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More campaign chaos in advance of Florida and Ohio primaries

March 14, 2016 at 7:48 PM EDT
After a weekend of tumult on the campaign trail, presidential hopefuls got down to business Monday in preparation for Tuesday’s primary battles--but the day began with unrest at yet another Donald Trump event. Meanwhile, Gov. John Kasich was supported by Mitt Romney in Ohio, Sen. Marco Rubio rallied his home state and Sen. Bernie Sanders criticized Hillary Clinton’s expensive speeches.
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GWEN IFILL: After a weekend of turmoil on the presidential campaign trail, candidates got down to business with just hours to go until polls open in another critical series of primaries.

But the day began with more protests at a Donald Trump rally, this time in North Carolina. The commotion was met, at first, by silence from the Republican front-runner, but when chants of “Trump” and “USA” drowned out the demonstrators, the billionaire businessman spoke up.

DONALD TRUMP (R), Republican Presidential Candidate: But the press is now calling. They’re saying, oh, but there’s such violence. No violence. You know, how many people have been hurt at our rallies? I think like basically none, other than I guess maybe somebody got hit once.

There’s no violence. There’s lovefests. These are lovefests.

GWEN IFILL: It was a similar scene later in the day in Florida. The tumult comes amid a scramble for votes in five states tomorrow, featuring pivotal primaries in Florida and Ohio.

Focusing on his must-win home state, John Kasich started his day in Youngstown, taking aim at Trump.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), Republican Presidential Candidate: Leadership is not dividing people. Leadership is not encouraging a toxic environment where we blame one group because of the failure or success of another. This country is about us coming together. This country is not about us tearing each other down or having fist-fights at a campaign rally. That’s not what America is.

GWEN IFILL: Later in the day, Kasich was joined by another Trump critic, 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

MITT ROMNEY (R), 2012 Republican Presidential Nominee: You look at this guy and, unlike the other people running, he has a real track record. He has the kind of record that you want in Washington. And that’s why I’m convinced that you’re going to do the right thing tomorrow. Agreed?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), Republican Presidential Candidate: Tomorrow’s the day where we’re going to shock the country.

GWEN IFILL: Senator Marco Rubio, like Kasich, has also taken a similar home state focus, but in Florida. The winner in either state will take home all the delegates. And, as in Ohio, front-runner Trump poses the greatest threat.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO: Tomorrow, we have a chance to make a powerful statement to the country. And that is that the Republican Party is not going to allow itself to be hijacked by fake conservatives and people who go around dividing us against each other.

GWEN IFILL: For Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Illinois provides a ripe target.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), Republican Presidential Candidate: Donald Trump has made billions buying influence from politicians, supporting liberal Democratic politicians and supporting the Republican establishment, all at the expense of working men and women.

GWEN IFILL: Democrat Hillary Clinton campaigned in Illinois as well, meeting with Latino activists and visiting a memorial for victims of gun violence.

At a rally, she jabbed at Republicans’ economic proposals.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), Democratic Presidential Candidate: Folks who get excited by the rhetoric and the demagoguery on the Republican side need to be reminded that they are George W. Bush on steroids.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

HILLARY CLINTON: Their economic plans — their economic plans, each and every one of them would throw us back into the mess that President Obama was able to dig us out of.

GWEN IFILL: And back in Ohio, Bernie Sanders predicted he’d beat Clinton, as he hit her again for her Wall Street speeches.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), Democratic Presidential Candidate: If you get paid $225,000 for a speech, it must be an extraordinary speech. It must be mind-blowing. It must be Shakespearian. It should be released to the American people.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

GWEN IFILL: But, as with the Republicans, the day’s main target was Trump.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Bringing our people together will always trump separating us and dividing us up.

HILLARY CLINTON: We have to have a big vote tomorrow that can send a strong message that love trumps hate.

GWEN IFILL: Clinton called on Democrats to unify around her as the best chance to defeat Trump.

We will have more from “NewsHour” correspondent John Yang, who is in the battleground state of Ohio, right after the news summary.

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