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Mitch Perry Report for 5.5.16 – Requiem for a would-be contender

John Kasich dropped out of the Republican race for president yesterday, conceding that he won’t be the “White Knight” fantasized by #NeverTrump acolytes over the past few months.

The Ohio Governor’s departure came less than 24 hours after Ted Cruz “suspended” his campaign, so now we have a full half-a-year to contemplate a TrumpClinton showdown in November.

Although at times it seemed a bit embarrassing, Kasich’s decision to remain in the race despite the fact that he only captured one state and ultimately finished with fewer delegates than Marco Rubio always made sense, because of one simple fact: public opinion polls consistently showed that unlike Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Jeb Bush or any other Republican running, Kasich actually had enough general election potential to become president. If you were to have a contested convention, why not just choose the man who had hung in the race and was a candidate who could go the distance (the RNC Grand Poohbah’s would have had to have changed the rules about the nominee having to win eight primaries or caucuses, however).

However, like every other Republican other than Trump, GOP primary voters simply weren’t compelled to vote for him.

Kasich was the last Republican to officially to enter the race, announcing his candidacy last July. He immediately jumped to the forefront of what at the time was considered the serious, top-tiered branch of candidates who had the credentials to go far.

You know, that same list that included, Bush, Rubio and Scott Walker.

But as CNN reported, whether it was his plan to use a New Hampshire win to vault himself into contention in the states that followed (he finished second), or a big win in Michigan to vault him into his Midwest swing (he finished third), or the clear advantage he claimed to hold in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic (second or third in all), seemingly little that Team Kasich predicted would occur actually happened, other than taking his home state of Ohio.

If folks are mentioning Marco Rubio as a possible running mate (and they are), you can bet they’ll throw Kasich in the mix. The fact that he was an operator on Capitol Hill for a long time and yes, he’s from the crucial battleground state of Ohio, will keep his name in the media until he vows that he doesn’t want it to be. And with the RNC taking place in Cleveland, he’ll be a presence at the convention.

Speaking of Rubio, the Florida Senator was hammered for missing so much time on his day job in Washington, but curiously, you rarely heard criticism of Kasich taking so much time off from his duties as Ohio Governor to do the same thing.

So if nothing else, Kasich can now get back to work and actually do his job, and hopefully, do it well.

In other news …

The economic analysis paid for by the Tampa/Hillsborough Film & Digital Media Commission says that the County Commission’s $250,000 incentive plan for the producers of the upcoming film, “The Infiltrator” provided a nearly 4:1 return on investment.

The West Central Florida Federation of Labor has opted not to endorse in the three-way battle for the Hillsborough County Clerk of the Courts race.

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine to propose raising everybody who works in his city to make at least $13.31 an hour.

Philip Stoddard, the Mayor of South Miami, says he’d like to build a “Wall of Shame” in his region for all the Florida lawmakers who’ve done nothing to fight climate change.

Now that Eric Lynn is out of the race for CD 13, Rick Kriseman is now on the record as backing Charlie Crist in that contest.

Mark Ober’s fundraising numbers are up in his race for re-election for Hillsborough State Attorney, and he’s got powerful businessman John Sykes asking his supporters for more.

And Lake Worth activist Cara Jennings has more to say to Rick Scott in a new video.

John Kasich dropping out of prez race; Donald Trump on clear GOP path

Ohio Gov. John Kasich is leaving the Republican presidential contest, giving Donald Trump a clear path to his party’s nomination.

Kasich will announce the end of his underdog White House bid on Wednesday, according to three campaign officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the candidate’s plans. The decision comes a day after Trump’s only other rival, Ted Cruz, dropped out.

With no opponents left in the race, Trump becomes the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee to take on the Democratic nominee in November — presumably Hillary Clinton.

Though armed with an extensive resume in politics, the second-term Ohio governor struggled to connect with Republican primary voters in a year dominated by anti-establishment frustration. Kasich was a more moderate candidate who embraced elements of President Barack Obama‘s health care overhaul and called for an optimistic and proactive Republican agenda.

Even before news of Kasich’s decision surfaced, Trump signaled a new phase of his outsider campaign that includes a search for a running mate with experience governing and outreach to one-time competitors in an effort to heal the fractured Republican Party.

“I am confident I can unite much of” the GOP, Trump said Wednesday on NBC’s “Today Show, as several prominent Republicans said they’d prefer Democrat Clinton over the New York billionaire. In a shot at his critics, Trump added: “Those people can go away and maybe come back in eight years after we served two terms. Honestly, there are some people I really don’t want.”

