NEW YORK • After a week of canvassing matzo factories, cheesecake bakeries, hotdog stands and pizza shops, the presidential candidates put local delicacies aside on Monday and told New Yorkers what they were really hungry for: votes.
New York began voting yesterday in a high-stakes presidential primary tipped to hand Mrs Hillary Clinton and Mr Donald Trump victories in the race to clinch the Democratic and Republican tickets, respectively, to the White House.
The five remaining contenders sought to leave nothing to chance the day before New York's primary, dashing across the city and state to make their final pitches, while assailing their rivals as unelectable and incompetent.
Polls show Mrs Clinton and Mr Trump holding wide leads in New York, but that did not mean the pressure was off. Senator Ted Cruz continues to peel Republican delegates away from Mr Trump at state conventions across the country and Senator Bernie Sanders, the Democratic socialist who has sharpened his tone against Mrs Clinton, has defied the odds before.
Mrs Clinton's campaign events took her to a veritable UN of voters around New York City, where her campaign has left hardly any ethnic group unturned ahead of the primary. Mr Sanders showed no signs of easing up either.
The Vermont senator spent most of the sunny Monday face-to-face campaigning, an unexpected shift for a candidate who has spent most of his days holding mega-rallies before thousands of supporters.
As Mr Sanders courted union workers, Mr Trump was across town trying to improve his standing with members of minority groups.
At Trump Tower, he gathered with select members of a recently formed "diversity coalition", the brainchild of his company adviser, Mr Michael Cohen, who drew on longstanding relationships with some black pastors to form an umbrella group meant to rebut questions about Mr Trump's attitude about race and criticism that he appeals only to white voters.
There was confusion around the meeting, which was expected to draw about 40 people, but mushroomed into a crowd of more than 100. Mr Trump eventually descended from his office and offered brief remarks, expressing cautious optimism about the election results and hitting his Republican opponents as New York pretenders.
"We love the city - you look at the other folks running, they couldn't care less about New York," he said. "We care about New York a lot."
Although they appeared to be long shots in New York, Mr Cruz and Governor John Kasich of Ohio continued to pound the Republican front runner from afar.
Mr Kasich, who has won only his home state, held town hall events near Syracuse and in Schenectady, pressing his positive message and lamenting Mr Trump's tone.
Mr Cruz, who squeezed in a campaign stop in Maryland between two private events in New York City and national television appearances, also hammered Mr Trump for offering empty solutions on the economy and foreign policy.
On ABC's Good Morning America, the Texas senator warned that Mr Trump would be crushed by Mrs Clinton in a general election and suggested that he was nothing more than a vapid celebrity candidate.
"He's always interesting to watch," Mr Cruz said. "He's a fun entertainer. But Donald has no real solutions."
NEW YORK TIMES