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Ted Cruz is trying to stay relevant, but he’s relying on a risky donor strategy

GOP and Democratic candidates turn to California as the last big push for voter support before conventions.

  • Ted Cruz‘s struggling campaign reveals the risk of leaning on a few big donors
  • A rise in confidence for California’s economy poses a problem for GOP candidates
  • Donald Trump slams Hillary Clinton for ‘off the reservation’ remarks
  • The savior this Oregon town has been waiting for? Trump
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Cruz appeals to Indiana voters’ Midwestern values on eve of primary

Once again, Sen. Ted Cruz is relying on a dose of Midwestern niceness to boost his flagging campaign prospects.

“I could not be more gratified, I could not be more encouraged that this primary is coming down to the Midwestern common sense, to the good judgment of Hoosiers,” Cruz said at a Monday night rally at the Indianapolis fairgrounds, capping off a frenetic day barnstorming the state before Tuesday’s pivotal Republican primary.

Cruz has been buoyed by the region before; his victory in Wisconsin last month surged the Texas senator’s momentum and put the GOP front-runner Donald Trump on the defensive. Now, after a series of losses on the East Coast, Cruz is trying to re-create that Midwestern magic.

To do so, he played up the qualities most likely to appeal to his conservative, religious and generally mild-mannered audience: truthfulness, respect, humility.

He encouraged the crowd -- which filled up about two-thirds of a cavernous pavilion -- to find online an exchange he had earlier in the day with a Trump supporter, who heckled him outside a meet-and-greet at a cafe.

“Most candidates would let the protesters go do their thing. I made a different decision,” Cruz said.

Cruz described his end of the conversation as respectful and civil, contrasting it with the Trump fan’s insults and cursing.

“I was glad to see he was channeling the candidate he was supporting,” Cruz said.

Cruz described the exchange as a futile attempt to engage on policy issues with his sparring partner.

“Instead, he just began yelling,” Cruz said.

Still, Cruz said, he walked across the street to confront the protester because “I’m campaigning to be everybody’s president.”

Cruz’s message of wholesome values makes sense when courting voters like Karen Roorbach, a university administrator from Marion.

Roorbach, who was at Cruz’s cafe visit earlier in the morning, said she hoped in the Indiana primary the states “Hoosier values” would be apparent.

How would she describe those values?

“Faith and family. Education,” Roorbach said. “And working hard. Hoosiers are known as hard workers.”

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You wouldn’t know Bernie Sanders is struggling from his Indiana rallies

News out of the Bernie Sanders campaign has been rather glum in recent days.

He suffered several losses to Hillary Clinton, his campaign fundraising plummeted last month and he laid off hundreds of staffers. With only a handful of primaries left, Sanders is trailing Clinton by hundreds of total delegates, and his path to victory looks increasingly narrow.

But you wouldn’t know all that Monday night, when Sanders filled an outdoor plaza in downtown Indianapolis with thousands of supporters who went wild as he enumerated his proposals to legalize marijuana, tax Wall Street and make tuition free at public universities.

It was the Vermont senator’s third big rally of the day, part of an aggressive last-minute push to turn out Indiana voters ahead of Tuesday’s primary.

“We have won 17 primaries and caucuses,” Sanders told the cheering crowd. “With your help we’re going to make it number 18.”

Sanders, who spoke in front of a picturesque marble Civil War memorial, has some reason to be optimistic. Recent polls show him in a competitive race with Clinton in the state. Besides, he typically performs better among white voters than among minorities, and Indiana is a mostly white state.

Still, Clinton’s momentum in recent weeks is undeniable. In a sign that she is turning her focus to the general election, she wasn’t even campaigning in Indiana on Monday.

The Sanders campaign estimated that 7,800 people turned out for Monday night’s rally, among them Nancy Barker, 46, and her husband and 9-year-old daughter. It was Barker’s second time seeing Sanders speak in just a few days.

“I love that he doesn’t take corporate money,” said Barker, who works at a university in Indianapolis. “I don’t feel like he’s fake.”

“I would like to see everything shook up a little,” she said.

Her husband, Mark, who receives disability assistance, said he knows Sanders’ path to victory is difficult, but said that does not affect his vote.

“I’m going stick with him as long as he’s in the race,” Barker said.

That couple said they were not used to their primary votes counting. Typically at this stage in a presidential election, both the major-party nominations are already sewn up.

But in recent days, Indiana has begun to look a lot like Iowa, the first-in-the-nation caucus state that has outsized influence in deciding each party’s presidential nominee.

