Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland arrives for a meeting with Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) on Capitol Hill last week. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

THE BIG IDEA:

Even as they hold the line in refusing to grant the president’s Supreme Court nominee a hearing before November, two dozen Republican senators either support or do not rule out allowing a vote to confirm Merrick Garland during the lame-duck session.

As the senators return to Washington today from a two-week recess, this is a scenario that many in the Capitol see as probable: If Hillary Clinton is elected president, she is virtually certain to nominate someone who is both more progressive and younger than President Obama’s pick to succeed Antonin Scalia. Even if they manage to hold their majority, it is a near mathematical certainty that Republicans will hold fewer Senate seats next year than they do now. So, to prevent Clinton from moving the court further leftward, Republicans could rush Garland through during the two months after the election and before the new Congress gets sworn in.

GOP leaders, including Mitch McConnell, have publicly ruled out that they would do this. But some aides privately acknowledge such a gambit remains a possibility.

Our reporters canvassed all 54 members of the Republican conference, asking everyone (either directly or through a spokesman) whether they support hearings, whether they’re willing to meet with Garland and whether they could support action in the lame-duck session.

As of this morning, 52 of the 54 GOP senators oppose a hearing for Garland, let alone an up-or-down vote. The only two who favor hearings are Susan Collins of Maine and Mark Kirk of Illinois.

Two other Republicans, who are up for reelection this year and possibly vulnerable to primary challenges, have changed their tune. Jerry Moran of Kansas told a Rotary Club the week before last that senators “have the responsibility to have a hearing." Then, on Friday night, he recanted after a deluge of calls and emails orchestrated by a constellation of right-wing groups. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has reversed herself over the past few weeks. She went from saying “the nominee should get a hearing” to saying she “respects the decision” of Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley “not to hold hearings.”

At least 16 Republican senators say they plan to meet with Garland in their offices. But these ceremonial photo ops don’t really matter much.

Asked if they would support a vote to confirm Garland during the lame-duck session if Clinton wins, three senators said yes: Collins, Kirk and Jeff Flake of Arizona.

An additional 20 senators declined to express an on-the-record position about whether they would support lame-duck action: John Barrasso (Wyo.), Bill Cassidy (La.), Thad Cochran (Miss.), Bob Corker (Tenn.), Tom Cotton (Ark.), Mike Crapo (Idaho), Mike Enzi (Wyo.), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Deb Fischer (Neb.), Jim Inhofe (Okla.), James Lankford (Okla.), John McCain (Ariz.), Mike Rounds (S.D.), Ben Sasse (Neb.), Jeff Sessions (Ala.), Dan Sullivan (Alaska), John Thune (S.D.), Pat Toomey (Pa.), David Vitter (La.) and Roger Wicker (Miss.).

And Orrin Hatch of Utah, who has praised Garland in the past, has been all over the place on the lame-duck question. After floating the idea, he later said he misspoke. “I’ve never really been open to that,” he told Kelsey Snell. “I’m saying he’s a fine man, and I think it ought to be the next president who makes the choice. I’ve been misconstrued, and it might be because I fumbled my comments.” Mike DeBonis has a story about the current state of play in the confirmation battle here; Check out our interactive graphic with how each Republican member answered the three questions here.

Merrick Garland sits with Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) during a photo opp last week. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Something like two-thirds of Americans want Congress to act on Garland, but most voters don’t care all that much. And conservatives are way more fired up about holding on to Scalia’s seat than liberals are about confirming Garland – a white male and former prosecutor who is more moderate than the other Democratic appointees on the D.C. Circuit. (If you missed it, two weeks ago I explored the enthusiasm gap from Wisconsin.)

Senate Democrats continue trying to activate their base and keep Republican obstruction in the news. Elizabeth Warren will appear on a conference call for liberal activists later today. Obama will give a speech about the vacancy this Thursday at the University of Chicago Law School.

Some prominent liberals want Obama to pull Garland’s nomination if a Democrat wins the White House to prevent Garland from being confirmed in a lame duck. But senior administration officials continue to be adamant that Obama will not withdraw Garland if Hillary wins, no matter how much pressure he faces from the left.

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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

-- Scoop: Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.) will announce today that she raised more than $1 million during the first quarter to support her campaign against John McCain. Polls already show a close race. If Donald Trump is the nominee, some Republicans worry the Arizona Senate race will become very competitive. And McCain still must win his GOP primary. Kirkpatrick now has $1.3 million cash on hand.

Two boats carrying more than 100 migrants leave the Greek island of Lesbos en route to Turkey. (AFP/Getty Images)

-- Deportations began in Europe. "The European Union began sending back across the sea hundreds of people who, only days ago, braved the crossing to Greece aboard flimsy rubber rafts in search of a new life," our Griff Witte reports from Mytilene. "Just after dawn on Lesbos, several bus-loads of men were led aboard two ferries under heavy police and military guard. The ferries, flying Turkish flags, steamed out of the port and turned east toward the rising sun along the Turkish coast. The deportations are the first of thousands expected under the E.U.’s plan to end the continent’s refugee crisis by shifting the burden onto neighboring Turkey. Human rights groups have condemned the strategy as a violation of basic rights. ... More deportations are expected to follow later in the week, with Europe hoping that images of people being sent back will create enough of a deterrent to halt the flow of new arrivals."

Emergency personnel pass equipment across police tape to work on train tracks near the site of an Amtrak derailment. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

-- Amtrak will operate regularly scheduled trains today after Sunday's deadly derailment just south of Philadelphia. There may be some residual delays, however, on Acela Express, Northeast Regional and other services between Philadelphia and Wilmington, Delaware. Train 89 was going from New York to Savannah, Georgia, at about 8 a.m. when it hit a backhoe that was on the track. Two Amtrak workers were killed and more than 30 passengers were sent to hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries. (Faiz Siddiqui and Ashley Halsey III)

-- Alaska Air Group Inc. announced plans to buy Virgin America in a deal worth about $4 billion. "Alaska Air is currently the sixth-largest U.S. carrier by traffic and serves 90 destinations in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Acquiring Virgin America would give a greater reach, including links with Dallas Love Field and more transcontinental service," per Brian Murphy.

Ted Cruz poses for pictures underneath the stands of a hockey arena in Fargo after giving the keynote address at the North Dakota Republican convention on Saturday. (AP Photo/Dave Kolpack)

-- Ted Cruz declared victory in North Dakota’s GOP convention, saying he won 18 of 25 unbound delegate slots. The selection of delegates came after the senator flew to Fargo and sent Carly Fiorina to schmooze for him. Ben Carson spoke for Trump. Technically, none of the delegates are required to support Cruz – or any other candidate, David Weigel explains: “While Cruz’s team identified 18 supporters among 25 ‘unbound’ delegates that North Dakota Republicans elected, nothing they said, and no list they appeared on, bound any delegates to a choice at July's convention. ... Several delegates indicated they were only ‘leaning toward Cruz,’ or simply opposed to Trump.” Cruz's success came in spite of the state's lone congressman, Kevin Cramer, endorsing Trump during the convention.

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. The Cleveland Indians will no longer use the Chief Wahoo logo as the team symbol, replacing it with a block C. (Cindy Boren)
  2. U.S. Special Operations forces are using faulty rifle sights, despite the “potentially deadly risk” they pose in combat situations. The federal government settled a lawsuit with manufacturers last November, but they have not yet recalled or replaced the defective devices. (Thomas Gibbons-Neff)
  3. A published report based on 11.5 million leaked records says associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin have moved as much as $2 billion through offshore accounts. The emails came from a Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonseca & Co. (Scott Higham

