Live Coverage

Election 2016: Trump's Gettysburg Address, DDOS Attacks, and the Latest Updates

The candidates are back on the campaign trail, following the third, and final, debate on Wednesday night.

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

It’s Saturday, October 22—the election is now less than three weeks away. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are back on the campaign trail to deliver their final pitch to voters, ahead of Election Day. We’ll bring you the latest updates from the trail, as events unfold. Also see our continuing coverage:


This live blog has concluded

SNL Says Goodbye to the 2016 Debates


“Tonight will be an awful lot like the third Lord of the Rings movie: You don’t really want to watch but, hey, you’ve gotten this far,” said Tom Hanks as moderator Chris Wallace during Saturday Night Live’s opening skit.

The quip matched the mood for their third and final debate skit, modeled after the third and final presidential debate held last Wednesday. Kate McKinnon returned as Clinton, calculating and overly eager as usual, as did Alec Baldwin, whose mastery of Trump’s mannerisms only improved since last week. But with the election finally slogging towards its conclusion, it almost seemed like SNL didn’t have enough new material to work with.

“In the first debate, I set the table. In the second, I fired up the grill,” McKinnon-as-Clinton said. “Tonight, I feast.”

Baldwin, for his part, mimicked his real-life counterpart’s restrained start. “Tonight I am a sweet baby Trump,” he whispered softly.

“Our first question is about reproductive rights…” Hanks then began.

“They’re ripping babies out of vaginas!” Baldwin immediately thundered.

McKinnon added she was eager to discuss the topic as “a woman who’s had a child and taken birth control,” she said, before turning to Baldwin, whom she described as “a man who is a child and whose face is birth control.”

We’ve been here before. So familiar are the candidates’ foibles that at one point, when Baldwin repeats Trump’s “bad hombres” line from the debate, McKinnon simply pulled out a large “Trump Bingo” card. Already circled are lines the real Trump actually said: “rapists,” “Miss Piggy,” “They’re all living in hell,” and “If she wasn’t my daughter.” Waiting to be filled in are “Oriental,” “Uggo,” and “N-word.”

The skewering of Trump, which had been well-crafted in the past two skits, largely returned to cheap gags. Baldwin’s Trump refers to Mexico’s president as “Mr. Guacamole—excuse me, Senor Guacamole” and brags about his endorsements: “I’ve got Sarah Palin, I’ve got Chachi, I’ve even got the best Baldwin brother—Stephen Baldwin.”

And when SNL returned to the topic of Trump’s alleged sexual misconduct, the show scrapped the deftness with which it handled the issue last week and went for humiliation. “Nobody has more respect for women than I do,” Baldwin said at one point, mirroring his counterpart’s answer on Wednesday. A montage of people laughing at him followed.

“Settle down, world, settle down,” Hanks implored.

One marked difference was the show’s tenor toward Clinton. Jokes about her flaws and missteps, played up in McKinnon’s previous iterations, felt more pointed as the real Clinton’s lead grows more comfortable. When Hanks asks McKinnon about recent releases by WikiLeaks, for example, McKinnon began to answer before inexplicably pretending to see a friend off-camera, and then switching to Trump’s misdeeds.

“So you’re just never going to answer a question about your emails?” Hanks asked.

“No, but it was very cute of you to try,” McKinnon replied.

Other jabs accompanied the performance, both subtle and direct. When Baldwin plays the “nasty woman” line essentially straight, McKinnon urges her supporters to condemn Trump’s toxicity by buying ready-made coffee mugs emblazoned with the insult on her website. In her closing argument, McKinnon posed a simple question: “Who do you trust to be your president: the Republican or Donald Trump?”

That doesn’t mean the show went easy on Trump, of course. Unlike in past performances, in which he ranged from buffoonish to predatory, Baldwin often delivered Trump’s lines without any of the usual comedic trappings. The grim absurdity of it all was its own levity.

“Because of you, I am winning every poll taken outside of a Cracker Barrel,” he told his supporters with a straight face as the sketch drew to a close. “And on November 9, be sure to check out Trump TV—you’re gonna hate it,” he added.

SNL didn’t address Trump’s angry critique of them last weekend, but a brief exchange during the skit seemed apt. At one point, Baldwin-as-Trump railed against the mainstream media for treating him horribly, much like Trump himself does multiple times a day.

How is the media biased against him, Hanks asked?

“By taking all of the things I say and all of the things I do and putting them on TV,” Baldwin replied.

Trump on His Accusers: 'All of These Liars Will Be Sued After The Election'

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

At Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, a place synonymous with ill-fated charges into cannon fire, Donald Trump laid out his vision of his first 100 days in office and threatened to sue the women who had publicly accused him of sexual assault.

Trump’s campaign touted his speech Saturday afternoon as his “closing argument” to the American voter. Within that framework, he took the opportunity to restate many of his previously stated goals: a constitutional amendment for congressional term limits, a federal hiring freeze, a suspension of immigration from “terror-prone regions,” a package of ethics reforms, new mandatory-minimum sentences for undocumented immigrants who re-enter the country illegally, the end of Common Core curriculum standards, and the renegotiation of trade deals.

Trump also said he would start the process to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, “whose wife, by the way, has a Trump sign,” he added.

Alongside those policy proposals, the Republican nominee for president recited his bitter grievances against perceived political foes. For the first time, Trump threatened legal action against the women who accused him of sexual assault in recent weeks. “Every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign,” he said. “Total fabrication. The events never happened. Never. All of these liars will be sued after the election is over.”

