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The Latest: Trump says fracking approval can help him win NY

WASHINGTON (AP) β€” The Latest on campaign 2016 (all Eastern Standard Time): 9:15 p.m. GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump says he thinks he can win New York, despite Democrats' significant voter registration advantage, because he's in favor of a practice called fracking. Trump tells an...

WASHINGTON (AP) β€” The Latest on campaign 2016 (all Eastern Standard Time):

9:15 p.m.

GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump says he thinks he can win New York, despite Democrats' significant voter registration advantage, because he's in favor of a practice called fracking.

Trump tells an audience in New Orleans on Friday night that "New York has been let down" because its governor, Andrew Cuomo, will not allow hydraulic fracturing to release natural gas.

He says that, had Cuomo made a different decision, the state would have been able to lower taxes and pay off its debt.

He points to Pennsylvania, which allows the natural gas extraction process, saying: "They took those beautiful, beautiful natural resources. They took 'em out."

He says that in Pennsylvania, people drive around in Cadillacs. He then pivoted to a Cadillac-sponsored event being held on one of his golf courses.


9 p.m.

Donald Trump's rally Friday evening at a New Orleans airport hangar was repeatedly interrupted by more than two dozen protesters, including many from the Black Lives Matter movement.

Trump was in Louisiana to rally voters ahead of the state's GOP presidential primary on Saturday.

But the event was overshadowed by the protesters, some of whom stood clustered, holding onto each other to resist being removed by police.

Video footage from the event showed that some of the confrontations between protesters and supporters turned violent, with shoving and even biting.

At points, Trump appeared visibly annoyed by the interruptions. "Stupid people, stupid," he said. "They don't get it ... they don't understand what's happening."

Trump's campaign manager was spotted personally assisting police as they escorted protesters out.


8:55 p.m.

Bernie Sanders is continuing to blame "disastrous" trade policies for the staggering loss of manufacturing jobs in auto-centric Michigan and other states.

At a rally in western Michigan Friday night, the Vermont senator told thousands of supporters at Grand Valley State University that his opponent, Hillary Clinton, has supported bad trade deals. He says American workers should not be forced to compete against people in other countries making as little as 50 cents an hour.

Michigan's primary is Tuesday, and Sanders and Clinton will debate Sunday in Flint β€” where residents' water supply is contaminated with lead.


8:35 p.m.

Presidential candidate John Kasich is downplaying the idea that a contested convention would result in too much chaos for the GOP.

Speaking to reporters in Holland, Michigan, Kasich says conventions have rules that outline a "fair process." He says if a candidate doesn't come into the convention with enough delegates to clinch the presidential nomination, that person is not entitled to be picked as the nominee.

Kasich is hinging his candidacy on winning his home state of Ohio on March 15 and stopping Donald Trump from going into the convention with the necessary 1,237 delegates.

The Ohio governor says he's somewhat worried that "lobbyists" and "K Street" would try to "pick their guy" in a contested convention, but he didn't specify which candidates he was referring to.

Kasich was also picking up the endorsement of Michigan's No. 2 elected official, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder does not plan to endorse a candidate.


8:30 p.m.

On the eve of the Kansas presidential caucuses, Marco Rubio is assuring voters that he would never house foreign prisoners in their state.

Rubio told more than a thousand enthusiastic supporters in Kansas City that foreign detainees "don't have the right to remain silent, and we're not bringing them to Kansas." Instead, the Florida senator says "they're going to Guantanamo."

The issue has been a source of tension in Kansas since Pentagon officials visited Fort Leavenworth last year as they studied placement options for prisoners now held at the detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Obama administration announced in February plans to close Guantanamo, but did not say where detainees would be transferred.


6:15 p.m.

The word from House Speaker Paul Ryan's camp is nope, he's not running for president.

The professed lack of interest from the Wisconsin Republican came Friday in a letter from a lawyer representing Ryan to the Federal Election Commission. The note by Timothy E. Kronquist disavows the Committee to Draft Speaker Ryan, a political action committee that filed papers with the FEC this week.

The letter says Ryan "has not, and does not, explicitly or implicitly, authorize, endorse, or otherwise approve of the organization's formation or activities, and he is not involved with the organization in any way."

It notes that "Ryan has repeatedly announced publicly that he is not running for president in 2016."

Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong added in an emailed comment, "He is flattered, but not interested."


5:40 p.m.

Ben Carson, who recently ended his White House bid, is declining to endorse any candidate for the Republican nomination, though he says he has "talked to all of them this week."

Speaking to a gathering of conservative activists in suburban Maryland, the retired neurosurgeon says the United States needs "trickle-down ethics." He says the ideal presidential candidate is ethical and accomplished, has clear policies and treats others well. He says whoever can check all of those boxes would be a "great leader."

Carson reiterated that he is leaving the campaign trail, something he announced on his Facebook page the day after Super Tuesday contests.

The Conservative Political Action Conference crowd gave him an adoring standing ovation. He says there are "a lot of people who love me, they just won't vote for me."

