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Buzz Cut:
• No time for Trump to go mainstream
• Bronx cheer for Cruz
• Big money a big problem for Hillary
• Sick Bern
• ‘A Disneyland of sorts’

NO TIME FOR TRUMP TO GO MAINSTREAM
Donald Trump likes to say that he can change his tone to be more presidential any time he wants. There’s little evidence to suggest that that claim is true, but it reflects his sense that he can’t keep doing what he’s been doing.

This hardly seems like the time for Trump to change his ways.

The Republican frontrunner has retained the services of K Street stalwart Paul Manafort, who is the one you hire when you can’t get Charlie Black. The candidate is expanding his Washington presence, with his campaign setting up meetings with the little claque of lawmakers who support him, and he is reportedly preparing to open a D.C. office.

Trump’s aim is to stop the bleeding on the delegate selection process. Remember that while almost all delegates will go to Cleveland bound to vote for a specific candidate, if the process continues into the third ballot, they will all be free agents. Trump has to be concerned not just with the effort of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to nick delegates in places like Louisiana, Arizona, and Tennessee, by working the system but also with the loyalties of the delegates themselves.

It is a smart, if belated, move to start paying attention to the way things work. But, Trump cannot let the process control his product.

Trump was back to his insult-comedy routine at a packed Long Island rally on Wednesday. The crowd ate it up. It was a return to, ahem, normalcy for Trump who in recent weeks has done things heretofore unthinkable, including apologizing, admitting error and saying flattering things about his rivals.

Sad!

The temptation to change his tone and style is understandable given how poorly Trump runs in the general election, as demonstrated in this new poll from must-win Virginia. Trump also is struggling with the recalcitrance of the majority of his own adopted party. While Trump can look forward to a big win in his native New York on April 19, the developments of the Wisconsin primary bear a potentially troubling message. Trump’s supporters stuck with him, but the rest of the party effectively organized itself against him.

So how does Trump broaden his coalition inside the GOP and make himself a more palatable general election candidate? He can’t. And he shouldn’t try.

Trump is a disrupter whose insults and wood-chipper approach to his lengthy list of enemies remade the Republican nominating process. If he can pull out the nomination, he’s not going to win as a conventional candidate. His only hope would be to turn the general election into WWE Smackdown.

But what “the experts” are telling Trump is that he needs to change and be less insulting and less disruptive. Of course they are. The message of every Washington consultant is always the same: It’s complicated, it’s expensive and you can’t do it without them.

Trump seems very worried that the party will try to “steal” the nomination from him and as poll-obsessed as he is he also must fear the general-election humiliation they portend. But this is no time for him to lose his nerve.

Trump’s strategy should not be to change and broaden his coalition within the GOP. Instead he should focus on running up the score in New York and those districts of California where his white-hot rhetoric on immigration has won him many loyal followers.

He should be thinking about Staten Island and Bakersfield, not K Street.

[WaPo’s Philip Bump explains why Trump’s number of delegates needed to win the nomination just went up.]

Bronx cheer for Cruz - WSJ: “Republican Sen. Ted Cruz made a rare trip to the heavily Democratic Bronx on Wednesday, visiting a self-described American-born Chinese Dominican eatery and facing hecklers as he tried to blunt Donald Trump’s commanding lead in New York. Fresh off winning Wisconsin, Mr. Cruz was greeted at the Sabrosura 2 restaurant by about 50 supporters, who came from Long Island, Manhattan, Brooklyn and elsewhere.”

Cruz would win a brokered convention - FiveThirtyEight breaks down why Ted Cruz not House Speaker Paul Ryan would be the victor of a contested convention.

[GOP delegate count: Trump 743; Cruz 517; Kasich 143 (1,237 needed to win)]

WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE…
History: “On this day in 1776, Navy Captain John Barry, commander of the American warship Lexington, makes the first American naval capture of a British vessel when he takes command of the British warship HMS Edward off the coast of Virginia. The capture of the Edward and its cargo turned Captain Barry into a national hero and boosted the morale of the Continental forces. Barry was born in the seaboard county of Wexford, Ireland, in 1745 and offered his services to the Continental Congress upon the outbreak of the American Revolution. Congress purchased Barry’s ship, Black Prince, which it renamed Alfred and placed under the command of Commodore Esek Hopkins. It was the first ship to fly the American flag, raised by John Paul Jones.”

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POLL CHECK
Real Clear Politics Averages
National GOP nomination:
Trump 40.3 percent; Cruz 33.2 percent; Kasich 20.5 percent
National Dem nomination: Clinton 49.7 percent; Sanders 43.8 percent
General Election: Clinton vs. Trump: Clinton +10.8 points
Generic Congressional Vote: Republicans +0.5

BIG MONEY A BIG PROBLEM FOR HILLARY
Americans generally care very little about the issue of campaign finance reform, but among Democratic activist and primary voters it is a big deal. For Democrats, the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision is almost tantamount to Roe v. Wade among Republicans. Either you’re against it and you’re a true Democrat or you’re no better than the big money Koch brothers.

That’s bad news for Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

Picking up where President Obama left off, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has made “dark money” a theme of his campaign from the beginning. He takes no money from PACs and instead relies on his grassroots donors, a feat that has paid off for him in both fundraising and messaging.

Although Clinton has been actively campaigning against the corrupting power of big money, she sure has been taking quite a lot of it in.

A new piece from the investigative group Center for Public Integrity dives deep into the interwoven network of big money that has funded Clinton throughout the campaign cycle.

When trying to unravel the Clinton donor network, the reporters had a particularly difficult time:

“A look at specific contributions to the super PACs supporting Clinton shows just how difficult it can be to unravel who is really writing the checks. For example, federal records show that on June 29, super PAC Priorities USA Action received $1 million from an outfit called Fair Share Action…So who funds Fair Share Action? During 2015, a pair of ‘social welfare’ nonprofits alone bankrolled it: Environment America Inc. ($800,000) and Fair Share Inc. ($300,000). But neither Environment America Inc. nor Fair Share Inc. is required to comprehensively or publicly reveal its donors, because as ‘social welfare’ groups that can’t primarily focus on electoral politics, federal law says they don’t have to.”

Both Acting Director for Fair Share Inc., and the pro-Clinton PAC Priorities USA declined to comment, but the point is clear: For a candidate who regularly slams the court’s decision, Clinton doesn’t seem to mind the benefits.

Since some Democrats feel burned after then-Sen. Barack Obama reversed his position of only using public funds in 2008 and went on to raise a then-record $745 million for his campaign despite also actively campaigning against big money politics, it’s a sweet spot for Sanders.

Sick Bern - ABC News: “At a rally in Pennsylvania Wednesday night, Bernie Sanders declared that rival Hillary Clinton is not qualified to be commander in chief…Sanders said, ‘Secretary Clinton appears to be getting a little bit nervous,’ Sanders told a crowd of thousands at a rally at Temple University in Philadelphia. ‘She has been saying lately that she thinks that I am quote unquote, not qualified to be president. Now, let me, let me just say in response to Secretary Clinton, I don’t believe that she is qualified, if she is, through her super PAC, taking tens of millions of dollars in special interest donations.’”

Hillary looks Upstate for New York win - NYT: “The strategy helped Mrs. Clinton win her 2000 Senate race by double digits, a victory fueled by the unlikely support of white working-class voters in upstate New York who had previously voted Republican but were won over by the first lady’s attention to their underserved area. Now, 16 years later, Mrs. Clinton is again promising to bring jobs back to the region as she courts the people who helped secure her first election victory. But this time her message is colliding with a surprisingly potent threat from the left and doubts about her ability to deliver.”

[Dem delegate count: Clinton 1749; Sanders 1061 (2,383 needed to win)]

THE JUDGE’S RULING: HIGH WAGE HOODWINK
Higher minimum wage doesn’t necessarily mean more prosperity. Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano gets Socratic this week: “What if the politicians who caused this did so just to win the votes of those they promised to help? What if these politicians only helped themselves? What if the minimum wage increase is a fraud?” Read it all here.

‘A DISNEYLAND OF SORTS’
KNBC: “An 18-year-old senior at Concord High School in Wilmington, Delaware, was accepted into five Ivy League schools and another prestigious university after writing a ‘memorable essay’ describing her admiration for America’s largest wholesale warehouse, NBC News reported. Brittany Stinson got into Yale, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, Cornell and Stanford. The straight-A student tells NBC News that writing about Costco felt natural to her. ‘I had always gone to Costco while growing up. It was a constant part of my childhood. I looked forward to trips on the weekends, and I had always treated it as a Disneyland of sorts. I was always curious about the place. The same attitude carried over to everything I tried in life,’ Stinson said.”

AND NOW A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“…[T]he worst is [President Obama’s] staff, who are all as inexperienced with him with no credentials other than academic ones, supporting him in that and producing a foreign policy that was removed from reality. And the results are what we see today, seven years later.” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up 
here.

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as digital politics editor based in Washington, D.C.  Additionally, he authors the daily "Fox News First" political news note and hosts "Power Play," a feature video series, on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on the network, including "The Kelly File," "Special Report with Bret Baier," and "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace."  He also provides expert political analysis for Fox News coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.