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Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images(PHOENIX) -- A colorful primary, a negative ad blitz, national attention and early voting have all been a part of the Arizona Senate race.

But up until now, there’s been one missing piece: a debate.

The two candidates who are vying to win the open Senate seat, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Martha McSally, are finally set to square off Monday night in Phoenix in the only confirmed debate between the two in this race.

Squabbling between the parties over the number of debates -- Sinema asked for two and McSally’s team agreed to just one -- and the congressional calendar that kept the candidates, who are both current members of Congress, in Washington led to the debate being set for Oct. 15, just 22 days before Election Day and five days after early voting started in the state.

Airworthy polling in the race has been limited, but most put the result either within the margin of error or have Sinema with a slight lead, which appears to be shocking McSally.

“The fact that she’s even in the running is just like ridiculous honestly at this point,” McSally said to supporters gathered ahead of a door-knocking event Saturday in Phoenix.

The comment comes after a string of old quotes by Sinema were shared publicly throughout the week, including one where she appears to call Arizonans “crazy,” and another where she likened the Copper State to a “meth lab of democracy.” She and her team have written the quotes off as being taken out of context and the latest instances of McSally and Republicans looking to focus on negative smears rather than the issues.

For Republicans, it’s key to hold on to the seat that is currently held by Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, who decided not to run for re-election.

George Bingham is a Republican from Arizona who was handing out McSally posters at a rally held for her with Mitt Romney in Gilbert on Friday. Bingham said that he sees this as a “huge, huge election” that has implications that extend far beyond Arizona.

“We have a president that needs all the Republican support that he can get in the Senate,” Bingham said.

“If he wants to get his agenda done, he’s going to need every Republican senator,” he said.

Another Arizona Republican, Scott Weinberg, said that he saw the recent hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, where Flake played a telling role in approving the judge’s recommendation from the Senate Judiciary Committee, as a clear example of why Republicans need to hold on to the seat.

“I think it’s super important given what we just saw with the Kavanaugh confirmation. Things have gotten so cut-throat in D.C. It’s risen to a new level I think that’s just one more vote that we’re going to have to hopefully we can maintain the majority in the Senate,” Weinberg told ABC News at a "Get Out The Vote" event in Phoenix Saturday.

Democrats, however, see the possible flip of the seat from red to blue as a way to thwart Trump and slow down or stop the implementation of his agenda.

Pam Potter, a college professor who was knocking on doors in Peoria on behalf of Democratic candidates, including Sinema, said she thinks this Senate race is one of the “really important” ones this cycle.

“Right now, we have a president unchecked. Right now they [Republicans] have all the houses,” Potter said.

“Kyrsten specifically is a moderate Democrat. She is ready to work on the issues rather than a partisan stance,” she added.

“In many respects, she is the best replacement for John McCain in that she is willing to put the good of the people ahead of ideology,” she said of the longtime Arizona Republican who passed away in August.

Rina Parisi was a registered Republican for her “entire life” before switching after the 2016 election. She said that she is supporting Sinema in this "vital" Senate race because she feels she fits what she sees as the evolving nature of Arizona.

“The demographics here are changing and I don’t think we have the representation of what the demographics are today,” said Parisi, who knows Sinema personally having had the congresswoman as an instructor at Arizona State University. “We’re no longer the Wild West. We have people from all over the country. It’s not just ranchers who only see each other when they go into town for groceries. We need someone who can represent a population that is diverse and I think Kyrsten is the embodiment of diversity.

“The thing that impressed me about her: how well she listens. She cares, and she does the extra footwork for individuals,” Parisi said while attending an Arizona Democratic Party volunteer event.

Given the close nature of the race and the Senate headcount, it’s no surprise that it is attracting national attention. It’s sure to be thrust into the spotlight later in the week as well, as the Trump campaign announced this weekend that the president will be coming to Mesa for a rally on Oct. 19 as part of a “western swing.”

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Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- Georgia Sen. David Perdue has stirred up a host of new questions after he appeared to dodge a college student's inquiry by ripping the student's cellphone out of his hand in the midst of a video recording.

The GOP senator was at Georgia Tech on Saturday to campaign for Georgia gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp when he was approached by a member of the school's Young Democratic Socialists of America chapter and asked about tens of thousands of voter registrations that Kemp, as the current secretary of state, is refusing to process.

The student in the video can be heard starting to ask Perdue a question, but he's cut off before finishing.

"How can you endorse a candidate ..." he says, before Perdue takes the phone from his hand ending his question.

"You stole my property, you stole my property," he says.

Perdue responds, "You wanted a picture?"

"Give me my phone back, senator," the student says.

Perdue immediately gave the phone back and kept walking.

Perdue did not respond to a request for comment from ABC News.

In a statement to the Washington Post by Perdue spokeswoman Casey Black, she said, "The senator clearly thought he was being asked to take a picture, and he went to take a selfie as he often does. When he realized they didn’t actually want to take a picture, he gave the phone back."

Nonetheless, the Young Democratic Socialists of America at Georgia Tech lashed out at the senator.

"Senator Perdue will quickly endorse racists for the governorship, but ask him why and he'll steal your phone," the group wrote on Facebook. "He's a coward who's afraid to answer questions from students, citizens, and constituents."

Kemp and Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams have been locked in a bitter battle for the state's governorship. Abrams accused Kemp last week of refusing to certify 53,000 voter registration applications to "suppress the vote for political gain and silence the voices of thousands of eligible voters -- the majority of them people of color."

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a lawsuit over the uncertified applications on Thursday.

"Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp has been a driving force behind multiple voter suppression efforts throughout the years in Georgia," Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said in a statement last week. "If there is one person in Georgia who knows that the ‘Exact Match’ scheme has a discriminatory impact on minority voters, it’s Brian Kemp because we successfully sued him over a mirror policy in 2016."

