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Here's why California's Republican primary finally matters

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton strengthened their leads in delegates in Tuesday night's primaries.

A switch in strategy yields no progress for Bernie Sanders, and campaign floats Hail Mary move

 (Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press)
(Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press)

At the beginning of the month, Bernie Sanders focused on winning a few targeted states, ceding large swaths of the country to Hillary Clinton. 

The strategy allowed Clinton to rack up big margins in Southern states and build a lead in delegates needed to secure the Democratic nomination. 

So on Tuesday, with five states in play, the Sanders campaign spread its resources more broadly in hopes of scooping up as many delegates as possible.

The result, however, was similar -- Clinton expanded her lead once again.

Also similar was the reaction from Sanders' team on a conference call with reporters. In what's become something of a mantra from the campaign, strategist Tad Devine said that winning the nomination "is not a matter of delegate arithmetic" and said more favorable contests lie ahead. 

“We’re at halftime here, and we agree we’re behind, but we think we’re going to win this game," Devine said. 

Jeff Weaver, the campaign's manager, expressed frustration with the sentiment that Clinton was already locking down the nomination, calling it a "media drumbeat to essentially disenfranchise half of the Democratic voters."

If Sanders picks up steam, Devine said he could start peeling off superdelegates, who are party leaders and elected officials who can choose which candidate to support. So far they've overwhelmingly backed Clinton. 

Even pledged delegates could switch their votes to Sanders, Devine said. 

“We’re not out trying to convince anyone to do anything at the moment," he said. "We do believe, if we can succeed in the second half of the process as much as Hillary did [in the first half], or even more so, there will be enormous pressure on people who are going to be delegates at the convention to do the right and responsible thing."

Snapshot from the trail -- John Kasich at Villanova University

It's unlikely that anybody is going to achieve enough delegates to avoid a convention, and for those who worry about a convention, it'll be right in the open. I mean, there's no closed rooms.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich speaking in the suburbs of Philadelphia on Wednesday. Kasich bested Donald Trump in Ohio's primary on Tuesday and has vowed to take his campaign to the GOP convention this summer.

With Rubio gone, Kasich will stay on Pennsylvania ballot

Now that Marco Rubio has dropped out of the presidential race, his supporters have ended a legal effort to keep Ohio Gov. John Kasich off the ballot next month in neighboring Pennsylvania.

Presidential candidates must submit 2,000 voter signatures to get on the state's April 26 primary ballot. Kasich’s petitions had 2,184 signatures — but at least 192 of those weren’t valid, both sides agreed.

Attorney Larry Otter, representing the Kasich campaign, initially argued that the protest filed by Rubio supporters shouldn’t count.

He said it was filed too late — at 5:13 p.m. on Feb. 23, the last day to file. That's 13 minutes after the secretary of state’s office usually closes.

Attorney John Bravacos, whose brother Chris was heading Rubio’s campaign in Pennsylvania, countered that challenges were allowed until 11:59 p.m.

The dispute between the two GOP rivals was headed for the state’s Commonwealth Court. But Bravacos filed a motion Wednesday to withdraw his challenge to Kasich.

Rubio was trounced Tuesday in his home state of Florida by GOP front-runner Donald Trump. He suspended his White House bid shortly after polls closed.

"The case is dead," Bravacos said in a telephone interview. He said it's too late for another candidate to try to keep Kasich off the Pennsylvania ballot.

"We said all along that we were going to be on the ballot in Pennsylvania," said Rob Nichols, a spokesman for the Kasich campaign.

He predicted that Kasich would "perform very well" there.

Last week, a Pennsylvania judge ruled that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was eligible to stay on the primary ballot, despite being born in Calgary, Canada. His mother is a U.S. citizen.

Suspense over Missouri primary could last several days as results are tallied

 (Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)
(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump hold razor-thin leads in Missouri, and final results in the state's presidential primary elections probably won’t come before Friday -- the deadline for the state to receive and count absentee ballots

While the final results may matter for bragging rights, they may have little impact on delegate allocation. 

According to the latest totals, Clinton is leading Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in Missouri, 49.6% to 49.4%, with the two candidates dividing the state's delegates evenly. Slight movement in the final results is unlikely to change the delegate totals. 

Meanwhile, Trump leads Texas Sen. Ted Cruz by 40.9% to 40.7% and has 37 delegates from Missouri in his column, compared to 15 for Cruz, according to tentative national delegate allocations by the state party. 

On Wednesday, the Missouri secretary of state released a statement noting record voter turnout in the primary. 

More than 1.5 million registered voters turned out on Tuesday, outpacing the previous record of 1.4 million in the 2008 primary, according to Secretary of State Jason Kander's office.

Donald Trump's campaign manager also will serve as a delegate at convention

 (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Corey Lewandowski will be working double time for Donald Trump at this summer's Republican National Convention. 

Lewandowski, the billionaire businessman's campaign manager, is on a list of 11 delegates and 11 alternates from New Hampshire submitted by the campaign for the GOP convention, according to a spokesperson for the secretary of state's office.

