The Latest: Democratic debate underway in New Hampshire

DERRY, N.H. (AP) — The Latest on the 2016 presidential campaign (all times local):


9:00 p.m.

The first one-on-one debate between Democratic presidential rivals Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders is underway in New Hampshire.

The two took the stage in the MSNBC-hosted debate Thursday night with just days to go until the first-in-the-nation primary.

The two faced off in the leadoff Iowa caucuses Monday, with Clinton grabbing a razor-thin victory. Sanders appears to be leading in New Hampshire preference polls.


8:15 p.m.

Former First Lady Barbara Bush says her son, Jeb, is “decent and honest, and everything we need in a president.”

She spoke Thursday night before a crowded town hall at a local school in Derry, N.H., receiving a standing ovation when she was introduced by former New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg.

Before speaking of her son, she heaped praise Gregg and his state, saying the Bush family shares the “values and beliefs” of the people of New Hampshire.

Barbara Bush took a shot at Donald Trump, without saying his name, noting her son “is not a bragger. We don’t allow that.”

Jeb Bush noted his mother’s popularity, joking he had not seen such a large crowed at his previous town halls.

Bush could use the boost from his mother because his campaign is struggling in New Hampshire. He says he hopes voters “reset” the race and give him some momentum before the Republican contest shifts to South Carolina.


8:00 p.m.

Donald Trump is imploring his New Hampshire supporters to leave nothing to chance on primary day.

He’s telling a crowd in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to head to polls Feb. 9, “no matter where you are, no matter how you feel.”

Trump continues to dominate polls in the first primary state, but is showing clear signs of anger about his second place finish in the Iowa caucuses. He’s telling voters not to assume a Trump victory in New Hampshire will be a sure thing.

He says he wants to come out of New Hampshire’s primary with a “mandate.”


7 p.m.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign for president is criticizing rival Bernie Sanders for what it argues are misleading campaign advertisements.

The ads suggest the Vermont senator received the endorsement of two newspapers that have not backed his bid for the White House.

Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook tells The Associated Press that the Sanders campaign “very clearly” isn’t living up to the standards set by Sanders to be a candidate who “always tells the truth.”

The critique comes just hours before the two candidates will meet for their first one-on-one debate.

Sanders said the ads are not misleading and that he never claimed to get endorsements he did not receive.

He said on Wednesday the ads used “the actual words that those newspapers said. Somebody says something nice about you, you say it.”


6:30 p.m.

Chris Christie says Republican primary voters in New Hampshire “should be concerned” about presidential rival Marco Rubio’s position on abortion, suggesting he is out of step with the state’s GOP electorate.

Christie is betting his White House hopes on the Feb. 9 primary. He’s trying to slow any momentum Rubio gained from his third-place finish in this week’s Iowa caucuses and sway undecided voters his way in the closing days of the primary campaign.

Christie argued Thursday that Rubio supports banning all abortions, including in cases of “rape, incest or life of the mother.” Appearing on NBC, he added, “I think that’s the kind of position that New Hampshire voters would really be concerned about.”

Rubio backs an exception for abortion when the life of the mother is in danger, and would support legislation with allowances for cases of rape and incest — even though he says he personally doesn’t support those exceptions.


4:30 p.m.

Donald Trump is telling New Hampshire police officers they won’t need to be afraid of losing their jobs if he’s elected president.

The Republican presidential candidate paid a visit to police headquarters in Manchester Thursday afternoon.

He tells several dozen officers, “You’re not recognized properly. You will be recognized properly if I win.”

He says they won’t need to be as fearful of he wins.

“Remember that,” he tells them. “You know what you’re going through. You know you speak a little bit rough to somebody and all of a sudden you end up fighting for your job. Not going to happen anymore.”

He was introduced by Police Chief Nick Willard, who says that he’s concerned about the “national narrative” on law enforcement.

Trump also left his mark on the building.

As he was walking into the headquarters building, he scrawled his name in market on an exterior brick wall.


2:47 p.m.

Jeb Bush’s South Carolina director says the presidential candidate may finally appear on the campaign trail alongside his brother, former President George W. Bush.

