Both parties bring delegate fight to Indiana primary

For Sen. Ted Cruz, his presidential campaign is now all about Indiana and trying to stop Donald Trump. But it was a former congressional colleague who made headlines for criticizing Cruz, reports John Yang. Judy Woodruff talks with Domenico Montanaro of NPR about the delegate scramble going into the final contests and previews the Indiana primary with Brandon Smith of Indiana Public Radio.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    An unlikely character took center stage on the campaign trial today. Former speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner inserted himself into the conversation.

    The "NewsHour"'s John Yang reports.

  • JOHN YANG:

    For Ted Cruz, it's all about Indiana's Republican primary next Tuesday, and trying to stop Donald Trump.

    His challenge today, though, came from former House Speaker John Boehner. In Congress, the two repeatedly butted heads over government shutdowns and other issues. The Stanford University student newspaper reports Boehner used unvarnished language about Cruz during a campus appearance.

  • MAN:

    What about Ted Cruz?

    REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), Former Speaker of the House: Lucifer in the flesh. In Washington, I have as many Democrat friends as I have Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

    DONALD TRUMP (R), Republican Presidential Candidate: He allowed his inner Trump to come out.

  • JOHN YANG:

    Cruz fired back, casting Boehner and Trump as creatures of the Washington politics he's been railing against.

    SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), Republican Presidential Candidate: John Boehner in his remarks described Donald Trump as his texting and golfing buddy. So, if you want someone that's a texting and golfing buddy, if you're happy with John Boehner as speaker of the House, and you want a president like John Boehner, Donald Trump is your man.

  • JOHN YANG:

    Trump was in Indiana, hoping the Hoosier State will get him even closer to the Republican nomination.

  • DONALD TRUMP:

    We don't have a long way if I can win in Indiana. If I win, it's over. So, it's over.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

  • DONALD TRUMP:

    If we win in Indiana, it's over.

  • JOHN YANG:

    Trump got endorsements today from two House committee chairmen, Florida's Jeff Miller of the Veterans Affairs committee, and Pennsylvania's Bill Shuster of the Transportation panel.

    But the front-runner took heat for his foreign policy address yesterday. In a phone interview with "The Today Show," he was asked about criticism that his plan to fight the Islamic State is light on details.

  • DONALD TRUMP:

    One of the big tenets of my speech yesterday was the fact that I said, and very, very strongly, that we need unpredictability. We need to be somewhat unpredictable.

  • JOHN YANG:

    As for the Democrats, Bernie Sanders was in Oregon, which doesn't vote until mid-May, and Hillary Clinton was off the trail.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm John Yang.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    After big wins on Tuesday night, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have commanding leads in their fight for the presidential nominations.

    To make sense of the delegate numbers and how they shape the road ahead, we are joined by Domenico Montanaro, political editor for NPR.

    And, Domenico, Welcome.

  • DOMENICO MONTANARO, NPR:

    Thank you, Judy.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    So, let's start with the Democrats.

    Where right now do Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders stand when it comes to delegates?

  • DOMENICO MONTANARO:

    Well, Hillary Clinton is pretty far ahead after the sweep in four of the five contests on Tuesday and after her big win in New York.

    You have got Hillary Clinton with 2,165 delegates, as you can see on the screen, to Bernie Sanders 1,357. She is — to put that in context, she is 91 percent of the way there to the total, to that magic number of 2,383 that she needs.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And you were telling me, compare that to where Barack Obama was, then candidate Barack Obama, in 2008 at this point.

  • DOMENICO MONTANARO:

    Yes. There has been a lot of talk of how close this race this, and certainly Bernie Sanders' message has broken through. He makes a very clear and understandable message. Hillary Clinton has had to use some of that message.

    But when you look at the numbers, Hillary Clinton is up to 333 pledged delegate lead. This is just pledged delegates. Take out all those superdelegates, which Sanders supporters hate when we talk about those, because they feel like they can vote any way they want.

    But when you look at this number here, 333, Barack Obama never had a lead that was higher than 114. He wound up with a 69-pledged delegate lead. Hillary Clinton's lead right now with 333 in pledged delegates is actually almost 100 points higher than where Barack Obama finished with pledged delegates and superdelegates combined.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    So, there are, what, 14 contests to go for the Democrats, 10 states, four territories, including the District of Columbia. How do you see this playing out between now and the end of this?

