The Latest: Team Rubio concedes GOP nods won’t stop Trump


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the 2016 presidential campaign as candidates in both parties look ahead to Super Tuesday, the biggest single-day haul of delegates on the election calendar (all times local):

10:15 a.m.

Marco Rubio’s campaign is teeming with mainstream Republican officials and donors, and yet Rubio’s team concedes that’s not enough to stop Donald Trump.

Instead of riding the wave of new support alone, Rubio is now forced to speed up plans for an all-out assault on the billionaire businessman’s character.

Rubio had hoped to wait until the chaotic Republican nominating campaign had shrunk to a two-man race. But with a growing sense of urgency among GOP stalwarts to settle on a Trump alternative, the young Florida senator is trying to simultaneously slow Trump and cast himself the savior of the party’s future.

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10:00 a.m.

Donald Trump is refusing to disavow his endorsement by David Duke, saying he doesn’t know anything about the former Ku Klux Klan leader.

Trump was asked on CNN’s “State of the Union” whether he would declare that he didn’t want Duke’s support, or that of other white supremacists in the presidential election.

Trump says of Duke, “I just don’t know anything about him.”

Trump likewise says he wouldn’t condemn a group that he knows “nothing about.” He adds that if he were sent a list of groups he would research them and “certainly” would disavow any if he thought there was “something wrong.”

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9:55 a.m.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard says she’s resigning the Democratic National Committee to support Bernie Sanders for president.

The Hawaii Democrat tells NBC’s “Meet the Press” that she trusts Sanders to consider the consequences of any military action.

Even as she spoke in the live interview, Gabbard’s name remained on the DNC web site as vice chair.

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9:32 a.m.

Bernie Sanders says he knows what happened Saturday night when Hillary Clinton clobbered him by roughly 50 percentage points in South Carolina.

He says, “We got decimated, that’s what happened.”

Sanders said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that his campaign is “looking to the future, not looking back.”

The loss in South Carolina underscored Sanders’ weakness with black voters, a critical segment of the Democratic electorate. If he loses blacks by similar margins in the Southern states that vote Tuesday, Clinton would likely take a delegate lead difficult for the Vermont senator to overcome.

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8:59 a.m.

John Kasich says Mitt Romney has not asked him to get out of the race for the GOP nomination.

The Ohio governor says on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he and the 2012 Republican nominee have exchanged emails but “nobody’s asked me to drop out.”

He adds, “that never happened in terms of Mitt trying to tell me, you know, what I need to do with my career.”

The New York Times reported that Romney had urged Kasich to quit and let the Republican party coalesce around a candidate other than front runner Donald Trump.

Kasich says he intends to win the Ohio primary March 15. But he adds that if it doesn’t happen, it’s “ballgame over.”

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8:50 a.m.

Whatever the polls, Marco Rubio insists that Donald Trump won’t be the Republican presidential nominee. No way, no how.

But the Florida senator — publicly confident but still trailing the 2016 front-runner — also feels compelled to spell out a doomsday scenario for his party if Trump rolls on to victory.

Rubio tells CBS’ “Face the Nation” that if Trump wins the nomination, “it will split us and splinter us in a way that we may never be able to recover and the Democrats will be joyful about it.”

But Rubio suggests that doesn’t matter anyway because Trump won’t win the GOP nomination.

He says, “It’s not going to happen.”

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8:32 a.m.

Sen. Lamar Alexander is backing Marco Rubio for president.

The Tennessee Republican says in a statement that Rubio can “inspire us, win the election and led our country.”

Alexander says Rubio is tough on Islamic militants, an efficient administrator and an advocate for veterans.

Alexander is a former governor and secretary of education under President George H.W. Bush.

The endorsement is the latest of a string of nods Rubio has received from members of the Republican establishment. The Florida senator is highlighting endorsements as part of his drive to become an alternative to GOP front runner Donald Trump.

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7:45 a.m.

Ted Cruz doesn’t think it will happen, but he’s acknowledging that a super showing by Donald Trump on Super Tuesday could perhaps seal the nomination for the billionaire businessman.

Cruz tells CBS’ “Face the Nation” that “there is no doubt that if Donald steamrolls through Super Tuesday, wins everywhere with big margins, that he may well be unstoppable.”

Republicans will vote in 11 states, with 595 delegates at stake.

Cruz and Marco Rubio are the leading contenders trying to slow down Trump.

Cruz says he’s the only one who can beat Trump, and the Texas senator is making this appeal to voters: “I would encourage you, even if you like another candidate, stand with us if you don’t want Donald to be the nominee.”

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