The Latest: Early Voting Shows Strengths for Clinton, Trump

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the 2016 presidential campaign (all times EDT):

3:39 p.m.

Early numbers from advance voting for president show initial strength for Hillary Clinton in the critical state of North Carolina and good news for Donald Trump in Iowa.

In North Carolina, more than 53,000 voters requested ballots, and 2,939 had been returned. That’s up from 47,313 ballots requested during a similar period in 2012. By party, Democrats made up 40 percent of the ballots returned compared to 33 percent for Republicans. At this point in 2012, Republicans were running ahead in ballots submitted.

In Iowa, more than 68,000 have requested ballots. Democrats dominate with 40,476 or 60 percent of the ballots so far, compared to 13,011 or 19 percent for Republicans.

But in a sign of softness among Clinton supporters, the numbers are down significantly from 2012, when 92,850 Democrats requested ballots.

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3:00 p.m.

Hillary Clinton plans to speak about how her economic plans will support people with disabilities.

Clinton’s campaign says the Democratic presidential candidate will use a speech in Orlando, Florida Wednesday to “make the case for building an inclusive economy that welcomes people with disabilities, values their work, rewards them fairly, and treats them with respect.”

Clinton will stress her work for people with disabilities, including appointing a special advisor for international disability rights when she was secretary of state. She will also detail how her economic plans help people with disabilities by improving employment opportunities.

This is the latest in a series of speeches designed to showcase Clinton’s positive vision. She spoke about faith in Kansas City recently and stressed her plans for younger voters in Philadelphia this week.

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2:56 p.m.

Hillary Clinton says she’s ready to take whatever her opponent sends her way during the presidential debates.

Appearing on “The Steve Harvey Morning Show” Tuesday, the Democratic presidential nominee spoke about her looming first debate against Republican Donald Trump. She said she would “do my very best to communicate as clearly and – and fearlessly as I can in the face of the insults and the attacks and the bullying and bigotry that we’ve seen coming from my opponent.”

Clinton added that she could handle attacks against herself, saying “I understand it’s a contact sport.” But she said she would continue to speak against Trump’s “attacks on African Americans and immigrants and Muslims and women and people with disabilities.”

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2:54 p.m.

Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence is avoiding answering whether a Trump administration would reverse an Obama administration policy that allows transgender men and women to serve openly in the U.S. military.

Pence was asked about the policy Tuesday during an event the campaign billed as a veterans round table on the decommissioned USS Wisconsin in Norfolk, Virginia.

The Indiana governor said, “What should drive our military is the mission.” He added that Donald Trump’s military policy would be “driven by common sense” and prioritize “unit cohesion.”

He did not mention transgender service members, but Pence’s answer echoed some criticism of the Obama administration policy. Some retired military personnel frame the policy as a “social experiment” that will damage unit cohesion and threaten the military’s ability to carry out missions.

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2:45 p.m.

Donald Trump is trying to sugar up the press.

The GOP nominee stopped by Stamey’s barbecue joint in Greensboro, North Carolina, Tuesday to greet diners and grab lunch and have cherry cobbler for dessert.

Trump later exited with his aides — including one who was holding a large cardboard box.

Trump pointed to the van holding reporters in the parking lot.

The aide then walked over and delivered the box, which held individually wrapped cherry cobblers and ice cream.

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2:32 p.m.

Donald Trump isn’t answering questions about his sudden acknowledgment of the fact that President Barack Obama was born in the United States.

Trump made a stop at a North Carolina restaurant. He greeted diners and posed for photos, but refused to answer a reporter’s shouted questions about when he’d changed his mind about Obama’s birthplace.

Trump spent years as the chief proponent of the falsehood that Obama was born outside the country. He declared for the first time Friday that he’d changed his mind, but did not explain how or when he’d come to that conclusion.

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2:18 p.m.

Donald Trump is stopping by a local Greensboro, North Carolina, restaurant as he campaigns across the battleground state Tuesday.

Trump greeted diners and posed for photos at Stamey’s barbecue restaurant after delivering a rally speech in nearby High Point University.

One eager supporter in the eatery declared, “I’m voting for Trump! No Killarys here!”

She was referring to Trump’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. The woman, Renee Blackmon, said Trump “will be my man.” Reporters were ushered out before the billionaire businessman sat down to eat lunch.

But aide Stephanie Grisham says he ordered a barbecue pork plate with coleslaw and hush puppies. Trump had cherry cobbler for dessert.

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1:25 p.m.

Donald Trump is again pushing back on rival Hillary Clinton’s assertion that his rhetoric serves as a recruiting tool for Islamic State militants.

