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Oct 27, 4:17 PM EDT

The Latest: Wealthy donors pump money into Senate races

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AP Photo/Evan Vucci

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

4:15 p.m.

Wealthy donors have pumped more than $50 million in last-minute cash into competitive Senate races as Republicans try to hang onto their slim majority.

The GOP's Senate Leadership Fund raised $7 million in the first 19 days of October and another $25 million since then. In addition, a nonprofit affiliated with the fund has transferred over another $11 million.

That nonprofit, called One Nation, does not make public its donors. The rest of the Senate Leadership Fund's donors will be named, either in a filing Thursday or one next month.

On the Democratic side, the Senate Majority PAC raised $19 million through last week. That's more than it has ever raised in a single month

That group's donors are due to be disclosed in a Federal Election Commission filing Thursday.


3:45 p.m.

Donald Trump says the media are biased against him and most voters agree with him.

A new Associated Press-GfK poll found that even voters who aren't backing the Republican presidential nominee see media bias against Trump.

Overall, 56 percent of likely voters say the media are biased against Trump. Just 5 percent say the bias is in his favor. Another 37 percent say coverage is mostly balanced.

Eighty-seven percent of Trump's supporters see the media as biased against him.

Even Hillary Clinton's supporters are more likely to see bias against Trump than bias in his favor, 30 percent to 8 percent. Sixty percent of Clinton's supporters see no bias in either direction.


3:15 p.m.

Michelle Obama says she's often asked whether she and fellow first lady Hillary Clinton are friends. She delivered a clear answer: "Yes, Hillary Clinton is my friend."

Mrs. Obama was speaking Thursday at a raucous campaign rally in North Carolina, her first joint appearance with Clinton. The two women served as very different first ladies and are not known to have a personal closeness.

But Mrs. Obama says she's come out as a strong defender of Clinton because this election is "unprecedented."

She said she wants to see someone in the Oval Office who will unify Americans and "who values and honors women."

Mrs. Obama's aides have called the remarks her "closing argument" for Clinton.


3:05 p.m.

Donald Trump is criticizing rival Hillary Clinton for being too tough on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Speaking at a rally in Springfield, Ohio, Trump took issue with Clinton's criticism of the Russian strongman, who has been denounced for his military assertiveness and anti-democratic tendencies.

Trump said: "She speaks very badly of Putin, and I don't think that's smart."

He asked: "How do you speak so badly of someone?"

Trump has been repeatedly criticized for failing to denounce the Russian leader and saying that he'd be willing to work with him to fight Islamic State militants.

Trump is also continuing to criticize Clinton's judgment and stamina, saying "she's definitely a low-energy person."


2:55 p.m.

Hillary Clinton says Donald Trump can learn from first lady Michelle Obama about how to support military families, not disrespect them.

Clinton cited Trump's feud with an American-Muslim family whose son was killed serving in the U.S. military in Iraq. Trump has insisted the son would be alive if Trump had been president at the time of his military service.

The Democratic nominee says she doesn't understand how anyone would want to "rub salt in the wounds of military families."

Clinton and Mrs. Obama are appearing together at a rally in North Carolina. Clinton says that while she knows the challenges of being married to a president, Michelle Obama "faced pressures I never did" as the nation's first black first lady.


2:50 p.m.

Donald Trump is seizing on revelations in hacked emails that show the overlapping relationships between the Clinton Foundation and the family's private enrichment.

He is referring to a 2011 memo from longtime Bill Clinton aide Doug Band contained in Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's private emails.

Band described how he encouraged his clients to contribute to the Clinton Foundation and hire Clinton for consulting and speaking gigs.

Trump said: "If the Clintons were willing to play this fast and loose with their enterprise when they weren't in the White House, just imagine what they'll do," if they return.

Trump was speaking at a rally in an agricultural space in Springfield, Ohio.

It's his first of a trio of rallies across the must-win state on Thursday.


2:45 p.m.

Hillary Clinton says first lady Michelle Obama's voice is needed in this election "more than ever."

Clinton and Mrs. Obama are appearing together at a rally in North Carolina, drawing one of the Democratic nominee's largest crowds of the general election. It's their first joint event of the 2016 campaign.

Mrs. Obama has emerged as one of Clinton's most effective surrogates, despite her well-known disdain for politics. She's passionately defended Clinton's experience and strongly condemning her opponent Donald Trump as divisive and unprepared.

Clinton says the outcome of the November election will determine whether the country builds on the legacy of President Barack Obama's eight years in the White House.


1:50 p.m.

The latest batch of hacked emails from Hillary Clinton's campaign highlights her staff's shock and anger after news broke that she used a private email server as secretary of state.

The emails were among those released Thursday by Wikileaks. The group has been releasing thousands of stolen emails from Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta.

In one email, Neera Tanden, now a member of Clinton's transition team, questioned whether the person who told Clinton she could use private email has "been drawn and quartered."

In another, Podesta asks campaign manager Robby Mook if he had "any idea of the depth of this story." Mook replied: "Nope." He said that email issue had been raised before, but they "were told that everything was taken care of."


1:30 p.m.

Donald Trump's dubious claim the presidential election is "rigged" has taken root among his supporters.

That's according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll. It finds that 64 percent of Trump's supporters say they're more likely to have serious doubts about the accuracy of the vote count if the Republican nominee is not the victor.

By contrast, 69 percent of Hillary Clinton's supporters say they'll accept the outcome if Trump wins. Only 30 percent of the Democratic nominee's backers express a reluctance to accept the results if she loses on Election Day.

Overall, 77 percent of likely voters say they'll accept the legitimacy of the results if Trump wins, while 70 percent say the same of a Clinton win.


1:20 p.m.

Tim Kaine is tying Donald Trump's business record to the decline in steel jobs in Lorain, Ohio.

The Democratic vice presidential nominee was campaigning in the town Thursday. He said about 1,200 steel jobs there have been lost due to competition from China. Hillary Clinton frequently dings Trump for using Chinese steel to build his business empire.

Kaine said Trump isn't being truthful when he promises to be tough on China and create more American jobs.

He said: "If you look at the record and you look at the words, it should tell you the words don't mean anything."

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported the 1,200 lost-jobs figure in March.


12:40 p.m.

Donald Trump's running mate is hoping to shore-up deeply conservative Nebraska by referencing the state's beloved Cornhuskers football.

Mike Pence is comparing what he calls national media bias against Trump to Nebraska playing constantly "on the road, with hometown crowds and hometown refs."

He's speaking at a Thursday rally at a concrete-floored construction supplies company in Omaha, Nebraska that also featured Pete Ricketts, the state's governor.

Pence, himself governor of Indiana, says he supported Ricketts "before it was cool."

Nebraska is solidly Republican but allocates its Electoral College votes by congressional district. Democrat Hillary Clinton is hoping to pick up an electoral vote in Omaha, which is less conservative than other parts of the state.

Pence also has a stop in neighboring Iowa later.


12:20 p.m.

Hillary Clinton is unveiling a plan to reduce bullying.

Called "Better than Bullying," the plan released Thursday by the Democratic presidential nominee would provide $500 million in new funding to states that develop comprehensive anti-bullying efforts.

Clinton is expected to talk about the plan during an appearance with first lady Michelle Obama Thursday. She has called Republican Donald Trump a bully for his derogatory comments.

The campaign said states must address verbal and cyber bullying and establish a process for addressing incidents.

They must also ban bullying on the "basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and religion."

States could get $4 dollars from the federal government for every $1 they spend. It would be paid for through Clinton's proposed tax increases on the wealthy.


11:25 a.m.

Al Franken is bringing some humor to the trail while he campaigns in Ohio alongside Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine.

The Minnesota senator and former comedian is encouraging about 100 union workers to knock on as many doors as possible until Election Day. He jokes: "Many of you have jobs, many of you have families - ignore them."

Franken then took a more serious note, noting he won his 2008 Senate race by just about 300 votes. He said that's proof that every door knock and vote matters.

Franken and Kaine are trying to energize voters near Cleveland. Kaine will campaign later Thursday near Columbus. Ohio is an important toss-up state in the Nov. 8 election.


10:45 a.m.

Donald Trump is again raising the possibility of election rigging in a tweet that follows unsubstantiated claims in Texas of voters having their ballots changed.

The Republican presidential candidate on Thursday tweeted there was "a lot of call-ins about vote flipping" in Texas voting booths. He also said there were big lines and people "are not happy."

Some social media posts claimed machines flipped Trump votes to Democrat Hillary Clinton. Election officials have said the machines aren't malfunctioning, and that some voters may be inadvertently making errors. One county near Houston did report a software glitch affecting straight-ticket voting, but said the issue has been resolved.

Trump has claimed the vote nationwide may be soiled by widespread voter fraud, but has not provided evidence to back up that claim.


8:20 a.m.

Melania Trump says that if her husband wins the presidency, she would like to work on helping children deal with social media.

Appearing with Donald Trump in an interview broadcast Thursday on ABC's "Good Morning America," Mrs. Trump said there's a "need to teach" young people on how to use social media, "what is right to say, what is not right to say."

Her husband is an avid user of Twitter, often using it to attack his opponents and critics in blunt, harsh terms.

Asked about his tweets, the Republican presidential nominee said, "I believe in fighting back when people are against me." He called social media "an instrument" for doing that.

Mrs. Trump said she worries about the "negativity" of much of what is presented in social media.


8:15 a.m.

Donald Trump won't commit to working with Hillary Clinton if she's elected president.

The Republican presidential candidate said Thursday on ABC's "Good Morning America" that he will make the decision at a later date. He says: "I'm not saying that I'm not or I am. Hopefully I won't have to make that decision."

New York's archbishop, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, has said that in a warm private exchange at an otherwise testy charity dinner last week, Clinton had told Trump that "whatever happens, we need to work together afterward."

But Clinton sidestepped a question Wednesday about whether she will meet one-on-one with rival Donald Trump after the November election.

She told journalists that she will reach out to Republicans and independents and "the elected leadership of the Congress."


4 a.m.

Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama are slated to campaign together for the first time at a rally in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

The event Thursday afternoon will bring together two women who are a study in contrasts. Clinton is perhaps one of the least traditional first ladies in modern history, while Obama has fully embraced tradition.

Clinton dove into policy, undertook a massive project and failed under a harsh spotlight.

Mrs. Obama largely steered clear and enjoyed quieter, modest success. Both Ivy League-trained lawyers with their own careers, Clinton bridled under the stereotypes associated with the office, Mrs. Obama declared herself "mom in chief."

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