  4. Syrian troops reclaimed the town of Qaryatain, delivering what activists say is a “significant setback” to ISIS. The advance deprives the enemy of a main base in central Syria and comes one week after troops recaptured Palmyra. (AP)
  5. Heart failure patients with clogged arteries have a higher 10-year survival rate if they undergo bypass surgery and take medicine, rather than “just drugs alone,” according to an international study. (Lindsey Tanner)
  6. Azerbaijan announced a unilateral cease-fire against ethnic Armenian forces, but reports of continued violence in the region prompted world leaders to call for an end to the days-long territorial battle. (Andrew Roth)
  7. The infamous hacker "Guccifer" appeared in a U.S. court for the first time Friday. Marcel Lehel Lazar, of Romania, faces charges for cyber-stalking, aggravated identity theft and unauthorized access of a protected computer. (Matt Zapotosky)
  8. A New Hampshire woman was arrested after selling “Donald Trump” branded heroin. (Union Leader)
  9. U-Conn. and Syracuse advanced to the women’s NCAA title game. In advancing to the final, the Huskies (37-0) won their 74th game in a row.
  10. Former U.S. national soccer player Abby Wambach apologized after being arrested for a DUI in Portland. “This is all on me,” she said on Facebook. (Cindy Boren)

WISCONSIN'S PRIMARY IS TOMORROW: Cruz remains the favorite to win.

Trump arrives at Nathan Hale High School in West Allis yesterday. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

-- “Trump redrew his schedule to devote the final days to barnstorming the state — even missing his new grandson’s bris — in an apparent effort to catch Cruz,” Philip Rucker and Dan Balz report from Milwaukee. “A defeat for Trump would be an embarrassing setback — not just because of the 42 delegates at stake, but because it would demonstrate weakness in a place where he should be strong. The state’s blue-collar demographics, along with party rules allowing independent voters to cast ballots in the primary, have been expected to work in his favor.” (Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.) endorsed Cruz over the weekend.)

Scott Walker greets Ted Cruz during a Milwaukee County GOP dinner Friday nihgt. (Reuters/Kamil Krzaczynski)

-- Cruz quietly launched his first attack ad against John Kasich over the weekend. His team sees Kasich as a potential spoiler in the Badger State. “The spot, which was first reported by CNN (and not released by the campaign), portrays the Ohio governor as being cozy with a corporation that received undeserved state tax breaks. The commercial arrived as the pro-Cruz Trusted Leadership PAC had just introduced an ad slamming Kasich for expanding Medicaid under President Obama's health-care law -- after hitting him days earlier with a spot accusing him of having a ‘liberal record.’” (Read Sean Sullivan’s storyWatch a recording of the ad.)

Trump, for his part, accused Kasich of “siphoning away” more votes from him than Cruz. “He’s not taking Cruz’s votes. He’s taking my votes," the front-runner told reporters in Milwaukee, adding that he voiced displeasure about him during his meeting at the RNC last week. (Jose A. DelReal)

— ZIGNAL VISUAL: Charlie Sykes, who has a huge following among conservatives in southeastern Wisconsin, will deserve a sizable share of the credit if Cruz wins Wisconsin. The radio host has been aggressively pro-Cruz and is a self-described #NeverTrump-er. His hostile interview with The Donald last week circulated widely among Trump foes. His outspokenness was a factor in pushing Walker to come out publicly for Cruz. Our analytics partners at Zignal Labs send over the Trump and Cruz word clouds for the last two weeks, comprised of all tweets and stories that mentioned Sykes and either of the candidates. Note the different tenor, and negative skewing of the Trump cloud:

MORE ON THE DEMOCRATIC RACE:

Hillary Clinton campaigns in Harrison, New York, last week. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

-- With dueling press releases, Clinton and Sanders battled over when an upcoming debate should take place. Clinton's campaign offered April 14 and 15 as possibilities, while Sanders’s team pushed April 10. 

