The Latest: Rubio defends position on immigration

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — The Latest on the race for president, with candidates focusing on New Hampshire, which holds the first primary in the 2016 race on Tuesday (all times local):

9:05 p.m.

Marco Rubio is defending his role in immigration reform as a member of the Gang of Eight in the Senate.

Speaking at the GOP debate Saturday, Rubio says the American people cannot trust Congress until the border is secured and that those here illegally would not be put on a pathway to citizenship.

Chris Christie struck back at Rubio’s answer, saying “it’s abundantly clear that he didn’t fight for the legislation.”

The 2013 Gang of Eight bill passed the Senate, but did not pass the House.


9:00 p.m.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich says he “couldn’t even imagine” ripping families apart by deporting immigrants living in the country illegally and says doing so doesn’t match American values.

Kasich says he’d make passing comprehensive immigration reform a priority within the first 100 days of his presidency. An attempt to pass a comprehensive bill in 2013 could not make it through Congress.

Kasich is at odds with several of his rivals, including Ted Cruz, on the issue of deportation.

Cruz says its possible to deport people living here illegally. The only thing missing, he says, is “political will.”


8:58 p.m.

Gov. Chris Christie is trying to out-tough his GOP rivals when it comes to dealing with North Korea when addressing how to handle a crisis involving hostages or the rogue nation’s nuclear proliferation activities.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush is saying the U.S. should reinstate “crippling sanctions” and establish those sanctions “right now.”

But Christie says the U.S. has to boost its profile on the global stage, but he fell short from saying he supports military action against North Korea.


8:55 p.m.

Donald Trump’s plan for dealing with North Korea runs through China.

Trump said in Saturday’s Republican presidential debate that the key to dealing with North Korea is enlisting the help of China. Trump says China should be responsible for addressing problems with North Korea because “they can do it quickly and surgically.”

The debate began just minutes after news broke that North Korea had fired a rocket that was a covert test of technology for a missile that could strike the U.S. mainland.

The billionaire investor Trump says he believes China has “tremendous control” over North Korea based on conversations he’s had with bankers and others he’s dealt with.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio also says he believes the United States could leverage its relationship with China to keep North Korea in check.


8:50 p.m.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is avoiding saying just how he might respond as president to a long-range rocket launch by North Korea.

South Korea said earlier Saturday that North Korea did just that, under the guise that it was launching a satellite.

Cruz deflected questions during the GOP presidential debate in New Hampshire Saturday over whether he’d shoot down any such missile or launch a pre-emptive strike on North Korea’s nuclear infrastructure.

He said he could not “speculate” since he has not seen “the intelligence briefings” that President Barack Obama gets. ABC moderator Martha Raddatz noted that Cruz has talked in detail about how he would approach Middle East tensions despite not having access to the same intelligence available to the president.

Cruz used the question to criticize the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran.


8:44 p.m.

Chris Christie and Marco Rubio are kicking off Saturday’s debate with a blistering exchange over experience, with Christie is hitting Rubio for “memorizing” talking points rather than getting actual things done.

Christie says, “the memorized 30-second speech doesn’t solve one problem.” He says Rubio has failed to make a single decision of consequence while in the U.S. Senate, a charge he’s been making on the trail in New Hampshire all week.

Rubio, meanwhile, is dismissing the argument that experience is necessary to be president, saying if that were the case then Joe Biden would be commander in chief.

And he’s punching right back at Christie, saying the New Jersey governor showed a lack of leadership when he considered not returning to his home state to manage a snow storm several weeks ago.


8:40 p.m.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says rival Marco Rubio is a “gifted” politician with no experience — a point he’s been hammering on the campaign trail in New Hampshire.

Speaking at the eighth GOP debate Saturday, Bush said being president requires “a steady hand” to handle any number of crises, noting he handled eight hurricanes and four tropical storms that struck Florida when he was governor.

Bush says “you learn this by doing it,” adding that electing Rubio is the equivalent of electing President Barack Obama who was also a first-term senator when he won the presidency.


8:38 p.m.

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson is taking the high road when asked to address a statement released by Ted Cruz’s campaign that falsely claimed Carson was suspending his campaign.

Carson says he wasn’t going to use the opportunity to “savage the reputation of Sen. Cruz.”

But Carson goes on to say that the quick message from Cruz’s campaign to Iowa caucus-goers that the retired neurosurgeon was out of the race reflects “very good example of Washington ethics.”


8:35 p.m.

Republican Donald Trump says he thinks he has the best temperament of those running for president.

Speaking at Saturday’s GOP debate, Trump noted that he’s driving the election conversation by bringing up issues others are afraid to address like his proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country.

Trump says, “I’m not one with a trigger. Other people up here, believe me, would be a lot faster.”


8:30 p.m.

Donald Trump says other Republican candidates running for president “would be a lot faster” to use nuclear weapons than he would.

Speaking at Saturday’s GOP debate in New Hampshire, Trump responded to comments made by rival Ted Cruz who said no one would be comfortable with Trump having his finger on “the button.”

Cruz dodged a question in the debate asking if he would stand by that comment, instead saying that voters will make the assessment over who has the temperament to be president.

