The Latest: The Latest from the GOP presidential debate

AP News
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Posted: Mar 03, 2016 11:28 PM
The Latest: The Latest from the GOP presidential debate

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the 2016 presidential race, which includes a Republican debate on Thursday night in Detroit (all times EST):

10:55 p.m.

Marco Rubio says the 2016 Republican presidential election campaign has been "an unusual election cycle."

In his closing statements at the GOP debate in Detroit, Rubio said people are "truly hurting," and that the election is about "embracing our opportunities."

Ted Cruz spoke directly to the members of the military and their families in his closing remarks, saying that it's time for a president who believes in them, noting that the current administration has failed in that regard.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich said that he has the best record to be president, saying he's "not just talk and not just theory."

Donald Trump, meanwhile, closed by pledging to bring jobs back to the U.S. "like nobody else." He says he'll take care of veterans, strengthen the borders and make Americans "very, very proud of this country."

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10:50 p.m.

Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich all say they will support Donald Trump if he wins the Republican nomination.

Rubio said at the Republican presidential debate that he is committed to his party and therefore would support the nominee. Cruz said he would prefer Trump to either of the Democratic presidential contenders, Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, the latter whom he described as a "socialist."

Kasich offered the most hesitation, but ultimately said that "sometimes (Trump) makes it a little bit hard," but that he would support him if he is the nominee.

Trump was also asked if he would support a nominee other than himself. He hesitated briefly, but said that he would support whoever the Republican nominee is.

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10:48 p.m.

Ted Cruz says North Korea's moves toward readying nuclear weapons date back to a failure of Bill Clinton's administration.

Cruz says North Korea's "very disturbing" moves wouldn't be possible if Clinton's administration hadn't negotiated with the country in the 1990s.

He says the United States needs a "strong commander in chief" to take on North Korea and pressure China to do the same.

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10:45 p.m.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio says Donald Trump "simply hasn't" shown the intellectual curiosity or interest in foreign policy to be an effective president.

The jab in Thursday's Republican presidential debate came as Rubio and Trump sparred over who would be stronger on foreign policy and national security.

Rubio says the world is dangerous and unstable after eight years under President Barack Obama, and Trump is not equipped to deal with it.

Trump said in response that Rubio is "not a leader." He added that those who serve in his administration will "do as I tell them."

Trump is promising to bolster the military and improve services to veterans.

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10:40 p.m.

Ted Cruz and Donald Trump's latest clash at the Republican presidential debate Thursday was over who supported Chief Justice John Roberts, when Cruz started lecturing Trump to stop interrupting and, "breathe."

Rubio piped up: "When they're done with the yoga can I answer a question."

Cruz, in response, deadpanned that the last thing he wanted to see was yoga, leading Rubio to quip that Trump would be good at it because he's "really flexible."

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10:35 p.m.

The Republican presidential candidates are talking up their support for the Second Amendment.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio says at Thursday night's GOP debate that he'll enact "as few" gun restrictions "as possible" if he's elected president.

He says there's a reason the Second Amendment is second and that "criminals don't follow gun laws," so gun laws have no impact.

Billionaire businessman Donald Trump says that, despite previously supporting the assault weapons ban, he's now a "very, very big" backer of the second Amendment. He says, "I don't support it anymore."

Cruz adds that that he wouldn't ban any kind of firearms and will appoint judges who'll protect gun rights.

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10:30 p.m.

John Kasich and Ted Cruz are sharing their different ideas on the question of religious liberty.

Both Republican presidential candidates are calling for the defense of religious expression, though Kasich is asking voters to "respect each other."

Kasich said Thursday at the GOP debate in Detroit that Americans are open-minded, and that religious liberty doesn't mean religious restrictions.

Cruz said he can compromise on certain things, but not on selecting a Supreme Court justice who fails to upholding religious liberty.

"I will never compromise away your religious liberty," he said.

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10:28 p.m.

Ted Cruz blames Democrats for Detroit's 60-year decline and says he'd overhaul business taxes to bring manufacturing jobs back to the Motor City and America.

The Texas senator also said at Thursday's Republican presidential debate in Detroit that repealing the federal health care law would restore manufacturing jobs in the country.

