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It's easy to believe young voters could back Trump at young conservative conference

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It's easy to believe young voters could back Trump at young conservative conference

People arrive before Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at the “People’s Convention” of Turning Point Action Saturday in Detroit.

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Sporting a “Pretty Girls Vote Republican” baseball cap and several buttons, including one reading “Gun Rights are Women’s Rights,” Lauren Kerby was surprised to be asked who she plans to vote for in the fall.

“Obviously Trump,” she said with a laugh. “I came here for a reason.”

Here is the ‘People’s Convention’, run by Turning Point Action, the advocacy wing of Turning Point USA, one of the largest national organizations focused on engaging students on conservative issues.

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Turning Point – which rose out of concerns about free speech on college campuses, has grown into an unapologetically pro-Trump machine, focused on organizing for the former president ahead of the 2024 election.

It hosts events like these, attracting voters like Kerby and hundreds of others like her who want to party, young conservative style.

And this is certainly a Trump show. At the Huntington Place Convention Center in downtown Detroit, a bejeweled presidential seal with Trump’s face in the center rests on the hood of a gold-painted Mercedes-Benz. At a nearby booth among dozens, vendors are selling “America First” cowboy hats and shirts reading, “Voting Convicted Felon, 2024.”

The festivities this year come as Turning Point Action works to significantly expand its organizing presence in key swing states ahead of the general election, including Michigan, home to this year’s conference.

Just five months out, enthusiasm for Trump is high among younger attendees. NPR spoke with more than a dozen voters under 30, who remain committed to Trump, motivated by to vote for him largely because of his isolationist ideas and focus on the economy and immigration.

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Supporters cheer as Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at the “People's Convention” of Turning Point Action Saturday in Detroit.

Supporters cheer as Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at the “People’s Convention” of Turning Point Action Saturday, June 15, 2024 in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

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Their unwavering support stands in contrast to sentiment of many younger Democratic voters, who remain unsure or unenthused about backing President Biden again.

Trump took the stage Saturday night as the event headliner. He ticked through his proposed second-term agenda and criticized Biden’s record, making little mention of the youth-focused nature of the event, outside of publicly thanking Turning Point founder and longtime supporter, Charlie Kirk, who is a millennial.

“[Kirk’s] got his army of young people,” Trump said. “These are young patriots. They don’t want to see… what’s been happening in our country.”

The former president’s remarks came after two days of speeches from conservative firebrands and high-profile Trump allies, including Republican National Committee co-chair and Trump’s daughter in law Lara Trump, former presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.)

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This year’s conference also comes just over two weeks after a New York jury found Trump guilty of criminal charges, a decision that could negatively impact his chances with younger voters. The latest Harvard youth poll, published in March, found a potential guilty verdict increased Biden’s lead by 10 percentage points among young Americans overall.

Much like their unwavering support in the election, though, voters at the event are unphased by his conviction. His mugshot is displayed on the posters and t-shirts of attendees.

To 20-year-old James Hart, the verdict has little effect.

“I don’t really think, at this point, anyone’s feelings changed. I think everyone knows who they’re going to vote for. We know Trump. Trust me – we know Joe Biden,” said Hart. “We know their policy. We know how they’re going to act. And I trust Trump.”

Where young conservatives stand

For Kerby from Berkeley, Mich., supporting Trump partially stems from his push for isolationism, including limiting U.S. aid to Ukraine in its war with Russia.

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“He’s focused on what’s happening here,” she said, pointing instead to Trump’s focus on reducing illegal immigration.

“Not saying that other places don’t matter, but we should matter first,” Kerby’s friend, Elaina Luca, 21, added. “When you’re in a family, you make sure that your family is okay first.”

Luca is also backing Trump. As a mom with two young kids, she’s most concerned about rising prices.

“When I drive around and see a nice house, I like to look up how much it’s sold for,” she explained. “In today’s economy, it’s like, ‘Oh, wow, how did these people even afford that? …And it’s like, ‘Oh no, they bought it in 2012 for like $150,000 and now it’s worth like $1 million.”

“How am I supposed to get a house to raise my children to live in?” she wondered aloud, “I don’t want to pay for a house for the rest of my life.”

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Turning Point’s 2024 strategy

Former President Donald Trump walks on to the stage to give the keynote address at Turning Point Action's

Former President Donald Trump walks on to the stage to give the keynote address at Turning Point Action’s “The People’s Convention” on Saturday in Detroit, Michigan.

