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Yukon prospecting plan approval is quashed by First Nation court victory

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WHITEHORSE — A Yukon court has quashed government approval for a mining exploration project, siding with a First Nation that argued there was a failure to properly consult it about the project on its traditional territory.

The government had approved a plan by Metallic Minerals Corp. to conduct exploration for a gold and silver mine every summer for 10 years in the Beaver River Watershed, moving it to the final stage before regulatory authorization.

But the Supreme Court of Yukon says in a ruling issued Tuesday that the 2021 decision breached the honour of the Crown by failing to consult the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun or act in line with its treaty obligations.

Metallic Minerals, which wasn’t represented in the application for judicial review, had plans to build roads, trails, a helipad and a camp for 20 workers to prospect for quartz in the watershed.

The ruling by Yukon Chief Justice Suzanne Duncan returns the proposal to the evaluation stage.

Na-Cho Nyak Dun Chief Simon Mervyn says in a statement that he hopes the ruling inspires other First Nations to “defend their treaties and fight to have a say about what happens on their lands.”

He says the government must respect and implement treaty rights, and his nation looks forward to “a collaborative planning process, where we work to protect our rights, lands and waters together.”

The statement says the watershed is a “pristine, highly significant part of” the First Nation’s territory.

It also expresses appreciation to Metallic Minerals for voluntarily not undertaking exploration while the case was proceeding and not opposing the First Nation’s lawsuit.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 3, 2023.

 

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US 2024 Election Latest: Obama, Pelosi and other top Democrats express concerns over Biden’s candidacy

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The Republican National Convention has culminated Thursday with former President Donald Trump expected to accept the party’s presidential nomination, achieving a comeback four years in the making and anticipated even more in the past week in light of Saturday’s assassination attempt.

He is expected to accept his third consecutive party nod in prime time before thousands of supporters at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee. Trump’s running mate JD Vance addressed the same crowd on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, ormer President Barack Obama has privately expressed concerns to Democrats about President Joe Biden’s candidacy, and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned Biden that Democrats could lose the ability to seize control in the House if he didn’t step away from the race.

President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign insists it’s “not working through any scenarios” where he “is not the top of the ticket,” despite intensifying calls from congressional Democrats for him to abandon the race ahead of November’s election.

Follow the AP’s Election-2024 coverage at: https://apnews.com/hub/election-2024

Here’s the Latest:

Hulk Hogan endorses his ‘hero’

Retired pro wrestler Hulk Hogan, who once endorsed Barack Obama for president, made an unexpected appearance Thursday at the RNC, putting his full support behind Trump, who he has recently called his “hero.”

He walked on stage swinging an American flag.

“You know something, I have some great tag teams in my time,” Hogan said. “But you know something, I see the greatest tag team of my life, standing together, getting ready to straighten this country up.”

Trump and his family reenter the arena

Trump returned to the family box with his adult children, including Ivanka and Don Jr. and many of his grandchildren.

Former first lady Melania Trump has been spotted in the arena but not in the family box yet.

The band keeps vamping for time

The house band has gone through several numbers — and extended versions of them at that.

There was the cover of The Romantics’ “What I like about you,” and then a version of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Pride and Joy.” And extended versions at that.

“Pride and Joy” traded keyboard and guitar solos, while the video screens around the arena offered shots of red, white and blue-clad delegates dancing.

After three choruses, the band launched back into an extended jam, seeming to fill the time until the next round of speakers.

And just when it seemed the break might end, they launched into Sam and Dave’s, “Soul Man.”

And another song by the band …

The convention programming is running around half an hour behind schedule during the prime time show Thursday. The band is playing song after song as the crowd awaits what is expected to be a series of high-profile speeches including Hulk Hogan to Eric Trump Jr., with the former president closing out the night.

Even some energized conventiongoers have grown tired of the extended renditions of some of their favorite country songs, but many delegates remain on their feet, dancing along and swaying their various Trump signs back and forth.

Attendees keep signs handy

Of course, there are the “Make America Great Again” signs on the convention floor. After all, it’s the slogan that Trump has touted for eight years.

But the 2024 Republican convention has spawned a variety of related, official campaign placards, in the same red, white and blue font as the well-known MAGA signs.

There’s “Bring Back Common Sense,” “America First/Americans First,” and “Fire Joe Biden.”

Then there are the handmade signs, like conventions of old, though one, painted in red on a white background says, “I’m from New Mexico and I love Trump.”

Democratic Sen. Jon Tester called President Biden to drop out of the presidential race

The Montana senator is up for reelection this year, hoping to hold onto Democrats’ only congressional seat in the state.

“I have worked with President Biden when it has made Montana stronger, and I’ve never been afraid to stand up to him when he is wrong,” Tester told the Daily Montanan. “And while I appreciate his commitment to public service and our country, I believe President Biden should not seek re-election to another term.”

He is the second Democratic senator to call for Biden to exit the race. Sen. Peter Welch of Vermont called for Biden to step down earlier this month.

Tucker Carlson invokes divine intervention

Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson says that he called Trump hours after Saturday’s assassination attempt and the former president didn’t talk about himself.

“He said only how amazed he was and how proud he was of the crowd that didn’t run,” Tucker recounted. “Of course they didn’t run; his courage gave them heart.”

Carlson also said that Trump didn’t try to create division after the attack. “He turned down the most obvious opportunity to inflame the nation,” Carlson said.

Like many speakers during the convention, Carlson suggested that recent events were divinely inspired.

“What’s happened over the past month, since the debate and particularly since Saturday in Butler a lot of people are wondering: ‘What is this? This doesn’t look like politics; I wonder if something bigger is going on,’” Carlson said.

Country singer Jason Aldean greets Trump at the convention

How much Trump loves music has come up several times in Thursday’s speeches, and he’s got a country star with him in the box.

Jason Aldean is seated with Trump for the RNC’s final night. He and his wife, Brittany, shook hands with Trump and have been spotted speaking with him during the program.

Aldean, a Trump supporter, dedicated his song “Try That in a Small Town” to Trump during a recent concert in Nashville following the Pennsylvania assassination attempt.

Last year, the music video for the song — which became that summer’s political litmus test — received fervent criticism online, with some claiming the visual is a “dog whistle” and others labeling it “pro-lynching.”

In the video, Aldean performed in front of the Maury County Courthouse in Columbia, Tennessee, the site of a 1946 race riot and a 1927 mob lynching of an 18-year-old Black teenager named Henry Choate.

Habba: ‘Every attack on President Trump only strengthens our movement’

Alina Habba, Trump’s attorney and adviser, offered a humanizing portrait of Trump, a man she said “loves this country” and “lifts up those around him.”

