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First Read: “Yes, Hillary Clinton is just 72 delegates away from crossing the 2,383 magic number needed for a majority of delegates to win the Democratic convention. Yes, she’s likely to hit that milestone before polls even close in California (due to the New Jersey primary and its 126 pledged delegates). And, yes, even if she loses in California by 10 points, her lead over Bernie Sanders in pledged delegates would still be twice the size of Obama’s lead over Clinton in 2008.”
“But here’s the reason why Clinton needs to beat Sanders in California next week: She doesn’t want to give him any legitimate rationale to remain in the race beyond June 7 or June 14 (the final primary in DC). Why? Because… the moment Sanders exits the race, her poll numbers against Trump will increase… Maybe that’s why Clinton has canceled an event in New Jersey this week to spend more time in California.”
A new Hoover Institution poll shows Clinton leading Sanders by 13 points, 51% to 38%.
A new Franklin Pierce University-Boston Herald poll in New Hampshire shows Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton tied at 44% each.
The U.S. Senate race is also dead even, with Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) facing a tough challenge from Gov. Maggie Hassan (D).
“Donald Trump trails Hillary Clinton by months, even years, in using fast-evolving digital campaigning to win over voters,” the AP reports.
“The presumptive Republican presidential nominee has dismissed the science that defines 21st century political campaigns, a tool that President Obama used effectively in winning two terms and the Clinton campaign has worked on for nearly a year. And while it is too early to tell whether the late start signals trouble for Trump, it illustrates the difference between Trump’s proudly outsider campaign and the institutional knowledge within Clinton’s.”
Weekly Standard Editor William Kristol wrote on Twitter over the weekend that there will be an “impressive” independent candidate on the ballot in November with “a strong team and a real chance” to defeat Donald Trump.
Trump responded: “Bill Kristol has been wrong for 2yrs — an embarrassed loser, but if the GOP can’t control their own, then they are not a party. Be tough, R’s!”
He added that an independent candidate would mean conservatives can “say good bye to the Supreme Court.”
“Donald Trump claims a net worth of more than $10 billion and income of $557 million. But he appears to get there only by over-valuing properties and ignoring his expenses.”
“Politico spoke with more than a dozen financial experts and Trump’s fellow multi-millionaires about the presumptive Republican nominee’s financial statement. Their conclusion: the real estate magnate’s bottom line – what he actually puts in his own pocket – could be much lower than he suggests. Some financial analysts said this, and a very low tax rate, is why Trump won’t release his tax returns.”
“Some people have said our nominee is too controversial and that will cause you problems. But by the way, the Democratic nominee is pretty controversial, too. The negatives on both these candidates at the moment are stunningly high. It’ll be interesting to see whose negatives are the highest.”
— Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), quoted by USA Today, adding that it would be a “mistake” for Republicans to distance themselves from Trump.
Washington Post: “At Clinton’s New York campaign headquarters, her advisers are grappling with how to convince swing voters that a former secretary of state, senator and first lady who owns a home in Washington, has cultivated deep ties to Wall Street and has played a starring role in the political scene for a quarter-century will usher in change.”
“Central to Clinton’s strategy for the fall campaign is to disqualify Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, as too dangerous and risky to be commander in chief. She began this in earnest over the past 10 days.”
“But in a campaign season shaped by voter fury, Clinton’s team and her Democratic allies believe that assailing Trump alone may not secure the White House for their candidate. Clinton must be seen as a credible leader for middle-class Americans exasperated by the gridlocked government and an economic system that they feel has failed them.”
“Ted Cruz’s associates insist he’s returning to the Senate as the same uncompromising, hell-bent conservative he’s always been. But one thing is different, and it’s glaring: The senator who made enemies with fellow Republican senators and bragged about it to voters now wants to play nice — or at least his version of nice — with his colleagues,” Politico reports.
“And the first step to improving his rancorous relationships, the Texas senator’s allies say, will be to help them keep their Senate seats. The freshman senator wants to return to the campaign trail this fall as a conservative surrogate for Republicans aiming to turn out the GOP base, they say.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to USA Today about Cruz: “I would say he has maybe one follower on a good day.”
“If the Hillary Clinton campaign’s attacks on Donald Trump feel a little familiar, it’s because they appear to be straight from Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign against Mitt Romney,” Politico reports.
“That push was successful, as Clinton’s allies are quick to point out. But it also runs the risk of being a little too conventional for a candidate as unconventional as Trump, leaving some former Obama operatives and Never Trump Republicans eager for reassurance that the Romney approach isn’t the only arrow in the quiver.”
Donald Trump “relishes the spotlight of live television. Hillary Clinton has long recoiled from it. Now, the television news industry is wrestling with how to balance fairness, credibility and the temptations of sky-high ratings as it prepares for a presidential matchup like none other,” the New York Times reports.
“Mrs. Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, is not absent from cable news; she called in to CNN and MSNBC last week to rebut attacks from her rival. But she remains leery of TV’s unscripted nature, appearing far less often than Mr. Trump and irking some bookers who complain about the difficulties of luring her on the air.”
“Hillary Clinton has upended her campaign schedule, adding more stops in California, in an effort to prevent an embarrassing loss there to Bernie Sanders, her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination,” the Washington Post reports.
“Clinton originally planned to campaign for two days this week in New Jersey, but at the last minute canceled an event on Thursday and will instead return to California for a five-day swing. The schedule change comes as Sanders has barnstormed California, not leaving the state in more than a week. Meanwhile, a recent poll found the race closing significantly. Clinton’s lead over Sanders had narrowed to just two points.”
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Bloomberg: “Trump has benefited from free coverage from news media in a way that no modern candidate has (estimated value: $3 billion). His campaign spent only about $19 million on TV ads in the primaries… That was far less than Jeb Bush, whose super-PAC blew through $70 million. Trump has also been a shrewd user of social media, where he maintains a dialogue with his supporters.”
“But his approach, based largely on his celebrity, is one that can work only for him. For everyone else, TV ads are still the preferred means of reaching the most potential voters. Presidential candidates and super-PACs spent more than $400 million this primary season. Total TV ad spending by all campaigns, including state and local races, is expected to reach $4.4 billion… eclipsing the record $3.8 billion spent in 2012.”