Kemp has said those voters can still cast their ballots at the polls on Election Day with a valid ID and accused Abrams' desire to avoid that as her encouraging undocumented immigrants to vote. Kemp released a statement about the lawsuit on Sunday afternoon.

"Stacey Abrams lied about voter suppression in Georgia to motivate her base of supporters," Ryan Mahoney, Kemp's communications director, said in the statement. "Now, she is demanding voting rights for illegal immigrants in the November 6th election."

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CBS via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump, in a wide-ranging interview on CBS' 60 Minutes, dithered on whether he believes climate change is manmade, called the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi "disgusting," defended his friendship with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and said he believed, despite mocking her at a rally two weeks ago, that he treated Christine Blasey Ford with respect.

Here are the highlights of the interview.

Trump refutes that climate change is a 'hoax' but won't say it's manmade

Trump went back and forth with "60 Minutes" correspondent Lesley Stahl, who has interviewed him three times since his nomination at the Republican National Convention in 2016, on each issue, but first up was climate change. Last week, an intergovernmental report from a United Nations panel on climate change found that the continued release of greenhouse gas emissions at their current rate would create a worldwide crisis by 2040.

Trump said he would not call climate change a "hoax," but he would not admit that humans have had an influence, either.

"I think something’s happening," Trump said. "Something’s changing and it’ll change back again. I don't think it's a hoax, I think there's probably a difference. But I don't know that it's man-made."

Trump announced over a year ago that he intends to remove the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement, a non-binding resolution the U.S. signed in 2016 that agreed to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

Stahl challenged Trump's statement, and said his own government scientists at NASA and NOAA have reported otherwise.

"I'm not denying climate change. But it could very well go back," Trump said. He started to argue that there's a large time frame for comparison, millions of years.

"But that’s denying it," Stahl said.

"They say that we had hurricanes that were far worse than what we just had with Michael," Trump said.

"Who says that? 'They say?'" Stahl followed up.

"People say," said the president.

Stahl asked about the scientists who are raising the alarm on climate change and saying it is, in fact, worse now than ever before, but Trump argued that he'd have to take a look at their political motivations.

"You'd have to show me the scientists because they have a very big political agenda, Lesley," Trump said.

There's 'something really terrible' about the disappearance of Khashoggi

The United States is going to get to the bottom of the disappearance of Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, Trump said, and there will be "severe punishment" if Saudi Arabia is found responsible.

"There's a lot at stake, a lot at stake. And maybe especially so, because this man was a reporter," Trump said. "There's something -- you may be surprised to hear me say that -- but there's something really terrible and disgusting about that, if that were the case, so we're going to have to see. We're going to get to the bottom of it and there will be severe punishment."

But when asked whether or not he would impose sanctions against Saudi Arabia if they were involved, Trump said that it depends on what the sanctions are, noting that major defense contractors secured a deal with the Saudis to build military equipment and he wouldn't want any potential punishment to cost American jobs.

"Boeing, Lockheed, Raytheon," Trump said, listing the companies. "I don't want to hurt jobs. I don't want to lose an order like that, there are other ways of punishing. To use a word that's a pretty harsh word but it's true," Trump said.

Trump on thousands laughing at Blasey Ford at rally

Trump defended mocking Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in front of a cheering, laughing crowd at a Mississippi rally two weeks ago where he imitated her and said, "How did you get home? I don’t remember. How did you get there? I don’t remember. Where is the place? I don’t remember. How many years ago was it? I don’t know."

He also said without that speech, he may not have been able to get Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on the country's highest court.

"Had I not made that speech, we would not have won. I was just saying she didn't seem to know anything," Trump said.

Ford, who accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault back when they attended high school together in Maryland, was asked during the hearing what her strongest memory from the alleged assault was.

"Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter. The uproarious laughter between the two. And their having fun at my expense," Ford responded, adding, "They were laughing with each other."

Kavanaugh has directly refuted all claims of sexual assault from Ford and others.

"Professor Blasey Ford got before the Senate and -- and was asked what's the worst moment. And she said, 'When the two boys laughed at me, at my expense.'" Stahl said.

"OK, fine," said Trump.

"And then I watched you mimic her and thousands of people were laughing at her," Stahl said.

"They can do what they -- I -- I will tell you this. The way now Justice Kavanaugh was treated has become a big factor in the midterms. Have you seen what's gone on with the polls?" Trump responded.

He defended his comments, and said "the person that we're talking about didn't know the year, the time, the place.”

He went on to say that he felt Ford was treated with "great respect."

Trump claims US and North Korea almost went to war

So far, North Korea has been "a great achievement," the president said, claiming that the day before he came into office, the countries almost went to war.

"I will say this. The day before I came in, we were going to war with North Korea," Trump said.

"I think it was going to end up in war," Trump said. "And my impression is -- and even in my first few months, I mean, that rhetoric was as tough as it could possibly get. Doesn’t get any tougher than that. Nobody's ever heard rhetoric that tough. We were going to war with North Korea," Trump said.

Over those few months, the president called Kim "little rocket man" and said that continued threats against the U.S. would be "met with fire and fury like the world has never seen."

"Now, you don't hear that. You don't hear any talk of it. And he doesn't want to go to war, and we don't want to go to war, and he understands denuclearization and he’s agreed to it. And you see that, he’s agreed to it. No missiles," Trump said of Kim.

Trump could not answer whether or not the North Koreans, while not testing missiles, are still building them.

He also said he has no plans to ease sanctions on North Korea: "This isn't the Obama administration. I haven't eased the sanctions. I haven't done anything. I haven't done anything. We're meeting. I believe he likes me. I like him. We have a good relationship. It's very important."

