NYCity Lens on the Campaign Trail: A Diary

As the N.Y. presidential primary approaches, our reporters follow the candidates

Bernie Fires Up the Crowd in Brooklyn

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Bernie Sanders interacted with his supporters after his speech (Ang Li/ NYCityLens)

APRIL 17 – Two days before the New York Primary, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders came back to Brooklyn, where he was born and raised, to hold a rally to drum up last minute support.

At the rally in Prospect Park on Sunday, April 17, Sanders reinforced his Brooklyn roots, telling the crowd that he grew up in Flatbush and used to come to the park as a child. He said he never thought he would ever speak to thousands of people here. The crowd ate it up.

“We are here for a hometown boy,” actor Danny DeVito said during the campaign event, saying that he endorsed Sanders’ path all the way to “Pennsylvania Avenue.”

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Bernie Sanders interacted with his supporters after his speech (Ang Li/ NYCityLens)

During his speech, the candidate touched on many issues, including improving public housing and water system infrastructure, increasing the minimum wage and climate change. Thousands filled the meadow near the Nethermead section in the park. “Together we are going to transform our national priorities. We are going to rebuild the infrastructure, whether it is the public housing in Brooklyn or water system in Flint, Michigan,” said Sanders,  mentioning his visit to a public housing project in Brownsville.

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Katherine Bains at Bernie Sanders rally in Brooklyn (Ang Li/ NYCityLens)

Katherine Bains, a physician of Indian descent from Long Island, said she agrees with Sanders that everyone should have access to health care and higher education. Bains said she doesn’t want her teenage daughter, who is 14 years old, to have to decide against going to her school of choice because of the cost of taking on a student loan.

Bains, who also teaches part-time, said she knows students who are in that situation and she believes Sanders could change the status quo. “It’s about time that Americans emphasize those things. Bernie Sanders is the candidate who is addressing the issues,” Bains said.

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Kenneth Swaby at Bernie Sanders rally in Brooklyn (Ang Li/ NYCityLens)

Kenneth Swaby, who has been living in Brooklyn for 23 years, was excited about his first interaction with the Brooklyn-born candidate. Though he doesn’t think that Sanders will be able to change all the issues, he believes the candidate will try his best to make the nation better.

“The things he is going to do will help all the people, all the minorities,” he said, “A rising tide lifts all ships, right?”

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Cary Curran and her children at Bernie Sanders rally in Brooklyn (Ang Li/ NYCityLens)

Not everyone was gung-ho for Sanders. Some Brooklynites who attended the rally said that they still had not made up their minds. Cary Curran, an actress and single mother of two, for example, said she came to listen to Sanders’s speech because she did not know that much about his policies. She is not sure she’ll vote for him yet, but she is determined to not choose Hillary Clinton because of Hillary’s support of the Iraq war.

Curran chased her children while waiting in line to enter the venue of the rally. Her son, Cool Curran, 6, asked, “Who is gonna be the president?” Curran laughed and said, “Bernie Sanders maybe.”

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Aimee Wright at Bernie Sanders rally in Brooklyn (Ang Li/ NYCityLens)

The rally ended with Sanders walking across the stage and shaking his supporters hands. “He has been walking the walk for decades,” said Sanders supporter Aimee Wright, a student from Toronto. “He is a really cool dude and I would like to see him in power.” – Ang Li

 

 

A Trump Brunch in Staten Island—a Republican Stronghold—Draws Hundreds

Kerry Cosgrove, 23, could not get to the tickets before they sold out, but showed his support outside the hotel, nevertheless. Photo by Noreyana Fernando/NYCityLens

Kerry Cosgriff, 23, could not get to the tickets before they sold out, but showed his support outside the hotel, nevertheless. (Noreyana Fernando/NYCityLens)

APRIL 17­—Each morning, for the past 30 years, Francesco Puleo has woken up at 6 a.m., dropped his son off at the school bus stop, and gone to knead, bake, and sell pizzas at his pizzeria in Staten Island.

In 1987, the Italian immigrant came to America, a place that at the time was a land of opportunity, he said. “Now, nobody is dreaming of America,” he said. “The government killed this country, so we need somebody who is not a politician.”

As Puleo went about delivering his pizzas on a Sunday afternoon, the person who he believes is the answer to America’s problems was visiting his hometown just a few miles away. “I believe in Trump,” Puleo said, without batting an eyelid. “He will help the rich, the poor, the middle class.”

With polls pointing to a landslide New York State victory for Donald Trump on the Republican side of the primary elections set for April 19, hundreds gathered at a Staten Island hotel on Sunday morning for a $150 brunch—and a chance to see the New York City native and Republican frontrunner in person.

Francesco Puleo, an Italian immigrant and small business-owner in Staten Island, believes Donald Trump can help America's poor, middle-class and rich. Puleo and his wife registered to vote in New York's April 19 primary. Noreyana Fernando/NYCityLens

Francesco Puleo, an Italian immigrant and small business-owner in Staten Island, believes Donald Trump can help America’s poor, middle class, and rich. (Noreyana Fernando/NYCityLens)

Puleo could not make it to the brunch, but is registered to vote in Tuesday’s primary. And both he and his wife— a schoolteacher who was born in in Colombia—will be voting for Trump. However, Puleo said, his stepdaughter likely will not: “She says Trump doesn’t like women.”

