Tag Archives: 2016

Clinton can put away Trump by winning North Carolina

Republican Donald Trump can do little to stop Democrat Hillary Clinton from winning the presidency if she carries North Carolina, where their close race reflects the national liabilities of both candidates.

Trump is struggling with conservative Democrats, especially women in the big and booming suburbs of Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, who’ve long been part of the GOP’s winning formula in North Carolina.

Clinton has her own worries: Younger voters who helped Barack Obama win the state in 2008 and come close in 2012 are far more hesitant to back her.

In a scenario playing out across the most contested states, Clinton’s pursuit of new supporters is aided by a huge, data-driven ground force in North Carolina.

Trump is sticking with his come-what-may plan.

“Both candidates have problems here,” said Paul Shumaker, an adviser to U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., who is seeking re-election. “But I think the Clinton people are more attuned about fixing their problems than Trump’s are.”

Clinton, in a recent visit to Charlotte, addressed congregants at a black church less than two weeks after the police-involved shooting death of a black man. The shooting led to two nights of violent protests and a debate over race relations.

“We’ve got to take action. We’ve got to start now, not tomorrow. Not next year, now,” Clinton said.

Polls suggest North Carolina, Ohio and Florida are among the most competitive states expected to decide the final steps on the path to the 270 electoral votes required to win the White House.

In all but one of the past nine presidential elections, the Republican nominee has taken North Carolina.

Clinton’s apparent strength in once reliably Republican Virginia and swing state Colorado may mean a perilously narrow route to an electoral majority for Trump.

If Clinton captures North Carolina, Trump would have to carry perennially tight Ohio and Florida, plus Democrat-leaning Pennsylvania, and sweep less populous close states that appear increasingly out of reach for him.

Shumaker says GOP support for Trump is lower than usual in North Carolina, as estimated in private GOP and public polling. 2012 nominee Mitt Romney received more than 90 percent of the GOP vote in North Carolina, according to exit polls. Trump appears markedly short of that.

Trump promised to win over conservative Democrats, who are common in Cary, a suburb of roomy brick homes and newer retail developments west of Raleigh.

Such a voter is Sunday Petrov, who is backing Clinton.

“It’s more like I’m voting against Trump,” she said. “What bothers me most is his disrespect for Hispanics, for Muslims, his unprofessional demeanor.”

Trump has little outreach aimed at specific voter groups in North Carolina; Clinton does. She needs it with younger people, with whom her polling margins pale next to Obama’s in 2008 and 2012.

After last Monday’s debate with Trump, she pleaded her case during a rally at Wake Tech Community College. The election, she said, “is more about the future of young people and children than it’s ever been,” and she talked about her plan for government-subsidized, tuition-free college. Later in the week, Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea, visited Asheville and Greenville, stopping at Eastern Carolina University to focus on college debt.

“North Carolina feels like Virginia in 2012,” said Dan Kanninen, the Clinton campaign’s top adviser in the state.

Obama won Virginia in 2008 and 2012, after 10 consecutive GOP victories there, by attracting younger, ethnically diverse and more educated adults, especially those flowing into northern Virginia’s tech and defense sectors.

Clinton is putting that same strategy to work in North Carolina.

Universities, high-tech companies such as Cisco Systems and the financial sector, including Fidelity Investments, have attracted thousands of young professionals to the Raleigh area alone since 2012.

In the past four years, North Carolina has added roughly 300,000 voters, mostly in metropolitan areas that account for half of the state’s vote. They are predominantly college-educated, which is good news for Clinton in a close race.

“Trump’s biggest problem is college-educated whites,” said Republican strategist Michael Luethy, who charts legislative races. “If he solves his problem there, he wins. Easier said than done.”

Perhaps the biggest unknown heading into the Nov. 8 election is whether African-Americans will turn out for Clinton at near the historic levels they twice did for Obama, the first black president.

Clinton dominates Trump among African-Americans, who make up 22 percent of North Carolina’s voters, the biggest share of any of battleground state. Trump has done little to turn around long-standing support for Democrats by black voters.

Clinton has organizers on or near campuses of the state’s 12 historically black colleges and universities.