Stahl pushed Trump on recent comments he made that he and Kim "fell in love."

"I want to read you his resume, OK? He presides over a cruel kingdom of repression, gulags, starvation -- reports that he had his half-brother assassinated, slave labor, public executions. This is a guy you love?" she asked.

Trump called it a figure of speech, and eventually turned the focus to ending threats against the U.S.

"Look. Let it be whatever it is. I get along with him really well. I have a good energy with him. I have a good chemistry with him. Look at the horrible threats that were made. No more threats. No more threats," Trump said.

On China: It's not a trade war, it's a 'skirmish'

Trump said he might be imposing more tariffs on China, but said they want to negotiate.

"I have a great chemistry also with President Xi of China. I don't know that that's necessarily going to continue. I told President Xi we cannot continue to have China take $500 billion a year out of the United States in the form of trade and others things," Trump said.

But don't call what's going on between China and the U.S. a trade war. According to Trump, it's not a war, or a battle, but a "skirmish."

"I called it, actually I called it a battle. But, actually, I'm going to lower that. I consider it a skirmish. And we're going to win," Trump said.

Trump says Mattis 'may leave,' as 'everybody' does

The president defended his stance on NATO, the organization of North American and European countries that Trump said was created to take advantage of the U.S.

Stahl asked Trump about reports that his Secretary of Defense Gen. James Mattis told him NATO and other strategic alliances are created to "prevent World War III."

"Frankly, I like Gen. Mattis. I think I know more about it than he does. And I know more about it from the standpoint of fairness, that I can tell you," Trump said.

"I'm fully in favor of NATO, but I don't want to be taken advantage of," Trump said.

When asked if Mattis could be out the door, Trump said he has a good relationship with Mattis –- but added he is "sort of a Democrat."

"I have a very good relationship with him. I had lunch with him two days ago. I have a very good relationship with him. It could be that he is, I think he's sort of a Democrat, if you want to know the truth," Trump said.

"But Gen. Mattis is a good guy. We get along very well. He may leave. I mean, at some point, everybody leaves. Everybody. People leave. That's Washington," Trump added.

On Russia, the president's relationship with Putin and possible meddling

In a testy exchange, Trump challenged Stahl’s question about why he doesn’t seem to have anything bad to say about Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"You don't know what I talked about with Putin in the meeting prior to the press conference," Trump said about the joint press conference with Putin in Helsinki over the summer.

"No, I mean publicly. You never say anything harsh about him," Stahl replied.

"Excuse me," Trump said. "I didn't? I'm the one that gave Ukraine offensive weapons and tank killers. Obama didn't. You know what he sent? He sent pillows and blankets. I'm the one-- and he's the one that gave away a part of Ukraine where Russia now has this."

"I think I'm very tough with him personally. I had a meeting with him. The two of us. It was a very tough meeting and it was a very good meeting," Trump said.

Trump did admit Putin "probably" has ordered assassinations and poisonings as Stahl said.

When asked directly if Russia meddled in the 2016 election, Trump added that China probably did, too.

"They -- they meddled. But I think China meddled too," Trump said.

Stahl then accused Trump of diverting her question about whether or not Russia meddled.

"You are diverting the whole Russia thing," Stahl said.

"I'm not doing anything," the president said. "I’m saying Russia, but I'm also saying China."

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Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon's political arm is spending $3 million on digital ads targeted at getting out the vote ahead of the midterms, according to Bannon.

The new push, just three weeks before the midterms, is funded by Bannon's new outside political group, a 501(c) 4, called "Citizens of the American Republic" that he formed in August.

Groups under 501 (c) 4 are social welfare organizations that must not be organized for profit and "must be operated exclusively to promote social welfare," according to the IRS.

Bannon will be out on the campaign trail stumping for Republican candidates who are considered vulnerable with the message that even though President Donald Trump isn't on the ballot, the midterm election is a referendum on his presidency.

He'll be traveling to 10 states including Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Michigan, Arizona, Iowa, Minnesota, Texas and Florida, with a message that the president is at war with the Democrats, and that the Supreme Court nomination hearings for Justice Brett Kavanaugh was a preview to impeachment hearings that the Democrats will try to hold against Trump.

"Trump has delivered the goods, now it's time for the deplorables to deliver the votes," Steve Bannon told ABC News on Sunday.

Bannon wrote and directed a documentary called "Trump at War," with the goal of galvanizing the political base. Bannon said he'll air the film on Tuesday, in the Dallas congressional district where Republican Congressman Pete Sessions is attempting to hold onto his seat.

Donald Trump Jr. is hosting a fundraiser for Sessions on Thursday, and Vice President Mike Pence held a rally for Sessions in Dallas last week.

"Our focus on explaining that a vote for any House Republican is a vote to stop the Democrats from impeaching the president completely broke through during the Kavanaugh hearings," Bannon's political strategist Sam Nunberg told ABC News. "If the president continues to communicate that the 'Democrat Pelosi Mob' will impeach him if they are in power, we are highly confident we can hold them at the gates and keep the House in Republican hands. A red wave is rising."

According to Nunberg, he and Bannon are running a daily war room until Election Day, which they are referring to as "Judgment Day."

Despite Bannon's push to keep Trump in power, the relationship between Trump and his former chief strategist deteriorated in January 2018 when Bannon reportedly called the infamous Trump Tower meeting between Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Jr. and Russians, "treasonous."

He was forced to step down from the board at conservative website Breitbart, and Rebekah Mercer, a wealthy billionaire who has supported Bannon's political activity in the past, also cut ties with him at the time. She has not supported Bannon's political efforts since.

On election night, Bannon said he will be blocks away from the White House, holding a Facebook Live town hall.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Incensed by the detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson, President Donald Trump called for a plan to be drawn up in late August for the complete withdrawal of U.S. diplomatic personnel from Turkey, senior administration and State Department officials tell ABC News.

