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Shocker in Trumpland: A few nice words on Obama

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump walks in the

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump walks in the rain with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, as they arrive at a campaign rally in Tampa, Fla., Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) Photo Credit: AP / Gerald Herbert

Trump softening on Obama too?

Here’s another surprise in this week’s version of the Donald Trump campaign: when President Barack Obama’s name comes up, it’s not always in a bad way.

“Obama got tremendous numbers of people out of the country,” Trump said approvingly — adding that he would be more energetic about deportations of immigrants here illegally.

Then Rudy Giuliani, speaking at a Trump rally in Tampa, said that despite many disagreements with Obama policies, “ I believe he’s an essentially honest man.” As boos erupted, Giuliani said his point was to contrast him with Hillary Clinton.

Not so long ago, Trump insinuated that Obama sympathized with terrorists and lied about his birthplace and religion. The former New York mayor said last year, “I do not believe that the president loves America.”

It’s too soon to call props for Obama a trend. But they come as polls show Obama is popular with a majority of Americans — especially the black voters Trump is belatedly making a pitch for, many of whom don't recognize his rendition of their reality. 

One hint of his clumsy new strategy came in a Mississippi rally where Trump tried calling Clinton "a bigot who sees people of color only as votes, not as human beings worthy of a better future."

Sounds like Jeb-berish

Seeming to back further away from his mass-deportation-no-exceptions stand, Trump indicated he wanted to help those who haven’t caused trouble.

“There’s no amnesty, as such, there’s no amnesty, but we work with them,” he said at a Sean Hannity town hall on Fox News. “They’ll pay back taxes, they have to pay taxes,” Trump said.

Heard that before? It was essentially Jeb Bush’s position, tweeted veterans of the former Florida governor’s campaign.

Unquestionable motives

Trump campaign has jumped on stories drawing correlations between big contribution to the Clinton foundation and donor face time with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as new evidence of a corrupt “pay-to-play” culture.

But rest assured, there is nothing to regret about the $100,000-plus gift to the foundation about a decade ago from a Donald J. Trump of New York, when Clinton was a senator.

“The Clinton Foundation does a lot of good work and I also want to say that for the record that they do,” Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said on CNN. “Let’s hope that that money went to good use,” she added.

‘No excuses’ from Clinton

Clinton did a phone interview with CNN Wednesday night to say foundation donations never influenced her decisions as secretary of state — and to issue her clearest apology yet for using a private email server while in the job.

“When I try to explain what happened, it can sound like I am trying to excuse what I did. And there are no excuses,” she said.

Political scandal trivia buffs may recall that “No Excuses” was a brand of jeans modeled by Donna Rice, whose affair with Democratic Sen. Gary Hart brought down his 1988 presidential candidacy, and by Bill Clinton sex accuser Paula Jones.

The take-away: Meh-ja vu

With so many voters telling pollsters how little they trust either candidate, it is hard to imagine that more evidence of Trump’s made-up stories or Clinton’s repeated pushing of the ethics envelope would change their preferences either way.

But even amid rock-bottom expectations, there can and will be surprises, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.

Trump honcho’s ties to Reclaim New York

A nonprofit advocacy group that has sued several Long Island municipalities to force release of spending records has common leadership with Trump’s newly reshuffled campaign command, reports Newsday’s Paul LaRocco.

Stephen K. Bannon, who runs the anti-establishment conservative website Breitbart News, last week became the Trump campaign’s new chief executive. Records show he is also the principal officer of Reclaim New York, which bills itself as a nonpartisan “center for government reform and accountability.”

You wouldn’t understand

Trump keep saying he won’t release his tax returns because they are under an Internal Revenue Service audit, but his son Eric says they would stay under wraps because they’re too complicated for people to understand.

“You would have a bunch of people who know nothing about taxes trying to look through and trying to come up with assumptions on things that they know nothing about,” Eric Trump said on CNBC. “It would be foolish to do.”

What else is happening:

  • Advocates on both sides of the immigration issue say Trump doesn’t seem to have learned much about how the system works, Politico reports.
  • Ethicists see problems with the Clinton Foundation exit strategy.
  • Whatever he means by a "softening" on immigration, Trump supporters don't seem rattled and are still looking forward to his "wall."
  • CNN/ORC polls out Wednesday showed Trump 5 points ahead in Arizona and Clinton up by 1 point in North Carolina.
  • Clinton is expected to receive her candidate intelligence briefing Saturday at the FBI offices in White Plains, CNN says,
  • Elderly” candidates like Trump (70) and Clinton (68) should make public more of their medical records, said also-ran GOP primary contender Dr. Ben Carson.
  • Chicago police officials rejected Trump’s claim that tougher tactics could solve the city’s violent crime problem in a week.
  • Trump said of Clinton, “The only people enthusiastic about her campaign are Hollywood celebrities, in many cases celebrities that aren’t very hot anymore.” He didn’t name names, though some, such as Cher, have been past targets of his Twitter insults.

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