"The system, folks, is rigged. It’s a rigged, disgusting, dirty system."
Yes, the "rigged economy" was Bernie Sanders's focus on his visit there, as it has been for months. But that line was Donald Trump's.
"Donald Trump built his business empire by exploiting the rules of business to his favor with brash skill, working corporate bankruptcy regulations, eminent-domain laws and the tax code to suit his bottom line," Jose A. DelReal reported from upstate New York.
"But now Trump finds himself struggling to cope with a different set of rules — those governing the GOP nominating contest, which he and his campaign have failed to control with the same deftness he brags about as an entrepreneur. ...
"Trump, who scheduled a rally here Tuesday, has responded by lashing out at party leaders, at his rivals and at the delegate process, arguing that the system is 'totally corrupt' and that Cruz is 'stealing' delegates at state conventions.
"'The system, folks, is rigged. It’s a rigged, disgusting, dirty system. And only a non-politician would say it,' Trump said Monday night in Albany, N.Y. '...And then when everything is done, I find out I get less delegates than this guy that got his ass kicked.'
"Where Trump sees a conspiracy to keep him from the nomination, party leaders and Cruz see someone who failed to learn the rules of the game.
"...The Republican National Committee has leapt to defend the process, saying the delegate system has been used by the party to choose a presidential candidate for generations. Party leaders — who have sought to maintain a cordial relationship with Trump — also have made unusually pointed statements about the rules.
"'It’s no secret how the delegates are allocated. It’s wide open for everyone to look at,' Sean Spicer, the RNC’s communications director, said on Fox News. 'So not understanding that is one thing, but it’s hardly rigged when it’s done right out in the open.'"
Someone who's very happy with the GOP's delegate rules: Ted Cruz, who says he has won "11 elections in four states."
But wait, you say -- isn't 11 a lot more than four? How exactly did he arrive at that figure?
We're glad you asked. Here's the breakdown, via Dave Weigel: "As Cruz explains, he is counting each of Colorado's seven congressional district conventions and its statewide assembly as separate contests, including a race in the 7th district where two unbound delegates were elected to one for Cruz. When he claims that '65,000 people voted,' he is referring to yet another election — the non-binding preference poll conducted March 1, where no delegates were assigned, but Republican activists got their first instructions about the April conventions.
"Cruz's preferred history of the primaries seems calibrated to anger Trump, who in two New York speeches has attacked the 'crooked' Colorado process. But it has also angered Trump's supporters and sympathetic observers. Matt Drudge's Drudge Report mocked Cruz's Colorado wins with a front page splash about how no one voted. If anyone missed his point, he followed up on Twitter: 'Does George Bush have to invade Colorado to make it a Democracy? STUNNING Republicans had NO PRIMARY or CAUCUS. At least Dems are faking it.'"
Up next: delegate elections in Wyoming and Virginia, followed by New York's primary. That vote is still a week away, but Ted Cruz appears to be over it already -- Heidi Cruz has appeared at events in the state, but the Texas senator hasn't made any public stops there since his April 7 visit to a Brighton Beach matzoh baking session. It's a streak that isn't scheduled to end until his CNN town hall in New York tomorrow night.
(New Trump radio spot today: "When it comes to New York values, other candidates do not like us...")
Donald Trump's attack on the delegate system came on a day he actually gained ground on that front. Today wasn't an Election Day, but Trump and Hillary Clinton still technically added a state to their win columns as Missouri officially certified the results of last month's primary there -- a move that added 12 delegates to Trump's bottom line.
Donald Trump has the lead in the GOP delegate chase, and odds are he'll keep it (even if he doesn't win a pre-convention majority.) Bernie Sanders is trailing in the Democratic delegate chase, and odds are he won't catch up. But with both of them vocally unhappy with how the delegate process is playing out, it appears that some of their supporters are increasingly turning their ire on delegates themselves.
There has been a low-key pressure campaign on superdelegates from some Sanders backers for much of the race. But as the Sanders campaign has shifted its pitch, saying momentum should be as much of a factor as vote totals or delegate counts, some of the Vermont senator's supporters have decided they're no longer willing to take no for an answer, report Anne Gearan, John Wagner and Abby Phillip:
"Among those efforts is a website created last week under the name Superdelegate Hit List, providing phone numbers and addresses for superdelegates and encouraging users to submit further contact information, presumably to help advocates pressure them. Site creator Spencer Thayer, a Chicago activist, described the goal this way in a Twitter message: 'So who wants to help start . . . a new website aimed at harassing Democratic Superdelegates?'" (The site's name has since been changed to "Superdelegate List.")
