Donald Trump greets the crowd at Valdosta State University in Georgia last night. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

THE BIG IDEA:

As the sun rises on Super Tuesday, the D.C. in-crowd still doesn’t fully grasp the power of Donald Trump’s message. Elites bemoan The Donald at cocktail parties and take comfort in calling Trump supporters uneducated. But, while the Republican Party plunges into civil war, Trump keeps expanding his base.

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Many readers would probably be stunned by some of the people who are secretly supporting Trump and don’t want to admit it on the record. His coalition includes not just rock-ribbed conservatives and God-fearing evangelicals but Ivy-League-educated professionals. Some realize he’s not actually that authentically conservative and look the other way. Some, who fancy themselves moderates, admire the businessman’s malleability. Yesterday, as an example of someone in that vein, former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert (who lost to Ted Cruz in the 2012 Texas Senate primary) endorsed Trump. Others just like to jump on bandwagons and back winners.

The more that Republican elites express alarm, the more a swath of these folks think that Trump might be just the change agent that’s needed to nuke Washington. Remember, most grass-roots activists believe these D.C. politicians and talking heads are part of the problem. When I was in Alabama on my five-day road trip through the SEC Primary states, a local official came up to me, asked me to turn off my tape recorder and whispered that he was supporting Trump. Over the past few days, I’ve spoken with Republicans in the same boat from Minnesota and Massachusetts to Texas and Tennessee.

“It’s like Dr. Strangelove,” said a tip-top Republican who is closely aligned with the GOP establishment and supported Chris Christie until he dropped out. “People are saying, ‘I’m not gonna tell my friends and family I’m voting for Trump,’ but then they’re pulling the trigger for Trump. I might as well be like Slim Pickens at the end of the movie and just ride the atomic bomb down and see what happens.”

This is the scene he's referring to:

Chip Saltsman, who was a senior adviser to Mike Huckabee’s campaign, explained that Cruz will be strong in rural parts of Tennessee today and Marco Rubio will do well in the suburbs. “Trump, however, cuts all through the state,” said Saltsman, a former chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party who is neutral. “There is no natural base for Trump, and there’s nowhere he won’t do great. It truly is amazing.”

“Tennessee is not that much different than every other state: It’s Trump’s to lose,” he added. “Marco has momentum. It’s a natural environment for Cruz. But it may not matter because Trump’s probably going to win.”

-- Trump is NOT a regional candidate. Seven Southern states vote today, as well as Alaska, Minnesota, Massachusetts and Vermont. Cruz is considered the favorite in Texas, but Trump could win all the others. He already won New Hampshire in the Northeast, Nevada in the West and South Carolina in the South.

From Massachusetts, for instance, The Post’s Ben Terris argues that Trump is the favorite because he’s perfectly channeled the voice and spirit of a loudmouthed sports fan from the state. “People follow politics here like they follow the Patriots or the Red Sox. They want to know a politician is a fighter and has their back,” state Rep. Geoff Diehl said. “Nobody has been able to lay a fing-ah on Trump!” a Massachusetts man declared to a local radio station. As Ben puts it, “These voters don’t care that the Globe recently ran an editorial entitled ‘Massachusetts Must Stop Trump’; they’re not even troubled by their own doubts that Trump can fulfill his promises. All that matters is that, for the first time in memory, a candidate is speaking their language.”

Supporters reach for signatures, handshakes and photos as Trump works the rope line in Georgia last night. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

-- In a general election, Trump could disrupt the electoral map in surprising ways. While the coverage has focused on House Republicans in moderate districts (like Bob Dold from suburban Chicago) who could get wiped out, Trump could also fare better than a conventional Republican in places like western Pennsylvania or the Iron Range of northern Minnesota. This perhaps explains why a Republican House member like Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino backed Trump last night. Marino told Politico that Trump has “overwhelming support” in his district because “he’s the man for the unprotected ... not the protected, not for the Wall Street people, not for the DC insiders, but for the hard-working taxpayers.”

The CNN poll yesterday that had Trump getting the support of 49 percent of Republicans nationally also showed that his supporters are more motivated than his detractors: 8 in 10 Republicans backing Donald said they are more excited about voting this year than in previous elections.

