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Large crowd of demonstrators scatters after night of protest outside Trump rally

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A large crowd of demonstrators gathered Thursday night to protest Donald Trump’s rally in Orange County.

  • Hundreds of demonstrators filled the streets in Costa Mesa. Many were members of the Latino community.
  • Before the rally, an announcer urged the crowd not to “touch or harm” protesters.
  • Protesters and Trump supporters faced off at the Orange County Fairgrounds in a fiery exchange of opposing views.

Watch Live: Protesters gather outside of California Republican Party’s convention where Donald Trump is speaking

Javier Panzar is on the ground where protesters have gathered ahead of Donald Trump’s speech.

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Crowd leaves after hundreds of demonstrators protest Trump event

Shortly after 10 p.m., a crowd of hundreds of protesters had dispersed and the few demonstrators left were outnumbered by law enforcement. Along Newport Boulevard, one of the main streets outside the fairgrounds, officers from the California Highway Patrol were stationed at nearly every intersection. A row of police officers on horseback formed a phalanx across Newport Boulevard near Fair Drive.

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Trump protest ‘dissipating,’ OC sheriff says

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Scuffle turns bloody for Trump supporter

The scene outside the Donald Trump rally was chaotic as a crowd of hundreds of mostly young protesters blocked the streets. Many were carrying Mexican flags.

Protesters smashed a window on at least one police car, punctured the tires of a police SUV, and at one point tried to flip a police cruiser. A young man got on top of the police cruiser and started stomping on it before slipping and falling off. Protesters scribbled anti-Trump messages on police cars and on at least one red sports car parked in a gas station parking lot.

Police in riot gear and on horseback slowly pushed the crowd down the street and away from the fairgrounds as helicopters circled overhead. At one point, protesters and a Trump supporter appeared to get in a scuffle, and the Trump supporter came away with a cut and bloodied face.

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A look from above as demonstrators block street in Costa Mesa

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Hundreds of Trump protesters fill Costa Mesa streets, many from Latino community

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Trump protesters clash with police in Costa Mesa

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Freeway ramp blocked by demonstrators is cleared

The entrance to the 55 Freeway has been cleared after protesters took benches from a nearby hotel and used them to block traffic. Some of the demonstrators threw rocks and beer bottles at anyone yelling at them.

They took selfies and group shots before California Highway Patrol officers arrived to break up the crowd.

No has been reported hurt. The groups have reduced in size.

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Trump urges supporters to vote June 7, ending raucous Costa Mesa rally

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Dueling attendance numbers for Trump’s rally turnout

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Trump’s rally warm-up? Hitting the links at his Rancho Palos Verdes golf club

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Where was Donald Trump before his rally in Costa Mesa on Thursday?

The Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles in Rancho Palos Verdes.

“I would have stayed there, but I had to come talk to you people,” he joked to supporters at his rally.

Trump purchased the club in 2002 and has since had a contentious relationship with the coastal city.

In 2008, he sued Rancho Palos Verdes for $100 million, accusing the city of fraud and civil rights violations. He contended that the city refused to allow improvements needed to maintain the “Trump image,” including a clubhouse terrace and a row of ficus trees he said he was forced to cut down. The city and Trump settled the lawsuit in 2012. Details were not disclosed.

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Trump takes aim at Karl Rove early into speech

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Trump targets illegal immigration, radical Islam as he courts conservative California voters

In the kickoff to his California campaign, GOP front-runner Donald Trump doubled down on his most controversial statements Thursday as he courts the most conservative elements of the state Republican Party.

Speaking at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa, Trump brought on the families of people allegedly killed by immigrants in this country illegally before reiterating that he would build an enormous wall on the southern border and make Mexico pay for it. Then he told a discredited story about a World War I-era general who allegedly stopped an insurgency by ordering his troops to kill Muslim terrorists with bullets dipped in pigs’ blood.

“We’re going to have to get a lot tougher than we are because we have problems,” he told thousands of cheering supporters.

Trump’s speech in Costa Mesa was his first public appearance in California since it became clear the state’s June 7 primary would be crucial in determining whether he can win the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the GOP nomination.

