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Ted Cruz loses a top aide over charge of dirty tricks

Republicans decamp to Nevada to campaign ahead of their first-in-the-West contest Tuesday.

Donald Trump pounds Ted Cruz as Nevada vote nears

On the eve of the Nevada caucuses, Donald Trump blasted Republican presidential rival Ted Cruz on Monday night while describing his other chief opponent Marco Rubio as “a nice guy.”

“This guy is sick,” Trump said of the Texas senator after accusing Cruz of being a chronic liar. “There’s something wrong with this guy.”

At a raucous rally of about 5,000 supporters at a casino resort on the south end of Las Vegas, the Manhattan billionaire was by turns bellicose and playful.

“Build that wall!” the crowd chanted as soon as he walked onstage.

“We’re going to build the wall, and who’s going to pay for that wall?” Trump asked.

“Mexico!” the crowd shouted.

“We’re not kidding,” Trump said of his proposed $8-billion border wall. “We’re not going to be the dummies any more, folks. We’re going to be the smart ones.”

Trump later confessed that he enjoyed watching himself on television and loved a recent Time magazine photograph showing the back of his head while he was speaking to a big crowd.

“I had my hair combed so perfectly,” he said. “It was so good. I don’t know if they did a touch-up, but I liked it.”

On a more belligerent note, Trump drew cheers when he said waterboarding did not go far enough for interrogation of terrorist suspects. And when police ejected a protester, Trump said that in the old days he would have been carried out on a stretcher.

“I’d like to punch him in the face,” Trump told the cheering crowd.

In one of several broadsides against Cruz, Trump said he “holds up the Bible and he lies, and then he holds up the Bible again and he lies.”

He said it was “a thing of beauty” when Rubio, a Florida senator, called Cruz a liar in the last GOP presidential debate. Cruz lost the evangelical vote in South Carolina, Trump said, “because they don’t like liars.”

Among other things, Trump took issue with Cruz’s accusation that he opposed transferring the federal government’s vast Nevada land holdings to private owners. “It’s not a subject I know anything about,” Trump said.

At a news conference Monday afternoon in Las Vegas, Cruz defended his integrity, saying both Trump and Rubio question his honesty only to distract attention from their history of deviating from conservative ideology.

“Whenever anyone brings up their record,” Cruz said, “they both follow the same pattern: They scream liar, liar, liar rather than discuss substance.”

Snapshot - late-night Ted Cruz rally in Reno

Cruz fires top aide as he battles Rubio and Trump across Nevada

 (Ethan Miller / Getty Images)
(Ethan Miller / Getty Images)

Ted Cruz ousted a top campaign aide and Marco Rubio rolled out several high-profile endorsements Monday as the two battled across Nevada on the eve of the state’s Republican caucuses, which Donald Trump was heavily favored to win.

Already fighting accusations of underhanded campaigning, Cruz asked his communications director, Rick Tyler, to resign after Tyler posted a video on social media and claimed that Rubio could be heard disparaging the Bible. The allegation was false and Tyler apologized.

There's been a lot of nonsense out of his [Ted Cruz] campaign. Weird stuff that's questionable. And you know the saying, birds of a feather -- there could definitely be some of that going on.

Randy Butler, 66, a real estate developer from Douglas County, Nev., where Sen. Marco Rubio spoke Monday. He's supporting Rubio.

Spotted in Las Vegas

In a state like Nevada, which is neither a primary like New Hampshire or South Carolina, nor a mature caucus like Iowa, it's a completely different environment. We are not a state in which this is part of the political psyche of voters.

Ryan Erwin, a Republican strategist in Las Vegas who predicted a turnout in Tuesday's GOP caucuses north of 50,000 voters but well shy of the record 120,000 Democrats who turned out in 2008

Ted Cruz dumps top advisor amid charges of dirty tricks against Marco Rubio

After weeks of facing opponents’ accusations of dirty tricks, Ted Cruz said Monday that he has asked his communications director to resign for questioning rival Marco Rubio’s religious faith.