Along with big campaign rallies and surprise candidate stops at churches and restaurants, the airwaves are crowded with political advertisements. The Sanders campaign has spent about $1 million on ads in the state.

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Ted Cruz’s popularity has dropped sharply among GOP voters

(Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

Ted Cruz’s standing among Republican voters has dropped sharply in the last couple of weeks, with more of the party’s supporters now having a negative impression of him than a positive one for the first time in this campaign year, new data from Gallup show.

The decline comes at a crucial time for Cruz. Tuesday’s primary in Indiana could be critical for his campaign as he tries to amass enough delegates to keep Donald Trump from gaining the majority needed to secure the Republican nomination. Recent polls have shown Cruz trailing Trump in the state.

Nationwide, until recently at least half of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents had a positive view of Cruz, according to Gallup’s polls. But that share began to shrink quickly in early April as Cruz emerged as Trump’s final true rival for the nomination.

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Enthusiasm at Ted Cruz headquarters despite tough odds in Indiana primary

Volunteers continued to show up at the Ted Cruz campaign headquarters in Indianapolis the other day, where a sign on the wall set a goal of 20,000 phone calls.

They were set to easily hit the mark.

But the enthusiasm may be a tough match for a divisive election day ahead as Cruz battles Donald Trump in must-win Indiana.

Polls show Trump ahead as Cruz’s standing continues to dip.

The standoff in the Hoosier state comes as Republicans nationally appear to be coming to terms with the possibility of Trump as their nominee.

A Gallup poll Monday gave Cruz his lowest approval rating yet among Republican voters, while Trump’ s standing was on the upswing. Gallup said 59% of Republicans now viewed Trump favorably, compared to 39% for Cruz.

Cruz vowed Monday to stay in the race as he tries to stop Trump from amassing the 1,237 delegates needed for the GOP nomination. Indiana’s 57 delegates will be pivotal to that strategy.

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Ted Cruz confronts Trump fans and wins a vote from a passerby

Inside a homey central Indiana restaurant on Monday, Ted Cruz received a warm welcome from locals who were unused to the spectacle of a presidential campaign coming to their town.

But when a handful of Donald Trump supporters set up camp across the street, Cruz turned from the handshakes and selfies to confront the hecklers directly.

The several-minute exchange was pointed, with the most vocal Trump supporter, who declined to give his name, addressing the senator using Trump’s preferred nickname for his rival, “Lyin’ Ted,” just inches from the senator’s face.

Cruz’s demeanor remained placid, and he appeared eager to debate the demonstrator about the best strategy to defeat Islamic State and about Trump’s conservative bona-fides.

“So you like rich people who buy politicians?” Cruz asked his sparring partner, noting Trump’s previous donations to Democratic politicians.

Cruz’s antagonist remained steadfast in his opposition, saying Trump fans “had to come represent.”

Cruz did pick up some fans from the exchange. Casey and Joan Martin, from nearby Gas City, said afterward they were impressed how Cruz kept his cool.

Joan said she was already leaning toward voting for Cruz but called the moment “pivotal” in solidifying her support.

Her husband said he’s still deciding whom to vote for but said he was also impressed by Cruz’s calm demeanor. With their 12-year-old son Sam by their side, Casey said he was struck by one of Cruz’s rejoinders to the hecklers.

“He said, ‘Would any of you want your kid saying what Donald Trump is saying?’ That really hit home for me,” Casey said.

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When it comes to paying taxes, California is Bernie Sanders’ kind of state

(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Bernie Sanders wags his finger and shouts that the richest 1% should pay their fair share. No one can argue they aren’t already in California, at least in state taxes.

In fact, they’re forking over more than their fair share to Gov. Jerry Brown’s regime.

The latest figures have just been released, and the top 1% paid nearly half — 48% — of the state’s personal income taxes in 2014.

That’s pretty generous sharing. The other roughly half of the revenue came from 99% of the taxpayers. Well, not exactly all of them.

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Donald Trump became a unifying force on May Day in downtown L.A.

Thousands of people took to the streets in the annual May Day marches in downtown Los Angeles and Boyle Heights on Sunday to advocate for immigration reform, police accountability and an end to racism.

The diverse array of protesters shared one thing in common: All were offended by something Donald Trump had said. The Republican presidential candidate literally loomed over one of the rallies in the form of a giant balloon effigy carrying a Ku Klux Klan hood.

“He’s plastic, he doesn’t have a heart, he doesn’t have a brain,” organizer Francisco Moreno said, as he gestured at the swaying effigy. “We’re not going to vote for Trump!”

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Trump’s been talking about a border wall. Here’s what it’s like to live with one

Saturday brought Perla Martinez three minutes of joy, a temporary pause in a long, painful separation.

“It’s really emotional,” said Martinez, a Denver resident, wiping away tears while standing on the U.S. side of the fence separating San Diego and Tijuana. From about 12:20 to 12:23 p.m., she had stood in an open gate at the border to embrace her parents, Mexican citizens Maria Granadoz and Salvador Martinez Hernandez.

She also introduced them to a 3 1/2-year-old granddaughter.

“It’s been 16 years since we were all together,” Martinez said of her family. “This is the first time my parents have seen Samantha.”

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Donald Trump slams Hillary Clinton for ‘off the reservation’ remarks

Donald Trump on Monday condemned Hillary Clinton for saying she can handle men who go “off the reservation,” calling it demeaning to men and to Native Americans.

“If I made that statement about women, it’d be front-page headlines,” the Republican presidential front-runner said on CNN’s “New Day.”

Trump also said “the Indians have gotten wild” about Clinton’s statement.

He again accused the Democratic front-runner of “playing the woman card” in her attacks, but this time by acting “nasty” toward men.

Clinton’s initial comment came during an interview with CNN as she tried to dismiss Trump’s “woman card” attack.

“I have a lot of experience dealing with men who sometimes get off the reservation in the way they behave and how they speak,” Clinton said.

Clinton’s campaign insisted that the remark was not meant as a slight against Native Americans.

“Hillary Clinton meant no disrespect to Native Americans,” Clinton political director Amanda Renteria tweeted. “She wants this election to be about lifting people up, not tearing them down.”

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Ted Cruz fires back at Caitlyn Jenner over transgender bathroom law

After enduring criticism from Caitlyn Jenner, Sen. Ted Cruz held to his belief that policies allowing transgender people to choose which bathroom they use can open the door for “predators.”

“The concern is not of the Caitlyn Jenners of the world,” the Texas senator and GOP presidential candidate said Sunday on CNN. “But if the law is such that any man, if he feels like it, can go in a woman’s restroom and you can’t ask him to leave, that opens the door for predators.”

Reality TV star and transgender advocate Jenner posted a video last week showing her trip to the women’s restroom at a Donald Trump-owned hotel in New York City.

“By the way Ted, nobody got molested,” Jenner, a lifelong Republican, said in the video.

Trump, the front-runner in the Republican presidential race, has disagreed with Cruz about the controversial North Carolina law requiring that people use the restroom that matches their gender at birth, and invited Jenner to use his businesses’ facilities.

“This is the height of political correctness for Donald Trump to say yes, let grown men in the bathroom with little girls,” Cruz said.

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Clinton plays along with Obama’s Correspondents’ Dinner joke

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In a down-on-its-luck Oregon mill town, the savior they’re waiting for is Donald Trump

He used to wake her up nights, shouting out his terror in the dark, his tattooed biceps continuing their clench-and-spasm dance long after a shift feeding cedar logs into the endless maw of the lumber mill.

In his nightmare, Keven Jones pushed the logs into neat rows, but as he dreamed, the logs started to tumble. They swung down, log after rolling log, bouncing off his rib cage, burying him. He would wake, eyes wide, mouth agape. Only seconds later did he hear himself screaming.

Carol was used to her husband’s unconscious thrashing. The nightmares were once the price he paid for a good job. But the Rough & Ready mill that employed Jones all of his adult life closed in early February, and now what Carol Jones often wakes to in the middle of the night is her husband sitting alone in the living room with a bottle of Jack Daniel’s.

“He’s all wired up, nothing to do with that energy,” she says. Before, when he was working, “he’d pull extra shifts and come home tired, really tired. Now he’s got just time.”

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Rising confidence in California’s economy is a challenge for GOP presidential candidates

The Republican candidates for president have campaigned all across the country lamenting the rough recovery from the recession and condemning President Obama — and by extension Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton — as failures when it comes to jobs and the nation’s well-being.

Then they come to California, where the state’s unemployment rate is 5.4%, more than 8 percentage points below what it was when Democrat Jerry Brown took over from a Republican governor less than six years ago.

At the weekend state Republican convention, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz tied himself in rhetorical knots when he tailored his pitch to California.

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