The Daily 202: Will South Carolina Republicans buy that Marco Rubio is just as conservative as Ted Cruz? – Washington Post

THE BIG IDEA:

GREENVILLE, S.C.—Marco Rubio continues to round up more endorsements from the establishment wing of the Republican Party. Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts backed him yesterday, for example, and Bob Dole told National Review that the Florida senator is his second choice after Jeb Bush.

Here on the ground in South Carolina, however, Rubio and his surrogates are insisting not just that he’s anti-establishment but that he’s actually as much, or more, of a conservative as Ted Cruz.

South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, known nationally for the Benghazi inquest, complained about “the notion that somehow someone is more conservative in this race than Marco” as he warmed up the crowd for Rubio in a hotel ballroom. “Marco is as conservative as anyone on that stage,” Gowdy said.

“There’s no question about it,” Sen. Tim Scott, another Rubio backer, chimed in. “Marco Rubio’s conservative rankings on all of the scorecards are better than any member of the South Carolina delegation! Frankly, he is the sixth most conservative member of Congress, in the House or Senate. So there’s no doubt about it: Marco Rubio is a real deal conservative. Without any question. He’s rock solid.”

Rubio himself has used the endorsement of Gov. Nikki Haley to repeatedly remind everyone that he ran for Senate in 2010 as a tea party candidate against Charlie Crist. Haley, too, took on the GOP establishment favorite in a crowded primary that year.

“I am as conservative as anyone running, but I am a conservative that can win,” Rubio said during a campaign stop in Anderson.

– This messaging makes sense: Rubio has faced an onslaught of attacks in TV ads, mailers and robocalls – many over-the-top – that portray him as a mushy moderate. Widely-read conservative sites like Breitbart published a never-ending stream of anti-Rubio content.

– Late last night, though, Rubio probably did not help himself when he skipped a scheduled speech at a convention hosted by Mark Levin’s Conservative Review. Organizers said he canceled minutes before he was due to take the stage; the campaign explained that he was running “super late” because the schedule got “screwed up.” Other speakers included Sean Hannity and right-wing congressmen like Louise Gohmert. Levin, an influential radio host, said afterward that it was “pretty damn rude” for Rubio to cancel. The Rubio campaign noted they had surrogates ready to speak, but that organizers wouldn’t allow them on stage.

The crowd and tenor of the program sounded pretty pro-Cruz, so it is possible that Rubio’s campaign wanted to avoid getting booed by activists.

The Texas senator received a rousing reception when he spoke. Cruz also took the stage to an introductory video that featured Levin calling him “the most conservative candidate in the race” and Rush Limbaugh describing him on his show as “the most opposed to liberalism” of anyone running. “South Carolina and Texas: we have a lot in common,” Cruz told the crowd. “There are South Carolinians who came to the Alamo and bled and died so that Texas could be free. … We’re southern states. A whole lot of veterans. … Gun owners. … We love God. And we’re fed up with the damage and the destruction coming from the corrupt politicians in Washington.”

The Pope vs. The Donald overshadowed another day of sniping between the two Cuban American freshman senators, but the latter storyline is more significant to the outcome of tomorrow’s primary here. Yesterday the Cruz campaign unveiled a website called TheRealRubioRecord.com that accuses Rubio of being Obamaseque on immigration, Planned Parenthood, gun rights and gay marriage. The Rubio campaign cried foul because it included a photo-shopped, fabricated picture of Rubio and the president shaking hands. Rubio then attacked Cruz as “weak” on national security; Cruz warned that Rubio will try again to push “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants. Cruz then released a closing ad that takes a shot at Trump and Rubio: “Some candidates have promised to cut more deals with the Democrats. Others already have,” he says to camera. “I won’t.”

– Fresh polling out this morning shows Trump’s lead in South Carolina is narrowing. An NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist survey of likely Republican voters has him up 5 points over Cruz, 28 percent to 23 percent, with Rubio at 15 percent and Jeb Bush at 13 percent. Their poll last month had Trump up 16 points (36-20) over Cruz. A Fox News poll published yesterday put Trump up 13 points over Cruz (32-19), with Rubio at 15.

– The race feels very fluid, and a lot of folks showing up to events say they remain undecided or may change their mind in the final hours. The endorsement from Haley has injected a new energy into Rubio rallies. Not that it will cost him votes, but Cruz seems a little worn out and exhausted from the grueling schedule.

