THE BIG IDEA:
-- The returns from last night’s Nevada caucuses cast doubt on three assumptions that are widely held and often repeated by Republican elites in Washington, who are perhaps too eager to assure one another that Donald Trump still cannot actually win the nomination.
The first is that Trump has a relatively low ceiling of support. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Trump won the Silver State with 46 percent. He beat Marco Rubio by 22 points. Ted Cruz finished a close third with 21.4 percent. As the Washington Examiner’s Byron York writes, “If he has a ceiling, at least in Nevada, it is higher than earlier thought.”
The second is that Trump will ultimately be hobbled by a lack of organization. After his surprisingly soft second place finish in Iowa, many operatives concluded he would struggle to close the deal in future caucus states. Most of the coverage before last night said it was possible The Donald could lose in Nevada – despite leading in polls – because his rivals had built impressive ground games and his own supporters tend to be lower-propensity voters. Trump’s people proved last night that they will show up for caucuses.
The third is that, as the field of candidates condenses, every voter who is not currently for Trump will fall in line behind whoever emerges as his alternative. Many of Cruz’s voters actually look a lot like Trump voters demographically and ideologically. It should not be treated as a given that Cruz supporters would automatically move to Rubio if it becomes a two-man race. It stands to reason that many backing the Texan might prefer Trump over the other Cuban American senator, who continues to be dogged by his role in the Gang of Eight immigration bill.
-- Bottom line: Trump has now won three of the first four contests. Though only about 70,000 people turned out last night, the staggering breadth and depth of his victory suggests that the billionaire is poised to win big when 11 states vote next Tuesday.
According to preliminary network entrance polls, he won every single demographic. He carried men by 24 points and women by 18 points. He won those who describe themselves as very conservative, somewhat conservative and moderate. Just as in South Carolina, he bested Cruz among born-again evangelicals.
The polling showed that he even won among Hispanics. The preliminary polling showed they accounted for about 1 in 10 caucus-goers, a sample that is really way too small to extrapolate from. But Trump boasted about it during his victory speech and will, naturally, continue to do so. (CNN has a nice display of the crosstabs. Study them for yourself here.)
Trump is really tapping into the pervasive anger of the Republican base. Six in 10 of those who voted last night said that describes their feeling about the federal government. (36 percent said "dissatisfied," and only 4 percent picked "satisfied" or "enthusiastic.") Trump got half of the voters who called themselves angry, twice as much as Cruz. The Fix's Philip Bump created this chart to show how that compares to the previous contests:
Half of voters last night had a college degree. He beat Rubio 41-30 among this group. Among those without a college degree, he led Cruz 51-22. In his victory speech, he boasted: "We won with highly educated. We won with poorly educated. I love the poorly educated! We're the smartest people." Watch the moment:
-- Some pundits even began calling the race for Trump last night. We believe this is very premature, but it’s nonetheless significant that Matt Drudge has anointed him.
-- There is no sugarcoating it: Cruz was the biggest loser last night.
He worked Nevada harder than anyone, doing nine events on the ground since Saturday’s primary in South Carolina.
Our reporter on the Cruz beat, Katie Zezima, reports this morning that Cruz’s campaign is now in “TURMOIL” and some key supporters are calling for “a shake-up” in messaging and strategy as Super Tuesday approaches. Based on lots of interviews with voters and activists, she relays that the dirty tricks narrative is breaking through. “I think when it looks like there’s a pattern of a Photoshopped picture or now a false tweet, that’s not good. It’s going too far, it’s crossing the line,” said Mica Mosbacher, a Cruz donor from Houston.
The New York Times runs a negative profile of Cruz campaign manager Jeff Roe today, liberally quoting some of the many enemies he made as an operative in Missouri. “Jeff Roe does not know the difference between fact and fiction,” said a city councilman who unsuccessfully sued him for defamation in 2006. “He makes people a little squeamish,” said Sam Graves (R-Mo.). “It is what it is.”
National Review Editor Rich Lowry points to the third-place finish as more evidence that Cruz’s theory of the case from last year – to kill Trump with kindness – was built on a fundamental miscalculation: “For a long while it seemed as though Trump might be helping Cruz: the Texan could ‘draft’ behind him; Trump made Cruz look reasonable by comparison; the establishment might feel compelled to try to take down Trump and let Cruz escape unscathed (little did we know the establishment wouldn’t ever go after Trump and that elements of it would actually prefer Trump to Cruz). But all these supposed advantages were based on the idea that Trump would eventually fade or be beaten down. Now that it hasn’t happened, Trump has devastated Cruz in an area that was supposed to a strength–his appeal to voters disgusted with Washington who want an outsider.”