He also singled out the “dishonest mainstream media” as part of the “corruption” he says is plaguing the country. Amazon, whose founder Jeff Bezos is also the owner of the Washington Post, pays too little in taxes, he complained at one point. Trump also said he would look into “breaking up” Comcast’s 2011 purchase of NBC Universal, which he said “concentrates far too much power in one massive entity that is trying to tell the voters what to think and what to do.”

In that same vein, Trump announced AT&T’s reported plans to buy Time Warner would be “a deal we will not approve in my administration because it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.” Among Time Warner’s companies is CNN, whose coverage Trump often complains about on Twitter.

Finally, he complained at length about the scourge of voter fraud and repeated his claims that “the system is totally rigged and broken.” Most experts say in-person voter fraud is vanishingly rare and that the United States’ fragmented electoral system makes widespread manipulation logistically impossible.

But Trump, whose invocations of a stolen election followed his precipitous drop in opinion polls, urged his supporters to remain vigilant. He cited an arsenal of statistics that suggested there were millions of registered non-citizens and dead voters on the electoral rolls, as well as tens of millions of voter registrations nationwide that were “invalid or significantly inaccurate.”

“And when I say that there are such inaccuracies, it’s unbelievable,” he told the crowd.

Curt Schilling's Senate Campaign Is Not Off to a Great Start

Schilling playing ball in 2007
Ray Stubblebine / Reuters

Curt Schilling, renowned sock-bleeder, company-bankrupter, and meme-poster, is talking about running for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts in two years, challenging Democrat Elizabeth Warren, the incumbent. I have argued that this would not be a good idea, for reasons including, but not limited to, the fact that Massachusetts is very liberal, Schilling’s disastrous video-game business, and his history of offensive statements. On the other hand, he is a Red Sox legend, so maybe bloody socks are thicker than dirty water, or something like that.

Schilling has recently decided to offer some more reasons he should not run. Take his peculiar interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper Friday afternoon. Things started off OK: Tapper asked Schilling about a comment earlier this week that he had decided to run, but that his wife hadn’t signed off yet. Schilling replied by backing off a little, saying he hadn’t decided-decided. He then gamely answered a question about how he’d fare in deep-blue Massachusetts, arguing that the state is more politically moderate than it seems.

Then things got weird. Tapper asked Schilling about some Islamophobic Facebook posts from 2015 that earned him suspensions from ESPN, his then-employer. (The Worldwide Leader later axed him for social-media posts about HB2, North Carolina’s “bathroom bill.”)

“I compared Muslim extremists to Nazis,” Schilling said. “I know it's tricky but that gets left out by everybody. If you take the word ‘extremist’ out it's incredibly racist, which is why the word ‘extremist’ is in there.”

Schilling then continued: “You could argue—listen, after that there have been multiple stories about the comparison. There's a very longstanding connection between Islam and the Nazi Party, and you can go back to before the Second World War and talk to that.”

It’s a neat trick: I wouldn’t link Islam to the Nazis, because that would be incredibly racist—but you know about the longstanding links between Islam and the Nazis, right? Schilling’s argument is not only rhetorically weak, it’s also bogus. He appears to be referring to links between Hitler and Haj Amin al-Husseini, the 1940s Palestinian leader who allied himself with the Third Reich, but there is no larger relationship with Nazis and Islam. Schilling might want to be careful about tarring people by association with Nazis; after all, he’s a notable collector of Nazi paraphernalia.

Speaking of Nazis, Schilling then went on a weird tangent about Jewish people. First, he wanted to know why the media was still talking about Donald Trump’s boasts about sexual assault. “I would like to ask you this question, Jake, I'm assuming you will vote for Hillary Clinton.” No, Tapper replied, he doesn’t vote in presidential elections. So Schilling went in a new direction.

“I would like to ask you something as a person who is practicing the Jewish faith and have since you were young. I don't understand—maybe this is the amateur, non-politician in me—I don't understand how people of Jewish faith can back the Democratic Party which over the last 50 years has been so clearly anti-Israel, so clearly anti-Jewish ...”

A bewildered Tapper cautiously answered: “I don't speak for Jews and I don’t support the Democratic Party or the Republican Party.” He then offered a few suggestions why Jewish people support Democrats.

“I just always find it a great conversation for somebody of your faith to—because I want to understand the reason behind some of those things so I appreciate that,” Schilling said. Memo to Curt: There are probably better ways, going forward, to learn about Jewish politics than to ask a TV journalist live on air to speak for his faith.

This may be only the second most awkward Schilling TV appearance in the last 10 days. On Fox Business Channel last week, he defended Trump’s commentary on the attractiveness of 10-year-olds. “How many times have you looked at a young man and said, ‘Wow, he’s a beautiful young man,’ ‘Wow he’s a gorgeous young man’?, and that man was 12, 13, 14, 15 ...” A bewildered Trish Regan replied, “Zero.”

Trump: Not Everything I Tweet Should Be Used Against Me in a Court of Law

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

It’s been a grueling, corrosive presidential campaign for Donald Trump, and he would appreciate if nobody reminded jurors about it.

In a Thursday night filing, the Republican nominee’s lawyers asked Judge Gonzalo Curiel to prohibit lawyers and witnesses from mentioning a broad swath of Trump’s life when the first Trump University trial begins next month.

