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Paul Ryan announces -- again -- that he does not want to be the GOP nominee

Democratic candidates butt heads in New York as Republican rivals focus their sights on California's June primary.

Trump's family attests to his kinder, gentler side

Donald Trump has cultivated a brash and combative persona on the campaign trail, but an appearance on CNN on Tuesday night was all about his softer side.

Trump was joined by his wife, Melania, and adult children -- Donald Jr., Eric, Ivanka and Tiffany -- for an hourlong town hall, where his family members portrayed Trump as a supportive father who instilled in his children a dogged work ethic.

His family members often served as character references for their father, whose bombastic manner often comes under fire from his detractors.

While Trump has been criticized for sexist comments, for example, Ivanka said her father has long been supportive of women.

"The facts speak for themselves," Ivanka said. "I've witnessed these incredible female role models that he's employed in the highest executive positions of the organization my entire life."

Eric Trump spoke of his bond with his father, through work -- "we love buildings, we love concrete" -- and through play, mainly their shared love of golf.

The appearance offered glimpses into Trump's personal life. He revealed, for example, that he dictates his prolific Twitter feed to office aides during work hours, but "after 7 o'clock or so, I always do it by myself."

And he spoke of how his older brother's battle with alcoholism led him to "never drink a glass of alcohol," and to tell his children every morning not to drink or use drugs.

The family-focused format brought out a low-key side of Trump, largely allowing his wife and children to speak about his accomplishments. Striking a note of humility, he said he wouldn't have had his success "without my family."

Still, Trump demonstrated some appetite for a fight, telling host Anderson Cooper during a one-on-one interview that the delegate selection process in states like Colorado was "very, very unfair."

Asked by Cooper whether his campaign should have been better prepared for the complex process of selecting delegates, Trump said he doubted such preparations would have mattered, complaining the system was rigged.

"I know the rules very well, but I know that it’s stacked against me by the establishment," Trump said.

I know the rules very well, but I know that it's stacked against me by the establishment.

Donald Trump, speaking about the delegate selection process in an appearance at the CNN Republican presidential town hall

Donald may well have a good, about, two weeks; New York is his home state.

Ted Cruz in an interview with conservative radio host Glenn Beck. Cruz trails Donald Trump by double-digits in most polls ahead of New York's primary on April 19.

Hillary Clinton helped keep immigrants from driving legally, Bernie Sanders campaign charges

A California Highway Patrol officer explains how immigrants in the country illegally can obtain driver's licenses under a state law enacted in 2013. (Lenny Ignelzi / Associated Press)
A California Highway Patrol officer explains how immigrants in the country illegally can obtain driver's licenses under a state law enacted in 2013. (Lenny Ignelzi / Associated Press)

Bernie Sanders' aides criticized Hillary Clinton on Tuesday for failing to support driver's licenses for immigrants who were in the country illegally while she was a U.S. senator from New York. 

"Not only does she not understand the urgency of immigrant families, but she’s not a champion when we need someone to fight for our community," Cesar Vargas, a New York activist and lawyer, said during a conference call organized by the Sanders campaign. 

The dispute goes back to 2007. New York had previously issued licenses to those in the country illegally, but Republican Gov. George Pataki changed the practice with an executive order. When Democratic Gov. Eliot Spitzer replaced Pataki and tried to reverse that policy, Clinton struggled to take a clear position during one of the early debates in that year's Democratic presidential campaign. 

Then, when Sptizer withdrew his plan after a political backlash, Clinton endorsed his decision.

“As president, I will not support driver’s licenses for undocumented people and will press for comprehensive immigration reform that deals with all of the issues around illegal immigration, including border security and fixing our broken system," she said in a statement at the time.

Activists on Tuesday's conference call said the episode was a national setback for efforts to ensure immigrants can drive legally in the country. 

“Every day that passes there are consequences. That’s why states and municipalities have to take action," said Jackie Vimo, director of regional advocacy at the New York Immigration Coalition.

In the current campaign, Clinton has endorsed issuing licenses to immigrants who are in the country illegally. A spokeswoman for her campaign, Xochitl Hinojosa, did not respond to a question about why she had changed her position.

