Trump asks Americans to 'stay true to our cause'

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump celebrated "the greatest political journey in human history" Thursday in a Fourth of July commemoration before a soggy, cheering crowd of spectators, many of them invited, on the grounds of the Lincoln Memorial.

Trump called on Americans to "stay true to our cause" in a program that adhered to patriotic themes. He largely stuck to his script, avoiding diversions into his agenda or re-election campaign. But in one exception, he vowed, "Very soon, we will plant the American flag on Mars."

A late afternoon downpour drenched the capital's Independence Day crowds. But Trump's speech unfolded in occasional rain, and the warplanes and presidential aircraft he had summoned conducted their flyovers as planned, capped by the Navy Blue Angels aerobatics team.

Trump became the first president in nearly seven decades to address a crowd at the National Mall on Independence Day.— AP

We have a wiener! Hot dog champs repeat

NEW YORK — Joey "Jaws" Chestnut ate 71 wieners and buns to secure his 12th title at Nathan's Famous annual July Fourth hot dog eating contest on Thursday, just a few hot dogs shy of breaking the record he set last year.

In front of a crowd of fans and facing 17 opponents, the California native far exceeded his nearest competitors but didn't quite make or pass the 74-dog mark he reached in 2018.

"I knew it was going to be close. I was trying hard and I was overstuffing my mouth and it wasn't going down," Chestnut, 35, said. "I just needed to find a way to move a little bit faster. I think it's getting harder the older I get."

Miki Sudo won the women's competition by chomping down 31 hot dogs. The 33-year-old fell short of her total last year of 37 frankfurters, but earned her sixth consecutive title by easily beating runner-up Michelle Lesco, who wolfed down 26 hot dogs.

"I don't know if it was the heat, but I really can't complain," Sudo said. "I wasn't feeling in my best shape, so I'm just glad that it was enough to pull off a sixth belt."

Chestnut and Sudo will each take home $10,000.

Chestnut has only lost once since 2007, when he pulled ahead of longtime foe Takeru Kobayashi for the first time. An ESPN documentary released Tuesday features the two former rivals and their training regimens.— AP

GOP critic of Trump quits Republican Party

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, the only Republican in Congress to call for impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, said Thursday he is leaving the GOP because he has become disenchanted with partisan politics and "frightened by what I see from it."

In an opinion article published Thursday in the Washington Post, Amash said partisan politics is damaging American democracy.

Amash filed in February for re-election in 2020 as a Republican in a race that has since drawn three primary challengers, his first intraparty challenge since 2014. Amash's chief of staff said Thursday that Amash plans to run as an independent.

Trump responded immediately to Amash's announcement, tweeting Thursday: "Great news for the Republican Party as one of the dumbest & most disloyal men in Congress is 'quitting' the Party."— AP

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