Live-blog – Countdown to #FITN: Chris Christie going back to NJ to reassess 2016 bid

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The latest on the race for president, with candidates focusing on New Hampshire, which holds the first primary in the 2016 race on Tuesday (with material from the Associated Press):

TUESDAY

10:35 p.m.

Republican Chris Christie says he’s heading home to New Jersey to “take a deep breath” and take stock of his struggling presidential bid.

The New Jersey governor had banked on a strong finish in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, but he’s on track to end up far off the pace despite holding more than 70 town halls events over the past few months.

It’s a tough blow for a candidate whose campaign had trouble from the start about raising money and building support in a crowded field dominated by another brash East Coaster: businessman Donald Trump.

Christie tells supporters that he’ll wait to see the final New Hampshire results before making a decision about the way ahead.

But he says he can do that best from home, and not a hotel room in South Carolina — the site of the next Republican contest.

___

10:21 p.m.

Donald Trump is basking in his victory in Tuesday’s Republican presidential primary in New Hampshire and says that America under his leadership will “start winning again.”

Trump is telling supporters that he’ll be the “greatest jobs president God ever created.”

He’s promising that if he’s commander in chief, he’ll “knock the hell” out of the Islamic State group and negotiate what he says would be better trade deals.

A Trump presidency, he says, would mean “nobody is going to mess with us.”

10 p.m.

She’s back in the pack among Republicans in New Hampshire, but the fight isn’t going out of Carly Fiorina.

The Republican presidential candidate tells supporters at a country club in Manchester that “I’m not going to sit down and be quiet, and neither are you.”

She’s taken the stage with her husband, Frank, by her side. And what’s playing in the background? “I Won’t Back Down,” by rocker Tom Petty.

___

9:55 p.m.

Jeb Bush‘s campaign doesn’t think much of rival John Kasich‘s second-place showing in New Hampshire’s Republican presidential primary.

Kasich finished behind Donald Trump. Bush — a former Florida governor — is in a close race with two senators — Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida — for third.

Bush spokesman Tim Miller says Kasich “ran a one-state campaign” in New Hampshire and doesn’t have “a viable path” to the nomination.

The next Republican contest is in South Carolina later in February, and Miller says the Bush campaign feels “very confident about our position” in the state.

As for Kasich, Miller contends that the former congressman “doesn’t have a constituency past New Hampshire.”

___

9:45 p.m.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich has finished second in New Hampshire’s Republican presidential primary.

There’s a tight race for third among Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. It’s still too close to call right now.

Kasich emerged from the pack of candidates to finish behind billionaire businessman Donald Trump on Tuesday night.

Kasich’s campaign manager says he expects an increased flow of contributions to the candidate’s campaign after the strong showing.

___

9:35 p.m.

He’s won in New Hampshire and now Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders plans to meet with Rev. Al Sharpton over breakfast in New York City on Wednesday.

That’s according to two people who were briefed on the meeting. They are telling The Associated Press that the get-together is set for the famed Sylvia’s Restaurant in Harlem.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because the information had not yet been publicly released.

Sharpton isn’t immediately responding to a request for comment.

____

9:29 p.m.

Hillary Clinton is congratulating Bernie Sanders on his New Hampshire win on Tuesday night.

But for the former secretary of state, it’s time to get back to the issues: campaign finance reform, equal pay for women, the lead-tainted drinking water in Flint, Michigan.

Clinton also wants younger voters to support her campaign as the race goes on.

She says she knows she has “some work to do particularly with young people.”

___

9:15 p.m.

The fight goes on for Hillary Clinton.

Even after losing to Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Clinton is promising to take her fight for the nomination to the rest of the country.

And if she feels spurned by New Hampshire voters, she’s not showing it to supporters in Hooksett, New Hampshire.

She tells them: “I still love New Hampshire, and I always will.”

___

9:05 p.m.

Exit polls are helping shed some light on the various strands of support among voters in New Hampshire’s Republican presidential primary.

Donald Trump is backed by voters looking for an outsider and those who made up their minds a while ago.

John Kasich does best with voters looking for a candidate with political experience — along with moderates, better educated voters and those who made their vote decision in the past few days.

Ted Cruz is supported by many voters who are very conservative and evangelical Christians.

Marco Rubio does best among voters for whom experience and electability is important.

Voters who value experience are also inclined to support Jeb Bush.

___

8:50 p.m.

Thanks to his New Hampshire win, Donald Trump will take the lead in the race for delegates for the Republican National Convention.

It won’t be much of a lead.

There are only 23 delegates at stake in New Hampshire’s Republican primary, and they are awarded proportionally, based on the statewide vote.

Trump will win at least nine. The final tally depends on how many candidates get more than 10 percent of the vote, the threshold needed to qualify for delegates.

Trump started night trailing Ted Cruz by one delegate.

___

8:45 p.m.

How did Bernie Sanders do it in New Hampshire?

According to exit polls, he won the Democratic presidential primary Tuesday by getting a majority of votes from both men and women, independents and voters under 45.

Rival Hillary Clinton is backed a majority of voters aged 65 and older and those with incomes over $200,000.

Independents make up nearly 4 in 10 voters in the primary, and Sanders is winning nearly three-quarters of their votes.

___

8:34 p.m.

Gratitude for the Granite State — that’s the word from Bernie Sanders.

After his New Hampshire victory, the Vermont senator has thanked his supporters with this tweet: “When we stand together, we win. Thank you, New Hampshire!”

___

8:25 p.m.

A big victory for Donald Trump in New Hampshire, a big victory celebration for the billionaire businessman.

When word came just at 8 p.m. that Trump was declared the winner, his supporters at campaign headquarters in Manchester shouted his name and they waved foam fingers emblazoned with the phrase, “You’re Hired.”

___

8:13 p.m.

Bernie Sanders’ victory in New Hampshire means he’s assured of a majority of the state’s pledged delegates.

With 24 at stake, Sanders stands to gain at least 13. Hillary Clinton will receive at least seven.

Clinton remains ahead in the overall delegate count due to support from superdelegates — the party officials who can support the candidate of their choice.