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While Turning Point’s non-profit side has held student conferences for nearly a decade, also sprinkled with appearances from Republican politicians and conservative media figures, this conference marks just the second for Turning Point Action.

The activist network has morphed into a more pronounced political force, planning to ramp up its organizing ground game ahead of the election.

“It’s night and day,” said Turning Point Action spokesman Andrew Kolvet. “Any activities we did, in 2022 for example, in the midterms, was like the Stone Age compared to the level of sophistication and just the resources that we’ve poured into this project to develop it.”

Kolvet is talking about the group’s “Chase the Vote” initiative, a get-out-to-vote campaign focused on reaching low-propensity voters in swing states that launched earlier this spring. Trump recently endorsed the program during a separate Turning Point event in Arizona, another pivotal state in 2024.

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Turning Point hopes to raise $100 million to build up on the ground organizing staff and plans to work with the Trump campaign on canvassing – a notable change from past election cycles following new guidance from the Federal Election Commission.

Despite the roots of Turning Point, the program is not solely focused on young voters, though Kolvet said that will always be tied to Turning Point’s work.

Growing up under Trump, now it’s time to vote

Despite enthusiasm for Trump at Turning Point, Republicans face a steep challenge to bringing in more young voters. Voters under 30 have traditionally voted for Democrats andin 2020, Biden won the age group by a 24-point margin.

Plus – young voters tend to be aligned with Democrats on their key issues – notably on abortion access, addressing climate and curbing gun violence. And despite struggling in polling, Biden still maintains a lead with young voters overall in multiple youth polls.

But among some young conservatives, albeit a proportionally smaller group, Trump’s style of Republican politics – once fringe and now mainstream – is overwhelmingly what they want for their political future.

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An attendee wears a “Team Trump” cowboy hat as people watch speakers during Turning Point’s “Peoples Convention” on Saturday in Detroit.

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“The pro-Trump, MAGA element definitely appeals more towards young conservatives and young Americans in general,” said 19-year-old Ohio student, Gabe Guidarini, a member of the College Republicans of America. “It actually addresses the problems that they face.”

He argued young people have trouble connecting to “old school Republican rhetoric” focused on cutting taxes and government spending, because they are not able to progress financially. And given the time period Gen Z has grown up during, Trump’s deviation from political norms is appealing, he explained.

James Hart agrees. Though the 20-year-old now lives in Tallahassee, he grew up in Detroit. “I was raised Democrat,” he said.

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That is, until 2016, when his family flipped for Trump.

“His personality is what got my family to say. ‘Hey, you know, maybe the Democrats aren’t the greatest,’” he said. “Honesty is the best policy. And up here in the Midwest, we’re honest. We say it like it is. And Trump did that.”

Now, as Hart gets ready to vote for the first time, his mind is made up.

“I think most young people are going after Trump-like candidates,” he said. “We want the fire. We want the passion. We’re tired of the same old, same old. We want bold policy that actually is going to lead with results.”

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Will Harris sway PA voters? A Pittsburgh area Democrat and Republican each have a say

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Will Harris sway PA voters? A Pittsburgh area Democrat and Republican each have a say

Left: Kathleen Madonna-Emmerling, Right: John Wink

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PITTSBURGH – Kathleen Madonna-Emmerling of Moon Township, a municipality that sits a few miles northwest of Pittsburgh, smiles as a server at local staple Primanti Brothers delivers a sandwich stacked higher than a double AA battery.

The story that locals like Madonna-Emmerling tell is that this Pittsburgh-style sandwich – layered with coleslaw, tomato slices, and French fries – was created so that local blue collar workers could drive large trucks and eat with one hand while on a shift.

The sandwich ties back to her family’s history – and that of many other residents in the area – of working in the steel industry and other blue collar jobs, many of which disappeared long ago. Her father was an auto worker involved in the local union. That led to her now working as a community organizer and “multi-hyphenate” political pot stirrer, she said.

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When there were talks of closing a local school, she protested. She’s president of the library board and fought to keep a LGBTQ book on the shelves. She’s run for public office and trained activists to knock on doors at election time to shore up votes for Democrats.

But selling locals on President Biden at the top of the ticket has proven a struggle. His poor showing at the June debate with former President Donald Trump zapped a lot of energy. Then came the attempted assassination on Trump in nearby Butler, which caused a lot of “whiplash” in this area where many voters don’t adhere strictly to one party or the other.