Cruz says Detroit is a "great city with a magnificent legacy," but one struggling with rampant crime. He says getting rid of payroll and estate taxes and institution a "business flat tax" would help attract jobs.

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10:25 p.m.

Marco Rubio is slamming Democrats for "politicizing" the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. But he's not laying out any concrete ideas for preventing similar issues in the future.

Rubio was asked at Thursday's Republican presidential debate in Detroit why the GOP hasn't seriously addressed the lead-poisoned water in the Michigan city to the degree that it's been discussed by Democrats.

Rubio said Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, is holding people accountable for what happened in Flint. He says there is a "proper role" for government to play in such issues, but did not offer any specifics.

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10:20 p.m.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich says people are hungry for a president who can fix problems facing the country, not candidates bickering.

Kasich pleaded in Thursday's Republican debate: "Let's stop fighting!"

Kasich is trying to position himself as the most serious candidate in a debate where Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are hurling insults at one another.

Kasich said "people are hungry" for someone who can address problems like raising wages and fixing problems in Washington.

He says voters "want to believe they have the power to fix things where they live."

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10:15 p.m.

Donald Trump is taking Marco Rubio's charge that he's a "con" and throwing it back at him.

Trump says the Florida senator has "scammed" and "defrauded" the people of his state by running for president and missing votes in Washington.

In Thursday's Republican debate, Rubio criticized Trump for his university that has prompted lawsuits from students. Rubio also says Trump is "making promises he has no intention of keeping."

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10:10 p.m.

Donald Trump is on the hot seat over the ongoing class-action suit against his now-defunct "Trump University."

The GOP front-runner is again facing questions at Thursday's GOP debate about the business seminars, which former students claim were marketed with false claims over instructors' credentials, among other issues.

Rival Marco Rubio said Trump is "trying to do to the American voter what he did to the people that signed up for this course."

He added that Trump "is making promises he has no intention of keeping."

But Trump is downplaying the suit, calling it a minor case and turned the accusations around against Rubio, calling him a "con artist" for skipping Senate votes.

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10:05 p.m.

Donald Trump is once again defending his changing positions on a host of issues by saying it's important for a president to be "flexible."

But he asserted at Thursday's Fox News debate that he also has a "very strong core" of convictions.

Moderator Megyn Kelly showed clips of Trump offering different positions on a host of issues, including Trump seemingly supporting allowing Syrian refugees into the country in a September interview then rejecting the same idea the next day.

Trump says he was generally unaware of the refugee issue the first time he was asked about it, but later found out the U.S. government planned to let "thousands" of refugees into the United States.

Also during the debate Trump has advocated flexibility on visas for highly skilled foreign workers.

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10:00 p.m.

Billionaire businessman Donald Trump is naming three people he would consider putting in his administration to lead on national security.

They are diplomat Richard Haass, Gen. Jack Keane and Col. Jack Jacobs.

Trump was asked during Thursday's presidential debate who he considers to be the best people to oversee U.S. national security.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich is trying to turn the question to his advantage, saying he has the experience to deal with national security.

Kasich says, "I was there when Ronald Reagan rebuilt the military. I worked with him."

Kasich even repurposed a famous quote from a 1988 vice presidential debate saying, "I knew Ronald Reagan and I'll leave it right there."

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9:55 p.m.

Ted Cruz says that he didn't change his position toward National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, who revealed the NSA's bulk collection of phone records program.

Cruz had originally suggested that Snowden's actions may have served the public but said that the evidence was lacking. But at Thursday's GOP debate in Detroit, Cruz said that new evidence has convinced him that "it appears he committed treason."

Rival Donald Trump says that he has felt from the beginning that Snowden was a spy.

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9:52 p.m.

Donald Trump is saying the United States should engage in enhanced interrogation including waterboarding, and go further, even as senior military officials said they would not engage with him because of his proposed views on torture.

Waterboarding, the sensation of drowning, is illegal, but Trump said at Thursday's GOP debate in Detroit that the U.S. should use waterboarding and worse in interrogations.

U.S. military and intelligence officials, some who've said they will not engage in such activity, are "not going to refuse me."

Trump: "If I say do it, they are going to do it."

