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Presidential contenders descend on New York ahead of crucial primaries

Published 14/04/2016

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks during a rally in Washington Square Park in New York (AP)
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks during a rally in Washington Square Park in New York (AP)

The contenders in the US presidential race are campaigning in New York knowing next week's votes could provide two major breakthroughs.

Frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump hope the state can propel them past stubborn challengers and into the general election.

Polls show they are both leading their respective contests heading into Tuesday's primaries, an edge experts attribute to their local ties.

Democrats Mrs Clinton and Bernie Sanders will hold their first debate in more than a month on Thursday.

Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich will each speak at a state Republican Party gala before the latter two candidates make appearances on the late night TV shows.

Mrs Clinton spent eight years as a New York senator, while Mr Trump is a Queens native, built his fortune in New York's real estate market and lives in an opulent Manhattan high-rise bearing his name.

Mr Sanders, a Vermont senator who was born in Brooklyn, has also been touting his local roots as he seeks to upset Mrs Clinton in New York.

While he is on a winning streak in primaries and caucuses, he desperately needs a big victory in New York if he hopes to cut into Mrs Clinton's delegate lead and slow her march to the nomination.

The Democratic race has become increasingly heated in New York and the tensions could spill over onto the debate stage.

Mr Trump hopes New York will mark an end to the worst period of his candidacy. A big victory could preserve his ability to clinch the nomination before the party convention in July.

Mr Cruz has been cutting into Mr Trump's delegate lead and working feverishly to court the delegates who would decide the race at the convention.

But New York has not been friendly territory for the Texas senator. He has suffered from his earlier criticism of Mr Trump's "New York values" and had to cancel an event at a school because students threatened to walk out.

Seeking to lower expectations, Mr Cruz said if Mr Trump does not get more than 50% of the vote in his home state "that's widely going to be seen as a crushing loss".

Mr Kasich, the Ohio governor who has stayed in the race despite only winning his home state so far, also sees areas where he could pick up delegates in New York.

He is eyeing congressional districts in the Albany and Syracuse areas, where he is arguing that he is the only Republican left in the race who could defeat Mrs Clinton in an autumn campaign.

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From Belfast Telegraph