Welcome to McClatchy’s Voter Survival Guide, an interactive presentation of daily events from one of the strangest presidential campaigns in modern history.
Trump and Pence call Putin a stronger leader than Obama
During Wednesday’s Commander-In-Chief Forum, Donald Trump called Russian president Vladimir Putin a better leader than Barack Obama.
Mike Pence, Trump’s running mate, agreed Thursday, calling it “inarguable“ that Putin has been a stronger leader.
“It’s inarguable that Vladimir Putin has been a stronger leader in his country than Barack Obama has been in this country, and that’s going to change the day that Donald Trump becomes president of the United States of America,” Pence told CNN’s Dana Bash.
Trump and Pence’s praise for Putin has been widely criticized, including by Republicans. House Speaker Paul Ryan called Putin “an aggressor that does not share our interests.” GOP primary competitor Lindsey Graham went even more aggressive.
Vladimir Putin is a thug, a dictator, an autocratic ruler who has his opposition killed in the streets in Russia. If you are running to be leader of the free world and you find admiration for Putin, well, then, you’re losing me.
S.C. Sen. Lindsey Graham.
Hillary Clinton fires back
Hillary Clinton immediately shot back at Donald Trump’s assertion about Putin. “Every Republican holding or seeking office in this country should be asked if they agree with Donald Trump about these statements,” she said in a news conference on Thursday.
[Praising Putin] is not just unpatriotic and insulting to the people of our country, as well as to our commander in chief, it is scary.
Hillary Clinton on Donald Trump calling Vladimir Putin a better leader than Barack Obama
Gary Johnson forgets what Aleppo is
During an MSNBC panel Thursday morning, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson was asked what he’d do about the situation in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and the epicenter of the refugee crisis.
Johnson’s response: “And what is Aleppo?“
After being reminded Aleppo was a Syrian city, Johnson called for increased diplomatic relations with Russia to bring the intractable war to an end, but by that point it was too late.
Joe Scarborough asked Johnson if he thought foreign policy was so “insignificant” a candidate running for president shouldn’t know where Aleppo is. Johnson disagreed but didn’t explain his flub.
He gave a full statement later in the day.
Trump desperately tries to prove he opposed the Iraq War
Donald Trump repeated a false claim that he was against the Iraq War from the beginning after announcing “I was totally against the war in Iraq” during the national security forum Wednesday night. Trump pointed to an interview with Fox’s Neil Cavuto and Esquire magazine as proof.
Problem is: neither of these help his case. And in a 2002 interview with Howard Stern, he explicitly supported the Iraq invasion.
Colin Powell advised Hillary Clinton on her private email after all
House Democrats released emails between Colin Powell and Hillary Clinton detailing the use of personal email and devices. His key piece of advice: “Be very careful” about your BlackBerry. “I got around it all by not saying much and not using systems that captured the data.”
You can read the full exchange here.
Reader question: What happens to unspent political donations when they [candidates] lose?
When their bid for office falls flat, their campaign warchest lives on. The only restriction for unspent political donations by vanquished candidates is they cannot use the money for personal expenses.
“My suspicion is that some of them are sitting on the money,” said Larry Noble, former chief counsel of the Federal Elections Commission and general counsel for the Campaign Legal Center. “They can, with certain limitations, transfer it to other committees.”
Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz or any of the other also-rans can use leftover money on a future political campaign, donate it to a charity or political party, or make a contribution to another candidate, according to Noble. In recent months, Cruz transferred nearly $3 million to his senate campaign committee while Sanders used leftover money to send delegates to the Democratic National Convention in late July.
Every major presidential candidate also had super PACs supporting their bid. Super PACs can raise unlimited amounts of money from donors but cannot coordinate directly with the candidate. When their chosen candidate drops out, super PACs are free to do whatever they want with the leftover funds except donate directly to candidates.
“There aren’t a lot of restrictions in terms of the use of the funds, they can pay themselves,” Noble said.
Yet most super PACs supporting presidential candidates continue to use leftover money for political activities, such as donating to another super PAC, because they want to maintain good relationships with their donors.
Super PACs can donate to candidates for state office or donate to another presidential candidate’s super PAC.
But that may not happen with Donald Trump and Republican super PACs that supported other candidates.
“Jeb Bush’s super PAC isn’t going to transfer money to Donald Trump,” Noble said. “It’s an odd election year.”
- Gary Johnson might not now what Aleppo is, but the Syrian city doesn’t know him either.
- Clinton calls North Carolina’s voting laws “blasts from the Jim Crow past“
- Richard Nixon’s ghost is shadowing Trump and Clinton’s presidential campaigns.
- Can Hillary Clinton win Texas?
- NBC execs say Matt Laurer’s forum performance was a “disaster.”
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Eric Wuestewald, @eric_wuest