The Republican Party in Staten Island—the borough that is a New York City stronghold for the party—hosted supporters in the Hilton Garden Inn Hotel on South Avenue. About 1,500 people attended, making it the biggest crowd in this hotel’s history, according to Bill D’Ambrosio, vice chairman of the Republican Party in Staten Island. “Mr. Trump was absolutely impressed with the turnout,” DiAmbrosio said. “He plays to much larger crowds but this room was the biggest venue in Staten Island.”

 

The $150 brunch at the Staten Island Hilton Garden Inn drew about 1,500 people, according to the Staten Island Republican Party. Photo by Noreyana Fernando/NYCityLens

The $150 brunch at the Staten Island Hilton Garden Inn drew about 1,500 people, according to the Staten Island GOP. (Noreyana Fernando/NYCityLens)

As well dressed supporters sat down to steak lunches, crowds of people also gathered outside the hotel to show their loyalty to Trump. Kerry Cosgriff was one of them. The 23-year-old college dropout said he had wanted to buy tickets to the brunch last week but they were sold out immediately.

“I never really was into politics; I paid attention to politics, but I only got into politics since Donald Trump,” Cosgriff said. “

Earlier in the day, Trump addressed the media, and took several jabs at reporters’ coverage of his campaign. When asked whether the absence of rallies in New York City was for fear or protests, Trump responded that “Because the polls are so good and so strong [in New York City], I really want to focus on areas where they know me but they don’t know me as well.”

Following the brunch, Trump headed to a campaign stop in Poughkeepsie, just hours before Hillary Clinton visited Snug Harbor, Staten Island to make her own pitch. Across the waters over in Brooklyn, Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders held his own rally, which drew thousands of supporters to Prospect Park.

This weekend of intense campaigning came in the run-up to the April 19 primary in New York State, which for the first time in a long time, could play a key role in deciding a presidential nominee. — Noreyana Fernando

The story has been updated to reflect a factual clarification by Mr. Cosgriff.

 

Five Things We Wish We Hadn’t Heard on the Campaign Trail

APRIL 16 – Over the course of a months long campaign to earn their party’s respective nominations, the candidates have been a pool of more than a few head scratching sound bites. Here are some of our favorite blunders, in reverse order, to come from the mouths of the remaining contenders:

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

5) Bernie Sanders

“I am the only candidate running for president who is not a billionaire.”

During the first Democratic debate on October 13, 2015 on CNN, Sanders said that he was the only candidate who did not have a mass fortune. Although Donald Trump is in fact a billionaire and the Clintons have cashed in their fair share of money, it’s safe to say that neither Ted Cruz nor John Kasich have a net worth in the billions. Not even in the multi-millions.

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(AP Photo/Matthew Sumner)

4) Hillary Clinton

“I think being the first woman president would be quite a change from the presidents we’ve had up until this point, including President Obama.”

Also from the first Democratic debate, moderator Anderson Cooper asked, “Secretary Clinton, how would you not be a third term of President Obama?” Clinton’s answer: as a woman, she, of course, was different than the current president.

John Kasich speaks during Republican presidential debate at Milwaukee Theatre, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

(AP Photo/Morry Gash)

3) John Kasich

“Don’t go to parties where there’s a lot of alcohol. OK? Don’t do that.”

At a town hall in Watertown on Friday, a young female college student asked Kasich how as president, he would make her “feel safer and more secure regarding sexual violence, harassment and rape.” Kasich after a minute or two offered this piece of advice although, speaking to reporters after the event, rejected the claim that he was blaming victims of sexual violence.

Donald Trump speaks during the family leadership summit in Ames, Iowa Saturday Aug. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Justin Hayworth)

(AP Photo/Justin Hayworth)

2) Donald Trump

“Look at those hands. Are they small hands? And [Rubio] referred to my hands—if they are small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there is no problem. I guarantee you.”

On February 28, Marco Rubio was mad about the New York billionaire always calling him “Little Marco” and retorted, “And you know what they say about men with small hands? You can’t trust them.” Trump took the time during the March 3 debate on Fox News to, literally, hold up his hands and defend the size of a certain body part.

(AP)

(Joe Skipper/AP)

1) Ted Cruz

“There is no substantive-due-process right to stimulate one’s genitals for non-medical purposes unrelated to procreation or outside of an interpersonal relationship.”

Mother Jones recently reported that back in 2007, Ted Cruz, working on behalf of then-Attorney General Greg Abbot, filed a 76-page brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals in defense of a Texas ban on the sale of dildos and other sex toys. Not only did the brief argue that Americans had no right to masturbate, but also that the use of sex toys was equal to “hiring a willing prostitute or engaging in consensual bigamy.” Ok, he said it back in 2007, but we couldn’t resist including it in our list. – Mary Kekatos

 

Trump Gets a Thumbs Up from the Post

APRIL 15 – The New York Post gave its stamp of approval to Donald Trump with an endorsement from its editorial board published Thursday night. The New York City-based tabloid issued its endorsement just days before Tuesday’s New York state primary, where various, recent polls have Trump leading by around 25 points.

The Post endorsement acknowledges Trump as a “rookie” candidate, and points to some of what it considers rookie gaffs—from his opinion that Japan and South Korea should have their own nuclear arsenals to his proposal to build the infamous wall with Mexico, and his “amateurish, divisive—and downright coarse” language.

However, the Post Editorial Board seems confident that he is “now an imperfect messenger carrying a vital message” and will become more presidential with time and experience. What they characterize as the most important thing is that he’s going against the system and giving people hope as a “plain-talking entrepreneur with outer-borough, common-sense sensibilities.” (While Trump is associated with Manhattan real estate, the mogul was born and raised in Queens.)

