Indiana takes centre stage as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump look to seal wins
Published 01/05/2016 | 08:06
The 2016 presidential campaign rumbled into Indiana on Sunday focused on Tuesday's critical primary, even as front-runners Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump itched to fully engage in the one-on-one battle they cast as inevitable.
But the underdogs in both parties made clear they had no plans to exit the race, at least until the Indiana results come in - and perhaps longer.
"We're going the distance," Trump rival Ted Cruz said on ABC's This Week, arguing that Mr Trump will not be able to get the majority of delegates required to clinch the nomination. "We're going into Cleveland, and it will be a contested convention."
On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders insisted that his path to the nomination depends on the unlikely prospect of flipping superdelegates who are now committed to Mrs Clinton.
Superdelegates can vote for either candidate. The former secretary of state is still 91% of the way to the nomination, according to The Associated Press. She is 218 delegates away from winning the 2,383 need to clinch the nomination.
"We have an uphill climb, no question about it," he said, before hopping a plane to Indiana to continue the contest.
And so the stalemate between the front-runners and their struggling rivals continued.
The frustration was dramatic on the Republican side.
Campaigning in Terre Haute, Indiana, Mr Trump again reiterated that he believes the Republican race is over, something he has been saying for days even though he has not secured the 1,237 delegates required to win the nomination.
He groused that Mr Cruz and Ohio governor John Kasich should still get out because they are forcing him into "wasting time" that he could otherwise spend raising "money for the Senate races".
That overt offer of fundraising is new for Mr Trump, incentive for Republican leaders to help push Mr Cruz and Mr Kasich out of the race.
Senior adviser Paul Manafort further telegraphed the message Sunday on CBS' Face the Nation, saying that Mr Trump is looking to strengthen ties to "leaders of the Republican Party and various committees to help raise money for them".
Mrs Clinton, in Indianapolis, did not bother mentioning Mr Sanders' name. Instead, she criticised Mr Trump for embracing economic policies that have left everyday workers behind. And she took aim at both Mr Trump and Mr Cruz for wanting to "slash taxes on the wealthy" and for using "dangerous" rhetoric about Muslims.
Mr Cruz was not surrendering to the delegate maths, even after a tough week in which former house speaker John Boehner called him "Lucifer in the flesh" and "a miserable son of a bitch".
Mr Cruz pointed out on several political talk shows that Indiana governor Mike Pence and former California governor Pete Wilson have endorsed him and that Mr Trump cannot get a majority of Republicans to back him.
The Cruz campaign has put an emphasis on Indiana and a loss here could be perceived as crippling to his campaign, which is perhaps why the candidate himself has shifted to talking about competing in next month's California primary and beyond.
Mr Trump dominated the talk show conversation on Sunday. On ABC, the first question posed to former CIA director and defence secretary Robert Gates was about what a Trump candidacy would mean for the nation's national security.
"I think based on the speech, you'd have somebody who doesn't understand the difference between a business negotiation and a negotiation with sovereign powers," Mr Gates, who has worked for both Republican and Democratic presidents, replied.
"He doesn't understand that there's a give-and-take in international relations that is different than in the business community."
On CBS, Senator Lindsey Graham, who has endorsed Mr Cruz even though he has said he loathes the Texas senator, said Mr Trump's foreign policy amounts to "isolationism. It will lead to another 9/11".
Mr Graham added on CBS: "Hillary Clinton is an incredibly flawed candidate, but she will mop the floor with Donald Trump."
Meanwhile, Mr Sanders was facing a new round of questions about why he was even still running.
"It's difficult, it's not impossible," Mr Sanders said on CBS's Face The Nation of his increasingly bleak challenge to Mrs Clinton.