Cruz, Rubio escalate case against Trump

ATLANTA (AP) — With Super Tuesday looming, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz escalated their argument Saturday that Donald Trump is a conservative impostor, trying to make the case to voters they can keep the ascendant billionaire from claiming the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

At a rally outside the Georgia Capitol, Cruz went after Trump's positions on immigration and gun control, criticized his ethics and hammered him for his frequent use of profanity.

"You don't know what he's going to say," Cruz told reporters. "To the parents: Would you be proud of your children if they came home and repeated the words of Donald Trump?"

Super Tuesday is the biggest single-day delegate haul of the nomination contests. Republicans will vote in 11 states, with 595 delegates at stake. A candidate must have 1,237 state delegates to win the Republican nomination at the National Convention this summer.

Rubio kept up a barrage of insults aimed at Trump. Speaking at a football stadium at Mount Paran Christian School in suburban Atlanta, Rubio said Trump has "the worst spray tan in America."

"Donald Trump likes to sue people," Rubio said. "He should sue whoever did that to his face."

The quip drew laughs. Rubio quickly turned to immigration and kept up his criticism that the real estate mogul has employed people living in the country illegally.

"I will do whatever it takes," Rubio said. "I will campaign as long as it takes." He said: "Donald Trump, a con artist, will never get control of this party."

The Texas senator appealed for each supporter to get nine others to vote for him Tuesday.

Trump, the Republican front-runner who has won three states in a row after losing in Iowa's caucuses to Cruz, held a campaign rally in Arkansas with Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor and former presidential candidate who dropped out of the race after a sixth place finish in New Hampshire.

"This guy has a fresh mouth," Trump said of Rubio. He called him a "light little nothing." Their raw feud flared in the last debate, when a newly aggressive Rubio went relentlessly after the billionaire, and it hasn't subsided since.

In Tennessee, Ohio Gov. John Kasich won the endorsement of former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, now dean of Belmont University's law school.

Gonzales was White House counsel under President George W. Bush before becoming the nation's first Hispanic attorney general in 2005. He resigned in an uproar over allegations of torture of terrorism suspects and controversy over politically motivated firings of U.S. attorneys.

Piling on, Cruz said if Republicans nominate Trump, Americans will make Hillary Clinton the next president, a prediction that assumes she wins the Democratic nomination over Bernie Sanders. Cruz slammed Trump's past support for the Brady Bill, gun control legislation that President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1993.

"Anybody who would support Bill Clinton's ban on some of the most popular weapons in America is not a committed conservative," Cruz said.

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Beaumont reported from Kennesaw, Georgia. Associated Press writer Erik Schelzig contributed to this report from Nashville, Tennessee.

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Follow Bill Barrow and Thomas Beaumont on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/billbarrowap and http://twitter.com/tombeaumont

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