This is the state that in 1994 approved Proposition 187, a measure that would have denied many state-funded benefits for those in the country illegally. It was largely thrown out by the courts, and California voters have grown more liberal in their approach to illegal immigration since then.

But Trump’s message makes strategic sense given that the state’s Republican primary is open only to voters who are registered Republicans, and there remains a strident conservative base in the party. Though it has grown more liberal and diverse in recent years, Orange County — which fueled Ronald Reagan’s runs and was the site of protests where former Gov. Pete Wilson was burned in effigy for not being conservative enough — remains the symbolic bastion of that base.

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Jamiel Shaw, whose son was killed by a man in the U.S. illegally, joins Trump onstage

Jamiel Shaw has spoken at rallies and appeared in a TV ad for Donald Trump to call for an end to illegal immigration.

So when the billionaire businessman arrived in Costa Mesa on Thursday, Shaw was at his side when he took the stage.

Shaw’s son, a Los Angeles high school football star, was killed in 2008 by an immigrant who was in the U.S. illegally. Shaw was joined onstage by others who had lost loved ones to crimes committed by people in the country illegally.

“When I saw Trump and what he said, for the first time it gave me real hope, gave me real change,” Shaw said of Trump entering the presidential race last summer.

Shaw lauded Trump’s calls to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and his calls for deportation.

“He’s really become a great friend of mine,” Trump said of Shaw.

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Trump kicks off rally with group billed the ‘voice for the victims killed by illegal aliens’

At the start of his rally in Costa Mesa, Donald Trump brought members of the Remembrance Project onto the stage. The Texas-based group labels itself as “a voice for the victims killed by illegal aliens.”

In an open letter to Republican candidates in March, the Remembrance Project wrote:

“Violent illegal alien crimes, especially crimes resulting in the killings of American citizens, are like none other in our system of legal justice. In every case, the perpetrator was in the country illegally, enabled by a government unwilling to protect our nation’s border and enforce current laws. We are aware that not all candidates have clearly promised to secure the borders, however, there is some very important unfinished American family business that urgently needs your attention.”

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Outside Trump rally, protesters grow violent

Inside the Orange County Fairgrounds, Donald Trump told supporters that his rallies are safe events.

“The safest place in the country to be is at a Trump rally.”

Outside, a crowd of protesters grew violent.

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Trump protesters bring traffic to a halt in Orange County

Hundreds of demonstrators filled the street outside the Orange County amphitheatre where Donald Trump held a rally Thursday night.

Traffic came to a halt as a boisterous crowd walked in the roadway, some waving American and Mexican flags and voicing opposition to Donald Trump.

“Dump the Trump,” said one sign.

Video footage showed some anti-Trump demonstrators hurling debris at a passing pickup truck.

Officers clad in riot gear from the Costa Mesa Police Department lined up across a roadway and announced to demonstrators to clear the roadway.

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Supporters with tickets turned away from Trump rally

At the Trump rally, a man named Dane who declined to give his last name said he reserved a ticket but arrived to find out that all tickets had been given away.

He said he was a little upset he couldn’t get in.

“I understand, they’re trying to get as many people as they can,” he said.

Jan Strahl, 66, of Tustin was two people away from walking into the amphitheater to see Trump when the gate closed and she was told no one else was getting inside.

Strahl, who wore a “Make America Great Again” hat, said she had reserved a ticket last night.

“I’m very disappointed,” she said.

Lupe Villareal, 66, and Julian Ruelas, 64, drove three hours from Ventura County to see Trump. They said they had reserved their tickets Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s kind of disappointing they would give away tickets and not let everybody inside,” Ruelas said.

Villareal said she didn’t mind.

“It was still worth coming here,” she said.

Meanwhile, those who weren’t able to get in stood facing anti-Trump protesters. Each side taunted each other while police helicopters circled above.

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Rally venue near capacity as crowd waits for Trump to take the stage

The amphitheatre at Donald Trump’s rally filled nearly to capacity by 7 p.m. as the crowd awaited the GOP presidential front-runner’s arrival. One man walked around holding a “Captain America” movie-theater cutout with Trump’s head taped onto it.

