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Biden, fellow Democrats back on campaign trail after third presidential debate

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Biden, fellow Democrats back on campaign trail after third presidential debate

HOUSTON (Reuters) – Former Vice President Joe Biden returned to the campaign trail on Friday after a Democratic debate that largely reinforced his front-runner status for the party’s presidential nomination, leaving his rivals searching for how to wrest away the top spot.

FILE PHOTO: Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks as South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Kamala Harris listen during the 2020 Democratic U.S. presidential debate in Houston, Texas, U.S., September 12, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

The candidates who participated in Thursday night’s debate in Houston, and those scrambling to try to qualify for next month’s debate in Ohio, have less than five months to plead their case to voters before the first nominating contest in Iowa on Feb. 3, 2020.

Biden on Friday held campaign events in Houston, where a day earlier he clashed with liberal rivals Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders on healthcare, challenging the two U.S. senators to be honest about the cost of their plans.

Biden came under fire from former U.S. Housing Secretary Julian Castro, who incorrectly accused the former vice president of forgetting what he had just in an exchange seen as an attack on Biden’s age. And Biden’s comments about racial inequality in schools prompted a rebuke from rival U.S. Senator Cory Booker.

“We are at a tough point right now, because there’s a lot of people concerned about Joe Biden’s ability to carry the ball all the way across the end line without fumbling,” Booker said on CNN after the debate.

But the top 10 Democratic candidates, sharing the debate stage for the first time after the party toughened the rules to qualify, also stressed their shared opposition to Republican President Donald Trump and scaled down some of the bickering that marked the first two debates this summer.

Biden was sharper and more aggressive than in the earlier matchups, leaving him in a strong position as his rivals evaluate the best strategy in the race to pick a Democratic challenger to Trump in the November 2020 election.

Aside from Biden, Sanders and Warren, none of the other 17 Democratic contenders is regularly hitting double digits in support in opinion polls.

Several major events are on the campaign schedule in coming weeks. Biden, Sanders and at least three other candidates are expected on Monday to attend the Galivants Ferry Stump meeting in South Carolina.

The next weekend, 18 candidates will attend the Polk County, Iowa, steak fry, a regular stop for presidential contenders, and at least 10 candidates will participate in a forum on LGBTQ issues.

The Democratic National Committee announced on Friday the next debate will be held in Westerville, Ohio, on Oct. 15 and possibly Oct. 16 depending on the number of qualifying candidates.

At least one more candidate, billionaire activist Tom Steyer, has met the tougher qualifications for the next debate.

CASTRO ON THE OFFENSIVE

Castro led the charge on Thursday against Biden by accusing him of flip-flopping in his description of his own healthcare proposal.

“Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago?” Castro, 44, asked Biden, 76, who has faced questions about his age.

Later, he accused Biden of being quick to tie himself to former President Barack Obama when it suited him and walk away when it did not. Biden was Obama’s vice president for eight years.

“I’m fulfilling the legacy of Barack Obama and you’re not,” said Castro, who also served in the Obama administration.

“That’ll be a surprise to him,” Biden responded.

Biden, who served under the first black U.S. president and enjoys strong support from likely black primary voters, also drew criticism for his response to whether Americans had a duty to repair the slavery’s legacy.

He transitioned into an answer related to education that suggested bringing social workers into black families’ homes to “help them deal with how to raise their children” and having a “record player on at night” to help with language acquisition.

Booker said on CNN after the debate that Biden is sometimes “meandering in his speech.”

“He’s talking about people in communities like mine listening to record players. … There are definitely moments when you listen to Joe Biden and you just wonder,” Booker said.

Antjuan Seawright, a Democratic strategist in South Carolina, which hosts the fourth nominating contest next year and the first that will have a sizeable proportion of black voters, said he did not think Biden’s remarks would hurt him. Black voters have a “genuine love and affection” for Biden, Seawright said, and his decades-long political career speaks for itself.

“They know who he is, there’s no second-guessing his record,” he said.

Most candidates avoided the attacks that marked the first two rounds of the debates. Those exchanges had dismayed some Democrats, who urged the candidates to focus on laying out their own positive agendas.

Biden praised former U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke for his work after a mass shooting in his hometown of El Paso, Texas, drawing a sustained ovation from the debate audience.

O’Rourke, who has called for gun licensing and a mandatory gun buyback for assault weapons, was asked if he was going to take away people’s guns.

“I am if it was a weapon that was designed to kill people on a battlefield,” he said. “… Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.”

That response quickly drew criticism from Republicans. U.S. Representative Liz Cheney, a member of the House Republican leadership, on Friday called it “one of the most concerning moments that came out of a debate that had a lot of concerning moments.”

Reporting by Ernest Scheyder and Joseph Ax; Additional reporting by Richard Cowan; Writing by John Whitesides and Amanda Becker; Editing by Colleen Jenkins, Peter Cooney and Jonathan Oatis

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Trump rips New York Times over Kavanaugh piece, calls for resignation of anyone involved in ‘SMEAR story’

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Trump rips New York Times over Kavanaugh piece, calls for resignation of anyone involved in 'SMEAR story'

President Trump blasted The New York Times over its supposed bombshell report on Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, calling on “everybody” involved in the “smear” to resign.

“I call for the Resignation of everybody at The New York Times involved in the Kavanaugh SMEAR story, and while you’re at it, the Russian Witch Hunt Hoax, which is just as phony!” Trump tweeted Monday evening.