  • DOMENICO MONTANARO:

    Well, here's the thing.

    Hillary Clinton, at this point, barring something extraordinary, is going to be the Democratic nominee. Because she's 91 percent of the way there, she could lose every remaining contest by 20 points or more and still win the majority of pledged delegates. It makes it very difficult.

    When you factor in superdelegates, it's over 80 percent, so very difficult for Bernie Sanders to do, barring something extraordinary. Now, when you look at the final contests, she still has not gotten to 2,383. She is going to have to do that.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Right.

  • DOMENICO MONTANARO:

    There is the possibility that she could do it as early as May 17, when Oregon and Kentucky go, but that would mean that she would need another 120 or so superdelegates to come out in favor of her.

    There are 159 that are uncommitted at that point, 158, thereabouts. More likely, she is going to do it on June 7, when California votes, and that huge cache of votes they have, 475 pledged, 548 total.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    All right, well, let's switch over now to the Republicans, because that's where it gets interesting in some of these states coming up.

    Where does it stand right now in terms of Donald Trump and his competition?

  • DOMENICO MONTANARO:

    Well, you can see Donald Trump has 992 delegates, just updated today with some more delegates that came out of Pennsylvania, almost at 1,000 delegates.

    He needs 1,237 for his magic number. He's over 80 percent of the way there. He's really cleaned up over the last couple of weeks, since New York, over 200 delegates for him, just nine for John Kasich, only three for Ted Cruz.

    Really kind of amazing. Ted Cruz and John Kasich, for all the talk of how close this race has been, they are both mathematically eliminated, eliminated from winning a majority of delegates on the first ballot at the convention.

    Who would have thought a year-and-a-half ago, we would be sitting here saying that the only Republican who has a chance of being the nominee on the first ballot at Cleveland at the national convention will be Donald Trump?

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Their hopes lie on a second ballot, if it were to come to that, and beyond.

  • DOMENICO MONTANARO:

    That's right.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    So, let's look at their path going ahead, 10 states to come for the Republicans. What does it look like for delegates there?

  • DOMENICO MONTANARO:

    Yes.

    Look, and the whole game here is whether or not Donald Trump can get to 1,237. And when you look at some of these states, big ones coming up, Indiana, this is why it's so important, 57 delegates coming up on Tuesday, and this is why that John Kasich/Ted Cruz alliance that sort of blew up within hours of itself is so important, to see whether or not they can keep Donald Trump below that 57 delegates, or, you know, be able to win, you know, half the delegates or so, because if Trump wins 57, then he only needs 40-something percent, 42 percent of all remaining delegates.

    He gets all 57 in Indiana, he's at 36 percent of all remaining delegates, and everyone is just going to be saying it's a matter of time. Now, of course, he still won't be at 1,237. And he is going to, depending…

    (CROSSTALK)

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    He could lose some of these other states coming up in May.

  • DOMENICO MONTANARO:

    He could lose some of these other states.

    When you look at places like Nebraska that is coming up, Ted Cruz should factor in and do pretty well there, but it is all going to be about, how close does Donald Trump get to 1,237? If he's at 1,200, he's at 1,150, it is going to be difficult for the delegates at the national convention to say they're not going to give it to Donald Trump.

    I mean, two-thirds of Republicans nationally are saying that the nomination should go to whoever has the most votes.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    It is incredibly fascinating.

    Domenico Montanaro, and you will be with us at the convention.

  • DOMENICO MONTANARO:

    I will. Looking forward to it.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Thank you.

  • DOMENICO MONTANARO:

    Thank you.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Now let's drill down into that Indiana primary next Tuesday, even more important, given the dance for delegates which we just heard about.

    Brandon Smith of Indiana Public Broadcasting joins me from Indianapolis.

    Brandon Smith, welcome.

    So, we know the Indiana primary is important. Let's start with the Republicans. What does this race look like now between Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich?

  • BRANDON SMITH, Indiana Public Broadcasting:

    I think the conventional wisdom around here was that this was a state that Ted Cruz would do very well in, but there haven't been a ton of polls done yet, but of the few polls we have seen, Donald Trump consistently has a lead in all of them.

    The amount of the lead varies a little bit, but it's been between about 4 percent and 8 percent in every poll we have seen.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And what is driving the voters? Do you get a sense of what they're interested in, why is Trump doing well?

