Local News, News, Politics, Providence

Local leaders sound off on tense second presidential debate

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — As some Republicans across the country either withdraw support for or revoke endorsements of Donald Trump following a release of a vulgar video on Friday and subsequent debate on Sunday, Rhode Island’s GOP Chairman Brandon Bell says he remains in support of the Republican nominee.

“I will likely cast my vote for the Trump-Pence ticket,” he said in an interview with Eyewitness News. “I’m surely not voting for [Hillary Clinton]. I promise you that,” he said.

Sunday’s debate followed a rough two days for the Trump campaign, after The Washington Post released a video that showed the candidate making lewd comments about grabbing women’s genitalia. The comments were captured on a live microphone during a 2005 taping of “Access Hollywood.”

“It was locker room talk,” Trump said at the debate. “I’m not proud of it.” At the town-hall-style forum, he hounded Hillary Clinton on her private email server, promising to hire a special prosecutor to investigate her if he is elected, despite the FBI already determining there was not enough evidence to bring charges. Trump also said Clinton “would be in jail” if he were in charge.

“I’m glad my kids were in bed and couldn’t see that debate,” Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo said Monday. “It was a disgrace.”

Bell said Trump performed well in the debate, in part because of those attacks on Clinton’s emails.

“I think you have to point out her inadequacies,” Bell said. “And there are so many, because she continues to move her lips and lie to the American people.”

Raimondo also commented on the Facebook Live panel Trump convened 90 minutes before the debate, in which three women who have accused Bill Clinton of either rape or unwanted sexual advances expressed their support for Trump.

“He was trying to do everything he could to avoid talking about the real issues,” Raimondo said. “To just come up with distraction after distraction to avoid talking about the economy, income inequality, his plans for America.”

Bell said the stunt probably didn’t do anything for the Republican candidate. “I’m not sure what the purpose was,” he said. “Probably to throw Hillary Clinton off of her game … I’m not sure it was the right place for it.”

Bell was quick to denounce Trump’s words in the 2005 video, calling them “disgusting,” but said he would continue to support the ticket in part because of Mike Pence, with whom he spent time in Rhode Island on Saturday night.

In a conference call with Republican National Committee members Monday evening, Bell said chairman Reince Priebus assured members that Trump and Pence were both committed to the ticket, and said rumors that either candidate would drop out were unfounded.

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East Bay, Local News, News, Top Video

VP nominee Tim Kaine visits Newport for private fundraisers

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NEWPORT, R.I (WPRI) — The Democratic Vice Presidential nominee made two stops in Newport Saturday night, attending private fundraisers with local Democrats.

One of the fundraisers took place at the home of former Providence Mayor Joe Paolino, who said in an interview with Eyewitness News that about 75 Democrats would be attending to raise money for the Hillary Victory Fund.

“You can sense he’s a genuine kind of guy,” said Paolino, who said he met Kaine for the first time last month at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. “Quite frankly, I like that he somewhat has an independent streak in him. And he’s a little moderate, and that works for my politics.”

Gov. Gina Raimondo, Representatives David Cicilline and Jim Langevin, and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse all attended the fundraiser. Senator Jack Reed is overseas on government business, Paolino said. He said Kaine helps the Democratic ticket in Rhode Island because of his experience.

“If there was ever a crisis, he could take over the White House. He could serve as president,” Paolino said. “That’s the most important reason to appoint someone–if they can really do the job.”

Senator Kaine waved to the one news crew outside the fundraiser from the backseat of a car while arriving at Paolino’s house, but didn’t speak to any news media or make any public appearances during his short Rhode Island visit.

Before Paolino’s fundraiser, Kaine attended another one at the home of Barrett Bready, the CEO of life sciences company Nabsys. An invitation obtained by WPRI.com said “Hosts” were required to raise $50,000 for the Clinton campaign. “Co-hosts” who contributed $5,000 or raised $10,000 would receive a photo with Kaine, and “Champions” who contributed $2,700 would get preferred seating. “Friends” had to contribute $1,000 to attend.

The Republican National Committee was quick to condemn the fundraisers.

“Rhode Island Democrat insiders opening their wallets for face time with Tim Kaine is only a preview of the kind of pay-to-play politics that will continue in the White House if the Clinton-Kaine ticket is elected in November,” Spokesperson Natalie Strom said in an emailed statement.

“Are they against fundraisers?” Paolino asked in response to the statement, laughing slightly. “Right? Are they against fundraisers? The multi-millionaires?” (While Donald Trump is partially self-funding his campaign, he’s still received donations, and many state and local Republican candidates across the country are also holding fundraisers for their campaign, as is normal practice.)

Kaine left Paolino’s party around 8 p.m. Paolino said Kaine was flying home to spend a night in his own bed.

Saturday was Kaine’s second trip to Newport this summer. In July, Kaine was at a fundraiser for Senator Jack Reed at the Newport Shipyard when he received the call from Hillary Clinton asking him to be her running mate.

Ted Nesi contributed to this report.

Local News, News, Politics, Providence, Your Local Election Headquarters

Clinton campaign kicks off RI operations, Sanders to follow

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island campaign headquarters for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign opened Thursday evening, kicking off a flurry of phone calls and door knocks sure to take place ahead of the April 26 primary.

The Bernie Sanders Rhode Island campaign is set to formally kick off on Sunday.

At the Clinton campaign office on Reservoir Avenue in Providence, Gov. Gina Raimondo (D-Rhode Island) was the headliner, revving up the crowd and reminding them that nothing should be taken for granted.

“Rhode Island is, and always has been, Clinton country,” Raimondo told the crowd of supporters. “We gotta deliver Rhode Island big for Hillary…not just winning, we want to win big.”

Clinton beat President Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic Primary in Rhode Island by a whopping 18 points.

“She ought to carry Rhode Island,” Raimondo told Eyewitness News. “But we’re taking nothing for granted.”

Clinton won Massachusetts over Senator Bernie Sanders on Super Tuesday last month, but only by less than two percentage points. She ended up with just one more pledged delegate than Sanders, in a state that has historically supported Clinton.

“We’re still fighting for every vote throughout the primary,” said Nick Black, the State Director for Clinton’s campaign in Rhode Island. “We’re going to do everything we can do to win the delegates here in Rhode Island.”

Nine of Rhode Island’s 33 delegates are so-called “superdelegates,” and have already said they’ll vote for Hillary in the Democratic convention this summer. The other 24 are up for grabs on April 26.

“We’re going to fight very hard for each and every one of those 24 pledged delegates,” said Joe Caiazzo, the Rhode Island Political Director for the Bernie Sanders campaign.

That campaign will kick off its operations at its Broad street headquarters in Providence on Sunday.

In an interview with Eyewitness News, Caiazzo highlighted the tight race last month in Massachusetts.

“We were able to move the dial about 30 points,” he said. “I know we came up short there, but we were able to move the dial.”

The race for the Democratic nomination has become more vitriolic in recent weeks, with Sanders recently doubting if Hillary Clinton was qualified for the presidency.

“She clearly is qualified,” Raimondo said Thursday night. “Former United States Senator, former Secretary of State, successful lawyer.”

She also looked toward the general election, where Clinton could face Republican front-runner Donald Trump, if each of them wins their respective party’s nomination. Raimondo said Trump was “absolutely” a threat.

“That’s what’s so scary about it,” she said. “I think a President Trump would be awful.”

Neither Clinton nor Sanders has formally scheduled a campaign stop in Rhode Island, though both campaigns indicated a possibility of a visit.


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