She told the story of being on the phone with him outside a courthouse when a man on the street yelled, “God Bless you and President Trump!” She said Trump overheard the man and asked her to hand over the phone so he could thank him personally for his support.

“The left has tried to demolish Trump, but there is no bulldozer big enough or strong enough to remove the legacy that he has built or the future he has created,” she said, adding, “Every attack on President Trump only strengthens our movement.”

She also talked about Saturday’s failed assassination attempt.

“So let us not forget that President Trump did not just take a bullet in Butler, Pennsylvania. He has and will continue to take them for each and every one of us.”

New York builders attest to Trump personal character

New York builders father and son Steven and Zach Witkoff were among speakers meant to serve as witnesses for Trump as a friend and employer.

The former president’s persona has been well-defined after a term in office and a highly public profile since leaving office.

The father and son vouched for Trump as a boss and a grandfather.

“I have witnessed his leadership in quiet moments,” Steve Witkoff said. “When times are really tough, when he has everything to lose and nothing to gain, Donald Trump is there for you.”

Describing pain that was “unbearable,” Steve Wifcoff told of Trump’s outreach after the man’s son died of an opioid overdose.

“That’s who he is,” Steven Witcoff said.

‘Could it be that Jesus Christ preserved him for a time such as this?’

The pastor of a Black church in Detroit that Trump visited last month has suggested that the former president came to his congregation to listen and learn.

“Could it be that Jesus Christ preserved him for a time such as this?” Lorenzo Sewell, a Detroit pastor, proclaimed, as thousands of delegates cheered and rose to their feet.

Sewell made repeated Biblical references, and reminded the crowd that Trump “came to the hood because he cares about average everyday Americans.”

Sewell also made several references to the assassination attempt, saying that “if President Donald Trump would have moved just a millimeter,” he would not have been at the convention.

Addressing his “Democrat friends,” Sewell asked if they knew of anyone who had been “convicted of 34 counts, raised 53 million dollars in 24 hours and could be the 47th president of America — and he was shot one time. Do you know anybody like that?”

Pompeo: ‘We can’t trust the Biden administration’

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is highlighting the foreign policy accomplishments of Trump’s administration, saying, “We put America first every single day.”

Pompeo also lashed out at Biden for the disastrous pullout from Afghanistan and blamed him for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Gaza’s attack on Israel.

“We can’t trust the Biden administration,” he said.

Pompeo, who also served as Trump’s CIA director and represented Kansas in Congress, considered challenging Trump this year for the GOP nomination. But he decided to stay out of the race, saying the time was not right for him and his family.

Senators night in Trump’s family box

A group of Trump’s most loyal allies in the Senate are seated in the former president’s exclusive box at the RNC on Thursday night. Sens. Mike Lee, Bill Hagerty, and Ted Cruz are filling the seats ahead of the arrival of Trump’s family for his highly anticipated speech. Some Senate hopefuls are also lounging in the area, including Nevada GOP candidate Sam Brown.

‘Everyday American’ is GOP-backing billionaire

One of the “everyday Americans” speaking on behalf of Trump’s campaign is a former Playboy model who’s been listed among the country’s wealthiest self-made women.

Wisconsin native Diane Hendricks told delegates how she started off as a single mom who got into real estate, met her husband and “risked everything we had” to start ABC Supply.

Their company is the largest wholesale distributor of roofing supplies and one of the largest distributors of siding and windows in North America, with nearly 700 locations across the U.S. and Canada.

Hendricks talked about the tens of thousands of jobs she’s helped create in the U.S. and told aspiring entrepreneurs, “if I can make it, you can make it, too.” She also lauded Trump’s business acumen as what the country needs.

She’s been a big backer of GOP candidates both in her home state and elsewhere. Forbes lists her estimated net worth above $20 billion.

Down the block from the RNC, dozens gather to mourn two dead

Down the block from the RNC, about 50 family members and supporters of two Milwaukee men recently killed in separate circumstances rallied and marched to call attention to the two deaths.

The event focused on the death of Samuel Sharpe, a homeless man fatally shot Tuesday by out-of-state police officers deployed to Milwaukee for the RNC, as well D’Vontaye Mitchell, who died last month after he was pinned down by security guards at a nearby hotel.

The deaths of the two men, both of whom were Black, has inflamed tensions within the city, with Sharpe’s killing in particular focusing scrutiny on the law enforcement approach to the convention.

Speaking to dozens of protesters and a phalanx of reporters, Angelique Sharpe attributed her brother’s death to the presence of out-of-state police officers.

“I’d rather have the Milwaukee police department who know the people of this community (than) people who have no ties to your community and don’t care nothing about our extended family members down there,” she said.

Police officials said Sharpe was shot by five Columbus, Ohio, police officers who spotted him lunging at another man with two knives.

At the rally, Angelique Sharpe said her brother suffered from multiple sclerosis and was acting in self-defense against a person who had threatened him in recent days.

The final night of the 2024 Republican National Convention is under way

RNC Chairman Michael Whatley of North Carolina opened the fourth night of the convention, “Let’s get this show on the road!”

And he offered a common theme for the convention, the fact that the assassination attempt on former President Trump Saturday cast the convention into doubt.

“It is a miracle that we are here tonight,” Whatley said. “It’s proof we are all protected by the mighty hand of God.”

Older, Fox News viewers make up most of RNC watchers

Some 18 million television viewers tuned in to watch coverage of the Republican national convention on Wednesday — an audience dominated by older and Fox News viewers.

That was an increase from Tuesday night, which had 14.8 million viewers, according to the Nielsen company. Opening night on Monday reached 18.1 million — with former President Trump’s acceptance speech tonight expected to draw the largest audience.

After a very slow start this year that had alarmed struggling media companies, interest in the presidential campaign has perked up, starting with the 51 million people who watched last month’s debate between Trump and President Joe Biden. That event, and questions about whether Biden would continue in the race, dominated coverage for weeks until Saturday’s assassination attempt on Trump.

For each of the first three nights, more than three-quarters of the convention television audience was age 55 and up, Nielsen said.

Between 10 and 11:30 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, as vice presidential candidate JD Vance made his acceptance speech, an estimated 6.89 million people watched on Fox News Channel, which appeals to conservative viewers. NBC had 2.7 million viewers in that time slot, ABC had 1.94 million, CBS had 1.58 million, CNN had 1.22 million and MSNBC had 1.03 million.

Sen. Coons critical of public statements, press leaks about Biden’s presidential fitness

Sen. Chris Coons, Biden’s closest friend in Congress and his campaign co-chair, spoke critically to the AP of the public airing of the deliberations surrounding Biden’s possible exit from the race.

“President Biden deserves the respect to have important family conversations with members of the caucus and colleagues in the House and Senate and Democratic leadership and not be battling leaks and press statements.”