Carson says he will now be working on a project to encourage religious values voters to participate in elections.


5:05 p.m.

Ted Cruz says a contested convention would cause a revolt among Republicans.

He says voters keep rejecting "all of the golden children" of the Washington establishment and that's why talk has turned to a contested convention. "The way to beat Donald Trump is with voters," he says.

Cruz is speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in suburban Maryland, where an enthusiastic crowd greeted him.

He noted that Trump was skipping the event, theorizing that Trump was not attending because he didn't want to answer questions from conservatives and young people. Trump's campaign said he had decided to hold two rallies elsewhere instead.

Cruz says the billionaire businessman helped fund some of the very politicians whom conservatives loathe, including those who tried to pass a plan that would have provided a pathway to legalization for some immigrants in the country illegally.

"As dire as things are, people are waking up all over this country," Cruz says. "And help is on the way."


4:30 p.m.

Flint's lead-contaminated water has become a hot-button issue for Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

It's so dominant a topic that the White House hopefuls agreed to a primetime debate in the majority-black, impoverished city on Sunday, two days before Michigan's primary. Both have made campaign stops in Flint in the last month.

Sanders says Republican Gov. Rick Snyder should resign over the disaster. Clinton, who has not called for his resignation, says the crisis never would have happened in a wealthy, predominantly white community.

Republican candidates, meanwhile, are mostly avoiding talk of Flint along with mention of Snyder, whose administration has come under heavy criticism for the disaster. Republicans accuse Democrats of politicizing Flint for their own gains and oversimplifying how the fiasco happened.


3:45 p.m.

Marco Rubio is taking quite a risk campaigning in Kansas a day ahead of the state's Republican presidential caucus: He's competing alongside Wichita State basketball.

The Florida senator took the stage at a Wichita airport hangar Friday with about three minutes remaining in a tight conference tournament game between the local favorite Shockers and Loyola University of Chicago.

More than a few Rubio loyalists directed their attention at the television screens around the venue instead of the would-be leader of the free world.

Rubio acknowledged the timing, and tried to capitalize, telling the crowd that all his opponents were "cheering for Loyola." He said they "all told me at the debate last night, 'I hope Wichita State loses.'"

He laughed and added, "Nice try. I know."

Trailing Donald Trump and Ted Cruz in delegates, Rubio sought inspiration from the Shockers. He noted "they were down six just a few minutes ago," before taking the lead about the time the rally started.

Wichita St. won 66-58.


3:30 p.m.

Hillary Clinton says the nation needs a "new bargain" to create better-paying jobs, pointing to Michigan as an example of manufacturing success.

Clinton was speaking at Detroit Manufacturing Systems, which makes instrument panels for cars. She says the corporations need to do right by their communities and the nation, employers should treat workers "like assets to be invested in" and the government shouldn't reward greed and special interests.

Clinton is campaigning in Michigan ahead of the state's primary next Tuesday. She has built a lead among delegates against rival Bernie Sanders.

The Democratic presidential candidate is proposing a so-called "clawback" of tax benefits for companies that ship jobs overseas, which would rescind tax relief and other incentives intended to encourage domestic investment.


3:15 p.m.

"You will not beat Donald Trump by smearing him," John Kasich is telling conservative activists gathered in suburban Maryland.

The crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference cheers when Kasich asks whether they like his "positive campaign."

Kasich is discussing his time in Congress and how he has governed in Ohio, emphasizing that he won over all types of voters, including union members and minorities.

"Don't wait for somebody to show up to fix the problems β€” fix them yourselves," Kasich is saying in remarks tailored to the younger activists in the room.

Kasich is one of four presidential candidates scheduled to speak Friday and Saturday. Donald Trump has declined to attend.


1:45 p.m.

Donald Trump says that he understands that the U.S. is "bound by laws and treaties" and he will not order U.S. military officials to violate or disobey those laws if elected president.

Trump said in a statement Friday that he will "use every legal stop these terrorist enemies," but recognized the need for restraint under international law.

His statement Friday follows an open letter written by leaders in the Republican foreign policy and national security committee pledging to oppose Trump's candidacy, in part, because of his "embrace of the expansive use of torture," and other controversial views.

Trump has repeatedly said that he will bring back the use of waterboarding and "a hell of a lot worse," and that he would target the wives and children of suspected extremists.

At the GOP debate in Detroit Thursday, Trump insisted that they are "chopping off people's heads" in the Middle East, noting that any reluctance to embrace waterboarding in such circumstances is wrong.

"Gen. Douglas MacArthur and Gen. Patton are in their graves right now spinning in their graves," Trump told ABC News on Thursday.


1:30 p.m.

A Florida judge is dismissing a suit demanding that Republican presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz be taken off the March 15 ballot in Florida's GOP primary because they are not "natural-born citizens."

Michael Voeltz, a registered Republican voter from Broward County, filed the suit against Rubio and Cruz.

Cruz was born in Calgary, Canada, to an American mother and Cuban father. Rubio is a U.S. citizen by birth. He was born in Miami to Cuban immigrant parents.

