Trump’s wall of silence

As Donald Trump told it, he and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto acknowledged the elephant in the room — the one that gets 10 feet higher when it is trash-talked from south of the border — but avoided a contentious detail.

“Who pays for the wall? We didn’t discuss,” Trump said after the meeting in Mexico City. “That’ll be for a later date.”

Making Mexico pay has been Trump’s big applause line at rallies, so maybe he was going for tactful. In the joint appearance with the Mexican leader, Trump was restrained and cordial.

But Peña Nieto tweeted hours later: “At the beginning of the conversation with Donald Trump, I made it clear that Mexico will not pay for the wall.”

So was Trump fibbing? A spokesman for Peña Nieto told The Wall Street Journal that Trump didn’t respond to the rebuff of his demand. “Mr. Trump was not lying ... because there was no discussion.”

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‘Choked’ and ‘lied’

The sight of Trump sharing the stage with a foreign head of state struck some pundits as plausibly presidential. That the last thing Team Clinton wants to hear.

The first statement from campaign chairman John Podesta said “ at the first opportunity to make good on his offensive campaign promises, Trump choked.”

Podesta amended that after Peña Nieto’s I-said-we’re-not-paying tweet. “It turns out Trump didn’t just choke, he got beat in the room and lied about it,” he said.

Clinton chimed in on Twitter: “Trump just failed his first foreign test. Diplomacy isn’t as easy as it looks.”

No 'softening' on immigration

Trump reverted to tough talk when he got to Phoenix Wednesday night to end the suspense he had ginned up on whether he would soften his plans for immigrants here illegally.

Recounting lurid stories of rape and murder,, Trump said he would go after criminals first — but “no one will be immune or exempt from enforcement.”

The only path to legalization, he said, is to leave the country. Beween the lines, he acknowledged even his revved-up enforcement plan not speedily round up all the estimated 11 million here illegally. But those who remain would be in limbo until an “appropriate disposition” some time in the future.

And the wall? “They don’t know it yet, but they’re going pay for the wall,” he said.

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The take-away: Pivot has limit

No matter where he travels or how he massages his message, it is as clear as ever that Trump in the final stretch as the will stake his candidacy on the tough-on-illegal-immigration stance that began his campaign, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.

Polls suggest tightening race

A month in which much news about Clinton seemed to be about the overlaps in donors and favor-seekers between her family’s foundation and her former State Department job seems to have taken some altitude from her post-Democratic convention bounce.

The Fox News poll has Clinton’s lead over Trump down to 6 points in a head-to-head match up. It was previosuly 10 points. In a four-way matchup, Clinton is ahead by just 2 points

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A Washington Post-ABC News poll shows her unfavorable rating at an all-time personal worst — 56% vs. 41% favorable. Those aren’t as bad as Trump’s numbers, but they’re getting closer.

Hamptons scorecard

Clinton outdid Trump in mining dollars on Long Island’s East End, Newsday’s Laura Figueroa reports.

Her nine events in a three-day swing through Long Island’s East End raised an estimated $20 million. Trump headlined two Hamptons events in July and August, which campaign surrogates said raised about $3 million.

What else is happening:

  • Trump has gained in battleground stateWisconsin — trailing Clinton by 3 points in a Marquette University poll. In early August, he trailed by 15 points.
  • Clinton cheered the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to reinstate North Carolina voter ID requirements, which Democrats charged were a scheme to suppress minority turnout.
  • Portraying Trump as an isolationist who would surrender American leadership in the world, Clinton told the American Legion convention she would best uphold the nation’s values and national security interests.
  • Trump won’t speak to the congregation when he attends an African-American church in Detroit Saturday. He will give an interview to its leader, Bishop Wayne T. Jackson.
  • Bill Clinton used tax dollars under the 'Former Presidents Act' to subsidize a private server and foundation activities, according to Politico.
  • Trump will get his second classified briefing on Friday.
  • President George W. Bush’s former chief White House ethics endorsed Clinton in a New York Times op-ed published Wednesday — but also said she needs to do more to ease suspicions of conflicts with the Clinton foundation.
  • Mexico's president Peña Nieto came under fire at home for taking part in Trump's publicity stunt.
  • The Kremlin's agenda often overlaps with that of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, the NY Times reports.
  • LIbertarian candidate Gary Johnson said of Trump's proposal to triple the ICE force: "What are they going to do? Go door-to-door in New Mexico? America won’t stand for that."