Candidates tout ‘New York values’ ahead of crucial primary

Voters in New York will cast their votes in the presidential primaries on Tuesday. Judy Woodruff talks to Tamara Keith of NPR and Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report about the Empire State rivalry between Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders and the delegate war between GOP candidates Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz.

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    And as we heard earlier, tomorrow marks the New York primary, a critical contest for both parties. The two front-runners, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, both claim ties to the Empire State.

    Today, they jabbed opponents for different versions of their New York values.

    DONALD TRUMP (R), Republican Presidential Candidate: You know, we love this city. You look at the other folks that are running, they couldn't care less about New York. We do care about New York, and we care about New York a lot. And we care about New York values.

    HILLARY CLINTON (D), Democratic Presidential Candidate: I know that we're going to win because we're on the right side of history. We stand up for New York values, which are American values.



    To dissect that New York brawl and all the week's politics, it's time for Politics Monday.

    That's analysis from Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report and Tamara Keith of NPR, who joins us from New York City.

    And welcome back to both of you.

    So, let's talk about New York.

    Tamara, you're there. You're in New York City. What's the state of the Democratic race? Let's start with them.


    The state of the Democratic race is that they are both running hard. Bernie Sanders a little bit later tonight has a very — likely to be a very large rally. He's been having record-breaking crowds at his rallies.

    And, meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is racing from borough to borough doing sort of small retail politics kind of events, more of a traditional way of running in New York. And the polling would indicate that Hillary Clinton, this is her — the state she was elected to twice in the Senate, that she is favored. The Sanders campaign is in their fund-raising e-mails saying, well, we don't actually have to win. We just have to win a lot of delegates.

    So, I think that the Sanders campaign is trying to set expectations, and the Clinton campaign has said things like, well, this might be closer than the public polls would have you indicate. So, it's a race, but all indications are that Clinton has the stronger position in New York heading into the voting.


    Amy, what do you make of it? Bernie Sanders is out there drawing these huge crowds, what, 20-some thousand last night, but Hillary Clinton's ahead in the polls.

  • AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report:

    New York is really a question of, will Hillary Clinton be able to get her groove back?

    And she's been on the defensive for the last few weeks here. Bernie Sanders has won eight of the last nine contests. He has outraised her when it comes to fund-raising. He's put her on defensive on a whole host of issues, most specifically whether she will release these transcripts of speeches she gave to Goldman Sachs.

    It has not been a good couple of weeks to be Hillary Clinton. This is her chance to sort of reset the race, reset the narrative, especially if she wins it by a significant amount. She will get to focus then on the things she likes talking about more, which is the math, and the delegate math and how difficult it will be for Bernie Sanders to catch up.

    If it's close, she still gets the most delegates, she is still is on the way to locking up the nomination, but it gives Bernie Sanders the argument that the momentum is still behind him, the race is closing. We had a new poll out today, national poll of Democrats showing Hillary Clinton up by two points. National polls don't mean anything when you have regional primaries. But it just shows that this race has tightened a great deal over the course of this campaign.


    How could the dynamic change, Tamara?

    Bernie Sanders continues to talk about how much money Hillary Clinton is raking in from big money sources. And, in fact, George Clooney, the actor who with his wife gave Hillary Clinton a highly publicized fund-raiser over the weekend, I guess the big tickets were $350,000 a person or a couple — Clooney himself said over the weekend, these are obscene amounts of money.

    Does this hurt Hillary Clinton or what?


    This is certainly an area where Bernie Sanders has some strength.

    He's been, as we know very well, $27 at a time, been able to outraise Hillary Clinton. And his fund-raising isn't just about money. It's about his message. The money is the message for Bernie Sanders. Just today, his campaign sent a letter to the DNC complaining about and saying that maybe some sort of violation had happened in how Hillary Clinton is raising money with the DNC at this fund-raiser at Clooney's house where they were able to raise this much money.

    It's through the Hillary Victor Fund. It's a complicated system. Sanders is pointing to it, saying that this is somehow a violation. The Clinton campaign is firing back, saying, hey, look, Hillary Clinton is raising money for down-ballot races. They are fighting about fund-raising and that is really better territory for Bernie Sanders, because he has a story that he can tell, a story $27 at a time.


    Is this something with traction, Amy? We have been hearing about it for so long.


    Well, the real question in my mind is what happens when this race is over. If Hillary Clinton continues to pick up delegates, stays on the path, she wins the nomination, does she bring these voters back?

    This is always the debate we have, Judy, every single election. Is the primary good for party? Is it bad? Are you going to have disappointed, disaffected Bernie Sanders supporters who do listen to his attacks on her fund-raising, have taken that to heart? Are they going to be open to coming back?

    This is the fine line that she's had to walk for these last few weeks here, few months now, which is going and making sure that she makes her case to the public and to Democratic primary voters without alienating Bernie Sanders supporters that she is going to need back when we hit November.


    Well, I don't know if over on the Republican side there is this kind of worrying at this point about alienating the other guys' supporters.

    But, Tamara, there is still a race in New York, but Donald Trump is still pretty far ahead. What are we going to learn from New York on the Republican side?


    The thing with the Republican race is, every time there is voting, we say, oh, my gosh, well, is this a trend or is this a one-time blip? Well, this is Donald Trump's home state, and he is expected to do quite well here.

    I think that what we learn is how well he does. And if Donald Trump is able to continue adding up delegates, that is important for Donald Trump. If Ted Cruz and John Kasich are able to chip away at that and get a few of those Delegates from the state, well, then that's just a few delegates that keep Donald Trump away from getting that elusive 1,237, the number of delegates he needs to clinch the nomination.


    But, Amy, meantime, Ted Cruz has been racking up delegates in state after state, where they're going about the business of picking the people to fill these delegate slots.

    He's been able to pick up some points, at least P.R. points, you were writing.


    Well, yes, my argument right now is that where Ted Cruz is very good is at the nuts and the bolts of the campaigning, doing things, as you said, to go and do the grassroots organizing, the hard work that it takes to actually get these delegates in these states at these conventions.

    Donald Trump is terrible at nuts and bolts. He's been terrible at picking up these delegates. His team has only come on in the last couple of weeks trying to get into the game. But he's very good at the P.R. and the marketing. And right now, the marketing campaign for Donald Trump of course is, this game's rigged, I'm the biggest winner.

    And so I think if Donald Trump comes out in New York with a big head of steam, he wins either all the delegates or most of the delegates, we go into April 26 in states where he also should be successful, he keeps winning there, it makes his argument more salient that, look, I'm the winner, I have the most, this 1,237 number is sort of arbitrary, this getting the delegates thing seems sort of rigged.

    And, right now, at least in the most recent polling we saw from NBC/Wall Street Journal, the majority of Republicans are with Donald Trump on this argument. They say the person who has the most delegates and the most votes coming into the convention should be the nominee.

    So, this is a battle between this P.R. and the grassroots organizing that we are going to continue to see.


    Well, it's gotten to the point where, if we keep hearing about small numbers of delegates, we don't know where this is going the head.


    That's right.


    But tomorrow night will be important.




    Amy Walter, Tamara Keith, thank you both.


    You're welcome.


    Thank you, Judy.


    And we will have more election coverage, as we just mentioned, including that crucial New York primary, tomorrow night.


    Stay with us.

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