His comments on several networks came a few hours after Trump, once dismissed as a fringe contender, became all-but-certainly the leader of the Republican Party into the fall campaign against Clinton. The former secretary of state suffered a defeat Tuesday in Indiana to her rival, Bernie Sanders, but holds a definitive lead in Democratic delegates who will decide the Democratic nomination.

The Republican competition changed dramatically with Trump’s Indiana victory and Ted Cruz’s abrupt decision to quit the race. Trump won the Indiana contest with 53.3 percent of the vote, to Cruz’s 36.6 percent and Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s 7.6 percent, according to unofficial results.

Some Republican leaders remain acutely wary of Trump and have insisted they could never support him, even in a faceoff against Clinton.

“The answer is simple: No,” Tweeted Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, who has consistently said he could not support Trump.

What’s their plan moving forward?

“Prayer,” responded Republican strategist Tim Miller, a leader of one of the GOP’s anti-Trump groups. “Donald Trump is just going to have an impossible time bringing together the Republican coalition.”

Some conservative leaders were planning a Wednesday meeting to assess the viability of launching a third party candidacy to compete with him in the fall. Such Republicans worry about Trump’s views on immigration and foreign policy, as well as his over-the-top persona.

Hours before clinching victory in Indiana, Trump was floating an unsubstantiated claim that Cruz’s father appeared in a 1963 photograph with John F. Kennedy‘s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald — citing a report first published by the National Enquirer.

Trump defended his reference to the Enquirer article on Wednesday morning as “Not such a bad thing,” but the line of attack was the final straw for some Republican critics.

“(T)he GOP is going to nominate for President a guy who reads the National Enquirer and thinks it’s on the level,” Mark Salter, a top campaign aide to 2008 Republican nominee John McCain, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. He added Clinton’s slogan: “I’m with her.”

On finding a running mate, Trump told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that he’ll “probably go the political route,” saying he’s inclined to pick someone who can “help me get legislation passed.” Trump didn’t identify any of the names under consideration.

He also said he’s hoping to decide within a week how to fund a general election campaign, but said he didn’t want to accept money from super PACs. He told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that he would begin to accept more political donations.

“I’m really looking at small contributions, not the big ones. I don’t want anyone to have big influence over me,” he said.

A prominent Cruz donor, Mica Mosbacher, quickly signaled support for Trump and urged others to follow.

“I call on fellow conservatives to unite and support our new nominee Trump,” said Mosbacher, widow of a member of George H.W. Bush‘s cabinet. “My heart goes out to Cruz who has a bright future. He did the unselfish thing to drop out.”

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders eked out a victory over Clinton in Indiana, 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent. But the outcome will not slow the former secretary of state’s march to the Democratic nomination. Heading into Tuesday’s voting, Clinton had 92 percent of the delegates she needs.

“I know that the Clinton campaign thinks this campaign is over. They’re wrong,” Sanders said defiantly in an interview Tuesday night. But Clinton already has turned her attention to the general election.

She and Trump now plunge into a six-month battle for the presidency, with the future of America’s immigration laws, health care system and military posture around the world at stake. While Clinton heads into the general election with significant advantages with minority voters and women, Democrats have vowed to not underestimate Trump as his Republican rivals did for too long.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Donald Trump wins in Indiana, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders close

Donald Trump wins the Republican presidential primary in Indiana, continuing his surge toward clinching the GOP nomination over rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich.

Trump took a major step toward sewing up the Republican presidential nomination Tuesday with a victory in Indiana’s primary election, dashing the hopes of rival Cruz and other GOP forces who fear the brash businessman will doom their party in the general election.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were vying for victory in the Democratic primary, though it was too early to call the race as votes were being tallied. Clinton already is 91 percent of the way to her party’s nomination.

While Trump can’t mathematically clinch the GOP nomination with his victory in Indiana, his path now becomes easier and he has more room for error in the remaining primary contests. The real estate mogul will collect at least 45 of Indiana’s 57 delegates, and now needs less than 200 more in upcoming contests.

Cruz, who hasn’t topped Trump in a month, campaigned vigorously in Indiana, securing the endorsement of the state’s governor and announcing businesswoman Carly Fiorina as his running mate. But he appeared to lose momentum in the final days of campaigning and let his frustration with Trump boil over Tuesday, calling the billionaire “amoral” and a “braggadocious, arrogant buffoon.”

