Trump: Romney afraid of me; I made more money

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Latest on the 2016 presidential race, which includes a Republican debate on Thursday night in Detroit (all times EST):

2:32 p.m.

Donald Trump is responding to Mitt Romney’s evisceration of him by noting that that the 2012 GOP presidential nominee begged for Trump’s endorsement.

Trump says he could have “said, ‘Mitt, drop to your knees.’ He would have dropped to his knees.”

Trump was responding to Romney’s comments earlier, in which the former nominee and Massachusetts governor warned Republicans that Trump is a fake, a misogynist and dangerous.

Trump says during a rally in Portland, Maine, that Romney proved he’s a “choke artist” when he lost the 2012 presidential race to Barack Obama. He adds that Romney declined to run a third time this year because he was afraid of Trump.

Trump adds that he’s made more money than Romney.


2:00 p.m.

John Kasich says it’s important to “stop Mr. Trump,” and predicts that if he wins his home state of Ohio March 15, the GOP primary likely will end with a contested convention in Cleveland.

The Ohio governor says the nomination fight is “probably” headed to a convention, “and it’s gonna be the most exciting time.”

While he largely declined to go after Trump, Kasich says he wants a “more positive approach” to finding solutions for the country. He’s long declined to engage with his rivals, pledging to maintain a positive campaign. Kasich said Mitt Romney’s blistering remarks against Trump on Thursday morning amounted to “fair criticism” but said voters who support Trump will not be swayed by people “trashing” the businessman.

He adds that the country is “not going to solve the problems in America by knocking the pieces off the chess board or yelling at somebody.”


1:30 p.m.

Chris Christie says he is too busy being the governor of New Jersey to campaign with Donald Trump anytime soon.

Christie defended his endorsement of the billionaire developer Thursday, as Mitt Romney, 70 national security experts and Sen. John McCain warned Republicans that Trump is dangerous.

Christie is telling reporters that he will continue helping Trump’s Republican presidential campaign, but doesn’t have any appearances scheduled. Christie adds that his wedding anniversary is next week, he needs a vacation and he has a state budget due in June.

Christie also says he doesn’t plan to heed the call from a group of New Jersey newspapers to resign. He says he plans to finish out his term and then go into the private sector.


1:15 p.m.

A new analysis finds Hillary Clinton’s tax plan would raise $1.1 trillion from mostly wealthy taxpayers.

The study by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center finds that many taxpayers will pay a tiny cost — about .1 percent of their after-tax incomes — for a bevy of new levies that the Democratic presidential contender is proposing. The biggest share by far would be paid by those in the top 1 percent.

Clinton is proposing a minimum tax for top earners, repealing incentives for fossil fuels tax changes to discourage rapid financial transactions and other measures. Her campaign has also promised a tax cut for middle-class and poorer households but has not released details.

The Tax Policy Center is scheduled to release an analysis of Bernie Sanders’ tax plan on Friday.


12:40 p.m.

House Speaker Paul Ryan says he “laughed out loud” when Donald Trump told the world this week that the Wisconsin Republican needs to get along with him or “pay a big price.”

Ryan tells reporters that he was watching television in his office when Trump made his remark at a press conference Tuesday as he won seven GOP presidential primaries. The real estate magnate has built a decisive lead over his rivals, despite the antagonism of many party leaders.

Ryan says he laughed, adding, “sometimes, reality is stranger than fiction around here these days.”

Trump didn’t specify what he meant by the remark. Ryan says he doesn’t know Trump well but that would change should Trump become the nominee.

The House speaker adds that he’s “a good natured guy,” and gets along with everybody.


12:36 p.m.

Two people who protested Donald Trump’s rally in Louisville have filed police reports, alleging they were punched and shoved by Trump’s supporters in the crowd.

One of the incidents was captured on video by WLKY-TV inside the Kentucky International Convention Center, where the bombastic presidential candidate stopped his speech several times to shout at the protesters to “get them out of here, out, out, out.”

In the video, a black woman can be seen being shoved by numerous white men in the crowd, screaming “scum” at her.

Louisville Metro Police Spokesman Dwight Mitchell said a 17-year-old also filed a complaint, alleging a woman tried to grab the protester’s sign and punched them.

Mitchell said police are investigating both incidents and trying to confirm the identities of the alleged assailants.


12:35 p.m.

The Mexican government has made his first direct response to Donald Trump’s pledge to build a wall along the two countries’ border — and make Mexico pay for it.

Mexican Treasury Secretary Luis Videgaray says “emphatically and categorically” that his country isn’t going to foot the bill for the project proposed by the Republican presidential hopeful.

Videgaray told Milenio television late Wednesday that “Mexico will under no circumstance pay for the wall that Mr. Trump is proposing.”

The wall proposal has been criticized widely and fiercely in Mexico, but the government itself has tried to avoid commenting directly on the issue until now.

Trump is leading the Republican presidential contenders and has used especially tough talk on immigration.


12:10 p.m.

John McCain says he shares the same concerns as Mitt Romney about GOP front runner Donald Trump.

In a statement Thursday, the 2008 GOP nominee is pointing to the 70 Republican defense and foreign policy leaders who have raised concerns about Trump’s “uninformed and indeed dangerous statements on national security issues.”

McCain said that with threats from Russia, Iran, North Korea and terrorist movements across the Middle East and Africa, Republican voters should pay close attention to what these national security experts are saying about Trump.

McCain said voters should “think long and hard about who they want to be our next commander in chief.”

He told reporters Monday, however, that he’d support whomever Republicans nominate for president.


12:00 p.m.

Five former national fundraising chairman for Jeb Bush’s failed presidential campaign are now going to work for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

The Cruz campaign announced the support on Thursday. It’s another sign that more establishment Republicans are moving to back Cruz as an alternative to front runner Donald Trump.

Cruz says in a statement that support from the former Bush finance committee members comes at a pivotal time for the campaign. Cruz, who is second to Trump in delegates, argues that is now a two-person race and that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has no viable path toward the nomination.

The news also comes after Cruz announced that he had raised $12 million in February, his best month since launching his campaign a year ago.


11:55 a.m.

Mitt Romney is warning Republicans to do whatever they can to nominate someone besides Donald Trump, in part because, Romney said, Trump supports torture of attackers and the killing of their children.

The 2012 GOP presidential nominee tells the University of Utah audience that “this is the very brand of anger that has led other nations into the abyss.”

Trump has suggested that indiscriminate bombing of attackers’ home bases, even if it harms their family members, would be an effective deterrent.

Romney adds that Trump’s “promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University.”

That’s a reference to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s fraud case against Trump, alleging that Trump University was unlicensed since it began operating in 2005 and promised lessons with real estate experts hand-picked by Trump, only one of whom had ever met him.

Trump has denied wrongdoing.


11:42 a.m.

Mitt Romney says Donald Trump lacks the temperament and the integrity to be president — and that the GOP should pick one of the other three candidates.

He says, the only serious policy proposals that deal with the broad range of national challenges we confront today, come from Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich. One of these men should be our nominee.”

He tells a University of Utah audience that “dishonesty is Donald Trump’s hallmark.”

The 2012 GOP presidential nominee says Trump imagined that he saw Muslims celebrating the September 11, 2001 attacks in New Jersey.

He adds: “His imagination must not be married to real power.”


11:36 a.m.

Mitt Romney says GOP front runner Donald Trump is dangerous - and a fake.

He tells an audience at the University of Utah Thursday morning that if Republicans choose Trump to be their presidential nominee, “the prospects for a safe and prosperous future are greatly diminished.”

The 2012 GOP presidential nominee says the billionaire developer is not what he seems, saying, “A business genius he is not.”


11:00 a.m.

Dozens of conservative national security experts are warning that Donald Trump is unfit to be commander-in-chief.

In a letter released Wednesday evening, former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and more than 70 other experts say they have disagreed with one another on a variety of issues but are united in their opposition to a Trump presidency.

They say Trump’s “embrace of the expansive use of torture” is inexcusable. They also object to Trump’s “hateful, anti-Muslim rhetoric” and his advocacy for waging trade wars, which they say would lead to economic disaster in a globally connected world.

“His vision of American influence and power in the world is wildly inconsistent and unmoored in principle,” they say. “He swings from isolationism to military adventurism within the space of one sentence.”

Other experts who signed the letter are Frances Townsend, former homeland security and counterterrorism adviser to President George W. Bush; Eliot Cohen, former counselor to the State Department; and Dov Zakheim, former Pentagon comptroller.

Cohen and Bryan McGrath, a retired Navy officer and managing director of The FerryBridge Group defense consulting firm, organized the letter. McGrath says he’s gratified by the large number of signatures. The letter, he says, is a “vehicle for people to say they’ve had enough.”


10:30 p.m.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is endorsing Marco Rubio’s presidential bid — support from a rising Republican star that will undoubtedly boost the Florida senator’s sway among Latino voters.

Rubio mentioned Martinez’s name back in November when discussing potential running mates, but Martinez has largely shrugged off questions about higher political aspirations.

The backing from the nation’s only Latina governor comes days after Martinez refused to say whether she would support Donald Trump if he became the Republican nominee.

Martinez plans to campaign with Rubio in Kansas on Friday.


10:15 a.m.

Bernie Sanders is making trade policy a centerpiece of his efforts to win next week’s Democratic presidential primary in Michigan.

He’s trying to make the case that Hillary Clinton’s approach to trade has been wrong and that families have suffered as a result of policies she supports.

Sanders says at a news conference in Lansing, Michigan, that he and Clinton have been on opposing sides on a number of trade deals, including the North American Free Trade Agreement and normalizing trade relations with China.

Sanders is aiming for victory this coming Tuesday in Michigan and hoping to cut into Clinton’s lead among delegates.


9:55 a.m.

Dozens of conservative national security experts are warning that Donald Trump is unfit to be commander in chief.

Former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and more than 70 others say they’re united in their opposition to a Trump presidency.

They say Trump’s “embrace of the expansive use of torture” is inexcusable. They also object to what they say is Trump’s “hateful, anti-Muslim rhetoric” and his advocacy for waging trade wars.

The letter says Trump’s vision of “American influence and power in the world is wildly inconsistent and unmoored in principle.”

Among the experts who signed on Frances Townsend, homeland security and counterterrorism adviser to President George W. Bush; Eliot Cohen, a former counselor to the State Department; and Dov Zakheim, a former Pentagon comptroller.