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The Latest In Politics: After Debate, Trump Attacks Former Miss Universe On Twitter


The political week began with debates and a bump up in the polls and ends with tweets about a former Miss Universe, allegations of porn and sex tapes. Ah, there's nothing like the 2016 campaign. Senior political editor - political editor, I beg your pardon, Ron Elving joins us.

Ron, thanks so much for being with us.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Scott.

SIMON: I don't know why I'm sounding like Daffy Duck even more than usual. Perhaps it's the influence of this campaign. So let's try to class things up a little bit more by talking about newspaper endorsements. Their influence might be diminished, but we saw some unprecedented editorials this week, didn't we?

ELVING: Yes, we did. Now we've gotten The Detroit News, the Chicago Tribune, the San Diego Union Tribune - before that, the Manchester Union Leader, Dallas Morning News, Cincinnati Enquirer. Why am I picking those out? Because they have all historically been Republican newspapers, not to say that the Chicago Tribune didn't endorse Barack Obama because they did. But these...

SIMON: Hometown guy, yeah. But go ahead.

ELVING: Hometown guy, yeah. But these other papers frequently had never, ever endorsed a Democrat for president before, or they had always endorsed a Republican. And so we're talking about a century, in a couple of cases 150 years, and they're not endorsing Donald Trump. They're either endorsing Hillary Clinton, or, in a few cases, they're endorsing Gary Johnson.

SIMON: I made a note of the column written by Dorothy Rabinowitz, the Pulitzer Prize winner of The Wall Street Journal who's on the editorial board, one of the most admired conservative voices. She referred to Donald Trump, quote, as "unstable, proudly uninformed, psychologically unfit" and called Hillary Clinton "indomitably determined and eminently sane." What arguments are former conservative voices using?

ELVING: They are saying, essentially, that the character and temperament of Donald Trump are inappropriate for the Oval Office. Now, many of them cannot stomach Hillary Clinton and do not share Dorothy Rabinowitz's sanguine view of Hillary Clinton's prospects or what she might be like as president. But they are willing to then say, either we're not going to endorse anyone or we're going to endorse Gary Johnson, the libertarian, without spending too much time on him and his profile.

We should note that USA Today, which when it was founded in 1982, said it would never endorse a candidate for president - didn't want to go to that kind of - didn't want to participate in that kind of politics - has not endorsed a candidate but has said, in some departure from their usual policy, Donald Trump is unfit to be president, so don't vote for him.

SIMON: What's an editorial worth in this age of social media?

ELVING: You know, we know that people don't read newspaper editorials by and large. And if they ever read one, it's usually something like this in the presidential season. But we know that people read about them and hear about them.

And that's where, in the age of social media, they may actually matter more because people are going to be talking about this wipeout, this refusal of people who, remember, historically, have almost always gone with Republicans, to go with Donald Trump.

SIMON: OK, now Miss Universe. Did Hillary Clinton set a trap for Donald Trump, which he sprang on himself?

ELVING: You know, this story could have gone away in 24 hours or 48 hours. It could have had some impact on Monday night and perhaps, then, just gone away. We've heard an awful lot of high impact stories come and go already in this campaign.

But this one has taken off and lasted for several days - looks like it's going to last into the weekend and dominate the talk. And it's a little hard to imagine how that would've happened if Donald Trump did not have such an extraordinary reaction to it.

SIMON: Yeah. But did Hillary Clinton spring it on him? I mean, was this good gamesmanship in addition to anything else?

ELVING: Well, you remember what he said initially. When she first brought it up he said, where did you come up with that? And it was as though this was one that had stuck in his craw for a long time. And he was surprised, perhaps, that no one had brought it up earlier in all the debates. But he was kind of waiting for it on that level.

SIMON: And the Clinton camp is girding for what might be next, which we understand could be attacks on her husband's infidelities?

ELVING: He has already gone there and is going to continue to go there. Some people have urged him to leave that to surrogates, but he seems to be willing to do it himself. And overnight, he was saying, by the way, infidelity was never a problem in my first marriage or my second marriage.

SIMON: NPR's Ron Elving, thanks so much for being with us.

ELVING: Thank you, Scott.

SIMON: And NPR is following the vice presidential candidates as they prepare for their debate on Tuesday. We will air live coverage on many NPR stations along with live fact-checking on Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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