Hillary Clinton speaks yesterday during a rally at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

THE BIG IDEA:

The Nevada caucuses were once a lock for Hillary Clinton. Just last month, campaign manager Robby Mook said she was ahead there by 25 points.

But the dynamic on the ground has shifted rapidly in the wake of Bernie Sanders’ 22-point victory in New Hampshire.

“The Clinton panic is palpable,” Jon Ralston, the dean of the Silver State press corps, writes this morning. “Clinton spent Monday in Nevada and sent her husband to fill in at Florida events after her campaign clearly sensed the firewall buckling here. … There is a dearth of reliable public polling in Nevada, but no one on either side has asserted the race is not in reach for Sanders.”

Clinton aides have bent over backwards to lower expectations as Saturday approaches, exaggerating the share of the electorate that will be white. This has frustrated Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who is staying neutral, and prompted the Democratic front-runner to distance herself from her own spokesman’s spin.

Bernie jokes around during a rally at Bonanza High School in Las Vegas on Sunday. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

-- After getting a late start in Nevada, Sanders is massively outspending Clinton in the state because he sees it as a venue to show he can make inroads with minority voters if only they hear his message. Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ campaign manager, said internal polling shows young and working-class Latinos coming Bernie’s way. Their goal is to disprove “this firewall fantasy that the Clinton campaign has put out there,” he told The Post. “If we do well, it destroys that myth.” It would certainly change conventional wisdom about the Southern states that vote on Super Tuesday…

My colleagues John Wagner and David Weigel, both on the ground, relay that Sanders really seems to be making inroads with minority voters, especially young Latinos. “Despite Clinton’s overwhelming support among union leaders, the Sanders campaign is making a concerted bid among the rank and file,” they write. “Twelve Sanders campaign offices have mushroomed across the state.” One of his ads features Latina politician Lucy Flores, a former state legislator, explaining why she thinks only Sanders can fix the country. “More than a hundred paid staffers have hit the ground, aided by Latino pro-Sanders groups from as far away as Los Angeles.” He’s also drawing much bigger crowds at his events than she is.

The 42nd president at Francis Marion University in Florence, S.C., on Saturday. (Alex Holt for The Washington Post)

-- Meanwhile, Bill is again causing headaches and anxiety for his wife’s campaign. Senior advisers privately worry about his unpredictability, especially after the unhelpful outburst on the eve of the New Hampshire primary. In the last couple of days, the former president looked poised to launch into unscripted riffs about Sanders before reining himself in at the last second. There have been flashbacks at Brooklyn headquarters to 2008, when Bill’s storied lack of self-discipline became a liability and helped drive African American voters to Obama. “Bill Clinton is an incomparable genius when it comes to politics — except when it comes to his wife,” former Obama strategist David Axelrod. “It clouds his judgment. … He can be super-effective for her. Where he’s not effective is where he has these histrionic episodes.” Axe is quoted in a piece on this dynamic by Abby Phillip, who has been following WJC around South Carolina.

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

-- Federal offices in the D.C. region will be open today with a three-hour delay because of the treacherous ice on the roads, per the Office of Personnel Management.

What about area schools?

  • CLOSED: Calvert County, Charles County, Fairfax County, Fredericksburg City, Fauquier County, Loudoun County, Manassas City, Prince William County, Spotsylvania County, St. Mary’s County, Stafford County
  • OPEN on a TWO-HOUR DELAY: Alexandria City, Falls Church City, Manassa Park City

-- PLEASE BE CAREFUL: Despite the rise in temperatures, the ice will take a few hours to melt. A Winter Storm Warning is in effect for areas west and north of the District until 10 a.m. and Winter Weather Advisory for D.C. to Baltimore and points eastward.

-- The Capital Weather Gang forecasts that “much warmer weather, moderate to heavy rain, and even a rumble of thunder move into the area today”: “We cool down tomorrow into Thursday, but nothing like the weekend. The big story could be this next weekend as another surge of warming winds sends temperatures soaring into the 50s and 60s.”

