- Associated Press - Thursday, September 29, 2016

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

9:50 p.m.

Donald Trump is holding German Chancellor Angela Merkel up as a model leader after months of repeatedly railing against her for “ruining Germany” by accepting an influx of refugees from Syria.

Trump was asked Thursday by New England’s NECN to name a world leader he admires. He chose the chancellor.

He says he thinks “Merkel is a really great world leader,” but notes he was “very disappointed” by her immigration decisions.

The endorsement marks a rare point of agreement between Trump and rival Hillary Clinton.

She also cited Merkel when asked the same question, praising “her leadership and steadiness on the Euro crisis and her bravery in the face of the refugee crisis.”

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9:16 p.m.

Donald Trump is denying a Newsweek report that he explored business opportunities in Cuba in the late 1990s, apparently in violation of the U.S. embargo.

Trump tells New Hampshire’s NH1 News he “never did business in Cuba.”

He adds: “No, I never did anything in Cuba. I never did a deal in Cuba.”

Newsweek reported Thursday that the work was done by a consulting firm called Seven Arrows on behalf of Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts Inc. The magazine says Trump reimbursed the consulting firm for $68,000 of business expenses for its Cuba work - even though neither Trump nor the firm had sought a federal government waiver that would have allowed them to pursue such activities.

Trump is slamming Newsweek’s reporter, saying he has a “bad reputation.”

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5:23 p.m.

Hillary Clinton says a new report alleging that Donald Trump may have violated the U.S. embargo on communist Cuba is just more evidence that he puts his own interests ahead of the nation’s.

Newsweek reported Thursday that Trump explored business opportunities in Cuba in the late 1990s, apparently in violation of the U.S. embargo.

Clinton told reporters aboard her campaign plane that “We have laws in our country,” and Trump knew what they were. She added that “he deliberately flouted” the law and “puts his personal and business interests ahead of the laws and the values and the policies of the United States of America.”

Newsweek reported that the work was done by a consulting firm called Seven Arrows on behalf of Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts Inc., Trump’s publicly traded casino company. The magazine said Trump reimbursed the consulting firm for $68,000 of business expenses for its Cuba work - even though neither Trump nor the firm had sought a federal government waiver that would have allowed them to pursue such activities.

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5:20 p.m.

When it comes to world leaders, Hillary Clinton wants to be clear that she has lots of favorites.

The Democratic presidential candidate was asked for her picks Thursday, the day after third-party candidate Gary Johnson stumbled over the question in a television appearance. Johnson was unable to produce a single name of a foreign leader he respected during an interview on MSNBC.

Clinton showed no such hesitance with reporters on her campaign plane in Chicago.

“I like a lot of the world leaders,” Clinton said, before singling out German Chancellor Angela Merkel, saying, “Her leadership and steadiness on the Euro crisis and her bravery in the face of the refugee crisis is something that I am impressed by.”

Clinton added, “I hope I’ll have the opportunity to work with her.”

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5:17 p.m.

Hillary Clinton is shrugging off Donald Trump’s reference to her husband’s impeachment - and any other attacks the Republican presidential candidate might launch over the couple’s personal life.

She told reporters on her campaign plane that “He can say whatever he wants to say.” She added that she’s going to keep “talking about what I think the American people are interested in.”

Earlier in Bedford, New Hampshire, Trump invoked former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment as evidence that the Clintons are “the sordid past,” while his presidency would “be the bright and very clean future.”

The Republican presidential nominee sought to connect Hillary Clinton to her husband’s scandal-marked presidency. He urged supporters to “remember” that the House in 1998 impeached Clinton on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. Clinton was acquitted by the Senate.

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4:40 p.m.

The killing of a black man by a Charlotte, North Carolina, police officer and the aftermath together have intensified the political divide in a state critical to deciding whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump wins the presidency.

