Ted Cruz fist bumps a supporter in Seneca yesterday. (Daniel Acker/Bloomberg)

THE BIG IDEA:

BOILING SPRINGS, S.C.—Ted Cruz’s feud with Donald Trump is getting all the attention on cable news, but on the ground here the Texas senator seems just as preoccupied with halting the momentum of his Florida colleague Marco Rubio.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll last night showed Cruz in the lead nationally for the first time, edging out Trump by two points, 28 percent to 26 percent. Though it’s within the margin of error and an outlier, it’s a significant shift from last month, when the same poll had Trump up 13 (33-20).

But in South Carolina, Trump leads overwhelmingly in every survey, and Rubio is nipping at Cruz’s heels for second place. A Bloomberg poll yesterday had Trump at 36 percent, with Cruz at 17, Rubio at 15, Jeb Bush at 13, Ben Carson at 9 and John Kasich at 7. And a Monmouth University poll put Trump at 35 percent, with 19 percent for Cruz and 17 percent for Rubio. The others were all in single digits.

-- After his fifth-place finish in New Hampshire, Rubio has gotten his groove back. He caught a big break yesterday when South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley endorsed him. That could bring establishment voters his way, especially from Jeb Bush, who assiduously courted her. Many do not like Trump or Cruz, and they will back Rubio if they see him as their best bet.

-- Cruz’s theory of the case is predicated on winning in the South. The Palmetto State looks a lot like the states that vote in the SEC Primary on March 1. If he cannot finish in the top two here, how is he going to win Georgia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Alabama and/or Arkansas in two weeks? (Texas, his home state, might be easier.) Cruz has been struggling to translate support from the professional class of the conservative movement into more support from activists on the ground, Robert Costa and Philip Rucker note in today’s paper. And the power of the bonds he has cultivated with movement conservatives will be tested if he gets the bronze here.

-- There are more born-again evangelicals in this state than In Iowa. And they should be Cruz’s base. But Trump is leading among this group in the polls. Rubio has been making inroads by talking more about his faith and the importance of the church. Carson continues to have a strong following, as well, and he benefits from all the nastiness between Trump and Cruz – projecting himself as above the fray.

-- Mindful of this, Cruz and his allies are trying to stop Rubio.

Exclusive: A Cruz super PAC, which will have spent $3 million in South Carolina by Saturday, is launching four new ads today, including a commercial hitting Rubio on immigration and a digital ad slamming him for supporting sugar subsidies. The group, called “Keep The Promise I”, is also sending a mailer to 257,500 likely voters that links Rubio with Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid and Hillary Clinton. “He’s one of them,” it says. The attack ad makes the same point, featuring Reid and Schumer killing him with praise during TV interviews. Watch:

Cruz himself is running two commercials against Rubio over immigration. One features Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.). The other accuses Rubio of “using Obama’s talking points to make his sales pitch” for the 2013 bill. It splices the president and the senator making the case for the legislation, using very similar language. Watch:

-- Both campaigns are also trying to lower expectations. Rubio surrogate Tim Scott suggested that his horse wins if he finishes third after an event at a Baptist church here. “If you’re in the top three here, you’re going to continue on,” the state’s junior senator said. “Then we’ll see what happens in Nevada and thereafter. The top three is very important.”

Marco Rubio campaigns with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley last night. (EPA/Erik S. Lesser)

-- Haley really is a big get for Rubio, and she’s going all in for Rubio in the 11th hour. The duo, along with Scott, will make joint appearances in in Columbia, Pawleys Island, Hilton Head, Charleston and Clemson. He's already citing her support as evidence of his campaign’s diversity. "I got the endorsement of a governor of Indian descent, who endorsed a presidential candidate of Cuban descent, and tomorrow we'll be campaigning alongside an African American Republican senator," he said in Greenville last night.

Haley has already recorded a 30-second, straight-to-camera spot explaining why she picked Rubio:

-- “Never before had Bush faced supporters so annoyed and worried about his fate” than on the trail yesterday, Ed O’Keefe reports. “They quickly turned a campaign rally on a country club gazebo here into an open campaign strategy session — with dozens of reporters watching. One guy urged him to talk more about his compassion. Another told him to take Trump's attacks on the chin and stay substantive. A third man urged him to work harder to spread the word nationally.”