Instead, she provided a statement from Lorella Praeli, the campaign's director of Latino outreach, who reiterated Clinton's criticism of Sanders for voting against legislation to overhaul the immigration system in 2007.

"Unlike Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton has voted time and again to keep Latino families together," Praeli said.

Snapshot from the trail: Bernie Sanders in Hyde Park, N.Y.

Donald Trump hires California state director

 (Associated Press)
(Associated Press)

GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump has hired California strategist Tim Clark to lead his effort in the state and plans to visit several times ahead of its June 7 primary, according to his campaign.

Clark said that Trump's focus on the economy, national security and reining in the federal government would appeal to Republican voters here.

“We’re seeing something we haven’t seen in a long time — that is excitement among the Republican base. There are people talking about voting who haven’t voted in a decade or more,” said Clark, 49.

“It’s our intention to deliver 172 delegates for Trump to the national convention,” he said.

Trump would need to win each of California's 53 congressional districts, the statewide vote and the backing of state party officials to achieve such a clean sweep.

Clark has been active in California politics for two decades and ran Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin's unsuccessful race for state controller in 2014. He also has worked for former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, 2010 GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman and others, according to his firm.

Once upon a time, Donald Trump was on good terms with the Clintons

Documents released Tuesday by Bill Clinton’s presidential library provided little new insight into the Clintons’ relationship with Donald Trump, but they offered a glimpse of a time when the New York businessman was simply a colorful character instead of the country’s most divisive political figure.

One official diary entry mentioned Clinton paying a visit to Trump Towers in 2000. 

“The President participated in a photo opportunity with Donald J. Trump, real estate developer,” the record said.

Trump was referenced in a document provided to Clinton in preparation for a 1999 television interview, with potential questions and suggested answers.

The question was whether the prospect of a Trump candidacy for president was “the result of a demeaning of the office that you’ve contributed to,” given investigations into Clinton’s sexual affairs.

The suggested answer didn’t mention Trump specifically, but said, “We go through all sorts of cycles in politics, and we’re in one now where some people from the entertainment world are talking about running for president.” It continued, saying, “The political process will sort out the wheat from the chaff.”

While Trump didn’t run in 2000, this year, he’s within striking distance of the Republican nomination.

Ties between the Clintons and Trump have been the subject of much scrutiny with the prospect of a general election face-off between Trump and Hillary Clinton. 

Trump has donated money to the Clintons, and they attended his most recent wedding.

The records released Tuesday, which were made public in response to a request from Buzzfeed, reference other niceties between the Clintons and Trump.

Those include a signed copy of Trump’s book, “The Art of the Deal,” received by Mark Middleton, a Clinton aide.

Paul Ryan makes it official, again: He's not seeking the GOP nomination for president

Facing blowback from conservatives and potential damage to his brand, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan insisted Tuesday -- once again -- that he will not be the Republican Party's presidential nominee.

Ryan issued his Sherman-like vow amid skepticism over his potential candidacy at a brokered convention, and concern that the constant chatter that he will save the GOP has become a major distraction from his day job trying to lead the House.

“I've got a message to relay today: We have too much work to do in the House to allow this speculation to swirl or have my motivations questioned,” Ryan told a news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters.

“Let me be clear: I do not want, nor will I accept, the Republican nomination,” he said. "Count me out.”

Ryan has said repeatedly that he doesn’t want the nomination. On Tuesday, he said he wants to “put this to rest once and for all.”

"I am not going to be our party’s nominee."

Ryan, who ran as vice president on the GOP ticket with Mitt Romney in 2012, took a pass on the 2016 race long ago. He has said he prefers to set the party's policy agenda from Capitol Hill, and has been setting the stage with inspirational speeches.

He will serve as chairman of the GOP convention in Cleveland, and has insisted he must remain neutral -- especially if none of the candidates wins enough delegates to lock up the nomination in advance.

“If you want to be the nominee -- to be the president -- you should actually run for it. I chose not to,” he said.

His comments have done little to calm conservative and tea party activists. Supporters have floated Ryan as a possible alternative to the GOP candidates: front-runner Donald Trump, conservative firebrand Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Mark Meckler, a founder of the tea party movement, said Tuesday that a Ryan nomination “would represent the suicide of the GOP. There would be no party anymore.”

"The electorate has spoken, and the message is undeniably clear,” said Meckler, who has not endorsed a candidate. "They are not interested in an insider candidate. People would abandon the party.”

Tea party activists have split over Trump, and many of them now view Ryan, once the party's favorite son, as part of the Washington establishment.

The chatter has been a major distraction to Ryan’s efforts to unify the party on Capitol Hill, and to set its policy agenda, according to an aide familiar with his thinking but granted anonymity to discuss the situation.

Ryan's tenure as speaker, following the abrupt resignation of John A. Boehner last year, has been spotty.

Before accepting the job, he made similar public protestations, saying he was not interested in the position.

Let me be clear. I do not want, nor will I accept, the nomination for our party.

House Speaker Paul Ryan speaking in Washington on Tuesday about the Republican presidential primary

Watch: Paul Ryan discusses GOP nomination

Jeb Bush makes a cameo on Capitol Hill

The long history between Jerry Brown and the Clintons

News that California Gov. Jerry Brown has not decided whom to endorse in the Democratic presidential race is not surprising, given his tense, nearly quarter-century history with the Clintons.

Bill Clinton and Brown clashed throughout the 1992 Democratic presidential primary; Brown called Clinton the "prince of sleaze" and Clinton mocked Brown's expensive suits and family wealth.

Among the most memorable exchanges came during a testy debate when Brown accused the then-Arkansas governor of funneling state business to the law firm where Hillary Clinton worked. Clinton exploded in anger.

“Let me tell you something, Jerry. I don’t care what you say about me, but you ought to be ashamed of yourself for jumping on my wife,” Bill Clinton said, jabbing his finger at Brown. “You`re not worthy to be on the same platform” as her.

Bill Clinton ended up clinching the Democratic nomination in Brown’s home state of California, and Brown refused to endorse him at the Democratic National Convention. During Clinton’s second term, Brown labeled him a failure and said he voted for Ralph Nader in the 1996 presidential contest.

Fast forward to the 2010 California gubernatorial race. President Clinton endorsed and raised money for Brown’s top Democratic rival, Gavin Newsom, until he dropped out.

Then GOP nominee Meg Whitman began running ads with archival material from the 1992 race showing Clinton criticizing Brown’s tax policy.

Brown responded with a joke referencing the Monica Lewinsky scandal, when the president wrongly declared “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

"I mean, Clinton's a nice guy, but who ever said he always told the truth?" Brown told a crowd at the opening of a Democratic Party office in East Los Angeles. "You remember, right? There's that whole story there about did he or didn't he. OK, I did — I did not have taxes with this state."

Brown apologized the following day, and Clinton eventually accepted his apology, endorsed him and campaigned with him before the general election.

Official tallies from Missouri give wins to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

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

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton each pulled out a narrow victory in Missouri's presidential primary last month.

Although ballots were cast on March 15, under state law the vote totals were not official until Tuesday. 

Trump won the GOP primary by only .2 % of votes cast -- 40.9% to 40.7% -- in a virtual tie with rival Ted Cruz.

But Trump will get 37 delegates from Missouri, compared with 15 for Cruz, according to the state Republican Party.

The billionaire businessman, who has been outmaneuvered by the Texas senator in recent delegate contests in Colorado, Tennessee and other states, thus benefited from the party's arcane rules in Missouri.

In the Democratic primary, Clinton officially outpaced Sen. Bernie Sanders by the same margin -- .2 % of votes cast, or 49.6% to 49.4%.

Each is expected to receive 34 delegates, according to the state party, which apportions delegates differently than the GOP

Stay up-to-date with on the delegate totals of each of the remaining presidential candidates with this delegate tracker

Cruz says he or Trump will be the nominee

 (Associated Press)
(Associated Press)

Presidential candidate Ted Cruz dismissed scenarios of Republicans nominating anyone but himself or Donald Trump at their July convention.

“There’s no doubt there are some Washington deal-makers who would love to parachute in a white knight at the convention,” the Texas senator said in an interview Monday before holding a rally in Irvine. “That is nothing but the fevered dreams of Washington lobbyists. There is no possibility it will happen.”