“They’ve taken the Old Grey Lady and broken her down, destroyed her virtue and ruined her reputation… She can never recover, and will never return to Greatness, under current Management. The Times is DEAD, long live The New York Times!”

NEW YORK TIMES CRITICIZED FROM BOTH SIDES OVER NOW-REVISED KAVANAUGH ALLEGATIONS

Late Sunday, The New York Times walked back an explosive report about a resurfaced allegation of sexual assault by Kavanaugh from his college days. The piece by Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, adapted from their forthcoming book, alleged there was corroboration of an incident in which Kavanaugh, as a college student at Yale, exposed himself to a female classmate at a party.

However, The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway — who reviewed an advance copy of the book – flagged an omission and the paper eventually revised the controversial story after being lampooned on social media over the gaffe.

The update included the significant detail that several friends of the alleged victim said she did not recall the purported sexual assault. The newspaper also stated for the first time that the alleged victim refused to be interviewed, and has made no other comment about the episode.

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Trump was asked about whether anyone from The Times should be “fired” over the controversy. He called it a “fair” question but didn’t directly give an answer.

“I think The New York Times made another terrible mistake,” Trump said. “It’s a shame that a thing like that could happen… They used to have a thing called fact-checking. They don’t have fact-checking anymore.”

Fox News’ Brian Flood and Gregg Re contributed to this report.

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With New Mexico rally, Trump seeks to flip state won by Clinton in 2016

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With New Mexico rally, Trump seeks to flip state won by Clinton in 2016

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump will hold one of his signature rallies on Monday night in New Mexico, a longtime Democratic stronghold his campaign has added to the list of states it hopes to win in the November 2020 election.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S., September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

The last time New Mexico supported a Republican in a presidential race was 2004. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton beat Trump there by 8 percentage points three years ago.

Trump’s campaign sees an opening in the state with Latinos, who it believes will swing his way despite tough immigration policies, including a crackdown on migrants from Central America and a push to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

Democrats have criticized those efforts. But a Trump campaign aide said the Republican president could win over Latinos who came to the United States legally and believe others should, too.

“Big crowd expected in New Mexico tonight, where we will WIN. Your Border Wall is getting stronger each and every day — see you in a few hours!” Trump tweeted ahead of his trip.

The campaign also views Trump’s support for the fossil fuel industry as a plus in the state, which is rich in oil and natural gas, said the campaign aide, who declined to be named. Trump is likely to discuss energy on Monday night.

Trump won the White House in 2016 with electoral votes from traditional Republican-leaning states and some surprise Democratic-leaning ones.

The Trump campaign says it wants New Mexico’s five electoral votes to augment the 306 electoral votes the president received in his first election, not create a separate path for victory. A candidate must get 270 electoral votes nationally to win.

Democrats, who did well in New Mexico during the 2018 mid-term elections, are skeptical.

“Last cycle, Democrats crushed Republicans in New Mexico because voters are fed up with President Trump’s toxic healthcare agenda and broken promises,” said David Bergstein, a communications director for the Democratic National Committee focused on battleground states.

“We take nothing for granted, but this GOP strategy looks like they’re concerned about a realistic pathway to 270 electoral votes,” he added.

Trump won electoral-vote-rich swing states such as Ohio and Florida in 2016, while also picking up Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania from Democrats.

The campaign says it is eyeing more pickups in 2020, including Colorado, New Hampshire, Minnesota and Nevada.

Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Tom Brown

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California adds Iowa to ‘travel ban’ over refusal to fund gender transitions

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California adds Iowa to 'travel ban' over refusal to fund gender transitions

California announced Monday that it has added Iowa to the list of states on its ever-expanding “travel ban” list because of that state’s new prohibition against funding gender-transition surgeries under Medicaid.

The announcement by state Attorney General Xavier Becerra means that as of Oct. 4, California will no longer offer taxpayer-funded trips to Iowa for any public employee or student at a state-run university.

Becerra’s authority came from a 2016 California law signed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown that bars state-funded travel to other states that undercut LGBT rights. The list already included Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma and Mississippi.

WATCH: LIBERAL POLICIES BLAMED FOR WORSENING CALIFORNIA’S HOMELESSNESS CRISIS

Conservatives have called the law ineffective, inconveniencing, possibly unconstitutional and hypocritical. The state’s sports teams have turned to private funding to get around the restrictions, according to The Los Angeles Times.

A homeless woman smokes as she waits for city crews to clean the area near Los Angeles City Hall Monday, July 1, 2019. California is overrun with homeless individuals. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

A homeless woman smokes as she waits for city crews to clean the area near Los Angeles City Hall Monday, July 1, 2019. California is overrun with homeless individuals. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

“The Iowa Legislature has reversed course on what was settled law under the Iowa Civil Rights Act, repealing protections for those seeking gender-affirming health care,” Becerra said in a statement. “California has taken an unambiguous stand against discrimination and government actions that would enable it.”

The brouhaha began after the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in March that taxpayers could be forced to pay for gender reassignment surgery. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a law effectively overriding that ruling two months later.

At the federal level, the Trump administration has disputed the idea that sex-based discrimination prohibitions under law include protections for gender identity. The Health and Human Services Department, in May, angered progressive advocates with rules that both allowed doctors not to perform certain operations and stated that “gender identity” was not protected under sex discrimination law in health care.

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Fox News’ Sam Dorman contributed to this report.

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