Alex Burgos, a Rubio campaign spokesman, described the lawsuit Friday as "ridiculous."

Broward County Judge John Bowman said Voeltz showed no evidence he was being harmed and that, like anyone else, could exercise his right to vote.


12:55 p.m.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is trying to cast himself as the GOP's conservative savior as party insiders look for an alternative to Donald Trump, an irony considering his years spent fostering a reputation as an outsider willing to anger fellow Republicans, as well as Democrats.

Cruz, a candidate who has railed against the "Washington cartel," is arguing now for a big-tent GOP after his stronger-than-expected performance on Super Tuesday.

Cruz made the pitch for unity to a nationwide audience in Thursday's Republican debate in Detroit. He argued that his four victories, in Iowa, Texas, Oklahoma and Alaska, make him a more viable candidate than Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who managed to win just Minnesota and faces a nearly impossible road to securing the nomination outright.


12:50 p.m.

Campaigning in Kansas ahead of Saturday's caucus, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio affirmed that he would support Donald Trump in November of the billionaire businessman wins the GOP presidential nomination.

Rubio told a few hundred supporters that Trump's nomination would "split" the party. And he repeated his assertions that Trump is not qualified "to be commander-in-chief."

Asked later how he could reconcile those statements with a pledge to back Trump as nominee, Rubio told reporters, "Because that's how bad Hillary Clinton is."

The former secretary of state currently leads Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in Democratic delegates.


12:25 p.m.

Sen. Bernie Sanders' call for free higher education is resonating on an Illinois college campus facing deep cuts in state funding amid an eight-month budget impasse that has led to widespread layoffs at other state schools.

The Democratic presidential candidate spoke Friday morning at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, where the primarily student audience packed a 4,000-seat campus basketball arena, including on the gym floor and outer hallways.

Sanders touched on familiar campaign themes, calling for campaign finance reform, marijuana decriminalization and increased corporate taxes.

Southern Illinois is among the schools that have had to front state scholarship money to students to cover expenses in the current school year as Rauner and Democratic-majority state lawmakers remain unable to agree on a budget for the fiscal year that began in July 2015.


12:20 p.m.

Donald Trump has decided not to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference, according to the group's Twitter account.

Trump was scheduled to speak Saturday morning at the gathering of conservative activists in suburban Maryland. The four other GOP presidential contenders are still slated to attend.

The American Conservative Union, which holds CPAC, wrote: "Very disappointed @realDonaldTrump has decided at the last minute to drop out of #CPAC -- his choice sends a clear message to conservatives."

Trump's campaign says in a statement that he will be holding a rally on Saturday in Kansas, followed by one in Orlando, and therefore will not be able to attend the conference.

The statement says Trump looks forward to attending next year, "hopefully as president of the United States."


12:15 p.m.

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is attacking rival Donald Trump over his flexible stance on immigration.

Cruz also criticized Trump for saying during Thursday's Republican debate that he would get advice on foreign affairs from Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations. He called Haass a "liberal client" of Democrat Hillary Clinton.

"That was a fairly extraordinary admission," Cruz said.


12:02 p.m.

Marco Rubio is in Kansas on Friday trying to balance his offensive against GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump with an overarching promise of a better future for a struggling nation.

Addressing a few hundred supporters at a Topeka airport Friday, Rubio warned Trump's nomination would "split the Republican Party" and "end the... conservative movement."

Rubio avoided the most personal insults he and Trump have traded recently, but he told potential caucus-goers that "what (Trump) says he is and what he'll do is not the same thing."

The front-runner's message "accentuates the most dangerous instincts in humanity," Rubio says.

Trump should not have the "power to send your ... sons and daughters off to war," Rubio argued.

Kansas will caucus Saturday, alongside three other states holding nominating contests.


12:00 p.m.

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio told a Kentucky sports radio host he does not regret his petty attacks about the size of Donald Trump's hands, but added if he did have regrets, it would be "because Jesus would be embarrassed by it."

Rubio's quip about Trump's hands led to a crass remark from Trump during Thursday night's debate when the Republican front-runner defended his sexual prowess on live television. Rubio spoke to Kentucky Sports Radio, the state's largest sports talk show, one day before Kentucky Republicans cast votes in the first presidential caucus since 1984.

Rubio told host Matt Jones that Kentuckians' votes matter and that he believes politics will never be the same after this election cycle. He said Trump has dangerously divided the Republican party.


11:30 a.m.

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is attacking rival Donald Trump for softening his stance on H-1B visas for highly-skilled workers.

Speaking to reporters before a rally Friday at the University of Maine, Cruz said Trump would allow immigrants to "take away our jobs."

The two clashed over the issue at Thursday's Republican debate in Detroit, with Cruz and other rivals accusing Trump of being flexible on the issue of immigration.

Cruz also criticized Republicans who view a brokered convention as a way to keep the nomination from Trump, calling the strategy a "pipe dream of the Washington establishment."

He said a brokered convention would be a disaster for the party and encourage a revolt from voters.