PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Accusing Republicans of fanning hate, President Barack Obama on Tuesday stepped in to defend a bruised and temporarily benched Hillary Clinton, hoping to reassure Democrats nervous both about their presidential candidate’s health and her handling of fresh trouble on her campaign.
Speaking at an outdoor rally in a Democratic stronghold, Obama praised Clinton as the most qualified candidate ever to seek the office and mocked her opponent Donald Trump as “not fit in any way” to lead. He suggested Clinton was again the victim of unfair treatment and a scandal machine that has dogged her throughout her long political career.
“What sets Hillary apart is that through it all she just keeps on going and she doesn’t stop caring and she doesn’t stop trying and she never stops fighting for us even if we haven’t always appreciated it,” Obama said. “I understand, we’re a young country, we are a restless country. We always like the new shiny thing. I benefited from that when I was a candidate, and we take for granted sometimes what is steady and true. And Hillary Clinton is steady and she is true.”
The remarks were the closest Obama came to mentioning Clinton’s rough weekend, during which she disparaged “half” of Trump supporters and then backtracked somewhat on her remarks. She also was forced to abruptly leave an event because of an illness she had not disclosed. Clinton was caught on video struggling to stay on her feet. Her campaign later said she been diagnosed with pneumonia. Clinton canceled campaign events this week to recover.
The incident and the campaign’s attempt to keep the diagnosis secret revived long-held concerns about Clinton’s tendency to hunker down during a crisis, making matters worse.
Clinton spent the day reading briefing material, making calls and watching Obama’s speech from her home in Chappaqua, New York, her campaign said. She’s due back on the campaign trail Thursday.
To an audience of roughly 6,000 supporters in downtown Philadelphia, Obama argued that Clinton has been more transparent in providing health and financial records than her rival, as well as releasing her past tax returns while Trump refuses to release his.
Obama said the Clinton Foundation has “saved countless lives around the world,” while Trump used his charity to buy “a six-foot-tall painting of himself,” Obama said, referencing a Washington Post investigation of Trump’s charity.
“I mean, you know, he had the taste not to go for the 10-foot version,” he said.
Obama is seeking to generate momentum for Clinton in a race that has become uncomfortably close for many Democratic supporters. The latest poll by Quinnipiac University found her with a 5 percentage-point edge over Trump in Pennsylvania.
Obama’s event at an outdoor plaza in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art was his third for Clinton, including his speech at the Democratic National Convention, also in Philadelphia. The president, who remains broadly popular among the Democratic base, is viewed as a key asset in pushing die-hard Democrats to the polls, especially in battleground state urban centers such as Philadelphia.
Greeted with chants of “thank you!,” the president sought to trade on that popularity. He told the crowd that he’s enthusiastically behind Clinton — and they should be, too — a sort of acknowledgement of lack of enthusiasm among the ranks about Clinton’s bid.
“Look, can I just say I am really into electing Hillary Clinton. Like this not me going through the motions here,” he said. “I really, really, really want to elect Hillary Clinton.”
Obama also appealed to Trump supporters. He tried to undermine the Republican businessman’s claim as a working-class hero. He accused Trump of being unprepared, unserious and “not a facts guy.” He seized on Trump’s praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom Obama cast as an authoritarian strongman who controls the media and crushes dissent.
“Can you imagine Ronald Reagan idolizing somebody like that?” Obama said, invoking the Republican icon.
Branding Republicans as promoting “a dark vision,” the president said, “They’re not offering serious solutions — they’re just fanning resentment, and blame, and anger, and hate.”
Obama reserved part of his speech to “vent” about the media, arguing news organizations have treated Clinton unfairly and applied what he described as a false equivalence when covering the campaigns’ troubles.
“You don’t grade the presidency on a curve,” he said. “This is serious business.”
Trump’s campaign met Obama with a statement suggesting he was shirking his duties.
“Shouldn’t you be at work?” it read. “President Obama would rather campaign for Hillary Clinton than solve major problems facing the country.”
Trump was scheduled to campaign later Tuesday in a Philadelphia suburb. Pennsylvania, which was carried by a Democratic nominee in the past six elections, is viewed as essential for Trump’s chances of achieving the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the presidency.
After the speech, Obama attended a closed fundraiser in Philadelphia for the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. About 25 attendees, who contributed $33,400 each, were expected to attend. The event hosts gave $100,000.
He then was flying to New York City for a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser at the home of hedge-fund founder Jim Chanos. Tickets for the event started at $16,700.
Associated Press Writer Thomas Beaumont contributed from Philadelphia.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States will provide Israel’s military with $38 billion during the next 10 years, officials said Tuesday, the largest batch of military assistance the U.S. has ever pledged to another country.
