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Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders fight for their candidacies

Read more When it comes to the Democratic face-off between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, there is little question that the two sharpened their attacks on each other in the last month.

Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders make what could be their last stands in Tuesday's Indiana primary. Read more When it comes to the Democratic face-off between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, there is little question that the two sharpened their attacks on each other in the last month. Sanders accused Clinton of being "unqualified" for the presidency because of her Wall Street ties and her vote for the war in Iraq, and Clinton continued to hammer the Vermont senator for his reluctance to back some gun-control measures. But while the heated exchanges got tongues wagging in cable news green rooms, Democrats who cast ballots in Indiana's primary on Tuesday didn't seem to mind, according to preliminary exit polls. About one quarter said Clinton has unfairly attacked Sanders, and even fewer said Sanders has been too rough on Clinton, according to the exit polls, conducted for a consortium of the Associated Press and the television networks. It probably didn't hurt that, no matter what Clinton and Sanders said about each other, it paled in comparison to the mud-slinging on the Republican side. For example, as voting began on Tuesday, Donald Trump promoted an unsubstantiated tabloid story that Ted Cruz's father knew President Kennedy's assassin. Cruz responded by calling Trump "amoral," a "pathological liar" and a "serial philanderer." As Donald Trump sails closer to the Republican presidential nomination, Ted Cruz has made the moves of a candidate who sees his hopes rapidly fading. He formed a shaky non-compete alliance with rival John Kasich, who stood aside in Tuesday’s Indiana primary to boost Cruz’s chances. He named his prospective vice presidential running mate, former business executive Carly Fiorina, forging ahead on an announcement usually left until the primary fight is over. Read more Sen. Bernie Sanders is looking to Indiana to provide a jolt to his faltering presidential campaign as the insurgent fights to keep his agenda at the center of a race he is now almost certain to lose. Indiana, the lone state that votes Tuesday, will prove a crucial test of the continued potency of his fight as the Vermonter seeks to maintain his political revolution as a force with which front-runner Hillary Clinton will need to wrestle. As voters streamed into polling stations on Tuesday, the race here was widely considered a tossup. There were only a handful of polls taken in Indiana, and their findings did not show either candidate surging ahead. Read more Jane Sanders said her husband, Bernie Sanders, has no intention of dropping out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination before the party's convention in July. She made the comments to MSNBC as Indiana voters cast ballots on Tuesday, and Hillary Clinton said the Vermont senator has "every right to finish this primary season." At this point in the race, it would be difficult, if not impossible, for Sanders to win the nomination. But Jane Sanders emphasized her husband's impact on the primary, including strong support among independent voters and his ability to energize Democrats with an ambitious liberal message. "This is not a time for those voices to go silent," she said. She also shared a wish list of items that Sanders would like to see incorporated into the Democratic Party platform, including a minimum wage of $15 per hour and a ban on a method of oil and gas extraction called fracking. Here's an interesting exit poll finding from Indiana: Immigration lagged behind the economy, government spending and terrorism as the top issue for Hoosier State Republican voters. In the manufacturing state, Donald Trump's signature promise -- to build a "beautiful wall" to keep out immigrants -- did not appear to resonate as much as his continued pounding of job losses overseas. Jobs and the economy were the top concern of 39% of GOP voters questioned, followed by government spending, 28%, and terrorism, 18%, according to a CNN analysis of exit polling conducted for the networks and the Associated Press. Immigration was most important to 11%. Republicans can only hope that immigration fades as an issue elswhere. The heated topic tangles the GOP, especially in California and other Western states, as the party tries to become more inclusive toward minorities. Read more Donald Trump may be poised for a big win in Indiana, but down-ballot it's the establishment Republican pick for Senate who appears to have the edge. Todd Young, the third-term congressman from Trump-heavy southern Indiana, is polling ahead of Marlin Stutzman, the conservative-backed congressman from the north. Young is backed by groups alinged with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, while Stutzman has the support of top conservatives including Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). Tuesday's GOP primary in Indiana offers a cautionary tale for those betting on a Trump nomination to hand control of the Senate to Democrats in the fall. Republican strategists have been working hard to make sure establishment-preferred candidates survive primary battles like this one. None want a repeat of what happened four years ago in Indiana when tea party newcomer Richard Mourdock defeated veteran GOP Sen. Richard Lugar in a surprise upset, only to lose to the Democrat in November after saying pregnancy from rape was what "God intended." Young's campaign in Indiana tapped into Trump's popularity, but also with voters who prefer Ted Cruz in this year of the outsider candidate. The outcome Tuesday could become a roadmap for down-ballot GOP candidates this fall. Read more Where is John Kasich? Last week he traversed California and Oregon, campaigning ahead of those states' primaries in coming weeks, even though he has long been mathematically eliminated from winning the Republican presidential nomination. But when it comes to rallying the faithful in prime time on primary nights, Kasich is no Donald Trump, who covets television cameras. Instead, the Ohio governor, who has won only his home state way back on March 15, is a no-show. Hours before polls closed in New York on April 19, Kasich was in Maryland holding a town hall. He did not appear in public that night, even as he placed second to Trump. And last week, he held no events as Trump sailed to victory in five Eastern states. Tuesday appears to be more of the same. Kasich, who trails Trump by more than 800 pleged delegates, has nothing planned. (He's scheduled to speak with reporters outside Washington on Wednesday.) Kasich and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, also mathematically eliminated from winning the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the nomination, hold out hope that they can keep front-runner Trump from winning a majority of delegates and force a contested convention in July. Yet as Trump continues to win, the chances of that have become much more slim. "I know it’s tough," a defiant Kasich told reporters last week at the California GOP convention of his chances to win the nomination. "So what." Walking out of a county municipal building on a drizzly Tuesday morning, Dorothy Wolfe wasn’t exactly ecstatic about the vote she had just cast in the Republican presidential primary. “I wanted Kasich, but I think he’s a dead horse, so I went with Cruz,” said Wolfe, adding that she wasn’t thrilled about it. Nor was she happy about the truce between Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, in which Kasich essentially ceded the state to help the anti-Donald Trump vote consolidate behind Cruz. Wolfe said she was drawn to Kasich’s “calm demeanor.” “It’s more presidential. “I don’t think Trump is presidential at all,” she added. “And Cruz is kind of a loudmouth.” Standing beside her, her husband, Jack, stifled a chuckle. He had voted for Trump. “It’s nice to have a politician who says what he thinks rather than what is always politically correct,” said Jack, a retired clergyman with the United Methodist Church. His wife nodded in agreement: “That’s a good point.” “He would not be the first president to be rude and crude,” Jack continued. The couple live in Noblesville, a suburb north of Indianapolis. Their county, Hamilton, is reliably Republican. So is Dorothy, although she’s not looking forward to a potential matchup between Trump, her party’s front-runner, and Hillary Clinton, the leading Democratic candidate. Such a matchup struck her as “creepy,” she said. “They’re both not quite honest.” She said she’d probably vote for Trump in that scenario, because of her inclination toward Republicans, but it'd be a begrudging vote. “It’s just a mess this year,” she said. But she was amused with the discovery that she and her husband had cast opposing votes. “So we canceled each other out,” she said. “We’ve been married almost 42 years. I wonder how long we’ve been doing that.” Donald Trump sought Tuesday to link the father of Ted Cruz to the assassination of John F. Kennedy, saying Rafael Cruz spent time with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before he shot the president in 1963. “What was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death — before the shooting?” Trump said Tuesday morning on Fox News. “It’s horrible.” Trump, who has a history of spreading unsubstantiated allegations, was referring to an April 20 National Enquirer article quoting “top D.C. insiders” saying that Cuban-born Rafael Cruz was photographed with Oswald in New Orleans three months before the assassination. Campaigning in Indiana, Texas Sen. Cruz said Trump was a pathological liar spreading a false story printed by a tabloid run by a friend of the New York developer who lets him use it to smear adversaries. “I guess I should go ahead and admit -- yes, my dad killed JFK, he is secretly Elvis, and Jimmy Hoffa is buried in his backyard,” Cruz told reporters. The elder Cruz is a pastor who often campaigns for his son at evangelical churches. Trump, in an appearance on “Fox & Friends,” made his remarks after Fox played a video clip of Rafael Cruz saying that voters in Tuesday’s Indiana GOP presidential primary should cast their ballots “according to the word of God.” He said that meant they should vote for his son, because the alternative would bring the “destruction of America.” Tell us how you really feel, Ted. Sen. Ted Cruz pulled no punches in telling reporters Tuesday what he thinks about Donald Trump, leveling multiple broadsides against the GOP front-runner's character. Cruz's remarks — on the day of the pivotal Indiana primary — were prompted by Trump, in an interview earlier in the day, bringing up a National Enquirer story that purported to link Cruz's father to Lee Harvey Oswald, the assassin of John F. Kennedy. "This is nuts," Cruz said while visiting a restaurant in Evansville. "This is not a reasonable position. This is just kooky." After Cruz dismissed the Enquirer as "tabloid trash," he then took aim at Trump himself. "This man is a pathological liar," Cruz said. "He doesn't know the difference between truth and lies. He lies practically every word that comes out of his mouth." And the jabs kept coming. Cruz called Trump "a narcissist at a level that I don't think this country has ever seen. ... Everything in Donald's world is about Donald." Not only that, Cruz said, Trump is "utterly amoral. Morality does not exist for him." Cruz's riff took on the feel of an armchair psychologist, chalking up Trump's outsized personality and at times outrageous statements about women to insecurity. "Donald is terrified by strong women; he lashes out at them," Cruz said. For good measure, Cruz also called Trump a "serial philanderer." "And he boasts about it ... describes his battle with venereal disease as his own personal Vietnam," Cruz added. Trump, in a statement, dismissed Cruz as "desperate." "It is no surprise he has resorted to his usual tactics of over-the-top rhetoric that nobody believes," Trump said. "Over the last week, I have watched Lyin’ Ted become more and more unhinged as he is unable to react under the pressure and stress of losing, in all cases by landslides, the last six primary elections — in fact, coming in last place in all but one of them." Trump added: "Today’s ridiculous outburst only proves what I have been saying for a long time, that Ted Cruz does not have the temperament to be president." Voters in north Indianapolis explain how they cast their ballots in Indiana's presidential primary Tuesday: Hillary Clinton apologized to an unemployed West Virginia coal worker on Monday after he and other workers confronted her about her plan to put them “out of business” in favor of alternative energy sources. “I don’t know how to explain it other than what I said was totally out of context for what I meant because I have been talking about helping coal country for a very long time,” Clinton tried to explain to the man, identified by the Associated Press as registered Republican Bo Copley. He pressed her on why she had disparaged the coal industry two months ago during a CNN town hall but now was promoting herself as a friend to those in the region. “I'm the only candidate which has a policy about how to bring economic opportunity using clean renewable energy as the key into coal country,” Clinton said at the town hall in March . “Because we're going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business, right?” Clinton said Monday that her words didn’t come out right and that she meant to say if the government doesn’t help miners, they will continue to lose their jobs, like Copley did. Clinton added that she knew she would need to fight for support in West Virginia but traveled to the state to show residents she will help them no matter how they vote. She fell off the stage the other day, did anybody see that? And Cruz didn’t do anything. ... Even I would have helped her. Boisterous campaign rallies. Political ads every commercial break. Presidential candidates schmoozing with voters over pancakes. In recent days, Indiana, which holds its primary Tuesday, has begun to look a lot like Iowa, the first-in-the-nation nominating state that has outsize influence in deciding each party's presidential nominee. Indiana's primary, which falls late in the schedule, rarely matters. But with multiple candidates still fighting for both the Democratic and Republican nominations, Indiana is more consequential than usual in deciding who advances to the general election this fall. Here are a few things to watch for. Read more When New York held its recent presidential primary, Rep. Peter T. King was quite specific about his sentiments: He cast his ballot for Ohio Gov. John Kasich , but that didn't mean he was endorsing his candidacy. "If I thought that John Kasich had a viable chance, I'd come out and endorse him," the Republican lawmaker said on MSNBC, in effect tossing a bouquet of wilted flowers at the struggling White House hopeful. If Kasich felt chastened, or confused, he was not alone. That odd linguistic formulation has been heard throughout this fraught election season, introducing a new dodge into the lexicon of tortured political locution. Sens. Jim Risch of Idaho and Ben Sasse of Nebraska said they voted for their fellow Republican senator, Texan Ted Cruz , for president, but each avoided using the E-word. Read more

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