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Bernie Sanders set to launch his first TV ads in California

After a heated debate in Brooklyn, N.Y., Bernie Sanders flies to the Vatican to give a speech.

Bernie Sanders’ tax returns: More than $200,000 in income, about 4% given to charity

Bernie Sanders promised in Thursday night’s Democratic debate that he would release one year of his tax returns the following day, and his campaign obliged just as the sun was setting Friday evening.

The returns showed an adjusted gross income of $205,271 for Sanders and his wife, Jane.

They donated $8,350 to charity, about 4% of their income.

It’s unclear when Sanders will release other years of his tax returns. Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton has posted seven years of documents on her campaign’s website. (She and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, detailed $27.9 million in adjusted gross income in 2014, and $3 million in charitable gifts.)

The issue sparked a tit-for-tat exchange in Thursday’s debate, with Clinton urging Sanders to release more of his financial records and Sanders again calling on her to disclose transcripts of paid speeches she delivered on Wall Street.

Susan Sarandon, never shy about her political views, is backing Bernie Sanders

Susan Sarandon has always marched to the beat of her own drum. She openly smokes weed. Last year, at almost 70 years old, she attended Burning Man -- a psychedelic gathering in the Nevada desert filled with art, sex and drugs. And she has never been shy about sharing her political views, recently spending a majority of her time stumping for Bernie Sanders’ campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Even so, the 69-year-old made headlines last month when she got into a heated political feud with fellow actress Debra Messing on Twitter. OK, so first, a primer: On March 28, Sarandon went on MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes” to talk about her support for Sanders. Hayes asked if she would vote for Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton should Sanders lose the nomination, and she replied she was going to “see what happens.” Hayes expressed surprise, but Sarandon just replied with a shrug: “Some people feel Donald Trump will bring the revolution immediately.”

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Bernie Sanders interrupts campaign for trip to Vatican but doesn’t meet Pope Francis

Bernie Sanders did not get to meet the pope on Friday, but he got to rail against the inequalities of capitalism at a Vatican conference during an unusual, lightning visit to Rome, days before the crucial New York presidential primary.

Although polls show he trails rival Hillary Clinton in New York, which votes Tuesday, the Democratic senator from Vermont interrupted his insurgent campaign to cross the Atlantic to emphasize the same economic critique that has propelled his candidacy all year at home.

Denouncing a U.S. political system where “billionaires can buy elections,” Sanders told the conference that “speculation, illicit financial flows, environmental destruction, and the weakening of the rights of workers is far more severe than it was a quarter century ago.”

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Bernie Sanders will launch first California TV ads, making contrast with Hillary Clinton over fundraising

As Hillary Clinton travels to California for a pair of high-dollar fundraisers with film star George Clooney, Bernie Sanders will launch his first paid television advertising in the state with a message highlighting what his presidential campaign sees as a key contrast.

The new 30-second spot is called "$27,” a number that has become as closely identified with Sanders as 47% was in a negative way for Republican nominee Mitt Romney four years ago.

It represents the average contribution that Sanders’ supporters have given to his campaign. A flood of small donations has given him the resources to compete through the June 7 California primary and its expensive collection of television markets.

“I think it’s the best $27 you can spend,” one voter says in the ad.

The spot will debut on KGO-TV in San Francisco on Friday evening and on KCBS in Los Angeles on Saturday night, timed deliberately to coincide with Clinton’s major fundraisers with Clooney in both cities. The events have minimum asking prices in the tens of thousands of dollars.

“It’s a very powerful statement about what Bernie’s campaign is about,” Tad Devine, the campaign’s chief strategist, told the Los Angeles Times. “He’s trying to create a political revolution in America, not just by talking about these issues, but by acting on them.”

Devine said the spot will ultimately air in greater rotation in California and other states that will vote after New York’s primary on Tuesday. He said the availability of early voting in California makes it important to go up with advertising there even more than a month before the primary.

“He’s made a decision that he’s not going to be part of a corrupt system that relies on enormous contributions to super PACs,” Devine said. “He thinks it’s the reason that we have gridlock in Washington, the reason we can’t take on some of the biggest problems of our time,” including immigration reform, clean energy and college affordability.

Sanders has made Clinton’s use of super PAC contributions a key part of his message, hammering at the point during a debate Thursday night in Brooklyn.

Clinton called it a “phony attack,” and one not only directed at her but against President Obama, who also relied on a super PAC in his two presidential campaigns.

Devine said Clinton’s defense overlooks the ways in which technology — particularly the use of smartphones — has made it easier than ever to raise small-dollar donations to sustain a presidential campaign.

“If President Obama were running for president for the first time today in 2016, with the means that we have today to raise the kind of money that Bernie Sanders has demonstrated can be raised, I think he would have had the opportunity to make a decision about whether to participate in the super PAC system or run outside of it,” he said. “I would give him the benefit of the doubt and say he may have decided differently than Hillary Clinton did.”

Trump vs. the Republican Party, Round 2. (Or is it 3?)

In a remarkable political year, one of the most striking spectacles is the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination feuding with the party he hopes to lead.

With increasing stridency, Donald Trump has attacked the GOP over the rules governing its nominating process; although he’s won the most states so far and garnered the most votes, there is a more than decent chance that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz could outhustle him for the nomination.

That is because, to Trump’s consternation, the nominating fight is ultimately decided by delegates and not the popular vote — a fact Cruz has exploited to great advantage through his superior organization and much-better-thought-out campaign.