This is another disaster for Cruz. Nevada and South Carolina are as good as it gets for him and he could be third again.— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) February 24, 2016
The contrast between Cruz tonight vs. Cruz in Iowa -- in tone, energy, style -- is remarkable. This is as flat as I can remember seeing him.— Tim Alberta (@TimAlberta) February 24, 2016
-- Many of Cruz’s top surrogates fanned the flames of anger as leaders of the tea party movement seven years ago, and now they’re shocked by their inability to channel what they helped unleash. Six in 10 Nevada Republicans said they want the next president to come from "outside politics." Of that group, seven in 10 voted for Trump.
- Ken Cuccinelli got jeered by Trump supporters last night when he spoke on Cruz’s behalf at a caucus site in Summerlin! "It's hard to talk to Trump people, from a persuasion standpoint," he told David Weigel.
- Sal Russo, who co-founded the Tea Party Express PAC in 2009, came to Nevada to back Cruz. He decided to check out Trump's Monday night rally on the Strip. There were nearly 10,000 people, eight times more than had ever attended a Cruz rally in the state. "I've been to a lot of rallies," he told Dave. "I've never seen anything like this one. He would say something -- 'punch that guy in the face!' -- and the veins would be popping out of peoples' necks!"
Other Cruz endorsers have begun offering unsolicited, public advice:
- Conservative commentator David Limbaugh, on Townhall.com, says he needs to not focus so much on religion, quit parsing his opponents’ positions like a lawyer and stop getting bogged down in arguments over the 2013 immigration bill.
- Radio host Steve Deace, on Conservative Review: “Stop telling us how much you like Trump personally. Stop saying things like ‘everyone on this debate stage would be better than Hillary.’ Trump is playing for first place or go home. Now go and do likewise.”
Cruz basically ignored Rubio in his concession, leaning again on his victory in Iowa. “The undeniable reality that the first four states have shown is that the only campaign that has beaten Donald Trump and the only campaign that can beat Donald Trump is this campaign,” he said.
-- The Texas primary next Tuesday now becomes either Cruz’s Alamo or his Waterloo, depending on what happens. A Texas Tribune/University of Texas poll published yesterday showed Cruz leading Trump there by 8 points, 37-29, with Rubio at 15 percent. In the speech last night, the senator predicted a victory in the Lone Star State next Tuesday and said he cannot “wait to get home.” Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R), who was in Vegas as a surrogate, went further: "Texas will reward Ted Cruz," he said, via Weigel. "One thing the mainstream media hasn't done a good job of covering is that early voting has started already. By the time the Trumpster finds Texas, half of the votes may well have been cast. … If you don't get 20 percent of the vote, you don't qualify for delegates. Probably, the only people who get delegates out of Texas are Cruz and Trump."
-- Thinking big picture: Though last night could have gone much better, it would be totally insane for Cruz to drop out and he has the support to bounce back. He and Rubio continue to seem closely matched, despite the influx of establishment endorsements for the Florida senator since South Carolina. And Cruz could be well positioned to run again in 2020 if Trump gets the nomination and loses the general election.
-- But, but, but: Rubio’s second-place finish really cannot (and should not) be described as a big win. The campaign talked last year about being able to win there and heavily emphasized the years he lived in Vegas as a child. An oft-repeated line was that Marco has more extended family in Nevada than in Florida. Many of the state’s top elected officials caucused for Rubio, including Sen. Dean Heller and Gov. Brian Sandoval.
One silver lining: Rubio did best among voters who decided in the past week. He got 42 percent, to 23 percent for Cruz and 18 percent for Trump.
-- The latest salvo in the Stop Trump effort: The Club for Growth ponied up a million dollars for an ad campaign attacking him in Oklahoma and Arkansas. (Watch here.) But most outside groups trying to take on Trump are struggling to raise money. “The chances of a well-funded assault to block him … are dramatically dwindling,” Politico’s Kenneth P. Vogel and Isaac Arnsdorf report. “The donors cite the lack of success of the few super PAC attacks that have already targeted Trump have had. GOP strategist Liz Mair said many shy away because they are scared of incurring Trump’s wrath … Even though many Koch network donors were supportive of the prospect of taking on Trump, sources familiar with the network's planning told said they has concluded its resources would be better spent elsewhere. Likewise, the Crossroads groups, which have so far reported spending $113,000 attacking Clinton, intend to sit out the increasingly bitter GOP primary fight, according to spokesman Ian Prior. ‘American Crossroads’ focus will continue to be Hillary,’ he said.”