Coons, speaking at the Aspen Security Forum, said he had no updates on Biden’s plans. “I don’t have any information.”

Louisiana governor posits that the Ten Commandments could have stopped would-be Trump assassin

In an interview on Thursday, Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry suggested that if the Ten Commandments had been on display in the classroom or school of Thomas Matthew Crooks then the 20-year-old may not have tried to assassinate former President Trump.

“I would submit that maybe if the Ten Commandments were hanging on (Crooks’) wall in the school that he was in, then maybe he wouldn’t have taken a shot at the president. How about that?,” Landry said in a video interview with Nexstar Media at the Republican National Convention.

Landry stumbled over the shooter’s name in the interview, however, a spokesperson with his office later confirmed to The Associated Press that the governor was indeed referring to Crooks.

In Louisiana, Landry recently signed into law a requirement that there be a poster-size display of the Ten Commandments in public school classrooms by Jan. 1. Civil liberties groups have since filed a lawsuit and asked a federal court to block implementation of the mandate.

No charges for protestor involved in altercation with Rep. Derrick Van Orden

Prosecutors in Milwaukee say they won’t file charges against a protester who got into an altercation with Rep. Derrick Van Orden outside the Republican National Convention.

Van Orden, who represents western Wisconsin in Congress, posted on Tuesday that a demonstrator from the feminist anti-war group CODEPINK assaulted him while he was waiting in line to get into a GOP luncheon at a hotel. CODEPINK supporters posted a video on X claiming that Van Orden shoved the female demonstrator as the group was trying to get into the luncheon.

The Milwaukee Police Department said in a statement that the demonstrator, a 24-year-old woman, was arrested. The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office said in an email to The Associated Press on Thursday that she will not be charged. The office didn’t elaborate, saying it could share no further information.

The final night of the RNC is going to be ‘Rock-in’

Musician Kid Rock posted Thursday on the social platform X that he had just arrived in Milwaukee “to support our tried and true, red white and blue, 100% American bad—- president.”

Journalists inside the Fiserv Forum where the convention has been taking place posted video of the rocker practicing from the stage where house band Sixwire has been playing between speeches all week.

The Detroit musician has become an ally for Trump over the years. He’s been at the White House to support the Republican several times, including a 2017 visit with musician Ted Nugent and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Arizona congressman: Biden ‘needs to prove’ he’s up for the presidential campaign

Democratic U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego, who is running for Senate in the swing state of Arizona, stopped short Thursday of calling on Biden to step aside but did not defend him either.

“I’ve been very clear with him and with Arizonans that he needs to prove to me and to Arizonans that he is up for the campaign,” Gallego told reporters at a campaign stop in Phoenix. “We deserve to see that and we’ll have to go from there.”

Gallego declined to say whether he would support Harris replacing Biden as the Democratic nominee, saying he’s not going to “deal in hypotheticals.”

US Rep. Adam Smith reiterates his belief that Biden should step down

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., on Thursday reiterated that President Joe Biden should step down.

Appearing virtually at a press event during the RNC, Smith said that he has had frequent conversations with former Speaker Nancy Pelosi about Biden stepping aside, but wouldn’t disclose what she had said in response.

Asked about reports that Pelosi is working behind the scenes to convince Biden to step down, Smith said that no other Democrat has their thumb on the pulse of the party than her.

“We respect Nancy right up to the fact that she stepped aside,” he said. “She still was very capable but she passed the torch to the next generation.”Smith added, “So I think she’s a good person to listen to about where we’re at right now as a party.”

House Speaker repeats call for Biden to fire Secret Service director

House Speaker Mike Johnson reiterated his criticism Thursday of the U.S. Secret Service following the assassination attempt on former President Donald Trump over the weekend.

Johnson and many Republicans have called for the Secret Service director to resign and the Republican lawmaker took it further Thursday by calling the White House to demand that President Joe Biden fire her himself. He made similar remarks in an interview with Fox Business earlier in the day.

“We have a lot more questions than answers,” Johnson said at a Politico event at the RNC. He added that he received an “alarming” classified briefing about what went wrong Saturday and is scheduling a similar briefing for the full House next week.

VP says Republicans’ attempts to portray themselves as the party of ‘unity’ ring hollow

Vice President Kamala Harris says Republican vice-presidential candidate JD Vance told a “compelling” but incomplete story Wednesday night at the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee.

The vice president said Vance skipped over what’s known as Project 2025, a sweeping road map for a new Republican administration that was drafted by the conservative Heritage Foundation. It includes plans for dismantling aspects of the federal government and ousting thousands of civil servants. Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, has sought to distance himself from the plan.

But Harris, campaigning Thursday in Fayetteville, North Carolina, said, “You cannot claim you stand for unity if you are pushing an agenda that deprives whole groups of Americans of basic freedoms, opportunity and dignity.”

Trump campaign adviser: Heritage Foundation staff ‘do not speak for him’

Trump campaign senior adviser Chris LaCivita is calling the Heritage Foundation, the creator of Project 2025, “a pain in the a—.”

“The president’s made it clear these people do not speak for him,” he said at an event hosted by Politico and CNN on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention. “They do not speak for the campaign.”

Trump’s campaign has repeatedly tried to distance itself from the group’s controversial proposals, which have been the subject of numerous news stories and a top focus of the Biden campaign.

While the policy plan was written by many former Trump administration officials who are widely expected to return if he wins a second term, LaCivita said just because people used to work for Trump, doesn’t mean they will again.

“That’s pure speculation on your part,” he told the moderator. “That’s what the left wants but I’m not going to give into it.”

Former Trump official says Democrats already made Biden their choice for 2024

Former Trump administration official Ric Grenell says that Biden is Democrats’ choice for 2024 and that talk of dumping him is nothing new.

Grenell said during a briefing put on by CPAC on Thursday in Milwaukee that Democrats “went through a process of anointing” Biden and shouldn’t be supplanted because party elites might want to oust him.

Grenell, who served as Trump’s ambassador to Germany and acting director of national intelligence, said that such political volatility “is what happens in other countries, not in America.”

CPAC chair slams Dems for insider conversations about possibly ousting Biden as nominee

The head of the Conservative Political Action Conference says that Democrats are being disingenuous when they critique Trump for being an alleged threat to democracy while engaging in insider conversations about possibly ousting their own nominee.

CPAC Chairman Matt Schlapp said during a media briefing Thursday on the sidelines of the RNC, “You can’t both uphold democracy and then decide who the next nominee is in some smoke-filled room,” referencing a roiling conversation among Democrats about possibly replacing Biden at the top of their ticket.

