2016 presidential race: final weekend in Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Latest on the 2016 race for president on the final weekend of campaigning before Monday's leadoff Iowa caucuses (all times local):

12:25 p.m.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is attacking the readiness of first-term Republican senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz to be president.

Christie campaigned in a packed Cedar Rapids bar Saturday afternoon.

The second-term governor says Rubio and Cruz have "never run anything in their life." He compared serving in the Senate to being in elementary school.

Christie says that in both places, they tell people when to show up, where to sit and when to take recess.

Says Christie: "Somehow, we're going to say the first executive position they ever have should be president of the United States?"


12:10 p.m.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is kicking off the final weekend before the first-in-the-nation caucuses with a pitch to his Iowa supporters to make the rest of the nation follow their lead.

Sanders says at an event in Manchester that the "eyes of America, in fact much of the world" will be on Iowa Monday.

He says an election held today would be a "toss-up" against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, calling the race "virtually tied."

But Sanders says he'll win Monday night if there is a large turnout. He warns "we will lose the caucus" if turnout is low.

The self-described democratic socialist says Iowa could be a model for the nation if "ordinary people — working people, middle-class people, seniors, young people — become involved."


11 a.m.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is defending his call to repeal President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

Cruz was confronted about the stance Saturday by an audience member at a campaign stop in Hubbard, Iowa. Voter Mike Valde told Cruz his brother-in-law couldn't afford health insurance until Obama's law, but by the time he went to a doctor he was dying and couldn't be saved.

Cruz says health insurance is too expensive under the law and told Valde his brother-in-law could have gotten insurance earlier if he could have afforded it "but because of government regulations he couldn't."

Valde said after the event that promising to repeal Obama's law is just a campaign slogan and he wanted to hear Cruz's plan for a replacement.

Valde says he intends to caucus for Democrat Hillary Clinton.


10:15 a.m.

John Kasich says a situation involving lead-tainted water in an Ohio town is "not even comparable" to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

The Ohio governor's comments came during a Saturday presidential campaign stop in New Hampshire in response to a voter question about elevated lead levels in the water in Sebring, Ohio.

Residents in the town recently were told that high lead levels were found in drinking water last summer.

Environmental regulators say the water system operator failed to notify the public, an allegation the plant superintendent denies.

Kasich says Ohio's environmental regulators "sprung immediately into action," and took away the operator's license. He said a federal EPA administrator said the state EPA had taken steps beyond what's required.

Kasich says, "we're on top of it and things are fine."

Flint, Michigan, is under a public health emergency after its drinking water became tainted following a 2014 switch in the city's water source.


9:45 a.m.

On one of the last days before Iowans kick off the 2016 presidential contest with the state's caucuses, Ohio Gov. John Kasich is in New Hampshire.

The Republican is focusing his efforts on the second state on the primary calendar.

He says he's a candidate who can bring people together amid the increasingly nasty battle among his rivals.

Speaking at a Veterans of Foreign Wars hall in Merrimack, Kasich says he plans to govern by forming coalitions to get things done. He says that includes working with Democrats.

In a sign of that promise, Kasich told a voter concerned about climate change that he's committed to reducing carbon emissions.

Climate change is an issue that few of his fellow Republican candidates see as a priority.

Kasich will campaign in New Hampshire through the weekend and on Monday, the day of the Iowa caucuses.

He says campaigning in New Hampshire is more manageable and he insists a strong finish in the state will bring new national interest to his candidacy.


8:40 a.m.

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio is airing 30-minute television programs in every Iowa television market this weekend.

Rubio is flying from Dubuque to Sioux City and other cities on Saturday as part of a busy weekend of campaigning heading into Monday's Iowa caucuses — the first contest in the 2016 race for president.

The TV programs will show excerpts of the town hall-style meetings Rubio has relied on in recent months, and especially in the days before the caucuses.

Rubio's team has focused more on Iowa in the past several weeks. His campaign sees an opening to rise into the top tier of the GOP field alongside Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

The Florida senator has held more public events in Iowa since Thanksgiving than any other Republican.