From subway rides to TV commercials, candidates show how NY may now be the most important primary state

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For the first time in memory, candidates for president in both major parties are campaigning in the New York primary as though it will make or break them.  The reason for that is simple:  it very well may.

Thursday saw three of the five remaining candidates from both the Democratic Party and the GOP on the ground in New York, attempting to show voters that they're just like them, in their attempts to win votes.

Two of those candidates were in the Bronx.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former Secretary of State under President Barack Obama, and former U.S. senator from New York, began her morning outside Yankee Stadium.

"I'm proud to have served New York for eight years in the Senate," Ms. Clinton said to a crush of reporters, as she stood next to Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.  "I'm a proud New Yorker," proclaimed he Chappaqua resident of 16 years.

Without a big win here in the state with the second highest number of delegates in the primary race, it will be more challenging for Clinton to make her case for nomination over Bernie Sanders.  His message of universal healthcare, tuition-free college and shrinking the banks has been resonating, all the way to Ms. Clinton's rebuttal of it, just before she rode the No. 4 train to get a tour of Bronx revitalization that was spurred by some of her Senate initiatives.

"Don't make promises you can't keep," she said, without mentioning her Democratic opponent by name.

Sanders had attracted a far larger crowd than Clinton to the Bronx a week ago -- 18,000 people -- an accomplishment to which the borough president responded.

"Some people have asked me," Diaz said, "am I feeling the Bern in the Bronx?  The Bronx hasn't burned for decades."

However, the city's northernmost borough is hot politically.

Ohio governor John Kasich was back again in New York, where he's been campaigning regularly for days. This time, on Arthur Avenue, in the Bronx's Little Italy, Kasich held up a fork, in reference to the pizza that he so wrongly ate one with last week in Queens.

This time, however, the fork came in handy, as David Greco, owner of Mike's Deli, gave a New York Italian food tour of the Bronx to the GOP candidate.

"This is like so being so alive, being in New York," Kasich said, after eating generous sections of three different sandwiches, a pasta with red sauce, as well as a bowl of pasta e fagioli.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump kept a lower than usual profile on Thursday, the same day that new poll numbers showed his support among New York Republican voters above 50 percent.  It was also the day after he led a crowded rally in Bethpage, Long Island.

Ted Cruz held an election rally in Scotia, New York, near Schenectady on Thursday morning, then toured a matzoh factory in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn in the early evening.

Every candidate is showing that New York is key for them, and possibly the strongest indication of that can be seen on the local airwaves.

Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders have now bought millions in ad time on local New York media outlets, including PIX-11.  It's been rare to see ads for presidential candidates in New York in a general election, let alone in primaries because of how late in the season New York's primary is and because the outcome has always been for a Democrat since 1988.

Typically, by this stage in the primary race in both parties, the likely nominee has been virtually chose while they continue to rack up delegates. That's not the case for any of the candidates this year, including the front runners.

As a result, this week's ad buy by both Democratic candidates is the first time presidential hopefuls have run television commercials for primary campaigns here in New York in nearly three decades.