The Latest: Rubio attacks Trump by name ahead of debate

AP News
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Posted: Feb 25, 2016 12:55 AM
The Latest: Rubio attacks Trump by name ahead of debate

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the 2016 presidential campaign a day before the Republican presidential debate and ahead of Saturday's Democratic presidential primary in South Carolina (all times local):

11:47 p.m.

HOUSTON — Marco Rubio has attacked Donald Trump by name, criticizing the candidate he called the GOP front-runner for not strongly opposing the federal health care law and for suggesting he could be a moderator in the Israeli Palestinian conflict.

At a Houston rally, the Florida senator said "the front-runner in this race, Donald Trump, has said he's not going to take sides on Israel versus the Palestinians because he wants to be an honest broker."

Rubio said there was no such thing "because the Palestinian Authority, which has strong links to terror, they teach little kids, 5-year-olds, that it's a glorious thing to kill Jews."

He also named Trump in accusing him of thinking "parts of Obamacare are pretty good" drawing boos.

Rubio's comments came before Thursday's Republican debate in Houston.

10 p.m.

Ted Cruz is pledging to order a federal investigation of Planned Parenthood if elected president and says undercover videos appear to show the health provider is "a national criminal enterprise."

The Republican presidential candidate also says he would pardon the person behind the videos, David Daleiden, if his case became a federal one. Cruz made the promises Wednesday night during a candidate forum on Fox News.

Activists secretly recorded videos they allege show that Planned Parenthood sold fetal tissue to researchers for a profit in violation of federal law. Planned Parenthood denies wrongdoing and investigations by several congressional panels and states have yet to produce evidence that the organization acted illegally.

In Houston, a grand jury did not indict Planned Parenthood but brought charges against Daleiden and a colleague related to their undercover activities.

Cruz says the videos appear to expose "vast criminal conduct" by Planned Parenthood.

9 p.m.

Bernie Sanders is spending part of the week leading into South Carolina's Democratic primary this Saturday by making his pitch to states that vote in the coming weeks.

Sanders told a crowd of about 7,000 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Wednesday night that he is ready to "make history" on March 1 and win Oklahoma's primary.

"When I look out at this crowd, I don't think there's any way that we're gonna lose on Tuesday," Sanders said, to thunderous applause.

South Carolina votes on Saturday, and Sanders - who began Wednesday there with a news conference on poverty - will be back in the state for that contest. But through the end of this week, the Vermont senator is traveling to states that vote later in the calendar. He is also airing ads in the March 1 states of Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Oklahoma.

On Thursday, the campaign announced Sanders will stop in Flint, Michigan, for a community forum on the city's water situation. That state votes March 8.

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7:35 p.m.

Marco Rubio is showing off his Spanish while campaigning in Houston — but ducking an unexpected question put to him in the language.

As he addressed hundreds of cheering supporters in a hotel conference room, the Florida senator grinned when a man yelled, "Viva la Constitution!"

Many in the crowd laughed and Rubio responded, "You're from Texas, you know what he said."

But when another man yelled in Spanish, "Senator, how are you going to win the Latino vote?" Rubio said in English, "Let me finish my speech."

Moments later, he referenced the question and said he wanted to win over all Americans.

That prompted a woman to yell, "What about Muslim-Americans?" Rubio answered, "The debate's tomorrow."

The next GOP debate is Thursday night at the University of Houston.

7:30 p.m.

Hillary Clinton says there are a "lot of Flints" out there and she wants to help them.

Speaking to about 500 people at Morris College in Sumter, South Carolina, Clinton stressed her commitment to helping Flint, Michigan, which is dealing with a lead-contaminated water crisis. Flint is a majority black city and Clinton questioned if this would have happened in a "white, affluent suburb of Detroit."

Clinton said there are other communities going through the same problems and if elected president, she would create a wall of maps in the Executive Office Building, marking where there are water problems, sewer problems and other issues. She says the "most basic thing" government should offer is "a healthy start in life.

7:25 p.m.

Bernie Sanders is getting a little firsthand folk music education.

Before a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Sanders and his wife stopped by the Woody Guthrie Center and met with fans and voters awaiting them on the sidewalk.

In the 1980s, Sanders recorded a spoken-word album of folk favorites including Guthrie's classic "This Land is Your Land." Folk classics have been part of the warm-up music at Sanders' rallies.

7:20 p.m.

Donald Trump is hitting back after Mitt Romney suggested that a "bombshell" is lurking in the tax returns he has so far refused to release.

Romney was the GOP nominee in 2012. Trump says on Twitter that "Mitt Romney, who totally blew an election that should have been won and whose tax returns made him look like a fool, is now playing tough guy."

Romney said in an interview with Fox News that Trump's foot-dragging on releasing his returns suggests he has something to hide.

Trump endorsed Romney in 2012 but has been deeply critical of the former Massachusetts governor's performance as a candidate since mounting his own run.

