UPDATE: 12:55 p.m. EST — Real estate mogul Donald Trump later tweeted he rejected white supremacist David Duke's endorsement.
As I stated at the press conference on Friday regarding David Duke- I disavow. pic.twitter.com/OIXFKPUlz2
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 28, 2016
UPDATE: 11:25 a.m. EST — Texas Sen. Ted Cruz Sunday intimated the reason businessman Donald Trump hasn’t released his tax returns is because he may have ties to organized crime.
“Donald Trump has not released any of his tax information. ... That really suggests as Mitt Romney suggested there’s a bombshell. … He’s clearly hiding something. It could be donations to liberal groups like Planned Parenthood. … Maybe there are other issues. … There have been multiple media reports about Donald’s business dealings with the mob, with the Mafia. Maybe those tax returns show that those business dealings are a lot more extensive,” Cruz said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” if Trump wins the nomination, “the hounds of hell would descend on him. They’re going to tell him apart, everything he’s ever done, from not releasing his taxes to all of his failed business dealings.”
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump warned the GOP establishment Sunday not to work against him, amid reports that vulnerable senators are being encouraged to run against him should he win the nomination and the explosion of the #NeverTrump hashtag.
Rival Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, while saying he will support the party’s nominee no matter what, ridiculed a possible Trump presidency, saying, “Even Donald doesn’t know what he will do” if he gets into the White House.
As candidates set their sights on Super Tuesday, the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll indicated real estate mogul Trump was leading in Georgia and Tennessee and was running second to Cruz in Texas. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton, who handily won Saturday’s South Carolina primary, was leading Sen. Bernie Sanders by a 2-to-1 margin in Georgia, Tennessee and Texas.
Voters in a dozen states will participate in primaries Tuesday, most of them in the South. Going into voting, a count by the Associated Press indicates Trump is leading with 82 convention delegates, following by Cruz with 17 and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida with 16. On the Democratic side, Clinton is leading Sanders 544 delegates to 85.
Trump on CNN’s “State of the Union” said he expects the party to support him if he wins the nomination, and if Republicans bolt, they will have a “big problem.”
The New York Times reported Saturday Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said if Trump is the party’s nominee, “We'll drop him like a hot rock” and encouraged vulnerable senators to run against him.
“I represent a lot of anger out there,” Trump said, adding the party is not run properly. “There are a lot of angry people out there.”
Trump noted he had signed a pledge to support the party nominee but if the party reneges, “I can play that game too.”
Trump declined to predict he will lock up the nomination come Tuesday but predicted, “We will do very, very well.”
Trump declined to reject out of hand the endorsements he received from white supremacist David Duke and a number of white supremacist groups, saying he knows nothing about them and would need to research both Duke and the groups before making a decision on whether to accept their support. Trump also said he has no plans to release his tax returns until an Internal Revenue Service audit is finished.
On “Fox News Sunday,” Trump deflected a question about his income, charitable contributions and effective tax rate, directing people to look at the financial disclosure form he filed with the Federal Election Commission and hitting Cruz again over his failure to disclose loans from Goldman Sachs.
Rubio released his tax returns Saturday.
Cruz predicted Tuesday’s balloting will be a game-changer and urged the “65 percent of Republicans who don’t think Donald can beat Hillary” to unite behind his campaign. Cruz said he and Trump are running “neck and neck” in a number of states and urged voters to support him “even if you like other candidates” as the only way to “stop this Trump train.”
“There is no doubt that if Donald steam rolls through Super Tuesday, wins everywhere with big margins, that he may well be unstoppable,” Cruz said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
“If Donald becomes president, who the heck knows what he would do. Even Donald doesn’t know what he will do,” Cruz said on “State of the Union.” But, Cruz said, he would support whoever becomes the party’s nominee, “Period. The end.”
Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, the only remaining governor in the race, indicated on both “State of the Union” and NBC’s “Meet the Press” he would end his campaign if he loses the primary in the Buckeye State. “If I don’t win Ohio, then, you know, ballgame over.” But he said he is leading in that context.