Marco Rubio holds his final rally of the Florida primary campaign in West Miami, where he got elected to the city commission in 1998. “No matter where I go or what I’ll be, I'll always be a son of this community,” Rubio told hundreds who gathered to hear him speak outdoors at a recreation center.  He spoke from the back of a pickup truck, joined by his four children. (Erik S. Lesser/EPA)

THE BIG IDEA:

The GOP field could winnow tonight from four candidates to three or two.

It is not out of the question that Donald Trump could sweep all five states that vote on this second Super Tuesday: Florida, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio and Illinois. But a split decision of some kind seems more likely. John Kasich is closing strong and considered the favorite to prevail in his home state.

It is a win-or-drop-out situation for Kasich and Marco Rubio. But the stakes are also high for Ted Cruz, who needs to prove that he would be a worthy street fighter in a head-to-head match-up with Trump.

“Cruz, who has been boxed out of some news cycles by the media's focus on Trump, is looking to set low expectations, then blow past them,” Dave Weigel reports from Columbus. “He is looking to strong performances in Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina, the lightly polled megastates lost in recent coverage, to cut any delegate lead Trump might build Tuesday. The first two states border the parts of Iowa that gave Cruz his first victory.”

There are 367 Republican delegates at stake. By this time tomorrow, more than half of the total delegates to the convention in Cleveland will have been awarded.

Supporters cheer as Bernie Sanders speaks yesterday in St. Charles, Missouri. (Photo by Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

-- The question for Democrats: How much of an aberration was Michigan? One of Hillary Clinton’s problems last Tuesday was the complacency of her supporters. This week, polls in every state but Illinois and Missouri again show her with pretty sizable leads. And the action is mostly on the Republican side. The risk again is that her people stay home or take GOP ballots. 

Even if Sanders does well, how many delegates does he get? “Multiple polls (show) Sanders closing in on Clinton in three states in the industrial Midwest — Missouri, Illinois and Ohio. But polls also show Clinton far ahead in Florida and in North Carolina, setting up the possibility of an outcome parallel to last week’s contests, when Sanders scored a narrow and surprising victory in Michigan, yet Clinton came away with a widened lead in the delegate count because of her resounding victory in Mississippi,” John Wagner and Jose A. DelReal report. “In other words, Clinton appears poised to continue her progress toward the Democratic nomination, but ever more bloodied by her battles with Sanders.”

Donald Trump is greeted by Pam Bondi as she introduces him in Tampa yesterday.  (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

-- FLORIDA is today’s biggest prize for Republicans, offering 99 delegates in a winner-take-all primary. Though a surprise should not be ruled out, Trump must be recognized as the heavy favorite. He’s led every single poll there this year.

A big Trump win here would be a big loss for the anti-Trump efforts, throwing into question the effectiveness of their attacks. Anti-Trump forces have now spent $15.7 million going after him in the Sunshine State, Anu Narayanswamy tabulates from FEC filings. 

Will Rubio drop out tonight? Unlike Kasich, the senator has not publicly said he will quit if he loses his home state. His super PAC, which has spent about $10 million in Florida, has not put any money behind ads in the forthcoming primaries, not exactly a show of confidence… (CNN)

The Post’s Ed O’Keefe, who is following Rubio now after spending a year chasing Jeb full time, relays from Miami that Rubio is “exhausted” and “a funeral mood” has set in at his events, similar to what cloaked the Bush campaign in its waning days.

One data point on why you shouldn’t count out Rubio: Rubio allies are pointing to heavy early voting in Miami-Dade to argue that their turnout operation is better than Trump’s. Nearly 2 million early and absentee ballots have been cast in Florida, including more than 1.1 million Republicans. Those totals include more than 100,000 Republican ballots cast in Rubio’s home county, the Wall Street Journal notes.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who wants to run for governor in 2018 (and could thus potentially face Rubio in a GOP primary), endorsed Trump. She previously backed Jeb Bush, who has stayed conspicuously neutral ahead of today’s primary. (The former governor still blames Rubio for ruining his presidential hopes, and he likely does not believe that weighing in could save his one-time protégé.)