The New York Daily News, the Post’s main tabloid rival, on the other hand, has produced a series of front-page covers slamming and mocking Trump in recent months. Friday morning, they issued a gleeful response, headlined: “The New York Post’s logic-defying endorsement of Donald Trump is so sad that it’s actually kind of funny.” The accompanying article is written by columnist Shaun King, who has placed Trump’s campaign as one of the latest of failings of humanity, part of a list that includes the Holocaust, Rwandan genocide and 9/11.

Looks like another chapter in the rivalry between the two local publications, and another notch on Trump’s belt before the April 19 primary. – Simone McCarthy

Why did Bernie Sanders Visit the Vatican When the New York Primary is Days Away?

Bernie Sanders in Italy_AP Photos

(Angelo Carconi/ANSA via AP)

APRIL 15—Just four days before the crucial New York primary, Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders flew half way across the world to a place where he couldn’t rack up any last-minute votes.

The Vermont senator landed in Rome, Italy on Friday morning, where he sped to the Vatican past ancient buildings and through narrow streets in a motorcade with his wife, four children, and a few grandchildren. As Sanders entered the city, a dozen or so expat supporters cheered with homemade signs that read, “Rome is berning” and “Bernie 2016.”

Sanders gave a brief 15-minute speech about economic inequality and the disappearing middle class at the Pontifical Academy of Social Science, echoing his remarks on the campaign trail.

“We can say that with unregulated globalization, a world market economy built on speculative finance burst through the legal, political, and moral constraints that had once served to protect the common good,” Sanders said during his speech.

The 36-hour bite out of Sander’s campaign has been criticized by some as a political misstep during one of the most important primary elections of the cycle. But Sander’s campaign has defended the move as an opportunity to spread the senator’s message globally.

“There are some things that are above politics and this is one of those,” campaign manager Jeff Weaver told CNN. “This is an opportunity for him to speak at the Vatican on the signature works of his life.”

On Saturday, Sanders met with Pope Francis and called the moment “extraordinary.” But the liberal Jewish senator and the leader of the Catholic Church make for an odd pair in several ways and has led some to speculate that the trip was fueled by political motivations.

Though the Sanders campaign has denied this, Pope Francis squashed the notion when he spoke with reporters on the Papal plane during a trip to Lesbos, Greece later in the day.

“When I came down, I greeted him, I shook his hand and nothing more. This is called good manners and it is not getting involved in politics. If anyone thinks that greeting someone is getting involved in politics, I recommend that he look for a psychiatrist,” Pope Francis said with a laugh. — Caroline Spivack

Behind the Scenes: Debate at the Docks

APRIL 14 – Thursday’s Democratic debate was tucked discretely away in the Brooklyn Navy Yard complex, a historic shipyard-turned-industrial complex. But the 15-minute walk from the York Street F-train stop to debate territory was littered with clues about what lay within.

First was a line of nearly a dozen vans—every surface consumed by “Black Men for Bernie” decals. Then children running along the paths that criss-crossed between NYCHA apartments along Sands Road yelled to each other about Bernie and Hillary—someone had stuck them with Hillary stickers. “Are you a Bernie supporter?” one boy shouted at a couple of little girls, clutching a campaign sign.

As the imposing brick, gated entrance to the yards came into view, clumps of police officers became more evident. There, at the intersection of Sands and Navy Roads was the entrance, with its Scylla and Charybdis of Bernie and Hillary supporters. Each camp was gated into sections, which were lined by police.

Bernie supporters, accompanied by Verizon strikers who marched up from downtown Brooklyn, had home-crafted signs and were fewer and less coordinated than the highly organized Hillary contingent. Bearing shiny Hillary signs and coached into chants of “I’m with her,” the Clintonites were a unified blur of blue visuals and noise. A sole veteran in a wheelchair had pulled up out-front of the gated section, right at the entrance, in uniform and displaying Hillary signage.

At the gate, we—your NYCity Lens correspondants—were stopped by a tall man in a black suit, who asked us for our IDs. We produced them. He motioned us on to the next checkpoint, about 20 yards onward. Here was a woman with the Press List, a polished, poncho-clad CNN representative. We shook hands and showed our press presses—with the Columbia School of Journalism stickers glaring up from them as we passed them over.

She scanned the list. New York City Lens…okay.

We were there. The rep rattled off directions and pointed further inside the complex—a sprawling, surrealistic place. Huge iron smoke stacks overlook the tall, chain-link fences and the warehouse buildings on either side of the main entryway. The labyrinthine roads led past blocks of brick warehouses with numbered entrances. The wide barn doors of one warehouse were rolled open to reveal an installation fashioned out of blue Bernie Sanders signs, wood and lights.

We walked deep into the belly of the beast to find the spin room, er building. Alongside us, a stream of press, toting tripods and camera bags, followed the hazy directions and well-placed arrows. Police cars were parked to block off certain roads and official-looking black Chevys were stationed seemingly at random along the streets that led us deeper into the complex.

Three or four checkpoints and several right and left turns later, we reached the land of journalists, known, at least on our Google Maps, as “Duggal Greenhouse.” A white security tent had been lopped onto the side entrance of the huge building, where a security system was in place and the gears were moving. Three women seated at a folding table paged through guest lists (thankfully our names were on there). With our name stickers affixed to shiny CNN press pass-necklaces we were shuffled to the next station. Six security guards stood behind tables, collecting bags and passing them through the X-ray machine inside. Through the metal-detectors and into the fray, we went.

