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AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EDT

Trump presidency faces high stakes in midterm elections

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has been acting like a candidate on the ballot this week, staging daily double-header rallies and blasting out ads for Republicans up for election on Tuesday. Given the stakes for his presidency, he might as well be.

A knot of investigations. Partisan gridlock. A warning shot for his re-election bid. Trump faces potentially debilitating fallout should Republicans lose control of one or both chambers in Congress, ending two years of GOP hegemony in Washington. A White House that has struggled to stay on course under favorable circumstances would be tested in dramatic ways. A president who often battles his own party, would face a far less forgiving opposition.

On the flip side, if Republicans maintain control of the House and Senate, that’s note only a victory for the GOP, but a validation of Trump’s brand of politics and his unconventional presidency. That result, considered less likely even within the White House, would embolden the president as he launches his own re-election bid.

White House aides insist the president doesn’t spend much time contemplating defeat, but he has begun to try to calibrate expectations. He has focused on the competitive Senate races the final days of his scorched-earth campaign blitz, and has distanced himself from blame should Republicans lose the House. If that happens, he intends to claim victory, arguing his efforts on the campaign trail narrowed GOP losses and helped them hold the Senate, according to a person familiar with Trump’s thinking who asked for anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss White House conversations by name.

Throughout the campaign, Trump has been tested out other explanations — pointing to historical headwinds for the party of an incumbent president and complaining about a rash of GOP retirements this year. He told the AP last month that he won’t bear any responsibility should Democrats take over.

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Trump, Democrats vying for support in final midterm push

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump and Democrats are delivering competing closing arguments during the final weekend before Tuesday’s elections, but their messages are complicated by a deadly shooting in a politically pivotal state.

Trump aimed to drum up voter turnout with events Saturday in Belgrade, Montana, and Pensacola, Florida, about 200 miles west of Florida’s capital, Tallahassee, where two people were shot to death and five others wounded at a yoga studio on Friday night.

Vice President Mike Pence helped embattled Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., and then was meeting up with Trump in Florida to rally Republicans behind Rick Scott, who is trying to unseat Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, and former Rep. Ron DeSantis, who hopes to succeed Scott as governor.

DeSantis has been in a tight contest against Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who broke off campaigning after the shooting in his hometown. Gillum had appeared earlier Friday with former President Barack Obama.

Democrats were fanning out across the country to help the party stoke turnout in their effort to capture seats in Congress and win several races for governor. Former Vice President Joe Biden was campaigning in Ohio with former Obama administration official Richard Cordray, who is attempting to become governor in a high-profile contest.

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Legal decisions and a racist robocall in Georgia gov. race

ATLANTA (AP) — Last-minute legal decisions, a racist robocall and a protester wearing a giant chicken suit holding a sign that reads “too chicken to debate.”

These are the scenes playing out amid the final furious days of the hotly contested and historic race for Georgia governor between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp.

A robocall apparently from a white supremacist group is injecting racism directly into the race, which has already been fraught with a race-laden debate over ballot access and voter suppression. Abrams would be the first black female governor in U.S. history. Kemp, who oversees elections as Georgia’s secretary of state, vehemently denies charges that he’s used his office to make it harder for minorities to vote.

Abrams and Kemp are both condemning an automated telephone call filled with racist and anti-Semitic statements. The call, sent to an unknown number of Georgians, impersonates Oprah Winfrey, the billionaire media titan who came to Georgia on Thursday to support Abrams.

The robocall says it was paid for by The Road to Power, a group organized by Scott Rhodes of Idaho. He has been linked to several other racist robocalls, including a recent effort in Florida, where Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum would become the first black governor in his state’s history.

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3 Girl Scouts, 1 adult killed in Wisconsin hit-and-run crash

LAKE HALLIE, Wis. (AP) — A pickup truck lurched off a road in western Wisconsin Saturday and hit a group of Girl Scouts picking up trash in a ditch, leaving three girls and one adult dead and critically injuring a fourth girl, police said.

Sgt. Daniel Sokup of the Lake Hallie Police Department said the driver of the black Ford F-150 pickup truck fled the scene but later turned himself in. He identified the driver as Colton Treu, 21, of Chippewa, Falls, Wisconsin.

Sokup said Treu will be charged with four counts of homicide through the negligent use of a vehicle. Sokup said the crash happened before a hill and there were no blind spots.

“The area is not an unsafe area,” he said. Sokup said it was not immediately known if there were other factors that might have led the driver to leave the road.

The crash happened late Saturday morning as the girls were picking up litter in a ditch in Lake Hallie, a town about 95 miles (153 kilometers) east of Minneapolis. The pickup was heading north and crossed over a lane and went into the ditch, striking the group.

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Yoga shooter appeared to have made misogynistic videos

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A brooding military veteran and former teacher appeared to have made videos in which he railed at women and blacks, years before he fatally shot two women at a Florida yoga studio, wounded five other people and then killed himself.

The Friday evening shooting at a busy upscale shopping plaza jolted the state capital and police said they were still searching for a motive that led to the deaths of a Florida State University student and a well-known local doctor who was a member of the school faculty.

But details about 40-year-old Scott Paul Beierle began to emerge in the hours after, including that he had once been banned from FSU’s campus and had been arrested twice for grabbing women even though the charges were ultimately dropped.

Beierle, who had moved to the central Florida town of Deltona after getting a graduate degree from FSU, appeared to post a series of videos on YouTube in 2014 where he called women “whores” if they dated black men, said many black women were “disgusting” and described himself as a misogynist.