Jeb deployed W to meet with the governor on Monday. He’s had his dad court her in phone calls. On Tuesday, he told NBC that she is “probably the most meaningful endorsement there is.” Asked what happens if he didn’t get it, the day before he didn’t get it, he said it would be “a signal that I got to work harder.”

Other than Hillary Clinton, no one touted the importance of endorsements more than Jeb over the past year. So it was quite amusing when his campaign circulated talking points last night that declared: “Endorsements never have the impact portrayed by an overzealous media.” The memo for surrogates, obtained by Politico's Alex Isenstadt, told them to point out that Haley endorsed Mitt Romney in 2012 before he lost badly to Newt Gingrich.

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

Obama talks with Cuban President Raul Castro at the U.N. in September. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

-- Obama will travel to CUBA next month, becoming the first sitting U.S. president to travel there in almost 90 years. The White House will announce details later today, but we’re told it will include stops elsewhere in Latin America. From Karen DeYoung and Juliet Eilperin: “Obama has said he ‘very much’ wanted to visit the island nation before leaving office, but in recent weeks, administration officials have made it clear Obama would travel to Cuba only if its government made additional concessions in the areas of human rights, Internet access and market liberalization. ‘If I go on a visit, then part of the deal is that I get to talk to everybody,’ Obama said. ‘I’ve made clear in my conversations directly with President Castro that we would continue to reach out to those who want to broaden the scope for free expression inside of Cuba.’ Some progress has been made on Internet connectivity in Cuba, and the number of private businesses has been slowly growing.”

Republicans were quick to condemn the news:

  • Rubio promised to never visit the island until its free: “The problem with the Cuban government is that it's not just a Communist dictatorship; it's an anti-American Communist dictatorship.”
  • Cruz called it “a real mistake”: “My family has seen firsthand the evil and the oppression in Cuba. We need a president who stands up to our enemies."
  • Bush said it’s a “tragedy” that Obama is “legitimizing” the Castro regime.

-- Hillary will go on TV in Nevada today with an ad that features her comforting a 10-year-old girl whose parents have received a notice of deportation. “Come here, baby,” Clinton said. “Let me do the worrying. Is that a deal?” Hispanic votes were long presumed to be a given for Clinton, but now she is fighting for them tooth and nail. Watch:

-- Just how much does Hillary want to win? She visited with a handful of housekeepers in the basement of the Caesars Palace hotel at 12:35 a.m. Pacific/3:35 a.m. Eastern this morning. The Boston Globe’s Annie Linskey files this pool report: “A table was set up in the middle of the room where several women were folding clean towels and sheets. She addressed three or four workers, and several managers. ‘So glad to see you! I came to help,’ Clinton said to the women working. ‘I know you’re doing a hard job.’ Clinton inquired about the women’s hours, and was told they work a 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. shift. ‘So, is it towels and linens every day?’ Clinton asked the women. They laughed. … ‘So I wanted to come and ask you to please come caucus for me Saturday morning,’ Clinton said. ‘I appreciate all the work you do. Whenever I come in I appreciate it. I’ll work hard for you as your president.’”

Trey Gowdy speaks as Tim Scott looks on at a rally for Rubio on Monday in Gilbert, S.C. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein for The Washington Post)

-- South Carolina GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy pledged to release his report on the two-year Benghazi probe "as soon as possible." Gowdy said the panel has now interviewed 75 witnesses, including recent sit-downs with national security adviser Susan Rice and deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes. Though things have quieted since Clinton appeared before the GOP-led panel in October 2015 -- and no new information came to light -- a Benghazi report dropping in the middle of campaign season could cause fireworks on the campaign trail. (Elise Viebeck)

-- CNN broadcast a live town hall from Greenville with Cruz, Rubio and Carson from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. The lighter moments were the most memorable:

Rubio said electronic dance music is his favorite. When host Anderson Cooper asked the senator if he's ever been to a rave, he said he had not: “It’s a Republican primary, Anderson! I'm a little old to be going to a rave. Although I have the boots for it!”

Cruz said he sometimes sings to his wife Heidi: “And I am a painfully horrible singer,” he said. “I'm hoping it is sort of sincere and endearing. … I will sing things like, 'Oh my darling, oh my darling, oh my darling, Heidi-tine.' Which is really corny, but I used to do it when she'd put it on speaker-phone in her office, and embarrass her."