Rows upon rows of tables and chairs were each set with a complimentary tin of posh coffee and artisanal chocolate, both local Brooklyn products. Having set our eyes on a spot, we didn’t have much time before the debate started – only three hours.

By about 7:30 p.m., the room had filled up. There must have been at least 200 journalists buzzing around. Suited and glammed-up broadcasters strutted around with their camera crews in tow, others struggled to assemble their latest mobile/ live streaming apparatus and the rest struck up light conversation or sat quietly. A team from the comedy show ‘Funny or Die’ ran around doing stand-up broadcasts with gusto.CgC3CrtVIAAjxlf

Finally the television screen flashed with the start of the debate. About 3 percent of the room stood for the national anthem. And then the real work began. Two hours of solid debate to be tweeted, blogged about and analyzed. The room, publically at least, remained neutral. There was one whoop for NY1 host Errol Louis and at the desk of one journalist lay a copy of the leftwing economist Thomas Piketty’s book “Capital.” Was this a Bernie fan or perhaps someone predicting a Bernie victory?

About 10 minutes from the end, broadcasters left their seats to present on-air reaction to the tightly contested debate. The ‘spin room’ kicked in to action and the fierce inter-publication competition was palpable as journalists jostled for position awaiting the politicians and party representatives sent out to comment.

Staff members paraded their employers into the journalistic equivalent of a bear pit and lofted signs towards the roof with the names and candidate affiliations emblazoned at the top. Like bees round a honey pot, a scrum of journalists crowded round Andrew Cuomo – clearly a prized asset. We were quietly told by one lady in a suit about another prospective interview from Wisconsin: “This is a super delegate and he’s willing to talk.”

At either end of this specially allocated zone, TV journalists interviewed Tad Devine and other party bigwigs. Anderson Cooper had started his live CNN debate reaction show behind the melee.

Between the ‘spin room’ and the exit, many people were sat at their desks hurriedly filing stories, or calling in their impressions to editors. It may have been just another day on the campaign trail, but for some in the New York City media, it was the end of the centerpiece event before the voters have their say on polling day Tuesday. – Jack Goodman and Simone McCarthy

 

LIVE BLOG from #demdebate
w/ Jack Goodman and Simone McCarthy

April 14 – We are here at Brooklyn Navy Yard for the 9th(!!) Democratic debate of the primary. We’ll be live blogging HERE. Follow us for updates…

10:57 p.m. – Into the closing remarks now..

Sanders says he believes healthcare can be available to all, that higher education can be free, that the banks can be broken up and that the wealthiest in the United States can pay their fair share of taxes. He calls on the people to build a government that rules for everyone. He calls for a political revolution. Cries of “Bernie, Bernie” go up.

Clinton closes by thanking New York for electing her in the past. She said she worked to rebuild after 9/11 and fought vested powerful interests. She wants to take New York values to the White House and to break down racial, gender and homophobic barriers along the way. “I’ll work my heart out for you again.”

10:52 p.m. – Clinton says she applauds all the young people who support Sanders. But the party needs to be united. Trying to find common ground at the end here.

Sanders – We’re going to win this nomination and “obliterate” Donald Trump if he is elected.

10:49 p.m. –  Sanders said the party needs to reach out to independents to get a Democrat into the White House. He’s the right person to do that, he says. I’ve raised a “Yuge” amount of money for the party.

10:44 p.m. – If you don’t agree with Senator Sanders, to him you are a member of the establishment, says Clinton.

We need a Supreme Court Justice who will overturn Citizens United, says Sanders, to rapturous applause. And Clinton agrees that the campaign finance judgement should be changed. Where are the questions on women’s rights, asks Clinton?

10:35 p.m. – Clinton has looked strong all evening when she has recalled her experience of passing and working on legislation on a wide range of policy issues. Health to foreign policy.

10:31 p.m. – Clear point of division between the two candidates over Israel. Sanders described Israeli attacks as disproportionate, Clinton didn’t, but said precautions need to be taken.

10:16 p.m. – European countries need to pay their fair share of NATO’s defense spending, says Sanders. Not in America’s interest to leave NATO, says Clinton, but yes every country should pay up. NATO’s assistance to the United States in warfare is important. NATO helps deter Russia, she says.

Countries all over the world think Israeli attacks on Gaza are disproportionate, says pro-Israeli Sanders. Israel has a right to defend itself, says Clinton. We must try to achieve the two-state solution, she says.

Sanders: There will never be peace if the U.S. doesn’t play an evenhanded role and understand the difficulties faced by the Palestinian people. Clinton says in the past she has been fair and focused on the needs of the Palestinian people.

10:12 p.m. – Clinton says she did everything in her power including proper due diligence to help the transition in Libya. Sanders again hammers home point that you cannot fully predict the consequences of regime change.

10:06 p.m. – National security and foreign policy up next. Was Hillary partly responsible for current state of post-Gaddafi Libya?

We can’t walk away from problems in Libya, its people deserve a chance at democracy. I will help, says Clinton. Sanders: Regime change has unintentional consequences and the U.S. has experience of that in recent history. (Essentially, deposing Gaddafi was a bad idea.)

10 p.m. – Clock strikes 10 and Clinton says US needs to move beyond natural gas but to get there fracking is a necessary stop-gap.

Incrementalism is not enough, says Sanders. Clinton actively supported fracking technology around the world, he adds.

9:56 p.m. – Climate change hasn’t featured as a big policy issue this campaign. Both are having their say now. Clinton says Obama deserves applause for his work to help global environment. Sanders says Clinton backed legislation that led to increased fracking of natural gas.

9:48 p.m. – Talk moves on to mass incarceration in U.S. prisons.

Release people from jail with jobs training and education. We can end mass incarceration, he says.

9:38 p.m. – Clinton says NRA has a reliable friend in Sanders.

Should gun victims’ relatives sue manufacturers for damages? Sanders says he voted against that idea because there is not always liability on part of a licensed gun seller.

9:34 p.m. – Guns on the agenda.

Sanders voted for NRA priority, says Clinton. What about the greed and recklessness of the gun manufacturers not just Wall Street, says Clinton pointing to Sanders.

Sanders says let’s talk about guns. He called for a ban on assault weapons and the NRA don’t like him, says Sanders. I’m the best candidate to bring about consensus on gun issue. Strong rebuttal.

9:30 p.m. – Sanders, glowing puce, says he must raise minimum wage to $15 in 50 states as soon as possible.

9:28 p.m. – I have supported the ‘fight for 15′ says Clinton. I will work as hard as I can to raise the minimum wage.

This will surprise a lot of people, responds Sanders.

9:27 p.m. – We have to raise minimum wage to $15, says Sanders. Rebuild manufacturing sector, cannot sustain loss of jobs because of trade agreements. Trade and wages – fertile ground for Sanders debate.

9:23 pm – When accused of being disconnected from reality by Verizon CEO, Sanders says Verizon doesn’t treat employees with respect.

9:19 p.m. – Clinton doesn’t fully respond to question about publishing her speeches to bank Goldman Sachs. But she has released tax returns. Every candidate should do the same, she says.

9:15 p.m. – Clinton called out the banks: “Oh my goodness,” mocks Sanders. The banks have shown themselves to be fraudulent.

9:10 p.m. –  No bank is too big to fail, says Clinton. Break up any bank that fails the test under Dodd-Frank legislation. Clinton says she has stood up against Wall Street continuously. Sanders will have something to say here..

.. Sanders says you have got to break up the big banks. “They are just too big.”

9:08 p.m. – An attack on her for super PACs is an attack on Obama too, says Clinton.

9:07 p.m. – Sanders questions Clinton judgement for voting for the war in Iraq and “disastrous” trade agreements. Not the kind of judgement we need, says Sanders.

Clinton: I’ve been called a lot of things in my life, unqualified was not one of those. Says Sanders interview with Daily News shows lack of policy understanding. Sanders chuckles.

9:01 p.m. – Opening statement from Sanders: From 3% in the polls a year ago, two polls now put us ahead, he says. Average campaign contribution has been $27 says Sanders proudly.

“Billionaires” – x1.

Clinton: It’s great to be here in New York. Proud to serve as a Senator in New York for eight years, says Clinton. “We worked hard to keep New York values at the center of who we are.” “We will celebrate our diversity” – nod to Trump.

9 p.m. – Handshakes on stage and we’re off. The race for the nomination, Brooklyn-style

8:50 p.m. – Ten minutes till kick off, folks.

8:45 p.m. – Sanders strategist Tad Devine just spoke to the media about Bernie’s ability to rally the youth as key to his victory in Wisconsin on April 5. Devine also said should Sanders not win the Democratic nomination he will back Hillary in the general election later this year.

8:41 p.m. – More people are searching for Bernie over Hillary on Google, according to Google Trends.

8:33 p.m. – The moderator of tonight’s event is CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer. NY1’s Errol Louis and CNN reporter Dana Bash will be asking the questions.

#Demdebate is trending number 1 on Twitter….

8:21 p.m. – Both candidates will be in attack mode this evening. Sanders will want to arrow in on Clinton’s supposed cozy relationship with Wall Street. Clinton will take aim at Sanders’ position on guns. Expect fiery exchanges down at the docks.

8:05 p.m. – Latest poll from the Wall Street Journal:

Wall Street Journal poll

7:23 p.m. – We’re only 6 miles from the apartment where Brooklynite Bernie Sanders grew up. Will home advantage pay off?

7:15 p.m. – History lesson: The Brooklyn Navy Yard built and launched ships for 150 years when the city was one of the busiest ports in America. Today these warehouses are home to more than 300 different businesses. Was the coffee always this good?

7:04 p.m. – It’s a beautiful evening as the sun sets over the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The complex of warehouse buildings are swarming with police, security and media two hours from the start of the debate.

Outside the gates Hillary supporters are chanting, “I’m with her,” easily outnumbering the more subdued Sanders contingent. Many Verizon strikers supporting Sanders were on the scene, having marched here from downtown Brooklyn.

 

Trump Protestors Fight With Fox News Reporter

A fight broke out at an anti-Trump rally between a Trump supporter and a protestor. Witnesses, including Patrick Waldo and Kathy Anoia, quickly placed the blame on Fox News’s Jesse Watters, who is often referred to as an “ambush journalist.” Watters later told us he did not recall the incident.

Note: This video contains language that might offend some viewers.

Produced by Jessica Cartwright and Santiago Melli-Huber

The Real Story Behind How Cruz Was Booed in the Bronx

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas is surrounded by members of the media as he leaves the Sabrosura 2 restaurant after a meeting with community leaders in the Bronx borough of New York, Wednesday, April 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas is surrounded by members of the media as he leaves the Sabrosura 2 restaurant after a meeting with community leaders in the Bronx borough of New York, Wednesday, April 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

APRIL 14 – We all read the story last week: When Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz walked into a Dominican-Chinese restaurant on Westchester Avenue last week, he was booed by angry Bronxites, mostly for his hardline anti-immigration policies.

The Texas senator came to Sabrosura 2 in Soundview to meet with New York Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., a conservative Christian minister. He left after 30 minutes, said Nelson Ng, the restaurant’s part-owner and manager.

Adding fuel to the publicized visit, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., the state senator’s son, called Cruz a hypocrite hours earlier and accused him of visiting the Bronx only to further his campaign ahead of the April 19 primary in New York.

“Ted Cruz is a hypocrite,” Diaz Jr. said. “He not only offended New Yorkers, he offended Bronxites, and now he’s here today in New York and in the Bronx looking for money and votes.”

The negative backlash – and the headlines – stemmed from Cruz’s recent disparagement of New York values, insinuating that they represent “the liberal values of Democratic politicians who have been hammering the people of New York for decades.”

But what really happened in the Bronx was much more amicable than was reported, according to the restaurant’s owner. He told NY City Lens that the news stories exaggerated the event. He said only two men protested Cruz’s appearance, and they were quickly escorted out by security. It was over in a matter of minutes.

That’s not to say that the restaurant was not the center of a media frenzy. Server Justin Fung, who was informed the morning of his shift that Cruz would stop by, said there were about 40 to 50 reporters and more than 20 cameras in the main dining room.

“It was very, very noisy and very crowded,” Fung said. “There were too many people and too many reporters, so we couldn’t do any business that afternoon.”

The co-owner, Ng, said he heard back from customers who told him they were disappointed that he allowed Cruz into his restaurant, which has been in the Bronx for more than 30 years.

“People went through Yelp and gave us one star because we hosted Ted Cruz, but it doesn’t matter,” Ng said. “We don’t need marketing; we just need our loyal customers.”

He said he sees politicians only as customers and would also be happy to host Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton if they wanted to visit.

“If you’re writing the news, it’s better to stay neutral. Just like in doing business, I should be neutral,” Ng said. “No matter what I think personally, you do your job and you have to be professional.”

For the time being, though, Ng has no more high-profile people penciled into his restaurant’s reservation book. – Marybel Gonzalez and Samantha McDonald

Trying to Woo Black Voters

APRIL 13—A little less than a week before the New York state primary, Hillary Clinton made her way to New York City Wednesday morning to try to establish herself as the presidential candidate most committed to diversity. Appearing at the National Action Network’s 25th Annual Convention, at the Sheraton Hotel near Times Square, she delivered an impassioned speech about giving equal opportunities to Americans of color.

The Network is run by the Rev. Al Sharpton, the firebrand MSNBC host and an influential voice among some black voters. “If we’re going to ask African Americans to vote for us we cannot take you or your vote for granted,” Clinton said to the crowd in the packed hall. “We can’t just show up at election time and say the right things and think that that’s enough. We can’t start building relationships a few weeks before a vote.”

Members of the Network gathered outside the hotel as early as eight a.m., almost four hours before the former New York Senator was scheduled to speak. When the doors opened, the hall filled quickly. Those left outside were waiting for others to leave, to get their spots. Initially, the candidate received only polite applause, but she seemed to win the crowd over when she called for white Americans “to recognize our privilege and practice.”

Some women in the crowd said they were thrilled by the prospects of a female president. They included Pamela Clarke, from New York City. “Hillary has a lot of experience,’’ she said, as she waited in line to get in, “and I really think she would help women not just in America but all over the world.”

Dr. Joan Liverpool, who had traveled from Atlanta for the event, also thought Clinton winning the presidential race would be a huge victory for women. “Hillary going into the White House would be a historical moment for women in America,’’ she said. “She needs our support.”

Not everyone at the event had the same view. Outside the hall one man said he hadn’t made a decision yet as to who he would cast his vote for. “She is working hard today to get a voice in the black community,” he said before the candidate spoke. “There are still some people here that she needs to convince today.”

A 71-year-old man named Derek Farmer was not one of them. “I was hoping to hear Mrs. Clinton speak today, I’m disappointed about not getting in, I wanted to hear what Mrs. Clinton plans to do for the black voters,” he said. – Muna Habib

Bernin’ Up Bushwick

APRIL 12 – Under the neon glow of a Bernie Sanders sign at the bar of Lot45 in Bushwick, New Yorkers sipped lemon egg white cocktails with #votebernie stenciled on the surface Tuesday night. Techno music thumped through the speakers and Technicolor gifs and graphics of Sanders flashed on the walls.

From left to right photos courtesy of taylorullman, _miadi_, and mtheherrmann.

From left to right photos courtesy of taylorullman, _miadi_, and mtheherrmann.

The dance party was put together by a coalition of 11 grassroots groups with the goal of motivating New Yorkers to get out and vote for Sanders come primary day on April 19th.

“We’re here basically just to get New York excited to vote for Bernie,” said Young Sun Han, one of the event organizers. “Make sure people have all the information they need, double check their registration, and to fundraise, to share the love of Bernie’s campaign.”

Over the course of three hours, more than 900 party goers packed into the Bushwick bar lounge. Among the guests were a smattering of celebrities including actors Danny DeVito, Rosario Dawson, and Tim Robbins.

“Get that vote out,” Dawson told the crowd. “Don’t just like this online make sure you get in line, and you vote and you show what New York is about.”

Volunteers passed out voter information and recruited Brooklynites to canvas the area.

“We’re gonna do this baby,” DeVito shouted. “Brooklyn baby, that home town boy, he’s gonna be president of the United States!” – Caroline Spivack

Breakfast at Hillary’s

Clinton supporters Kathy Fernando, Jennifer Edson and Carol Nadell at City Diner in Manhattan.

Clinton supporters Kathy Fernando, Jennifer Edson and Carol Nadell at City Diner in Manhattan. (Kyra Gurney)

APRIL 12 – “Happy unhappy Equal Pay Day!” campaign organizer Emily Baxter said on Tuesday morning, as she greeted some 15 Hillary Clinton supporters crowded around a table overflowing with coffee cups at City Diner on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

Baxter gave a brief overview of plans to canvass in Manhattan for New York’s April 19 primary, and several supporters chimed in with information about phone banking events. Then the conversation turned to gender issues and the barriers women face in the workplace.

Jennifer Edson, 57, told fellow Hillary supporters that she is struck by how little women’s rights have progressed in the United States over the last 30 years. Edson marched on Washington to support the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1980s, and said that at a recent anti-Trump rally in New York she saw women holding nearly identical signs to the ones she held then.

She took pictures of the anti-Trump event and “the pictures could have been in black and white and 30 years ago,” Edson said. Signs at the rally — the day after Donald Trump made remarks about punishing women who undergo abortions — said “My Body My Choice”. “It was astonishing to me,” Edson said. “It was like ‘haven’t we been here before?’”

Hillary Clinton supporters talk politics at City Diner in Manhattan.

Hillary Clinton supporters talk politics at City Diner in Manhattan. (Kyra Gurney)

“It’s 2016 and the U.S. has not had a women president,” said Kathy Fernando, 39. “I mean Pakistan has had a woman president. You have to think that the discrimination is endemic [in the United States] for that to be the case. The biggest signal they could send is to get a woman to the highest office and that will trickle down.”

Other supporters shared stories about the questions women get asked concerning their medical history at job interviews, and the difficult career choices that some women have to make in order to spend more time with their children.

But the conversation wasn’t all negative. The Manhattan residents also talked about why they believe their candidate is the best qualified to be commander-in-chief. “Hillary is the only candidate on both sides who has everything it takes to be president,” said Ami Weil, 54. “She has spent her entire life in public service.”

Her husband, Todd Chanko, 56, agreed. “Hillary went to Yale and as such could have easily opted to join the establishment, but she carries on a long tradition of highly-educated professionals who contribute to enlarging the scope of opportunities for Americans,” he said.

There was also some talk about Clinton’s rival, Bernie Sanders, who the Hillary supporters are worried is generating a lot of enthusiasm among liberal voters in New York—and not just among young people. Carol Nadell, 71, said many of her friends are wearing Bernie buttons or displaying Bernie signs. “I’ve been Bernied to death,” she said.   – Kyra Gurney

Trump Pays a Surprise Visit to the 9/11 Museum

APRIL 10 – Visitors to the 9/11 Museum in lower Manhattan on Saturday got a surprise:  a chance to see Donald Trump and his wife Melania up close.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, right, waves as he walks with his wife Melania Trump, center, during his arrival to the World Trade Center Museum, Saturday, April 9, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, right, waves as he walks with his wife Melania Trump, center, during his arrival to the World Trade Center Museum, Saturday, April 9, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

The Republican presidential candidate and his wife left Trump Towers in a motorcade of black SUVs. Once they arrived at the site,  Museum President Joe Daniels personally gave the Trumps a tour. In turn, Trump donated $100,000 to the museum. It was reportedly his first donation as well as his first visit to the museum.

Trump memorably evoked 9/11 in a rebuff to Ted Cruz’s description of “New York values” in a Republican debate in January, where he recalled watching the towers fall. “When the World Trade Center came down, I saw something that no place on earth could have handled more beautifully, more humanely than New York,” Trump said in the debate.

Trump declined to speak with the press after his tour, but his campaign released a statement saying that the Trumps “were incredibly impressed with the museum, a monument representative of all of the wonderful people who tragically lost their lives and the families who have suffered so greatly.”

The visit to the 9/11 Memorial Museum was not on Trump’s official campaign schedule, but two New York stops, for rallies in Albany and Rochester, will be next for the campaign as the April 19 New York primary approaches.  – Simone McCarthy

Bernie Sanders Comes Home to Flatbush

Copyright Caroline Spivack

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders held a rally in front of his childhood home in Flatbush, Brooklyn. (Caroline Spivack)

APRIL 9 – Bernie’s back on the block.  That was the message as Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders spoke Friday at a rally in Flatbush outside the apartment building where he grew up.

Sanders couldn’t help the nostalgia about his homecoming to East 26th Street in Midwood . “Right on this street, I spent thousands of hours playing punchball. Do they still play punchball?” he asked the crowd.

Copyright Caroline Spivack

Supporters of all ages came out to see Sanders in his home borough of Brooklyn. (Caroline Spivack)

He peppered his roughly 15- minute speech with memories of the block, talking about  playing football, marbles and rent-controlled apartments, as he pointed to the building where he lived in apartment 2C. Growing up in the neighborhood, he said, taught him the biggest lesson of economics: “There are millions of families in America who struggle every single day to take care of their families.”

“Our job in this campaign is to create an economy that works for all of us,” and as he said it, his supporters who stood all around him joined him in the refrain. “Not just the one percent.”

Copyright Caroline Spivack

Unable to get into the rally, some supporters waited outside with the hope of catching a glimpse of Sanders. (Caroline Spivack)

He was joined by actor Mark Ruffalo at the rally. Later in the day, Sanders was going to speak to supporters in a rally in Greenpoint.

In his fight to win the Democratic nomination,  the stakes are clearly getting higher as the battle grows closer between Sanders and his rival Hillary Clinton.  Sanders knows a win in New York will matter.

“New York will help us make it to the White House and that’s what we need to do together,” he told the crowd.

Aditi Sangal

Determined to Feel the Bern

Copyright Caroline Spivack

After spending 17 days in the hospital, the day after her release Rene Matthews came out to support Sanders, calling it a “once in a lifetime opportunity.” (Caroline Spivack)

APRIL 9 – Rene Matthews had just spent 17 days in the hospital for a leg injury, but when she heard Sanders was coming to Brooklyn, she sprang out of bed and waited for more than three hours to listen to him speak.

“It’s hard for me to walk right now, but I couldn’t miss this,” Matthews said seated on a stool she bought for the rally. “This was a once in a life time opportunity that’s really important to me.”

Matthews echoed a common theme among fellow New Yorkers who came out to see Sanders:  an appreciation for his honesty and the feeling that he genuinely cares for her daily struggles.

“He is the most honest and trustworthy politician, I believe, that I’ve ever seen or heard of in this whole system since maybe FDR,” said Matthews. “He stands up for what the people believe in and what the people want, not just what the corporations and the establishment want done so they can keep their money in their greedy little pockets.”

Matthews was recently certified as a paraprofessional for the Board of Education and finds it meaningful to have a candidate who supports teachers. To ensure that her vote will count come April 19, Matthews checks her voter registration online every day so she’ll be aware if there are any last minute mix-ups.

“With all the craziness that’s been going on, I want to make sure that I can vote for him,” she said. “We blindly trust our government to do the right thing but they’re really not and that’s why we need somebody to change these things and to put the power back in the hands of the people.”   – Caroline Spivack

Selling Buttons for Bernie…and Hillary? 

Copyright Caroline Spivack

Sharron John’s stand of Bernie Sanders buttons. (Caroline Spivack)

APRIL 9 – On Friday morning, while Bernie Sanders’ supporters lined up for his rally in Flatbush, Sharron John, 59, set up her collapsible table and arranged buttons to raise funds for Sanders campaign.  John faithfully treks out to Sanders rallies to sell buttons, knocks on doors, and makes phone calls on his behalf, but he isn’t the only candidate that has her support.

“I go out and sell pins at Hillary’s events too,” John said, with a laugh. “Yeah I’m probably the only one who knocks on doors for both of them too. You’re the first person I’ve told other than my son.”

Copyright Caroline Spivack

Torn between the two Democratic candidates, Sharron John sells buttons and canvasses for Sanders and Clinton. (Caroline Spivack)

Torn between Clinton and Sanders, John has decided to support both candidates until she’s forced to choose. “I agree with a lot of what they both say,” she said as she fiddled with an anti-Trump button. “[Sanders] is so genuine, but I also want to be part of electing the first woman president.”

No matter who wins, she hopes that the democratic nominee will strengthen the party by working with their former opponent, as Obama did when he appointed Clinton to Secretary of State in 2009.

“They’re both so positive compared to the other guys,” she said. “I just hope that they can work together to get things done.”

Caroline Spivak

Kasich Slams Cruz for Dumping on New York Values

Ohio Gov. John Kasich speaks at the first Republican presidential debate. Kasich's camaign just released an ad criticizing Sen. Ted Cruz over his "New York Values" line (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Ohio Gov. John Kasich speaks at the first Republican presidential debate. Kasich’s camaign just released an ad criticizing Sen. Ted Cruz over his “New York Values” line (Andrew Harnik/AP)

APRIL 7 – Be careful about what you say because words can come back to bite you, or so goes some version of the old adage. As the presidential primary comes to the Big Apple, Sen. Ted Cruz probably wishes he could take back some of his own remarks about New Yorkers that he made during the Iowa caucuses.

A new television ad put out by Republican presidential hopeful Gov. John Kasich on Friday wants to make sure that New Yorkers remember Cruz’s comments about “New York values.” Sponsored by the Super PAC John Kasich for America, images of iconic New York landmarks flash across the screen as Ted Cruz’s voice says, “I think most people know exactly what New York values are, and I gotta say they’re not Iowa values and they’re not New Hampshire values.”

The video goes on to paint Cruz as a divider and Kasich as a uniter and that the latter’s record of turning his home state of Ohio around was something New Yorkers could appreciate.

Although Cruz claimed he was attacking the “liberal values of Democratic politicians,” the comment seems to have backfired with city voters. In the most recent polls out of New York, whose primary will be held on April 19, Cruz sits behind Kasich and frontrunner Donald Trump.A Monmouth University survey released Wednesday showed Trump at 52 percent support, followed by Kasich at 25 percent and Cruz at 17 percent.

The Daily News in particular has taken offense to the senator’s comments. Friday morning’s headline read: “Take the F U train, Ted!” When Cruz first said the infamous line the News’ headline read, “Drop Dead, Ted! Hey Cruz: You don’t like N.Y. values? Go back to Canada?” with an image of the Statue of Liberty giving the middle finger.

Kasich, who campaigned in the Bronx yesterday, hitting up Mike’s Deli on Arthur Avenue also released another commercial Friday, arguing that he is the only Republican who can defeat Hillary Clinton in November if she is the Democratic nominee.     – Mary Kekatos

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