Will Trump make inroads with unlikely demographics? The Miami Herald reports that he is faring surprisingly well with Hispanic Republicans: “Cuban Americans in South Florida have the rare opportunity to vote for two of their own for the U.S. presidency. Yet some are making a different choice: They’re backing Trump … There is anecdotal evidence of support among Miami-Dade’s staunchly Republican Cuban-American voters even as most back Rubio — the son of Cuban immigrants — whom many Cuban-American voters helped elect to the U.S. Senate in 2010.” The paper says Cubans don’t care as much about deportation and the border wall. “I don’t think Cuban. I think American. … The worst problem the U.S. has is the economy,” said former Hialeah Mayor Julio Martinez, who convinced his wife who once lived in the U.S. illegally to vote for Trump.

Horses line up as protestors celebrate in Chicago outside after Trump's rally was canceled on Friday. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

-- Does the recent violence scare away any Trump voters?

Early evidence suggests not: A Monmouth University poll published yesterday found that two-thirds of likely Florida GOP primary voters say the events in Chicago have no effect on their view of Trump. The same survey showed Trump leading Rubio by 17 points (44-27), compared to an 8 point lead last week (38-30).

Trump’s rivals continued to seize on the drama at his events as they fanned out across the battlegrounds.

Rubio framed the election as “a choice between optimism and fear.”

“I don’t think there’s anyone in the history of American politics that compares to the vulgarity of a Donald Trump candidacy,” he told reporters. “In the history of American politics!” (Sean Sullivan)

Cruz responded gamely when he was heckled in Peoria, Illinois. "See sir, one difference between this and a Donald Trump rally is I’m not asking anyone to punch you in the face," he said.

Trump said there’s a double standard and even denied that there’s been tension. “It’s a love fest. These are love fests,” Trump said at one of his events. Sarah Palin, campaigning for Trump in Florida, decried “petty, punk-ass little thuggery.” She accused the protesters of endangering the First Amendment rights of Trump’s supporters and accused the mainstream media of “being on the thugs’ side.”

Meanwhile, a North Carolina sheriff’s office said it will not charge Trump with “inciting a riot” after his raucous rally there last week (where a supporter punched an African American protestor), saying the events do not meet the lawful requirements to support a conviction. (David A. Fahrenthold and Sarah Larimer)

John Kasich holds a baby while Mitt Romney speaks at a rally in Ohio yesterday. (Reuters/Aaron P. Bernstein)

OHIO—Kasich’s last stand?

The Buckeye State has 66 delegates at stake in its winner-take-all primary. A final Monmouth poll shows Kasich up 40-35 over Trump, with Cruz at 15 and Rubio at 5.

How the final day is playing in the Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Kasich, the state's popular two-term governor, takes the stage at a high school about a mile from his home. There's Mitt Romney by his side … who, when he was the Republican nominee in 2012, received little help or enthusiasm from Kasich. But the former Massachusetts governor didn't join the campaign trail with Kasich out of personal loyalty or because Kasich was his favorite candidate. Romney was trying to save the soul of his party by dragging Kasich across the finish line ... At this moment, he is the GOP establishment's last best hope. And yet it's not the most confident pose for Kasich. He is fighting – harder than he ever thought he would have to – to win Ohio.” Across town, Trump spoke to a few hundred at an aircraft hangar in Youngstown: “The rally was announced less than 24 hours earlier, after the Trump campaign changed its schedule to focus on Ohio.”

Does Romney have any juice? Mitt stopped short formally of endorsing Kasich when they campaigned together yesterday at an airplane museum in North Canton. “You’re the ones who are going to decide if he becomes the next president of the United States,” Romney said. “You look at this guy, and unlike the other people running, he has a real track record. He has the kind of record that you want in Washington. That’s why I’m convinced that you’re going to do the right thing tomorrow.”