“Evidence and argument relating to matters publicized during the presidential campaign, including statements by and about Mr. Trump, have no relevance to the issues before the jury and are otherwise inadmissible,” the motion said. “Their intrusion into the trial carries an immediate and irreparable danger of extreme and irremediable prejudice to defendants, confusion of issues, and waste of time.”

Among the topics Trump wants excluded from the trial are his tweets, campaign speeches, debate exchanges, comments about Curiel and the trial itself, and anything related to his tax issues or “personal conduct” allegations. The motion includes a more complete list:

Defendants respectfully move to exclude evidence and argument relating to statements made by or about Mr. Trump outside of the adjudicative process, including the following:

• Campaign speeches

• Statements at political rallies, including statements about this case

• Statements at debates

• Statements about individuals or entities unrelated to this litigation

• Campaign advertisements

• Tweets

• Statements by campaign surrogates

• Audio and video recordings made or publicized during the campaign

• Tax issues

• Comments about this case or the Court

• Donald J. Trump Foundation or other businesses owned or managed by Mr.

Trump not part of this litigation, including Trump Organization

• Personal conduct accusations

• Other politicians, state attorneys general, or public servants

• Beauty pageants, casinos, and corporate bankruptcies

• Other litigation

Federal evidentiary rules allow courts to exclude evidence that could mislead and confuse a jury or inflame its biases against one side. Trump’s lawyers argue that mentioning their client’s political activities as a major-party presidential candidate, or any of the negative attacks leveled against him during the campaign, could undermine his ability to receive a fair hearing.

“Here, there is a grave danger—if not certainty—that the evidence and argument subject to this motion, if admitted, would cause irremediable prejudice and confusion,” the motion said. “The Court must exercise extreme vigilance to prevent the passions and prejudices from a partisan political process from impairing the integrity of the trial.”

Trump’s lawyers made the filing alongside a raft of other pre-trial motions in Low v. Trump, one of two cases in Curiel’s court involving Trump University. (New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is also pursuing a third case in that state.) The Low trial is slated to begin on November 28.

In Low, a group of plaintiffs filed a class-action lawsuit against both Trump and Trump University in April 2010. They accuse Trump and his eponymous for-profit education courses of defrauding students and violating consumer-protection statutes in three states. Trump himself denies any wrongdoing and frequently points to numerous positive reviews the courses received.

The Trump University cases rose to national prominence in June when Trump said Curiel could not fairly preside over his case because of his ethnicity. (Curiel is from Indiana; his parents originally hailed from Mexico.) His repeated attacks on Curiel’s character drew rebukes from across the political spectrum, with legal scholars of various ideological backgrounds saying his remarks threatened the rule of law.

'Would My Son Have a Place in Your America?'

The Khans at the Democratic National Convention, with a photo of their son in the background
Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

Like the Cleveland Indians, the Hillary Clinton campaign’s strength in the fall of 2016 has been its bullpen. There are long relievers like Barack Obama, reliable set-up men like Joe Biden, and a lights-out closer in Michelle Obama. With just over two weeks to go till Election Day, the campaign is turning to another proven star, Khizr Khan.

Khan’s appearance at the Democratic National Convention, alongside his wife Ghazala, turned out to be one of the most memorable moments of the election season. Their son, Humayan, was killed in Iraq while serving in the Army, saving several comrades. Khizr Khan demanded to know whether Donald Trump had even read the Constitution. As if that wasn’t powerful enough, Trump launched a feud with the Gold Star parents and suggested he had sacrificed as much as they had, drawing condemnation from many Republicans.

In an ad released Friday, Khizr Khan again tells the story of his son, choking up as he does. “He was 27 years old, and he was a Muslim American,” he says. “I want to ask Mr. Trump, would my son have a place in your America?”

It’s striking to see the Clinton team making Islam such a central element in a television spot. The campaign says the ad will air in Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Could Widespread Internet Disruptions Affect Early Voting and Registration?

North Carolinians voting early in Carrboro
Jonathan Drake / Reuters

If you can actually access and read this live-blog post, particularly if you live in the United States, you’re probably aware by now that some websites have been suffering outages throughout the day. What appears to be a distributed denial-of-service attack, or DDOS, on DNS servers has temporarily shut down sites like Twitter, The New York Times, and several others in certain regions—particularly on the East Coast. It’s also slowed connections and load times for some local media sites.

In places like Virginia, where a voter registration deadline has already been extended to today because of problems with online registration, these internet outages might impact the ability of people to register to vote. While most state registration websites appear to still be functional, voters often use search engines, social media, and news sites to understand the steps of the registration process, know their deadlines, and know where to send or turn in registrations.

For the 23 states where early voting is under way, a similar effect could cause confusion among people affected by the outages. Early voting starts today in North Carolina, and several places in the state appear to be within the geographic range of internet outages. In an especially confusing election season for North Carolinians—where a law affecting early voting was in place for the primaries, then struck down by courts, thus shifting polling locations for many voters—the internet is vital for some voters in understanding just where they can vote and when.

It’s worth keeping an eye on these issues going into Election Day, especially in a voting system that relies on a digital infrastructure now more than ever, and with a voter populace that increasingly uses the internet to be informed about voting itself.

What Newt Gingrich Gets Wrong Comparing U.S. Elections to Venezuela's

Evan Vucci / AP

Many high-profile Republicans, even those who intend to support Donald Trump, have denied his claims that November’s election will be rigged, and bristled at his refusal to say during the debate that he’d accept the final results. But not Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House who’s one of Trump’s staunchest defenders. In fact, Gingrich took his defense of Trump to an unusual level on Thursday.