Including superdelegates nationwide, Clinton has amassed at least 392 delegates and Sanders at least 42.

The magic number to clinch the nomination is 2,382.

8:03 p.m.

The New Hampshire primary winners are Donald Trump on the Republican side and Bernie Sanders in the Democratic race. Each took the top spot after second-place finishes in the Iowa caucuses.

Trump’s first victory of the 2016 White House race means he’s no longer a political rookie but the front-runner for his party’s presidential nomination.

6:35 p.m.

An outside group that’s helping Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio is spending more than $1.5 million on digital and media advertisements in South Carolina and Nevada — the next states on the 2016 election calendar.

The new expenditures are by Conservative Solutions PAC, a super political action committee that faces no contribution limits.
All but about $200,000 is for South Carolina. That’s according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Conservative Solutions is the second-most-active super PAC in the presidential race so far. Only Right to Rise, which is boosting Republican Jeb Bush, has spent more on television and radio.

___

5:59 p.m.

Republican voters in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary are much more negative about their politicians than Democrats are about theirs, according to early results of the exit poll conducted by Edison Research for the Associated Press and television networks. Half of Republicans said they feel betrayed by politicians from the Republican Party, while fewer than 2 in 10 Democrats say they feel betrayed by Democratic politicians.
Three in 10 Republican voters said the economy was the most important issue facing the country, similar to the percentages saying government spending and terrorism.

Three in 10 Democratic primary voters said the economy was the most important issue facing the country, while a similar share said income equality was most important.

___

5:58 p.m.

Voters in New Hampshire’s primary are deeply unhappy with the way the federal government is working, according to early results of the exit poll conducted by Edison Research for the Associated Press and television networks.

Half of Democratic voters said they’re dissatisfied with the way government is working, with another 1 in 10 saying they’re angry. That’s even higher among Republican primary voters, with 9 in 10 voters saying they’re either dissatisfied or angry.

About a third of Republican voters said the most important quality in a candidate is someone who shared their values, while about the same proportion said it was someone who could bring about needed change.

Democratic voters said honesty, experience and someone who cares about people like them were the most important qualities in a candidate.

___

4:49 p.m.

Donald Trump is greeting voters face-to-face as they head to the polls.

“How’s it looking, everybody? Good?” he repeatedly asked supporters who’d gathered at poll sites, waving signs.

Trump visited two voting locations — the Webster School and the Northwest Elementary School — and shook hands and posed for photos.

He’s holding a party for supporters to watch the results come in Manchester Tuesday evening.

___

2:25 p.m.

Jeanette Rubio is taking a minute to thank supporters.

In an email to Tuesday, she said the support and kindness her husband and family has received has “made it all worth it.”

“The kids and I have loved every day of this campaign,” said email. “We’ve been able to meet wonderful supporters like you and visit beautiful towns and vibrant cities across our country. Our family continues to enjoy so many new experiences throughout this campaign.”

In email, she said Marco Rubio is running for president to “restore and expand the American dream.”

“We need Marco in the White House, but it will only happen if he has your support right now,” the email reads.

___

2:18 p.m.

Ted Cruz says Donald Trump has no choice but to engage in profanity because the billionaire businessman can’t defend his record.

Cruz briefly addressed Trump’s latest insult Tuesday afternoon as he greeted voters inside Manchester’s Red Arrow Diner, a must-stop for candidates in both parties.

“Part of the reason that Donald engages in insults is because he can’t discuss the substance. He can’t defend his record. For example, a vote for Donald Trump is a vote for Obamacare,” Cruz told reporters as he walked into the diner.

Trump has said that’s a “lie.” Cruz charges that Trump supports universal health care that could lead to health care rationing.

Cruz says, “Donald can’t defend that. So instead, his approach is to engage in a profane insult. I’m not going to respond in kind.”

___

2:16 p.m.

A lot has changed for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders as he’s risen in primary polls — starting with his ablity to take a walk.

All-but-ignored by the media for more than a quarter century in Congress, the Democratic presidential candidate found himself swarmed by dozens of reporters on Tuesday afternoon in Concord when he decided to take a stroll around the state capital.

“If we have a large voter turnout I think we’re going to do just fine,” he told the press.

After that, questions were met with stony silence.

“What does he like about New Hampshire,” shouted one reporter.

No response.

“Does he miss Vermont?” asked another.

Sanders didn’t even crack a smile before jumping into a waiting SUV and taking off.

“He needed a little air,” said adviser Tad Devine.

1:40 p.m.

It seemed like an automatic voter conversion moment for Sen. Marco Rubio. Instead, it was a snapshot of the quirky independence of New Hampshire voters and the impression Rubio left on one.

Rubio and Derry Republican voter Stephanie Tespas stood outside Gilbert Hood Middle School in Derry, locked in a quiet and serious conversation about cancer.

Tespas told Rubio of her son’s genetic condition, the same as her husband who battled and survived cancer. Rubio was nodding, and mentioned his own father’s losing battle with lung cancer after a lifetime of smoking.

But when Rubio shook Tespas’ hand, told her “thank you,” and got into his SUV to leave, she said she remained undecided about who to support as she walked into the school to vote.

Tespas left the school gymnasium without saying who she supported, except that it wasn’t Rubio.

“I just don’t think he’s quite ready,” she said. “I wanted him to be more personal. I felt like I was in one of his commercials.”

Rubio has been criticized as a repeater of rote talking points. He must finish strong in Tuesday’s GOP primary to have a shot at being the establishment Republican party’s favorite.

___

12:43 p.m.

Chris Christie isn’t saying whether his campaign will continue after Tuesday’s GOP New Hampshire primary.

At a noontime stop at a Derry restaurant, Christie refused to say what place he needs to come in at a minimum to continue his campaign.

“I don’t get into that stuff. Next!” he said, calling on the next reporter.

Christie has hung virtually all of his White House hopes on a strong showing in New Hampshire. Other candidates, such as Jeb Bush, have said their campaigns will continue into the next states to vote, South Carolina and Nevada.

10:42 a.m.

Chris Christie is telling his campaign volunteers to work now, celebrate later.

