Ted Cruz plans Monday California rallies


Campaigns continue to fight for delegates as the Republican race moves closer to a potential contested convention and the Democratic race tightens in New York.

  • Ted Cruz is headed to California nearly two months before primary
  • Republicans facing harder time holding on to Senate
  • Here’s who Donald Trump takes foreign policy advice from
  • Trump cancels his California visit
  • Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders battle it out in New York
  • Bill Clinton addresses protesters, defends his wife’s “superpredator” comment

Cruz rallying supporters in California on Monday

Sen. Ted Cruz will hold two rallies in California on Monday, his first public appearances in the state since it became clear that its June 7 primary is crucial in the Texas senator’s effort to win the GOP presidential nomination.

Cruz has been organizing in California since last summer, and was in the state last week fundraising and taping a late-night television appearance.

But his public appearances on Monday, in the midst of the New York primary and just shy of two months before the California primary, underscore the long odds he faces in the Empire State and the importance of California in his effort to stop Republican front-runner Donald Trump.

Cruz will rally supporters in Orange County and San Diego, according to campaign spokesman Ron Nehring, a former chairman of the California Republican Party.

The news of the appearances comes the same day as Trump canceled a Friday news conference in Rancho Palos Verdes amid a campaign staff shake-up, and hours after reports of Trump trying to secure advertising time on Los Angeles-area television markets starting in late April.

Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich also will appear at the state GOP convention at the end of the month. Trump also has been invited.


Presidential campaigns inquiring about TV ads in California

The presidential candidates are brawling in New York in the lead up to that state’s upcoming primary, but their campaigns are already looking ahead to California’s contest on June 7.

Donald Trump’s and Bernie Sanders’ teams have made inquiries to Los Angeles television stations about the availability of advertising airtime, according to Sheri Sadler Wolf, a veteran Democratic media consultant.

Trump has formally requested availability for airtime starting April 25, a step that typically occurs a few days before an actual purchase of airtime. Sanders has informally asked about certain programs, but isn’t as far along in the process, Sadler said.

The moves come as Sanders is embroiled in a feud with Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton over who is qualified to be president, and as Trump canceled a Friday news conference in Rancho Palos Verdes amidst a campaign staff shake-up.

The inquiries also highlight the importance of California’s primary, which could determine whether Trump has enough delegates to clinch the GOP nomination before the Republican National Convention.

Sanders has also vowed to continue his campaign until the state’s primary, though he faces an uphill battle given the delegate lead Clinton has amassed.


West Hollywood mayor to Donald Trump: Stay out

Lindsey Horvath has a message for Donald Trump, and it’s not welcoming him to her city.

Horvath, mayor of the liberal city of West Hollywood, is adding her voice to those of many other city leaders across the country to say she is fed up with Trump’s campaign tactics and inflammatory rhetoric. As the primary campaign heads to California for its June 7 contest, the mayor let the Republican presidential candidate’s campaign know, and also urged other city and county lawmakers to do the same.

“Where other cities or other communities might roll out the carpet, we’re rolling up the carpet,” she told the Los Angeles Times in a recent interview.

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Tone it down, Connecticut governor tells candidates

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, a supporter of Hillary Clinton, said Bernie Sanders was “crossing a line” by saying she wasn’t qualified to be president.

“I think everyone better take a deep breath and be reminded that this is about November,” Malloy said in an interview. “Let’s cut this stuff out, and let’s get down to real issues.”

Clinton had questioned Sanders’ readiness for the Oval Office in an interview on Wednesday, but had stopped short of saying the Vermont senator wasn’t qualified. Later that day, Sanders gave a list of reasons why he thought Clinton was unqualified and said he was responding to an attack by her.

“Someone on the senator’s staff did him a disservice” by not accurately portraying Clinton’s comments when preparing Sanders’ speech, Malloy said. “I hope that’s the case.”

Malloy is the chairman of the Democratic Governors Assn., and he expects his party to unify around whichever candidate is the nominee. But he said recent rhetoric hasn’t helped.