-- Who did Sheldon Adelson vote for last night? Per the Wall Street Journal, the casino mogul would not say. But there are clues: “Spooked that a small handful of reporters were standing around watching him vote, Mr. Adelson covered the top half of his ballot with his left hand as he checked a box on the lower third of his ballot – where the names Rubio, Santorum and Trump appear – with his right. … ‘I’m not telling you anything,’ he said.” Miriam, his wife, also wouldn’t say. “God knows who I like,” she said. “Rubio told reporters on his campaign plane that he and Mr. Adelson speak frequently but haven’t met in recent weeks.”
|Welcome to the Daily 202, PowerPost's morning newsletter. |
With contributions from Breanne Deppisch (@b_deppy) and Elise Viebeck (@eliseviebeck)
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders gave their last, best pitches to South Carolina voters during CNN’s town hall before the state’s Saturday primary. The two candidates sought to highlight different parts of their record:
Sanders spent the night courting minorities: The Vermont Senator spent the night playing catchup with African Americans, who favor Hillary by 24 points. Seeking to put to rest criticism of his college plan that was raised by Clinton surrogate James Clyburn earlier this week, he promised to expand funding for historically black colleges. (That was not part of his earlier proposals.) “We must sustain and strengthen historically black colleges and universities,” he said. When asked which Supreme Court justice he most admired, Sanders answered without skipping a beat. “Thurgood Marshall,” he declared, naming the first African American judge to take bench at the high court.
-- Clinton, meanwhile, promised to go hard after Wall Street. The former Secretary of State faced criticism in a different department: her failure to release transcripts of paid speeches given to Goldman Sachs. “Sure, I’ll do it if everybody else does,” the former Secretary demurred, circling back to a familiar refrain after being pressed by moderator Chris Cuomo. “But this is about whether I have the best plan to go after Wall Street,” she said. “Why is there one standard for me and not for everybody else?”
Translation: No transcripts.#DemTownHall— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) February 24, 2016
GET SMART FAST:
GET SMART FAST
- A federal judge ruled that State Department officials and top aides to Hillary Clinton should be questioned under oath about whether they intentionally thwarted federal open records laws by using or allowing a private email server. (Spencer S. Hsu)
- Federal officials are investigating 14 new potential cases of “sexually-transmitted Zika” in the United States. Two cases have been confirmed to be spread in this manner, and the rest remain under investigation. (Brady Dennis)
- The IRS, which currently collects $3.3 trillion every year, received a budget increase of $290 million to improve its notoriously frustrating customer service department. Officials hope the budget increase will equip the IRS to answer 47 percent to 50 percent of taxpayer calls – a slight improvement over the dismal 37 percent it answers now. But that’s still less than half! (Joe Davidson)
- Administrators at Connecticut’s Fairfield University launched a university-wide investigation after students held a “ghetto-themed” party, donning baggy pants, corn rows, and fake baby bumps. (Lindsey Bever)
- A Michigan YMCA camp closed its long-running Underground Railroad reenactment after African American parents complained that it was a “racially insensitive experience.” (Elahe Izadi)
- Arguments about whether Ku Klux Klan members can participate in Georgia’s “Adopt-A-Highway” program will be heard by the state’s Supreme Court. (Lindsey Bever)
- The Naleo Educational Fund predicted a 17 percent increase in Latino voter turnout this November compared to 2012, with surges in Colorado, Nevada and Texas.
- Slain Blacksburg teen Nicole Lovell died from stab wounds to the neck. Prosecutors said the two Virginia Tech students charged with her murder packed a shovel and other supplies before killing the seventh-grader. (T. Rees Shapiro)
- A Georgia business owner is requiring his employees get a concealed carry license and be armed at work – a mandate he says was created “out of concern for the employees’ safety.” (WSB-TV)
This picture of a U.S.-made advanced anti-tank missile, apparently in the hands of Kurdish forces fighting near the northern Syrian town of Shaddadi, was posted to Twitter yesterday. Both Foggy Bottom and the Pentagon would neither confirm nor deny, but Thomas Gibbons-Neff reports that this may be the first documented use of a "Javelin" in the war against ISIS. That would represent a marked escalation in U.S. materiel being funneled to opposition forces.
