Nation and World briefs for October 17

Trump tells AP he won’t accept blame if GOP loses House

WASHINGTON — Facing the prospect of bruising electoral defeat in congressional elections, President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he won’t accept the blame if his party loses control of the House in November, arguing his campaigning and endorsements have helped Republican candidates.

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In a wide-ranging interview three weeks before Election Day, Trump told The Associated Press he senses voter enthusiasm rivaling 2016 and he expressed cautious optimism that his most loyal supporters will vote even when he is not on the ballot. He dismissed suggestions that he might take responsibility, as his predecessor did, for midterm losses or view the outcome as a referendum on his presidency.

“No, I think I’m helping people,” Trump said. “I don’t believe anybody’s ever had this kind of an impact.”

Trump spoke on a range of subjects, defending Saudi Arabia from growing condemnation over the case of a missing journalist, accusing his longtime attorney Michael Cohen of lying under oath and flashing defiance when asked about the insult — “Horseface” — he hurled at Stormy Daniels, the porn actress who accuses him of lying about an affair.

Asked if it was appropriate to insult a woman’s appearance, Trump responded, “You can take it any way you want.”

Trump warns of aid cut over migrant caravan now in Guatemala

CHIQUIMULA, Guatemala — U.S. President Donald Trump threatened Tuesday to cut aid to three Central American nations if they let people travel to the U.S. illegally, reacting to a caravan of some 2,000 migrants advancing through Guatemala with hopes of reaching the U.S. border.

Late Tuesday, Trump said via Twitter that the U.S. had conveyed the same message to the governments of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, telling them that U.S. aid will stop if they allow migrants to travel from or across their countries with the intent of entering the United States without permission.

“Anybody entering the United States illegally will be arrested and detained, prior to being sent back to their country!” he addee.

Amid the tweeting, the migrants continued their trek. Despite having walked all day Monday with swollen, blistered and aching feet, the group rose shortly after sunrise from sleeping on the ground in their clothes in the town of Esquipulas.

Dozens attended Mass at the basilica in the city just across the border from Honduras and about 90 miles (150 kilometers) east of Guatemala City. The migrants resumed their journey escorted by Guatemalan police and covered some 30 miles to arrive in the town of Chiquimula for the night.

Stocks surge, recovering some recent losses

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks rocketed to their biggest gain in six months Tuesday following strong earnings from major financial and health care companies as well as encouraging reports on the economy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 547 points.

Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and UnitedHealth led a parade of companies that reported profits for the third quarter that surpassed analysts’ expectations. Technology companies also jumped after taking steep losses during the market’s rout last week.

The S&P 500 index jumped 59.13 points, or 2.1 percent, its largest gain since March 26, and finished at 2,809.92. Stocks have bounced around over the last three days, and the S&P 500 is down 4.1 from its record high on Sept. 20. The Dow gained 547.87 points, or 2.2 percent, to 25,798.42.

The Nasdaq composite climbed 214.75 points, or 2.9 percent, to 7,645.49 as technology companies reversed some of their outsize losses from the last few days. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks had its biggest rally in almost two years as it surged 43.74 points, or 2.8 percent, to 1,596.84.

Investors were encouraged by some good news on the economy. The Labor Department said U.S. employers posted the most jobs in two decades in August while hiring continued to increase and the Federal Reserve said output by U.S. factories, mines and utilities climbed in September despite the effects of Hurricane Florence.

O’Rourke lays into Cruz as polls widen in Texas Senate race

SAN ANTONIO — Democrat Beto O’Rourke abandoned his usual message of unity and optimism on Tuesday and laid into Ted Cruz, hoping to reverse polls that show him fading against the Republican incumbent during the second debate of a Texas Senate race that’s become one of the nation’s most closely watched.

During the opening moments, Cruz criticized O’Rourke for past votes supporting a never-enacted oil production tax that might have hit oil-rich Texas hard. O’Rourke responded by evoking a moniker Donald Trump bestowed on Cruz when the pair were bitter rivals during the 2016 Republican presidential primary, saying, “Senator Cruz is not going to be honest with you” and “it’s why the president called him Lyin’ Ted and its why the nickname stuck.”

A former Ivy League debate champion, Cruz shot back, “It’s clear Mr. O’Rourke’s pollsters have told him to come out on the attack.”

The pair clashed on abortion regulations, the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and a border wall backed by the Trump administration.

When O’Rourke said he wanted to expand federally funded health care to more Americans, Cruz said that would mean socialized medicine that would cost trillions and require sky-high tax increases. O’Rourke said Cruz hadn’t done enough to stand up to Trump when it came to Russia and that the state needs a “full-time senator” rather than someone who concentrates on running for president.

Hurricane is blamed for 16 deaths in Florida alone

PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Hurricane Michael killed at least 16 people in Florida, most of them in the coastal county that took a direct hit from the storm, state emergency authorities said Tuesday. That’s in addition to at least 10 deaths elsewhere across the South.

The scope of the storm’s fury became clearer after nearly a week of missing-persons reports and desperate searches of the Florida Panhandle neighborhoods devastated by the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental U.S. in nearly 50 years.

The count of 16 dead was twice the number previously tallied by The Associated Press.

Emergency authorities said 12 of the deaths were in Bay County, where the storm slammed ashore with 155 mph (250 kph) winds and towering storm surge last Wednesday.

Bay County includes Mexico Beach, the ground-zero town of 1,000 people that was nearly obliterated, as well as Tyndall Air Force Base, Panama City and Lynn Haven, all of which were heavily damaged.

Nevada legal pimp, candidate, star of HBO series found dead

PAHRUMP, Nev. — Dennis Hof, a pimp who gained notoriety for an HBO series about his brothel business and who fashioned himself as a Donald Trump-style Republican candidate for the state Legislature, was found dead hours after his extended-weekend 72nd birthday bash, authorities said Tuesday.

Hof was pronounced dead in his private residence at his Love Ranch brothel west of Las Vegas, Nye County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly said.

Ron Jeremy, a pornographic movie star who attended Hof’s party on Monday night, told The Associated Press that he and a woman found Hof’s body after Hof failed to meet them.

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Hof’s eyes “were not full” and his skin felt cold, said Jeremy. “He was totally stiff. And I’m saying ‘Honey, we really have a problem here.’”

A group that included sheriff’s employees and several women watched several hours later as Hof’s body was removed on a stretcher beneath a red shroud, past lawn furniture, Grecian-style statutes and signs advertising the bordello as, “Always Open, Always Tasty, No sex required.”