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Trump attacks Kasich as campaign winds down

Donald Trump lambasted Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Monday, calling him "weak and pathetic" for striking a deal with Sen. Ted Cruz in an effort to defeat the New York developer.

Hillary Clinton and Mayor Kenney at a rally in the City Hall courtyard. "The goal here is to make sure we have a Democrat in the White House next year," she said.
Hillary Clinton and Mayor Kenney at a rally in the City Hall courtyard. "The goal here is to make sure we have a Democrat in the White House next year," she said.Read moreSTEVEN M. FALK / Staff

Donald Trump lambasted Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Monday, calling him "weak and pathetic" for striking a deal with Sen. Ted Cruz in an effort to defeat the New York developer.

"In business, that's called collusion," the Republican presidential front-runner said. "If you collude, it is illegal. ... Only in politics can you do stuff like this."

Speaking at West Chester University, Trump went on to ridicule Kasich's eating habits and label the Democratic front-runner "Crooked Hillary."

Trump's remarks on the eve of the Pennsylvania primary were the most pointed of a day that saw four of the five remaining candidates sweep into the region, determined to rouse supporters and boost their Tuesday vote totals.

Kasich worked the breakfast crowd at the Penrose Diner. Trump rallied his backers with his red-meat rant at West Chester. And Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders held separate town hall meetings at the National Constitution Center before holding rallies at the City Hall courtyard (Clinton) and Drexel University (Sanders).

Tuesday's so-called Acela primary looms large for both parties, with 384 delegates at stake for the Democrats (not counting superdelegates) and 172 for the Republicans as voters go to the polls in Delaware, Connecticut, Maryland, and Rhode Island as well as Pennsylvania.

Only Cruz skipped the state, choosing to press his luck in Indiana, where the Texas senator's chances on May 3 seem better than here as a result of an unusual alliance he has formed with Kasich. The two Republicans have each agreed to bow out of states where the other is stronger, in the hope of denying Trump the nomination.

Trump called it, among other things, a "desperation" move.

Kasich, campaigning in tie and shirtsleeves at the diner in South Philadelphia, dismissed the criticism. "I don't respond to Donald Trump," Kasich told a small mob of reporters crammed around his table, where he was eating eggs, over easy, and fruit.

"Now the fact is, we don't have all the resources in the world, but we're still going, and we have to husband our resources," Kasich said. "I feel it's very fair for me to be able to go to areas where I can spend my resources most effectively - and the same is true for Sen. Cruz. What's the big deal?"

He argued that Trump would be a sure loser to Clinton in the fall.

"We're going to go to a convention - it's going to be an open convention - and then the delegates will pick that person who can do the best in the fall," Kasich said.

Hours later, in West Chester, Trump took aim at the Ohio governor, including his table manners.

"Did you ever see this man eat?" asked Trump, who had apparently seen news clips of Kasich answering reporters' questions while eating at the diner. "Food pours out of his mouth. That's not presidential. ... This is just a guy who's a stubborn guy, who eats like a slob."

Trump spoke to a capacity crowd at the university's fieldhouse, which holds 3,500, according to a school spokeswoman. An additional 4,500 people were unable to get in.

Trump urged Pennsylvanians to vote for him and his "slate." GOP voters will select 54 unbound delegates - three from each congressional district - who are free to support the candidate of their choice at the party's convention this summer.

"It used to be you could just vote. ... But they say vote for this slate," Trump told the crowd. "It's a rigged system, a crooked system."

He pivoted quickly to Clinton: "It is almost as crooked as Hillary."

Clinton and Sanders both appeared separately at town hall gatherings taped by MSNBC at the National Constitution Center.

At his, Sanders doubled down on his criticism of Mayor Kenney's proposed sugary-drinks tax.

"This tax is, as I recall, three cents an ounce," he said. "A 12-ounce bottle of soda, that's 36 cents, times five sodas a week, that's two bucks, a hundred bucks a year. People who don't have a lot of money, that's a lot."

Sanders enters Tuesday's voting with polls showing him trailing Clinton by sizable margins in the Keystone State. He said he still sees a path forward. Should he fail, he said, he won't plead with his supporters to support Clinton come November.

"It is incumbent on Secretary Clinton to reach out not only to my supporters but to all the American people with an agenda that they believe will represent the interests of working families, low-income people, middle-class, those of us who are concerned about the environment, and not just big-money interests," he said.

That said, Sanders vowed to "do everything in my power to make sure no Republican gets into the White House."

Clinton, at her own town hall meeting, indicated she had no intention of bending over backward to adopt Sanders' proposals to win over his base.

"Let's look at where we are right now. ... I am winning," Clinton told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. "And I am winning because of what I stand for."

Clinton also touched on local issues. She supports Kenney's drink tax proposal, for instance. She also pointed to recent gun violence in Philadelphia, and said she would work every day to enact tougher gun laws. She called out legislators in Harrisburg as passing what she called the "worst kind of legislation favoring the gun lobby."

"It's just outrageous. And you have these killings going on in Philadelphia," she said. "It wasn't just this weekend. Last weekend, 12 people were shot, four people were killed. There was a man executed on the streets here in Philadelphia talking to somebody running for office. This is out of control."

Both Clinton and Sanders ended their nights at rallies in the city.

Clinton spoke to 1,300 people inside City Hall's courtyard. "The goal here is to make sure we have a Democrat in the White House next year," she told the crowd.

Sanders spoke to supporters gathered at Drexel's Daskalakis Athletic Center. The Vermont senator was introduced by the actress Susan Sarandon.

Before he took the stage, Sanders promised that win or lose Tuesday, he will stay in the race.

"We are in this race, of course, until the end," he said. "We have come a long, long way in this campaign. ... We are in this race to win. We're going to continue the fight until the last vote is cast. You are going to see me back here in Philadelphia in July."

tfitzgerald@phillynews.com

215-854-2718@tomfitzgerald

www.inquirer.com/bigtent

Staff writers Claudia Vargas and Michaelle Bond contributed to this article.

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