- Associated Press - Friday, September 22, 2017

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - The Latest on President Donald Trump’s campaign trip to Alabama (all times local):

9:35 p.m.

President Donald Trump says NFL owners should fire players who kneel during the national anthem. And he’s encouraging spectators to walk out in protest.

He’s also bemoaning that football games have become less violent, complaining, “They’re ruining the game.”

Several athletes, including NFL players, have been refusing to stand during the national anthem as a protest of the treatment of blacks by police.

But Trump says those players are disrespecting the flag, American heritage and what the country stands for.

He says their behavior is driving away viewers and says spectators who witness such protests should “pick up and leave.”


9:30 p.m.

President Trump is urging Alabama voters to support Sen. Luther Strange, calling him “a tough, tough cookie” who has been wrongly branded an establishment insider.

Trump tells rally-goers Friday night that people have claimed Strange is “friendly” with the Senate majority leader. Trump says Strange “doesn’t know Mitch McConnell at all” and was given “a bum rap.”

Trump is also praising Strange for agreeing to back Republican health care legislation with no strings attached.

Still Trump is acknowledging he “might have made a mistake” because Strange is trailing in polls for Tuesday Republican runoff.

Trump says Strange rival Roy Moore will have a tougher time winning the general election. But if Moore wins the runoff, Trump says he’ll campaign “like hell” for him.


9:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump is appearing to take a playful swipe at Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson at an Alabama rally for Sen. Luther Strong.

Trump acknowledges he has friends who support Strange opponent Roy Moore, including some who work for him.

“Of course they may not have a job on Monday,” Trump is joking. “We may have to get rid of a few of them.”

Moore’s campaign released a statement from Carson praising Moore just hours before Trump touched down in Alabama to headline the Strong campaign rally.

A close confidant of Carson said the praise was not endorsement, and noted Carson and Moore are longtime friends.


8:40 p.m.

President Donald Trump is criticizing Sen. John McCain for opposing Republican efforts to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Trump is calling McCain’s opposition “sad” and “a horrible, horrible thing” for the Republican Party.

McCain declared his opposition Friday to the GOP’s last-ditch effort to repeal and replace “Obamacare,” dealing a likely death blow to the legislation.

It’s the second time in three months the 81-year-old McCain has emerged as the destroyer of his party’s signature promise to voters.


8:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump is lashing out at North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a rally speech in Alabama.

Trump says during a rally for Sen. Luther Strange that “We can’t have madmen out there shooting rockets all over the place.”

He also says “Rocket Man should have been handled a long time ago” by previous presidents.

Trump and Kim have been trading barbs.

Kim earlier this week called Trump “deranged” and said he would “pay dearly” for his threats.

Trump delivered a combative speech Tuesday at the U.N. General Assembly, where he mocked Kim as a “Rocket Man” on a “suicide mission.” Trump also told the U.N. that if “forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”


8:15 p.m.

Sen. Luther Strange is pushing back against critics who say President Donald Trump has lost touch with his base because he is supporting the establishment favorite in Alabama’s Republican runoff election.

Strange asks the audience as he kicks off a joint rally with the president in Alabama, “Is he out of touch?”

The audience is yelling no in response.

Strange is also praising the president, saying he’s bringing jobs back to the United States.

Strange says of Trump, “He knows I’ve got his back.”

Trump is in Huntsville campaigning for Strange, who was appointed in February to temporarily fill the seat that opened up when Jeff Sessions became attorney general.

Strange is locked in a tight race with former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.


6 p.m.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is praising Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore just hours before President Donald Trump is set to headline a campaign rally for Moore’s rival.

But a close confidant says it’s not an endorsement.

In a statement released by Moore’s campaign, Carson praises the former judge as a “fine man of proven character and integrity.”

Carson also says he wishes Moore well and hopes everyone will vote Tuesday.

Carson’s move puts him at odds with Trump, who is supporting the establishment-backed incumbent Sen. Luther Strange in the Republican runoff election.

But Carson confidant Armstrong Williams insists the praise is not an endorsement. He says Carson and Moore are longtime friends.


5:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump is plunging into a Republican runoff election in Alabama that may prove an early test of how much sway he has over his base.

The president was flying to Huntsville, Alabama, Friday to stump for an establishment-backed incumbent over an upstart favored by many of his supporters, including former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon.

Trump will headline a rally for Sen. Luther Strange, who was appointed in February to temporarily fill the seat that opened up when Jeff Sessions became attorney general.

Trump tweeted Friday morning: “Luther Strange has gained mightily since my endorsement, but will be very close. He loves Alabama, and so do I!”

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