-- Another interesting nugget about Cruz: he’s NOT a morning person. From a fun yarn by Katie Zezima: “In a field of GOP presidential candidates where 8 a.m. events happen with some regularity, Cruz starts late in the morning, often clutching a cup of coffee. Cruz is a ‘night owl,’ his wife, Heidi, says. For her birthday in August, she said, her husband got back from campaigning in the evening and took her to dinner after 11 p.m., when he ‘should have been sleeping.’ … As Chip Roy, his former Senate chief of staff put it: ‘You didn’t often try to set 7 a.m. radio interviews or television shows because it didn’t really fit his rhythm.’”

If you missed it, here's a two-minute video with highlights from the event:

-- Going Bulworth, continued: The White House “ripped” CHUCK SCHUMER, of all people, and “questioned his credibility on national security issues” after he joined New York City officials in criticizing the administration’s funding of local counterterrorism programs, the Associated Press reports. The senator complained about a White House plan to reduce the amount of new funding for a grant program that helps offset local municipalities’ security expenditures. The White House said funding was reduced because NYC hasn’t spent the money it was given.

Press secretary Josh Earnest issued this statement: “At some point, Senator Schumer’s credibility in talking about national security issues, particularly when the facts are as they are when it relates to homeland security, have to be affected by the position that he’s taken on other issues. Senator Schumer is somebody that came out and opposed the international agreement to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. He was wrong about that position ... and when people look at the facts here when it comes to funding for homeland security they’ll recognize that he’s wrong this time, too.”

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. Dickstein Shapiro, once a major legal powerhouse, is closing its doors after years of lagging revenue and high-level departures. (Thomas Heath)
  2. A bomb in Turkey’s capital of Ankara killed 28 people. No organization has claimed responsibility, but the government blamed the warring Kurdistan Workers’ Party. (Liz Sly and Brian Murphy)
  3. Pope Francis wrapped up his six day tour of Mexico by praying quietly at the U.S.-Mexico border for migrants who died on their journey to America, later calling immigration a “worldwide humanitarian crisis.” (Joshua Partlow and Gabriela Martinez)
  4. Iran said it will “reject any effort” to limit its newly-reinstated ability to revive oil production, a blow to other Middle Eastern countries’ efforts to rein in supply. (Steven Mufson and Mustafa Salim)
  5. A Los Angeles hospital paid $17,000 in a “bitcoin” ransom after thousands of medical records were compromised in a cyberattack. (Justin Wm. Moyer)
  6. Former LAPD narcotics officers were charged with raping multiple women who had faced previous drug arrests, and threatening to send them back to jail if they did not comply. (Michael E. Miller)
  7. The University of Texas at Austin begrudgingly outlined a policy allowing concealed handguns to be carried on campus and in classrooms. The new rules, highly contested by both students and staff, comply with a new state law that requires public colleges to adopt campus-carry policies. (AP)
  8. Texas A&M University apologized to a group of inner-city high school students for apparently being victim to racial taunts by white students. “Go back where you came from,” the kids were told. (Lindsey Bever)
  9. The Southern Poverty Law Center reports a 14 percent spike in new hate groups last year, the first time the number has risen in five years. (Niraj Chokshi)
  10. The Naval Academy has begun teaching midshipmen to use sextants again, after dropping the required training in 2006. “That’s because batteries run out, systems get hacked, and even advanced technology can be balky. In a pinch — or in a war — sailors need something to fall back on. And stars have been working pretty well for hundreds of years,” Andrea Peterson reports.
  11. President Obama and Morgan Freeman lunched together at BLT Steak. Or, at least, they were spotted leaving the D.C. restaurant at the same time. The actor donated $1 million to Obama’s super PAC in 2012. (Boston Globe)
  12. Doctors Without Borders announced that Syrian healthcare has collapsed because airstrikes have taken out so many hospitals. (CNN)
These are the kinds of surface-to-air missiles that the Chinese have deployed into the disputed South China Sea. "Not only can the HQ-9 hit aircraft, it can also hit ballistic missiles," Thomas Gibbons-Neff explains. "The system can also engage targets at more than 80,000 feet high." (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)

ZIKA LATEST:

  1. The NIH is accelerating the timeline for a Zika vaccine, saying it may be ready for clinical trials as early as this summer. (Ariana Eunjung Cha)
  2. Mexico confirmed six cases of the virus just as Pope Francis wraps up his week-long tour. The pope has stayed silent about the outbreak during his trip because any mention of it would have raised more controversial matters, namely the church’s support for limiting women’s access to abortion and contraception. (Sarah Pulliam Bailey)
  3. Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) blamed foreign asylum seekers for exposing his people to diseases like HIV and the “Ziki fly,” a botched reference to Zika. (AP)

-- Breanne Deppisch contributed to this report.