– Cruz and Rubio are each trying to emerge from this weekend as the main alternative to Trump. Advisers to Cruz pushed back vigorously on yesterday’s 202, which explained why a third-place finish would be a huge setback for them. They insist that a third-place finish for Rubio would be worse than for them because he has such vocal support from Haley, Scott and Gowdy.

– As the two 40-somethings beat the tar out of each other, Utah Sen. Mike Lee might play the role of peacemaker or even arbiter. He’s Cruz’s best friend in the Senate, but he’s stayed neutral and showed up at one of Rubio’s events. “In 2016, we conservatives need to be more focused on winning over converts than casting off heretics,” Lee said at the Greenville cattle call that Rubio skipped. “It’s time to sharpen more pencils than knives and remember that anger is not an agenda. Frustration is not a platform. And cynicism is certainly not conservative.”

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

– American warplanes struck an ISIS camp in Libya, targeting suspected leader Noureddine Chouchane, who is believed to be the operative behind the attacks in Tunisia. The airstrikes are a sign of possible stepped up Western military activity against militant strongholds in North Africa. (Brian Murphy)

– Joe Biden says President Obama should pick someone like Anthony Kennedy, not William Brennan, to replace Antonin Scalia. The Post’s Jim Tankersly sat down with the vice president aboard Air Force Two last night. “This is a potential gigantic game changer,” Biden said. “And my advice is, the only way we get someone on the court, now or even later, is to do what we’ve done in the past…we have to pick somebody, as the president will, who is intellectually competent, is a person of high moral character, is a person who is demonstrated to have an open mind, and is a person who doesn’t come with a specific agenda. And there are a whole hell of a lot of people who Republicans have already voted for who fall in that category, who we can like, in my opinion. And there are a lot people they haven’t voted for who fall in that category. But the idea that we’re going to go in and decide we’re going to pick an, I don’t know, a new Justice Brennan, I don’t think that’s going to happen. That’s not how the system works.”

Biden also weighed in on the Democratic primary: “I could live with either one of them,” he said. “I could support either one of them.” The VP, who passed on running, did criticize both for not talking more about the economic recovery. Echoing Sanders, he said he would like to reinstate Glass Steagall. And he noted that a single-payer health care system, which Sanders proposes, was “the president’s position initially. It was Hillary’s!” Biden also compared Trump to George McGovern. Asked if Trump was a conservative, he said “no.” Read more from Jim’s interview here.

MORE ON THE SCALIA SUCCESSION FIGHT:

– The White House is defendeding the president’s decision not to attend Scalia’s funeral, accusing critics of using the service as a “political cudgel.”

– Mitch McConnell and Chuck Grassley pen a joint op-ed in today’s Post to argue that the next president should pick a nominee. “No one disputes the president’s authority to nominate a successor to Scalia, but as inconvenient as it may be for this president, Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution grants the Senate the power to provide, or as the case may be, withhold its consent,” they write. “Given that we are in the midst of the presidential election process, we believe that the American people should seize the opportunity to weigh in on whom they trust to nominate the next person for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. It is today the American people, rather than a lame-duck president whose priorities and policies they just rejected in the most-recent national election, who should be afforded the opportunity to replace Justice Scalia.” 

– Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) offered insight into why a purple state senator wants to avoid protracted hearings: “…it might be just as well not to have a hearing that would, sort of, might mislead the American people into thinking that this is just about the qualifications of the candidate, because it’s bigger than that.” (Morning Call)

– Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) told local reporters on Wednesday that “the nominee should get a hearing.” According to the Alaska Dispatch News, she explained that: “The purpose of the hearing is to determine whether or not this individual, based on their record … should be named to the highest court in the land.”

Facing blowback, Murkowski—who could be vulnerable to a GOP primary challenge this year—took to Twitter last night to clarify that she’s against confirming whoever the president picks:

Conservative activists, including radio host Hugh Hewitt, are pressuring members like Murkowski not to yield an inch:

A Chicago court today will hear oral arguments on Cruz’s eligibility to run for president after an Illinois voter objected to his placement on the state’s primary ballot. Lawrence Joyce, a Ben Carson supporter, is citing Cruz’s Canadian birth to challenge his eligibility. USA Today notes that the gambit is virtually certain to fail: “Sanford Levinson, constitutional law professor at the University of Texas School of Law, said Joyce would have to prove standing – or why Cruz’s potential ineligibility affects him specifically – for the judge to proceed with the case.” But it’s still an ongoing nuisance for the senator: “A federal lawsuit was filed in Texas last month asking for a determination of Cruz’s eligibility to run. And voters in New York, who raised similar concerns about Cruz’s citizenship, on Thursday filed a challenge with the state Board of Election challenging the senator’s eligibility to be on the ballot.”