Moreover, early-voting restrictions enacted in 2013 by North Carolina’s Republican-controlled Legislature and GOP Gov. Pat McCrory were overturned after being ruled discriminatory toward black voters.

McCrory is up for re-election in November and trails Democrat Roy Cooper in a rare case where a down-ballot race could generate turnout for the presidential campaign.

“I think Democratic intensity on that issue — the attempt at voter suppression — is going to keep African-American turnout at the levels we’ve had lately,” said Ken Eudy, a Democratic campaign strategist.

Shumaker, the GOP senator’s aide, said that may be enough to lift Clinton in a close race.

“It’s going to come down to the wire,” he said. “And we’re a 2-point state.”

Republican Donald Trump. — PHOTO: Gage Skidmore
Republican Donald Trump. — PHOTO: Gage Skidmore

Kaine, Pence prepare for undercard debate on Tuesday

With the first presidential debate complete and its spin cycle nearly over, the two understudies are getting ready to take the main stage. The vice presidential debate Tuesday will be the only time Republican Mike Pence and Democrat Tim Kaine will have the nation’s political attention all to themselves, away from their much more well-known running mates.

The stakes will be lower than the three presidential debates, but will give each largely undefined candidate a chance to make a mark on a national audience.

Running mates rarely overshadow the top of the ticket, although Sarah Palin caused a sensation as Republican John McCain’s pick in 2008. But voters always have a reason to size up the people who would be next in line for the presidency.

The 2016 candidates are older than the norm. Though their doctors said they are fit to serve, Hillary Clinton, who will be 69 before the election, has had several health problems in recent years while Donald Trump, 70, has for months held off disclosing much about his own fitness.

Pence, Trump’s running mate, is taking a decidedly un-Trump like approach to the vice presidential debate. He’s preparing for it.

The Indiana governor and former 12-year congressman held mock debate sessions with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker as a stand-in, studying up on issues likely to be raised and making sure he avoids the criticisms of being unprepared that dogged Trump after his uneven performance a week ago. “We’re going to do our level best to be ready,” Pence told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt this past week.

Pence was spending the weekend back home in Indianapolis, taking a break from campaign travel to be with his family and continue informal debate preparations, spokesman Marc Lotter said.

Clinton’s running mate, a former Virginia governor and current U.S. senator, spent several days preparing for the debate in Raleigh, North Carolina, and in his hometown of Richmond, Virginia. The debate will take place at Longwood University, about an hour west of Richmond.

Helping Kaine is Washington, D.C., lawyer Robert Barnett, a veteran of prepping Democrats for debates. Kaine said he’s been “thinking hard” about what Pence’s record says “about the guy who chose him, because it really is more about Donald Trump than it is about Gov. Pence.”

Pence and Kaine are practiced public speakers with lengthy political careers who should bring a high level of polish to the undercard debate. Pence is a former talk radio host; Kaine a former Harvard-trained trial lawyer.

But both have played dramatically different roles since they were picked to be the No. 2s.

Pence has frequently been on the hot seat defending, deflecting and explaining some of his unconventional running mate’s more inflammatory comments and views. It’s made for some awkward moments, with Pence defending Trump’s praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump’s apparent support for a policy of stop-and-frisk by police, and Trump’s feud with a Muslim-American family whose son, a U.S. Army captain, was killed while serving in Iraq in 2004.

After Monday’s presidential debate, Pence made the rounds on the television networks, where he broke with Trump on global warming. Trump has called warming a hoax, while Pence said after the debate that “there’s no question” human activity affects both the climate and the environment.

Kaine, by contrast, is much more in lockstep with Clinton and has rarely faced tough questions on a tightly managed campaign that’s so far been heavy with private glitzy fundraisers and lighter moments on TV. He’s no fire-eater. He’s called himself “boring,” a quality Clinton said she loves about him.

Some days Kaine’s toughest job is holding his own while jamming on harmonica with some world-class musical talents. That list so far includes Jon Batiste (“The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” house band leader), Lindsey Buckingham (guitarist for Fleetwood Mac), Asleep at the Wheel (local country legends in Austin, Texas) and John Popper (frontman for Blues Traveler).

Recently, while Pence was defending a tweet from one of Trump’s son’s comparing Syrian refugees to a bowl of Skittles, Kaine was in the middle of a California fundraising tour that included a dinner at actress Eva Longoria’s house and an appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

After the first presidential debate, Kaine and Pence both claimed victory for their candidates and looked ahead to their showdown.

Speaking to volunteers in Orlando, Florida, Kaine said Clinton’s performance “raised the bar.”

“That puts pressure on me,” he joked.

On a TV appearance before flying to Wisconsin for two days of preparations with Walker, Pence said the same.

“Donald Trump raised the bar for his running mate,” Pence said.

Arizona Republic breaks 126-year tradition, endorses Clinton

The Arizona Republic began publication in 1890 and until this week had never endorsed a Democrat over a Republican for president. On Sept. 28, following the first presidential debate on Sept. 26, the newspaper endorsed Hillary Clinton for president and declared the Republican nominee “not qualified.”

The newspaper said its history of backing GOP candidates reflected “a deep philosophical appreciation for conservative ideals and Republican principles.”

But “This year is different.

The 2016 Republican candidate is not conservative and he is not qualified.

That’s why, for the first time in our history, The Arizona Republic will support a Democrat for president.”

The newspaper, which endorsed Clinton in the state primary over Bernie Sanders, said, “The challenges the United States faces domestically and internationally demand a steady hand, a cool head and the ability to think carefully before acting.

Hillary Clinton understands this. Donald Trump does not.”

The editorial decision brought praise and criticism, including from some readers who canceled subscriptions.

Phil Boas, who manages the Republic‘s editorial page, told USA TODAY, “We’re getting a lot of reaction both locally and national. I don’t believe true readers of the editorial page are surprised by all this at all, because over the past year we have been writing scathing, scalding articles about Donald Trump.”

 

Records show Trump released tax returns when he stood to gain

Donald Trump won’t publicly release his income tax returns but records reveal the New York businessman turned them over when it suited his needs.

The Associated Press is reporting that Trump provided his returns when he stood to make a profit, needed a loan or when dealing with legal matters.

The news service reports that Pennsylvania gaming regulators were given at least five years’ worth and eight boxes full of Trump’s tax documents.

Also, Nevada, Michigan, Missouri, Indiana and other state gaming officials had access to multiple years of Trump’s returns.

And large banks that lent Trump money over the years have obtained Trump’s returns.

In all cases reviewed by The Associated Press, each person, organization, company or government office that has seen Trump’s tax returns is barred from discussing their full contents by professional or legal restrictions.

So the public still knows little about Trump’s more recent finances.

At a press event today in Waukesha, Wisconsin Democrats plan to call on Trump to release his tax returns.

An announcement from Hillary Clinton’s campaign said the event at noon at the Waukesha DNC headquarters would involve Democratic supporters, including state Rep. Mandela Barnes.

In the debate earlier this week, Clinton questioned whether Trump’s tax returns might reveal that he has paid little or no taxes. Trump said he was “smart” for not paying federal income taxes in some years.

Documents first reported on by Politico show Trump didn’t pay any federal income tax during at least two years in the early 1990s because he lost more money than he earned.

Other documents show he didn’t pay any federal income taxes in 1978, 1979 and 1984.

Trump has repeatedly refused to release his tax returns citing an IRS audit, but the IRS and tax experts have said an audit doesn’t bar Trump from making the documents public.

Since 1976, every major party nominee has released the returns and Clinton has publicly released nearly 40 years’ worth.

Trump’s tax returns would reveal his charitable contributions. The AP has reported that there is little record of substantial personal philanthropy from Trump.

The returns would also reveal how much Trump earned from his assets, helping someone work back to an approximation of his net worth to compare to his own estimation.

Clinton puts Trump on defensive in 1st debate

Donald Trump found himself on the defensive for much of Monday’s 90-minute showdown with Hillary Clinton and the next morning, he spread the blame.

He accused moderator Lester Holt of a left-leaning performance and going harder on him than Clinton, even floating the theory that organizers had intentionally given him a faulty microphone to set him up.

And after brushing off Clinton’s claim that he’d once shamed a former Miss Universe winner for her weight, Trump dug himself deeper.

“She gained a massive amount of weight. It was a real problem. We had a real problem,” Trump told “Fox and Friends” about the 1996 winner of the pageant he once owned.

Clinton was thoroughly prepared in the debate, not only with detailed answers about her own policy proposals, but also sharp criticism of Trump’s business record, his past statements about women, and his false assertions that President Barack Obama may not have been born in the United States. She said his charges about Obama were part of his pattern of “racist behavior.”

The Democrat also blasted Trump for his refusal to release his tax returns, breaking with decades of presidential campaign tradition. She declared, “There’s something he’s hiding.”

Trump has said he can’t release his tax returns because he is being audited, though tax experts have said an audit is no barrier to making the information public. When Clinton suggested Trump’s refusal may be because he paid nothing in federal taxes, he interrupted to say, “That makes me smart.”

The televised face-off was the most anticipated moment in an election campaign that has been historic, convulsive and unpredictable.

The candidates entered the debate locked in an exceedingly close race to become America’s 45th president, and while both had moments sure to enliven their core constituencies, it was unclear whether the event would dramatically change the trajectory of the race.

The debate was confrontational from the start, with Trump frequently trying to interrupt Clinton and speaking over her answers.

Clinton was more measured and restrained, often smiling through his answers, well-aware of the television cameras capturing her reaction.

“Hillary told the truth and Donald told some whoppers,” Clinton’s running mate, Tim Kaine, told ABC News the morning after the debate.

Trump’s criticism of Clinton turned personal in the debate’s closing moments. He said, “She doesn’t have the look, she doesn’t have the stamina” to be president. He’s made similar comments in previous events, sparking outrage from Clinton backers who accused him of leveling a sexist attack on the first woman nominated for president by a major U.S. political party.

Clinton leapt at the opportunity to remind voters of Trump’s controversial comments about women, who will be crucial to the outcome of the November election.

“This is a man who has called women pigs, slobs and dogs,” she said.

The centerpiece of Trump’s case against Clinton was that the former senator and secretary of state is little more than a career politician who has squandered opportunities to address the domestic and international problems she’s now pledging to tackle as president.

“She’s got experience,” he said, “but it’s bad experience.”

Clinton, who hunkered down for days of intensive debate preparation, came armed with a wealth of detailed attack lines. She named an architect she said built a clubhouse for Trump who says he was not fully paid and quoted comments Trump had made about Iraq and about nuclear weapons.

When Trump made a crack about Clinton taking time off the campaign trail to prepare for the debate, she turned it into a validation of her readiness for the White House.

“I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate,” Clinton said. “And, yes, I did. And you know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be president. And I think that’s a good thing.”

The candidates sparred over trade, taxes and how to bring good-paying jobs back to the United States.

Clinton said her Republican rival was promoting a “Trumped-up” version of trickle-down economics – a philosophy focused on tax cuts for the wealthy. She called for increasing the federal minimum wage, spending more on infrastructure projects and guaranteeing equal pay for women.

Trump panned policies that he said have led to American jobs being moved overseas, in part because of international trade agreements that Clinton has supported. He pushed her aggressively on her past support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact while she was serving in the Obama administration. She’s since said she opposes the sweeping deal in its final form.

Trump repeatedly insisted that he opposed the Iraq War before the 2003 U.S. invasion, despite evidence to the contrary. Trump was asked in September 2002 whether he supported a potential Iraq invasion in an interview with radio personality Howard Stern. He responded: “Yeah, I guess so.”

Presented with the comment during the debate, Trump responded: “I said very lightly, I don’t know, maybe, who knows.”

The Republican also appeared to contradict himself on how he might use nuclear weapons if he’s elected president. He first said he “would not do first strike” but then said he couldn’t “take anything off the table.”

Clinton said Trump was too easily provoked to serve as commander in chief and could be quickly drawn into a war involving nuclear weapons.

