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Director Stephanie Soechtig: ‘Gun owners are being duped by the NRA’

Director of new documentary about gun violence in America talks about ways the National Rifle Association dupes its members and profits off politics

News anchor Katie Couric and director Stephanie Soechtig have collaborated on two previous documentaries: Tapped, which looked at the environmental consequences of the bottled water industry, and Fed Up, which examined the role of sugar in Americas obesity epidemic.

Under the Gun, their new documentary on gun violence in America, premieres on Epix tonight at 8pm. The film, a Sundance favorite, provides an in-depth look at the ways gun control advocates have tried to counteract the power of the National Rifle Association.

Soechtig talked to the Guardian about how she approached the polarizing issue of guns in America and what change she would like to see. (The interview has been edited for length and clarity.)

How did you decide to do a film tackling the issue of guns in America?

In 2014, Katie was like, I want to talk to you about this idea that I had. The Isla Vista Shooting happened on May 22. She called me and said, Ive been covering this issue for 30 years and the situation seems to be getting worse. Could we give this the same exploration of Fed Up and really unpack this issue in this holistic and comprehensive way?

My first impression was, really, dont we know everything about this issue? When I started digging in, there was so much that I didnt know.

What surprised you?

Anything thats in the film is something that surprised me. The first thing I learned that youve got to be kidding me is that 40% of guns in this country are bought without a background check. That just astounded me. That the ATF doesnt have computerized records. That the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was banned from researching this as a public health issue.

As well as interviewing the families of mass shooting victims, you went to Chicago to interview families there. What did you learn about the way that race plays into the gun debate?

In Chicago, we featured the Bosleys, and I chose them because I feel they were a great juxtaposition to the Bardens [whose son Daniel was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School]. These are both families that have three children, that lost one, and the response from the community was so different for the Bardens than it was for the Bosleys. I think race was a huge component to that. I think the idea that black lives dont matter has a lot of merit to it.

Stephanie
Stephanie Soechtig and Katie Couric. Photograph: Matt Sayles/Invision/AP

Chicago has a mass shooting every other week. The grief counselors dont come out. Theres no CNN breaking news alert. Id like to think its more nuanced than race but at the same time, its the only difference I can see. Unless its the idea that its gangs, that these lives are less valuable because theyre in gangs, which we show in the film is often not the case.

Were there moments when you felt shocked or outraged?

More than the outrage of the stranglehold that the National Rifle Association has over our legislative process that was, of course, infuriating and outrageous what really shocked me more was seeing that the NRA only really represents 5% of gun owners, to see that theyre not really speaking for gun owners.

It had sort of became really confusing for me, for a while, why are they so powerful when the majority of their members dont agree with the position they take. Their connection with the gun industry that this is more about promoting gun sales than protecting your second amendment rights was a real aha moment for me, because I felt that gun owners are being duped, that theyve been sold a bill of goods by the NRA, as well.

The NRA has ginned up an idea that this is a huge debate, when 90% of the country agrees on background checks. Thats not a debate. Ninety percent of the country doesnt like kittens.

What makes you think that gun owners are being duped?

The NRA toes this line that the government is trying to take your guns away. Seventy percent of NRA members want background checks but the NRA opposes them at every turn. Background checks means theyll sell fewer guns. The members have been duped. The NRA doesnt care about your second amendment rights.

Then why dont we see more NRA members protesting what the NRA is doing?

I dont think that theyve known about it before this film came out.

At one screening, an NRA member told me, I am embarrassed and outraged that I am an NRA member and this is happening. She found it duplicitous, the way they are opposing the most commonsense measures. She just had no idea.

The NRA has not been subtle about its opposition to background checks. Its not subtle about its politics in general. How could it be possible most NRA members dont realize what the NRA is doing?

I think a lot of gun owners join the NRA because they get deals, they get discounts. If you sign up for the NRA and see their newsletters, theyre always, Theyre coming to get your guns. They dont advertise, Oh, we were able to strip the CDC of researching gun violence as a public health debate, or, We made it so you can bring your guns into bars.

