Campaign for the White House Has a New York State of Mind

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. enter  the subway in the Bronx borough of New York, Thursday, April 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. enter the subway in the Bronx borough of New York, Thursday, April 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Hillary versus Bernie. The two leading democratic presidential candidates have escalated their fight for the nomination. Last night, Sanders did say he would eventually support Hillary Clinton if she were the nominee, but not without taking a bunch more digs at the front-runner.

The big fight started when Hillary Clinton said she doubted Bernie’s bona fides as a Democrat. She also suggested he was unprepared to run the country. Sanders then attacked Hillary Clinton as unqualified to be President.

The Washington Post writes today:

Bernie Sanders told an AFL-CIO conference in Philadelphia yesterday “I will not be hustling money from the wealthy and powerful.”

With both candidates launching 10-day sprints here ahead of New York's April 19 primary, the strain and resentment of a hard-fought and unexpectedly long contest boiled over repeatedly in interviews, speeches and other public appearances. The senator from Vermont refused to retract his assertion that Clinton is not qualified to be president. Clinton dismissed that claim as "silly" and countered that Sanders has repeatedly made promises he can't keep.

Still Sanders backtracked some in an interview with the Washington Post

"Look, as I've said before, on her worst day, she is 100 times better than Donald Trump or Ted Cruz or the other candidates," he said. "To me, that is not a very hard choice."

Meantime, former President Bill Clinton faced off with a bunch of Black Lives Matter protesters at a rally last night. Here’s how the New York Times reporter Alan Rappeport put it today:

The interruptions came with a frequency and fervor usually seen at a Trump rally. But on Thursday it was former President Bill Clinton facing a barrage of protests from critics who disapprove of his record on overhauling the criminal justice system.

While campaigning for his wife, Hillary Clinton, at an event in Philadelphia, Mr. Clinton was forced to defend his 1994 crime bill while weathering repeated heckling. He argued that the legislation had helped African-Americans by protecting them from gangs, and he said that Black Lives Matter protesters were misguided.

Explaining that the bill caused big declines in murders and other crime during his administration, Mr. Clinton said, ''Whose lives were saved, that mattered?''

Although Mrs. Clinton has been doing well among black voters during the nominating contests, she has had to distance herself from some of her husband's policies, including the 1994 crime bill, which she implicitly suggested led to the mass incarceration of blacks. Last year Mr. Clinton acknowledged that the legislation had problems and that some of its provisions were too harsh.

The anger in the room on Thursday was evident, and at one point a protester shouted that Mr. Clinton should be charged with crimes against humanity. Supporters of Mrs. Clinton started waving signs and chanting ''Hillary,'' and the former president said the protests were misguided.

''I don't know how you would characterize the gang leaders who got 13-year-old kids hopped up on crack and sent them out on the street to murder other African-American children,'' Mr. Clinton said as the interruptions grew louder. ''You are defending the people who kill the people whose lives you say matter. Tell the truth!''

Donald Trump is beefing up his campaign staff and taking a few days break from the campaign trail for what some analysts call a much-needed reset. He’s made some key hires including experts who could help him in an open convention fight in Cleveland in July.

The New York Times reporters Nicholas Confessore and Matt Flegenheimer write about how Republicans are learning to love Ted Cruz:

Of all the teeth-gritting alliances being forged over opposition to Mr. Trump's rampaging bid for the Republican presidential nomination, few are as unlikely as the emerging bond between Mr. Cruz and his party's elite donor establishment.

Since Mr. Cruz's election to the Senate in 2012, many traditional Republican donors have spurned him, viewing him as a hopeless ideologue whose antics -- particularly his leading role in the 2013 government shutdown -- damaged the party in service of his ambitions.

But in recent weeks, at small events from the Upper East Side of Manhattan to the Republican precincts of Newport Beach, Calif., they are learning to love Mr. Cruz.

Ted Cruz will be addressing the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas. Kasich and Trump are skipping the event.

New polling shows huge unfavorable ratings for the top three candidates. Unfavorable ratings for Donald Trump 69%, for Ted Cruz 59%, and Hillary Clinton 55%. Whoa.

Seven in ten people including nearly half GOP voters, have an unfavorable view of Trump.

President Obama weighed in on the race last night at a fundraiser in California. He said a functioning American democracy is what’s at stake in November.  He attacked Cruz and Trump last night.

1200EDT -- OH Gov Kasich holds a town hall meeting. Sacred Heart Univ, Fairfield, CT. LIVE via LiveU

1200EDT -- Hillary Clinton holds a roundtable. Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY. LIVE via LiveU

In other news,

More big changes coming to the Catholic Church. Pope Francis today released a new proclamation on family life called “Amoris Laetitia” (Joy of Love). It calls for priests to be more welcoming to divorced people, single parents, unmarried couples and gay people. It also pushes priests to create a path for the divorced to get communion. Lauren Green reporting.

Secretary of State John Kerry is in Baghdad for talks on Iraq’s future. He’s now the most-traveled Secretary of State (sorry Hillary).

There are reports that ISIS has killed 175 civilian cement plant workers in Damascus.

Panama Papers scandal continues to roil world leaders. Vladimir Putin says it’s an American plot.

The Washington Post reports that Verizon is bidding for Yahoo..

The U.S. economy is not in a bubble according to the Fed chief Janet Yellen. She appears to be responding to comments from candidate Donald Trump who said the U.S. was on the verge of a horrific recession. Yellen says there’s no big imbalances that would suggest a bubble.

For more news, follow me on Twitter: @ClintPHenderson

Clint Henderson is the Executive Producer for “Happening Now” and an avid traveler. Follow his adventures on Twitter, ClintPHenderson, and Instagram, clintpage1.