The Latest: Cruz wins endorsement of Missouri Rep. Wagner


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

10:30 a.m.

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz has secured the endorsement of Missouri Rep. Ann Wagner.

In a statement on Friday, Wagner said that Republicans “must unite to win behind a strong, constitutional conservative like Ted Cruz.”

The congresswoman has served as co-chair of the Republican National Committee during President George W. Bush’s first term and was U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg.

Cruz has the backing of some half dozen House members, but only one endorsement from a fellow senator, Mike Lee of Utah.

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9:50 a.m.

Republicans in the Virgin Islands caucused into the night Thursday, and when they finished counting the votes Friday morning, the winner was … no one.

Party chairman John Canegata says all nine delegates from the U.S. territory will go to the Republican National Convention as uncommitted delegates. That makes them free agents, free to support the candidate of their choice.

Canegata says more than 300 voters cast ballots.

The AP delegate count thus far:

— Donald Trump: 459.

— Ted Cruz: 360.

— Marco Rubio: 152.

— John Kasich: 54.

Needed to win the nomination: 1,237.

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9:35 a.m.

Donald Trump says he felt the response of his supporters to an episode of violence at one of his rallies this week was “very, very appropriate.”

Speaking at a Palm Beach press conference on Friday, Trump said the “audience swung back” at a white man who was caught on video hitting a black man as he was escorted out of a Trump rally by deputies.

Trump praised the police as “amazing,” saying they were “very restrained” in response to the incident.

He said that the man — identified as John Franklin McGraw — began hitting people, and the audience hit back. “That’s what we need a little bit more of,” he said.

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9:30 a.m.

Democrats and Republicans have painted a dark vision of America, a place where jobs are vanishing, leaders are corrupt and threats loom from across the globe.

Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders describes a nation in “real crisis,” with a “rigged economy.” Americans are “a bunch of suckers” who’ve “lost everything,” Republican front-runner Donald Trump says.

Washington is “killing jobs,” as Iranian leaders conspire to “murder us,” warns Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Gloomy assessments of the country’s future have emerged as a constant refrain of the 2016 presidential contest, as candidates woo a frustrated and anxious electorate. That insecurity, which pollsters say pervades discussions about economic, domestic and foreign policy issues, is setting the stage for an emotionally-charged general election — no matter who wins the primary contests.

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9:20 a.m.

Republican front-runner Donald Trump says he will defeat the Islamic State group if he is elected president, but he will let the generals “play their own game.”

Speaking at a press conference in Palm Beach, Florida on Friday, Trump said he is going to “find the right generals” to do the job, but he will allow them to then call the shots on how the military should approach the war.

Trump has said he wants to loosen the laws that limit the use of torture if he’s elected to the White House, but then appeared to reverse his stance on the use of torture after he was criticized by top Republican national security experts who called his policy views “wildly inconsistent and unmoored in principle.”

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9:10 a.m.

Former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson says he and Donald Trump have “buried the hatchet” after months of political wrangling, and he is endorsing the GOP front-runner’s White House bid.

At a press conference in Palm Beach, Florida on Friday, Carson, who left the race earlier this month, described “two Donald Trumps” — the persona reflected on stage, and a private, “very cerebral” person who “considers things carefully.”

In his introduction to Carson Friday, Trump described the retired neurosurgeon as a “special, special person — special man,” and a “friend” who is respected by everyone.

Carson warned that it is “extremely dangerous” when political parties attempt to “thwart the will of the people,” and urged politicians to “strengthen the nation,” rather than create divisions.