Feb 27, 2016 12:53 AM

The Latest: Clinton closes out South Carolina campaigning

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) The Latest on the race for president ahead of Super Tuesday, the biggest single-day delegate haul of the nomination contests (all times Eastern):

9:36 p.m.

Hillary Clinton is closing on an optimistic and personal note in South Carolina, saying she will work to break down barriers and lift people up.

Before a crowd gathered in a park in downtown Columbia Friday night, Clinton kept her focus on the Republicans, rather than Democratic opponent Bernie Sanders, arguing that the GOP candidates are offering failed economic policies.

Clinton also stressed her long ties to the state, telling voters "I need your help tomorrow."

Introducing his wife, Bill Clinton recalled family vacations in South Carolina, saying daughter Chelsea first rode a bike there.

"For Hillary and me, it's been sort of a homecoming," he said, later adding: "Tomorrow you have a chance to send a message to the country. That across all of our differences we can still rise together."


9:15 p.m.

Republican presidential hopeful John Kasich says he asked for Chris Christie's support but that the New Jersey governor "just went another way" with his endorsement of Donald Trump.

Kasich spoke with reporters Friday night after conducting a town hall meeting at the University of Memphis.

Kasich says he was a little surprised when Christie gave his support to Trump. The Ohio governor says he didn't try to pressure Christie and adds that "you couldn't pressure Chris Christie into anything anyway."

Kasich says, "It's just the way life is. It's OK." He says Christie is a friend and always will be.

Kasich is scheduled to visit Nashville and Knoxville on Saturday.


8:40 p.m.

Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz says he hopes Super Tuesday will make it clear that it's a two-man race between him and Donald Trump.

Cruz spoke Friday night at religious broadcaster Pat Robertson's Regent University. Regent hosted Trump earlier this week, and Ben Carson is scheduled for Monday as the GOP candidates court the Christian conservative vote ahead of Super Tuesday's primaries in 11 states, including Virginia.

Cruz said Super Tuesday "will be the most important day in this entire presidential election" and acknowledged that Trump could "steamroll through" with big wins. He says that would be "a very dangerous outcome."


8:35 p.m.

John Kasich says military veterans should not have to apply for licenses to become truck drivers or certifications to become emergency medical technicians once they return to civilian life.

Kasich made a speech and conducted a town hall meeting in front of more than 600 people in the ballroom of a Holiday Inn on the University of Memphis campus Friday night.

The Ohio governor says that if a member of the military can drive a truck "from Kabul to Kandahar," he or she should be qualified to drive a truck from Nashville to Memphis.

Kasich also denounced the Department of Veterans Affairs, which has been criticized for a slow response to long wait times and inadequate care at VA hospitals in Memphis and elsewhere.

Kasich calls the Veterans Affairs Department an institution that "is not working anymore."


8:30 p.m.

Donald Trump halted his speech briefly at an arena in downtown Oklahoma City to confront a protester who held a sign that read: "Islamophobia is not the answer."

The young man stood in an aisle behind Trump and removed his jacket, prompting Trump to turn around and face the man, who blew kisses to the crowd.

After a brief pause, a security team escorted the man from the arena. Trump criticized police for not removing the man faster, but he said officers are concerned with being "politically correct."

Trump said, "In the good old days, they'd rip him out of that seat so fast."


7:51 p.m.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders almost bumped into each other on the campaign trail literally.

Clinton was still on stage on Friday night in South Carolina when Sanders arrived at a fish fry in Orangeburg. He had just held a rally a mile away at Claflin University, a historically black school.

Sanders exited his bus after Clinton left the stage. He spoke for a few minutes before heading to a rally in Columbia, his final public event of the day.

The Vermont senator returned to South Carolina on Friday after several days of campaigning in states that vote next month. He is leaving the state early Saturday for Texas and Minnesota as voters go to the polls in South Carolina.


7:43 p.m.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says Ted Cruz is nervous.

Warming up the crowd in Oklahoma City, the newly minted surrogate for GOP presidential front-runner says things are looking good for the billionaire businessman in next Tuesday's Texas primary. Christie endorsed Trump earlier Friday in Fort Worth.

Texas is a must-win state for Cruz, who represents the state in the Senate.

Also voting on what's known as Super Tuesday is Oklahoma, and Christie tells the crowd at the city's Cox Convention Center arena that, "We need a Trump-sized win in Oklahoma, and I think you're going to give it to us."

Among those in the crowd are Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and her husband, Wade Christensen. Fallin has yet to endorse a candidate in the GOP presidential race.


6:22 p.m.

Maine's outspoken Republican governor is endorsing Donald Trump for president.

Gov. Paul LePage announced his endorsement Friday while speaking on "The Howie Carr Show," a conservative radio talk show based in Boston. LePage called in from Florida, where he's on vacation. He says Trump "wants to make America great again" and adds Trump "is the only one doing that right now."

LePage says he hasn't spoken with Trump. He was a supporter of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie before Christie ended his presidential bid. Christie also endorsed Trump on Friday.

In making his endorsement, LePage repeated his assertion he and not Trump is the original bombastic politician. LePage jokes he "was Donald Trump before Donald Trump became popular."


4:19 p.m.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is taking time out from offering up a barrage of criticism of Donald Trump's positions and qualifications to take aim at another prominent attribute of the Republican front-runner: His hair.

Asked by a moderator in an appearance at a National Religious Broadcasters meeting in Nashville on Friday about whether he would launch an investigation into Trump's hair, Cruz quipped: "There are some things that are just too big to uncover."

Cruz added that standing on the debate stage next to Trump, he has had to fight what he called the "incredible urge just to reach over and ruffle his hair."


3:52 p.m.

Marco Rubio says he is going to repeatedly attack Donald Trump's character as someone "who's pulling the ultimate con job on the American people."

And he's having fun at Trump's expense during a rally in Oklahoma City, reading tweets about Rubio from Trump that are full of misspelled words.

Rubio says there's enough time to slow Trump before 11 states vote next week on Super Tuesday, including Oklahoma.

"That's why there's a sense of urgency about it. Because the Republican Party and the conservative movement could fall into the hands of someone who has basically conned a significant number of Americans into believing he's someone he's not," he told reporters.

He adds: "This is a guy who says he stands for the working class. When in fact his entire business career he's been sticking it to working class Americans."


3:26 p.m.

Retired neurosurgeon and Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson says "let's pray that it can work for America" if Donald Trump becomes the GOP nominee.

Carson says during an appearance Friday at a conference of religious broadcasters in Nashville that if Trump were to surround himself with the right advisers, "it might not be the total disaster that we anticipate."

Carson stressed that he isn't dropping out of the race, despite a string of poor primary results. And he says if he's not the nominee, he'd vote for Trump over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.


2:10 p.m.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump says that if he's elected president, American newspapers should watch out.

Trump says at a campaign rally in Fort Worth, Texas, that he wants to make it easier to file lawsuits against newspapers over what they report.

He says that if he's elected, he will "open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money."

He adds, "If I become president, oh, do they have problems."


2:07 p.m.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump says he wouldn't want 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney's endorsement even if it were offered.

Romney has been pressuring Trump to release his tax returns, which Trump has so far declined to do because, he says, he's being audited.

Trump says at a campaign rally in Fort Worth, Texas, that Romney should have won the 2012 election and accused him of walking "like a penguin."

The billionaire businessman had no reservations accepting another high-profile endorsement on Friday. He's campaigning at his rally with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who backed Trump earlier in the day in a surprise announcement.


2:05 p.m.

A senior adviser to Marco Rubio is interpreting New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's endorsement of Donald Trump as a remedy to what he calls the billionaire's inability to articulate his policy plans, explain why he won't release his tax returns and defend his past financial dealings.

Todd Harris tells reporters traveling with the Florida senator that, "Donald Trump can't put a coherent noun and verb together to explain any of these things, so he had to bring in someone like Chris Christie to try to do it for him. And Chris Christie has got his work cut out for him."

During the final debate before the New Hampshire primary, Christie aggressively questioned Rubio's campaign style, saying he essentially gives the same speech at all of his campaign rallies and takes few questions. He called Rubio "the boy in the bubble."


2 p.m.

Chris Christie is making his debut as a supporter for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, introducing the billionaire businessman at a campaign rally in Fort Worth.

Christie received a thundering reception as he took to the stage in front of thousands at a convention center.

"I want Texas to be Trump country on Tuesday," the New Jersey governor told the crowd.

Trump said he and Christie had decided to keep the endorsement secret until announcing it Friday and described it as "sort of a shocker." He said the surprise from reporters was clear when they walked into a pre-rally news conference to announce Christie's backing.


1:57 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says she's eager to debate any Republican on economics and health care policy.

Campaigning Friday at Atlanta City Hall, Clinton talked about the job growth that took place during the administrations of her husband and President Barack Obama.

She compared that to "trickle-down economics" of Republican administrations. And she mocked Republicans for voting repeatedly in Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

She says "they never really tell you what they're going to put in its place," because "they know we won't like it."

Clinton also knocked Bernie Sanders' proposal to have the government cover the cost of tuition at public colleges and universities. Clinton says she is "not going to take your tax dollars" to send "Donald Trump's youngest child to college."


1:50 p.m.

Thursday's GOP debate was watched by 14.5 million people, according to the Nielsen ratings company.

The explosive faceoff between presidential hopeful Donald Trump and rivals including Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio aired on both CNN and Telemundo. CNN averaged 13.26 million viewers, while Telemundo drew 1.27 million.

Aired live from Houston, it was the 10th Republican Party debate in this campaign season. It took place just days before next week's multi-state Super Tuesday sweep.

The first GOP debate, telecast last August, remains the most-watched, with 24 million viewers. The next takes place on Thursday, to be carried by Fox News Channel.

There have been six Democratic Party debates so far. The next takes place March 6. It will air on CNN.


1:36 p.m.

Bernie Sanders says he's sensitive to issues like drug addiction and low employment that affect Native American communities.

Before a rally in Hibbing, Minnesota, on Friday morning, Sanders met with a group of about a dozen Native American tribal council members. The Vermont senator said that the way Native Americans have been treated is a "disgrace" and that he has a track record of support for their community.

Sanders also held a separate meeting with United Steelworkers members, many of whom had been laid off in the past year. Sanders said he has consistently opposed the trade deals some of them blame for their industry's hardships.

Sanders has been campaigning in the Midwest and Great Lakes regions before returning to South Carolina ahead of that state's Democratic primary on Saturday.


1:02 p.m.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is slamming Florida Sen. Marco Rubio as he endorses Donald Trump for president.

Christie says, "We don't need any more of these Washington, D.C., acts."

Christie memorably attacked the freshman senator at the final Republican debate before the New Hampshire primary, tripping up Rubio in a moment that likely contributed to his poor performance in the state's primary. Christie accused him of parroting the same talking points repeatedly and said a president should be able to think on his feet.

The endorsement from Christie comes the day after Rubio changed tactics in Thursday's GOP debate and began to attack Trump on a variety of fronts, from his business background to his preparedness to lead the nation. Rubio continued on Friday morning, calling Trump "a con artist" during a round of morning television interviews.

Trump says Rubio is a "desperate guy" and said, "I don't think he's of presidential caliber."


12:50 p.m.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is endorsing Donald Trump in the race for the GOP presidential nomination.

Christie says at a news conference in Fort Worth, Texas, that Trump "will do what needs to be done to protect the American people."


12:40 p.m.

Hillary Clinton could be the nation's first female president. Bernie Sanders warns of the role of super PACs in politics.

While the two themes have become a big part of their primary contest, Americans view the issues very differently.

A new Associated Press-GfK poll finds that 19 percent of Americans say they would be more likely to vote for a presidential candidate if the person is a woman while 64 percent say a candidate's gender has no bearing on their decision.

And in a sign of Sanders' powerful message, the poll finds that 46 percent say they're more likely to vote for a candidate who doesn't want outside groups supporting his or her campaign. Thirty-eight percent says it makes no difference to voters.


12:26 p.m.

Hillary Clinton stopped in at some Charleston eateries Friday morning, taking selfies, picking up pastries and even scoring a wedding invitation.

Clinton visited the soul food restaurant Hannibal's Kitchen and Saffron Cafe and Bakery. At the bakery she met 29-year-old Joe Schreck, of Atlanta, who was enjoying bloody marys with his groomsmen on his wedding day. Clinton posed for a photo with the group.

"That's pretty exciting," Clinton exclaimed, learning about the wedding. When some of the men crouched down in front of her for the photo, she joked "I love having men at my feet."

Schreck said he invited Clinton to the festivities that night, but she declined. He said he liked Clinton, but was still undecided about who he would vote for.


12:25 p.m.

Donald Trump may want to invest in spell check.

The GOP front-runner took to Twitter Friday morning to unleash against the two rivals who took him on during Thursday evening's GOP debate.

But his tweets contained numerous typos, drawing a barrage of attention on social media.

"Lying Ted Cruz and leightweight chocker Marco Rubio teamed up last night in a last ditch effort to stop our great movement. They failed!" he wrote in one, misspelling both 'lightweight' and 'choker.'


10:58 a.m.

Sen. Lindsey Graham is so disgusted with the GOP's embrace of Donald Trump, he says: "My party has gone batshit crazy."

In no-holds-barred remarks Thursday night, the South Carolina senator and unsuccessful presidential candidate said the GOP has lost all semblance of sanity. He predicted irrevocable losses in November if Republicans back Trump.

Graham says Republicans have the best chance in years to win as Democrats are likely to nominate Hillary Clinton, who has been damaged by questions about her trustworthiness. But he says Republicans could blow it.

He calls Clinton the "most dishonest person in America."

Graham has repeatedly engaged in name-calling with Trump, but Thursday's remarks were to more than 750 members of Congress, journalists and congressional aides at the Washington Press Club Foundation's annual congressional dinner.


9:39 a.m.

Hillary Clinton is claiming new momentum on the eve of a South Carolina Democratic primary that she's expected to win handily.

Clinton told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" in an interview Friday that she thinks it takes her "a little bit longer to get into the rhythm of campaigning" but that her campaign hit its stride in Nevada.

She said, "our message of breaking all barriers is really beginning to take hold. I really felt we were on an upward trajectory."


7:51 a.m.

Marco Rubio is waging a fresh verbal assault against Donald Trump the day after he and Republican rival Ted Cruz tag-teamed the Republican front-runner on the debate stage.

The Florida senator repeatedly called the billionaire business "a con artist" during a round of Friday morning television interviews. Rubio also questioned Trump's business background, attacked his preparedness to lead the nation, and charged that Trump has been "sticking it to the little guy" for decades.

Rubio told CBS' "This Morning": "A con artist is about to take over the Republican Party and the conservative movement, and we have to put a stop to it."

At the same time, Rubio allies prepared to spend millions on Trump attack ads in key states.

The multifaceted takedown effort comes four days before Super Tuesday.


--  Dealing with the Disease of Addiction? Click here for help --

More from NH1.com

NH1 News Debates
NH1 News Replay

NH1 on Twitter

NH1 SkyView Cameras

NH1 on Facebook

Check out NH1 News Rail Polls on LockerDome on LockerDome