WASHINGTON (AP) The Latest on the presidential race ahead of Thursday’s GOP debate and the March 15 primaries (all times local):
Donald Trump isn’t backing of his comments that ”Islam hates us.”
Asked at Thursday’s debate if he meant all Muslims, Trump said: ”I mean a lot of them.”
He said there is ”something going on,” adding that there is ”tremendous hatred” toward Americans from Muslims. He is invoking 9/11 to make his point.
Donald Trump is pausing 30 minutes into the Miami debate to note the lack of attacks from his rivals that marked the past two debates.
Trump looks to the audience and said: ”So far, I cannot believe how civil it’s been up here.”
Sen. Marco Rubio opted not to attack Trump on immigration, despite recent news alleging his company denied pay to some foreign workers.
Sen. Ted Cruz obliquely poked Trump for contributing to Democratic candidates in the past and not taking a position on Social Security reform, saying: ”I’ll let Donald speak for himself.”
Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are sparring over whether Cruz changed his position on subsidies for renewable fuels while campaigning in Iowa.
It was a brief spark in the otherwise largely civil opening quarter of Thursday’s Republican presidential debate.
As Cruz shook his head, Trump said that the Texas senator had ”changed his view and his stance” on a renewable fuel standard that benefits ethanol-producing corn farmers in Iowa. Trump said: ”Not for long, but he did change his view in the hopes of maybe doing well.”
Cruz won the Iowa caucuses. But he did not engage Trump on the charge Thursday. Instead, Cruz attacked Trump without naming him, saying it’s hard to imagine how a candidate who has funded liberal Democrats and the ”Washington establishment” could take them on.
Cruz has long criticized Trump for his donations to Democrats.
Ted Cruz says it takes ”political courage” to take on an issue such as Social Security reform.
He defended his position at Thursday’s debate that workers should be able to put some of their Social Security payments into private accounts that would be subject to market volatility.
Cruz said every benefit for people already at retirement age would be ”protected to the letter” but that the retirement age must gradually be raised.
Donald Trump is promising debate watchers that he won’t cut back on Social Security payments or raise retirement ages, despite economic and demographic pressures on the system.
The billionaire businessman said Thursday that he will do everything in his power ”not to touch social security, to leave it the way it is.”
Instead, Trump said he’ll save money by getting rid of ”rampant” waste, fraud and abuse and growing the economy by bringing back jobs.”
He said he’ll bring wealth back to the U.S.
But rival Marco Rubio is pushing back, saying Trump’s numbers ”don’t add up,” and that eliminating fraud isn’t enough. Rubio’s plan calls for raising retirement ages over time.
Donald Trump says he objects to Common Core education standards because they are essentially ”education through Washington,” with state-adopted standards.
Trump defended his position Thursday that the standards, unpopular with conservatives, are a federal program, even though they are guidelines for math, language arts and reading that were developed by a bipartisan group of governors.
Trump says: ”It’s been taken over by the federal government…It’s all been taken over by the bureaucrats in Washington.”
Trump is echoing a common line from opponents, which traces its roots back to the Obama administration’s acceptance of the standards as an acceptable program for states applying for Race to the Top grant money.
Republican front-runner Donald Trump says he wants to eliminate a category of visas that he uses to employ foreign workers at his own businesses.
Speaking at Thursday GOP debate, Trump said of H-1B visas for high-skilled workers: ”I shouldn’t be allowed to use” them because it’s ”very, very bad for workers.”
”I’m a businessman and I have to do what I have to do” he said, but argued, ”it’s very unfair for our workers and we should end it.”
Trump has also called for a pause on green cards for foreign workers.
He said he envisions that lasting for a year or two because ”we’re rushing into things.
Donald Trump is touting his newly won endorsement from Ben Carson, the famed neurosurgeon who recently dropped out of the Republican presidential race.
Trump said at the Republican presidential debate Thursday that Carson will endorse him Friday morning, saying the two spent time together earlier Thursday. Trump says they discussed education and how to improve schools.
Carson is the second GOP competitor to back Trump after dropping out. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has also end
Ohio Gov. John Kasich says he is a believer in immigration, and without it ”I’d be running for president of Croatia.”
But Kasich is also talking tough on immigration at Thursday’s Republican presidential debate, saying he wants tough border control and a wall with Mexico.
Kasich says, ”We lock our doors at night in our homes and the country has to be able to lock its doors as well.”
But Kasich says he also supports a path to legalization, not citizenship, for the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants who are living here now.
John Kasich says the United States can’t ”lock the doors and pull down the blinds” when it comes to free trade.
The Ohio governor said in Thursday’s Republican debate that it’s critical for the president to stand up strongly to countries who cheat on trade deals, promising he’ll ”blow the whistle” if elected. But he says prices will go up and more people will be out of work if America retreats from free trade deals.
Kasich is also reminding voters that he grew up in a blue collar town in Pennsylvania, something he touts frequently while campaigning.
Donald Trump says nobody knows ”the system” better than him.
Trump answered the first question of Thursday’s presidential debate defending his credentials and business experience, not attacking any of his opponents.
Trump says he knows the country’s laws and how to do business better than anyone. He says it’s hard for U.S. companies to compete, but as president he will know how to take advantage of the laws and change them as necessary.
Front-runner Donald Trump is kicking off Thursday night’s GOP debate by pointing to the ”millions and millions” of new voters he says he’s bringing in to the party.
Trump says ”the whole world is talking about” the new voters he’s attracting, including former Democrats and independents.
Sen. Marco Rubio addressed a home state crowd in the Miami debate by calling the 2016 election ”the most important in a generation.”
The 44-year-old senator is calling on Americans to vote in Tuesday’s primary as if ”our identity as a nation” depends on it.
John Kasich is promising to restore the ”spirit of America” by bringing conservative policies to Washington and sending power back to states and communities.
Delivering opening remarks in the GOP debate, Kasich says he believes America’s strength lies in neighborhoods and communities.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is referring to his Cuban heritage in his opening comments at the Republican presidential debate. Cruz referred to his father’s coming to America in the 1950s from Cuba, where Hispanic voters will be an important voting bloc.
The Republican presidential debate in Miami is about to begin with days to go before a series of crucial winner-take-all contests for the GOP nomination.
A moment of silence was held ahead of Thursday’s debate in honor of former First Lady Nancy Reagan who died this week at the age of 94.
Reagan’s funeral services will be held Friday in California.
Florida is the biggest prize in the March 15 group of primaries, with 99 delegates for stake.
The White House Correspondents’ Association says it is increasingly concerned about some rhetoric aimed at reporters covering the 2016 presidential campaign.
The group, which represents journalists covering the White House, is urging presidential candidates to conduct their campaigns ”in a manner that respects the robust back-and-forth between politicians and the press that is critical to a thriving democracy.”
The association’s statement follows allegations from a reporter who says Donald Trump’s campaign manager physically pulled her away from the candidate after a news conference earlier this week. Trump’s campaign strongly denies the accusations from the Breitbart News reporter.
The WHCA says it condemns ”any act of violence or intimidation” against any journalist covering the White House race. The association says it expects White House contenders would agree that violence against journalists is unacceptable.
Former presidential candidate Ben Carson’s longtime friend and business manager, Armstrong Williams, says Carson’s backing of Trump ”shows respect to the voters. Donald Trump has earned these voters.”
”We need to rally behind the nominee, and you don’t want to do it too late,” he said. ”This country’s in trouble. The Republican Party needs to unify.”
Two people with knowledge of the endorsement told The Associated Press that Carson will announce his support for Trump at a news conference on Friday. They spoke anonymously because the news had not yet been made public.
After meeting with Trump, Carson believes that the Republican primary leader is ”sincere.” ”He can see his love of this country.”
And although Carson hasn’t been pleased with some of Trump’s discourse, Carson ”can see that he is willing to change to do better.”
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson is expected to endorse his former rival Donald Trump at a news conference Friday morning.
That’s according to two people with knowledge of the upcoming endorsement who spoke anonymously because it’s not been made public ahead of the formal announcement.
One of the people say Carson was torn between Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, but opted to support Trump because of a rumor circulated ahead of the Iowa caucuses by the Cruz campaign that Carson had dropped out of the race.
In an interview with Fox News Radio’s ”John Gibson Show” Thursday, Carson was asked whether he was planning to join the Trump campaign.
”Let’s put it this way, I’m certainly leaning,” he said, adding that there are ”two Donald Trumps” – the one seen on television and the one he’s gotten to know behind the scenes.
Trump is expected to formally announce the endorsement at a news conference Friday morning at his Mar-A-Lago Club in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Hillary Clinton is rallying support ahead of North Carolina’s primary Tuesday, saying the nation needs to overcome barriers preventing students from receiving a good education. She’s pointing to what she suggested is an erosion of support for public education in North Carolina.
The Democratic presidential candidate says North Carolina served as a model of public education in the South during the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s but Republicans in the state have slashed teacher salaries and education funding.
Clinton says in Durham, North Carolina, that she wants to be a ”partner with teachers and principals and schools” and ”create a teaching force second to none in the world.”
Republicans hoping to stop presidential candidate Donald Trump were quickly deploying forces in Ohio Thursday as one of their last battlefronts ahead of Tuesday’s crucial cluster of winner-take-all primaries.
Some anti-Trump groups said they were rushing to air television advertisements in Ohio, where home-state Gov. John Kasich has crept into a dead heat with the billionaire businessman, after the groups poured millions into Florida, despite Trump’s solid lead there.
Nationally-known Ohio conservative Ken Blackwell joined the chorus of anti-Trump voices, while Trump himself was planning weekend stops in Cleveland and Dayton.
Still, some members of the Republican establishment in Ohio, the second-biggest prize among Tuesday’s nomination contests, wondered if efforts to derail Trump here were coming too late and if their preoccupation with Florida has been a waste.
Hillary Clinton says she’s ”truly distraught and even appalled” by some of the developments at Donald Trump’s campaign events.
She spoke on MSNBC Wednesday after a man was charged with assault for attacking a black protester being escorted out of a Trump rally Wednesday.
The Democratic presidential contender added that ”you don’t make American great by, you know, dumping on everything that made America great, like freedom of speech and assembly and, you know, the right of people to protest.”
That was a reference to Trump’s campaign slogan, ”Make America great again.”
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is campaigning through Florida in an effort to keep up the momentum from his surprise Rust Belt state win earlier in the week.
He donned a Florida Gators baseball cap for an appearance at the University of Florida Thursday, where he pushed for immigration reform and better health care for seniors.
Florida’s primary is Tuesday, and Sanders wants to continue momentum from his win in Michigan.
Utah Sen. Mike Lee is endorsing Ted Cruz for president, saying the Texas senator can united the fractured GOP.
Lee tells reporters that Cruz, ”doesn’t believe you have to settle” for compromises and that ”There is a big difference between slogans and substance” and Cruz is that difference.
Lee was elected during the tea party-fueled election of 2010. He is up for re-election this year.
A leading Muslim civil rights group is calling on GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump to apologize for his claim that Islam hates the west.
In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper that aired late Wednesday, Trump said: ”I think Islam hates us.”
”There’s a tremendous hatred,” he added. ”We have to get to the bottom of it. There is unbelievable hatred of us.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations is calling on Trump to apologize for the comment and other recent remarks it deems Islamophobic.
CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad suggests Trump could do so at Thursday evening’s GOP debate.
A man has been charged with punching a protester at a Donald Trump rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, after video of the altercation surfaced.
Cumberland County Sheriff’s office spokesman Sgt. Sean Swain told The Fayetteville Observer that John Franklin McGraw, 78, of Linden was charged with assault and disorderly conduct at Wednesday night’s rally.
North Carolina phone listings for McGraw rang disconnected Thursday.
Rakeem Jones tells The Associated Press that he was being escorted out of Crown Coliseum by several deputies when he got hit.
Jones said he recalled thinking: ”Wow. The police watched me get hit.”
Witness Ronnie Rouse took video and told the AP he couldn’t believe that Jones got punched in front of law enforcement officers.
Utah Sen. Mike Lee is planning to endorse Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, making him the first in the U.S. senate to publicly endorse the Republican presidential hopeful.
A person with knowledge of the endorsement tells The Associated Press that the Utah senator will make his endorsement formal in an announcement later Thursday.
The person spoke anonymously because the news is not public.
While Cruz has maintained a steady lead over rivals Marco Rubio and John Kasich, he has not received the same level of backing from party elites who have thrown their support by the dozens behind Rubio’s campaign in particular.
Lee was one of five senators to miss a vote in the Senate Thursday on the abuse of opioids.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s presidential super PAC is pushing back against ads airing in his must-win home state by backers of rival Marco Rubio.
New Day for America has filed complaints against Conservative Solutions PAC, allied with the Florida senator, that say Kasich has raised taxes. New Day fought the same tactic when a super PAC tied to Rubio and then-candidate Jeb Bush tried it in New Hampshire.
It’s true that Kasich paid for across-the-board income-tax reductions in part by raising cigarette taxes and other sales taxes. The state’s sales-tax rate rose to 5.75 percent from 5.5 percent in 2013.
But the ads reference the hikes without context: Kasich’s tax changes have amounted to a $5 billion reduction in the state’s overall tax burden since 2011.
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