Ted Cruz endorses Donald Trump

Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz

WASHINGTON — The Latest on the U.S. presidential election campaign (all times EDT):

3:40 p.m.

Ted Cruz says he’s voting for Donald Trump for president — a shocking about-face after he rocked the Republican convention by dramatically refusing to do so.

The Texas senator says on Facebook that he made the decision for two reasons. First, his promise to support the Republican nominee. And second, his belief that Democrat Hillary Clinton is “wholly unacceptable.”

The flip-flop was a stunner since the Texan was booed lustily during a floor speech at his party’s convention for urging Republicans to “vote your conscious” without naming Trump.

Cruz finished second to Trump in a bitter primary and for months balked in offering support, despite his previous pledge to endorse the eventual Republican nominee.

Polls have since suggested that Cruz’s popularity was slipping nationally and back home in Texas, where he could face a primary challenger for re-election in 2018.

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3:25 p.m.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign is getting a jump on fact-checking Donald Trump’s debate performance.

On a conference call with reporters Friday, Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri laid out what they are calling Trump’s “seven deadly lies.” Palmieri said there should be heightened scrutiny at the first general election debate Monday because “his level of lying is unprecedented in American politics.”

The first item on the list is Trump’s false statement that he opposed the war in Iraq. Palmieri said that letting false statements go unquestioned would give Trump an “unfair advantage.” She said the campaign expects the debate moderator to “call out those lies and to do so in real time.”

Palmieri declined to say who is playing Trump in their debate preparations.

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2:45 p.m.

Hillary Clinton is breaking with President Barack Obama and backing legislation that would allow families of Sept. 11 victims to sue the government of Saudi Arabia for any role in the attack.

The Democratic presidential candidate would sign the bill if she were president. That’s according to a spokesman, Jesse Lehrich.

He said Friday that Clinton continues to support efforts to “hold accountable those responsible” for the attacks.

Obama is expected to veto the bill later Friday. He says it would undermine already-strained diplomatic relations with a critical U.S. ally.

Congressional leaders say they have the voters to override Obama’s veto.

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1 p.m.

In the final sprint to Election Day, Donald Trump faces a daunting series of roadblocks in the minds of Americans as he tries to catch up to Hillary Clinton.

That’s according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll that finds that more than half the country fears a Trump presidency. Only about third of Americans believe he is at least somewhat qualified to serve in the White House.

Moreover, most voters oppose the hard-line approach to immigration that is the centerpiece of the billionaire businessman’s campaign.

While Trump undoubtedly has a passionate base of supporters, most voters don’t share their fervor. Only 29 percent of registered voters would be excited and just 24 percent would be proud should Trump prevail in November.

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12 p.m.

Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine is highlighting some of Donald Trump’s provocative statements about women, the same day Hillary Clinton’s campaign released television ads doing the same.

Speaking at a rally at a union hall in Houston, Kaine said Trump has a troubling history of calling women “fat pigs” and “dogs.”

The Clinton campaign’s new ad shows girls and women looking in the mirror as audio plays of Trump making insulting comments about women.

Kaine also criticized Trump’s campaign for selling buttons on its website that say “Hillary for prison.” Kaine said Trump’s history of name-calling will likely be on display during Monday’s first presidential debate.

Kaine said: “They name-call her because that’s all they got folks.”

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11:50 a.m.

Tim Kaine is warning those considering voting for Libertarian Gary Johnson as a form of protest that their decision could have “deeply troubling” consequences.

The Democratic vice presidential candidate says votes for third-party candidates have been costly. Kaine said if Ralph Nader hadn’t pulled away votes from Al Gore in the 2000 election, then the U.S. “probably wouldn’t have had a war in Iraq.” He spoke in an interview with Katie Couric for Yahoo News posted online Friday.

Kaine said “everybody knows” that Johnson won’t win, but supporting him could help Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Kaine said that “casting a vote, a protest vote for a third-party candidate that’s going to lose may well affect the outcome, and may well lead to a consequence that is deeply, deeply troubling.”

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11:45 a.m.

Bruce Springsteen says Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is a “great embarrassment” for Americans.

The Boss shared his thoughts on the Republican candidate as a guest on Swedish-Norwegian talk show “Skavlan.”

In an excerpt of the program posted online by Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter on Friday, Springsteen said he understands why people who have struggled to make ends meet could find some of Trump’s arguments compelling.

Commenting on Trump’s chances, he said “the absurdity is beyond cartoon-like. But he’s gotten close enough so it can make you nervous. I don’t think he’s going to win, but even him running is a great embarrassment if you’re an American.”

Hosted by Norwegian TV personality Fredrik Skavlan, the talk show is produced jointly for public service broadcasters SVT of Sweden and NRK of Norway.

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11:35 a.m.

Donald Trump has added 10 names to the list of people he says he’ll choose from to fill Supreme Court vacancies.

Among the names on the list to be released Friday: Utah Sen. Mike Lee, who notably has yet to endorse the Republican nominee.

The list adds several minority judges to Trump’s list. Nine of the 10 new names are men. The list was first reported by NBC.

Trump in May unveiled a list of 11 federal and state court judges as potential replacements for the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Trump has wavered in the language he’s used to describe the list. At times, he’s said he would pick directly from it. At others, he’s said the people he would nominate would share similar qualities to those on the list.

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7:30 a.m.

President Barack Obama says it would good for Donald Trump to visit the Smithsonian Institution’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture that is opening this weekend.

Obama was disputing the Republican presidential candidate’s assertion that “African-American communities are absolutely in the worst shape that they have ever been in before.”

In an interview broadcast Friday on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Obama said: “I think even most 8-year-olds would tell you that whole slavery thing wasn’t very good for black people. Jim Crow wasn’t very good for black people.”

When asked what advice he would give Hillary Clinton ahead of Monday’s debate with Trump, Obama said she should be herself and explain what motivates her.

He said: “She’s in this for the right reasons.”

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6:00 a.m.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign is releasing a new television ad that rehashes some of Donald Trump’s most provocative statements about women in the past.

The 30-second ad shows young girls and women looking in the mirror as they hear Trump describe various women as “fat,” a “slob” and one who “ate like a pig.”

It ends with the tag line: “Is this the president we want for our daughters?” It’s the latest attempt by her campaign to use Trump’s words against him and is similar to ads aimed at voters in battleground states, including veterans and people with disabilities.

Clinton’s campaign plans to run the ad in Ohio, New Hampshire, Iowa, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and on national cable.

3:30 a.m.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is seeking to show law-and-order toughness along with empathy for African-Americans as he criticizes violent protests stemming from another fatal police shooting of a black man.

His Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, was behind closed doors as she prepared for their initial debate and did not address on Thursday the escalating racial tensions in Charlotte, North Carolina. The city was under a midnight curfew after two previous nights of chaotic protests that led to one death as well as injuries, arrests and vandalism.

Trump has spent the last several weeks asking black Americans for their support and asserting that President Barack Obama has failed the black community, but those appeals have been undermined at times. On Thursday, the Trump campaign accepted the resignation of an Ohio volunteer, Mahoning County chair Kathy Miller, who told the Guardian newspaper, “I don’t think there was any racism until Obama got elected.”

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