Gingrich told the Mike Gallagher Show in an interview: “I’d be a little bit cautious about automatically accepting that Hillary Clinton will be legitimately anything. We are in the worst cycle of corruption in American history, and in many ways, we resemble Venezuela and Argentina more than we resemble traditional America.”

But Gingrich’s claims are a fundamental misunderstanding of the political reality in Venezuela and Argentina. In a 2016 report, the Electoral Integrity Project ranked countries by their electoral integrity. The findings show Venezuela has “low to very low electoral integrity,” while Argentina and the United States are considered to have “high to very high electoral integrity.” To be sure, the United States has been found to have problems before. The Electoral Integrity Project noted in its 2015 report that “the 2012 presidential election and the 2014 congressional elections were ranked worst of any long-established democracy, especially on campaign finance and electoral registration.” Still, the suggestion that the United States is like Venezuela, in particular, is unfounded.

Most recently, electoral officials in Venezuela suspended a recall referendum campaign against President Nicolás Maduro, in yet another defeat for the opposition. The president has become increasingly unpopular amid the country’s economic crisis. And in keeping the opposition movement from moving forward, officials have effectively denied the possibility of voting on a new leader before scheduled elections in 2019.

In the United States, some Trump supporters, afraid that the results will be rigged, are reportedly planning to go to polling locations on Election Day to conduct exit polling. The Department of Homeland Security, however, is already working to ensure that election results are not tampered with, according to a statement.

Republican Congressman: 'Sometimes a Lady Needs to Be Told When She's Being Nasty'

POOL New / Reuters

“I think sometimes a lady needs to be told when she’s being nasty.”

That’s what one Republican congressman said on Thursday, when asked to comment on Donald Trump’s remarks Wednesday calling Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman” during the final presidential debate.

CNN’s KFILE dug up audio of Republican Representative Brian Babin of Texas, who supports Donald Trump, on Fox News Radio’s The Alan Colmes Show. Here’s a transcript of the exchange:

COLMES: He called her a nasty woman, is that appropriate?

REP. BABIN: You know what? She’s saying some nasty things.

COLMES: You think it’s appropriate to call her a nasty woman?

REP. BABIN: Well I’m a genteel Southern gentleman, Alan.

COLMES: So does that mean no?

REP. BABIN: No, I think sometimes a lady needs to be told when she’s being nasty.

COLMES: Oh, really?


Trump’s choice of words has been seized upon by women who are wielding “nasty woman” in support of Clinton and in opposition to Trump. After all, as my colleague Megan Garber points out, “nasty” has long been a feminist rallying cry.

Trump Manages to Get Booed at the Al Smith Dinner

Carlos Barria / Reuters

It should have been an easy crowd—an event packed with wealthy donors eager to laugh along with the candidates.

On Thursday night, fresh off the debate that was the most acrimonious in recent memory, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump attended the Al Smith dinner. The New York City-based white-tie event—its proceeds go to Catholic charities—is perennially popular as a showcase for presidential candidates in part because it achieves something that is increasingly rare: It asks candidates to put aside their differences and roast both themselves and each other, good-naturedly.

Donald Trump went first. The GOP nominee got in some decent quips at the outset of his speech: about the size of his hands (he shook them to demonstrate their largeness); about Melania’s plagiarized convention speech; about how watching Hillary “rattle on and on and on” had meant that “I don’t think so badly of Rosie O’Donnell anymore.”

All was going according to plan—the roasting, the toasting, the soft ritual humiliations—until Trump decided it was time to tease his opponent a little more sharply.

“Hillary is so corrupt,” Trump started. The crowd, collectively, gasped, seeming to sense that things were about to veer from “light-hearted humor” to “bare-knuckle fighting.” Trump, however, pressed on. “She got kicked off the Watergate commission,” he said. “How corrupt do you have to be to get kicked off the Watergate commission?”

The crowd, at this, booed.

Trump ignored the crowd, and answered his own question: “Pretty corrupt.”

Things went on from there—and went, also, downhill. “Hillary is and has been in politics since the '70s,” Trump noted. “What's her pitch? ‘The economy is busted. The government's corrupt. Washington is failing. Vote for me. I've been working on these problems for 30 years. I can fix it,’ she says.”

There was no punchline at the end of this; it was simply an observation. And then Trump’s speech—prepared and ostensibly vetted in advance—went full stream-of-consciousness. It also went on the attack:  

I wasn't really sure if Hillary was going to be here tonight because I guess you didn't send her invitation by e-mail—or maybe you did and she just found out about it through the wonder of Wikileaks. We've learned so much from Wikileaks. For example, Hillary believes that it's vital to deceive the people by having one public policy and a totally different policy in private.

The crowed booed some more. Trump replied, “That's okay. I don't know who they're angry at, Hillary, you or I. For example, here she is tonight in public, pretending not to hate Catholics.”

The crowd booed some more. CNN’s camera swept to Clinton—who, having earlier laughed heartily at the jokes Trump had lobbed at her, now sat stone-faced.

Trump went on.

Now, if some of you haven't noticed, Hillary isn't laughing as much as the rest of us. That's because she knows the jokes. And all of the jokes were given to her in advance of the dinner by Donna Brazile, which is—everyone knows, of course, Hillary's belief that it takes a village. Which only makes sense, after all, in places like Haiti where she's taken a number of them.

The crowd booed some more. Someone shouted, “You’re not so funny.”

“Thank you,” Trump replied.

He continued, wrapping things up:

I don't want this evening without saying something nice about my opponent. Hillary's been in Washington a long time. She knows a lot about how government works. And according to her sworn testimony, Hillary has forgotten more things than most of us will ever, ever know. That I can tell you.

The crowd booed again. Trump replied, “We're having some fun here tonight. And that's good.”

Trump Raised $100 Million in September, but His Campaign Only Got $55 Million

Trump campaigning in Colorado
Brennan Linsley / AP

Donald Trump’s campaign committee did pretty well in September, clearing $54.7 million in contributions. The majority of that sum was filtered through his two joint fundraising committees, which allow donors to write a single check that is later split between the campaign, the Republican National Committee, and a number of state organizations. The New York developer also spent $2 million of his own money, the records show.

You may wonder why the number is lower than the reported $100 million Trump says he raised in September. That’s again because of those pesky joint fundraising committees. While the team effort did bring in more than $150 million over three months (FEC records don’t break it down by month), in September, only $34 million flowed to the campaign, with the rest staying in the bank or landing with the RNC or state committees.

That’s a pretty decent haul— the total receipts are almost twice what Trump brought in the month before. It even tops the $50 million that Hillary Clinton’s campaign committee received in August. But Clinton, who has a joint fundraising committee of her own, hasn’t yet filed her paperwork for last month. (Her campaign says she and her allies raised more than $150 million in September.)

Paul Ryan Could Lose His Job Over Trump

Gary Cameron / Reuters

This time last year, Paul Ryan was a white knight for congressional Republicans. Now, his job could be at risk.

An anti-Ryan insurgency seems to be forming while Congress is on recess, North Carolina Representative Mark Meadows told a local radio station in his state. “At this point, it is picking up some steam, only because a lot of the people who believe so desperately that we need to put Donald Trump in the White House, they question the loyalty of the speaker,” Meadows, a Trump supporter and Freedom Caucus member, told The Tyler Cralle Show. “I probably have had more calls about the speaker and where he is and why he’s not getting behind the nominee than any other call in the last week or so.”

Meadows’ statements might seem like those of a disgruntled colleague. But they aren’t to be taken lightly. There was chatter in the summer about the Wisconsin Republican losing his job. Ryan only assumed the speakership after the retirement of John Boehner, who was essentially forced out of office by Meadows and other members of his ultraconservative caucus. Months before Boehner announced his retirement, Meadows filed an unusual motion to remove Boehner from his position. Though his fellow conservatives didn’t fully support that move, they eventually came around to his thinking. If members of Congress really are serious about ousting Ryan from the speaker’s post, Meadows would perhaps be the most natural leader of the effort.

In the radio interview, Meadows said the calls from frustrated Republicans have come since the “infamous Monday conference call” last week, which followed the release of the 2005 Access Hollywood tape in which Trump is heard making lewd comments about women. That’s when Ryan told his fellow House Republicans he would no longer publicly defend or campaign alongside his party’s standard-bearer. As The New York Times reported, “the reaction from hard-liners was swift and angry.”

If Ryan does face an insurrection ahead of the speaker’s election in 2017, it would be the capper on a difficult tenure. Though he assumed the speakership with broad support among Republicans—he had to be convinced to take the position on—his plans for the House were largely obscured by Trump’s over-the-top campaign.  

And what of Ryan’s hypothetical replacement? The Washington Post’s Robert Costa was given three names by Fox News’ Sean Hannity:

In the interview with Tyler Cralle Thursday, Meadows demurred: “I’m flattered that Sean Hannity would mention me as a possible speaker replacement. I don’t know that my colleagues would see it in the same way,” he said. Still: “I do think there will be real discussions after November 8 on who our leadership will be and what that will look like going forward.”

Trump Says He'll Accept Election Results—If He Wins

Trump in Delaware, Ohio
Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

For a brief, shining moment this afternoon, Donald Trump seemed to change his mind.

It seemed Trump could reform—and, perhaps for the first time this campaign, redeem himself after violating a time-tested political norm. “Ladies and gentlemen, I want to make a major announcement today. I would like to promise and pledge to all of my voters and supporters and to all of the people of the United States that I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election,” the Republican nominee said at a rally in Ohio, before pausing a single beat. “If I win.”

Trump was clearly kidding around as he delivered the line. Or, if not kidding, intentionally trying to rile up his audience. He quickly explained that he only wants the election to be clean. “This is having nothing to do with me, but having to do with the future of our country,” he said. “We have to have fairness.”

Donald Trump’s refusal last night to say whether he’d accept the election results in November dishonored a central tenet of American democracy: the peaceful transition of power. “I will look at it at the time,” he told moderator Chris Wallace, referring to the voter tallies. “I’ll keep you in suspense.” His answer was widely panned by debate-watchers and political professionals, and inspired even the mild-mannered Associated Press to go nuclear in its coverage.  

Trump may have been joking this afternoon, but that won’t mean much if any of his supporters take him at his word. Trump is the one and only candidate many of them even considered supporting this election, and they’ve adopted his claim that the election is “rigged” as a talking point of their own. Once November 8 comes and goes, it will matter far more to the stability of the U.S. political system that his supporters can accept defeat if he loses—and less that Trump himself can reckon with a loss.