Trump responded by saying Cruz “does not have the temperament to be president of the United States.” Earlier Tuesday Trump had rehashed unsubstantiated claims that the Texan’s father, Rafael Cruz, appeared in a 1963 photograph with John F. Kennedy‘s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald — citing a report first published by the National Enquirer.

Cruz has vowed to stay in the race through the final primaries in June, clinging to the possibility that Trump will fall short of the 1,237 delegates he needs and the race will go to a contested convention. But he now could face pressure from donors and other Republicans to at least tone down in attacks on Trump in an attempt to unite the GOP heading into the general election.

Whether a united Republican Party is even possible with Trump at the helm remains highly uncertain. Even before the Indiana results were finalized, some conservative leaders were planning a Wednesday meeting to assess the viability of launching a third party candidacy to compete with Trump in the fall.

Only about half of Indiana’s Republican primary voters said they were excited or even optimistic about any of their remaining candidates becoming president, according to exit polls. Still, most said they probably would support whoever won for the GOP.

Clinton, too, needs to win over Sanders’ enthusiastic supporters. The Vermont senator has cultivated a deeply loyal following in particular among young people, a group Democrats count on in the general election.

Sanders has conceded his strategy hinges on persuading superdelegates to back him over the former secretary of state. Superdelegates are Democratic Party insiders who can support the candidate of their choice, regardless of how their states vote. And they favor Clinton by a nearly 18-1 margin.

Exit polls showed about 7 in 10 Indiana Democrats said they’d be excited or at least optimistic about either a Clinton or Sanders presidency. Most said they would support either in November.

The exit polls were conducted by Edison Research for The Associated Press and television networks.

A fall showdown between Clinton and Trump would pit one of Democrats’ most experienced political figures against a first-time candidate who is deeply divisive within his own party. Cruz and other Republicans have argued that Trump would be roundly defeated in the general election, denying their party the White House for a third straight term.

Republican leaders spent months dismissing Trump as little more than an entertainer who would fade once voting started. Cruz was among those who actively tried to align themselves with Trump and called him “terrific.”

As Trump began to pick up wins, Cruz became more critical of his rival’s policies. Still, his torrent of attacks Tuesday was by far the most pointed and personal of the campaign to date.

Trump has now won seven straight primary contests and has 80 percent of the delegates needed to secure the GOP nomination. With his victory in Indiana, Trump now has at least 1,041 delegates. Cruz has 565 and Ohio Gov. John Kasich has 152.

___

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Ted Cruz faces make-or-break moment to stop Donald Trump

Facing a make-or-break moment for his slumping campaign, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was blitzing through Indiana on Monday in a desperate bid to overtake Donald Trump in the state’s primary and keep his own White House hopes alive.

A victory for Trump in Indiana on Tuesday would be a dispiriting blow for Cruz and other forces trying to stop the front-runner, leaving them with few opportunities to block his path. Trump is the only candidate in the race who can reach the 1,237 delegates needed for the GOP nomination through regular voting, though Cruz is trying to push the race toward a contested convention.

“This whole long, wild ride of an election has all culminated with the entire country with its eyes fixed on the state of Indiana,” Cruz said Sunday at a late night rally. “The people of this great state, I believe the country is depending on you to pull us back from the brink.”

Several hundred people came to see him Monday at Bravo Cafe in Osceola, where he predicted a close finish in the primary and said: “We need every single vote.”

“You’re the perfect man for the job,” a man told him as diners consumed coffee and eggs. “God bless you,” Cruz said, gripping his hand.

Cruz was holding five events across Indiana on Monday. Trump was holding a pair of rallies in the state, though he was already confidently looking past Cruz and setting his sights on Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.

Trump made clear Monday that he would keep up his accusation that Clinton is playing gender politics: “We’re making a list of the many, many times where it’s all about her being a woman.”

“I haven’t started on Hillary yet,” he told CNN, although actually he’s been trashing her record for quite some time.

For her part, Clinton told thousands at an NAACP dinner in Detroit on Sunday that President Barack Obama‘s legacy can’t be allowed to “fall into Donald Trump’s hands” and be consumed by “these voices of hatred.” She cited Trump’s “insidious” part in the birther movement that questioned Obama’s citizenship.

Clinton’s campaign announced Monday that she had raised $26 million in April.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has vowed to stay in the Democratic race, though he acknowledged Sunday that he faces an “uphill climb.” His only path rests on a long-shot strategy of winning over superdelegates, the elected officials, lobbyists and other party insiders who are free to back either candidate.

Trump can’t win enough delegates Tuesday to clinch the Republican nomination. But after his wins in five states last week, Trump no longer needs to win a majority of the remaining delegates in coming races to lock up the GOP nomination.

The importance of Indiana for Cruz became evident even before he and fellow underdog John Kasich formed an alliance of sorts, with the Ohio governor agreeing to pull his advertising money from Indiana in exchange for Cruz doing the same in Oregon and New Mexico.

But that strategy, which appeared to unravel even as it was announced, can’t help either man with the tens of thousands of Indiana voters who had already cast ballots: Early voting began in Indiana three weeks before they hatched their plan.

It also risks alienating those who have yet to vote, said veteran Indiana Republican pollster Christine Matthews. She said she believes many have continued to vote for Kasich in Indianapolis and in the wealthy suburbs north of the city.

“Indiana voters don’t like the idea of a political pact, or being told how to vote,” Matthews said.

Trump went after Cruz on Sunday, suggesting evangelical conservatives have “fallen out of love with him” and mocked his decision to announce former GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina as his running mate.

“They’re like hanging by their fingertips,” he said, mimicking Cruz and Kasich: “Don’t let me fall! Don’t let me fall!”

Trump let on that he’s eager to move on to a likely general election race against Clinton.

He said the end game of the primary battle with Cruz is “wasting time” that he could be spending raising money for Republicans running for the Senate.

“It would be nice to have the Republican Party come together,” Trump told supporters in Fort Wayne. “With that being said, I think I’ll win anyway.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Donald Trump pulls off clean sweep of 5 Northeast primaries

Donald Trump swept all five Republican primaries Tuesday, a commanding showing across the Northeast that keeps the Republican front-runner on his narrow path to the GOP nomination. Hillary Clinton carried Democratic contests in Maryland and Delaware, the start of what her campaign hoped would be a strong night for the former secretary of state.

Trump’s victories came in Maryland, as well as Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. His strong showing was a blow to rivals who are running out of ways to stop the brash billionaire.

Clinton aimed to emerge from Tuesday’s contests on the brink of becoming the first woman nominated by a major party. She’s already increasingly looking past rival Bernie Sanders, even as the Vermont senator vows to stay in the race until primary voting ends in June.

Sanders spent Tuesday campaigning in West Virginia, where he drew several thousand people to a lively evening rally. He urged his supporters to recognize that they are “powerful people if you choose to exercise that power.”

Still, there were some signs that Sanders’ campaign was coming to grips with his difficult position. Top aide Tad Devine said that after Tuesday’s results were known, “we’ll decide what we’re going to do going forward.”

Trump’s victories padded his delegate totals, yet the Republican contest remains chaotic. The businessman is the only candidate left in the three-person race who could possibly clinch the nomination through the regular voting process, yet he could still fall short of the 1,237 delegates he needs.

GOP rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich are desperately trying to keep him from that magic number and push the race to a convention fight, where complicated rules would govern the nominating process. The Texas senator and Ohio governor even took the rare step of announcing plans to coordinate in upcoming contests to try to minimize Trump’s delegate totals.

But that effort did little to stop Trump from a big showing in the Northeast.

Cruz spent Tuesday in Indiana, which votes next week. Indiana is one of Cruz’s last best chances to slow Trump, and Kasich’s campaign is pulling out of the state to give him a better opportunity to do so.

“Tonight this campaign moves back to more favorable terrain,” Cruz said during an evening rally in Knightstown, Indiana. His event was held at the “Hoosier gym,” where some scenes were filmed for the 1986 movie, “Hoosiers,” starring Gene Hackman as the coach of a small-town Indiana basketball team that wins the state championship.

Trump has railed against his rivals’ coordination, panning it as “pathetic,” and has also cast efforts to push the nomination fight to the convention as evidence of a rigged process that favors political insiders.

Yet there’s no doubt Trump is trying to lead a party deeply divided by his candidacy. In Pennsylvania, exit polls showed nearly 4 in 10 GOP voters said they would be excited by Trump becoming president, but the prospect of the real estate mogul in the White House scares a quarter of those who cast ballots in the state’s Republican primary.

In another potential general election warning sign for Republicans, 6 in 10 GOP voters in Pennsylvania said the Republican campaign has divided the party — a sharp contrast to the 7 in 10 Democratic voters in the state who said the race between Clinton and Sanders has energized their party.

The exit polls were conducted by Edison Research for The Associated Press and television networks.

With his three victories Tuesday, Trump will win at least half of the 118 delegates up for grabs in Tuesday’s contests. And he has a chance to win a lot more.

