The Latest: Clinton wins Nevada Democratic caucuses

AP News
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Posted: Feb 20, 2016 5:17 PM
The Latest: Clinton wins Nevada Democratic caucuses

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The Latest on the 2016 presidential election and two crucial contests Saturday: South Carolina's Republican primary and Nevada's Democratic caucuses (all times are Eastern Standard Time):

5:15 p.m.

Hillary Clinton has won the Nevada Democratic caucuses, rebounding after a second-place finish to Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire.

The victory for the former secretary of state over the Vermont senator gives her two wins to one in the race for the Democratic nomination.

Clinton eked out a win in the Iowa caucuses before Sanders posted an overwhelming victory in New Hampshire's primary.

Surveys of caucus-goers taken as they entered caucus sites showed that older women turned out in force to support Clinton, pushing her to victory despite her continued struggles to attract young women.

The competition heads next to South Carolina, which holds its Democratic primary next Saturday.

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4:30 p.m.

South Carolina polls close in a few hours, but for Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio it's never too late to pick up another endorsement.

The latest is Rep. Joe Wilson, the South Carolina congressman who gained national attention in 2009 when he yelled "You lie!" at President Barack during the chief executive's first annual address to Congress.

Wilson told The Post and Courier newspaper of Charleston on Saturday that he cast his ballot for Rubio. Wilson praised Rubio's positions on national defense and said the Florida senator can "bring positive change" to Washington.

Rubio is looking for a strong performance in South Carolina after a disappointing fifth-place finish in New Hampshire. In South Carolina, he's also picked up high-profile nods from Gov. Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott and Rep. Trey Gowdy.

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4:15 p.m.

John Kasich is assuring voters he's tough enough to be president after a woman in Worcester, Massachusetts, told him she worries he's "too nice" to fend off his GOP rivals and world leaders like Vladimir Putin.

Kasich is trumpeting a positive-only message on the campaign trail, refusing to attack his rivals. But he says that doesn't mean he can't take on the Russians and the Chinese.

He tells the crowd: "I don't want you to have the wrong impression: It's possible to be kind and at the same time very tough."

Kasich says he'd sit Putin down and tell him "no more nonsense" and tells the crowd he was the "first one" to say the Islamic State group needs to be destroyed.

And, Kasich tells the crowd, he's been known to be "brusk" and "tough" in his home state of Ohio.

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4:00 p.m.

As caucusing got under way for Democrats in Nevada, voters weighed in on their picks for the party's presidential nominee.

Marley Anderson, 21, a junior from Las Vegas, said she turned out at her first caucus Saturday to support Bernie Sanders because of his stands on social issues.

"He stands for the middle-class," Anderson said, adding that Sanders is "definitely the most trustworthy of the candidates."

Marvin Teske, 53, a security guard at a Reno casino, is backing Hillary Clinton because he worries Sanders would have trouble winning in the fall.

"All the stuff he is promising is never going to happen," Teske said. "I've always liked Hillary."

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3:30 p.m.

A flood of Democratic caucus-goers trying to get into a room at Caesars Palace became such a problem that it briefly brought the process to a standstill.

People had to register as Democrats before they could vote. But it was taking so long to register the hundreds of casino workers that they were in danger of exceeding their paid break times and having to return to work.

First, Democratic party officials said the caucus would begin with-or-without those who had been waiting in line. A few minutes later they reversed themselves, rushed everyone inside the room and said they will register voters while the caucus is under way.

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3:20 p.m.

Early results of an entrance poll of Nevada Democratic caucus-goers are showing that about half said they think the next president should generally continue President Barack Obama's policies.

About 4 in 10 say they want the next president to have more liberal policies.

Among those who want a continuation of Obama's policies, most are planning to support Clinton. Among those who want more liberal policies, most support Sanders.

The survey was conducted for AP and the television networks by Edison Research as voters arrived at 25 randomly selected sites for Democratic caucuses in Nevada.

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3:15 p.m.

Bernie Sanders is making an impromptu stop at a Las Vegas high school, walking past a long line of caucus-goers and answering questions about his campaign.

Sanders asks at Western High School, "Any questions I can answer?"

He is talking to voters about health care and getting big money out of politics. He jokes, "It's a never ending line!"

A reporter asked Sanders how he's feeling on caucus day. He replied: "The bigger the turnout, the better I feel."

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3:05 p.m.

Early results of an entrance poll of Nevada Democratic caucus-goers are showing that Hillary Clinton captured the support of voters for whom electability and experience are of paramount importance.

Bernie Sanders is doing best with voters who are looking for a candidate who cares and is honest.

Voters who say the economy is most important in their vote decision were evenly divided between the candidates.

Clinton has received two-thirds of the voters who care most health care, while Sanders is dominating by 6 in 10 voters who says income inequality is most important.

Those who said the economy was their top issue split about evenly between the two candidates, while those whose top issue was health care tended to support Clinton and those who said income inequality tended to support Sanders.

Caucus-goers were slightly more likely to say they preferred Clinton than Sanders to handle Supreme Court nominations.

The survey was conducted for AP and the television networks by Edison Research as voters arrived at 25 randomly selected sites for Democratic caucuses in Nevada.

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3:00 p.m.

Early results of an entrance poll of Nevada Democratic caucus-goers is showing that Hillary Clinton was backed by a majority of women, college educated voters, those with annual incomes over $50,000.

The survey also showed that moderates, voters aged 45 and older, voters living in union households, suburbanites and non-white voters mostly backed Clinton.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders did best with men, voters under 45, those less affluent and educated.

Sanders did particularly well with the quarter of Democratic caucus voters who identify themselves as independents, getting 7 in 10 of their votes. He also was backed by nearly 6 in 10 of the 3 in 10 voters who consider themselves very liberal.

Overall, whites were split in the Nevada democratic caucuses: more than half of white women preferred Clinton while about 6 in 10 white men supported Sanders.

The survey was conducted for AP and the television networks by Edison Research as voters arrived at 25 randomly selected sites for Democratic caucuses in Nevada.

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2:45 p.m.

Hundreds of voters are lining up to see Ohio Gov. John Kasich — in Massachusetts, not South Carolina.

Kasich is spending the day of the South Carolina Republican primary campaigning in Massachusetts and Vermont, states that vote on March 1. He's about to kick off an afternoon town hall in Worcester, Mass., following a morning meeting with in Burlington, Vermont. He'll watch the South Carolina primary results with supporters in Boston.

A cultural center in Worcester is packed with a standing-room only crowd waiting for Kasich and a line of voters is still waiting outside to enter the venue.

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2:30 p.m.

A major Muslim civil rights group says Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's telling of a discredited story about a U.S. general shooting Muslims with bullets dipped in pigs' blood could incite violence.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations National Executive Director Nihad Awad says in a statement that Trump's "inflammatory rhetoric has crossed the line from spreading hatred to inciting violence."

Trump was defending his support of waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques at a rally in South Carolina Friday night when he told the largely unsubstantiated tale of Gen. John Pershing allegedly halting Muslim attacks in the Philippines in the early 1900s by shooting them with bullets dipped in pigs' blood.

Pigs are considered unclean by Muslims and some other religious groups.

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2:15 p.m.

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump is questioning whether President Barack Obama would have attended Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's funeral Mass "if it were held in a mosque."

Trump says on Twitter that it's "very sad" that Obama didn't attend Saturday's service in Washington.

Vice President Joe Biden represented the administration. Obama visited the court on Friday to view Scalia's flag-draped casket. The White House says Obama's decision about the Mass was a "respectful arrangement" that took into account his large security detail.

Trump has raised questions about Obama's birthplace and religion, falsely suggesting that Obama was born outside the United States and is a Muslim.

Trump's tweet came as South Carolina was holding its GOP primary.

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2 p.m.

Close call.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders almost crossed paths just before Nevada's Democratic caucuses get underway.

First it was Sanders who stopped by an employee cafeteria at Harrah's casino in Las Vegas. Just minutes after he left, Hillary Clinton came in and was greeted with cheers.

Unionized casino workers are an important constituency in the caucuses. Their union has ensured that a room at each casino is open for employees to caucus in during special, two-hour paid breaks.

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1 p.m.

Bernie Sanders is kicking off his caucus day in Nevada with culinary workers at the MGM Grand casino in Las Vegas.

Sanders tells reporters that "if there's a large turnout I think we're going to do just fine. If it's a low turnout, that may be another story."

Sanders drew cheers from union workers at the casino hotel's cafeteria. He shook hands and posed for photos and asked workers if they planned to attend the caucuses.

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11:40 a.m.

John Kasich's presidential campaign is already claiming a victory of sorts in South Carolina.

A top strategist, John Weaver, tells reporters that however the Republican candidate does in Saturday's primary, Kasich's showing will be enough to "drive somebody else out of the race."

Weaver says he's expecting two candidates to drop out over the next week — including Jeb Bush. Weaver says that "for all practical purposes, there's no path forward" for the former Florida governor.

Kasich finished second in the New Hampshire primary, but the expectations are lower for his performance in South Carolina.

The Ohio governor hasn't ignored South Carolina, but he has focused resources on states in the Midwest and Northeast that host contests in March.

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10:45 a.m.

Ted Cruz has taken time away from campaigning in South Carolina to attend the funeral Mass in Washington for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

The Republican presidential candidate plans to be back in South Carolina later Saturday to await the results. Voting ends at 7 p.m.

The Texas senator has a personal connection to the high court: In the late 1990s, he served as a law clerk for a year to then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

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10:10 a.m.

Jeb Bush says he's "excited where we stand" as he faces a critically important test in South Carolina's Republican presidential primary.

Bush says he's going to "work hard for the day" and await results after the polls close at 7 p.m. He says "it's interesting that a lot of people claim they're undecided this late."

The former Florida governor entered the 2016 presidential race as an early favorite. But he may need a third-place finish — if not better — in South Carolina in order to remain a viable candidate.

Bush tells reporters outside a polling location in Greenville that "to be able to beat expectations would be helpful. I think we'll do that."

And his take on the prospects of a President Donald Trump? Bush says the billionaire businessman "can't win, plain and simple."

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9:15 a.m.

Will there by a "Haley effect" in South Carolina' Republican presidential primary?

Jason Sims — a teacher from Mount Pleasant — says he made a last-minute decision to vote for Marco Rubio, and that Gov. Nikki Haley's endorsement was "a big deal."

Sims say he was "kind of riding the fence" until Haley said she was backing the Florida senator.

Rubio is trying to rebound after a disappointing fifth-place finish in New Hampshire — and he's hoping the popular governor's endorsement will be a big boost.

Rubio wants to emerge as the go-to candidate for mainstream Republicans — and the chief alternative to Donald Trump and Ted Cruz in the race.

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8:40 a.m.

There's a lot of attention on Jeb Bush as South Carolina Republican vote in their presidential primary.

The former Florida governor entered the 2016 presidential race as an early favorite. But he may need a third-place finish — if not better — on Saturday in order to remain viable in the race.

Bush finished sixth in Iowa's leadoff caucuses and fourth in New Hampshire.

He's trying to break out as the establishment alternative to Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. But Bush has competition on that front, chiefly from Marco Rubio and John Kasich.

Without a strong showing in South Carolina, the Bush campaign may have a hard time competing in Nevada next week and then in the large number of states voting on March 1.