The campaign says it has no connection to these efforts -- which, say superdelegates, still haven't reached anywhere near the fevered pitch of 2008's battles. But it plans to intensify its own courting of unbound delegates over the next few weeks.
Clinton, who didn't gain any delegates from today's announcement, still has a sizable delegate lead on Bernie Sanders. But what if, as Sanders backers have proposed, superdelegates were required to reflect the will of the people, and vote in accordance with results in their state? The Fix crunched the numbers today: in that case, Clinton would...have a sizable delegate lead on Sanders.
COUNT HIM OUT:
Paul Ryan is not running for president. He has said he will not run for president this year. And said it. And said it. Roughly 20 times (and counting) so far this cycle. Today, he said it again. "He's going to rule himself out and put this to rest once and for all," a Ryan aide said optimistically, just ahead of the speaker's afternoon remarks.
The House speaker has actually had plenty of practice delivering this message: here he is telling a C-Span caller back in 1998 that he wouldn't be mounting a White House bid because he wasn't actually old enough to run. And sometime in the next month or so, he will probably deliver it yet again, some more, because this is How We 2016 Now. Here is what that will likely look like:
First will come the on-background announcement that the speaker will make an on-the-record announcement that he's not running. The news will draw this reaction from many reporters and some establishment Republicans:
Paul Ryan to give a speech to declare that he's not running for president. So guess that means he's running!— Will Bunch (@Will_Bunch) April 12, 2016
It will also draw this one:
So you're saying there's a chance? pic.twitter.com/CiTkwBoJKP— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) April 12, 2016
And maybe this one:
I know Paul Ryan has said he won’t run for president and will again today. But take my poll. Will Ryan run for prez?— Niraj Chokshi (@NirajC) April 12, 2016
Ryan's spokesman will tweet wistfully about the imminent end of the fevered 2016 speculation, even though that end will actually be nowhere in sight, because it is not (and may never really be) over.
Just know that I’m going to miss you all when you don’t care about us anymore.— Brendan Buck (@BrendanBuck) April 12, 2016
Then Ryan will say something like what he said today. "Count me out," he told reporters. “Let me be clear: I do not want nor will I accept the nomination for our party.”
Someone -- or more likely, many someones -- will mention Civil War Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, who gets far more screen time these days for something he did not do (a presidential bid, which he rejected) than any of the really important things he actually did (such as lead Union troops deep into the heart of the Confederacy.)
Paul Ryan almost quotes: William T. Sherman, "If nominated, I will not run; if elected, I will not serve." pic.twitter.com/bzW65uozaz— Judith Lee Wilmot (@JudithWilmot) April 12, 2016
The problem, of course, is that unlike Gen. Sherman, Paul Ryan has a history of saying he does not want jobs that he winds up taking. So the first reaction after his remarks will likely fall along the lines of:
Hey @brendanbuck is Paul Ryan running for president— daveweigel (@daveweigel) April 12, 2016
@daveweigel no— Brendan Buck (@BrendanBuck) April 12, 2016
So he's running then https://t.co/8oFJmroo1Y— Christopher Ingraham (@_cingraham) April 12, 2016
So he’s definitely running https://t.co/oJVmJl4GLp— Cowperthwait (@cowperthwait) April 12, 2016
Not everyone will react that way. Some people will react this way:
https://t.co/M2sej6KffG now has Ryan at a 0.6% chance to win the GOP nom.— Jason Russell (@JRussellMI) April 12, 2016
...So there's a chance!
Please let some reporter ask @SpeakerRyan "So you're saying there's a chance?"— Tommy Christopher (@tommyxtopher) April 12, 2016
So he's saying there's a chance... https://t.co/nS69Kzwpum— Matthew Murphy (@SHNSMurphy) April 12, 2016
"So you're saying there's a chance?" -Every Republican post Speaker Ryan presser— Elizabeth McLaughlin (@Elizabeth_McLau) April 12, 2016
Paul Ryan insists he's not running for president but adds that he's not going anywhere.— Eugene Kane (@eugene_kane) April 12, 2016
GOP: "So you're saying there's a chance?"
SO, SPEAKER RYAN, YOU ARE SAYING THERE'S A CHANCE?!— Jackie Kucinich (@JFKucinich) April 12, 2016
So if Paul Ryan isn't running for president, what is he doing giving what sound suspiciously like a series of campaign speeches delivered from behind American flag-backed podiums?
