Trump says comments about judge 'misconstrued'

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on campaign 2016 as California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota vote. (all times Eastern):

4:05 p.m.

Republican Donald Trump says that his attacks on the judge handling the Trump University case have been "misconstrued."

Trump said in a lengthy statement Tuesday afternoon that "it is unfortunate" his comments "have been misconstrued as a categorical attack against people of Mexican heritage."

Trump has complained repeatedly that federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel is biased against him and cited his Mexican heritage. Curiel was born in the U.S.

His comments have sparked a backlash among members of the Republican Party, House Speaker Paul Ryan saying Tuesday that they are "the textbook definition of racist comments."

Trump said in his statement, "I do not feel that one's heritage makes them incapable of being impartial," but said that he feels justified to question whether he is receiving a fair trial based on the ruling.

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3:50

Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois says Donald Trump's comments about a U.S. federal judge of Mexican heritage are un-American and he cannot support the presumptive presidential nominee.

This is a reversal for Kirk, one of the more endangered GOP incumbents, who had said recently he would support Trump.

In a statement Tuesday, Kirk said that Trump's "belief that an American-born judge of Mexican descent is incapable of fairly presiding over his case is not only dead wrong, it is un-American."

Kirk said he was hoping the rhetoric would tone down. Instead, Trump's comments along with past attacks on Hispanics, women and "the disabled like me, make it certain that I cannot and will not support my party's nominee" regardless of the impact on his own candidacy.

The senator added that he has concluded Trump is not fit to be commander-in-chief and oversee thousands of nuclear weapons.

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1:28 p.m.

The only black Republican senator says Donald Trump's comments about a U.S.-born judge of Mexican heritage are "racially toxic."

Still, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott says he's supporting Trump for president.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Scott said Trump needs to focus on the general election and "we need to win."

Scott said he saw no need for GOP lawmakers to rescind their endorsements of Trump. He said the Obama administration has been "disastrous" for communities across the country.

"(Hillary) Clinton would just provide four more years of the last eight, and that's not in anybody's best interest," he said.

Trump has drawn criticism for his claim that U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel can't preside over his case fairly because the judge is of Mexican heritage and Trump wants to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

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1 p.m.

A Republican senator says Donald Trump's criticism of a U.S.-born federal judge of Mexican heritage could fuel a convention challenge of the presumptive GOP nominee.

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake said the Republicans cannot win in November with Trump as the party's standard-bearer.

"Let's face it: meet the old Trump, just like the new Trump," Flake, who has long opposed the billionaire's candidacy, told reporters. "We've got what we've got. That's not somebody who can win the White House."

"Where there's no talk of a convention challenge or anything else, this might spur it," Flake said of Trump's comments on Judge Gonzalo Curiel.

Trump has contended that Curiel, who is presiding over a case alleging that Trump University fleeced students, can't judge him fairly because the judge is of Mexican heritage and Trump wants to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Trump has been questioned repeatedly about his stance but has refused to retract his comments. Curiel was born in Indiana to parents who came from Mexico in the 1940s.

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11:15 a.m.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says that Donald Trump has the right to express his opinion and that he's not a racist.

Christie defended the presumptive Republican nominee who has been criticized for saying U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel cannot judge him fairly because he is of Mexican heritage and Trump plans to build a wall with Mexico.

The former Republican presidential candidate and his son, Andrew, are delegates for Trump. They voted Tuesday at the firehouse in their hometown of Mendham. Their names are on the ballot with Trump's.

Christie told reporters that he wouldn't take questions on what he called the "judge kerfuffle."

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10:20 a.m.

House Speaker Paul Ryan says Donald Trump's comments on an American-born judge of Mexican heritage are "the textbook definition of racist comments."

Ryan says that the "mature and responsible thing" would be for Trump to disavow the comments.

"I do absolutely disavow his comments I think they're wrong," Ryan says but adds that "I'm going to be focusing on these ideas these solutions and not attempt to try and defend the indefensible."

Ryan says he will still support Trump because his agenda is more likely to get enacted under Trump than Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Trump says U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel cannot judge him fairly because he is of Mexican heritage and Trump plans to build a wall with Mexico.

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7:30 a.m.

House minority leader Nancy Pelosi has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. The California Democrat had held off on a formal endorsement but on Tuesday, the day her state holds its presidential primary, Pelosi announced her support for the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

Pelosi told ABC's "Good Morning America" that "I'm a voter in California and I have voted for Hillary Clinton for president of the United States and proud to endorse her for that position."

Pelosi told ABC she believes Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Clinton's rival, will be a constructive force for 2016.

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3:00 a.m.

History already in hand, Hillary Clinton will celebrate becoming the first woman to lead a major American political party following votes in California, New Jersey and four other states.

Clinton reached the 2,383 delegates needed to become the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee on the eve of Tuesday's voting, according to an Associated Press tally.

Her total is comprised of pledged delegates won in primaries and caucuses, as well as superdelegates — the party officials and officeholders who can back a candidate of their choosing.

Clinton greeted news of her achievement with a measured response. She's wary of depressing turnout in the impending contests and eager to save the revelry for a big victory party in Brooklyn.

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This story has been corrected to reflect that Kirk was referring to Trump, not himself in last sentence of top item.


Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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