The Columbus Dispatch reports on a surge in Ohio voters who are switching party affiliations: “Through Friday, Franklin County had about 39,000 requests for absentee ballots, and roughly 17,000 came from voters changing their registration. Most of the tide represents unaffiliated voters requesting a partisan ballot. About 5,700 of those so-called independents wanted to vote in the Republican primary while almost 10,000 asked for a Democratic ballot.”

Donald Trump is introduced by Chris Christie in Vienna, Ohio, yesterday. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

-- How potent is the trade issue for Sanders and Trump? It was a big factor in their wins in Michigan last week. The Rust Belt has been hit hard by outsourcing and the decline of manufacturing. Both populists emphasized their opponents’ support for “bad trade deals” yesterday while campaigning in Ohio.

"He signed NAFTA -- NAFTA destroyed Ohio," Trump said of Kasich in Youngstown. "It destroyed Ohio! And now he wants to sign TPP! That is going to be worse. I have studied it so carefully. It's going to be worse for Ohio. It’s going to take all of your car business out. Your car business is going to be destroyed by TPP. He wants it, and nobody knows why he wants it, including himself. Maybe one of his lobbyists is demanding it. Maybe one of the other countries that's going to benefit is demanding it. Who knows? It is completely crazy."

"Kasich cannot make America great again," Trump added. “If you didn't hit oil -- and he didn't have anything to do with that -- this (state) would have been as bad as any of 'em. Oil has gone way down, and yet our budget’s gone up 35 percent, more than any other state in the United States. That means you're gonna have a big, big problem."

“You in Ohio and in the Midwest know about the disastrous trade policies,” Sanders said in Akron, where a once-thriving tire industry has experienced a major decline. “It took me about 13 seconds to figure out that NAFTA was written by corporate America, that its goal was to shut down factories and plants in America, to move abroad to find cheap labor, and bring those products back into America. It didn’t take a PhD to figure that out.”

Hillary Clinton, accompanied by Jesse Jackson, visits with mothers who have lost children to gun violence in Chicago yesterday. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

-- ILLINOIS is shaping up to be the marquee contest for Democrats today. It’s a Midwestern state (good for Sanders) and racially diverse (great for Clinton). FiveThirtyEight, which gave Hillary a 99 percent chance of winning Michigan, complains that the polls are skewed, which makes it harder to forecast: A recent Chicago Tribune poll gave Clinton a 42 point lead, while last week’s YouGov poll put Sanders at a 2 point advantage.

Watch Chicago. Sanders returned to the Windy City for a late-night election-eve rally – stumping there just a few hours after Clinton and trying to score another in her home state.

Did Sanders make the primary a referendum on Rahm Emanuel? The mayor and former White House chief of staff is toxically unpopular, and he’s been on the sidelines. The Vermont senator has aggressively tried to link him with Clinton, Politico reports.

The Chicago Sun-Times looks at the last-minute efforts to stop Bernie from catching up: “Bill Clinton hit two black churches— in west suburban Maywood and South Shore — to spur crucial African-American voter turnout. The Clinton campaign sent a team of high-profile surrogates to fan out across the Chicago area after two new polls pointed to the potential of a Sanders’ win in Illinois, turf long seen as solidly for Clinton.”

-- NORTH CAROLINA is looking very good for Clinton. If she wins in Florida and North Carolina, Hillary will have won every Southern state.

The Charlotte Observer notes that three presidential candidates descended on the city Monday: Sanders rallied supporters at PNC Music Pavilion near UNC Charlotte, while Clinton made a late-night appearance at Grady Cole Center just outside uptown. Though the latest polls put Clinton way ahead of Sanders (56-37), the Vermont Senator hopes to pull another Michigan-style upset by pressing his differences with Clinton over trade.

She has racked up endorsements in the Tar Heel State: Clinton has the backing of 44 of the General Assembly’s 61 Democratic lawmakers, including all the Democratic women. And she’s counting on heavy support from African-Americans, who are likely to make up at least a third of the Democratic primary electorate.

A record (for a primary) of 56,752 people cast early or absentee ballots in Mecklenburg County, the Observer reports: “Turnout could rival the county’s recent high of 34 percent, set in 2008.”

-- Sanders campaigned yesterday in four of the five states that vote today. Florida is the only one he skipped, and it’s because the primary is closed, which means independents won’t be able to vote for him, and there are too many retirees for him to be viable. Clinton has consistently won seniors.

Ted Cruz poses for a picture with supporters in Columbus. (Reuters/Aaron P. Bernstein)

-- MISSOURI might be today’s biggest wildcard. It’s hard to know exactly what’s going on in the Show Me State, which offers 71 Democratic delegates and 52 Republican delegates. The state’s lack of polling – coupled with its hard-to-predict open primary system – has kept pundits from making accurate predictions.

From the story in this morning’s Post-Dispatch: “The St. Louis area saw Monday appearances by both former first daughter Chelsea Clinton, addressing supporters at a Clayton restaurant; and Sanders, who had a large crowd in St. Charles, his third big rally in the region in the past two weeks. A Post-Dispatch poll last week indicated that Missouri voters in both parties slightly favor the front-runners — Clinton and Trump. But their leads over Sanders and Cruz, respectively, were within the poll’s margins for error, making the races potential nail-biters.”

-- Missouri is Cruz’s best shot at a win today. Cruz has done extremely well in the Midwest (think Iowa and Kansas), and he has netted key endorsements from political figures in the state. Rubio’s descent means Cruz will get an even clearer shot at Trump in the state. BUT Missouri’s open primary could make it easier for Trump to win. Independent voters break almost overwhelmingly in support of the populist candidates, and a strong independent turnout would likely boost his campaign to success.

Can Cruz consolidate the Stop Trump movement? Trying to be conciliatory, he said yesterday that Kasich and Rubio could both have spots in his cabinet. From Katie Zezima in North Carolina: As Cruz hopes to narrow the primary to a two-man race, he is increasingly trying to appeal to very different groups: working-class voters who may be drawn to Trump, and political establishment voters who want to stop him. The fit is not a natural one for Cruz, who pillories the establishment … But with Rubio’s candidacy sputtering and Kasich far behind, the establishment is warming to him … ‘It comes down to the reality of a Trump nomination,’ said a [Bush-turned-Cruz] supporter. ‘Trump would be a disaster and an embarrassment for the nation. Ted is the best chance to defeat Trump.’”

Funny color: Cruz is bragging on the trail about finishing “dead last” in Saturday’s D.C convention. Fewer than 3,000 voted; Rubio got 10 delegates to nine for Kasich. "The Washington lobbyists looked at this field and said goodness gracious, give us anybody but Cruz,” he says. It always gets cheers.

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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

In the Old State Capitol, Hillary Clinton takes a break during a taped interview with Chris Matthews on MSNBC in Springfield, Illinois. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

-- Hillary was picked up on a hot mic speculating about why Christie endorsed Trump. From Abby Phillip: During a commercial break while taping an MSNBC town hall, Clinton asked host Chris Matthews: "Why did he support him? ... Did he have a debt?" Matthews explained that Christie and others who support Trump "want a future" politically. He added that Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) "isn't going anywhere," which leaves Christie "nowhere" to go. "I don’t think he would win right now," Clinton chimed in. Then they chatted and chuckled about how Clinton's young staff does not get some of her cultural references.

Listen to a three-minute audio recording from the chit-chat between Matthews and HRC:

-- During the town hall itself, Clinton said Trump is evoking the kind of mob violence “that led to lynching." The full quote: “When you are inciting mob violence, which is what Trump is doing in those clips, there’s a lot of memories that people have. People remember mob violence that led to lynching. People remember mob violence that led to people being shot, being grabbed, being mistreated.”

-- Reporters who are following Clinton believe that she is fatigued, and they're portraying three gaffes over three days as evidence that the unexpectedly competitive contest has taken a physical toll on the 68-year old. From The Post's main day story, anchored by John Wagner and Jose A. DelReal: "Friday morning, the day of Nancy Reagan’s funeral, Clinton mistakenly praised the former first lady for 'starting a conversation' about HIV/AIDS. Clinton quickly apologized, but the backlash from the LGBT community was intense ... The next day in St. Louis, Clinton suggested that Sanders had been absent during her 1993 push for health-care reform. On Twitter, a Sanders aide quickly blasted out an archival video showing the senator standing right behind Clinton during a news conference about the effort. Twenty-four hours after that, Clinton answered a question about coal country with a cringe-worthy response: 'We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business, right?' On Monday, Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon tried to clean up..."

Gen. John F. Campbell was in charge of U.S. forces in Afghanistan until early this month. (Photo by Andrew Quilty for The Washington Post)

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. A top U.S. general has recommended resuming offensive airstrikes against the Taliban, prompting complaints from senior Pentagon officials who said he broke standard military procedure by forwarding the proposal directly to the White House without the backing of the Secretary of Defense. (Missy Ryan and Greg Jaffe)
  2. Burma’s new parliament elected Htin Kyaw as its first civilian president in decades. The longtime adviser to Aung San Suu Kyi will be sworn in on March 30, as the country shifts from military-backed government to a democracy. (Annie Gowen)
  3. Vladimir Putin said he’ll begin removing Russian military forces from Syria: The surprise announcement came amid fresh U.N.-brokered peace talks between the Assad government and rebel representatives in Geneva. (Michael Birnbaum and Hugh Naylor)
  4. U.S. and South Korean troops practiced responding to chemical weapons attacks from North Korea, part of an eight-week series of joint military exercises between the two countries.  (Anna Fifield)
  5. The Kalamazoo gunman who killed six people in an hours-long rampage last month claims he was being controlled by the Uber app. The former driver for the ride-sharing company said the app “took over his mind and body" and that he has no memory of the attack. (Mark Berman)
  6. A top NFL official admitted publicly that a link exists between football-related brain injuries and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a connection the league has never before publicly acknowledged. (Des Bieler)
  7. The University of California, Berkeley fired its assistant men’s basketball coach following complaints of sexual harassment. The firing comes just days after the high-profile resignation of the university’s law school dean in another case. (Susan Svrluga)
  8. A senior member of the Saudi royal family criticized Obama for telling The Atlantic that “free riders” aggravate him. The comment was aimed at America’s European and Arab allies who have not contributed their fair share to multilateral efforts. (Adam Taylor)
  9. Bomb-sniffing dogs in Serbia discovered two inert Hellfire missiles on a passenger plane. They were bound for Portland. (Thomas Gibbons-Neff)
  10. A Chinese investment group made an unsolicited bid for Starwood Hotels, a move that could jeopardize its planned merger with Marriott. (Abha Bhattarai)
  11. The son of the chief justice on the Massachusetts Appeals Court was charged with spray-painting racist and homophobic graffiti--along with Trump’s name--in an Illinois chapel. (Boston Globe)
  12. Scientists revealed a newly-discovered species of dinosaur: Dubbed the Timurlengia eutoica, the horse-sized species is thought to be the missing link in the evolution of the Tyrannosaurus Rex.  (Joel Achenbach)
  13. Sarah Palin, in Florida to campaign for Trump, flew back to Alaska to be with her husband Todd, who suffered eight fractured ribs in a snow machine accident. (Alaska Dispatch News)
  14. The Senate voted to confirm John King Jr. as Secretary of Education. (Emma Brown)
  15. EPA administrator Gina McCarthy pens an op-ed in today's Post blaming the Flint water crisis on "a state-appointed emergency manager" who was trying to save money. (Read it here.)
  16. President Obama met privately with Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, who was released after spending 18 months in an Iranian prison. Rezaian described their meeting at the State Department as friendly and informal: “It’s been very gratifying and humbling to see how much has been done on my behalf … all the way up to the highest levels of the American government,” he said. “Grateful is sort of the order of the day.” (Juliet Eilperin)

THE EXODUS CONTINUES: Three more Breitbart News staffers announced their resignations to protest the conservative site's fealty to Trump even after his campaign manager allegedly assaulted one of their colleagues. National security correspondent Jordan Schachtel and associate editor Jarrett Stepman joined others. 

