- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 14, 2016

Donald Trump returned to Manhattan on Thursday to woo Republicans ahead of next week’s party primary, saying he had faith and invested in New York when others were giving up on it, and touting it as a model for how to rescue the country.

“Same thing, large-scale version,” the Republican presidential front-runner said as he took the stage, telling stories of his days as a real estate developer, naming names of his corporate adversaries and insisting he can fix Washington.

He also delivered a strong defense of “New York values,” pushing back against criticism from chief presidential opponent Sen. Ted Cruz by saying New York represents “a whole fabric” of success, diversity and resilience — particularly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks — of which the whole country should be proud.

“You say what are New York values? No. 1, honesty and straight talking,” the billionaire businessman said. “It’s a work ethic. Hardworking people, it’s about family. New York, believe it, it’s about family.”

Mr. Cruz, though, said he stood by his criticism of New York values, telling MSNBC on Thursday that he doesn’t regret attacking Mr. Trump over it.

“He was explaining why he was a strong supporter of partial-birth abortion and Donald’s explanation for why he supported partial-birth abortion, he said, ‘Hey, I’m a New Yorker, those are my values,’” Mr. Cruz said.

Polling shows Mr. Trump with a substantial lead in New York and is ahead in contests looming in the Northeast at the end of the month. The chief question is whether he will be able to sew up enough delegates to win the nomination on the first ballot at the July convention, or whether he will have to fight it out in round after round of balloting.

Republicans are deeply conflicted over Mr. Trump, with his supporters saying he has injected new blood into their party and ended the establishment’s grip on power, while his opponents say they don’t trust him and fear he would cost the party what should a winnable election.

An ABC-Washington Post poll released Thursday found Mr. Trump to be the most unpopular major presidential candidate in more than 30 years, with two-thirds having an unfavorable view of him. Still, it’s slightly better than the 71 percent who saw him in an unfavorable light a year ago.

Mr. Trump said he expects to win the nomination and criticized the party’s focus on delegates to the nominating convention. He said he’s winning primaries across the country.

But Ohio Gov. John Kasich insisted Mr. Trump’s supporters will switch over to him at the Republican National Convention, saying they’re “comfortable with me” and will deliver him to victory.

“I grew up more like them than Trump did,” Mr. Kasich told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews in a town hall that aired Thursday night, as he and the rest of the Republican field sought to win over voters ahead of Tuesday’s primary in New York.

At the same time, Mr. Kasich drew a sharp distinction between himself and Mr. Trump’s key issue of immigration, vowing he would legalize illegal immigrants and saying if he had been president, congressional Republicans would have taken up the broad immigration bill that President Obama wanted to see clear the Congress.

Mr. Kasich also took credit for bringing former House Speaker John A. Boehner and President Obama together to try to get deals done. The governor said he had just finished a round of golf with Mr. Boehner, Mr. Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden and as they were sitting around, he got to marveling at how all of them had risen from humble roots.

“I said, ‘Clearly the Lord wanted us to be here, so we’d better do something while we’re here,’” Mr. Kasich recalled. “And the president looked at Boehner and he said, ‘You come down to the White House and we’ll start talking about the budget.’ And right after that, they started talking. Now the thing fell apart. I don’t know why it fell apart, but there was a moment there where there was a connection.”

In a separate town hall, Mr. Cruz ducked many of the toughest questions, such as his stance on North Carolina’s law restricting transgender people’s access to bathroom facilities of their choice.

Instead he tried to portray himself as the man who can unite the Republican Party, though he said it will be behind his anti-Washington principles.

He also stood by his striking accusation, made on the Senate floor, that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell lied to him. “Every word I said there was true and accurate. No one has disputed a word I said,” he said.

Mr. Cruz did, however, say the same can’t be said for Mr. Trump, who he doubted would follow through on his plans to crack down on illegal immigration, pointing to an interview Mr. Trump gave to The New York Times earlier this year.

“I’ve got to tell you, as a voter, it should be worrisome if Donald is telling The New York Times, I’m lying to the voters and I’m not going to do anything on immigration,” Mr. Cruz said. “He should release the tape and let people judge for themselves, but I’ll tell you this. As president, I will secure the border. I will end the illegal immigration, and together, we will keep this country safe.”

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