Donald Trump’s primary playbook leading him out of bounds
ABINGDON, Va. (AP) — In the 2016 presidential campaign, it’s long been an article of faith: The rules of political gravity don’t apply to Donald Trump.
Maybe now they do.
After winning state after state while bouncing between controversies in the GOP primaries, Trump is still stumbling on the stump. His latest unforced mishap: an off-hand remark that critics quickly slammed as a suggestion that gun-rights backers should take a literal shot at Hillary Clinton should she win the White House.
But rather than continuing to float above the criticism, Trump is losing ground in preference polls and alienating prominent Republicans by the day. Even some of his supporters worry Trump’s lack of a filter is hurting his White House chances, a concern they say has only grown in recent weeks.
“You’d think it would be pretty simple for a grown man to keep his mouth shut sometimes,” said Seth Walls, 18, a landscaper from Whitetop, Virginia, who attended his first Trump rally on Wednesday. “These Twitter rants and things he does in the media, I definitely think it’s hurting him.”
Trump accuses Obama of being the ‘founder of ISIS’
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Donald Trump accused President Barack Obama on Wednesday of founding the Islamic State group that is wreaking havoc from the Middle East to European cities. A moment later, on another topic, he referred to the president by his full legal name: Barack Hussein Obama.
“In many respects, you know, they honor President Obama,” Trump said during a raucous campaign rally outside Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “He is the founder of ISIS.”
He repeated the allegation three more times for emphasis.
The Republican presidential nominee in the past has accused his opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, of founding the militant group. As he shifted the blame to Obama on Wednesday, he said “crooked Hillary Clinton” was actually the group’s co-founder.
Trump has long blamed Obama and his former secretary of state — Clinton — for pursuing Mideast policies that created a power vacuum in Iraq that was exploited by IS, another acronym for the group. He’s sharply criticized Obama for announcing he would pull U.S. troops out of Iraq, a decision that many Obama critics say created the kind of instability in which extremist groups like IS thrive.
10 Things to Know for Thursday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday:
1. DRUMBEAT OF CRITICISM MAY BE CATCHING UP TO TRUMP
Rather than continuing to float above the condemnation, the billionaire businessman is losing ground in preference polls and alienating prominent Republicans by the day.
2. ‘ENEMY IS IN RETREAT ON ALL FRONTS’
A U.S. commander says the military campaigns against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria have taken 45,000 enemy combatants off the battlefield.
‘Truly a piece of evil’: ‘Grim Sleeper’ sent to death row
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The serial killer known as the “Grim Sleeper” was sentenced to death Wednesday for the murders of nine women and a teenage girl that went unsolved for years as the body count grew in a poor section of Los Angeles haunted by the scourge of crack cocaine.
The moment of reckoning for Lonnie Franklin Jr. came after those whose lives were altered by his violence questioned how he could have been so cruel and shown so little remorse.
“You are truly a piece of evil,” said Enietra Washington, who managed to survive after being shot and testified against him at trial. “You’re right up there with Manson.”
The killings occurred over more than two decades and community members complained that police didn’t seriously investigate them because the victims were black and poor and many were drug users and prostitutes.
Franklin was linked at trial to 14 slayings, including four women he wasn’t charged with killing. Police have said he may have had as many as 25 victims.
Sheriff: Arkansas deputy dies in shooting
An Arkansas man who wanted to cause a “ruckus” ahead of a court hearing shot and killed a sheriff’s deputy Wednesday, and wounded a small-town police chief, before surrendering to law enforcement officers who had surrounded his rural home, a sheriff said.
Sebastian County Deputy Bill Cooper was pronounced dead about 1:15 p.m. after being shot in the neck, Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck said during a news conference. Hackett Police Chief Darrell Spells suffered superficial wounds after apparently being grazed by a bullet.
Billy Monroe Jones, 34, had gone to his father’s house earlier Wednesday to take some tools, Hollenbeck said. According to the sheriff, Jones pointed a gun at his father, who called 911. Cooper and Spells were among officers who found Jones with a rifle and body armor when they went to his home east of Hackett, near the Oklahoma border.
“Jones wanted to cause what was told to us as a ‘ruckus’ and he was due in court in Fort Smith regarding a petition to revoke a suspended sentence charge,” Hollenbeck told reporters.
Court records show Jones has had a drug conviction in state court along with a handful of minor charges, such as speeding and public intoxication, in nearby Greenwood.
Scathing report on Baltimore cops vindicates black residents
BALTIMORE (AP) — With startling statistics, a federal investigation of the Baltimore Police Department documents in 164 single-spaced pages what black residents have been saying for years: They are routinely singled out, roughed up or otherwise mistreated by officers, often for no reason.
The 15-month Justice Department probe was prompted by the death of Freddie Gray, the black man whose fatal neck injury in the back of a police van touched off the worst riots in Baltimore in decades. To many people, the blistering report issued Wednesday was familiar reading.