Biden’s doctor: President is still experiencing mild symptoms from COVID-19 but vitals are normal

Biden still experiencing mild upper respiratory symptoms from COVID-19, the president’s doctor says.

Dr. Kevin O’Connor said in a statement Thursday that Biden does not have a fever and his vital signs remain normal. He’s being treated with the drug Paxlovid.

The White House announced Wednesday that Biden had tested positive for COVID-19 while traveling in Las Vegas. The president canceled an appearance in Nevada and kept prearranged plans to travel to his home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. He’s isolating there.

Ambassadors try to ease concerns over possible second Trump presidency

The British, German, Canadian and Swedish ambassadors to the U.S. sought to ease global concern Thursday about a second potential Trump presidency and what that would mean for the ongoing flow of American aid to Ukraine and the country’s standing in NATO.

The ambassadors spoke on a panel near the RNC in Milwaukee where they laid out the destructive consequences of any future American president turning their back on their European allies while avoiding any direct criticism of Trump and his new VP nominee U.S. Sen. JD Vance, who has been vocal about limiting foreign aid.

“I mean people say things when they’re in opposition, but when they’re actually in power, they have to weigh the responsibility of that,” British ambassador to the U.S. Karen Pierce said at a Politico event.

Delegate: ‘I hope he’s able to convince people that he’s got our best interests at heart’

Robert Millican said he had been an unaffiliated voter until the fall of 2023 and Donald Trump was not his first choice as a presidential candidate. That’s all changed for Millican, an alternate delegate from North Carolina, who believes Trump has more of his interests at heart than President Joe Biden.

He also thinks Trump wants to unify the country with his speech Thursday night at the Republican National Convention.

“Will he be able to? Will people be willing to listen? That’s the biggest question,” Millican said Thursday at the convention. “Everyone here, myself included now, believes in him. You don’t need to tell us. But is someone who hasn’t been behind him willing to listen?”

“We all know he can be abrasive at times,” Millican added. “Will he be able to convey it? I know that’s where his heart is, but what comes out of his mouth sometimes doesn’t sound okay with some people. We’re so divided. We need to come together and be able to listen — both sides. I hope he’s able to convince people that he’s got our best interests at heart.”

Retired pro wrestler Hulk Hogan to speak at RNC, AP source says

Retired wrestling star Hulk Hogan is slated to speak Thursday night at the Republican National Convention ahead of President Donald Trump’s historic remarks accepting his party’s nomination for president after facing an assassination attempt.

He is just one of several members of the wrestling world expected to speak on the convention’s final day, including Ultimate Fighting Championship CEO Dana White, according to a person familiar with the schedule who spoke on the condition of anonymity before the schedule’s official release.

Earlier this week, Florida Rep. Byron Donalds compared Trump’s return to the RNC stage after the assassination attempt to “Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania.”

Hogan, whose legal name is Terry Gene Bollea, and Trump are both members of the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame with the former president being inducted in 2013.

The 1980s wrestling icon has occasionally tossed around political aspirations after he retired from wrestling in 2012, including telling Fox News last month that he’d consider entering politics.

“So, if you need a president or vice president, I’ll volunteer and take this country over, and I’ll rule with an iron fist, a flat tax — nothing but common sense,” he said.

Hogan has won six WWE championships and starred in movies and TV shows including “No Holds Barred,” “Suburban Commando” and “Hogan Knows Best” after amassing a fan base dubbed the “Hulkamaniacs.”

Trump campai

gn official: Secret Service director should resign

One of Trump’s top campaign officials says the Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle should resign.

Chris LaCivita, one of two officials serving effectively as Trump’s campaign manager, was asked in an interview hosted by Politico and CNN on Thursday whether Cheatle should resign, and he said, “Yeah.”

He added: “100%.”

LaCivita wouldn’t answer questions about Trump’s injury or his conversation with the former president after the shooting.

Obama, Pelosi and others push for Biden to reconsider 2024 race

Former president Barack Obama has privately expressed concerns to Democrats about Biden’s candidacy.

And Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi has privately warned Biden that Democrats could lose the ability to seize control in the House if he didn’t step away from the race.

This is according to several people familiar with the private conversations who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive internal matters.

Biden has insisted he is not backing down. Pressed about reports that Biden might be softening to the idea of leaving the race, Biden’s deputy campaign manager Quentin Fulks said Thursday: “He is not wavering on anything.”

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Associated Press writers Zeke Miller, Lisa Mascaro, Mike Balsamo and Aamer Madhani contributed to this report.

US Sen. Coons: ‘I don’t have anything to tell’ about Biden staying in the race

Sen. Chris Coons, the closest friend of President Joe Biden in Congress and the co-chair of his reelection campaign is confronting questions from reporters Thursday about Biden’s political future at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado, where the Delaware Democrat is one of many U.S. officials speaking.

Coons’ had been a staunch supporter of Biden in recent days. Thursday, asked about Biden staying in the race, Coons told the AP, “I don’t have anything to tell. I don’t know,” shaking his head.

Court commissioner orders competency exam for man accused of carrying concealed firearm near RNC

A court commissioner in Milwaukee has ordered a competency examination for a 21-year-old man accused of carrying a concealed firearm near the Republican National Convention.

Prosecutors charged Donnell Tinsley on Tuesday with a misdemeanor count of carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. According to a criminal complaint, federal agents stopped Tinsley on Monday as he was walking near the convention’s security zone after noticing he was wearing black pants and a ski mask and was carrying what the complaint described as a “large black tactical backpack.”

The agents searched him and found an AK-47-style pistol that can fire rifle rounds in the backpack. Online court records indicate that Tinsley’s attorney, public defender Elizabeth Ellsworth-Kasch, raised questions about whether Tinsley was competent to proceed during a court hearing Wednesday.

Court Commissioner Jeralyn Wendelberger ordered Tinsley to undergo a competency exam with a report due by Aug. 6. Tinsley remains in custody.

Ellsworth-Kasch didn’t immediately respond to a voicemail or an email seeking comment on the case on Thursday morning.

Trump’s speech will be a ‘message about uniting the country,’ Florida delegate says

Emotions and excitement at the convention have been building each day and will culminate Thursday night when Trump is expected to accept the Republican nomination for president, according to Blake Bell, a 40-year-old delegate from Florida and self-described “big Trump guy.”

“Being on the floor Monday when Trump came in, everyone had chills because it was the first appearance he made since the attempted assassination,” Bell said Thursday morning. “And tonight will be a historic speech. I know there won’t be a dry eye in the crowd.”

Bell said he thinks the tone of Trump’s speech will be different, adding that it “will be much more of a message about uniting the country.”