Chicago
Chicago police officer investigate a crime scene of a gunshot victim. Photograph: Jim Young / Reuters/Reuters

You should ask an NRA member why they dont know. I can just tell you weve been consistently told, I had no idea.

What leads you to think that the NRA doesnt care about the second amendment? Thats a provocative statement?

I dont think that they dont care about the second amendment. I think they have a unique interpretation of it. I think they wrap themselves in the second amendment, but I really think their fundamental interest is selling more guns.

Is there something wrong with selling more guns?

Theres nothing wrong with selling more guns, as long as were taking measures to sell guns to responsible gun owners.

Did you try to get NRA officials to represent their views in the documentary?

Oh, repeatedly. We got a blanket no. Could we have Wayne LaPierre? No. Can we have Chris Cox? No. Can we have any board member? No. We said to them, what if we did a live interview, unedited? And they also said no.

Did they give any reasons for that?

Not one.

Why do you think they refused?

I think when confronted with the facts they would have a hard time defending themselves. When they can continue to spew their rhetoric unchallenged, they can continue to stay on point and on brand.

Most of the experts in your film are very strongly tilted towards gun control. Did you try to hear from researchers or experts who arent gun control advocates, who are more on the gun rights side?

We spoke to Richard Feldman, who is a former lobbyist for the NRA.

We spoke to John Lott, he will be featured in a digital companion that we have. We did a great piece on him. Hes the originator of the idea that more guns equal less crime. His research has been criticized and largely discredited, and when we went to include it in the film, it felt like unnecessary real estate to put in the film, because we know his research has been debunked many times. We kept going back to the idea that we wanted to reserve the real estate in the film for the responsible gun owners.

In the film, you focus on poll results suggesting that the majority of NRA members say they support universal background checks on gun sales. But, in the film, when you talked to a focus group of gun owners, people willing to go on camera, most of them opposed universal background checks. Did you explore that contrast?

To me, the Virginia Citizens Defense League represents that very small fringe of gun owners that dont support really any gun safety measures. Whats interesting, when you speak to them, they agree that people should be trained, they agree that people should put safety locks on their firearms. They dont think it should be legally required.

Parents
Parents and their daughters, nine- and five-years-old, look over a pistol at the National Rifle Association of Americas 2008 meeting. Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty Images

When you saw NRA members outside the convention, you saw that four out of five of them said, of course we should have background checks. We have to show that where the stranglehold comes from is this small but noisy fringe who are single-issue voters, who call their elected officials.

What impact would you like to see from this film?

The best case scenario would be to inspire people to make gun sense their voting priority. I think many of us are outraged by gun violence. But few people act on it. I know I didnt before this. I didnt do anything after Sandy Hook happened. I didnt call my elected officials. I didnt know what effect that would really have. I hope this film gives people hope to think that their voices count. The NRA is such a great example in showing that a small group of people can really make a difference. We heard from so many people who say, We dont get as many calls from gun safety advocates as gun advocates.

I hope that within the NRA people say, You do not represent me, and I will not be a member, that they will rescind their membership until the NRA represents their views. I hope there is an uprising within the NRA to hold leadership accountable.

During the process of making the film, were there any points when you were convinced that the gun rights advocates were right?

I worked at Fox and on the OReilly Factor for a long time. I could see at times where people were coming from. I could see why Victoria Montgomery wants to carry a gun to protect her baby. I dont agree with it, but I respect her point of view.

Do you think Wayne LaPierre truly believes the government wants to confiscate guns?

They cant. It would be physically impossible. There are 300m guns in this country and the second amendment protects peoples right to own guns. This is not a contentious issue. In the two years I spent making this film, I did not meet one person who thought we should ban guns.

But do you think LaPierre actually believes this could happen?

No, I think he knows that it cant happen. I think he knows what hes doing. This is a man who makes a million dollars a year. His bottom line would be threatened if he gave up the idea.

Having spent so much time with gun control advocates, do you think there is anything that the gun control movement gets wrong, or that they could do better?

I think the assault weapon ban of 1994 was really poorly written and poorly executed.

The gun safety advocates there are some that would benefit from having more conversations with gun owners. I think the good ones really try, and really embrace gun owners. When I was in Chicago, a man came up to thank me for the film and was talking to me about how crazy this open-carry woman was. I told him, I dont think its productive for you to write her off as crazy. Youll never further the conversation if you do that.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/may/15/gun-control-nra-stephanie-soechtig-under-the-gun


Join, or die: Paul Ryan signals desire to put party unity ahead of Trump anxiety

House speaker says this election is too important to go in at half strength ahead of Trumps meeting with Republican leadership on Capitol Hill on Thursday

After declining to endorse Donald Trump last week, Paul Ryan on Wednesday said he hoped an upcoming meeting with the presumptive Republican nominee would begin the process of unifying the party in order to defeat Hillary Clinton in November.

Addressing reporters on Wednesday, one day before Trump is to meet Ryan and other Republicans on Capitol Hill, the House speaker said the stakes were too high to gloss over and fail to address the lingering differences within the party.

To pretend were unified as a party after coming through a very bruising primary, which just ended like a week ago, to pretend were unified without actually unifying, then we go into the fall at half strength, Ryan said at his weekly press conference.

This election is too important to go into an election at half strength. That means that we need a real unification of our party. Which, look, after a tough primary thats going to take some effort.

Ryan stunned many in Washington with his announcement last week that he was not yet ready to support Trump, laying bare an unprecedented distance between the highest ranking Republican in the nation and the partys presumptive nominee, who for the next six months will serve as its standard bearer in the general election.

At least a few rank-and-file members stood up in a closed-door Republican conference meeting to express their discomfort with Ryans declaration, according to a source in the room. There were others who were instead supportive of Ryans statement, reflecting the deepening chasm among Republicans who are damned if they embrace Trump and damned if they dont.

Some House Republicans have stated publicly that they will not back Trump as the nominee, particularly those from key battleground states, such as Illeana Ros-Lehtinen and Carlos Curbelo of Florida and Scott Rigell of Virginia. At the same time, there are those Republicans hailing from more conservative districts who are under growing pressure to rally around Trump.

Trump struck a conciliatory tone toward Ryan during an interview on Wednesday, telling conservative radio host Don Imus the House speaker is a very good person [who] loves the party and loves the country.

Maybe more than anything else, we have to get to know each other, Trump said. I really think probably well come out with something thats going to be good, I hope, otherwise Ill just continue on the path that I continue on.

Trump is scheduled to meet Republican leaders in Congress on Thursday, including a separate meeting with Ryan and Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Ryan has routinely criticized Trumps controversial statements, from banning Muslim immigration into the US to the real estate moguls initial refusal to disavow the endorsement of a former Ku Klux Klan leader, David Duke. The two men also have vast policy differences, ranging from entitlement reform to trade to immigration.

Ryan was mum on what he would need to hear from Trump in order for the billionaire to secure his confidence, confessing that they had met only once, in 2012, when Ryan was Mitt Romneys vice-presidential nominee.

I dont really know him, Ryan said. We just need to get to know each other and we as a leadership team are enjoying the fact that we have a chance to meet with him.

Ryans counterpart Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader in the Senate, issued a tepid endorsement of Trump following the crushing victory in the Indiana primary last week that forced his only remaining rivals, Texas senator Ted Cruz and Ohio governor John Kasich, out of the race.

While at least three Republican senators Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Dean Heller of Nevada have come out against Trump, others returning to Washington after a weeklong recess appeared resigned to accepting him as the nominee.

Marco Rubio, the Florida senator who engaged in a bitter feud with Trump while competing for the Republican nomination, said on Tuesday he would honor the pledge he signed as a candidate to support the nominee. Even so, he maintained his prior criticisms and reservations about Trump and declined to explicitly say if he would vote for him in November.

