NEW YORK (AP) — Potential voters who take their curiosity about presidential candidates to Google are interested in Hillary Rodham Clinton’s age, Jeb Bush’s height, Chris Christie’s weight, Donald Trump’s net worth, Carly Fiorina’s marital status and Bobby Jindal’s birthplace.
Those were among the top questions that the Internet search engine was asked about each candidate over the past couple of months. The data, which is being released by Google this year for the first time during a presidential campaign, gives insight into what voters are thinking about that is different from what traditional pollsters provide.
The first lesson may be not to forget the basics: shortly after Google first released questions posed about each candidate, Republican Marco Rubio’s campaign released a video in which he answered some of them.
Google gets some three billion search requests each day and is beginning to see the value of compiling that information. For instance, conventional pollsters badly missed the breadth of David Cameron and his Conservative Party’s victory in the British elections this spring. Google didn’t necessarily predict it either, but picked up an intriguing increase in the amount of questions people were asking about the Conservatives in the days before voting, said Simon Rogers, data editor for Google’s News Lab.
Height is clearly a preoccupation of Google searchers. Besides Bush, that was the top question about Christie, John Kasich, George Pataki and Rand Paul. Age is also a popular query. Two of the top four questions about New Jersey’s Christie concerned how much he weighed and how much weight he had lost.
Before he shot up in the polls late in the summer, voters simply wanted to know: “Who is Ben Carson?”
After questions about her age and height, searchers asked about Clinton: “What did Hillary do wrong?” Other questions concerned whether she was still running or if she was in trouble. Some specific questions were asked frequently, such as why Fiorina was fired as Hewlett Packard’s chief executive, Mike Huckabee’s views on the Iran deal and Rubio’s position on gay marriage.
Google does not publicly release specific numbers on the searches conducted on each candidate.
While not scientific, the Google search information gives an interesting snapshot, said Lee Miringoff, director of Marist College’s Institute for Public Opinion.
“If you’re a candidate, you ignore information like this at your own peril,” he said.
As the campaign moves along, the types of queries from voters are likely to become much more specific, Rogers said. The data should remind journalists that voters know far less about people running for president than they do, he said. Privately, in front of a computer screen, they might ask questions that they would not necessarily bring up publicly.
There’s plenty of potential for the information Google is collecting. “This is new and we’re only starting to scratch the surface of it,” he said.
In his video, Rubio sensed an opportunity as he read from a smartphone and answered questions posed in Google searches about his age, nationality and whether he was a twin. “No, I’m not,” he said, laughing.
Then he saw an opportunity. The last question he posed: “How can I work on Marco Rubio’s campaign?”
“Well, you can go to our website, that’s the easiest way to plug into our campaign,” he said. “I hope you’ll join us.”
Follow David Bauder at twitter.com/dbauder. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/david-bauder
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The latest developments as the Afghan government announced it has retaken control of the northern city of Kunduz, which was captured by the Taliban earlier this week (all times local).
Afghanistan’s Interior Minister Noor-ul-Haq Ulumi says his ministry has “complete oversight over all 34 provinces.” Appearing at a press conference in Kabul alongside President Ashraf Ghani, Ulumi seeks to explain how hundreds of Taliban fighters were able to enter the northern city of Kunduz during the recent Eid holiday and lay in wait until their operation to take the city was launched early Monday morning. “We never took our eyes off the ball,” he said. “We had to protect citizens and so the security forces retreated.”
Afghan security forces “have retaken all the neighborhoods that were under their control. There have been no fatalities on our side. Our security forces are always ready,” he says.
Ulumi seemed to acknowledge that the Taliban was succeeding in making the government look ineffectual, saying the weakness of the government side “has always been in propaganda and marketing ourselves.”
Acting Defense Minister Masoom Stanekzai says operations to clear the Taliban from Kunduz continue. The insurgents still have a presence in various parts of the city, he tells a press conference. “The latest report is that small guerrilla forces remain in various neighborhoods. We have to clear all the surrounding areas and open transport links so people can come and go.”
The fall of Kunduz and subsequent military operation to retake the city had “presented great challenges and great lessons” for the Afghan security forces, fighting the 14-year-old war alone since the withdrawal of international combat troops last year, Stanekzai said.
President Ashraf Ghani tells a televised press conference that Kunduz was brought back under government control after a six-hour military assault on Taliban fighters holding the city. “We thank God we had no fatalities,” he said.
