Sanders home recovering from heart attack

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., departs Burlington International Airport after disembarking from a plane in South Burlington, Vt., on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019. Sanders is back home in Vermont after being treated for a heart attack in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is back at his Vermont home after being treated for a heart attack in Las Vegas.

The plane carrying the 78-year-old senator arrived in Vermont just before 6 p.m. Saturday, one day after he was released from a hospital.

As he left the airport he told reporters “I’m feeling great, thank you.”

He was then driven home in a motorcade where he was greeted by family at the front door.

Sanders was attending a campaign event Tuesday when he experienced chest discomfort and was taken to a hospital.

Sanders’ campaign released a statement from his doctors that said two stents were inserted to open up a blocked artery in his heart.

The doctors said the rest of his stay was “uneventful with good expected progress.”

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Biden fires back at Trump’s attacks

Former Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks during a gun safety forum Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden assured supporters Wednesday night that his message to President Donald Trump is “I’m not going anywhere” as he laid out his most forceful pushback yet to Trump’s baseless attacks.

In a rebuke of Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, the former vice president said during a 20-minute speech at a rally that he’s not surprised Trump asked a foreign government for help to defeat him. Trump’s effort to enlist Ukraine has sparked an impeachment inquiry in the Democratic-led House.

Trump and his allies have accused Biden and his son Hunter, without evidence, of participating in the kind of corruption that has plagued Ukraine. They point to Hunter Biden’s service on the board of a Ukrainian gas company while Biden was leading the Obama administration’s diplomatic dealings with Kyiv. Yet no one has produced evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden.

“Let me make something clear to Trump and his hatchet men and the special interests funding his attacks against me. I’m not going anywhere,” Biden said to loud cheers.

“It’s not about Donald Trump’s antics. It’s about what has brought Donald Trump, and the nation, to this sobering moment in our history and to the choice facing us in 2020,” he said. “What has brought us here is simply this: the abuse of power.”

A complaint by a government whistleblower helped make public Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s president. House investigators said Wednesday they will issue a subpoena demanding all White House and Trump administration documents related to efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son.

“Desperate and defensive, Trump sends one crazed tweet after another _ insinuating that the whistleblower should be dealt with extensively, using the word ‘executed,’ threatening to prosecute the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, warning direly of civil war if he is impeached,” he said.

Biden praised the whistleblower and accused Trump of repeatedly smearing the Biden family.

“Now because of the courageous actions of a whistleblower, Trump’s scheme has been exposed,” he said. “He did it because, like every bully in history _ he’s afraid. He’s afraid of just how badly he may be beaten in November.”

More than 400 people crowded into the student center at Truckee Meadows Community College for Biden’s rally after he joined eight other White House hopefuls at a gun policy forum in Las Vegas earlier in the day. It marked the first time this year the early Democratic presidential front-runner had brought his campaign to northern Nevada.

Nevada’s caucuses in February follow Iowa and New Hampshire as third in the nominating process. It was one of the few key swing states that Trump failed to carry in 2016. Biden historically has enjoyed strong support from labor unions and others in Washoe County, including Reno and Sparks.

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Trump, GOP raise $125 million in latest quarter

Vice President Mike Pence, President Donald Trump, and Defense Secretary Mark Esper, participate in an Armed Forces welcome ceremony for the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, Monday, Sept. 30, 2019, at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee raised $125 million in the third quarter of the year, a presidential fundraising record.

The pro-Trump effort said Tuesday that it has raised more than $308 million in 2019 and has more than $156 million in the bank. Republicans aim to use the fundraising haul to fight off Democrats’ impeachment effort.

Former President Barack Obama and the DNC raised just over $70 million in the third quarter of 2011.

“President Trump has built a juggernaut of a campaign, raising record amounts of money at a record pace,” said Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale.

RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel credited Democratic attacks on Trump for motivating supporters to donate in record numbers.

“We are investing millions on the airwaves and on the ground to hold House Democrats accountable, highlight their obstruction, and take back the House and reelect President Trump in 2020,” she said.

The fundraising announcement comes as the pro-Trump efforts launched their first major advertising campaign of the cycle. Trump’s team aims to devote $1 billion to his reelection.