  • Sanders’ spokesman Michael Briggs said Clinton’s proposed dates and venues “don’t make sense": "The idea that they want a debate on a night of the NCAA finals, with Syracuse in the tournament, is ludicrous." Sanders also accused Clinton of offering a date when she knew he was planning a big rally in New York City. 
  • The DNC finally weighed in last night, saying both candidates previously agreed to hold remaining debates on weeknights – thus ruling out Sanders’s proposed date of April 10. The DNC requested “five to seven days” advance notice to advertise and notify sponsors. 
  • Location is another source of disagreement. Sanders has repeatedly pushed for a debate in Brooklyn, where he was born and raised – and an area that his campaign sees as favorable ground. Clinton, meanwhile, has proposed hosting the event somewhere upstate. (John Wagner)

-- To preempt Trump attacks, the Clinton campaign has begun aggressively emphasizing her STAMINA to reporters. “Clinton's aides, who are well into their preparations for a possible general-election matchup against Trump, have begun executing a strategy to counter Trump's pattern of personal insults by ‘going big’ on policy and substance - and also by being unshy about noting her penchant for marathon work days,” our Abby Phillip and Anne Gearan report. “Aides have described in detail, for instance, how Clinton responded to the Brussels terrorist attacks as Americans awakened to the devastating news. After arriving in Seattle at roughly 2 a.m. local time for campaign stops later in the day, Clinton was awake and preparing to place a series of phone calls to the major television networks by 5 a.m., when coverage of the attacks was well underway on the East Coast. … It irks supporters that Trump, who is also older than Clinton and has more grandchildren, could take shots at Clinton that hint at her age as a liability.”

Bernie Sanders looks at his campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, in Detroit on March 8. (Reuters/Jim Young)

-- Sanders would be in a much stronger position right now if he’d been willing to hit Clinton harder and keep a more aggressive campaign schedule last year. There’s now consensus on his team that he blundered by wearing kid gloves and not courting minority voters more heavily in early 2015. The New York Times’ Patrick Healy and Yamiche Alcindor interviewed 15 people who are on Sanders’s team or close to him:

  • He wasn’t in it to win it early on: “He was originally skeptical that he could beat Mrs. Clinton, and his mission in 2015 was to spread his political message about a rigged America rather than do whatever it took to win the nomination. By the time he … personally began to believe he could defeat Mrs. Clinton, she was already on her way to building an all but insurmountable delegate lead.”
  • “He thought he could compete effectively by campaigning about three days a week while the Senate was in session and then making week-long trips when Congress was on break. As a result, he had limited time to campaign in crucial states like South Carolina; he canceled a visit to Charleston in mid-June after the church shootings there, and he did not return to the city until late August.”
  • “Despite the urging of some advisers, Mr. Sanders refused last fall and early winter to criticize Mrs. Clinton over her $675,000 in speaking fees from Goldman Sachs, an issue that he now targets almost daily. He also gave her a pass on her use of private email as secretary of state, even though some allies wanted him to exploit it. And he insisted on devoting time to his job as a senator from Vermont last year rather than matching Mrs. Clinton’s all-out effort to capture the nomination. Some advisers now say that if he had campaigned more in Iowa, he might have avoided his critical loss there.”
  • Bob Kerrey, a former Nebraska governor and senator who ran for the Democratic nomination in 1992 and who has endorsed Mrs. Clinton in the current race, said Mr. Sanders might be winning now if he had relentlessly pressured Mrs. Clinton since last fall over her closed-door speeches to Wall Street banks, her role in the finances of Clinton Foundation programs, and other vulnerabilities  ... ‘Making the transcripts of the Goldman speeches public would have been devastating’ to Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Kerrey said. ‘When the G.O.P. gets done telling the Clinton Global Initiative fund-raising and expense story, Bernie supporters will wonder why he didn’t do the same.’”

-- Sanders might have lost the Nevada caucuses, but he picked up a lot of delegates in the second round of “county conventions” on Saturday. (John Wagner)

-- In the middle of chastising Trump for intolerance towards Muslims, Sanders told a Milwaukee audience that some of his relatives died in the Holocaust as the result of "a lunatic … stirring up racial hatred." The full quote, via Wagner: "Some of you know I’m Jewish," he said during a town hall. "My father came to this country at the age of 17 from Poland. He came over, other people in his family did not. Those people died. Children died … So that is in my heart, to see what a lunatic can do by stirring up racial hatred." The Vermont senator clarified his remarks to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, saying he “did not compare Trump to Hitler.”