Brett Doster says “George W. Bush is the most popular Republican alive” and that the GOP in South Carolina is “eager” for the visit.

South Carolina holds a Feb. 20 primary, 11 days after New Hampshire. Jeb Bush has a large organization in the state, which gave his father and brother hard-fought primary victories on their paths to the 1988 and 2000 nominations, respectively.

Doster says plans are not final, but notes that George W. Bush is popular among a cross-section of important South Carolina GOP groups, from evangelical Christians to the military community and large veterans presence.


2:30 p.m.

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson says he expects to continue his presidential campaign until, “Cleveland,” an apparent reference to the Republican National Convention this summer.

He tells Fox News Channel that that he had planned on paring down his campaign after a review a few months ago found irregularities and inefficiencies.

A Carson spokesman said earlier that the campaign had laid off staffers, though he declined to say how many.

The retired neurosurgeon is finally heading to New Hampshire on Thursday evening after finishing fourth in the Iowa caucus.

Spokesman Larry Ross says Carson will be in New Hampshire through at least Sunday. The primary is Tuesday.


2:15 p.m.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign says it raised $15 million for her primary campaign and an additional $5 million for the national and state parties last month.

Campaign Manager Robby Mook said in a statement that 95 percent of the donations came in increments of $100 or less. And that more than 670,000 people have contributed to Clinton’s presidential campaign.

The statement of financial strength comes as Clinton battles Bernie Sanders in the New Hampshire primary after barely winning the Iowa caucuses on Monday. Sanders is heavily favored in the Granite State contest on Feb. 9 and raised $20 million last month.


2:13 p.m.

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson is downsizing his campaign staff amid following his fourth-place finish in the Iowa caucuses, a spokesman confirms.

Larry Ross gave no details on how many staffers are being laid off or how many will remain, but said the personnel cuts “were made to wisely and prudently position the campaign for the coming months.”

Carson last month accepted the resignation of his finance chairman, Dean Parker, who had been criticized for his spending on salaries and consultants.

Carson’s campaign paid about two dozen staffers during the last three months of 2015, newly released campaign finance records show. Those salaries totaled about $250,000, among the lower end of what campaigns had spent on payroll in recent months.


2:10 p.m.

Republican presidential candidate Jim Gilmore wants in on Saturday’s upcoming Republican debate.

He writes Thursday to ABC News that if the network modifies any requirements to appear in its coming debate, he should be included, too.

ABC has announced that those allowed on stage will be the top vote-getters in an average of polls, as well as the top three finishers in the Iowa caucus.

Earlier this week, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina wrote to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus saying that, now that the field has winnowed, she should be allowed to debate with the front-runners.

Fiorina recently appeared in an undercard debate with candidates who didn’t make the polling cut off, but there is no such stage set for Saturday.

Gilmore also debated on the undercard stage at last week’s debate, his first such appearance since August.


1:50 p.m.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has a decisive response to a town hall attendee who suggested immigrants living in the country illegally are the backbone of the country.

“I don’t think so, darling,” he says in response.

Trump is taking questions at the historic Exeter Town Hall building in Exeter, New Hampshire, where his supporters are packed in like sardines.

The young woman asking the question said that people working in the country illegally “do work that no one else wants to do and for a lot less.”

But Trump interjected.

“Who told you to be here? Bernie?” he asks, accusing the woman of being a plant for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

He says, “You know what the backbone of our country is? People that came here and they came here legally … and they worked their asses off.”


12:46 p.m.

And now, an analysis of the 2016 presidential race from an expert.

Former President Jimmy Carter says Donald Trump is more “malleable” than Ted Cruz and as such might prove to be a more effective candidate over time. He adds that Hillary Clinton is likely to prevail over Bernie Sanders even though she faces a tough battle in New Hampshire.

Carter spoke Wednesday in Britain’s House of Lords, where he was supposed to talk about his impressive campaign against Guinea worm disease. But asked about the presidential race across the pond, Carter declined to predict the outcome of the primaries in either party, or to guess the winner in the general election. He made clear he would be backing the Democratic candidate.

The 91-year-old, who told the group his last medical report was favorable, received a standing ovation.


12:49 p.m.

Chris Christie is laughing off suggestions that John Kasich is running a positive campaign and saying the Ohio governor’s sunny-side-of-the-street routine amounts to a “face lift.”

Christie is telling reporters that Kasich is someone who’s been known to speak his mind. He says he’s never heard other governors refer to Kasich as “the prince of sunshine and light,” mocking Kasich’s own comments recently that he is the prince of light.

Kasich, who can be a prickly personality, says he won’t run a negative campaign. But the super PAC backing his candidacy is launching a new ad showing people covered in mud, meant to represent Kasich’s rivals. The ad hits Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio for “going negative.”

It says, “doing whatever it takes to win is not presidential.”


11:29 a.m.

Republican Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign has raised $3 million since winning the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1.

That’s according to Cruz campaign manager Jeff Roe, who tweeted out the new fundraising numbers on Thursday.

Roe says the Cruz campaign has raised $10 million overall since the beginning of the year. That includes 182,000 individual contributions averaging $55 each.

Cruz was enjoying a big fundraising advantage over his Republican rivals even before the new numbers were released.

His campaign closed the year with almost $18.7 million in the bank. That was roughly as much as Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Chris Christie combined.


11:20 a.m.

New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte is criticizing ABC News for its decision not to let Carly Fiorina on the debate state Saturday night.

Ayotte, New Hampshire’s top Republican elected official, says the decision “undermines” the state’s role in the primary process.

Ayotte is facing a tough re-election battle against popular Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan and has not endorsed a candidate in the GOP race for president.


10:45 a.m.

Marco Rubio can’t avoid joking about the heeled boots he wore in New Hampshire this month, especially when he’s visiting a manufacturer known for its boots.

Rubio is talking to about 200 employees of Timberland corporate headquarters in New Hampshire, and acknowledging the boots were by another manufacturer, Florsheim.

He says: “Here’s the good news though. After I wore those shoes, the Florsheim website ran out of the shoe. It was kind of my own personal stimulus package.”

“So, if you’ve got any with high heels let me know so I can promote the sales.”


10:15 a.m.

Bernie Sanders is receiving the endorsement of Dick Harpootlian, South Carolina’s former state Democratic party chair, in his bid for the White House.

Harpootlian told The Associated Press on Thursday that he feels the Vermont senator is best positioned to bring needed change to the country and connects well with issues important to young people, like wages and insurance.

Harpootlian, who supported then-Sen. Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in the 2008 election, has known the Clintons for years but says he endorses based on his “gut” feeling, which he had for Obama.

Harpootlian says he was prepared to sit this cycle out after Vice President Joe Biden opted not to run and would have quietly made a donation to Clinton if she won the nomination. But the trial lawyer says Sanders is “cut from the same cloth” as Obama and former President Bill Clinton.


10:00 a.m.

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio is working to court Rand Paul supporters, despite their different approaches to issues like nation security.

At a campaign event in Portsmouth, New Hampshire Thursday, Rubio is telling would-be Paul voters that he shares the Kentucky senator’s views on how to prosecute drug crimes and address problems in the criminal justice system.

Paul suspended his campaign Wednesday. Rubio says he’d seek his endorsement, despite Paul’s call for limited U.S. military engagement overseas.

Rubio hopes that his strong third place finish in Monday’s Iowa caucuses will provide the momentum needed to do well in the Feb. 9 New Hampshire primary.


8:30 a.m.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says his Republican presidential rival Marco Rubio isn’t qualified to be president and is vowing to continue his campaign regardless of the outcome of the New Hampshire primary.

“He just doesn’t have any experience,” Christie said Thursday on ABC’s Good Morning America.

Christie argues that the 44-year old Florida senator is too young to serve, and his experience as a Senator leaves him ill-equipped to beat Hillary Clinton, should she win the Democratic nomination.

Christie also dismisses preference polls ahead of New Hampshire’s Feb. 9 primary, saying the results from this week’s Iowa caucuses were not in line with some of the polls.