Following months of behind-the-scenes negotiations, the State Department said the two countries had reached a 10-year agreement, with a signing ceremony planned for Wednesday. The U.S. and Israel haven’t disclosed the exact sum, but officials familiar with the deal said it totals $3.8 billion a year — up from the $3.1 billion the U.S. gave Israel annually under the previous 10-year deal.
Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, planned to attend the ceremony at the State Department, a senior Obama administration official said. Israel’s acting national security adviser, Jacob Nagel, arrived in Washington ahead of the announcement and was also expected to attend.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office confirmed in a brief statement that a deal had been reached, but offered no additional comment.
Under the agreement, Israel’s ability to spend part of the funds on Israeli military products will be gradually phased out, eventually requiring all of the funds to be spend on American military industries. Israel’s preference for spending some of the funds internally had been a major sticking point in the deal.
The new agreement also eliminates Israel’s ability to spend a fraction of the funds on fuel for its military. In another apparent concession, Israel has agreed not to ask Congress to approve more funds than are included in the deal unless a new war breaks out, said the officials, who weren’t authorized to discuss the details publicly ahead of a formal announcement and requested anonymity.
The agreement concludes many months of negotiations that involved a delicate calculation by Jerusalem about whether to strike a deal with the outgoing U.S. president. In February, Netanyahu quietly floated the prospect of waiting for Obama’s successor in hopes of securing a better deal.
But the Obama administration has been eager to lock in the agreement before leaving office to help bolster Obama’s legacy and undercut the criticism that his administration was insufficiently supportive of Israel.
Obama’s relationship with Netanyahu has been famously fraught for years, and ties between the countries worsened significantly when the U.S. and world powers struck a deal with a nuclear deal with Iran. Israel considers a nuclear-armed Iran to be an existential threat and disagreed sharply with Obama’s contention that the deal actually made Israel safer by limiting Iran’s nuclear program.
Israeli officials have said predictability about U.S. aid is important to help its military plan ahead. Securing the deal ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November also ensures that Obama’s successor won’t have to delve into the issue during his or her first few months. Both Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton have vowed to protect Israel’s security if elected.
The new U.S.-Israel deal also includes, for the first time, funding for missile defense programs. Under the previous arrangement, Congress approved funds for missile defense separately and on an annual basis.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the largest pro-Israel lobbying group, praised Obama for completing the deal and said it would send “a strong message of deterrence” to Israel’s enemies.
“With these funds, Israel will be able to modernize and better equip its armed forces,” the group said in a statement.
Yet the agreement triggered pushback from pro-Palestinian groups, who said the U.S. shouldn’t reward Israel with unprecedented aid despite its settlement-building in the disputed West Bank. The Palestinians have demanded that construction stop before restarting peace talks, and the U.S. considers the settlements illegitimate.
Last week, the U.S. was incensed by a video Netanyahu released in which he equated criticism of settlement-building to support for “ethnic cleansing.” Netanyahu said it was “outrageous” that Palestinians wanted their future state to include “no Jews” and rejected the notion the settlements were an obstacle to peace. The State Department said it strongly disagreed with Netanyahu’s characterization, calling the reference to ethnic cleansing “inappropriate and unhelpful.”
Congress must still formally approve the funding each year, but is expected to put up few roadblocks. Both parties in Congress have sought to outdo each in with displays of support for the Jewish state. The previous 10-year agreement is set to expire in 2018.
Netanyahu and Obama both plan to be in New York next week for U.N. General Assembly meetings, but officials have not announced any plans for formal meeting.
AP Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee in Washington and Josef Federman in Jerusalem contributed to this report.
Reach Josh Lederman on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joshledermanAP
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — President Mauricio Macri urged the CEOs of Coca-Cola, Siemens and nearly 2,000 other foreign and local companies Tuesday to invest in Argentina and help revive its struggling economy.
Macri took office in December promising to attract foreign investment, cut government spending and end economic distortions blamed for years of spiraling consumer prices in South America’s second-largest economy.
On Tuesday, he spoke to businesspeople from more than 60 countries attending a three-day investment forum.
“I’d like to thank all of you, especially those visiting our country from abroad; you’re in the right place, at the perfect moment,” Macri said. “We’re starting to see strong signs that the recession is on its way out and the world is once again looking at and talking about Argentina.”
Since succeeding left-leaning President Cristina Fernandez, the conservative Macri has struck a deal with U.S. creditors to return Argentina to global bond markets for the first time in 15 years. He also has rolled back restrictions on buying U.S. dollars and reduced taxes on exports and other protectionist measures instituted during 12 years of governments led by Fernandez and her late husband and predecessor as president, Nestor Kirchner.
Macri’s critics say his cuts to utility subsidies and the firing of thousands of state workers have stoked unrest amid a recession as Argentines continue to see their purchasing power erode from one of the world’s highest inflation rates.
Macri says the measures are needed to jumpstart the weak economy and promises that the galloping inflation rate, estimated at more than 40 percent a year, will gradually begin to slow. He has also vowed investments of more than $100 billion in the coming months.
During their years in office, Fernandez and Kirchner gained popularity by spending heavily on programs for the poor and restoring Argentina’s sense of pride and sovereignty after the country’s worst economic crisis in 2001. But the couple was also criticized for failing to curb inflation and the government’s growing deficit while they continued to raise tariffs and impose protectionist policies that discouraged foreign investment.
“What has changed? The fact that those abroad are starting to notice that Argentina is changing for real and wants to get involved,” said Cristiano Rattazzi, the president of Fiat Argentina, told The Associated Press at the forum.
“Up until recently it was nearly impossible to export. But today, Argentina wants to be a key player in the world.”
Associated Press writer Almudena Calatrava and AP video journalist Paul Byrne contributed to this report.
MANDAN, N.D. (AP) — The Latest on the dispute over the Dakota Access pipeline, a thousand-mile pipeline under construction to carry oil from North Dakota to Illinois (all times local):
Authorities say several people have been arrested for interfering with the construction of the Dakota Access oil about 70 miles northwest of the main protest site, which is near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota.
Morton County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Donnell Preskey says several law enforcement authorities responded to the site near Glen Ullin late Tuesday morning.
She says construction workers were “swarmed” by protesters and that two people had chained themselves to equipment.
Preskey did not immediately know how many people had been arrested or what charges the might face.
The company building the Dakota Access oil pipeline says it is removing damaged construction equipment from the area near a protest site in North Dakota.
Asked Tuesday if the removal indicates Energy Transfer Partners is backing down on its plans to build the pipeline, spokeswoman Vicki Granado underlined comments in an internal memo saying the company is committed to the project.
Hundreds of protesters have gathered in the area to support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which says the pipeline will harm water supplies and disturb sacred burial and cultural sites.
Morton County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Rob Keller says the company reported that protesters vandalized the equipment. Keller says about 30 bulldozers, scrapers and other heavy equipment were taken away on flatbed trailers Tuesday morning.
A broadcast journalist reporting on a protest against the Dakota Access pipeline has been charged with criminal trespassing in North Dakota, a misdemeanor that an international watchdog says should be dropped.
Court records show Amy Goodman, the host of independent news program “Democracy Now,” was charged Thursday and a warrant for her arrest was issued in Morton County.
Carlos Lauria is senior program coordinator for the Americas with the Committee to Protect Journalists. Lauria says the warrant is “a transparent attempt to intimidate reporters from covering protests of significant public interest.”
The Bismarck Tribune reports that court documents show the New York-based Goodman was charged based on video footage of a protest on private property during Labor Day weekend.
Goodman reported on a clash between private security guards and protesters.
The company developing the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline says it is committed to the project, despite strong opposition and a federal order to halt construction near an American Indian reservation in North Dakota.
Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren said in a memo to employees Tuesday that the four-state project is nearly 60 percent complete and that “concerns about the pipeline’s impact on the local water supply are unfounded.”
The 1,172-mile project would carry nearly a half-million barrels of crude oil daily from North Dakota’s oil fields through South Dakota and Iowa to an existing pipeline in Patoka, Illinois.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota is suing federal regulators for approving the oil pipeline, arguing it will harm water supplies and disturb sacred burial and cultural sites.
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Beyonce has helped the boyfriend of one of her backup dancers “put a ring on it.”
The singer interrupted her performance of her hit “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” in St. Louis on Saturday night to bring out choreographer John Silver, the boyfriend of dancer Ashley Everett. A fan video shows Silver taking the microphone from Beyonce and asking Everett to marry him. After Everett said yes, Beyonce offered her congratulations before finishing the song.
In an Instagram video , Everett says that she “was totally shocked and surprised” and that it was the best night of her life.
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — A school bus driver helped evacuate nearly two dozen children from a bus after the vehicle caught fire.
Prince George’s County Fire Department spokesman Mark Brady said in a statement that 20 students from Glen Arden Woods Elementary School were safely evacuated Monday evening without any reports of injuries.
It’s not clear what caused the fire in College Park. Brady says it appears to have started near one of the back wheels of the bus before spreading throughout the rest of the vehicle.
Most parents were able to pick up their children from the scene, while the others were taken to safety by a second responding bus.
Dashcam video posted by The Washington Post http://wapo.st/2cgi3SY shows the bus engulfed in flames and heavy plumes of smoke.