THE SCOTUS SUCCESSION FIGHT

Sandra Day O'Connor on the day in 1981 that the Senate Judiciary Committee cleared her nomination to the Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Dennis Cook)

-- Sandra Day O’Connor said Obama should get to pick Scalia’s replacement. “I don't agree” with Republicans, the Reagan-appointed ex-justice told the Phoenix Fox affiliate. “We need somebody in there to do the job and just get on with it. … You just have to pick the best person you can under these circumstances, as the appointing authority must do. And it's an important position and one we care about as a nation, as a people. And I wish the president well as he makes choices and goes down that line -- it's hard." (CNN)

-- President Obama will not attend Scalia’s funeral, instead paying respects on Friday at the Supreme Court. (Philip Bump)

-- Senate Republicans remain divided on how to move forward. And there’s now apparently some possibility that Obama might sidestep a confirmation fight to make a rare recess appointment, Mike DeBonis and Juliet Eilperin report. “The president could use the recess maneuver if the Senate fails to hold hearings and a vote on the nomination Obama has promised to send to the Senate. White House officials did not dismiss the idea that the president could use the maneuver if the Senate fails to hold hearings and a vote on the nomination.” The president’s window to make a recess appointment, though, will probably close after Monday when the Senate returns to session.

-- In a reflection of how polarized the country is, the NBC/WSJ poll shows Americans evenly split about what the Senate should do. “Among Democratic voters, 81 percent want the Senate to vote this year. But those numbers are flipped among Republicans — 81 percent want to leave the position vacant,” per NBC’s Mark Murray. “Independents are split — 43 percent this year, 42 percent next year.”

-- As forecasted here on Monday morning, the New York Times reports that “Blacks See Bias in Delay on a Scalia Successor.” From Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Martin: “Members of the Congressional Black Caucus bitterly recounted indignities and demands to ‘impeach’ Mr. Obama over his use of executive authority … And in the aftermath of Mr. McConnell’s statement on Saturday, a growing chorus of black voices is complaining that such refusal to even consider a nomination would never occur with a white president. ‘It’s more than a political motive,’ said Rep. G.K. Butterfield, (D-NC), CBC chairman. ‘It has the smell of racism.’

-- And no surprise: Both Republicans and Democrats are fundraising off the SCOTUS battle. “Stand with Senate Republicans as we hold our ground,” Mitch McConnell said in a solicitation yesterday. “Hold Republicans accountable,” Senate Democrats said in their own request sent a few minutes later. (Politico)

THE LATEST ON THE DEMOCRATIC RACE

-- In what the Huffington Post calls “a big win for Bernie,” the AFL-CIO will NOT vote to endorse Clinton at its meeting next week in San Diego, which had been expected. Richard Trumka says they’ll remain neutral for now.

-- The president of the United Farm Workers says Sanders “has had a contradictory record on immigration.” Arturo S. Rodriguez focuses on the 2007 comprehensive reform bill that Bernie helped torpedo in an op-ed that just posted: “That measure, which would have granted legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants, also included AgJobs, negotiated by the UFW and major grower associations. AgJobs would have let undocumented farm workers earn the right to permanently stay in this country by continuing to work in agriculture after passing criminal background and national security checks.”

Sanders said in last week’s debate that he opposed the bill because of its guest-worker program, which was supported by business interests. But the UFW president notes that, “Sen. Sanders' opposition to abusive guest worker programs didn't extend to a bill he cosponsored in 2011, to allow agricultural guest workers into his home state's largest farm sector--Vermont's dairy industry.”

-- The Black Lives Matter movement “has accelerated a generational divide, calling into question the civil rights-era model of movement leaders speaking for African Americans at large,” Abby Phillip reports from Chicago. “I do not believe that anyone who is a part of the black political elite class speaks for anyone but themselves,” said Charlene Carruthers, 30, the national director of the Chicago-based civil rights organization Black Youth Project 100. “That’s one of the biggest flaws in how candidates engage black people: They seek out representatives for all black folks, when in fact no one represents us but us.”