Candidates should “make it easier to overcome, not harder to overcome” divisions within the party, he said.


Ted Cruz making matzah in Brooklyn

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Not quite Man of the Year, but still ...


Presidential campaign is hitting Senate races

The turbulent Republican presidential nominating contest is beginning to show signs of down-ballot strain, according to a Senate race update released Thursday by the University of Virginia.

Professor Larry Sabato and his team at the Center for Politics shifted six Senate races to tougher rankings for Republicans as the party fights to maintain majority control of the chamber.

“This does not mean Democrats will actually win all six,” the authors cautioned in the report. But they added: “There is a clear, if premature, trend here.”

Republicans have the heavier lift this fall, defending 24 GOP-held seats, compared with half of that for Democrats.

The ranking for most-endangered Democratic seat, held by Sen. Michael Bennet in Colorado, was moved in his party’s favor, from “leans” Democratic to “likely” Democratic.

Five Republican seats were shifted in less helpful directions for the party in control.

Seats held by Sens. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) were switched to tossups in those swing states. The North Carolina and Missouri seats shifted from ‘likely” Republican to “leans” Republican.

And perhaps most notable, Sen. Charles E. Grassley’s once very “safe” seat in Iowa was shifted to “likely” Republican as the chairman of the Judiciary Committee comes under attack for blocking President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court.

Republicans have a 54-46 majority in the Senate, and the seats they hold in Illinois and Wisconsin are already favored toward Democrats.

Republican strategists said the ratings changes were premature in some states, including Colorado, where voters have yet to choose a GOP challenger.

National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Greg Blair said Democratic candidates face their own down-ballot troubles as the race between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders intensifies.

Democratic contenders will be forced to defend President Obama’s agenda, he said, and respond to “the leftward sprint in the Democrat presidential primary between a declared socialist and a deeply unpopular establishment liberal.”

The rough presidential contest could be damaging in a year of intense voter dissatisfaction. It also could determine which party controls the Senate, and Congress.

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Obama: Democrats must guard against ‘tea party-type mentality’

As the Democratic primary campaign has taken a nasty turn, President Obama Thursday warned his party against putting ideological purity ahead of achieving progress.

Taking questions from law students in Chicago at an event to pressure Republicans to act on his Supreme Court nomination, Obama said he was not concerned that Democrats were heading toward the kind of intra-party warfare that has dominated the GOP recently.

But he did say the party needed to guard against the kind of thinking that led the GOP to this point.

“The danger, whether for Democrats or Republicans, is in a closed-loop system where everyone is just listening to people who agree with them, that you start thinking that the way to get to where I want to go is to simply be as uncompromising as possible and hold the line and not pay attention to or listen to what the other side has to say,” he said. “That is sort of a tea party-type mentality.”

He acknowledged frustration among some Democrats, for instance, that the Affordable Care Act was not more sweeping. But he said that just because someone opts to make concessions in a political process, it does not mean “you must be a sellout, or you must be corrupted, or you must be on the take.”

“A lot of the reason why a lot of Democrats who supported me, and still support me, got frustrated is because a bunch of the country doesn’t agree with me, or them. And they have votes, too,” he said. “If you don’t get everything you want, it’s not always because the person you elected sold you out. It may just be because in our system you end up taking half-loaves.”

Obama said that there “is not a huge divergence” between the two Democratic candidates on the issues. But he again made a pitch for the merits of incrementalism in helping to make progress in realizing their goals.

“That’s how change generally happens,” he said. “The thing that Democrats have to guard against is going in the direction that the Republicans are much further along on, and that is this sense of, we are just going to get our way, and if we don’t, then we’ll cannibalize our own, kick them out and try again.”


Bill Clinton to protesters: ‘You are defending the people who kill the lives you say matter’

In a feisty exchange with protesters on Thursday, former President Bill Clinton defended his wife’s past comments about “super-predators,” which were viewed by some as racist toward black teens.

“I don’t know how you would describe the gang leaders who got 13-year-olds hopped up on crack and sent them out in the streets to murder other African American children,” he shouted at protesters while campaigning in Philadelphia on behalf of Hillary Clinton.

As first lady, Hillary Clinton made the “super-predator” comment in 1996 when talking about high crime rates and violence. The comment came on the heels of a 1994 crime bill, backed by the Clinton administration, which created tougher sentencing measures that in turn resulted in long periods of incarceration for black men.

On the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton has offered regrets for her comments and said the bill was flawed. Moreover, she’s faced protesters, primarily from the Black Lives Matter movement, who have confronted her over her past support of the measure.

“Maybe you thought they were good citizens, [Hillary] didn’t,” Bill Clinton told protesters Thursday.”You are defending the people who kill the lives you say matter.”

The off-the-cuff comments from the former president come as Hillary Clinton seeks to bolster her support among African Americans, who so far have helped propel her campaign in the race for Democratic nomination.

Bill Clinton is no stranger to going off script and causing a stir on the campaign trail. During the 2008 Democratic primary, he alluded to then-Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign as nothing more than a fluke after his win in South Carolina -- a comment that rankled many African Americans.


Donald Trump taps Washington insider to step up his game in delegate fights

Donald Trump expanded the role of a senior Washington insider on his campaign Thursday in a sign that he recognizes the danger of continuing to rely on a tight circle of loyalists with scant experience in top-level political combat.

Paul J. Manafort, a former lobbyist who has advised Republican White House contenders since the 1970s, will oversee all activities related to the securing of delegates to the GOP national convention, Trump announced in a written statement.

Trump hired Manafort just nine days ago as his convention manager. But since then, it has become increasingly clear that the GOP front-runner lacks the kind of sophisticated political operation essential to any successful presidential candidate.

In several states, Trump’s chief rival, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, has outmaneuvered him in arcane delegate battles that could ultimately determine the nominee.

“The nomination process has reached a point that requires someone familiar with the complexities involved in the final stages,” Trump said.

“I am organizing these responsibilities under someone who has done this job successfully in many campaigns. This will allow the rest of my team to deal with the increasing needs of a national campaign for both the pre-convention phase and most importantly, the general election.”

Manafort, who led President Gerald Ford’s GOP delegate fight against Ronald Reagan in 1976, said securing the nomination was “an intricate series of steps that requires a comprehensive strategy.”

“As part of the campaign team, my job is to secure and protect Mr. Trump’s nomination, and that is what we will do,” he said.

Thus far, Trump’s outsize personality, his media savvy and the popularity of his agenda among Republican voters have propelled his campaign.

But with wealthy GOP donors and powerful elected officials scrambling to stop him from winning enough delegates to clinch the nomination before the Cleveland convention in July, Trump risks losing if he fails to build a more traditional campaign organization.

Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, has no experience in the intricate state-by-state choreography of a presidential campaign. Breaking with tradition, he also travels the nation with Trump rather than overseeing operations from campaign headquarters.

Manafort’s sudden promotion came on the same day that Trump abruptly canceled a news conference that he’d scheduled for Friday at his golf club in Rancho Palos Verdes.

Trump’s statement said he would announce several new hires and promotions as he expands his team in the weeks ahead.


Ahead of New York primary, Giuliani tosses support to Donald Trump

(Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Thursday netted the support of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who criticized Texas senator and Trump rival Ted Cruz for making derisive comments about “New York values.”

“I’m gonna vote for Trump,” Giuliani, who ran for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008, told the New York Post.

He said Cruz’s crack during a January debate about the values of New Yorkers upset him. “It’s New York City. We’re family. I can make fun of New York. But you can’t,” he said.

While campaigning in the Bronx on Wednesday, Cruz sought to cast Trump as having values aligned with “liberal Democratic politicians” in the state.

Trump is the strong front-runner to win New York’s Republican primary on April 19, when 95 delegates will be up for grabs.

On Thursday, Trump canceled an event in California scheduled for Friday in order to stay in New York and campaign.

In recent weeks, his campaign has faced turmoil spawned by gaffes on the part of Trump and a battery charge against his campaign manager for allegedly grabbing a reporter last month.


Kasich tries some food in the Bronx


Cruz is working multiple angles to take down Donald Trump

Despite his impressive victory over Donald Trump in Wisconsin, Ted Cruz faces a long slog as the Republican nominating contest shifts to more moderate East Coast states and he navigates an awkward new alliance with the GOP establishment he built a career on attacking.

The fiery Texas senator pushed into New York on Wednesday well aware of the challenges ahead, swapping his evangelical Christian message for an urban-focused economic one, and making nice with Republican Party leaders whose backing he needs, even though he knows he can’t fully embrace or trust their support.

As the No. 2 candidate in the delegate tally behind Trump, Cruz is the party’s best shot at preventing the New York businessman from securing the nomination. But many Republicans doubt the conservative Cruz will fare any better against a Democrat in November.

So even as GOP stalwarts publicly endorse Cruz, many are jockeying behind the scenes to find an alternative candidate for what looks likely to be a contested convention in July. “The second he’s not useful, the GOP dumps him,” tweeted Alex Castellanos, a Republican strategist and CNN contributor, who likened Cruz to an escort hired for a class reunion when you can’t get a date.

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Unqualified? ‘A silly thing to say,’ Hillary Clinton says

Hillary Clinton’s campaign was outraged on Wednesday night when her rival for the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders, said she was “not qualified” to be president. Her spokesman called the remark “a new low.”

But Clinton herself held her fire when asked about the criticism on Thursday in the Bronx.

“Well, it’s kind of a silly thing to say,” she said outside a subway station near Yankee Stadium. “But I’m going to trust the voters of New York who know me and have voted for me three times.”

Clinton was elected twice as a U.S. senator from New York, and she won the state’s presidential primary in 2008.

Continuing to brush off her opponent’s comments, Clinton nevertheless said she’d rather see the Vermont senator as president than any of the leading Republican candidates.

“I don’t know why he’s saying that, but I will take Bernie Sanders over Donald Trump or Ted Cruz any time,” she said.


Donald Trump cancels California trip amid signs of campaign trouble

(Mic Smith / Associated Press)

Donald Trump has canceled a planned visit to California this week amid mounting questions on whether he can capture the Republican presidential nomination without a contested party convention this summer in Cleveland.

Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks offered no explanation for the cancellation of Trump’s press conference Friday at his golf club in Rancho Palos Verdes.

Trump had announced the trip to California on Wednesday.

The shift comes as Trump and his senior advisors are trying to regroup amid signs that fundamental weaknesses in his campaign organization are hampering his effort to win the 1,237 delegates required to clinch the nomination without a convention floor fight.

“Mr. Trump has rescheduled his California trip and will be campaigning in New York,” Hicks said in an email Thursday morning. “He looks forward to returning to California in the weeks ahead.”

Trump was walloped in the Wisconsin GOP primary Tuesday by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who finished 13 percentage points ahead of him. The loss meant Cruz got 36 delegates and Trump only six.

Trump hopes to recover with a sweep of the April 19 primary in New York, which has 95 delegates. He leads in polls of Republican voters across the state.

But Cruz has been outmaneuvering Trump in behind-the-scenes fights for delegates at local and state party gatherings around the country.

Trump’s defeat in Wisconsin was the latest sign that his reliance on a small group of relatively unseasoned advisors risks undercutting his push for the nomination.

California’s June 7 primary will serve as Trump’s last chance to clinch the nomination outright before the convention.


Clinton rides the subway in the Bronx, without a token

Every New Yorker knows that the city’s subway tokens were discontinued years ago - in 2003 to be exact.

Strap-holders go through turnstiles by swiping a MetroCard, not by dropping a coin-like token into a slot, to catch a train.

So it was a notable gaffe when Bernie Sanders told the New York Daily News editorial board that he had used a token to ride the subway “about a year ago.”