Afghanistan’s security forces have been fighting in 13 of the country’s 34 provinces simultaneously, he says. “They were able to foil one of the most significant operations to have taken place in Afghanistan in 14 years,” he said of the security forces’ success in Kunduz.
But he warned that the “good news” of the return to government control of Kunduz — overrun in a complex Taliban attack on Monday — “should not make us complacent.”
“The war is ongoing,” he said.
Fierce fighting is still underway as Afghan forces are trying to rout the Taliban fully out of the northern city of Kunduz, going street-to-street and searching far-flung neighborhoods were the insurgents have withdrawn to.
Provincial police spokesman Sarwar Hussaini says the operation is still underway and that “the Taliban have hidden themselves in people’s homes” from where they are shooting.
He says four Taliban fighters were found hiding in the Kunduz municipality building. Hussaini says they opened fire at the Afghan troops from inside the building but “were soon shot dead by our forces.”
Zabihullah, a resident who lives close to the main Kunduz square, says that amid the chaos, some people have looted and set fire to the main U.N. office in the city. The U.N. had evacuated its staff Monday, before the city fell to the Taliban.
U.N. spokesman Dominic Medley in Kabul said the mission staff were as yet unaware of the incident.
The office of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani says he has spoken via video teleconference with the military leadership on the ground in Kunduz to hear how the battle to retake the city from the Taliban is progressing.
The office’s Twitter account says they discussed “the security situation and latest developments” on Thursday afternoon.
It says that Ghani has ordered defense and security authorities to continue the operations in Kunduz and “prioritize safety of civilians.”
Aid workers are struggling to cope with the fighting underway in Kunduz as Afghan government troops battle street-to-street to push the Taliban out of this key northern city.
Doctors Without Borders, which runs a trauma center in Kunduz, says the group has so far treated 296 people wounded in the fighting since Monday, when the Taliban blitzed and captured Kunduz.
MSF says that they have had 40 dead but that the actual death toll is likely much higher since they are only able to help a fraction of the population of this city of 300,000 residents.
Kate Stegeman, MSF’s communications officer in Afghanistan, says 64 of the wounded the group is looking after are children.
1: 15 p.m.
The Taliban appear to be resisting the Afghan government troops’ push into Kunduz that has forced the insurgents to pull out of the city center into more far-flung neighborhoods.
Resident Munib Khan of the Bandr-i-Iman Sahib district in the west of the city, says Taliban fighters are armed with rocket-propelled grenades and that they are putting up a heavy fight.
Khan says the fighting on Thursday has taken front-stage to the “many problems inside the city,” which now has “no water, no electricity.”
As fighting is raging in the key northern Afghan city of Kunduz, hundreds of people gathered near the presidential palace in the capital, Kabul, to call for President Ashraf Ghani’s resignation, blaming him for the situation in Kunduz.
One of the protesters, Foruzan Haydari, a 23-year-old student, says the people of Afghanistan “are not happy with this government, every day there is fighting.”
Meanwhile, the presidential palace said Ghani had spoken with military leaders in Kunduz to get an update on the situation in the city.
Thursday’s statement says Ghani spoke by videophone with Army Gen. Murad Ali Murad, who led the operation.
It also said the president will send a team to Kunduz to investigate how the Taliban were able to infiltrate the city.
The fall of Kunduz to the Taliban on Monday marked a major setback for Afghan government forces, who have struggled to combat insurgents with limited aid from the U.S. and NATO, which shifted to a training and support role at the end of last year.
The police chief of Kunduz province is seeking to reassure residents that the Afghan forces are in full control of the provincial capital, Kunduz, after pushing into the city overnight to drive the Taliban out.
Police chief Mohammad Qasim Jangalbagh told The Associated Press on Thursday that he is in “the center of the city now,” speaking from the main city square.
He is urging Kunduz inhabitants to “continue their normal life.”
But a Kunduz resident says heavy fighting is ongoing in the Khuja Mashhad area of the city, about 200 meters (218 yards) north of the city’s main square.
Hameedullah, who like many Afghan men uses only one name, says that “everyone is staying indoors.” He spoke over the phone to the AP.
He also says: “There are explosions, but I can’t tell if they are bombs being dropped from the planes I can hear overhead, or rockets.”
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid is claiming that the northern Afghan city of Kunduz is still in the hands of the insurgents and that “the Taliban flag is still flying” over the city.
