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WATCH: Marco Rubio says Donald Trump pissed in his pants during the debate

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Emboldened by a strong debate performance, U.S. Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio went after front-runner Donald Trump again on Friday, undeterred by opinion polls predicting the billionaire would win big in the crucial Super Tuesday nominating contests next week.

With Trump, 69, increasingly looking to be the party’s likely nominee for the Nov. 8 election, Rubio on Thursday night scored his most aggressive debate performance of the months-long election campaign.

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Trump’s swipes at rival candidates and heated exchanges with others have bolstered his standing in nominating contests and opinion polls. On Thursday night, his rivals struck back.

The U.S. senator from Florida, Rubio, 44, brought up the real estate developer’s four past bankruptcies and his use of imported Polish workers to work at a Florida resort, and pointedly suggested the New Yorker would not be where he is today in the real estate business without a family inheritance.

But attacks by Rubio and fellow candidate Ted Cruz, a conservative U.S. senator from Texas, only dented Trump’s momentum, according to opinion polls and online betting markets.

PredictWise, a research project that analyzes opinion polls and betting markets, said Trump would comfortably win among Republicans in all but one of 11 states that it measured in the March 1 nominating contests, known as Super Tuesday. Cruz, 45, is likely to win in Texas, his home state, PredictWise said.

PredictIt, based out of Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, on Friday gave Trump a 73 percent chance of winning the nomination compared with a peak 75 percent chance two days earlier. Rubio is his closest rival at 27 percent, up only a point from the day before.

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With Trump, a brash former reality TV show host, now winning three straight nominating contests in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada, denial is giving way to a mostly gloomy acceptance among Republicans in Washington that he may have too much momentum to be stopped, especially if he wins big in the key Southern primaries next week.

Rubio, the leading candidate from the Republican establishment, took a swipe at Trump again on Friday.

“Guys, we have a con artist as the front-runner of the Republican Party,” he said at a campaign event in Dallas.

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Rubio described various Trump business ventures that he said had failed. “You ever heard of Trump vodka? You have? Well, it isn’t around anymore,” said Rubio, a first-term senator and foreign policy hawk.

Trump has vowed to build a wall on the U.S.- Mexican border, called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States and promised to take a tough stance on trade against China.

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(Additional reporting by Dan Burns and Derek Caney in New York; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Howard Goller)


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Elections 2016

California bill to establish nation’s second public bank applauded as ‘historic challenge to Wall Street domination’

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"If California is serious about addressing racial and income inequities, we must create a banking system that centers people not profits."

In a move advocacy groups celebrated as a "historic challenge to Wall Street domination of municipal finances," a pair of California state lawmakers on Thursday unveiled legislation that would establish the nation's second publicly-owned bank and empower the institution to lend to businesses and local governments fighting to stay afloat amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

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COVID-19

What is China doing to stop Beijing’s new coronavirus outbreak?

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Over 1,000 flights have been cancelled, schools shut and residents urged not to leave Beijing, as Chinese authorities race to contain a fresh outbreak linked to the capital's largest wholesale food market.

The number of confirmed cases in the capital has shot up to 137 within the last week after two months of no cases, and four other provinces have revealed cases linked to the Beijing cluster.

How did the outbreak begin, and what measures are Beijing taking to contain it?

- What is the origin of the cluster? -

Beijing had turned into a virtual fortress at the height of the pandemic, with people arriving from other regions or countries required to undergo quarantines.

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2020 Election

Democrats and Never-Trumpers gaming out ‘doomsday scenarios’ if president refuses to leave office: report

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According to a report in the New York Times, Democratic strategists and Never-Trumper conservatives fear Donald Trump will refuse to leave office should he lose in November and are making plans and figuring out their legal options should such an unprecedented state of affairs come to pass.

The report, by the Times' Reid Epstein, begins with one such possible scenario.

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