WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the 2016 campaign for president (all times local):
Hillary Clinton says the country faces a “legitimate dilemma” over whether to hack the phone of the gunman in a California mass shooting.
Clinton says she sees both sides of the issue and wasn’t offering a specific solution, but wanted to bring tech companies and the government together to find common ground.
She says there may be a way that law enforcement officials can get information about crimes and terrorism “on a very specific basis” without jeopardizing privacy.
Clinton answered the question at a Las Vegas town hall event on Thursday. A court this week ordered Apple to help the FBI break into the phone of a gunman who killed 14 people in San Bernardino in December.
Hillary Clinton is expressing bafflement at Bernie Sanders’ criticisms of the administrations of Barack Obama and her own husband.
Clinton says the past two Democratic presidents “weren’t perfect” but were far better than the Republican alternatives.
Clinton drew boos and cheers at a town hall in Las Vegas when she noted that Sanders was a registered Independent until he decided to run in the Democratic presidential primary.
Sanders earlier Thursday criticized Bill Clinton’s welfare reform and support of the North American Free Trade Agreement. He briefly called for a primary challenger to President Obama before the 2012 election but has also often praised Obama.
Jeb Bush says he would probably nominate someone to the Supreme Court if he were in President Barack Obama’s position.
Bush says he believes people should respect the Constitution. But he says the president ought to use whatever powers the Constitution affords him. He says those powers are there for a purpose.
Bush’s comments in a CNN town hall are stronger than what he’d said on the matter previously. In Saturday’s GOP debate Bush said Obama would be within his right to nominate someone but the Senate should be wary of confirming an Obama-nominated justice who would be out of the mainstream.
Bush is drawing an implicit contrast with his GOP rivals, including Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Both of those Republicans oppose allowing Obama to select a replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush is brushing off South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s decision to endorse rival Marco Rubio this week.
Bush says at a CNN televised town hall event that “I’m marking her down as neutral,” drawing laughs.
He insists he has a path forward in the race, despite his low poll numbers in many states.
He says he has “momentum if you look at the polls and you look at the crowd sizes of our town hall meetings. And the enthusiasm that exists.”
He is also touting his endorsement from South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, whom he describes as “probably the leading national security expert in the United States Senate.”
GOP candidate John Kasich says if he’s elected president he would consider appointing one of his former rivals to his Cabinet: Chris Christie.
Kasich says during a televised CNN town hall that he’s been friends with the New Jersey governor for a while and considers him “a terrific guy.”
He says the two are “kind of buddies” and go out to dinner together with their wives.
Christie ended his presidential bid after a disappointing finish in New Hampshire and his endorsement is now up for grabs.
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders suggests racism is behind efforts to undermine Barack Obama’s presidency.
The Vermont senator says nobody questions whether he’s eligible for the post because his father is from Poland, but they question Obama’s legitimacy because his father is from Kenya.
Sanders asks: “Gee, what’s the difference? Maybe the color of our skin?”
Sanders was responding a question at a Las Vegas town hall about how he’d deal with Islamophobia.
He says it’s OK to disagree about immigration but it’s unacceptable for people, including Donald Trump, to scapegoat Muslims and Latinos.
Republican presidential candidate John Kasich says he’s staunchly “pro-Pope” amid the war of words between the pontiff and Donald Trump.
Kasich is telling viewers of a CNN town hall to “put me down in the pro-Pope column.”
Pope Francis on Thursday criticized Trump’s proposal to build a wall across the U.S.-Mexico border, saying, “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.”
Trump called the pope’s remarks “disgraceful.”
But Kasich says Francis “has opened the walls and the doors of the church to lots of people who didn’t understand it.”
Kasich says: “We have a right to build a wall. But I gotta tell you. There are too many walls between us. We need bridges between us if we’re going to fix the problems in Washington ’cause all they do is have walls.”
Former President Bill Clinton is touting his wife’s candidacy ahead of the Nevada caucuses, with campaign stops at Las Vegas.
Bill Clinton surprised some patrons at downtown Las Vegas’ Container Park on Thursday afternoon when he visited Simply Pure Vegan Cafe. Clinton said he sticks to a mostly vegan diet and ordered vegan nachos to go.
The former president then headed to Harrah’s casino on the Las Vegas Strip. He visited casino workers at an employee dining room and took selfies with dealers, chefs and housekeepers.
Hillary Clinton has also been visiting casino workers and urging them to back her in Saturday’s Democratic caucuses.
Bill and Chelsea Clinton have scheduled events in Nevada to help Hillary Clinton in a tight race against Bernie Sanders.
Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders says he considers himself a strong feminist and was even named an “honorary woman” years ago by renowned feminist Gloria Steinem.
Sanders was responding to an audience question at a Thursday town hall in Las Vegas about how a man could understand problems women face.
The Vermont senator says women are paid less than men and the disparity is even greater for women of color. He said the inequity has nothing to do with economics and everything to do with sexism.
Sanders says he and Nevada Sen. Harry Reid have tried desperately to pass pay equity legislation and he is promising to continue the fight.
Sen. Bernie Sanders is defending his opposition to a 2007 immigration bill, saying the legislation included worker provisions that were “akin to slavery.”
Sanders says he backed a 2013 effort to reform the country’s immigration system.
He says, “It’s not a question of being perfect, nothing is perfect, but that one had particularly egregious provisions in it.”
Clinton backers have accused Sanders of failing to support Latino activists, saying he backed bills that hurt immigrants.
He says he’d make an immigration overhaul a “top priority.”
He says, “I’m not a dictator here — it has to do with a little bit of cooperation from the Congress — but it is a major priority.”
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is putting the stakes of the presidential election in stark terms.
He is telling Republicans gathered at the Conservative Review convention Thursday in Greenville, South Carolina, that “our very Bill of Rights hangs in the balance.”
Cruz has been emphasizing the importance of electing a president who will nominate a conservative to replace Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia since Scalia’s death last week.
Cruz does not believe the Senate should vote on confirming any nominee President Barack Obama may put forward.
Cruz is telling voters that he is the only Republican candidate for president who can be trusted to nominate a proven conservative to the court. He says if a liberal justice is seated, the court’s ideological balance will tilt, putting gun rights, religious liberty and abortion restrictions in jeopardy.
Bernie Sanders says he thinks there’s middle ground on whether the government should be able to access encrypted information on a terrorist’s phone.
Sanders said at a Democratic town hall in Las Vegas that he’s very fearful about “Big Brother” and worries about government or corporate officials knowing people’s library book choices or buying habits.
But he says he’s also worried about the potential of a terrorist attack.
He says voters can count him in as a strong civil libertarian.
The question comes after a court this week ordered Apple to help hack the phone of a gunman involved in a terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California.
Republican John Kasich says emotional exchanges like one he had Thursday with a young man at a town hall event have been happening throughout his campaign.
Kasich was at a town hall in South Carolina this afternoon when he gave a hug to a man who said a person he was close to had recently killed himself, his parents had divorced and his father had lost his job. He said that he’d found hope in God and his friends — as well as the Ohio governor and GOP presidential contender.
At a televised town hall on CNN Thursday evening, Kasich says he’s heard similar stories from people across the country, including a man who drove from New York to New Hampshire to say he was guilt-stricken over not warning his cancer-stricken son about the risks of testicular cancer.
Kasich says the exchanges have made him realize that “we need to slow down.”
He says, “There are a lot of people out there who are lonely and are looking for a place to tell people about their issues.”
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson says it is not compassionate to give people in need food stamps, housing subsidies and health care.
The Republican presidential candidate is telling a Conservative Review convention in Greenville, South Carolina, on Thursday that progressives try to paint conservatives as heartless and uncaring. But he says those who give out benefits to poor people are the ones who are heartless and uncaring because it makes the poor dependent on others.
Carson says that is “taking advantage of people and making them subject to you. That is what we’ve got to change in our country.”
Carson also says “people with common sense have been beaten into submission by the secular progressives.”
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is joining a protest by union workers at a Las Vegas hospital.
Sanders is speaking into a bullhorn and thanking the workers for “standing up for affordable health care.”
Members of the Culinary Union and the Bartenders Union are holding a demonstration in front of Sunrise Hospital to protest negotiation tactics by Hospital Corporation of America. Hillary Clinton was at the protest earlier Thursday.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is mulling a third-party presidential run, says the leading candidates are “trying to exploit” Americans’ worries.
Bloomberg says the campaign to this point “has been a race to the extremes.” He says one way to solve the nation’s problems is by “recognizing that compromise is not a bad word.”
While he is not signaling an intention to run, he says the political landscape is dominated by a “corrupt, gridlocked and broken two-party system that answers to lobbyists and special interests instead of the American people.”
Bloomberg is said to be unhappy with the rise of Bernie Sanders among Democrats and Donald Trump and Ted Cruz on the Republican side. His advisers believe he could fill a vacant centrist, pragmatic lane to the White House. He has set a March deadline to decide if he will jump in the race.
Bloomberg spoke Thursday night at a book party he hosted for Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan.
