The Latest: Carson says Trump might not be a total disaster


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):

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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.’

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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