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The Latest: McConnell calls GOP Senate chances 'very dicey'

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the U.S. presidential race (All times EDT): 3:45 p.m. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says Republicans' chances of keeping control of the Senate after the November elections are "very dicey." Sounding an alarm amid increasing concerns within the GOP...

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the U.S. presidential race (All times EDT):

3:45 p.m.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says Republicans' chances of keeping control of the Senate after the November elections are "very dicey."

Sounding an alarm amid increasing concerns within the GOP about nominee Donald Trump, the Kentucky Republican said Thursday that the party is in a "dogfight" to hold off Democrats looking to reclaim Senate control just two years after Republicans won the chamber.

McConnell noted that Republicans are defending 24 Senate seats compared to 10 by Democrats. He says that put Republicans on the defensive, regardless of how the presidential election turns out.

McConnell listed several campaigns for GOP-held seats that are "very competitive," mentioning New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Illinois, Florida and Indiana.


3:23 p.m.

Donald Trump is acknowledging his campaign is having "a tremendous problem" in Utah.

Trump is addressing evangelical pastors at an event in Orlando, Florida. He's telling them they have to "get your people out to vote."

Trump rarely concedes problems with his campaign or that he's behind. But Utah has been a particular challenge for Trump. The state's large Mormon population has been wary of his candidacy. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who overwhelmingly won Utah in 2012, has been sharply criticizing Trump for months.


3:05 p.m.

Frustrated Republicans have drafted a letter to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus urging him to stop helping Donald Trump win the White House. They want the party to focus its resources instead on protecting vulnerable Senate and House candidates.

A draft of the letter, obtained by The Associated Press, warns that Trump's "divisiveness, recklessness, incompetence and record-breaking unpopularity risk turning this election into a Democratic landslide."

GOP operative Andrew Weinstein says 70 Republicans have signed the letter so far, including five former members of Congress and 16 former RNC staffers.

They want Priebus to immediately shift "all available RNC resources to vulnerable congressional candidates to "prevent the GOP from drowning with a Trump-emblazoned anchor around its neck."

The RNC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


3 p.m.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is reassuring evangelicals that Donald Trump shares their beliefs.

Huckabee is speaking before Trump at the American Renewal Project's Pastors and Pews event. It's a gathering of evangelical pastors and church leaders in Orlando, Florida.

Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, says he gets asked whether Trump is "one of us." He says Trump may not sit in the front of a church every Sunday or be loud about his faith. But Huckabee says just because "some people will eat their soup a little louder than others" doesn't make the soup taste better.

Huckabee says he wouldn't be supporting Trump if Trump didn't oppose abortion.


2:55 p.m.

Devout conservative Iowa Rep. Steve King, who once accused Hillary Clinton of lying, now says the Democratic presidential nominee "is someone I can work with."

Appearing Thursday at the Iowa State Fair, King says, "We don't agree on very much," but "I've sat across the table from Hillary Clinton, eye to eye, working" without staff present and outside the view of the news media.

Two years ago, King said Clinton and other Obama administration officials lied in their account of the deadly attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya. Clinton was secretary of state at the time.

King has endorsed Republican Donald Trump, but made the charitable comments about Clinton during an appearance on the first day of the fair, according to video recorded by The Des Moines Register


2:45 p.m.

When Donald Trump vowed this week to make child care more accessible and affordable, it was just the second time during his White House campaign that he's talked about the issue.

The first came months ago in Iowa, when the eventual Republican nominee touted his own record as a business owner during a candidate Q&A.

Trump says that he provides on-site child care service for his employees and encouraged other companies to do the same.

He says it's not expensive; all you need are some blocks and some toys.

But the programs Trump cites are intended for guests of his hotels and members of his golf courses, not for Trump workers.

The Trump Organization says its policies differ from property-to-property.


2:40 p.m.

Hillary Clinton is depicting Donald Trump as a political outlier, promoting what she calls "outlandish Trumpian ideas" that have been rejected by both parties.

She says Trump is proposing a "more extreme version of the failed theory of trickle-down economics."

Clinton was giving an economic address in Michigan on Thursday afternoon.


2:35 p.m.

Hillary Clinton is calling Donald Trump's plans for greater childcare deductions for families a handout for the wealthy.

Clinton says Trump's proposal was "transparently is designed for rich people." She argues that the plan would help wealthy families with nannies, and do little for others. She made her remarks in Warren, Michigan, on Thursday.

In a speech Monday in Detroit, Trump said he would "allow parents to fully deduct the average cost of child care spending from their taxes." He has promised to provide more details in coming weeks.

