WASHINGTON (AP) — Updated coverage of the U.S. presidential race (all times EDT):

Clinton says election will define ‘what we stand for’

Update 2:39 p.m.: Hillary Clinton says at a surprise appearance at a San Francisco campaign office that the nation has “already learned who Donald Trump is.” She says the election is about “who we are and what we stand for.”

Clinton is pointing to First Lady Michelle Obama’s remarks in New Hampshire earlier in the day, saying she “not only made a compelling and strong case about the stakes in the election but about who we are as Americans.”

Clinton tells volunteers at a call center that “we cannot let this pessimism, this dark and divisive and dangerous vision for America take hold in anybody’s heart.”

White House repeats assessments of Trumps fitness to lead

Updated 2:38 p.m.: The White House says the latest reports about women claiming that Donald Trump sexually assaulted them are just more evidence that the Republican nominee is unqualified to be president.

Spokesman Eric Schultz says Trump’s lack of fitness for the office didn’t become evident within the past 24 hours, when The New York Times, the Palm Beach Post and People magazine published reports by several women that had been sexually inappropriate toward them. Trump denies the charges.

Schultz says he expects Obama will amplify his views about Trump’s temperament, character and judgment when he speaks later Thursday at a dinner benefiting Ohio Democrats and Gov. Ted Strickland. Strickland is running to oust incumbent Republican Sen. Rob Portman.

Media watchdog calls Trump a threat to press freedom

Updated 2:32 p.m.: The Committee to Protect Journalists has declared Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump a threat to press freedom.

In a statement issued Thursday, the media watchdog said that it issued the statement, unprecedented in the organization’s 35 year history, because Trump has consistently betrayed First Amendment values.

“A Trump presidency would represent a threat to press freedom in the United States, but the consequences for the rights of journalists around the world could be far more serious,” CPJ Board Chairman Sandra Mims Rowe wrote in the statement. “Any failure of the United States to uphold its own standards emboldens dictators and despots to restrict the media in their own country.”

The group said it was not picking sides in the election but rather, “recognizing that a Trump presidency represents a threat to press freedom unknown in modern history.”

Ryan avoids questions on Trump

Updated 2:15 p.m.: House Speaker Paul Ryan is not taking questions from a friendly audience of Wisconsin business leaders even though his office originally said he would.

Ryan on Thursday gave a speech at the Waukesha County Business Alliance. He got a standing ovation as he entered, but left immediately after his remarks. His office had said in the original notice that he would take 30 minutes of questions. Ryan’s campaign spokesman Zack Roday says he had to leave due to a tight schedule.

Ryan did not refer to Donald Trump by name during the speech, but bemoaned the lack of focus on issues Republicans want to talk about. He says, “Guess what? We are actually running on ideas in this election.”

Ryan has endorsed Trump, but said last week he wouldn’t campaign for him.

Trump warns press seeks to destroy him

Updated 2:05 p.m.: Donald Trump is saying the attacks on him are “a conspiracy against the American people” by the political and media establishment.

Trump, speaking Thursday in Florida after being rocked by sexual assault allegations, said the press “will seek to destroy your career and your family.”

The Republican nominee said: “They will seek to destroy everything about you including your reputation.”

But he said that he would “take the slings and arrows” in order to protect his supporters and vowed that America would have a “new Independence Day” on Election Day.

Trump denied the allegations made by several women that he touched and kissed them without their consent.

New York Times defies Trump’s lawsuit threat

Updated 1:55 p.m.: The New York Times is responding to Donald Trump’s lawsuit threat by saying it welcomes the challenge.

The response came from David E. McCraw, vice president and assistant general counsel for the New York Times Company. He said in a letter Thursday that the public has a right to hear from women who say the Republican presidential nominee sexually assaulted them.

The Times published a story Wednesday quoting two women who said Trump had touched or kissed them without their consent. Trump denies the allegations.

Trump has threatened to sue the newspaper. McCraw wrote to a lawyer for Trump that if Trump believes the law protects him from critics, “we welcome an opportunity to have a court set him straight.”

Blunt dodges Trump question

Updated 1:45 p.m.: The questions about Donald Trump are clearly starting to get old for U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri.

The Republican is in a tight re-election campaign with Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander. Blunt supports Trump, but has distanced himself from the Republican presidential candidate.

Asked after a campaign appearance in suburban St. Louis on Thursday about new allegations by women accusing Trump of inappropriate behavior, Blunt said the issue “is not what we ought to be talking about.”

Asked if he is reconsidering his support, Blunt said the question has been “asked and answered like 10 times in the last week, and the answer’s still the same.”

Blunt said he wants a president who can change the Affordable Care Act, reduce regulation, and improve foreign policy.

Trump claims to be threat to political establishment

Updated 1:40 p.m.: Rocked by sexual assault allegations, Donald Trump is saying that that his campaign is “an existential threat” to the political establishment.

Trump made his comments at a rally Thursday in West Palm Beach, Florida. It was his first appearance since several women stepped forward to say they had been groped and received unwanted advances from Trump.

The Republican nominee said “the political establishment'” is trying to stop us and said that “for the media, nothing is out of bounds.”

Trump says he has proof allegations are false

Updated 1:30 p.m.: Donald Trump is denying allegations of sexual assault and calls them “coordinated, vicious attack” from the media and Hillary Clinton campaign.

Trump said Thursday at a rally in Florida that he has evidence to disprove allegations of sexual assault and will release it at the “appropriate time.”

Several women have come forward in a series of reports claiming that Trump groped or kissed them without their consent and made unwanted advances.

Trump said the claims “are totally and absolutely false.” He called them “pure fiction and outright lies.”

Trump calls a reporter a sleazebag

Updated 1:20 p.m.: Donald Trump has dodged reporter’s question as to whether he has ever touched or kissed a woman without her consent.

Trump met with local business leaders Thursday before a rally in West Palm Beach, Florida. The rally comes amid a series of reports about women who claim Trump had groped them and made other unwanted sexual advances.

Trump did not answer the question as the roundtable attendees booed.

Trump then turned to the room and declared “what a sleazebag.”

Michelle Obama calls Trump’s comments ‘shocking and demeaning’

Updated 1:09 p.m.: Michelle Obama said she “was shaken to the core” by comments that GOP Republican nominee Donald Trump made in which he is heard on a 2005 tape bragging about how his fame allowed him to “do anything” to women.

Speaking at campaign rally in New Hampshire for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, Obama called the comments “shocking and demeaning. She also dismissed suggestion that they were simply “locker room talk,” saying they were affront to all women and parents.

The GOP nominee has lost support in New Hampshire following the release of a 2005 video in which Trump is heard bragging about how his fame allowed him to “do anything” to women. Sen. Kelly Ayotte said over the weekend that she no longer plans to vote for him.

Updated 12:55 p.m.: First lady Michelle Obama says Donald Trump’s crude sexual comments about women should not be seen as “politics as usual.”

Mrs. Obama was speaking at a Hillary Clinton rally in New Hampshire. She called the Republican presidential nominee’s language disgraceful and intolerable.

She said that it should outrage all, regardless of political affiliation. She said he was bragging about sexually assaulting women.

Mrs. Obama was referring to a 2005 video in which Trump is heard bragging about how his fame allowed him to “do anything” to women. He later dismissed his language as “locker room talk.”

Is Utah now a swing state?

Updated 12:10 p.m.: There’s unprecedented uncertainty about how conservative Utah will vote in the November election.

That’s because the usual cohesion of voters in the Republican stronghold has been blown up by Donald Trump’s crudeness and volatility.

Utah is a must-win state for Trump, and he may end up squeaking out a victory. But the state’s widespread aversion to the brash billionaire has soared following the release of a recording of Trump degrading women.

An increasing number of Utah’s mostly Mormon voters are considering going with third-party candidates Evan McMullin and Gary Johnson.

It could mean an improbable Utah victory for Democrat Hillary Clinton if she captures just one-third of the state’s votes. That’s a level achieved several times in past three decades by Democratic candidates.

Kaine says Bill Clinton is not an issue

Updated 11:50 a.m.: Tim Kaine says Hillary Clinton’s marriage is “not an issue for the voters,” despite Donald Trump’s efforts to highlight Bill Clinton’s misconduct.

The Democratic vice presidential nominee is reacting to the campaign’s new focus on both candidates’ treatment of women. He was appearing Thursday on ABC’s “The View.” Trump has been talking about Bill Clinton’s affairs and making unproven charges of sexual assault.

Kaine said the latest allegations from several women who said Trump touched or kissed them without permission are “shocking.”

Kaine is also playing down the latest batch of hacked emails of Clinton campaign staffers.

He says you “can’t automatically assume” the hacked emails are real.

It’s impossible to authenticate each hacked email published by Wikileaks, but Democrats have not pointed to specific cases in which emails were altered.

Trump calls Times story a ‘total fabrication’

9:40 a.m.: Donald Trump is trying to discredit new allegations of groping and sexual assault.

The Republican nominee says on Twitter that a New York Times story on two women who allege he groped them years ago is “phony” and a “total fabrication.”

Trump is also going after a People Magazine writer who alleges Trump pinned her against a wall and kissed her without consent in 2005 as she was interviewing him for a wedding anniversary story.

He tweeted: “Why didn’t the writer of the twelve year old article in People Magazine mention the “incident” in her story. Because it did not happen!

The writer says she didn’t publicize the incident at the time because she was ashamed, afraid of the repercussions and blamed herself for what she says happened.

Soap actress calls Trump comments offensive

Updated 8:05 a.m.: The soap opera actress in the video that has rocked the presidential campaign says Donald Trump’s comments were offensive.

But actress Arianne Zucker says she wasn’t shocked by it, given “that type of personality.” She says that’s “probably why it doesn’t mean a lot to me.”

Zucker spoke in an interview broadcast Thursday on NBC’s “Today.”

Zucker is the actress who meets Trump and TV personality Billy Bush on a soap opera set in the 2005 video. In the video, Trump boasts of using his fame to kiss and grab women. Trump, before greeting Zucker, tells Bush he needs to use Tic Tacs in case he starts kissing her.

Trump has said he regrets the remarks, which he describes as “locker room” banter. Zucker describes that as “an interesting apology.”

Trump campaign to pursue Bill Clinton allegations

Updated 3:10 a.m.: America’s campaign for president is quickly devolving into an ugly fight over who has treated women worse: Donald Trump, whose White House bid is floundering, or Bill Clinton, who isn’t on the ballot.

Trump’s campaign is now openly signaling it will spend the election’s final month re-litigating Bill Clinton’s marital affairs and unproven charges of sexual assault, as well as his wife and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s unverified role in intimidating the women who were involved. But Trump is a deeply imperfect messenger: his attacks on the Clintons’ treatment of women are being overshadowed by a flood of allegations that he kissed and groped women without their consent.

The New York Times and the Palm Beach Post reported stories about three women who alleged Trump had inappropriately touched them.

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