All she does is win. Taylor Swift crushed it at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles last night (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

AT THE GRAMMYS: “Taylor Swift won the night’s most-coveted trophy for her indomitable best-seller ‘1989,’ beating out California rapper Kendrick Lamar, who was nominated 11 times in nine categories,” Chris Richards reports. “Swift also racked up early awards for best pop vocal album and best music video for ‘Bad Blood.’ …. Record of the year went to ‘Uptown Funk,’ the ubiquitous hit from Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars; song of the year, a songwriter’s prize, went to underdog British troubadour Ed Sheeran for ‘Thinking Out Loud’; and this year’s best new artist trophy went to Meghan Trainor, a young doo-wop revivalist who accepted her award with tears of surprise. Alabama Shakes picked up best rock performance for ‘Don’t Wanna Fight.’ Chris Stapleton took home best country album for ‘Traveller,’ the record that catapulted him to fame last fall.” For a complete list of Grammy winners, click here.

HRC congratulated "Hamilton" after it won Best Musical Theater album at the Grammys:

-- Jimmy Carter won a Grammy for the audio book version of his memoir, “Full Life: Reflections at Ninety.” The former president previously won the “Best Spoken Word Album” category in 2007.

Speaking of former presidents, George W. Bush got a rock star's welcome in North Charleston. (Alex Holt for The Washington Post)

-- After a seven-year hibernation, Jeb Bush's older brother made a folksy and resolute return to the political arena, Ed O’Keefe and Philip Rucker report: “Though he never uttered the billionaire mogul’s name, Bush delivered an unmistakable rebuke to Trump’s candidacy … by touting the importance of humility in leadership and warning that ‘bluster’ and ‘theatrics’ must not be mistaken for strength. ‘Americans are angry and frustrated, but we do not need someone in the Oval Office who mirrors and inflames our frustration,’ Bush said. In another implicit contrast with Trump, Bush said that his brother was ‘a man of deep and humble faith that reveals itself through good works, not loud words.’ He then said, ‘All of the sloganeering and all of the talk doesn’t matter if we don’t win.’”

Beforehand, W gave a joint interview with his brother to Fox News, spoke at an American Legion hall and met privately in Columbia with Gov. Nikki Haley. “Thank goodness our country welcomed her parents from India when they immigrated here in 1969,” Bush said during his speech.

The Bush brothers embrace last night. (Alex Holt for The Washington Post)

-- Last night’s rally was just the latest reminder of the extent to which Iraq is haunting the 2016 candidates: Trump has not backed off his comments at this weekend’s debate that the Bush administration lied about the existence of WMDs. Sanders repeatedly invokes Clinton’s vote for the war to cast doubt on her judgment. “Iraq remains unfinished business, both as an ongoing national security concern and an open political question that the two parties answer differently,” Anne Gearan and Ed O’Keefe write in a story that just posted. “The Islamic State terror syndicate was born out of Iraq's political and security vacuum. The country is still unstable despite billions in U.S. support. Much of the current debate among Democrats and Republicans looks ahead to the question of who has the better plan to confront that threat. But a surprising amount of the discussion in recent days has also looked back to whether the war was justified and whether American power was misused.”

And the Iraq kerfuffle continues to play out in interesting ways: South Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan, who backs Ted Cruz, said Trump “exposed himself as a truther” for his criticism of Bush 43 during the debate, expressing confidence that the remarks “won’t play well” in the state. (Buzzfeed)

-- Perhaps because of continuing sensitivity to questions about the Iraq war, the Bush campaign blocked journalists from interviewing voters at last night's event. Prominent members of the media, from the conservative press to the broadcast networks, were outraged:

-- This week’s NBC News/SurveyMonkey tracking poll finds Marco Rubio dropping 3 points nationally and John Kasich rising 4 points to a two-month high of 7 points, with Trump maintaining his lead. The national margin between Clinton and Sanders is now at the lowest it has been in seven weeks. Fifty-six percent of Republican voters now believe that Trump will be the eventual nominee, up from 42 percent a week ago. A third of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters now believe Sanders will win the eventual nomination. (The other two-thirds still think Clinton will win.)

