Western Pennsylvania last-minute battleground before primary
Western Pennsylvania was a last-minute battleground for three presidential candidates campaigning the day before Pennsylvania's primary election.
Both Democratic candidates made final pitches for support.
Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton rallied a diverse crowd of 1,500 at Westmoreland County Community College.
“If you vote for me tomorrow, I will stand up and fight for you every day,” said Clinton, who emphasized repeatedly a pledge to grow the economy and improve the lot of working Americans.
In the audience were two women at opposite ends of the electoral spectrum: Angie Sassos, 87, of Greensburg cast her first presidential ballot for Harry Truman; Taylor Koziel, 20, of New Eagle will cast her first presidential ballot Tuesday. Koziel is undecided; Sassos said she expects to see Clinton become the first woman president.
At the same time, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke at the University of Pittsburgh about college affordability, pay equity and climate change to several hundred students.
“We have some important things to talk about, and a lot of it has to do with your future,” Sanders said to cheers.
It was a much smaller crowd — but no less enthusiastic — than the nearly 8,500 who attended Sanders' last visit to Pittsburgh in March.
Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland and Rhode Island also hold primaries Tuesday.
Monday night, Ohio Gov. John Kasich returned to his hometown of McKees Rocks for a rally.
Kasich began his town hall event surrounded by family, friends and supporters who filled the Montour High School gym. He delivered an emotional speech centered on his 90-year-old uncle George, a World War II veteran who held the family together after the death of Kasich's parents in a car crash in the 1980s.
“I want to thank God for you,” Kasich said to his uncle, who sat in the front row.
Kasich listed his accomplishments as governor, reducing taxes, rolling back regulations, building a budget surplus, helping the poor and growing jobs.
“I don't like big government, big unions and big business. I just don't like big,” Kasich said to big applause.
Kasich and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz announced late Sunday night an unprecedented agreement to coordinate primary strategies in three of the 15 remaining primary states.
Kasich will step back in the May 3 Indiana contest to let Cruz bid without interference for voters who don't like Trump. Cruz will do the same for Kasich in subsequent contests in Oregon and New Mexico.
The shift offers Trump foes a glimmer of hope in the fight to keep him from amassing enough delegates to secure the nomination and avoid a contested national convention in July.
Trump is the only Republican candidate who can clinch the GOP presidential nomination before his party's national convention, but his path is narrow. Trump is 392 delegates short of the 1,237 needed to represent his party in the general election in November. Eliminated from reaching that total in the primaries, Cruz and Kasich can only hope to block Trump from reaching a majority — and a first-round convention victory — and thus force a contested convention where delegates could select a different nominee.
The plan carries risks — especially as Trump bashes a “rigged” nomination system.
Trump lashed out Monday at what he called collusion by desperate rivals, intensifying his attacks on the GOP presidential nomination system.
“It shows how pathetic they are,” he said of his Republican rivals.
Kasich sent mixed messages as he addressed the pact for the first time Monday. Asked what Indiana voters should do next week, the Ohio governor urged them to vote for him.
“I've never told them not to vote for me. They ought to vote for me,” Kasich said. He said he had simply agreed not to spend “resources” in Indiana.
Cruz declared Monday: “We are headed to a contested convention. And at a contested convention, Donald Trump is in real trouble.”
Trump also was the target on the Democratic side as Hillary Clinton assailed him as being out of touch with average Americans.
“If you want to be president of the United States, you've got to get familiar with the United States,” Clinton said. “Don't just fly that big jet in and land it and go make a big speech and insult everybody you can think of.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story. Salena Zito and Debra Erdley are Tribune-Review staff writers.