The Latest: Kasich driving hard for MI, OH votes


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on campaign 2016 (all times Eastern Standard Time):

12:52 p.m.

John Kasich is telling Michigan voters he has the tenacity and experience to make real change in Washington.

Kasich tells an audience at a community college in Monroe, Michigan, that, “to make things better, you have to step on toes, there are no two ways around it.”

The Ohio governor has been making the case that he understands the anger and anxieties of Donald Trump supporters. But Kasich says that unlike the GOP front runner, he also understands how to fix the country’s problems.

Kasich is using that same persistence in his long-shot bid for the GOP presidential nomination. A strong showing in Michigan’s Tuesday primary and a win in his home state of Ohio on March 15 are critical to his ability to continue in the race.

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12:50 p.m.

Protesters are being removed ahead of a Donald Trump rally in Concord, North Carolina.

The group of about a dozen young men and women, all clad in black, filed down to the floor of an arena on Monday and linked hands, forming a line to the side of the stage where the businessman planned to speak. Law enforcement officers spoke to the group, which ultimately filed out, some with one fist raised in the air.

Another group of a handful of men and women was similarly escorted out a few minutes later.

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12:40 p.m.

Donald Trump is spending some of his biggest money yet on campaign ads ahead of winner-take-all contests next week in Florida and Ohio.

He plans to spend about $2 million on Florida TV commercials and $1 million in Ohio by March 15, the day of the vote, according to advertising tracker Kantar Media’s CMAG. Trump’s campaign has also reserved about half a million dollars in TV time in Michigan, where voters go to the polls on Tuesday.

Overall, Trump – a master of free publicity – is on track to spend about $15 million in the primary race, CMAG shows. That’s a few million dollars less than Rubio, who has won far fewer contests than Trump, and a few million dollars more than Cruz, who so far has been Trump’s closest competitor.

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11:30 a.m.

The latest count of absentee and early voters in Florida is showing that more than 571,000 Republicans have already cast their ballots for next week’s crucial winner-take-all primary.

Just over 1 million Floridians have cast their ballots, according to University of Florida political science professor Daniel Smith, who tracks and analyzes early voting data. So far, he says, GOP voters outnumber Democratic voters by about 109,000.

Among Republicans, said Smith, 86 percent are white and 11 percent are Hispanic. Among Democrats, 68 percent are white, 19 percent are black and 10 percent are Hispanic.

Florida is a closed primary, meaning only party members can vote in their respective primary.

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