Will trans stand stall Trump?

Donald Trump took a position that was politically risky with social conservatives in his party Thursday by declaring that transgender people should be able to use whichever bathroom they choose. Ted Cruz saw an opportunity and pounced.

On NBC’s “Today,” Trump was asked about the battle over a new North Carolina law that requires transgender people to use public bathrooms in government buildings and schools that correspond to the gender on their birth certificate. He called it unnecessary.

“There have been very few complaints the way it is. People go, they use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate,” said Trump. If Caitlyn Jenner came to Trump Tower, she could use any bathroom she chooses, he added. (Video here.)

Cruz — turning a favorite Trump phrase against him — accused the front-runner of giving in “political correctness.” He said it was “basic common sense” that “grown, adult men, strangers, should not be alone in a bathroom with little girls.” (Audio of Cruz on Glenn Back radio show here.)

Cruz also slammed ESPN for firing baseball commentator Curt Schilling over a social media post on the issue.

Clinton with Sandy Hook kin

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Clinton was joined at a Hartford, Connecticut, rally by relatives of victims who died in the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre.

Clinton reminded supporters that they have an uphill battle on a national level against the heavily funded National Rifle Association, which has blocked many proposed changes in gun laws. “In political terms, the gun lobby never rests — and they have only one issue they care about.”

She vowed to spend "every minute of every day" trying to save lives and "change the gun culture in America." Before the 2008 Pennsylvania primary, however, Clinton seemed to have no problem with said culture. 

Back then, she fondly recalled how her grandfather taught her to shoot. "You know, some people now continue to teach their children and their grandchildren," Clinton said. "It’s part of culture. It’s part of a way of life." At the time she was trying to score some Second Amendment points off rival candidate Barack Obama's controversial reference to guns.

Bernie Sanders, in Pennsylvania, pressed anew his criticism of Clinton for not releasing the transcripts of her paid Wall Street speeches.

The take-away: Accidental assistance? 

If Senate hopeful Todd Kaminsky benefitted from heightened Democratic primary turnout on Tuesday, he may have Bernie Sanders to thank -- for extending the primaries against Hillary Clinton to New York. thus drawing Bill Clinton to stump in Elmont beside Kaminsky, Dan Janison writes.

Presidential politics is expected to play a much wider role in state Senate rivalries in November.

 Aides: Trump 2.0 in development 

Trump’s new senior aide, Paul Manafort, told Republican leaders that the GOP front-runner has been “projecting an image” so far and “the part that he’s been playing is now evolving.”

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“He gets it,” Manafort said of Trump’s need to moderate his personality. Trump aides also told the Florida gathering that he would be an asset to Republican unity, but party regulars were skeptical.

“I want to see Mr. Trump begin to bring us together,” said Henry Barbour, a committeeman from Mississippi. “And I haven’t seen it.

These polls just in

Clinton is up by 25 points over Sanders in Maryland in a Monmouth University survey.

Trump leads in California with 41% to 23% for Cruz and 21% for Kasich, according to a Capitol Weekly/Sextant Strategies poll.

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The Franklin & Marshall College poll in Pennsylvania has Clinton ahead of Sanders, 58% to 31%, and Trump on top of the GOP race with 40% to Cruz’s 26% and Kasich’s 24%.

Death wish retracted

Rep. Peter King said he was just “trying to make a point” when he said on MSNBC the other day that he would take cyanide if Cruz got the Republican nomination.

“I’m amazed at the response it’s gotten,” King said on the “LI in the AM” radio show. “Also, I have to tell you that some people call my office and say they were not gonna vote for Cruz, but if it would get me to take the cyanide, they will.” (Audio clip here.)

Trump rips Tubman $20 bill

Trump blamed — what else — “pure political correctness” for the Treasury Department’s plan to replace Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman on the face of the $20 bill.

Trump said that Tubman, the anti-slavery leader, was “fantastic,” but suggested that “maybe we do the $2 bill” for Tubman. Ex-candidate Ben Carson, now a Trump supporter, offered the same idea Wednesday.

Other candidates weighed in, too. John Kasich praised Tubman as someone who “drove change from the bottom up. Hillary Clinton hailed her as “a woman, a leader and a freedom fighter” and said, “I can’t think of a better choice for the $20 bill.”

Cox falls into line

New York State Republican Chairman Ed Cox endorsed Trump Thursday, but hasn’t entirely won the trust of Trump’s team, reports Newsday’s Michael Gormley.

Trump’s campaign is watching to see how the GOP leadership chooses delegates to avoid defections to other candidates in a contested convention.

“Everyone deserves an epiphany,” said Trump’s New York point man, Carl Paladino. “But behind the scenes, Cox and a few county chairs were working very hard for either Kasich or Cruz.”

What else is happening:

  • A surge of 31,000 Long Islanders registered to vote ahead of Tuesday’s primaries, Newsday’s David M. Schwartz and Robert Brodsky report ...
  • Contrary to what Trump told Newsday’s editorial board, Suffolk GOP Chairman John Jay LaValle said he told Trump about the Marcelo Lucero case before the front-runner’s appearance in Patchogue ...
  • A 'show's-over-nothing-to-see-folks' chorus builds on Clinton's behalf as Politico's no-name "caucus" urges Sanders to quit.
  • Wall Street as flashpoint remains hot in the primaries -- which makes it interesting that Sen. Elizabeth Warren just blasted the SEC.
  • Trump riffed -- some would say incoherently -- on Clinton's qualifications
  • The New York City Board of Elections has suspended without pay an official blamed for wrongly purging thousands of voters from the rolls, WNYC radio says, citing sources ...
  • Kasich told The Washington Post editorial board that, with some exceptions, “my Republican Party doesn’t like ideas. ... They want to be negative against things ...
  • AP finds that most companies and groups that paid Clinton to speak between 2013 and 2015 have lobbied federal agencies and more than a third are government contractors ...
  • The Democratic presidential candidates are far outspending the Republicans, says ABC News ...
  • Clinton says “there’s always a little truth” in “Saturday Night Live” impressions of her ...