VIDEO: US presidential race heading toward the finish line

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the U.S. presidential race (all times EDT):

7:50 p.m.

Donald Trump has stayed on message in recent days — and is revealing why.

Trump opened his rally in Pensacola, Florida Wednesday night by predicting victory and then mimicked his aides saying he needs to “be nice and cool.”

“‘Stay on point, Donald,’ Stay on point,’” he teasingly quoted his staff as saying. “‘No sidetracks, Donald. Nice and easy. Nice and easy.’”

Trump has not taken the bait in recent days as Democrats have tried to once again put this treatment of women at the center of his campaign. He has not addressed the matter, instead focusing on criticisms of The Affordable Care Act and the investigation into Clinton’s private email server.

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6:58 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made his strongest statement yet in favor of his party’s presidential nominee, telling supporters in his home state that “we need a new president, Donald Trump, to be the most powerful Republican in America.”

McConnell, who has warned repeatedly that Republicans could lose control of the Senate this year, has been silent on Trump in recent weeks as he has come under fire for his statements about women and his claims that the election is rigged against him. McConnell even told a group of business leaders at a recent speech that if they wanted to hear him discuss Trump, they “might as well go ahead and leave.”

In Kentucky on Wednesday night, McConnell said “if America votes like Kentucky, we’ll be fine.”

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6:53 p.m.

Hillary Clinton says the fatal shooting of two police officers in Iowa is “horrifying” and “heartbreaking.”

Speaking at a campaign rally in Las Vegas, Clinton says that as president, she would “bring the full weight of the law down on anyone who kills a police officer.”

Clinton says she believes everyone is safer when the “police respect the people they protect and the people respect the police who serve them.”

Earlier Wednesday, Clinton called the mayors of Urbandale and Des Moines, the locales where the Iowa police officers served.

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6:39 p.m.

Bill Clinton is making an unannounced stop in Detroit on Wednesday night to meet with black ministers, the city’s mayor and other Democratic leaders ahead of Tuesday’s election.

That’s according to three Democrats familiar with the plans for the private meeting who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to confirm the event.

The former president is making the trip to Michigan ahead of Hillary Clinton’s planned campaign stop in Detroit on Friday. It comes as Republican Donald Trump makes a push for the state, which hasn’t backed a GOP presidential candidate since 1988.

Bill Clinton is expected to meet with black pastors, Mayor Mike Duggan and other local leaders.

The former president was in Iowa on Wednesday but an evening event in Des Moines was cancelled because of the deadly police shooting

—By Associated Press writers Ken Thomas and Dave Eggert.

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6:19 p.m.

Hillary Clinton has called the mayors of Urbandale and Des Moines, Iowa, following the fatal shooting of two police officers.

A Clinton aide says she placed the calls after arriving in Las Vegas, where she’s holding a campaign rally.

The aide says Clinton “expressed her support and her sympathies for the families of the officers and their communities.”

Justin Martin of the Urbandale police force and Anthony Beminio of the Des Moines police department were killed Wednesday in separate attacks.

Earlier Wednesday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump tweeted: “Praying for the families of the two Iowa police who were ambushed this morning. An attack on those who keep us safe is an attack on us all.”

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6:00 p.m.

Hillary Clinton is urging Las Vegas hotel and casino workers to vote early in the presidential election.

Clinton made a surprise stop at employee dining room at the Mirage hotel. She was joined by Nevada Democratic Senate candidate Catherine Cortez Masto.

As people in the crowd yelled out, “Madam President,” Clinton responded, “Let’s make it happen.” She implored workers to “please get out and vote. Be sure you get out and vote.”

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5:33 p.m.

Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte says she wouldn’t want her 12-year-old daughter in the same room as Donald Trump or Bill Clinton.

Ayotte’s comments came in response to a question from New Hampshire talk radio host Keith Hanson in a Wednesday interview. He brought up the 2005 recording of Trump using vulgar language about women and asked also Ayotte if she’d want her daughter in a room with Clinton once she turns 16.

Ayotte responded: “I would not want my daughter in a room with any of them.”

Ayotte withdrew her support from Trump following the 2005 tape, citing her daughter as the reason for changing her vote. She’d previously backtracked after calling him a role model in a debate. In a different radio interview last week, Ayotte agreed when the host said Trump would need Republican allies in the Senate.

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4:29 p.m.

Barack Obama is urging African American voters to see Hillary Clinton’s election as the way to protect his legacy as the first black president.

Obama says Republican Donald Trump would shred his accomplishments, while Clinton would continue on his path. Clinton is making the same argument as some Democrats worry over early voting figures that suggest black turnout may slip from its 2012 levels.

The president is taking his message to North Carolina on Wednesday, a day after he appeared in Ohio. He has upcoming trips to Florida. All three states have significant black populations that could decide the outcome.

Data shows black voters in North Carolina have cast fewer ballots than at this point in 2012, but the Clinton campaign says it can make up the difference by Election Day.

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4:21 p.m.

When Donald Trump mentions his parents onstage, that’s a clue that he knows he’s approaching a pivotal moment in the campaign.

Fred and Mary Trump were clearly on the Republican nominee’s mind Wednesday in Orlando, Florida, six days before the Nov. 8 election. Trump opened his rally there by remembering them as “special, special people” and noted that they weren’t “on the journey” of his campaign. He thanked them for helping give him “a great life.”

Trump has previously invoked them in key moments, including during crucial primaries, when he became the presumptive Republican nominee and during his convention speech.

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4:18 p.m.

President Barack Obama wants North Carolina voters to choose Hillary Clinton as his successor, but he’s also arguing for Democratic candidates down ballot.

North Carolina is the largest presidential battleground state that also has competitive races for governor and U.S. senator.

Obama singled out Democratic Senate nominee Deborah Ross and blasted Republican incumbent Richard Burr. Their matchup will help determine which major party controls the Senate in January.

The president blasted Burr for not opposing Trump and told a Chapel Hill audience they don’t want a senator who says “yes, sir, Mr. Trump.” Obama said a President Clinton will need more Democratic senators like Ross because Republicans are promising gridlock. Burr recently joined other Republicans who said they will block any Supreme Court nominee from Clinton.

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4:09 p.m.

President Barack Obama is unloading on Donald Trump in battleground North Carolina and is suggesting to voters there that “the republic is at risk” if the GOP nominee makes it to the White House.

Obama told the Chapel Hill crowd Hillary Clinton is a “steady … tough” and well-prepared for the job. He said Clinton’s “heart has always been the right place,” while Trump doesn’t have the character for the job.

The president said Trump has many supporters who see him as “their voice.” But he argued that Trump has never cared about working people. Obama also cited Trump’s litany of boorish comments about women, his mockery of Republican Sen. John McCain’s status as a war hero and his spat with the family of a Muslim soldier killed in Iraq.

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4:03 p.m.

Tim Kaine is blasting Republicans for their continued blockade of a Supreme Court nominee while campaigning in Iowa.

Iowa is home to Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Republicans have refused to allow a hearing on Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee to fill an open seat. They’ve said the next president should be allowed to appoint someone.

But Republican Senate candidates have recently been suggesting they’d continue to block nominees if Democrat Hillary Clinton is elected.

Kaine called it a “most serious thing” for Republicans to “thwart” the laws around Supreme Court nominees. He says Republicans are violating the law setting the size of the court at nine justices.

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3:44 p.m.

Some Republicans seem to be trying to delegitimize a Hillary Clinton presidency before it’s clear there will be one. They are threatening to block her Supreme Court nominees, investigate her endlessly or even impeach her.

Perhaps it’s no surprise in an election in which the GOP nominee, Donald Trump, has branded his opponent “Crooked Hillary,” and shouts of “lock her up!” are a staple at his rallies. Few Republicans appear eager to suggest a new era of bipartisan deal-making with a candidate widely seen by GOP voters as untrustworthy.

But the rhetoric is striking because newly elected presidents traditionally enjoy a honeymoon period with Congress and the public.

For Clinton, the honeymoon appears to be over before it’s clear she’ll be elected.

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3:15 p.m.

George P. Bush is suggesting that the last two Republican presidents could vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton.

He’s referring to granddad George H.W. Bush and uncle George W. Bush, neither of whom have endorsed Republican Donald Trump. That’s a rare election year decision by former presidents of either party. And it leaves George P. Bush predicting he’ll be the only member of the dynastic political family who will be voting “straight party-ticket Republican” on Election Night.

Asked by the Associated Press why he thinks that, Bush said he was only speculating and suggested the family’s lack of endorsement is a key signal.

George P. Bush is the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the onetime presumed frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination who was vanquished and labeled “low energy” by Trump.

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3:14 p.m.

A Republican state lawmaker from Oklahoma is walking back his remarks after he posted a news story on Facebook critical of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and added the comment, “2 words … firing squad.”

State Rep. John Bennett, of Sallisaw, told The Associated Press that he posted the comment late Tuesday along with a link to a December 2015 article about Clinton’s response to the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi.

Bennett on Wednesday described the comments as “sarcasm,” and said he wouldn’t wish death upon anyone or encourage violence toward any candidate.

But he also says he believes Clinton’s action in response to the Benghazi attacks “is nothing short of treason.”

A retired U.S. Marine, Bennett has faced criticism for recent remarks calling local Muslim leaders “terrorists.”

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2:30 p.m.

President Barack Obama will spend the final day before the election campaigning for Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire.

Clinton’s campaign says Obama will hold a get-out-the-vote rally for Clinton on Monday afternoon. The campaign hasn’t announced where in New Hampshire the event will be held.

Clinton has been polling ahead of Trump in most polls in New Hampshire, but Clinton has put a renewed focus in the closing days on shoring up Democratic-leaning states.

Obama has a campaign stop planned for Clinton every day from now until Election Day — with one exception. On Saturday, he will rest.

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This story has been corrected to reflect that Bill Clinton was in Iowa on Wednesday, not Tuesday.

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