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Cruz receives Lee endorsement — and vehement criticism from Trump

March 10, 2016 at 8:12 PM EST
Sen. Ted Cruz landed his first senatorial endorsement Thursday, as Utah Sen. Mike Lee threw his support behind the trailing presidential contender. The move could potentially cut into frontrunner Donald Trump’s lead. Trump, meanwhile, blasted Cruz as “unelectable” and turned his sights on a familiar target in Islam, as Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders traded barbs in Wednesday’s debate.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: New endorsements, new polls and candidates seeking a new lease on life, those are the latest headlines in the presidential campaign on this day sandwiched between two debates.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), Democratic Presidential Candidate: If you guys come out to vote, we’re going to pull off an upset here as well.

(LAUGHTER)

JOHN YANG: As Bernie Sanders campaigned in Gainesville, Florida, he offered a sunny outlook. He’s hoping his upset win over Hillary Clinton in Michigan will boost him in key states that vote next Tuesday.

The Democrats debated in Miami last night, and clashed on immigration.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), Democratic Presidential Candidate: I think our best chance was in 2007, when Ted Kennedy led the charge on comprehensive immigration reform. We had Republican support. We had a president willing to sign it. I voted for that bill. Senator Sanders voted against it. Just think. Imagine where we would be today if we had achieved comprehensive immigration reform nine years ago.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Well, when we talk about efforts to assist immigrants, Secretary Clinton prevailed upon the governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer, who wanted to do the right thing and provide driver’s license to those who were undocumented, she said, don’t do it, and New York state still doesn’t do it.

JOHN YANG: Clinton was confronted about the FBI investigation into her handling of e-mails as secretary of state.

Univision moderator Jorge Ramos asked if it might derail her campaign.

JORGE RAMOS, Moderator: If you get indicted, would you going to drop out?

HILLARY CLINTON: Oh, for goodness — that’s not going to happen. I’m not even answering that question.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

JOHN YANG: And, as he has before, Sanders also declined to take up the question.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Climate change threatens the whole planet; 47 million people live in poverty. I’m going to focus on the issues facing the working families of this country.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), Republican Presidential Candidate: Thank you so much.

JOHN YANG: Republicans moved into Miami today for their debate tonight. Ted Cruz touted a timely endorsement from Utah senator Mike Lee, the first from any of his Senate colleagues.

SEN. MIKE LEE (R), Utah: There is a big difference between platitudes and a plan. Ted is that difference. There is a big difference between slogans and substance. And Ted is that difference.

JOHN YANG: The endorsement comes as Cruz is trying to consolidate the GOP’s anti-Donald Trump forces behind him. Today, the Republican front-runner again went after Cruz, saying he’s unelectable. But most of the focus was on Trump’s appearance last night on CNN, and his latest broadside at Islam.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: Do you think Islam is at war with the West?

DONALD TRUMP (R), Republican Presidential Candidate: I think Islam hates us. There’s something — there’s something there that’s — there’s a tremendous hatred there. There’s a tremendous hatred. We have to get to the bottom of it. And we can’t allow people coming into this country who have this hatred of the United States.

JOHN YANG: The atmosphere of Trump rallies also drew new attention, when a man was charged with punching a protester in Fayetteville, North Carolina, last night.

MAN: Oh!

JOHN YANG: Even as police appeared to be removing the protester.

For Marco Rubio, he told MSNBC last night that he now regrets some of the cruder volleys he’s fired at Trump.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), Republican Presidential Candidate: It’s not something I’m entirely proud of. My kids were embarrassed by it, and I — you know, if I had to do it again, I wouldn’t.

JOHN YANG: The Florida senator faces a do-or-die contest in his home state on Tuesday, where new polls show Trump with a strong lead.

Another new survey puts governor John Kasich ahead in his home state, Ohio. He picked up endorsements today from The Cleveland Plain Dealer and Ohio State University football coach Urban Meyer.

For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m John Yang.

HARI SREENIVASAN: We will hear from reporters on the ground in two of next Tuesday’s battleground states after the news summary.

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