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Obama is likely to stay out of the fractious Democratic primary

Ahead of New York’s primary on Tuesday, Hillary Clinton is raising money in the Golden State.

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Hillary Clinton pauses her New York primary campaign to raise money and rally in California

(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

There may have been just one place that could draw Hillary Clinton away this weekend from the electoral brawl in New York, where the Democratic front-runner faces a defining moment in just a few days when voters there decide whether to clear the path for her nomination or send her campaign a destabilizing jolt.

But California is that place. The state’s wealth, as well as its wealth of delegates, were too hard for Clinton to pass up. So she took the cross-country detour to join George Clooney in toasting some of California’s most well-heeled Democratic donors – and collect copious amounts of their cash – as well as to stir up voter enthusiasm with a Los Angeles rally.

The amount of money Clinton stands to rake in on the visit is well into the millions of dollars. A pair of seats at her table with Clooney cost donors more than $353,000 Friday night in San Francisco, the most expensive tickets at an event attended by 70 people and hosted by venture capitalist and early Uber investor Shervin Pishevar. Another event was to be held at Clooney’s home in Los Angeles, where the priciest tickets cost $100,000 per couple. The events underscore the state’s outsize role as a money tree for Democratic candidates.

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Bernie Sanders browses the art he’s inspired

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Ted Cruz nabs delegates from Wyoming

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John Kasich scores endorsement from Nevada’s Gov. Brian Sandoval

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After a nosh at a New York deli, Kasich bashes Trump and spars with a reporter

That whole Donald Trump business of the Republican nominating process being rigged? Stop your kvetching, said John Kasich, or words to that effect.

The Ohio governor made a quick campaign stop Saturday at a Jewish deli on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where he ate sour pickles, sampled the kreplach soup and nibbled apple strudel before a brief, sometimes testy exchange with reporters.

Trump has been waging an increasingly strident campaign against the Republican Party he seeks to lead, claiming the nominating system is crooked because convention delegates, not voters, are ultimately responsible for picking the party’s presidential standard-bearer.

Asked whether he agreed, Kasich responded tersely, “No, I don’t think it’s rigged.”

After a pause, he elaborated. “Let me ask you this, what was that show he had on TV? Was that rigged? If somebody didn’t get picked, did they jump up and say” – here Kasich lowered his voice to a mock growl – “ ‘This is rigged!’? I don’t think so.”

He interrupted when a reporter followed with a question that began, “If you get to the convention and you have only won Ohio ...”

“There’ll be no if,” Kasich interjected, “There’s no if in there; there’ll be when.”

The two went back and forth, talking over each other, when Kasich snapped, “I’m answering ... the question the way I want to answer it. You want to answer it? Here, let me hold that” – he reached for the reporter’s tape recorder – “let me ask you, what do you think?”

It was a rare display of the prickly side of Kasich, a persona well-known in Washington, where he served 18 years in Congress, and back home in Ohio, but rarely seen on the presidential campaign trail.

Maybe it was just a case of going native, elbows-out, ahead of New York’s Tuesday primary.

He never answered the question.

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In L.A., Hillary Clinton lauds ‘California values’ as American values

Hillary Clinton, traversing across California for fundraisers, lauded the state on Saturday for what she called leadership on a host of issues, including raising the minimum wage and increasing compensation for those taking paid family sick leave.

Clinton, the favorite to win New York’s primary on Tuesday against her rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, noted that New Yorkers recently passed similar measures.

“Let’s take California values and New York values and put them to work for American values,” she said to thunderous applause from dozens of supporters packed into a library at Los Angeles Southwest College.

The line from Clinton played off comments from Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, who has assailed so-called “New York values” as those of liberal politicians.

Clinton’s visit to Southern California is part of a two-day swing through the state. On Friday evening, she attended a high-dollar fundraiser in San Francisco hosted by Amal Clooney and her husband, actor George Clooney. She’s scheduled to attend another fundraiser hosted by the Clooneys on Saturday night, where some tickets cost $33,400 to dine with the former secretary of State.

In her remarks on Saturday, Clinton offered several nods to California’s June 7 primary, noting that she will be here often, working for the support of voters in a state where 172 delegates will be up for grabs.

“I love coming to California. ... We need to get to work for a big victory in California,” said Clinton, who has the backing of prominent politicians such as Rep. Maxine Waters and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Though Clinton clearly would prefer to have the nomination sewn up by June, Sanders’ staying power is making it increasingly apparent that California will be more meaningful than in past presidential contests.

On Saturday, Clinton took aim at Sanders for his support of a bill to vote to give gun makers and sellers immunity from liability if their firearms are used in a shooting.

“No matter how often he’s asked by family members of those who have been murdered, he sticks to his talking points,” Clinton said.

Some of those who attended Clinton’s event at the community college said it was time for Sanders, who trails Clinton by nearly 200 pledged delegates, to exit the race.

“He needs to leave the race. It’s over for him, It’s about math, and it’s not on his side,” Linda Slauson, 63, a marriage and family therapist from Long Beach, said as she waited in line on the manicured grounds of the college. “It’s time for us as Democrats to unite.”

But first, Clinton will fight to win California.

“I can’t wait to be here campaigning in this great state,” she told supporters.

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Drawing applause, Hillary Clinton targets Bernie Sanders on guns

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Hillary Clinton targets polluters in climate change remarks in L.A.

Hillary Clinton opened her speech at Southwest College with a riff on climate change, saying she would take on companies that damage the environment.

“We’re going to combat climate change by going after the polluters,” she said. “We’re going after not just people in our country, but people around the world who don’t recognize the seriousness of this crisis.”

