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Ted Cruz calls tabloid story 'garbage' planted by Donald Trump

Bernie Sanders campaigns in Seattle today ahead of Saturday's three Democratic caucuses in the West.

A liberal bastion shows its love for Bernie Sanders

On the eve of Washington's caucuses, thousands of voters lined up here at a downtown baseball field to show their support for Bernie Sanders.

The Vermont senator is counting on a strong win here to start chipping away at the lead Hillary Clinton has built in the battle for the Democratic nomination.

Some waited outside for hours, thankful for the sunny skies that provided a respite from recent rainstorms. A few sat on the sidewalk to write messages of support on posters, and vendors hawked T-shirts and bottled water.

Voters described a visceral connection with Sanders, saying they trust his honesty and praising his uncompromising liberal platform.

"He's fought for the same thing the whole time," said Aaron Bowers, a 31-year-old software salesman.

Although Sanders has conceded he has only a "narrow path" to the nomination, his supporters here are hopeful he can still pull off a victory. And if he falls short?

"Even if he doesn't win, he's started an important dialogue," said Cindi Lewis, a 56-year-old surgeon who likes Sanders' support of government-run healthcare.

The many shirts of Bernie Sanders

The balding head. The untamed white hair. The glasses. 

The unmistakeable visage of Bernie Sanders has been a source of seemingly endless artistic interpretations by supporters of the Democratic presidential candidate.

Here's a look at some of the shirts being worn to Sanders' rally at a downtown baseball field in Seattle on Friday.

Bernie Sanders greets a bird in Portland

Ted Cruz calls tabloid story 'garbage' and says it was planted by allies of 'sleazy Trump'

Ted Cruz called a tabloid story "garbage" Friday, labeling it part of a "smear" campaign planted by a top Donald Trump ally, as the GOP candidates face continued attacks over their personal lives. 

Cruz's decision to respond to the story in the National Enquirer, which detailed allegations against him of extramarital affairs, showed an eagerness to push the conversation back to Trump. Cruz blamed Trump ally Roger Stone for the attack.

"This National Enquirer story is garbage; it is complete and utter lies," Cruz said during a campaign stop in Wisconsin. "It is a tabloid smear and it is a smear that has come from Donald Trump and his henchmen."

Trump, though, shot back that the story wasn't from him.  

"I had absolutely nothing to do with it, did not know about it, and have not, as yet, read it," Trump said in a statement

"Ted Cruz’s problem with the National Enquirer is his and his alone, and while they were right about O.J. Simpson, John Edwards, and many others, I certainly hope they are not right about Lyin’ Ted Cruz," he added, still managing to jab in his preferred insult for Cruz.

The new round of mudslinging arrives as the two men and their allies launched increasingly personal attacks this week on each other's marriages, dragging their wives into the political fight.

A nude magazine photo of Trump's wife, Melania, a former model, was used in ads from a pro-Cruz super PAC in an attempt to push conservative voters away from Trump.

Trump responded Tuesday by threatening to "spill the beans" on Cruz's wife, Heidi. 

Cruz on Wednesday told the billionaire to "leave Heidi the hell alone."

3 ways the unpredictable GOP contest could shake out

After 39 contests and more than 20 million votes cast, the Republican presidential race has narrowed to three candidates and three possible scenarios.

The first, and most likely, is that Donald Trump wins the delegates he needs to mathematically clinch the GOP nomination ahead of the party’s national convention this summer.

The second, testing Trump’s much-vaunted deal-making skills, has the businessman and reality TV star coming up just shy but bargaining his way to the 1,237 delegates he needs to take the nomination.

The third scenario, and the hope of rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich and other forces arrayed against Trump, is forcing an open convention that picks the nominee on the floor of the convention in downtown Cleveland.

Hillary Clinton gets mansplained by Jimmy Kimmel

Hillary Clinton made her second visit to "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" on Thursday night, where she was treated to a healthy dose of mansplaining from her host.

"I am going to be your secret weapon," Kimmel told the Democratic presidential candidate. "I'm going to help you win this election no problem. Are you familiar with mansplaining?"

"Oh yeah, that's when a man explains something to a woman in a patronizing way?" Clinton replied.

"Actually, it's when a man explains something to a woman in a condescending way," he said, "but you were close." (I see what you did there, Kimmel!) 

Seattle's progressives see a Sanders win in Washington as a way to send a message to Democrats

A Bernie Sanders rally in Seattle this week. (Matt Mills McKnight / Getty Images)
A Bernie Sanders rally in Seattle this week. (Matt Mills McKnight / Getty Images)

When Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign started hiring staff here in February, operatives found they had more of a head start than they expected.

Sanders activists, working on their own dime, had been training supporters and running phone banks for months, and they provided the candidate's team with lists of volunteers and office spaces.

Instead of a loose collection of the Vermont senator’s fans, “it was already a statewide infrastructure,” said Dulce Saenz, the campaign’s Washington director.

As Washington prepares for its Democratic caucuses on Saturday, Seattle’s activists are seizing an opportunity to send a message to a national party they believe has grown too cozy with corporate interests and too dismissive of progressive concerns. In Sanders, they’ve found a candidate as uncompromisingly liberal as they want Democrats everywhere to be.

Lopez: Why so many voters are drawn to Donald Trump

 (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

The way the presidential campaign is shaping up, Ventura musician Jon Gindick may do something he's never done before.

"I've never voted for a Republican," the registered Democrat told me.

"I like Trump."

Gindick plays and teaches blues harmonica. He emailed me after my column about the Donald Trump rally last Saturday in Phoenix:

"It's OK with me if you don't like Trump, but you should report on this other side of the story, too."

He wasn't the only one here or in Arizona who wanted to set me straight.

Whoopi Goldberg calls out Ben Carson for supporting 'racist' Trump

Whoopi Goldberg laid into Ben Carson for supporting what she called Donald Trump’s racist comments.

In an appearance on the ABC’s “The View,” Carson fumbled his defense of the GOP front-runner as the show’s hosts demanded an answer about why he endorsed Trump.

“You have aligned yourself with a man who has bashed women, made countless racist remarks …” Goldberg asked Carson. “You’re Ben Carson. Why would you align yourself with that?”

“There’s no perfect person,” Carson responded.

Goldberg shook her head repeatedly during the interview at Carson's responses. But Carson insisted that Trump will wrest power from the current government and put it in the hands of voters.

Co-host Joy Behar also pressed Carson to explain the trust he puts in Trump, who she said constantly lies.

“He’s a liar. Do you want a liar for the presidency?” Behar asked.

“Tell me a politician who doesn’t tell lies,” he responded. 

Clinton criticizes lax campaign finance laws between two L.A.-area fundraisers

Hillary Clinton appears on Jimmy Kimmel's show. (ABC)
Hillary Clinton appears on Jimmy Kimmel's show. (ABC)

In between attending two Los Angeles-area fundraisers, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton railed against the laxness of campaign finance laws on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"

"We have to raise money. I raise a lot of money at events and I raise a lot of money online, but there should not be these huge loopholes for corporations and billionaires to just put as much money as they want to and not even have to tell you who it comes from or really disclose very much at all,” Clinton told Kimmel, arguing that Citizens United, the Supreme Court decision that weakened campaign finance laws, must be overturned. "It is wrong."

Clinton's position was not new, but her statement occurred the same day that she headlined fundraisers in Santa Monica and Hollywood, and the same day Politico reported that a couple could buy seats at the head table at a Clinton Bay Area fundraiser next month alongside George and Amal Clooney by contributing or raising $353,400 for various Democratic groups.

By the numbers

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