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Candidates make last pitches as voting in South Carolina and Nevada nears

February 19, 2016 at 7:34 PM EDT
With less than 24 hours before Republican polls open in South Carolina, GOP frontrunner Donald Trump and Pope Francis rolled back on their rhetoric following tensions over Trump’s immigration policy. Meanwhile, Sen. Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush made last minute efforts to cut into Trump’s lead as Hillary Clinton picked up a critical endorsement in advance of the Nevada caucuses. Judy Woodruff reports.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Presidential candidates in both parties are down to less than 24 hours until the next two critical contests.

Today, they spent one last day trying to make their case, the Democrats in Nevada and the Republicans in South Carolina.

DONALD TRUMP (R), Republican Presidential Candidate: The pope was great. He made a beautiful statement this morning.

JUDY WOODRUFF: That was Donald Trump in Myrtle Beach today, taking a softer line after his flare-up with Pope Francis. The pontiff had said Trump is not a Christian if he advocates building a wall along the Mexican border.

DONALD TRUMP: They had him convinced that illegal immigration was like a wonderful thing. Not wonderful for us. It’s wonderful for Mexico.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In turn, the Vatican said the pontiff’s comments were — quote — “in no way a personal attack, nor an indication on how to vote.”

Trump, though, faced continuing attacks from his Republican rivals, while defending a lead that some polls suggest may be shrinking.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz also campaigned in Myrtle Beach.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), Republican Presidential Candidate: It’s easy to say make America great again. You can even print that on a baseball cap.

(LAUGHTER)

SEN. TED CRUZ: But the question to ask is, do you understand what made America great in the first place?

FORMER FIRST LADY BARBARA BUSH: Jeb Bush.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

JUDY WOODRUFF: For another rival, Jeb Bush, tomorrow could be make-or-break.

FORMER GOV. JEB BUSH (R), Republican Presidential Candidate: Thank you, mom.

JUDY WOODRUFF: He brought along his mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, and took a decidedly humble tack.

JEB BUSH: Thank you, lord, for allowing me to be a candidate, to be — to run for the presidency of the United States in the most extraordinary country on the face of the earth.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Democrats hold their primary in South Carolina next Saturday. And, today, Hillary Clinton picked up a critical endorsement. It came from Jim Clyburn, the state’s top Democrat and first black congressman since Reconstruction.

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D), South Carolina: A few people speculated that my head was with one candidate, and my heart with the other. That wasn’t the case at all. My heart has always been with Hillary Clinton.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Last night, both Clinton and Bernie Sanders appeared in a town hall in Las Vegas hosted by MSNBC and Telemundo. The night’s big focus, immigration. Sanders was asked to explain his 2007 vote against a comprehensive reform bill.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), Democratic Presidential Candidate: Included in that legislation was a guest-worker provision, which organizations saw as almost akin to slavery. Guest workers came in, and if they didn’t do what their bosses wanted them to do, if they didn’t accept exploitation and cheating, then they’re going to be thrown out of this country.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And Clinton talked of continuing President Obama’s executive actions that defer the deportations of many undocumented immigrants.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), Democratic Presidential Candidate: And I will do everything I can to make sure that they are kept in place. As you know, there’s a court action challenging them. I don’t know what’s going to happen now because of the Supreme Court situation. But I will renew them. I will go further, if it’s at all legally possible.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Both Clinton and Sanders stuck to stumping in the Silver State today, where the race is neck and neck. Democrats will caucus there tomorrow, as Republicans hold their primary in South Carolina.

But the day wasn’t over without Trump making another controversial statement. He called for a boycott of Apple products until the tech company complies with an FBI order to unlock a phone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters.

DONALD TRUMP: First of all, Apple ought to give the security for that phone, OK? What I think you ought to do is boycott Apple until such time as they give that security number.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP: How do you like — I just thought of — boycott Apple.

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