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. Nearly 50 civilians were killed in missile strikes on hospitals and schools in northern Syria, deepening the humanitarian crisis despite plans for a temporary cease-fire later this week. (Loveday Morris and Erin Cunningham)
  2. The special House committee formed to investigate Planned Parenthood’s handling of fetal tissue subpoenaed dozens of organizations. Critics are calling it a witch hunt and say that casting such a wide net endangers patient privacy. (Mike DeBonis)
  3. The Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado, where a police officer and two civilians were killed during a rampage, has reopened. (New York Times)
  4. Stepping up efforts to counter a rising China, President Obama welcomed leaders from 10 Southeast Asian nations for a two-day summit in Rancho Mirage, Calif. (David Nakamura)
  5. As part of the effort, Obama said he will travel to Vietnam in May. Hanoi has signaled a realignment toward the West as a hedge against Chinese bellicosity, especially in the South China Sea. (David Nakamura)
  6. POTUS also revealed plans to sign legislation that effectively bans American imports of fish caught by forced labor in Southeast Asia. (New York Times)
  7. South Korea threatened Pyongyang with further sanctions for their pursuit of a nuclear weapons program, warning that last week’s shutdown of their shared industrial park was “just the start.” (Anna Fifield)
  8. Mexican authorities found saunas, a bar, food stands—even an aquarium—in Monterrey's Topo Chico prison, after a riot broke out that killed 49 inmates. Among the contraband were hundreds of weapons used by the rioters. The prison’s top officers have been arrested on murder charges. (CBS)
  9. Four U.S. citizens, including journalist Anna Day, were detained in Bahrain, accused of using false information to enter the country and allegedly participating in “attacks on police.” Day was there with a camera crew to cover the fifth anniversary of the 2011 uprising. (CNN)
  10. A new study says a person’s risk of becoming depressed or hooked on smoking may be influenced by DNA inherited from Neanderthals. The study, published by the journal Science, found that Neanderthal-inherited DNA affected risk by about 1 percent. (Malcolm Ritter)

POWER PLAYERS IN THE NEWS:

  1. Police are investigating a 25-year-old Russian’s claim that she was assaulted by Eliot Spitzer at The Plaza Hotel in New York. Attorneys for the former governor denied the charges and said the young woman has “emotional difficulties.” (AP)
  2. A county sheriff in Maryland posted an open letter to President Obama on Facebook, complaining that he has not publicly offered condolences for two deputies who were killed last week in the line of duty. James T. DeWees, the Republican sheriff of Carroll County, wrote that if the deputies had, unprovoked, killed an innocent man, the president and his staff would have tried to “make an example of police officers nationwide.” (Martin Weil)
  3. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback became the first sitting governor to endorse Rubio. He backed Rick Perry last time. (Kansas City Star)
  4. Sanders, campaigning in Michigan, met with a small group of residents affected by the contaminated water crisis in Flint before addressing a basketball arena filled with 9,400 supporters. (John Wagner)
  5. Adam McKay, the director of “The Big Short,” is “really curious” if Hillary has seen his movie. He told Politico’s Glenn Thrush that Clinton's coziness with Wall Street and opposition to re-imposing Glass-Steagall banking regulations makes him uncomfortable.
  6. The Pope denounced the exploitation and social exclusion of Mexico’s Indians, which has gone on for centuries, during a visit to Chiapas. He also lambasted a political elite that “tends to ignore the masses.” (Joshua Partlow)
  7. Ehud Olmert began a 19-month prison sentence for taking bribes while Israel’s Prime Minister. (Ruth Eglash and William Booth)

THE LATEST ON THE SCALIA SUCCESSION FIGHT:

Liberal activists, associated with People For the American Way, rally outside the Supreme Court yesterday. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)

-- It looks increasingly unlikely that Obama will get a new justice though the Senate, as Republicans continued to fall in line behind leadership. Several key members indicated that they will block whomever the president nominates to succeed Antonin Sclia, even though more than 11 months remain in Obama’s 48-month term.