The unprecedented plan to essentially shutter an American embassy and all diplomatic missions of a NATO ally would have occurred over a 60-day period, starting with the removal of chief diplomats and ending with the eventual drawdown of all diplomatic personnel, according to one senior U.S. official with knowledge of the plan. The plan to remove the diplomats over the two month period was designed to put incremental pressure on the Turkish government.

"For a while, we were in fear of an apocalyptic break in relations with Turkey," a senior State Department official said.

"It would be starting with the chargé [d'affaires] to send a message: 'no personnel left behind,'" the official said. The U.S. has not had an ambassador in Turkey since October of 2017, making the chargé d'affaires the most senior diplomat in the country.

The plan was among half-a-dozen options including increasing sanctions on business and Turkish officials, and it's execution would have been more seriously considered if Brunson was not released at his hearing in October.

But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was said to be vocal in opposition to the plan, nevertheless took on the president's order and an eight-page plan was drafted, according to the State Department official. It was so closely guarded and sensitive that few State Department officials dared to even utter that it was a Turkish withdrawal plan. Some referred to it as "the Turkey thing."

The State Department has denied that any such plan was drawn up.

"The assertion that there was a plan to close our diplomatic relations with Turkey or our diplomatic facilities in Turkey is patently false," said State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert.

"As a matter of policy, we never discuss our internal process other than to say that we always consider a full range of options when addressing international responses,” Nauert said. “Mission Turkey is one of our most important posts in Europe. We will continue to devote the necessary diplomatic attention and resources befitting a NATO ally."

A White House spokesperson did not comment on the record.

According to multiple administration officials, President Trump was furious with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan because the president was given assurances that Brunson would be released when the pastor filed an appeal to his house arrest. The appeal was rejected by a Turkish court in August.

"POTUS felt personally betrayed by Erdogan over this issue -- he went back on his word-- it was a personal affront and it made Trump fly off the handle," another administration official told ABC News.

White House chief of staff John Kelly suggested the U.S. only remove nonessential personnel from the U.S. missions in Turkey, according to a source familiar. Yet others who had the president’s ear, like National Security Adviser John Bolton, did not oppose the plan for removing all personnel.

Pompeo, who has been one of the president’s most trusted Cabinet members since he took office, expressed the most opposition. According to two administration officials, he argued it should only be a last resort, and that such a move could cause irreparable damage to the relationship with a key NATO ally.

While the plan for full diplomatic retreat was most drastic and drew comparisons among State Department officials who were working on the plan to the American diplomatic relations with Iran and North Korea.

"It took immense effort from Pompeo to slow it down," this official said.

The president’s strong desire to remove U.S. embassy personnel from Turkey ended when pastor Brunson was released on Friday. He had been detained in Turkey for two years on charges of alleged terrorism and espionage -- -- part of a wide crackdown by President Erdogan after an attempted military coup in 2016. Brunson and U.S. officials denied the charges.

The president’s orders for a plan to shutter the U.S. diplomatic presence came just weeks after he had levied harsh steel and aluminum tariffs on Turkey, citing national security concerns, which greatly impacted the country’s currency, the lira.

It's unclear if Turkish officials knew the complete extent of the plan, but the State Department source said they felt increased pressure in recent weeks as the president became focused on freeing the evangelical pastor who has become a symbol of religious freedom among his political base.

"The Turks read the outrage across the board. If Erdogan did not let Brunson go at the [October] hearing, it would be unleashed. Sanctions, everything would be on the table, removing diplomats," said a senior administration official.

"The message was sent -- let it be clear, all diplomatic pressure is on the table," the official said.

Brunson's release came amid another diplomatic crisis within Turkey involving the alleged murder of Washington Post journalist and Saudi national, Jamal Khashoggi. Turkey alleges that he was murdered by the Saudis and is trying to convince the United States of the same. Turkey has a longstanding rivalry with Saudi Arabia and saw Brunson's release as critical to gaining U.S. support in this separate crisis.

On Saturday, the president met with Brunson in the Oval Office of the White House, where he reiterated that there was no secret deal made with Turkey in exchange for his release.

"We do not pay ransom in this country," Trump said. as he proudly celebrated Brunson's return.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- A top economic adviser to President Trump responded to a recent U.N. report warning of a possible climate crisis within a little over two decades, saying, "I think they overestimate."

Larry Kudlow, director of the White House National Economic Council, responded to a question from ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on This Week Sunday about a United Nations report on Oct. 7 saying that the world needs to take drastic action against global warming to prevent potentially irreversible consequences by 2040.

“We're always studying these things,” Kudlow said. “The issue here though is magnitudes and timing. Personally, I think the U.N. study is … way, way too difficult. I won't say it's a scare tactic but I think they overestimate.”

Kudlow said he wasn’t “denying any climate change issues,” but questioned the accuracy of report’s findings.

“George, I'm just saying, do we know precisely? And I mean, [is it] worth modeling things like how much of it is manmade, how much of it is solar, how much of it is oceanic, how much of it is rain forest and other issues?” Kudlow said. “I think we're still exploring all of that.”

“I don't think we should panic,” he added. “I don't think there's a, you know, imminent catastrophe coming, but I think we should look at this in a level-headed and analytical way.”

The report by researchers on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that if the world doesn’t act to significantly reduce carbon emissions in the atmosphere, potentially irreversible damage from climate change could occur much sooner than anticipated.

Trump responded to the report Tuesday, saying it “was given to” him, but he needed “to look at who drew it.”

“I want to look at who drew it. You know, which group drew it. Because I can give you reports that are fabulous, and I can give you reports that aren’t so good. But I will be looking at it. Absolutely,” the president said.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Bernie Sanders said Democrats' chances in the midterm elections hinge on their ability to motivate voters to get to the polls.

