The Latest: Trump events go off without protesters

AP News
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Posted: Apr 02, 2016 10:20 PM
The Latest: Trump events go off without protesters

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the 2016 presidential campaign, with the focus Saturday on Wisconsin, which holds its primaries Tuesday (all times Eastern Daylight Time):

9:45 p.m.

All three of Donald Trump's events in Wisconsin on Saturday went off without any interruption from protesters.

Those disturbances — which have occasionally come with violence — have become a hallmark of the Trump campaign. But the crowds in Racine, Wausau and Eau Claire were enthusiastic but orderly.

Twice in Eau Claire, Trump stopped because an audience member yelled at him — but the shouts turned out to be supportive. Some in the crowd seemed almost disappointed there wouldn't be the spectacle of a demonstrator being removed.

The celebrity businessman said Saturday that his campaign was deliberating planning smaller events, making more thorough screening possible.

Outside the Eau Claire rally, some of Trump's supporters traded shouts with a few dozen demonstrators across the street.

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9:15 p.m.

Donald Trump is vowing not to muzzle his criticism of fellow Republicans.

Trump, in his third Wisconsin event Saturday, says his inner circle and even his family beg him to lay off his GOP rivals. He is telling the cheering Eau Claire crowd that "I don't care."

Trump says: "If it works, great. If it doesn't work, great."

Trump is also calling Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton "a disaster" and President Barack Obama "a baby" for approving the Iran nuclear deal.

He says, "How we have this man for a president is just embarrassing."

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9 p.m.

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz has backed off his feud with Donald Trump over the front-runner's negative comments about Cruz's wife.

Trump told New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd in an article published Saturday that it was a mistake to retweet an unflattering photo of Cruz's wife paired with a glamorous photo of his own wife, Melania Trump.

Trump says if he had to do it again, he wouldn't have sent the retweet.

After a movie screening in Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin, Cruz was asked about Trump's comments.

He says it's gotten to the point where he couldn't care less. Cruz says, "If he says it's a mistake, that's fine, it's a mistake."

Cruz says he has no interest in seeing political candidates attack each other's families.

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9 p.m.

Hillary Clinton is reminding 1,500 stalwart Democrats in Wisconsin she has long been one of them — unlike Bernie Sanders, a longtime independent.

At a banquet in Milwaukee ahead of the April 5 Wisconsin primary, Clinton mentioned her membership and support for the Democratic Party five times in the first few minutes of her speech.

She says, "I am a proud Democrat and I support Democrats up and down the ticket, always have and always will."

Clinton followed Sanders, a Vermont senator, onstage at the Wisconsin Center. The two are locked in a close battle in Tuesday's primary.

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8:25 p.m.

Bernie Sanders is endearing himself to a banquet hall full of devout Democratic Party members in Milwaukee by promising to "do exactly the opposite" of everything Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has done.

The Vermont senator walked on stage at the Wisconsin Center after a short video akin to his popular television advertisement featuring the Simon and Garfunkel song "America."

The 1,500 Wisconsin Democratic activists, officials and donors in attendance stood and applauded as Sanders took the stage.

Walker came to national attention for his push against public-sector unions in 2011.

The Republican governor, who pulled the plug on his own presidential campaign in September, has endorsed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the Wisconsin Republican primary.

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6:50 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is telling a largely African-American audience on the near north side of Milwaukee that police officers who break the law in shooting unarmed citizens "must be held accountable."

Sanders is reaching out to black voters, who have overwhelmingly preferred his opponent, Hillary Clinton, by advocating changes in the criminal justice system in heavily segregated urban Milwaukee.

He also called for decriminalizing marijuana possession and ending voter identification laws that disproportionately keep minority Americans from casting votes.

But Sanders' difficulty with black voters was on display. More than 500 chairs were set up in the gymnasium, but staff began removing chairs shortly before the rally began.

Sanders took the stage to resounding applause, but from only about 250 people.

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6:20 p.m.

Hillary Clinton is looking to draw a contrast with primary opponent Bernie Sanders by emphasizing her Democratic bona fides.

Clinton told hundreds gathered in a hotel ballroom in Eau Claire Saturday that she has been "a proud Democrat all my adult life and I think that's kind of important if we're selecting somebody to be a Democratic nominee of the Democratic Party."

Clinton's comment appeared to be a shot at Sanders, an independent Vermont senator and self-described Democratic socialist.

Sanders appeared before thousands in the same town earlier in the day, urging strong voter turnout. He and Clinton were both expected at a Democratic Party dinner in Milwaukee Saturday night.

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6:10 p.m.

Donald Trump ended a rally in Wausau on Saturday by leading a handful of young people in a pledge to abstain from drugs.

Trump was finishing up his second rally of the day in Wisconsin when he turned to a line of young people who'd been standing in the front row, wearing shirts designed to look like the wall Trump says he'll build along the southern border.

Trump had the young people place one hand on their hearts and the other in the air. He then had them pledge to abstain from drugs and cigarettes and avoid — or at least take it easy on — alcohol.

Trump often talks about how he drove his kids nuts by insisting they stay clean long before they knew what drugs were.

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6 p.m.

Donald Trump is suggesting that his claim that NATO is irrelevant — an assertion that was panned by several past and present U.S. security officials — is suddenly being embraced by foreign policy experts.

Trump made headlines last month for saying he would slash the United States' contributions to the organization. Though the remarks drew a backlash, Trump said Saturday in Wausau, Wisconsin, that experts who had studied NATO "for 30 years" were coming around to his point of view.

Trump also vowed to secure the nation's southern border to prevent drugs from entering the country. That prompted him to make a group of teenagers in attendance pledge to never use drugs or cigarettes and to "take it easy" on the alcohol.

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5:30 p.m.

Donald Trump is wooing Wisconsin voters by targeting their sweet spot: their beloved Green Bay Packers.

During a Wausau rally Saturday afternoon, Trump name-dropped Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers — who, coincidentally, played golf with President Barack Obama hours earlier — and told a story about an encounter he had decades ago with the team's Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi.

He said he saw Lombardi intimidate three of his much larger players, even driving home a point by fiercely clutching at one man's shirt. Trump then bemoaned the trouble Lombardi would get into for doing something like that amid the current culture of political correctness.

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5:10 p.m.

Donald Trump, putting on a full-court press to capture the Wisconsin primary, says he's "going to win" the state as he begins his second event Saturday.

A spirted crowd of about 1,600 in the northern city of Wausau, including a group of teenagers wearing T-shirts emblazoned with "Trump's wall," gave the celebrity businessman a standing ovation when he arrived about an hour late.

One supporter, Brian Reif of nearby Stratford, didn't blame Trump for his recent woes with women, suggesting the candidate doesn't start fights, but defends himself "like a porcupine: if you mess with him, he shoots the quills."

Trump, who was introduced by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, says he's been inspired by the turnout during his time in Wisconsin.

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5 p.m.

As the crowd filed out of a John Kasich town hall in Janesville, Wisconsin, the Republican presidential contender stopped everyone and asked his staff to turn the music down and turn his microphone back on.

When he had everyone's attention, he asked them to pay attention to the tune coming through speakers: "I happen to like this song 'Sorry,' by Justin Bieber."

He said that at his previous campaign stop in Burlington he had promised that he was going to be sure to play the pop star's music "for the first time at a Republican event, ever in the history of the world."

"So everybody take a listen," he added to laughs, as the volume came back up.

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4:30 p.m.

Republican presidential contender John Kasich says that to fix Social Security "people of this country need to start demanding leadership out of their leaders."

The comment at a town hall event in Janesville, Wisconsin, on Saturday afternoon comes after he told an audience earlier that those who want to make sure Social Security remains solvent should hold an Occupy-style protest with a tent city in the nation's capital.

After that event in Burlington, Wisconsin, Kasich told reporters, "It was a brilliant idea I came up with."

The Ohio governor said in Janesville — hometown of House Speaker Paul Ryan and former Sen. Russ Feingold — that another part of the solution involves wealthy people accepting less in benefits so people who rely on Social Security as income won't face cuts.

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3:50 p.m.

Ted Cruz has taken a quick detour from Wisconsin to make an appearance at North Dakota's Republican convention, where presidential delegates are being picked.

Convention-goers are scheduled to select 25 of their 28 national delegates on Sunday. North Dakota isn't holding a primary or caucus in the 2016 Republican race.

Cruz says it's "entirely possible" that those delegates could help determine the GOP nominee. They'll go to the national convention unbound to any of the presidential candidates.

Candidates Donald Trump and John Kasich sent supporters on their behalf to make the case that they should be backed by North Dakota's delegates at the Cleveland convention in July.

The Texas senator earned an ovation when he said North Dakota has become "a powerful energy haven" and that he would keep the federal government "the heck out of the way."

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2:55 p.m.

John Kasich is making no bones about it: He's not going to be anyone's vice president, so stop asking the question.

The Ohio governor is running for the top spot on the Republican ticket and hoping to emerge as the nominee after a political fight for delegates at the party's convention this summer.

And what if he falls short?

Kasich tells CNN that he'll finish out his term, then return to the private sector and — in his words — "be a citizen so that I can then complain about all the politicians."

"I just made the cameraman laugh," Kasich said as he ended the interview.

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2:30 p.m.

Donald Trump is back campaigning after one of the worst weeks he had in the chase for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Trump is kicking off a three-day sprint heading into Wisconsin's Tuesday primary with a rally in Racine, not far from Milwaukee.

Trump is taking some shots at rival Ted Cruz. Two recent opinion polls give Cruz in a lead in Wisconsin. Trump is associating Cruz with "such deception and such lying" in the course of the bitter campaign.

The outcome in Wisconsin could help determine whether Trump can seize the Republican nomination without a fight at the party's convention this summer.

Trump says his wife, Melania, is going to be joining him Monday at campaign events.

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1 p.m.

Republican presidential candidate John Kasich says it'll be easy to fix Social Security. His solution: "Set up a tent city."

Here's what the Ohio governor tells a few hundred people at a town hall in Burlington, Wisconsin: "Occupy D.C. to fix Social Security!"

Kasich says people should go to the nation's capital and hold Occupy-style protests, and "say you Republicans and you Democrats fix this."

He says "one party will never fix Social Security," and he says people should gather in mass to demand political cooperation until something gets done.

Kasich is campaigning in Wisconsin ahead of Tuesday's presidential primary.

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12:50 p.m.

The Democratic presidential campaigns are bickering over the date of a possible debate before the New York primary on April 19.

Bernie Sanders' team says it's happy that Hillary Clinton's camp has accepted his request for a debate "about the needs of New York and America."

But Sanders' spokesman Michael Briggs says the dates proposed by the Clinton campaign "don't make a whole lot of sense" — including this coming Monday, the night of the men's college basketball tournament finals.

The Sanders campaign is still hoping for an agreement "in the near future."

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12:30 p.m.

Bundled up in winter jackets and gloves, Bernie Sanders' supporters have waited for hours outside an arena on the University of Wisconsin's Eau Claire campus for a chance to see the presidential candidate.

There were some early morning flurries, but plows have cleared sidewalks hours before Sanders' scheduled appearance.

Sophomore Joseph Lehto (LAY-toh) — who says he'll be voting for Sanders in Tuesday's Democratic primary — says Wisconsin is a must-win state for Sanders.

In Lehto's words, Sanders is "done without Wisconsin." But Lehto believes Sanders has a good shot at winning.

Lehto says he'll likely vote independent instead of shifting his support to Hillary Clinton, if Sanders doesn't get the nomination.

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12:15 p.m.

Hillary Clinton's campaign is accusing rival Bernie Sanders' team of playing "political games" with a potential Democratic presidential debate before the upcoming New York primary.

Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon says the Clinton campaign has offered three different dates to debate Sanders in New York. Sanders is pressing for a debate before the state's April 19 primary.

Clinton's team says the Sanders camp has rejected debate offers for April 4, April 14 and April 15.

Fallon says the Sanders campaign should stop using the New York primary as a "playground for political games and negative attacks."

The Democrats last debated in March and have been negotiating two more debates in April and May.