The most notable announcement came from Ohio’s Rob Portman, who needs conservatives and outside money but who could pay a big price in November for appearing to embrace obstruction.

He was not alone. The 2008 GOP nominee is focused on winning a primary challenge from his right back home in Arizona, and he's decided to focus on ginning up the base:

Older members also fell into lockstep with Mitch McConnell:

Reflecting the political risk of looking like an obstructionist, Nevada Republican Senate candidate Joe Heck (currently a congressman) issued a somewhat wishy-washy statement that gives him an out:

Retiring Minority Leader Harry Reid, whose open seat Heck is running for, has penned a strongly worded op-ed in today’s Post:

-- The Post's Editorial Board also weighs in, telling the Senate it has an obligation to do its job and that the issue is "not complicated": "We understand that, if positions were reversed, Democrats who are now piously invoking the Constitution would be articulating a different view. But that doesn’t make Mr. McConnell right. If a Republican is elected president in November and Democrats recapture the Senate, what is to prevent them from refusing to vote at all? Nothing in the Constitution decrees when a lame duck becomes lame. Meanwhile, the nation is harmed by having a hobbled court." 

-- Not that there should have been any doubt, but Obama also made clear that he is not backing down. White House spokesman Eric Schultz reiterated that the president will “fulfill his constitutional responsibility” by nominating a new justice and predicted that Republicans will eventually hold a confirmation hearing. “This is not the first time the Republicans have come out with a lot of bluster only to have reality sink in,” Schultz said. “We need a fully staffed Supreme Court.” He also quoted Ronald Reagan, who pressed for a vote on Anthony Kennedy in 1988: “Every day that passes with a Supreme Court below full strength impairs the people’s business in that crucially important body.” (Steven Mufson and Juliet Eilperin round up how interest groups on the right and left are mobilizing.)

This is the table at Cibolo Creek Ranch where Justice Scalia, 79, ate his last meal on Friday night. The West Texas resort stretches over 30,000 acres. (Photo by Matthew Busch/Getty Images)

-- Experts are VERY troubled by the way Scalia’s death was handled. “As a former homicide commander, I am stunned that no autopsy was ordered for Justice Scalia,” William O. Ritchie, the former head of all criminal investigations for the D.C. police department, wrote on Facebook. “You have a Supreme Court Justice who died, not in attendance of a physician. You have a non-homicide trained US Marshal tell the justice of peace that no foul play was observed. You have a justice of the peace pronounce death while not being on the scene and without any medical training opining that the justice died of a heart attack. What medical proof exists of a myocardial Infarction? Why not a cerebral hemorrhage? How can the Marshal say, without a thorough post mortem, that he was not injected with an illegal substance that would simulate a heart attack… Did the US Marshal check for petechial hemorrhage in his eyes or under his lips that would have suggested suffocation? Did the US Marshal smell his breath for any unusual odor that might suggest poisoning? My gut tells me there is something fishy going on in Texas.” (Lena H. Sun and Sari Horwitz)

Ted Cru during a campaign stop at the University of South Carolina in Aiken yesterday. (Michael Holahan/The Augusta Chronicle via AP)

-- The nomination fight has clouded the GOP race in South Carolina: Cruz’s message on the stump yesterday was that Trump would appoint liberal justices to the court — such as his sister, a federal appeals court judge. Trump once said his sister would be a “phenomenal” justice. “Now it’s good to stand with your sister, but Donald’s sister was a Bill Clinton-appointed federal appellate judge who is a radical pro-abortion extremist,” Cruz told reporters in Aiken. Katie Zezima notes that, in July 2000, Trump’s sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, wrote the majority opinion on a panel that found New Jersey’s ban on late-term abortions unconstitutional.”