In Pennsylvania, Trump collected 17 delegates for winning the state. An additional 54 delegates are elected directly by voters — three in each congressional district. However, their names are listed on the ballot with no information about which presidential candidate they support.

Those delegates will attend the GOP convention as free agents, able to vote for the candidate of their choice.

Democrats award delegates proportionally, which allowed Clinton to maintain her lead over Sanders even as he rattled off a string of wins in previous contests. According to the AP count, Clinton has 1,946 delegates while Sanders has 1,192.

That count includes delegates won in primaries and caucuses, as well as superdelegates — party insiders who can back the candidate of their choice, regardless of how their state votes.

Clinton’s campaign is eager for Sanders to tone down his attacks on the former secretary of state if he’s going to continue in the race. She’s been reminding voters of the 2008 Democratic primary, when she endorsed Barack Obama after a tough campaign and urged her supporters to rally around her former rival.

Ahead of Tuesday’s results, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said that while Sanders has run a “unique and powerful” campaign, he does not believe the Vermont senator will be the party’s nominee.

According to exit polls, less than a fifth of Democratic voters said they would not support Clinton if she gets the nomination. The exit polls were conducted in Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton aim for sweeps of northeastern primaries

Donald Trump is aiming for a sweep of all five Northeastern states holding primaries Tuesday, including Pennsylvania, with his rivals pinning their hopes of stopping the Republican front-runner on a fragile coordination strategy in the next rounds of voting.

For Democratic leader Hillary Clinton, wins in most of Tuesday’s contests would leave little doubt that she’ll be her party’s nominee. Rival Bernie Sanders‘ team has sent mixed signals about his standing in the race, with one top adviser suggesting a tough night would push the Vermont senator to reassess his bid and another vowing to fight “all the way to the convention.”

Clinton was already looking past Sanders, barely mentioning him during recent campaign events. Instead, she deepened her attacks on Trump, casting the billionaire businessman as out of touch with Americans.

“If you want to be president of the United States, you’ve got to get familiar with the United States,” Clinton said. “Don’t just fly that big jet in and land it and go make a big speech and insult everybody you can think of.”

Asked Monday whether she needed to do more to gain Sanders’ support in the general election, she noted her loss in the 2008 Democratic primaries to Barack Obama.

“I did not put down conditions,” she said on MSNBC. “I said I am supporting Senator Obama. … I hope that we will see the same this year.”

In addition to Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland and Rhode Island hold primaries on Tuesday. Candidates and outside groups have spent $13.9 million dollars on advertisements in the states, with Clinton and Sanders dominating the spending.

Sanders said candidly on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that his campaign is “handicapped” since the states in play Tuesday don’t allow independents to participate, but added that “we are going to fight through California and then we’ll see what happens.”

Democrats are competing for 384 delegates in Tuesday’s contests, while Republicans have 172 up for grabs.

The Democratic race is far more settled than the chaotic GOP contest, despite Trump having a lead in the delegate count. The businessman is the only one left in the race who can reach the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the nomination before the convention, but he could very well fall short, pushing the nominating process to the party’s July gathering in Cleveland.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are now joining forces to try to make that happen. Their loose alliance marks a stunning shift in particular for Cruz, who has called on Kasich to drop out of the race and has confidently touted the strength of his convention strategy.

Kasich has won just a single primary – his home state – but hopes to sway convention delegates that he’s the only Republican capable of defeating Clinton in the general election.

Under their new arrangement, Kasich won’t compete for votes in Indiana, allowing Cruz to take Trump on head to head in the state’s May 3 primary. Cruz will do the same for Kasich in Oregon and New Mexico.

“The fact is, I don’t have unlimited resources,” Kasich said Tuesday on NBC’s “Today,” downplaying the collaboration as the logical step if he is to win the nomination in a contested convention.

Cruz called the partnership “big news” as he campaigned in Indiana on Monday. “That is good for the men and women of Indiana. It’s good for the country to have a clear and direct choice.”

Trump panned his rivals’ strategy as “pathetic.”

“If you collude in business, or if you collude in the stock market, they put you in jail,” Trump said as he campaigned in Rhode Island. “But in politics, because it’s a rigged system, because it’s a corrupt enterprise, in politics you’re allowed to collude.”

Cruz and Kasich’s public admission of direct coordination was highly unusual and underscored the limited options they now have for stopping the real estate mogul. The effectiveness of the strategy was quickly called into question after Kasich said publicly that while he won’t spend resources in Indiana, his supporters in the state should still vote for him.

Trump’s path to the nomination remains narrow, requiring him to win 58 percent of the remaining delegates to reach the magic number by the end of the primaries. He’s hoping for a solid victory in Pennsylvania, though the state’s unique ballot could make it hard for any candidate to win a big majority.

While the statewide Republican winner gets 17 delegates, the other 54 are directly elected by voters and can support any candidate at a convention. Their names are listed on the ballot with no information about which White House hopeful they support.

Clinton is on solid footing in the Democratic race and enters Tuesday’s contests having accumulated 82 percent of the delegates needed to win her party’s nomination. While she can’t win enough delegates to officially knock Sanders out of the race this week, she can erase any lingering doubts about her standing.

Including superdelegates, Clinton now leads Sanders 1,946 to 1,192, according to a count by The AP.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

What’s the deal? Voters cheer, jeer, shrug off GOP pact

Kathy Hiel said she hadn’t made up her mind to vote for Donald Trump — until the billionaire businessman’s two Republican White House rivals formed an extraordinary political non-aggression pact to stop him.

“I’ll have to support him now,” said Hiel, an Elizabeth, Indiana, resident who designs cabinets for a home interior company.

While the political world waits to see if Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich‘s alliance proves brilliant or desperate, some voters in the three states most affected applauded the move while others panned it. But many were still struggling to understand what, if anything, it will mean for them.

Kasich says he won’t compete in Indiana, where Cruz is boasting he’s “all-in,” while the Texas senator said he will cede contests in Oregon and New Mexico to Kasich — an agreement both candidates hope will keep Trump from winning the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the GOP presidential nomination at the party’s national convention in Cleveland beginning July 18.

Hiel was first in line to see Cruz at an ice cream parlor he visited in Columbus, Indiana, on Monday, and aggressively pressed the Texan as he stepped off his campaign bus on the convention’s delegate-selection process.

She said she was a Ron Paul delegate to the 2012 Republican convention, and that she had doubts about Cruz because he’s lately been more focused on winning delegates to Cleveland than wooing voters around the country. Then came word late Sunday of Cruz’s agreement with Kasich — and Hiel said that sealed her decision.

“I never did fully trust Ted,” she said.

But 28-year-old Iraq war veteran Michael Thielmeier, who attended an earlier Cruz rally in Borden, Indiana, called the agreement “smart, calculated, knowledgeable.”

He said he didn’t expect to see such a cooperative deal between two rivals since Cruz has built his career in the Senate and his presidential campaign around being a troublemaker who has infuriated the establishment in both parties.

Thielmeier said he still supports Cruz, because he doesn’t see the pact with Kasich as an insider political move.

In Oregon, 66-year-old Craig Herman said the agreement “doesn’t bother me at all.”

“It’s all theater,” said Herman, from Oregon City. “I think they all do this for drama and put out press releases.”

The deal may not hold together long term since Kasich said his supporters in Indiana should still vote for him. At a pizzeria in Greenwood, Indiana, where Cruz also stopped Monday, some voters asked him to autograph a mailer his campaign sent out before the agreement that made Kasich look soft on guns. A few attendees wondered aloud what it meant since the pair were now supposed to be friends.

Donald Trump didn’t provide much clarity, blasting the deal as collusion while also gleefully saying it showed how weak Cruz and Kasich are.

Denise Lombardo, a registered nurse who attended a Trump rally Monday at a hockey arena in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, said she plans to vote during Tuesday’s state primary for the first time in her life — for Trump.

“I feel that Cruz and everyone else is just jealous because he tells it like it is,” Lombardo, from West Pittston, Pennsylvania, said of Trump.

Langston Bowens, a student at the University of New Mexico, said he was planning to vote for Kasich and said of the deal with Cruz: “I think we can stop (Trump) before we get to the nomination process.”

Ed Kasados, a 78-year-old resident of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, New Mexico, said he’ll likely vote for Kasich, but will ultimately support whoever is the Republican nominee. He summed up the Cruz-Kasich pact in a single word: “Silly.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Donald Trump bristles at Ted Cruz-John Kasich collaboration

Donald Trump says an extraordinary collaboration between Ted Cruz and John Kasich aimed at unifying the anti-Trump vote in some remaining primaries is a desperate move by “mathematically dead” rivals.

Such collusion would be illegal in many industries, the Republican presidential front-runner said, but it’s illustrative of “everything that is wrong in Washington and our political system.”