  • BRANDON SMITH:

    Primarily, it's economic issues here in Indiana.

    We have seen the state's unemployment rate drop significantly over the last few years, but wages really haven't followed with that. It's a heavy, intensive manufacturing state, one of the most manufacturing-intensive in the country.

    And, certainly, Donald Trump — when the news that Carrier was leaving Indiana, cutting 1,400 jobs, Donald Trump was out in front of that almost immediately, and that, I think, has resonated with voters here.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    This is big air conditioning manufacturing company.

    What about this pact or alliance, if you will, between Ted Cruz and John Kasich, wherein Cruz agreed to let Kasich have Oregon and New Mexico and John Kasich agreed to step aside in Indiana? How is that playing out? How are voters responding to it?

  • BRANDON SMITH:

    Well, it's playing out.

    We have seen Ted Cruz a lot in this state. He has blanketed Indiana really over the last several days, certainly even before that news came out and certainly afterwards.

    In terms of the voters, it's been a bit of a mixed bag. I have talked to some Kasich supporters who say they're now all in for Cruz, that anything to stop Donald Trump is what they're after. But there have been some Kasich supporters who have said, I don't like how this is going down, and they — they're turning their votes to Donald Trump, because it plays into what Trump has been saying, that the whole system is crooked and rigged.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    So, Kasich supporters not flocking, necessarily, to Ted Cruz.

  • BRANDON SMITH:

    No.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And, by the way, you still have John Kasich in the state, what, raising money. And it's not that he's disappeared from Indiana.

  • BRANDON SMITH:

    Not quite.

    He was scheduled for two public events and a fund-raiser this past Tuesday. He canceled both public events, but he did come for the fund-raiser.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    What about the Bobby Knight endorsement, that famous basketball coach, endorsement for Donald Trump? What difference is that making?

  • BRANDON SMITH:

    Well, there certainly aren't many bigger names in Indiana than Bobby Knight, but I'm not sure how much it's actually going to play into the race.

    First of all, Trump already has the lead, but it was seen as more of a quirk, I think, than necessarily something that's really going to drive voters to change their minds.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    All right, let's talk about the Democrats now.

    Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, I guess the polls are a little bit closer between them?

  • BRANDON SMITH:

    The polls are just a little bit closer. Hillary has had the lead, but it's been more in the two-, three-, or four-point range.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And what's driving that race?

  • BRANDON SMITH:

    The same sort of issues, economics, manufacturing. We — Hillary hasn't spent a lot of time in the state, really only one day, this past Tuesday.

    But when she was here, she spent her time in Northern Indiana visiting two different factories up there, a steel company and a vehicle manufacturer. So you can tell that's where she's focused and that's where a lot of voters are focused.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And what about Bernie Sanders? What have you seen of him, what kind of crowds, what kind of interest in his candidacy?

  • BRANDON SMITH:

    Well, certainly a lot of interest. He has visited two biggest university campuses so far, the two biggest in the state, Purdue and Indiana University, mostly young people at those crowds, huge crowds certainly. And he was getting them fired up, as fired up as any crowd you will see outside of a Donald Trump event.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And, Brandon Smith, what about in terms of organization, money? Who has got the state, would you say, better wired for their campaign?

  • BRANDON SMITH:

    That's tough to say. Certainly, in terms of money, the Cruz campaign has spent the most on the Republican side and Hillary ha spent the most on the Democratic side.

    And if you look at organization, maybe Hillary has been the best. But in terms of statewide organization, Donald Trump has been fairly good, which we haven't always seen in a lot of other states. But in terms of working with the press at least, they have probably the best.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Indiana is not a state that's used to getting a lot of attention in the primary period. How much interest is there in these primaries?

  • BRANDON SMITH:

    There's been a ton.

    As you just said, this is just something that Indiana isn't used to. We had it in 2008 on the Democratic side. It's been a lot longer than that that we have had it on the Republican side. And we don't even know when the last time both parties were competitive in the state in the same time.

    So, you have seen it in the crowds. You feel it in the crowds, that they're just so excited to see any presidential candidate actually spending time in Indiana.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Well, we're sure all going to be watching on Tuesday night.

    Brandon Smith with Indiana Public Broadcasting, we thank you.

  • BRANDON SMITH:

    Thank you.

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