GOP defections grow a day after Trump tries to reset campaign

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Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks to the Trask Coliseum at University of North Carolina in Wilmington, North Carolina, U.S., August 9, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Thayer - RTSM61Q

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JUDY WOODRUFF: For Donald Trump, more discord in his own ranks, as he tries to make up ground in the presidential race. His economic speech of Monday was swept from the headlines by a high-profile rejection today.

The Republican nominee faced new defections just a day after trying to reset his campaign. Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine wrote in The Washington Post that she will not vote for Trump, explaining she’s been — quote — “increasingly dismayed by his constant stream of cruel comments.

And she added, “Treating others with respect is an idea that should transcend politics.”

Trump said nothing about Collins this afternoon in Wilmington, North Carolina. Instead, he went after Democrat Hillary Clinton over gun rights.

DONALD TRUMP (R), Presidential Nominee: Hillary wants to abolish — essentially abolish the Second Amendment.

(BOOING)

DONALD TRUMP: By the way, and if she gets to pick — if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks, although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is. I don’t know.

But I will tell you what. That will be a horrible day.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Clinton has said she doesn’t favor abolishing the Second Amendment.

Criticism of Trump came from 50 Republican national security officials as well. In a letter yesterday, they wrote: “We are convinced that he would be a dangerous president and would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.”

Trump dismissed their opposition this morning in an interview with FOX Business, claiming they would have loved to have been part of his campaign.

DONALD TRUMP: These were the people that have been there a long time, Washington establishment people that have been there a long time. Look at the terrible job they have done. I hadn’t planned on using any of these people.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The candidate also leveled another harsh new charge at Clinton in a tweet about Iran’s execution of a nuclear scientist.

It said — quote — “Many people are saying that the Iranians killed the scientist who helped the U.S. because of Hillary Clinton’s hacked e-mails.”

Trump cited no evidence for the claim, and a Clinton campaign spokesman tweeted back: “Many people are saying equals I made this up.”

Meanwhile, Clinton was hunting for votes in Florida, with a stop in Miami. The Democratic nominee took on Congress, too, demanding that lawmakers return to Washington immediately to vote funding for fighting the Zika virus.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), Presidential Nominee: I am very disappointed that the Congress went on recess before actually agreeing on what they would do to put the resources into this fight.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Clinton has now formally agreed to participate in the three scheduled presidential debates. Trump has said he will too, but may want to renegotiate the terms.

All this comes as more new polls show Clinton surging ahead, and opening up big leads with white college-educated women, a demographic that Republican Mitt Romney won in 2012.

Later, critics accused Trump of suggesting that gun owners resort to violence. The Trump campaign said he was actually referring to political power, urging them to vote in record numbers.

We will hear directly from Senator Susan Collins about why she’s rejected the Trump candidacy right after the news summary.

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