THE BIG IDEA by David Weigel:

James Hohmann is on vacation -- we'll have a series of guest writers from the Post political team sharing their political analysis with you this week.

LA PORTE, Ind. -- From South Bend to Bloomington today, it will be hard for Indiana Republicans to miss Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). The insurgent candidate and his surrogates are making ten campaign stops, three of them with Gov. Mike Pence (R), who is still atoning for last week’s mealy-mouthed endorsement.

Yet Cruz enters Tuesday’s Indiana primary as an underdog, despite a series of headline-grabbing trick plays. First he latched onto Donald Trump’s disinterest in barring transgender women from ladies’ bathrooms, an issue he brings up in every speech and two closing TV ads. Then came the bargain with Ohio Gov. John Kasich, getting him out of the state; then came the ticket with Carly Fiorina.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released Sunday shows Cruz on the precipice of falling badly -- Trump led by 15 points, 49 to Cruz's 34 percent, with Kasich netting 13 percent. Fully 58 percent disapprove of the so-called Cruz-Kasich alliance, with 22 percent considering it a "major factor" in their choice.

Our Sean Sullivan explains the stakes in Indiana for Cruz: "Cruz came to Indiana to try to resuscitate his flagging campaign at a pivotal moment in the Republican presidential race. But with just one day of campaigning left until Tuesday’s vote — and after a series of desperation measures — the freshman senator from Texas is on the verge of a defeat that would ravage his campaign and raise new questions about whether his mission to stop [Trump] has become futile."

If Cruz falls short in Indiana, look again at what the three “game-changers” had in common. All were base plays. All assumed that every vote not being cast for Trump should be cast for Cruz.

It was always a risky bet, and as the primary’s dragged on, Cruz has piled on chips and tacked further to the right. (See his moves against the Trans Pacific Partnership and a compromise criminal justice reform bill.) The guiding insight of Cruz’s career has been that even Republican voters are angry at Republican leadership, but as Trump has split – or conquered – that vote, Cruz has tried with increasing difficulty to find a litmus test that Trump will fail.

The limits of that strategy were actually visible in Wisconsin, which – if Cruz loses Indiana – will stand as the apogee of his campaign. In 2012, Mitt Romney effectively ended Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign with a seven-point victory in Wisconsin. Just 44 percent of Wisconsin Republican voters picked him, yet in exit polls, 67 percent of them said they’d be “satisfied” if he won the nomination.

Cruz’s Wisconsin victory was nearly twice as large as Romney’s, with a 13-point margin, and a near-majority of 48.2 percent support. Yet in exit polls, asked how they’d feel if Cruz won the presidency, just 60 percent were optimistic. Put another way, for every two votes Romney got, another voter was open to backing him. For Cruz, the ratio was four-to-one.

Romney was famously unloved for a Republican nominee. But according to Gallup’s tracking of the candidates, Cruz may be in worse shape. Its latest edition of a national tracking poll found Cruz to be the least popular of the three remaining nominees, among Republicans.

The “deal” with Kasich – though neither man wants to call it that – might have done damage. But Cruz seems to be absorbing more of the anger, and Trump’s relentless use of a wacky sobriquet, “Lyin’ Ted,” might explain why. One reason for the insult’s power is that both Cruz and Trump praised each other until they became direct competitors in Iowa. Cruz, who once chided the media for asking him to criticize Trump, now blames the media (see his Sunday interview on Meet the Press) for covering Trump so much.

Why does that sort of muck stick to Cruz, and not Trump? Again, look at the base politics. In exit polls, the Republican electorates that have recently supported Trump have also favored some kind of legal status for illegal immigrants. Cruz, in trying to outflank Trump, has attacked him for favoring a sort of touchback provision for law-abiding immigrants. But wade into a Trump rally and it’s easy to find voters who trust Trump to secure the border to stop criminals from entering but don’t worry about other immigrants.

Watching Cruz on the stump, it’s easy to see his disbelief that the strategy is not working. He’s rolled attacks on “the New York media” into his list of threats; Glenn Beck, his most compelling surrogate, chides the Republican Party for indulging Trump’s instincts. Yet on the eve of a primary he keeps calling pivotal, Cruz is still counting on a base that might only be big enough for second place. 