A telling window into how Breitbart operates: Yesterday morning, after The 202 went out, the site published a column attacking Ben Shapiro for leaving. The story began: “Former Breitbart News editor-at-large Ben Shapiro announced Sunday evening via left-wing Buzzfeed that he is abandoning Andrew Breitbart’s lifelong best friend, widow, hand-picked management team and friends in pursuit of an elusive contributorship at the Fox News Channel. Friends of Hamas could not be found for comment.”

"It ran under the byline of William Bigelow," Manuel Roig-Franzia and Paul Farhi explain in a broader piece about the chaos at Breitbart. "Bigelow, it turns out, is the pseudonym of David Shapiro, the father of Ben Shapiro. The elder Shapiro, who is a musician and also a writer at Breitbart, had chosen the name as an homage to the character Billy Bigelow in the musical 'Carousel,' his son said in an interview. The column was later removed from the site. ... Nonetheless, David Shapiro has resigned as well. Breitbart officials said the column was meant as a joke and was not intended for publication." 

Politico reports that Breitbart chairman Stephen Bannon made disparaging remarks about Michelle Fields on conference calls after she was injured at Trump's press conference. (He denies this.)

Former Breitbart spokesman Kurt Bardella, who resigned Friday, went on Fox News to to call the site a "Trump Super PAC." (Watch here.) He also wrote a first-person account of his resignation for CNN

-- “Trump’s staff and advisers have expressed concerns about campaign manager Corey Lewandowski’s quick temper and heavy-handed leadership, and some even planned a coup against him last month,” Politico reports. “In interviews with more than 20 sources who have dealt with Lewandowski during his nearly year-long tenure with the Trump campaign and in his previous job with the Koch brothers-backed advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, complaints emerged about Lewandowski being rough with reporters and sexually suggestive with female journalists, while profanely berating conservative officials and co-workers he deemed to be challenging his authority.”

-- NPR is clarifying Cokie Roberts's role as a commentator after she and her husband criticized Trump in a syndicated column. (Erik Wemple)

WAPO HIGHLIGHTS:

Three brothers: Malik Ford, 21; Elijah Ford, 18; and Michael DeAndre Ford, 22 (the shooter).

-- Three Prince George’s County brothers are being held in connection with the fatal shooting of Officer Jacai Colson. Police say Colson was likely killed by friendly fire. And the gunman, 22-year-old Michael Ford, intended to die in the shooting. “Ford recorded his last will and testament in a cellphone video before heading to the Landover police station,” report Lynh Bui, Peter Hermann and Justin Jouvenal. “Ford fired randomly at an ambulance and the doors of the station, pinning down officers who poured from the station to confront him.” His two brothers stood nearby, recording the ambush on their cellphones. Amid that barrage, Colson arrived to visit another officer. The off-duty detective "sprang from an unmarked police car and ‘heroically’ drew Ford’s fire as he exchanged shots with the gunman. The move allowed officers to overcome Ford, but in a chaotic moment, a shot probably fired by one of Colson’s fellow officers struck him and ultimately took his life. Colson was an undercover narcotics detective and was wearing street clothes. It is unclear whether the officer who shot Colson confused him with an assailant or whether Colson was wounded accidentally amid the chaotic gunfire.”

Ralph Case makes a phone call. (Photo by Andrew Spear for The Washington Post.)

Deep-dive feature on a die-hard Trump supporter --> “Finding purpose in the Trump crusade: ‘This is bigger than big’” by Stephanie McCrummen: “On a Friday a year ago, he might have been fixing a gutter. On this Friday, he was setting up a phone bank in a former North Canton (Ohio) tanning salon, becoming part of something that felt every day more like an important, even historic, struggle. It was the moment that Ralph Case had been waiting for since June, when the single father with a one-truck renovation business saw Trump announcing his presidential bid. As Trump spoke of an America that doesn’t ‘have victories anymore’ he felt something stirring– ‘like something hit me in my gut.’ He made the first of dozens of unreturned calls to Trump’s headquarters. He used his own money to rent a defunct tanning salon and plastered its windows with Trump signs. ‘That Ralph guy in Ohio’ was how Trump’s campaign began referring to Case. ‘Chair of Stark County’s Trump campaign,’ was how he referred to himself. ‘This is big,’ Ralph said. ‘This is bigger than big.’”

A soldier holds a bottle with larvae during an operation to eradicate the mosquito breeding sites in Brazil. This kind of mosquito is a vector for the spread of the Zika virus. It can lay eggs in even a bottle-cap's worth of stagnant water. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

-- “Zika is the latest battle in a long war between humans and mosquitoes,” by Nick Miroff and Brady Dennis: “Ever since a physician proved that mosquitos transmitted yellow fever, humans waged a war on the tiny disease carriers. They drained swamps and cesspools, waged door-to-door campaigns to hunt down breeding sites, and dumped an ocean’s worth of pesticides on multiple continents. But always, through resiliency and adaptability, the mosquito roared back [and] people grew complement. Political willpower faltered. And chemicals lost killing potency … Now comes Zika. Countries are once again calling for massive spraying efforts and r public education. Some are considering new tactics such as genetically engineered mosquitoes that cannot survive to adulthood; the WHO wants such unproven weapons evaluated with ‘particular urgency.’  Relatively few Americans may realize how central such work once was to the nation’s identity. Because these insects carried disease, their extermination became an essential government service, another chapter in the long campaign to tame the wilderness. But the war wasn’t over …. and may never be, as the Zika virus is making clear.”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

After saying she would never vote for her, Caitlyn Jenner posted a photo with Hillary Clinton:

This gif of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump is going viral:

In Ill., Ted Cruz went after Trump for his past political donations:

Another bad sign for reporters at Trump events:

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) is back on Capitol Hill:

The cast of "Hamilton" came to D.C. to perform at the White House, and their whole day was documented on social media:

Twitter caught on to some political pranksters:

Pi day was cause for celebration across the political spectrum:

Romney campaigned with Kasich:

This anti-Trump super PAC had to change its name:

The Cook Political Report's Amy Walter was reminded that this week is St. Patrick's Day:

GOOD READ FROM ELSEWHERE:

-- “How to Steal a Nomination From Trump,” by Bloomberg’s Sasha Issenberg (the author of “Victory Lab”): Here’s a timeline for how the months leading up a contested convention would likely play out and what practical steps can be taken to rob Trump of the nomination, even if he technically has the delegates needed to win on the first ballot.

  • In March, the hunt for double agents: A large number of delegates can be recruited throughout the spring as double agents—arriving in Cleveland pledged to Trump, while working in cahoots with his opponents.
  • In April, party bosses can gut Trump’s primary wins: 31 states have Republican executives – de facto party bosses that can freely stack an at-large slate with cronies, expecting a rubber-stamp from a subservient party committee.
  • May: Those plotting the theft must convince supporters to stick with it, despite any backlash – nothing in the RNC’s rules prohibits delegates from cutting the deal.
  • June: Anti-Trump forces could challenge results of questionable state contests (Nevada caucus-site irregularities, anyone?), putting all of the state’s delegates back into play.
  • In July, party officials can begin squeezing out a candidate it does not want to see nominated. All eyes will be on the Standing Committee on Rules, which sets qualifications for candidates to appear on convention ballots.

HOT ON THE LEFT

Trump surrogate says Sanders needs to 'meet Jesus.' From Mother Jones: "A Trump surrogate said during a campaign event Monday morning that Sanders needs to find Jesus. Sanders, of course, is Jewish. Many of his Polish relatives on his father's side were killed during the Holocaust. The comment came at a rally in Hickory, North Carolina, on Monday morning, as Pastor Mark Burns warmed up the crowd ... 'Listen, Bernie gotta get saved, he gotta meet Jesus. I don't know, he gotta have a coming to Jesus meeting.'"

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT

Official behind Pentagon's transgender push to resign. From the Washington Examiner: "The Pentagon official who proposed including transgender individuals and women in the military announced he will resign from his post next month. Brad Carson ... had been charged with making controversial changes to military policies. He ran into other problems last month when the Senate Armed Services Committee ruled Carson had violated the federal Vacancies Act by taking on responsibilities of the job prior to his confirmation."

DAYBOOK:

On the campaign trail: Fewer events today as candidates watch the returns roll in. Here's the rundown:

  • Clinton: West Palm Beach, Fla.
  • Sanders: Phoenix
  • Trump: Palm Beach, Fla.
  • Cruz: Houston
  • Rubio: Miami
  • Kasich: Westerville, Ohio

The AP moves this guidance on when to expect results: “Poll close at 7:30 p.m. EDT in North Carolina and Ohio. North Carolina has lots of early absentee voters, so close to half the ballots could be counted and reported in the first half-hour. Ohio also is a big absentee-vote state, so expect a fast, early count there as well. At 8 p.m., final polls close in Florida, Illinois and Missouri. Since most polls in Florida close at 7 p.m., there will be a lot of votes ready to report right at 8 p.m., allowing for possible early calls on both sides. Illinois and Missouri are slower counting states.”

At the White House: President Obama holds a bilateral meeting with Taoiseach Kenny of Ireland, attends a Friends of Ireland luncheon on Capitol Hill and delivers remarks at a reception for St. Patrick's Day. Vice President Biden attends these events, and meets with First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness of Northern Ireland in the afternoon.

On Capitol Hill: The Senate meets at 10 a.m. The House meets at noon to consider the Satisfying Energy Needs and Saving the Environment Act, along with other measures.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

In Rockford, Ill., Cruz laid out a scenario in which he could not support Trump as the GOP nominee: “If, for example, he were to go out on Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, I would not be willing to support Donald Trump.”

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

-- Expect a damp, cool morning with some warmer temps later on. The Capital Weather Gang reports: “It’s damp and cool this morning with scattered light showers and periods of fog.  Skies should start to clear this afternoon with temperatures shifting from 50s in the morning to most areas seeing 60s in the afternoon. Timing of the warm “breakout” may vary by location, but most spots should see the changes by early to middle afternoon. Highs are in the lower to middle 60s.”

-- Expect delays on the Red Line today: trains are sharing a track between the Silver Spring and Takoma stops. Normal service has been returned to the Blue, Orange, and Silver lines.

-- A D.C. police officer was found guilty of assaulting a cell phone store employee, who he said made obscene remarks towards his girlfriend. (Keith L. Alexander)

-- The Wizards beat the Detroit Pistons 124-81.

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

President Obama sat down with the American Ballet Theatre's Misty Copeland for a frank discussion about race, body image and social activism. Watch that here.

A minute-long ad released by Our Principles PAC features women reciting nasty statements Trump has previously made about women. It is part of a $500,000 buy and will air on national cable outlets. It's a must-watch:

Trump mocked Chris Christie -- right in front of him! -- for spending so much time campaigning away from New Jersey:

At the same rally, Trump read a poem about a snake:

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee compiled a 90-second web video with GOP senators (and candidates) praising Trump and pledging to support him if he's the nominee:

This Huffington Post video argues that the "Trump effect" is hitting kids:

CNN interviewed the 22-year-old college student who rushed the stage during Trump's speech in Dayton Saturday. He said he thought it would be a good way to "show that there are people out there who aren't afraid" of him and claims he didn't think through how the Secret Service might respond.

Michelle Obama spoke with the Verge about social media in a virtual reality interview:

Here's the Hamilton cast performing at the White House:

Click to check out Hamilton's Lin-Manuel Miranda freestyling with Obama in the Rose Garden: