Rubio, in native Florida, urges people to vote

The Latest: Rubio, in native Florida, urges people to vote

by Associated Press |

WASHINGTON — The Latest on campaign 2016 as Michigan, Mississippi, Idaho and Hawaii vote for nominees (all times Eastern Standard Time):

8:36 p.m.

Marco Rubio is telling voters in his native Florida that the election will be decided in the state when it settles its winner-take-all contest next week.

Rubio, who campaigned Tuesday in Ponte Vedra as four states held nomination contests, urged Floridians not to allow Democrats to continue the policies of President Barack Obama. He vowed never to betray U.S. allies, specifically Israel, vowing always to be on Israel’s side.

The 44-year old Florida senator also said that while he may not be the oldest candidate, he has the most foreign policy experience and can lead the nation in decisions that impact national security.

Early voting and absentee voting have already begun in Florida ahead of the March 15 primary. So far, early preference polls show Rubio’s rival, billionaire Donald Trump, ahead in the state.


8:35 p.m.

Donald Trump has won the Republican presidential primary in Mississippi, edging out Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to post his 13th state victory of the 2016 White House race.

The billionaire businessman extends his lead for the highly contested Republican nomination amid a growing outcry by party elites against his unorthodox candidacy.

Heading into Tuesday’s contests, Trump led the Republican field with 384 delegates, followed by Cruz with 300, Marco Rubio with 151 and John Kasich with 37. Winning the GOP nomination requires 1,237 delegates.


8:02 p.m.

Hillary Clinton is adding to her big delegate lead after a win in Mississippi.

With 36 delegates at stake, she is assured of picking up at least 21.

Entering Tuesday’s contests, she held a 196-delegate lead over Sanders based on the results from primaries and caucuses. Still, Sanders is counting on winning several upcoming states in a bid to recapture momentum.

Also voting on Tuesday were voters in Michigan, with 130 delegates up for grabs.

Clinton’s lead is even bigger when including superdelegates, the party leaders who can support any candidate they wish. She now has at least 1,155. Sanders has at least 502. It takes 2,383 to win.

Democrats living abroad also were submitting ballots by mail in their primary, with 13 delegates at stake. Their results will be released later this month.


8:00 p.m.

Hillary Clinton has won the Democratic presidential primary in Mississippi, riding a continuing wave of support from black voters in Southern states to claim her latest victory over Bernie Sanders.

The former secretary of state will proportionally be awarded a share of the state’s 36 delegates. Clinton had already earned 1,134 delegates in previous contests, versus 502 that have gone to Sanders.

Clinton’s number is roughly half the amount she needs to clinch the Democratic nomination for president. Her win in Mississippi comes off weekend contests in which Sanders won three out of four states.


7:00 p.m.

Ted Cruz is going after Donald Trump’s recent move of asking rally attendees to pledge their allegiance to him.

Cruz told a crowd of 1,000 at a Kannapolis, North Carolina church on Tuesday that the move strikes him as “profoundly wrong” and is something “kings and queens demand” of their subjects.

Trump has recently begun kicking off his rallies by asking thousands of attendees to raise a hand and pledge to support him in upcoming elections, including at a rally Monday afternoon in Concord, North Carolina.

“I’m not here asking any of you to pledge your support of me,” Cruz said, to thunderous applause and cheers. “I’m pledging my support of you.”


5:50 p.m.

“I have no idea,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Tuesday when asked why he thought no Senate Republicans have endorsed Cruz.

“It’s a circus, and I’m not part of that circus.”

Asked if he thought he could work with a President Cruz, Reid said he wouldn’t predict how the GOP primaries will end up and added, “It’s going to be a nasty affair.”

Sens. John Thune or John Cornyn had said Cruz would change if elected president.

No. 3 Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York said, “That’s a great slogan. Maybe he’ll change.”

“Doesn’t that say a lot,” Schumer said of Cruz’s lack of any Senate endorsements. He said “it says something about what people think he’ll be as president.”


5:35 p.m.

Democratic primary voters in Michigan overwhelmingly think the government needs to do more to protect the safety of public water supplies.

Early results of the exit poll conducted for the Associated Press and television networks for Edison Research show that more than 8 in 10 Democrats voting in the state Tuesday think government regulations need to be made stronger to ensure a safe water supply, while just 1 in 10 think current regulations go far enough.

Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have both drawn attention to the issue leading up to Tuesday’s primary, including at Saturday night’s debate in Flint, Michigan.


5:25 p.m.

Most voters in Michigan and Mississippi, regardless of party, are worried about the direction of the country’s economy, and many consider trade to be a negative influence on American jobs.

According to early results of exit polls conducted by Edison Research for the Associated Press and television networks Tuesday, at least 8 in 10 voters in each primary say they are very or somewhat worried about where the American economy is headed.

More than half of Democratic and Republican voters in Michigan, along with Republicans in Mississippi, say trade with other countries takes jobs. In Mississippi, Democratic primary voters are more closely divided on the subject, with 4 in 10 saying it takes away jobs and nearly as many thinking it has a positive impact.

At least 8 in 10 Democratic voters in both states see the country’s economic system as benefiting the wealthy.


3:25 p.m.

The possibility that Ted Cruz might be in the White House next year has led to questions on Capitol Hill about whether he’d be able to work with his former colleagues in the Senate.

Cruz earned the wrath of his own party — Sen. John McCain of Arizona once called him a “wacko bird” — after an effort to thwart Obama’s health care law led to a 16-day, partial government shutdown in 2013.

Cruz later urged senators to end government funding for Planned Parenthood, a move that could have led to a second shutdown.

South Dakota Sen. John Thune suggested Tuesday a President Cruz would be very different than a Sen. Cruz. Whoever the next president is, Thune said, that person will have to forge a relationship with Congress.

“When you’re one of 100 up here, you can throw some grenades and do some things that you can’t do when you’re president of the United States,” Thune said.


2:50 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he intends to support the Republican presidential nominee.

In Washington-speak, that gives the Kentucky senator a bit of an out depending on whom the GOP nominates. Intention is not the same as will do.

McConnell’s home state backed Donald Trump on Saturday. Without mentioning his name, the senator has been critical of the front-runner over his call to bar Muslims and his slow disavowal of the support of white supremacists.

McConnell also has faced the wrath of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who last year called the leader a liar on the Senate floor in an extraordinary display.


2:30 p.m.

Former President Bill Clinton is recalling fond memories of meeting his wife over four decades ago and says the now-Democratic presidential front-runner is the “change-maker” the nation needs.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports Clinton spoke to a crowd of hundreds on Tuesday in the Chicago suburb of Evanston. He says he first met Hillary Clinton 45 years ago this month and was “just blown away” by her sense of what was needed to get things done.

He says the country is full of instability and uncertainty, from climate change to racism, and the most important reason to vote for her is that the country can’t wait any longer.

The newspaper reports that earlier Tuesday he stopped at a Chicago soul food cafe with U.S. Rep. Danny Davis.


2:25 p.m.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz says years of campaign contributions by Donald Trump to Democrats and Republicans helped contribute to Washington’s culture of trading favors with the well-connected.

Speaking to Fox News personality Megyn Kelly during an interview taped Tuesday before hundreds of supporters in a Baptist church near Raleigh, North Carolina, Cruz criticized Trump for donations to Democrats including Hillary Clinton.

Cruz said Trump has “been integrally involved in the corruption in Washington.”

The Texas senator said he will not change positions or his personality to gain cooperation from other politicians.


2:20 p.m.

The brother of former Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush is now helping his former rival Ted Cruz.

Neil Bush and his wife Maria are among 13 people who had been backing previous candidates that the Cruz campaign announced Tuesday were now raising money for the Texas senator.

Jeb Bush dropped out of the race last month after a poor finish in South Carolina. Cruz has been arguing for Republicans to coalesce behind him in order to take down front runner Donald Trump.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio also remain in the race.

Cruz says other fundraisers who are now backing him previously were supporting Rubio, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry.


1:51 p.m.

House Speaker Paul Ryan has spoken to Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz about the Republican agenda, and plans similar telephone calls soon to the two other contenders for the GOP presidential nomination.

The conversations came as GOP leaders have openly called for the party to find an alternative to Trump. The New York billionaire is leading in the race for delegates to this July’s GOP convention, but many establishment Republicans consider him an all but certain loser in the general election who might pull the party’s congressional candidates down with him.

Ryan has been mentioned by some Republicans as a potential replacement candidate, but the Wisconsin Republican has said he’s not interested.

Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong says the speaker has spoken to Trump and Cruz, the Texas Republican, about the policy agenda House Republicans are planning to produce this year. She said Ryan will speak soon to Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio and Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich.


1:47 p.m.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz says his campaign has been in touch with Mitt Romney, who has boosted Sen. Marco Rubio and Ohio Gov. John Kasich — but not Cruz — by recording automated calls to voters’ homes.

Cruz says he’s talked with Romney by phone. He spoke Tuesday before a campaign rally at a Baptist church near Raleigh, North Carolina, which holds primary elections next Tuesday. Hundreds of supporters attending the rally booed at the first mention of Trump’s name.

Cruz didn’t respond when asked whether he was disappointed that Romney had not recorded campaign calls for him.


12:53 p.m.

Hillary Clinton continues to build on her delegate lead going into Tuesday night’s election contests in Mississippi and Michigan, according to AP’s delegate count.

She now has 1,134 delegates after picking up a few more endorsements from superdelegates, the party leaders who can support any candidate they wish. Sanders has 499.

Clinton’s number is roughly half the amount she needs to clinch the Democratic nomination for president. It comes off weekend contests in which Sanders won three out of four states.

She’s been able to sustain her lead to date with superdelegate help as well as big wins in the South such as Louisiana.


12:40 p.m.

A fired up John Kasich is urging his Michigan supporters to get out and campaign on his behalf before the polls close.

Speaking to a crowd in Lansing, Michigan, Kasich says, “no loafing, no resting.” Kasich says a strong showing in Michigan has the potential to show America and the world “that it’s a new day in this presidential campaign.”

Kasich is buttering up his crowd with comments on Michigan’s beauty and the kindness of its people.

He says Michigan voters represent “the best of our country.”

Kasich is heading to Ohio for an event in Cleveland later Tuesday and an election night party in Columbus.


11:56 a.m.

The Better Business Bureau is disputing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s claims about its ratings of his Trump University.

Trump University’s rating with the organization was a source of dispute during last week’s Republican debate.

Trump claimed the group had given his business an A+. But the moderator responded that it was a D-.

Trump then said he received a fax mid-debate from the BBB that proved the score was later elevated.

Claire Rosenzweig, head of the BBB’s Metro New York division, said Tuesday that the group did not send the fax. She said Trump U, which is not accredited by BBB, did receive a D- in 2010 due to customer complaints.

She said its grade improved when the complaints stopped as the company wound down its business in 2014.


11:37 a.m.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich is bristling at the question of whether he’s ever smoked marijuana.

He says in an interview with WWJ Radio/Detroit that he smoked the drug when he was younger, but “what difference does it make?”

Kasich said that just because he is running for president, he should not have to answer what he considers “gotcha” questions. And he says that at some point in his campaign he’s going to stop answering questions that he feels are irrelevant. He added that he’s opposed to legalizing the recreational use of marijuana at the federal level.

Kasich has pinned much of his presidential campaign hopes on winning the Michigan primary Tuesday evening, and then his home state of Ohio on March 15.


11:05 p.m.

Mitt Romney is delivering his anti-Donald Trump message directly to voters in Michigan, recording robo calls on behalf of Marco Rubio and John Kasich.

Kasich’s campaign confirms that recorded calls from Romney encouraging Michigan voters to choose the Ohio governor in Tuesday’s primary are going out to homes in Michigan today. An audio recording of the phone calls says they are paid for by Kasich’s campaign. Similar calls are going out across the state on behalf of Marco Rubio.

In the call, Romney urges Michigan voters to choose someone who can defeat Hillary Clinton in the fall.

Kasich’s campaign is hoping a strong showing in Michigan will boost momentum heading into the Ohio primary on March 15.

A spokesperson for Romney says the former GOP nominee has offered his help to Rubio, Kasich and Ted Cruz in his efforts to stop Trump from clinching the nomination.


7:15 a.m.

Republican front-runner Donald Trump is defending a gesture he makes at his rallies at the request of supporters in which he raises his right hand in a salute that has been compared by some to the Nazi salute.

Speaking to NBC’s “Today” Tuesday, as Michigan, Mississippi, Idaho and Hawaii were set to vote for nominees, Trump called the accusations “ridiculous” and said his supporters call on him to make a gesture as if he’s swearing in for the presidency.

“Until this call, I didn’t know it was a problem,” Trump said. “Sometimes we’ll do it for fun.”

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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