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Donald Trump calls for a boycott of Apple until attacker's iPhone is accessed

Republicans are fanning out in South Carolina and Democrats are wooing voters in Nevada ahead of the next round of nominating contests Saturday.

In Nevada, Bernie Sanders has marijuana smokers backing his candidacy

It was here in Nevada last fall when Bernie Sanders made news: He supports the sale of legal recreational marijuana.

The presidential candidate's comments, which came during a Democratic debate in Las Vegas, were in response to a question about whether he would back a legal pot measure that Nevadans will vote on this November.

“I suspect I would vote yes,” the Vermont senator said at the time.

So when Sanders traveled to Henderson on Friday for an evening rally ahead of Saturday’s Democratic caucuses, supporters of legal marijuana were waiting. Some in attendance wore tie-dye shirts and hats emblazoned with marijuana leaves.

Though Sanders did not address the legal pot measure, he did talk about the “awful war on drugs.”

“Too many Americans have received criminal records for small marijuana possession,” he said to cheers from the crowd.

Should Nevadans approve the ballot measure this fall, the state will join Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska in legalizing marijuana for recreational use. A similar effort to legalize marijuana is underway in California.

Eva Longoria: 'If Hillary doesn't inspire you, you aren't paying attention'

At her final rally before Saturday's Democratic caucus, Hillary Clinton struck an optimistic tone, asking a downtown Las Vegas crowd to “imagine a tomorrow” when college is affordable, women receive equal pay and early childhood education is accessible to all.

While Clinton's message was largely positive, she was introduced by two supporters who struck a more defensive note.

"Desperate Housewives" actress Eva Longoria and "Ugly Betty" star America Ferrera, two high-profile Latinas who are in Nevada campaigning for Clinton in the final hours before the state's nominating contest, defended the candidate in light of polls that show a voter enthusiasm gap between her and rival Bernie Sanders.

Longoria said she was tired of hearing the phrase "I'm not inspired by Hillary."

"If Hillary doesn't inspire you, you aren't paying attention," she said.

Longoria said she was inspired by Clinton’s economic proposals and her record of fighting for equal pay and for Latino families.

Ferrera, who spent the day talking to voters with Clinton's daughter, Chelsea, called Sanders a one-issue candidate and said his proposals to revamp the nation's economic system by taxing Wall Street could be dangerous.

"A lot of our families fled countries where dismantled systems made room for tyranny and violence," she said. "We need a president who will stand for real results and actually change people’s lives in a meaningful way."

In recent weeks, Sanders has gained momentum in polls. In the last few days Clinton has stopped by nearly half a dozen casinos to meet with mostly Latino workers -- a constituency her campaign views as crucial to a win.

Clinton’s husband, former President Clinton, who spoke at the rally along with Chelsea, implored the crowd to make an extra push in the coming hours.

“Show up and bring her home tomorrow!” he said. 

Chelsea Clinton is surprised that people find her mother 'cold or unfeeling'

Chelsea Clinton hit the pavement in Las Vegas Friday, imploring voters to support her mother in Saturday's Democratic caucuses. 

Speaking to reporters, she opened up about her mother, saying she thinks Hillary Clinton has been misunderstood.

“I always am so surprised when people characterize my mother as cold or unfeeling,” she said. "Because my whole life my mother has been warm and generous-hearted and so supportive of me.”

Read the full story here.

Snapshot from a Bernie Sanders rally

Trump tells legend of an American general who killed Islamic terrorists with bullets dipped in pigs' blood

 (Associated Press)
(Associated Press)

Donald Trump on Friday told supporters a graphic story about a World War I-era general who allegedly stopped an insurgency by ordering his troops to kill Muslim terrorists with bullets dipped in pigs’ blood.

Gen. John “Black Jack” Pershing “took 50 bullets and he dipped them in pigs’ blood, and he had his men load their rifles and he lined up 50 people, and they shot 49 of those people, and the 50th person, he said, 'You go back to your people and you tell them what happened,'” Trump told thousands of supporters at a convention center here. “And for 25 years, there wasn’t a problem.”

Muslims abstain from pork as part of their religious practices.

Trump made the remarks as he spoke about the barbarity of the Islamic State terrorist group, as well as his support for waterboarding. 

The historical veracity of the story, which allegedly took place in the Philippines, is uncertain. Snopes.com, a fact-checking website, deems it a “legend” and said it found no evidence in Pershing’s biographies. It also notes that the tale was circulated online after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and that there are several variations, including that Pershing had the people he slaughtered buried with the carcasses of pigs.

Donald Trump supporter takes his side against the pope

Scott Barry, 50, held a sign outside a Donald Trump rally on Friday that said “Is the Pope Catholic? #No,seriously” and “Lighten Up, Pope Francis.”

Barry, a pilot, said the pope should not have inserted himself into the presidential contest as he did the prior day when he suggested that Trump’s plan to build a border wall was “not Christian.”

“I don’t think it’s his business,” said Barry of Midlands. “I don’t know that I’m surprised because he weighs in on a lot of things.”

Barry said he was supporting Trump because of his immigration policies and calls to build a wall along the Southern border.

“He’s one of the few people speaking a lot of truth,” Barry said. “Either the other candidates are afraid to, or they are beholden to somebody. And the one thing about Donald Trump is he’s been rich, he’s been famous. … I don’t think he has any donors that he has to please with any policies.”

Hillary Clinton makes final push to win backing from Latinos in Nev. caucuses. Focus: Culinary Union

 (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)
(Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

When Hillary Clinton arrived at Caesars Palace near midnight one night this week after a day of campaigning in Chicago, she made a brief detour before heading to her hotel room.

“Hi everybody. How are you?” Clinton asked as she entered a basement room where a handful of housekeepers working a late-night shift folded linens and towels. “I appreciate all the work you do. Whenever I come in, I appreciate it.”

Those housekeepers — members of Culinary Local 226, the state's largest union, which is predominantly Latino — are part of a crucial component in Clinton's effort to win Saturday's Nevada caucuses. Clinton has taken selfies and shaken hands with cooks, maids and cocktail waitresses inside the break rooms of nearly half a dozen hotels along the Strip this week in a last-minute push to boost turnout among Latino voters and to blunt the efforts by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders to make inroads among minority Democrats.

The Latino vote will be decisive in the caucuses, said Andres Ramirez, a local Democratic strategist who is supporting Clinton, and that means turnout among members of the union.

Bernie Sanders leaves Las Vegas to woo support in rural Nevada

 (Jae C. Hong/AP)
(Jae C. Hong/AP)

On the eve of Nevada’s Democratic caucuses, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders took his populist message of income inequality to rural parts of the state on Friday.

Speaking at a town hall-style event in Elko, a gold-mining community in northeast Nevada, Sanders called for increasing the federal minimum wage and free college tuition — two hallmarks of his campaign.

“This is not a radical idea,” he said of his proposal for free tuition at public colleges and universities, which costs an estimated $70 billion a year and has been castigated by the Clinton campaign. “We have to encourage people to get a college education, not discourage them.”

In an increasingly tight race between the two, both Sanders and Clinton have ventured outside of densely populated Clark County – home to Las Vegas and Henderson, the state’s most populous cities – to court the support of rural Nevadans. Clinton visited Elko earlier in the week, where she discussed gun laws and federal land.

The number of registered Democrats in Elko is less than 5,000, but the way in which the party disproportionately allocates delegates gives rural counties more influence in a caucus.

Sanders also traveled to Sparks, Nev., a city near Reno, for a rally at a local casino.  

Pondering the big questions

Donald Trump calls for boycott of Apple until attacker's iPhone is accessed

Donald Trump called on Apple customers to boycott its product until the tech giant accedes to government demands to help access an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino attackers. 

"Boycott Apple until such time as they give that information," Trump said in South Carolina.

Donald Trump is the candidate voters most dread seeing on TV for four years

The newest Fox News poll has an updated take on the old political question of likability: Which candidate would you "MOST DREAD watching on television for four years?" 

Not surprisingly, the most polarizing candidates from each party, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, win the dreaded honor.

Trump, the Republican front-runner, is most dreaded by 40% of the voting public, according to the poll. Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, owns a dread score of 31%.

That's not all. Republican voters only were also asked which candidate in their field would make the worst role model for children. Trump wins in a landslide, 49%. No other candidate scored higher than 10%. More than a quarter of Republicans said retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson would make the best role model.

So, to summarize: Do not leave your children alone with a television set watching Donald Trump.

Podcast: A 'big test' for Bernie Sanders

In this episode of Essential Politics: The Podcast, Cathy Decker and I talk about what's expected in Saturday's caucuses in Nevada and primary in South Carolina. 

"The sense on the ground is he's doing a good job mining the momentum," Decker says of Sen. Bernie Sanders, adding that it is a "big test" for both Sanders and Hillary Clinton. 

For the Republicans, is this Jeb Bush's last stand? We explore.

Special thanks to our colleague John Myers for helping with production. You can subscribe to his terrific California Politics Podcast over here

And don't forget Essential Politics: The Newsletter, which is free in your inbox daily. 

Here's today's look at the race from Washington bureau chief David Lauter. And you can sign up below. 

John Kasich to skip Nevada as rivals hit Las Vegas and Reno for first GOP contest in the West

Republican presidential candidates will race to Nevada after Saturday’s South Carolina primary for a three-day sprint to the party’s first nominating contest in the West on Tuesday — but not John Kasich.

“We’d love to have him here for the final weekend, but we’ve got to get him down to those Super Tuesday states,” said Zachary Moyle, Kasich’s Nevada state director.

The Ohio governor’s second-place finish in the New Hampshire primary has kept him in the race even as Chris Christie, Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina, Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee dropped out after poor showings in the opening contests.

But Donald Trump is a strong favorite here in Nevada, where Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida also have invested heavily. Jeb Bush has made a serious effort in Nevada too, but a poor showing in South Carolina could doom the former Florida governor’s campaign.

Trump, Cruz, Rubio and Bush all plan to campaign next week in Nevada. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who finished fourth in the Iowa caucuses and eighth in New Hampshire, said this week that he was going to compete in Nevada regardless of how he finishes in South Carolina.

Kasich is wrapping up his South Carolina campaign Friday with two town halls, a rally and a Republican dinner. As South Carolina Republicans vote on Saturday, he plans to hold town halls in Vermont and Massachusetts, which will hold primaries on March 1.

In his absence, Kasich's teams in Las Vegas and Reno — eight paid staff members and a network of volunteers, along with help from a super PAC — will keep trying to prod supporters to Nevada's caucuses on Tuesday.

Caucusing in Nevada — just like Iowa, except with casinos

Love him or hate him — and there are plenty who feel both ways — Nevadans have Harry Reid to thank in good part for the political spectacle unfolding here over the next several days.

Reid, the Democrats’ outgoing Senate leader, was instrumental in helping his home state land its early slot on the political calendar: third for Democrats, who vote Saturday, and fourth for Republicans, who caucus Tuesday.

(The South Carolina Republican primary will be held Saturday. Democrats will vote there a week later, on Feb. 27).

In 2006, the Democratic Party was looking to broaden its nominating process amid a notable shift in political geography: The Rocky Mountain West, long a conservative bastion, was growing more competitive as a result of its changing demographics. The thinking was an early Western contest would help the party’s eventual nominee lay the groundwork for the fall campaign.

Nevada had Reid’s clout behind it, as well as a strong labor movement. So in 2006, the state was allowed to schedule an early caucus, granted an exception from party rules that keep other states from pushing up too close to Iowa, which traditionally holds the first caucus, and New Hampshire, which hosts the first primary.

Republicans, seeing all the action on the Democratic side, decided to move up their caucus as well.

Anyone familiar with the process in Iowa will recognize what takes place in Nevada, with good reason. Several of the people who ran the Iowa caucuses were imported in 2007 to help set up the vote in Nevada.

The format is essentially the same: Backers of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will gather in roughly 2,000 precinct-level meetings, or caucuses, standing up and openly declaring their support for one or the other. Each candidate must meet a “viability” threshold of 15% in each caucus to win delegates.

There is one notable difference between the Iowa and Nevada caucuses. In Iowa, they were held at 7 p.m. on a Monday night. In Nevada, they will be held starting at 11 a.m. Saturday, a reflection of the fact many people in the gambling industry and its related spinoffs work at night.

That is also why a number of caucuses will be held at hotels on the Las Vegas Strip, allowing casino workers to vote on their break rather than miss the election or be forced to skip work to participate.

Babies, pizza at Marco Rubio's South Carolina HQ

John Kasich's plea: 'Don't let me not have fun'

John Kasich won't be campaigning in Nevada, skipping the state's caucus next week to push his campaign to friendlier ground in other states.

"We couldn't go everywhere, and we had to make choices," Kasich said after a town hall here, breaking into a rendition of the Carole King song, "So Far Away."

And then the Ohio governor had what is fast becoming known as a Kasich moment.

"Don't let me not have fun," said Kasich, who has popular appeal in the Palmetto State but has lagged in national polls.

"If you see me getting out of sorts, kick me in the backside, would ya? Let's do this the right way. This is a moment in time for all of us. Let's just have a good picture when all is said and done."

Kasich plans to motor on after Saturday's primary to the Super Tuesday contests on March 1 and is "planting a big flag" in Michigan, he said.

That said, if the whole election thing doesn't work out here, he said he'll be fine.

"If I don't win, it'll be OK."

Analysis: Timing is a big deal in politics, and Hillary Clinton's timing is rotten

She’s running a campaign for president on the argument that she is the most carefully prepared, judiciously educated candidate for the White House — at a time when many voters want to cast their lot with newcomers.

She’s set a table full of nuanced policy prescriptions to solve the problems at hand. Voters, many of them anyway, want someone to smash the plates.

Hillary Clinton heard it Thursday night, most painfully from one of her supporters, during a televised town hall at which she and challenger Bernie Sanders separately took questions.

"We need a rebel," a college student and supporter told the candidate, in explaining Clinton’s persistent problems with young voters. "My generation is a little wary of placing another politician in the White House. With your tenure in politics, how are you going to deserve our vote?"

If you are Clinton, how do you answer that?

Charles Koch agrees with Bernie Sanders — on one issue

Charles Koch is chairman and chief executive of Koch Industries. (Mike Burley / Associated Press)
Charles Koch is chairman and chief executive of Koch Industries. (Mike Burley / Associated Press)

Billionaire conservative Charles Koch wants to capitalize on what he called his one commonality with Bernie Sanders:  coming to grips with the causes of political and economic turmoil in the U.S.

But Koch, a Republican power broker, has far different ideas for solving the problems than the self-described democratic socialist's campaign message of relying on government to reduce inequality. 

“I applaud the senator for giving a voice to many Americans struggling to get ahead in a system too often stacked in favor of the haves, but I disagree with his desire to expand the federal government’s control over people’s lives,” Koch wrote in an op-ed article in the Washington Post on Thursday. “This is what built so many barriers to opportunity in the first place.”

He does not “feel the Bern,” he added, playing on a Sanders campaign slogan.

For his part, Sanders continues to attack Wall Street and large corporations such as Koch Industries in his campaign, which indirectly points at a disagreement with the business giant.

Marco Rubio now says he would end dreamer program on 'day one'

Marco Rubio has shifted his position on a key aspect of immigration policy, now saying he would reverse President Obama's deportation deferral for so-called dreamers on "day one" if elected.

"I said that DACA has to go away and that it will," Rubio told CNN's Jake Tapper, referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. "I will on my first day in office get rid of it because it's unconstitutional."

The move may toughen the Florida senator's stance on immigration in South Carolina before Saturday's voting, but will surely come under attack as the campaign moves to Nevada -- a state with a robust immigrant population, including many covered under Obama's program

The position is new for Rubio, who in the past has spoken with empathy about immigrants who were brought illegally to the country as young children.

In fact, even before Rubio became involved with the Senate's "gang of eight" immigration overhaul, he had been quietly working on legislation to help these young immigrants. 

On the campaign trail, he had previously talked about doing away with DACA as part of a broader immigration overhaul he hoped to accomplish as president.

Obama's program, enacted in 2012, is providing deportation relief and temporary work permits to more than 500,000 teenage and young adult immigrants who are otherwise in good legal standing. 

The president has since taken other executive actions to shield more immigrants, but those face a legal challenge that could be decided by the Supreme Court this year.

By the numbers

How does Clinton or Trump get to 270 electoral votes? Play with our map.

Third debate scorecard: Here's who's winning each round

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