– Bernie Sanders was on the defensive during an MSNBC/Telemundo Democratic town hall last night in Las Vegas. He faced a host of critical questions about his record on immigration reform, pressed by both a DREAM-er and Clinton herself for his 2007 opposition to immigration legislation – “I voted for it, Sen. Sanders voted against it,” Clinton reminded the audience — and had to keep reminding voters it is still a priority for him.

– During the event, Clinton pledged to repeal a law that blocks undocumented immigrants from returning to the U.S. legally for a wait period of either three to ten years. The provision, which went into effect under her husband in 1996, is aimed at those who overstay their visas or cross the border illegally and sets a wait period depending on the length of time that they have been in the country illegally. “It does have to be done legislatively,” she acknowledged. “I would do it on a separate piece of legislation and in comprehensive immigration reform.”

– Clinton, however, was again on the defensive over her coziness with Wall Street: She said she’ll release transcripts of her paid, closed-door speeches as soon as “everybody else does,” which is a new and bizarre way of declining to provide them that will not put the story behind her. She told a woman who asked about the issue that Bernie also gives speeches to private audiences. Those are not paid, however, and they were certainly not to Goldman Sachs.

– Meanwhile in South Carolina, CNN hosted a televised town hall with Trump, Bush and Kasich.

  • Trump, escalating his criticism of George W. Bush, declared that the Iraq invasion “may have been the worst decision in presidential history.” When asked repeatedly whether he stood by his earlier comments that “Bush lied,” however, he declined to give an answer. “I’m not talking about lying,” said Trump. “Nobody really knows why we went to Iraq.” The billionaire showman also dodged responsibility for claims made in a recently-unearthed Buzzfeed interview from 2002, in which he indicated support for the war: “I could have said that. Nobody asked me – I wasn’t a politician.”
  • Jeb gave informative – if cerebral — answers to foreign policy questions, and shared anecdotes from his family’s personal struggle with drug addiction.
  • Kasich said he would consider Chris Christie for a Cabinet spot.

– Michael Bloomberg, mulling an independent bid, continued to decry the tone of the presidential contest. He said at a book party for Peggy Noonan that it is a “race to the extremes” and the candidates are capitalizing on a “corrupt, gridlocked and broken” system in which voters “have lost faith,” Paul Schwartzman reports. The ex-New York City mayor didn’t tip his hand about whether he’ll jump in, but he said: “The list of supposed villains we hear about is long … “But the actual solutions that Americans seek have been in short supply.”

– Breanne Deppisch contributed to this report.

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. Besides his comments on Trump, Pope Francis suggested contraceptives may be morally permissible to avoid the birth defects that come from the Zika virus. Speaking on board the Papal plane, Francis drew parallels to a 1960s decision that allowed for contraception in an extenuating circumstance. “Avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil,” he said. (Michelle Boorstein, Colby Itkowitz and Sarah Pulliam Bailey)
  2. Texas’ top public health official will leave his post after facing disciplinary action for research suggesting that cuts to Planned Parenthood prevented low-income women from accessing contraception. (Sarah Kaplan)
  3. Britain began negotiations with EU leaders over potentially leaving the 28-member bloc. A “Brexit” would embolden “anti E.U.-voices” from other member states. (Griff Witte)
  4. Thousands of New Delhi students protested for the release of PhD candidate Kanhaiya Kumar, who was arrested and charged with sedition after speaking out at a campus event. (Rama Lakshmi)
  5. Nearly 59,000 U.S. bridges are structurally deficient, according to an analysis by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Current project funding “won’t come close” to fixing the problematic bridges, which span a combined total of 1,340 miles. (Ashley Halsey III)
  6. In a major shift caused by Southern California’s high construction costs and political opposition, California’s first bullet train will be built in the Bay Area, and not L.A. (L.A. Times)
  7. An endangered baby dolphin was killed on a beach in Argentina last week after being plucked from the water and passed around for selfies. (Peter Holley)
  8. Former MSNBC host Ed Schultz shut down his super PAC after receiving a total of $25 in donations. (Free Beacon)

Major tech companies are rallying around Apple as it contests a court order requiring it to help FBI efforts to gain access to the iPhone used by the male terrorist in San Bernardino. Facebook and Google both voiced support for CEO Tim Cook’s resistance. Their controversial comments give the lie to the ludicrous claim made by Carly Fiorina during one of the GOP debates that tech companies want to help the government but they just have not been asked. It also raises questions about whether these Silicon Valley corporations, essentially monopolies, have too much power. On the other hand, The Post’s Editorial Board this morning takes Apple’s side over the FBI.