Senator Kelly Ayotte, who faces a tough re-election fight in New Hampshire, also sought to walk a fine line by stating she would support and vote for Trump but not offer him a formal endorsement.

Republicans are defending 24 Senate seats in November, many of which are in states won by Barack Obama in previous election cycles. Trump also risks potentially expanding the competitive electoral map to states such as Arizona, where Senator John McCain recently confessed at a private fundraiser that having the former reality TV star at the top of the ticket would make his re-election the race of my life.

Senator Pat Toomey, once thought to be in a more comfortable race in Pennsylvania, responded to Trumps nomination by penning an op-ed in one of his home states newspapers seeking to distance himself from many of Trumps outlandish proposals and comments toward women, immigrants and Muslims.

Trump was not my first, second, or third choice. I object to much in his manner and his policies, Toomey wrote. Winning the nomination is a great accomplishment, but it does not mean party members check their judgment at the door.

Even so, Toomey added he was inclined to support the nominee of his party.

Other influential Republicans were more openly prepared to embrace Trump, including Richard Burr of North Carolina, the Senate intelligence committee chief, and Bob Corker of Tennessee, the chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee.

Corker downplayed Trumps brash demeanor, telling reporters that Republican primary voters wanted a personality and someone who is irreverent but that the campaign had now entered a second phase, drilling down on policy.

When people say Never this or never that, I think a better place to be is to chill and let the campaign evolve a little bit and see where the candidate ends up, Corker said.

Susan Collins, a senator from Maine who has often broken with her party on key issues, said she expected to eventually support Trump as long as he could assume the role of a more serious general election candidate.

He needs to reach out to Republicans, articulate more clearly what a Trump presidency would look like, and he needs to tone down and abandon the personal insults that have marred his campaign, she said.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/may/11/republicans-donald-trump-paul-ryan-party-unity


Donald Trump wins West Virginia primary

Presumptive Republican nominees win in West Virginia may not net large delegate haul as better-organized former rival Ted Cruz remained on ballot

Donald Trump has won West Virginias Republican primary over former rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich, who remained on the ballot despite their having dropped out of the race last week.

Trumps win called by the Associated Press minutes after polls closed was expected even before Cruz and Kasich suspended their campaigns following poor showings in Indiana.

Polls in the Mountain State had given the real estate mogul a lead of over 30 points before his win in last weeks primary made him the GOPs likely standard-bearer in the November general election.

Nebraska and West Virginia results
Nebraska and West Virginia primary results. Donald Trumps last remaining rivals, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, suspended their campaigns on 3 May and 4 May respectively. They are still on the ballot in both states however.

His victory came despite his telling supporters not to bother to vote in the primary at a campaign rally in the state capital of Charleston on Thursday. Save your vote for the general election in November, the presumptive nominee told a raucous crowd of over 13,000.

Nevertheless, Trumps win in West Virginia may not translate into a clean sweep of the states 34 delegates.

Voters in West Virginia cast ballots for individual delegates. This means that a Republican voter in the Mountain State has to cast 25 individual votes: three for their district delegates and 22 for statewide delegates.

Although each delegates presidential preference is listed on the ballot, the states convoluted rules add an additional wrinkle that complicates the process. Among the 22 statewide delegates, no more than two can be elected from an individual county and seven from a congressional district. These jurisdictions are not listed on the ballot.

This means that the third highest vote-getter from a county or the eighth from a congressional district is automatically disqualified from serving as a delegate.

Although the Trump campaign tried to distribute an official slate to avoid wasted votes, there is still significant potential for Trump supporters to cluster their votes as nine of the first 22 Trump delegates are from a single county.

This creates scenarios where outnumbered but better organized Cruz supporters can still elect delegates and have a foothold in the states delegation at the convention.

Polls close in Nebraska at 9pm ET.