A Tallahassee police spokesman would not confirm or deny the videos were Beierle’s. However, the man speaking in the videos looks like Beierle and biographical details mentioned in the videos match known facts about Beierle, including details about his military service. Also, the poster’s YouTube username included the word “Scott,” Beierle’s first name. The existence of the videos was first reported by BuzzFeed.

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Conservatives want to bypass usual way to amend Constitution

NEW YORK (AP) — Whatever success Republicans have amassed in taking control of all three branches of U.S. government, and whatever fate awaits them as midterm elections near, some on the right are working to cement change by amending the Constitution. And to the mounting alarm of others on all parts of the spectrum, they want to bypass the usual process.

They’re pushing for an unprecedented Constitutional convention of the states. While opponents are afraid of what such a convention would do, supporters say it is the only way to deal with the federal government’s overreach and ineptitude.

“They literally see this as the survival of the nation,” said Karla Jones, director of the federalism task force at the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, which represents state lawmakers and offers guidance and model legislation for states to call a convention under the Constitution’s Article V.

Among the most frequently cited changes being sought: amendments enforcing a balanced federal budget, establishing term limits for members of Congress, and repealing the 17th Amendment, which put the power of electing the Senate in the hands of the public instead of state legislatures.

For the past 229 years, constitutional amendments have originated in Congress, where they need the support of two-thirds of both houses, and then the approval of at least three-quarters of the states.

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Democrat McCaskill reaches right in GOP-leaning Missouri

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill has approvingly evoked former President Ronald Reagan. She said she would back President Donald Trump if he stopped a migrant caravan at the border. And speaking on Fox News, she has decried “crazy Democrats.”

What is the Democratic senator up to?

The vulnerable incumbent is appealing to the right in a bid to win a third term in a state that Trump won by 19 percentage points in 2016.

She’s betting a more centrist message will resonate with independents and moderate Republican voters she desperately needs to beat Republican challenger Josh Hawley, who has relentlessly attacked her as too liberal for the conservative leaning state.

“For me, it’s not about fighting the president every day,” she told a group of supporters gathered at an iconic Missouri pizza parlor called Shakespeare’s Pizza in the college town of Columbia. “It’s about fighting for you every day.”

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Migrant caravan in Mexico trudges through ‘route of death’

ISLA, Mexico (AP) — Hundreds of Central American migrants from a 4,000-strong caravan winding its way through southern Mexico and toward the U.S. border splintered off on their own Saturday after broken promises of bus transportation.

Patience appeared to be wearing thin among the exhausted trekkers after Veracruz Gov. Miguel Angel Yunes reneged on an offer Friday to provide buses to leapfrog the migrants to the Mexican capital. Tempers flared as the migrants struggled with exhaustion, blisters, sickness and swollen feet.

Caravan organizers have pleaded for buses in recent days after three weeks on the road, hitching rides and walking. The group scattered between several towns in Veracruz Saturday, raising questions of whether they would stick together.

Several thousand planned to spend the night in Isla, about 700 miles (1,126 kilometers) south of the U.S. border, while another large contingent hunkered down in Juan Rodriguez Clara and yet another reached Tierra Blanca, 80 miles (129 kilometers) to the north.

In a statement, the migrants lambasted Mexican officials for directing them northward through the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz, calling it the “route of death.” Some migrants branched off in the belief that they were near the metropolises of Puebla and Mexico City, where they aimed to rest and receive medical attention.

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Grammy-winning jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove dies at age 49

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Trumpeter Roy Hargrove, a prolific player who provided his jazz sound to records across a vast range of styles and won two Grammys, has died at age 49, his manager said Saturday.

Hargrove died in New York on Friday of cardiac arrest stemming from a longtime fight with kidney disease, longtime manager Larry Clothier said in a statement.

Clothier said Hargrove “was known just as intensely for his brimming fire and fury as he was for his gorgeous, signature balladry. Over and over, his sound attested to and sanctified his deep love for music. His unselfish timbre covered the waterfront of every musical landscape.”

Many of Hargrove’s peers regarded him as the greatest trumpeter of his generation. Through his own bands and as a sideman, Hargrove brewed his jazz with African and Latin sounds, R&B, soul, pop, funk and hip-hop.

He led the progressive, genre-melding group The RH Factor, played in sessions for Common, Erykah Badu and D’Angelo, and collaborated with jazz giants including Herbie Hancock and Wynton Marsalis.

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‘Fantastic Beasts’ stars: Grindelwald isn’t Trump, exactly

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Johnny Depp’s charismatic leader at the center of the new “Fantastic Beasts” sequel isn’t modeled on President Donald Trump.

But the stars of “Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald,” the film written by J.K. Rowling about a dark wizard who becomes a divisive leader in the magical world, tell The Associated Press that there are some similarities.

The film is set in the “Harry Potter” universe and finds Depp’s character, Gellert Grindelwald, seeking to gain power and divide “pureblood” wizards from humans in 1920s Paris.

“It’s shining a light, isn’t it, on things that have happened before as well,” said Callum Turner, who plays Theseus, the older brother to Eddie Redmayne’s hero main character in the film. “And how seductive and easy things can take a turn for the worse. And not just be specific to any one moment.

“That’s the question. Why are we — people being seduced in that way? What is it in the moment, in the zeitgeist, what is that? And that’s what is interesting about that — that’s the similarity. Not the person. The message.”

Copyright © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.



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