Obama chides GOP candidates for harsh talk ahead of SC primary

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Obama chides GOP candidates for harsh talk ahead of SC primary
President Barack Obama says Donald Trump isn't the only Republican presidential candidate making troubling comments that have raised concerns overseas.

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C -- President Barack Obama says Donald Trump isn't the only Republican presidential candidate making troubling comments that have raised concerns overseas.

Obama is chiding the GOP candidates Tuesday for harsh talk about Muslims and immigration and for questioning climate change. He said: "This is not just Mr. Trump."

Obama is contrasting the reality of being president with the rhetoric on the campaign trail. He says being president isn't hosting a reality show or a talk show.

Obama spoke at a news conference after hosting a summit with Southeast Asian leaders. He says foreign observers are "troubled" by the Republican primaries and debates. He says other countries count on the U.S. to side with science and common sense.

Obama predicted that U.S. voters will "make a sensible choice in the end."

RELATED: Obama says Trump won't be president

The Latest on campaign 2016 (all times local):

5:15 p.m.

Hillary Clinton is making a passionate case to fight for the civil rights and economic opportunities for black Americans as she moves to shore up the support of minority voters in advance of the primaries in South Carolina and the Deep South.

Clinton spent all of Tuesday in New York City focused on solidifying the African-American support her family has long enjoyed and that her campaign is counting on to act as a firewall against the surprisingly insurgent campaign of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

She capped off her day with a speech at a Harlem public library in which she vowed to protect the economic opportunities and voting rights of African-Americans. She repeatedly made reference to the contaminated water in heavily black Flint, Michigan, saying "this would never be allowed to happen in a largely white suburb."

At one moment, she was overcome with a coughing fit and unable to regain her voice for several moments. To cover for her silence, the crowd ?- which included New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio -? launched into loud "Hillary" chants.

READ: Clinton's new tactic to keep South Carolina democrats in her corner

5:00 p.m.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is looking to connect with black voters in South Carolina, attending a prayer breakfast with African-American ministers

Sanders also appeared at the University of South Carolina with Erica Garner, whose father Eric Garner died in a police chokehold in 2014.

Introducing Sanders to hundreds of students, Garner said her father's death "inspired me to seek out elected officials at every level of government who are committed to reforming our broken system."

The Democratic presidential candidate made a pledge to reduce income inequality and break up big financial institutions, but also stressed criminal justice reform and voting rights. He also reflected on the country's racial history.

"We have come a long way," Sanders says. "But it is clear to everybody that we still have a long, long way to go."


4:45 p.m.

Donald Trump has taken issue with a protester who flipped two middle fingers at him at his rally in South Carolina.

The protester held up a hand-written sign at Trump's rally Tuesday that read: "Keep America Great. Keep All Immigrants." The individual was surrounded, a scuffle ensued, and the sign was taken down by other rally attendees.

"Oh, that's class," Trump, who often uses harsh or offensive language at his rallies, said as the protester was escorted out of the Riverview Park Activity Center in North Augusta. "Isn't that terrible?"

The crowd roared in agreement and Trump asked two of the men who dealt with the individual to come up on the stage.

"We need you!" one of the men told Trump.


4:20 p.m.

Jeb Bush says that his mother, Barbara Bush, will campaign for him again in South Carolina with days to go until the state's Republican primary.

The former Florida governor said Tuesday that his mother, the former First Lady, would join him on the road as she did ahead of the New Hampshire primary.

Campaign spokeswoman Kristy Campbell said Barbara Bush would come to South Carolina on Thursday and stay through Saturday when South Carolina votes for a Republican presidential nominee.


4:00 p.m.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley says she may not endorse anyone ahead of Saturday's first-in-the-South GOP primary, but if she does, it certainly won't be Donald Trump.

Haley said Tuesday she's still trying to make up her mind. But she said Trump represents "everything a governor doesn't want in a president." On Monday, Trump said Haley's not fighting the federal government hard enough on Syrian refugees and Guantanamo detainees.

Haley says Trump doesn't know what he's talking about. She says governors want a president who will work with and fight for them, not come into their state and bash them. She called Trump's comments "quite Obama-like."


1:15 p.m.

If the Rev. Al Sharpton plans to make an endorsement in the 2016 Democratic primaries, he isn't talking.

Sharpton and Hillary Clinton left a closed-door meeting at the National Urban League in New York and the former presidential candidate says only he and Clinton know but "they ain't telling."

Clinton jokes, "My lips are sealed."

The former secretary of state met with black leaders in New York. Sharpton tells reporters that for the first time, the nation will "see a black family leave the White House. We don't want black concerns to leave with them."


12:45 p.m.

Republican presidential candidate John Kasich says Americans have drifted apart and are divided by the cable television news programs that they watch.

The Ohio governor is concluding a two-day campaign swing through Michigan Tuesday where he's telling voters that the country must unite again. He says that all citizens should play a role in fixing education, and addressing drug and poverty problems in their communities.

Kasich, who is campaigning in the state ahead of Michigan's March 8 primary, says Washington has had inadequate leadership and he would "take the heat" for making unpopular decisions.


12:15 p.m.

Ted Cruz suggests that Donald Trump would not be the kind of president children should look up to.

Cruz, campaigning in South Carolina Tuesday, said "any parent would be very dismayed" if their children repeated the language Trump uses in his rallies.

Cruz said the president should be someone who brings people together and defends our values, "not one who attacks and insults with vulgarities anyone who might question his record."

Cruz said South Carolina voters want a president who "won't engage in the insults, who won't roll around in the mud, who won't unleash profanity at whatever unsuspecting citizen might be walking down the street."

South Carolina's Republican presidential primary is scheduled for this Saturday.


11:50 a.m.

Jeb Bush is touting himself as the Republican candidate for president best poised to lead and rebuild the American military.

Speaking to more than 100 employees at FN America's Columbia, South Carolina gun manufacturing facility Tuesday, Bush said that his executive experience as governor, particularly leading and deploying Florida's National Guard, gives him the skillset needed to manage the country's armed forces and also help support them when they return home as veterans.

Bush's comments Tuesday focused heavily on gun rights. He also addressed the Supreme Court vacancy following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia Saturday, saying that he would choose someone who like Scalia was a "lover of liberty."


11:45 a.m.

Marco Rubio says he's planning to release his tax returns "any day" -- or even "momentarily."

The Republican presidential candidate addressed the release of his tax returns Tuesday as he campaigned in South Carolina.

He released several years of returns during his 2010 Senate campaign, but has yet to release any returns beyond the 2009 tax year.

Rubio did not specify the release date when pressed by The Associated Press Tuesday, but said it would be soon. He plans to release returns covering tax years from 2009 through 2014.

It's common for leading presidential candidates to release their returns.


11:40 a.m.

Hillary Clinton says the country still has "work to do" to ensure equal rights and is focusing her campaign on "breaking every barrier."

The Democratic presidential candidate is meeting with civil rights leaders in New York City.

The civil rights groups say they have rules prohibiting candidate endorsements. But Rev. Al Sharpton is offering warm words for Clinton, nothing that he sometimes "goes the rails" and backs a candidate. Her rival, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, met with Sharpton in Harlem last week.

She plans to deliver a speech on combating systemic racism this afternoon. Aides say she will call for a "comprehensive commitment" to equal opportunity for African Americans.

Clinton's appearance with the African-American leaders comes as the Democratic nominating contest hurtles toward states with significant black voting populations.


11:30 a.m.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is laying out his proposal for bolstering the U.S. military in South Carolina, a state with a large military and veteran population.

Cruz on Tuesday detailed his military platform inside the U.S.S. Yorktown, a World War II-era aircraft carrier.

Cruz called for increasing the number of active duty troops, airplanes and battleships. He did not put a price tag on his plans, but pointed to former President Ronald Reagan's approach as a model for how he would get it done.

Cruz said he will pay for it by cutting federal spending by at least $500 billion, sell federal assets and properties and also audit the Pentagon to find savings.

Voters in South Carolina will cast their votes for a Republican nominee for president on Saturday.

For full election coverage, click here.