The Democratic race in West Virginia has not yet been called.

Republicans

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/may/10/nebraska-west-virginia-primaries-donald-trump


How we got to Trump: blame game begins among fellow Republicans

Eleven months ago, the businessmans candidacy seemed like a sideshow; now, hes the likely GOP presidential nominee. How did the country get here?

As the news sinks in, a palpable sense of shock is settling over much of America of the sort normally reserved for the day after major natural disasters. Donald Trump, the real estate tycoon once known primarily for his mop of orange hair, perma-tan and catchphrase Youre fired!, has become the presumptive presidential nominee of the Republican party.

The country, including many top figures within the GOP itself, is struggling to come to terms with the unthinkable, the unconscionable, the downright preposterous: in theory, Trump is now one short hop away from the White House. To say that the news has unsettled the party of which he is now the nominal head would be a gross understatement thunderstruck, flabbergasted or devastated would be closer to the mark.

On Wednesday the final opponent to the former reality TV star, the governor of Ohio John Kasich, suspended his campaign following on the heels of Ted Cruz, the senator for Texas, who concluded he had no way to compete with Trump in the wake of the Indiana primary the day before. The Republican race was over.

When asked by the Guardian to describe the impact on the Republican party of Trumps now-inevitable nomination, Rick Wilson, a prominent conservative strategist who worked on the presidential campaigns of both George Bushes, replied: What Republican party? The party I grew up in is done, its over. As long as Donald Trump is the definition of our brand, its dead.

Trump
Trump announces that he will run for president of the United States, in the lobby of Trump Tower, New York, 16 June 2015. Photograph: Richard Drew/AP

Charlie Sykes, a popular conservative radio host in Milwaukee, said: Donald Trump represents the antithesis of everything I have fought for in the last 30 years. He is a neo-fascist buffoon.

Influential conservative pundits are calling on party members to work to keep Trump from securing the most powerful job on earth. George Will in the Washington Post exhorted conservatives to help Trump lose in all 50 states, while Mark Salter, a strategist for the 2008 Republican nominee John McCain, went as far as to say on Twitter that he would vote for Hillary Clinton, tweeting: Im with her.

Countless other Republicans are flocking to the anti-Trump website nevertrump.com, whose pledge has more than 30,000 signatories.

How did it come to this? How did an event that many pundits predicted could and would never happen come to pass?

A look back at how Trump ran his primary campaign throws up more questions than answers. It is easier to list the things that he has done wrong in the past year than those he has done right.

In the 11 months since he declared his candidacy for the presidency, he has insulted a wide range of ethnic and religious groups, ignored age-old wisdom about how to run a political campaign and taken policy positions way beyond the mainstream. And, in ways that people are only beginning to accept and understand, it has worked.

Even his son Eric, speaking to the Guardian at the victory party on Tuesday night in Trump Tower, the candidates gauchely glittering Manhattan home, expressed surprise at how his father had pulled it off. Hes done an amazing job, for a man who has never been a politician and has self-funded his campaign.

When Trump first announced his candidacy in June, it was to sneers among many in the chattering classes. Everything about him was uncouth, ranging from his entrance on an escalator in Trump Tower to his accusation that the Mexican government was deliberately sending rapists across the border into the US. His nearly hourlong stream of consciousness was broadcast live in its entirety on cable news as an apparent freak show but it touched a chord with voters.

In droves, they embraced Trumps message and bought his branded hats (Make America Great Again). They didnt need to have their attitudes measured in polls or groomed through sophisticated targeted advertising. They were mad as hell and they werent going take the mainstream Republican party any more.

Sarah
Sarah Palin endorses Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a rally in Ames, Iowa, 19 January 2016. Photograph: Mary Altaffer/AP

Trump proved to be pretty entertaining, too if visceral attacks against rivals such as Jeb low-energy Bush and Lyin Ted Cruz were your sort of entertainment. The unlikeliest of presidential candidates began to attract huge crowds across the south and the north-east.