Mujahid says that “life in Kunduz is normal” — an apparent attempt to refute government claims that Afghan forces retook control of much of Kunduz on Thursday. His remarks were posted on his Twitter account.
The Afghan forces pushed into the city in a joint military and police operation overnight.
Earlier in the morning, Mujahid had sent a text message to The Associated Press, saying that “the United States, with their puppets, have been bombing Kunduz city. Government forces have received heavy casualties.”
Kunduz residents say that street fighting is ongoing in various parts of the city and that they can hear sporadic shooting outside.
Zabihullah, a resident who lives close to the main Kunduz square and who like many Afghan men uses only one name, says that “fighting is intensifying.”
He says the “situation is really critical and getting worse, and I’ve just heard a huge explosion from a bomb near my house.”
Zabihullah spoke to The Associated Press over the phone on Thursday morning.
Earlier, Sediq Sediqqi, the Interior Ministry spokesman, said an operation “to clear the city is ongoing” and could take some days.
He told the AP that a joint army and police operation was launched late Wednesday and after the push into Kunduz overnight, the “city was taken by 3.30 a.m.” on Thursday.
—Lynne O’Donnell in Kabul, Afghanistan.
JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli military says it has dismissed an officer from his duties after soldiers were caught on camera assaulting a pair of Agence France-Presse journalists in the West Bank.
The army said Thursday the officer “conducted himself in a manor unbecoming” of an Israeli officer. It said the officer’s future in the military will be determined following further examination but the he would be “removed immediately from his command position.”
The Foreign Press Association, which represents journalists covering Israel and the Palestinian territories for international news organizations, has said the AFP photographer and cameraman were beaten by Israeli troops in an unprovoked attack last month. The soldiers smashed a video camera and a still camera.
The army has a long history of ignoring complaints of alleged violence against journalists.
NEW YORK (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign is planning a major push to organize Latino voters ahead of the Nevada caucuses and early primary contests in Texas, Florida and Colorado, all with an eye toward connecting with Hispanics in the 2016 election.
The Democratic presidential candidate will be in South Florida on Friday and will hold campaign events next month focused on Hispanic voters in San Antonio, Texas, and Las Vegas, Nevada. Her campaign will use the first Democratic presidential debate in Nevada and another Republican debate next month in Colorado to organize house parties geared at garnering support among Hispanics.
Clinton’s pitch, called Latinos for Hillary, will also extend to Hispanic lawmakers and elected officials, and will include an address next week to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s annual meeting in Washington.
“She’s shown a deep commitment to the issues that Hispanics care about over a long period of time. This isn’t somebody who showed up, decided to run for president and then a lightbulb came on and she decided to reach out to the Hispanic community,” said Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, who will campaign for Clinton in Nevada following the Oct. 13 debate in Las Vegas.
Clinton, who will sit with Telemundo for an interview Friday in Miami, fared well among Latino voters during her unsuccessful primary campaign against Barack Obama in 2008. Hispanic voters gave Obama a significant edge against Republican Mitt Romney in the 2012 elections.
This time, Latinos are poised to play a more prominent role in the primaries as well, beginning in Nevada, which follows Iowa and New Hampshire on the calendar. After that, Hispanics are expected to be a key constituency in March contests in Texas, Virginia, Colorado and Florida.
The so-called Super Tuesday states and other contests in March could play a more prominent role in a competitive primary against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and, potentially, Vice President Joe Biden. Sanders has erased Clinton’s early advantage in Iowa and New Hampshire, setting the stage for a drawn-out primary.
Clinton unveiled her immigration policy during a May campaign stop in Las Vegas, where she told high school students that any immigration legislation must include a path to “full and equal citizenship.” She has defended Obama’s use of executive actions to shield millions of immigrants from deportation and said she would go further if Congress fails to act.
The campaign views immigration as a major policy contrast against the Republican field, which has been marked by businessman Donald Trump’s summertime characterization of Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers and by candidates using the term “anchor babies.” The reference to children who gain citizenship when born in the United States to noncitizen parents is considered an insult by many Latinos.
That message has been amplified in social media. Clinton’s team noted footage of her response to Trump’s comments during a speech to the National Council of La Raza — Clinton said, “basta,” or “enough” in Spanish — became the campaign’s most popular video, with nearly 8.5 million views.
Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., a Clinton supporter, said the immigration discussion among the Republican candidates has helped Clinton with Hispanic voters. “There’s no question there’s a clear line, night and day, between Hillary Clinton and all of the other candidates,” he said.
