping back to soak in applause and joining the delegates as they chanted, “U-S-A.”

It was an altogether smoother — and more scripted — chapter in a footloose convention shocked a night earlier by Ted Cruz’s prime-time speech, a pointed non-endorsement of the nominee by the Texas senator who finished second in the race and came to Cleveland harboring grievances — and future presidential ambitions.

During their convention, Republicans were relentless and often raw in demonizing Clinton. As fired-up supporters at Trump’s acceptance speech broke out in their oft-used refrain of “Lock her up,” the nominee waved them off, and instead declared, “Let’s defeat her in November.” Yet he also accused her of “terrible, terrible crimes.”

“This is the legacy of Hillary Clinton: death, destruction, terrorism and weakness,” he said. “But Hillary Clinton’s legacy does not have to be America’s legacy.”

In a direct appeal to Americans shaken by a summer of violence at home and around the world, Trump promised that if he takes office in January, “safety will be restored.”

He also said young people in predominantly black cities “have as much of a right to live out their dreams as any other child in America.” And he vowed to protect gays and lesbians from violence and oppression, a pledge that was greeted with applause from the crowd.

“As a Republican, it is so nice to hear you cheering for what I just said,” he responded.

The Democratic convention in Philadelphia, which starts Monday, is expected to be a more orderly affair. Clinton is, if anything, disciplined.

Kaine has been active in the Senate on foreign relations and military affairs and built a reputation for working with both parties as Virginia’s governor and mayor of Richmond.

“I’m glad the waiting game is nearly over,” Kaine said Thursday.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a longtime friend of Hillary and Bill Clinton, is still in the mix, according to one of the two Democrats. Both Democrats are familiar with the selection process and spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly.

Kaine’s selection would not be without complication. Liberals have expressed wariness of Kaine for his support of putting the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement on a “fast track” to approval, which both Clinton and primary rival Bernie Sanders oppose. They also note that Kaine recently signed onto a letter asking for less burdensome regulation of regional banks.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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