Under the arrangement outlined Sunday, Kasich, the Ohio governor, will step back in the May 3 Indiana contest to let Cruz bid for voters who don’t like Trump. Cruz, a Texas senator, will do the same for Kasich in Oregon and New Mexico.

The arrangement does not address the five Northeastern states set to vote Tuesday, where Trump is expected to add to his already overwhelming delegate lead. Yet the shift offers increasingly desperate Trump foes a glimmer of hope in their long and frustrating fight to halt the billionaire’s rise.

Trump said in a statement the Cruz-Kasich compact joins two “puppets of donors and special interests” who have no path to the nomination.

Cruz’s campaign manager, Jeff Roe, said in a statement explaining the new plans that Trump would be soundly defeated by the Democratic nominee, whether it’s Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. “Having Donald Trump at the top of the ticket in November would be a sure disaster for Republicans,” he said.

Added Kasich’s chief strategist, John Weaver, “Our goal is to have an open convention in Cleveland, where we are confident a candidate capable of uniting the party and winning in November will emerge as the nominee.”

The announcement marks a sharp reversal for Cruz’s team, which aggressively opposed coordinating anti-Trump efforts with Kasich as recently as late last week. And the agreement applies only to Indiana, Oregon and New Mexico — three of the 15 states remaining on the Republican primary calendar. As Kasich backs out of Indiana, Cruz promised he would not compete in Oregon on May 17 and New Mexico on June 7.

Trump campaigned Sunday in Maryland, which will vote on Tuesday along with Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

Speaking to several thousand people in an airplane hangar in Hagerstown, Maryland, Sunday evening, Trump stressed repeatedly that he expects to win the 1,237 delegates needed in the first round of voting in Cleveland to stave off a contested convention.

“I only care about the first,” he said. “We’re not going for the second and third and fourth and fifth.”

As recently as three days ago Kasich’s campaign announced investments in Indiana, including the opening of two offices and the creation of a campaign leadership team. His campaign on Sunday night canceled a town-hall meeting and gathering in Indianapolis scheduled to watch the results of Tuesday’s primaries.

Both campaigns encouraged allied super PACs and other outside groups to “honor the commitments.”

On the Democratic side Sunday, underdog Sanders rallied thousands of voters in two New England states and offered mixed signals on how hard he would push his differences with the commanding front-runner, Clinton.

The Vermont senator largely steered clear of Clinton at a Rhode Island park, but hours later delivered a sharp critique before more than 14,000 supporters in New Haven, Connecticut. Sanders reiterated his call for Clinton to release transcripts of lucrative Wall Street speeches she delivered after leaving the State Department in early 2013.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

 

Fox’s Sean Hannity at center of bitter campaign competition

Sean Hannity is getting a bruising reminder that this year’s presidential campaign defies traditional political rules.

The Fox News Channel and radio host had a nasty spat with Sen. Ted Cruz this past week, following criticism from both the left and right about his interviews with Donald Trump. Fox also aired the odd spectacle of Hannity sitting onstage with Trump as an audience booed lustily at the mention of Fox colleague Megyn Kelly‘s name.

In an election year when cable news networks are enjoying a bump in viewership, Hannity is a key man for Fox, and his audience is growing more quickly than Kelly’s and Bill O’Reilly‘s. They precede Hannity in Fox’s prime-time lineup.

Fox declined to make Hannity available for an interview for this story.

Hannity’s relationship with Trump became an issue when the liberal website Thinkprogress.org published a story that wondered how Hannity had been able to interview Trump so much without making news, and quoted exchanges that depicted a friendly relationship.

Trump had been a guest on Hannity’s Fox show 32 times before last week’s town hall in Pittsburgh, according to the host’s records.

Hannity has said on his radio show that he does not support one Republican over another.

The attack didn’t seem to surprise Hannity, who noted the website’s ties to Hillary Clinton supporters. The story, however, was picked up and amplified by the conservative, anti-Trump website Redstate.com.

During Hannity’s recent Trump interview, he pressed for specifics on how the candidate would help people economically in that part of the country and how his Mideast policies would differ from President Barack Obama‘s.

About Trump’s claims that some delegates were being snatched, Hannity said, “Clearly there are people who want to circumvent and disenfranchise the voters. What do you say to them?”

He asked him to detail Clinton’s weaknesses, and there was an uncomfortable moment where he asked Trump to reveal what unflattering nickname he would try to stick on Clinton like he did with “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz.

Trump wouldn’t say, but promised Hannity he’d be the first to know.

By Hannity’s count, Cruz had appeared on his television show 34 times since Cruz announced his candidacy. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, still in the race, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who is not, had been on the show 20 times, with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, another dropout, making 19 appearances.