Trump and Cruz lead the delegate race, but are unlikely to clinch the nomination before the party’s convention in Cleveland.

Some establishment Republicans have begun backing Cruz as the only way of stopping Trump from winning the 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination.

Theories are flowing in Washington that if Cruz is successful in thwarting Trump’s nomination before the convention, these establishment Republicans would then abandon him and try to present an alternative candidate on the floor of a brokered convention.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan is among the names floated as a potential alternative, leading him to announce on Tuesday once again that he does not want to be the Republican nominee.

With withering words, John Kasich denounces the political paths trod by Donald Trump and Ted Cruz

Ohio Gov. John Kasich offered a withering denunciation Tuesday of his fellow Republican presidential candidates, casting them as purveyors of political darkness who have distorted reality in pursuit of their own political success.

He did not mention New York businessman Donald Trump or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz by name, but their policies were included in a list of proposals that he said were exploiting anger and resentment in the GOP electorate.

Republican voters in the April 19 New York primary and the succeeding contests face “two paths,” he said.

“One choice is the path that exploits anger, encourages resentment, turns fear into hatred and divides people,” he said. “This path solves nothing. It demeans our history. It weakens our country and it cheapens each one of us. It has one beneficiary, and that is to the politician who speaks of it. Another path is the one America has been down before. It’s well-trod… but it’s also solid.”

Kasich mocked as simplistic the formulas put forth by Trump and Cruz to solve the nation’s problems.

“We’ve heard proposals to create a religious test for immigration, to target neighborhoods for surveillance, to deport 11.5 million people, to impose draconian tariffs which would crush trade and destroy American jobs,” he said.

“We heard proposals to drop out of NATO, abandon Europe… end defense partnerships in Asia and tell our Middle East allies that they have to go it alone. We’ve been offered hollow promises to impose a value-added tax and balance budgets through simple and whimsical cuts in waste, fraud and abuse.”

Kasich, who spoke before a Republican women’s group in Manhattan, won his home-state primary last month but has found little success elsewhere this election year. He is running second in New York, according to some polls, but it is a distant second to Trump. The biggest question in the Republican primary here is whether Trump will exceed 50% of the GOP vote, a status that would earn him more delegates than if he earns less than half of the vote.

Kasich’s argument is one that he has made in less bracing terms throughout the campaign, but his sunnier calls for a more civil discourse and more reasoned solutions have not met the dark sentiments coursing through the electorate this year.

He attempted Tuesday to reach out overtly to upset voters, reminding them that he had grown up in an old steel town in Pennsylvania “when if the wind blew the wrong way, people would be out of work.”

“It’s awful to feel that insecurity, to feel that circumstances are out of your control, to feel like nobody cares and all the institutions in our land have abandoned you,” he said. “But we Americans have overcome so many challenges.”

His fellow politicians have played on those fears for their benefit, he said.

“Just as an all-consuming fear of America in decline ends in visions of American destruction, the political strategy based on exploiting Americans instead of lifting them up inevitably leads to divisions, paranoia and promises that can never ever be fulfilled,” he said. “I say to you that this path of darkness is the antithesis of all that America has meant for 240 years.”

He reiterated his view that his experience as a member of Congress, where he worked to balance the budget, and his tenure as governor of Ohio, as the state rebounded from the economic crash, made him well-prepared for the presidency.

The test of his campaign, however, is two-fold: whether a more upbeat public disposition can sell in this tumultuous year, and whether the candidate with the fewest delegates can markedly change his odds this late in the primary contest. For that, April 19 looms as a giant event.

Paul Ryan to rule out GOP nomination 'once and for all'

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan really, absolutely does not want to be the Republican Party's presidential nominee -- and will be making a statement Tuesday to try to prove it.

Ryan's sudden appearance at Republican National Committee headquarters comes amid blowback from conservative activists against his potential rise.

"He's going to rule himself out and put this to rest once and for all," said a Ryan aide, granted anonymity to discuss the situation ahead of the afternoon event.

Ryan, the party's vice presidential running mate to Mitt Romney in 2012, has been on a media blitz since ascending to the speaker's position last year, but has repeatedly insisted that he has no interest in becoming the party's nominee at a brokered convention. 

He has said he prefers to set the party's policy agenda from Capitol Hill, and has been setting the stage with inspirational speeches. 

But those comments have done little to calm conservative and tea party activists as back-channel conversations continue to float Ryan as an alternative to front-runner Donald Trump or conservative firebrand Ted Cruz.

Mark Meckler, a founder of the tea party movement, said Tuesday that a Ryan nomination “would represent the suicide of the GOP. There would be no party anymore.”

"The electorate has spoken, and the message is undeniably clear,” said Meckler, who has not endorsed a candidate. "They are not interested in an insider candidate. People would abandon the party.”

Tea party activists have split over Trump, and many of them now view Ryan, once the party's favorite son, as part of the Washington establishment. 

Ryan's tenure as speaker, following the abrupt resignation of John A. Boehner last year, has been spotty. 

Before accepting the job, he made similar public protestations, saying he was not interested in the position.

Angry voters bombard Colorado Republican Party chairman with calls

Donald Trump supporters upset with Colorado’s GOP delegate selection decided to share their frustration by calling the state’s Republican Party chair — more than 2,000 times.

Trump said Monday that Colorado Republicans “rigged” the voting system at their state convention over the weekend to favor party activists and hand the state's delegates to rival Ted Cruz.

Steve House, the state party chairman, rebutted Trump's claims, saying the state's system was set up in accordance with GOP rules after Colorado Republican officials decided to forego a primary or caucuses.

“It was done exactly according to the rules,” House told the New York Times in an interview.

As for the calls and similar Twitter attacks, House doesn’t plan on backing down or changing his number.

“You shut the phone off at some point,” he said.

De Blasio's racial joke causes outrage

Hillary Clinton and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's attempt to make a joke at a dinner instead turned into a racially charged exchange that made audience members gasp. 

The two took the stage Saturday night at the Inner Circle Dinner for press in New York City.

“I just have to say, thanks for the endorsement, Bill. Took you long enough,” Clinton started, a nod to De Blasio's somewhat delayed endorsement of her that was interpreted by some as hesitation. 

“Sorry, Hillary, I was running on C.P. time,” De Blasio responded, apparently referencing a repellent stereotype of African Americans known as “colored-people time” — a habit of showing up late.

“Hamilton” actor Leslie Odom Jr. was also on stage at the event, but he refused to laugh.

“I don’t like jokes like that, Bill,” said Odom Jr., who is African American.

The mayor was also attacked online.

On Monday, De Blasio explained that the exchange was scripted and said he meant for C.P. to stand for “cautious politician time.”

“The whole idea was to do the counterintuitive by saying 'cautious politician time.' Every actor thought it was a joke on a different convention," he told CNN. "People are missing the point here."

Follow donations with the celebrity endorsement tracker

The hotly contested 2016 presidential race seems to have more celebrity voices than ever speaking out. Though Hollywood is especially drawn to the Democratic side of the aisle, stars are checking into Republican camps as well. This is not an all-inclusive list, but the celebs listed have all gone public with their presidential politics. 

Trump, Cruz and Kasich lay the groundwork for crucial California race

Sen. Ted Cruz speaks to supporters at a rally in Irvine. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
Sen. Ted Cruz speaks to supporters at a rally in Irvine. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

Though the presidential race is focused on upcoming East Coast contests, the three remaining Republican candidates are already turning their attention west as they ramp up their efforts ahead of California’s June 7 primary, which could decide the fiercely competitive race for the GOP nomination.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas held a raucous rally Monday in the conservative bastion of Orange County. Front-runner Donald Trump is hiring staff and inquiring about airtime on Los Angeles television stations. Ohio Gov. John Kasich is looking for office space and rolling out endorsements.

Cruz and Kasich committed to speak at the state Republican Party convention at the end of the month, giving them a chance to woo the party’s most committed activists and potential delegates. And veteran GOP strategists have launched an anti-Trump effort, convinced that the state offers a last chance to stop him from winning the nomination.

Californians, long used to being irrelevant in national politics and ignored by candidates, are almost giddy over all the attention.

By the numbers

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