Security removed another man holding a handheld camera as the crowd chanted “Trump! Trump! Trump!” He filmed the men in dark suits who removed him and appeared to argue with them before being led out of the amphitheater.

Police in green fatigues stood on a grassy knoll at the back of the amphitheater, scanning the audience for troublemakers.

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California’s primary matters for the first time in decades

California has until May 23 to register to vote in the June 7 primary -- one that will matter more than the state’s past primaries.

As Donald Trump holds his first Golden State rally of 2016 and the other GOP presidential hopefuls arrive for the California Republican Party convention, 25 Californians weighed in on the race. They revealed a theme we’ve seen across the country — deep dissatisfaction with the state of politics and distrust of government.

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Rally soundtrack: Luciano Pavarotti

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‘Shame on you guys!’

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Pro-Kasich super PAC tells donors that California is last place to stop Trump

A super PAC backing Ohio Gov. John Kasich warned donors Thursday that if they failed to fund its effort in California, Republican front-runner Donald Trump will win the nomination in the state’s primary.

“We have five weeks to stop Trump. If there was ever an Alamo in presidential politics, this is it,” says a letter sent to donors by the New Day for America Super PAC. “… No less than the entire future of the Republican Party is at stake.”

The super PAC says its efforts so far have been fully funded in two states: New Hampshire, where it spent more than $10.3 million and Kasich came in second, and Kasich’s home state of Ohio, where it spent more than $1.3 million and he won. In each of the remaining states that have held primaries and caucuses, the group says it has spent an average of $75,000.

“We want to be direct in our ask: Either help us fully fund an effort in California or watch Trump secure the nomination on June 7,” the letter says.

In California, as in much of the nation, Kasich is a distant third in polls. The former Ohio governor shows strengths in the Bay Area, where the New Day group plans a seven-figure effort and the candidate will campaign this week.

On Friday, Kasich is scheduled to speak at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco and then deliver the dinner speech at the California Republican Party’s convention in Burlingame. On Saturday, Kasich will hold a town hall at the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose.

Kasich has some California endorsements, notably former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. But his path to the nomination remains unlikely. He cannot secure it through the remaining state contests because he is so far behind Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz in delegates and votes, and has won just one state.

But his campaign believes he can win the nomination if the fight goes to the Republican National Convention, Trump fails to win the nomination on the first ballot and delegates rally around Kasich as the best candidate to compete with Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.

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Sheriff’s deputies keep Trump supporters, protesters divided

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Announcer to Trump supporters: Yell ‘Trump! Trump! Trump!’ to have protesters removed

As the crowd continued to file into the outdoor arena at the Orange County Fairgrounds, a public announcer warned that protesters might try to take advantage of Trump’s “hospitality.”

Noting that there was a designated protest area outside, the announcer said that if someone interrupts the rally, “Please do not touch or harm the protester,” which drew hearty laughs from the crowd.

The announcer urged supporters to chant “Trump! Trump! Trump!” to summon officials to remove the protester, which also made the crowd laugh.

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Trump’s views blasted: ‘I don’t want to live in a country where people are not down with diversity’

Outside Donald Trump’s Costa Mesa rally, a man draped in a Mexican flag approached the line of Trump supporters and was booed.

He waved the flag as the crowd began jeering him and chanted, “Build the wall!”

Wearing a World War II-era military uniform, Trump supporter Cornell Iliescu began to engage the man in a debate.

Iliescu, who said he was born in Romania and is now a U.S. citizen, asked the man holding the flag whether he had served in the Army. A mob of reporters and onlookers surrounded the two men while the crowd continued to chant.

Nearby, Genevieve Huizar, 60, of Santa Ana, held a sign that read, “Say it loud, say it proud, no to Trump.”

She said she came out because she doesn’t agree with his view on Mexican immigrants.

“There’s people from all over the world who are illegal immigrants,” she said. “But because Mexico is so close that’s who he picks on.

“They use Mexican people’s labor and send them overseas to wars,” she added. “We are people.”

Trump, she said, is dividing the country rather than uniting it.

Costa Mesa resident Jessica Mendoza-Amin, 34, agreed.

“People are losing sight of humanity,” she said. “I don’t want to live in a country where people are not down with diversity.”

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Protesters stop traffic in Orange County after Trump rally

CBS video from earlier Thursday night.

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Police separate Trump supporters from protesters

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‘Kids for Trump’ rally in Costa Mesa

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Crowd getting heated at Orange County Fairgrounds

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Republican candidates keep an eye on the grand prize: California

Ted Cruz on the campaign trail.
(Joe Raymond / Associated Press)

Even as he wages an epic battle in Indiana to smother rival Ted Cruz’s candidacy, Donald Trump set off Thursday for Orange County and the Bay Area, underscoring California’s crucial role in deciding whether the celebrity real estate developer becomes the Republican nominee for president.

Trump’s landslide wins this week in five East Coast states eased his way. But even if he prevails Tuesday in Indiana, Trump still needs a big victory in California’s June 7 primary to capture the 1,237 delegates required to clinch the nomination before the party’s July convention in Cleveland.

“There’s no scenario where California does not figure significantly in Trump’s path to 1,237,” said Josh Putnam, a University of Georgia expert on the nominating process.

California Republicans favor Trump over his opponents, polls show, but he faces many challenges in the race for the state’s 172 delegates.

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Follow L.A. Times reporters and photographers who are on the ground at Trump rally

Donald Trump is holding a rally in Orange County at 7 p.m. Follow our L.A. Times reporters and photographers for live updates:

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Trump protesters and supporters converge at Costa Mesa Trump rally

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Crowd gathers ahead of Trump rally, chants ‘build that wall’

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Relative calm early on at Trump rally in Costa Mesa

The Donald Trump rally started out peacefully at the Orange County fairgrounds in Costa Mesa.

Few protesters were visible in the crowd of red shirts and hats worn by Trump supporters. Some brought American flags, and others dressed up in their military uniforms.

There were “Donald Trump!” chants and the occasional high-fives between supporters. Some waved homemade signs such as “Latinos for Trump” and “Black Christian Women for Trump.”

In the crowd was Brent Fisher, 65, a retired carpenter who drove from Apple Valley to hear the Republican presidential candidate speak.

“I love Trump,” Fisher said. “He’ll stand up and and fight and do the things he’s talking about.

“He’s the American dream.”

Among the issues that Fisher is concerned about is illegal immigration. He believes Trump will secure the border. He said he’s grown tired of previous politicians and presidents who said they were going to but never did.

Holding a “Hispanics 4 Trump” sign, first-time voter William Pages said he supports Trump because he’s an outsider and has a lot of energy.

“He says what needs to be said,” said Pages, 19, of Glendora.

He said illegal immigration, the economy and trade are issues he cares about because he believes they are “unstable.” Trump, he said, will address them.

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Donald Trump supporters arrive in Costa Mesa

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Donald Trump and his supporters wonder how much being ‘presidential’ matters

(John Sommers II / Getty Images)

A few minutes into a boisterous rally in which Donald Trump criticized one rival as a slob, yelled at a protester to “go home to Mom!” and implored his supporters to “wave to the dishonest media,” the candidate paused for a moment to reflect.

“They want me to be presidential,” Trump told the crowd of several thousand in a Philadelphia suburb. “I think I look presidential. Do I look presidential?”

He quickly reconsidered.

“I knocked off 16” candidates, he said. “A governor, a senator, another governor, another senator. And then they say, ‘Oh, you should be more presidential.’ Listen, I’ve got to be careful not to be too presidential, folks.”

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Carly Fiorina tough on terror in new Ted Cruz ad

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Ted Cruz takes a page from Ronald Reagan’s playbook -- circa 1976

When Sen. Ted Cruz named Carly Fiorina as his running mate this week, the pairing was pitched in part as a team Republicans could coalesce around in anticipation of a November slugfest with Democrats.

But for Cruz, who faces an uphill climb against Donald Trump, the strong front-runner for the GOP nomination, the move underscores a sense of urgency by the Texas senator.

And he’s borrowing from the playbook of Ronald Reagan.

Typically a candidate makes a vice presidential pick after securing the nomination and around the time of the party’s nominating convention.

But in 1976, Reagan, fresh off his two terms as California governor, trailed President Gerald Ford in delegates and was in search of a jolt to his campaign. So several weeks before Republicans gathered in Kansas City, Mo., for the party’s convention that year, he tapped then-Pennsylvania Sen. Richard Schweiker as his running mate.

Reagan’s move was viewed as a ploy to entice more moderate GOP delegates to back his campaign. It ultimately faltered, and Ford went on to secure the nomination before losing his reelection bid to Jimmy Carter.

Not since Reagan has a GOP presidential candidate selected a No. 2 without first securing the nomination.

On Thursday, Cruz traversed Indiana with Fiorina ahead of next week’s primary, while Trump dismissed the newly formed team as nonsense.

The duo now have until June 7 to reverse history and perhaps create a new ritual of selecting a nominee despite the odds.

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Ted Cruz and new running mate Carly Fiorina barnstorm Indiana

Ted Cruz and and his new vice presidential pick, Carly Fiorina, hit the campaign trail Thursday in the Hoosier State, as the Texas senator tries to muscle another Republican presidential primary win from Donald Trump.

“How about Carly?” Cruz said to cheers as he took the stage at the Fort Wayne convention center after her introduction. “Isn’t she fantastic?”

Cruz and his new running mate are crisscrossing the state in a bus tour ahead of Tuesday’s must-win primary.

“Indiana will be a pivotal state for the entire country,” Cruz said.

New pink T-shirts and other Cruz-Fiorina swag were being sold at the back of the hall as vendors kept pace with the campaign’s new strategy and its attempt to appeal to female voters.

Cruz told a local talk-radio host during the morning commute that the campaign narrowed 40 potential picks to a short list of five before choosing Fiorina, a former business executive and onetime rival presidential candidate.

“You want someone you can trust,” Cruz said later in Fort Wayne.

He called Fiorina “level-headed” and “not popping off whatever the latest Twitter storm” -- a not-so-veiled swipe at Trump, the GOP race’s front-runner.

During his own rally late Wednesday at the fairgrounds in Indianapolis.Trump dismissed Cruz’s decision to name a running mate as an act of desperation.

But Cruz fans here, in a fairly packed hall, welcomed Fiorina to the team.

“I love her,” said Denise Roy, a nurse and mother of eight. “They make an excellent pair.”

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New pink swag at Ted Cruz-Carly Fiorina stop in Indiana

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Ted Cruz: John Boehner’s comments ‘reveal everything that’s wrong’ with Washington

Ted Cruz dismissed former House Speaker John A. Boehner’s salty criticism of him Thursday as “everything that’s wrong” with Washington.

“What made John Boehner mad is that I led a movement to hold Washington accountable,” Cruz said during a campaign stop in Fort Wayne, Ind.

The strained relations between the former speaker and the Texas senator are nothing new after Cruz led Republicans in a failed Obamacare repeal effort that resulted in the 2013 government shutdown.

But Boehner re-upped the rhetoric by calling Cruz “the most miserable son of a ...” he ever worked with, during a talk at Stanford. He compared Cruz to “Lucifer.”

Cruz returned the favor Thursday, describing Boehner as a “texting and golfing buddy” of rival Donald Trump.

“His inner-Trump came out,” Cruz said.

“If you want a president like John Boehner, then Donald Trump is your man,” Cruz said.

Cruz went on to say he barely knew Boehner, and claimed the former speaker rebuffed an overture to meet during the 2013 government shutdown.

“I’ve never worked with John Boehner,” he said. “He’s never worked with me.”

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John Boehner: Ted Cruz is ‘Lucifer in the flesh’

John Boehner excoriated his former Capitol Hill colleague and GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz during a talk at Stanford University, labeling Cruz as “Lucifer in the flesh.”

Boehner, who retired as speaker of the House last fall, laid out his opinion on the presidential race in a talk at the university. Cruz did not fare well.

“I have Democrat friends and Republican friends,” Boehner said, according to the Stanford Daily. “I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.”

Rival Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and John Kasich won good reviews from Boehner. Boehner said he and Trump used to play golf together, and that he “loves” Kasich, the governor of his home state of Ohio. If Trump is the Republican nominee, Boehner said, he would vote for him. However, if Cruz won the nod, he would not support him, Boehner said.

As for the Democratic race, Boehner said Hillary Clinton is accomplished and intelligent, but he speculated that the Democrats might throw in a Hail Mary candidate if Clinton fails to overcome the controversy surrounding her use of a private email server while secretary of State.

“Don’t be shocked … if two weeks before the convention, here comes Joe Biden parachuting in and Barack Obama fanning the flames to make it all happen,” he said.

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Trump and Clinton are one and the same, Fiorina warns

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton represent “two sides of the same coin” — convictions and principles don’t matter to them, Carly Fiorina said Thursday.

The day after Texas Sen. Ted Cruz announced her as his running mate, Fiorina said that by picking her, Cruz wanted to show voters their options.

“On the one hand, you have Cruz and Fiorina and on the other hand, you have Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton,” she said on MSNBC. “I put them in the same category because they are in the same category: They are two sides of the same coin.”

She added, “This is a fight for the soul of our party and the future of our nation.”

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Trump to be greeted by protesters during his California visit

A large contingent of protestors is expected to greet GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump when he addresses the California Republican Party convention in Burlingame on Friday.

One group, the ANSWER Coalition, plans to protest outside of the hotel during Trump’s luncheon speech and then hold a rally in the evening in San Francisco, where they plan to smash a Trump piñata.

“The Trump campaign poses an imminent danger to the most oppressed and vulnerable sectors of society and all working people and must be protested and shut down anywhere that he is given a platform to speak,” the group wrote on its website.

Another loosely knit group has set up a Facebook page inviting people to protest Trump’s appearance. So far, it has received 2,400 RSVPs, with thousands more expressing interest in attending.

“ … let’s show him a real Bay Area welcome by peacefully protesting outside,” the page says.

Trump has seen varying levels of protests throughout this campaign, often handfuls of individuals who attend his events, start chanting and then get escorted outside by security. Some of these incidents have turned into violent confrontations with Trump supporters.

Larger protests outside of his events have the potential to be particularly flammable. One in Chicago earlier this year grew so unwieldy that his speech was canceled out of safety precautions. At a rally outside of Phoenix, protesters blocked the main road into one of his events, forcing some attendees to walk three miles to the event.

The night before he addresses the state GOP convention, Trump is scheduled to hold a rally in Costa Mesa. The Democratic Party of Orange County and Orange County Young Democrats have announced that they plan to protest the event at the Orange County Fairgrounds.

It’s unclear how large that gathering might be. But additional protests would not be surprising, given the altercations that took place Tuesday between Trump supporters and opponents in nearby Anaheim.

Shortly before the Anaheim City Council considered a resolution to formally denounce Trump, protests turned violent with demonstrators on either side hurling obscenities and firing pepper spray, and at least one Trump supporter trying to Taser an opponent. The council ultimately voted to take no action on the resolution.

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A Trump-Clinton general election poses a question: Which one does America hate less?

Momentous victories in Tuesday’s primaries drove Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump ever closer to a November face-off in which the strongest argument each can make for election is the threat posed by the other.

Clinton and Trump are the two most unpopular presidential candidates in memory, and both are moving to improve their images for the general election.

But they are so well-known, and operating in such a polarized political environment, that their efforts may only serve to tinker around the edges.

Both candidates issued calls to unity within their parties in their victory speeches Tuesday night, then aimed at each other. That suggested a general election battle of brutal negativity, which threatens to alienate voters and further increase partisan polarization.

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The California primary matters for the first time in decades. 25 voters tell us what they care about

There seems to be no shortage of opinions about the race for the White House, its outsize personalities and the potential consequences of the man — or woman — who is elected this fall. We try to understand why voters make their choices using a variety of tools, each with drawbacks.

Polls can tell us a lot about a group of people, but are a snapshot of a moment in time, taken in a controlled environment over the telephone. Talking to people at rallies can yield vivid quotes, but they come when people are as engaged as they might ever be in the topic at hand — and most people just aren’t that regularly engaged.

So we sent two reporters into California congressional districts that were closely split in the 2012 presidential race to have open-ended political discussions with people as they went about their everyday lives. Can they sense the primary battle coming to their communities? How are they making their decisions for the June 7 primary and beyond?

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