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New York's Primary Could Upend Democratic Race For President


Voters in New York are heading to the polls today in primary that could either upend the Democratic race for president or cement Hillary Clinton's trajectory towards the nomination.

As NPR's Tamara Keith reports, the way Clinton and her rival Bernie Sanders have been campaigning in the state is really a microcosm of the race as a whole.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Bernie Sanders ended the day as he has many nights before, with a big rally - this one in Long Island City with the Manhattan skyline glowing behind him.


BERNIE SANDERS: This is a movement getting the establishment very, very nervous.


KEITH: Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton ended her day at an Irish pub in midtown Manhattan. It was an Irish Americans for Hillary rally which followed campaign stops at a hospital in Yonkers and a car wash in Queens.


HILLARY CLINTON: This is special because the workers here at this car wash have been organizing.

KEITH: There was also a bubble tea shop in Flushing, a phone bank at an LGBT center, a gluten-free restaurant, a Women for Hillary rally and an ice cream shop called Mikey Likes It, where Clinton violated politician protocol and started eating her sundae in front of cameras.


CLINTON: I was going to take it to go but it was, like, in front of me, and I had to start eating it.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Do you know the calorie count? What's the calorie count?

CLINTON: Oh, come on.

KEITH: The special chocolaty concoction was called victory. And that's what you'd call micro-targeting. Much like she did when she ran for Senate in 2000, Clinton seemingly hit every neighborhood and ethnic enclave in New York in the days leading up to the primary.

In addition to the big rally in Queens, Sanders got his steps in yesterday, meeting voters on the streets in Manhattan, the Bronx, Jackson Heights and Astoria. At one point, he caught up with striking communications workers.


KEITH: But the Sanders campaign also took a more negative turn, sending a letter to the Democratic National Committee saying its joint fundraising committee with the Clinton campaign was committing, quote, "serious apparent violations" of campaign finance laws. The DNC, at least two state party committees and the Clinton campaign all put out statements defending the arrangement. Robby Mook is Clinton's campaign manager.

ROBBY MOOK: Sen. Sanders and his campaign need to decide if they are going to continue on this path of making destructive, false attacks on someone who is, by the math, likely to be the Democratic nominee.

KEITH: Mook says Clinton will keep competing in every state, right through California on June 7. But Clinton campaign officials are increasingly talking about the delegate math, pointing out Sanders needs a big win in New York to avoid falling further behind in pledged delegates needed to secure the nomination.

Meanwhile, Sanders' campaign sent out a fundraising email saying Sanders doesn't have to win the New York primary. Tonight, Clinton will be in New York City to watch the results come in. Sanders will be campaigning on a college campus in Pennsylvania. Tamara Keith, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.