“People are a little bit checked out. People are very tired. And we’re just trying to say, ‘OK , you’re going to be tired about the top of the ticket, but there’s still work to do,’” Madonna-Emmerling said, noting that some door-knocking efforts were slowed down after the shooting out of respect for Republican voters.

She couldn’t quite see a way forward.

Kathleen Madonna-Emmerling poses for a portrait outside a restaurant in Moon Township, Pennsylvania on July 23, 2024.

Kathleen Madonna-Emmerling poses for a portrait outside a restaurant in Moon Township, Pennsylvania on July 23, 2024.

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But then came the historic news that Biden was dropping out and making way for Vice President Harris to take his place. While she wasn’t necessarily calling for Biden to drop out, Madonna-Emmerling said she feels like his decision may prove a consequential one in Pennsylvania, which will again prove key to winning the White House.

“It was a literal exhalation, shoulders lowering,” Madonna-Emmerling said. “We’ve stopped the bleeding.”

More and more volunteers, she said, have called her in recent days about voter outreach efforts since Biden’s move.

“Plug in, let’s go,” she told them. “Get on the train. We’re all going together to the top.”

Their involvement in getting more voters to turn out could make all the difference in Moon Township, and other suburbs that surround Pittsburgh, which historically have voted for Republicans.

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Trump won most of Moon Township’s 13 voting precincts in 2016 when he carried the state, according to Allegheny County Election Results data. And though most precincts again went his way in 2020, Democrats and Joe Biden picked up support in the town, when almost 2,000 more people voted. The same happened in small counties across the state, between here and Philadelphia and helped Democrats win the swing state back.

With the vice president now in the race, a new NPR poll found that the presidential race has hit a bit of a reset. Trump and Harris are now statistically tied, and some independent voters now say they are undecided,

Madonna-Emmerling feels that Harris’ campaign has injected new energy into Democrats, and she feels that the vice president’s background as a prosecutor is a winning combination and makes her an “ideal suburban candidate.”

Polling in the immediate aftermath of Biden’s endorsement for Harris shows she has more work to do with suburban voters, but also has more opportunity with folks in these areas who may now be undecided.

“Often in the suburbs, people want someone who is pro-public safety, pro-police,” Madonna-Emmerling said, adding that many in the area have family who are former military now working in law enforcement. “That can be a really hard barrier to overcome sometimes. And when you can say this is a clear case of a prosecutor against a felon, it’s a home run.”

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But across town, a local Republican says, “We’ll see …”

Moon Township’s elected Republican tax collector John Wink, speaking to NPR from his backyard on a slightly muggy afternoon, said he believes the luster of Harris replacing Biden at the top of the ticket will wear off in the coming weeks.

“We’ll see if that lasts,” Wink said. “I think she’s a terrible candidate. When she actually ran for president, she couldn’t get votes.”

John Wink poses for a portrait outside his home in Moon Township, Pennsylvania on July 23, 2024.

John Wink poses for a portrait outside his home in Moon Township, Pennsylvania on July 23, 2024.

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The core issues that Wink said he feels matter most to voters in this part of Pennsylvania – how they are currently experiencing inflation and securing the U.S.-Mexico border – still favor Trump.

Wink, who serves on the GOP’s state committee, has lived in the Pittsburgh area since he was two years old. His father was once mayor of Hampton Township, north of the city. Wink said he started working on campaigns, stuffing envelopes and putting mailers together for candidates, as early as 15 years old.

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And his wife serves on the library board alongside Democrat Madonna-Emmerling.

Residents and voters here are by and large happy with how the town is run, regardless of the party affiliation of those running the local government, he feels. The roads are well maintained and the police force is good, he added.

It’s Pennsylvania’s status as a swing state, closely watched by national politics, that makes living here interesting from a political perspective, Wink said.

“I’m glad Pennsylvania is a swing state, much more interesting than if it was one way or the other,” Wink said. “It’s a whole lot more fun.”

One of his gauges for how elections might go is looking at campaign signs in front yards.

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“I kind of thought Trump was in trouble in 2020 because I was seeing too many Biden signs, much more so than in 2016, where there were very little in the way of Hillary signs,” Wink remembered.

His verdict right now? It’s too early. There aren’t that many signs out yet, Wink said, but he’s still confident Trump will win.

So what are the keys for Trump and Harris here?

Wink said many local Republicans are excited to vote for Trump again, though he said he wished the party had nominated a younger candidate.

He would’ve liked to see Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis or former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley be the nominee. But Trump won the primaries, and Wink plans to vote for him.

Moon Township a suburban town in Allegheny County on July 24, 2024.

Moon Township a suburban town in Allegheny County on July 24, 2024.

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As for whether Moon Township and areas nearby will vote for Trump or Harris, if she becomes the nominee as expected, Wink and Madonna-Emmerling have a similar view.

Families and seniors on fixed incomes here are struggling with the cost of groceries and other costs of living. Under Trump, “things were humming along pretty well,” Wink said, and if Republicans can communicate that message and get their lower-propensity voters to turn out, the election will be theirs.

Madonna-Emmerling thinks voters here will want a candidate to be honest and relatable and Harris fits the bill.

She says people in this community work hard and care about their families and those around them. Speaking authentically to that could motivate those among them who are non-voters to head to the polls.

“Don’t be fake,” Madonna-Emmerling advised. “We have a strong bull**** detector.”

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The audio version of this story was produced by Taylor Haney and edited by Gabriel Spitzer.

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Kering warns on profits after Gucci sales fall almost 20%

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Kering warns on profits after Gucci sales fall almost 20%

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Kering, owner of Gucci and Saint Laurent, warned on Wednesday that its operating income could fall by as much as 30 per cent in the second half of the year, compounding the woes at the French luxury company.

One of the biggest names in luxury, Kering was a laggard compared to peers LVMH and Hermès during the pandemic-era boom and its performance has only worsened as the industry as a whole has slowed.

Kering said sales at Gucci, its biggest brand accounting for half of revenues and two-thirds of profits, have fallen further with a turnround under a new designer having so far failed to gain traction.

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Second-quarter sales at top brand Gucci fell 19 per cent on a like-for-like basis compared to one year earlier, including “a continuing marked decrease in Asia-Pacific”, Kering said.

Group sales in the three months to June 30 dropped 11 per cent to €4.5bn, and fell short of analysts’ expectations.

Operating income dropped 42 per cent in the first half of the year to €1.58bn, in line with expectations compiled by Reuters after the company guided sharply lower at its last results.

A recurring operating margin of 17.5 per cent in the first half was significantly lower than during the same period last year, which the company attributed to “negative operational leverage”.

“In a challenging market environment, which adds pressure on our top line and profitability, we are working assiduously to create the conditions for a return to growth . . . While the current context might impact the pace of our execution, our determination and confidence are stronger than ever,” said Kering chief executive François-Henri Pinault.

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Kering has said it is continuing to prioritise long-term investment in its brands despite strained demand.

Gucci is still rolling out product lines from its new designer Sabato de Sarno, which the group said were being well received by customers.

But it is not the only brand that is struggling. At Saint Laurent, Kering’s second-largest label, sales fell 9 per cent on a like-for-like basis in the second quarter, accelerating a trend from earlier in the year.

Bright spots were Bottega Veneta, where sales rose 4 per cent in the second quarter, and the company’s eyewear division, where they increased 5 per cent. 

Kering’s shares have fallen more than 23 per cent so far this year to trade at €300 each, giving it a market capitalisation of around €36.6bn.

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This is a far sharper sell-off than industry bellwether LVMH, after Kering shocked investors in April with a sharply lower profit outlook for the first half of the year. 

Controlled by the Pinault family, Kering had already issued a rare profit warning for the luxury industry in March amid falling sales, especially in the crucial Chinese market.

Smaller luxury companies Hugo Boss and Burberry, also in a turnround, have recently warned on profits. 

“More bad news and downgrades,” said Luca Solca, analyst at Bernstein. “The Kering guidance for the first half of the year is de facto materialising.”

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Terminal at New York's JFK Airport briefly evacuated because of escalator fire

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Terminal at New York's JFK Airport briefly evacuated because of escalator fire

NEW YORK — A terminal at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport was briefly evacuated Wednesday because of an escalator fire, officials said.

The fire at JFK’s Terminal 8 was reported at around 7 a.m., Fire Department of New York officials said.

Steve Burns, a spokesperson for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said four people were taken to a hospital for treatment of injuries that were not life-threatening.

Burns said terminal operations resumed by 8:15 a.m. and the cause of the fire was under investigation.

A video posted on X by a passenger from inside a stalled plane showed fire trucks swarming on the tarmac.

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Airlines including American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qantas fly out of Terminal 8.

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