Last-ditch tag-team pact

Ted Cruz will focus on winning Indiana while John Kasich concentrates his efforts on Oregon and New Mexico -- under an extraordinary tag-team agreement to stop Donald Trump from clinching the GOP nomination.

Keeping Trump, the season’s surprise front-runner, from going into the party’s July convention with the 1,237 delegates needed to win on the first ballot.

Once it gets past that, the plan goes, the ‘No-Trump’ alternatives would be sorted out. The Indiana primary comes next week on May 3 (92 delegates), Oregon on May 17 (28 delegates), and New Mexico on June 7 (24 delegates).

Polls have showed Trump poised to win several other states’ primaries on Tuesday.

As you may expect, Trump scoffed at the arrangement to stop him. He tweeted a response to his rivals’ back-to-back statements announcing their pact on Sunday night that ended with, “DESPERATION!” Trump offered some more blustery bile a statement that called it “horrible” and “sad.”

Reality and show

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As Republicans consider the proposition that Trump has been just “playing” a “part” in his campaign conduct, conservative megadonor Charles Koch hopes Hillary Clinton is doing just that.

“It’s possible,” Koch said on ABC’s “This Week,” that Clinton would make a better president than the Republicans’ eventual nominee, just as Bill Clinton did better than George W. Bush, in his view, on restraining growth in government and regulations.

Would he actually support her?

“Well ... we would have to believe her actions would be quite different than her rhetoric. Let me put it that way,” said Koch.

The billionaire made his distaste for the GOP field’s leaders clear. He called a plan Trump has floated to register Muslims “reminiscent of Nazi Germany and labeled as “frightening” Ted Cruz’s vow to carpet bomb ISIS and “make the sand glow.” (Video of Koch interview here.)

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But Clinton tweeted Sunday that she doesn’t want brothers Charles and David Koch on her side:

“Not interested in endorsements from people who deny climate science and try to make it harder for people to vote.”

Part-playing parsed

Trump adviser Paul Manafort said he was not suggesting in closed-door remarks leaked last week that his candidate has been anything other than genuine with voters.

Manafort said at the Republican National Committee spring meeting: “The part that he’s been playing is now evolving into the part that you’ve been expecting.”

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On Fox News Sunday, Manafort tried to explain. “We’re changing the settings, not the candidate” — meaning more policy speeches in addition to raucous rallies, he said.

On the same show, Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz compared Manafort’s RNC comments with the “Wizard of Oz,” saying, “Toto pulled back the curtain on the wizard.”

Countdown to Tuesday

New polls reinforced expectations that Trump and Clinton both will do well on Tuesday when five more states hold primaries — Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

The NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll showed Trump at 45% in Pennsylvania to 27% for Cruz and 24% for Kasich. Clinton led Sanders 55% to 40%.

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In Rhode Island, a Brown University poll has Clinton beating Sanders 43% to 34%. Trump has 38% to Kasich’s 25% and Cruz’s 14%.

Going for brokered

Cruz is still running circles around Trump in delegate-naming contests, taking at least 65 of 94 chosen on Saturday, according to Politico.

But Cruz’s efforts can’t pay off unless Trump is held short of a first-ballot majority of 1,237 delegates. In Hagerstown, Maryland, Sunday, Trump told an airport rally he was “pretty sure” he’d reach that goal. And if not?

Newsday’s Yancey Roy explains how a brokered convention would work.

Poor showings

Bernie Sanders said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that many of his losses to Clinton in Democratic primaries were because “poor people don’t vote.”

That lament was offered when Sanders was asked why Clinton had prevailed in 16 of 17 states so far with the highest levels of income inequalilty — a central Sanders theme.

But The Washington Post noted Clinton has outperformed Sanders — 55% to 44% — where network exit polls have been conducted among Democratic voters with household incomes below $50,000.

Sanders in twilight

Even as Sanders vows to keep going, he has begun to take a sideways glance at the handwriting that has become more visible on the wall.

“If Secretary Clinton is the nominee — and we’re not giving this thing up, we’re going all the way to California — but if she is the nominee, I would hope that she puts together the strongest progressive agenda,” Sanders said on ABC’s “This Week.” (Video here.)

Clinton’s team has begun assembling lists of potential vice presidential running mates, according to The New York Times, a sign of a shifting focus to the general-election campaign.

The take-away

The bollixed balloting in Brooklyn during last Tuesday’s primary after 126,000 names were dropped from the active-voter rolls is a product of a system with divided rule, and built-in tensions, Newsday columnist Dan Janison writes.

Fame for East End ‘farm boy’

Former East End agriculture advocate Joseph Gergela has been a staple of Bill Clinton’s stump speech as the former president crisscrosses the country for his wife’s campaign.

Gergela is held up as an example of how Hillary Clinton won over a onetime Republican, Newsday’s Emily Ngo reports.

What else is happening:

  • “It’s a dumb idea,” national GOP chairman Reince Priebus says of an effort in some conservative circles to draft a retired Marine general, James Mattis, to run for president...
  • The 'Odd Couple' is recalled with a fairly funny parody on the Kasich-Cruz alliance.
  • A CBS News poll for Indiana’s May 3 primary shows Clinton and Trump each holding 5-point leads. Cruz is second on the GOP side...
  • BuzzFeed unearthed a 2005 Trump radio interview in which he said of changing diapers: “There’s a lot of women out there that demand that the husband act like the wife.” He won’t...
  • Sanders sidestepped questions about remarks by a campaign surrogate, actress Rosario Dawson, invoking Monica Lewinsky....
  • Kasich told CBS’ “Face the Nation” he is vetting potential running mates because “you don’t want to have yourself in a position where you’ve got to pick somebody out of a hat”...