WAPO HIGHLIGHTS:

THE POPE IS JUST THE LATEST GLOBAL LEADER TO CONDEMN TRUMP, from Philip Rucker and Jenna Johnson: “First was the British prime minister, who called Donald Trump “divisive, stupid and wrong.” Then came Britain’s Parliament, which denounced him with colorful language. The French prime minister, the Turkish president and a Saudi prince also weighed in. On Thursday, Pope Francis added the strongest voice yet to a growing chorus of world leaders taking a stand against the celebrity candidate. As the pontiff took the rare step of injecting his views into the U.S. campaign, his remarks underscored the anxiety coursing through world capitals about a possible Trump presidency. Francis noted Trump’s promise to deport an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States illegally and make Mexico pay for a wall along the border to keep them out.”

  • “A person who thinks only about building walls — wherever they may be — and not building bridges, is not Christian,” Francis told reporters aboard the papal plane as he returned to Rome from a visit to Mexico, according to a translation from the Associated Press. “This is not in the Gospel.”
  • “For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful,” Trump, a Presbyterian, said at a campaign rally in Kiawah Island. “I’m proud to be a Christian, and as president I will not allow Christianity to be consistently attacked and weakened, unlike what is happening now with our current president.”

Watch the 20-scond clip of Pope Francis’ comment about Trump:

THE ISSUES –> “How drafting women became a wedge issue for Republicans on the trail,” by Greg Jaffe in Columbia, S.C.: “The odds that 18-year-old women might someday be drafted into the military and forced to go through basic training is remote at best. So how did the issue become a subject of heated debate and division inside the Republican primary? The issue has little to do with military effectiveness, but has deep roots in the nation’s culture wars … The question of drafting women quickly pivots to broader topics such as the role of women in society and whether they should be treated the same as men. The Obama administration decided in February to open up all combat jobs to women, prompting the question of whether women must register for the draft, as men do. Republican candidates Bush and Rubio said that they should, leading an incredulous Cruz to rail this week: ‘Have we lost our faculties? Is political correctness so consuming that we’re not willing to say that’s just nuts?’”

WHO THEY ARE –> “Rubio secured a spot on a 9/11 committee. Then he skipped many of the meetings,” by Manuel Roig-Franzia: “In the anxious weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Florida House assembled an elite group of lawmakers to develop plans to keep the state safe … It was little surprise that Marco Rubio, a promising young lawmaker, secured a coveted committee position. [But] Rubio did not give the job the attention that leaders expected. He skipped nearly half of the meetings, and was absent for more than 20 votes, drawing concern from House leadership … and foreshadowing many of the traits that he has been criticized for during his [presidential] candidacy.  At times, Rubio befuddled his colleagues, both Democrat and Republican. After apologizing for arriving late to a debate about a proposed system to track foreign students, Rubio argued passionately that the proposal would unfairly target law-abiding immigrants. But he quickly backed down in the face of opposition and, then, despite his publicly stated misgivings, went ahead and voted for the proposal.”

– Charles Koch says he agrees with Sanders that the system is rigged against the people in an op-ed for today’s Post. “In spite of the fact that he often misrepresents where I stand on issues, the senator should know that we do agree on at least one,” the chairman and chief executive of Koch Industries writes. “The senator is upset with a political and economic system that is often rigged to help the privileged few at the expense of everyone else, particularly the least advantaged. He believes that we have a two-tiered society that increasingly dooms millions of our fellow citizens to lives of poverty and hopelessness. He thinks many corporations seek and benefit from corporate welfare while ordinary citizens are denied opportunities and a level playing field. I agree with him.”

  • “Democrats and Republicans have too often favored policies and regulations that pick winners and losers. … it’s not enough to say that government alone is to blame. Large portions of the business community have actively pushed for these policies.”
  • “That’s why Koch Industries opposes all forms of corporate welfare — even those that benefit us. (The government’s ethanol mandate is a good example. We oppose that mandate, even though we are the fifth-largest ethanol producer in the United States.)”
  • “At this point you may be asking yourself, ‘Is Charles Koch feeling the Bern?’ Hardly.”

MORE ON THE REPUBLICAN RACE:

 Kasich won the endorsement of South Carolina’s Post and Courier, which joined The State. He will have a very good night if he gets more votes than Bush on Saturday.