Cruz chided Trump for making bold statements, saying actions speak louder than words.

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9:50 p.m.

John Kasich says U.S. ground troops must be sent to Libya because it is a "fertile ground" for the Islamic State group.

The Ohio governor appeared to go a step further than Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in Thursday's Republican presidential debate. Rubio committed to air strikes and sending a "significant number" of special forces to the country, which is an "operating space" for the terrorists.

Rubio says ISIS must be "targeted wherever they are." Kasich says the U.S. can't just send special forces but "must be there on the ground in significant numbers."

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9:45 p.m.

Donald Trump says he's "changing" and "softening" his position on a visa program for highly skilled foreign workers.

Trump's website outlines a policy for encouraging American companies to hire native workers rather than giving out more H-1B visas for people from overseas. But Trump is now telling the audience at the latest Fox News debate that he'd be more open to bringing in highly skilled workers, especially for jobs in Silicon Valley.

Trump's admission of "softening" his position is fresh fodder for his opponents who are calling him to release the transcripts of an off-the-record conversation with the New York Times about immigration.

Ted Cruz is hitting back against Donald Trump's proposed immigration program, saying that millions of Americans are out of work because of existing immigration policies.

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9:40 p.m.

Billionaire businessman Donald Trump says he thinks it's just fine that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio negotiated with other lawmakers when debating how to deal with people living in the country illegally.

But Trump said in Thursday's presidential debate that his position on combatting illegal immigration is stronger than Rubio's.

Trump frequently touts his deal-making ability on the campaign trail. And in the debate he says that give and take is OK, although he may differ with Rubio on the degree to which that happens.

Rubio has been forced to answer for his role in the so-called Gang of Eight deal that would have provided a path to citizenship for people living in the country illegally. Rubio says he did the best he could in a Democratic-controlled Senate.

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9:38 p.m.

Donald Trump says that, despite what he may have told the New York Times editorial board off the record, he's "not very flexible" when it comes to his proposals to build a wall across the southern border and force Mexico to pay for it.

Trump reportedly told the Times that he was flexible on some aspects of the plan. But he says many of those comments were off the record.

Still, he says "there's always give and take, there's always negation" when it comes to his policy plans.

Rival Marco Rubio notes that Trump could authorize the Times to release the interview transcripts if he wanted to.

But Trump says he's not doing it because he has "too much respect" for that process.

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9:35 p.m.

Ted Cruz says Donald Trump wrote 10 checks to Hillary Clinton, four of them for her presidential campaign.

He's asking Trump at the GOP debate in Detroit how he can "stand on a debate stage now" and challenge her in a general election. He says "if you don't like Obamacare, Donald Trump funded it" by supporting Democrats like Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who were able to pass it by winning control of Congress.

Trump says he's written checks to Democrats and Republicans because he's in business. He says he "owed that to my company, to my family, to my workers, to everybody, to get along."

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9:32 p.m.

John Kasich says he opposes an increase in the federal minimum wage, but states are free to "figure out" whether the hourly wage should be hiked.

Kasich was responding to a question on his position, and he quickly pivoted to touting his experience as a congressman balancing the federal budget.

He says he is the "only person" left in the Republican field who was a "chief architect" of balanced budget. He says "it's not a theory for me" while other candidates have just made broad proclamations about fiscal responsibility.

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9:30 p.m.

Ted Cruz is slamming Donald Trump for lacking policy specifics and warning a Trump presidency would result in more Washington corruption.

Cruz largely faded from the spotlight for an extended exchange between Trump and Marco Rubio. He's piling on the businessman with his latest slot of time, saying Trump has donated to Democrats and used government for private gain.

Trump, in response, isn't shying away from his past support for Democrats, saying that he's given to all kinds of politicians. He says it's acceptable because he was doing it in a business capacity and not as a politician.

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9:28 p.m.

The presidential debate moderators are challenging Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump on his math.

Fox anchor Chris Wallace asked Trump on Thursday how his promise to cut waste, fraud and abuse would be enough to pay for his proposed tax cut that comes with a $10 trillion tax cut.

Trump says he would come up with the money by getting rid of common core academic standards and reducing the size of the Department of Education, the Environmental Protection Agency, the IRS and cutting costs in Medicare.

But Wallace is pushing back, saying that wouldn't come close to paying for his tax plan.

Trump now says he will save money "through negotiation throughout the economy" by spending less on what the government buys.

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9:25 p.m.

Donald Trump and Marco Rubio are sparring over job creation, with Rubio hitting Trump for manufacturing his clothing line overseas and Trump saying Rubio hasn't created a job in his life.

Rubio accused Trump of spending his career duping Americans and called on the billionaire to produce his clothing line in the U.S.

Trump says he's been doing that more and more.

Trump is also hitting back, calling Rubio a "little guy" who "has lied so much about my record."

The two are sparring viciously, with Trump calling Rubio "little Marco" and Rubio hitting back, calling Trump "Big Donald.

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9:22 p.m.

John Kasich says he is the "adult on the stage" in the Republican debate and he will do better as primaries move to northern states like his native Ohio.

The Ohio governor said in Thursday's debate in Michigan that he "can get the crossover votes" and he won't get into nasty exchanges like those between Donald Trump and Marco Rubio.

Pressed by a moderator about staying in the race to force a contested convention this summer, Kasich promises he will win Ohio on March 15 and will continue his message of "bringing people together."

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9:20 p.m.

Marco Rubio and Donald Trump are starting off with a tussle over who is more electable in both the GOP primary and a general election.

Rubio is pointing out that the majority of primary voters hasn't picked Trump and alleges that Trump doesn't represent the conservative movement, noting the businessman defended Planned Parenthood in the last debate.

Trump is shooting back, saying he's the best prepared to beat Hillary Clinton and noting he's won far more primary contests than Rubio or Ted Cruz.

The exchange became so heated that moderator Megyn Kelly had to jump in, saying "no one can understand you when you're talking over each other."

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9:15 p.m.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz says the American people are not interested in listening to "bickering school children."

Cruz is making the case in Thursday's Republican presidential debate that voters want to hear the candidates talk about substantive issues, not insult one another.

Cruz made a pitch to the "truck drivers, steel workers and mechanics" who he says have been suffering under President Barack Obama the past seven years.

In a slam against Donald Trump, Cruz says that it's easy to print campaign slogans on baseball caps, but the question is whether he understands what made America great in the first place.

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9:10 p.m.

Marco Rubio says his sharply critical personal and political assault on Donald Trump over the past week is well-deserved.

Rubio says if there's anyone who has deserved to be treated with that level of criticism, "it's Donald Trump."

But Rubio is pledging to abandon the attacks in favor of a thorough policy exchange beginning immediately.

Meanwhile, Trump is defending the size of his hand, which Rubio had mocked as small in what was viewed as an insult about Trump's sexual prowess.

Trump referred to Rubio's tease with a crude sexual reference of his own.

Holding his hands up for the audience to see, Trump said: "I guarantee you, there's no problem."

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9:05 p.m.

Republican Donald Trump is being asked to respond to attacks lodged by 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney as Thursday evening's debate gets under way.

Romney said in an unprecedented speech Thursday morning that Trump's domestic policies will lead to recession and his foreign policy will make the country less safe.

Trump responded by calling Romney "a failed candidate."

He says his candidacy," was an embarrassment to everybody" including the Republican Party and that Romney is only looking to be relevant. He says, "he wants to be back in the game."

Trump says he believes in free trade — but only if it's beneficial to the country. And he says he totally disavows the Ku Klux Klan and former Klan leader David Duke.

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8:50 p.m.

Republican presidential candidates are gathering in Detroit for the latest Fox News debate as the question over who will represent the party in the general election increasingly sends the party into turmoil.

Donald Trump, having emerged from the Super Tuesday contests with a substantial, but indecisive, victory over his opponents is receiving criticism from his rivals and members of the party alike, with many painting the billionaire as unfit to be the nominee.

Former GOP nominee Mitt Romney said earlier Thursday that the prospects for a "safe and prosperous future are greatly diminished" if Trump is nominated.

This is the first debate since retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson announced that he will not continue with his campaign, leaving only Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich left to compete for the nomination.

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5:21 p.m.

Donald Trump picked up 10 more delegates as additional votes were counted in Super Tuesday states. Ted Cruz picked up five.

