Donald Trump says he wants to punch protester in the face as crowd roars in agreement

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Latest on the 2016 presidential race a day before the Republican caucuses in Nevada. South Carolina Democrats vote for their presidential nominee on Saturday (all times local):

9:25 p.m.

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump says he’d like to punch a protester in the face and bemoaned the “old days” when he said the man would have been taken out of the event on a stretcher.

Trump made the comments as security was escorting the protester from a Las Vegas arena, filled with thousands of Trump supporters on the eve of the Nevada caucuses.

The guards were being “very gentle,” Trump says, allowing the man to be walk out of the arena smiling.

Trump began: “You know what I hate? There’s a guy totally disruptive, throwing punches. We’re not allowed to punch back anymore.”

Reporters didn’t see why the man was ejected, and it was unclear whether he had actually thrown any punches.

Still, Trump went on: “I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out in a stretcher, folks.”

The crowd thundered in agreement.

“I’d like to punch him in the face,” Trump added.

8:50 p.m.

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz likes the thought of Hillary Rodham Clinton behind bars.

That’s what the Texas senator suggested Monday when one of his supporters at a rally in Elko, Nevada, shouted that he should “put Hillary in jail” if he’s elected in November.

Cruz paused, then responded, “With any luck, she’ll be there already.”

The capacity crowd cheered at the suggestion that the former secretary of state who’s been dogged by questions about her private email use at the State Department should be locked up.

Cruz later added, “I am told the Democrats are opening up a new polling place at Leavenworth,” a reference to the federal prison in Kansas.

7:01 p.m.

Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz wants millions of acres of federal land in Nevada turned over to state control.

The proposal won the Texas senator roaring applause Monday from a capacity crowd at an Elko, Nevada, rally, the day before Tuesday’s GOP contest.

Cruz says 85 percent of Nevada is under federal control, and if he is elected president “that will end.”

He says he trusts the people of Nevada more than bureaucrats in Washington.

Cruz says the issue is a sharp division between him and front-runner Donald Trump.

His statement echoes an ad in which Cruz says Trump “wants to keep big government in charge.”

Cruz also earned big cheers by promising to “take on” the Bureau of Land Management and other federal agencies that he says are killing jobs.

7 p.m.

Marco Rubio says a Ted Cruz aide who was asked to resign on Monday is “a fall guy” who was simply executing a culture of dishonesty created by his rival.

Rubio has told reporters aboard his campaign plane on Monday night that he “felt bad” for Rick Tyler. Tyler was asked to resign earlier in the day after spreading a false news story that Rubio had criticized the Bible.

Rubio says Tyler was “executing a culture that exists in that campaign. The bigger issue is the culture that’s been created.”

He continues: “Right now Ted Cruz is in charge of his campaign. … And if his campaign has created a culture of misleading people and saying things that aren’t true and lies, he’s responsible for that.”

8:05 p.m.

Fox News’ Megyn Kelly is hosting a campaign forum Wednesday with the remaining Republican presidential candidates, but it won’t include familiar foil Donald Trump.

Fox and Kelly said Trump’s absence wasn’t due to their ongoing feud. Instead, it was because of scheduling issues in getting to an event that was quickly put together.

Remaining candidates Ted Cruz and Ben Carson will appear at the two-hour “voter summit” in Houston. John Kasich and Marco Rubio will appear via satellite.

With Trump the clear front-runner, the other candidates can use the exposure on the network popular with GOP voters.

Fox said it expects Trump to appear at its next formal debate, scheduled for March 3. Trump was not at Fox’s debate before the Iowa caucuses, citing his dissatisfaction with Kelly, one of the moderators.

6:00 p.m.

Indiana Sen. Dan Coats is the latest Republican party leader to endorse GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio.

Coats and the other leaders behind Rubio are sticking closely to the message that the senator from Florida can unite the party. That’s a dig at GOP front runner Donald Trump, who has pried open the divide between Republicans craving a political outsider and the Republican establishment. It’s also a swipe at Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who has cast his distance from other senators as evidence that he is that outsider.

Coats also says he has sat next to Rubio on the Senate Intelligence Committee for five years and “witnessed up close (Rubio’s) grasp of complex issues and readiness to lead our nation” as president.

5:10 p.m.

Hillary Clinton has pulled ahead of Bernie Sanders in the race for delegates awarded in primaries and caucuses.

Clinton eked out the final delegate from Saturday’s Nevada caucuses, giving her a total of 52 caucus and primary delegates. Sanders has 51.

It’s an important milestone because some of Sanders’ supporters have complained that while the two candidates had been tied in delegates chosen by voters, party leaders were tilting the race in Clinton’s favor.

Clinton’s lead in the delegate race gets much bigger when you include endorsements by superdelegates, the party leaders and members of Congress who can support any candidate, regardless of whom voters support.