-- Trump, who might be the most LITIGIOUS person to ever seek the presidency, then threatened to sue Cruz over his Canadian birth and for highlighting his past support for abortion rights. (Watch a video from his press conference here.)

John Boehner (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

-- John Boehner reveals that he pitched Scalia on being Bob Dole’s running mate in 1996. The former speaker was chairman of the House Republican Conference. In a first-person account for Independent Journal Review this morning, he recalls a clandestine meeting with the justice over a pepperoni and anchovies pizza (it was just the two of them and Boehner chief of staff Barry Jackson). “Dole needed some rocket fuel,” Boehner recalls thinking. “He needed a running mate who would …. [bring] an element of buzz and excitement that had been missing, particularly among Reagan-Gingrich conservatives yearning for a champion. … It was a pick nobody would have seen coming, and one with the potential to ignite the Dole campaign in a manner no one thought possible.”

“Scalia’s reaction was a mixture of amusement and humility," Boehner says. "He asked very direct questions on both the practicality of running — including how a candidacy would impact his role on the Court, what Dole’s reaction would be if he were to express willingness and, ironically, what the impact on the political process might be of a vacancy appearing on the Court in the months before a presidential election. ... As he’d promised to do, Justice Scalia called a day or two later with his response … He then dictated his response, which he indicated were the exact words Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes had used in response to similar entreaties decades earlier: ‘The possibility is too remote to comment upon, given my position.’ Scalia gave his blessing for me to share the response with both House Speaker Newt Gingrich and with Sen. Dole himself. The Speaker loved the idea. … Dole laughed. ‘He didn’t say no, so that means yes,’ the former Senate Majority Leader observed.”

-- Breanne Deppisch and Elise Viebeck contributed to this report.

WAPO HIGHLIGHTS:

-- “Racial profiling seems to be a weapon in Europe’s war on terrorism,” by Anthony Faiola: “The avowed ideals of a free, open and tolerant Europe are under assault as never before, with a surge in police spot checks and house raids ushering in what some are calling a new era of racial profiling. Under an ongoing state of emergency in France, for instance, police now have broad powers to detain suspects and conduct raids without court orders. So far, authorities have staged 3,200 raids and put almost 400 people under house arrest. Yet those raids have resulted in only five terrorism-related investigations. In Europe, such profiling appears chiefly aimed at ‘Muslim looking’ peoples … [and] it has become commonplace to see ethnic minorities held up at police checkpoints as white Europeans and tourists whisk through unmolested. ‘I am scared,’ said Muslim small business owner Halim Abdelmalek. ‘We are no longer in a state of law here. We are in a state of profiling … We are all suspects now.’”

The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei orchestrated the adornment of Berlin's Konzerthaus this weekend with 14,000 bright-orange life vests. More from Faiola: Used by some of the Syrians, Iraqis and others washing up on the shore of the Greek island of Lesbos on desperate quests for sanctuary in Europe, the jackets now spiral up the six columns of the concert hall in a temporary monument to misery and hope. As art, Ai says, they are meant to jar. More specifically, they are intended to shock the continent out of complacency at a time when European countries are, one by one, shutting their doors to asylum seekers. “This is Europe. This is the 21st century, and I don’t think people really get it,” Ai said in a phone interview from Lesbos, where he is working on a new documentary about the refugee crisis. “Where is our humanity?”

(Photo by Clemens Bilan/Getty Images)

-- “Venezuela faces ‘worst-case scenario’ as Zika outbreak expands,” by Joshua Partlow: “The Zika epidemic has struck Venezuela as the socialist-ruled country is spiraling into economic chaos and the public health system has been stripped of many basic tools of modern medicine. Hospital patients get wheeled past closets overflowing with trash. Stray dogs wander the hospital grounds. Doctors perform surgery without sutures and gauze. In the Latin American fight against the Zika virus, Venezuela stands apart. ‘Venezuela is showing the perfect scenario for how not to do things, in health,’ said José Oletta, a former health minister who estimates there have been 412,000 Zika cases in the country. The Zika outbreak has exposed in the public health sector the kinds of stories of misinformation, scarcity and government mismanagement seen in other parts of Venezuelan life. ‘It’s a microcosm of the whole country,’ said David Smilde, a professor of sociology at Tulane. ‘You have a government that doesn’t value transparency. You have a medical system in collapse.’”