Last week, as House Democrats launched their impeachment effort, the Trump campaign announced it would spend $8 million to air an ad attacking Democrats for trying to “steal” the 2020 campaign. The RNC said it would spend $2 million attacking Democrats for their support of impeachment.

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Biden sounds like the front runner…until he doesn’t

Former Vice President Joe Biden responds to a question Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, during a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by ABC at Texas Southern University in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Joe Biden is the Democratic front-runner. And there were moments in Thursday night’s debate when he looked the part.

Standing between a pair of liberal senators offering radical change, he unabashedly embraced his more moderate position on health care, forcefully pressuring Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren to level with Americans about the steep cost of implementing a fully government-run system. He was more polished and practiced than in previous contests. And he repeatedly leaned on the legacy of former President Barack Obama, who remains the most popular Democrat in the nation.

“I’m for Barack — I think the Obamacare worked,” he declared.

But the debate was punctuated by moments that highlighted why Biden can’t shake questions about his consistency and whispers about his fitness for office, despite his lead in most national polls and early state surveys. Most glaringly: a meandering answer near the end of the debate about his past statements on racial inequality. Biden said poor parents should play the “record player” for their children before veering off into comments about Venezuela.

Biden’s standing in the Democratic contest is the source of much debate within the party. Is he an experienced elder statesman who can calm an anxious nation and peel back some of the white working class voters who helped send President Donald Trump to the White House? Or is the 76-year-old past his prime and out of step with a party that is growing younger, more diverse and more liberal?

Thursday night’s contest provided fresh fodder for each of those theories.

Biden was at his best in his lengthy exchange with Sanders and Warren over the future of health care in America. He confidently pressed them over the cost of their sweeping “Medicare for All” proposals, exposing Warren’s unwillingness to say whether middle class Americans would see a tax increase under her plan (Sanders says they would, but argues the rise would be offset by lower health care costs).

In a retort to Sanders, who has said he expects employers would pass on health care savings to their workers, Biden exclaimed: “For a socialist you’ve got a lot more confidence in corporate America than I do.”

Biden was the focus of fierce criticism from his rivals in both of the previous Democratic debates. But those attacks did little to diminish Biden’s standing atop polls, nor has a series of verbal flubs and misstatements throughout the summer.

The other reality: The candidates who have launched the sharpest attacks on Biden have gained little ground or already dropped out of the race. Sen. Kamala Harris, for example, bested Biden in the opening debate with a highly personal critique over his decades-old position on federally mandated school busing, but any boost for her candidacy was short-lived.

Perhaps mindful of that reality, most candidates sidestepped overt criticism of the vice president in Thursday’s debate.

The one notable exception was Julián Castro, who served as Obama’s housing secretary and is in need of a jolt to break out of the lower tier of candidates. In a highly charged moment, Castro challenged Biden’s memory — a barely veiled reference to questions about the former vice president’s age.

“Are you forgetting already what you just said two minutes ago?” Castro said during an exchange on health care.

In a post-debate interview, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker laid into Biden as well, saying there were many people concerned about Biden’s ability to carry the ball “across the end line without fumbling.”

Castro and Booker were zeroing in on real questions that are being asked about Biden. Is he too old to serve as president? If he were the nominee, would he make a mistake at a critical moment that could clear the way for Trump?

Biden’s stumbles later in the debate magnified those questions. He struggled through an answer about the war in Iraq and gave a grab-bag answer to a question about how to repair the legacy of slavery in America. He appeared to suggest that poorer families needed help learning how to raise their children.

Biden’s supporters argue that ultimately, those answers — and the questions they raise — matter less to voters than their overall impressions of the former vice president. Indeed, there is a deep reservoir of goodwill for Biden in the Democratic Party, shaped in large part by the eight years he served as Obama’s No. 2.

Which leaves little doubt as to why Biden spent much of the debate reminding Americans about those years, urging them to see him as the rightful heir to legacy of the last Democrat to occupy the Oval Office.

“I stand with Barack Obama all eight years — good, bad, indifferent,” Biden said.

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Editor’s note: Washington bureau chief Julie Pace has covered the White House and politics for AP since 2007. Follow her at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC

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