-- Before her rally in Chicago: “The Secret Service wouldn't let Clinton out of her car for a few minutes outside the building … because there was a rogue drone making them nervous. The alleged pilot, who was standing across the street, was questioned by agents,” per Chicago’s ABC affiliate.

-- Vintage Vegas: Nevada Democrats will break caucus ties this Saturday using a deck of cards. “Each precinct will have an unopened, state party-supplied deck of cards,” the Hill reports. A state party memo says, in case of a tie, “a game of chance will decide” which candidate is awarded the delegates from that precinct: “First, each deck must be shuffled seven times. A supporter from each group will draw a card and the highest one wins a delegate. If each group chooses the same number or face card, the card suit will then settle who wins the tie. The suits are ranked from highest to lowest: spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs."

Donald Trump in Walterboro, SC, yesterday (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

MORE ON THE REPUBLICAN RACE:

-- Trump went even further to show his support of waterboarding, promising to use torture as president: “Don’t tell me it doesn’t work — torture works,” he said at a retirement community in Bluffton, S.C. “Half these guys [say]: ‘Torture doesn’t work.’ Believe me, it works. … They’re chopping off our heads in the Middle East. They want to kill us. They want to kill our country. They want to knock out our cities.” (Jenna Johnson)

-- After taking a hit for defending Planned Parenthood during Saturday’s debate, Trump said last night that he would sign a bill to defund the group as president after all. “As long as they do the abortion I am not for funding Planned Parenthood,” he told the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody. “I’ve had women tell me they do some excellent work so I think you also have to put that into account, but I would defund Planned Parenthood because of their view and the fact of their work on abortion.”

-- Kasich will not stay in South Carolina for election returns to come in. He will hold a town hall meeting in Worcester Saturday afternoon before attending a high-dollar fund-raiser in Boston’s Back Bay, the Boston Globe's James Pindell reports.

-- But the Ohio governor won an endorsement from The State newspaper in Columbia.

-- Key stats on the GOP air war, from Anu Narayanswamy: In the last week Right to Rise has spent $4.2 million on advertising and media production, $3.3 million of which was spent in South Carolina. The Bush super PAC has now spent a total of $16 million in the state. In all, the super PAC has now spent 72 percent of the money it has collected. Conservatives Solutions PAC, supporting Rubio, spent $2.3 million in the last week in South Carolina, and Keep the Promise I, supporting Cruz, has spent $2.7 million in total in the state. In Nevada, meanwhile, the top spenders over the past week include Keep the Promise I ($667,000), Right to Rise ($452,000) and Conservative Solutions PAC ($389,000).

-- Sixteen of the 23 South Carolina lawmakers who voted to keep the Confederate flag flying above the state capitol support Trump or Cruz, the Wall Street Journal tabulates.

-- Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) cut an ad for Rubio.

-- Former Georgia Rep. Jack Kingston endorsed Cruz.

-- George W. Bush cut yet another spot touting his brother. This one, from the campaign will run online. Watch here.

-- A top Republican fundraiser in northern Virginia, Bobbie Kilberg, signed on with Jeb after her first pick, Christie, dropped out. She and her husband will be co-chairs of Bush’s finance committee. (Matea Gold)

-- Carson got his first congressional endorsement: 290 days after the retired neurosurgeon entered the race, he scooped up the support of Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.). The two were medical residents together at Johns Hopkins three decades ago. (Amber Phillips)

-- A D.C. Superior Court judge ordered Trump to be deposed in his company’s lawsuit against New York super-chef Geoffrey Zakarian. “Zakarian was set to open a flagship restaurant in Trump’s new hotel in the Old Post Office Pavilion this summer but backed out of the deal (as did local restaurateur Jose Andres) after his disparaging remarks about illegal immigrants,” Helena Andrews-Dyer reports. “No word on when Trump and Co. will have to show up for the deposition.”

-- Post Fact Checker Glenn Kessler gives Trump four Pinocchio’s for his “truly absurd claim” that he would save the federal government $300 billion a year on prescription drugs if elected

--National Review calls Nevada “the Great Unknown”: “Nevada’s lack of recent polling and GOP caucus dysfunction has left both political observers and campaign insiders flying blind. … The caucuses are scheduled for just three days after the South Carolina primary, leaving little time for any candidate to change the narrative.”