Republicans and Democrats alike say the killing of Keith Lamont Scott will energize both parties’ strongest supporters in a presidential battleground state that also has competitive races for governor and the U.S. Senate. Both camps are citing the matter as part of familiar arguments on race relations, law enforcement and social unrest.

GOP consultant Dee Stewart says Donald Trump can use the events to bolster his appeal as a “law and order” candidate. Stewart says Democrats can use them to support their assertions that the United States must grapple with institutional racism.

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4:00 p.m.

Donald Trump is invoking President Bill Clinton’s impeachment as evidence that the Clintons are “the sordid past,” while his presidency would “be the bright and very clean future.”

The Republican presidential nominee sought to connect Hillary Clinton to her husband’s scandal-marked presidency. He told supporters at a rally in Bedford, New Hampshire to “remember” that the House in 1998 impeached Clinton on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. Clinton was acquitted by the Senate.

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3:24 p.m.

Donald Trump’s running mate plans to spend the weekend before the one and only vice presidential debate off the campaign trail preparing back home in Indiana.

Mike Pence’s spokesman Marc Lotter said Thursday that the Indiana governor plans to spend the weekend relaxing with his family and continuing with his preparation for Tuesday’s debate against Democrat Tim Kaine. Pence spent two days in Wisconsin this week doing mock debates with Gov. Scott Walker, who was standing in for Kaine.

Lotter says Pence has been preparing for the debate since being picked as Trump’s running mate.

Trump has faced criticism for not preparing as much as Hillary Clinton for their debate on Monday that was watched by more than 84 million people.

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3:15 p.m.

Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence is telling supporters in Pennsylvania that “our hearts are in Hoboken” following a deadly commuter train accident in New Jersey.

Pence opened his campaign rally Thursday by referring to the morning accident that killed at least one person and injured more than 100 others. Pence says the accident again shed light on the heroics of first responders “who rush in when others rush away.”

Pence then slid back into his standard campaign stump speech, saying Donald Trump would ensure police have the resources and tools necessary to do their job.

Pence was speaking at Penn Waste, a garbage and recycling company in York, Pennsylvania.

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2:39 p.m.

Hillary Clinton is rolling out new endorsements from GOP officials who are supporting her presidential campaign over Republican rival Donald Trump‘s.

Clinton’s campaign says she has received the endorsements of 40 more Republican officials, including former Republican Reps. Sherwood Boehlert of New York, Claudine Schneider of Rhode Island and Joe Schwarz of Michigan.

Former George W. Bush Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez says in a conference call with reporters that Trump’s economic concepts are “alarmingly simplistic” and says his stance on trade will most likely lead to a “worldwide trade war.”

Clinton has courted moderate Republicans who have been wary of Trump’s candidacy.

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2:25 p.m.

Hillary Clinton is urging her supporters in Iowa to cast their ballots as soon as possible.

Clinton told voters at a rally Thursday in Des Moines: “You can go vote and we can be on the path to victory here in Iowa.”

Early, in-person voting in Iowa started on Thursday.

Clinton’s team is trying to follow President Barack Obama’s strategy of establishing an edge in the battleground state by getting backers to the polls early.

Clinton asked supporters: “Are you ready to go to the polls?”

Clinton staffers plan to take attendees to the polls immediately after the Democratic presidential nominee finishes speaking at her campaign event.

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2:20 p.m.

Hillary Clinton is offering words of support to the victims of a commuter train crash in New Jersey.

Speaking in Des Moines Thursday, Clinton said she wanted to send her “thoughts and prayers” to the victims and their families.

She said the crash was “personal” to her as a New York resident and called it a “horrible accident.”

The commuter train crashed through a barrier at a Hoboken station and lurched across the waiting area Thursday morning, killing one person and injuring more than 100.

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12:50 p.m.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid recently took to the Senate floor to call Donald Trump a racist. The man who is likely to succeed Reid as the chamber’s Democratic leader next year won’t go quite that far.

New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer says the Republican presidential candidate “is far too tolerant in accepting the support of racists” and “far too tolerant of racists.”