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  1. A U.S. cruise ship set sail for Cuba, transporting 700 passengers to Havana for the first time in nearly 40 years. (CNN)
  2. John Kerry traveled to Geneva in hopes of reviving a nearly-dead ceasefire agreement in Syria. The U.S. has asked for Russia’s cooperation in containing and reducing ongoing violence, particularly around the city of Aleppo. (AP)
  3. Anti-government protesters who stormed Baghdad’s Green Zone and parliament have agreed to temporarily end their sit-in just one day after it began. Protesters consented to leave the heavily-fortified area only after issuing demands for reform, and vowed to return by the end of the week. (Loveday Morris)
  4. Rescuers pulled a 72-year-old man from the rubble of the massive earthquake in Ecuador that occurred two weeks ago, killing over 600 people. He was heard making noises by Venezuelan construction worker in Jaramijo (ABC)
  5. Halliburton and Baker Hughes abandoned a $34 billion merger, bowing to Justice Department complaints that the deal between the two oil service giants would lead to decreased competition and higher prices for consumers. (Renae Merle)
  6. A massive blaze broke out inside the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava in Manhattan, hours after hundreds of worshippers gathered to celebrate Easter. More than 170 firefighter brought the flames under control, but have not said what caused the fire. (Jenny Starrs)
  7. An L.A. judge ordered a California woman to unlock an iPhone with her fingerprint, setting off a debate as to whether or not the order violates the Fifth Amendment. (L.A. Times)
  8. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for a weekend truck bombing in Baghdad that killed at least 23 people and injured 40 others. The terrorist group reportedly targeted Shiite pilgrims as they walked to a shrine. (Loveday Morris)
  9. Police arrested nine people in Seattle after May Day protests turned violent: Five officers were reportedly injured as protesters lit fireworks and threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at police. (CNN)
  10. Australian entrepreneur Craig Wright claimed to be the creator of Bitcoin, potentially putting an end to a years-long search for the reclusive inventor behind the digital cash system. (Ben Guarino)
  11. Indiana Senate candidate Marlin Stuztman paid his brother-in-law nearly $170,000 to manage finances for his congressional campaign. The relative had worked as a car salesman and actor but had “no experience rounding up political donations.” (AP)
  12. Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy received the JFK Profile in Courage Award for his public support of resettling Syrian refugees in the U.S. (AP)
  13. At least 23 people have been shot by toddlers since January, according to a Washington Post analysis, compared with 18 over the same period last year. (Christopher Ingraham)
  14. An 11-year-old Alabama boy shot a suspected home invader who threatened his life. The boy said he fired several warning shots before shooting the intruder in the leg. (Peter Holley)
  15. The White House announced Malia Obama will be attending Harvard after taking a gap year. The decision may free her from the Secret Service contingent that would be a requirement if she began college this fall. (Juliet Eilperin)
  16. Kenyan wildlife officials set more than 105 tons of elephant and rhino ivory on fire in protest against the growing threat of poaching in the country. (Kevin Sieff and Niraj Chokshi)


-- Trump said his Republican rivals are “hanging on by their fingertips”: “If we win in Indiana, it’s over,” he told Indiana voters Sunday. “I knocked out 17 people. I mean, the two last ones, they're like hanging by their fingertips. They’re choking, don't let me fall, don't let me fall,” Trump said, miming the candidates hanging on for dear life.

--The Stop Trump movement is in trouble. “Indiana is a ‘winner-take-most’ state,’ meaning that whoever triumphs can expect to grab most of the delegates,” Philip Bump writes. “Win the state, you get 30. Win any of the nine congressional districts, you get three apiece. So let's assume Trump wins the state by 10 points and, therefore, wins all of the districts. That's a gain of 57 delegates, 100 percent of the total, well above the 56 percent or of remaining delegates that he needs clinch the nomination Put another way: If Trump sweeps Indiana, he needs to win only about half of the remaining available delegates. Since the winner of Republican contests usually wins a higher percentage of delegates than he does percentage of the votes, that's easier than it sounds.”

-- Cruz picked up the endorsement of former California governor Pete Wilson: “The endorsement from the moderate former governor … showcases the extent to which senior members of the GOP leadership remain opposed to a Trump nomination,” writes Jose A. DelReal. “Wilson homed in on Trump’s weaknesses during his speech … referring indirectly to Trump as a ‘wild card’ and questioning the type of Supreme Court justices the billionaire would appoint to the court as president. Perhaps most urgently, Wilson raised concerns about the impact that Trump could have on down-ticket races around the country that could decide control of the Senate.”


Trump got burned again in this weekend's "shadow primary," losing delegates to Cruz in Arizona, Virginia, and Missouri. Politico’s Kyle Cheney reports:

  • In ARIZONA, the businessman lost 40 of 55 delegate slots open for grabs, despite his dominant performance in the state’s March 22 primary. Cruz again emerged with the bulk of the delegate haul – causing Trump backers to complain the process was “rigged.”
  • In VIRGINIA, where Trump beat Cruz by a two-to-one margin in March, Cruz won 10 out of 13 delegates on the ballot.
  • And Cruz captured 18 of 24 MISSOURI delegates, despite Trump’s earlier primary victory. 

But the day wasn’t a total loss for Trump. Things went more smoothly for the GOP front-runner in Alaska and Massachusetts, Ed O'Keefe reports:

  • “In ALASKA, state party leaders picked a slate of 28 delegates — 12 for Cruz, 11 for Trump and five for Rubio, who has dropped out of the race but was allowed to keep his delegates, for now.”
  • In MASSACHUSETTS, Republicans met in the state's nine congressional districts and elected at least 22 of Trump's 27 preferred candidates. (He won 49 percent of the vote in the state's primary.)

-- And Cruz’s support appears to be softening among the delegates he courted. As NYT’s Jeremy Peters reports, the “never” in the “Never Trump” movement is beginning to look more like a “reluctantly”: “It turns out that delegates — like ordinary voters — are susceptible to shifts in public opinion,” Peters writes. “And as the gravitational pull of Mr. Trump’s recent primary landslides draws more Republicans toward him, Mr. Cruz’s support among the party’s 2,472 convention delegates is softening, threatening his hopes of preventing Mr. Trump’s nomination by overtaking him in a floor fight”:

  • Before last weekend’s PENNSYLVANIA contest, Cruz’s campaign boasted that it had 69 people devoted to acquiring as many as possible of the state’s 54 unbound delegates. Cruz only won three.
  • In NORTH DAKOTA -- where Cruz declared victory with “a vast majority” of the state’s 28 unbound delegates -- his support appears to be weakening. Delegates said he really only had about “a dozen firm commitments to begin with.” And some of them appear to be wavering as he falls behind Trump. “I’m not in the anybody-but-Trump campaign,” said Jim Poolman, a delegate from North Dakota. “I’m in the anybody-but-Hillary campaign.”

 “The changes of heart have little to do with any epiphany about Mr. Trump’s electability or his campaign’s recent efforts to cast him in a more serious light … Instead, delegates and party officials said, they are ready to move on and unite behind someone so that Republicans are not hopelessly divided heading into the general election. This gradual acquiescence points up a larger flaw with Mr. Cruz’s strategy of being the last non-Trump candidate standing in a field that began at 17: It was never as much about him as about Republicans grasping for a more palatable alternative to Mr. Trump.”


-- Trump doubled down on his “woman card” attacks on Clinton, maintaining that her success primarily stems from being female. “She’s done a lousy job in so many ways – even women don’t like her,’’ he said on "Fox News Sunday". And the GOP front-runner laid out plans to rerun Bernie Sanders's attacks against her, saying criticism leveled by the Vermont senator was “a lot worse.” Sanders "said that she almost shouldn't be allowed to run, that she's not qualified to run and she's not capable," Trump said. "I'm going to use that. We'll have that teed up ... What he said is incredible. It's a sound bite.”

-- And Clinton responded to Trump’s jabs, telling CNN’s Jake Tapper “I have a lot of experience dealing with men who sometimes get off the reservation in the way they behave and how they speak.” The former secretary of state also repeated her line from her Tuesday night victory speech, saying if the "women's card means sticking up for women, ‘deal me in.’”

-- Cruz refused to say whether he would support Trump as Republican nominee: On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Cruz dodged repeated questions as to whether he would back Trump, saying he believes the party is headed to a contested convention. “I am going to beat Trump. We are headed to a contested convention, and we're going to win, and I'm not willing to concede this country,” Cruz said. “And let the record show you tried very, very hard to get me to commit to supporting Trump,” he added.

-- Cruz argued that Boehner’s labeling of him as “Lucifer” showed he is a political outsider: On CBS’s “Face the Nation,” the Texas senator argued that the former Speaker’s excoriating comments show he is the “real” outsider to the Washington establishment. "Boehner praised [Hillary] Clinton and he praised Trump," Cruz said. "If you think Boehner is the kind of leader you want in the Republican Party, then Trump is your candidate. If you think Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are the kind of leaders you want, Trump is your candidate …

  • And Sen. Lindsey Graham said “Lucifer may be the only person Trump can beat in a general election.” The South Carolina lawmaker ratcheted up his anti-Trump rhetoric on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” saying “when it comes to women and Hispanics, Trump polls like Lucifer …” Graham also hit Trump on foreign policy, predicting his isolationism “will lead to another 9/11.

-- CIA Director John Brennan defended the government’s decision to withhold 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission Report, saying the classified pages contain “inaccurate” information that would give ammunition to those who want to tie attacks to Saudi Arabia. "This chapter was kept out because of concerns about sensitive methods, [and] investigative actions,” Brennan said on NBC's "Meet the Press.” "I think the 9/11 Commission took that joint inquiry … and followed through on the investigation and then came out with a very clear judgment that there was no evidence that ... Saudi government as an institution or Saudi officials or individuals had provided financial support to al Qaeda,” he said.


-- Bernie Sanders vowed to take his presidential campaign all the way to the party’s July convention in Philadelphia, saying he will consider the primary “contested” unless Clinton gets enough pledged delegates before July. “It is virtually impossible for Secretary Clinton to reach the majority of convention delegates by June 14 — that is the last day that a primary will be held — with pledged delegates alone. ... She will need superdelegates to take her over the top at the convention in Philadelphia,” he told reporters at the National Press Club in Washington.

-- The Vermont senator urged superdelegates to reconsider their allegiances to Clinton: “They’re going to have to go into their hearts, and they are going to have to ask, do they want the second strongest candidate to run against Trump or do they want the strongest candidate?” he said. (John Wagner)

 “Even if Sanders were to manage to flip every Clinton superdelegate in the 11 states on his tally sheet,” Wagner writes, “and even if he were to win every uncommitted superdelegate in those states -- both impossible scenarios -- he would pick up only 77 superdelegates. “When asked about that, Sanders said he also would be relying heavily on other superdelegates who determine that he would have a better chance of defeating Trump in the general election.”

-- And Sanders’ fundraising has dropped off sharply. The Vermont senator reported a $25.8 million fundraising haul from April, falling about $20 million short of the $46 million he posted in March, (John Wagner)

-- Meanwhile, Clinton took her general-election playbook against Trump for a test drive with one of her core constituencies: black voters. From Amber Phillips: “While addressing thousands of supporters at an NAACP dinner, she sharply contrasted President Obama's White House -- still incredibly popular among black Americans -- with some of Trump's recent missteps on race.” Clinton mentioned Trump’s ties to the birther movement, as well as his struggle to disavow former Klan leader David Duke. “We cannot let Barack Obama’s legacy fall into Trump’s hands,” she said, receiving a standing ovation.


-- “Inside the rocky billionaire bromance of Donald Trump and Carl Icahn,” by Drew Harwell: “As Trump hunted for a deal that would help him keep part of the bankrupt Atlantic City casino empire he’d built, fellow Queens-born billionaire Carl Icahn mounted an aggressive counterattack. Icahn pushed in 2010 to wrest control of Trump Entertainment Resorts, backing lawyers who argued that one of Trump’s most prized assets — his brand — was a ‘disadvantage’ that may no longer have been ‘synonymous with business acumen, high quality … and enormous success.’ These days, the tension has given way to apparent harmony. As Trump runs for president, he often fawns over the elite investor 11 years his senior, saying Icahn is one of ‘the great businessmen of the world’ … For Trump, who has taken pride in punching back hard at his attackers, his rapport with Icahn shows a side of the brash real estate tycoon that Americans rarely see: a willingness to show deference to someone who once insulted his business and who has, by many measures, been more successful.”

-- “At one border park, separated immigrant families hug across a steel divide,” by Yanan Wang: “Gabriela Esparza has a standing date on most Saturdays to talk to her mother, on a schedule that never changes. She makes her way toward a small yard surrounded by steel mesh and waits until 10 a.m., when a U.S. Border Patrol agent opens a heavy gate. Her mother is on the other side, in Tijuana, Mexico, waiting to see her daughter through the checkered grateThis pen is Friendship Park, the only federally established binational meeting place along the 2,000-mile border between the United States and Mexico. To the Border Patrol, Friendship Park is a goodwill gesture. And to the families that arrive week after week, many from distant parts of the state and without the necessary documents to freely cross the border, a trip to Friendship Park is best described as ‘agridulce,’ the Spanish word for bittersweet.” “It’s like having a piece of chocolate and not being able to eat it,” said local photographer Maria Teresa Fernandez.”

--Incredible story: "Six children orphaned after both parents die 24 hours apart," by Peter Holley: Jennifer Norsworthy, 40, of Huntsville, Ala., was killed by a surprise blood clot. Her huband, Toby, grief-stricken, apparently fell to a heart attack less than a day later. "With Jennifer and Toby suddenly gone, family members have turned their attention to the couple’s children, ages 6 to 20. They have traveled to the family’s home in Harvest, Ala., — just outside Huntsville — from as far away as Maine, California and Alaska, the [Huntsville, Ala.,] Times reported."



Social media was consumed with White House Correspondents' Dinner chatter. Check out these photos from the weekend:

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Chicago PD in the house #whcd

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Highlight of the night. @wolfblitzer #whcd

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Lady Mary. And my night is made.

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A brawl broke out between reporters for Fox News and the Huffington Post:

Some of the best lines of the night:

Larry Wilmore's use of the n-word to refer to Obama hit a nerve:

Others were less troubled by the whole routine:

Here's a throwback from the 1920s:

Not everyone is a fan of #NerdProm. Here's a sample of the criticism:

Claire McCaskill saw Hamilton:


-- L.A. Times, “Donald Trump became a unifying force on May Day in downtown L.A.,” by Brittny Mejia , Garrett Therolf and Angel Jennings: “Thousands of people took to the streets in the annual May Day marches in downtown L.A. and Boyle Heights on Sunday to advocate for immigration reform, police accountability and an end to racism. The diverse array of protesters shared one thing in common: all were offended by something Trump had said. The Republican presidential candidate literally loomed over one of the rallies in the form of a giant balloon effigy carrying a Ku Klux Klan hood. "He's plastic, he doesn't have a heart, he doesn't have a brain," organizer Francisco Moreno said, [gesturing] at the swaying effigy. ‘We're not going to vote for Trump!’ Elmer Deleon, a 37-year-old mechanic … was one of the many immigrant protesters who said they were galvanized into marching by Trump's campaign for president. Deleon said he experienced a political awakening this year as he listened to Trump's criticisms of immigrants. ‘All we want to do is work,’ Deleon said. ‘We start from the bottom and try to build something.’”


“Confederate Memorial In Louisville To Be Removed,” from HuffPost: “A controversial statue in Louisville honoring Confederate soldiers will be taken down. The statue has been on the grounds of the University of Louisville since 1895, when it was dedicated … as ‘A Tribute to the Rank and File of the Armies of the South’ and ‘To Our Confederate Dead.’ [But] not everyone is happy with the move. Everett Corley, a Republican candidate for the House of Representatives, plans to go to court to block the removal. ‘It is a political version of book burning,’ Corley [said] … ‘And the fact is, I’m not in favor of book burning.’



"Federally Funded Groups Take Part In Anti-Trump May Day Rallies,” from the Daily Caller: “Several organizations that receive federal funds to help permanent residents obtain citizenship in order to vote took part in L.A.’s May Day rallies, where voting against Trump was the theme. The main organizer of Sunday’s event is the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), a group that in 2014 received $250,000 from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to help immigrants from Mexico and El Salvador complete the citizenship registration process. Two other groups that currently receive USCIS grants [also] took part in the May Day event … It is unclear if [they] violated their agreements with the federal government by outwardly opposing a presidential candidate.”


On the campaign trail: Sanders, Trump and Cruz are in Indiana. Here's the rundown:

  • Clinton: Ashland, Ky.; Williamson, W.Va.
  • Sanders: Evansville, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis.
  • Trump: Carmel, South Bend.
  • Cruz: Osceola, Marion, Bloomington.

At the White House: President Obama is interviewed by local television anchors.

On Capitol Hill: The Senate convenes at 2 p.m. for a pro forma session. The House is not in session.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Trump went after Heidi Cruz, again, for apparently stumbling over the fact that her husband is an immigrant, when she was referring to Ted's dad: "Heidi Cruz -- nice woman," Trump began. "She said this one: 'My husband's an immigrant!' He's an immigrant! That's what I've been trying to say!"


-- Warmer temps with some possible showers on the horizon. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: "Areas of fog are likely this morning but we should break out of it as strong flow from the south mixes the air. Some sunshine should gradually emerge and, assuming it does, temperatures should race through the 60s and 70s up to near 80 degrees by mid-afternoon. Showers and thunderstorm chances edge upwards as the afternoon wears on, increasing from 20 percent (slight) early on to 50 percent (possible) by sunset."

-- A CSX freight train carrying hazardous material derailed near the Rhode Island Avenue Metro Station in Northeast Washington. Officials said the derailment did not cause injuries and the leak has been contained. (Faiz Siddiqui, Michael Smith and Peter Hermann )

-- However, service on MARC and Amtrak remains “severely disrupted” due to the derailment. The Post’s Dr. Gridlock has the scoop on DMV delays:

  • MARC will not operate full service on the Brunswick Line: The MARC Brunswick Line will run as far south as Silver Spring. From there, passengers can transfer to Metro at no charge to continue their commute into D.C.
  • The Amtrak line from Washington to Chicago will not run Monday, but the Northeast Corridor lines will run as normal.
  • The MTA Commuter Bus plans to add additional service to the 505 line, from the Hagerstown area and 515 bus line from Frederick. Both lines run to the Shady Grove Metro station.

-- Ken Cuccinelli said he will not run for Virginia governor in 2017, scrambling the Republican contest and opening the door for a far-right conservative to vie for the nomination. (Jenna Portnoy)

-- Montgomery Police are investigating a collision that killed a pedestrian in Rockville. The man was reportedly struck as he attempted to cross an intersection in his wheelchair. (Fredrick Kunkle)

-- Federal safety inspectors uncovered Metro rail defects that were overlooked until the FTA took over safety oversight of the agency in October. Asked whether Metro was simply not doing the inspections, or instead was failing to do them thoroughly, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx answered, “Yes” — implying that both were true. (Robert McCartney and Lori Aratani)



Glenn Beck mocked Trump by covering his face with crushed-up cheetos:

What are Obama's plans after the White House? He gave a few clues in this funny video (look for John Boehner's cameo):

Here's a recap of Obama's Correspondents' Dinner speech:

Watch Larry Wilmore's complete remarks here:

Allison Janney -- a.k.a. C.J. Cregg from the West Wing -- crashed the White House briefing on Friday:

Video from Jacksonville, Fla. shows a police officer striking a handcuffed woman:

Check out this footage of a working hoverbike, created by a plumber/inventor in the U.K.: