The Latest: Earnest: Trump campaign conduct “unacceptable”


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on campaign 2016 as candidates vie for votes in states with upcoming primaries, including Wisconsin and New York (all times Eastern Daylight Time):

3:12 p.m.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest says neither President Barack Obama, nor his predecessor, would have put up with the behavior that led to a battery charge against Donald Trump’s campaign manager.

Earnest says he’s confident that neither Obama nor former Republican president George W. Bush would have tolerated someone of their staff being accused of “physically assaulting a reporter, lying about it and then blaming the victim. That is completely unacceptable behavior.”

Trump has defended campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and claims the reporter had grabbed at Trump.

Earnest, speaking at Wednesday’s briefing at the White House, says the actions and statements from the Trump campaign are “completely outside the realm of acceptable behavior” observed by past presidents.

___

2:45 p.m.

A new opinion poll shows Ted Cruz with an advantage in Wisconsin among likely Republican primary voters.

The data released Wednesday from Marquette University shows 40 percent of likely GOP primary voters support the Texas senator, compared to 30 percent for Donald Trump and 21 percent for Ohio Gov. John Kasich. About 8 percent of respondents were undecided.

The Marquette Law School Poll was conducted Thursday through Monday. The poll’s full sample includes 1,405 registered voters interviewed either by cellphone or landline. Results for the Republican primary are based on 471 voters who say they’re certain to vote. The GOP sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.8 percentage points.

Wisconsin’s primary election is Tuesday and the candidates have crisscrossed the state to rally support.

___

2:33 p.m.

Donald Trump says the reporter who has accused his campaign manager of battery is destroying a good man.

Trump told a town hall audience on the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay campus on Wednesday that reporter Michelle Fields is ruining Corey Lewandowski over nothing. He questioned why the incident could be a crime while people are getting beheaded in the Middle East and drowning in steel cages. He did not explain that remark.

He says he won’t fire Lewandowski because he, Trump, is loyal to people.

Dozens of protesters gathered outside the building, holding signs that read “No Trumping Zone” and “Build Kindness Not Walls.” A series of confrontations between anti-Trump demonstrators and his supporters have marred recent Trump campaign events, but there was no sign of any pro-Trump groups.

2:30 p.m.

Donald Trump says women who get abortions should receive “some form of punishment” without indicating specifically what the punishment should be.

“There has to be some form of punishment,” Trump told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews at the taping of a town hall in Wisconsin Wednesdays in a heated exchange over whether abortion should be banned.

Pressed by Matthews on the nature of that punishment, Trump responded: “I haven’t determined what the punishment should be.”

Trump described himself as “pro-life with three exceptions,” but didn’t provide details as to what those exceptions should be.

___

1:20 p.m.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign is aiming to effectively end the Democratic primaries against Bernie Sanders by early May. But first she needs to navigate tricky contests in Wisconsin and her home state of New York.

Clinton enters April with a big delegate lead and insider support among Democrats crucial to the nomination. But Sanders is pointing to victories in five of the past six states holding contests — among them, three western states — and views Wisconsin as a home for the progressive causes he has long supported.

A win by Sanders in Wisconsin next week would put pressure on Clinton to deliver in New York, which she represented in the Senate.

___

1:10 p.m.

Ted Cruz is not mentioning rival Donald Trump during a Wisconsin campaign event the Texas senator dubs a “celebration of women.”

Cruz was joined at the event Wednesday by his wife Heidi, 81-year-old mother Eleanor and former GOP presidential rival Carly Fiorina. They sat on a stage in a hotel ballroom and fielded questions from a moderator, casting a far softer tone than in recent days where Cruz and Trump have traded heated comments about their wives.

Cruz said: “All of us are here for something a lot more important than politics. We’re here because we love our families. We’re here because we love our country.”

Fiorina was the only one who made a passing reference to Trump, saying he represents the powerful, wealthy establishment who benefit from the current tax structure and would fight against Cruz’s plan to simplify it.

Cruz said he left the event feeling inspired and hoped that his 5 and 7-year-old daughters had been watching.

___

1:05 p.m.

Hillary Clinton unleashed a scathing attack against fellow New Yorker Donald Trump, saying the Republican front-runner is running a campaign of “bluster and bigotry.”

Speaking at a rally in Harlem Wednesday, Clinton accused Trump of playing “coy with white supremacists” and for saying “demeaning and degrading things about women.”

She also sharply criticized his plan to deport illegal immigrants and ban Muslims from entering the country.

“It’s cynical,” she said. “It’s wrong and goes against everything New York and American stand for.”

She also slammed Republican Ted Cruz’s plan to increase police surveillance of Muslim neighborhoods as “a type of profiling.” The mention of both Republican candidates’ names drew loud boos from the enthusiastic Apollo Theater crowd.

___

1:00 p.m.

Hillary Clinton is drawing sharp contrasts between herself and her Democratic opponent, Bernie Sanders, calling into question his ability to “get things done.”

Clinton, speaking at a New York City rally Wednesday before the state’s primary next month, said that “my opponent says we’re not thinking big enough.”

“Well, this is New York,” she said, adding that “no one dreams bigger than we do. ” But she added, this is a city that “actually liked to get things done and that’s what we want for our president too.”

She also suggested that Sanders was solely focused on combatting income inequality and not doing enough to address issues like guns and, especially, racial discrimination. That drew loud cheers from the predominantly black crowd gathered in Harlem’s famed Apollo Theater.

___

12:50 p.m.

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump is taking a break from his usual rival-bashing to offer some advice to students at a local Wisconsin college.

The billionaire businessman told students and others gathered at St. Norbert College Wednesday that people who are happiest in life aren’t those who make the most money – though money is certainly nice.

Instead, the happiest people are the ones who love their jobs and have good relationships with their spouses, he said.

He also advised students to never give up and talked about the importance of maintaining momentum.

And he illustrated his advice with stories of success and failure. There was the guy who loved the cola business but gave up too soon. The injury-prone friend Trump said was hurt by a falling sign on the Long Island Expressway while driving home from the hospital for another injury. The builder who went bankrupt after an extended break from the business he built; and the golfer he said worked harder than anyone else.

“Remember: The harder you work, the luckier you get,” he said.

___

12:45 p.m.

Democrat Hillary Clinton is kicking efforts to win the New York primary next month with a visiting to the nation’s most iconic African-American neighborhood.

Clinton, who has enjoyed broad support from black voters in the race against Bernie Sanders, led a rally on Wednesday at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.

Clinton, who has a home in suburban New York City, paid tribute to the eight years she spent in the Senate representing the state, recalling how she fought to secure federal benefits for first responders sickened after working at Ground Zero in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks.

She praised the city’s diversity and spirit to rebuild after the devastating attacks. She was introduced by her partner in the Senate, Charles Schumer, who Hillary said hoped would be Majority Leader of the Senate next year.

___

12:05 p.m.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is joined by his wife, mother and Carly Fiorina at a campaign event in Wisconsin that he’s calling a “celebration of strong women.”

Cruz, his wife Heidi Cruz, his 81-year-old mother Eleanor and Fiorina fielded questions Wednesday from a moderator at a hotel ballroom in Madison, Wisconsin. Cruz’s two young daughters also appeared at the event dubbed “Women for Cruz.”

The free-wheeling conversation included Cruz reminiscing about his upbringing, his mother telling stories about Cruz memorizing the Constitution as a high school student and Fiorina talking about her stepdaughter’s struggle and ultimate death from drug addiction.

The event comes after Cruz’s Republican rival Donald Trump is under renewed criticism for defending his campaign manager who was charged with simple battery after an altercation with a female reporter.

___

11:45 a.m.

Hillary Clinton, ahead of a campaign rally at Harlem’s famed Apollo Theater, is making a stop for coffee and cake at a local eatery.

Clinton went to Make My Cake, a locally-owned bakery on W 116th St on Wednesday morning. She posed for photos with staff and said she was looking forward to campaigning “across the state that took a chance on me” when she was elected to the Senate in 2000.

She then asked for a shot of espresso to be poured into a cup of black coffee and sat down to share a piece of cake with Rep. Charlie Rangel, who represents portions of Harlem.

The charming, brick-walled shop featured an assortment of delicious-looking baked goods for sale, including cakes, cupcakes and one outrageous pecan pie.

Clinton is doing a series of events in New York over the next few days ahead of her adopted home state’s primary next month.

___

7:45 a.m.

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump says the reporter who is behind misdemeanor battery charges against his campaign manager “shouldn’t have been grabbing me.”

Trump defended campaign manager Corey Lewandowski on Fox News Wednesday, a day after Florida police charged him following an incident earlier this month in which Lewandowski pulled the reporter, Michelle Fields, away from Trump as she tried to ask the billionaire a question.

Trump said Fields had a pen in her hand “and that could have been a knife.”

The controversy drew condemnation from Trump’s Republican and Democratic rivals alike as they campaigned in Wisconsin ahead of the state’s April 5 primary.