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Greg Bluestein

Decisive victories in New York don’t settle presidential fight

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Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. AP file.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. AP file.

New York – The decisive victories Tuesday by Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump did little to slam the door shut on their rivals.

Trump salvaged a chance to avoid a contested convention with a near-sweep of his home state’s 95 GOP delegates, but the path to clinching to GOP nomination without a fight in Cleveland remains precarious.

And while Clinton’s dominating performance in New York put the nomination closer to her reach, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said late Tuesday there’s still a “path toward victory which we are going to maintain.”

Still, there’s no denying that the lopsided victories lifted both campaigns. Trump’s sweeping victory helped him bolster his lead over Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Cruz didn’t win a single delegate in New York, finishing a distant third, and fell further behind Trump in the national race.

At his victory speech in Trump Tower, an exuberant Trump was more focused on his message and less on the outrageous statements that he’s rolled out after past triumphs. There was no mention of ‘Lyin’ Ted,’ though he said Cruz is “just about mathematically eliminated” from clinching the nomination.

Clinton’s victory in her adopted home state was also a must-win. After losing eight of the last nine contests, her campaign would have been devastated if she fell to Sanders. Instead, she captured most of the 247 delegates at stake, improving her daunting lead in the race.

The nomination, she told supporters Tuesday, “is in the home stretch and victory is in sight.”

It doesn’t get any easier for any of the challengers. Five states vote on April 26 – Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island – and Clinton is favored to win each of them. Trump, too, is solidly ahead in polls of most of those states.

Cruz and Kasich, both who vow to force a convention fight, spent Tuesday campaigning in Pennsylvania. So did Sanders, who ended the day in his home state of Vermont to get “recharged and take a day off.”

Over the next week, Sanders will focus on Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Connecticut as possible pickups. If he can’t win any of that trio, the campaign has another tough decision to make.

“This campaign has come a very, very long way. We started off 60-65 percent behind in the polls, and a few recent polls have us in the lead,” Sanders said. “We believe we have the momentum and we believe we have the path to a victory.”