Here’s how the exchange went.

Daily News: How do you get on the subway today?

Sanders: You get a token and you get in.

Daily News: Wrong.

Sanders: You jump over the turnstile.

Daily News: We would like our photographer to be there when you jump over the turnstile.

On Thursday morning, Hillary Clinton rubbed it in.

With a mob of media in close pursuit, she rode two stops on the #4 train, aka the Lexington Avenue Express -- with her MetroCard.

It was a classic campaign troll, and a reminder that Clinton is skilled in the ways of New York tabloid media, even if it took her a few tries to swipe her card.

“I think it was my first term when we changed from tokens to MetroCard,” the former twice-elected senator from New York said shortly before walking through the turnstile.

Clinton’s spokesman adds to the gloating by fishing this out from the archives.


Megyn Kelly warns members of the media to watch their ‘souls’ while covering Trump

Members of the media need to worry about their participation in the rise of Donald Trump, Fox News host Megyn Kelly warned Wednesday.

Reporters’ and networks’ fascination with the GOP candidate started as curiosity last summer, but blew up into a disproportionate amount of coverage, Kelly explained at the Women in the World summit in New York City.

“He went down to the Mexican border and did a presser from there, and it was fascinating TV,” Kelly said in a sit- down with Katie Couric. “[I]t was the first sort of like, ‘I can’t take my eyes off of this. What’s he gonna say next? This is something so compelling about this.’”

Kelly said that after airing a few more news conferences with the Trump campaign, she approached her producer, Tom Lowell, and said she didn’t want to give Trump more coverage just because his appearances drew in viewership. She said she wanted to finish the 2016 presidential campaign reporting on the “side of the angels.”

“We all have to worry about numbers to some extent,” Kelly said. “That’s the reality of TV news in 2016. But we also have to worry about our souls and journalism.”


Trump calls Obama administration ‘half-baked’

President Obama used the term “half-baked” this week to describe Donald Trump’s plan to halt remittance payments from the U.S. to Mexico unless Mexico paid for a border wall.

Trump’s response? He said Obama’s entire administration is “half-baked.”

“They don’t know what they’re doing,” Trump told Fox News backstage Wednesday after a rally in Bethpage, N.Y. “We’re going to build it. Mexico’s going to pay for it.”

Trump lost to rival Ted Cruz in Tuesday’s Wisconsin primary, but didn’t indicate that the loss affected his game plan before the Republican National Convention. He said he still expects to secure the nomination in July.


Here’s who Donald Trump is taking foreign policy advice from

As his campaign navigates a tough stretch, Donald Trump has adopted some of the trappings of a more traditional presidential candidate: meeting with Republican Party officials, adding staff, even announcing a cadre of foreign policy advisors rather than the go-it-alone approach he had favored when it came to issues abroad.

But as ever with Trump, even these straightforward political acts are not without controversy. The advisors he has enlisted appear to have spent little to no time as policymakers, and of those who have served in the military, few have top-level experience. One has been consistently condemned by Muslim rights groups, and another was investigated while working as the Pentagon’s inspector general.

Trump has defended his choices, saying Monday at a campaign rally that most so-called experts have done more harm than good.

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Smoke-filled room, meet Silicon Valley: Techies see opportunity at GOP convention

Few things scream throwback like a contested political convention, an event that calls to mind conniving party bosses, clouds of stale cigar smoke and throngs of activists in Uncle Sam hats passionately waiving homemade signs.

But though some of those retro touches will surely present themselves if Republicans arrive in Cleveland for their national convention in July with no clear nominee, the X factor in the fight could be an entirely new frontier of politics: the new technology of hunting for delegates.

A cottage industry of political techies already has emerged to pitch their wares to campaigns. They’re promising that in the weeks leading up to the convention they can enable candidates to find and persuade the right delegates and then arm deputies on the convention floor with thousands of data points about delegates’ ideological leanings, social media proclivities and even TV viewing habits.

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