When superdelegates are included, Clinton has 503 and Sanders has 70.

It takes 2,383 delegates to win the Democratic nomination for president.

5:05 p.m.

Rocker Neil Young says he’s dismayed that Donald Trump is the Republican presidential front runner, saying, “America gets what it deserves with this election.”

And that, he suggests, could mean “a reality TV White House.”

The Canadian musician clashed with Trump last year when Trump used his song “Rockin’ In The Free World” without asking for permission. Young tells the Associated Press in an interview Monday that Trump has every right to use his music, and that he “only pointed out that he didn’t ask me.”

Young supports Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders. He called Trump “an interesting character,” but he disagrees with “many, many of the things he says and the way he is.” He made a reference to Trump’s former reality show, The Apprentice, saying, “if America wants to have a reality TV White House, they can have it.”

Young also says Trump is “so inhumane in the way he talks about women and the way he talks about all kinds of things, it’s off the wall.”

5:00 p.m.

The Rubio campaign is accusing rival candidate Ted Cruz of spreading a culture of deceit in his own campaign.

Cruz on Monday asked for the resignation of his spokesman, Rick Tyler, for spreading a story that falsely alleged that Rubio insulted the Bible. Rubio asked whether Cruz intended to fire anyone over the incident.

Cruz then announced that he had asked for Tyler’s resignation. Rubio’s campaign dug in.

Rubio spokesman Alex Conant says Tyler is “a really good spokesman who had the unenviable task of working for a candidate willing to do or say anything to get elected.”

He adds that “It’s high time for Ted Cruz to do the right thing and stop the lies.”

The incident comes after the Cruz campaign falsely cast a news story as evidence that Ben Carson was quitting the GOP nomination fight.

Rubio and Cruz are vying for the support of core GOP voters to challenge front runner Donald Trump


4:55 p.m.

The super PAC backing Republican presidential candidate John Kasich plans to air a TV ad in Michigan, Massachusetts and Vermont featuring an emotional exchange he had with a college student at a town hall event.

The ad, called “Quiet,” is narrated by actor Tim Allen. It shows teary University of Georgia student Brett Smith opening up to the Ohio governor about his personal struggles at a South Carolina campaign stop last week and Kasich hugging him.

Allen says “being president is more than the economy or health care.” He says “there is a place for quiet strength” in the Oval Office.

The super PAC, New Day for America, announced Monday it will have more than 50 staff and 14 offices in a dozen March primary states. It plans a heavier presence in Michigan and Ohio — like it had in early-voting New Hampshire, where Kasich finished second.

4:50 p.m.

Cruz slams “useful idiots” on Cuba

Ted Cruz slams President Obama and “useful idiots” who support the Cuban regime.

Cruz departs from his standard stump speech in Las Vegas to go after Obama for the president’s scheduled trip to Cuba. Cruz recounted how his own father was tortured by Castro and fled the island.

Cruz says the “useful idiots” who lionize the regime don’t understand that everyone is fleeing Cuba for the freedom of the United States.

One of Cruz’s biggest political allies, Texas Gov Greg Abbott, visited Cuba in December.

4:11 p.m.

Does Bernie Sanders still see a path to victory?

Sanders says “the short, three-letter answer is Y-E-S,” and he’d like reporters to please stop asking him when his campaign will end.

Sanders is pledging to stay in the Democratic nomination fight with Hillary Clinton for a long, state-by-state slog.

Sanders notes that while he lost Nevada, he came away with nearly as many delegates as Clinton, saying the difference is “not so important” in the quest to 2,400 delegates needed to win the nomination.

Sanders says he hopes to win in Massachusetts on March 1, the day of the Super Tuesday contests.

3:33 p.m.

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz has asked his campaign spokesman to resign for tweeting a story that falsely alleged Marco Rubio insulted the Bible.

Cruz tells reporters he asked for Rick Tyler’s resignation. Rubio has blasted Cruz for the incident and asked whether Cruz would fire anyone involved.

Cruz says Tyler is “a good man” and deleted the tweet once he found it was false.

Cruz is telling reporters: “We are not a campaign that is going to question the faith of another candidate for president.”

3:23 p.m.

Republican presidential candidate John Kasich says he’s unscripted and will continue operating that way — even if it gets him in trouble.

At an event in Virginia Monday, Kasich raised eyebrows when he said that he first got elected to the state Senate in part by “women who left their kitchens” to campaign for him.

Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton responded by Tweeting that a “woman’s place is… wherever she wants it to be.”

The Ohio governor told reporters in Charlottesville later Monday that women have played a big role in his administration and campaigns.

He said because he doesn’t use a teleprompter or notes, he sometimes doesn’t say things as artfully as he should. Kasich said he’s going to try to be “a bit more careful” but won’t change his ways.

“I’m going to continue to operate on a high wire without a net,” he said. “And frankly, I’d like to see everyone whose running for president get out of the scripted role and start being real and take questions.”

2:55 p.m.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he’s backing Marco Rubio’s presidential bid, giving the U.S. senator from Florida his highest-profile endorsement in the state a week before its Republican primary.

Rubio’s campaign on Monday announced the endorsement from Hutchinson, who was elected governor two years ago. In a statement, Hutchinson compared Rubio to former President Ronald Reagan, saying he could unite the country.

2:06 p.m.

South Florida’s three Cuban-American members of Congress are shifting their support for president from former candidate Jeb Bush to Marco Rubio.

Republican Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz-Balart and Carlos Curbelo said — in English and Spanish — they are backing Rubio because he could unite the GOP.

Before speaking about Rubio, Ros-Lehtinen praised Bush, saying he was “ready to be president from day one.” But, echoing the other lawmakers, says Rubio can “bring new voters, new voices to our Republican Party.”

They were also joined by former Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera.

Bush quit the race Saturday after disappointing finishes in the Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries.

2:00 p.m.

Marco Rubio is asking whether rival Ted Cruz will hold someone accountable for the Cruz campaign’s role in promoting a video Sunday that incorrectly suggested Rubio had criticized the Bible. Cruz spokesman Rick Tyler apologized on Monday for posting the story that misquoted Rubio.

It was the second time the Cruz campaign or the candidate himself has apologized for campaign conduct. Cruz apologized to rival Ben Carson earlier in the month after his campaign incorrectly cast a news story as evidence that Carson was getting out of the race.

Rubio accepted the Cruz campaign’s apology, but added: “At some point there has to be some level of accountability. Otherwise…you’re sending the message to the people who work for you: Go out and do anything you want and if you get caught we’ll just apologize, but we’ll keep doing it.”

Rubio spoke in Elko, Nevada, a day ahead of the state’s GOP presidential caucuses.

1:25 p.m.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has been getting advice from former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani as he gradually expands his tight inner circle.

Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski confirms that Giuliani has been informally advising the Republican presidential front-runner.

Giuliani, who has yet to endorse in the presidential race, drew national acclaim for his handling of the Sept. 11 attacks.

He ran for president in 2008.

“Rudy is a very knowledgeable friend. I consider his counsel very important,” Trump said in an email to the Washington Post, which first reported the news.

12:25 p.m.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy says the Republican race is a two-man contest between front-runner Donald Trump and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

The No. 2 Republican in the House said on Monday that Trump’s victory in South Carolina dealt a blow to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s strategy to win the nomination.

McCarthy said the determining contest will be Florida’s GOP contest on March 15, in which the winner takes all of the state’s 99 delegates.

The California congressman says, “If Rubio can’t win Florida, I think it’s pretty difficult” for the Florida senator to continue his campaign.

McCarthy said he could work with Trump, or anyone else who is the GOP presidential nominee.

McCarthy said Trump’s momentum and success reminds him of when Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected governor in California and took office in 2011.

Interviewed on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” McCarthy said Ohio Gov. John Kasich would be an excellent president. He said that on paper, Kasich “seems like the very best.”

2:09 p.m.

John Kasich says he first got elected to the state Senate in part by “women who left their kitchens” to campaign for him.

The Ohio governor and former congressman told about 1,000 people at a town hall in Fairfax, Virginia, that he started campaigning in 1978 with very little support.

“How did I get elected? I didn’t have anybody for me. We just got an army of people and many women who left their kitchens to go out and go door to door and to put yard signs up for me.” He also said that in more homes nowadays, both adults work.

A woman in the audience stood up and said:

“First off, I want to say: Your comment earlier about the women came out of the kitchen to support you? I’ll come to support you but I won’t be coming out of the kitchen.”

Kasich replied: “I gotcha.”

11:25 a.m.

Marco Rubio says he’s “anti-prostitution.”

But the Republican presidential contender says he wouldn’t make prostitution a federal crime to stop the practice in Nevada, should he win the presidency.

Rubio made the comments on Monday ahead of a campaign appearance in Elko, Nevada, where prostitution is legal.

He said, “I wish Nevada would make it illegal. But that’s their decision to make. I don’t agree with it.” He added that prostitution “victimizes the people who are participating in it” — the prostitutes themselves.

Rubio says he wants to shrink the federal government, so he wouldn’t want to make prostitution a federal offense.

He said, “I think you can be against something and still say, ‘but I don’t want the federal government involved in federalizing something.‘”

11:23 a.m.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich has won the endorsement of Tom Ridge, a former director of homeland security and Pennsylvania governor.

Ridge had been supporting former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for president since early 2015 and joined him on the campaign trail in South Carolina. Bush quit the race Saturday after a disappointing finish in the Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries.

Kasich’s campaign says Ridge is signing on as a national co-chairman.

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