- Associated Press - Thursday, March 10, 2016

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Latest on the presidential race ahead of Thursday’s GOP debate and the March 15 primaries (all times local):

11:00 p.m.

Donald Trump says he’d had enough with these weekly GOP presidential face-offs.

Trump told CNN Thursday after stepping off the stage of Thursday night’s debate “we’ve had enough of the debates, wouldn’t you say?”

But Trump said he was “ok” with taking part in the next two scheduled debates scheduled.

Trump also complimented the way CNN conducted the debate, which featured far less shouting and personal attacks than last week’s Fox-moderated face-off.

He described the debate as “elegant,” saying “everybody did a very good job.”


10:55 p.m.

John Kasich is hoping his positive campaign and record of governing will win him votes in Tuesday’s contests in Ohio and Illinois.

Kasich said in his closing remarks at Thursday’s debate that he knows his campaign hasn’t always been interesting, but adds it’s one that is keeping him and his family proud.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz joked that the U.S. is an “incredible nation” where the son of a bartender, the son of mail man, the son of a dishwasher “and a successful businessman” can run for president - the latter a jovial swipe at billionaire Donald Trump.

Trump, meanwhile, stressed the number of new voters he’s attracting to the Republican party, saying “they’re coming by the millions.”

He called on his party to “be smart and unify.”

Marco Rubio finished the debate where he started, asking voters to consider the election the choice of who will carry the next generation’s banner as president.


10:50 p.m.

Donald Trump says he has yet to make a decision about whether he’ll accept campaign contributions in the general election if he becomes the Republican nominee.

The billionaire businessman constantly touts the fact that he is largely self-funding his primary campaign - though he has accepted millions of dollars worth of contributions.

Nonetheless, claims that he’s turned down an estimated $275 million worth of contributions from his rich friends.

Trump said at Thursday’s debate that the decision separates him from his rivals, who are controlled by special interests. He says, “I don’t want anybody to control me but the people right out there.”


10:45 p.m.

Donald Trump says even if he doesn’t have enough delegates to clinch the Republican nomination by the end of the primary season, he should have more than enough to be the nominee.

Trump was asked in Thursday’s Republican presidential debate what he thinks should happen if he goes into the GOP convention in July with more delegates than everyone else, but not a majority. Trump says whichever candidate has the most delegates, even if it’s not a majority, should be the nominee.

Trump said only he and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz have a chance mathematically to get a majority of the delegates by then.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich dodged a question about what he thinks should happen if none of the four remaining candidates goes into the convention with a majority of the delegates. Kasich said: “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”


10:40 p.m.

As Republicans debate in Florida, Hillary Clinton is campaigning in Illinois and warning voters about the perils of loose talk.

Without mentioning Donald Trump by name, Clinton says that “when you run for president, it matters what you say.” She says people around the world “watch us so closely” and she notes that when she lost to Barack Obama in 2008, she endorsed him and later served as his secretary of state.

Clinton says in the last few weeks, she’s been getting messages “from a lot of the leaders I know from around the world and their message basically is, ‘What is happening?’”

Clinton says, “hopefully this is just a momentary lapse and that we will all come to our senses” and have an election based on ideas and who can get things done.


10:37 p.m.

Donald Trump says some of the protesters at his political rallies who have been forcibly removed “are bad dudes and have done bad things.”

But he said at Thursday’s debate that he hopes he hasn’t played a role in inciting the violence with some of his provocative language toward them.

A white Trump rally attendee was charged with assault Thursday after he was caught on video hitting a black man being escorted by deputies from the venue, authorities said.

He said supporters who attend his rallies “have anger that’s unbelievable” and “love this country.”


10:35 p.m.

John Kasich says it’s more important to unite the country than to promote violence at political rallies.

Kasich didn’t mention presidential rival Donald Trump specifically, but said in Thursday’s debate that it’s important to tell Americans that their problems can be solved.

Kasich said candidates can “prey” on people’s fears, or offer them solutions. He preferred to do the latter.


10:30 p.m.

Marco Rubio won another delegate!

There were 150 delegates at stake in Tuesday’s Republican contests in Michigan, Mississippi, Idaho and Hawaii. Rubio was shut out in the first three states. But on Thursday evening - two days after the voting ended - Hawaii finished counting more than 2,000 provisional ballots, and there it was -one delegate for Rubio.

Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich split the rest, with Trump winning the most.

In the overall race for delegates, Rubio is still well behind Trump and Cruz.

But he got a delegate on Tuesday.

The AP delegate count:

Trump: 459.

Cruz: 360.

Rubio: 152.

Kasich: 54.

Needed to win the nomination: 1,237.


10:20 p.m.

Ted Cruz is avoiding a question on the nasty tone of the GOP race by saying its President Barack Obama who has diminished the world’s opinion of America.

The Republican presidential hopeful said at Thursday’s debate that the Obama administration is a “laughing stock” in the world, comparing him to former President Jimmy Carter.

Cruz is pledging to lead a stronger foreign policy, starting by ripping up the Iranian nuclear deal.


10:15 p.m.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio says he is in favor of a clean environment, but he doesn’t believe the United States can pass laws to mitigate the harm of climate change.

Rubio said in Thursday’s Republican debate that he believes the climate is changing “because it’s always been changing.” But he said Washington can pass no law that will change the weather.

And Rubio said many of the laws endorsed by the Obama administration will only hurt the economy and not put a dent in the harms caused by climate change.

He said: “America is not a planet, it’s a country” and it can’t act unilaterally to improve the environment, particularly since countries like India and China do more harm to the environment than the U.S.


10:05 p.m.

Donald Trump is deflecting questions over whether he would maintain the Obama administration’s pursuit of normalized relations toward Cuba.

Trump said Thursday that he thinks he’s “somewhere in the middle” of Obama and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s views, the latter of whom opposes normalized relations with the communist island nation.

Trump said he’d pursue “a good deal,” but stops short of naming the terms he would support.

Rubio, who is the son of Cuban immigrants, said he would require Cuba to commit to specific terms in order to normalize relations.

The terms include free elections, free press, and to stop throwing dissidents in jail.

His comments aroused huge cheers from the Miami audience, which is home to a significant Cuban-American population.


10:00 p.m.

Ted Cruz is needling Donald Trump over the nuclear deal in Iran, alleging the businessman stands with Democrats Hillary Clinton and John Kerry.

But Trump hit back at Thursday’s debate, saying he has made opposing the Iran deal a staple of his campaign speeches. Trump has repeatedly called the deal terrible but hasn’t offered specific details.

Cruz, meanwhile, said it’s dangerous to work with Iranian leaders who want to “murder” Americans and says the deal is dangerous.


9:58 p.m.

Donald Trump is defending his approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying he can be somewhat neutral in order to broker a deal.

Trump said in Thursday’s Republican presidential debate that while “there’s nobody that’s more pro-Israel than I am,” in order to make a deal with Palestine he would have to at least make them believe he was somewhat neutral.

Trump said striking a peace deal with Israel and Palestine would be “maybe the toughest negotiation of all time.”

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who has been engaging with Trump more than Florida Sen. Marco Rubio or Ohio Gov. John Kasich, said Thursday it would be wrong to be neutral toward Palestine.


9:55 p.m.

John Kasich is defending the majority of Muslims as being different than those who join radical terrorists groups - something rival Donald Trump is refusing to do.

Kasich, who described “radical Islam” as the greatest threat to the United States today, said at Thursday’s Republican debate that many Muslims “can’t believe the stuff they see out of people who have distorted their faith.”

He’s arguing for working with countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Turkey to fight against the Islamic State.

Kasich says the United States must bring the “civilized world” together to speak with one voice.


9:50 p.m.

Marco Rubio and Donald Trump are tangling over the proper United States posture toward followers of Islam.

Trump is defending comments in a CNN interview where he said there is tremendous “hate” for the United States among Muslims.

Trump said Thursday: “You can say what you want. You can be politically correct if you want. We have a serious problem with hate.”

Rubio countered: “I’m not interested in being politically correct. I’m interested in being correct.”

The Florida senator noted that there are grave markers in Arlington National Cemetery that have “crescent moons,” which connote the Muslim faith.

He said “they love America,” and that the U.S. will need healthy relations with Muslim nations to defeat the Islamic State extremist group.


9:45 p.m.

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.


9:42 p.m.

Donald Trump says he differs from typical Republicans on just one issue: his stance on trade.

Trump said Thursday that the U.S. has had “horrible negotiators, horrible trade deals.”

The billionaire businessman has argued the U.S. needs to renegotiate its trade deals and has threatened to slap import tariffs on countries “unless they behave.”

But rival Ted Cruz says that Trump’s plans would only boost the prices of consumer goods.

He says, “We’ve got to get beyond the rhetoric of China, bad, and get to, how do you solve the problem’”

But Trump is downplaying the impact, saying that the country can always build new factories and make more products here.


9:40 p.m.

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.”


9:35 p.m.

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.


9:30 p.m.

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.


9:25 p.m.

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.


9:20 p.m.

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.


9:17 p.m.

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.


9:15 p.m.

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


9:07 p.m.

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.


9:05 p.m.

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.


9:04 p.m.

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.


9:02 p.m.

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.


9:00 p.m.

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.


8:55 p.m.

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.


8:30 p.m.

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.


8:25 p.m.

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.”


7:25 p.m.

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.

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