Follow Ken Thomas on Twitter: https://twitter.com/kthomasDC
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — A prominent journalist who is critical of the government was beaten by four assailants outside his home, his newspaper said Thursday, weeks after a ruling party legislator was caught on video threatening attacks.
Police say four suspects have been arrested over the attack which drew widespread condemnation.
Hurriyet newspaper said columnist Ahmet Hakan suffered a broken nose and cracked ribs in the attack late Wednesday.
The newspaper said the four assailants had followed the journalist to his home from a television station where he moderates a political debate program. They assaulted him and a body guard as they left his car.
Omer Celik, a spokesman for the ruling Justice and Development Party, denounced the attack through his Twitter account saying “there can be no justification for attacks on journalists.”
The U.S. Embassy said: “Those who seek to intimidate journalists with violence are fighting a losing battle. Free speech cannot be beaten into silence.”
Last month, Hurriyet’s headquarters was vandalized by a mob following verbal attacks on the newspaper by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Media rights advocates accuse Turkey’s government of stifling media freedoms.
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A grand jury has indicted an Oklahoma sheriff on a charge of refusing to perform his official duties in an investigation related to a volunteer deputy and longtime friend who said he mistook his handgun for a stun gun when he fatally shot an unarmed man.
Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz decided quickly to resign after he was indicted during a court hearing Wednesday on two misdemeanor counts, one accusing him of not promptly releasing documents in the internal investigation involving deputy Robert Bates. Bates’ training and the reserve deputy program came into question after Bates, a former insurance executive, shot 44-year-old Eric Harris during an April sting operation.
The second charge accuses Glanz of willful violation of the law in an unrelated incident involving a stipend he received for a vehicle.
Glanz, who plans to step down before a Nov. 10 hearing in the case, said in a statement that he had always tried to be transparent and make good decisions during his 27 years as sheriff. He said he told grand jurors he would resign if they concluded that was best, which they did in a report released during the hearing.
“I know that my decisions have caused some to criticize me both publicly and privately,” he said in a two-page statement released late Wednesday. “As sheriff, I take responsibility for all decisions made by me or in my name, but I assure you they were all made in good faith.”
Glanz, who didn’t attend the hearing, plans to plead not guilty, his attorney Scott Wood said.
The grand jury was called after thousands of people signed a petition calling for an investigation into Glanz’s office following the death of Harris. Bates is accused of shooting Harris while Harris was restrained by a sheriff’s deputy. Video from the scene captured Bates apologizing for shooting Harris, who was being detained on suspicion that he tried to sell guns to an undercover officer.
Bates — who has pleaded not guilty to second-degree manslaughter in the case — has since left the agency.
Bates had donated thousands of dollars in cash, cars and equipment to the sheriff’s office. His close ties to Glanz and the agency raised questions about the reserve deputy program and whether Bates and others received special treatment in return for the gifts.
Harris’ brother, Andre Harris, declined to comment after the court hearing Wednesday.
Local civil rights organizer Marq Lewis said the indictment marked a win for residents.
“We got justice today,” said Lewis, who leads We the People Oklahoma, the group that organized the grand jury petition drive. “This is a statement to never bet against the citizens, the people of Tulsa County.”
Wednesday’s court hearing was called just hours after grand jurors said they had completed their investigation. Grand jurors met behind closed doors for nine weeks and interviewed more than 30 witnesses, including Glanz.
The documents were given to District Judge Rebecca Nightingale earlier in the day in five sealed envelopes. Some documents remain sealed.
The grand jury also made eight recommendations, including that the sheriff’s office improve its training and documentation, including better accountability of field training hours. It also suggested that the office’s internal affairs department be more autonomous.
The recommendations appeared to address a leaked 2009 memo that alleged top sheriff’s office officials knew Bates was inadequately trained but pressured other officers to look away.
Among the witnesses who testified before the grand jury was a corporal in the internal affairs division, Warren Crittenden, who said he was pressured to sign off on memos saying Bates was qualified for duty.
Crittenden told investigators in the 2009 memo that he feared he’d be transferred if he didn’t OK paperwork stating that Bates had completed his training at 328 hours, which violated policy requiring 480 hours of training, according to the report.
The grand jury also heard from sheriff’s corporal Bill Adams, who called the memo “very accurate,” and said that Glanz could have done more to address its findings.
Both Crittenden and Adams also have left the agency.