WAPO HIGHLIGHTS:

-- “The U.S. government thought it had killed this legendary militant. Now it’s not so sure,” by Missy Ryan: “Eight months later, U.S. military and intelligence agencies remain unsure whether [Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the legendary Algerian militant] was indeed killed in the operation. As President Obama prepares to step down, the uncertainty highlights the sometimes limited intelligence surrounding strikes that have become a hallmark of his response to militant threats overseas. Inconclusive outcomes like this one may become more common if the next president builds on Obama’s counterterrorism strategy … The possibility that Belmokhtar was not among those killed or wounded that day raises troubling questions. ‘We took a shot, but we could never really confirm his demise,’ said one U.S. official.”

-- “In the year of Trump and Sanders, Rubio tries a populist tone,” by Sean Sullivan: “Rubio is trying to tap the widespread sense of anxiety that can be felt in states like South Carolina, one of the nation’s poorest. Rubio repeatedly knocked Clinton for accepting contributions from Wall Street bankers … [But] Rubio, unlike Sanders, depends heavily on wealthy donors. … Billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Singer, for example, is one of his biggest backers. ‘What has Bernie Sanders tapped into?’ Rubio asked supporters. ‘He’s tapped into the sense in America that the game is rigged. There’s truth to that. Here’s what he misses: You know who’s doing it? The government is doing the rigging.’”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ, curated by Elise Viebeck:

— ZIGNAL LABS VISUAL: Cruz's supporters got very excited by the NBC/WSJ poll that showed him in the lead nationally. See the spike in mentions during the hour after the news broke:

Here is a word cloud tracking all mentions of Cruz yesterday: 

Hillary Clinton gets a glam shot in the March issue of Vogue:

Need a place to move in case Trump wins? This Canadian island is pitching itself as an option:

Competing crowds for Trump, Rubio and Bush:

Cruz held a press conference yesterday to dare Trump to sue him over an attack ad that describes him as pro-choice:

At the press conference was a poster listing "pro-abortion Democrats" who have received campaign contributions from Trump:

Here's how Cruz's campaign manager responded to Trump's lawsuit threat:

Quite a quote from Glenn Beck:

Lindsey Graham unloaded on Trump:

Here was Trump's response:

Earlier, Trump commented on Jeb's eyewear!

As a reminder, here's how Jeb looks without glasses:

Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) tweeted this month's New Yorker cover:

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) praised Apple for refusing to unlock the San Bernardino terrorist's cell phone:

Michael Moore blasted Jeb for this tweet:

Here's a Bush chest bump, captured by IJ Review:

Newt Gingrich weighed in on Clinton's barking moment:

Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) visited Cuba:

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

-- The New Yorker, “The Party Crashers,” by Jill Lepore: “This may be the first Presidential-primary season with free Wi-Fi pretty much everywhere. Internet, like all new communications technologies, has contributed to a period of political disequilibrium, one in which, as always, party followers have been revolting against party leaders … So far, neither the R.N.C. nor the D.N.C., nor their favored candidates, has been able to grab the wheel. Trump, meanwhile, is barrelling down the highway toward the White House, ignoring every road sign … It’s unlikely, but not impossible, that the accelerating and atomizing forces of this latest communications revolution will bring about the end of the party system and the beginning of a new and wobblier political institution. With our phones in our hands and our eyes on our phones, each of us is a reporter, each a photographer, unedited and ill judged, chatting, snapping, tweeting, yikking and yakking. At some point, does each of us become a party of one?”

-- Buzzfeed, “Bernie’s Test: Can He Add Nevada’s Young Latinos To His Coalition And Win?,” by Adrian Carrasquillo: “Free tuition, a pathway to citizenship for immigrants, demilitarizing the police force— these are the reasons young minority voters are into Sanders, said Nevada campaign volunteer Kyle Lozier. Enthusiasm among young people has powered Sanders to 84% of voters 17-to-29 in Iowa and 83% in New Hampshire, two mostly white states. For a campaign looking to establish itself as a threat to win the Democratic nomination, minority voters were always going to the necessary next step, and Sanders will have to turn out young people, including [Nevada] minorities, to win. Whether the enthusiasm on display will turn into votes, however, is unclear. Laura Sida, 21, and her friend, Ivonne Garcia, feel Sanders better relates to the concerns of working-class people. But asked if they knew where their caucus site is and whether they planned to caucus for him, they grew quiet. ‘I’ll try to,’ Sida said … ‘I don’t know if I can.’”

HOT ON THE LEFT

Oregon occupiers trashed cultural site. From Reuters: "The FBI said it has found a trench of human feces and a road excavated on or next to a sensitive cultural site with artifacts at the Oregon wildlife refuge where armed men staged a standoff with authorities. ... The filing came after the FBI on Friday said it was working with the Burns Paiute Tribe to identify damage to the tribe's artifacts and sacred burial grounds."

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT

State Dept. criticizes Cruz bill honoring Chinese dissident. From the Weekly Standard: "Last week, the United States Senate unanimously passed a bill to rename the street that the Chinese embassy sits on in Washington from International Place to Liu Xiaobo Plaza. Liu, of course, is the dissident Chinese intellectual who has been imprisoned since 2008 for signing the pro-democracy Charter 08 manifesto. ... 'We view this kind of legislative action as something that only complicates our efforts [to improve human rights in China],' explained State Department spokesman Mark Toner."

DAYBOOK:

On the campaign trail: CNN holds another town hall; this one with Trump, Bush and Kasich in Columbia, South Carolina. MSNBC holds a town hall with Hillary and Bernie in Las Vegas. Sanders also speaks at a Clark County Democratic dinner. Here are other planned stops for today:

  • Trump: Kiawah Island, Gaffney
  • Cruz: Greenville, Easley
  • Rubio: Greenville, Anderson
  • Kasich: Mount Pleasant, Clemson, Fort Mill
  • Bush: Florence, Columbia, Rock Hill

At the White House: President Obama welcomes the Chicago Blackhawks to the White House to honor the team on their 2015 Stanley Cup victory. Later, he meets with a group of civil rights leaders to discuss criminal justice reform and hosts a reception honoring African American History Month. Vice President Biden is in St. Paul, Minn. to deliver remarks commemorating the 7th anniversary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

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

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

Rush Limbaugh got frustrated with callers pressing him to speak out more forcefully against Trump. “The best thing I could tell you, folks, I guess, as I assess all this, is this is not an election, with a competition of philosophies," he responded. "We’re way beyond that. People are not gonna rely on philosophy to accomplish anything. You can have the best philosophy in the world, I don’t care what you call it, and it’s not gonna mean anything if you’re up against somebody who succeeds at making people think he’s gonna break balls, kick butts, take names, put people in prison, fix the country, make the country great again, whatever the hell that means to people. You can philosophize all day long in competition against it, and we’ll see you in the rearview mirror." (Listen here.)

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

-- Try to keep the upcoming weekend in your thoughts as you shiver through today. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Clouds are a rarity today but only because strong high pressure lumbers in and puts the lid on any warm up despite all the sunshine. Despite the noticeably longer days, highs do no better than mid-to-upper 30s. Those cold readings are accentuated by a wind out of the north at 10-15 mph.”

-- A D.C. man was stabbed in an attack near Union Station, police said. The man was taken to the hospital with wounds believed to be non-life threatening. (Clarence Williams)

-- An elderly couple in Montgomery County was tied up and robbed during an armed home invasion. (Dan Morse)

-- Police charged Daron Wint in the heinous murders of a D.C. businessman Savvas Savopoulos and his wife, son, and housekeeper earlier this year. Wint, who once worked at a Savopoulos company, faces life in prison if convicted. (Keith L. Alexander)

-- A group of teenagers allegedly set off a fire extinguisher and smoke devices on the Metro, causing passengers to choke and cough in a hazy railcar. (Faiz Siddiqui)

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

A small child dangling from a ski lift at Whistler -- every parent's nightmare -- was saved after skiers on the ground used a tarp to catch him. Watch the one-minute rescue: 

Shrek is running for president!

Here's Killer Mike's controversial "uterus" comment from a Bernie rally:

The Post's Paul Farhi needles Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol for some of his worst predictions:

A young girl explains how the Nevada caucuses work in a 2.5-minute video circulated by the Sanders campaign:

The Red Hot Chili Peppers made a video for Sanders: