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The Latest: Biden not worried about Trump refusing to leave

Politics
Bernie Sanders

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks with members of the media after a Democratic presidential primary debate, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The Latest on the Democratic presidential primary contest (all times local):

9:05 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden says he isn’t worried about the prospect of President Donald Trump refusing to leave his post if he’s defeated in November.

“I have no worry about him being escorted out of the White House,” Biden said on a CNN town hall Wednesday in Charleston.

The former vice president smiled a bit at the voter’s question about Trump but also lamented that such a thought “could be taken seriously” in the United States.

Biden addressed Trump directly, with the assumption that the president is watching. “Mr. President, we have a democratic process. When the voters speak, they are heard, and they have to be responded to,” he said. “Now, if you’re worried about someone interfering in our election, why don’t you do something about it?”

Biden is looking to Saturday’s South Carolina primary for his first victory of the 2020 nominating fight. Bernie Sanders has led voting in the first three contests and is hoping for an upset that would amount to a knockout blow. Biden believes a victory could squash the campaigns of other moderates and serve as a springboard into Super Tuesday on March 3, when more than a third of convention delegates up for grabs.

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8:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump is trying to blame his Democratic presidential challengers for part of the stock market’s fall in recent days.

At a news conference Wednesday on the new coronavirus, he acknowledged that the spread of the COVID-19 virus was also a driver, but he asserted: “I think the financial markets are very upset when they look at the Democrat candidates on that stage making fools out of themselves.”

The Democrats held debates Feb. 19 and Feb. 25. The stock market plummeted 1,000 points on Feb. 24, then almost 880 more the next day, with markets closing hours before the second debate begin.

About 81,000 people around the globe have been sickened by the coronavirus that keeps finding new targets. Democrats have questioned whether the Trump administration is prepared for an outbreak of the virus in America.

Trump said he believes he’s still going to win the election, but when voters “look at the statements made by the people standing behind those podiums, I think that has a huge effect, yeah,” Trump said. “I think you can add quite a bit of selloff to what they’re seeing.”

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6:10 p.m.

Attorneys for President Barack Obama are sending a cease-and-desist letter demanding that South Carolina broadcast stations stop airing a misleading ad from a pro-Donald Trump super PAC that makes it sound like Obama is criticizing his former vice president, Joe Biden.

The ad is part of $250,000 in spending by The Committee to Defend the President. It misuses a snippet from an audio version of Obama’s book “Dreams from My Father” to make it sound as though Obama is criticizing Biden’s support of the black community. He’s actually recalling complaints he’s heard about politicians generally.

“This despicable ad is straight out of the Republican disinformation playbook, and it’s clearly designed to suppress turnout among minority voters in South Carolina by taking President Obama’s voice out of context and twisting his words to mislead viewers,” said Obama spokeswoman Katie Hill in a statement.

The statement said Obama’s office is asking TV stations to pull the ad “and stop playing into the hands of bad actors who seek to sow division and confusion among the electorate.”

South Carolina’s primary is Saturday.

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2:45 p.m.

After taking aim at 2020 rival Elizabeth Warren’s home state, Bernie Sanders is doing the same to Amy Klobuchar’s.

The Vermont senator’s presidential campaign announced Wednesday that he will hold a rally Monday night in St. Paul, Minnesota, which votes the following day on “Super Tuesday.” But it’s also the home state of Klobuchar and comes after Sanders already announced rallies Friday night and Saturday in Warren’s home state of Massachusetts.

Fresh off victories in New Hampshire and Nevada, Sanders has emerged as the clear front-runner in the Democratic primary and may be looking to run up the score by venturing onto his rivals’ home turf.

In all, 14 states are voting Tuesday — and that includes Sanders’ home state of Vermont, where the senator will travel for an evening party to watch the results.

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2:35 p.m.

Tom Steyer says South Carolina voters have a chance to change the narrative of the Democratic presidential race that he said is being portrayed as a choice between the extremes of Bernie Sanders and Mike Bloomberg.

Steyer told several dozen people at a campaign meet-and-greet on Wednesday in Georgetown that the media had reported the race as between “the socialist who wants the government to take over big parts of the economy” and “the Republican mayor of New York City.” He says, “Neither of them is really a Democrat.”

Steyer in recent days has shifted his focus from primarily criticism of President Donald Trump to others in the race, including Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden, who leads the field in South Carolina.

This week, Steyer began airing a new television ad in the state, calling Biden a “good man” who has “admitted nothing will change if he’s elected” and saying “Bernie’s socialist plans won’t beat Trump.”

South Carolina’s primary is Saturday.

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12:40 p.m.

Bernie Sanders is going after Joe Biden, warning that a “conventional campaign” like the former vice president’s won’t defeat Donald Trump.

Speaking at a rally in North Charleston, South Carolina, Sanders called out his opponent by name, knocking Biden for voting for “terrible trade policies like NAFTA” and the Iraq War. Sanders charged that “you’re not gonna bring working people into the political process when you voted for a terrible bankruptcy bill.”

Sanders and Biden are vying for an edge in South Carolina. While Biden remains in the lead in surveys of the state and said during Tuesday night’s debate he plans to win the primary, Sanders has been gaining ground after a series of wins across the three previous primary states.

In North Charleston on Wednesday, Sanders told the crowd that with their help, “we are going to win South Carolina.”

South Carolina’s primary is Saturday.

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11 a.m.

The Rev. Al Sharpton is reminding black voters in South Carolina that civil rights leaders faced the same accusations of being socialists that Bernie Sanders, a democratic socialist, faces today.

Sharpton, who hosted a half-dozen Democratic presidential hopefuls Wednesday morning at a ministers’ breakfast sponsored by his National Action Network, made his observation before introducing Sanders.

Noting that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was also criticized as a socialist while fighting for voting rights and other critical issues to the black community, Sharpton urged attendees to research that history.

“If socialism’s on your mind,” Sharpton told the audience, “read about what they said” about King and others who faced those attacks while fighting inequality.

Sanders told the audience that he was proud to support Barack Obama twice for president, slamming Trump as a “pathological liar” and a “racist.”

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Catch up on the 2020 election campaign with AP experts on our weekly politics podcast, “Ground Game.”

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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