The Latest: Clinton defends role in Benghazi attack

The Latest on 2016 presidential sweepstakes following primaries and caucuses Tuesday in Michigan, Mississippi, Idaho and Hawaii:

10:10 p.m.

Hillary Clinton is defending her role in the deadly 2012 attack on the American mission in Benghazi, Libya.

She said at Wednesday's debate that her shifting explanations for the crisis in the early hours were because of changing dynamics and new information. Clinton also said the investigation has been politicized by Republicans seeking to score points against her campaign.

"This was fog of war," she said, saying that she regrets the lives lost in the crisis.

She added: "I wish there could be an easy answer at the time but we learned a lot."


10:05 p.m.

Bernie Sanders is repeating his calls for Hillary Clinton to release the transcripts of her lucrative private speeches to Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs.

He joked at Wednesday's Democratic presidential debate that if her speeches were so great, she should want to "share it with the American people."

He notes that Wall Street recently donated $15 million to the super PAC supporting Clinton's campaign.

Clinton said she has a long public record and she went to Wall Street before the Great Recession and "basically called them out."

She said she has the "toughest, most comprehensive plan to go after Wall Street."


10:00 p.m.

Hillary Clinton admits that she is not a "natural politician," but says she tries to do the "best I can."

During a Democratic debate in Miami Wednesday, Clinton was asked about polling that shows many voters think she is not trustworthy.

"Obviously it's painful for me to hear that," Clinton said, adding that she said she takes "responsibility."

Clinton said she has committed herself to helping people and tries to show people that they can count on her. She said she was not a "natural politician," like her husband or President Barack Obama, but she hoped people can "see that I'm fighting for them."


9:50 p.m.

Hillary Clinton got some laughs by saying Donald Trump wants to build "a beautiful, tall wall" that will "magically" be paid for by the Mexican government.

Her comments came in response to a question at Wednesday's Democratic presidential debate in Miami on whether her vote as a New York senator to build a wall on the Southern border differs from Trump's plan, which she has called ridiculous.

Clinton says responsible legislators chose to improve border security with more agents and some fencing when needed, and as a result the country has lower rates of illegal immigration.


9:40 p.m.

Bernie Sanders says rival Hillary Clinton is misrepresenting her vote for a federal bailout of the auto industry.

The 2008 vote, he said Wednesday, was part of a larger legislative package that benefited big Wall Street banks.

At the time, Clinton represented New York in the Senate. Sanders told a Miami audience attending the Democratic debate that Clinton backed the bill then because it helped a home-state industry.

"Then you go to Detroit and suddenly this legislation helps autoworkers," he says.

Clinton said it was a "hard vote" and if everyone joined Sanders then the industry would have failed.


9:35 p.m.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are continuing to fight over the details of immigration policy.

Clinton vowed at Wednesday's Democratic president debate not to deport children and immigrants without a criminal record. She said she will prioritize deporting violent criminals, terrorists and those who threaten the nation's safety.

Sanders said Clinton supported turning back children flowing into the country from Honduras and said he wouldn't deport children or immigrants without criminal records.

Clinton was pressed on whether she would follow President Barack Obama's approach, which moderator Jorge Ramos said would be tantamount to becoming "the next deporter-in-chief."

Clinton says she doesn't have the same policies of the "current administration" and would move to "stop the raids" and "stop the roundups."


9:25 p.m.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are sparring over their immigration records during a Democratic debate in Miami.

In a lengthy back and forth in the latest debate Wednesday night, the Democratic presidential candidates both affirmed their commitment to immigration reform and sought to poke holes in the other's voting history.

Clinton says she has long been "committed to comprehensive immigration reform" and stressed that Sanders had voted against a 2007 immigration bill.

"Just think, imagine where we would be today if we had achieved comprehensive immigration reform nine years ago," Clinton said.

Sanders said he had concerns about the treatment of guest workers and noted he supported a 2013 immigration bill. He argued that Clinton had sought to block driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants in 2008. "She said don't do it and New York state still does not do it," he said.


9:20 p.m.

Hillary Clinton is calling Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump "un-American."

She says Trump trafficks in "prejudice and paranoia" and says voters can draw their own conclusions about him. She tries to turn Trump's campaign slogan on its head, saying, "You don't make America great again by getting rid of everything that made America great."

Bernie Sanders says voters will "never elect" someone like Trump, pointing out that he has insulted many kinds of people, including African Americans, women and Muslims. He is reminding voters that Trump was part of the "birther" movement to tag President Barack Obama as not American.


9:15 p.m.

Hillary Clinton is dismissing questions about whether she'd drop out of the presidential race should her use of a private server while secretary of state result in a federal indictment.

