Clinton campaigns in Illinois; Trump close to making VP call

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Hillary Clinton, standing inside the same chamber that helped shape Abraham Lincoln into the father of the Republican Party, argued Wednesday that Donald Trump was perverting what his party once stood for.

Clinton, flanked by American flags and standing beneath a portrait of George Washington, said Trump is dividing the United States and is a far cry from Lincoln, who argued against slavery in the same chamber in 1858, famously telling the assembled lawmakers that "a house divided against itself cannot stand."

"This man is the nominee of the Party of Lincoln," Clinton said. "We're watching it become the Party of Trump. And that's not just a huge loss for our democracy -- it's a threat to it."

But Clinton also looked inward during her remarks, telling assembled guests that political divisions have caused fear and anxiety to fester and that she realizes she "cannot stand here and claim that my words and actions haven't sometimes fueled the partisanship that often stands in the way of our progress."

Clinton's argument throughout the speech -- delivered with the help of a teleprompter -- was that Trump is not only fueling divisions in the country but was doing so to power his campaign.

"His campaign is as divisive as any we've seen in our lifetimes," Clinton said. "It's built on stoking mistrust and pitting American against American. It's there in everything he says and everything he promises to do as president."

Clinton went on to argue that this was evident in the way Trump talks about Muslims and his call for a ban allowing them to enter the U.S. to his remarks on undocumented immigrants, whom he has pledged to deport.

"I just wish Donald Trump would listen to other people once in a while. He might learn something," Clinton said. "But he's made it clear -- that's not his thing. He only listens to himself."

Clinton's speech comes days after police shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota, as well as an attack on police in Dallas that left five officers dead, galvanized the nation.

Clinton aides hoped that Wednesday's remarks in Springfield would build off a speech Clinton gave last week to the largely African-American audience at the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, where Clinton said it was important to acknowledge "implicit bias" that still exists today in the United States.

Clinton echoed that sentiment Wednesday but called for Americans to listen and empathize with one another.

"Let's think better of each other and hold together in the face of our challenges -- not turn on each other or tear each other down," Clinton said, urging her supporters to not only put themselves in the shoes of officers who could be killed in the line of duty and African-Americans and Latinos who worry about dying at the hands of officers, but also of Trump supporters.

"And yes, let's put ourselves in the shoes of Donald Trump's supporters," Clinton said. "We may disagree on the causes or the solutions to the challenges we face -- but I believe like anyone else, they're just trying to figure out their place in a fast-changing America."

She added, "They want to know how to make a good living and how to give their kids better lives and opportunities. That is why we've got to reclaim the promise of America for all our people -- no matter who they vote for."

And while Clinton criticized Trump over his rhetoric, she too hit the presumptive Republican nominee for banishing some press outlets from his events and for flubbing an answer on the Constitution last week in a speech to House Republicans.

Clinton closed her remarks but arguing the country could live up to the values Lincoln espoused throughout his career, telling supporters that if the country comes together, it could be "the last, best hope of earth."

Meanwhile,  Trump's vice presidential search turned into a head-spinning melodrama Wednesday as candidates vying for the spot hopped on planes and phones to perform frenzied, last-minute try-outs.

For much of the day, Indiana was the unlikely center of the political world -- all thanks to a flat tire.

Trump's plane hit something when it landed Tuesday night, resulting in a popped tire, according to a source familiar with the process. That kept Trump in the state longer than he expected after campaigning with Gov. Mike Pence, setting off a last-minute scramble of high-profile travelers to the Hoosier State as the clock ticked down on his VP decision.

Concerned Trump was unsure and torn about his choice and maybe leaning in a direction they didn't like, his children -- Eric, Don Jr. and Ivanka -- hopped on a plane early in the morning to reach him. Trump and his children wound up having breakfast with Pence at the governor's mansion.

The plane malfunction set off a domino effect with others: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich flew to Indianapolis to meet with Trump on a private jet provided by Fox News host Sean Hannity, two sources with knowledge of the situation told CNN. He was later seen leaving a hotel in the same motorcade as Trump's children.

Trump spoke to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie over the phone for a conversation that included talk about the vice presidency.

And Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions arrived in Indianapolis to meet with Trump to serve as another adviser as the presumptive GOP nominee makes his final decision on a running mate.

Earlier in the day, a Trump spokesperson said the meetings were held in Indiana to allow Trump more time with Pence.

The process of choosing a vice presidential partner is a crucial one that often provides early insight into how a nominee might approach the presidency. Most presumptive nominees operate their vice presidential search quest under intense secrecy with potential candidates sneaking to cloak-and-dagger meetings to avoid the press and maintain the element of surprise ahead of the final announcement. But not Trump, whose search has been remarkably public over the past week.

Trump's search is entering its final phase. Paul Manafort, his campaign chairman, told CNN Wednesday evening that Trump will make his announcement Friday in New York.

Trump later tweeted: "I will be making the announcement of my Vice Presidential pick on Friday at 11am in Manhattan. Details to follow.