The Latest: Muslim group issues warning over Trump comments

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The Latest on the 2016 presidential election and two crucial contests Saturday: South Carolina's Republican primary and Nevada's Democratic caucuses (all times are Eastern Standard Time):

2:30 p.m.

A major Muslim civil rights group says Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's telling of a discredited story about a U.S. general shooting Muslims with bullets dipped in pigs' blood could incite violence.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations National Executive Director Nihad Awad says in a statement that Trump's "inflammatory rhetoric has crossed the line from spreading hatred to inciting violence."

Trump was defending his support of waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques at a rally in South Carolina Friday night when he told the largely unsubstantiated tale of Gen. John Pershing allegedly halting Muslim attacks in the Philippines in the early 1900s by shooting them with bullets dipped in pigs' blood.

Pigs are considered unclean by Muslims and some other religious groups.


2:15 p.m.

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump is questioning whether President Barack Obama would have attended Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's funeral Mass "if it were held in a mosque."

Trump says on Twitter that it's "very sad" that Obama didn't attend Saturday's service in Washington.

Vice President Joe Biden represented the administration. Obama visited the court on Friday to view Scalia's flag-draped casket. The White House says Obama's decision about the Mass was a "respectful arrangement" that took into account his large security detail.

Trump has raised questions about Obama's birthplace and religion, falsely suggesting that Obama was born outside the United States and is a Muslim.

Trump's tweet came as South Carolina was holding its GOP primary.


2 p.m.

Close call.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders almost crossed paths just before Nevada's Democratic caucuses get underway.

First it was Sanders who stopped by an employee cafeteria at Harrah's casino in Las Vegas. Just minutes after he left, Hillary Clinton came in and was greeted with cheers.

Unionized casino workers are an important constituency in the caucuses. Their union has ensured that a room at each casino is open for employees to caucus in during special, two-hour paid breaks.


1 p.m.

Bernie Sanders is kicking off his caucus day in Nevada with culinary workers at the MGM Grand casino in Las Vegas.

Sanders tells reporters that "if there's a large turnout I think we're going to do just fine. If it's a low turnout, that may be another story."

Sanders drew cheers from union workers at the casino hotel's cafeteria. He shook hands and posed for photos and asked workers if they planned to attend the caucuses.


11:40 a.m.

John Kasich's presidential campaign is already claiming a victory of sorts in South Carolina.

A top strategist, John Weaver, tells reporters that however the Republican candidate does in Saturday's primary, Kasich's showing will be enough to "drive somebody else out of the race."

Weaver says he's expecting two candidates to drop out over the next week — including Jeb Bush. Weaver says that "for all practical purposes, there's no path forward" for the former Florida governor.

Kasich finished second in the New Hampshire primary, but the expectations are lower for his performance in South Carolina.

The Ohio governor hasn't ignored South Carolina, but he has focused resources on states in the Midwest and Northeast that host contests in March.


10:45 a.m.

Ted Cruz has taken time away from campaigning in South Carolina to attend the funeral Mass in Washington for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

The Republican presidential candidate plans to be back in South Carolina later Saturday to await the results. Voting ends at 7 p.m.

The Texas senator has a personal connection to the high court: In the late 1990s, he served as a law clerk for a year to then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist.


10:10 a.m.

Jeb Bush says he's "excited where we stand" as he faces a critically important test in South Carolina's Republican presidential primary.

Bush says he's going to "work hard for the day" and await results after the polls close at 7 p.m. He says "it's interesting that a lot of people claim they're undecided this late."

The former Florida governor entered the 2016 presidential race as an early favorite. But he may need a third-place finish — if not better — in South Carolina in order to remain a viable candidate.

Bush tells reporters outside a polling location in Greenville that "to be able to beat expectations would be helpful. I think we'll do that."

And his take on the prospects of a President Donald Trump? Bush says the billionaire businessman "can't win, plain and simple."


9:15 a.m.

Will there by a "Haley effect" in South Carolina' Republican presidential primary?

Jason Sims — a teacher from Mount Pleasant — says he made a last-minute decision to vote for Marco Rubio, and that Gov. Nikki Haley's endorsement was "a big deal."

Sims say he was "kind of riding the fence" until Haley said she was backing the Florida senator.

Rubio is trying to rebound after a disappointing fifth-place finish in New Hampshire — and he's hoping the popular governor's endorsement will be a big boost.

Rubio wants to emerge as the go-to candidate for mainstream Republicans — and the chief alternative to Donald Trump and Ted Cruz in the race.


8:40 a.m.

There's a lot of attention on Jeb Bush as South Carolina Republican vote in their presidential primary.

The former Florida governor entered the 2016 presidential race as an early favorite. But he may need a third-place finish — if not better — on Saturday in order to remain viable in the race.

Bush finished sixth in Iowa's leadoff caucuses and fourth in New Hampshire.

He's trying to break out as the establishment alternative to Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. But Bush has competition on that front, chiefly from Marco Rubio and John Kasich.

Without a strong showing in South Carolina, the Bush campaign may have a hard time competing in Nevada next week and then in the large number of states voting on March 1.