Danny Marrow, a retired food service worker, said that over the years, he has been stopped and hassled repeatedly by police.
“It started when I was 8 years old and they’d say, with no probable cause, ‘Hey, come here. Where are you going?'” he said. “No cause, just the color of my skin.”
“Bullies in the workplace,” he said. “They don’t want you to get angry or challenge their authority, so they’ll use force, they’ll put the handcuffs on too tight. And if you run, they’re going to beat you up when they catch you.”
Police: Woman killed by Florida officer in academy exercise
PUNTA GORDA, Fla. (AP) — A police “shoot/don’t shoot” demonstration in Florida went shockingly awry when an officer shot and killed a 73-year-old former librarian with what police said was real ammunition used by mistake at an event designed to bring police and the public together.
Authorities didn’t immediately say how a gun with a live round came to be used at Tuesday evening’s demonstration, noting blank rounds are typically used in such classes. The officer has been placed on administrative leave, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating.
“We were unaware that any live ammunition was available to the officer,” Punta Gorda Police Chief Tom Lewis said at a news conference Wednesday. “The officer involved is grief stricken. We’ve got officers assigned to him to make sure he’s psychologically stable.”
Mary Knowlton, a well-known community volunteer, was shot after being randomly selected to take part in the role-playing scenario illustrating the split-second decisions an officer must make about firing. It was part of a popular citizens academy attended by 35 people, including her 75-year-old husband, and the police chief.
Her son, Steve Knowlton, said his father was “devastated.”
New report will fuel debate over closing Guantanamo prison
WASHINGTON (AP) — A new report on Guantanamo detainees tells the stories of former al-Qaida bomb makers and bodyguards as well as low-level militant cooks and medics who have been transferred or cleared for release — despite fears they are at risk of returning to battle.
Many of the detainees have been held without charge for more than 14 years at the military prison President Barack Obama wants to close.
The Pentagon gave the unclassified report to Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., who has been pushing the Obama administration for years to be more transparent about who is being transferred out of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She shared it with The Associated Press and posted it online Wednesday.
“By clearly detailing some of the disturbing terrorist activities and affiliations of detainees at Guantanamo, the report demonstrates why these terrorists should not be released — they pose a serious risk to our national security,” Ayotte said in an email response to questions.
The remaining detainees “will no doubt” return to the fight once released, she said, noting that the Defense Department told her that 93 percent of the detainees still at Guantanamo as of late last year were high risk for re-engagement in terrorism.
Versatile ESPN sportscaster John Saunders dies at 61
NEW YORK (AP) — John Saunders, the versatile sportscaster who has hosted ESPN’s “The Sports Reporters” for the last 15 years, has died, the network announced Wednesday. He was 61.
Saunders joined ESPN in 1986. The Canadian did play-by-play, led NHL Stanley Cup and World Series coverage on ESPN and ABC, and hosted studio shows for baseball, college football and college basketball.
A cause of death was not announced.
“This tragic news brings us unspeakable sorrow. John was the patriarch of our family, and we can’t believe he is gone,” Saunders family said in a statement. “We are sincerely touched by the outpouring of support and sadness, which is a reflection of the character and integrity that defined him.
“While we don’t yet have all the specifics, John wasn’t feeling well physically in recent days and sadly, he was unresponsive earlier this morning. We appreciate all of the thoughts and prayers for our cherished father, husband, brother and uncle.”
Former Somali refugee poised to win office in Minnesota
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Ilhan Omar spent four years in a Kenyan refugee camp as a young girl, fleeing with her family from civil war in Somalia. Two decades later, after forging a new life in Minnesota, she appears on the brink of becoming the nation’s first Somali-American state legislator.
Omar, a 33-year-old community activist, cried as she delivered victory speeches in English and Somali after defeating a 44-year incumbent in the latest sign of the Somali community’s growing influence in the city and state. Her victory in a heavily Democratic Minneapolis district makes her a strong favorite in the general election — where her Republican opponent is also a Somali immigrant.
“Tonight we made history,” Omar told supporters after her win late Tuesday. “Tonight marks the beginning of the future of our district, a new era of representation.”
A seat in the Legislature would be a new high-water mark for Minnesota Somalis, who in recent years have won seats on the Minneapolis school board and City Council. First drawn in the early 1990s by welcoming social programs, they’re now estimated by the census to number around 40,000, though community advocates say the figure is much higher.
In an interview Wednesday, Omar said her campaign set out to build a broad-based coalition of not only East Africans, but longtime residents and students in a district that encompasses the University of Minnesota’s Minneapolis campus and Augsburg College. She said she hopes her victory sends a message to young women of color who are thinking about running for office that they can raise money, shatter stereotypes and win big.