Schumer made his comments to reporters Thursday. Reid, who is retiring from the Senate, called Trump a racist on Monday.

Democrats have criticized Trump for not immediately renouncing support he’s received from white nationalists and supremacists, including former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke. They’ve also attacked him for criticizing Mexicans and proposing to curb Muslim immigration to the U.S.

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12:35 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’s not going to talk about Donald Trump, his party’s presidential nominee, “because I choose not to.”

The Kentucky Republican has stood behind Trump since his nomination as the Republican standard bearer. But McConnell has steadfastly avoided many questions about the impact Trump’s sometimes-erratic candidacy might have on Senate races.

Republicans are defending 24 Senate seats this year, to Democrats’ 10.

At a news conference Thursday, McConnell said he was there to talk about the Senate. He said how the Senate will be affected by the presidential race “is really unpredictable.”

He said that in the last few decades, the presidential election has sometimes impacted the Senate’s balance, sometimes not.

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12:25 p.m.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi says there’s still time for a Democratic “wave” that could carry the party to a House majority in November.

Pelosi says “you make your own wave, and that’s what we’re doing.” She says Democrats have the right candidates and the enthusiasm and have outraised Republicans.

Pelosi said Thursday she is “very confident that the makings of a wave are there,” but noted the election is still more than five weeks away.

Most analysts see a Democratic takeover of the House as highly unlikely, though the party’s prospects are better for winning the Senate.

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12:05 p.m.

Donald Trump doesn’t take advice from Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, but the Nevada Democrat has some for him anyway: Don’t bring up former President Bill Clinton’s marital infidelities.

The Republican nominee has repeatedly threatened to raise the issue in his debates with his Democratic rival for president, Hillary Clinton.

Reid was asked Thursday about that possibility and told reporters that he agreed with Republicans who have urged Trump to avoid the issue. Reid said his own marriage of over 50 years to his wife, Landra, “hasn’t been perfect, as no marriage is.”

He added, “And Bill Clinton, I’m very proud of them, they’ve been married as long as they have been.”

The Clintons married in 1975.

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10:45 a.m.

Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine is hunkered down in Raleigh, North Carolina, for three days of debate preparations.

Kaine will face Republican rival Mike Pence on Tuesday for the only vice presidential debate.

Kaine’s advisers have provided few specifics about where and how he’ll be preparing. Washington lawyer Bob Barnett is playing Pence in the preparation sessions.

Kaine says he’s been studying Monday’s debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for pointers. He told reporters last week that Tuesday’s debate is different than any others he’s done because he’ll be focusing more on Clinton’s record than his own.

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5:00 a.m.

Hillary Clinton is kicking off early voting in Iowa on Thursday with a major effort to boost support in the battleground state.

The Democratic presidential candidate will deliver a speech in Des Moines focusing on the childcare challenges faced by middle class families, according to a campaign aide.

Clinton backers also plan to host events in 10 Iowa cities on Thursday.

Organizing early voting was a key piece of President Barack Obama’s strategy four years ago. More than 4 in ten Iowa voters cast ballots before Election Day in 2012.

4:45 a.m.

Third Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson has had another “Aleppo moment”

It happened Wednesday evening as the Libertarian Party standard-bearer appeared with his running mate, William Weld, for a nationally broadcast town hall on MSNBC.

Program moderator Chris Matthews asked Johnson to name any foreign leader he had admired.

“Any one of the continents, any country,” Matthews said. “Name one foreign leader that you respect and look up to. Anybody?

Johnson sighed, saying after a strained pause, “I guess I’m having an Aleppo moment.” He was alluding to his failure on a recent “Morning Joe” show to answer when asked “What is Aleppo,” a Syrian city caught in the maelstrom of the protracted civil war.

With Weld’s intervention, Johnson finally cited Vicente Fox, who was president of Mexico from 2000-2006, saying “he was terrific.”

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