Hillary Clinton speaks during a service yesterday morning at Brown Memorial Baptist Church in Brooklyn. (Reuters/Brendan McDermid)

-- Bernie’s New York office is in the super-hip Gowanus neighborhood. Hillary’s national headquarters is in a high-rise in the less edgy Brooklyn Heights. The Boston Globe’s Annie Linskey frames The Battle of Brooklyn as a microcosm of, or allegory for, the whole Democratic contest:

  • “Of the two headquarters, Clinton’s campaign offices are physically closest to Sanders’ favorite target, Wall Street, separated by a short subway ride under the East River. One Pierrepont Plaza, where Clinton’s team occupies two floors, has also been a home to the back-office bank workers of Morgan Stanley. St. Ann’s School, just across from Clinton’s headquarters, charges $36,080 for preschool. The Clinton-occupied high-rise has 24-hour security in the polished lobby, which means meandering into the campaign headquarters without an appointment isn’t an option. Those who get in will see cubicles with an open floor plan and — for some — a commanding view of the borough.”
  • Sanders’ Brooklyn office is blocks from the water, too, but nobody goes to sun themselves along the nearby Gowanus Canal. You can smell the water, and not in a charming way, when the wind blows from the west. At a nearby restaurant, a Sanders campaign staffer recalled that a dolphin swam up the fetid canal a few years back. The animal died. What Gowanus lacks in marine life, it overcompensates for with young people. Artists. Musicians. Glass-blowers. Like Sanders’ political career, the neighborhood has been on the fringe for a long time. Suddenly people want to be a part of it.”
Benjamin Netanyahu chairs his weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem yesterday. (Ronen Zvulun/AFP/Getty Images)

-- Veepstakes – Bibi denies Tim Kaine claim about private meeting: The Virginia senator said in a radio interview last week that both Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed dismay at the anti-Muslim rhetoric coming from some of the presidential candidates during a CODEL in January. “These guys agree on nothing but they both said to this group of senators ‘what’s going on in the presidential race?’” Kaine told the VA Talk Radio Network, according to BuzzFeed. “And especially, they were very worried about some of the anti-Muslim rhetoric coming out of some of the candidates because they are societies that are too sectarian. They hope one day to be less, but the only way to get there is if they have an example of a country where people of different religions can live and work together and go to school together and make it work. We’ve been that example for them and they’re very nervous when they see us backsliding.” 

A spokesperson for Netanyahu emailed BuzzFeed: “Prime Minister Netanyahu is very careful to avoid even the appearance of preference among American presidential candidates. In his meeting with Senator Kaine and his colleagues, Prime Minister Netanyahu did not express any opinion about the candidates or any of their positions.”

WAPO HIGHLIGHTS:

-- “Republicans on FEC suggest they may scrutinize mystery corporate donors,” by Matea Gold: “The three Republican appointees on the divided FEC have indicated political donors who give through private companies to shield identities can be sanctioned, signaling the agency may scrutinize ‘pop-up’ corporations giving large sums to super PACs …  Democratic commissioners reacted with skepticism, saying GOP colleagues [previously] delayed and blocked examination of such cases … But Republican commissioner Lee Goodman, said that contributors seeking to mask themselves through a privately held company or LLC should think twice. ‘Six commissioners have now taken the position that closely held LLCs can violate the law under certain circumstances when they make contributions to super PACs,’ he said. ‘Now everyone should be on notice … ‘If you funnel money through an LLC entity for the purpose of making a political contribution and avoiding disclosure of yourself, that is an abuse of the LLC vehicle,’ Goodman added.”

Fayez Serraj, head of the U.N.-backed unity government, meets with his team in Tripoli last Thursday. (AP Photo/Mohamed Ben Khalifa)

-- “Another Western intervention in Libya looms,” by Missy Ryan and Sudarsan Raghavan: “The shaky debut last week of a new unity government in Libya brings Western nations, including the U.S., much closer to a renewed military mission there, and to a host of obstacles that will test their ability to secure a country gripped by Islamist extremism and civil war … Western officials hailed [the installation of Libyan technocrat Fayez Serraj] as a sign that the country’s political divide is finally coming to an end. The tentative progress comes as the U.S. progresses with plans to launch intensified attacks against the Islamic State’s Libyan branch, which is the group’s strongest affiliate outside Iraq and Syria. Planners at U.S. Africa Command are now developing dozens of targets across Libya that [western] warplanes might strike. They range from the coastal city of Sirte, where the extremist group has established a refuge, to Ajdabiya, Sabratha and the militant stronghold of Derna. U.S. jets twice carried out strikes against there since last fall.”

Halima, 15, holds Hauwa, 1, in their tent at a displaced persons camp in Maiduguri, Nigeria. (Jane Hahn for The Washington Post)

-- “They were freed from Boko Haram’s rape camps. But their nightmare isn’t over," by Kevin Sieff: “Few could have imagined such an outcome two years ago, when 276 schoolgirls were kidnapped by Boko Haram and the world responded with the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. While most of those schoolgirls are still missing, many assumed other kidnapped women would be warmly welcomed back. [Instead,] the military quietly deposited them in displacement camps or abandoned buildings, where they are monitored by armed men suspicious of their loyalties ... They are still labeled ‘Boko Haram wives.’ Authorities say there are good reasons for their wariness. Last year, 39 of 89 Boko Haram suicide bombings were carried out by women … 21 of these attackers were under 18, girls abducted and converted into assassins … No one knows exactly why some women captured and abused became killers, [whether] it was indoctrination or threats … Either way, reintegrating the displaced has become vastly more complicated for authorities. And for survivors trying to move on from a horrific chapter of their lives, there is new agony.”

FOUR BUZZY STORIES ABOUT THE DONALD:

-- From a 96-minute interview Trump gave Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, which ran on the front page of Sunday's newspaper: Trump said he would not pick an outsider like himself as a vice-presidential running mate, but rather, “somebody that can walk into the Senate and who’s been friendly with these guys for 25 years, and people for 25 years. And can get things done. So I would 95 percent see myself picking a political person as opposed to somebody from the outside.” Read the longer story here. See the full transcript here.

Donald and Ivana Trump in 1989 (Swerzey/AFP/Getty Images)

-- The New York Post interviews Ivana on how she advises Donald. “Trump’s first wife, a conservative who mended fences with her ex, says they speak before and after his appearances. ‘I suggest a few things,’ said Ivana.” More from her chat with Dana Schuster:

  • On whether Trump is a feminist: “I don’t think he’s feminist,” Ivana said. “He loves women. But not a feminist.” (Ivana’s reps called The Post after the interview to clarify that Donald was a feminist. Then they called to say he wasn’t. An hour later, they said he was.)
  • On Trump’s bluntness: “Donald cannot be calm,” said Ivana, who said she gave him the motto “you think it, I say it.” She adds that Donald is a “brilliant businessman” … who would surround himself with “fantastic advisers, like Carl Icahn. Really brilliant minds.”
  • On how to get back “America’s prestige?” The first step is adopting Trump’s immigration policies – though Ivana is an immigrant herself. “I have nothing against Mexicans,” she said. “As long as you come here legally and get a proper job … we need immigrants. Who’s going to vacuum our living rooms and clean up after us? Americans don’t like to do that.”

-- New York Magazine, “Inside the Most Unorthodox Campaign in Political History,” by Gabriel Sherman: “If Reagan showed us Hollywood was good training for politics, Trump is proving that the performance skills learned in modern entertainment arenas are even more useful. Which is how Trump’s scorched-earth strategy coalesced. To break out of the pack, he [decided] to be provocative, even outrageous. ‘If I were presidential, I’d be one of many people who are already out of the race,’ Trump said. And this formula worked better than anyone, including Trump, could have imagined … When he launched his campaign, Trump suspected it would fizzle and he’d eventually return to The Apprentice. But as weeks passed, he resisted calls to professionalize his campaign. Why bother, when [his approach] was working so well? But now the cracks are starting to show. ... ‘I’ve had good ratings from the time I was born, for whatever reason,’ he said. ‘It hasn’t just started.’ Now that his campaign seems more vulnerable, however, I can’t help but wonder if he wishes he could go back to a reality show where he can’t be fired.”