"Oh for goodness and it's not going to happen," she says, responding to a question from moderator Jorge Ramos. "I'm not even answering that question."

Clinton insists she broke no rules by running her State Department email account from a private server located in her New York home, though she now calls the decision "a mistake." The messages were classified by government agencies years after she sent them, she says.

"I did not send or receive any emails marked classified at the time," says Clinton. "What you're talking about retroactive classification."


9:10 p.m.

Hillary Clinton says the primary campaign is a "marathon" and she will "work hard for every single vote" despite her loss to Bernie Sanders in Michigan.

Clinton was asked about her surprising loss to Sanders in Michigan's primary. She notes that she won in Mississippi and ended the night with more delegates.

Sanders is trailing Clinton among pledged delegates but he says in the "coming weeks and months" his campaign is going to do "extremely well." He says he can convince superdelegates that he's the strongest candidate to defeat Republican businessman Donald Trump.


9:08 p.m.

Hillary Clinton began her pitch to a Miami audience by reiterating her call to "knock down barriers."

In her opening remarks at the latest Democratic presidential debate Wednesday, Clinton said she is committed to raising incomes and creating good jobs. She also urged for improving education so that all children can benefit.

Her rival Bernie Sanders repeated his rally call to end "establishment politics and establishment economics," saying that the economy is "rigged."

He also vowed to create jobs and better wages if he is elected president.


9:05 p.m.

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump is escalating his attacks against rival John Kasich as the Ohio governor appears to be making gains.

Trump tells a crowd of thousands in Fayetteville, North Carolina that Kasich is an "absentee governor."

He says he expects to "do great, great, great in Ohio," which will be voting next week.

The attack comes as a new Fox Poll shows Kasich pulling ahead of Trump in Ohio.

Trump is also predicting a strong showing in Florida, home of rival Marco Rubio.

"It's going to be amazing," he says, adding: "I think we're going to have a fantastic week."

Trump was speaking to a crowd of thousands at a local hockey arena at a rally that was repeatedly interrupted by protests.


8:55 p.m.

The latest Democratic presidential debate is set to begin in Miami with host, Spanish-language network Univision set to quiz the candidates.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will face off Wednesday for the second time in a week, this time since Sanders' upset victory in the Michigan primary Tuesday night.

The two are now in a race to win the crucial upcoming contests in Florida and Ohio, Sanders' campaign saying the Vermont senator still stands a chance to win the nomination, despite Clinton's significant delegate lead.


8:50 p.m.

One of the most vocal groups opposing Donald Trump is pelting Ohioans with $1 million in commercials over the next five days.

They're paid for by Our Principles PAC, a collection of wealthy donors and GOP strategists who want to keep the controversial New York businessman from becoming the party's presidential nominee.

The new ads attack Trump as a jobs outsourcer. Indeed, as Trump has acknowledged, some of his products been made in countries such as China.

The group also is spending $2 million in Florida, according to advertising tracker Kantar Media's CMAG. Florida, where Trump rival Marco Rubio is a senator, and Ohio, where candidate John Kasich is governor, both weigh in Tuesday on the Republican primary.

Our Principles is supplementing its air war with voter calls and mail.


6:55 p.m.

Marco Rubio says he's "not entirely proud" of his deeply personal attacks on Donald Trump and would have handled his critiques of the GOP front-runner differently if he could do it all over again.

The Florida senator, whose standing has fallen since he launched the Trump attacks, says his own children were "embarrassed" by his actions.

Rubio garnered significant attention for criticizing Trump's tan, his hair and his hand size. But the attacks did little to slow the billionaire's march toward the nomination or boost Rubio's own standing.

In a town hall with MSNBC, Rubio says he knows the attacks are "not what we want from our next president."


4:45 p.m.

NASCAR chairman and chief executive Brian France says his personal endorsement of Donald Trump for president was nothing more than a "routine endorsement."

But he's been dealing with the fallout ever since.

France's decision to personally back the front-runner for the Republican nomination is roiling a sport his family built from the ground up. It's threatening a decade of work to broaden NASCAR's appeal among minorities, upset one of the most powerful teams in the sport and risked a break with the corporate sponsors that are its financial lifeblood.

France says of the reaction that he is "very surprised" that his efforts to foster diversity are being "called into question."

He says he's had conversations with sponsors since the endorsement, which came as NASCAR is seeking a new main sponsor for its top series.


4:10 p.m.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich says his turnout in the Michigan primary is indication that voters are "hearing my message."

Speaking in Palatine, Illinois Wednesday, Kasich said that his campaign "went from obliterated, where everybody counted me out to basically tied with Ted Cruz."

He said he expects to win the winner-take-all primary in his home state next week and pick up some delegates in the Illinois primary.

Kasich also said he has no idea what will be discussed at a meeting scheduled for Thursday with former GOP rival Jeb Bush, but that he would like the former Florida governor's endorsement.


4:10 p.m.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are heading into Wednesday night's debate with a far different vibe than when they last squared off just four days ago.

Sanders is riding high after his upset victory in Michigan while Clinton's camp is offering reassurances that she's still on track to claim the nomination.

With Florida offering the biggest prize in the next round of voting, the two campaigns began tussling over who's been a true advocate for Latinos and who's a friend out of political convenience even before taking the candidates took the stage for their eighth debate of the primary season.

Sanders said his Michigan triumph amounted to a public repudiation of establishment efforts to wrap up the primary and hand the nomination to Clinton.


3:30 p.m.

Senators who have endorsed colleague Marco Rubio for the Republican presidential nomination say they are still with him, but some are starting to sound less bullish after disappointing finishes in Tuesday night's primaries and caucuses.

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican who backs the Florida senator, said Wednesday he's sure Rubio "would have liked to have won some states."

Rubio failed to finish better than third four state contests.

Rubio's campaign has focused on next Tuesday's primary in his home state. When asked if it will be over for Rubio if he loses Florida, Flake said "I think everybody knows that."

Others stayed the course. North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis said he's "fully behind Marco."

"We will rebound by having a great day next Tuesday," said South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott.


3:07 p.m.

Bernie Sanders' campaign is claiming fresh momentum after the senator's upset victory in Michigan. But Hillary Clinton's campaign pointed to her growing delegate lead and predicted it would soon have an "insurmountable" advantage as the nomination fight looked to drag deep into spring.

Sanders' campaign manager Jeff Weaver Wednesday called Michigan a "game-changer" in the Democratic presidential contest and said it would bode well for the Vermont senator in primaries next week in Ohio, Illinois and Missouri. He vowed to contest the three Midwest states along with Florida and North Carolina, which also vote on March 15, a shift from a more selective approach in the Super Tuesday states earlier this month.

Weaver said the campaign is "running hard in all the states," pointing to Sanders' advertising in the five states.


2:37 p.m.

An aide with Jeb Bush's failed bid for the Republican nomination says the former Florida governor is meeting privately with all of the remaining GOP candidates, except front-runner Donald Trump.

The aide, who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak with the media, says Bush plans to meet with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio on Wednesday, and has scheduled meetings with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Thursday.

Bush and Trump engaged in heated confrontations throughout Bush's campaign, the two repeatedly referring to each other as "loser."

A number of GOP elites have spoken out against Trump's unorthodox candidacy, saying he does not offer a suitable representation of the party.


2:36 p.m.

Supporters of Ted Cruz in heavily Hispanic south Florida say it's not his Cuban heritage that draws them to him, but his conservative record.

Mercedes Garcia, 80, originally from Cuba and a self-described tea party backer, says in Spanish that she early voted for Cruz because he "is a man who will bring God back to America."

She says Marco Rubio, whom she voted for in 2010 when he ran for Senate, "turned his back on the tea party" when he joined the Gang of Eight in pushing their immigration reform bill. She called it "amnesty."

Palm Beach County resident Celia Garcia Menocal, also born in Cuba, has already voted for Cruz because he "respects the Constitution" and will "protect our religious freedom."

Her great uncle, Mario Garcia Menocal, was president of Cuba from 1913-1921.

Monica Aviles, of Pembroke Pines, said she had been supporting Ben Carson up until two months ago when she switched to Cruz because in part, he's for home schooling.

She said was thrilled to see Carly Fiorina endorse Cruz, calling her "a strong Republican."


1:50 p.m.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is barely mentioning GOP presidential rival Marco Rubio, even on the Florida senator's home turf hours before they debate.

Instead, Cruz introduced former candidate Carly Fiorina, who endorsed him at a campaign rally in Miami. Cruz then ripped GOP front-runner Donald Trump.

He said Trump would not nominate a conservative Supreme Court justice, but "seek compromise" with Democrats in Congress.

Recent polls in Florida show Cruz in third place trailing Trump and Rubio.


1:16 p.m.

Donald Trump says he has spent $30 million so far running for president, and his campaign manager says he's never getting that money back.

As Trump brags about "self-funding" his surging Republican bid, he has been lending ? — rather than giving — ? money to his campaign. That has raised the question of whether his self-funding pledge has strings attached. Would he ever raise donor money to pay himself back?

Not a chance, says campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

"He is not going to repay himself," Lewandowski said in an interview this week with The Associated Press.

Trump, it turns out, is following the standard practice of wealthy candidates who use their own money for presidential campaigns, a review of Federal Election Commission records shows.