Visiting his Bedford headquarters, Christie says the Republican contest is far from over, and that the campaign has much work to do to get voters to the polls.

Christie continued to tout his performance in Saturday’s debate, during which he came down hard on Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, saying it solidified the central premise of his campaign: that his work and life experience make him the best prepared to take on Hillary Clinton and win the presidency. And he says he’s fine with others criticizing his record, because at least he has one.

10 a.m.

Marco Rubio is appealing to New Hampshire voters in a new web video.

In the new 60-second web video, images of New Hampshire voters flash across the screen as Rubio speaking. Rubio is heard talking about the importance New Hampshire voters play in the primary process.

“Perhaps no state in the country demands more of their candidates than New Hampshire does. And you should, the role you play is so important,” he is heard saying. “I’m asking for your vote because if you vote for me, I will unite us.”

Rubio continues in the video: “The first thing I’m going to do is take the oath of office, which means I’m going to place my right hand on the Bible and my left hand in the air and before this nation, and under the eyes of God, I’m going to swear to protect and defend and uphold this Constitution. And unlike Barack Obama, I’m going to mean it.”

[youtube]https://youtu.be/1hbAVl2Ve7s[/youtube]

8:20 a.m.

Bernie Sanders and John Kasich picked up the most votes as the first ballots of the first-in-the-nation primary were cast early Tuesday.

Sanders won over all four Democratic voters in the tiny town of Dixville, while Kasich sneaked past Donald Trump, 3-2, among Republicans.

Under New Hampshire state law, communities with fewer than 100 voters can get permission to open their polls at midnight and close them as soon as all registered voters have cast their ballots. While that happened in three locations, Dixville traditionally gets most of the spotlight due to its media-friendly setup at the Balsams Grand Resort Hotel.

Located about 20 miles from the Canadian border, Dixville exists as a town only for voting purposes. Almost all of its nine voters are employees of the hotel, which closed in 2011 but is currently undergoing a major overhaul under new owners.

___

9:15 p.m.

Hillary Clinton is holding her final rally before Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, vowing to “get up every day to make a difference” for Americans if she wins the White House.

Clinton says in Hudson, New Hampshire, that voters face a “big choice,” likening the primary election to a “giant job interview” over who best represents the kind of future Americans want.

She is pointing to health care as a major dividing line in her primary race against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Clinton says they have the same goal of universal coverage but Sanders’ approach would plunge the country into another contentious debate.

Clinton tells the crowd to “stick with this. We’re going to make it work for everybody.”

She was introduced by former President Bill Clinton, who calls his wife the greatest “change maker” he has ever met.

___

9:05 p.m.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is firing up his supporters ahead of Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary with a profanity-laced rally that’s drawn thousands despite a snowstorm.

Trump tells about 5,000 people packed into one-half of a Manchester sports arena that they “have to go out and vote no matter what.”

He says: “If you’re sick, if you’re really like you can’t move, you’re close to death, your doctor tells you it’s not working, your wife is disgusted with you, she said, ‘I’m leaving.’ No matter what. She says, ‘Darling, I love you but I’ve fallen in love with another man,’ I don’t give a damn. You’ve got to get out to vote.”

Trump is hoping for victory after coming in second in last week’s Iowa caucuses.

___

8:25 p.m.

Chris Christie‘s closing remarks at his last town hall in Manchester: “I’ve got a flight to South Carolina Wednesday morning, and I intend to take it,” he said. “I want you all to send me off as your guy.”

Christie said he wants to leave New Hampshire knowing that its voters “met me, got to see me, I opened my heart to them and they opened their hearts to me, and we made history together.”

He asked supporters to offer friends, neighbors and relatives rides to the polls.

“I’ll tell you one last thing, I’m gonna be president of the United States,” he said.

___

8:10 p.m.

Jeb Bush is making his closing argument to New Hampshire voters, pushing his experience as a two-term Florida governor while dismissing rivals Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio as being unprepared to lead the country.

Bush says the next president can’t be “a divider-in-chief or agitator-in-chief, but a commander-in chief.”

“I know how to lead,” Bush said Monday night in a speech in Portsmouth, N.H., where a sizable and enthusiastic crowd braved a winter snow storm to attend the town hall meeting on the eve of the nation’s first primary.

___

5:15 p.m.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says he is considering mounting an independent campaign for president.

Bloomberg told The Financial Times on Monday that he was “looking at all the options” when it comes to a bid.

The billionaire businessman said he found the current campaign to be “an insult to the voters.”

It’s the first time he acknowledged a possible run.

Bloomberg’s aides floated the idea last month that the former mayor could fill a gap in the center of the political spectrum.

He is distressed by the rise of Donald Trump and Texas Senator Ted Cruz among Republicans and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders among Democrats.

Bloomberg was a Democrat before becoming a Republican to run for mayor in 2001. He then became an independent.

___

4:05 p.m.

Hillary Clinton is telling workers at a Manchester company that she hopes people in New Hampshire will come out to vote on Tuesday despite snowfall in the state.

Clinton was meeting with employees of Velcro Companies, which makes fasteners.

She says at this point “it’s going to be a race to the finish.” When one worker asked her to compare herself to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Clinton said she doesn’t want to “over promise” but “deliver” for people.

New Hampshire will host the nation’s first primary Tuesday. Snow and slush is forecast in most of the state.

___

3:46 p.m.

Donald Trump is bursting back onto television in South Carolina.

Advertising tracker Kantar Media’s CMAG identifies $463,000 worth of new Trump TV and radio commercials that are set to begin airing Tuesday in the third-to-vote primary state.

That’s a major increase from the $26,000 in ads he’s had up in South Carolina during the past seven days.

All told, the celebrity businessman and Republican presidential candidate who placed second in the Iowa caucuses has put about $8.9 million into campaign ads, CMAG shows. He has made three different TV spots. Two of them begin with an image of Trump wearing his signature red “Make America Great Again” ball cap and giving the thumbs-up.

___

3:40 p.m.

The first votes of the first-in-the-nation primary will be counted Tuesday in three tiny communities where primary day lasts all of five minutes: Hart, Millsfield and the most famous, Dixville notch.

They all qualify to hold midnight votes under a New Hampshire law that allows communities with fewer than 100 voters can get permission to open their polls at the stroke of primary day and close them as soon as all registered voters have cast their ballots.

It shouldn’t take long.

Dixville, which exists as a town only for voting purposes, has nine voters.

Hart, about 80 miles south, has 41 registered voters.

Millsfield, home to 22 registered voters, also is making a comeback this year, though it’s unclear just when the town last voted at midnight or when its tradition started.

___

3:19 p.m.

Presidential candidate Marco Rubio’s campaign says two dozen of Sen. Rand Paul‘s Kentucky supporters in the state legislature are endorsing Rubio.

Paul ended his presidential campaign last week after a poor showing in the Iowa caucuses and will instead focus on his Senate re-election.

The new Rubio supporters include state Rep. Jeff Hoover, the top Republican in the Kentucky House, and state Sen. Ralph Alvarado, who introduced Paul at his presidential campaign kickoff rally last year.

___

2:25 p.m.

Hillary Clinton says rival Bernie Sanders accepted about $200,000 in indirect donations from Wall Street and “there’s nothing wrong with that” — asserting that big donations from the financial industry it didn’t change his views on public policy, and they don’t change hers.

Sanders has cast the Clintons as part of the Democratic establishment during the primaries and holds a solid lead against the former secretary of state in Tuesday’s first-in-the-nation primary. He has criticized Clinton for accepting campaign donations and speaking fees from Wall Street firms.

Clinton was joined by her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and daughter Chelsea Clinton on Monday in an all-hands-on-deck day of campaigning on the eve of the New Hampshire primary.

___

2:08 p.m.

There’s no mistaking Marco Rubio’s new enemy No. 1 in New Hampshire: Jeb Bush.

That’s the takeaway from freshly filed Federal Election Commission reports that track last-minute spending before the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday.

The reports show Conservative Solutions PAC, an outside group spending tens of millions of dollars boosting Rubio, made a major change in its advertising plans after Rubio’s disappointing debate performance on Saturday.

The super PAC replaced more than $500,000 worth of planned New Hampshire ads supporting Rubio and attacking Iowa winner Ted Cruz with commercials exclusively opposing Bush, the reports show. The group is also now spending money on mailings to voters that oppose both Bush and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, according to FEC filings.

___

2:00 p.m.

Bernie Sanders is drawing animated crowds in the final hours before voting begins in New Hampshire.

One man in Manchester, responding to Sanders’ description of the Bush administration’s role in the economic recession, interrupted the candidate:

“They stole the country,” the man shouted, using an expletive to describe the Bush administration.

“Well, I wouldn’t phrase it exactly like that but it’s close to true,” replied Sanders.

___

1:26 p.m.

Republican Sen. John McCain says the “loose talk” in the presidential campaign about reviving waterboarding and other interrogation methods skips over the fact that the technique failed to obtain lifesaving intelligence.

The Arizona Republican survived 5 ½ years in a Vietnamese prison and says such techniques are inhumane and compromise the nation’s values.

McCain, the GOP’s presidential nominee in 2008, issued a statement after Republican contender Donald Trump told a town hall in Salem, New Hampshire on Monday that waterboarding is “peanuts,” compared to what Islamic State militants are doing. “It’s fine,” Trump said of waterboarding. “And much tougher than that is fine. When we’re dealing with these animals we can’t be soft and weak like our politicians.”

Trump isn’t saying what other interrogation techniques he would support.

President Barack Obama banned waterboarding when he took office in January 2009.

MONDAY

___

1:18 p.m.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is spending the final day of the New Hampshire primary attacking a rival who is far behind him in the polls: former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Speaking at a town hall event in Salem, New Hampshire, Trump went after Bush, calling him “a total stiff.”

He says, “Here’s a guy, honestly, if he weren’t in government… you wouldn’t hire him to do anything.”

He adds that Bush is “like a spoiled child” and “not a smart man” because he’s in favor of the common core education standards.

Later, in front of the Manchester Rotary Club at Fratello’s Italian Grille, Trump said Bush is “not smart enough to win” — and more.

For his part, Bush tweeted Monday that Trump is a “loser,” a “liar” and a “whiner.”

___

1:05 p.m.

On a snowy final day of campaigning in New Hampshire, John Kasich is reflecting on lessons from his parents’ death in 1987 and his short-lived presidential campaign in 1999.

Kasich is telling a packed crowd in snowy Windham, New Hampshire, on the primary battle’s final campaign day that he has few memories from his 1999 bid aside from talking to a voter for 20 minutes only to have her ask, “When is the candidate going to arrive?”

This campaign, he says, is different.

Kasich has taken to urging voters to slow down in their everyday lives and spend more time listening to their families and neighbors. Kasich’s parents died in a car crash in 1987, and he says going through a dark time has allowed him to better connect with people who are struggling in their everyday lives.

He says,” there are a lot of people who never get listened to.”

___

12:40 p.m.

A woman who attending a town hall for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has a curt replay to the recent discussion on the presidential campaign trail about special places in hell for certain women.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright recently urged women to vote for Hillary Clinton, saying, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.”

At the town hall meeting for in Hudson, New Hampshire Monday, the Christie supporter retorted: “There is a special place in hell for women who vote for women just because they’re women.”

___

12:30 p.m.

Hillary Clinton is telling customers at a popular Manchester, New Hampshire, breakfast spot that “I need you tomorrow.”

Making her way around Chez Vachon, Clinton and husband Bill, thanked another diner for wearing one of her campaign buttons. She says, “With your help, we can do it.”

The Clintons have visited the restaurant before and photos of them are on the walls.

___

12:15 p.m.

Chris Christie got a heated reception outside a Hampstead, New Hampshire, coffee shop, where some his New Jersey critics waited in the snow to heckle him.

Holding signs calling Christie “New Jersey’s Biggest Loser,” the protesters chanted “Chris Christie: Bad for New Jersey, bad for you.”

Christie slipped in a back door to avoid them. He said he loved hearing from some of his “favorite Democrats” because it fires him up.

___

12:00 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is choosing not to respond to recent Clinton campaign accusations that his backers are waging “profane” and “sexist” attacks on the former secretary of state.

Instead, the Vermont senator is sticking to his campaign message, hoping to avoid any misstep that could undermine his sizeable New Hampshire lead just a day before voters head to the polls.

“We have come a long way in the last nine months,” he told cheering supporters in Nashua, N.H. on Monday morning.

He added: “There is nothing, nothing, nothing that we cannot accomplish.”

On Sunday, former President Bill Clinton said Clinton supporters were being subject to “vicious trolling and attack” online. Sanders’ aides say their campaign has no desire to engage in an extended back-and-forth over the issue.

Sanders has denounced supporters that level sexist attacks, saying his campaign doesn’t want “that crap,” in an interview with CNN on Sunday.

___

11:35 a.m.

Republican Donald Trump is doubling down on his support for intensifying interrogation techniques for some foreign prisoners. Trump said during this week’s GOP debate that he is in favor of bringing back waterboarding and “a hell of a lot worse.”

He’s not saying what other techniques he’d support.

Trump is telling a town hall in Salem that waterboarding is “peanuts,” compared to what Islamic State militants are doing. “It’s fine,” Trump says of waterboarding. “And much tougher than that is fine. When we’re dealing with these animals we can’t be soft and weak like our politicians.”

He says the country’s enemies are “laughing like hell at the United States” for even questioning the technique.

___

11:30 a.m.

John Kasich is getting some friendly advice from a Vietnam War combat veteran on how he should deal with the Joint Chiefs of Staff is elected president.

After saying he was nervous to ask a question, the man ended up in the middle of the room with his arm around Kasich, offering his thoughts on military readiness.

Kasich jokingly offered the man a job as Secretary of Defense, then says he’ll welcome advice for anyone who wants to talk to or yell at him if elected.

He says, “that’s how you get smart…you cannot limit the advice that you get.”

___

11: 06 a.m.

The Jeb Bush campaign is releasing a new online ad Monday aimed at John Kasich, questioning the Ohio governor’s conservative credentials.

The “No Comparison” ad contrasts Bush’s record as a two-term Florida governor with Kasich’s record as a top House leader and as a governor.

The ad comes only a day before the New Hampshire primary, where Kasich, Bush and other GOP candidates are in a fierce fight for second place behind front-runner Donald Trump.

The nearly 90-second ad slams Kasich for voting in favor of an assault-weapons ban in 1994, his efforts to reign in defense spending and his decision to expand Medicaid in Ohio under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

The ad claims “Jeb is the conservative you can trust.”

___

10:30 a.m.

Donald Trump has traded his usual large-scale rallies for an intimate town hall setting.

Trump is taking questions in an Elks Lodge in Salem, New Hampshire in front of a crowd of about 230 people.

The billionaire businessman began by talking about the state’s drug crisis, saying that obtaining heroin is now “cheaper than getting candy.”

Trump has been criticized by some of his rivals for failing to spend enough time in the state and largely foregoing the kind of one-on-one campaigning that has long been a hallmark of the state.

___

9:30 a.m.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie hopes his latest celebrity endorsement before the New Hampshire primary will give him the boost needed for a strong performance Tuesday.

Christie was joined Monday at a town hall meeting in Hudson by Buddy Valastro, star of the TLC reality show “Cake Boss.”

Valastro praised Christie’s leadership in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and his ability to get things done in a heavily Democratic state.

“We need someone who’s going to cut through the bullcrap and bring people together.”

___

8:20 a.m.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has ramped up his schedule as he works to close the deal with New Hampshire voters the day before they head to the polls.

Trump will be holding a rally at an Elks Lodge in Salem, followed by town halls in Manchester and Londonderry.

He’ll cap the night with a rally at the Verizon Wireless Arena.

Trump is facing pressure to translate his poll numbers and rally crowds into votes after a second-place finish in Iowa last week.

Meanwhile, speaking to MSNBC’s Morning Joe Monday, Trump said Iowa’s caucus system is “complex” and he feels he can win New Hampshire’s Tuesday primary.

___

8:00 a.m.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio says he feels he did “great” in the last Republican presidential debate and is optimistic that he will do well in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary.

Speaking to “CBS This Morning” Monday, Rubio refrained from attacking his rivals, particularly Govs. Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, who say the freshman senator doesn’t have the experience needed to be president.

He dismissed critique of his performance at Saturday’s debate, saying Monday that it was his campaign’s “Despite what people want to say, it was our greatest fundraising night.”

Instead, he is emphasizing his strong third-place finish in last week’s Iowa caucus, asserting that he has a chance to do equally as well in New Hampshire.

___

7:45 a.m.

Republican presidential hopefuls Jeb Bush and Chris Christie say Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, hasn’t been tested in a way that the governors running for president have, leaving him unqualified to be president.

Speaking to MSNBC’s Morning Joe Monday in New Hampshire, which is set to host the country’s second nomination contest Tuesday, Bush referred to Rubio as “a bright, charismatic leader” but described his leadership skills as a “work in progress.”

Christie, New Jersey’s sitting governor, repeated accusations that Rubio recites the same campaign points, calling him a “talented guy” when required to “deliver a speech, read a teleprompter.”

Bush, Florida’s former governor, also attacked billionaire Donald Trump, with whom he clashed at Saturday’s GOP debate over the issue of eminent domain, calling him a “loser.”

___

7:30 a.m.

The American Legion has asked the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to “cease and desist” from using the organization’s emblem in campaign fliers.

The American Legion wrote to Sanders’ Senate office that it did not have permission to use the emblem in his campaign fliers.

Sanders’ campaign didn’t immediately return a request seeking comment.

The American Legion has twice complained to Sanders officials since Jan. 22 about the use of the emblem in campaign materials. A Feb. 1 letter from the American Legion obtained by The Associated Press warns that “any further communication about it will be through our trademark attorney in the appropriate forum.”

An earlier report in a New Hampshire paper said that Sanders had used the images of pastors and veterans in his fliers.

SUNDAY

5:30 p.m.

The former Republican Party of Florida chairman and a longtime Jeb Bush supporter says questions about Marco Rubio’s accomplishments have turned around Bush’s struggling campaign.

Al Cardenas said in an interview while campaigning with Bush in Nashua, New Hampshire, on Sunday that the attacks on Rubio’s lack of accomplishments as a freshman senator are not going to go away. He says that Rubio’s scripted lines are no longer going to work.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie rattled Rubio in Saturday night’s GOP debate when he slammed the Florida senator as a scripted, inexperienced politician from a do-nothing Senate.

Bush has also hammered Rubio as a backbencher in Congress and a gifted speaker with no leadership record.

Cardenas says that the last 72 hours have been a dramatic turnaround for Bush’s campaign and that he’s still in the hunt.

5 p.m.

Hillary Clinton is accusing rival Bernie Sanders of using deceptive campaign tactics.

Her campaign is pointing to a report in a New Hampshire paper that says Sanders used the images of pastors and veterans in his campaign fliers without permission.

Sanders’ campaign didn’t immediately return a request seeking comment.

Rev. Stephen Silver, of Lebanon, told The Valley News that a photo of him with his 9-year-old son taken at a Veterans Day event was used on a mailer. He says he explained to his congregation that he was not taking a public stance on any candidate.

___

4:40 p.m.

Some politicians run from polarizing endorsements. Ted Cruz seeks them out.

SUNDAY

5:30 p.m.

The former Republican Party of Florida chairman and a longtime Jeb Bush supporter says questions about Marco Rubio‘s accomplishments have turned around Bush’s struggling campaign.

Al Cardenas said in an interview while campaigning with Bush in Nashua, New Hampshire, on Sunday that the attacks on Rubio’s lack of accomplishments as a freshman senator are not going to go away. He says that Rubio’s scripted lines are no longer going to work.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie rattled Rubio in Saturday night’s GOP debate when he slammed the Florida senator as a scripted, inexperienced politician from a do-nothing Senate.

Bush has also hammered Rubio as a backbencher in Congress and a gifted speaker with no leadership record.

Cardenas says that the last 72 hours have been a dramatic turnaround for Bush’s campaign and that he’s still in the hunt.

5 p.m.

Hillary Clinton is accusing rival Bernie Sanders of using deceptive campaign tactics.

Her campaign is pointing to a report in a New Hampshire paper that says Sanders used the images of pastors and veterans in his campaign fliers without permission.

Sanders’ campaign didn’t immediately return a request seeking comment.

Rev. Stephen Silver, of Lebanon, told The Valley News that a photo of him with his 9-year-old son taken at a Veterans Day event was used on a mailer. He says he explained to his congregation that he was not taking a public stance on any candidate.

___

4:40 p.m.

Some politicians run from polarizing endorsements. Ted Cruz seeks them out.

The Texas senator’s strength in the 2016 Republican presidential primary is drawn, at least in part, from the backing of high-profile figures from his party’s far-right fringe.

They are people who may be popular among the passionate conservatives who usually decide primary contests, but could turn off the swing voters and independents who typically decide general elections.

Cruz’s national co-chairman, Iowa Rep. Steve King, is a leading voice on immigration. He has compared those who cross the border illegally to drug mules and livestock.

Cruz has also embraced endorsements from an evangelical leader who described Hitler as a hunter of Jews sent by God, and B-list entertainers like the anti-gay patriarch of the Louisiana duck hunting family featured on the popular cable show “Duck Dynasty.”

___

4 p.m.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie continues to tout his strong debate performance and takedown of Marco Rubio.

Christie returned to an Exeter pub on Sunday that he visited early on in his campaign and again argued that Rubio isn’t ready to face Hillary Clinton in a general election or be president.

He says that when the lights are bright and hot, “we don’t melt, we shine.” He says that’s what he’s going to do in November when he beats Clinton.

Christie says that he was underestimated during both of his gubernatorial campaigns. He says it’s annoying, but he’s used to it. He says that his opponents who were on the debate state Saturday night don’t underestimate him anymore.

___

3:15 p.m.

Ted Cruz says it’s dangerous and immoral to force women into combat roles in the military.

The Texas senator on Sunday lashed out at his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination who signaled support during Saturday’s debate for including women if a draft is reinstated. He made the comments during a campaign appearance in Peterborough, New Hampshire.

Cruz says that including women in a hypothetical military draft is “nuts” and a dangerous example of political correctness. He says forcing women into “close combat” ”is wrong, is immoral and, if I’m president, we ain’t doing it.”

Cruz has two young daughters, who, he says “are capable of doing anything in their heart’s desire.”

He says “the idea that their government would forcibly put them in a foxhole with a 200-pound psychopath trying to kill them doesn’t make any sense at all.”

___

2:20 p.m.

Hillary Clinton says the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, is “immoral,” and Congress should approve $200 million in emergency aid for the city grappling with lead-contaminated water.

The Democratic presidential candidate is visiting a Flint church on Sunday and tells the crowd she will not forget about them or their children.

Clinton is making a “personal commitment” to help Flint and says she is angry and heartsick about what happened. She says, “repairing trust is as important as repairing pipes.”

Flint is under a state of emergency because the water supply is contaminated with lead from old pipes.

Clinton and Bernie Sanders will debate each other in Flint on March 6, two days before Michigan’s primary.

___

12:15 p.m.

Jeb Bush has called in the Bush family troops, but he says he didn’t make a mistake by keeping them at a distance for so long in his presidential campaign.

The Republican candidate’s mother — former first lady Barbara Bush — has been campaigning in New Hampshire. His brother, former President George W. Bush, plans to campaign in South Carolina ahead of the GOP primary on Feb. 20.

A super political actions committee that supports Jeb Bush is airing an ad that features his brother.

The former Florida governor says that when he started his White House run, it was important to first explain to voters his experience and ideas.

The candidate tells “Fox News Sunday” that “I’m a Bush, and I’ve never tried to disown that.”

He says he thinks the timing of his family’s involvement in campaigning “is appropriate.”

___

11:55 a.m.

Ted Cruz is opening up about how religion has transformed his life.

The Republican presidential candidate tells members of a New Hampshire congregation that his family’s religious devotion is due largely to his father’s conversion to Christianity decades ago.

The Texas senator says his father was a drunk who abandoned Cruz and his mother when Cruz was a toddler.

Then Rafael Cruz met a pastor who challenged him to stop resisting Christianity.

Ted Cruz tells worshippers at the First Assembly of God in Auburn, New Hampshire, that his father “literally fell to his knees and gave his life to Jesus.”

Rafael soon returned to his family and raised Cruz as a devout Christian.

11:00 a.m.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says “he felt justified” with his takedown of rival Marco Rubio in the latest GOP presidential debate.
Christie is looking ahead to the general election, and he thinks Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee.

On Sunday Christie was using Rubio’s debate performance to speculate about how the Florida senator would fare in a debate against Clinton.

The New Jersey governor puts it this way during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday”: Do Republicans want someone who can “absolutely answer” Clinton’s “every parry” or “someone who will crumble in front” of the former secretary of state?

Christie and Rubio, along with Jeb Bush and John Kasich, are jockeying to become the preferred alternative to outsiders Donald Trump and Ted Cruz in the GOP race.

Rubio seems best positioned to seize that spot after his third-place finish in Iowa. But Christie says Rubio’s isn’t ready for the presidency. The New Jersey governor is seizing on Rubio’s repetitious characterization of Barack Obama‘s presidency when Christie repeatedly challenged Rubio’s executive experience: “There it is, the memorized 25-second speech. There it is everybody,” Christie said at one point in the debate.

___

9:55 a.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says she knows she’s behind going into Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary and doesn’t know if she can win.

But she tells CNN’s “State of the Union” that she’s “a different person than I was back in 08.” That year she won the New Hampshire primary but lost the Democratic presidential nomination to then-Sen. Barack Obama.

Once president, Obama named Clinton his secretary of state. She suggests that experience helped her understand people’s anxieties.

She says that in 2016, people are concerned that the economy and the government “aren’t working for them…and that’s causing a lot of the anger and frustration.”

She says she gets that, adding, “I feel it.”

___

9:50 a.m.

Don’t like the Pacific Rim trade deal that President Barack Obama supports?

Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders don’t either, but Trump says only he would be able to “do something about it.”

Trump says Sunday on CNN that, “Bernie can’t do anything about it, because it’s not his thing.”

The billionaire developer did not specify what he would do to weaken or cancel the sweeping Trans Pacific Partnership between the U.S. and 11 other nations.

The oddball competition across party lines in New Hampshire is for the state’s largest bloc of registered voters — those whose party affiliations are undeclared.

New Hampshire voters go to the polls for the nation’s first primary on Tuesday.

___

9:45 a.m.

Don’t expect a one-term pledge from Donald Trump.

The Republican presidential candidate says there are “certain advantages” to such a declaration, but it’s not for him.

Trump says if he was “lucky enough to win” the White House and “if we’re doing a great job, then we’ll keep going.”

And if things aren’t going so well?

In that case, Trump tells NBC’s “Meet the Press,” ”we have automatic termination. It’s called, the voters will terminate” — the public version of a Trump signature line, “You’re fired.”

But, the billionaire businessman adds, “That won’t happen.”

___

9 a.m.

Hillary Clinton is detouring from New Hampshire to Flint, Michigan, on Sunday for a quick visit.

Aides say she was invited by Flint Mayor Karen Weaver, and that Clinton plans a town hall meeting with Flint residents before returning to New Hampshire, which holds its primary on Tuesday.

Clinton has pointed to the crisis of lead-poisoned water in Flint as an example of racial and economic injustice. That’s an issue that resonates among Democrats, particularly African-American voters.

The Democratic presidential candidate said in Thursday’s debate that the federal government needs to hold Michigan responsible for the situation in Flint, while finding ways to remedy the “terrible burden” that people in Flint are facing, such as helping to pay for health care costs.

SATURDAY

10:38 p.m.

The picks are in: most Republicans running for president think the Carolina Panthers are going to win the Super Bowl.

Four of the seven candidates in Saturday’s debate predicted a Carolina victory over the Denver Broncos on Sunday. Ben Carson didn’t make a prediction, instead joking that “it will be either Denver or Carolina.”

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was the most honest in his pandering, saying “With an eye to Feb. 20, Carolina.” That is the day of the South Carolina primary.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush are picking Denver. Bush says he is taking Denver because the team’s quarterback, Peyton Manning, is supporting his candidacy.

___

10:35 p.m.

Jeb Bush wants Republican presidential primary voters to think of him as “the most pro-life person” on the GOP debate stage.

Marco Rubio and Chris Christie want to turn the issue against the Democratic Party during the Republican presidential primary debate in New Hampshire.

Rubio and Christie both say Democrats are “extremists” on the issue, not Republicans.

There are some slight distinctions among Republicans on what exceptions candidates would prefer in any abortion ban.

All three candidates who spoke on the matter said they would allow an abortion needed to save the life of a pregnant woman. Bush and Christie said they’d both allow women to terminate pregnancies that result from rape or incest.

___

10:20 p.m.

Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Marco Rubio rally around veterans, agreeing that returning soldiers should be able to go to any hospital or doctor to get medical treatment.

The three candidates believe that vets should have a range of healthcare choices.

Kasich says he would work with the Pentagon to get veterans jobs upon leaving the military.

He says “there should be no unemployment among veterans.”

___

10:15 p.m.

Chris Christie says he’d quarantine Americans returning from Brazil after the summer Olympics and otherwise to keep the country safe from the spread of the Zika virus.

His rival Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, says quarantining people “willy nilly” is not an effective means of stopping the spread of the virus. He says organizations like the Center for Disease Control and National Institutes of Health can play a role in drafting a “rapid response” to the spread of Zika.

Christie took heat during the Ebola crisis for quarantining a nurse who returned from West Africa in New Jersey.

___

10:10 p.m.

Marco Rubio says he would visit an Islamic mosque if he were president, but says President Barack Obama has wrongly suggested that Muslims in the U.S. have been the targets of excessive discrimination.

He says Obama is spreading a “fiction that there’s widespread, systematic discrimination against Muslim-Americans.”

But he also says mosques ought to be watched not just for hate speech, but for any evidence they are helping violent Islamic extremists plot violence in the U.S.

___

10:00 p.m.

Donald Trump says police in America are “absolutely mistreated and misunderstood,” and need to be treated with more respect.

But Ohio Gov. John Kasich said in Saturday’s Republican presidential debate that community leaders with concerns over police conduct need to be involved to ensure “more win-wins in America.”

Trump says there will be abuses of police power and other problems, and when that happens, people sue.

Trump says police are “really fantastic,” ”absolutely amazing people” and have done “an unbelievable job of keeping law and order.”

Kasich says he also loves the police, but the president also has to be responsive to the concerns of people in communities concerned about abuses of power.

___

9:55 p.m.

Republican presidential candidates are saying they aren’t afraid to take on Hillary Clinton if she’s the Democratic nominee in the general election.

Donald Trump says he would “galvanize” the electorate against Clinton. He promises he would “win by a lot,” though he offers few details about just what his argument against her would be.

Marco Rubio says he believes the political dynamics nationally already favor the eventual GOP nominee. He says Republicans will be unified after the primary. The November election, he says, will be “a referendum on our identity as a nation and as a people.”

___

9:50 p.m.

Ted Cruz has shared the personal story of his sister who died of an overdose of drugs to show his understanding of New Hampshire’s heroin problem, the state’s second leading cause of death.

Speaking at the GOP debate, Cruz says solving the epidemic is best done at a state level and in coordination with local organizations. He says the federal government’s role is to secure the border to stop the “Mexican cartels” from flooding the country with drugs.

Chris Christie says heroin addiction “is a disease, not a moral failing.” He says New Jersey focused on treatment and saw its prison population decrease as a result.

___

9:45 p.m.

Donald Trump says he’d bring back waterboarding and “a hell of a lot worse” methods of interrogation for terrorists.

Trump says waterboarding, which simulates drowning, isn’t nearly as extreme as tactics used by terrorists in the Middle East, which are in line with “medieval times.”

Trump is the most direct in promising to use waterboarding if elected president, but Texas Sen. Ted Cruz says he wouldn’t rule out using the tactic that simulates drowning. Cruz says he would use “whatever” tactics possible to prevent imminent terrorist attacks.

Jeb Bush, meanwhile, says he agrees with the existing ban on waterboarding. Marco Rubio says its inappropriate to discuss interrogation tactics.

___

9:42 p.m.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says he would support airstrikes in Libya but only if there is a plan to help rebuild the country after Islamic State fighters were repelled.

Bush says he would bomb Libya to rid it of the Islamic State group, but only with a large coalition from Europe and the Middle East.

Bush says the U.S. has to have a plan for the aftermath. Bush’s brother, former President George W. Bush, was criticized for having an insufficient plan for post-war Iraq.

___

9:40 p.m.

Donald Trump says the way to beat the Islamic State group is through their pocketbook.

Trump said in Saturday’s Republican debate in New Hampshire that the way to beat terrorists is to take their oil and stop their access to money through the banking system. He says: “You have to knock the hell out of the oil. You have to take the oil.”

Trump says if the flow of money is stopped, the Islamic States is “going to become a very weakened power, quickly.”

He predicted the Islamic State could last only about a year with the resources it has currently.

___

9:30 p.m.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is standing by his call for “carpet bombing” areas controlled by the Islamic State group.

Cruz says that could be accomplished without mounting inappropriate levels of civilian casualties. He maintains that President Barack Obama’s administration has unnecessarily strict “rules of engagement” because of concerns over civilian deaths.

The senator says his previous endorsement of “carpet bombing” does not mean “indiscriminate” bombing. He says he would order “targeted” bombings of oil fields, infrastructure, communications outposts and key locations in Raqqa, Syria, the de-facto capital of the Islamic State group.

___

9:25 p.m.

Donald Trump says cutting the corporate tax rate is a central piece of his plan to bring jobs back to America.

Pressed on how he’d create jobs, Trump says it’s critical to make sure big corporations remain in America rather than going to China, Mexico and other countries. He also says he’d make better trade deals than the current administration.

___

9:20 p.m.

John Kasich and Donald Trump are defending themselves against accusations that they are not true conservatives.

Speaking at the Republican debate in New Hampshire Saturday, Kasich defended endorsements he received by The New York Times and The Boston Globe, newspapers often criticized by Republicans as liberal.

Kasich said the Times said “he’s not a moderate” and “can solve problems.”

Trump says he is conservative with regard to fiscal issues, conserving money and “doing the right thing.”

___

9:15 p.m.

Donald Trump is once again needling Jeb Bush, saying Bush “wants to be a tough guy.”

Trump and Bush got in a terse back-and-forth exchange in Saturday’s Republican presidential debate over their positions on eminent domain, the process by which the government takes private property for public use.

When Bush tried to interject, Trump drew boos when he dismissed him saying, “Let me talk, quiet.” Trump quipped the catcalls were coming from “donors and special interests,” the only people who could get tickets to the high profile debate.

Trump defended the use of eminent domain, saying it’s “absolutely necessary” to build roads, schools, bridges and hospitals.

But Bush forcefully challenged Trump, asking why he tried to use eminent domain to purchase the home of an elderly woman who lived near one of his Atlantic City casinos. Bush says, “That isn’t public purpose. That was downright wrong.”

___

9:10 p.m.

Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Ben Carson all agree on at least one thing: They detest the Affordable Care Act.

But they are taking different approaches to explain just what they want in its place.

Trump promised in Saturday’s GOP debate in New Hampshire “to replace Obamacare with something so much better.” He says that would include healthcare savings accounts for individuals and allowing insurance companies to sell policies across state lines.

Trump implicitly accused his rivals of not backing some kind of safety net care for the poorest Americans.

Cruz did not get into the details of a replacement at all, using the discussion to blast “socialized medicine.”

Carson says he wants to give Americans subsidies for medical savings accounts using money now spent on existing health care.

___

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.”

8:55 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.”
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.

___

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.

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.

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.

___

3:35 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 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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.