The latest delegate numbers for Republican candidates:

Trump: 329.

Cruz: 231.

Marco Rubio: 110.

John Kasich: 25.

It takes 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination for president.

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On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has 1,058 delegates, including 601 won in primaries and caucuses and 457 endorsements from superdelegates, party leaders who can support the candidate of their choice.

Bernie Sanders has 431 delegates, including 409 won in primaries and caucuses and 22 endorsements from superdelegates.

It takes 2,383 delegates to win the Democratic nomination.

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3:13 p.m.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott says he won't endorse any Republican presidential candidate ahead of the state's March 15 primary — a blow to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and to front runner Donald Trump.

Scott posted a message on his Facebook page Thursday, where he says he would "trust the voters" to decide who should be the GOP nominee. Scott said he based his decision partly on the fact that the state's Republican establishment opposed his bid for governor backed in 2010. Rubio campaigned for Scott in 2014. And some expected Scott to endorse Trump.

Scott had previously written an opinion piece where he praised Donald Trump and said he had the pulse of the nation's voters dissatisfied with President Barack Obama.

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2:48 p.m.

Donald Trump says his wife, Melania, asked him to respond "presidentially" to Mitt Romney's attacks earlier in the day.

Trump is telling supporters in Portland, Maine, that his wife called and said, "Be presidential." The billionaire says, "When you have incoming, you can't be too presidential."

Mrs. Trump said in an interview with CNN earlier this week that she supports her husband, but doesn't like it when he uses bad language in campaign appearances.

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2:33 p.m.

Mitt Romney says he would not have wanted Trump's endorsement if the billionaire had wobbled on white supremacists and remarked about certain groups as he has in 2016.

Romney tweets that "If Trump had said 4 years ago the things he says today about the KKK, Muslims, Mexicans, disabled, I would NOT have accepted his endorsement."

The 2012 Republican presidential nominee was reacting to Trump's speech Thursday in which the billionaire said Romney "begged" for Trump's endorsement in 2012.

Trump, now the front runner for the GOP presidential nomination, wobbled over the weekend when asked whether he disavows support from former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke. He's also proposed temporarily banning Muslims from entering the United States, called some Mexicans criminals and made fun of a journalist with a physical limitation.

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2:32 p.m.

Donald Trump is responding to Mitt Romney's evisceration of him by noting that that the 2012 GOP presidential nominee begged for Trump's endorsement.

Trump says he could have "said, 'Mitt, drop to your knees.' He would have dropped to his knees."

Trump was responding to Romney's comments earlier, in which the former nominee and Massachusetts governor warned Republicans that Trump is a fake, a misogynist and dangerous.

Trump says during a rally in Portland, Maine, that Romney proved he's a "choke artist" when he lost the 2012 presidential race to Barack Obama. He adds that Romney declined to run a third time this year because he was afraid of Trump.

Trump adds that he's made more money than Romney.

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2:00 p.m.

John Kasich says it's important to "stop Mr. Trump," and predicts that if he wins his home state of Ohio March 15, the GOP primary likely will end with a contested convention in Cleveland.

The Ohio governor says the nomination fight is "probably" headed to a convention, "and it's gonna be the most exciting time."

While he largely declined to go after Trump, Kasich says he wants a "more positive approach" to finding solutions for the country. He's long declined to engage with his rivals, pledging to maintain a positive campaign. Kasich said Mitt Romney's blistering remarks against Trump on Thursday morning amounted to "fair criticism" but said voters who support Trump will not be swayed by people "trashing" the businessman.

He adds that the country is "not going to solve the problems in America by knocking the pieces off the chess board or yelling at somebody."

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1:30 p.m.

Chris Christie says he is too busy being the governor of New Jersey to campaign with Donald Trump anytime soon.

Christie defended his endorsement of the billionaire developer Thursday, as Mitt Romney, 70 national security experts and Sen. John McCain warned Republicans that Trump is dangerous.

Christie is telling reporters that he will continue helping Trump's Republican presidential campaign, but doesn't have any appearances scheduled. Christie adds that his wedding anniversary is next week, he needs a vacation and he has a state budget due in June.

Christie also says he doesn't plan to heed the call from a group of New Jersey newspapers to resign. He says he plans to finish out his term and then go into the private sector.

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1:15 p.m.

A new analysis finds Hillary Clinton's tax plan would raise $1.1 trillion from mostly wealthy taxpayers.

The study by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center finds that many taxpayers will pay a tiny cost — about .1 percent of their after-tax incomes — for a bevy of new levies that the Democratic presidential contender is proposing. The biggest share by far would be paid by those in the top 1 percent.

Clinton is proposing a minimum tax for top earners, repealing incentives for fossil fuels tax changes to discourage rapid financial transactions and other measures. Her campaign has also promised a tax cut for middle-class and poorer households but has not released details.

The Tax Policy Center is scheduled to release an analysis of Bernie Sanders' tax plan on Friday.

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12:40 p.m.

House Speaker Paul Ryan says he "laughed out loud" when Donald Trump told the world this week that the Wisconsin Republican needs to get along with him or "pay a big price."

Ryan tells reporters that he was watching television in his office when Trump made his remark at a press conference Tuesday as he won seven GOP presidential primaries. The real estate magnate has built a decisive lead over his rivals, despite the antagonism of many party leaders.

Ryan says he laughed, adding, "sometimes, reality is stranger than fiction around here these days."

Trump didn't specify what he meant by the remark. Ryan says he doesn't know Trump well but that would change should Trump become the nominee.

The House speaker adds that he's "a good natured guy," and gets along with everybody.

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12:36 p.m.

Two people who protested Donald Trump's rally in Louisville have filed police reports, alleging they were punched and shoved by Trump's supporters in the crowd.

One of the incidents was captured on video by WLKY-TV inside the Kentucky International Convention Center, where the bombastic presidential candidate stopped his speech several times to shout at the protesters to "get them out of here, out, out, out."

In the video, a black woman can be seen being shoved by numerous white men in the crowd, screaming "scum" at her.

Louisville Metro Police Spokesman Dwight Mitchell said a 17-year-old also filed a complaint, alleging a woman tried to grab the protester's sign and punched them.

Mitchell said police are investigating both incidents and trying to confirm the identities of the alleged assailants.

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12:35 p.m.

The Mexican government has made his first direct response to Donald Trump's pledge to build a wall along the two countries' border — and make Mexico pay for it.

Mexican Treasury Secretary Luis Videgaray says "emphatically and categorically" that his country isn't going to foot the bill for the project proposed by the Republican presidential hopeful.

Videgaray told Milenio television late Wednesday that "Mexico will under no circumstance pay for the wall that Mr. Trump is proposing."

The wall proposal has been criticized widely and fiercely in Mexico, but the government itself has tried to avoid commenting directly on the issue until now.

Trump is leading the Republican presidential contenders and has used especially tough talk on immigration.

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12:10 p.m.

John McCain says he shares the same concerns as Mitt Romney about GOP front runner Donald Trump.

In a statement Thursday, the 2008 GOP nominee is pointing to the 70 Republican defense and foreign policy leaders who have raised concerns about Trump's "uninformed and indeed dangerous statements on national security issues."

McCain said that with threats from Russia, Iran, North Korea and terrorist movements across the Middle East and Africa, Republican voters should pay close attention to what these national security experts are saying about Trump.

McCain said voters should "think long and hard about who they want to be our next commander in chief."

He told reporters Monday, however, that he'd support whomever Republicans nominate for president.

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12:00 p.m.

Five former national fundraising chairman for Jeb Bush's failed presidential campaign are now going to work for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

The Cruz campaign announced the support on Thursday. It's another sign that more establishment Republicans are moving to back Cruz as an alternative to front runner Donald Trump.

Cruz says in a statement that support from the former Bush finance committee members comes at a pivotal time for the campaign. Cruz, who is second to Trump in delegates, argues that is now a two-person race and that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has no viable path toward the nomination.

The news also comes after Cruz announced that he had raised $12 million in February, his best month since launching his campaign a year ago.

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11:55 a.m.

Mitt Romney is warning Republicans to do whatever they can to nominate someone besides Donald Trump, in part because, Romney said, Trump supports torture of attackers and the killing of their children.