Clinton praised the international agreement reached on climate change in Paris in December, and she touted her proposals to expand solar power in the United States.

“Some people talk about this,” she said. “I have a plan to actually lead the world in doing this.”

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Hillary Clinton takes the stage in Los Angeles

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Focused on party unity, Obama likely will skip the Democratic primary fight, aides say

President Obama is likely to sit out the entire presidential primary season amid concerns about the damage he could do by stepping too soon into a contentious Democratic contest running far longer than he expected.

Prominent fault lines have emerged in recent days in the Democratic race that threaten to permanently damage the party. But seeing no clear way for Obama to unify Democrats without alienating key voters, White House aides are gambling that the president will still have enough time to rally the party before the November general election even if both Democratic candidates stay in the race until the final primary votes are cast in June.

The risks are clear: If Obama jumped into the fray too early, he would jeopardize the loyalty of supporters of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. He also stands to be accused of acting in the interests of the establishment so deeply resented by large swaths of the electorate this campaign cycle. Both could cost votes in November.

But as both the party’s leader and an outgoing president whose legacy relies so greatly on a Democratic successor, Obama must step in at some point if he is to prevent intraparty squabbling that can divide Democrats when unity is most crucial – amid a fiercely fought general election.

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Before taking the stage in Los Angeles, Hillary Clinton greets overflow crowd

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Ahead of Clinton’s L.A. rally, lines to get in and expectations that history will be made in the fall

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Ready for Hillary — or getting there, at least

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Wall Street’s view of itself in Bernie Sanders’ campaign: Maligned, marginalized, misunderstood

(Mark Lennihan / AP)

Sitting at an outdoor table down the street from the New York Stock Exchange with their deli sandwiches in plastic bags, the two compliance officers for an investment bank are far from the picture of grotesque wealth that Bernie Sanders has denounced on the campaign trail.

With their tight haircuts and wraparound sunglasses, they look more like cops than bankers, fitting for their job ensuring transactions follow regulations. Instead of taking chauffeured cars from their estates, they ride the ferry from Staten Island, where they play in a softball league.

“I’m not making a million or a billion dollars,” said Chris Gargano, 35. “I’m just trying to pay my mortgage, like every other American.”

Sanders’ attacks on Wall Street were probably never going to win him friends among wealthy bankers. But ahead of Tuesday’s primary in New York, his condemnations ring uniquely hollow among locals. On Wall Street’s home turf, his rhetoric also could cost him votes from people who view the financial industry less as an abstract threat to the economy than as an important local business and job provider.

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Debate fever is fading as 5.6 million viewers watch CNN’s Democratic Brooklyn brawl

TV viewers may have seen enough of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders going at each other.

The total average TV audience for Thursday’s debate between the two contenders for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination was 5.6 million viewers. CNN had 5.4 million, while an additional 171,000 watched in the New York market on Time Warner Cable’s NY1 channel.

That’s below the 5.9 million viewers who watched the two candidates’ last meeting March 9, which was produced by Spanish-language network Univision and simulcast on CNN. Their Feb. 12 debate, which aired on PBS and also was carried by CNN, was watched by 8.03 million.

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Bernie Sanders finally does meet with Pope Francis

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said in an interview with the Associated Press that he met with Pope Francis, describing the meeting as a “real honor.”

Sanders said the meeting took place Saturday morning before the pope left for his one-day visit to Greece. He said he was honored by the meeting and that he told the pope he appreciated the message that he is sending the world about the need to inject morality and justice into the world economy. Sanders said it’s a message he has been sending as well.

“We had an opportunity to meet with him this morning,” Sanders said. “It was a real honor for me, for my wife and I to spend some time with him. I think he is one of the extraordinary figures not only in the world today but in modern world history.”

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How many delegates does Donald Trump have? What about Ted Cruz?

New York’s primary is on Tuesday - so where do the Republican candidates stand when it comes to delegate totals?

Check out this Los Angeles Times graphic to stay up to date.

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Hillary Clinton to campaign in Los Angeles while on fundraising swing

Hillary Clinton will set aside the turnstiles of the New York subway to traverse the freeways of Los Angeles on Saturday as she speaks with supporters and raises money for her campaign.

Clinton, who is a favorite to win Tuesday’s New York primary over her rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, will address supporters at a community college here.

Her visit to Los Angeles is part of a two-day swing through California. On Friday evening, Clinton attended a high-dollar fundraiser in San Francisco hosted by Amal Clooney and her husband, actor George Clooney.

Following Clinton’s visit to Los Angeles Southwest College on Saturday, a two-year college that awards associate’s degrees in more than 30 fields, she will attend another fundraiser hosted by the Clooneys, where some tickets cost $33,400 to dine with the former secretary of State.

Clinton, who visited Los Angeles late last month for fundraisers and an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” has California’s June 7 primary in her sights. Though she clearly would prefer to have the nomination sewn up by then, Sanders’ staying power is making it increasingly apparent that California will be more meaningful than in past presidential contests.

The state will award 172 delegates proportionally. Averages of several recent polls from California have Clinton outpacing Sanders by about 10 percentage points.

Eric C. Bauman, longtime chairman of the Los Angeles County Democratic party, is a Clinton supporter. He pointed toward Clinton’s roots here in California — which date back to the early 1990s when her husband, Bill Clinton, ran for president — as an advantage in the primary.

“They have cared for and really nurtured relationships,” Bauman said of the Clintons. “Their relationships with political leaders, donors and activists have been maintained. It’s strong.”

Clinton is scheduled to head back to New York to campaign there Sunday.