Some frequently hot-button issues were barely mentioned during the intense debate. Illegal immigration and Trump’s promises of a border wall were not part of the conversation. And while Clinton took some questions on her private email server, she was not grilled about her family’s foundation, Bill Clinton’s past infidelities or voter doubts about her trustworthiness.

Hillary for Wisconsin announces debate watch parties

Hillary for Wisconsin will host a number of debate watch parties across the state on Sept. 26.

A glance at the plans:

Madison Debate Watch Party

WHEN: 8 p.m.

WHERE: Plan B, 924 Williamson St., Madison.

Milwaukee Debate Watch Party

WHEN: 8 p.m.

WHERE: Milwaukee Coordinated Campaign Office, 1107 W Historic Mitchell St., Milwaukee

La Crosse Debate Watch Party

WHEN: 8 p.m.

WHERE: 117 Fifth Ave. S, La Crosse

Green Bay Debate Watch Party

WHEN: 8 p.m.

WHERE: Brown County Democratic Party, 118 S Chestnut Ave., Green Bay

WHY IT MATTERS: North Korea and the 2016 election

THE ISSUE: Pariah state North Korea could soon be capable of targeting America with nuclear weapons. Economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation have failed to halt its progress. What can the U.S. do to stop the authoritarian government from building up a nuclear arsenal that threatens the United States and its allies in Asia?

WHERE THEY STAND

Republican Donald Trump says the U.S. can put more pressure on China to rein in its unpredictable North Korean ally. He has suggested that Japan and South Korea could get nuclear weapons to defend themselves rather than depend on the U.S. military. But he’s also ready to meet the North Korean leader.

Democrat Hillary Clinton isn’t contemplating a face-to-face with Kim Jong Un, who has met no other foreign leader. She wants the international community to intensify sanctions on North Korea as the Obama administration did with Iran, which eventually opened the way for a deal to contain its nuclear program.

WHY IT MATTERS

Unlike Iran, North Korea already has the bomb. It has conducted four underground nuclear test explosions since 2006. The most recent test was in January, when it claimed to have detonated a hydrogen bomb — a much more powerful device than in the previous tests — although the U.S. government doubts that claim.

North Korea is also working on ways to deliver nuclear weapons. After five failures, it successfully test-launched in June a ballistic missile that puts U.S. military bases in South Korea, Japan and Guam within reach. North Korea has displayed an intercontinental missile that could potentially hit the mainland U.S., although it has not yet been flight-tested. It could take several more years to perfect that missile, which can be moved by road, making it harder to destroy pre-emptively. The U.S. military has said North Korea may by now have developed a nuclear warhead small enough to mount on such a missile.

The U.S. keeps 28,500 troops based in neighboring South Korea as a deterrent force, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War that ended without a formal peace treaty. North Korea is unlikely to launch a nuclear attack on the U.S. or its allies, a move that would invite its own destruction. But, mindful of the fate of ousted dictators in Iraq and Libya who gave up nuclear weapons programs, Kim is clinging to his. He views atomic weapons as a security guarantee for his oppressive regime. That is the main obstacle to resuming negotiations in which the North could win much-needed aid in exchange for disarming.

International attitudes to North Korea are hardening. The nuclear test in January triggered the toughest sanctions yet, restricting the North’s access to foreign currency and weapons technology, but it remains to be seen how aggressively China enforces them. In a sign of how seriously the U.S. takes the emerging North Korean threat, it is investing in missile interceptors in Alaska and California to combat it. U.S. experts estimate that North Korea has 13 to 21 nuclear weapons, and could have as many as 100 by 2020. That’s about 20 weapons fewer than what India is estimated to have in its arsenal today.

WHY IT MATTERS: Health care and the 2016 election

THE ISSUE: About nine in 10 Americans now have health insurance, more than at any time in history. But progress is incomplete, and the future far from certain. Millions remain uninsured. Quality is still uneven. Costs are high and trending up again. Medicare’s insolvency is two years closer, now projected in 2028. Every family has a stake.

WHERE THEY STAND

Hillary Clinton would stay the course, making adjustments as needed to major government health insurance programs. She’d build on President Barack Obama’s health care law, with one exception — a tax on generous coverage that she’d repeal. Medicare, the health care program for older Americans and the disabled, would get new legal powers to negotiate prescription drug prices with pharma companies. Clinton would also offer some relief from rising out-of-pocket costs, like deductibles and copayments.

Donald Trump would repeal “Obamacare.” But a recent study found his plan would make 18 million people uninsured. Stay tuned, because Trump has also said he doesn’t want people “dying on the street.” Similar to Clinton, he has promised not to cut Medicare. He agrees Medicare should be able to negotiate drug prices, unusual for a Republican. Trump’s campaign has said he may revisit major health care programs once in the White House.

WHY IT MATTERS

Patients from all over the world come to America for treatment. U.S. research keeps expanding humanity’s ability to confront disease. But the U.S. still spends far more than any advanced country, and its people are not much healthier.

Obama’s progress reducing the number of uninsured may be reaching its limits. Premiums are expected to rise sharply in many communities for people covered by his namesake law, raising concerns about the future.

The health care overhaul did not solve the nation’s longstanding problem with costs. Total health spending is picking up again, underscoring that the system is financially unsustainable over the long run. Employers keep shifting costs to workers and their families.

No one can be denied coverage anymore because of a pre-existing condition, but high costs are still a barrier to access for many, including insured people facing high deductibles and copayments. Prescription drug prices — even for some generics — are another major worry.

The election offers a choice between a candidate of continuity — Clinton — and a Republican who seems to have some core beliefs about health care, but lacks a coherent plan.

If the presidential candidates do not engage the nation in debating the future of health care, it still matters.

Even if you’re healthy, deeper national debt affects the economy and in some way everyone’s standard of living, especially the next generation. If the government has to spend more on health care, it comes at the expense of more debt, cuts in something else or higher taxes.

America’s problem with health care spending can’t be ignored or wished away. Political leaders can postpone hard choices, but that will mean consequences even more wrenching when the bill comes due.

This story is part of AP’s “Why It Matters” series, which will examine three dozen issues at stake in the presidential election between now and Election Day. You can find them at: http://apnews.com/tag/WhyItMatters.

WHY IT MATTERS: The Supreme Court and the 2016 election

THE ISSUE: No one likes an even number on a court that makes decisions by majority vote. Yet that’s just what the Supreme Court has been left with, eight justices, since the death of Antonin Scalia in February.

Four cases ended in a tie after Scalia’s death. With Senate Republicans refusing to confirm President Barack Obama’s choice to succeed Scalia, the outcome of the presidential election will determine whether the ninth, tie-breaking justice moves the court right or left. How much can one vote matter?

In key decisions in recent years on health care, gun rights, same-sex marriage, voting rights and campaign finance, the vote was 5-4. And more Supreme Court appointments probably await the next president because two justices will be older than 80 and a third will be 78 come Election Day.

WHERE THEY STAND

Both Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump have made the future of the Supreme Court part of their pitch to their respective party faithful. In talking about the court, Clinton has stressed her support for abortion rights, LGBT issues and immigration. Trump has released a list of 11 conservative state and federal judges whom he would consider nominating if elected.

WHY IT MATTERS

The current vacancy is the moment both sides alternately have wished for and feared. Supreme Court nominations are always important because a justice can serve a quarter century or more. But the stakes are even higher when the president has a chance to put a like-minded justice on the court to take the place of an ideological opponent. Such a switch can change the outcome of some of the court’s most important cases.

That’s the tantalizing opportunity for Democrats and why Republicans have been resolute in refusing to consider Obama nominee Merrick Garland. Though Garland has a reputation as a moderate, he still would be left of Scalia on most issues.

A Clinton victory in November would, with the confirmation of Garland or someone else as the ninth justice, immediately shift the court to the left and result in a majority of justices nominated by a Democratic president for the first time since 1969.

If Trump is elected, he presumably would restore the court’s conservative tilt by appointing a like-minded successor to Scalia.

So the direction of a court closely divided between conservatives and liberals is at stake. The Supreme Court may be the least understood of the three branches of government, but its decisions affect Americans rich and poor.

A switch of one vote would have doomed Obama’s health care overhaul in 2012, kept the heart of a voting rights law in place in 2013 and prevented some Americans from marrying their same-sex partners in 2015.

Chances are Trump or Clinton will have other Supreme Court vacancies to fill, nominations that could cement conservative or liberal domination of the court for decades.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 83, Justice Anthony Kennedy is 80, and Justice Stephen Breyer is 78. Justices tend to retire when their replacement is likely to be of similar ideology.

Garland or another Democratic nominee could be expected to reinforce support for abortion rights, look favorably on executive actions to deal with immigration and climate change and be more willing to uphold campaign finance restrictions. Trump’s choices probably would come down on the other side of those issues and be more skeptical about gun control and consideration of race in higher education as well.

This story is part of AP’s “Why It Matters” series, which will examine three dozen issues at stake in the presidential election between now and Election Day. You can find them at: http://apnews.com/tag/WhyItMatters.

WHY IT MATTERS: The opioid crisis and the 2016 election

THE ISSUE: More Americans are dying from opioids than at any time in recent history, with overdose deaths hitting a peak of 28,000 in 2014. That amounts to 78 Americans dying from an opioid overdose every day, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC uses opioid as an umbrella term for synthetic painkillers and for drugs derived naturally from opium (known more specifically as opiates), such a heroin.

It’s not just the use of illicit opiates like heroin that is on the rise — overdose deaths from prescription painkillers have quadrupled since 1999, tracking a similar increase in the amount of these drugs being prescribed by doctors.

WHERE THEY STAND

Donald Trump sees his plans to build a wall along the Mexican border as essential to stopping the flow of illegal drugs into the country. The Drug Enforcement Administration reports the seizure of drugs at the Southern border quadrupled between 2008 and 2013.

Hillary Clinton proposes spending $10 billion to tackle the drug crisis. Her plan would send more money to states to expand drug treatment and mental health services, promote greater availability of the overdose reversal drug naloxone and support better prevention programs in schools, among other things.

WHY IT MATTERS

More than 2.4 million Americans were addicted to synthetic pain relievers or heroin in 2014, according to the latest federal survey on drug use and health. And that number excludes the millions more — family members, first responders, taxpayers — who feel the ripple effects of addiction in their daily lives.

Clinton has called drug addiction a “quiet epidemic.” But it’s one that’s getting louder, as more and more Americans share their stories and prove that drug addiction follows no standard profile of age, race or class.

For decades, drug addiction was viewed as a criminal justice problem, not a health one. The stigma is lessening, but many states simply don’t have the capability to provide treatment and recovery for people who need it, leaving police departments and emergency rooms to fill the void. Lawmakers and advocates are fighting for precious tax dollars to expand services, but the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that just 0.9 percent of people seeking treatment for a problem related to drugs or alcohol received it.

Experts now believe the sharp increase in prescribed painkillers is to blame. People are quick to share stories of being prescribed dozens of pills for pain relief following procedures as simple as wisdom teeth removal. The strength of these medications can easily cause addiction, forcing many people to turn to a cheaper alternative — heroin — when their prescriptions run out. Roughly 75 percent of new heroin users report first using prescription opioids, the government says.

Lawmakers are beginning to take notice: At the meeting of the National Governors Association in July, 45 governors signed on to a compact aimed at tightening prescribing rules. Several attorneys general are engaged in or considering waging legal battles against major pharmaceutical companies, alleging they played down the risks of addiction when marketing their painkillers.

At the same time, the illicit drugs people are turning to are becoming even more deadly. The synthetic painkiller fentanyl, which is up to 50 times as potent as heroin, is now being manufactured illegally. By sight, it’s impossible to tell the difference between heroin and fentanyl, leaving people unaware of the deadliness of the drugs they are consuming. Northeastern and Midwestern states, such as New Hampshire and Ohio, are seeing a dramatic rise in the use of fentanyl. More than 5,000 people nationwide died from a synthetic opioid like fentanyl in 2014, and that number is only on the rise.

As most politicians know, families and communities are demanding change, and fast.

This story is part of AP’s “Why It Matters” series, which will examine three dozen issues at stake in the presidential election between now and Election Day. You can find them at: http://apnews.com/tag/WhyItMatters.