The 2012 GOP presidential nominee tells the University of Utah audience that "this is the very brand of anger that has led other nations into the abyss."

Trump has suggested that indiscriminate bombing of attackers' home bases, even if it harms their family members, would be an effective deterrent.

Romney adds that Trump's "promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University."

That's a reference to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's fraud case against Trump, alleging that Trump University was unlicensed since it began operating in 2005 and promised lessons with real estate experts hand-picked by Trump, only one of whom had ever met him.

Trump has denied wrongdoing.

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11:42 a.m.

Mitt Romney says Donald Trump lacks the temperament and the integrity to be president — and that the GOP should pick one of the other three candidates.

He says, the only serious policy proposals that deal with the broad range of national challenges we confront today, come from Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich. One of these men should be our nominee."

He tells a University of Utah audience that "dishonesty is Donald Trump's hallmark."

The 2012 GOP presidential nominee says Trump imagined that he saw Muslims celebrating the September 11, 2001 attacks in New Jersey.

He adds: "His imagination must not be married to real power."

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11:36 a.m.

Mitt Romney says GOP front runner Donald Trump is dangerous - and a fake.

He tells an audience at the University of Utah Thursday morning that if Republicans choose Trump to be their presidential nominee, "the prospects for a safe and prosperous future are greatly diminished."

The 2012 GOP presidential nominee says the billionaire developer is not what he seems, saying, "A business genius he is not."

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11:00 a.m.

Dozens of conservative national security experts are warning that Donald Trump is unfit to be commander-in-chief.

In a letter released Wednesday evening, former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and more than 70 other experts say they have disagreed with one another on a variety of issues but are united in their opposition to a Trump presidency.

They say Trump's "embrace of the expansive use of torture" is inexcusable. They also object to Trump's "hateful, anti-Muslim rhetoric" and his advocacy for waging trade wars, which they say would lead to economic disaster in a globally connected world.

"His vision of American influence and power in the world is wildly inconsistent and unmoored in principle," they say. "He swings from isolationism to military adventurism within the space of one sentence."

Other experts who signed the letter are Frances Townsend, former homeland security and counterterrorism adviser to President George W. Bush; Eliot Cohen, former counselor to the State Department; and Dov Zakheim, former Pentagon comptroller.

Cohen and Bryan McGrath, a retired Navy officer and managing director of The FerryBridge Group defense consulting firm, organized the letter. McGrath says he's gratified by the large number of signatures. The letter, he says, is a "vehicle for people to say they've had enough."

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10:30 p.m.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is endorsing Marco Rubio's presidential bid — support from a rising Republican star that will undoubtedly boost the Florida senator's sway among Latino voters.

Rubio mentioned Martinez's name back in November when discussing potential running mates, but Martinez has largely shrugged off questions about higher political aspirations.

The backing from the nation's only Latina governor comes days after Martinez refused to say whether she would support Donald Trump if he became the Republican nominee.

Martinez plans to campaign with Rubio in Kansas on Friday.

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10:15 a.m.

Bernie Sanders is making trade policy a centerpiece of his efforts to win next week's Democratic presidential primary in Michigan.

He's trying to make the case that Hillary Clinton's approach to trade has been wrong and that families have suffered as a result of policies she supports.

Sanders says at a news conference in Lansing, Michigan, that he and Clinton have been on opposing sides on a number of trade deals, including the North American Free Trade Agreement and normalizing trade relations with China.

Sanders is aiming for victory this coming Tuesday in Michigan and hoping to cut into Clinton's lead among delegates.

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9:55 a.m.

Dozens of conservative national security experts are warning that Donald Trump is unfit to be commander in chief.

Former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and more than 70 others say they're united in their opposition to a Trump presidency.

They say Trump's "embrace of the expansive use of torture" is inexcusable. They also object to what they say is Trump's "hateful, anti-Muslim rhetoric" and his advocacy for waging trade wars.

The letter says Trump's vision of "American influence and power in the world is wildly inconsistent and unmoored in principle."

Among the experts who signed on Frances Townsend, homeland security and counterterrorism adviser to President George W. Bush; Eliot Cohen, a former counselor to the State Department; and Dov Zakheim, a former Pentagon comptroller.