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The Week In Politics


One of the most powerful speeches given at the Democratic convention was delivered by Khizr Khan. His son, a U.S. soldier, died in Iraq. Khan chastised Donald Trump for seeking to ban Muslims from entering the country.


KHIZR KHAN: Hillary Clinton was right when she called my son the best of America.


KHAN: If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been in America.

HU: Donald Trump struck back but perhaps too hard this time. Joining us to talk about the controversy and the countdown to Election Day is NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson.

Good morning.


HU: Well, Donald Trump lashed out at Mr. Khan. And folks in Trump's own party have called his remarks distasteful. How is this playing with voters? Is this going to hurt Trump?

LIASSON: We don't know. That's always the big question because things that he says you think would hurt him, don't. But this one got a round of outrage from both Republicans and Democrats. Trump asked why Khan's wife wasn't speaking, suggesting that she wasn't allowed to because she was a Muslim. Later, the wife did speak to MSNBC and said she didn't speak because she was overcome by grief.

Trump said that he had sacrificed. You know, Khan had accused him of never having sacrificed anything or anyone. Trump said I've worked hard. I've created jobs. So you have Republicans like John Kasich criticizing him, and you have Hillary Clinton saying that Trump is quote, "not a normal presidential candidate," which I guess is stating the obvious.

HU: So we're 99 days left before Election Day. Coming out of the convention, Mara, what does this race look like now?

LIASSON: The race is pretty set. We have the messages set from both candidates. On the Republican side, the message is change. Donald Trump says America is in decline. We're suffering through an epidemic of crime and violence and terrorism. Hillary Clinton is mostly responsible for that, and only he can fix it. On the Democratic side, you hear the message, Trump is a dangerous demagogue. The Democrats are the party of optimism, patriotism and the military - support for veterans and their families like the Khans.

You also have the map pretty set. You can see where the candidates are traveling - North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio are the top battleground states, and then, to a lesser extent Michigan, Colorado and Iowa. The top target demographic is the white working class. The Democrats, in particular, are targeting non-college-educated white women because Donald Trump is so strong with non-college-educated white men.

HU: We've talked a lot about emails this cycle. Those leaked emails suggesting the Democratic National Committee was trying to undermine Bernie Sanders were pretty damaging. Now WikiLeaks is saying there are more to come. Are Democrats worried?

LIASSON: Yes. Everybody is on edge about this. This is the first time a foreign government has not only conducted a cyberattack - those are quite common - but used the information for the purposes, it seems, for meddling in the U.S. election. They've weaponized the information, and the Democrats don't know what else is going to come out. They assume that WikiLeaks has emails that it's holding back. So yes, everyone's on edge. But nobody knows exactly what's going to come out next.

HU: And real quick - last week, courts in several states tossed out voter ID laws. Could those decisions affect election outcomes in swing states?

LIASSON: Absolutely. In North Carolina and Wisconsin, where these laws were thrown out, it's a big win for Democrats who had argued that these voter ID laws equaled voter suppression of minority voters. The courts agreed. They said that identity fraud, the idea of someone going to vote and impersonating someone else, is extremely rare, even nonexistent.

HU: That's NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson. Thanks, Mara.

LIASSON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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