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Presidential hopeful Kamala Harris seeks campaign jolt in pivotal Iowa

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Presidential hopeful Kamala Harris seeks campaign jolt in pivotal Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa (Reuters) – It was on the third day of a five-day bus tour across Iowa last week that 2020 White House contender Kamala Harris finally seemed to hit her stride.

2020 Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) speaks at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., August 10, 2019. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

Armed with fresh endorsements from two of the state’s most sought after political influencers early on Saturday, the U.S. Senator from California got an enthusiastic welcome from over 500 people at a Des Moines area high school.

For the first time during her tour that started on Thursday, the crowd began chanting Harris’ new slogan about Republican Donald Trump’s presidency: “Dude gotta go!”

The country needs a leader who can “prosecute the case against Donald Trump” and “it will take a prosecutor to do it,” Harris, California’s former top prosecutor and a former district attorney of San Francisco, told the audience. “And we’ve got quite the rap sheet.”

Harris, 54, is among two dozen Democrats vying for the party nomination to take on Trump in the November 2020 election.

Months after entering the presidential race as a relatively fresh face on the national stage, Harris, who is of Jamaican and south Asian descent, has ranked fourth in most national opinion polls, behind former Vice President Joe Biden and liberal U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Her surge in support after the first Democratic presidential debate in June in Miami, where she successfully challenged Biden’s record on race, had dissipated by the second debate in July in Detroit, where she was attacked by lesser-known rivals.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll taken Aug. 1-5 showed that Biden remained in first place with 22% support, relatively unchanged from the month before. Harris was in fourth, dropping 4 points to 5.7% support over the same time period.

But in Iowa, there are signs that her campaign could be gaining traction. A Monmouth University poll released Aug. 8 showed Harris third in the state, with 11% support, behind Biden and Warren.

And on Saturday, her campaign announced major endorsements from Iowa power couple Sue and Bob Dvorsky, a former state party chairwoman and a former state senator, who supported former President Barack Obama in 2008 in his surprise upset over Hillary Clinton, then Clinton in 2016 when she eked out a win over Sanders.

The winner of Iowa’s Democratic caucuses has gone on to be the party’s nominee for the last six election cycles and Obama’s victory there in 2008 catapulted him from little-known junior U.S. senator to the White House.

In an interview with Reuters on Sunday, Harris said she felt that her performance in the second debate did not match her stand-out performance in Miami. But she shrugged off concerns about her momentum stalling.

“You know I’m a frontrunner and that became clear on the second debate in a way that it was not on the first. You’ve got to be prepared to take the hits when you’re a frontrunner and that’s what happened,” Harris told Reuters aboard a bus with “Kamala” written on it in large, capital letters.

“I honestly don’t pay attention to polls,” Harris said. “I hear about them but that’s not my North Star because if I had listened to the polls I would have never run for any office I’ve run for.”

During her Iowa campaign stops, Harris said repeatedly that she is in the race to win it.

Her five-day trip across the state has been a departure from the early months of her candidacy, when she courted key constituencies in urban centers and held private events while rivals relied on the traditional barnstorm politicking.

UNDECIDED

Many Iowans who plan to participate in the February caucuses told Reuters that it will be weeks or months before they settle on their top pick.

They said they were not troubled about Harris’ tendency to talk about policy in broad brush strokes, a trait that has earned criticism that she lacks a clear, specific vision.

Theresa Beckham, 49, came to a Saturday night event at a Des Moines winery to see Harris, who is on her shortlist along with Biden and Andrew Yang, a tech entrepreneur. She said Harris struck her as someone who would be able to beat Trump.

“I wanted to hear more about what’s most important to her. Things change all the time and I’d rather have a candidate that really thinks these things out,” said Beckham.

Attending the Des Moines high school rally on Saturday, Nancy Davis, 68, said that she was impressed by Harris’ forceful performance at the first debate but not overly concerned when she faltered during an exchange on healthcare during the second.

“Do we need Medicare for All? I’m not sure to be honest. If you have an option to get covered, that’s what’s important,” she added.

Harris said her repeated visits to Iowa have helped her refine her policy positions, including her proposal to raise teacher pay across the country.

This time, crossing the state from west to east on a bus, she told Reuters that she had “eye-opening moments” getting up close with issues in rural America.

Harris said the upside of the bus tour was “not helicoptering in and out, but being on the ground the whole time, looking out the window and stopping where we stop and visiting a farm but then also being at a church.”

She cited conversations with residents of a mobile home park who are grappling with skyrocketing rent after its recent purchase by an investment firm as eye-opening in terms of thinking about the lack of affordable housing.

“People sometimes mistakenly associate it (affordable housing) with urban areas but it’s all over the country,” Harris said.

Reporting By Amanda Becker, Editing by Soyoung Kim and Raju Gopalakrishnan

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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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