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As candidates hustle in Indiana, signs that the general election has begun

Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report and Tamara Keith of NPR join Hari Sreenivasan to discuss the latest in politics, including whether the Indiana primary will be the last stand for Sen. Ted Cruz, why the “Stop Trump” movement is failing, Sen. Bernie Sanders’ superdelegate strategy and Hillary Clinton’s pivot towards the general election.

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  • Hari Sreenivasan

    : All eyes are on Indiana in the race for the White House.

    We examine the heightened significance of the Hoosier State in 2016 with our Politics Monday team, Tamara Keith of NPR and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report.

    So, one of the things that we saw Ted Cruz say in that earlier piece was a viable path to the candidacy, right, that he’s in this until that ends. Does that end tomorrow night for him?

  • Amy Walter,

    The Cook Political Report: Hari, I have been arguing that it’s actually already over.

    I think that the race effectively ended last week with the primaries up and down the Northeast Corridor, and Donald Trump putting up such big numbers. He’s ahead in the polls right now in Indiana. He’s ahead in California. It’s going to be, I think, all but impossible for him to be stopped before we get to the convention.

    And even then, I think he’s going to get the 1,237 votes he needs before the convention. I just think the momentum is strongly behind him. Cruz never caught on. The stop Trump movement, it always had an antagonist, which was Donald Trump, but it never had a protagonist.

    And I think that was its biggest challenge. But there was never a challenge to voters, here’s what you can support. It was always, here is what you can be against.

    Voters want to vote — support someone. And they also like supporting a winner. And right now, Donald Trump looks like a winner.

  • Hari Sreenivasan

    : So, what about those stop Trump folks? Are they in denial? Is this an inevitability?

  • Tamara Keith, NPR:

    They’re still working it.

  • Hari Sreenivasan

    : Right.

  • Tamara Keith, if Donald Trump wins in Indiana, after this disarmament pact was announced with Governor John Kasich, and, really, Ted Cruz has had Donald Trump to himself mostly, if he can’t win, Donald Trump’s going to be able to make a very strong argument:

    : And Ted Cruz is campaigning extremely hard. His campaign, between his various surrogates, now his vice presidential pick, Carly Fiorina, they had 10 campaign stops in a single day. They are working very hard in Indiana.

    But it seems like What are you doing if you can’t win in Indiana?

    And if Donald Trump is able to win all of the delegates in Indiana, he’d only need — he would be 85 percent of the way to clinching. That’s quite a long way toward clinching.

  • Hari Sreenivasan

    : This alliance between Kasich and Cruz, it sort of was on, on a Tuesday, and then off by a Saturday. Is it kind of still on? It seems that Kasich wasn’t campaigning in Indiana today.

  • Amy Walter

    : No, he wasn’t, but the stop Trump movement has spent almost as much money on television — these are these outside super PACs — in Indiana as they did in Wisconsin, where obviously Ted Cruz was successful.

    But, as I said, I think that voters are desperately looking for someone to vote for. So, this idea of just voting against Donald Trump really not catching fire. Plus, the one who is getting the momentum beyond what you’re seeing in the polling data is the endorsements, Donald Trump picking up endorsements from royalty in Indiana, everybody from Lou Holtz, the former Notre Dame coach, to Bobby Knight, the former Indiana coach.

  • Hari Sreenivasan

    : Sports are — college sports are huge.

  • Amy Walter

    : Sports, big deal. The ring, the basketball ring, very big in Indiana.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Hari Sreenivasan

    : Right.

    So, let’s shift gears to the Democratic side.

  • Tamara Keith

    : Yes.

  • Hari Sreenivasan

    : Bernie Sanders still fighting it out. Is this as much of a race now in Indiana?

  • Tamara Keith

    : Bernie Sanders — in Indiana, Bernie Sanders is demographically favored. The state looks good for him in that way. Polling shows him ahead — trailing somewhat, shows Clinton ahead.

    But if — talking to the campaigns, you get the feeling that they don’t really trust the polling and that they think Bernie could — Bernie Sanders could win in Indiana.

    And the challenge there, though, is he could wake up Wednesday morning and be further behind in the chase for pledged delegates than he was when he started. And what I mean is that he at this point needs to win every remaining contest by about 25 points — that’s a lot — if he wants to catch up to Hillary Clinton in pledged delegates.

    That’s why he held a press conference yesterday and he started pitching the idea very publicly of flipping superdelegates. He proposed having superdelegates support the will of the voters in their state. If that were to happen — we did the calculations — and Sanders would still be behind by about 500 delegates, combining superdelegates and pledged delegates.

  • Amy Walter

    : And the argument also doesn’t really work very well.

    It’s not very consistent with the Bernie Sanders message, which has been, I’m one of you, I’m the people, the people are standing up.

    Well, right now, the people have been voting for Hillary Clinton. He’s losing the popular vote. He’s only got about 41 percent of the popular vote, compared to her, somewhere around 56 percent. The pledged delegate count, he is behind.

    So to argue that the way I’m going to win is to get the insiders and the establishment to put me over the top, that sort of rings hollow for the guy who is running to break up the establishment.

  • Hari Sreenivasan

    : Tamara Keith, meanwhile, we have seen Hillary Clinton almost pivot toward a general election posture.

  • Tamara Keith

    : That’s absolutely happening.

    She’s campaigning in Appalachia today and tomorrow, a driving tour of these states. And what she’s doing, it is a combination. It is — she’s definitely in these states, campaigning for these states, but she’s using messaging and talking about issues that she thinks will carry her into the general election.

    The other thing is, she is also fighting with Donald Trump, and there was the woman card comment that Donald Trump made. He’s made it repeatedly, but he also made it on primary night last Tuesday. Her campaign announced today that they raised $2.4 million in three days on the woman card; 40 percent of those were new donors.

  • Hari Sreenivasan

    : Wow. So, she has got kind of two flanks that she’s battling on.

  • Amy Walter

    : Yes, although I would argue she’s spending really more time focusing on the general election, and basically saying to Bernie Sanders this weekend, I hired general election campaign managers in the big swing states. That’s where my focus is. Yes, I’m still going to campaign for the primary, but the general election really has started.

  • Hari Sreenivasan

    : Amy Walter, Tamara Keith, thanks so much.

  • Tamara Keith

    : You’re welcome.

  • Amy Walter

    : Thank you.

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