Crying foul, Trump took Friday to the opinion page of the Wall Street Journal, where he accused Cruz of thwarting popular will and effectively stealing the nomination with the help of conniving party insiders.

“What we are seeing now is not a proper use of the rules, but a flagrant abuse of the rules,” Trump wrote. “Delegates are supposed to reflect the decisions of voters, but the system is being rigged by party operatives with ‘double-agent’ delegates who reject the decision of voters.”

Coincidentally, or not, the chief strategist at the Republican National Committee, Sean Spicer, issued a memorandum Friday to “interested parties” in which he explained the delegate selection and allocation rules for the next several upcoming contests.

The rules for all 50 states and five U.S. territories were shared with each of the presidential campaigns and widely publicized last fall, Spicer said.

“While each state is different, each process is easy to understand,” Spicer said, “for those willing to learn it.” (Emphasis added.)

Not that he was pointing fingers, or naming names.

Trump’s campaign manager blames the establishment for a ‘broken’ delegate process

The system for choosing presidential nominees is broken, Donald Trump’s campaign manager insisted Friday, but acknowledged that candidates must deal with the rules now for a chance to fix it later.

“Unfortunately, we need to work within the system, and I hate the system,” campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said on CNN’s “New Day.” “... What we saw in Colorado was the GOP establishment precluded a million people from voting on Election Day.”

In Colorado, the party decided last year to skip a binding nominating contest for the presidential race this year after the Republican National Committee changed some rules in August.

Lewandowski blamed the establishments of both Democratic and Republican parties of making rules to benefit their own perceived needs, not the needs of the people.

“You’ve got the establishment that are making rules that are good for the establishment candidates,” he said.

Ted Cruz and Jimmy Fallon mock Donald Trump on ‘The Tonight Show’

Ted Cruz got on the phone with Donald Trump on Thursday to talk about Colorado voters and New York values — except, in this call, Jimmy Fallon played the role, hair piece included, of Trump.

Fallon-as-Trump was trying to prepare Cruz for his “Tonight Show” appearance and the conversation turned to a favorite topic for Trump: himself.

“Oh, I’m the bigger man, with the bigger hands,” Fallon said, alluding to Trump’s defense of his masculinity during the March 3 GOP debate. “And the bigger — you can’t see me, but I’m pointing at my Trump Tower.”

Partisans of Sanders and Clinton are waging a vicious war of words

Thursday night’s Democratic debate in Brooklyn between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders got a bit contentious, but fell far short of the nasty exchanges between Hillary supporters and Bernie backers that have been firing up social media for months.

I did not have to dip very far into my Facebook “news” scroll to find some unflattering comments about Sanders and his supporters. Here’s one: “I have officially had it with Bernie Babies, as I stated yesterday, and now I’ve lost all respect I’ve ever had for Bernie Sanders. He is a fraud. A typical idealistic demagogue. Disgusting old man.”

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Bernie Sanders’ supporters are fighting back, but they might be hurting his campaign

Shawn Bagley thought he knew what he was getting into when he was elected to become one of California’s so-called superdelegates to the Democratic National Convention, and energetic debate with other activists was part of it.

What Bagley had not anticipated was being jolted out of bed by a 2 a.m. phone call from an angry Bernie Sanders supporter. The caller accused Bagley, a retired produce broker from Salinas, of stealing democracy from the citizenry.

“Why is Bernie Sanders letting these people loose on us?” said Bagley, a Hillary Clinton backer who says he was branded corrupt, immoral and thickheaded over the course of approximately 200 social media posts and phone calls from Sanders fans. “He lost my vote at 2 a.m.”

Sanders supporters are known to be a spirited bunch. But as their frustration mounts over their candidate’s failure to significantly cut into Clinton’s lead in the Democratic presidential race, no small number of them are lashing out in ways that are not particularly helpful to his campaign.

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Sanders faces a hard reality in New York: Some of his most ardent backers can’t vote for him

The men and women who make up one of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ best political assets in New York are doing just about everything to help him except one: vote.

The Working Families Party, a nearly 2-decade-old political force in the Empire State, has sprung into action on behalf of Sanders, the independent-turned-Democratic presidential hopeful. But only registered Democrats can vote in Tuesday’s primary, shutting out the nearly 50,000 Working Families members.

Though their ranks are minuscule compared with the state’s 5.8 million Democrats, Sanders’ inability to count on support at the polls from them or others outside the Democratic Party underscores the reality that a core source of his strength throughout the nomination battle, independent liberals, can’t vote for him in dozens of states, including New York.

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Democratic hopefuls go on the attack in Brooklyn ahead of crucial New York primary

Sen. Bernie Sanders was anxious to land some tough blows during a debate against Hillary Clinton in his native Brooklyn on Thursday night, as he strove for an upset victory over a front-runner whose roots in the crucial electoral state also run deep, but Clinton came to the matchup prepared.

Their intense sparring underscored the unwillingness of either presidential candidate to yield an inch, even at a time Clinton has pulled far ahead of Sanders in convention delegates. Many seasoned strategists have declared her risk of losing to be almost nil, but Clinton nonetheless cannot afford a setback in New York, the biggest prize in the Democratic contest to date.

A victory here, where polls have consistently shown her well ahead, would put her on a path toward cruising to the nomination, but a loss would generate a fresh round of second-guessing about her abilities as a candidate.

So the two clashed repeatedly during the debate, held at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, amplifying the heated rhetoric they had aimed at each other in the days leading up to the contest — some of the most bitter of the campaign to date.

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