He adds that when Romney asked for his endorsement, "he was so awkward and goofy that we all should have known he could not win!"

6:21 p.m.

Mitt Romney says he thinks there's a "bombshell" in Donald Trump's tax returns.

The 2012 Republican presidential nominee says on Fox News Wednesday that the contents of Trump's tax returns are the reason the billionaire developer has not released them.

Trump has said his accountants are working on his returns and that he'll release them eventually.

Romney is also calling on Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz to release their tax returns.

The former Massachusetts governor came under intense scrutiny in 2012 over his own tax filings.

Romney also says he believes Trump has the clearest path to the Republican nomination and that there is "a slimmer and slimmer opening" for his rivals unless the field narrows.

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6 p.m.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich said that as president he could bring state and federal regulators up and down the Mississippi River to work together with farm interests to diminish a pollution problem in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Republican presidential hopeful was answering questions Wednesday in a New Orleans suburb when he was asked about fertilizer pollution in the Mississippi that leads to harmful algae blooms in the Gulf. He said he faced a serious problem with pollution in Lake Erie when he brought environmentalists and farmers together to work out a compromise to control fertilizer runoff.

Kasich — trailing front-runner Donald Trump and Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz — visited Metairie, Louisiana and Gulfport, Mississippi, during a campaign swing ahead of March primaries in both states.

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5:10 p.m.

The wins keep coming for Donald Trump.

Two weeks after the New Hampshire primary, Trump has picked up another delegate from that contest. Marco Rubio has lost one.

The updated count for New Hampshire has Trump winning 11 delegates, John Kasich getting four, Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz winning three apiece, and Rubio getting two.

Overall, Trump has 82 delegates, Cruz has 17, Rubio has 16, Kasich has six and Carson has four. It takes 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination for president.

The Associated Press is adjusting its delegate count based on final numbers released by the New Hampshire secretary of state's office and the state Republican Party.

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4:40 p.m.

Jeb Bush is thanking his vast network of donors Wednesday and lamenting that he was unable to break through in "a year of making a compelling case to people that were deeply disaffected and angry."

Bush isn't saying who he will support or who his backers should get behind now that he is out of the race.

The former Florida governor complained during a less-than three-minute conference call with supporters that the news media covering the campaign are more driven by "who was winning and losing" and "the latest insult" than a discussion of leadership and policy.

Bush said he was "sorry it didn't turn out the way (he) intended."

He added that he's hitting the gym and catching up on his sleep at his home in Coral Gables, Fla.

Bush announced Saturday he was suspending his campaign, after finishing that day in a distant fourth place in the South Carolina primary.

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4:20 p.m.

Hillary Clinton is asking for votes from workers collecting their pay checks at a longshoreman's hall in Charleston, South Carolina ahead of the state's Democratic presidential primary.

Clinton thanked the union for its endorsement and said she needs the help of its workers on Saturday.

She pledged to the predominantly black crowd that she would build on the "progress" that President Barack Obama, the nation's first black president, has made.

Clinton added that she wants to "make sure we don't take any risks and have that progress ripped away."

Earlier Wednesday, Clinton visited a residential program that helps rehabilitate criminals and substance abusers in North Charleston. She and rival Bernie Sanders are both pledging to reform the criminal justice system.

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3:34 p.m.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is bristling over questions about whether he'd be pressured to leave the GOP nomination fight if he does not win all of his home state's 155 delegates on Tuesday.

Cruz says he is "curious how many reporters ask Marco Rubio, 'After losing four states in a row, so when do you drop out?"

He notes that Rubio hasn't won a state nominating contest while Donald Trump has won three in a row after Cruz's Iowa victory.

Texas is the largest state voting Tuesday. In order to take every delegate, its winner would have to get a majority of votes cast statewide and in all 36 congressional districts.

Cruz wouldn't predict he'd do that, saying only that "We are going to do well."

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3:17 p.m.

Ted Cruz is shaking off his disappointing third-place finish in Nevada saying, "I believe we are poised to have a very good night on Super Tuesday."

Cruz appeared in Houston with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, his mentor and former boss, who on Wednesday endorsed the tea party-backed senator.

Texas offers the biggest delegate prize on Tuesday, and Cruz's campaign is depending on a solid win there to survive. Most polls show Cruz the favorite to win, but not by enough to take all the state's 155 GOP delegates under its proportional system.

Cruz called next week's vote in 11 GOP primaries in largely southern states, "the single most important day of this election."

Without mentioning Nevada winner Donald Trump, Cruz said Texas won't be swayed by "blustery rhetoric" and that "the time for the clowns and the acrobats and the dancing bears has passed."

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3:13 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton wants to make a "voting issue" out of the Supreme Court vacancy created by Justice Antonin Scalia's sudden death earlier this month.

Speaking to a gathering of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority alumnae in South Carolina, Clinton called on the friendly crowd to "put pressure on the Senate and support the president."

