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Political Notebook

Trump: ‘Surprise’ question about Pence led him to hesitate

Former congressman Joe Sestak joined his wife and daughter as he spoke to his supporters in 2016.
Former congressman Joe Sestak joined his wife and daughter as he spoke to his supporters in 2016.(Matt Slocum/AP Files)

President Trump says he hesitated to back a possible 2024 presidential run by Vice President Mike Pence because he was caught off-guard by the question. Given a chance at a do-over, however, Trump still did not endorse his loyal lieutenant.

‘‘You can’t put me in that position,’’ Trump said June 14 when a host of Fox News Channel’s ‘‘Fox and Friends’’ asked him about endorsing Pence should the vice president seek to succeed Trump in 2024. Pence hasn’t explicitly said he’ll run in 2024, but is widely expected to.

Offered a chance to explain, Trump told NBC News he hesitated ‘‘because it was a surprise question.’’

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‘‘I’m not even thinking of it. It’s so far out. I mean, It’s so far out,’’ Trump told ‘‘Meet the Press’’ in a wide-ranging interview taped Friday and broadcast Sunday. ‘‘Now what happens in 2024? I don’t know that Mike is going to run. I don’t know who’s running or anything else.’’

For his part, Pence glossed over the flap that Trump’s comments caused, telling CNN’s ‘‘State of the Union’’ on Sunday that Trump’s comment reflected ‘‘the fact that the only election he and I are focused on is 2020.’’ Trump formally announced his 2020 reelection bid last week with Pence at his side.

The interview was airing locally Sunday as Trump arrived at his golf club in Sterling, Va., by helicopter from the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland, where he spent part of the weekend.

Trump also returned to the White House on the helicopter instead of by motorcade, his usual means of travel to and from the club.

White House officials did not respond to requests for comment on the change in the president’s mode of travel.

Associated Press

Former congressman kicks off presidential campaign

Former Pennsylvania congressman Joe Sestak has become the latest Democrat to enter the presidential race.

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The retired Navy admiral who calls himself ‘‘Admiral Joe’’ on his campaign website joins a crowded Democratic field seeking the nomination to challenge President Trump. He was launching his long-shot candidacy Sunday afternoon at a veterans’ museum in Waterloo, Iowa.

Sestak decries what he calls ‘‘America’s retreat from the world’’ and says strong action is needed to deal with climate change, corporate accountability, and China’s geopolitical threat.

‘‘The president is not the problem; he is the symptom of the problem people see in a system that is not fair and accountable to the people,’’ Sestak said in his campaign video.

Sestak served two terms in the House, then defied party leaders by running against incumbent Senator Arlen Specter in the 2010 primary. Sestak beat Specter, but lost the general election to Republican Pat Toomey. Sestak sought a rematch against Toomey in 2016, but national Democrats recruited a primary challenger who defeated him.

He said he delayed his entry into the presidential race while his daughter battled brain cancer, which returned after she first beat it at age 4.

‘‘Throughout this past year, Alex again showed she is stronger than me, heroically beating the single-digit odds once more, drawing on the fortitude of her mom,’’ Sestak said.

Associated Press

Buttigieg to seek outside probes of police shooting

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg says he agrees with community members that outside investigations should take place after a fatal police shooting in South Bend, Ind., where he is mayor.

He spoke Sunday at a sometimes contentious town hall called a week after a white officer fatally shot a 54-year-old black man. Buttigieg left the campaign trail after the shooting to respond to issues of race and policing.

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Buttigieg says he’ll send a letter to the federal Department of Justice’s civil rights division and notify the local prosecutor that he would like an independent investigator appointed.

He also acknowledged the department has fallen short in recruiting minority police officers and introducing body cameras.

Prosecutors investigating Eric Logan’s death say the shooting wasn’t recorded on Sergeant Ryan O’Neill’s body camera.

Associated Press

Oregon GOP lawmakers continue climate bill boycott

The Oregon Senate was again unable to conduct business because of a Republican boycott of the Legislature over major climate change legislation.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reported that Senate president Peter Courtney announced a lack of quorum Sunday.

Republicans fled the Capitol last week to deny the majority Democrats a quorum for the climate bill, intended to reduce fossil fuel emissions.

Unlike last week, Courtney didn’t ask the sergeant-at-arms to search the building for absent Republicans.

The Capitol was closed Saturday on the recommendation of State Police, after antigovernment groups threatened to join a protest planned inside the building.

One of the groups, the Oregon Three Percenters, had joined an armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016.

Associated Press

Trump says he’d rather face Biden, isn’t prepared to lose

President Trump said Sunday that he’d prefer to run for reelection against Joe Biden, suggesting that the former vice president won’t be the ‘‘great candidate’’ Hillary Clinton was in 2016.

Trump told NBC’s ‘‘Meet the Press’’ that Clinton was ‘‘very smart. She was very tough. She was ruthless and vicious.’’

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Asked if he’d rather face Clinton again, the president said, ‘‘I would actually rather run against Biden’’ because ‘‘Sleepy Joe. He’s sleepy. She was not sleepy.’’

That’s a nickname the president has attempted to hang on Biden for weeks, and Trump has also previously suggested that he’d prefer to face the former vice president in next year’s election. He told reporters before flying to Iowa earlier this month that Biden is ‘‘the weakest mentally and I like running against people that are weak mentally.’’

Biden leads early polls in the crowded field of Democrats seeking their party’s presidential nomination. He has largely shrugged off Trump’s insults so far, saying while campaigning in Iowa recently, ‘‘I guess he’s really fascinated by me.’’

Trump suggested Sunday that he wasn’t prepared to lose his reelection bid.

He also praised his performance in the 2016 Electoral College and, when asked about losing the popular vote to Clinton, said, ‘‘There were a lot of votes cast that I don’t believe.’’

He didn’t elaborate, but has repeatedly made unsubstantiated claims that voter fraud cost him the popular vote.

The president’s reelection campaign recently cut ties with many of its own pollsters after leaked internal polling showed Biden beating Trump in several key battleground states, including Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Florida.

Associated Press