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The Latest: Booker doesn’t link Trump rhetoric to massacre

The Latest on the Democratic contenders for president (all times Eastern):

5:45 p.m.

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker is criticizing President Donald Trump’s “bigoted, sexist rhetoric” as “dangerous,” but declined to fault him Saturday in the New Zealand mosque massacre.

Booker said Trump’s rhetoric and the fact that he “can’t even condemn Nazis” is dangerous, but said he’s “not connecting it to any incidents.” He made the comments to reporters after a campaign stop in Ottumwa, Iowa,

Booker said “there are white supremacist groups and right-wing groups that use his rhetoric as license for what they do. They talk about him being on their side. And that’s unacceptable.”

He said if elected president, he would instruct his Justice Department to investigate hate groups and “unequivocally denounce” hatred.

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4:15 p.m.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar says as president she would put forward a major infrastructure program that would help address flooding that is hitting parts of the Midwest.

The Democratic presidential candidate is campaigning in Iowa on Saturday in two riverfront communities, Waterloo and Dubuque, where flooding is expected soon.

She met with officials Friday in Minnesota to discuss preparations for what could be record flooding due to this year’s heavy snowfall. That will also affect parts of Iowa.

President Donald Trump has pledged a “significant” infrastructure plan but has so far not advanced one. A big obstacle has been how to fund such a proposal.

Klobuchar told a crowd in Dubuque that the U.S. hasn’t been investing like it should in infrastructure. She says one option to fund a plan would be raising the corporate tax rate, which was cut in Trump’s 2017 tax bill.

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4 p.m.

Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke says being a white male in a 2020 Democratic field that’s so deeply diverse won’t be a hindrance because his gender and race mean he’s had advantages over the course of his life.

The former Texas congressman told reporters Saturday in Waterloo, Iowa, of being white and male: “I would never begin by saying that it’s a disadvantage at all.”

O’Rourke said he’d had “privileges that others could not depend on or take for granted” and called fixing that “a big part” of his campaign.

In his third day of presidential campaigning, O’Rourke also called the field of Democratic hopefuls “the best we’ve ever seen” while noting that he’s the only candidate from the U.S.-Mexico border, which he said “dominates so much of our national conversation.”

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1:10 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar is criticizing President Donald Trump for his response to the deadly attack in a New Zealand mosque, telling voters in Iowa “it’s our job to stand up against” white supremacism.

Trump played down the threat posed by white nationalism on Friday after the mosque massacre that left 49 people dead. The man accused of the shootings has described himself as a white nationalist who hates immigrants.

Klobuchar spoke about the shooting during a campaign stop in Waterloo, Iowa, on Saturday. The Minnesota senator referenced Trump’s comments after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 when he said “both sides” were to blame for violence.

She said, “that other side was white supremacism.”

Another Democratic hopeful, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, also is criticizing Trump, who he says “uses exactly the same language of this monster who shot Muslims and talked about the invaders.” He says the president “continually looks for dog whistles to spread hate rather than for looking for ways to search for the better angels of our nature.”

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11:25 a.m.

Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke is going the distance in Iowa — taking it on the run Saturday in a 5K road race.

The Texas Democrat finished the run in North Liberty in about 25 minutes. He said he was on pace for a slower, 40-minute time in the roughly 3-mile race but began chatting about health care with a fellow runner, kept pace with him and finished faster.

Before the race, many runners posed for pictures or asked if O’Rourke was a regular runner — he frequently jogs — but there was little talk of politics.

The former congressman entered the 2020 presidential race Thursday after months of speculation. He has four Iowa events scheduled Saturday.

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10:20 a.m.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has championed public service opportunities during a campaign stop in New Hampshire, saying the work could help treat some of the woes facing the country today.

The Democratic presidential hopeful says public service “changes your life.” Gillibrand says, “That’s why I want national service. That’s why I want to make it the cornerstone of my presidency.”

The New York senator held a civic service round table in Manchester on Saturday as she finishes a two-day swing through the first-in-the-nation primary state.

She said she “would like to tell anyone in America, if you’re willing to do two years of public service, you can get your college degree paid for. So if you’re willing to do a year and only a year, you can get two years paid for.”

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1:05 a.m.

Joe Biden is the scheduled headliner at a Democratic Party dinner in Delaware, his home state, as the former vice president considers whether to make another White House run.

Others already in the 2020 race — including Beto O’Rourke, the former Texas congressman who’s just joined the crowded field — are visiting early voting states.

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is ending a two-day tour in New Hampshire. That’s where Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is set to make some stops in his first visit to the state since announcing his presidential run.

In Iowa, O’Rourke is scheduled to appear at three events, starting with a St. Patrick’s Day road race. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will give a speech in Nevada.

Source: Economic Times