Democrats wasted no time looking for political opportunity after Donald Trump falsely accused Hillary Clinton of starting the rumor that President Barack Obama was not born in the U.S.

Hours later, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York was on Philadelphia R&B station, WDAS, critiquing Trump’s behavior. Days later Clinton’s North Carolina state organizers met in Raleigh, in part to chart how to use negative reaction to Trump’s statement to motivate the state’s disproportionately high black voting bloc to turn out. And Clinton’s team welcomed Georgia Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights activist, to a Philadelphia voter registration event where he railed against Trump’s claim.

Polls suggest Clinton can count on an overwhelming percentage of support from African-Americans. But she can’t necessarily count on them to vote.

“If they feel like they have the African-American community locked up, they should be very, very careful about making that assumption,” Sara Lomax Reese, president of Philadelphia’s independent black radio station WURD, said of Clinton and her team.

One of the biggest questions of the 2016 election is whether African-American voters will turn out for Clinton as they did for the first black president. They voted at a historic level in 2008 and an unexpectedly high rate in 2012.

Also to be seen is how political consequences play out over tensions between majority-white police departments and black communities, stirred by police shootings of African-Americans and ensuing unrest. Saturday marked the fifth day of rallies in Charlotte, North Carolina, since a black man was shot by police earlier in the week.

Trump this month put to rest the myth he had peddled for years that Obama might have been born outside the U.S. But in the same breath, he said Clinton started it. In fact, she steered clear of the conspiracy theory when it bubbled up in the 2008 primary campaign and disregarded advice from her pollster to contrast her American roots favorably with Obama’s.

Seven in 10 blacks nationally say they would be afraid if Trump is elected, compared with 56 of all likely voters nationwide, in an Associated Press-GfK Poll taken Sept. 15-19. About two-thirds of African-Americans would be excited if Clinton is elected president, twice the percentage of all likely voters.

Poll: Americans not Putin fans

Donald Trump has called Russian President Vladimir Putin “a leader — unlike what we have in this country.” But most Americans don’t agree with Trump’s assessment of Putin’s leadership skills, a new Associated Press-GfK poll shows.

Only 24 percent of registered voters say Putin has leadership qualities that would be good for an American president to share, while 71 percent say he does not. In fact, a majority, 56 percent, said they have an unfavorable view of Putin, while only 10 percent said they view the Russian leader favorably.

Voters were split on whether Trump would be too close to Putin, with 42 percent saying they think Trump would be too close, and 41 percent saying his approach would be about right. Fourteen percent think he would not be close enough.

By comparison, most voters (53 percent) think Democrat Hillary Clinton’s relationship with Putin would be about right, while 11 percent think she would be too close and 32 percent think she would not be close enough.

The relationship between the Republican nominee and the Russian strongman began taking on new life when Putin praised Trump last December as “bright and talented” and “the absolute leader of the presidential race.”

The billionaire businessman hailed Putin’s regard for him as a “great honor,” brushing off widespread allegations that the Russian president has ordered the killing of political dissidents and journalists.

Four in 10 Trump supporters and only 1 in 10 Hillary Clinton supporters say Putin has leadership qualities that would be good for an American president to have. Still, even among Trump’s supporters, just 16 percent have a favorable opinion of Putin. Only 5 percent of Clinton’s supporters do.

From Detroit News wire services

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