The Latest: Trump blames Democrats for crime in big cities

CINCINNATI (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump’s rally in Cincinnati (all times local):

7:55 p.m.

President Donald Trump is blaming Democrats for crime in the nation’s largest cities as he speaks at a rally in Cincinnati.

Trump said Thursday: “No one has paid a higher price for the far-left destructive agenda than Americans living in our nation’s inner cities.”

Trump is following up harsh comments he made earlier this week when he lashed out at Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings, calling his Baltimore-area district a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.”

Trump claims Democrats want to help migrants more than their own struggling communities.

Trump is also attacking California for the number of homeless people living on the streets.

Trump captured Ohio by nearly 9 percentage points in 2016. It’s a state critical to his reelection prospects.

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7:25 p.m.

For some of President Donald Trump’s fans, there was no need to buy any of the bright-red “Make America Great Again” hats being hawked by vendors around the site of Thursday night’s rally.

They just put on their hometown Cincinnati Reds baseball team’s caps.

Scott Bippus, of Hamilton, Ohio, wore a Reds cap with a flag design, saying it worked out well for the rally. His 18-year-old son, Christian, has soured on the recently struggling Reds and bought a MAGA cap.

Anti-Trump demonstrator Gary Skitt is among fans shunning their favorite team’s red caps. He wore a cap that was half-white and a duller red than the team’s official cap. He says he stopped wearing his bright-red cap when friends asked if he had “gone to the other side.”

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7 p.m.

Hundreds of people are shouting “Resist!” in responses to a speaker’s bullhorn call to “Dump Trump!” in a demonstration a couple of blocks from the arena where President Donald Trump is holding a rally in Cincinnati.

People assembled Thursday at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center an hour before the president’s scheduled 7 p.m. rally at U.S. Bank Arena.

Grassroots organizer Richard Asimus complained that a separate planned demonstration had to be moved because police had blocked off streets near the arena.

Democratic Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval (PYUR’-vawl), who attended the demonstration, referenced a moment at a Trump rally two weeks ago in North Carolina when the crowd chanted, “Send her back!” about a Somali-born congresswoman of color. Pureval says it was “incredibly sad.”

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5:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump says former Vice President Joe Biden “limped” through the Democratic presidential debate.

Offering a review as he left the White House for a trip to Cincinnati on Thursday, the Republican president also thought California Sen. Kamala Harris “did not do well.”

Biden was panned for his lackluster performance at the first Democratic presidential debate in June in Miami but appeared to hold his own Wednesday in Detroit as he was attacked by the nine rivals on stage with him. Trump says Biden “limped right through it, but he got through it.”

Harris encountered some of the toughest attacks she’s faced since becoming a candidate.

Trump says the Democratic race is “boiling down” to four or five of the more than 20 contenders for the party’s presidential nomination.

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4:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he would “prefer” his supporters not engage in a “send her back” chant directed toward Rep. Ilhan Omar, but that if they do he’ll still “love” them.

Trump reluctantly distanced himself from the chant after a rally two weeks ago, which followed racist tweets he sent against Omar and three other first-term lawmakers of color. Trump had suggested that if they didn’t like the U.S. they should return to where they came from, even though all four are American citizens. The chant at the Greenville, North Carolina, rally sparked widespread condemnation.

Trump says he’s unsure what he’ll do if supporters bring back the chant at an Ohio rally Thursday. He adds that regardless of what happens, his message to supporters is, “I love them.”

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3:30 p.m.

Thousands of people have been lined up hours ahead of President Donald Trump’s evening rally in Cincinnati.

Nurse Cynthia Wells says there were some 150 people already there when she arrived a little after 8 a.m., nearly 11 hours before the rally.

The 63-year-old woman is attending her third Trump rally, saying she likes their “energy.”

She doesn’t expect to hear the “send her back!” chants about a Somali-born congresswoman from a July rally in North Carolina because Trump later expressed his disapproval. She says she won’t participate because that isn’t his message.

Robyn McGrail was celebrating her 44th wedding anniversary with husband Mike by attending their third Trump rally. She says if the chant begins, she’ll probably cheer because she loves her country and if they “don’t like America, they should leave.”

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12:20 a.m.

President Donald Trump’s latest rally will be a test for both candidate and crowd.

The Cincinnati gathering Thursday night will be Trump’s first since his audience chanted “Send her back!” about a Somali-born congresswoman during a July rally in North Carolina, raising the prospect of a 2020 presidential campaign increasingly fought along racial lines.

The chant about Democratic congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota by a roaring Greenville crowd rattled Republicans.

Trump let the chant roll at the rally. Since then, he has issued incendiary tweets and a series of attacks on a veteran African American congressman and his predominantly black district in Baltimore.

Heightening the drama, Trump’s rally will come on the heels of two Democratic debates and will take place against a backdrop of simmering racial tension in Cincinnati.

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