The Vermont independent and former Democratic presidential candidate told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on This Week Sunday, “In my view, what this whole election will come down to is whether we can mobilize people to come out and vote.”

Sanders noted a drop in voter turnout in 2016, when Republican Donald Trump won the presidency.

He said his message to voters is, "We have to end one-party rule in Washington. Right now you have a president, you have leadership in the House and the Senate, working overtime to the needs of the wealthiest people in this country, turning their backs on working families."

Sanders’ comments come as Democrats seek to turn their steady advantage in midterm polling into electoral success. A new ABC News/Washington Post poll released Sunday shows Democrats with an 11-point lead nationally among registered voters in House races. But FiveThirtyEight’s Senate forecast has shown that Democrats face a difficult road to winning control of the Senate, just a one-in-five chance.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- A leading Republican critic of President Donald Trump slammed the suggestion that the U.S. could resume separating migrant and refugee families at the U.S. border, saying the policy is 'simply ... un-American.'

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., responded to a question from ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on This Week Sunday about a report that the White House is weighing a new effort to separate families at the border in hopes of reducing the number of people trying to enter the country illegally.

The president on Saturday commented on the proposal, which was first reported by The Washington Post.

"If they feel there will be separation, they won't come," Trump said.

Stephanopoulos asked Flake about Trump's talking about bringing back family separations in some form just as a new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows Democrats have a huge edge on immigration over Republicans.

"Is the president making a mistake here?" Stephanopoulos said.

Flake responded, "Yes, he is. We shouldn’t bring that policy back. That, that simply is un-American, and I think everybody recognized that. The president seemed to. Certainly the first lady and others spoke directly against it."

In an exclusive interview with ABC's Tom Llamas last week, first lady Melania Trump said the administration's earlier family separation policy was "unacceptable."

"It was unacceptable for me to see children and parents separated," the first lady said. "It was heartbreaking. And I reacted with my own voice."

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- A top economic adviser to President Trump responded to a recent United Nations report warning of a possible climate crisis within 12 years, saying, "I think they overestimate."

Larry Kudlow, director of the White House National Economic Council, responded to a question from ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on This Week Sunday about the Oct. 7 report saying that the world needs to take drastic action against global warming to prevent potentially irreversible consequences by 2030.

“We're always studying these things,” Kudlow said. “The issue here though is magnitudes and timing."

Kudlow said he thought the U.N. report was "way, way too difficult." "I won't say it's a scare tactic, but I think they overestimate," he added.

Kudlow said he wasn’t “denying any climate change issues,” but questioned the accuracy of report’s findings.

“George, I'm just saying, do we know precisely?" Kudlow said.

“I don't think we should panic,” he added. “I don't think there's a, you know, imminent catastrophe coming, but I think we should look at this in a level-headed and analytical way.”

The report by researchers on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that if the world doesn’t act to significantly reduce carbon emissions in the atmosphere, potentially irreversible damage from climate change could occur much sooner than anticipated.

Trump responded to the report Tuesday, saying it “was given to” him, but he needed “to look at who drew it.”

“I want to look at who drew it. You know, which group drew it. Because I can give you reports that are fabulous, and I can give you reports that aren’t so good. But I will be looking at it. Absolutely,” the president said.

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George Frey/Getty Images(GILBERT, Ariz.) -- Mitt Romney came to Arizona to help out a fellow Senate hopeful and he ended up getting in a jam himself.

The former presidential candidate and governor headlined a rally for Rep. Martha McSally on Friday in Gilbert, Arizona, to help boost her campaign to fill the Senate seat being left open by Sen. Jeff Flake’s departure, but comments Romney made after the event have drawn some criticism.

When Romney was asked what happened with his efforts to stop Donald Trump from becoming president in 2016, Romney denied being a leader in the so-called "never Trump" movement.

“I don't think that was the case,” Romney said.

“President Trump was not the person I wanted to become the nominee of our party, but he's president now. The policies he's promoted have been pretty effective. And I support a lot of those policies. When there's a place where I disagree, I point that out,” he said.

That description runs counter to what many remember from the 2016 campaign.

The most notable instance of Romney expressing his displeasure with Trump’s candidacy came in March 2016, when he held a news conference laying out a plan for voters in various states to help block Trump from winning the party’s nomination.

"Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud," Romney told an audience at the University of Utah at the time. In the speech, he suggested viewers play the delegate process against Trump, meaning, he said, that voters should cast their primary ballots for “whichever one of the other two contenders has the best chance of beating Mr. Trump in a given state.”

Romney’s description on Friday of his role -- or lack thereof -- in the "never Trump" movement is the latest in a tumultuous back and forth between the two men through the years, which included a Trump endorsement when Romney ran for president in 2012 and then the March 2016 bashing by Romney when Trump ran.

After Trump won the election, their relationship seemed to be on an upswing when Romney was very publicly considered as a possible secretary of state for Trump, but that soured months later when Romney publicly called for Trump to apologize over his comments about the violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Another olive branch appeared to be extended earlier this year, when Trump offered -– and Romney accepted –- his endorsement of Romney’s bid to fill Sen. Orrin Hatch’s seat in Utah.

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(RICHMOND, Ky.) -- President Donald Trump gave unusually strong praise for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for his role in Judge Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court at a rally in Richmond, Kentucky, Saturday evening.

"There's nobody tougher, there's nobody smarter," Trump said of McConnell to a cheering crowd of some 6,000 supporters in the senator's home state. "He stared down the angry left-wing mob."

McConnell briefly took the stage and praised Trump for his judicial nominations, asking him to keep it up.

Trump said that Democrats "demonized" Kavanaugh before knowing anything about him.

"What happened to him was so unfair, I've never seen anything like it," Trump said. "And we stuck with him all the way because we knew the facts."

Trump went on to compliment McConnell further.

"He goes down as the greatest leader, in my opinion, in history," the president said.

"He’s better when I’m president than he ever was when anybody else was president," he added, smiling.

Trump's praise Saturday contrasts with his criticism of McConnell in the past, especially during the Republican effort to reform healthcare last year, when he once told reporters he was "very disappointed" in McConnell.

Kind words were similarly shared between Trump and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who himself has not always been on the best of terms with the president.

“Some of you may remember that once upon a time he was not my first choice for president -- but I will tell you, he grows on you,” Paul said to the crowd before Trump arrived. "I will also tell you that every day, virtually every day, he exceeds my expectations."

For his part, Trump praised Paul as "a senator of great common sense."

While taking credit for many economic achievements since taking office, Trump stopped to focus on coal, which represents a large market in Kentucky.

"We have ended the war on clean, beautiful coal," he said. "We're putting our miners back to work like never before."

Trump came to Kentucky to support Republican Congressman Andy Barr, representing Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District, where the rally took place. The president called Barr "a great congressman," and implored the audience to vote for him.

Barr is facing off against Democratic challenger Amy McGrath, a former Marine fighter pilot, on Nov. 6.

Though Trump praised military members during his talk, he did not reference the combat experience of McGrath, whom he described as "an extreme liberal."

Trump also attacked Democrats more broadly.

"The Democrats have become totally consumed by their chilling lust for power," he said.

Later on, Trump described the Democratic party as the "party of crime," billing the GOP as the "party of safety."

Before leaving the White House for the Richmond rally, Trump met with Pastor Andrew Brunson, who was just released after almost two years of detention in Turkey. He commented on the matter during the rally.

"That one wasn't easy," Trump said. "And we don't pay ransom. We don't pay ransom."

Trump did not address the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi early this month in Saudi Arabia, nor the Saudi government's possible involvement. He did, however, raise the possibility of "severe punishment" for the regime in a recent interview with "60 Minutes."

Some attendees in Richmond told ABC News they cared most about specific issues, such as coal jobs in Kentucky, or repealing Roe v. Wade, while others called themselves moderates and came merely to witness their president speak.

Three more rallies in key midterm states -- Montana, Arizona and Nevada -- were announced for next week as Trump was still on stage in Kentucky.

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Drew Angerer/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) --  Sen. Jeff Flake earned national attention when he helped demand a delay in Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation process to allow for an FBI investigation.

In his home state of Arizona, Republicans that would make up his base of supporters don’t seem very bothered by his role in the week-long delay, but more disappointed with him in general.

Adrenne Kelley, a 37-year-old Republican in Phoenix, said that she’s voted for him in the past and she was “kind of surprised” by his effort to slow the process down, but ultimately thought it was a good move.

“I was very supportive of his decision to halt things,” she said.

The more vocal critics of Flake appear to take issue less with his role in the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, especially since Flake ultimately voted for Kavanaugh both the Senate Judiciary Committee and in the full senate vote, but more with his breaks from President Donald Trump and what they see as the Republican agenda at large.

That’s the case for Vera Davis, a 68-year-old from Greater Phoenix, who said that her issues with Flake stem from his votes and opposition to Trump before Kavanaugh and she wasn’t particularly fussed by his role in the Kavanaugh confirmation.

“I am angry because he told me at a meeting that he would not become a RINO [Republican In Name Only],” Davis said.

Sherry Fritz, who attended a Republican party event ahead of a door-knocking effort this morning, said that she thinks it’s for the best that Flake isn’t running for re-election.

“It’s good that he’s resigning because he’s not going to win. He’s wishy washy,” Fritz said.

“How dare any of these Republican leaders in the Senate or in Congress not support the president," she said. "Are you kidding me?”

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Paul Morigi/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Joe Biden may be playing coy on his rumored presidential run in 2020, but the former vice president has been anything but in the lead-up to the November midterms.

Biden has been traversing the country to campaign for Democratic candidates hoping to be a part of a so-called blue wave to sweep the midterms.

An aide to Biden told ABC News that he plans to focus on areas where Democrats can pick up potentially vulnerable red seats or hold on to key seats they already hold.

Since Labor Day, Biden has campaigned in Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey, Rhode Island and California. He headlined two rallies in Kentucky and Indiana on Friday alone.

Biden's appearances Friday with two red-state Democrats could be an indicator of Biden's unique appeal in the Democratic party as a politician who can win over blue-collar voters -- a bloc he believes Democrats will need to win back the White House in 2020.

“We can’t possibly in my view win the presidency unless we can begin to reclaim those white working-class voters that used to vote for us,” Biden told the New York Times in an interview after his rally in Kentucky.

In his remarks in Kentucky and several other campaign stops, Biden has talked about his understanding of working-class values from his own upbringing and his decision not to invest in stocks, bonds or business venture to avoid being influenced by money.

“I know, as I said, that I’m called middle-class Joe. It’s not meant as a compliment -- it means I’m not sophisticated. That’s been my handle for the last 40 years. But I know what made the country what it is: ordinary people doing extraordinary things,” Biden said to a large burst of applause Friday.

His remarks at campaign events focus on solutions for the middle class -- as well as drawing a sharp contrast with President Trump.

“The question is not who is President Trump. America knows who he is,” Biden said in Kentucky. “The question is: ‘Who are we?’"

In Bath County, which is nearly 97 percent white, the majority of which do not have a bachelor’s degree, Biden drew a crowd of more than 2,200 people while campaigning with Amy McGrath for Kentucky's 6th district.

“I do think he’s going to build up some excitement and get more people out to the polls that may have been just not really paying much attention, and who maybe don’t vote in congressional elections,” said Jennifer Wells-Hosley, who came from Lexington to hear McGrath and Biden speak.

Biden urged attendees to have an optimistic outlook about Democrat’s prospects in the midterms.

“I predict to you that Democrats will win 40 seats in the house, and I predict to you there is a better-than-even chance that we win the Senate,” Biden said in a London speech Wednesday.

He has endorsed more than 50 candidates in House, Senate and gubernatorial races across the country ahead of an election he says is “bigger than politics.”

What remains to be seen is how effective a counter Biden could be to President Trump in the midterms. The two, who have engaged in tough talk in the past, stumped for candidates in Kentucky’s 6th district -- one of the most closely watched races of the midterms -- within a day of each other.

While Biden was focused on ginning up the vote for McGrath in Kentucky, the crowd was already looking ahead to 2020, chanting "Run, Joe, Run" when McGrath praised him for coming back to the campaign trail after leaving the White House.

The possibility of hearing a 2020 candidate was a motivating factor for some in the crowd.

“I would be interested in seeing him run,” said Whitney Harder, of Lexington, who came out in part to hear what Biden had to say about issues. “I think he has charisma to rally people, and I think Democrats need that right now.”

“I don’t care as much if someone is a political outsider because I do think that experience in policy is important,” Harder continued.

Biden said Wednesday he is not a candidate for 2020 "at this point," but will make a decision about a possible run by January.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- American pastor Mark Brunson is expected to visit the White House Saturday after being released from almost two years of detention in Turkey.

Brunson landed at Joint Base Andrews around noon with his wife, Norine. Tony Perkins, who was traveling with Brunson as part of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, told ABC News he was "thrilled" upon landing on U.S. soil.

President Trump announced on Twitter that he will meet with the pastor, who was detained in Turkey on suspicions of espionage and plotting to overthrow the government, in the Oval Office.

“Pastor Andrew Brunson, released by Turkey, will be with me in the Oval Office at 2:30 P.M. (this afternoon). It will be wonderful to see and meet him. He is a great Christian who has been through such a tough experience. I would like to thank President @RT_Erdogan for his help!” Trump tweeted.

After his release, Brunson was flown to Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany and was greeted by U.S. Ambassador Richard Grennell, who presented him with an American flag. Grennell says Brunson "immediately" lowered his head to kiss the flag.

Brunson’s detainment has been a flashpoint in American-Turkish relations, and his release is a major victory for the Trump administration.

The president issued sanctions against the Turkish government in retaliation for not releasing the pastor and to add economic pressure to the cause.

In his tweet about their White House meeting, Trump specifically thanked his Turkish counterpart, Recep Erdogan, for his assistance in freeing Brunson. The two leaders tangled over Brunson, but Trump said over the summer he would not allow for any concessions in exchange for Brunson’s release.

On Saturday, Trump pushed back on recent reports that the United States and Turkey struck a deal that included the softening of sanctions.

“There was NO DEAL made with Turkey for the release and return of Pastor Andrew Brunson. I don’t make deals for hostages,” Trump said. “There was, however, great appreciation on behalf of the United States, which will lead to good, perhaps great, relations between the United States & Turkey!”

The pastor’s release frees up diplomatic bandwidth to focus on the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a consulate in Istanbul.

A Turkish court sentenced Brunson, an evangelical Christian pastor, to more than three years in prison on terrorism charges but then set him free.

He has denied the allegations against him.

“I’m proud to report that earlier today we secured the release of Pastor Andrew Brunson from Turkey,” Trump said at a campaign rally in Ohio on Friday. “I think he’s going to be in great shape. And then he’s coming to Washington, D.C., tomorrow and we’ll say hello to him.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders thanked a bipartisan group of members of Congress who worked on Brunson’s release. The lawmakers include: Senators Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina; James Lankford, R-Oklahoma; Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire; and Thom Tillis, R-NC; and Representatives Patrick McHenry, R-NC; Mark Walker, R-NC; and David Price, D-NC.

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(Kenya) -- Melania Trump, maybe America's most private first lady ever, is a woman whose quiet presence on Pennsylvania Avenue is almost the polar opposite of the image projected by her husband.

Her reserved voice contrasts with the president, who often speaks unfiltered whenever he wants.

But when she sat down with ABC News for a rare interview during her recent trip through Africa, she spoke freely, describing times when she has disagreed with her husband as well as what she likes about her role — which she repeatedly emphasized she does, indeed, like.

“I love Washington. I love to live there. And I made the White House home — for our son and my husband — and we love to live in the White House,” Trump told ABC's Chief National Affairs Correspondent Tom Llamas.

“We are very honored to serve our great nation,” she added.

With a scenic wildlife preserve in Kenya as the backdrop, Llamas asked Melania Trump if traveling was one of the best parts of being first lady. Yes, she said, it was.

“But it's also when I travel across the world and across the country, meeting people, and hearing and helping them as much as I can, and hearing what is important to them,” she added.

Nevermind that her husband has taken a vastly different approach when it comes to his views on a global community. Last month, he told the U.N. General Assembly, “We reject the ideology of globalism and embrace the doctrine of patriotism.” And earlier this year, President Trump sparked backlash at home and abroad after reportedly calling certain African nations “s---hole countries” during a meeting with senators in the White House. The president later denied using that language.

Long before traveling the world as first lady of the United States, Melania Trump spent her youth in a small central European town before navigating the ranks of the fashion world and eventually landing in the country she now calls home.

Born Melania Knauss in Slovenia in 1970, she worked as a fashion model in Italy and France before moving to New York in 1996. Shortly thereafter, she met a real estate developer with big buildings and an ego to match.

During an interview with Barbara Walters in 2015, the first lady described how the two met.

“Well, he was very charming and we had the great sparkle. He came with a date. So he asked me for the number and I said, ‘I will not give you my number. So if you give me your numbers, I will call you.’ So I see what kind of numbers he will give me. Because I don't want to be one of the ladies. And he was known as kind of a lady's man.”

The mogul and the model would marry in 2005.

“We have a great chemistry and to be with a man like my husband is you need to know who you are,” Melania Trump told Walters during the campaign in a 2015 interview. “You need to have a very independent life and supporting him, you need to be very smart and quick, and be there for him when he needs you.”

Now, 16 months into living in the White House, she says there have been challenges.

Trump says she wants to make the most of these White House years. And yet, she says not everyone wants to help. The first lady lamented that organizations have spurned her efforts to collaborate, accusing them of allowing her husband’s politics to get in the way of her charitable endeavors.

“It's sad to see that organizations and foundations that I want to partner with choose not to because of the administration,” the first lady said. “And I feel they’re choosing the politics over helping others.”

Who exactly said no? Trump wouldn’t specify, saying, “I would not talk about it. They know who they are. I don’t want… I don’t want to put them out in front of the world, but they know who they are.”

There are also those repeated accusations of sexual misconduct and infidelity leveled against her husband.

One incident, in particular, garnered an apology from her famously stubborn husband – the release of the Access Hollywood tape during the run-up to the 2016 election, in which Trump is heard making vulgar comments about women.

“During the Access Hollywood incident during the campaign, your husband apologized to you. Has your husband apologized to you since you've been in the White House?” Llamas asked the first lady.

“Yeah, he apologized,” she said, before declining to divulge further details.

Six days after her interview with Llamas, the first lady’s staff clarified her comments, telling ABC News, “The president often apologizes to Mrs. Trump for all the media nonsense and scrutiny she has been under since entering the White House.”

Asked if her husband’s alleged affairs — which the White House has denied — have put a strain on their marriage, she said that people and the media like to speculate and circulate gossip.

“I'm a mother and a first lady, and I have much more important things to think about and to do,” she told ABC News. “It is not a concern and focus of mine.”

Speaking to ABC News in Africa, she addressed the #MeToo movement, calling on sexual assault accusers to present “really hard evidence” if they decide to go public with allegations.

“I support the women – they need to be heard. We need to support them. And also men, not just women,” Trump said. “You cannot just say to somebody… ‘I was sexually assaulted’ or ‘You did that to me.’ Because sometimes the media goes too far and the way they portray some stories, it’s not correct. It’s not right.”

Still, the first lady presses on. She spoke of her son, Barron, who is now 12 and whom she keeps shielded from the spotlight. After the inauguration, she stayed with him in New York until he finished the school year. She said she doesn’t always go to his sports practices and games because it would “bring the attention.” “I don't go much,” she said. “He likes to be one of the boys when they play. … It's his life too, and I respect that.”

During her time in Africa, Trump sought to highlight her major policy initiative, “Be Best,” which raises awareness about the effects of online bullying on children, among other things. The first lady explained how her experience being bullied led in part to her "Be Best" initiative, going so far as to suggest she is one of the most bullied people in the world.

"I could say that I'm the most bullied person in the world," Trump said. Pressed by Llamas on that assertion, she responded, "One of them, if you really see what people are saying about me."

Both online and on TV, people often focus on what Trump wears. Sometimes it’s because of appearances at glamorous diplomatic or ceremonial events in the White House or abroad.

But then, there was the jacket.

Boarding a plane to Texas to meet with children of families separated at the border, Trump was spotted donning a green jacket with the words, “I really don’t care, do you?” emblazoned on the back. Her choice of wardrobe caused backlash before her flight landed just hours later, with her concern for those children of separated families immediately being called into question.

After her team initially denied any subtext in the jacket’s words, the first lady told Llamas that wearing that jacket was, in fact, a deliberate choice, meant “for the people and for the left-wing media who are criticizing me. I want to show them that I don't care. You could criticize whatever you want to say, but it will not stop me to do what I feel is right.”

“It was kind of a message, yes. I would prefer that they would focus on what I do and on my initiatives than what I wear,” she said.

Asked about suggestions that the jacket’s message was directed at the children of separated families.

“It's obvious I didn't wear the jacket for the children,” she said. “I wore the jacket to go on the plane and off the plane. … After the visit, I put it back on because I see how [the] media got obsessed about it.”

Aside from the media scrutiny, being in the White House presents additional challenges.

In spite of her appreciation for the nation’s capital, she doesn’t trust everyone who works for her husband there. Trump told ABC News some of the people in the president’s administration whom she didn’t trust have left, while others still work there.

"It's harder to govern," the first lady said, adding that she tells her husband when she distrusts someone working for him. "You always need to watch your back."

Despite all this, Trump said she hasn’t changed since uprooting her life in New York City and moving to the nation’s capital.

“I'm staying true to myself. I want to live [a] meaningful life, and that's the most important to me. I know what my priorities are, and I'm focused on that,” she said.

Trump says she has the same close group of friends she had before coming to Washington. “I always prefer quality over quantity,” she said. Asked if it’s hard to make friends in Washington, the first lady said, “Sometimes; you need to be careful.”

“You know, our first first lady, Martha Washington, famously said the role of first lady can sometimes feel like a state prisoner. Can you relate to that?” asked Llamas.

“I don't feel like a prisoner. No. I [am] enjoying it, and this will not last forever. And it's [a] very special time,” she said.

Some of the biggest misconceptions about her, she said, have been what she called the “speculations” — that she’s “out of touch,” or doesn’t live in the White House, or rumors that spread after she spent time in the hospital for a benign kidney condition, as her spokeswoman reported.

"Speculation, speculations,” Trump said, “and my office put out the statement, a factual statement, and people still didn't believe it.”

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