On his radio show, through last week, Cruz had logged more interview time than any other candidate — more than 188 minutes on the air. Trump’s 112 minutes were third behind Rubio.

“I’m just going to remain neutral and give you access to the candidates, because no one else is doing it,” Hannity said. “At the end of the day, if it’s Cruz or Trump who is the nominee, I’m going to support them because it would be a disaster if Hillary Clinton becomes president.”

When Cruz this past week seemingly made a reference to Hannity’s critics in a radio interview, the host flashed annoyance.

After Cruz called a Hannity question about the fight for delegates part of a silly media obsession, Hannity pressed the point.

“The only people asking this are the hard-core Donald Trump supporters,” Cruz said.

“You’ve got to stop,” Hannity replied. “Every time I have you on the air and I ask you a legitimate question, you throw this in my face, and I’m getting sick of it. I’ve had you on the air more than any other candidate.”

The unabashed conservative makes no secret of his views, and he appeals to a like-minded audience.

In last week’s Trump interview, when Hannity asked about the candidate’s private meeting at Trump Tower with Kelly on April 13, the pro-Trump crowd booed at the mention of her name. Kelly has come under constant criticism from Trump since she asked him a question he didn’t like last summer.

Neither man spoke about the audience’s reaction. Trump smiled. Hannity, who was largely off camera, appeared to make a “stop” motion with his arms.

It was an audible manifestation of a delicate problem for Fox.

Kelly, Fox’s brightest new star, has come under relentless criticism from Trump, and many Hannity fans are siding with the GOP front-runner instead of the network long loved by Republican viewers.

Given that Trump seems to feel comfortable on Hannity’s show, the veteran talk show host is an important asset for Fox in a combustible campaign.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

GOPer: Rules change would prevent ‘dictatorial’ convention

A member of the Republican National Committee trying to revamp GOP rules for nominating a presidential candidate says without the change, party leaders could exert “almost dictatorial power” at this July’s nominating convention.

The criticisms by Solomon Yue, RNC committeeman from Oregon, were the latest broadside in an internal GOP battle over the rules that will help decide the party’s standard-bearer for the White House. The comments, included in an email he sent Monday that was obtained by The Associated Press, come two days before party leaders gather in Hollywood, Florida, to discuss whether to propose changing bylaws for the convention.

The fight pits Yue and some allies against GOP Chairman Reince Priebus and other top party officials. It underscores the high stakes as the convention in Cleveland, Ohio, looms as the first in four decades that may begin without a presumptive presidential candidate.

The RNC said Monday that Priebus will oppose any effort to change the convention’s rules at this week’s Florida RNC meeting. The RNC can recommend convention bylaws, but only the convention’s 2,472 delegates can adopt them.

Priebus believes “the rules of the convention should be decided by the delegates elected by Republican grassroots voters,” the RNC said in a statement.

With Priebus and other top party officials arrayed against him, Yue could face an uphill battle.

Henry Barbour, RNC committeeman from Mississippi, said he sees little support for “a change three months before what would be the first open convention in 40 years. Nobody wants to look like they’re trying to give an advantage to one candidate or another.”

Yue wants the convention to use Roberts Rules of Order, which would let delegates block the convention’s presiding officer from allowing the nomination of fresh candidates for president. GOP conventions have long used House of Representatives’ rules, which give the presiding officer more unfettered power to run each day’s session.

“I believe in democracy and majority rule of the delegates and am concerned that almost dictatorial power the House rules give the chairman of the convention will lead to confusion, chaos, manipulation and revolt at the convention,” said Yue’s email, which he sent his 55 colleagues on the RNC’s rules committee.

Yue wrote that Oregon Republicans want him to “stop the D.C. establishment from parachuting in their favorite candidate as a ‘fresh face’ into the convention.” He said the party is in “a period of mistrust.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is expected to be the convention’s presiding officer. He has said he wouldn’t accept the presidential nomination, but others have held out hope that he or another fresh candidate could emerge as the candidate.

Many in the party want businessman Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the leading contenders, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who trails, to be allowed to battle it out without facing a new rival who’s not run for president this year.

In an interview, Yue declined to predict whether he would prevail when the GOP’s rules committee considers his proposal this week. He said if his plan is rejected, he will push for its approval by the full RNC and then at the July convention, where he said he believes the delegates will look more favorably at it.

“The anger is from outside the party, the grassroots,” Yue said. “They don’t want to see the chairman of the convention get absolute power.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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