Mike Pence Is Winning the Ryan-Trump Cold War

Scott Morgan / Reuters

Who will lead the Republican Party if Donald Trump loses the election in November? Assuming there’s even a single, coherent party to lead after a fractious fall that has seen internal divisions, the #NeverTrump movement, endorsements and unendorsements, and the moderate success of two conservative-leaning third-party candidates, that question will be vital for the identity of the Republican Party moving forward.

The factions vying to take that lead fall roughly along the sides of the simmering cold war between House Speaker Paul Ryan and the Republican nominee. In other words, between a more traditional Republican conservatism and Trump’s firebrand approach. A new Bloomberg poll brings some bad news for the Ryan side of that divide, as only 33 percent of the Republican-leaning registered voters surveyed said that Ryan’s views most closely match their own. Half of those polled found that Trump’s views most closely matched their own, a view that undermines the assertion of the #NeverTrump movement that Trump does not represent the true identity of the GOP.

This poll isn’t exactly roses for Trump’s future in the party, though. When asked which leader should be the face of the GOP if Clinton wins on November 8, a plurality of Republican-leaning likely voters picked Trump’s running mate Mike Pence, with Pence polling at 27 percent and Trump trailing at 24 percent. While the gap is probably too small to make any definitive conclusions, it can’t be great for what appears to be a growing rhetorical rift within the ticket, and Pence’s penchant for modifying—if not directly contrasting—Trump’s policy views with his own. Pence seems to be positioning himself as well as he can for a future in the party after an increasingly likely Trump defeat.

As for the ideological future of the GOP, it’s important that the three people who placed the highest on Bloomberg’s poll were Pence, Trump, and Trump’s primary challenger Ted Cruz, all of whom represent a right-wing faction of the party that has been at odds with the establishment. Ryan and Ohio Governor John Kasich, both seen as more moderate voices in party leadership, trailed each of them considerably.

Karena Virginia Is the Latest Woman to Accuse Trump of Sexual Misconduct

Carlo Allegri  / Reuters

Karena Virginia publicly accused Donald Trump of sexual misconduct at a press conference on Thursday in New York City with attorney Gloria Allred.

According to Virginia, Trump approached her while she was waiting for a car to pick her up from the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York City in 1998. She claims overhearing him say “Hey, look at this one, we haven’t seen her before,” in reference to her. She says Trump then approached her, grabbed her arm, and touched her breast. Virginia said she “knew who he was, but I had never met him” and felt shocked after the encounter. “’Don’t you know who I am?’ that’s what he said to me,” Virginia said at the press conference, describing the alleged encounter.

Before detailing her allegations, Virginia said “no one has asked me to come forward, in fact many people advised me not to speak publicly about what Donald Trump did to me” elaborating that “Mr. Trump will probably call me a liar just as he called all the other women ‘liars’ who have made accusations against him.” She added: “Or perhaps he will label me as just another nasty woman.”

At the press conference, Allred declared Trump’s assertion at Wednesday’s debate that he respects women “ludicrous” in light of the sexual assault allegations he faces.

Allred, who supports Hillary Clinton, appeared alongside Summer Zervos, a former Apprentice contestant, at another press conference last week. Zervos alleged that Trump once made unwanted sexual advances toward her.

A number of women have come forward to claim that Trump sexually assaulted them following the release of a 2005 Access Hollywood recording wherein Trump brags about using his celebrity status to grope women. Virginia said that Trump showed his character when he made the remarks on that tape, and that the public should take him at his word. “We should … believe him,” she said.

At the debate on Wednesday, Trump inaccurately claimed that “those stories have been largely debunked,” when moderator Chris Wallace brought up the various sexual misconduct allegations against him. It’s true that the Trump campaign has denied the allegations, and attempted to facilitate a sort of “debunking” of some of the claims, but the charges have by no means been definitively debunked.

The Trump campaign shot down the allegations and accused Allred of collusion with the Clinton campaign. “Discredited political operative Gloria Allred, in another coordinated, publicity seeking attack with the Clinton campaign, will stop at nothing to smear Mr. Trump,” Jessica Ditto, a deputy communications director for the campaign said in a statement. “Give me a break. Voters are tired of these circus-like antics and reject these fictional stories and the clear efforts to benefit Hillary Clinton.” — Updated on October 20, 2016 at 2:44 p.m. ET

Trump's 'Nasty' New Insult—Here to Stay?

Mike Blake / Reuters

As we learned long ago, Donald Trump doesn’t have a problem calling his enemies names, and “nasty” holds a place of honor in his lexicon, deployed at least 40 times in the last few years.

But until recently, it wasn’t an adjective he used to describe Hillary Clinton. Trump’s interjection at the debate—“Such a nasty woman,” as Clinton poked him on Social Security—seemed off-the-cuff. In retrospect, I wonder if it was engineered. For most of the campaign, he’s been far more likely to attack Clinton’s honesty than her likability. It’s always been “Crooked Hillary,” not “Nasty Hillary.” In the closing weeks of the campaign, there’s evidence that’s changing.

On Twitter, I found only two instances where he called his opponent “nasty”: one in 2015, and one posted much more recently:

On the day of the debate, Trump’s team also posted a press release alleging Clinton was dismissive and condescending to her State Department security detail—too “nasty” to get along with. Before then, his press shop mostly focused on Clinton’s supposed corruption, rolling out statements about her deleted emails and links to the Clinton Foundation while in office.

I’m now looking at Trump’s earlier claims that Clinton “viciously attacked” her husband’s accusers in a different light. At first, it seemed to be an attempt to tie Clinton to her husband’s alleged misdeeds. Now, it also reinforces a simpler narrative—that she is just a mean person.

Clinton has taken plenty of hits over her affability. But by and large, Trump wasn’t the one explicitly delivering them. That appears to be changing.

The McMullin-mentum Continues (in Utah)

George Frey / Reuters

No third-party presidential candidate has won a statewide vote since 1968, when George Wallace captured five states in the deep south.

That could change this year if Evan McMullin keeps up his momentum in Utah.

The independent candidate running as a conservative alternative to Donald Trump has earned more than 20 percent support in the last five polls in Utah, and Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight forecast now gives him a one-in-four chance of winning the state. While Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were preparing to debate in Las Vegas on Monday, McMullin was in Salt Lake City to accept endorsements from 11 Utah lawmakers. The most eye-popping poll came Wednesday afternoon, with an Emerson College survey giving McMullin a four-point lead over Trump, 31 percent to 27 percent, with Clinton at 24 percent. Emerson is not the most respected polling outfit because it does not call cell phones, but the trend in McMullin’s favor matches other polls that have come out this month.

A Mormon graduate of Brigham Young University, McMullin has been targeting Utah from the start of his exceedingly long-shot presidential bid, which he formally launched in Salt Lake City in August. The state’s Republican base never warmed to Trump, and several GOP leaders in Utah were among the first to abandon the party’s nominee after the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape came out. McMullin’s only path to the White House would be if he wins Utah’s six electoral votes and denies both Trump and Clinton the 270 needed to clinch the presidency. The election would then go to the U.S. House, where McMullin would hope that GOP-led state delegations abandon Trump in favor of a more traditional conservative who previously served as a staffer for the House Republican conference.

It’s not going to happen. But a McMullin win in Utah nonetheless would serve as further embarrassment to Trump and as a source of hope to critics of the two-party system. And it would simply be astonishing for a candidate who remains completely unknown to a vast majority of voters nationwide to win any state, even one as unique as Utah. Consider that the Libertarian ticket of Gary Johnson and Bill Weld have served a combined four terms as governor, are on all 50 state ballots, and yet not a single poll has shown them in as strong a position as McMullin is in Utah. McMullin could also make a strong showing in Idaho, which has the second-highest proportion of Mormons in the country. There has been sparse polling of the traditionally Republican state and no public surveys that have included McMullin. But a poll taken before the Trump Access Hollywood tape emerged found that Clinton was only 10 points behind in a state that Mitt Romney won by 32 points over President Obama in 2012. Johnson earned 10 percent, while 11 percent said they would vote for “some other candidate.”

McMullin’s success naturally leads to a series of “What if?” questions about the 2016 race. Would a more well-known and better-funded Republican or truly independent candidate have had a shot to split the Trump vote and actually win a significant number of electoral votes? The obvious possibility would be Mitt Romney, who denounced Trump early on and would have instantly been a factor in the race. But while Romney could surely have captured Utah, he would have been a ripe target for both Trump and Clinton, who have ignored McMullin. Johnson and Weld have shown the difficulty in crossing the threshold from curiosity to serious contender. The better question might be if McMullin might spawn more state-specific, “favorite son” candidacies—particularly in places that don’t draw a lot of attention from major-party candidates and in states where the political lines don’t always align with the national partisan divide. Think Alaska, Maine, Vermont, or the handful of sparsely-populated states in the Mountain West.

It may be, however, that McMullin’s unlikely surge is not a recipe that can easily be repeated, the result of a confluence of factors unique to this already unprecedented election. Just as there can only be one Donald Trump, so is there only one Evan McMullin.

New Bill Clinton Accuser Comes Forward in Breitbart

Clinton in his Arkansas governor days
Ira Schwarz / AP

Breitbart has published the account of a woman, identified as Leslie Millwee, who claims that Bill Clinton sexually assaulted her in 1980.

“I am a wife, a mother, I work for a non-profit for cancer awareness, and I was sexually assaulted by Bill Clinton,” she said in a video that accompanies the conservative website’s article.

Millwee alleges that multiple assaults occurred while she was working as a television reporter in Fort Smith and Fayetteville, Arkansas. She claims that she interviewed Clinton, then the governor of Arkansas, roughly 20 times during her time there. Here’s how she describes the alleged assaults, which she said took place in an editing room at the television station where she worked:

He came up behind me and started rubbing my shoulders, and running his hands down toward my breasts. I was just stunned. I froze. I asked him to stop, he laughed. That happened on three occasions and each time it escalated where the aggressive nature of his touch, and what he was doing behind me escalated.

According to Breitbart’s report, the second and third alleged assaults “involved Clinton rubbing his genitalia against Millwee.” In the video, Millwee said that during the second, she was “asking him the whole time, please do not do this, do not touch me.” She said that the former president later visited her apartment and tried to come inside. “I did not answer the door,” she said.

Millwee claims that she told her story to her mother, grandmother, and husband. The report also cites three other individuals that she told in the late 1990s: “Fran Kaminsky, a friend and former co-worker; Angela Malaer, a friend and Millwee’s son’s fourth-grade teacher during the Lewinsky scandal; and Ronald Scott, a Houston-based retired lawyer.”

Breitbart notes that it was not able to find any interviews Millwee said she conducted with Clinton, though the article quotes Karen Pharis, identified as “Millwee’s assignments editor,” who corroborates her claim that she interviewed Clinton.