This photo is of Kurdish fighters on Shaddadi fronts, take a look at the weapon. pic.twitter.com/zfOGViUTLH— Dr Partizan (@DrPartizan_) February 23, 2016
POWER PLAYERS IN THE NEWS:
- President Obama urged lawmakers to help him close Guantanamo Bay’s military prison, a feat which requires Congress to alter laws that prohibit the administration from spending money to bring detainees onto U.S. soil. Republicans called the plan dead on arrival. (Missy Ryan and Adam Goldman)
- But, in a signal that he believes he could be vulnerable this November, Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet said he still wants to close the base but “these detainees should not be transferred to Colorado.” (Denver Post)
- Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) launched the first ad of his reelection campaign, but it recycled footage he used in an ad six years ago. Called out by Politico, his spokesman offered this spin: "As Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Burr has a very limited amount of time and needs to remain focused on protecting our country from terrorism. That is why we used footage from 2010.”
- Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) revoked a vanity plate that said “FMUSLMS,” which he says the state issued by mistake. (Twin Cities Pioneer Press)
- Microsoft owner Bill Gates sided with the FBI over Apple, saying that granting access to an encrypted iPhone would be “no special thing.” “It’s no different than … being able to get bank records,” said Gates. (Justin Wm. Moyer)
- Paul Ryan has done 37 TV and radio appearances since becoming Speaker, which Yahoo says is more than John Boehner did during his entire tenure.
- Mount Vernon challenged Glenn Beck, who claims to own George Washington’s personal copy of "Don Quixote.” Museum officials responded by tweeting a photo of Washington’s copy, which they say is stored safely in their collection. (The Huffington Post’s Michael Calderone)
- Trump ally and former adviser Roger Stone will no longer appear as a guest on CNN after he tweeted a series of disparaging remarks about contributor Ana Navarro. He called the analyst a “quota hire” and “borderline retarded.” He refuses to apologize and said the network’s decision “smacks of Soviet style censorship.” (Politico)
SCALIA SUCCESSION FIGHT:
-- Justice Scalia’s body was found in bed with a pillowcase covering his eyes, according to a Texas sheriff’s incident report that was obtained by Amy Brittain and Sari Horwitz through an open records request. “A breathing apparatus was on the table next to the bed, but it was switched off. Scalia was lying on three pillows ‘stacked up to elevate his head.’ Scalia’s sheets and pillows ‘were still in the creased position from that day’s room service, indicating that there was no struggle involved,’ the report said. The top pillowcase ‘appeared to have shifted at some point in the night due to the weight of his pillow, causing the pillow case to slide down and cover his eyes.’ The sheriff noted that the position of the pillow ‘did not seem to have inhibited Scalia’s breathing.’” Read the 3-page sheriff’s report here.
-- Senate Republicans, including every member on the Judiciary Committee, unified behind Mitch McConnell’s hardline position: no hearings, no votes and no new justice until Obama leaves office. “Presidents have a right to nominate, just as the Senate has its constitutional right to provide or withhold consent,” the Majority Leader said. “In this case, the Senate will withhold it.” And then they took it further -- saying they won’t even participate in face-to-face meetings with the nominee, a traditional courtesy. The chairman of the NRSC, Roger Wicker, expressed confidence this will not actually cost their party seats in November.
-- “A senior White House official” called up the Des Moines Register to criticize Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, who is in cycle but has no viable challenger, for ignoring the president’s invitation to come over to the Oval Office for a “consultative meeting.” Grassley’s spokeswoman told the Register that the senator has received the invitation and it’s “under consideration.” She added that Grassley had a “personal conversation” with White House Counsel W. Neil Eggleston and spoke with Obama by phone last week.
--The announcement left Democrats fuming, report Mike DeBonis and Paul Kane. Chuck Schumer said their snub was “beyond the pale.” And they pledged to keep this issue front and center all year. Today Schumer, Al Franken, Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy will hold a press conference to attack their Republican colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Several progressive groups say they have collected a petition with more than a million signatures.