Vice President Joe Biden says it’s “very possible” that Republicans will nominate Donald Trump for president. But he says he would be surprised if Trump got elected.
Biden is commenting on the 2016 race in an NBC News interview. Biden says he frequently gets asked how Trump is able to win over Americans. He says he takes Trump’s prospects seriously because Trump appeals to fear.
Biden says he believes Republican leaders declared opposition to considering President Barack Obama’s forthcoming Supreme Court nominee because they wanted to “make sure they got out ahead of Ted Cruz.” The Texas senator and GOP presidential candidate has vowed to filibuster Obama’s pick. But Biden says he doesn’t believe GOP leaders believe in their heart that the approach they’re taking makes sense.
Biden also says he dreamed about his late son, Beau Biden, one day becoming president. He says the former Delaware attorney general’s death is a “lost opportunity for the country.”
John Kasich’s campaign is launching radio ads in Nevada, where the Ohio governor has no plans to campaign in person before its GOP caucus next Tuesday.
One ad promises Kasich will transfer power over land management back to Nevada from Washington and declares, “John Kasich says this land should be your land.”
The battles over federal control of publicly owned lands intensified recently during a weekslong standoff at a national wildlife refuge in Oregon. Much of Nevada’s land is publicly owned.
The second ad focuses on Kasich’s work to balance the federal budget while in Congress and to cut taxes in Ohio.
Kasich plans to spend Tuesday, the day of the Nevada caucus, campaigning in Georgia.
South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn is ready to endorse Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
A person close to Clyburn tells The Associated Press that the congressman will publicly back Clinton before the Feb. 27 primary. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak ahead of the formal endorsement.
Clyburn is one of the top African-American leaders on Capitol Hill and the highest ranking elected Democrat in the state.
Clyburn’s backing should provide Clinton with a boost in a state where black voters are likely to make up a majority of the Democratic primary electorate.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders says rapper Killer Mike’s recent comments — that a “uterus doesn’t qualify you to be president of the United States” — have been “blown out of proportion” by the media.
Sanders tells reporters traveling with him to Nevada that the rapper was essentially saying that “people should not be voting for candidates based on their gender but what they believe.” Sanders says, “I think that makes sense.”
The Democratic presidential candidate was responding to questions about the rapper’s recent comments at a Sanders rally in Atlanta.
Killer Mike said at the event that he had talked to anti-racism activist Jane Elliott, who told him, “Michael, a uterus doesn’t qualify you do be president of the United States.”
Sanders says the scrutiny of the comments is an example of “gotcha media politics.”
Presidential politics can be a cynical business but on Thursday, some of the candidates are having emotional exchanges with voters on the campaign trail.
Republican John Kasich’s town hall in Clemson, South Carolina, ended with a hug between the Ohio governor and a 21-year-old supporter. Brett Smith of Newnan, Georgia, described a recent string of hardships in his life including the suicide of a close family friend, his parents’ divorce and his father losing a job.
Smith tells Kasich he was in a “really dark place” before finding hope in the Lord and in his friends. He says, “And now I found it in my presidential candidate, and I really appreciate what it is that you’ve been talking about.”
In Las Vegas, meanwhile, an elderly worker at a casino had tears in her eyes as she recounted coming to the United States in 1965 and supporting Clinton in her last presidential campaign.
“Be strong,” she tells Clinton. “That’s what I like about you. You’re a very strong woman. That’s what we need.”
Ben Carson is making a last-minute play for votes in the South Carolina Republican presidential primary by mocking a recent meeting between Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders and outspoken liberal minister Al Sharpton.
In a new Carson radio ad, an announcer calls Sanders “another liberal politician pandering to an African-American just to get votes” and asks what Sharpton has “done to ease the plight of African-Americans.”
The announcer says Carson “knows first-hand what it takes to overcome poverty and racial violence” and believes that “government dependence yields more poverty, broken homes, crime and incarceration.”
Carson is the only major candidate of either party who is black. The GOP presidential primary is Saturday.
African-Americans in South Carolina typically vote overwhelmingly in Democratic primaries. But voters in the state do not register by party, so all registered voters are eligible to cast a Republican ballot on Saturday.
Utah Sen. Mike Lee is campaigning in South Carolina with both Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. Ted Cruz.
Lee said before a Cruz event at a barbecue restaurant in Easley, South Carolina, Thursday that he considers both Cruz and Rubio to be friends, and that’s why he hasn’t endorsed either in Saturday’s South Carolina primary.
But Lee says he may endorse later, and he will back whoever is the Republican nominee.
Lee says he both Cruz and Rubio “would do a really good job uniting the party.”
John Kasich isn’t expecting a “Kumbaya” moment of peace in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine.
Speaking to a crowd in Clemson, South Carolina, Kasich says protecting Israel must be the first priority of the United States and that there must be realistic goals about what is achievable in terms of peace.
He says while it’s easy to talk about a two-state solution from inside teh United States, “people are being stabbed inside of Israel.”
He adds, “every day over there that things can be quiet is a victory, and I think that’s the way we have to pursue that.”
North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey is endorsing Donald Trump, as well as lunching with him.
Summey told reporters that Pope Francis’ suggestion that Trump is not a Christian is “inappropriate.”
“He’s not in the political spectrum and he shouldn’t question other peoples’ faith,” Summey said.
As Summey and Trump dined together at Fratello’s in North Charleston, the mayor could be overheard telling Trump, “Your faith is your faith.”
Summey added that he’s a Baptist, but “I think there’s some darn good Catholics and darn good Jews, and a lot of good people out there in the country, and just because I say something they disagree with doesn’t mean that I’m any less faith than they have.”
“It’s a very sad situation,” Trump was overheard responding.
Donald Trump isn’t worried about losing support from Catholic supporters after Pope Francis suggested he is not Christian because he wants to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
The billionaire told reporters in South Carolina that he thinks Francis’ remarks are “unfortunate.” He added that the plan to build a wall is, “all about trade, it’s all about Mexico taking advantage of the United States. They have taken advantage of us. We’re going to have a $58 billion trade deficit this year with Mexico.”
Trump said he has no intention of reaching out to the Vatican over the matter.
The White House is staying out of Donald Trump’s spat with Pope Francis.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said he would give Trump “the courtesy that he has not extended to the president” and not “call into question the kind of private, personal conversations that he’s having with his god.”
His comments came after Pope Francis said while en route to Rome Thursday that anyone who wants to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico isn’t a Christian.
Trump has made building a border wall a key plank of his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.
Jeb Bush says he doesn’t question Donald Trump’s Christianity nor anyone else’s, “because I honestly believe that’s a relationship you have with your creator.”
But he is objecting to any argument that securing the U.S. border with Mexico by a wall is “unchristian.”
Bush is telling reporters in Columbia, “I support walls and fencing where it’s appropriate,” along with other forms of border security measures such as drone aircraft monitoring.
As far as Francis’ weighing in on a political debate, Bush says what he said in June before the Pope weighed in on climate change.
Bush, who is Catholic, says “I think it’s OK to get my guidance as a Catholic from the Pope. But certainly not economic policy or environmental policy.”
Top Latino backers of Hillary Clinton are raising questions about rival Bernie Sanders’ advocacy for immigrants, saying the Vermont Senator voted against key immigration legislation.
“Bernie, where have you been?” says Dolores Huerta, a famous civil rights advocate. She says Sanders set immigration activists back a decade by not supporting a 2007 bill that would have revamped the country’s immigration system.
Sanders also supported a 2006 amendment granting protections to the Minutemen Project, an anti-immigrant militia group.
Their criticism comes as the two candidates face a tight race in Saturday’s Nevada caucuses.
Clinton, meanwhile, released a new TV ad showing a moment from a recent campaign event in Las Vegas where Clinton promises a crying girl that she would fight the deportation of her parents.
The spot is intended to highlighting Clinton’s commitment to helping undocumented immigrants and their families — an issue that resonates with many Latino voters.
Marco Rubio says that Vatican City has a right to control its borders and so does the United States.
The comment came in response to Pope Francis’ suggestion Thursday that an American politician who wants to build a border wall is not a Christian. Rubio previously favored a pathway to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally, but now says border security — including expanding the Mexican border wall — is the priority.
Rubio addressed the issue during a press conference in Anderson, South Carolina Thursday afternoon.
“Vatican City controls who comes in when they come in and how they come in as a city state, and as a result the united states has a right to do that as well,” he said.
Rubio, a Catholic, says he has “tremendous respect and admiration” for the Pope. He says, “There’s no nation on earth that’s more compassion on immigration than we are.”
Bernie Sanders won big in New Hampshire, but Hillary Clinton is still adding to her wide lead in the delegates who will decide the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee.
That’s due to superdelegates, the party insiders who can support the candidate of their choice, regardless of whom the voters back in the primaries.
Following the New Hampshire primary, The Associated Press surveyed the party’s 712 superdelegates.
Clinton has added 87 to her count, while Sanders added just 11. That gives the former secretary of state a total of 481 delegates, while the Vermont senator has 55.
It takes 2,382 delegates to win the nomination.
Superdelegates can change their minds. But if they continue to back Clinton overwhelmingly, Sanders would have to win the remaining primaries by a landslide to catch up.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is trying to make the race for president about who will appoint conservative U.S. Supreme Court justices.
He says to the Greenville County Republican Womens Club on Thursday that Donald Trump can’t be trusted to appoint conservatives. He also says Trump doesn’t have the temperament to be commander in chief.
The crowd muttered “boos” when Cruz mentioned his name.
Cruz has made the importance of Supreme Court appointments more of a focus of his pitch in South Carolina since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last week.
An outside group backing Ted Cruz is training its sites on Marco Rubio in the final days ahead of South Carolina’s Republican presidential primary on Saturday.
The group, called Keep the Promise I, is spending about $3 million in the state, a spokeswoman says. Kellyanne Conway, a Republican strategist working with the super PAC, says the activity is aimed at protecting Cruz, a Texas senator, whom she says is being “maligned by mushy moderates.”
One of four commercials Keep the Promise I is airing on television blasts Rubio, a Florida senator, for his work on failed legislation that would have provided a pathway to citizenship for some immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally.
Donald Trump says a religious leader questioning a person’s faith is “disgraceful,” responding forcefully to comments from Pope Francis that anyone who wants to build a border wall isn’t a Christian.
The Republican candidate for president says Thursday the Pope should wish that he is elected to the White House, and he accused the Mexican government of using Francis as a “pawn” and says the leader of the Roman Catholic Church “only heard one side of the story.”
Pope Francis spoke as he traveled home from a visit to Mexico. When asked about Trump’s promise to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border, Francis said: “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.”
Trump replied to the Pope during a campaign stop in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. He says, “If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which as everyone knows is ISIS’s ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the Pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president.”
Trump went on to say, “for religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful.”
“No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man’s religion or faith,” Trump says.
Asked about Donald Trump’s views on immigration, Pope Francis says anyone who wants to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border isn’t Christian.
Trump has promised to build a wall along the Mexican border from Texas to California and expel 11 million people who are in the country illegally if elected president. The Pope’s comments en route home from Mexico came hours after he prayed at the Mexico-U.S. border for migrants who died trying to reach the United States.
“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” Francis said. “This is not in the Gospel.”
Not having heard Trump’s border plans independently, Francis said he’d “give him the benefit of the doubt.” But he added:
“I’d just say that this man is not Christian if he said it this way,” Francis said.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is meeting with civil rights leaders in Washington, vowing to help black Americans escape poverty, protect voting rights and any nomination President Barack Obama nominates to the Supreme Court.
The Democratic presidential candidate says it’s “incomprehensible” that Senate Republicans are refusing to honor President Barack Obama’s right under the Constitution to nominate a successor to the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Sanders says he will “do everything I can to support the president’s nominee.”
John Kasich says he’s not staying in South Carolina on Saturday night to await results of the state’s Republican presidential primary.
Kasich is heading that day to campaign in Vermont and Massachusetts instead. Both states hold their primaries on March 1.
Kasich was campaigning in Charleston on Thursday morning. The Ohio governor says he’s going to “work like crazy” in South Carolina over the next two days. He says, “We’re spending a little bit more money here and hopefully we’ll do well.”
Kasich finished second to Donald Trump in last week’s New Hampshire primary.
More than 300 pastors and other religious leaders in South Carolina have endorsed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz for president.
Cruz announced the endorsements on Thursday in Greenville, South Carolina, two days before the state’s primary.
Cruz’s win in the Iowa caucuses was fueled by a similar coalition of evangelical support, and he is counting on their backing to do well in South Carolina.
Cruz says in a statement announcing the endorsements he believes they send a “strong signal” that conservatives are uniting behind his campaign. Cruz says he has support from religious leaders in every South Carolina county.
On Wednesday, Cruz rival Marco Rubio won the endorsement of the state’s governor, Nikki Haley. The Florida senator is campaigning across the state with Haley on Thursday.
A spokesman says Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders doesn’t “believe that gender should be the reason we vote for or against anyone.”
Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs on Thursday distanced the Vermont senator from comments made by rapper Killer Mike at a recent Sanders rally in Atlanta.
Killer Mike told supporters on Tuesday that “a uterus doesn’t qualify you to be president of the United States,” a reference to Sanders’ Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
Briggs says the artist was quoting activist Jane Elliott and was saying “we need to get beyond gotcha politics and get to the issues at the heart of the election.”
Killer Mike is the latest Sanders supporter to make impolitic comments about Clinton heading into the primary elections in Nevada and South Carolina.
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