The Latest: Obama jokes that end of 'birther' issue a relief


Published September 18, 2016 2:00AM (EDT)

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

9:40 p.m.

President Barack Obama is joking that there's an extra spring in his step now that the "whole birther thing is over."

Obama is speaking at an annual dinner for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. The dinner comes a day after Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump reversed himself on his long-held and false view that Obama was not born in the United States.

With an air of sarcasm, Obama says that the Islamic State group, North Korea, poverty, climate change — none of those things weighed on his mind like the validity of his birth certificate.

The president says the end of talk about where he was born will be a boost for him in the home stretch of his administration, and adds: "In other breaking news, the world is round."


9:30 p.m.

Hillary Clinton is praising President Barack Obama at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation dinner and making a reference to the so-called "birther" controversy involving rival Donald Trump.

Clinton says of Obama, "Mr. President, not only do we know you are an American, you are a great American."

The dinner comes a day after Trump reversed himself on his long-held and false view that Obama was not born in the United States.

Clinton was honored at the Saturday night dinner for becoming the first woman to receive the presidential nomination of a major party.


9:25 p.m.

Donald Trump's campaign is saying it had nothing to do with the arrest of a VICE News reporter outside his speech Saturday in Houston.

The reporter, Alexander Scott Thompson, was arrested by Houston Police after trying to gain admittance to Trump's speech at an event hosted by The Remembrance Project. The organization is for family members of those killed by illegal immigrants.

A spokesman for Trump, Steven Cheung, says the "campaign was not involved in the incident or aware of the details surrounding it."

The event, held at the Omni-Westside hotel, was originally listed as being open to all reporters. But organizers changed it days earlier and only admitted the traveling press that follows Trump from city to city.

A police statement says hotel staff had asked Thompson to leave the building, and he complied. Police say that soon after, he re-entered the hotel and refused the hotel management's demands for him to leave, saying they would have to arrest him.


8:45 p.m.

Donald Trump's running mate is tailgating with Florida Gators fans before their game against North Texas.

Mike Pence mingled with fans Saturday in Gainesville, Florida, for about 45 minutes before entering the president's suite at the stadium.

Pence and his wife, Karen, are being greeted warmly with fans chanting "Trump!" taking selfies, asking for autographs and waving Trump/Pence signs. Pence even gets in on the action, doing the Gator chomp with fans.

Florida law student Blake Murphy and student body president Susan Webster greeted Pence in the president's suite. While both say they are glad he's visiting, neither will say who they are voting for in the election.

Webster says, "I have a lot of students to represent."


6:30 p.m.

Hillary Clinton's campaign is making a major push this weekend to register voters, hold phone banks and knock on doors in a series of battleground states.

Clinton's campaign says people have signed up for more than 55,000 volunteer shifts across the nation this weekend. The campaign has aimed to get 3 million people to register or commit to vote before Election Day.

The Democratic nominee's campaign is holding more than 1,000 events this weekend in Pennsylvania, 900 in Virginia, 500 in North Carolina, 250 in Ohio and 200 in Wisconsin.

Clinton has outlined plans for a massive ground game in her race against Republican rival Donald Trump.


6:20 p.m.

A Vice News reporter has been arrested outside a Donald Trump campaign event at a Houston hotel.

The Houston Police Department says 27-year-old Alexander Scott Thompson was charged Saturday with criminal trespass, a misdemeanor.

A police statement says staff at the Omni Houston at Westside hotel asked Thompson to leave the building, and he complied. Police say that soon after, he re-entered the hotel and refused the hotel management's demands for him to leave, saying they would have to arrest him. He was arrested about 12:30 p.m. Saturday and taken to the city jail. No bond was set immediately.


2:30 p.m.

Donald Trump says he is "shining a national spotlight" on Americans killed by immigrants living in the United States illegally.

Trump addressed the Remembrance Project in Houston on Saturday. That's an organization founded to advocate for tougher immigration laws in honor of those killed by people in the country illegally.

The Republican nominee says "not one more American life should be given up in the name of open borders."

Trump told the group most "politicians ignore your cries, but I never will."

The Republican nominee has appeared with the group before and has made its cause part of his platform. But his position on immigration has shifted repeatedly in recent weeks.


1:30 p.m.

It's not every day you hear Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker talk like a Democrat. But that's what he's doing as he helps Donald Trump's running mate get ready for the vice presidential debate.

A Republican familiar with debate preparations says Walker is playing Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine in debate preparations with GOP running mate Mike Pence. The Republican has direct knowledge of Walker's role but was not authorized by Pence's campaign to release the information.

Walker and Pence are political allies. Walker has heaped praise on his fellow governor while he's been more reluctant to praise Trump.

Walker briefly ran for president but dropped out last year.

Pence and Kaine are scheduled to debate Oct. 4.


12:30 p.m.

A former defense secretary who served under presidents from both parties says that when it comes to national security, he believes Donald Trump "is beyond repair."

Robert Gates writes in Saturday's Wall Street Journal that the Republican presidential nominee is "stubbornly uninformed about the world and how to lead our country and government, and temperamentally unsuited to lead our men and women in uniform."

Gates concludes: "He is unqualified and unfit to be commander-in-chief."

Trump has posted a response on his Twitter account saying he's never met Gates, and Gates "knows nothing about me."

Trump then says of Gates: "Look at the results under his guidance - a total disaster!" Gates was Pentagon chief under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.


12:15 p.m.

Donald Trump's running mate has released a letter from his doctor summarizing his medical history and results of a July physical exam.

Mike Pence's doctor writes that the 57-year-old Pence is in "excellent general and cardiovascular health." Dr. Michael Busk says Pence has a healthy lifestyle and can maintain his "high level of professional work" and physical activity programs "without limitations."

The doctor also says that Pence had basal cell carcinomas — skin cancer — removed from his face in 2002 and 2010. He also had surgery in August 2015 to repair a hernia.

The doctor says the only medication Pence takes is Claritin for seasonal allergies. He does not smoke or drink alcohol, has diet-controlled heartburn and exercises four times a week.


11:30 a.m.

Bernie Sanders is urging people turned off by their choices in the presidential election to turn out anyway, even if they think "everybody's horrible."

Hillary Clinton's defeated Democratic primary rival spoke on her behalf at a small campus rally in Akron, Ohio, on Saturday.

He asked the crowd to spread the word about Clinton's support for tuition-free public college. And he denounced Republican Donald Trump, saying "we can't in 2016 accept bigotry as the cornerstone of any campaign."

About 200 people attended the rally at the University of Akron.

A small pro-Trump contingent held signs outside the building while some Sanders loyalists shouted, "We love you" when the Vermont senator pulled up. One woman yelled: "Thanks for opening my eyes."


7:45 a.m.

Vladimir Putin (POO'-tihn) says the prominence of Russia and himself as an issue in the U.S. presidential campaign indicates his country's growing importance

Donald Trump's comments about Putin's power and support have been rebuked by critics who suggest he would take a soft line in dealing with the Kremlin. Hillary Clinton has said Trump's attitude toward Putin is unpatriotic and "scary."

In Kyrgyzstan (KEER'-gih-stan) on Saturday, Putin took note of all that talk and said: "I want to hope that this is connected with the growing influence and significance of Russia."

But, he added, "We can see an attempt to revive the image of the so-called Evil Empire and use it to frighten the society."



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