The story also flags an inconsistency in the way Millwee describes the alleged assaults during the video interview and how she described an encounter with Clinton in a 2011 book. Millwee told Breitbart that she “decided as I wrote and organized that I would not put anything that seemed sexual in nature, as far as details, etc. I wanted to put a book on the shelf that could be read by adults, or teens, or proudly tell people about it at church.”

Millwee, whose story was reported hours before the third and final presidential debate, cited Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in her video explanation of why she didn’t come forward earlier: “I almost came out during the Monica Lewinsky and Kathleen Willey situation; I watched that unfold a little bit. I was very prepared to go forward then, and talk about it, and I watched the way the Clintons, and Hillary, slandered those women, harassed them, did unthinkable things to them. And I just did not want to be part of that.” The Donald Trump campaign—whose CEO Steve Bannon was until recently the executive chairman of Breitbart—has targeted Hillary Clinton for allegedly mistreating women who’ve accused her husband of sexual misconduct.

When asked about the report on MSNBC, Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon responded: “I don't know any of the circumstances behind those allegations. I just know … that it's been reported by Breitbart. I wouldn't be surprised if Donald Trump seeks to invoke this Breitbart report tonight or in the coming days. We expect that he'll do anything in these closing days. He has said that he's essentially practicing a scorched-Earth approach to this campaign.” A Clinton representative declined further comment.

Voter Registrations Reach an All-Time High

Sue Ogrocki / AP

There are more than 200 million registered voters in the United States—marking an all-time high in the country’s history.

Politico reports:

There is no current national database of voter registration because each state independently runs its own election. But TargetSmart, a Democratic political data firm, told POLITICO that the country passed the 200 million threshold in recent days as North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada and New York reported new voter numbers.

Tom Bonier, CEO of TargetSmart, said national registration now stands at 200,081,377 voters.

The numbers indicate a surge in registrations over the past eight years. To put it in perspective, more than 146 million people were registered to vote “as recently as 2008.”

The spike is likely to benefit Democrats. According to Politico, “TargetSmart found that 42.6 percent of the new voters registered this year lean Democratic, and only 29 percent lean Republican (28.4 percent lean independent).” Across battleground states, a similar trend has unfolded—Democrats hold the advantage.

Pew Research Center predicted this year that the U.S. electorate “will be the country’s most racially and ethnically diverse ever.” Voter organizations have capitalized on this, deploying efforts to increase voter registration, particularly among Latinos. As I reported earlier this year, these outreach efforts might stand to benefit Clinton more than Donald Trump, whose inflammatory rhetoric has alienated Latino voters. The NALEO Educational Fund projected Latino voter turnout will increase by 17 percent in November.

It’s unclear whether an uptick in registration will translate to increased voter turnout. But Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook told reporters this week that the campaign expects “the biggest turnout in electoral history.”

Trump's Fool-Proof Method for Selecting a Cabinet

Donald Trump is fond of citing unscientific online surveys, which have been the only variety of polls that have shown him winning debates or leading in the presidential race in recent weeks. On Wednesday, the Republican Party posted a survey asking readers to nominate candidates for his cabinet. What could possible go wrong?

Well, just for starters, Trump appears to be a few cards short of a full deck. The cabinet includes the heads of fifteen executive departments, in addition to seven other cabinet-rank officials. But if you intended to nominate Boaty McBoatface for secretary of transportation, you’re out of luck—the GOP isn’t accepting suggestions. The secretary of the interior is eighth in the presidential line of succession, just ahead of the secretary of agriculture and the secretary of commerce. And all three are missing from the survey, as is the secretary of housing and urban development. Somewhat ominously, the other missing agency is the Department of Education, which Trump has previously said he intends to eliminate—perhaps the other five are in for similar treatment.

This isn’t the first time cabinet picks have been used to gin up a little publicity. Ahead of the Republican convention, Trump aides mooted announcing some names, before backing off amid questions as to whether that would be legal.

In truth, the post seems like a relatively harmless way for the GOP to harvest the contact information of supporters—and guessing cabinet picks is, in any case, a favorite Washington pastime. But when President Trump nominates Leroy Jenkins for secretary of defense? You’ll know how it happened.

How Low Can Trump Go?

A new poll finds that the Republican nominee’s support is still crumbling.

Ahead of the first presidential debate, a PRRI/The Atlantic poll found the race tied—with Clinton and Trump each drawing 43 percent support. After the debate, Clinton steadily drew ahead. One week later, she had a six-point lead; a week after that, she’d built it to 11 points, 49-38. And a PRRI/Brookings survey out Wednesday finds her extending it to a staggering 15 points.

It’s just one survey—polling averages, which are typically more reliable than any single poll, put the race at a 7 to 9 point Clinton lead. But what’s particularly striking in this instance is the trend line. Trump, in the past, has sometimes seen his support plummet after a few bad news cycles, only to recover as attention moves to some more favorable set of issues. This time, though, he’s been in steady decline for weeks.

Is that reversible? Perhaps. But Trump is out of time. More than 1.86 million votes have already been cast in the 2016 election. In the last two weeks, a disproportionate number of women have requested ballots in a couple states. In Florida, North Carolina, and Georgia, Trump appears to be underperforming Mitt Romney; in Ohio and Iowa, he may be ahead of Romney’s pace.

And if victory appears increasingly unlikely for Trump, attention may shift to Congress. The same PRRI/Brookings poll gives Democrats a 12-point lead in the congressional ballot test. That, like the main result, is an outlier. But if other polls follow the trend, Trump may end up dragging the historically large GOP congressional majority down with him.