The Latest: Updates from the Democratic debate in New York

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on campaign 2016 in the lead up to Tuesday’s New York primary (all times Eastern Daylight Time):

9:05 p.m.

Bernie Sanders says his campaign is doing as well at it is because he’s doing something radical: telling Americans the truth.

Sanders is touting his recent wins in caucuses and primaries in his opening statement of Thursday night’s Democratic debate. He’s pointing out the progress he’s made in preference polls since his campaign started.

Sanders says the U.S. can’t move forward until the Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United campaign finance case is overturned. He says the U.S. needs “real campaign reform” to prevent super PACs from buying elections.

Sanders says he’s determined to end a “rigged economy” where the rich get richer and everyone else gets poorer. He says he wants to create an economy that works for everyone and not just the top 1 percent of Americans.


9 p.m.

The final Democratic debate before next week’s New York presidential primary is under way in Brooklyn, with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders getting the first opening statement.


8:00 p.m.

Former New York Gov. George Pataki is endorsing John Kasich.

Pataki ended his own brief Republican presidential campaign late last year. He announced his support for the Ohio governor on Thursday night. That’s just five days before New York’s high-stakes presidential primary.

Pataki says Kasich “has a track record of bringing people together.” He warns that Republican front-runner Donald Trump would “drive the Republican Party off the cliff.”


4:23 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is releasing a new 30-second ad that urges voters in New York to “send a message” to Wall Street banks and billionaires.

The ad says “nothing will change until we elect candidates who reject Wall Street money.”

It makes no mention of rival Hillary Clinton, but amplifies Sanders’ message of opposing the outside groups known as super PACs and campaign donations from the financial industry.

Sanders often questions Clinton’s ties to super PACs and has called for the former secretary of state to release the transcripts of her paid speeches to employees of Wall Street banks.

The ad targets a “corrupt political system that keeps in place a rigged economy where Wall Street buys off elections.”


3:50 p.m.

The Vatican says Pope Francis has no plans to meet with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders when the Democratic presidential candidate speaks at a Vatican conference on Friday.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi told reporters Thursday that the pope has no plans to either address the conference or meet with Sanders. Lombardi said: “I’m not expecting anything.”

Sanders has said he would be honored to meet with the pope but no meeting has been arranged.

Sanders has long admired Pope Francis, who preaches a message of social and economic justice similar to the senator’s agenda on the campaign trail.

Dozens of speakers will commemorate the 25th anniversary of a high-level teaching document by Pope John Paul II on the economy and social justice at the end of the Cold War.


2:40 p.m.

Donald Trump’s campaign manager says he is “gratified” by a Florida prosecutor’s decision to drop a battery charge against him in an incident with a female reporter.

Corey Lewandowski, in a statement released by the campaign on Thursday, said he “appreciates the thoughtful confederation and professionalism” displayed by the state attorney in Palm Beach.

Lewandowski also said he appreciated Trump’s “loyalty” and the support of his colleagues. The campaign’s statement then declares “the matter is now concluded.”

Police had last month charged Corey Lewandowski after determining that a video recording showed him grabbing reporter Michelle Fields by the arm.

She worked for the conservative Breitbart News website at the time and was trying to ask Trump a question after a March 8 appearance.

The decision comes at a time when Lewandowski’s influence in the campaign may be waning. While Lewandowski maintains the title campaign manager and travels with the candidate, Trump in recent weeks has hired a pair of veteran Washington operatives to take prominent roles in the campaign.


2:00 p.m.

A court document filed Thursday says that Donald Trump’s campaign manager will not be prosecuted on a misdemeanor battery charge after prosecutors determined there wasn’t enough evidence to convict him of forcibly grabbing a female reporter.

Police had last month charged Corey Lewandowski after determining that a video recording showed the New York City resident grabbed reporter Michelle Fields by the arm.

She worked for the conservative Breitbart News website at the time and was trying to ask Trump a question after a March 8 appearance. Fields later tweeted a photograph of her bruised forearm and said she had been yanked backward.

“Although there was probable cause to make an arrest, the evidence cannot prove all legally required elements of the crime alleged and is insufficient to support a criminal prosecution,” according to a court document filed by state attorney Dave Aronberg.


1:20 p.m.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is making an impassioned case to a New York gathering of black leaders that he’s the Democrat who can best address the nation’s problems and defeat Republican Donald Trump.

Sanders is speaking Thursday to the National Action Network conference led by the Rev. Al Sharpton. The meeting comes hours before a Democratic presidential debate with Hillary Clinton.

Sanders is outlining a litany of policy proposals on jobs, education and criminal justice. He says if people think the issues will be addressed by “establishment politics and establishment economics, you’ve got a very good candidate to vote for but it’s not Bernie Sanders.”

He says he respects Clinton and calls her “an extremely intelligent woman with a wonderful resume and a whole lot of experience.” He adds, “In a campaign things get heated up.”


12:35 p.m.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz says he supports the ability of North Carolina lawmakers to pass a law restricting bathroom access for gay and transgender people.

Cruz said Thursday during taping of a MSNBC town hall in Buffalo, New York, that states can pass such laws because “men should not be going to the bathroom with little girls.” Cruz says, “That is a perfectly reasonable determination for the people to make.”

But Cruz would not comment on an executive order signed by North Carolina’s governor “to protect privacy and equality” for many state workers “to cover sexual orientation and gender identity.” Cruz says he isn’t familiar with the details of what was signed.

North Carolina has faced a national backlash from gay rights groups, entertainers and business leaders who say the law unfairly targets gay and lesbian people.


12:30 p.m.

The vast majority of Americans say they prefer lower prices instead of paying a premium for items labeled “Made in the U.S.A.,” even if it means those cheaper items are made abroad, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll released Thursday.

While presidential candidates like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are vowing to bring back millions of American jobs lost to China and other foreign competitors, public sentiment reflects core challenges confronting the U.S. economy.

Incomes have barely improved, forcing many households to look for the most convenient bargains instead of goods made in America. Employers now seek workers with college degrees, leaving those with only a high school degree who once would have held assembly lines jobs in the lurch.

Nearly three in four say they would like to buy goods manufactured inside the United States, but those items are often too costly or difficult to find, according to the survey. A mere 9 percent say they only buy American.


12:00 p.m.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is standing by an accusation he made on the Senate floor that Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell lied to him.

Cruz did not apologize for his remarks made last summer when they were played during taping of an MSNBC town hall on Thursday in Buffalo, New York.

Cruz said instead that “every word I said there is true and accurate. No one has disputed a word I said.”

Despite challenging the trustworthiness of the Republican majority leader, Cruz said if elected president he could work effectively with GOP leadership. Cruz has railed against what he calls the “Washington cartel” and cast himself as a Washington outsider, despite pursuing support from fellow lawmakers.

Cruz says if elected president “I will work very, very closely with leaders in Congress.”


11:50 a.m.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is making a pitch to New York voters saying a state law banning fracking is hurting the economy and diverting jobs to neighboring states.

Cruz said Thursday during a taping of a MSNBC town hall meeting in Buffalo, New York, that state is wrong to have a law banning hydraulic fracturing, an oil-and-gas extraction method known as fracking.

He said legalizing it could put thousands of people to work in upstate New York where there are large shale reserves that could be tapped.

Cruz blamed the anti-fracking law on “knuckleheaded Democratic politicians.” His comments came after being asked yet again to defend his criticism of “New York values.”

Cruz said the people of upstate New York “have been suffering under the misguided policies of liberal Democratic politicians for a long, long time.”


10:30 a.m.

Speaker Paul Ryan says the whole world is watching American politics and that he can understand how Middle East allies would be rattled by Republican Donald Trump’s comments.

In an interview with reporters Thursday, the Wisconsin Republican criticized the president’s foreign policy and said allies wanted to know if the U.S. is “still in the game.” Ryan recently led a congressional delegation to five countries, including Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jordan and Egypt.

He said allies were rattled a bit by administration policy. Asked if Trump’s comments had rattled them as well, Ryan said, “Sure. I get that, too. Everybody pays attention to our politics.”

Ryan said it’s unrealistic to think that if the U.S. pulls back, “our oceans are going to save us.”


10:10 a.m.

A top Donald Trump adviser says the businessman is on a “glide path” to reaching the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination.

Ed Brookover spoke to reporters Thursday following a meeting with House members who have endorsed Trump. He says the meeting was the first in a series of gatherings he’ll be holding with lawmakers.

While Brookover did not spell out Trump’s path to the nomination in detail, Rep. Chris Collins, R-NY, says meeting participants outlined a scenario in which Trump receives 1,265 delegates.

Collins says that scenario is based on Trump winning nearly all of the delegates in Tuesday’s New York primary and the race continuing through California on June 7.


9:05 a.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is disavowing remarks made by a campaign surrogate who said voters shouldn’t “continue to elect corporate Democratic whores” during a large New York City rally.

Sanders said on Twitter Thursday that the comment by Dr. Paul Song “was inappropriate and insensitive.” He writes that “there’s no room for language like that in our political discourse.”

Song is a California health care activist who was among several speakers who spoke before Sanders addressed a Wednesday night rally in Washington Square Park.

Song said Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had said Sanders’ Medicare for all plan wouldn’t happen. He said it wouldn’t happen if voters “continue to elect corporate Democratic whores” beholden to special interests.


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