- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 29, 2016

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Latest on the US presidential campaign (all times local):

6:39 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has improved dramatically. McConnell says he’s been encouraged by changes including Trump’s increased willingness to use a script and a teleprompter and stay on message - all suggestions McConnell has made.

Overall, McConnell says, Trump has “made a lot of progress toward passing what I would consider sort of the credibility threshold that you need to pass in order to be considered for the most important political job in the country.”

McConnell also tells The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday that he will meet with Trump next week, when the billionaire is scheduled to visit Capitol Hill to meet with House Republicans.

McConnell also disputes the notion that Trump’s candidacy will result in a Democratic wave that will knock down-ballot Republicans out of office. He says the GOP has a “great shot” at holding its slim Senate majority in the November election.


6:20 p.m.

Donald Trump is taking his tough-on-trade message to a mostly rural area in Maine where his message of economic populism could earn him one vote in the Electoral College.

Trump is blasting existing free trade deals and reiterating his pledge to label China a currency manipulator. His message on trade marks a stark departure from typical Republican orthodoxy. He is hitting back against the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a typical Republican ally, for criticizing his trade policies.

Maine hasn’t voted for a Republican president since 1988 and carries just four electoral votes. But like only one other state, it awards one electoral vote for the winner of each of its two congressional districts. Northern Maine has seen job losses in manufacturing, creating potentially friendly territory for Trump.


4:40 p.m.

An enthusiastic crowd is welcoming Donald Trump to northern Maine, an area rarely visited by presidential candidates.

Trump is speaking in Bangor, a city of about 32,000 people located in Maine’s mostly rural 2nd Congressional District. The state can split its electoral votes if its two congressional districts vote for different candidates, offering Trump an opportunity to pick up one electoral vote in the state.

Trump is railing against bad trade deals, as he’s done in recent days. He’s hitting back against the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a typical Republican ally, for criticizing a speech he made on trade yesterday.

Trump says the business organization shouldn’t be upset with him, because he supports free trade deals only if they are good ones.

Northern Maine in particular has seen manufacturing jobs lost in recent years.


3:20 p.m.

Foreign officials are complaining that they’re being “bombarded” by fundraising appeals from U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump. And now, two watchdog groups are filing complaints against the Republican’s campaign saying the practice breaks the law.

Sir Roger Gale, a member of the British Parliament, complained in the House of Commons Tuesday that his fellow lawmakers are getting flooded with appeals from “somebody called Donald Trump.” He says he does not think his colleagues “should be subjected to intemperate spam.”

The complaint by watchdog groups Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 say the emails violated a federal law designed to prohibit foreign money in U.S. campaigns.

The complaint cites news reports that politicians in Iceland, Australia and Scotland also have received solicitations on their official email accounts. Campaign Legal Center spokesman Paul S. Ryan said, “Donald Trump should have known better.”

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


1:25 p.m.

America’s largest Hispanic civil rights group says it will not be inviting any presidential candidate to its national conference next month in Orlando.

In a statement Wednesday, Janet Murguía, president of the National Council of La Raza, said the decision was the result of Donald Trump’s “concerted effort to denigrate and demonize” immigrants and the Hispanic community.

Trump has pledged to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and deport all 11 million immigrants in the country illegally. About two in three U.S. Hispanics are of Mexican descent.

For decades, NCLR, has invited candidates from both major parties. As a nonpartisan group, it said it could not invite Democrat Hillary Clinton without inviting Trump.


10:50 a.m.

President Barack Obama and the woman who wants to succeed him are making their first campaign appearance together next week.

Obama and Democrat Hillary Clinton, who was his secretary of state, are campaigning together Tuesday in Charlotte, North Carolina. That’s a swing state that Obama won in 2008 but lost in 2012. Democrats dearly want to take North Carolina in the November election, when Clinton is likely to run against Republican Donald Trump.

North Carolina is home to 15 electoral votes. A candidate needs 270 to win the presidency.

Clinton’s campaign said in a statement Tuesday that she and Obama will discuss their vision “for an American that is stronger together.”


10:25 a.m.

Donald Trump is firing back at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which says his trade plans could damage the U.S. economy.

Trump, in a tweet Wednesday, said the Chamber “must fight harder for the American worker. China, and many others, are taking advantage of U.S. with our terrible trade pacts.”

In a speech Tuesday, Trump said he would tear up U.S. trade deals. He threatened new tariffs and called for a new era of economic “Americanism.”

The Chamber, a traditional Republican ally, said his proposals would lead to higher prices, fewer jobs and a weaker economy.

In another tweet Wednesday, Trump said: “Why would the USChamber be upset by the fact that I want to negotiate better and stronger trade deals or that I want penalties for cheaters?”


7:15 a.m.

Sen. Bernie Sanders is arguing that “the global economy is not working for the majority of people in our country and the world.”

Sanders, who hasn’t yet abandoned his presidential campaign, writes in a New York Times op-ed Wednesday that Republican Donald Trump “could benefit from the same forces” that led Britain to vote to leave the European Union. He says that any political advantage flowing to Trump from this market-moving vote “should sound an alarm for the Democratic Party.”

Sanders hasn’t conceded the Democratic nomination to Hillary Clinton, although he has said he would vote for her.

In his Times article, Sanders said that American voters, like those who supported bolting the EU, “are understandably angry and frustrated by the economic forces that are destroying the middle class.”

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