-- McConnell made the snap decision to block a Scalia successor unilaterally. Politico says he didn’t consult with his own leadership team before his public announcement on the night of the justice’s death.
-- Sam Alito provides more evidence of the high court’s politicization. “We will deal with it,” the Republican-appointed justice told a Georgetown University law school audience after he was asked a question about the Senate GOP’s resolve to oppose anyone Obama picks. Alito noted that the court initially was made up of six justices, before it eventually grew to nine. During the Civil War, Congress added a 10th seat. “They must have been more agreeable,” he joked. (AP)
MORE ON THE DEMOCRATIC RACE:
-- “The flip side of Clinton’s strength among black voters: She’s weaker among whites,” by David Weigel: “If there was a place where Clinton’s message of building on the Obama legacy might click, it was surely Minnesota, where unemployment had sunk below 4 percent and health-insurance coverage had reached 95 percent. But that doesn’t appear to be happening. Instead, many [white, working-class voters holding union cards] are skeptical of just how good the Obama years were for them. And they are disappointed in what they see as Clinton’s less-ambitious ideas. ‘She doesn’t start from a place of can-do,’ said former council member Sharla Gardner. ‘Her campaign is ‘No, we can’t,’ and that attitude is harming the working poor.’ Minnesota’s rapid transformation into a battleground echoes another pattern from Nevada: [White] working-class voters who seemed friendly to Clinton are now seen as locked in for Sanders … Jeff Weaver, Sanders’s campaign manager, describes Minnesota as the place where the candidate will start winning the industrial Midwest.”
-- Doug Wilder predicts a narrow Clinton win in Virginia, via the AP: “Obama soundly defeated Clinton in the 2008 Virginia Democratic primary with help from overwhelming African-American support. Wilder, the first African-American elected to be governor in the United States, said he's skeptical that Clinton has gained a similar level of enthusiasm from black voters in Virginia. ‘I don't know that it's strong at this point,’ said Wilder, who has not endorsed either Democratic candidate. Still, Wilder said he expects Clinton to win, though he said (Terry) McAuliffe shouldn't sweat the exact margin. ‘If I were he, I would consider a win a win,’ Wilder said.”
-- The Clinton super PAC, Priorities USA, launched a Spanish-language radio ad in Texas, highlighting Hillary’s commitment to the Hispanic community ahead of Tuesday’s primary.
-- Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair supports Hillary, he said in an interview with The Guardian and Financial Times. He compared Sanders to Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of England’s labor party. “They both have the question of electability,” he said. (The Guardian)
-- Sneak peek: Hillary today “will emphasize in particular how her plans would support small businesses owned by African-American women” at the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority in West Columbia, South Carolina, a Clinton aide emails. “In recent years, black women have started small businesses at a faster rate than any other demographic group. But there are still far too many barriers holding them back -- especially when it comes to accessing the capital and skills training they need to grow and hire. African Americans, Latinos, and women tend to begin their businesses with about half the capital of white men. As part of her ‘Breaking Down Every Barrier’ agenda, Clinton will invest $25 billion to support small businesses and increase private investments in communities that are being left out and left behind.”
-- Clinton is going up in the Duluth, Minnesota, TV market with an ad that attacks Johnson Controls for its inversion. Standing in front of the company’s Milwaukee headquarters, she says she will make companies “pay a price” when they “walk out on America.” (Watch here.) The RNC noted that Johnson Controls has given a quarter of a million dollars to the Clinton Global Initiative. “If we had a nickel for every time Hillary Clinton has taken money from the same people she attacks on the campaign trail, we’d never have to ask for another contribution,” a spokesman said.
-- Sanders’ pollster Ben Tulchin says his final Nevada survey aligned with entrance poll numbers suggesting Bernie won the Latino vote, which Clinton’s campaign has fiercely challenged. (John Wagner)
-- “Julián Castro could be VP next year — or out of a job. He’s ready either way,” by Ben Terris: “There is perhaps no better and no worse time to be Julián Castro. He’s an exciting, fast-rising Latino politician [who] will certainly at least make Clinton’s shortlist as a running mate … Castro knows the party could use some youth and diversity, especially if Republicans nominate Cruz or Rubio. And he admits his job as secretary of HUD has been good practice for whatever comes next. ‘You can’t just say anything you want,’ Castro said, because “it reflects on the administration -- it’s a good precursor to other stuff.” But what comes next is out of his hands, and getting tapped as a VP nominee is no sure thing. So what can Castro do? He has been hitting the road for Clinton, stumping for her in Nevada and Iowa. He can keep plugging away at HUD projects. Mostly, he can wait.”
MORE ON THE REPUBLICAN RACE:
-- Marc Short, the top political adviser to the Koch network, joined Rubio’s campaign as a senior adviser – a move that earns the Florida Senator access to Short’s expansive network of right-wing donors and activists. (Matea Gold)
-- Rubio will meet with Jeb Bush in the near future. The senator spoke with his onetime mentor by phone Monday, but there has been no talk of an endorsement yet. (New York Times)
-- The Florida senator will not, however, attend next week’s CPAC conference. Organizers from the American Conservative Union criticized his decision to skip the event in a statement to the vehemently anti-Rubio web site Breitbart. The other major candidates have signaled plans to attend. Rubio’s camp said they want to make it work, but it’s hard to lock anything in.
-- New York Rep. Peter King endorsed Rubio yesterday. So did former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, joining Sen. Jim Inhofe and Rep. Markwayne Mullin.
-- Rand Paul told reporters he will not endorse anyone as long as the GOP primaries are going on. (Wall Street Journal)
-- Meanwhile, John Kasich has fallen behind Trump in his own state of Ohio, according to a poll from Quinnipiac University. The front-runner leads Kasich 31 – 26 percent.
-- “Home Improvement” actor and Michigan native Tim Allen appears in an ad for Kasich's super PAC. It will air in Michigan, Vermont and Massachusetts.
-- Ben Carson suggested America interrogate suspected terrorists using “truth serum.” “We’ve made some advances in that kind of science,” he said on CNN.
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
The Nevada GOP got plenty of flak for the way it ran its caucuses, and there were isolated reports of double voting, dwindling supplies of paper ballots and what a Republican Party official described as “chaos” at a couple of caucus sites. Surely, the Cruz and Rubio campaign will seize on these reports to try diminishing Trump's victory:
When Florida looks at you and accurately says your elections suck, Nevada, you have some serious soul-searching to do— Marc Caputo (@MarcACaputo) February 24, 2016
On my God, Nevada. This is banana republic garbage.— Noah Rothman (@NoahCRothman) February 24, 2016
Here's a screenshot of a photo from caucus-goer. Ballot collector wearing Trump cap and shirt: pic.twitter.com/7JaBljotv6— Elaina Plott (@elainaplott) February 24, 2016
(The Nevada Republican Party’s caucus rules allow precinct workers to wear campaign paraphernalia. “Volunteers went through extensive training & are doing a great job,” read a statement from the party.)
From a National Review reporter:
New: People registered for precinct 1303 in Sierra Vista showed up to caucus. There was literally no site set up.— Elaina Plott (@elainaplott) February 24, 2016
Updated quote from source: "40-50 loose ballots on table." Counter looked at them, put them under envelopes. Wouldn't budge when called out.— Elaina Plott (@elainaplott) February 24, 2016
Elderly couple calls Rubio line: "We've been registered R's our whole life. They said we weren't in the system."— Elaina Plott (@elainaplott) February 24, 2016
The NV GOP: Disaster is our business. https://t.co/SsSjbomjg1— Jon Ralston (@RalstonReports) February 24, 2016
Trump continued going after Cruz:
Wow was Ted Cruz disloyal to his very capable director of communication. He used him as a scape goat-fired like a dog! Ted panicked.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 23, 2016
Make sure you get on the Trump line and are not mislead by the Cruz people. They are bad! BE CAREFUL.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 24, 2016
And threatened Rubio:
Trump: "I've been very nice to Rubio, because he hasn't hit me. When he does, you will see what happens."— daveweigel (@daveweigel) February 23, 2016
Cruz didn't take it lying down:
The link goes to a 50-second clip from Austin Powers ("Get in my belly!"):
Glenn Beck stumped for Cruz:
Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) posted a corny video showing him crumpling up the president's plan to close Gitmo and throwing it in the trash:
Obama alumni called it "humiliating":
Senator I'm so sorry your staff made you do this video. Just humiliating. https://t.co/3c6AG6e8v9— Tommy Vietor (@TVietor08) February 23, 2016
Republicans, though, almost universally slammed the proposal:
Rand may not be endorsing, but rising star libertarian Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) backed Cruz:
Jon Huntsman's daughter was caught off guard by conciliatory comments he made about Trump, including praise for his position on campaign finance:
Didn't see that coming... https://t.co/vHWlugbobW— Abby Huntsman (@HuntsmanAbby) February 23, 2016
"42" hammed it up on the campaign trail:
HOT ON THE LEFT
Nation of Islam: We'll provide security for Beyonce if police won't. From Talking Points Memo: "Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan mocked the 'white people' watching Beyoncé's Super Bowl halftime performance, which nodded to the Black Panthers. 'White folks [are] like, 'We don’t know how to deal with that.' ... When one of us shows some independence look at how you’re treating Beyoncé now. You’re going to picket. You’re not going to offer her police protection, but the F.O.I. [Fruit of Islam, the group's security force] will.'"
HOT ON THE RIGHT
Missouri measure seeks religious exemptions on gay marriage. From the Associated Press: "Missouri voters, who were among the first nationally to adopt a constitutional ban on gay marriage, could get a say later this year on whether to grant greater religious protections to some business owners and individuals who object to same-sex marriage. A proposed constitutional amendment that got its first hearing Tuesday in a Senate committee would prohibit government penalties against those who decline to provide goods or services 'of expressional or artistic creation' for same-sex marriage ceremonies and celebrations."
On the campaign trail: Bill Clinton campaigns for Hillary in Alexandria, Va. Hillary is in West Columbia, S.C. John Kasich is in Gulfport and Metairie, La. Rubio is in Houston. Cruz stops in Little Rock. Bernie is in Oklahoma City and Kansas City. Trump is with Pat Robertson in Virginia Beach, Va.
At the White House: President Obama holds a bilateral meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan, meets with leaders of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and signs several bills. In the evening, the Obamas host an event celebrating Ray Charles, featuring performances by Usher, Demi Lovato and others. Vice President Biden meets with Kiev Mayor Vitaliy Klychko and hosts the presidents of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. In the evening, Biden departs for Mexico City, Mexico.
On Capitol Hill: The Senate votes at 11 a.m. on FDA commissioner nominee Robert Califf. The House meets at 12 p.m. for legislative business, and is scheduled to consider seven suspension bills.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Ben Carson questioned Obama’s blackness, arguing that he could be the real first black president. (Yes, really.) “He was, you know, raised white,” the retired neurosurgeon told Politico’s Glenn Thrush. “Many of his formative years were spent in Indonesia. So, for him to, you know, claim that he identifies with the experience of black Americans, I think, is a bit of a stretch.” (Janell Ross breaks down his confounding comment here.)
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- Expect a showery day that gets warmer as we go. The Capital Weather Gang reports: “Temperatures remain cool this morning, mainly in the upper 30s to mid-40s though mid-morning, with scattered showers and a light but cool breeze from the east. Showers should become heavier this afternoon with a chance of thunder, as an increasing wind from the southeast helps push temperatures to the mid-50s to low 60s despite cloudy skies, perhaps mid-60s to the south.”
-- The Wizards beat the New Orleans Pelicans 109-89.
-- Two teenagers, 19 and 15, are in custody after allegedly shooting a man on the Green Line train. Police are continuing to search for two additional “persons of interest.” (Faiz Siddiqui and Peter Hermann)
-- A woman who gave birth in the café car of an Amtrak train named her daughter after the Good Samaritan who helped in her delivery. (Dana Hedgpeth)
-- Maryland’s Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill which requires the state to slash emissions to 40 percent below 2006 levels. (Ovetta Wiggins)
-- Police charged two D.C. teenagers for their brutal attack of a Marine veteran earlier this month. Security footage from a nearby McDonalds shows the teens striking and kicking the veteran as he lay face down on the pavement, before robbing him and running away. (Peter Hermann)
-- Maryland Reps. Donna F. Edwards and Chris Van Hollen are neck and neck in their race to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), leaving many voters undecided as the primaries approach. (Arelis R. Hernández)
-- More than 22 percent of U.S. public school students passed at least one AP test in 2015 – nearly doubling the 13 percent who accomplished the feat a decade earlier. (Nick Anderson)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
The Daily Show went after Congress:
The 106-year-old who danced with the Obamas had not seen the video that had gone viral. A Post reporter played it for her.
This video shows shipwrecks corroded by the BP oil spill:
Watch 100 drones fly in sync in Germany: