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Politics & Government

Cruz, Kasich Try To Prevent Trump From Sweeping New York

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Donald Trump could end today two-thirds of the way to being the Republican presidential nominee. He has a huge lead in New York state polls, and a big victory would put him a lot closer to clinching the nomination. But even with their hopes dimmed today, Trump's rivals, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, do see a long path ahead and plenty of chances for an open convention. Here's NPR's Sarah McCammon.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: On the eve of his home state's primary, Donald Trump rallied supporters, but not in his hometown of New York City. Instead, he chose an 18,000-seat arena in Buffalo.

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DONALD TRUMP: You know, when they said we're going to take the arena up in Buffalo, they said, oh, don't do that. It's a massive arena. Look at this place. Just take a look at this place - unbelievable.

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MCCAMMON: From the center of what's usually a hockey rink, Trump went after his rivals as bad for New York. He reminded the crowd of Texas Senator Ted Cruz's attacks on what he called New York values and its vote against Hurricane Sandy relief funding. As he has before, Trump attacked Ohio Governor John Kasich's support the North American Free Trade Agreement while in Congress.

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TRUMP: No New Yorker can vote for Ted Cruz. And no New Yorker can vote for Kasich when he was one that approved NAFTA. He voted in favor of NAFTA, which has been a disaster for your state and for this country.

MCCAMMON: Kasich and Cruz are trying to keep Trump from sweeping the state. That would require Trump to get more than half of the votes statewide and in each congressional district. Kasich spent his day making a final pitch to New Yorkers.

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JOHN KASICH: So it's nice to be here in Schenectady. No, I knew I was in Schenectady because I've been saying it all day.

MCCAMMON: Meanwhile, Cruz has been looking beyond New York.

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TED CRUZ: Now, Maryland votes just over a week from now. Maryland is a battleground.

MCCAMMON: Cruz held no public events in New York, instead campaigning near Baltimore. Like Kasich, Cruz is struggling in New York polls. But he's coming off a week where his sophisticated delegate operation gained ground in several states. Trump has been trying to counter that by hiring staffers who know the delegate process. There have been numerous reports of internal tensions as Trump transforms his campaign into a more traditional political operation. But he told supporters in Buffalo he's positioning himself to win the nomination outright.

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TRUMP: It's going to be interesting to see what happens because I'm saying that we're going to hit the 1,237, I believe.

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TRUMP: Because New York is looking great, but you got to go and vote.

MCCAMMON: After a big loss in Wisconsin two weeks ago and a string of bad headlines, Trump is hoping for a big win today that would once again make it look like he's on a path to victory. Sarah McCammon, NPR News, Buffalo, N.Y. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.