The Latest: High-profile Republicans may confront Trump

AP News
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Posted: Aug 03, 2016 1:25 PM
The Latest:  High-profile Republicans may confront Trump

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the U.S. presidential race (all times EDT):

1:25 p.m.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is among a handful of high-profile Republicans considering whether to confront Donald Trump about his approach to his presidential campaign.

That's according to a Republican official with direct knowledge of Priebus' plans, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal party strategy.

Republicans inside and outside of Trump's campaign are brainstorming how to influence the brash billionaire after a series of startling statements, including his Tuesday refusal to endorse House Speaker Paul Ryan's re-election.

Priebus and Ryan are both from Wisconsin and close friends.

The official says Priebus may join a small group of well-respected Republicans to confront Trump in the coming days. The plan is not final, but the official says the group may include former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Both are Trump allies.

Priebus has already been speaking with campaign chairman Paul Manafort and the billionaire's children, who are said to agree that Trump needs to stop picking fights within his own party and back off his criticism of the family of a slain soldier.

—By Steve Peoples

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1:15 p.m.

House Speaker Paul Ryan's underdog primary challenger says the Republican lawmaker has betrayed Donald Trump in "an act of sabotage against our party."

Paul Nehlen is trying to capitalize on a burst of attention he's received after Trump complimented him. The Republican presidential candidate also said he wasn't ready to endorse Ryan in the primary.

Nehlen held a news conference Wednesday in Ryan's hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin. He says Ryan is trying to sabotage both Trump and the will of Republicans who selected him as their nominee. Ryan has endorsed Trump, but has also been critical of some of his policy proposals and comments.

Ryan has outraised Nehlen 17-to-1 in the district, secured a host of endorsements and enjoys high favorability ratings among Republicans. Nehlen is running his first campaign.

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1:10 p.m.

A leader of an overseas Republican group says she is growing concerned about Donald Trump.

Jan Halper-Hayes, vice-president of Republicans Overseas, says "there is an element of him that truly is psychologically unbalanced."

Halper-Hayes has previously defended Trump and has said his temperament is suited to high office.

Halper-Hayes, author of "Quiet Desperation: The Truth About Successful Men," told the BBC on Wednesday that "Donald is out of control right now and he's not listening to anyone."

But she said that "I think that there is some real concern about his behavior right now. ... It's something we need to watch very carefully."

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12:45 p.m.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest says that President Barack Obama has confidence in the America's electoral process and everybody else should too.

His comments at Wednesday's press briefing came in response to questions about Republican Donald Trump's suggestion that the November election "is going to be rigged" against him. Trump did not go into details.

Earnest says that the 2012 presidential election contained complaints from some supporters of Mitt Romney that the polling was skewed against the Republican nominee, so Trump's suggestion is not entirely new. But he said it is the kind of claim often made by people who don't end up winning elections.

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12:35 p.m.

Donald Trump's campaign chair says the candidate is in control and that reports of brewing anger over his inability to stay on message are overblown.

Paul Manafort says in an interview with Fox News Channel that "the candidate is in control of his campaign."

He adds that "the campaign is in very good shape" and blames rival Hillary Clinton for suggesting otherwise.

Trump's week has been dominated by his criticism of Muslim parents whose son was killed in the Iraq War and his refusal to endorse House Speaker Paul Ryan and Sen. John McCain.

Manafort says of Trump's spat with the family: "We've put it behind us."

He says that when Trump appears at an event Wednesday afternoon, he'll be focused on Clinton.

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11:40 a.m.

Donald Trump's campaign says it raised $80 million in July to support his bid as well as the Republican Party.

The numbers mark a significant upswing since May, when Trump was badly outraised by Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. He now has $37 million cash-on-hand.

Clinton raised $63 million in July for her campaign, as well as $26 million for the Democratic National Committee and state parties, bringing her total monthly fundraising to about $90 million.

Trump's $80 million includes approximately $64 million raised through digital and direct mail operations, the campaign says.

Trump is leaning on small donors to finance the bulk of his presidential run.

He's also continuing to invest his own money into his campaign, contributing another $2 million last month.

Campaign finance chair Steven Mnuchin says the campaign has received contributions from more than 1 million donors to date.

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10:45 a.m.

Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson says Donald Trump should apologize for disparaging the bereaved parents of U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, a Muslim who was awarded a Bronze Star after he was killed in 2004 in Iraq.

Johnson had earlier praised the Khan family in a statement that did not mention Trump. He went further in an interview Wednesday on WTMJ Radio, calling for Trump to apologize.

But Johnson refused to withdraw his support of Trump. Johnson was asked what it would take for him to no longer back Trump. He said the election is a binary choice and Trump is preferable to Democrat Hillary Clinton. Johnson said her handling of the Benghazi attack and use of a private email server while secretary of state has "completely disqualified" her from being president.

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9:45 a.m.

A new ad supporting Hillary Clinton uses the words of Republican leaders and appointees to make the case that GOP nominee Donald Trump is unfit to lead the United States.

The 30-second spot shows clips of 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, former CIA Director Michael Hayden and others questioning Trump's temperament and foreign policy experience.

Trump's comments "create a clear and present danger," says Hayden.

The spot was released by Priorities USA, a Super PAC supporting Clinton. Super PACs can raise unlimited amounts of money, but aren't allowed to coordinate with campaigns.

The ad is running in nine battleground states.

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8:10 a.m.

A spokeswoman for Donald Trump has blamed Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for the 2004 killing of U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan in Iraq — even though the death occurred more than four years before Obama became president.

Trump has been in a public fight with Khan's parents after Khan's father criticized the Republican nominee at last week's Democratic convention.

In an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer Tuesday evening, Katrina Pierson said, "It was under Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton that changed the rules of engagements that probably cost his life."

Obama was a state senator in Illinois in 2004. Clinton was a senator representing New York. She voted in favor of the Iraq War in 2002.

Trump has been widely criticized, including by many Republicans, for denouncing the Khans, who are Muslim-Americans.

Pierson's comments have become a trending topic under #KatrinaPiersonHistory. She touched on the controversy herself on Twitter by writing that she'll make history by getting Trump elected president.

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7:15 a.m.

Donald Trump says there's "great unity" in his campaign —despite growing dissent and turmoil among his fellow Republicans.

Trump tweeted Wednesday that the campaign unity is "perhaps greater than ever before."

That comes as he continues to face criticism from Republican lawmakers for attacking the Muslim-American parents of a U.S. Army captain killed in Iraq. The soldier's father had criticized Trump at last week's Democratic convention.

On Tuesday, Meg Whitman, a prominent Republican fundraiser and former Hewlett-Packard executive said she would back Democrat Hillary Clinton. Also, Rep. Richard Hanna of New York became the first Republican member of Congress to say he will vote for Clinton.

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3:30 a.m.

Donald Trump is openly taunting the leaders of his own party by refusing to endorse House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Sen. John McCain of Arizona in their GOP primaries.

And so far, McCain, Ryan and other Republicans who've reluctantly declared that they plan to back Trump for president appear to be sticking with him.

Trump's stunning slap at two of the nation's most prominent Republicans dramatically escalated GOP turmoil barely a week after a convention intended to promote party unity.

With the general election campaign now squarely underway, Republicans found themselves once again forced to answer questions about the latest boundary-defying pronouncement from Trump at a moment when most would rather be talking about Hillary Clinton's record.