Trump hit Cruz for not answering the question, adding “That’s what’s going to happen with our enemies and the people we compete against. We’re going to win with Trump. We’re going to win.”


8:18 p.m.

The Republican presidential debate got off to a bumpy start Saturday when Ben Carson apparently didn’t hear his name called by the hosts from ABC News.

Carson was to come on stage second, but walked to the edge of the stage and stopped, not hearing his name. He awkwardly remained as several of his rivals walked pass him to the podium.

He eventually walked out.


8:15 p.m.

Republican candidates are facing off in the season’s eighth presidential debate, this time in New Hampshire which will host the nation’s first primary on Tuesday.

Donald Trump has returned to center stage after boycotting the last debate in Iowa. The billionaire businessman is sandwiched in between his two biggest rivals, Iowa caucus winner Ted Cruz, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who finished a close third behind Trump.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson are also debating as they attempt to give their candidacies a boost ahead of the Feb. 9 primary.


6:45 p.m.

Former NAACP President Ben Jealous says Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has the best record and platform for black Americans.

Campaigning for Sanders in South Carolina on Saturday, Jealous called the Vermont senator “a movement candidate.”

Jealous said Sanders’ opponent, Hillary Clinton, offers a public career that is “complicated” and “contradictory.”

He said Clinton’s continued support of the death penalty, her Wall Street relationships and her vote for the Iraq invasion of 2003 each violated Martin Luther King Jr.’s standard of judging politicians on their fight against “racism, militarism and greed.”


6:00 p.m.

The daughter of Eric Garner, a black man who died in 2014 after a white New York police officer put him in a choke hold, is campaigning on behalf of Bernie Sanders in South Carolina.

Erica Garner, a burgeoning civil rights advocate since her father’s death, said Saturday she wants voters to give Sanders a second look because of his ideas to overhaul the criminal justice system, combat institutional racism and expand economic opportunity.

Polls suggest Hillary Clinton leads Sanders by a wide margin ahead of the Feb. 27 primary here. The gap comes largely from Clinton’s overwhelming advantage among black voters.


5:00 p.m.

Hillary Clinton is facing blunt questions in New Hampshire about whether Americans can trust her and her explanations for the 2012 Benghazi attacks while she served as secretary of state.

At a town hall meeting at New England College in Henniker, Clinton said Saturday that she had a long history of taking on tough issues under the glare of the public spotlight.

Clinton explained that Benghazi happened under the “fog of war” and as the attacks unfolded people worked hard on the ground to get the best understanding of what happened. She said she regretted that it had been used as a “great political issue.”


4:00 p.m.

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush says he will continue his campaign no matter the outcome of Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary.

Bush said in an interview with CNN on his campaign bus Saturday that the presidential race is just getting started and that he’s “in it for the long haul.”

Bush says every election is different but that none are over after the first primary.

He will join fellow Republican candidates for a debate Saturday night at Saint Anselm College in Manchester.

Sen. Marco Rubio heads into the debate ready for an onslaught of attacks about his experience from a trio of rivals, including Bush, whose performance Tuesday will be critical to their White House hopes.


3:20 p.m.

Marco Rubio is heading into the latest Republican debate ready for an onslaught of attacks about his experience from a trio of rivals whose performance in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary will be critical to their White House hopes.

Donald Trump will also rejoin his competitors in the debate arena Saturday night after skipping the previous faceoff in Iowa. He finished second in the Iowa caucuses and has spent the past week complaining about the result.

Iowa shook Trump’s grip on the Republican field, but he has led New Hampshire preference polls for months and the state is still seen as his to lose.

But Rubio appears to be gaining steam following his stronger-than-expected third-place Iowa finish. He has drawn big crowds and a flurry of criticism from contenders who say the first-term Florida senator lacks accomplishments.


2:40 p.m.

Hillary Clinton says America’s history is about rising and knocking down barriers and she’s asking New Hampshire voters to bring both their heads and their hearts to Tuesday’s primary.

Clinton is trailing in the state’s primary against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and is asking voters to take another look at her campaign.

Clinton was introduced by New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker in Concord Saturday. He quoted from Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise.” Clinton played off that mantra and told voters that “we will rise once again to more prosperity.”

She says voters aren’t “asking for much” but a “president who knows what it feels like.”

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright made a special appeal to female voters. Albright says “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.”


2 p.m.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich is urging dozens of volunteers to not miss knocking on any doors as they fan out across the state for a sunny Saturday of campaigning.

Standing outside his Manchester headquarters, Kasich says a quick smile and conversation with a voter can make all the difference in Tuesday’s primary.

He says his campaign can put things over the top if voters “have a sense of something special.”

Kasich says his campaign isn’t about him, but rather about making a brighter future for his supporters and their families and neighbors.

Roughly 250 Kasich volunteers are out campaigning across the state. The campaign says each volunteer has a daily goal of knocking on 100 doors and making 200 phone calls.


1:40 p.m.

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush is backing one of his campaign donors in Sunday’s Super Bowl.

Bush said Saturday he’s rooting for Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, “because he’s for me.”

Manning has contributed the maximum $2,700 to Bush’s presidential campaign.

The Broncos face the Carolina Panthers in Sunday’s Super Bowl. That’s two days before voters go to the polls in New Hampshire.

Bush spoke and took questions from town hall participants for 90 minutes and showed energy and emotion in front of the more than 700 people jammed into the Bedford school.

He was introduced by former Homeland Security secretary Tom Ridge, who told voters to choose “George Bush — I mean, Jeb Bush.” Ridge was appointed by President George W. Bush.


1:30 p.m.

Jeb Bush drew one of his largest crowds to a New Hampshire school auditorium hours before debating his Republican rivals ahead of Tuesday’s primary.

Bush spoke and took questions from town hall participants for 90 minutes Saturday. He showed energy and emotion in front of more than 700 people jammed into the Bedford school.

Bush blasted billionaire businessman Donald Trump for what he described as disparaging remarks. He says that Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio were gifted speakers, but had no leadership experience.

Bush choked up when asked about drug addiction. He says he had not discussed his daughter Noelle’s fight with drugs in front of his wife, Columba, who was seated a few feet away. Bush says Noelle has been drug-free for more than 10 years.

12:25 p.m.

Bernie Sanders is expressing confidence about his chances in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary.

The Vermont senator addressed a crowded rally in Rindge, New Hampshire, Saturday.

He notes that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won the state in 2008, but says he’s confident he’s going to win if “we can bring out a decent vote” Tuesday. Sanders leads Clinton in state polls.

Sanders offered his plans for “political revolution” to the enthusiastic room, including single-payer health care, free tuition at public universities and Wall Street reforms.

He says that the eyes of the world will know that the country is about to move in a new direction.


11:50 a.m.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says Donald Trump will be welcomed back to the debate stage “with open arms.”

At a campaign rally in Bedford Saturday, Christie jokingly thanked the crowd and said that he was thrilled that “none of you people made enough fun of Donald Trump to make him not come tonight.”

Christie is marking his 70th day in New Hampshire and continued his criticism of Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz as first-term senators who aren’t ready to be president.

He says debate viewers will see a clear difference between those who are prepared to lead and those who are just continuing to talk.

The debate is Saturday night at Saint Anselm College in Manchester.


11:45 a.m.

Two Republican governors who share New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s experience of leading heavily Democratic states are joining him on the campaign trail.

Govs. Larry Hogan of Maryland and Charlie Baker of Massachusetts kicked off a rally for Christie in Bedford. Hogan says all three are conservatives getting things done in their states. Baker praised Christie’s determination, toughness and ability to advance his agenda by working with people who disagree with him.

Baker says the country needs a president who set an agenda on their own terms and has the capacity and ability to work with others to drive the country in the right direction.

Christie urged his supporter to work hard in the run up to Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary.


11:20 a.m.

Iowa didn’t turn out the way Donald Trump wanted.

So after Trump shrouded his Iowa operations in secrecy, the Republican’s presidential campaign has opened the door to what appears to be more robust effort in New Hampshire to ensure that his supporters actually vote for him.

Trump finished second to Ted Cruz in last Monday’s Iowa caucuses. Next up is the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, and polls put Trump atop the field.

Trumps tells The Associated Press that he thinks “we’re going to have an OK ground game” in New Hampshire.


11:10 a.m.

Hillary Clinton is working hard to try to convince voters that she’s authentic. But it seems she’s having trouble earning the public’s trust.

Rival Bernie Sanders is stepping up his criticism of her Wall Street ties and raising questions about whether she’s really a liberal. His message is connecting with younger people.

They seem less interested in Clinton’s pitch as a “progressive who gets things done” than in Sanders’ call for a “political revolution.”

According to surveys of Iowa caucus-goers, it appears that questions about Clinton’s authenticity hurt her in the state.


11 a.m.

Jeff Ashcraft just wanted to know Chris Christie’s take on U.S. policy in the Middle East.

So he tossed out the question at an event before last Monday’s Iowa caucuses. Ashcraft says his son is set to deploy to Iraq in May.

Ashcraft says the Republican presidential contender gave “probably the most detailed answer” he’s heard from a candidate so far.

But Ashcraft didn’t caucus for the New Jersey governor. Instead he backed Marco Rubio — saying the Florida senator has a better shot at getting elected and would make a great president.

Christie has made the exchange with Ashcraft a staple of his New Hampshire stump speech. The Christie campaign says the point of the story is about the serious responsibilities of the next president.


10:40 a.m.

It’s the final debate before the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, and Donald Trump is rejoining his Republican presidential rivals on the stage.

The debate is Saturday night at Saint Anselm College in Manchester.

Trump skipped the last debate in Iowa because of a dispute with host Fox News.

He finished second to Ted Cruz in the leadoff caucuses last Monday and some rivals sense weakness even though the billionaire businessman is the favorite in New Hampshire polling.

After Iowa, some Republicans dropped out of the race and the New Hampshire results could determine whether more candidates quit the 2016 race.

Host ABC has dropped an undercard debate for low-polling candidates, and debate rules have left Carly Fiorina as the only contender without a spot on stage Saturday night