Trump told a rally crowd Tuesday: “I’m being tough. How is that a recruiting tool?”

He was speaking at High Point University in North Carolina.

The Republican presidential nominee said it’s Clinton whose policies as secretary of state allowed the militant group to rise.

He says that ISIS “happened on Hillary Clinton’s watch,” and added: “the rise of ISIS is Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy legacy.” ISIS is an acronym for the Islamic State group.

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1:15 p.m.

Hillary Clinton says recent violent attacks show that “to defeat the terrorists, we need experienced, steady leadership.”

The Democratic presidential campaign held a conference call with national security advisers Tuesday to discuss the attacks in New York, New Jersey and Minnesota. Her opening remarks were provided to reporters.

Clinton didn’t name Republican opponent Donald Trump. But she said that it was important not to “lose our cool and start ranting and waving our arms.” She added that this was not the time for “extreme proposals,” adding “that’s what the terrorists are aiming for.”

Participants on the conference call included Rand Beers, former Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security and former White House Deputy Homeland Security Adviser and Matt Olson, former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center.

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12:50 p.m.

The Washington Post says Donald Trump used $258,000 from his charitable foundation for legal settlements involving his Mar-a-Largo resort in Florida and a New York golf course.

The Post reports that in 2007, Trump used his foundation’s money when his Palm Beach, Florida, club was fined $120,000 by the town for having a flagpole that was almost twice the height allowed under local rules.

As part of a settlement, Trump donated $125,000 to veterans’ charities from the Trump Foundation. The foundation’s money comes mainly from other donors, not Trump himself.

The Post reports that in 2010, a golfer sued when he was denied a $1 million prize for a hole-in-one in a charity tournament at Trump’s course outside New York City. A $158,000 settlement also came from Trump’s foundation.

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12:20 p.m.

The Senate’s top Democrat is escalating his attacks on Donald Trump, saying the Republican presidential nominee would be the “scammer in chief” if elected.

Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said on the Senate floor Tuesday that in the 2008 financial crisis, Americans lost their savings, livelihoods and businesses because of the greed of a few. Reid said the last thing the American people “want, or need, is a president who will run another financial scam on them.”

Reid called Trump a fraud who was born with an inheritance but lost it. He said that’s why Trump won’t release his tax returns.

Last week, in a swipe at Reid, Trump suggested that the senator go back to his exercise equipment. Reid was severely injured in an accident with the equipment last year.

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10:15 a.m.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is defending her decision to accept a $25,000 donation from Donald Trump while her office was fielding consumer complaints about Trump University.

Bondi on Tuesday for the first time directly answered questions about the 2013 donation from Trump’s family foundation. She said she has no regrets about accepting the money from Trump and repeated that her office did nothing improper. Bondi also said it would have looked like a “bribe” if she had chosen to return the money once questions arose.

Bondi personally asked Trump for money and got a $25,000 check for her political organization. Emails from the same time period show that her office had been asked about a lawsuit filed by New York against Trump University.

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6:45 a.m.

A prominent member of the Kennedy family says former Republican President George H.W. Bush told her that he plans to vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton for president this fall.

Former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend posted a picture of herself with Bush on Facebook Monday and added, “The President told me he’s voting for Hillary!!” Townsend later confirmed the conversation she had while meeting Bush in Maine to Politico, which shared a screengrab of the Facebook post.

Bush’s spokesman, Jim McGrath, says in a statement that the 92-year-old former president’s vote is private and Bush isn’t commenting on the race. McGrath later said on Twitter that he’s “still checking” if anyone was there to verify Townsend’s conversation.

Bush hasn’t offered support for GOP nominee Donald Trump, who defeated his son, Jeb Bush, in a testy Republican primary season.

3:30 a.m.

Hillary Clinton is accusing Donald Trump of giving “aid and comfort” to Islamic terrorists, declaring his anti-Muslim rhetoric helps the Islamic State group and other militants recruit new fighters. Trump is insisting the U.S. should “use whatever lawful methods are available” to get information from the Afghan immigrant arrested in this weekend’s bombings.

As Trump supporters at a packed rally in Florida shouted “Hang him!” the Republican presidential candidate mocked the fact that Ahmad Khan Rahami, a 28-year-old U.S. citizen originally from Afghanistan, would receive quality medical care and legal representation.

“We must deliver a just and very harsh punishment to these people,” he said. “These are enemies, these are combatants and we have to be tough, we have to be strong.”

Both candidates moved swiftly to capitalize on investigations into a weekend of violent attacks — bombings in New York and New Jersey and stabbings at a Minnesota mall — casting themselves as most qualified to combat terrorism at home and abroad.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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