On the other end of the spectrum, check out this letter to the editor that ran in yesterday’s Financial Times:

After months of thinking that stopping Trump was someone else’s problem, everyone in the Republican establishment is finally in full freak-out mode. “A Vote for Donald Trump Is a Vote for Bigotry,” Stuart Stevens, Mitt Romney’s chief strategist in 2012, writes on The Daily Beast. The results from the 11 states that vote today will indicate the degree to which blocking the billionaire’s path to the GOP nomination is still possible.

To be sure, many who harbor pro-Trump sentiments have not fully thought through the implications of making him the Republican standard bearer or, more significantly, the president of these United States. As they see the new barrage of negative ads and watch Trump trip over questions about the Klan, they may very well sober up and change their minds. But they’ve had nine months, and it hasn’t happened yet.

It’s also undeniable that Trump terrifies up to half of self-identified Republicans. They worry that he’s making a mockery of conservatism. They point to fascist or racist undertones in his campaign. They are in denial that he is likely to be their nominee.

March 15 is still really the day to watch. If Trump wins Florida and Ohio, it’s game over. It won’t be tenable for the GOP establishment to ignore the will of the grassroots at the convention in Cleveland.

Ted Cruz in San Antonio yesterday with his wife Heidi and their two children. (Photo by Lucian Perkins /for The Washington Post)

-- Can Cruz survive in Texas? The SEC primary states were supposed to be the bulwark of the senator’s support. Instead, he spent yesterday shoring up support back home.

Some Texas analysts warn that turnout could surge to a record two million. Smaller turnout is good for Cruz – it indicates that voters will fit into the traditional mold. Bigger turnout means more first-time voters – likely inspired by Trump.

But Trump has virtually no ground game in the state. Texas GOP operative Matt Mackowiak told Breanne Deppisch that Trump’s efforts in Texas are hobbled by his lack of local presence. His prediction: Cruz 39, Trump 30, Rubio 18. He also expects the Texas senator to walk away with 80 to 85 of the state’s 155 delegates.

After losing evangelicals in South Carolina, watch to see if Cruz can win them again in the Lone Star State. High-profile Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress came out for Trump. “I think it’s important to vote for a candidate who can win,” he said.

-- Does Rubio’s suburban strategy deliver more than second-place finishes?

Marco Rubio in Atlanta yesterday. (EPA/Erik S. Lesser)

Rubio is going to be able to accrue a good number of delegates today from every region of the country by appealing to suburban voters outside places like Atlanta, Birmingham and Dallas. He could possibly win the Minnesota caucuses or score an upset somewhere we don’t expect (Tom Coburn backed him in Oklahoma yesterday). But if Cruz wins Texas and Rubio does not carry a single state, it will sound laughably ridiculous when Rubio surrogates try to push Cruz out of the race.

-- Also watch the wild cards: Ben Carson or John Kasich could be spoilers if the battle for second and third place between Rubio and Cruz is close again.

-- The Rubio campaign made a tactical mistake by going into the gutter with Trump over the weekend. A handful of the voters I spoke with at his rally in Kennesaw, Georgia, said they were nervous that the Florida senator is too young to be president but they were leaning toward him because he seems mature for a 44-year-old. “I think Trump would have been a shoo-in if he’d been just a little calmer,” said Jimmie Degive, 75, a retired saleswoman from Marietta. “I was going eeny meeny miney mo between Trump and Rubio the last couple of days. Lots of people say they worry about Marco being so young. The thought of someone my son’s age being president is kinda scary, but JFK was young too. … I wish Rubio was a little older, but you have to take what’s there.”

The mudslinging has become especially juvenile. A locker-room mentality on conference calls and in strategy sessions creates a climate that prompts someone like Rubio to make not-subtle cracks about Trump having “small hands.” In the heat of a presidential campaign, inside the bubble, it is all too easy to lose perspective. Especially when your rival is a bully like Trump. But, in so doing, Rubio reminded voters that he’s only 44…

The Rubio team clearly recognizes the error: The candidate dropped the anti-Trump zingers at his final pre-Super Tuesday rallies. Last night, someone in the rafters at a high school gym in a suburb of Tulsa shouted: “Donald Trump has small hands!” Rubio replied, “We're not talking about that today! It was fun while it lasted.” Ed O’Keefe relays from the event that Rubio still called Trump “a con artist,” but the raspy senator did not repeat his jokes about The Donald’s spray tan or his large private plane. Instead, Rubio warned that this election "is a referendum on our identity as a nation and as a people."

Hillary Clinton speaks to supporters at the Old South Meeting Hall during a rally in Boston yesterday. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

ON THE DEMOCRATIC SIDE:

-- After getting a real scare in Iowa and New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton has momentum as the nominating contest approaches what has always been her firewall. She is poised to begin amassing a major delegate advantage tonight because of her strength in the South, and she could go a long way toward psychically putting down the Bernie Sanders insurgency with wins in the overwhelmingly white states where he expects to be strongest, including Minnesota, Massachusetts and Colorado.

“Clinton and Sanders will be competing in 13 contests (11 states plus American Samoa and Democrats voting from abroad) with 878 delegates at stake — about 20 percent of the total,” Dan Balz writes in his column today. “Sanders’s best chance for victories Tuesday comes in five states: Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Vermont. Those states will distribute fewer than 300 delegates. Clinton has the advantage in six states, all with a higher percentage of nonwhite voters, which account for almost all the remaining delegates at stake: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

The Clinton campaign is significantly more organized for caucus states than in 2008. Via Balz: “Here is one example of how the Obama campaign’s mastery of the rules worked against Clinton: Among the states with contests on Super Tuesday 2008 were Idaho and New Jersey. New Jersey’s primary awarded 107 delegates. Clinton won the state 54 percent to 46 percent but emerged with just 11 more delegates than Obama. Idaho’s caucus awarded a mere 18 delegates. Obama won the state with about 80 percent and netted 12 more delegates than Clinton. By the time the Clinton camp awoke to its problem, it was too late. That history was burned into the minds of Clinton’s current team, led by campaign manager Robby Mook. This year, her advisers vowed not to repeat those mistakes.”

-- The Narrative coming out of tonight is likely to be:

… Clinton shifts her attention toward the general. (Anne Gearan and Abby Phillip)

… And Sanders will not go quietly. Bernie told reporters in Boston last night that he plans to stay in the race until voters in all 50 states have spoken.

Bernie and Jane Sanders board their campaign plane. (Reuters/Brian Snyder)

Jane Sanders, his wife, spoke to some reporters on the candidate’s plane last night as it approached Burlington, Vt. Via John Wagner: “Tomorrow, you know, it’s a rough map for us,” she said. On whether there’s a point at which her husband drops out of the race, she answered: “If you’ve gone to the rallies with us, you’ve seen the hope and the expectation, the fervor and the support for the ideas. Bernie’s not going to let those people down. Every state should be able to voice their support for what they believe in.”

Some additional factors to consider as Democratic returns come in:

-- How big is African American turnout in the South? The much-ballyhooed Clinton firewall showed its durability in South Carolina on Saturday. Today the test is much bigger. African American voters could be determinative in half a dozen states.

The Democratic apportionment process make this constituency even more pivotal: “Democrats award many delegates on the basis of past election results in each congressional district. The more Democratic a district is, the more delegates that district has to award in the primaries,” Balz explains in his column. “Because districts with the strongest Democratic performance also happen to have a high percentage of African Americans or Latinos, Clinton gains an extra advantage. For example, the majority-African American 7th Congressional District in Alabama will award nine delegates. No other district in the state has more than five. The same holds for the predominantly African American 2nd Congressional District in Mississippi.”

-- Is Bernie as strong among Latinos as he keeps saying?

Texas, with a large Latino population, will settle a fight that’s been going on since Nevada. Entrance polls showed Sanders leading with Latinos in the caucuses there; the Clinton campaign pointed to the raw results to argue that they won Hispanic areas and thus the majority of votes from this constituency.

Sanders’s inroads in Texas do not appear to be with Latinos but millennials. Sanders has spent almost the entirety of his campaign time in the state visiting Austin and Dallas. Hillary is endorsed by almost all the Hispanic Democrats in Texas. And she won 66 percent of their votes in 2008.

Colorado might prove to be a different story. Sanders appears to have real momentum there, and he faces less institutional competition from Hillary. Latinos make up close to 15 percent of Colorado’s electorate. The co-Founder of Colorado’s Latino forum endorsed Sanders yesterday.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe hugs Hillary as she arrives at a campaign rally in Norfolk yesterday. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

-- Can Terry McAuliffe deliver a big margin for Hillary in Virginia? She was up by 27 points in a poll last week. She made two stops in Virginia on Monday, a move that looked like an effort to rack up a “statement victory,” not stave off a loss, Laura Vozzella explains.

-- Will Hillary win any of the overwhelmingly white states that Bernie is targeting? The quickest way for her to wrap up the nomination is to win some of the states he really needs to. He’ll definitely get Vermont. But she would have a really huge night if she wins Minnesota, Massachusetts, Colorado and Oklahoma – or some combination of them. As a sign of how important it is to his hopes, Sanders went to Minnesota three times in the past four days. He even met privately with former Gov. Jesse Ventura yesterday. USA Today reports that Sanders also looks strong in Oklahoma and has benefited from backlash to fracking.

-- Does the trend of lower Democratic turnout continue?

-- Do any congressional incumbents lose primaries? Lawmakers holding some of the most powerful seats in Congress – such as House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tex.), House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Tex.) and Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) – are on the ballot today. Also on the list are freshman conservative Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.) and Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.). Kelsey Snell looks at each race here.

Welcome to the Daily 202, PowerPost's morning newsletter.
With contributions from Breanne Deppisch (@b_deppy) and Elise Viebeck (@eliseviebeck)

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

Bernie Sanders picks up his ballot to vote in the Vermont primary in Burlington this morning. (Reuters/Brian Snyder)

-- The Sanders campaign announced at 1 a.m. Eastern that it raised $42 million during the month of February, including $6 million yesterday alone.

--The State Department released 3,871 pages of Clinton emails yesterday, the final batch. In total, that means 52,402 pages were posted for the public to see. Of those, 2,101 were redacted for containing classified material. Of the redacted emails, nearly all were classified at the “confidential” level – the lowest level of sensitivity; 44 were classified at the ‘secret’ level, and 22 were withheld from public release for being deemed “top secret.” Clinton’s email woes are far from over. The FBI and the State Department inspector general are still probing whether classified information was mishandled or other federal laws were violated. (Rosalind S. Helderman)

-- David Duke, the former KKK grand wizard and white supremacist leader, denied he ever “endorsed” Trump, though he said the real-estate mogul still has his vote. “When you say you endorse someone you’re basically endorsing the entire person … people get the impression you’re endorsing everything about them,” Duke said last night on Fox Radio. "I think that voting sometimes is not a question of endorsing someone, but sometimes you vote strategically." (Post Fact Checker Glenn Kessler rounds up every public comment Trump has made about Duke going back to 1991. Read it here.)

The kerfuffle does not appear to be thwarting Trump’s fiercely loyal followers, though it may be galvanizing Cruz and Rubio supporters, as well as significantly ramping up the desperation factor from voters who don’t want the golden-haired provocateur to assume the presidency.

After Trump said a bad earpiece from CNN meant that he didn’t understand the question about Duke on Sunday, Rubio replied in Tennessee: "I don't care how bad the earpiece is, Ku Klux Klan comes through pretty clearly.”

-- Meanwhile, Trump appeared on Fox News with Sean Hannity last night to respond to a report that he told the New York Times during an off-the-record conversation that his plan to build a border wall is “negotiable.” Trump attacked the Times and then spun it like so: “Things are negotiable. I'll be honest with you -- I'll make the wall two feet shorter, or something. I mean, everything's negotiable.” Except building the wall, he added. Hannity also pressed Trump about his plan to deport 11 million illegal immigrants. “Look, we have some great people over here,” said Trump. “They’re going to get out, but we’re going to work out a system that’s fair.” (David Weigel’s story)

--The anti-Trump super PAC Our Principles has launched a new ad criticizing the now-defunct Trump University. The ad comes amid a heightened focus on Trump’s business career, a last-ditch effort by Republicans to sow doubts about his character.

-- Rubio is set to name hedge fund billionaire and gay rights activist Paul Singer as his national finance chairman, the New York Post reports. Such a move would incite social conservatives (but probably not as much as it will help Rubio bring in lots of needed cash…)

-- Activists widely circulated a hoax story on social media that appeared to come from the New York Times and said Elizabeth Warren endorsed Sanders. She remains neutral in the race. The Times got the site that had posted the fake piece, Clone Zone, to take it down by sending a cease and desist letter. (NYT)

Donald Trump and Chris Christie walk up to speak during a campaign event in Millington, Tenn., on Saturday. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

-- The New Hampshire Union Leader runs a mea culpa editorial today apologizing for its endorsement of Christie. “Boy, were we wrong,” writes publisher Joe McQuaid. “Watching Christie kiss the Donald’s ring this weekend — and make excuses for the man Christie himself had said was unfit for the presidency — demonstrated how wrong we were. Rather than standing up to the bully, Christie bent his knee. In doing so, he rejected the very principles of his campaign that attracted our support. Voters here apparently knew better than we. Most rejected Christie but divided their votes among several others, leaving Trump to claim victory. And now, despite specifically telling us that he would never endorse him, Christie is backing Trump. If nothing else, that might wake up some Trump fans. We will look for that, just as soon as we get the egg off our face.”

GET SMART FAST:​​

Clarence Thomas (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)
  1. Justice Clarence Thomas asked a question during oral arguments for the first time in a decade. His extensive questioning stunned the court and indicated that Thomas will step up to replace Scalia’s prominent voice on the court. (Robert Barnes)

  2. Zika is expected to infect 1 in 5 Puerto Ricans, and there are now 117 confirmed cases of the virus on the island. This drastically increases the possibility of a spike inside the continental U.S. (Lena H. Sun)
  3. Attorneys for Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) appeared in federal court to challenge the charges of public corruption leveled against him before a trial begins. Menendez was charged with bribery for allegedly offering a Florida ophthalmologist help with government business. He argues his case should be dismissed under the Constitution’s “speech or debate” clause. (Matt Zapotosky)

  4. A Brooklyn judge ruled in favor of Apple, refuting the government’s claim that a colonial-era law authorized him to force Apple to lift iPhone data. The ruling has no impact on the separate, high-profile Apple case being heard in California this week, but has taken on outsize importance, since both cases turn on the same law. (Ellen Nakashima)

  5. A Louisiana sheriff captain resigned after he appeared in a viral video calling a group of predominantly black gang members “animals.” (T. Rees Shapiro)
  6. A woman was arrested in Moscow after she was seen chanting “Allahu Akbar” while carrying the severed head of a child she nannied for. “I am your death,” the woman shouted before being detained. “I am a terrorist.” (Justin Wm. Moyer)
  7. Three 12-year-old girls in Florida were arrested and criminally charged after spiking their teacher’s soda with hot peppers. (Sarah Larimer)
  8. Wisconsin’s government is full of crap – no, really! Madison County’s Municipal Court and Parks offices are being temporarily relocated after a backed-up toilet caused contamination issues. (Wisconsin State Journal)

WAPO HIGHLIGHTS:

-- “More than half a million registered Texans don’t have the right ID to vote on Super Tuesday,” by Sari Horwitz: “As voters go to the polls on Super Tuesday, many will be casting ballots in states that have passed strict election laws that didn’t exist during the last presidential race. Out of the 13 states holding primaries or caucuses, there are five where voters will face new rules – ranging from presenting photo IDs to requiring proof of citizenship. ‘We will undoubtedly see some negative effects in the primaries; perhaps a glimpse into bigger problems to come in November,’ said Wendy R. Weiser of NYU Law. A federal court in Texas, for example, found that 608,470 registered voters don’t have the voter IDs that the state now requires. In the meantime, the Justice Department is waging legal battles across the country to stem the tide of states with new voter restriction laws. ‘Until Congress restores the act, we are committed to doing all that we can to give every citizen a vote,’ explained DOJ leader Vanita Gupta.”

-- “Trump’s rhetoric on Muslims plays well with fans, but horrifies others,” by Jenna Johnson: “At a rally in Virginia, Trump told an apocryphal story about a general killing Muslim terrorists with bullets dipped in pigs’ blood. In Tennessee, he promised to bar Syrians from the country. Trump’s willingness to go further than any GOP rivals in casting suspicions on Muslims has horrified many Republicans. But for many Trump supporters, the GOP front-runner’s harsh rhetoric on Muslims is one of the keys to his appeal, especially among evangelicals who feel that Christians are under siege. Those feelings are probably a big part of the reason Trump is leading most of the 11 primary contests on Tuesday, especially in the South. ‘Not all Muslims are bad, but ISIS is, so I have to think we have to group them together now,” said Charlie Shane, a junior at Texas Tech. ‘He’s trying to Americans safe. Our lives are more important than theirs, and that’s just the reality.’”

-- “Meet the ‘Nones,’ the Democratic Party’s biggest faith constituency,” by Michelle Boorstein: “Joe Stone is part of an enormous but invisible voting constituency. A self-described ‘troubled atheist,’ Stone says organized religion has ‘gone off the deep end’ and candidates who emphasize a certain faith’s rightness turn him off. Stone is part of a massive group of Americans who reject any label or affiliation to describe their faith … This left-leaning group called ‘Nones’ are the Democratic parallel to the GOP’s white evangelicals — except without organization, PACs, or a clear agenda. They do, however, have one big expectation of political candidates: Be ethical, and go light on the God talk. A huge group that skews under 40, white and non-immigrant, the Nones want politicians to tone it down not because they’ve made some final determination about God — the vast majority are believers — but because they are fed up with religious institutions they see as corrupt and discriminatory. And in the process, they are rewriting the country’s political discourse on morality.”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

-- A scuffle between a photojournalist and a Secret Service agent at a Trump rally went viral. Fenit Nirappil reports from the scene: “Time photographer Christopher Morris was attempting to leave the press section to photograph Black Lives Matter protestors, when he was ‘thrown to the ground in a chokehold,’ by a Secret Service agent. Morris was briefly detained after the incident, later telling reporters he ‘never touched’ the agent.” Watch the moment:

That was not the only drama at a Trump rally yesterday. This happened later in the day in Georgia:

— ZIGNAL VISUAL

John Oliver devoted 22 minutes of his HBO show to attacking Trump:

The segment generated tons of buzz on social media Monday, as seen in this word cloud from Zignal Labs tracking all mentions of the GOP front-runner:

Oliver even included his own hashtag to go along with the piece — #MakeDonaldDrumpfAgain — and it was trending on Twitter through much of Monday. In fact, it was used nearly as frequently as Trump's own campaign slogan. The look at top hashtags also reveals the #NeverTrump effort to block Trump, which has been embraced by many Republicans in the establishment, is lagging in enthusiasm behind Trump's own supporters. Pro-Trump Tweeters have countered with their own #AlwaysTrump hashtag which was being used about three times as often as #NeverTrump.

Marco Rubio enjoyed this sign from a fan:

Of course, it became a Twitter meme:

Alan Grayson, who is running for Senate, endorsed Sanders:

Everyone from former RNC chair Ken Mehlman (George W. Bush's 2004 manager) to actress Patricia Heaton ("Everybody Loves Raymond") and professional poker champ Daniel Negreanu joined the #NeverTrump cause:

Sounds like Mel Martinez is in the same boat:

It's been a huge couple of days for conservative-on-conservative Twitter feuds. Here's Larry Kudlow vs. John Podhoretz and Jonah Goldberg:

Tucker Carlson vs. Jonah Goldberg (in response to this Mitt Romney tweet):

Laura Ingraham vs. Rick Wilson (in response to the same Romney tweet):

Rubio surrogates, including several senators, joined the fray:

And finally, the big one: Ann Coulter vs. Sean Hannity on immigration:

Here's their feud ramping up:

And winding down:

Conservatives and libertarians are starting to talk about a splinter movement:

Cruz's former communications director:

Senators took a trip to Guantanamo:

John Cornyn enjoyed the Houston Rodeo Parade:

Lady Gaga posted a picture from Oscars night with Joe and Jill Biden:

HOT ON THE LEFT

What Melissa Harris-Perry's show meant to me as a black woman in media. From Bustle's Evette Dionne: "The sudden parting of ways between Harris-Perry and MSNBC tells me how little journalism values the importance of blackness. If one of the nation’s leading political scientists is expandable, then so am I. No matter how beautifully I write or how much revenue I generate, I am replaceable. And if I know that, Harris-Perry knows that, and instead of cowering away from it, she chose to stand in it and use her voice anyway."

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT

Kris Kobach endorses Trump, citing candidate's stance on immigration. From Talking Points Memo: "Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state known for his push for strict voter ID laws and his authorship of Arizona's controversial immigration legislation, endorsed Trump on Monday. 'For me, the most important issue in the Republican presidential contest is immigration and its effect on our national security. On that issue Mr. Trump stands head and shoulders above the other candidates,' Kobach said in a written statement."

DAYBOOK:

On the campaign trail: Happy Super Tuesday. Here's the rundown:

  • Clinton: Miami
  • Sanders: Essex Junction, Vt.
  • Trump: Columbus, Ohio; Louisville, Ky.
  • Cruz: Houston 
  • Rubio: Andover, Minn.; Miami
  • Kasich: Arlington, Va.; Jackson, Miss.
  • Carson: Baltimore

At the White House: President Obama meets with leaders of the Senate and the Senate Judiciary Committee. Vice President Biden holds a reception in honor of Black History Month at the Naval Observatory.

On Capitol Hill: The Senate meets at 10:30 a.m. to resume work on the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015. The House meets at 12 p.m. for legislative business. Votes on 12 suspension bills are expected between 2 and 3 p.m.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

Leslie Moonves, the chief executive of CBS, weighed in on the presidential race during a speech in San Francisco: “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS. ... Man, who would have expected the ride we’re all having right now? … The money’s rolling in and this is fun. I’ve never seen anything like this, and this is going to be a very good year for us. Sorry. It’s a terrible thing to say. But, bring it on, Donald. Keep going."

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

--It will be a decent day with some afternoon showers. The Capital Weather Gang: “Clouds dominate the night skies with showers arriving after midnight and carrying on toward the start of rush hour. Temperatures only cool to the low 50s by midnight, but then finally reach the lows in the low to middle 40s toward dawn.”

--The controversial president of Mount St. Mary’s University, Simon Newman, resigned after his efforts to improve student retention drew national outrage. Newman’s blunt business approach to running the school shocked and offended colleagues: among them, a survey to “cull struggling freshman” from the university, and references to students as “cuddly bunnies … who they had to drown or ‘put a Glock to their heads.’” (Susan Svrluga)

--Jesse Matthews, the Charlottesville-area man charged with the deaths of University of Virginia students Hannah Graham and Morgan Harrington, is expected to plead guilty to murder charges this week. (T. Rees Shapiro)

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane spoofed The Producers on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Why? To attack Trump, of course:

Trump accepted the endorsement of NASCAR’s chief executive and several of its prominent drivers in Georgia — even though the organization distanced itself from him last year because of his comments about illegal immigrants.

Here was the last time Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas asked a question in court (it was 2006):

Check out great footage from a dance workshop for young girls at the White House:

Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.), who is challenging John McCain in November, released this ad tying McCain to Trump (which is ironic because Trump has said he doesn't consider the senator a real war hero.)

A pony who gets dressed up as a unicorn to pose for photos with children got loose in California. The Highway Patrol, receiving panicked calls, spent hours pursuing the creature. They even deployed a helicopter to find her. A local resident on horseback managed to track down the pony and get her home – “with the unicorn horn still attached.” Watch a 3-minute package from the Fresno CBS affiliate about the episode here.