South Carolina, Nevada votes to test anti-establishment mood

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U.S. Presidential Candidates Face Crucial Contests


Donald Trump confronted two top U.S. companies, a popular pope and virtually anyone else in his way as he headed toward his next test in the fight for the Republican presidential nomination.

On Saturday, voters in South Carolina will have their say in the Republican presidential contest, while those in Nevada weigh in on the Democratic battle. The outcomes in those two states probably will answer key questions about the contours of the two races, including the strength of the anti-establishment candidates.

Trump and five other Republican candidates face off in South Carolina's primary, while Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders compete in Nevada caucuses. South Carolina polls close at 7 p.m., while the caucuses start around midday in Nevada.

GOP candidates campaign in South Carolina:

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South Carolina, Nevada votes to test anti-establishment mood
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump waves after speaking at a rally at the Riverview Park Activity Center in North Augusta, S.C., Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush talks with supporters at a polling place outside Eastlan Baptist Church, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016 in Greenville, S.C. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., signs his book at Clemson University during a campaign stop, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016 in Clemson, S.C. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Ben Carson, retired neurosurgeon and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, smiles while speaking to a reporter during a campaign stop on primary election day at The Beacon Drive-In in Spartanburg, South Carolina, U.S., on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016. With South Carolina polls closing at 7 p.m., voters will have their say in the Republican presidential contest as Donald Trump, who holds a commanding lead in most South Carolina polls, and five other Republican candidates face off. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
CHAPIN, SC - FEBRUARY 20: People vote in the Republican presidential primary on February 20, 2016 in Chapin, South Carolina. Polls show New York businessman Donald Trump leading his closest rival U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - FEBRUARY 19: People reach for signatures, photos, and handshakes as republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets the crowd after speaking during a campaign event at the North Charleston Convention Center in North Charleston, SC on Friday Feb. 19, 2016. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - FEBRUARY 19, 2016: Senator Rubio delivers a heart felt and energetic speech to the gathered supporters at RB Stall High School Friday, February 19, 2016 in North Charleston, South Carolina . (Alex Holt for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA-FEBRUARY 19: Ted Cruz comes out again to speak to supporters after sitting down with Fox Show host Sean Hannity. (Photo by Lucian Perkins /for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign stop Friday, Feb. 19, 2016, in North Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Supporters for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump hold signs during a South Carolina Republican primary night event Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016, in Spartanburg, S.C. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. speaks during a campaign stop, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, in Summerville, S.C. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks at a rally Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, in Anderson, S.C. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Attendees wait to enter a Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump a campaign event Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016, in Bluffton, S.C. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, center, stands with members of the audience for the pledge of allegiance before speaking at a rally at Summerville Country Club in Summerville, S.C., Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks at a rally at Summerville Country Club in Summerville, S.C., Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas speaks at the Seneca Family Restaurant, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, in Seneca, S.C. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Shadows of Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, are cast on a sign as he speaks at a rally Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, in Anderson, S.C. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump meets with attendees during a campaign stop Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016, in Walterboro, S.C. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush listens to a question from the audience during a rally at Summerville Country Club in Summerville, S.C., Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign stop Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016, in Walterboro, S.C. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson addresses the audience during a presidential forum at First Baptist North Spartanburg in Spartanburg, S.C., Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Alex Sanz)
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, addresses the audience during a presidential forum at First Baptist North Spartanburg in Spartanburg, S.C., Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Alex Sanz)
Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas and 2016 presidential candidate, speaks during a campaign rally in Columbia, South Carolina, U.S., on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016. Cruz has flooded South Carolina airwaves with attack ads against Donald Trump, seeking to portray him as an opportunistic politician who shouldn't be trusted by conservatives. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Campaign buttons for Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas and 2016 presidential candidate, sit in a basket ahead of a campaign rally at the Columbia Armory in Columbia, South Carolina, U.S., on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016. Cruz has flooded South Carolina airwaves with attack ads against Donald Trump, seeking to portray him as an opportunistic politician who shouldn't be trusted by conservatives. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
LEESVILLE, SC - FEBRUARY 16: Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush (L) signs an autograph on the cast of local resident Briannah Williams (R) who was injured from cheerleading as her mother Krystle Williams (2nd R) looks on during a campaign event at Shealy's Bar-B-Que February 16, 2016 in Leesville, South Carolina. Bush continued to campaign for the upcoming GOP primary in South Carolina. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
BEAUFORT, SC - FEBRUARY 16: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks on stage during a campaign event on February 16, 2016 in Beaufort, South Carolina. Trump is leading in South Carolina polls just days before the state's primaries. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
LEESVILLE, SC - FEBRUARY 16: A welcome message is seen piror to a campaign event of Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush at Shealy's Bar-B-Que February 16, 2016 in Leesville, South Carolina. Bush continued to campaign for the upcoming GOP primary in South Carolina. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
John Kasich, governor of Ohio and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, speaks during a town hall event at Murray's Neighborhood Bar and Grill in Cayce, South Carolina, U.S., on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016. After deploying an all-in strategy in New England, where he finished behind billionaire Donald Trump, Kasich has a huge challenge ahead of the Feb. 20 South Carolina primary and the other races that will rapidly follow. Photographer: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Bloomberg via Getty Images
John Kasich, governor of Ohio and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, speaks during a town hall event at Murray's Neighborhood Bar and Grill in Cayce, South Carolina, U.S., on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016. After deploying an all-in strategy in New England, where he finished behind billionaire Donald Trump, Kasich has a huge challenge ahead of the Feb. 20 South Carolina primary and the other races that will rapidly follow. Photographer: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Supporters pray during a campaign rally for Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz in Anderson, South Carolina, February 16, 2016. / AFP / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
BLUFFTON, SC - FEBRUARY 17: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to voters on February 17, 2016 in Bluffton, South Carolina. Trump addressed the Sun City Republicans with three days remaining before the South Carolina Republican primary. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson talks with supporters after speaking at a veteran's roundtable in Columbia, South Carolina, February 17, 2016. / AFP / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, speaks during a town hall event at the Omar Shrine Temple in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016. Donald Trump remains the front-runner in South Carolina, where Republican voters head to the polls on Saturday. According to a survey released Monday by Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling, Trump holds a 17-point lead over Senators Rubio and Ted Cruz, who are tied for second place. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson (R) looks at his watch as he rushes to his next event after speaking at a veteran's roundtable in Columbia, South Carolina, February 17, 2016. / AFP / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas and 2016 presidential candidate, speaks during a press conference at the Hampton Inn and Suites in Seneca, South Carolina, U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016. Cruz says Donald Trump sent his lawyers cease and desist letters over a Cruz campaign ad that portrays Trump as pro-choice saying that if the Cruz campaign doesn't pull ad, they'll see immediate legal action to prevent the continued broadcast of this ad, according to Cruz. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WALTERBORO, SC - FEBRUARY 17: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to South Carolina voters on February 17, 2016 in Walterboro, South Carolina. Trump addressed the Lowcountry Sportsmen for Trump with three days remaining before the South Carolina Republican primary. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
CHAPIN, SC - FEBRUARY 17: Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio (R-FL) appears with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley at an event February 17, 2016 in Chapin, South Carolina. Haley endorsed Rubio in the state's upcoming primary. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
An attendee waves a crutch with an American flag during a campaign rally for Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican Presidential candidate, not pictured, at a farm in Walterboro, South Carolina, U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016. Donald Trump remains the front-runner in South Carolina, where Republican voters head to the polls on Saturday. According to a survey released Monday by Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling, Trump holds a 17-point lead over Senators Rubio and Ted Cruz, who are tied for second place. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
An attendee takes a selfie photograph with Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican Presidential candidate, right, following a campaign rally at a farm in Walterboro, South Carolina, U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016. Donald Trump remains the front-runner in South Carolina, where Republican voters head to the polls on Saturday. According to a survey released Monday by Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling, Trump holds a 17-point lead over Senators Rubio and Ted Cruz, who are tied for second place. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A supporter of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump wearing a Superman cape departs the Civic Center after a campaign rally in Sumter, South Carolina, February 17, 2016. / AFP / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
GREENVILLE, SC - FEBRUARY 17: Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) talks to moderator Anderson Cooper (R) during a commercial break of a CNN South Carolina Republican Presidential Town Hall February 17, 2016 in Greenville, South Carolina. The primary vote in South Carolina is February 20. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Fourteen-year-old supporters Kaylie Kilpatrick (C) and her friend James Hanna (L) pose dress like Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a campaign rally in Sumter, South Carolina, February 17, 2016. / AFP / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
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SEE MORE: Combative Trump Takes on Boeing, Apple at Close of South Carolina Race

During the final full day of campaigning on Friday, Trump's most dramatic move was to call for a boycott of Apple Inc., following the company's refusal to cooperate with a judge's order to assist law enforcement in unlocking the iPhone of a shooter in the San Bernardino, California, rampage that killed 14 people in December.

"Boycott Apple until they give up the information," the billionaire said at a rally in Pawleys Island, South Carolina. "The phone is owned by the government."

Using Samsung

The real estate mogul singled out Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook, saying he's "looking to do a big number, probably to show how liberal he is." Trump later tweeted that he'd stop using his iPhone -- and only use a Samsung device -- until Apple cooperates with authorities.

SEE MORE: Clinton Strong in South Carolina But Warning Signs Ahead, Bloomberg Poll Shows

At an earlier stop, Trump suggested that one of South Carolina's top employers could lose jobs if he isn't elected president because nobody else will negotiate as well with the Chinese.

"Boeing is building massive plants in China," he said at a rally in Myrtle Beach. "You have a beautiful plant. Be careful because when they cut the value of their currency, in two years after their plants are built, and you find out you're losing -- not going to happen if Trump is president, that I can tell you -- but be careful."

Boeing Co.'s 787 Dreamliner assembly plant came on line in 2011 in North Charleston and employs about 8,000 people in the region, the top example of a manufacturing renaissance the state has enjoyed in part because of its mostly non-unionized workforce.

SEE MORE: Who Will Win South Carolina and Nevada? Here Are Seven Credible Predictions

The company doesn't build jetliners outside of the U.S., although it unveiled its largest industrial investment in China last year: a new plant to finish work on planes before they're delivered to local carriers.

"Boeing is committed to South Carolina, our workforce and the local community. We have invested more than $2 billion in the state since 2009," Elizabeth Merida, a company spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

'Biggest Liar'

Trump, who holds a commanding lead in most South Carolina polls, also went after Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, his nearest rival, for being "the biggest liar I have ever seen," and took credit for bringing Senator Marco Rubio of Florida into the fight.

"Even Marco Rubio said, 'He's a liar,' and when a politician says another politician is a liar -- I've never heard that before -- I felt so good," Trump said.

Cruz, in turn, launched a new attack on Trump, suggesting that he can't be trusted to pick a conservative justice to fill a U.S. Supreme Court vacancy, like the one created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

"If a candidate says -- and described himself as very pro-choice and supporting partial birth abortion for the first 60 years of his life -- there's no reason on Earth to think they'd suddenly wake up and start fighting to appoint conservative justices," Cruz told a crowd at the College of Charleston.

He didn't mention Trump's name, but the reference was unmistakable. Cruz's campaign and allies have been hammering Trump in recent weeks for telling NBC in a 1999 interview that he was "very pro-choice" and wouldn't ban partial-birth abortion.

Cruz, who has been emphasizing his credentials as a former Supreme Court litigator, vowed that if elected president, "every justice I put on the Supreme Court will be a principled constitutionalist" with a "proven" record.

'Dump Trump'

"If we elect a Democrat, we will lose our constitutional rights for a generation," Cruz said. "But here's the sad truth: Electing a Republican, if it's the wrong Republican, doesn't ensure we keep our rights."

Later during the Cruz rally, some in the crowd chanted, "Dump Trump!"

Cruz also picked up the endorsement of U.S. Representative Mark Sanford, a South Carolina Republican, during a rally at the College of Charleston.

Rubio won the endorsement of South Carolina's popular governor, Nikki Haley, on Wednesday and she has been at his side on the campaign trail ever since. That could give him a boost as he continues to try to recover from his fifth-place finish in New Hampshire's Feb. 9 primary.

"We've got a lot of people watching us today and a lot of people want to know what we're going to do tomorrow," Haley told about 500 people gathered Friday for a Rubio event in the state capital of Columbia.

"We need to nominate someone that can bring us together," said Rubio in his closing pitch. "I know that I can better than anyone in this race. I will bring this party and this movement together, so that we can begin the work of growing our movement."

Gaming Votes

In a statement Friday, Nevada Democratic Party officials sought to discourage any gamesmanship in their caucuses by Republicans on Saturday. Republicans caucus there Tuesday.

"We believe that registering under false pretenses in order to participate in the Democratic caucuses for purposes of manipulating the presidential nominating process is a felony," Roberta Lange, the state party's leader, said in a statement. "The Nevada state Democratic Party will work with law enforcement to prosecute anyone who falsely registers as a Democrat to caucus tomorrow and subsequently participates in the Republican caucuses on Tuesday."

The latest campaign chapter arrives with its share of twists -- a staple of the 2016 presidential race. Thursday brought a rare criticism of a White House candidate by a pope.

Condemning Trump's hard-line immigration agenda, Pope Francis singled out the New York real-estate developer and suggested that he "is not Christian" because of statements he's made about building a wall on the Mexico border. Trump responded by calling the pope's actions "disgraceful."

Since 1980, the winner of South Carolina's Republican primary has gone on to become the party's nominee every time, with one exception. The outlier was in 2012, when a pair of strong debate performances just ahead of the voting lifted Newt Gingrich to a win over eventual nominee Mitt Romney.

South Carolina is also the first test for candidates in a diverse state and in the solidly Republican southern U.S., so its results could be predictive ahead of contests in March, when other southern states will host a large proportion of the primaries and caucuses. The state's voting could spell trouble for former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who once had hoped to win the state but is trailing in the polls.

Bush's Mother

Bush focused Friday on northwest South Carolina, the conservative heart of the state, where his mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, joined him on the trail. At Wade's Restaurant in Spartanburg, the 90-year-old matriarch posed for pictures and joked that Jeb Bush was "one of my four favorite sons."

"He's steady. He's honest. He is modest. He's kind. He is good," Barbara Bush said.

Bush pitched himself as the most accomplished candidate in the race. He warned the crowd about backing a candidate who wasn't ready for the job, and criticized Trump for saying George W. Bush was responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"Yes, Mr. Trump, he did keep us safe after 9/11. You're just dead wrong," Bush said to applause. "My first job as president of the United States will be to rebuild the military, and to talk a little less."

Democrats vote in South Carolina a week later, so the outcome in Nevada will be felt there. Clinton was believed to have the advantage in the western state because of its heavily Hispanic electorate, but some recent polls show the race tied. A Clinton loss in Nevada, after a crushing 22-point defeat by Sanders in New Hampshire, would further stoke doubts about her staying power in a general election against a Republican.

Clinton's Lead

Clinton is in better shape in South Carolina. A Bloomberg Politics poll released Thursday showed the former secretary of state leading the senator from Vermont, 53 percent to 31 percent, among likely Democratic primary voters. She was buoyed by a 3-to-1 advantage among black voters.

Clinton received a boost Friday from the endorsement of the state's highest ranking black Democrat, U.S. Representative Jim Clyburn. Her campaign also released a new ad narrated by legendary black actor Morgan Freeman that tells the story of her lifetime commitment to "breaking barriers."

A Trump win in South Carolina would help his prospects of winning his party's nomination.

A Bloomberg Politics poll of likely Republican voters in South Carolina released Wednesday showed Trump leading the field with support from 36 percent, followed by Cruz at 17 percent, Rubio at 15 percent and Bush at 13 percent.

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who has found little success in previous contests in Iowa and New Hampshire, was backed by 9 percent. Ohio Governor John Kasich was at 7 percent.

A second-place showing in South Carolina for Rubio would do much to anoint him as the establishment Republican favorite to confront Trump and Cruz. It could also go a long way toward extinguishing the flame of the campaign of his one-time mentor, Bush.

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