It's rare for a campaign to dispatch paid staffers as delegates, but Lewandowski, a resident of the Granite State, is set to serve as both

Lewandowski has come under scrutiny recently over accusations that he assaulted a reporter, which he has denied.

After securing wins in Florida, Illinois and North Carolina on Tuesday, Trump is the strong front-runner for the GOP nomination

In an interview on CNN on Wednesday, Trump said that riots could break out this summer if he wins more delegates than any of his rivals but is denied the GOP nomination for president.

Yes, California, we do matter!

California Republicans are about to experience an event many of them have never seen: a primary that could truly determine a presidential nomination.

Because Donald Trump lost Ohio’s primary on Tuesday night, ceding the state’s 66 delegates to its governor, John Kasich, the race to get the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the nomination seems unlikely to be settled before California votes on June 7.

Barring another big shift in the race, such as a decision by one of the three remaining candidates to drop out, the contest for California will be critical to the outcome.

Some Republican women hate Donald Trump so much, they're talking about the unthinkable -- voting for Hillary Clinton

 (Rhona Wise / AFP/Getty Images)
(Rhona Wise / AFP/Getty Images)

Get Carol Roszka talking about why she does not want Hillary Clinton in the White House, and it is hard to get her to stop. Roszka vents about how Clinton’s handling of the Benghazi attacks in Libya was disgraceful, her feminism is phony and her ambition is off-putting.

“She wants to be elected at all costs,” said Roszka, a 63-year-old from suburban Detroit who often votes Republican, as she did in last week’s Michigan primary.

Yet Roszka says when she votes in November, it will very likely be for Clinton.

Donald Trump has driven her to it. “I do not want Trump under any circumstances,” she said of the New York billionaire who looks headed to appear on the ballot alongside Clinton, after both candidates won a round of key states Tuesday. “So much so that I will not vote for the Republican Party at all if he runs.”

Gov. Rick Scott calls on Republicans to unite around Donald Trump after he wins Florida

 (Alan Diaz / Associated Press)
(Alan Diaz / Associated Press)

The endorsement came a day late, but it could be beneficial in the fall. 

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who had sat on the sidelines before his state's primary Tuesday, endorsed GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump on Wednesday after the billionaire businessman swept Florida's winner-take-all contest. 

"I’m asking all Republicans today to come together and begin preparing to win the general election in November,” Scott wrote on Facebook. 

“With his victories yesterday, I believe it is now time for Republicans to accept and respect the will of the voters and coalesce behind Donald Trump.”

Trump trounced Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, 45%-27%, on Tuesday, leading Rubio to suspend his campaign. 

With victories in four states Tuesday, Trump inched closer to securing enough delegates to potentially lock up the GOP nomination. Only Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who both lag in delegates, remain in the race.

Florida is always a major prize in a presidential campaign, and it could be a critical swing state in the fall.

In 2008 and 2012, President Obama carried Florida by the narrowest of margins.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, also won Florida convincingly on Tuesday. 

Will Scott's endorsement help Trump?

Scott's approval ratings in Florida are far from stellar. Polls from late last year showed him among the least popular governors in the country.

Trump has upended the Republican establishment, winning 19 primary and caucus states with few endorsements from governors, senators and other key party leaders.

Still, he's open to outside support. Last month, he welcomed the endorsement of Chris Christie after the New Jersey governor dropped his own White House bid.

Christie, who is facing his own problems back home, campaigned at Trump's side for several days.

Donald Trump wields Putin and Islamic State satire against Hillary Clinton

The tide will turn in our favor, Bernie Sanders says

Bernie Sanders slipped further behind Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, but the Vermont senator said he expects to hit a hot streak that will keep him in the running for the Democratic presidential nomination.

"This is the high water mark for the Clinton campaign," Sanders wrote in a message asking for donations.

Small-dollar donors have allowed the Sanders campaign to match Clinton's fundraising prowess, and they could keep him competitive in upcoming primaries and caucuses. 

"We have an extremely good chance to win nearly every state that votes in the next month," including Arizona and Washington, Sanders said. "If we continue to stand together, we’re just getting started for our political revolution."

Unfortunately for Sanders, the states coming up in the next month are mostly fairly small. Winning them won't yield a big haul of convention delegates unless Sanders were to win by landslides.

Clinton currently has a lead of more than 300 among the pledged delegates to this summer's Democratic convention. There are just over 370 delegates up for grabs in the contests between now and the New York primary on April 19. Sanders would have to win a huge majority of them to eat significantly into Clinton's delegate edge.

Robby Mook, Clinton's campaign manager, said it's increasingly impossible for Sanders to catch up. In addition to her lead among pledged delegates, the vast majority of super-delegates -- party leaders and elected officials who can choose which candidate to support -- have already said they're backing Clinton. 

Hillary Clinton praises Supreme Court pick, urges Senate to hold hearings

Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland with President Obama in the White House Rose Garden on Wednesday. (Nicholas Kamm / AFP/Getty Images)
Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland with President Obama in the White House Rose Garden on Wednesday. (Nicholas Kamm / AFP/Getty Images)

On the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton has repeatedly blasted Senate Republican leaders for saying they wouldn't consider any Supreme Court nominee from President Obama in an election year.

She repeated those criticisms on Wednesday after Obama nominated federal Judge Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy created by the death of Antonin Scalia. 

Obama "has chosen a nominee with considerable experience on the bench and in public service, a brilliant legal mind and a long history of bipartisan support and admiration," Clinton said in a statement. 

Now, she said, it's up to members of the Senate to "perform the constitutional duty they swore to undertake" and consider the president's choice. 

"It should begin that work immediately by giving Judge Garland a full and fair hearing followed by a vote," she said. "That is what the American people deserve, it is what our Constitution demands, and with millions of people’s lives in the balance, anything less is entirely unacceptable.”

Donald Trump warns of riots if he is denied the GOP nomination

Donald Trump said Wednesday that riots could break out this summer if he wins more delegates than any of his rivals but is denied the Republican Party nomination for president.

After winning primaries in Florida, North Carolina and Illinois on Tuesday, Trump has won at least 646 delegates, more than half of the 1,237 he needs to clinch the nomination before the party’s national convention in Cleveland in July. But there is a chance he will fall short when primary voting concludes in June.

“I think we’ll win before we get to the convention,” Trump told CNN on Wednesday morning. “But I can tell you, if we didn’t, and if we’re 20 votes short, or if we’re 100 short, and we’re at 1,100, and somebody else is at 500 or 400 – because we’re way ahead of everybody – I don’t think you can say that we don’t get it automatically. I think you’d have riots.”

Trump’s two remaining GOP rivals are well behind him: Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has 397 delegates, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich has 142, according to the Associated Press.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who dropped out of the race after losing his home state on Tuesday, has 142.

“I’m representing a tremendous – many, many millions of people, in many cases first-time voters,” Trump told CNN. “These are people that haven’t voted because they never believed in the system, they didn’t like candidates, etc., etc., that are 40 and 50 and 60 years old, and they’ve never voted before.”

“If you disenfranchise those people, and you say, 'well, I’m sorry, but you’re 100 votes short,' even though the next one is 500 votes short, I think you would have problems like you’ve never seen before,” Trump added. “I think bad things would happen. I really do. I believe that. I wouldn’t lead it. But I think bad things would happen.”

Without Donald Trump, Republican debate is canceled

Bernie Sanders can't catch up, says Hillary Clinton campaign

The morning after Hillary Clinton scored a string of key victories, her campaign manager released a memo saying that it looks impossible for Sen. Bernie Sanders to catch up in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

"The broad coalition of Democrats supporting Hillary Clinton has given her a nearly insurmountable lead in pledged delegates, and we are confident that for the first time in our nation’s history, the Democratic Party will nominate a woman as their presidential nominee," wrote Robby Mook, the campaign manager.

He added that Sanders is being left "overwhelmingly behind in the nomination contest -- and without a clear path to catching up."

Clinton has a lead of more than 300 pledged delegates to this summer's Democratic convention -- those allocated through the primaries and caucuses. That's about twice the size of then-Sen. Barack Obama's largest lead in 2008.

She has an additional margin of more than 400 among the so-called super-delegates -- party leaders and elected officials who automatically get a vote at the nominating convention.

Mook said Sanders may be able to score victories in Arizona's primary or upcoming caucus states such as Washington, but that "would have little impact on Sec. Clinton’s position in the race."

So, where's Missouri?

Late last night we got word that two precincts in the Kansas City area hadn't yet been counted.

We're still waiting. Keep an eye on our results page.

John Boehner endorses Paul Ryan for the Republican nomination

If we don’t have a nominee who can win on the first ballot, I’m for none of the above. They all had a chance to win. None of them won. So I’m for none of the above. I’m for Paul Ryan to be our nominee.

John A. Boehner, former speaker of the House, announcing his endorsement of current House Speaker Paul D. Ryan as a presidential nominee at a conference on Wednesday in Boca Raton, Fla. He said if the Republican Party reaches a contested convention, he would support Ryan.

I wouldn’t lead it but I think bad things would happen.   

Donald Trump, on CNN, on the prospect of unrest if he arrived at the Republican National Convention with the most delegates but was denied the GOP nomination.

Donald Trump: Senate leaders should block Obama's Supreme Court choice

Congress should not consider President Obama’s Supreme Court nomination, Donald Trump said Wednesday, insisting the choice be left to Obama's successor.

Following wins in at least three states during Tuesday’s primaries, the GOP front-runner responded to the announcement that Obama plans to reveal his pick Wednesday, saying he supported Senate Republicans' vows to skip confirming Obama's nominee.

“They should wait till the next president and let the next president pick,” Trump said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

But while he sided with Republicans regarding the Supreme Court, he also warned that in the presidential race, a potential contested Republican convention or third-party run could result in a Democratic win. He said that dividing hurts the Republican Party.

"A third-party [run] guarantees — not 90%, or 99% — 100% that your Democrats will win, probably Hillary," he said. 

Donald Trump skipping Monday's GOP debate

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