“If other candidates choose to go into the gutter, we will not do the same,” Cruz said after telling reporters he’d asked his advisor Rick Tyler to quit. “This was a grave error of judgment.”

Speaking to reporters at a Las Vegas rally on the eve of the Nevada Republican presidential caucuses, Cruz said Tyler had “tweeted a news story that purported to indicate Marco saying something negative about the Bible.”

“The news story was false,” Cruz said. Even if it had been true, he added, “we are not a campaign that is going to question the faith of another candidate.”

He went on to attack Rubio’s campaign.

“They have a long record they’ve earned in South Carolina of engaging in this kind of trickery and impugning the integrity of whoever their opponent is to distract the attention,” he said.

On Facebook, Tyler apologized to Rubio.

“I've deleted the post because I would not knowingly post a false story,” he said. “But the fact remains that I did post it when I should have checked its accuracy first. I regret the mistake.”

Rubio, Donald Trump and Ben Carson have been accusing Cruz of dishonest campaign tactics for weeks. Cruz apologized to Carson after Cruz's staffers’ falsely told Iowa voters on the night of the state's caucuses that the retired neurosurgeon had dropped out of the Republican presidential race.

Cruz loses top aide over allegations of dirty tricks

Ahead of Super Tuesday, Texas paper explains Cruz snub

'I've converted every single Uber driver I've had to Bernie'

Left to right, Bernie Sanders fans Todd Jones, Keith Anthony Sikora, Rohan Jain, Ferny Callejas and Casey Black (Rohan Jain)
Left to right, Bernie Sanders fans Todd Jones, Keith Anthony Sikora, Rohan Jain, Ferny Callejas and Casey Black (Rohan Jain)

That's a devoted fan of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who set out for Nevada to help get out the vote ahead of Saturday's caucuses. 

A high-profile group of Hillary Clinton fundraisers and Silicon Valley executives were just as ardent as they made her case across Las Vegas.

“The idea that the only contribution that I can make is financial is really off-putting,” said Rosemary Camposano, a former tech industry public relations executive. “I want to tell people about why Hillary is a better choice.”

The experiences of these Golden State warriors taking action are as disparate as can be under one Democratic party banner.

Amy Rao, second from left, with Clinton California travelers. (Christine Mai-Duc / Los Angeles Times)
Amy Rao, second from left, with Clinton California travelers. (Christine Mai-Duc / Los Angeles Times)

Ad from Pro-Marco Rubio group calls Donald Trump 'erratic' and Ted Cruz 'calculating'

A super PAC backing Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio is out with a new ad that attacks his chief rivals -- calling Donald Trump erratic and unreliable, and Ted Cruz calculating and underhanded.

Conservative Solutions promised a "multi-state" ad blitz for  Super Tuesday, when more than a dozen mostly Southern states hold primary or caucus votes on March 1.

The ad, which was released Monday and will begin airing Tuesday, offers a glimpse of the negative campaigning that's to come.

Although the senator from Florida has yet to win any of the early contests - he narrowly beat Cruz for second place in Saturday's primary in South Carolina - his campaign argues he is now positioned to challenge Trump for the nomination.

As Republican race shifts, Rubio and Cruz scramble for cash

 (Alex Wong / Getty Images)
(Alex Wong / Getty Images)

As the rambunctious race for the Republican presidential nomination transforms into a more nationally oriented contest, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are battling not only for political dominance but also much-needed campaign cash to take on front-runner Donald Trump and blitz the airwaves to reach voters in a bevy of states.

The campaigns turn to Nevada briefly for its caucuses this week, but one week later looms Super Tuesday, when Republican voters in a dozen states will make their choices. Cruz has the advantage of more than twice as much cash as Rubio, but he also faces greater pressure to make gains in those mostly Southern states (especially on his home turf of Texas) with his conservative and religious message.

Go on the road with Californians who traveled to Las Vegas for the caucuses

Yolanda Gonzalez, center, poses with fellow Californians and Bernie Sanders supporters James Albert, left, and Ronaldo Lizárraga-Angulo, right. (Christine Mai-Duc / Los Angeles Times) None
Yolanda Gonzalez, center, poses with fellow Californians and Bernie Sanders supporters James Albert, left, and Ronaldo Lizárraga-Angulo, right. (Christine Mai-Duc / Los Angeles Times)

Hundreds of Californians have flooded Nevada in recent weeks, arriving on planes, buses and in carpools barreling up Interstate 15 from Los Angeles.

Their experiences and backgrounds are as disparate as could be under one Democratic Party banner, but they have one thing in common: Still months away from California’s June primary, these Golden State warriors have flocked to the Silver State hoping to have a tangible effect on a close race next door.

Here's what happens when Donald Trump arrives in Westeros

Donald Trump has entered into a new world of immigration politics -- the realm of Westeros. 

Depicted as a character in  “Game of Thrones,” the GOP presidential front-runner appears to challenge the border control of the fantasy world’s seven kingdoms in a new satiric video, “Winter is Trumping.” Huw Parkinson, an Australia-based political satirist, spliced together audio of Trump speeches with moments from the show, all set to a dramatic score.

“If you do not let us in, all of us will die,” warns "Game of Thrones" character Daenerys Targaryen, played by actress Emilia Clarke.

The dubbed-over Trump responds, “I said temporarily, I didn’t say permanently, I said temporarily.”

A young Bernie Sanders once proposed eliminating the CIA

Bernie Sanders speaks a televised town hall meeting in Las Vegas. (John Gurzinski / AFP/Getty Images)
Bernie Sanders speaks a televised town hall meeting in Las Vegas. (John Gurzinski / AFP/Getty Images)

Bernie Sanders' roots as an activist included a call four decades ago to shut down the CIA, according to a new Politico report.

Then 29 and running for the Senate on the antiwar Liberty Union Party ticket, Sanders accused the CIA in 1974 of answering only to right-wing “lunatics” propping up “fascist dictatorships." He called the agency at the time “a dangerous institution that has got to go.”

Democratic rival Hillary Clinton's campaign pounced on the revelation, claiming that it illustrated the extreme views that make Sanders, an avowed Democratic socialist, a poor choice to be commander in chief.

"Abolishing the CIA in the 1970s would have unilaterally disarmed America during the height of the Cold War and at a time when terrorist networks across the Middle East were gaining strength," Jeremy Bash, the former chief of staff to CIA director Leon Panetta and an advisor to the Clinton campaign, told Politico.

Sanders' campaign ignored a request for a response but his supporters urged voters to look at the totality of his career -- rather than one stance decades ago -- and his efforts to reduce income inequality, the chief message of his campaign for president.

What Trump, Rubio and Cruz are betting on to win the Nevada caucuses

Ted Cruz is trying to appeal to rural voters in Nevada by attacking the federal government. (Alex Wong / Getty Images)
Ted Cruz is trying to appeal to rural voters in Nevada by attacking the federal government. (Alex Wong / Getty Images)

Ted Cruz is trying to drum up support in rural Nevada from Republicans angry about the federal government's control of most of the state's land.

Marco Rubio wants to lay claim to the Mormon vote that drove Mitt Romney's two big victories in presidential caucuses in the Silver State.

And in a state with a large immigrant population, Donald Trump is tapping the resentment of white, blue-collar Nevadans by promising to wall off Mexico.

Jeb Bush's exit from the Republican presidential race Saturday in effect turned Nevada into a three-man brawl, with Cruz and Rubio scrambling to break Trump's winning streak after victories in New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Over the weekend, Rubio's team started cajoling Bush's huge pool of big-money donors. The senator from Florida is the top-tier candidate most in danger of running out of money, newly released finance reports show.

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