National / U.S. News

The Latest: Rapper’s remark raises heat in Dem fight

FILE - In this Feb. 16, 2016 file photo, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks in New York. Nevada was supposed to be one of Clinton’s safest bets. But in the final days before Saturday’s caucuses, Clinton’s chances of a big victory look far more like a political crap shoot. (AP Photo/Bryan R. Smith, File)

FILE – In this Feb. 16, 2016 file photo, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks in New York. Nevada was supposed to be one of Clinton’s safest bets. But in the final days before Saturday’s caucuses, Clinton’s chances of a big victory look far more like a political crap shoot. (AP Photo/Bryan R. Smith, File)

BEAUFORT, S.C. (AP) — The Latest on the 2016 race for president, three days out from the South Carolina Republican primary (all times local):

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1:15 p.m.

Rapper Killer Mike is touching off a controversy with his endorsement of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, in which the rapper told supporters, “a uterus doesn’t qualify you to be president of the United States.”

The remark Tuesday was an apparent reference to Sanders rival Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state who would be the nation’s first female president.

The comment raised tensions between the two campaigns as they head into pivotal contests in Nevada, South Carolina and a string of “Super Tuesday” states on March 1.

The rapper, whose real name is Michael Render, suggested that Clinton would be slow to move on issues of racial justice.

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1:10 p.m.

John Kasich predicts he’ll fare “better than squat” in South Carolina’s Republican primary.

The Ohio governor said before a campaign rally Wednesday in Bluffton, South Carolina, that he hopes to beat expectations during the South’s first presidential primary Saturday.

Kasich told reporters: “I don’t think people expected me to do squat. And I think we’ll do better than squat, but we’ll see.”

Kasich finished second in New Hampshire last week, but headed to South Carolina with less money and fewer campaign staff and volunteers in the state than his nearest rivals.

About 200 people turned out to hear Kasich in Bluffton, and he implored them to spread the word by calling friends.

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12:56 p.m.

Hillary Clinton is being joined in Chicago by prominent black lawmakers and the mother of a black suburban woman who died in her Texas jail cell last year.

Geneva Reed-Veal, the mother of Sandra Bland, is campaigning with Clinton Wednesday as the Democratic presidential candidate works to appeal to minority voters ahead of contests in Nevada and South Carolina.

Bland was found dead days after she was pulled over by a white officer in Texas last year. A medical examiner ruled her death a suicide, though the 28-year-old’s family has questioned that account and how the stop was handled. The case became a symbol of mistreatment of blacks by law enforcement and inequalities in the criminal justice system.

Rep. Danny Davis, who has represented his West Side Chicago district since 1997, says he backing Clinton over rival Sen. Bernie Sanders because of her record of fighting for health care, education and other issues important to black people.

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12:51 p.m.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz says he would not vote to approve a nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court who he had previously supported for a federal appeals court post.

The Republican presidential candidate said at a news conference Wednesday that he would not vote to confirm U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Sri Srinivasan if he were nominated by President Obama. Srinivasan was approved on a unanimous 97-0 vote by the Senate for the federal court post in Washington D.C. in 2013.

Cruz says the Senate should not confirm any nominee in a presidential election year. Cruz says it is “very different” voting for a judge to serve on the federal appeals court and the Supreme Court.

Cruz says he wants to make the presidential election a referendum on which candidate would make the best appointments to the Supreme Court.

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12:42 p.m.

Donald Trump says the GOP lost the 2012 presidential election when Mitt Romney named Paul Ryan his running mate.

Trump says the problem is the way Ryan’s budget dealt with Social Security and Medicare.

Trump told several hundred people at a Sun City retirement community in Bluffton, South Carolina, Wednesday that Ryan represents cutting entitlements. Trump pledged that he would not cut the programs to assist seniors.

He recalled a Democratic-leaning group’s 2012 ad that showed a stand-in for Ryan pushing an elderly woman off a cliff. Trump said “that was the end of that campaign, by the way, when they chose Ryan.”

The Ryan budget would slash spending for safety-net programs for the poor, remake Medicare , cut personal and corporate taxes and push down the deficit.

Ryan’s office had no immediate comment on Trump’s remarks.

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12:36 p.m.

Jeb Bush is getting more family support on the trail ahead of South Carolina’s Feb. 20 primary. The Bush campaign says Barbara Bush will be in Clemson on Thursday for a rally with her son.

The former first lady campaigned with the former Florida governor in New Hampshire earlier this year.

On Monday, former President George W. Bush appeared with his brother in North Charleston.

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12:16 p.m.

Ted Cruz says if Donald Trump sues him as threatened over a campaign ad, the lawsuit would be dismissed as frivolous.

Cruz lashed out at Trump at a news conference Wednesday in South Carolina, three days before the state’s primary.

Cruz says the ad, which includes footage of Trump declaring his support for abortion rights, can’t be defamatory because it includes comments Trump himself made on national TV. Trump has since said his position has changed and he is anti-abortion.

Speaking directly to Trump, Cruz says. “you have been threatening frivolous lawsuits for your entire adult life. Even in the annals of frivolous lawsuits, this takes the cake.”

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11:41 a.m.

Marco Rubio says going forward he’ll address audience members who use “outrageous, over-the-top and egregious” language during his events.

That’s in response to an incident Tuesday night when an audience member shouted out “Waterboard Hillary!” Rubio laughed on the suggestion at the time. He pointed to the press in the back of the room while chuckling and said he didn’t hear the comment, but knew it wasn’t profanity.

The next morning in Mount Pleasant, S.C., Rubio said he didn’t hear exactly what the shouter said.

He added, “But I also can’t be I the position of correcting everyone in the audience that says something, because I’ll never get through my speech.”

Rubio says that going forward, “If it’s something outrageous, over the top and egregious, I’ll address it.”

Presidential candidates are often confronted with heated or violent rhetoric during their events.

Hillary Clinton was criticized after laughing off an audience member’s suggestion last fall that someone strangle Republican Carly Fiorina. In 2008, John McCain corrected an audience member who called President Barack Obama an Arab.

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11:40 a.m.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump declared on Wednesday morning that “torture works” and repeated his vow to bring back waterboarding and approve other, tougher interrogation techniques.

“Don’t tell me it doesn’t work. Torture works, OK folks?” Trump tells a crowd of several hundred in Sun City, South Carolina. “You know, I have these guys, torture doesn’t work. Believe me, it works, OK? And waterboarding is your minor form.”

Trump has repeatedly advocated enhanced interrogation techniques for foreign prisoners, including during a recent GOP debate. He said again Wednesday he would “absolutely” allow waterboarding, which simulates the feeling of drowning.

“But we should go much stronger than waterboarding,” he adds. “That’s the way I feel. They’re chopping off heads. Believe me, we should go much stronger because our country’s in trouble, we’re in danger. We have people that want to do really bad things.”

“Waterboarding is fine, but it’s not nearly tough enough,” he says.

(Waterboarding was practiced until late in the Bush administration, but was disavowed by President Barack Obama. A 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee report concluded that harsh interrogation techniques failed to produce information the CIA couldn’t have obtained elsewhere or didn’t already have. Republican leaders objected to the report’s findings, as did some former CIA officials, who said they gained vital intelligence that still guides counterterrorism efforts.)

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11:33 a.m.

An outside group supporting John Kasich’s presidential bid is up with an ad in South Carolina featuring a defense by the most recent winner of this state’s GOP primary.

In the television spot from New Day for America, the image – but not the voice – of former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich appears, defending Kasich against attacks that paint the Ohio governor as soft on defense.

Earlier this week, an outside group backing Jeb Bush began airing an ad in this miitary-minded state – home to to Fort Jackson and Parris Island, massive training installations for the Army and Marine Corps, as well as a number of air bases and a naval training school for nuclear submarine officers – aiming to use Kasich’s own words against him. Both Kasich and Gingrich denounced the criticism.

In the New Day ad, a narrator quotes Gingrich’s recent remarks to a newspaper that Kasich, alongside whom he served in Congress, “consistently fought for a better, more effective military.”

On the trail himself on Wednesday, Bush continued to take on some of his GOP rivals, including Kasich, who have not argued for military spending increases on the same scale Bush has, painting himself as best-positioned to assume the role of commander in chief.

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11:22 a.m.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump slammed South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham in Sun City on Wednesday, calling his former rival “one of the dumbest human beings I’ve ever seen.”

Trump was responding to Graham’s appearance on Fox News earlier Wednesday, when Graham called Trump “a kook” and “unfit for office” and said he would be “the most flawed nominee in the history of the Republican Party.”

Trump hit back from a stage in Sun City, mocking Graham’s demeanor, saying, “He couldn’t even talk. He was shaking – the hatred.

“He went crazy. The guy is a nut job,” says Trump.

Graham appeared calm in the interview.

Trump also mocked Graham’s low level of support in polls before he dropped out of the GOP contest as well as his perspective on U.S. military engagement.

“I could push him over with a little thimble,” says Trump, adding: “This guy knows nothing.”

It was in Sun City in June that Trump read Graham’s cell phone number out loud to the crowd — one of the first signs that his campaign was eager to break all the rules of political decorum.

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11:10 a.m.

Jeb Bush is swinging hard at fellow Republican presidential candidates Marco Rubio, Donald Trump and John Kasich Wednesday, dismissing them as ill-prepared as he fights for his political survival.

The former Florida governor says Rubio’s claim that Bush has no foreign policy experience is “a low blow.” Bush touts his two terms as governor and 30-plus years in the private sector, which included overseas trade missions.

He called Rubio, a U.S. senator from Florida, “a back-bencher” and “a guy whose office has a hard time actually saying what his accomplishments are.”

National security is a key issue in the South Carolina primary. Bush is in a fight with Rubio, Ohio Gov. Kasich and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz for second place to Trump’s commanding lead in Saturday’s primary.

 

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