“I think there were a lot of people, even before Saturday, who were afraid to come out and say ‘I’m a Donald Trump supporter,’” Bell said. “I think it has been a stigma that the media has tried to put on people to make them feel embarrassed or ashamed that they support Donald Trump. I think on Saturday, after the assassination attempt, people woke up and they said, ‘We’re not ashamed anymore to say that Donald Trump is what’s best for this country.’”

Trump has written his own speech for Thursday’s address at RNC, AP source says

Trump has written his own speech for Thursday night’s address and it is expected to be more personal than his usual comments, according to two sources familiar with the planned remarks who were not authorized to speak publicly.

Trump’s speech on the last night of the Republican National Convention is also expected to lay out a stark contrast with the Democrats’ policies, which Republicans plan to make clear they are as much Harris’ as Biden’s.

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Associated Press writer Michelle L. Price contributed to this report.

Biden isn’t ‘wavering’ when it comes to his reelection, deputy campaign manager says

President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign insists it’s “not working through any scenarios” where he “is not the top of the ticket,” despite intensifying calls from congressional Democrats for him to abandon the race ahead of November’s election.

“He is, and will be, the Democratic nominee,” Quentin Fulks, principal deputy manager of Biden’s reelection campaign, told a Thursday news conference in Milwaukee, where the Republican National Convention is being held.

Asked about reports that Biden might be softening to the idea of bowing out amid mounting pressure from his own party, Fulks said, “He is not wavering on anything.”

“The president has made his decision. I do not want to be rude, but I don’t know how many more times I can answer that,” Fulks told reporters. “There are no plans being made to replace Biden on the ballot.”

Biden campaign: ‘The president is feeling fine’

President Joe Biden is feeling fine and working while isolating in Delaware as he recovers from COVID-19, his campaign says.

“The president is feeling fine,” Quentin Fulks, principal deputy manager of Biden’s reelection campaign, told a news conference on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee.

Fulks added that Biden is “continuing to make calls and do work. He has official meetings today, a lot of campaign calls that he’s getting through, and I think some Zoom calls that he’s hoping on potentially.”

Biden was campaigning in Las Vegas when he tested positive for the virus on Wednesday and flew to Delaware where he is self-isolating at his home in Rehoboth Beach.

Pulp fiction? Vance unexpectedly references Tarantino film to illustrate his faith

Vice presidential nominee JD Vance chose an unlikely reference to illustrate his spirituality to an audience of influential Christian conservatives Thursday morning.

“I want to leave you with one more final thought and it comes from one of my favorite theologians, the character Jules in the movie, ‘Pulp Fiction,’” Vance told those gathered for the Faith and Freedom Coalition breakfast at the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee. “Sorry, this will make sense in a second.”

Vance went on to describe a scene where the character, played by Samuel L. Jackson, is fired upon at point-blank range repeatedly but escapes unharmed.

Jackson’s character, a hardened hitman, is moved by what he describes as a miracle, as Vance described, and argues with his partner “whether God had come down from heaven and stopped these mother-eff— bullets — that was the exact phrase,” Vance said.

“What matters is, I felt the touch of God,” Vance recited from the Jackson character’s line.

Turkey’s Erdogan speaks with Trump on call, denounces assassination attempt as ‘attack on democracy’

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke with Donald Trump on Thursday, a conversation in which he denounced the assassination attempt against the presidential candidate as an “attack on democracy.”

During the call, Erdogan praised Trump for his “brave stance following the heinous attack,” according to a statement from the Turkish presidential communications office.

The Turkish leader also said the fact that Trump had pressed ahead with his schedule despite the attack had “strengthened democracy.”

Erdogan added that Trump had “displayed strong leadership through his comforting messages of unity that aimed at reducing polarization and tensions,” according to the statement.

Erdogan expressed hope that the elections in November would be “beneficial” to Americans and to Turkish-US relations.

Erdogan had forged a good rapport with Trump during his presidency while U.S. President Joe Biden has kept a distance from the Turkish strongman leader.

House Speaker Johnson calls on Biden to fire Secret Service director

House Speaker Mike Johnson is ramping up the pressure on U.S. Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle, calling on President Biden to fire her for security failures in the attempted assassination of former President Donald Trump.

Johnson had already called for Cheatle to step down but says it’s clear she has no intention of doing so.

“I think there has to be accountability and it begins at the top. This is ridiculous,” Johnson said Thursday during a Fox Business interview.

Johnson also described a telephone briefing that Cheatle and FBI Director Christopher Wray provided lawmakers on Wednesday, saying “they did not give us satisfactory answers to some very important questions” while also acknowledging that some of the information may need to be discussed in a classified setting.

Vance: ‘Social conservatives have a seat at this table and always will’

Ohio Sen. JD Vance made his first public appearance Thursday since accepting the Republican vice presidential nomination Wednesday, speaking at an evangelical Christian breakfast where he described the winding path to his faith.

He told roughly 1,000 influential social conservatives that he once considered himself an atheist, but marrying and some early influences from the devout grandmother who raised him set him on the course to his Christian faith.

Vance also addressed uneasiness stemming from the Trump campaign’s effort to streamline the Republican Party platform, which, until this month, had for 40 years called for a national abortion ban.

“There has been a lot of grumbling in the past few weeks that the Republican Party of now and the Republican Party of the future is not going to be a place that’s welcoming to social conservatives,” Vance told attendees. “And, really, from the bottom of my heart, that is not true. Social conservatives have a seat at this table, and always will so long as I have any influence in this party, and President Trump, I know.”

The breakfast was hosted by the Faith and Freedom Coalition at the Pfister Hotel, a late Victorian downtown monument.

Democrats make a fresh push for Biden to reconsider running in runup to their own party convention

WASHINGTON — Democrats worried about President Joe Biden’s ability to win this November are making a renewed push for him to reconsider his reelection bid, using mountains of data, frank conversations and now, his own time off the campaign trail after testing positive for COVID, to encourage a reassessment.

Biden has insisted he is not backing down, adamant that he is the candidate who beat Republican Donald Trump before and will do it again this year. But publicly and privately, key Democrats are sending signals of concern and some hope he will assess the trajectory of the race and his legacy during this few days’ pause.

Read more about the push for Biden to reconsider his reelection bid

Biden dismisses idea that it’s too late for him to recover politically

President Joe Biden is dismissing the idea that it’s too late for him to recover politically, even as he faces increasing pressure to bow out of the race.

In a radio interview with Univision’s Luis Sandoval that airs Thursday, Biden says it’s still early and that many people don’t focus on the election until September.

“All the talk about who’s leading and where and how, is kind of, you know — everything so far between Trump and me has been basically even,” Biden said in an excerpt of the interview.

Some national polls do show a close race, though others suggest Trump with a lead. And some state polls have contained warning signs too, including a recent New York Times/Siena poll that suggested a competitive race in Virginia.

Convention brings an around-the-clock boat patrol to the Milwaukee River

Instead of the usual kayakers and tour boats, the Milwaukee River this week is full of around-the-clock patrol boats, some with heavily armed officers.

The 24-hour patrols will continue until the Republican National Convention wraps up Thursday night.

Associated Press journalists observed the effort aboard a 29-foot (9-meter) U.S. Coast Guard boat as it traveled near the secure zone of the convention site via Lake Michigan and the river that empties into it. Within an hour, the Coast Guard boat had passed vessels from Milwaukee police, state conservation wardens and a heavily armed specialty Coast Guard tactical force in camouflage gear.

The patrols are part of a massive security plan that Milwaukee police, the U.S. Secret Service and others have been detailing for more than a year.

“There is no higher level of security that can be invested in events such as this,” Milwaukee Police Chief Jeffrey Norman told the AP on Wednesday.

What would make Joe Biden drop out of the presidential race? Here are the four reasons he’s cited

President Joe Biden has made it clear basically any which way you ask him: he’s definitely, assuredly, “one thousand percent” staying in the presidential race.

But in response to questions from journalists over the last few weeks, the embattled Democratic president has given some clues as to what could make him step aside — especially as the calls from his own party to end his candidacy continue unabated.

Here are the things Biden has cited — some serious, others not — that would make him reconsider his run:

Divine intervention: “I mean, if the Lord Almighty comes out and tells me that, I might do that,” Biden said in an interview with ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos.

Cold, hard data: No politician ever wants to lose — and it seems Biden would be willing to exit if he had numerical proof that that’s what would happen.

A fateful accident: “Unless I get hit by a train” was Biden’s response to an interviewer’s question last week about staying in the race.

A not-yet-diagnosed medical ailment: “If I had some medical condition that emerged,” Biden told BET journalist Ed Gordon. “If doctors came to me and said, ‘You got this problem, that problem.’”

▶ Read more about what Biden has said about dropping out of the race

Trump says he’s rewritten his remarks for his RNC speech tonight

Republicans throughout the week in Milwaukee have suggested the combative former president take a gentler tone in light of the shooting and have suggested the crisis provides a chance to de-escalate the divisive political rhetoric that has marked the 2024 campaign.

Donald Trump told the Washington Examiner that he had rewritten his acceptance speech in the wake of the Saturday shooting, emphasizing a call for national unity.

“The speech I was going to give on Thursday was going to be a humdinger,” he said. “Had this not happened, this would’ve been one of the most incredible speeches,” aimed mostly at the policies of President Joe Biden.

“Honestly, it’s going to be a whole different speech now,” he said.

Any such dialing down by Trump will come before a delegation, many of whom have been moved by Trump’s own defiant words in the grasp of U.S. Secret Service agents Saturday, and have sparked their echo in the form of chants of “fight, fight, fight.”

“I do believe that after going through that his message will be better, and I do think he will appeal to our better emotions,” Pennsylvania Republican Party Chairman Lawrence Tabas said. “He has an enormous compassion and empathy that doesn’t always come through.”

▶ Read more about what to watch on day 4 of the RNC

Hundreds attend vigil for man killed at Trump rally in Pennsylvania before visitation Thursday

Hundreds of people who gathered to remember the former fire chief fatally shot at a weekend rally for former President Donald Trump were urged to find “unity” as the area in rural Pennsylvania sought to recover from the assassination attempt.

Wednesday’s public event was the first of two organized to memorialize and celebrate Corey Comperatore’s life. The second, a visitation for friends, was planned for Thursday at Laube Hall in Freeport.

Outside Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, where the vigil was held for Comperatore, a sign read: “Rest in Peace Corey, Thank You For Your Service,” with the logo of his fire company.

On the rural road to the auto racing track — lined with cornfields, churches and industrial plants — a sign outside a local credit union read: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Comperatore family.”

▶ Read more about the vigil for Corey Comperatore

‘One screen, two movies’: Conflicting conspiracy theories emerge from Trump shooting

A former president is shot, the gunman quickly neutralized, and all of it is caught on camera. But for those who don’t believe their eyes, that’s just the start of the story.

For some supporters of former President Donald Trump, the failure of the Secret Service to prevent the attempted assassination points to a conspiracy orchestrated by President Joe Biden. For some of Trump’s critics, however, the details of the shooting don’t add up. They wonder if Trump somehow staged the whole thing.

Two dueling conspiracy theories are taking root online following Trump’s attempted assassination, one for each end of America’s polarized political spectrum. In this split-screen republic, Americans are increasingly choosing their own reality, at the expense of a shared understanding of the facts.

“One screen, two movies,” is how Ron Bassilian describes the online reaction to Saturday’s shooting. Bassilian is a prolific user of social media and has used X to broadcast his conjecture about the shooting. “People have their beliefs, and they’re going to come up with theories that fit their beliefs.”

▶ Read more about the conspiracy theories surrounding the Trump shooting

Families of service members killed during Afghanistan withdrawal criticize Biden at GOP convention

Relatives of some of the 13 American service members killed during the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan appeared on stage at the Republican National Convention Wednesday in an emotional moment that revived one of the low points of President Joe Biden’s presidency.

Many of the Gold Star families have criticized Biden for never publicly naming their loved ones. On stage Wednesday, one of the family members named each of the 13 service members, and the crowd echoed back each name as it was read aloud.

“Joe Biden has refused to recognize their sacrifice,” Christy Shamblin, the mother-in-law of Marine Sgt. Nicole Gee, told the crowd. “Donald Trump knew all of our children’s names. He knew all of their stories.”

The crowd chanted “Never forget!” and “U.S.A.!” as Trump and the entire convention hall stood.

▶ Read more about the Gold Star families featured at the RNC

JD Vance mad

e a direct appeal to his native Rust Belt in his VP nomination speech

JD Vance introduced himself to a national audience Wednesday after being chosen as Donald Trump’s running mate, sharing the story of his hardscrabble upbringing and making the case that his party best understands the challenges facing struggling Americans.

Speaking to a packed arena at the Republican National Convention, the Ohio senator cast himself as a fighter for a forgotten working class, making a direct appeal to the Rust Belt voters who helped drive Trump’s surprise 2016 victory and voicing their anger and frustration.

The 39-year-old Ohio senator is a relative political unknown, having served in the Senate for less than two years. He rapidly morphed in recent years from a bitter critic of the former president to an aggressive defender and is now positioned to become the future leader of the party and the torch-bearer of Trump’s “Make America Great Again” political movement.

The first millennial to join the top of a major party ticket, Vance enters the race as questions about the age of the men at the top — 78-year-old Trump and 81-year-old President Joe Biden — have been high on the list of voters’ concerns. He also joins Trump after an assassination attempt against the former president — in which Trump came perhaps millimeters from death or serious injury — underscoring the importance of a potential successor.

▶ Read more about Vance’s RNC speech

It was (sort of) JD Vance’s night … but it’s still Trump’s convention

The third nights of conventions are traditionally about the running mate and how they round out a presidential ticket. Certainly, Vance has become a presence at the convention — mentions from the podium, his name now on signs together with Trump, appearances with the former president on the first two nights of the convention.

But Trump is a dominant figure — even when measured against other U.S. presidents and world leaders. Pick any speaker Wednesday and their most passionate pitches were not about “Donald Trump and JD Vance.” They were about Trump.

“This is a man I know and the president we need for four more years,” said Kellyanne Conway, a former Trump adviser. “He will always stand up for you.”

Trump’s former White House physician, Rep. Ronny Jackson of Texas, called Trump “the greatest president this country has ever had” and “a president who even took a bullet for our country.”

It’s Trump’s party and his alone. No running mate can change that, especially not a freshman senator who has yet to celebrate his 40th birthday.

▶ Read the AP’s takeaways from night 3 of the RNC.

Day 3 of the convention has ended

The convention is gaveling out after a benediction from Rev. Packy Thompson of Houma, Lousiana.

Thompson thanked God for Trump. “I also thank you for protecting him from the evil that was perpetrated last Saturday,” he said.

And the gathering is adjourned until Thursday.

Biden campaign issues a blistering statement immediately following Vance’s speech

“Tonight, J.D. Vance, the poster boy for Project 2025, took center stage. But it’s working families and the middle class who will suffer if he’s allowed to stay there,” Michael Tyler, Biden campaign communication director, said.

“Backed by Silicon Valley and the billionaires who bought his vice presidential selection, Vance is Project 2025 in human form – an agenda that puts extremism and the ultra wealthy over our democracy.”

Vance ends VP nomination speech: ‘I will give you everything I have’

Vance made a pledge to voters: “I pledge to every American, no matter your party, I will give you everything I have.”

He added, “To serve you and to make this country a place where every dream you have for yourself, your family and your country will be possible once again.”

After the speech, Vance’s extended family flooded the stage to an unusual song for a Republican convention – Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow.”

The song became a political staple in 1992 when a very different young politician from a humble background ran for national office. That was Bill Clinton, who is, of course, a Democrat.

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Biden is isolated at home as Obama, Pelosi and other Democrats push for him to reconsider 2024 race

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats at the highest levels are making a critical push for President Joe Biden to rethink his election bid, with former President Barack Obama expressing concerns to allies and Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi privately telling Biden the party could lose the ability to seize control of the House if he doesn’t step away from the 2024 race.

Biden’s orbit, already small before his debate fumbling, has grown even smaller in recent days. Isolated as he battles a COVID infection at home in Delaware, the president is relying on a few longtime aides as he weighs whether to bow to the mounting pressure to drop out.

The Biden For President campaign is calling an all-staff meeting for Friday. It’s heading into a critical weekend for the party as Republican Donald Trump wraps up a heady Republican National Convention in Milwaukee and Democrats, racing time, consider the extraordinary possibility of Biden stepping aside for a new presidential nominee before their own convention next month in Chicago.

As anxiety and information swirled, Biden’s closest friend in Congress and his campaign co-chair, Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, told The Associated Press, “President Biden deserves the respect to have important family conversations with members of the caucus and colleagues in the House and Senate and Democratic leadership and not be battling leaks and press statements.”

Late Thursday, Montana Sen. Jon Tester became the second Democrat in the chamber Biden served in for four decades to call on him to step aside, saying in a statement, “I believe President Biden should not seek reelection to another term.”

Some Cabinet members are resigned to the likelihood of Biden losing in November. They have concerns about the insularity of his team and are focusing on having policies finalized and in place ahead of the end of his term, according to a person familiar with their thinking. The person insisted on anonymity to discuss private conversations.

Campaign officials said Biden was even more committed to staying in the race even as the calls for him to go mounted. And senior West Wing aides have had no internal discussions or conversations with the president about Biden dropping out, according to an official.

But there was also time to reconsider. He has been told the campaign is having trouble raising money, and some Democrats see an opportunity as he is away from the campaign for a few days to encourage his exit.

Biden, 81, tested positive for COVID-19 while traveling in Las Vegas and is experiencing “mild symptoms” including “general malaise” from the infection, the White House said.

The president himself, in a radio interview taped just before he tested positive, dismissed the idea it was too late for him to recover politically, telling Univision’s Luis Sandoval that many people don’t focus on the November election until September.

“All the talk about who’s leading and where and how, is kind of, you know — everything so far between Trump and me has been basically even,” he said in an excerpt of the interview released Thursday.

But in Congress, Democratic lawmakers have begun having private conversations about lining up behind Vice President Kamala Harris as an alternative. One lawmaker said Biden’s own advisers are unable to reach a unanimous recommendation about what he should do. More in Congress are considering joining the nearly two dozen who have called for Biden to drop out.

“It’s clear the issue won’t go away,” said Vermont Sen. Peter Welch, the other Senate Democrat who has publicly said Biden should exit the race. Welch said the current state of party angst – with lawmakers panicking and donors revolting – was “not sustainable.”

Obama has conveyed to allies that Biden needs to consider the viability of his campaign but has also made clear that the decision is one Biden needs to make. The former president has taken calls in recent days from members of congressional leadership, Democratic governors and key donors to discuss their concerns about his former vice president.

Pelosi also presented polling to Biden that she argued shows he likely can’t defeat Republican Trump — though the former speaker countered Thursday in a sharp statement that the “feeding frenzy” from anonymous sources “misrepresents any conversations” she may have had with the president.

This story is based in part on reporting from more than half a dozen people who insisted on anonymity to discuss sensitive private deliberations. The Washington Post first reported on Obama’s involvement.

Biden said Monday he hadn’t spoken to Obama in a couple of weeks.

Pressed about reports that Biden might be softening to the idea of leaving the race, his deputy campaign manager Quentin Fulks said Thursday, “He is not wavering on anything.”

However, influential Democrats atop the party apparatus, including congressional leadership headed by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, are sending signals of strong concern.

Using mountains of data showing Biden’s standing could seriously damage the ranks of Democrats in Congress, frank conversations in public and private and now the president’s own few days of isolation, many Democrats see an opportunity to encourage a reassessment.

Over the past week, Schumer and Jeffries, both of New York, have spoken privately to the president, candidly laying out the concerns of Democrats on Capitol Hill. Control of the House and Senate is at stake, and leaders are keenly aware that a Republican sweep in November could launch Trump’s agenda for years to come.

Separately, the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Rep. Suzan DelBene of Washington, spoke with the president last week armed with fresh data. The campaign chief specifically aired the concerns of front-line Democrats seeking election to the House.

Major political donors, particularly in Pelosi’s California, have been putting heavy pressure on the president’s campaign and members of Congress, according to one Democratic strategist. Schumer has told donors and others to bring their concerns directly to the White House.

Prominent California Rep. Adam Schiff, a close ally of Pelosi, called for Biden to drop his reelection bid, saying Wednesday he believes it’s time to “pass the torch.” And Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland used a baseball metaphor to suggest in a recent letter to Biden, “There is no shame in taking a well-deserved bow to the overflowing appreciation of the crowd.”

To be sure, many want Biden to stay in the race. And the Democratic National Committee is pushing ahead with plans for a virtual vote to formally make Biden its nominee in the first week of August, ahead of the Democratic National Convention, which begins Aug. 19.

Rep. James Clyburn, a senior Democrat who has been a key Biden ally, wrapped up several days of campaigning for Biden in Nevada and said: “Joe Biden has the knowledge. He’s demonstrated that time and time again.” He warned against those who he said “have an agenda.”

But among Democrats nationwide, nearly two-thirds say Biden should step aside and let his party nominate a different candidate, according to an AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll. That sharply undercuts Biden’s post-debate claim that “average Democrats” are still with him even if some “big names” are turning on him.

The Biden campaign pointed to what it called “extensive support” for his reelection from members of Congress in key swing states, as well as from the Congressional Black and Hispanic caucuses.

Other Democrats in Congress have shown less support, including when Biden’s top aides visited Democratic senators last week in a private lunch. When Sen. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania asked for a show of hands on who was with the president, only his own and a few others including top Biden ally Coons of Delaware went up, according to one of the people granted anonymity to discuss the matter.

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Associated Press writers Joey Cappelletti in Lansing, Mich., and Josh Boak. Ellen Knickmeyer, Steve Peoples, Will Weissert, Mary Clare Jalonick, Seung Min Kim and Stephen Groves contributed to this report.

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Trump, in highly personal speech, will accept GOP nomination again days after assassination attempt

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MILWAUKEE (AP) — Just five days after surviving an assassination attempt, a bandaged Donald Trump is set to address the Republican National Convention on Thursday to accept his party’s presidential nomination in a speech designed to unify his party — and the nation — behind his third consecutive White House bid.

The 78-year-old former president, known for his willingness to criticize his political foes in both parties, has promised to offer a softer and more personal message of unity following his brush with death.

Trump’s speech marked the climax and conclusion of a massive four-day Republican pep rally that drew thousands of conservative activists and elected officials to swing-state Wisconsin as voters weigh an election that currently features two deeply unpopular candidates. But with less than four months to go in the contest, major changes in the race are possible, if not likely.

Trump’s appearance comes as 81-year-old Democratic President Joe Biden clings to his party’s nomination in the face of unrelenting pressure from key congressional allies, donors and even former President Barack Obama, who fear he may be unable to win reelection after his disastrous debate.

Long pressed by allies to campaign more vigorously, Biden is instead in isolation at his beach home in Delaware after having been diagnosed with COVID-19.

While the often bombastic Trump was seeking to project a more gentle tone on Thursday night, the speaking program of the convention’s final day was also designed to project strength in an implicit rebuke of Biden. The program was decidedly more masculine than it has been for much of the week.

The most prominent speakers included wrestling icon Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White, and former Fox News host Tucker Carlson. Kid Rock was also set to perform.

Like many speakers during the convention, Carlson suggested that recent events were divinely inspired and that he wondered “if something bigger is going on.”

“I think it changed him,” Carlson said of the shooting, praising Trump for not lashing out in anger afterward.

“He did his best to bring the country together,” Carlson added. “This is the most responsible, unifying behavior from a leader I’ve ever seen.”

Former first lady Melania Trump and Ivanka Trump, the president’s elder daughter and former senior adviser, were expected to be inside the convention hall for the first time all week, but neither was scheduled to speak.

Attorney Alina Habba, who represented Trump in some of the legal cases against him, also addressed the convention.

Trump was convicted in May of 34 felony counts related to a criminal hush money scheme in New York. But his allies largely avoided his legal baggage this week, which was focused instead on Trump’s near-assassination.

Trump entered the hall about two hours before he was scheduled to speak, wearing a large white bandage on his right ear, as he has all week, to cover a wound he sustained in the Saturday shooting. Some of his supporters were sporting American flag-themed bandages on the convention floor Thursday.

Speakers and delegates, gathered in Wisconsin from every state in the nation, have repeatedly chanted “Fight, fight, fight!” in homage to Trump’s words in the moments after the shooting when he rose and pumped his fist after Secret Service agents killed the gunman.

While Republicans were set to emerge from their convention more united than in recent memory, Democrats are bitterly divided about whether Biden should continue to lead the ticket. Biden, following his disastrous debate performance against Trump last month, has resisted increasing pressure to drop out, with Democrats’ own party convention scheduled for next month in Chicago.

Hours before the balloons were scheduled to rain down on Trump and his family inside the convention hall, Biden deputy campaign manager Quentin Fulks appeared nearby in Milwaukee and insisted over and over that Biden would not step aside.

“I do not want to be rude, but I don’t know how many more times I can answer that,” Fulks told reporters. “There are no plans being made to replace Biden on the ballot.”

Nearly two-thirds of Democrats nationally say Biden should step aside and let his party nominate a different candidate, according to an AP-NORC poll released Wednesday.

The convention has showcased a Republican Party reshaped by Trump since he shocked the GOP establishment and won over the party’s grassroots on his way to the party’s 2016 nomination. Rivals Trump has vanquished — including Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — put aside their past criticisms and gave him their unqualified support.

Even his vice presidential pick, Ohio Sen. JD Vance, Trump’s choice to carry his movement into the next generation, was once a fierce critic who suggested in a private message since made public that Trump could be “America’s Hitler.”

Security was a major focus in Milwaukee in the wake of Trump’s near-assassination. But after nearly four full days, there were no serious incidents inside the convention hall or the large security perimeter that surrounded it.

The Secret Service, backed by hundreds of law enforcement officers from across the nation, had a large and visible presence. And during Trump’s appearances each night, he was surrounded by a wall of protective agents wherever he went.

Meanwhile, Trump and his campaign have not released information about his injury or the treatment he received.

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Associated Press reporters Michelle L. Price in Milwaukee and Emily Swanson in Washington contributed to this report.

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Follow the AP’s coverage of the 2024 election at https://apnews.com/hub/election-2024.

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