Brian Mosteller (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

Fun profile --> “Meet the man who can basically read President Obama’s mind,” by Colby Itkowitz: “Few have even heard of Brian Mosteller, but if you look closely at photographs taken inside the White House, you can often glimpse him at the edge of the frame, omnipresent. His official title is director of Oval Office operations, although a more apt name might be anticipator in chief. When Obama is in Washington, every move the president makes, every person he meets and every meeting he attends has been carefully orchestrated by Mosteller. Admiring colleagues refer to him as an unsung hero of the administration — the man behind the man, without whom Obama arguably would not have such a universal reputation for cool. ‘I’m there to make whatever he wants happen,’ Mosteller said. ‘There [are] these enormous pressures descending on this man and this family … I take away the small pressures with which I can contend so he can focus on the more massive.’”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

Ellen DeGeneres celebrated President's Day with this post:

Fun presidential trivia:

Jeb may have finally gotten what he wanted: the focused ire of Trump. This chart from our analytics partners at Zignal Labs shows how the exchange over Iraq and the Sept. 11 attacks became the most Tweeted about moment for both men over the last five days.

The Donald has unleashed an unrelenting torrent of anti-Bush vitriol on social media. Six of the seven most popular Bush-related Tweets since Saturday night have been attacks from Trump.

Trump went after Bush and Cruz:

Lindsey Graham hung out back stage with the Bushes:

There were fun moments in the Democratic race too:

Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) did a photo opp in Flint:

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) took a drive on a frozen river:

Cory Booker appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert:

Big crowds in South Carolina:

A Cruz spokeswoman discovered this flier in the women's restroom at a campaign event:

Despite her #keepitclassy complaint, Alice's side is throwing as much -- or probably more -- mud at Rubio:

GOP lawmakers continued to post old photos with Scalia:

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

-- The legendary Walter Pincus, now writing his Fine Print column for The Cipher Brief, was deeply troubled by Trump’s recent flirtation with government-sanctioned assassinations of foreign leaders: “Like the Wizard of Oz, Trump is using electronic tools, his TV reality show experience and bluster to keep up the facade of having wide knowledge and power. But when it comes to national security, he is -- as the actor Frank Morgan was in the movie – really just a snake oil salesman.”

-- New York Magazine, “Why Michael Bloomberg Could Run for President and Win,” by Jonathan Chait: “Before we join all the other pundits in dismissing out of hand the possibility that Michael Bloomberg might be sworn into office as the 45th president of the United States, let’s stress test the assumption. One reason Bloomberg’s presidential ambitions have always been so detached from reality is that he fills a space on the political spectrum that is overserved (socially liberal, fiscally conservative) whereas the actual unmet political demand is just the opposite. But if Trump and Sanders win their nominations, then the opposite would suddenly hold true. A candidate who is neither a socialist nor a racist would have a large niche … He would certainly need Sanders as the Democratic nominee, and probably Trump as the Republican nominee as well, to have a viable constituency. But if he did somehow find that combination awaiting him, the long-clogged lane he occupies in the center might suddenly break open for him."

-- BuzzFeed, “Black Lawmakers And Their Staffers Split On Bernie Sanders,” by Darren Sands: “Congressional Black Caucus PAC had just endorsed Clinton, and its members stood behind a lectern and extolled her many virtues. Rep. Maxine Waters did not participate [but later] wanted to know: Had her colleagues publicly chastised young voters for their naivete? Some lawmakers had, onlookers said. Her face dropped. ‘You can’t do that,’ she said. ‘That’s why I can’t stand behind them.’ … Now that the primary is moving into more diverse states, the generational question is taking on new, added dimensions of race and racial politics. Even in Washington inside the CBC, there is a generational divide, particularly between the lawmakers and their staffers … and a growing sense that the attacks lobbed at Sanders are unseemly. ‘I’ll kiss the ring of whoever my party nominates, but right now I’m with Bernie,’ said a CBC member’s aide. ‘I’ve seen the efforts to discredit and suppress him … It’s not the way we should be approaching this.’”

-- The State, “GOP race stirs uneasiness among many SC immigrants,” by Avery G. Wilks: “Hispanics [in South Carolina] – both legal and undocumented – are watching uneasily as GOP presidential candidates rattle off their immigration plans, including deporting the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants and ending birthright citizenship. … Ten percent of likely S.C. Republican voters say immigration is the most important issue in this year’s presidential election. Meanwhile, nearly 250,000 S.C. residents are Hispanic or Latino, a number that has nearly tripled since 2000. ‘The majority of Republicans are against us,’ said Juan Rivera, who runs a local food truck.”

-- The Post and Courier, “Presidential race: It’s never been this personal,” by Robert Behre and Schuyler Kropf: “A new gold standard for angry candidate venom is being set in this year’s South Carolina Republican primary. Rather than being a race about policy and a vision for the nation’s future, this normally well-mannered Southern state — which has a history of sinking into ugly politics — is seeing a performance from the rudest of house guests. Charleston County GOP Chairman Larry Kobrovsky called the tenor of the Republican race ‘unfortunate.’ ‘It was almost like a ‘Saturday Night Live’ satire, but no, it was legitimate.’ With less than a week to go before Saturday’s Republican primary, many have taken note of the personal nature of the latest attacks.”

-- New York Times, “South Carolina Church Bridges Racial Gap, but Not Political Divide,” by Richard Fausset: “The members of Redemption church, a blend of black and white and Latinos, flowed into their sanctuary … praying side by side and signing together. They mingled afterward, waiting for lunch. What they all scrupulously avoided, however, was any discussion of politics. Avoiding such talk is an unwritten rule: ‘It’s almost like we’re at war with each other,’ said Becky Greene, who supports Cruz. ‘It’s like the conservatives and the liberals, and never the twain shall meet.’ The motto of this Pentecostal megachurch is ‘Where Many Become One,’ and its members are proud of their racial progress. But as the presidential road show heads South, Redemption is a reflection of one of the region’s most persistent divides. Despite the unmistakable gains that Southern blacks and whites have made in working, living and even praying together, when it comes to voting and politics, the gulf between them is so vast it can barely even be discussed.”

-- BBC, “Pope John Paul letters reveal 'intense' friendship with woman”: “Hundreds of letters and photographs that tell the story of Pope John Paul II's close relationship with a married woman, which lasted more than 30 years, have been shown to the BBC. The friendship began in 1973 when Polish-born American philosopher Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka contacted the future Pope, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, then Archbishop of Krakow, about a book on philosophy that he had written. The pair decided to work on an expanded version of the cardinal's book … meeting many times and corresponding frequently. She appeared to have revealed intense feelings for him because his letters … suggest a man struggling to make sense of their friendship in Christian terms. He describes her as a ‘gift from God.’ There is no suggestion the Pope broke his vow of celibacy … [but] the documents reveal a rarely seen side of the pontiff, who died in 2005.”

--Politico, “Republicans, Beware the Abe Fortas Precedent,” by Josh Zeitz: “In the wake of Scalia’s death, many have seized on the Fortas case—claiming that it’s precedent for a hostile Congress to thwart the Supreme Court nominee. But if Republicans are looking to 1968 for a precedent in this case, they might want to think twice. First of all, the conservatives who opposed Fortas’ elevation to chief justice understood that LBJ had every right to put forward a nomination … and held swift confirmation hearings for Fortas. And LBJ’s opponents were animated less by constitutional concerns than politics—and race. Opposition to Fortas flowed directly from his liberalism, and indirectly from his Judaism. Historians remember the circumstances by which he was blocked for exactly what they were … which were, for the most part, far from honorable. And then there’s another thing for the GOP to consider: In blocking Abe Fortas, conservatives might have derived immediate satisfaction. But liberals made them pay for it in due time.”

HOT ON THE LEFT

"Scalia told me a secret about George W. Bush." From Stephen Harrison, a corporate lawyer in Dallas, on Salon: "When we had dinner several years ago, I asked the justice about the Bushes ... 'I have the utmost respect for the Bush family,' he said. 'And I’m not a politician or a political figure. But a lot of my fellow Republicans think the other Bush brother is much brighter. That the wrong Bush brother became president.'"

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT

Why are so many millennails socialists? From the Federalist: "First, they don’t seem to know what socialism is, and how it’s different from other styles of government. ... A CBS/New York Times survey found that only 16 percent of millennials could accurately define socialism, while 30 percent of Americans over 30 could."

DAYBOOK:

On the campaign trail:

Hillary meets with Al Sharpton and delivers a speech in New York on “how we break down the barriers that hold back African American families.” An aide emailed a preview: “Clinton will call for a comprehensive commitment to equity and opportunity for African Americans from new investments in job creation to ending redlining to ensuring equal pay for women of color to ending the school-to-prison pipeline. Clinton believes that our leaders must do whatever it takes to tear down all the barriers and replace them with ladders of economic opportunity for all Americans.”

The rest of the field is in South Carolina:

  • Trump: North Augusta, Beaufort
  • Rubio: Beaufort, Summerville, North Myrtle Beach
  • Kasich: Greenville, Cayce
  • Cruz: Mount Pleasant, Columbia, Anderson
  • Bush: Columbia, Leesville, Aiken
  • Sanders: Columbia, Charleston

Sanders also goes to Atlanta. Georgia has a key primary on March 1.

At the White House: President Obama is in Rancho Mirage, Calif. for the second day of the ASEAN summit. Vice President Biden meets with senior advisers ahead of a trip to New Orleans tomorrow.

On Capitol Hill: The Senate and House are in recess all week.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

“How do we win in 2016? It's very simple. The body of Christ has to awaken and rise up.” – Ted Cruz, in an interview with Charisma, a Christian magazine

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

-- D.C.’s Lincoln Memorial will undergo a major renovation over the next four years, thanks largely to an $18.5 million donation by billionaire philanthropist David Rubenstein. (Michael E. Ruane)

-- Mayor Muriel E. Bowser refuses to disclose how she picked locations for seven area homeless shelters and is adamant she will not consider changes or substitutions, drawing condemnation for a lack of transparency. (Aaron C. Davis)

-- A charter school amendment died in the Virginia Senate after two Republicans surprisingly voted against it. It’s a blow to the education reform movement in the Commonwealth. The House and Senate passed identical legislation year. (Laura Vozzella)

-- NOAA wants to name Cape Hatteras a National Marine Sanctuary to protect WWII shipwrecks that lay off of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. The agency is hosting a public meeting on the idea at 5:30 p.m. at the Navy Memorial in downtown Washington. (Michael E. Ruane)

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Oops: Marco Rubio's latest ad -- an homage to Ronald Reagan's "It's morning again in America" commercial -- opens with stock footage from Vancouver, Canada. Read BuzzFeed for more, and watch here:

Watch a video of W. cracking jokes as he warmed up the crowd for his brother:

Watch Bill Clinton grapple with a Trump protester at a rally in Florida (ABC News).

Donald Trump threatened to sue Ted Cruz over what he called "false ads":

Correct the Record, David Brock's group, which coordinates directly with the Clinton campaign, released a web video attacking Sanders for sounding supportive of a primary challenger to President Obama four years ago.

In 2012, Scalia spoke with Charlie Rose about the process of appointing Supreme Court justices:

Paul Ryan explains why James Madison is his favorite president and Woodrow Wilson is his least favorite: