The Latest: Obama: GOP contest 'a circus' and 'a crackup'

The latest on the GOP candidates. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on the presidential race ahead of Thursday's GOP debate and the March 15 primaries (all times local):

12:15 p.m.

President Barack Obama says Donald Trump's positions aren't different from those of the other Republican presidential candidates — he's just more provocative in talking about them.

Obama weighed in on the 2016 presidential campaign during a news conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (troo-DOH'). Obama says Trump's positions on immigration and other issues aren't that different from those of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz or Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

Obama calls the GOP primary a "circus" and a "Republican crackup" resulting from GOP actions. Obama says he takes responsibility for failing to bridge political divides, but says he has not contributed to the worsening tone of political rhetoric.

Obama says he believes the Democrats are doing a fine job of working out issues in their primary.


11:40 a.m.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich has landed the high-profile endorsement of Ohio State's head football coach ahead of the state's critical presidential primary.

In a video released Thursday, Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer calls Kasich a friend and says he's "a true supporter" of what Kasich stands for. Meyer urges the governor to "go win this darn thing."

The remarks come days after Republican front runner Donald Trump praised Meyer at a political rally in Columbus. The billionaire businessman said he wasn't sure if Meyer endorsed him but he had said "such nice things."

Kasich has been lining up high-profile endorsements, including movie star and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, headed into his home state primary.

The winner-take-all contest, worth 66 delegates, is a must-win for the governor and former congressman.


3:17 a.m.

Anxious Republican officials are coming to terms with the idea that their second least favorite presidential candidate — polarizing Texas conservative Ted Cruz — may be the party's best last chance to stop Donald Trump.

Reluctant Senate colleagues and former presidential rivals have long feared Cruz's purist ideology but fear the prospect of a Trump nomination more. The first-term Texas senator has gained the support of one former primary opponent, Carly Fiorina, and is seeking the backing of another, Jeb Bush, on Thursday.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham says Cruz is "the most logical person to take on Trump." Earlier in the year Graham likened the choice between Cruz and Trump to "being shot or poisoned."

Trump, meanwhile, is calling on mainstream Republicans to unify behind his candidacy.

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The Gayly - 3/10/2016 @ 11:43 a.m. CST