Senate Republican leaders have said they will refuse to meet with, hold hearings for and have a floor vote on any nominee President Barack Obama sends to Capitol Hill. Obama says he plans to nominate a potential jurist anyway, citing his constitutional responsibility.

Clinton encouraged AKA sisters to "see if we can't find a handful of Republicans who understand and will do their duty, who believe they are called by the Constitution to do just that."

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1:27 p.m.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid is endorsing Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.

A spokeswoman for the Nevada senator said Wednesday that Reid was making the endorsement. Reid participated in his state's Democratic caucuses Saturday but voted as "uncommitted." Clinton won the contest.

Reid said he took pains to remain neutral in the competition between Clinton and Bernie Sanders so he would not be accused of rigging the caucuses.

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12:53 p.m.

John Kasich is sending a message to Republicans who think he should drop out of the GOP presidential contest: "Forget about it."

With Jeb Bush out of the race, Kasich's and Marco Rubio's campaigns are in a fierce battle to become the so-called establishment alternative to front runner Donald Trump.

Kasich's campaign is running a strategy that relies on surviving through the March 1 Super Tuesday contest and winning Michigan's March 8 primary. Kasich says people need to "chill out" because there's a "long way to go" in the GOP nominating contest.

Then, Kasich says he'd love to take on Trump in his home state of Ohio, which holds its winner-take-all primary on March 15.

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12:12 p.m.

John Kasich's campaign is unleashing a stream of attacks against Marco Rubio, saying it's time to "rethink the conventional wisdom" that Rubio is the establishment's best hope for defeating Donald Trump.

Kasich's campaign has sent three memos to reporters in fewer than 24 hours slamming Rubio's campaign strategy, saying he's proving to be a poor return on investment when comparing his campaign spending with his early-state finishes.

The campaign is attempting to downplay Rubio's second-place finish in Tuesday night's Nevada caucuses as a disappointment given how much he spent in the state.

A slate of GOP office holders have lined up behind Rubio, including Bob Dole, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utag and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Kasich has secured several prominent endorsements as well in recent days, including Tom Ridge, the former Pennsylvania governor and first director of Homeland Security.

Kasich's campaign is banking everything on Michigan's March 8 primary and is making clear the candidate has no plans to drop out soon.

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11:45 a.m.

Republican front-runner Donald Trump has won his first endorsements from sitting members of Congress.

Reps. Duncan Hunter of California and Chris Collins of New York said Wednesday they are backing Trump for the GOP nomination for president.

Collins said Trump has demonstrated he has "the guts and the fortitude" to help U.S. companies compete with China and take on foreign threats such as the Islamic State and North Korea.

Hunter called Trump a strong leader.

Hunter sponsored a bill passed by the House last year that would shut down funding for so-called sanctuary cities like San Francisco that shield immigrants from deportation by federal authorities.

Democrats accused Republicans of following Trump in demonizing Latinos and dubbed the bill the Donald Trump Act.

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11:15 a.m.

The Nevada Republican party is reporting that attendance at its Tuesday night caucus set a new record.

The party says more than 75,000 voters attended the caucus. That's more than twice the 33,000 who caucused in 2012.

Nevada's Republican caucuses have been plagued by low attendance and other problems since they began in 2008. Democrats have seen stronger turnout numbers. They reported more than 84,000 caucus goers in their caucuses on Saturday.

As expected, the relatively high turnout Tuesday powered Donald Trump to a commanding victory.

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9:50 a.m.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has endorsed Ted Cruz for president, hoping to give the senator a boost as their home state's primary looms.

Abbott announced his support in a video released Wednesday morning. He and Cruz are set to appear together in Houston later in the day.

Texas is the largest of "Super Tuesday" states voting next week.

As Texas attorney general, Abbott tapped Cruz as solicitor general. Cruz calls Abbott a friend and mentor.

Cruz was third in Nevada's caucuses Tuesday, edged out by Marco Rubio. Donald Trump was the commanding winner.

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9:45 a.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is adamant that he is not giving up on South Carolina despite leaving the state to campaign elsewhere days before this early voting state's primary.

He says his campaign has closed the gap with Hillary Clinton and they are not writing off the state.

Sanders is beginning a multi-state campaign trip, returning to South Carolina just before primary voting Saturday.

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9:00 a.m.

With his commanding victory in Nevada, Donald Trump has won 14 delegates in the state.

Marco Rubio won seven and Ted Cruz got six. John Kasich and Ben Carson each got one, with one delegate left to be allocated.

Overall, Trump has 81 delegates, and Cruz and Rubio have 17 apiece. Kasich has six delegates and Carson has four. It takes 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination for president.

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8:50 a.m.

Marco Rubio has edged out Ted Cruz for second place in the Nevada caucuses.

The Associated Press finds the difference was fewer than 2,000 votes.

In an appearance on NBC's "Today" show, Rubio says that it will be easier to stop Donald Trump once the race is narrowed.

Trump was the big winner in Nevada's Republican caucuses Tuesday. It was his third straight commanding victory in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.