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Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders vie for New York Democrats' votes, while Donald Trump stumbles ahead of Wisconsin's primaries.

Another poll shows Donald Trump sagging in Wisconsin

A poll released by Marquette University on Wednesday had similar numbers in the state's Republican primary, which is Tuesday. 

You wonder about his hand or his thumb getting anywhere close to the critical button that presidents are in charge of.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, speaking to reporters in New York on Thursday about Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump

Hillary Clinton says Bernie Sanders campaign is 'lying' about fossil fuel ties

Hillary Clinton snapped at an environmental activist who challenged the Democratic front-runner about political donations connected to fossil fuels. 

“I am so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about me. I am so sick of it," said a clearly frustrated Clinton, who jabbed her finger at the activist before moving on to shake hands with other people at the New York rally.

Clinton has made fighting climate change a major part of her platform, and accused Republicans of ignoring the issue to preserve political support from oil companies. 

At the same time, Clinton has received more than $300,000 in direct contributions from people in the oil and gas industry, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. (By comparison, Sanders has received $54,000.) Most of the lobbyists who are bundling money for Clinton's campaign have also worked on behalf of fossil fuel interests, the Huffington Post reported

In a statement, Clinton spokesman said support from individuals is different from direct industry support.

"The simple truth is that this campaign has not taken a dollar from oil and gas industry PACs or corporations," he said.

The activist who confronted Clinton was not satisfied by the candidate's response at the rally.

It wasn't the only interaction related to climate change at the New York event. While exiting the rally, Clinton said she supported the state's ban on hydraulic fracturing, a controversial method of oil and gas extraction.

Some bipartisan support when it comes to pizza

Negative views of Donald Trump are on the rise among women

 (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Donald Trump's eyebrow-raising comments about women are proving to be a mixed bag for voters. 

He's offered disparaging statements about Carly Fiorina's appearance and speculated that Fox News journalist Megyn Kelly was menstruating when she asked him tough questions — which happened to be about his rhetoric toward women — during a debate in August. 

Still, despite these comments — including this week saying women should be punished for having abortions if the procedure were outlawed, before reversing his statement  — Trump has remained the persistent front-runner, winning several states. He now is in a strong position to become the Republican nominee. 

Should Trump win the nomination, he could be in serious trouble this fall as women cast swing votes in a number of critical battleground states. 

In several polls — including a Washington Post/ABC News poll from this month — women overwhelmingly have unfavorable opinions of the billionaire businessman. 

Three in four women surveyed 
viewed Trump unfavorably, up from 64% in November in the Post/ABC News poll. And an NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll found his negative ratings among women around 70%.

On Thursday, a cadre of women supporting Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, castigated Trump's recent comments about abortion and offered what could foreshadow a fall campaign. 

"The world view that Donald Trump promotes is one where women should be shamed and blamed," said Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. "The world view undermines the ability to exercise our right to live empowered lives."

Donald Trump is enduring one of the worst weeks of his campaign. Is it a bump or a turning point?

 (Ralph Freso / Getty Images)
(Ralph Freso / Getty Images)

After months of dominating the Republican race, Donald Trump has endured one of his worst weeks since launching his presidential bid, and while he remains the GOP front-runner, his struggles have underscored his weaknesses and increased the possibility that he might fall short of seizing the nomination.

The bad news piled up quickly for Trump: his campaign manager charged with misdemeanor battery for grabbing a female reporter’s arm, a series of interviews with conservative talk radio hosts who pummeled him, a highly regarded poll showing him trailing badly in advance of Wisconsin’s primary next week, and, finally, Wednesday's fracas over his stand on abortion.

All of those developments deepened existing doubts about Trump. 

Decker: Abortion stumble exposes a weakness of Donald Trump's

 (Scott Olson / Getty Images)
(Scott Olson / Getty Images)

Donald Trump’s stumble over whether women seeking abortions should be criminally punished provided a sobering look at the vulnerability of a candidate more likely than anyone else to be the Republican nominee.

As Trump hastily issued a statement saying, in effect, that he didn’t believe what he had just said, his Republican challengers seized on his comments as proof that he lacked both the knowledge and conservative commitment to serve as president. Democrats cited his remarks as evidence that he and the rest of the Republican field have skittered too far to the right on an issue on which Americans are decidedly centrist.

Candidate Trump’s stock in trade has been blustery confidence. The dust-up over abortion offered a bracing reminder of what can happen when that attitude mixes with Trump’s lack of experience — including on issues of huge importance to the Republican base. 

White House sees Donald Trump's nuclear stance as 'catastrophic'

White House aide Ben Rhodes. (Nicholas Kamm / AFP/Getty Images)
White House aide Ben Rhodes. (Nicholas Kamm / AFP/Getty Images)

As Donald Trump breezed through Washington on Thursday, his foreign policy pronouncements loomed over a major international summit President Obama is hosting in town.

Trump's recent suggestion that Japan and South Korea consider pursuing their own nuclear weapons arsenal would have a "catastrophic" impact on global security, White House deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes told reporters.

Speaking in downtown Washington at the site of the fourth Nuclear Security Summit, Rhodes said one of the major pillars of U.S. foreign policy for decades has been to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

"That's been the position of bipartisan administrations, everybody who's occupied the Oval Office," Rhodes said. "Frankly, it would be catastrophic were the United States to shift its position."

Trump told the New York Times last week that the world might be "better off" if Japan had its own nuclear weapon in the face of a threat posed by North Korea.

"You have so many countries right now that have them," he added this week in a CNN town hall. "Wouldn't you rather ... have Japan have nuclear weapons when North Korea has nuclear weapons?"

Whether a whim or a serious notion by Trump, the issue came up in multiple press briefings ahead of the summit, the fourth in a series launched by Obama in 2009 as part of his stated goal of seeing a world without nuclear weapons. But Rhodes said Trump's idea was "not particularly relevant to the very serious discussions we're having here."

On Wednesday, when White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest was asked about the same issue, he joked: "I guess we won't invite him."

Donald Trump's rhetoric catches up with him in Wisconsin

It's been a common belief throughout the presidential campaign that nothing Donald Trump says -- no matter how insulting, off color or factually inaccurate -- seems to hurt him with Republican voters.

However, interviews here in Wisconsin, where Trump is lagging in the polls, show that some of the New York businessman's infamous comments are coming back to bite him.

While Trump's supporters often dismiss controversies as examples of political correctness run amok, others can recall the specific remark that caused him to lose their votes.

For Frank Bunker, 53, of Greendale, it was when Trump bragged he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue without losing support.

"That did it. And some of my relatives too," said Bunker, who plans to vote for John Kasich.

Ted Lueders, 57, of Appleton considered supporting Trump until the Republican front-runner mocked a reporter with a disability.

"Disappointed is probably the best word," said Lueders, who has a son with autism. "We have a pretty thick skin in my family, but that was disappointing to us."

He said he now sees Sen. Ted Cruz as the better candidate.

Other comments from further in Trump's past have also damaged him with some voters. Julie Vajda, 45, of Appleton said she was disgusted by his jokes about dating his daughter Ivanka if she wasn't his daughter.

"It's odd and inappropriate," she said. "I don't want that representing my country."

Ted has always put the women in his life first, and he will do that as president of the United States.

Heidi Cruz, campaigning for her husband, Ted Cruz, in Wisconsin as Donald Trump struggles to win over female voters in the Republican primary

Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton up in the polls in their home state of New York

 (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton call New York home, and both possess sizable leads based on recent polls ahead of the state's primary next month. 

In a Quinnipiac poll released Thursday, Trump, the front-runner for the Republican nomination, is at 56% compared with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's 20% and Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 19%. Trump leads among likely Republican primary voters of all age groups as well as with men and women, according to the poll.

An average of several polls from New York, which holds its primary April 19, shows Trump up nearly 40 percentage points over his rivals. 

The billionaire businessman was born in Queens, N.Y., and worked alongside his father, Fred, doing real estate before Trump moved into Manhattan and began working on larger construction projects that he says helped increase his net worth. 

Clinton, who represented New York in the Senate from 2001 until 2009, outpaces her rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, 54% to 42% among likely Democratic voters. Sanders, who himself was born in Brooklyn, does lead Clinton with young voters -- a trend that has been persistent for much of the Democratic primary. An average of polls has Clinton up 27 percentage points over Sanders in the state. 

The Quinnipiac poll released Thursday has a margin of error of plus or minus five percentage points for Republicans and four for Democrats. 

Clinton rebukes Trump — and Sanders — on abortion

 (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Hillary Clinton not only attacked Donald Trump for his suggestion that women who receive illegal abortions be punished, she also took aim at the reaction from Bernie Sanders, a fellow pro-choice Democrat.

“Last night, Sen. Sanders agreed Donald Trump’s comments were shameful,” Clinton told an audience of college students in Purchase, N.Y., on Thursday. “Then he said they were a distraction from the, and I quote, 'serious discussion about serious issues facing America.'”

“To me, this is a serious issue,” she said. “And it is a serious discussion. We need a president who is passionate about this … seeing it as a top priority because women’s health is under assault.”

The sharp rebuke of Sanders at a time Clinton would prefer to be focusing on Trump was another reminder that despite her commanding delegate lead, Sanders remains a threat to Clinton’s campaign. She is working hard to draw contrasts with him in her home state of New York, where a win by Sanders in the April 19 primary would raise a fresh round of questions about Clinton’s flaws as a candidate.

Earlier at the event, she delivered a spirited admonishment to Sanders supporters who interrupted her by shouting, “If she wins, we lose.”

“I know Bernie people came to say that,” she said, before remarking that she has won 2.5 million more votes than the Vermonter so far. “What I regret is they don’t want to listen to anybody else. What I regret is they don’t want to hear the contrast between my experience, my vision, my plan.” 

Then Clinton aggressively critiqued Sanders' plan for free college, which relies on billions of dollars being chipped in by states where public college funding is being cut. It “doesn’t make a whole lot of sense,” Clinton said.

Clinton then softened her tone to say, as she often does, that she supports even the Democratic voters who don’t support her. “When this primary contest is over, we’ve got to unite and make sure we have a Democrat in the White House,” Clinton said. 

The 'nose' ad promises to be an instant campaign classic

The stately new Scott Walker ad for Ted Cruz should have made a splash on Thursday, but that was before another spot emerged in Wisconsin -- the one with the nose.

New Day for America, the pro-John Kasich super PAC, served up an instant classic with a surreal appendage growing, Pinocchio-style, from the nose of "Lyin' Ted" Cruz, to use Donald Trump's preferred insult.

It stretches, grotesquely, and encircles his neck. Twice.

Wisconsin is a proving ground for both Kasich and Cruz as they try to stop Donald Trump from scooping up more delegates. Cruz leads in the polls, but Kasich needs a decent showing to push ahead to later contests.

The nose spot comes from the creative team led by Fred Davis, perhaps best known for Carly Fiorina's 2010 "Demon Sheep" campaign in California.

It was intended to volley back an  attack from Cruz allies, who released an ad earlier in the week calling Kasich, the Ohio governor, too liberal. Some Wisconsin stations pulled the ad after Kasich allies complained the ad falsely claims he received donations from a Democratic financier.

Meanwhile, Walker, the state's governor, showed up Thursday in a more traditional spot for Cruz, calling him "the only conservative who can beat Hillary Clinton and reignite America's promise."

In a shift, Donald Trump is now squarely in John Kasich's crosshairs

 (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)
(Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

John Kasich has usually avoided directly criticizing Republican front-runner Donald Trump, but on Thursday he directly targeted the New York businessman on his home turf.

"He is really not prepared to be president of the United States," the Ohio governor said during a news conference at a Manhattan hotel.

Kasich criticized Trump for proposing a ban on Muslims coming into the U.S., calling NATO obsolete and suggesting there are situations in which nuclear weapons could be used. He also expressed confusion at Trump's plan to appoint Supreme Court justices who would examine Hillary Clinton's email controversy, an issue that falls outside the court's job description. 

"I don't even know how you do that," Kasich said. "That's something I can't even figure out."

At the same time, Kasich appealed directly to voters whose economic angst have drawn them to Trump. 

“Their frustrations, their expressions do not fall on deaf ears for me," he said. 

He added, "To the Trump voters, there’s hope."

Donald Trump releases a letter of assurance from his tax attorneys

 (Donald Trump Campaign)
(Donald Trump Campaign)

Donald Trump has responded to calls for the release of his tax returns by instead making public a signed letter from his own tax attorneys.

The Internal Revenue Service has completed audits of Trump’s businesses from 2002 to 2008 and are looking at his filings from 2009 to the present, the letter, dated March 7, states. Six years of audits closed “without assessment or payment, on a net basis, of any deficiency,” it states.

Trump has said he won't release his tax returns until the current audits finish. 

The attorneys assured Trump that such a lengthy review is consistent with large, complex businesses.

“Because you operate these businesses almost exclusively through sole proprietorships and/or closely held partnerships, your personal federal income tax returns are inordinately large and complex for an individual,” the letter states. 

Trump backers go after Cruz in new ad aimed at women

A pro-Donald Trump super PAC launched a new assault on Ted Cruz that tries to shore up support for Trump among female voters amid a backlash over his views on abortion.

The ad focuses on national security, a policy area Trump sees as one of his strengths. In the TV ad, a woman accuses Cruz of supporting amnesty for immigrants in the country illegally and inviting more Syrian refugees into the U.S. As her children play in the background, she argues that Cruz’s motives hurt her family’s safety.

“We need to control our borders and stop letting in dangerous people. Trump will do that. And Ted Cruz? He wanted to let in more Syrian refugees and give amnesty to illegal immigrants. That won’t protect my family. Donald Trump will,” the woman says.

The Great America PAC plans to run the ad in Wisconsin ahead of the state’s Tuesday primary. Cruz leads Trump by about 10 points in a Marquette University Law School poll released Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Trump attempted to reverse his comments suggesting that women who get abortions be punished if the procedure were outlawed.

Donald Trump seizes on an old target in Wisconsin: Scott Walker

Donald Trump speaks at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wis., on Wednesday. (Patrick Semansky / Associated Press)
Donald Trump speaks at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wis., on Wednesday. (Patrick Semansky / Associated Press)

Donald Trump was merciless Wednesday in his portrayal of how poorly Wisconsin has fared under its Republican governor, Scott Walker.

China and Mexico have siphoned jobs away, the state’s fiscal condition has deteriorated amid soaring debt, and immigrants in the country illegally are burdening Wisconsin taxpayers, Trump glumly informed a St. Norbert College audience outside Green Bay.

“Wisconsin’s not doing well,” he said.

It was an unlikely approach for Trump to take just as Marquette Law School was releasing a poll that found 80% of likely voters in Wisconsin’s Republican presidential primary on Tuesday approve of Walker’s job performance.

“Seems an odd strategy,” Marquette pollster Charles Franklin said.

Ted Cruz talks policy, mean tweets and 'Star Wars' on 'Jimmy Kimmel Live'

Ted Cruz makes an appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live." (ABC)
Ted Cruz makes an appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live." (ABC)

Long before he entered politics, presidential candidate Ted Cruz said Wednesday, he considered moving to Hollywood to pursue one of his early passions: acting.

“When I was in high school, I did a lot of shows and then actually thought about dropping out of school and heading to California and trying to be an actor,” Cruz told Jimmy Kimmel during a taping of his ABC late-night show, "Jimmy Kimmel Live."

His parents were “horrified,” Cruz said. “Everything was great except I didn’t have good looks and I didn’t have talent,” he told Kimmel. “Look, other than that, I was completely set to do that.”

The Texas senator was in Southern California this week to raise money for his presidential bid. A fundraiser in Newport Beach will feature two of his former rivals for the Republican nomination — former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former Hewlett-Packard chief Carly Fiorina.

Sanders talks more like a New Yorker, but Democrats there consider Clinton one of them

Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) introduces Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during a campaign event at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. (Jason Szenes / European Pressphoto Agency)
Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) introduces Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during a campaign event at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. (Jason Szenes / European Pressphoto Agency)

Brooklyn native Bernie Sanders may sound like more of a New Yorker, and even look like more of a New Yorker, but he still faces a steep challenge in overcoming Hillary Clinton’s deep roots with Democrats in the crucial state's presidential primary on April 19.

“She may not always ‘tawk’ like we Brooklynites ‘tawk,’” New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer said as he laid on a thick hometown accent while introducing Clinton at a spirited rally at the iconic Apollo Theater in Harlem on Wednesday. “But when she speaks out, she changes minds, she changes hearts.”

The crowd delighted in Schumer’s reminder that Bill Clinton, who could have relocated anywhere in the world upon leaving the White House, adopted Harlem as his headquarters – not that the crowd needed any reminding.

It was Hillary Clinton, the former senator from the state, who helped lead New York in rebuilding after 9/11, they said. It was Clinton, they added, who was unyielding in support of gun control on behalf of an urban constituency that has little love for the National Rifle Assn., as Sanders sometimes wavered.

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