-- Buzzfeed, “Meet Trump’s Hispanics,” by Adrian Carrasquillo: “Trump is toxic with most Latino voters. But even a low percentage of Latino voters would mean a couple million Hispanic supporters … Who are these people? … In interviews, [Latino] Trump supporters stressed their American roots. No one was just Puerto Rican or Mexican, and few used a hyphenated identity common in the Hispanic community. One said his family ‘has been in the country a couple hundred years’ and another when asked his ethnicity said his family was ‘from Texas, which used to be Mexico.Many of his Hispanic supporters say they weren’t offended because they don’t believe he was referring to them. ‘He didn’t insult all Mexicans by his comments,’ said Antonio Rios, a former Sanders supporter who flipped to Trump. ‘I’m open-minded enough to know what he meant.’ One thing they all have in common, though, is a thick skin.”

Reince Priebus (AP/Carolyn Kaster)

TRUMP, ONCE AGAIN, DOMINATED THE SUNDAY SHOWS:

-- Reince Priebus, appearing on all five Sunday shows, said Trump’s threats to abandon his GOP loyalty pledge “have consequences.” “When you make those kinds of comments, and you want people to fall in line for you, it makes it more difficult,” he told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, adding that Trump was “posturing” for the media. “We expect when candidates make commitments, that they keep them,” Priebus added in an interview on Fox News Sunday.

  • The RNC chairman also dismissed the possibility that Paul Ryan could emerge from a contested convention, saying the GOP nominee will be “one of the three current candidates.” "Our candidate is someone who is running," Priebus told CNN’s Jake Tapper on "State of the Union."
  • And he suggested a contested convention would not get settled on a second ballot. If the race isn’t settled going into Cleveland, “we’re going to have a multi-ballot convention," he said on ABC. "In each round of voting, more and more delegates are free to pick a candidate of their choice." But Priebus was careful to note, “Nothing can get stolen from anyone.”

-- Trump expressed regret for retweeting a disparaging picture of Heidi Cruz. “I could have done without the tweet,” he admitted on “Fox News Sunday.” The GOP front-runner refused to admit he made a mistake on his abortion comments in last week’s town hall, however. “As a hypothetical question, I would have rather answered it in a different manner," said Trump, adding that he has since corrected his stance. Trump also remained defiant regarding Corey Lewandowski, calling him a “good, honest man” after he was charged with battery for grabbing a female reporter’s arm. “The easier thing to do would have been [to fire him],” said Trump. “But I don’t want to ruin him. I don’t want to destroy him.”

-- Trump hesitated when asked if abortion is murder. It is one of five positions he took on abortion during a three-day window:

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

Trump attacked Cruz on Instagram as unlikeable: 

Trump continued to criticize Megyn Kelly and make big promises to Wisconsinites:

Clinton made a surprise appearance at the taping of BET's "Black Girls Rock":

Chelsea Handler found a Trump piñata in Aguascalientes:

David Axelrod found something missing in a Trump hotel sign:

Fiorina campaigned for Cruz in Fargo, N.D.:

Over in Wisconsin, Sarah Palin bombed as a surrogate for Trump:

A rare sight -- empty chairs at a Sanders event:

Cher backed Clinton:

Meanwhile, Sanders supporters protested CNN's election coverage outside its Los Angeles bureau:

Capitol Hill celebrated April Fools' Day:

An artist from Vietnam visited Chris Van Hollen with a 1/100th scale model of the Capitol made of toothpicks:

Angus King and wife Mary biked the National Mall on Saturday:

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

HOT ON THE LEFT: 

“Ben Carson: There Are 'Probably' Better People For The White House Than Trump," from The Hill: “The Trump surrogate said in a radio interview Sunday that there were ‘probably’ better people other than Trump who could fix the government. ‘He has some major defects, there’s no question about it — just like the rest of us,’ said Carson. But I think he is willing to listen to other people. He may not say that publicly … there is a humility issue there that could perhaps use some polishing. [But] we are not doing things that make sense economically. And he’s probably the person who is most likely to do that. Are there better people? Probably.’"

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT: 

“Former Black Panther gets candid on race relations,” from the Daily Caller: “Clarence Mason Weaver was once so filled with hatred towards white people in America that he broke up with a girlfriend who had a white dog … A formerly Berkeley Black Panther liberal, Weaver is a black conservative who now holds strong views on Black Lives Matter, the first black president and how America can heal its racial divide. As to his views on the first black president, Weaver [says Obama] ‘does nothing but drive us apart.’ ‘His job is to divide by differences and manage our differences,’ says Weaver. ‘It doesn’t matter what color the pimp, the drug dealer, the con artist is.’”

DAYBOOK:

On the campaign trail: Candidates are in New York and Wisconsin. Here's the rundown:

  • Clinton: Cohoes, N.Y.
  • Sanders: Janesville, Green Bay, Milwaukee, Wis.
  • Trump: La Crosse, Superior, Milwaukee, Wis.
  • Cruz: Madison, Kenosha, Milwaukee, Waukesha, Wis.
  • Kasich: Hempstead, Huntington, N.Y.

At the White House: President Obama holds a bilateral meeting with NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg and hosts a reception for Greek Independence Day.

On Capitol Hill: The Senate considers the Defend Trade Secrets Act at 5 p.m. The House is not in session.

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

“Nominating Donald Trump is a train wreck,” Cruz said in Wisconsin. “That’s actually not fair to train wrecks.”

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

-- Today will feature topsy-turvy temperatures and lots of wind. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: "After a crisp start, temperatures shoot up rather quickly this morning, rising well into the 60s by mid-afternoon. But then, skies cloud over and showers are likely late this afternoon and evening with the next front dashing through the region. A rumble of thunder isn’t out of the question. Highs reach 65-70 degrees before rains move in."

Clippers center DeAndre Jordan blocks a shot by Wizards guard Ramon Sessions yesterday. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

-- The Wizards lost to the L.A. Clippers 114-109, likely ending the team's playoff prospects. "Washington isn’t mathematically eliminated from postseason contention at 37-40, but the odds are long. With five games remaining on the schedule, the Wizards are four games behind the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons, who are currently tied for the final two playoff spots," Jorge Castillo explains.

-- D.C. officials will unveil an “array of possibilities” for the future RFK Stadium property tonight, including a new 65,000-seat Redskins stadium and a basketball and hockey venue capable of replacing the Verizon Center. (Jonathan O'Connell)

-- At least a dozen people were injured last night in a crash along Interstate 270 in Montgomery County that involved “at least five” vehicles. (Martin Weil)

-- The Washington Monument reopened Sunday for business as usual, after being closed twice over the past week for elevator repairs. (Martin Weil and Michael Smith)

-- A 26-year-old man was struck and killed by a police cruiser in Fairfax County after stepping in front of the vehicle. The officer was put on routine administrative leave for the duration of the investigation but is not expected to be charged. (Michael Smith)

-- Maryland lawmakers are proposing a number of solutions to combat the state’s heroin epidemic, including loosening criminal penalties for drug offenses and shifting money to treatment and rehab programs instead. (Josh Hicks

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

SNL spoofed CNN's Kate Bolduan interviewing Trump supporter Scottie Nell Hughes (read about Hughes and Trump's other cable-news surrogates here):

Sanders made a surprise appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert:

"Is this a hostage situation?" Watch what happened when people pretended to support Trump on Facebook:

Christie is still defending the way he eats M&Ms:

A Chihuahua was safely apprehended by police after a mad dash across San Francisco’s Bay Bridge:

A skydiver's camera captured a freak midair collision over Zephyrhills, Fla.:

Bob Woodward and Bob Costa discuss their sit-down with Trump: