Ted Cruz campaigns yesterday in San Diego. (Bill Wechter/AFP/Getty Images)

THE BIG IDEA:

The Drudge Report has aggressively portrayed Ted Cruz’s sweep of all the delegates from Colorado’s Republican convention as a corrupt power grab.

The site named for Matt Drudge, who broke the story of Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky and still runs it, links to nine stories this morning with salacious headlines about the convention. Among them: “Savage: Cruz should disavow rigged Colorado election … Buchanan: Apparatchiks thieve delegates for Ted … 1 MILLION REPUBLICANS SIDELINED … Border Patrol Agents: Colorado Voters Disenfranchised.” Keep in mind that this is three days after the Colorado convention.

Our analytics partners at Zignal Labs say the Drudge attacks are breaking through on social media in a significant way. This word cloud, which tracks all Cruz mentions since Saturday, shows the extent to which Drudge has shaped the conversation about Cruz’s win in Colorado. Note the prominence of the words “cheating” and “drudge”:

This kind of squabbling will only get louder as the delegate wrestling and wrangling intensifies. And it has clearly gotten under Cruz’s skin.

In a radio interview yesterday, the Texas senator ripped into Drudge as an arm of Donald Trump’s campaign. “In about the past month, the Drudge Report has basically become the attack site for the Trump campaign,” he told conservative host Mike Slater. “So every day they have the latest Trump attack. They’re directed at me. … Most days they have a six-month-old article that is some attack on me, and it’s whatever the Trump campaign is pushing that day will be the banner headline on Drudge.”

“By the way, they no longer cover news,” Cruz added of Drudge. “When we win a state, suddenly the state doesn’t matter. You know Colorado — there was no red siren on Drudge when we won all 34 delegates in Colorado.”

Drudge responded by posting a link to a January Fox News interview in which Cruz praised the conservative site for breaking the mainstream media’s “stranglehold."

Matt Drudge. (Photo by Lucian Perkins)

It’s never good to pick a fight with a guy who buys ink by the barrel, as they say. Or whatever the 2016 version of that line is.

If it was just Trump complaining about the “crooked” system, it would seem like sour grapes from a guy who got out-hustled. But The Donald’s allies in the right-wing media, including Drudge and Breitbart, are trying to make Cruz’s wins seem illegitimate in the eyes of the conservative base. If Cruz wins the nomination at a contested convention in Cleveland, he will need these grass-roots activists to rally around him. If regular Drudge readers believe he did not win fair and square, they will be less inclined to do so.

Interestingly, the increasing scrutiny from Drudge comes as the Democratic National Committee begins to train more of its fire at Cruz. After focusing almost single-mindedly on Trump for months, the DNC held a press call yesterday to blast the Texan ahead of campaign stops in California. Ironically, they pushed a similar message as Drudge: “Cruz’s campaign is proving to be just as divisive for the Republican Party as his tenure in the Senate has been for our country,” said the DNC communications director. “That’s why there just isn’t a whole lot of excitement for Cruz being the Republican nominee.”

Ayn Rand, the Russian-born American novelist, in Manhattan circa 1962. (AP Photo)

– Donald Trump says he identifies with Howard Roark from Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead.” He praised the novel and its protagonist in a broader interview with USA Today that posted yesterday. “It relates to business, beauty, life and inner emotions. That book relates to ... everything,” the GOP front-runner told the paper. Columnist Kirsten Powers writes that she pointed out that “The Fountainhead” is “in a way about the tyranny of groupthink.” Trump reportedly sat up and told her, “That’s what is happening here.”

For those who haven't read the book since high school, Roark is an architect who dynamites a housing project he designed because he is angry about changes that others made to his blueprints. He’s then put on trial for arson, but a jury acquits him after he delivers an eloquent speech about the need to always stay true to one’s self. Gary Cooper delivered the courtroom monologue in the 1949 film adaptation:

Bottom line, Roark is a self-centered individualist who steadfastly refuses to submit to the will of others. “He is presented as the author's version of an ideal man — one who embodies the virtues of Rand's objectivist philosophy,” the CliffNotes character analysis explains. “Roark is an example of free will — the theory that an individual has the power, by virtue of the choices he makes, to control the outcome of his own life. A man's thinking and values are not controlled by God or the fates or society or any external factor — but solely by his own choice.”

Is The Donald threatening to blow up the Republican Party if he’s spurned in Cleveland? He almost certainly has not thought through the implications of publicly identifying with Roark and embracing objectivism. But it’s nonetheless another revealing window into his psyche.

It’s also a reflection of how Trump does not play by the same rules that normal politicians must. In 2012, Paul Ryan tried hard to distance himself from Rand, whose work he had often praised. “I adored her novels when I was young, and in many ways they gave me an interest in economics,” he told the New York Times Magazine in 2014. “But as a devout, practicing Catholic, I completely reject the philosophy of objectivism.”

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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

-- Forty percent of former NFL players show signs of traumatic brain injuries, according to a groundbreaking study that will be presented at next week’s American Academy of Neurology. This is one of the largest studies performed on living NFL players, and it offers “the most conclusive evidence yet” of a definitive link between brain injury and playing football. Travis M. Andrews explains that the study is based on sensitive MRI scans called diffusion tensor imaging.

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. Goldman Sachs agreed to pay $5 billion to settle allegations that it sold shoddy mortgages in the period leading up to the financial crisis. (Renae Merle)
  2. Brazilian scientists linked Zika to another neurological disease in adults, sparking new concerns about the potential scope and complexity of the mosquito borne virus. (Ariana Eunjung Cha)
  3. Meanwhile, the CDC urged Congress to provide additional funding to combat Zika. “Everything we look at with this virus seems to be a bit scarier than we initially thought,” the deputy director said during a White House briefing. (Time)
  4. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) will run for Republican Policy Committee Chairman. The #4 post in GOP leadership has been held by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) since 2012. (Washington Examiner)
  5. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was charged with securities fraud after allegedly recruiting investors to a tech startup while serving as a state legislator. Paxton was indicted for similar misdeeds last year, and could face years in prison if convicted. (Texas Tribune)
  6. A former Energy Department employee was sentenced to 18 months in prison after plotting a cyberattack on federal government computers. (Spencer S. Hsu)
  7. Tesla Motors is recalling its Model X sport utility vehicles, agreeing to replace more than 325,000 pre-orders after strength tests revealed issues with the car’s third-row seats. (Bloomberg)
  8. Boeing and Lockheed are planning to launch commercial “space habitats” for tourists and researchers. (Christian Davenport)
  9. To recognize Equal Pay day, President Obama is naming a national monument to honor women’s equality. The designation will protect the Belmont-Paul house that has served as the headquarters for the National Woman’s Party since 1929. (Juliet Eilperin)
  10. As the Supreme Court prepares to make a ruling in a case challenging Texas’s stringent abortion regulations, more than 200 women (on both sides of the issue) have filed friend-of-the-court briefs detailing their private abortion experiences. ( Theresa Vargas)

  11. A congressional committee in Brazil voted to impeach President Dilma Rousseff, bringing the ouster of the embattled leader one step closer. The vote will go to the full lower house at week’s end. (AP)
  12. Support for the Islamic State is declining among young Arabs, according to a 16-country survey. Nearly 80 percent ruled out any possibility of supporting the militant group – even if it were to renounce its brutal tactics -- compared with 60 percent the year before. (Joby Warrick)
  13. Two California teens were arrested after they produced a video threatening a black student with a noose and a gun. (Emma Brown)

MORE ON THE REPUBLICAN RACE:

Trump speaks last night during a campaign event in Albany, N.Y. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

-- Phyllis Schlafly is facing backlash after endorsing Trump last month, including an attempt to oust her as the head of the Eagle Forum, the conservative group she founded 44 years ago to stop the Equal Rights Amendment. From David Weigel: "Ed Martin, who Schlafly elevated to president of Eagle Forum in 2015, told [the Post] that Schlafly had not been ousted yet, but that it was clearly the plan of Eagle's board. In an interview with WorldNetDaily, which publishes her work, the 91-year-old Schafly speculated that her Trump endorsement and opposition to the idea of a National Convention of States had roiled her opponents."

-- John Kasich, speaking today in Manhattan, will call his candidacy the GOP's only way out of a “path to darkness.” “Without naming Cruz or Trump, Kasich plans to indict them both,” writes Weigel, who reviewed the planned remarks.

-- Ben Carson continues to be the worst surrogate of the cycle. He admitted yesterday that his support for Trump is “purely pragmatic" and said he'd probably oppose him “if the stakes weren’t so high.” (BuzzFeed)

-- Trump told USA Today he could envision putting Marco Rubio in his cabinet. “Yes. I like Marco Rubio. Yeah. I could,” he said. “There are people I have in mind in terms of vice president. I just haven’t told anybody names. ... I do like Marco. I do like Kasich. … I like [Scott] Walker actually in a lot of ways. I hit him very hard. ... But I’ve always liked him. There are people I like, but I don’t think they like me because I have hit them hard.”

-- MORE DELEGATE SETBACKS FOR TRUMP, in addition to the ones outlined in yesterday's 202. Per Ed O'KeefeTrump also got outgunned last weekend in:

  • VIRGINIA: Trump won the southernmost, 9th congressional district overwhelmingly on March 1, but he got just one of three delegates at the district-level convention on Saturday. The two other delegates say they will support Cruz after the first round. 
  • INDIANA: The Hoosier State uses one of the most exclusive, closed delegate selection methods in the nation. That appears to have cost Trump dearly.… News reports say party leaders picked delegates who are less likely to support Trump in later ballots at the national convention. With few connections to state party leaders, the Trump campaign concedes it dropped the ball here. (Trump aides pointed to ALABAMA, where they won a majority of eight committee assignments.)

MORE ON THE DEMOCRATIC RACE:

Clinton arrives to a Conversation on Gun Violence Prevention event in Long Island. (Yana Paskova/The Washington Post)

-- THREE NEW YORK POLLS: With one week until the primary, Trump and Clinton are dominating:

  • Trump holds a commanding 43-point lead, and Clinton is up 13 points (50-37), according to a new NY1/Baruch College poll. The GOP front-runner is supported by 60 percent of likely Republican voters, followed by Kasich with 17 percent and Cruz with 14 percent.
  • The NBC-Marist survey has Trump up 33 (with Kasich at 21 and Cruz at 18). Clinton leads by 14 (55-41).
  • A Monmouth University poll puts Clinton up 12 (51-39). The candidates are basically tied among white primary voters, while Clinton enjoys a large lead  over Bernie Sanders among African Americans and Hispanics.

So much for home-field advantage: That Monmouth survey finds only 29 percent of voters consider Clinton -- who has lived in the state for 16 years and served as senator for eight years -- to be a “real New Yorker,” while 28 said the same for Sanders, who left the state after high school.

-- Tensions continued to escalate in the battle for New York:

Clinton devoted a Long Island campaign event entirely to gun control, all but blaming Sanders for crime in New York City. From Philip Rucker and Abby Phillip: “Clinton convened a round table-style discussion … where she, along with the local congressman, Rep. Steve Israel (D), and gun-safety advocates hammered Sanders.... 'Here’s what I want you to know: Most of the guns that are used in crimes and violence and killings in New York come from out of state. The state that has the highest per-capita number of those guns that end up committing crime in New York come from Vermont,’ Clinton said, eliciting gasps.… ‘So this is not, ‘Oh, no, I live in a rural state. We don’t have any of these problems.'"

The Post's Fact Checker gives Clinton Three Pinocchios for this line of attack: "Clinton has carefully crafted the talking point to find the particular government data that support her point, which gives a wildly different view than how trafficking flows are tracked," Michelle Ye Hee Lee writes. "We do not find the per capita measure as a fair assessment of gun flows from Vermont into New York. The difference between this point using per capita calculation and the raw number (1 percent of crime guns with source states identified in 2014 came from Vermont) is so stark that it creates a significantly misleading impression to the public."

Sanders called for a national ban on fracking. The Vermont senator released a new ad to highlight his opposition, narrated by actress Susan Sarandon. "Do Washington politicians side with polluters over families?" asks Sarandon. "They sure do, because Big Oil pumps millions into their campaigns. Bernie Sanders is the only candidate for president who opposes fracking everywhere."

-- Joe Biden said Sanders calling Clinton "unqualified" was not sexist but something said in the heat of a campaign. During an interview with Mic.com, the vice president was asked about Sanders’ comment and if he thought Hillary is held to a higher standard because she is a woman. “No, I don’t think she’s held to a higher standard,” he replied. 

“This country’s ready for a woman,” Biden elaborated. “There’s no problem. We’re going to be able to elect a woman in this country.”

When the female interviewer asked Biden if he’d like to see a woman elected, a male aide to the VP interrupted from off camera and tried to end the interview. “That’s it,” he said. “I would like to see a woman elected,” Biden said. “I don’t mind,” he told the staffers standing off camera. “The president and I are not going to endorse because we both when we ran said, ‘let the party decide.’ But gosh almighty, they’re both qualified,” he added. “Hillary is overwhelmingly qualified to be president.”

-- “Past cases suggest Hillary won’t be indicted," by Politico's Josh Gerstein: A review of dozens of recent federal investigations "suggests that it’s highly unlikely, but not impossible. The examination … found some parallels to Clinton’s use of a private server for her emails, but, in nearly all instances that were prosecuted, aggravating circumstances [existed] that don’t appear to be present in Clinton’s case. The relatively few cases that drew prosecution almost always involved a deliberate intent to violate classification rules as well as some add-on element … a Boeing engineer who brought home 2000 classified documents and whose travel to Israel raised suspicions; a [NSA] official who removed boxes of classified documents and also lied on a job application form. And former prosecutors, investigators and defense attorneys generally agree that prosecution for classified information breaches is the exception rather than the rule.… 'They always involve some ‘plus’ factor,’ one former federal prosecutor said.”

-- Bill de Blasio intimated in an interview with Katie Couric that his kids are supporting Sanders, even though he’s backing Clinton. “My kids will speak for themselves,” he told the Yahoo anchor, “but I’ll say this much, they’re the kind of young person that is going to fight for change, no matter what. And absolutely will support the Democratic nominee, whoever it is.” (Watch the full interview here.)

WAPO HIGHLIGHT:

Hundreds of refugees walk in the Southern Jutland motorway in Denmark. (AP/Martin Lehmann) 

-- “Denmark, a social welfare utopia, takes a nasty turn on refugees,” by Griff Witte: "Lise Ramslog was out for a stroll in Denmark when she stumbled upon hundreds of exhausted asylum seekers. 70-year-old Ramslog instantly decided to help, transporting several refugees to Sweden. Many would consider Ramslog a good Samaritan. But the Danish government has a different term for her: convicted human smuggler. Denmark is celebrated as a social-welfare utopia. Ranking high in its pantheon of heroes are those who protected Jews during the Holocaust, or who helped oppressed during the Cold War. But when it comes to those fleeing 21st-century conflicts, Denmark has gone into overdrive to broadcast hostility … While Germany continues to welcome asylum seekers, and others held doors open for as long as they could, Denmark has taken a hard line almost from the beginning. Now ordinary Danes are getting caught up in the crackdown, punished for quintessentially good deeds. 'I’m proud of what I did and will never regret ... it,' said Ramslog, her eyes welling with tears. 'But I don’t want to be known as a criminal.'"

-- Meet Trump’s “Beltway establishment guy” -- campaign lawyer and former FEC chairman Donald F. McGahn II. By Ben Terris"The night Trump notched his first presidential win, he took the stage and lit into special interests that he declared corrupted Washington. Over his shoulder, a ruddy-faced man licked his teeth. He appeared out of place and seemed to know it. McGahn is one of [the country’s] top election lawyers, a job so highly specialized that its practitioners are almost unavoidably ‘Washington insiders’ by definition.... For a while, McGahn's colleagues either didn't know the firm was representing Trump or didn't mind. That changed late last month when McGahn organized a meeting between the candidate and more than a dozen lawmakers at the firm [Jones Day].… Many current employees just about lost their minds.”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

Lesson learned: if you tweet to Ernest Moniz about his hair, he might tweet back:

There was a cash bar at Cruz's event in Orange County:

Looks like Shailene Woodley is for Sanders:

The scaffolding keeps coming down around the Capitol dome:

More than 400 arrests were made yesterday at the Capitol in connection with Democracy Spring demonstrations. (Martin Weil)

Sanders tweeted his support:

Former senator Carl Levin now has a ship named after him:

Cindy McCain hung out with Heidi Heitkamp and Cory Booker over the weekend:

Lawmakers celebrated National Pet Day:

The old Washington Post building is almost gone:

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

-- CBS, “Meet the ‘Trump Bros,’” by Jacqueline Alemany: "Eighteen-year-old Jack Rowe sat in the front row of a Trump rally sandwiched between friends. Rowe had some thoughts on Trump's rhetorical treatment of women, which had been dominating headlines. 'Misogyny was an issue about maybe 60, 80 years ago,' said Rowe. 'You know, ISIS is chopping off heads … We’ve got bigger fish to fry.' Young men like Rowe are a common sight at Trump rallies: Mostly white, they travel in packs. They are dudes, jocks, preps … On the campaign trail, they’re known simply as 'Trump Bros.' David Portnoy, the founder of Barstool Sports, said Trump's appeal to young men speaks to anxiety over creeping 'political correctness.' 'It's an F-U to society, who is telling us we are a bad guy because we like hooking up with girls on spring break,' he added. And they see Trump sticking up for that. Manas, a young entrepreneur … whose Twitter bio reads 'Bros do Bro Things' and who made a point of checking himself out in his iPhone camera in selfie mode before speaking with a reporter, piped in enthusiastically. 'I love women!' he said. Trump took the stage, and they screamed."

-- New York Times, “Trump and New York Tabloids Resume Their Elaborate Dance,” by Michael M. Grynbaum: “As newspaper assignments go, this was a delicate one. Fly to Florida. Walk into Trump’s hospital room. Witness the birth of his second daughter. Linda Stasi, a gossip columnist for The Daily News, did as she was told. ‘I called Donald, and he said, ‘You can’t come to the hospital!’’ she recalled 22 years later. ‘I said, I know, but I’m coming anyway.’ ‘O.K.,’ Trump replied. ‘Then come.’ As the presidential spotlight swings to New York … Trump is reuniting with the press corps he knows best, a boisterous tabloid culture that spawned and nurtured [his] outsize Trump personality. It is also the ink-stained caldron in which Trump, over decades, honed the method of media management, cajoling, combating, at times dissembling, that he has unleashed … in this year’s national campaign. Some Americans have been caught off guard by [Trump’s style] but New York’s media veterans detect the old playbook at work. ‘We’ve had that advantage throughout the whole campaign,’ said Daily News editor Jim Rich.”

HOT ON THE LEFT:

"New York City Is About To Be Overrun By Trump Protesters,” from Think Progress: “Inside the 4-star Grand Hyatt New York on Thursday evening … Trump is scheduled to speak at the New York state Republican Gala, a high-status, black tie fundraising dinner that costs $1,000 to attend. Outside the hotel, thousands of people are scheduled to protest the event — with the explicit intention of shutting it down. ‘Trump’s rhetoric is an instigation to racist, anti-migrant and misogynist violence,’ said Kalisa Moore, part of the Stop Trump Coalition."

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT

 “Power Is A LOT More Expensive Under Obama,” from the Daily Caller: “The average American’s electric bill has gone up 10 percent since January, 2009, due in part to regulations imposed by President Barack Obama and state governments, even though the price of generating power has declined. Record low costs for generating electricity thanks to America’s new natural gas supplies created by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, haven’t translated into lower monthly payments for consumers due to new regulations … The biggest price increase in the U.S. was in Kansas, where prices rose … by 39 percent. States like Idaho, Nebraska, Wyoming, South Dakota, Missouri, Utah, and Ohio saw enormous increases in the price of electricity as well.”

DAYBOOK:

On the campaign trail: Everyone but Clinton is in New York. Here's the rundown:

  • Clinton: Miami, Miami Beach, Manalapan, Fla.
  • Sanders: Rochester, Syracuse, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
  • Trump: Rome, N.Y.
  • Kasich: New York, N.Y.

At the White House: President Obama speaks at the Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument. In the evening, Vice President Biden speaks at the World FoodProgram USA McGovern-Dole Leadership Award at the Organization of American States.

On Capitol Hill: The Senate meets at 10 a.m. to resume work on the FAA bill. The House meets at 2 p.m. for legislative business. Four suspension votes are expected at 6:30 p.m.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

Trump said he forgives his kids for missing New York’s deadline to register as Republicans, which means they will not be able to vote for him on Tuesday. “They were, you know, unaware of the rules, and they didn't register in time, so they feel very, very guilty — they feel very guilty," Trump said on Fox News. “But … I mean, I understand. I think they have to register a year in advance, and they didn't."

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

-- A damp and cloudy morning followed by sunshine through the rest of the week. “Scattered showers with a few heavier downpours are possible this morning, bringing our early starting temperatures in the 60s back down into the 50s," the Capital Weather Gang forecasts. "Rainfall should be from a tenth to a quarter inch with locally heavier totals. Clouds are slow to depart and hence temperatures slower to warm back up vs. yesterday. We’ll aim for partly sunny skies by mid to late afternoon with afternoon highs in the low-middle 60s.”

-- The Wizards beat the Nets 120-111.

-- The Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves 6-4.

-- Police are seeking the killer of a 15-year-old boy who was stabbed to death yesterday at the Deanwood Metro stop in Northeast. No word yet on motive. (Clarence Williams and Peter Hermann)

-- Maryland lawmakers eliminated mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders, marking a major shift to dependency-based treatment and education as alternatives to incarceration. (Ovetta Wiggins, Josh Hicks and Fenit Nirappil)

-- In the final hour of Maryland’s session, legislators passed a “Noah’s law.” The safe-driving bill was named after a slain Montgomery County police officer and expands the use of ignition locks for convicted drunk drivers. (Ovetta Wiggins and Josh Hicks)

-- Terry McAuliffe has now vetoed more legislation than any Virginia governor since 1998, nixing bills from the Republican legislature on hot button issues like gay rights and women's access to health care. (Jenna Portnoy)

-- The latest of those vetoes: McAuliffe blocked a bill that would require the use of the electric chair if Virginia could not obtain lethal injection drugs. The governor instead offered a “secrecy measure” that shields the identity of pharmacies who supplied the drugs. (Laura Vozzella and Mark Berman)

-- A 35-year old Woodbridge woman was accused of stabbing a three-month-old baby with a kitchen knife. (Martin Weil)

-- Police arrested a Metrobus rider in Silver Spring after he began assaulting other passengers and attempted to kick open the bus door. (Faiz Siddiqui)

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Excited about baseball season? Watch this kid bust a move on first base:

A rare black rhino was euthanized in Zimbabwe after a poacher attack:

Watch a baby wallaby peek out from his mom's pouch for the first time:

Finally, check out SNL's Clinton impersonators through the years: