ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Donald Trump's campaign manager Kellyanne Conway defended her candidate on ABC News' Good Morning America Friday morning, saying that he "deserves credit" for his outreach to African-American voters.
The interview also covered Trump's immigration plan, the details of which have been questioned in recent days, after the Republican nominee appeared to soften his stance on the issue in recent days.
ABC/Donna Svennevik(WASHINGTON) -- John McCain's primary challenger has once again declared that the Arizona senator -- who turns 80 on Monday -- is too old to be re-elected.
"John McCain has fallen down on the job," Dr. Kelli Ward, a former state senator, told MSNBC's Chuck Todd during an interview Thursday. "He's gotten weak. He's gotten old."
"I want to give him the best birthday present ever -- the gift of retirement," said 47-year-old Ward.
When asked by Todd to explain her comments, Ward reminded him of her medical background.
"I'm a physician," she said. "I see the physiological changes that happen in normal patients again and again and again over the last 20, 25 years, so I do know what happens to the body and the mind at the end of life."
Todd shot back, "You feel comfortable diagnosing him on air like this?"
Ward responded, "Diagnosing him as an 80-year-old man, yes, I do."
Ward was unapologetic about her comments, even issuing a statement following the interview reiterating her sentiments.
“With his fundraising in free fall and his foreign policy in shambles, John McCain is too weak to win in November against Obamacare Queen Ann Kirkpatrick," read the statement. "After 4 decades in DC, it's time to honor John McCain’s 80th birthday with retirement. It’s time for real life experience outside politics. It’s time to elect a conservative champion for Arizona’s Future."
Meghan McCain took issue with Ward's assessment of her dad, pointing out his physical stamina.
"He hikes the grand canyon every year w/ my brothers. He's in better shape than I am. This attack is really desperate," she wrote.
She continued, "Seriously, stick to the issues and maybe hang out with my incredible 103-year-old grandmother to see how McCain's age."
On Wednesday, according to Politico, McCain said Ward's attempt to discredit him based on his age was a "dive to the bottom."
Michael Davidson for Hillary for America(NEW YORK) -- In an interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine joked about being "America’s stepdad” but also got serious discussing Donald Trump’s immigration stance and the GOP nominee calling Hillary Clinton a “bigot.”
Kaine’s appearance on The Late Show airs Thursday on CBS. It is his first appearance on a late-night talk show as a vice presidential candidate. He previously appeared on The Daily Show in 2010.
When asked by Colbert about Trump’s changing immigration plan, Kaine said: “I don’t buy it.”
Trump made headlines this week when he appeared to be softening his immigration stance in a town hall that aired on Fox News. Today, he told CNN that there would be no path to legalization for undocumented immigrants, but it remains unclear if he plans to deport all of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States if he is elected.
Kaine, a fluent Spanish speaker, gave most of his response on Trump’s immigration stance in Spanish. After giving his response, Colbert asked, “What is the Spanish word for pander?”
Kaine joked the word doesn’t exist in Spanish and said it’s unique to the American political system.
Kaine also defended his running mate against Trump’s remark that she is a “bigot who only sees people of color as votes.” Trump made the remark in Mississippi yesterday.
"When Hillary Clinton got out of law school, she was working to help advance racial justice and the juvenile justice system in South Carolina and fight school segregation in Alabama. And I about that time got out of law school and was battling housing discrimination in the South and in Virginia.
"At his early career, Donald Trump was a real estate guy who got sued by the Justice Department for discriminating against people in housing. ... Hillary Clinton has got a track record all the way back to being a middle-schooler in a Methodist youth group of trying to advance priorities for others and Donald Trump is for himself,” Kaine said.
Colbert mocked Trump’s attacks on Clinton’s health by asking Kaine, "Is she OK? Can she sit up on her own power?”
"I think she could beat me in the New York Marathon if we entered, but we may not do that because there’s a campaign going on,” Kaine said.
While Kaine proved he can be an attack dog defending the Democratic nominee, he also drew some laughs. Kaine told Colbert about getting the call from Clinton to be her running mate and described Clinton as telling him, “You’re about to get kidnapped.”
When asked to describe what being "kidnapped" by the campaign is like, Kaine compared it to "that scene at the end of 'E.T.' where they go back up to a big spaceship.”
“Here’s such a just such a huge operation, a presidential campaign that’s been going for 20 months. It’s just massive,” Kaine added. “The next stretch from here to November, it’s going to be super intense but if you got to be on a presidential campaign, just joining the last 95 days, you get to skip all the really hard work. I mean I look at Hillary Clinton and what she’s had to do for all these months and the length of these days, I mean it is just hard, hard work.”
Since joining the Democratic presidential ticket, Kaine has been at the receiving end of a lot of dad jokes, even spawning Twitter accounts devoted to the way Kaine reminds people of their dads and stepdads.
Colbert got Kaine and the audience laughing by reading some tweets. Colbert asked Kaine if he was "OK with not being cool.”
"I was. I’ve been prepared for that for 26 years because I have three children who have been ripping on me and saying those things about me since they were born,” Kaine said.
ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Donald Trump is offering more details on his ever-evolving immigration plan, telling CNN's Anderson Cooper that there would be no legal status for undocumented immigrants.
"There's no path to legalization unless they leave the country," Trump told Cooper after an event in Manchester, New Hampshire. "When they come back in, then they can start paying taxes, but there is no path to legalization unless they leave the country and then come back."
According to CNN, he also said that he would authorize law enforcement to actively deport "bad dudes" on his first day in office.
With these statements, the scope and nature of Trump's immigration policies become even more murky. Earlier this week, appearing in a town hall hosted by Fox News' Sean Hannity, Trump said that there could be a "softening."
When asked by Hannity if there was "any part of the law" he would change to accommodate law-abiding immigrants who have kids in the U.S., Trump replied: "There certainly can be a softening because we're not looking to hurt people. We want people -- we have some great people in this country."
Trump also suggested that people who have been in the country for several years could remain.
“When I go through and I meet thousands and thousands of people on this subject, I've had very strong people come up to me, really great, great people come up to me. And they've said, 'Mr. Trump, I love you, but to take a person that has been here for 15 or 20 years and throw them and the family out, it's so tough, Mr. Trump,'” he said of the exchanges he’s had on the trail.
"I have it all the time," he added. "It's a very, very hard thing."
Trump polled the crowd assembled for the town hall on their preferred option.
"You have somebody that has been in the country for 20 years," Trump said hypothetically. "He has done a great job. Do we throw them out or do we work with them?"
The crowd applauded for the latter option.
During his unprecedented rise during the primaries, immigration was Trump's hallmark issue. He once called for a deportation force, calling candidates such as Jeb Bush, who advocated for a path to legal status, "weak" on immigration. He is expected to unveil an updated immigration plan in the coming weeks, with sources telling ABC News that specific policies are still being worked out.
ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Hillary Clinton hit back at Donald Trump and his campaign tactics relating to race the day after he called her "a bigot," saying his real message is, "Make America hate again."
"From the start, Donald Trump has built his campaign on prejudice and paranoia," she said at an event in Reno, Nevada, Thursday.
"Everywhere I go, people tell me how concerned they are by the divisive rhetoric coming from my opponent in this election. I understand that concern because it’s like nothing we’ve heard before from a nominee for president of the United States from one of our two major parties," she said in a speech at Truckee Community College.
Clinton even used Trump’s attacks on one of his fellow Republicans against him, citing his decision to suggest that Sen. Ted Cruz’s father was in some way tied to the Kennedy assassination after the National Enquirer printed the claims.
"A man with a long history of racial discrimination, who traffics in dark conspiracy theories drawn from the pages of supermarket tabloids and the far dark reaches of the internet, should never run our government or command our military," she said.
In a new attack line, Clinton said "he’s taking hate groups mainstream and helping a radical fringe take over one of America’s two major political parties."
Clinton went on to accuse Trump of "reinforcing harmful stereotypes and offering a dog whistle to his most hateful supporters."
Clinton talked about "the de facto merger between Breitbart and the Trump campaign" in light of the hiring of Stephen Bannon, the former executive chairman of Breitbart News, as the campaign CEO and said it was "a landmark achievement for the 'alt-right.'"
She read some of the right-wing site's headlines, including "Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy" and "Hoist It High and Proud: The Confederate Flag Proclaims a Glorious Heritage," which was published in the wake of the shooting at a predominantly black church in Charleston last year.
Clinton also acknowledged that her rival has pledged to "soften" his position on immigration and talked about the teleprompters that appear at almost every Trump rally as of late.
"Now, I know some people still want to give Trump the benefit of the doubt. They hope that he will eventually reinvent himself -- that there’s a kinder, gentler, more responsible Donald Trump waiting in the wings somewhere," said Clinton, then said not to "be fooled."
"But the hard truth is, there’s no other Donald Trump. This is it," she said. "We know who Trump is. A few words on a teleprompter won’t change that."
Clinton made a clear effort to reach out to Republicans during the speech, even going so far as to quote former President George W. Bush’s remarks at a lower Manhattan mosque following 9/11 and praising Sen. John McCain’s attitude toward his then-rival Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential race when McCain said Obama was an American citizen and a “decent person.”
“We need that kind of leadership again,” Clinton said of the famous Republican figures.
ABC News(NEW YORK) -- One of the groups that has been emerging as a force during the 2016 presidential election is one that developed largely in the corners of the conservative web.
The "alt-right," which is shorthand for the "alternative right," is composed of many far-right ideologies.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that monitors hate groups, defines the alt-right as "a set of far-right ideologies, groups and individuals whose core belief is that 'white identity' is under attack by multicultural forces using 'political correctness' and 'social justice' to undermine white people and 'their' civilization."
One of the best-known members of the alt-right is Jared Taylor, the editor of American Renaissance, which he has described as a white advocacy organization.
Taylor spoke to ABC News and said that he genuinely is happy about the attention that the alt-right is getting in light of the "dishonest ploy" that the Clinton campaign is using against Donald Trump.
"We weren’t counting on Hillary for being so generous in sharing the spotlight with us," he said, referring to Clinton's speech on the alt-right this afternoon.
American Renaissance's website put up a pop-up window hours before Clinton's speech today that reads, "If you have come to this site because of Hillary Clinton's speech about the 'Alt Right,' welcome. American Renaissance is certainly part of the Alt Right, but the movement is varied and diverse, and we do not fully define it. Let us introduce ourselves."
Taylor identifies as being a member of the alt-right and described it as "a dissident movement" where "the prevailing orthodoxy about race is that it is an insignificant phenomenon."
"It's quite clear to us that the races are not equivalent and interchangeable," he said, arguing that if you were to take a majority white country and "replace it with Syrians and Zulus and Guatemalans and Cambodians, you wouldn’t have the same country."
Taylor went on to say, "I personally cannot think of any reason why we need more Muslims," in talking about immigration in the United States.
He rejects the terms "white supremacist" or "racist," though those are commonly used in describing some alt-right sentiments.
But Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the SPLC, describes the labels as fitting, saying that American Renaissance is "a racist journal."
"They're sort of more presentable white supremacists," Potok said of members of the alt-right, describing them as a "fairly suit-and-tie bunch."
"They're not skinheads.... They don't use ethnic slurs," he added.
Potok told ABC News that the prevailing ideology of the alt-right "has informed the extreme right" and focuses on "that it is not black people or other minorities who are oppressed but in fact white people are."
"They see whites as a beleaguered race whose civilization is being destroyed as we speak," he said.
The intersection between the alt-right and the 2016 race largely centers around Trump's campaign. Taylor told ABC News that he plans to vote for Trump and said he hopes he wins, though he has not had any formal contact with Trump's campaign.
Taylor did voice a robocall praising Trump ahead of the New Hampshire primary, but Taylor noted that was arranged by an outside PAC and not the Trump campaign.
Kellyanne Conway, Trump's recently appointed campaign manager, said today that she is "not that familiar with" the alt-right and denied that it was factoring into the campaign's tactics and platforms.
"We’ve never even discussed it internally. It certainly isn’t part of our strategy meetings, it’s nothing that Mr. Trump says out on stump," Conway told CBS Thursday morning.
The Clinton camp disagrees. Campaign spokesman Brian Fallon told MSNBC that Trump "is essentially handing the keys of his campaign over officially to this fringe right-wing movement, this alt-right movement as it's known, and I think that this just officially represents the taking of a hate movement into the mainstream, and putting it at the center of the Republican Party's nomination for president."
"Through the course of this campaign, we have seen him go from being the original birther questioning the legitimacy of President Obama as our first African-American president to openly courting the support of white nationalists, and now in appointing Steve Bannon from Breitbart to be the head of his campaign," Fallon said.
Trump has repeatedly denied courting the support of white supremacists, telling CBS News earlier this year, "I don't like any group of hate. Hate groups are not for me.”
Milo Yiannopoulos, a conservative figure who made headlines earlier this summer when he was banned from Twitter after the trolling attacks on actress Leslie Jones, is widely considered to be one of the best-known figures who identifies with the alt-right movement.
Yiannopoulos is a technology reporter for Breitbart News and has written for the site about the misconceptions of the alt-right.
"There are many things that separate the alternative right from old-school racist skinheads (to whom they are often idiotically compared), but one thing stands out above all else: intelligence. Skinheads, by and large, are low-information, low-IQ thugs driven by the thrill of violence and tribal hatred. The alternative right are a much smarter group of people -- which perhaps suggests why the Left hates them so much. They’re dangerously bright," Yiannopoulos and fellow Breitbart writer Allum Bokhari wrote in a March column.
Taylor admitted that it's "absolutely impossible to say" how large the movement is, but said "it is growing very rapidly, no question about that."
"I would say that there are millions of Americans who subscribe to the alt-right philosophies. But the vast majority of them can't afford to be public," Taylor said. "Despite all of this nonsense that we are a tolerant society, there are certain views on which it [American society] is absolutely intolerant of diversity."
ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd said that while the alt-right is gaining an audience in this presidential race, some of the ideas and sentiments its supporters stand behind have been part of American politics for quite some time.
"This isn't new in our history," he said. "Some of them were [Ross] Perot voters in 1992 who were mad about trade deals and frustrated at D.C. And ironically it is George Wallace's birthday today, who also appealed to this group."
He added: "This is a group of voters has risen as a powerful voting bloc in the GOP. So in years past, this group of working class voters were with Democrats, and now they are with Trump and the GOP."
ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Ahead of a Hillary Clinton speech which will attempt to link Donald Trump’s campaign to the "alt-right" -- the radical faction of the conservative movement -- the Republican nominee countered the suggestion that his supporters are bigoted today in New Hampshire.
"The news reports are that Hillary Clinton is going to try and accuse this campaign, and all of you, and the millions of decent Americans ... who support this campaign, your campaign, of being racists," Trump said at a campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, "which we’re not."
Trump dismissed Clinton’s accusation as a "tired, disgusting argument."
"When Democratic policies fail, they are left with only this one tired argument: ‘You're racist. You're racist. You're racist,’" Trump said. "They keep saying it: ‘You're racist.’ It's a tired, disgusting argument and it's so totally predictable."
"To Hillary Clinton and her donors and advisers pushing her to spread smears and her lies about decent people, I have three words: Shame on you," he said.
Trump told the crowd gathered at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester that he doesn’t want to "dignify" Clinton’s remarks by "dwelling on them too much," but that his response was "required for the sake of all decent voters she is trying to smear."
In Clinton’s speech today in Reno, Nevada, she attacked Trump’s campaign as an "alt-right" movement built on fear and discrimination.
"From the start, Donald Trump has built his campaign on prejudice and paranoia," Clinton said. "He’s taking hate groups mainstream and helping a radical fringe take over one of America’s two major political parties."
Trump further suggested that demonstrations of appreciation for police officers have been misconstrued as displays of apathy towards minorities.
"People who support the police and want crime reduced and stopped are not prejudiced," said Trump. "They're concerned and loving citizens and parents whose heart breaks every time an innocent child is lost to totally preventable violence."
He again defended his immigration policy that includes building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and barring the entry of Muslim immigrants and refugees into the U.S., saying he will "100 percent" build the wall.
"First, on the border, the people of this country who want their laws enforced and respected, respected by all, and want their borders secured are not racists," Trump said, adding, "It makes you smart. It makes you an American. They're all patriotic Americans."
Trump’s comments sparked a "build that wall" chant from the crowd.
"On national security -- people who speak out against radical Islam and who warn about refugees are not Islamophobes," Trump said. "They are decent citizens who want to uphold our value as a tolerant society and who want to keep the terrorists the hell out of our country."
Trump pledged to "promote the values of tolerance, justice and acceptance."
"We will steadfastly reject bigotry and hatred and oppression in all of its ugly forms," Trump said.
ABC News(NEW YORK) -- It was still a fresh pitch for Donald Trump. He was addressing a crowd in Dimondale, Michigan, seemingly making an overt appeal to African-American voters.
“You're living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58 percent of your youth is unemployed,” he said. “What the hell do you have to lose?”
There was only one catch: Dimondale, according to the latest available census data, is a town of 1,234 people. Of those, just nine people are black.
In that respect, that rally was like so many others: Almost all are largely filled with white voters.
But Trump appears to be trying to change that.
He was scheduled to meet this morning with members of the Republican Leadership Initiative (RLI), a program started by the Republican National Committee to engage a diverse group of voters.
Ashley Bell, senior strategist and national director for black engagement for the RNC, says outreach began long before 2016, touting the directors the RNC has placed throughout battleground states. “We’ve knocked on more doors today than we had at this time in 2012,” he told ABC News.
The RLI is one of the RNC’s efforts. Launched in 2015, the program reaches out to diverse groups of activists who may not have been involved in politics before, training them and deploying more than 5,000 fellows to battleground states.
But whereas the RNC has been building an infrastructure dedicated to specifically reaching black voters since 2012, the Trump campaign has not, seeming to rely largely on speeches to white audiences and the efforts of the RNC to reach voters Trump says he can win over.
In Virginia over the weekend, Trump gave a nod to the long-term difficulty the GOP has had in attracting black voters. “I fully recognize that outreach to the African-American community is an area where the Republican Party must do better,” he said.
Trump has been widely criticized for declining invitations to speak to mostly black audiences. HE has declined invitations to speak to the Urban League, the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association for Hispanic Journalists.
Meanwhile, Reince Priebus, the RNC's chair, has spoken directly to several of these audiences. “The chairman has spoken at NAACP, the chairman has spoken at the Urban League, he's attended almost every backyard barbecue you can think of,” the RNC’s Bell said. “We have a long-running tab at the RNC of outreach over the last four years.”
Omarosa Manigault, the former “Apprentice” contestant, is the Trump campaign’s director of African-American outreach. She says that she’s been in communication with 20 to 30 organizations, though she declined to name which ones.
“When we told all the organizations [that we couldn’t attend], we did express that we were looking for opportunities down the line,” she told ABC News.
She added, “Absolutely he intends to meet with those groups; we will continue to make appeals.”
She and Bell both say that theirs are not separate strategies. Both say they talk to their counterparts each day and that there are events to come, though Manigault again declined to discuss specifics.
“I know that the Democrats monitor our plans closely,” she said, chuckling.
While the RNC has those staffers in battleground states dedicated to black outreach, the Trump campaign only formally has Manigault, though there is an independent organization, the National Diversity Coalition for Trump, that also works with her and the RNC.
While Bell didn’t give any specific dates, he said the RNC was looking at opportunities to engage in events “more traditionally tailored to black audiences.”
That includes activity at historically black colleges and universities, he says, as well as working with black civic organizations.
Manigault bristles at the accusation that Trump has mostly just talked about outreach and hasn’t actually been engaging in it.
“I think that's not a fair assessment,” she said. "You all don't know exactly what we're going to do, and that's the way we like it. We have never played by the regular playbook; we’re recreating the political playbook. You’re going have to watch and wait.”
But there have been conversations about sending Trump directly into black communities and with some of his prominent black supporters, such as adviser and former candidate Dr. Ben Carson, according to a source familiar with their plans.
Trump will begin more trips to urban areas, including one that is in the nascent planning stages for September, the source said. While plans are fluid, this particular idea includes Carson’s leading Trump on a guided tour of the poor neighborhoods where he grew up.
Carson acknowledges that Trump’s fight for a substantial number of black votes could be unattainable, but says that Trump’s desire to reach all voters is genuine.
“The reason that Donald Trump is willing to go into this territory is because he’s not necessarily trying to cultivate votes like your typical politician does,” Carson told ABC News. “He recognizes that there is no way we can have a strong country if we have big pockets of weakness. And he also realizes that in this election cycle he probably won’t get the majority of their votes.”
Trump’s support right now among African-Americans is abysmal. In the latest Pew Research Poll, he had a 2 percent approval rating among African-Americans.
The RNC’s Bell says that going into black communities and speaking with black leaders is a task that, while arduous, is essential. “A lot of that [outreach] is going and talking to people who might not necessarily support you who at least want to make sure that no matter what, the black community has a voice in the White House,” he said.
He concedes that there is more to be done, but says that Trump, at least, speaking directly about African-American issues, as opposed to the 2012 nominee, Mitt Romney, whom Bell also worked for.
“I think that Donald Trump is unique in that he's being directly aggressive, he's being direct about what he thinks and speaking to African-American issues, and he's starting a conversation, a conversation that the Republican nominee hasn't been a part of in a while,” he said
But the substance of that conversation is crucial. In painting an exceptionally grim picture of black unemployment, education and poverty that is not wholly factual, Trump risks alienating black voters even further.
According to Census Bureau data from 2015, 52.9 percent of all black Americans aged 25 or older hold some sort of college or associate degree. A Pew report released in December shows that black adults experienced the largest income increase from 1971 to 2015 and were the only racial group to see a decrease in the percentage of their low-income earners.
Keith Kirkland, a retired van salesman, is a black Trump supporter who went to see his candidate in Akron, Ohio.
“Let’s be clear, all black people ain’t poor, all white people ain't poor, so you don’t want to use a generalization statement,” he began. “But something’s got to change and, hopefully, we’ll get some change that really works.”
He said that Trump is starting to do better with outreach and he hopes to see more. “I think there’s a lot more African-Americans voting for him than you’ll hear about because the persecution you get from liberal blacks if you even think about being Republican or conservative is pretty tremendous,” he said.
Peter James, a registered Democrat also from Akron, mused that Trump’s comments regarding black voters is clear.
“I don’t think his roommate was black in college, let’s put it that way,” James said, laughing. “But I mean, he tries, you know. He made a bold statement. I’m here.”
He then turned away and walked back to his spot amid the other Trump supporters; ready to hear what the nominee had to say.
Michael Davidson for Hillary for America(WASHINGTON) -- Hillary Clinton garnered a majority of the support in a new poll released Thursday, passing 50 percent in a head-to-head match-up with Donald Trump and further solidifying a lead built up by the party conventions a month ago.
The poll, conducted by Quinnipiac University, shows Clinton receiving 51 percent support from likely voters, which gives her a 10-point margin over Donald Trump. The GOP nominee was backed by 41 percent of those surveyed, with a margin of error of /- 2.5 points.
With third party candidates included, the gap between the Democratic and Republican nominees shrinks to seven points. In a four-way poll including independent nominees, Clinton received 45 percent to Trump's 38 percent. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein drew 10 and 4 percent, respectively.
A large number of respondents took issue with Trump's ongoing refusal to release his tax returns, including those within his own party. Seventy-four percent of the total number of people polled and 62 percent of the group who identified as Republicans believe that the businessman should release the returns.
Trump has previously claimed that an IRS audit prevented him from disclosing how much he contributed in 2015. Earlier Thursday morning, he received criticism on the issue from a notable member of his own party, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who told CNN that anyone running for president has to "open up your kimono and show everything."
Both candidates continue to receive negative favorability ratings: Clinton's divide is 41 percent favorable to 53 percent unfavorable, while Trump's is 33 percent favorable to 61 percent unfavorable.
A large split emerges in responses about the nominees' qualifications to hold the presidency. Sixty-six percent view Clinton as qualified while only 40 percent said the same for Donald Trump.
Though 37 percent of participants in the poll say they would consider voting for a third-party candidate, most believe they have made up their minds already -- 90 percent indicated they don't believe they will change who they are supporting before the election.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A U.S. senator whose daughter is the CEO of Mylan Pharmaceuticals has weighed in on the onslaught of criticism over the company’s pricing of its popular EpiPen, even as Mylan on Thursday promised to expand a discount program for the anti-allergy medication.
"I am aware of the questions my colleagues and many parents are asking and frankly I share their concerns about the skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs,” Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., said Thursday in a statement. “Today I heard Mylan's initial response, and I am sure Mylan will have a more comprehensive and formal response to those questions?. I look forward to reviewing their response in detail and working with my colleagues and all interested parties to lower the price of prescription drugs and to continue to improve our health care system."
His daughter, Heather Bresch, is the chief executive officer of Mylan Pharmaceuticals, which makes the EpiPen, by far the most popular epinephrine injector on the market. It is used to help counteract life-threatening allergic reactions. The EpiPen’s average wholesale price has risen 500 percent since 2009, setting off widespread criticism.
Mylan, which has defended the pricing, released a statement Thursday to say it is taking steps to reduce the cost of the EpiPen for uninsured or underinsured users by, in part, providing a savings card to offset the cost.
The company has come under fire by members of Congress and the American Medical Association for the cost of the drug, which can now be about $600, up from approximately $100 in 2009, though not adjusted for inflation.
It said nothing in its statement to suggest it would be lowering the overall cost of the EpiPen.
"We recognize the significant burden on patients from continued, rising insurance premiums and being forced increasingly to pay the full list price for medicines at the pharmacy counter," Bresch said in the statement Thursday. "Patients deserve increased price transparency and affordable care, particularly as the system shifts significant costs to them. However, price is only one part of the problem that we are addressing with today's actions.
“All involved must also take steps to help meaningfully address the U.S. healthcare crisis, and we are committed to do our part to drive change in collaboration with policymakers, payors, patients and healthcare professionals," she continued.
The company said it will issue a savings card that will cover up to $300 for the EpiPen 2-Pak injection, which reduces the out-of-pocket cost for patients paying full price by 50 percent on the market price. Mylan will also change the eligibility for its patient assistance program so that it will double the number of people covered, the company said.
But a $300 expense is still 200 percent higher than the approximate cost in 2009 of $100. Additionally, it's not clear whether families will be able to receive multiple cards for multiple EpiPens.
Allergy doctors often recommend getting multiple EpiPen packs for young children so that they have easy access to the medication at school, home and other places they spend time. It has a shelf-life of about a year.
Mylan defended the price increase for families as a consequence of more people joining high-deductible health plans.
"As the health insurance environment has evolved, driven by the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, patients and families enrolled in high deductible health insurance plans, who are uninsured, or who pay cash at the pharmacy, have faced higher costs for their medicine," company officials said in a statement Thursday.
Members of the Senate Special Committee on Aging Wednesday called on Mylan to brief Congress about the price increase of the medication. They joined other members of Congress, including Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who have written to Mylan about their concerns.
A Mylan spokeswoman told ABC News Wednesday the company plans to meet with members of Congress.
"We have reached out to every member of Congress who has sent us a letter, including Sen. Blumenthal, and we look forward to meeting with them and responding to their questions as soon as possible," the spokeswoman told ABC News.
The full list of the steps Mylan is taking is listed below:
For patients in health plans who face higher out-of-pocket costs, the company is providing immediate relief by offering a savings card for up to $300.
Mylan also is doubling eligibility for our patient assistance program to 400 percent of the federal poverty level. This means a family of four making up to $97,200 would pay nothing out of pocket for their EpiPen.
They will continue to offer the EpiPen4Schools® program, which has provided at least 700,000 free EpiPens to schools.
Mylan also is opening a pathway so that patients can order EpiPen® Auto-Injector directly from the company, thereby reducing the cost.
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Virtual reality is getting the presidential treatment.
In honor of the centennial celebration of the National Park Service, President Obama is set to make his virtual-reality debut in a video filmed on his family's visit to Yosemite Valley in June.
In a partnership between National Geographic and the virtual-reality company Oculus, viewers get an up-close 3-D, 360-degree experience to bask in some of the country's most scenic views with its most powerful occupant.
Obama narrates portions of the video, describing the importance of national parks to generations of Americans. He also is shown talking with a park ranger, joking with a group of children and standing on a bridge with the first daughters and the first lady.
But the Secret Service is notably absent from the videos. That’s because the agents were instructed to hide behind trees in the park, a White House official told ABC News.
The video, available to download for Oculus users, is also up for viewing in 2-D format on National Geographic's Facebook page. Watch here on your mobile device.
ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Donald Trump should release his tax returns and medical records, the GOP leader of the House Oversight Committee says, making him the latest Republican to publicly pressure the presidential nominee to disclose more information to the public.
"If you're going to run and try to become the president of the United States, you're going to have to open up your kimono and show everything: your tax returns, your medical records," Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told CNN Wednesday afternoon.
The House Oversight Committee chairman also criticized Hillary Clinton for her ties to the Clinton Foundation while at the State Department, and called for the Democratic presidential nominee to be more transparent as well.
Both Trump and Clinton, compared to nominees in previous cycles, have disclosed relatively little about their health.
Chaffetz is the latest Republican to call for Trump to disclose his tax returns, a longstanding tradition for presidential candidates.
Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., and longtime Trump political adviser Roger Stone this week said Trump should release his returns.
The New York developer has said he won't release his returns while he is under audit.
ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Donald Trump called Hillary Clinton a "bigot" while addressing the crowd at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson, Mississippi, Wednesday night.
"Hillary Clinton is a bigot who sees people of color only as votes, not as human beings worthy of a better future,” Trump said as he appealed to African-American voters.
Clinton later responded to Trump's remarks in an phone interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper. “Oh, Anderson, it reminds me of that great saying that Maya Angelou had, that when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time," she said. "And Donald Trump has shown us who he is. And we ought to believe him. He is taking a hate movement mainstream."
Trump was joined on stage by Nigel Farage, one of the leaders of the "Brexit" movement.
Farage spoke to the crowd assembled about the parallels between this election and the British referendum to leave the European Union, while Trump called for the U.S. to “re-declare our independence.”
As Farage addressed the crowd, he laid bare the comparison.
"The parallels are there. There are millions of ordinary Americans who’ve been let down, who’ve had a bad time, who feel the political class in Washington are detached from them,” he said. “You have a fantastic opportunity here with this campaign ... you’ll do it by doing what we did for Brexit in Britain.”
Farage also invoked President Obama addressing the people of the United Kingdom.
“He talked down to us. He treated us as if we were nothing,” Farage said, noting that he didn’t want to tell the American people how to vote.
"But I will say this, if I was an American citizen, I wouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton if you paid me. In fact, I wouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton if she paid me,” he added.
ABC News(NEW YORK) — Bernie Sanders helped launch a much-anticipated organization Wednesday night dedicated to continuing the legacy of his presidential campaign.
“Tonight, the question on the minds of a whole lot of people is, 'OK, we ran a great campaign, we woke up the American people, but where do we go from here?'" the Vermont senator said during a livestream.
During his hour-long speech, Sanders recounted the major accomplishments of his progressive campaign, but also, as if transitioning power, introduced his supporters to the new advocacy organization called "Our Revolution." He also introduced the former campaign staff who will lead it.
“Over time, Our Revolution will involve hundreds of thousands of people," he said. "These are people who will be fighting at the grassroots level for changes in their local school board, in their city councils, in their state legislatures and their representation in Washington. As I have said many times — election days come and go, but the struggle for justice continues.”
But even before it gets off the ground, the organization has already been plagued by major internal turmoil, a number of last-minute resignations and lingering questions about the size and scope of the donations the group will solicit.
The group will function as a 501(c)(4), according to its website. Last week, ABC News reported that the unique tax status could allow it to accept unlimited contributions without having to reveal its donors. However, because of the organization’s close ties to Sanders, a sitting senator, the group could be limited by campaign finance regulations.
On Wednesday morning, just hours before the kickoff event, Sanders’ former campaign manager and newly-appointed head of the organization, Jeff Weaver, told ABC News the group still had not ironed out how it would handle donations. He said there had not been further conversations internally about whether, for example, the group would proactively limit the size of donations or disclose its donors.
"We are going to do everything here by the book and make sure we fully comply with every applicable law and regulation," Weaver said during a phone interview.
Earlier this month, the newly-formed organization sent out an email with the senator’s name "Bernie" branded at the top and bottom, directing followers to donate directly to a congressional candidate in Florida, Tim Canova, who is challenging former Democratic Party Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Despite this, Sanders said during his remarks that he will not be involved in the day-to-day operations of the organization.
“As a United States Senator I will not be directing or controlling Our Revolution, but I have the utmost confidence that this leadership team and the board being assembled shares the progressive values we all hold and I expect very big things from them and from all of you who join with them,” Sanders said.
This week, however, the organization lost several key members of Sanders’ former campaign staff who had previously agreed to stay on and work for Our Revolution, including all of the organizing outreach team and much of the digital team as well. As first reported in Buzzfeed, several of these younger, tech-savvy folks walked out after the Senator changed his mind and decided Weaver would run the organization. Sanders’ former senior advisor, Shannon Jackson had been made the Executive Director and will remain in that role.
According to sources, Sanders had personally assured staff that Weaver would not be involved in a major way, but last Monday on a conference call, it was clear Weaver had been put in charge and would serve as the organization’s president. People with long-standing personal grievances with Weaver’s management as well as philosophical disagreements about how the group should operate asked Sanders to reconsider or limit Weaver’s role. When that did not happen, they resigned.
For months — and perhaps for the entirety of the Senator’s campaign — there were disagreements about the role and responsibility of online organizing. Younger members of the staff, engaged in this work, often felt under appreciated and that tension seemed to come to a head this summer, as Sanders and his team struggled to figure out their next steps.
As a result of the last minute walkouts from some of the campaign’s core aides, the new organization is reportedly very understaffed, and, arguably, without the folks who created some of the special grassroots sauce that propelled Sanders’ insurgent campaign.
Our Revolution hired a for-profit, Washington, D.C.-based digital marketing team in part to make up for the loss of staff.
"We have all the infrastructure in place," Weaver said. "We are just going to hire a few more people to reconstitute the team."
Sanders spoke highly of the remaining team who now face the tough challenge of keeping his supporters engaged and inspired. “Jeff has worked with me for most of the last 30 years,” Sanders said during the speech Wednesday. “Shannon Jackson did a great job as my assistant and point person throughout this campaign, and I am sure he is going to do a great job in his new position.”
The fledging group has promised to endorse and support progressive candidates around the country as well as educate followers about environmental, economic and social justice issues. Sanders took the opportunity Wednesday to acknowledge five specific candidates he and the group were endorsing, including a Native American man running for school board in Nebraska and former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold who is again fighting for a senate seat in Wisconsin. Sanders said the group was in the process of identifying dozens of other candidates to back as well.
He spoke in favor of a number of state voter access and health care ballot initiatives in Alaska, Colorado and California too and encouraged his supporters to organize around local causes such as these.
Jackson said the group would be organizing phone banking and social media campaigns around state and federal measures, most specifically against the trans-pacific partnership trade deal. He said the group needed help pinpointing worthwhile candidates to support.
"Obviously, the imperative is the November election right now and then beyond that the organization will continue to help create a progressive bench and help keep people organized around the country," Weaver told ABC News. Weaver clarified in some circumstances the group would provide money to local progressive grassroots as well as "technical assistance."
The organization’s board also remains in flux, but Sanders’ wife, Jane Sanders, will be stepping down from her post as chair, sources added.
ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Donald Trump said he would "work with" undocumented immigrants during a Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity taped on Tuesday, the second half of which is airing tonight at 10 p.m.
When asked whether he would allow an exception for someone to stay in the U.S. who's proven to be a fair citizen, Trump said, "No citizenship. Let me go a step further -- they'll pay back-taxes, they have to pay taxes, there's no amnesty, as such, there's no amnesty, but we work with them."
On Tuesday, during the first half of the town hall, Trump indicated there could be a "softening" of his controversial immigration policies. "There certainly can be a softening because we're not looking to hurt people," he said when asked by Hannity if there was "any part of the law" he would change to accommodate law-abiding immigrants who have kids in the U.S.
During the primary season, Trump called for the removal of all undocumented immigrants through a deportation force, subsequently allowing what he referred to as the “good” immigrants to return legally.
“We can expedite the good ones to come back in and everybody wants that. But they have to come in legally,” he told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Week last October. “We're a country of laws. We're a country of borders. How can you have a country without a border? How can you have a country without laws?”
Trump said at the town hall that his shift had come after speaking with voters who emphasized the difficult predicament of undocumented immigrants.
“When I go through and I meet thousands and thousands of people on this subject, I've had very strong people come up to me, really great, great people come up to me. And they've said, 'Mr. Trump, I love you, but to take a person that has been here for 15 or 20 years and throw them and the family out, it's so tough, Mr. Trump,'” he said of the exchanges he’s had on the trail.
"I have it all the time," he added. "It's a very, very hard thing."
Speculation that Trump might soften his stance on immigration began to emerge after he held a closed door meeting this past Saturday with members of his National Hispanic Advisory Council, which the Republican National Committee described as "a diverse group of national Hispanic leaders who are advising the campaign and sharing Mr. Trump’s proposals with the Hispanic community."
Jacob Monty, a Houston lawyer who is a member of the council and was at the meeting, told ABC News he was “very encouraged” by the discussion at the meeting on undocumented immigrants and the fact Trump sought counsel from the members.
“He brought up the topic and said we needed to find a solution,” Monty said Saturday.