As the no doubt bloody and enduring post-mortem begins, many fingers of blame are being pointed at the media, which afforded the candidate copious amounts of free air time in return for stellar viewing figures and web clicks. As long ago as March, the New York Times estimated that Trump had been showered with almost $2bn worth of media attention without spending a dime of his own money.

Trump also proved to be adept in whipping up the crowd on social media, with a Twitter feed that today attracts nearly eight million followers. As with so much of his campaign, the normal rules of presidential electioneering didnt seem to apply to him he could retweet white supremacists, repeat conspiracy theories and spout blatant untruths in ways that would have destroyed previous candidates yet seemed to wash off him without effect.

As the in-fighting within the Republican party intensifies in the wake of Trumps coronation, some had harsh words about culpability. Rick Wilson said that the conservative media, and the established media generally, had questions to answer about how they gave him a pass.

He was let get away with things that would disqualify any other candidate. The media just shrugged its shoulders and said: Its Donald being Donald.

Charlie Sykes laid some of the blame on his fellow talkshow hosts on the national stage for example, Rush Limbaugh, who has been effusive about Trump. When we undertake the inevitable reckoning, the role of talkshow hosts in dumbing down and distorting the debate, misleading listeners and enabling Donald Trump will be a major factor, theres no doubt about it.

But such substantial criticisms of the media should not let the Republican party itself off the hook. As Sykes puts it, there was a failure of principle, a failure of nerve, a failure to coalesce around a credible alternative candidate.

To some extent, the extreme rightwing policies that Trump has made his own were merely reframings of populist slogans laid down by his supposedly moderate predecessors. Trumps promise to build a wall along the Mexican border to keep out criminal and rapist illegals was anticipated by Mitt Romneys earlier pledge to force the self-deportation of undocumented immigrants which made Romneys later denunciation of Trump somewhat duplicitous.

Marco
Marco Rubio and Donald Trump at a debate on the campus of the University of Miami on 10 March 2016 in Coral Gables, Florida. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The 16 other GOP presidential candidates who lined up against Trump at the start of the campaign also made a pact with the devil in which they largely agreed to look the other way until it was too late. Wilson has calculated that Jeb Bush devoted 10 times as much money fighting his fellow Floridian Marco Rubio than he did battling the real estate billionaire while Cruz spent nine months cozying up to Donald Trump and then the final month saying he was a monster. That lacked a certain amount of credibility.

At his victory speech on Tuesday night, Trump bragged that the Republican establishment spent $8m in its desperate attempt to stop him, including 60,000 negative TV ads which he called absolutely false and disgusting. But he added: The people are so smart they dont buy it. They get it.

The people to whom he was alluding were the preponderantly older white male voters who tend to dominate Republican primary elections. With Trump posting a 67% unfavorability rating among Americans generally the worst showing of any presidential nominee of either main party since at least 1984 the people may prove not to be so smart, by Trumps definition, when the wider electorate gets to have its say in November.

(Clinton, however, has her own troubles with favorability. More than half of voters also say they view her negatively.)

But all that lies ahead. For now, there is Trumps unstoppable nomination to deal with, and the shattering recognition it brings that the Republican party has given birth to a candidate who, for many Americans, embodies their darkest fears.

GOP delegates

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/may/04/donald-trump-republican-nomination-how-we-got-here


Trump beats Cruz in Indiana primary, clearing path to nomination

By winning at least 30 delegates in Indiana, Donald Trump now has an easy path to claiming the 1,237 delegates needed to avoid contested convention

Donald Trump has beaten Ted Cruz in the Indiana primary, ending the best hope of blocking a presidential nomination the Texas senator has claimed will plunge America into the political abyss.

Despite a day of dire warnings from Trumps conservative rival, the New York businessman was declared victor by the Associated Press within seconds of polls closing in the Hoosier state.

