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Caitlin MacNeal

Caitlin MacNeal is a News Writer based in Washington, D.C. Before joining TPM, Caitlin interned and wrote for the Huffington Post, the Sunlight Foundation and Slate. She is a graduate of Georgetown University.

Articles by Caitlin

During a rant about the Middle East at a Wednesday night rally in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Donald Trump called President Obama the "founder of ISIS."

“In many respects, you know, they honor President Obama. ISIS is honoring President Obama,” Trump said. “He’s the founder of ISIS. He founded ISIS. And I would say the co-founder would be Crooked Hillary Clinton.”

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Since Donald Trump on Tuesday appeared to suggest that "Second Amendment people" could take out Hillary Clinton if she wins the presidency, his campaign staffers and surrogates came out with conflicting explanations for the remark.

Trump staffers riffed on two basic interpretations: the campaign first said that Trump meant to call on gun rights advocates to exercise their political power and keep Clinton out of office in November, and a campaign spokeswoman later said Trump had been referencing the gun lobby's ability to persuade senators not to confirm pro-gun control Supreme Court nominees.

And even as those staffers argued Trump was making a serious point about mobilizing to keep Clinton from winning the presidency, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) suggested that the comment was just a "bad" joke.

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Katrina Pierson, a spokeswoman for the Donald Trump campaign, on Wednesday morning presented a new explanation for the Republican nominee's Tuesday remark about "Second Amendment people" and Hillary Clinton.

Pierson said that Trump was referencing the power of the National Rifle Association and the gun lobby's potential ability to persuade senators not to approve the nominee Clinton appoints to the Supreme Court if she is elected president.

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Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), one of the first members of Congress who endorsed Donald Trump, on Tuesday evening defended the Republican nominee's line about "Second Amendment" people, arguing that Trump just isn't very "articulate."

During an interview with Hunter on CNN, host Wolf Blitzer noted that after Trump said that there is "nothing you can do" if Clinton selects the next Supreme Court Justice, the GOP nominee added, "Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is." Blitzer said that the way Trump made the comment suggests he was talking about what would happen after Clinton was elected, not before, as Trump and his surrogates have been arguing.

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Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Hillary Clinton's vice presidential running mate, said on Tuesday that Donald Trump's line about "Second Amendment people" shows that he does not have the temperament to be president.

"Nobody who is seeking a leadership position, especially the presidency, the leadership of the country, should do anything to countenance violence," Kaine told reporters in Texas, according to CBS News.

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House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) on Tuesday night said Donald Trump's comment about "Second Amendment people" and Hillary Clinton sounded like "a joke gone bad," though the Speaker admitted he did not hear Trump's full remarks.

"I’ve been a little busy today. I heard about this Second Amendment quote. It sounds like just a joke gone bad. I hope he clears it up very quickly. You should never joke about something like that," Ryan said at a press conference after winning his Republican primary. "I didn’t actually hear the comments, I only heard about those comments."

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Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump in head-to-head matchups in the key battleground states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to a Quinnipiac University poll of likely voters released Tuesday afternoon.

In Florida, Clinton leads Trump by just one point, 46-45. But when third-party candidates are added to the question, Clinton and Trump are tied 43-43, with Libertarian Gary Johnson at 7 points and Green Party candidate Jill Stein at 3.

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Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta on Monday said that Clinton will participate in all three presidential debates, challenging Donald Trump to agree to the schedule.

"Secretary Clinton looks forward to participating in all three presidential debates scheduled by the independent debate commission," Podesta said in a statement. "With so much at stake in the fall elections, she believes these debates will provide the American people with an important opportunity to hear from the candidates on issues critical to the country's future."

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