Cruz to back Trump after all

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is finally expected to say he will vote for GOP nominee Donald Trump, two months after Cruz was booed off the stage at the party's national convention for withholding his endorsement.

His declaration, which may fall short of a full-throated promotion for Trump, comes after a nasty primary battle between the two in which the Manhattan billionaire called his rival "Lyin' Ted" and absurdly suggested Cruz's father played a role in the JFK assassination.

Trump: No check, please

There’s been plenty of pre-debate chatter over whether NBC’s Lester Holt should weigh in as a fact-checker when he moderates the faceoff at Hofstra University Monday night. Donald Trump says no.

“If you’re debating somebody and if she makes a mistake or I make a mistake ... we’ll take each other on,” Trump said on “Fox & Friends.” But I certainly don’t think you want Candy Crowley again.”

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Crowley, then of CNN, called out a Mitt Romney statement during a 2012 debate, stirring a controversy over whether she was fair, or even right.

But Hillary Clinton “thinks moderators should play a role in making sure that the audience knows the truth,” says her communications director, Jennifer Palmieri.

Clinton supporters complained NBC’s Matt Lauer failed to point out Trump falsehoods at a Sept. 7 forum on national security.

Loaded for the barefaced

Whether or not Holt holds their feet to the fire, off-screen fact-checkers will be scrutinizing every word uttered by Trump and Clinton on the debate stage. See The 1600 the next morning for their top findings.

The truth squads have been busy in the run-up to Hofstra. For example, the Pulitzer Prize-winning site PolitiFact looked at Trump’s insistence to Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly that he has never called for profiling Muslims as a way to fight terrorism.

But he did — even earlier in the same interview. PolitiFact rated Trump’s statement false.

Long Island leans Trumpward

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Republican Donald Trump holds a 43%-39% lead on Long Island over Democrat Hillary Clinton in the race for president, according to a Newsday/News 12/Siena College survey of Nassau and Suffolk voters.

The Trump advantage shows in a four-way contest that includes Libertarian Gary Johnson (8%) and Green Jill Stein (4%).

In a two-way matchup, Trump and Clinton were knotted at 44% each, indicating that minor-party candidates were drawing more support from Clinton among likely Long Island voters. See Michael Gormley’s story for Newsday.

LI cash gap narrows

Trump still trails Clinton in the money race on Long Island, but since he started fundraising seriously in June, he has almost caught up in Suffolk County, according to an analysis of new campaign finance filings by Newsday’s Tom Brune.

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From June through August, Trump raised $758,473 from Nassau and Suffolk residents, compared with $1.1 million for Clinton.

The take-away: Black and white

Trump doesn’t have a chance of turning significant numbers of black voters his way, despite his recent "outreach" efforts, but a second-best outcome for him would be to dampen enthusiasm — and therefore turnout — for Clinton.

Similarly, Clinton would like to discourage the older white male vote for Trump if she can’t convert it. See Dan Janison’s column for Newsday.

Trump’s stop-and-frisk reset

Trump says he didn’t mean to call for nationwide use of “stop-and-frisk” policing to curb what he has frequently described as rampant crime in black communities. He told “Fox & Friends” that he was talking specifically about “out of control” Chicago.

Trump spent the day campaigning in Pennsylvania, where polls show Clinton ahead. See Emily Ngo’s story for Newsday.

New poll: Clinton up by 6 or 7

The latest McClatchy-Marist poll, out Friday, has Clinton leading Trump 48-41 head-to-head nationally. She leads in a 4-way contest 45-39 with 10 percent for Libertarian Gary Johnson and 4 percent for Green candidate Jill Stein.

What else is happening

  • When it comes to getting tickets to the Hofstra debate, even the politically connected are coming up short. Newsday’s Scott Eidler explains why.
  • Their styles of debate prep differ sharply, with Trump looking to a "big man on campus" status and Clinton testing ways of responding to whichever Donald shows up on Monday, the Times reports.
  • Shallow showman or perfect celebrity candidate? That's the question about Trump for Monday's debate, according to the Washington Post.
  • Clinton sets as a priority in fighting ISIS the elimination of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Guardian reports.
  • The Trump campaign called on the Clinton campaign to return $550 donated by Anthony Weiner following allegations that he sexted a 15-year-old girl. (Fact intrusion: Trump gave thousands to Weiner in the pre-Carlos Danger years).
  • Self-dealing by the GOP candidate in his "charity" organization and campaign expenses are still serious topics of debate, this NBC interview with biographer Michael D'Antonio shows.
  • A Trump county chair in Ohio was forced by the campaign to quit after she told an interviewer, “There was no racism until President Obama got elected” and made other racially charged comments.
  • Clinton and Trump revealed different policy priorities, with the Republican seeking deregulation in the oil and coal industries and the Democrat calling for increasing the amount those with the largest estates pay in taxes.
  • A favorite Trump sidekick, former college basketball coach Bobby Knight, was famous for his tantrums. Now Knight says he’s trying to help “settle down” his candidate, who “probably talks too much sometimes or he gets too upset sometimes.”
  • The Clintons have bought a house next to their Chappaqua home for $1.16 million.
  • There were laughs, tight smiles and a few flashes of stink-eye by Clinton at comedian Zack Galifianakis when she appeared on “Between Two Ferns,” his mock celebrity-interview show. His parting words: “What’s the best way to reach you? Email?” (Video here.)