With the second highest number of delegates left on offer before the Republican party convention, Indiana offered a chance for Cruz to repeat his success in Iowa and Wisconsin by urging midwest voters to reject Trump.

The country is depending on Indiana, he warned on Tuesday. If Indiana does not act, this country could well plunge into the abyss We are not a proud, boastful, self-centered, mean spirited, hateful, bullying nation.

But by winning the 30 delegates awarded to Indianas statewide winnerand at least 15 of the 27 delegates awarded by congressional district, Trump now has an easy path to claiming the 1,237 pledged delegates needed to avoid a contested convention in Cleveland and win outright, and is well-positioned even if Cruz pulls off an upset in delegate-rich California next month.

With over 30% reporting, Trump had won 53.5% of the vote, with Cruz on 35.8% and Ohio governor John Kasich on 8%. He now has 1,041 pledged delegates as well of the 1,237 he needs to be the partys nominee.

The Democratic race in Indiana had not been called at the time of writing, but with over 30% reporting Bernie Sanders was ahead of Hillary Clinton by a thin margin of 51.6% to 48.4%.

Trump has already called for Cruz to drop out of the race in a tweet: Lyin Ted Cruz consistently said that he will, and must, win Indiana. If he doesnt he should drop out of the race-stop wasting time & money, proclaimed the frontrunner.

Indiana

If Trump becomes the presumptive nominee, he will inherit a party he has left bitterly divided through a brand of politics defined by innuendo, race-baiting and outright demagoguery.

Trumps latest sally came in a telephone interview with Fox News on Tuesday in which the Republican frontrunner alleged that Ted Cruzs father, Rafael, had met with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to the assassination of John F Kennedy and implied that Rafael Cruz was somehow involved.

There is no evidence for the story save in allegations made by the National Enquirer, a supermarket tabloid owned by a Trump ally.

Trump had previously threatened to spill the beans about Cruzs wife and has spread a variety of clearly false stories, starting from his June announcement speech that Mexico was deliberately sending rapists into the United States and including the repeated claim that American general John Pershing committed war crimes in the Philippines. The latter story appears to have originated via an internet hoax spread by email.

Cruz fired back in an emotional press conference at which he told reporters: I am going to do something I havent done this entire campaign, I am going to tell you what I really think of Donald Trump.

Democrats

The Texas senator proceeded to call Trump a pathological liar, amoral, a narcissist and a buffoon. Cruz has long prided himself on avoiding personal attacks. Instead, he attacked Trump as a New York liberal and the real estate moguls former pro-choice and pro-gun control stances. Cruz proceeded to paint the stakes in the starkest of terms: If the people of Indiana do not act this country could well plunge into the abyss.

Shortly after polls closed, Trump responded to Cruz on Twitter. Wow, Lyin Ted Cruz really went wacko today. Made all sorts of crazy charges. Cant function under pressure – not very presidential. Sad!

His loss in Indiana comes after a significant investment of resources by anti-Trump forces in the state. Cruz and anti-Trump Super Pacs spent $6m in the state on television advertising while Trump spent less than a million.

Further, in a vain attempt for a boost in the Hoosier State, Cruz unveiled former rival Carly Fiorina as his running mate if he receives the nomination and was able to cajole the states sitting governor, Mike Pence, into an endorsement. In contrast, Trump was endorsed in the state by a number of prominent former college basketball coaches, led by legendary Indiana University coach Bobby Knight.

With his loss tonight, Cruz will have not won a primary election for over a month since his April 5 win in Wisconsin. Despite Cruz doing well in delegate selection contests in Colorado and Wyoming, Trump has now won seven consecutive primaries and over 200 delegates in the last two weeks.

The Texas senator is favored in Nebraskas winner-take-all primary on 10 May and is flying to Lincoln for a campaign event there on Wednesday morning. However, West Virginia also holds a primary next week and a poll released Tuesday gave Trump a 40-point lead in the Mountain State.

Republicans

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/may/03/trump-wins-indiana-primary-us-election-2016


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