In a presidential election year, the nominee of a political party tends to become both its de facto leader and its face. In a year when the most likely candidates for that position are Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, Ryan would like to throw an alternative into the mix.
"Now, Ryan is not entirely selfless in this," notes Chris Cillizza. "Preserving an image of the Republican Party that stands apart from Trump and Cruz could be the only way that Republicans keep their hold on congressional majorities this fall -- and keep Ryan in his spot as the top ranking GOPer on the House side. If the GOP is wholly lumped in with Trumpism, polling suggests it could presage a large-scale electoral disaster in down-ballot races.
"And, Ryan, at age 46, will undoubtedly run for president at some point in the not-that-distant future. He would like to do that from a party who is not trying to start from scratch or worse with the American public. Ryan doesn't want 'Republican' to be a bad word when he decides to go for the big brass ring.
"What Ryan is doing then is waging a campaign to save the Republican Party he grew up with -- and that he hopes to lead one day. That actually may be a more important race than the one happening at the presidential level for Republicans right now."
He may or may not accomplish his mission. But his efforts will continue to fuel th current speculation, because in a chaotic world of unsettling change, many people find routine and communal ritual reassuring. In a typical year, it would have ended already. Or it would end if the Republican Party picked a nominee who is not Paul Ryan. This year, even that that may not be enough. No, the official expiration date is Nov. 9 of this year, because that is when everyone is scheduled to switch to Paul Ryan 2020 questions. Mark your calendars now.
I think the Paul Ryan "I am not running for president" presser should be a daily thing. OK, maybe 3x per week.— John Bresnahan (@BresPolitico) April 12, 2016
If you still think this idea is alive, I don't really know what else to do for you.— Brendan Buck (@BrendanBuck) April 12, 2016
The tinfoil hat is a good look though.
Also making a push for the Jewish vote: John Kasich, who went to Borough Park, where this happened (New York campaign #protip: yes, yeshivah students less than three weeks out from Passover are likely to be somewhat familiar with the story of the Jews in Egypt.):
“You study Joseph? What do you think about Joseph? Did you hear what was the most important thing Joseph said to his brothers? ‘My brothers, you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.’ Did you know that? He may have been a little bit of a bragger. A little bit. Maybe. But they threw him in that ditch, they saved him and then sold him to slavery. And that’s how the Jews got to Egypt. Did you know that?”
“Yes,” they responded politely.
Overheard on the trail: "How many votes do you have so far?"
By the way, Kasich's "New York is awesome!" line from yesterday was actually exceeded on style points by Heidi Cruz, who delivered a compliment that may never before have been uttered by anyone in the 400-year history of New York City: "I love the smell of New York."
The Ohio governor's primary Big Apple campaign pitch today was a bit gloomier: He condemned his GOP rivals for offering a "path to darkness," saying that what he called their anger-fueled campaigns would "drive America down into a ditch, not make us great again."
THE TRAIL AHEAD:
--The top of the Democratic ticket isn't the only battleground: Liberals are at war over VP shortlist candidate Julián Castro.
--Bill Clinton has been on the trail plugging his wife's record...and lately, his own as well, says Dan Balz: "For days now, Bill Clinton has been attempting to extricate himself from a confrontation with Black Lives Matter protesters, trying both to hold to his position and step back from it. It’s been an awkward dance.
"But it speaks to a broader problem for the 42nd president of the United States. Clinton is caught in a time warp, having to grapple with how much the era in which he served, the events that occurred then and the actions he took as president have been reinterpreted and, by many in his own party, rejected. ..."
--Mark Zuckerberg threw some shade at Donald Trump.
--More supportive: the newspaper owned by Donald Trump's son-in-law, which has endorsed Trump: A move to a "more promising direction" for the country, says a New York Observer editorial, will "only be accomplished by someone who has constructed great skyscrapers and gem-like skating rinks..."
--Rand Paul doesn't agree with Trump that the delegate game is "rigged." But he does think it's "biased."
--The RNC's latest convention promotion has dubbed Cleveland a can't-miss event, but some top Republicans are already planning to skip it (the list of those unlikely to show includes both the usual suspects -- lawmakers facing tough re-election fights -- and at least one who isn't running for anything at all at the moment: Jeb Bush.)
--And a new convention-themed spot today from some people who definitely seem excited about Cleveland: the pro-Clinton Priorities USA super PAC.
YOUR DAILY TRAIL PIT STOP: With the end (at least for today) of the Paul Ryan 2016 boomlet: The return of #Gilmentum.