Welcome to our new politics briefing. You can find it Monday through Friday at 5 a.m. and updated throughout the day.
Bernie walks back his 'qualified' talk
The more personal edge of New York's Democratic presidential war de-escalated a bit Friday when Bernie Sanders backed off calling Hillary Clinton "unqualified." He said on the 'Today' show that "on her worst day she would be an infinitely better president" than either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.
Sanders was set off by reports of a Clinton strategy to raise doubts about his qualifications for the presidency. “Maybe the American people might wonder about your qualifications, Madam Secretary,” Sanders said — citing her vote for the Iraq War, support for trade deals and fundraising from Wall Street.
“I’m not gonna get beat up. I’m not gonna get lied about,” said Sanders, who has scheduled appearances Friday in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
But Clinton said Thursday she’s only “drawing contrasts” — not calling Sanders unfit for the office. “I will take Bernie Sanders over Ted Cruz or Donald Trump any time, so let’s keep our eye over what’s at stake in this election,” she said.
Newsday columnist Dan Janison has five ideas for Cruz to scoop up delegates in New York. Areas of opportunity include Democratic-dominated congressional districts where it takes fewer Republican voters to determine the choice of delegates.
Trump’s delegate fight
Trump announced a campaign reorganization Thursday with an expanded role for Paul J. Manafort, a veteran Republican strategist. His mission: bring delegates into the Trump camp and keep them there.
Anti-Trump forces are counting on the billionaire front-runner coming into the July convention short of the 1,237-delegate majority needed to secure the nomination on the first ballot.
In Arizona, for example, Trump won all 58 delegates, but the Cruz campaign is salting their ranks with the Texan’s loyalists, who could bolt from Trump on a second ballot.
Hillary Clinton’s struggles to get a MetroCard to work at a Bronx subway turnstile — the first four tries were fails — became instant viral video Thursday. As if that doesn’t happen to every rider now and then.
The reality is none of the three current or former New Yorkers running for president has racked up a lot of frequent-straphanger miles.
Quizzed on how to ride the subway last week, Sanders first said “you get a token” (um, not since 2003) and, when informed that was wrong, joked, “You jump over the turnstile.” (When there’s video of that, we’ll run it.)
And Trump? On the subway? Yeah, take the LOL train.
A Bronx tale
A short poem by Westchester native Ogden Nash — “The Bronx? No thonx! — is one of many slights the borough has suffered over the years. But the Bronx seems to suddenly have become a must stop for 2016’s presidential primary candidates, writes Newsday’s Emily Ngo.
Clinton rode the 4 train from Yankee Stadium to 170th Street with Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. Thursday and Newsday’s Laura Figueroa reports on Republican John Kasich’s meeting with supporters and spaghetti Bolognese lunch at the Arthur Avenue Market. Cruz was in the Bronx Wednesday and Sanders held a mass rally in the South Bronx last week.
Don’t hold your breath
Cruz visited a matzo factory in a swing through Brooklyn to meet with Orthodox Jews, but he didn’t need to bring a box of chutzpah back to his campaign headquarters.
Cruz campaign manager Jeff Roe said Trump should quit the race if he fails to win a clear majority in New York’s April 19 primary. “If he doesn’t get over 50 percent, he should probably consider dropping out, like everyone else has when they don’t win their home state in a dramatic fashion,” Roe said.
Newsday’s Matthew Chayes reports Cruz told Jewish supporters that Trump shows “a profound lack of understanding” of Mideast politics. Later, Cruz told a largely evangelical audience upstate in Scotia, near Schenectady, that Trump isn’t “unstoppable,” reports Newsday’s Yancey Roy.
Poll: How Trump’s a uniter
More and more slices of the electorate agree on one thing: they really, really don’t like Trump, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.
Overall, 7 in 10 Americans have an unfavorable view of Trump. So do majorities of men and women; young and old; conservatives, moderates and liberals; and whites, Hispanics and blacks.
Even in the South, where Trump has dominated primaries, close to 70 percent view him unfavorably. Among whites without a college education, one of Trump’s strongest groups, 55 percent still have a negative opinion.
What else is happening:
- Trump will attend a Suffolk GOP fundraiser Thursday in Patchogue, near where an Ecuadorean immigrant was murdered in 2008. Newsday’s Rick Brand reports.
Bill Clinton had a heated exchange with Black Lives Matter protesters in Philadelphia.
Late lawyer-fixer Roy Cohn, who was eventually disbarred, had a shaping influence on the young Trump, once helping him finesse housing bias charges.
- Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani says he’s voting for Trump, though its not a full-fledged endorsement, and slammed Cruz’s slams on “New York values” . . .
- Rep. Peter King said any New Yorker who votes for Cruz “should have their head examined” . . .
- John Kasich's new ad goes after Tim Cruz but not Donald Trump.
- Newsday’s Michael Gormley reports Gov. Andrew Cuomo blasted Sanders’ opposition to certain lawsuits against gun makers . . .
- A former Israeli ambassador is angered by Sanders’ criticism of Israel's tactics during the 2014 Gaza fighting . . .
- The Hollywood Reporter has a theory on who styles Trump’s hair, but no smoking gun or blow-dryer . . .