Clinton says she will expand the Child Tax Credit. She said "the more we do to help working families, the more our entire economy will benefit."


2:30 p.m.

A senior House Democrat back from a trip with congressional colleagues to Italy and Afghanistan says he felt like they should have brought "brooms and mops" to clean up the mess Donald Trump is creating overseas.

At a news conference Thursday, Rep. Steve Israel of New York says the delegation reassured civilian and military leaders in both countries that the United States won't abandon them. The U.S. leads a coalition of allies in Afghanistan against insurgents. Italy is one of NATO's founding members.

Trump has stoked concerns in foreign capitals by questioning the value of NATO and America's other key alliances. He's said that if allies in Europe and Asia won't pay the full cost of U.S. contributions to their defense, then the U.S. should let them defend themselves


2:25 p.m.

Hillary Clinton is hitting Donald Trump for what she's calling a "Trump loophole" in his economic plan.

During a speech in suburban Detroit, Clinton says Trump's plans to cut taxes on certain business income would benefit many of his companies. Clinton said "he'd pay a lower rate than millions of middle-class families." She added that it was hard to know exactly how much Trump would benefit because he has not released his tax returns.

Clinton also says Trump would "give trillions in tax cuts to big corporations, millionaires, and Wall Street money managers." And she questioned his plan to eliminate the estate tax, calling it a perk for Trump and the very wealthy.

Said Clinton: "Donald Trump wants to give trillions in tax breaks to people like himself."


2:20 p.m.

Hillary Clinton is stressing her opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, saying: "I oppose it now, I'll oppose it after the election and I'll oppose it as president.

Speaking at a manufacturing company in suburban Detroit, Clinton says she understands why people are concerned about trade deals, noting that Republican nominee Donald Trump talks about it frequently. She says "trade deals have been sold to the American people with rosy scenarios that did not pan out."

But Clinton says the "answer is to finally make trade work for us, not against us."

Clinton stressed that she would "stop any trade deal that kills jobs or holds down wages."

Clinton supported the TPP when she was secretary of state but announced her opposition last year, saying it did not meet her standard for creating jobs, raising wages and protecting national security.


2:15 p.m.

Hillary Clinton is using the Olympics to take a shot at rival Donald Trump.

She says: "If Team USA was as fearful as Trump, Michael Phelps and Simone Biles would be cowering in the locker room afraid to come out to compete."

Clinton says Trump's approach toward trade is based on fear of competing with the rest of the world, even if the rules are made more fair.

"America isn't afraid to compete," she says.

Clinton is delievering an economic address in Michigan on Thursday afternoon. The speech was billed by aides as a response to Trump's economic remarks in Detroit three days ago.


2 p.m.

Hillary Clinton is promoting her plan to invest in infrastructure as a way to create more jobs.

In an economic address in suburban Detroit, the Democratic nominee says she'll put people to work updating roads and bridges. She's promising to improve schools and water systems, expand broadband access and invest in clean energy.

Clinton says that part of her plan "will be unleashing the power of the private sector to create more jobs at higher pay." She says she would create an infrastructure bank to collect public and private money.


1:55 p.m.

Donald Trump is adding new names to his economic advisory team — including women.

The campaign announced nine additional members on Thursday. Eight of them are women. The original 13-member group announced last week featured no women — but did have six men named Steve.

Among those joining his team are former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey; Brooke Rollins, the president and CEO of the Texas Public Policy Foundation think tank, who served as an aide to former Texas Gov. Rick Perry; Diane Hendricks, the chairwoman of ABC Supply Co., which distributes building products; and Darlene Jordan, who served as a national finance co-chair for Mitt Romney's presidential campaigns.

Also on the list is Anthony Scaramucci, the founder of SkyBridge Capital, who has helped raise money for Trump's campaign.


1:50 p.m.

Hillary Clinton says Donald Trump spoke only of "failure, poverty and crime" in his economic address on Monday.

The Democratic presidential candidate says Trump is missing the economic revitalization that's happening in communities like Detroit. She also says he hasn't offered any "credible solutions" to America's economic challenges.

She's delivering an economic address in Michigan designed to counter Trump's address earlier this week with a more positive message.

Clinton says the country's best days are still ahead though she acknowledges the frustration felt by some middle class Americans.

She says: "There is nothing America can't do if we do it together."


1:25 p.m.

Donald Trump will campaign in an unlikely venue: deep-blue Connecticut.

The Trump campaign announced that the Republican nominee will hold a rally Saturday in Fairfield.

The last time Connecticut went for a Republican presidential candidate was in 1988, when George H.W. Bush, a former state resident, captured it.

President Barack Obama won the state by nearly 18 points in 2012 and by 22 points in 2008.

Trump, who has vowed to compete in traditionally Democratic states, will make the appearance at a time when he has slipped in polls in several traditional battleground states as well as some Republican strongholds.

Southwest Connecticut, home to affluent suburbs of New York City, is prime fundraising territory. Trump often hosts fundraisers near rallies, though his campaign did not say if any were planned.


12:40 p.m.

Donald Trump's campaign is painting Hillary Clinton as a proponent of the status quo as she prepares to deliver an economic speech in Michigan.

Trump's Deputy National Policy Director Dan Kowalski says in a statement that: "right now, the American economy is only working for the rigged system in Washington and on Wall Street, yet Hillary Clinton is running to keep things as they are."

He says Clinton's plans will damage the economy by raising taxes, increasing spending and killing jobs.

Trump discussed his own economic plans in a speech this week that focused on cutting corporate taxes and eliminating federal regulations.

Clinton has proposed a surtax on the highest-earning Americans, while Trump has proposed a tax reduction that he acknowledges would add substantially to the debt.


12:35 p.m.

Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine says voting is a "sacred act."

Kaine is in New Orleans addressing the Progressive National Baptist Convention, a group of African-American Baptist churches born out of the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

He's talking about his religious upbringing, including the year he spent in Honduras. He says when he came back from Honduras — at that time a dictatorship — he had a new attitude about the importance of voting.

Kaine says he meets people every day who say their vote doesn't matter. But he stressed how important it is.

His comments come as many in the African-American community are worried about the effects of a Supreme Court decision that invalidated a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.


12:15 a.m.

Donald Trump is showing something he rarely reveals on the campaign trail: his sentimental side.

Trump, speaking to home builders Thursday in Florida, reminisced about watching his father, Fred, a New York City developer, conduct business.

The Republican nominee recalled moments in his youth when he'd play with blocks near his father's desk while the elder Trump brokered deals. And he remembered Fred Trump's forays into homebuilding.

Trump recalled that his "father would go and he'd pick up the saw dust and he'd pick up the nails."

Trump also said that his father, a major influence on his life whom he rarely mentions on the campaign trail, "would be very proud to see that we're running for the presidency."

He was addressing the National Association of Homebuilders in Miami Beach, Florida.


9:50 a.m.

Hillary Clinton will soon release her 2015 tax returns.

A source close to the Democratic presidential nominee says she will release them in "the coming days." Her running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine and his wife, Anne Houlton, will also release the last 10 years of their returns. The source spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday to discuss the plans in advance.

Clinton has hit Republican nominee Donald Trump for not releasing his returns. Trump has said he won't release them until after an IRS audit is complete.

The Clinton campaign has put out eight years of Clinton's returns, from 2007 to 2014. Combined with releases during her previous campaigns and her husband's time in office, the Clintons have made their tax returns public since 1977.

—By Catherine Lucey in Detroit


9:05 a.m.

Republican Donald Trump says the U.S. government should take on more debt to strengthen the military and rebuild infrastructure.

Trump's comments Thursday in a CNBC interview go against the traditional Republican aversion to government borrowing.

Trump said, "I like to reduce debt too, as much as anybody." But he added that the military has been depleted and America's infrastructure is in horrible condition.

He said interest rates are low now and will eventually go up, making it too expensive to borrow.

Trump said: "You'd be paying so little interest right now. This is the time to borrow."


8:50 a.m.

Donald Trump is defending his decision to label President Barack Obama the "founder" of the Islamic State group.

Asked in an interview with CNBC Thursday whether it was appropriate for him to call the sitting president of the United States the founder of a terrorist organization that wants to kill Americans, Trump doubled down on his accusation.

"He was the founder of ISIS, absolutely," says Trump, blaming the president for his decision to withdraw troops, which some argue created a power vacuum in which extremist groups like IS thrive.

Trump says the U.S. "should have never gotten in" the war, but also shouldn't "have got out the way he got out."

Trump now claims that he was opposed to the Iraq War from the beginning, despite evidence to the contrary.


7 a.m.

Hillary Clinton is set to go after Donald Trump's economic agenda — aiming to portray her rival's approach as offering handouts for the rich.

That's her goal in a speech scheduled for Thursday afternoon at a manufacturing company in Warren, Michigan.

Her campaign says she'll try to make the case that the Republican presidential nominee's plans would benefit him and his wealthy friends — and amount to an update of "trickle-down economics."

Also look for Clinton to argue that Trump's drive to cut taxes on certain business income would in fact benefit many of his companies.

The Democratic nominee isn't expected to use her speech to come out with any major new policies.