Cruz takes to the Nevada airwaves with an ad aimed at conservatives and libertarians sympathetic to rancher Cliven Bundy. The Texan pledges to give “full control” of federal lands back to the state. He also secured the support of Carl Bunce, who was Rand’s senior adviser in Nevada and chaired Ron Paul’s 2012 campaign in the state. Story by David Weigel. Watch:

THE LATEST ON THE DEMOCRATIC RACE:

– South Carolina Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn will endorse Hillary today. The third-ranking House Democrat is an expected but important get for Clinton. (Abby Phillip and Chris Cillizza)

Sanders, though, continues to make inroads with minorities in Nevada, winning an endorsement from the Clark County Black Caucus, an influential organization in Nevada’s largest county. (John Wagner)

– Clinton has earned an overwhelming number of superdelegate endorsements since New Hampshire. She’s picked up 87 while Sanders has added just 11. The Associated Press estimates that Clinton now leads the superdelegate race 481-55: “If these party insiders continue to back Clinton overwhelmingly – and they can change their minds – Sanders would have to win the remaining primaries by a landslide just to catch up. He would have to roll up big margins because every Democratic contest awards delegates in proportion to the vote, so even the loser can get some.” This disparity has sparked backlash, with Sanders supporters complaining that the process is undemocratically rigged in favor of Clinton.

– Hillary has more than 23,000 donors who have given her the legal maximum of $2,700. By contrast, Sanders has just about 600 such “maxed out” donors. (The AP’s Julie Bykowicz)

— ZIGNAL VISUAL

Clinton told CNN on Tuesday that the unaccompanied minors who crossed the border illegally in recent months “should be sent back.” Days later, that line continues to resonate on social media, as this word cloud from our analytics partners at Zignal Labs illustrates:

To be sure, the full context got obscured in much of the online conversation. “They should be sent back as soon as it can be determined who responsible adults in their families are, because there are concerns about whether all of them should be sent back,” Clinton told Christiane Amanpour. “But I think all of them who can be should be reunited with their families.” This message mirrors Obama’s, the Huffington Post’s Elise Foley notes.

Nonetheless, immigration was the most frequently discussed topic in the more than 200,000 mentions of Clinton across both traditional and social media on Thursday:

THE AIR WAR:

– Clinton might be winning the race for endorsements, but she’s barely edging out Sanders in the advertising war. The Wesleyan Media Project found about 38,800 ads favoring Clinton have run this cycle, at an estimated cost of $20.8 million, almost identical to 38,200 pro-Sanders ads, which cost an estimated $20.1 million. Bush retains a slight lead on the GOP side with almost 36,000 favorable ads aired, but he’s also spending the most – he and his allies have spent upwards of $60 million.

– So far, Clinton and Sanders have each aired extremely positive and issue-based ad campaigns. Unsurprisingly, Hillary’s ads primarily highlight social issues, while Bernie’s focus on income inequality.

– The GOP side is a different story. It’s much more expensive — ad spending from Republicans has nearly tripled since this point in the last election, and in the last two weeks Republicans have spent $24.5 million in ad spending versus the Democrats’ combined $6.4 million. It’s also much more negative.

– Unsurprisingly, Super PACs continue to dominate GOP ad spending, fronting over 90 percent of non-candidate sponsored advertising. (The Bush-backed Right to Rise again takes the lead here, spending an estimated $57.60 million for Jeb.)

Rubio continues to be the most targeted candidate in political ads, taking heat primarily from pro-Cruz and pro-Bush groups.

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ, curated by Elise Viebeck:

Clinton’s campaign has upped its fashion game: their new line of merchandise, Made for History, includes campaign tees by high-profile fashion designers Marc Jacobs and Tory Burch. (Vogue)

The New York Daily News goes after Trump again:

Trump’s social media director slammed the Pope:

Lots of jokes ensued:

The New Yorker even suggested copy edits to Trump’s response to the pope:

The crowd at last night’s conservative confab in Greenville:

NBC threw shade at CNN:

Sanders defended Killer Mike’s “uterus” comment:

Hillary surrogates made a concerted effort to paint Bernie as insensitive to the plight of Latinos:

Obama celebrated the Chicago Blackhawks at the White House:

Jason Chaffetz remembered the time he was spoofed on Saturday Night Live:

#tbt to being on Saturday Night Live #SNL

A photo posted by Jason Chaffetz (@jasoninthehouse) on Feb 18, 2016 at 5:33pm PST

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

– The Boston Globe, “Anti-Wall Street stand may play well in Nevada,” by Annie Linskey: “Nevada is fertile ground for Sanders’ argument that he is the right person to hold large financial institutions responsible for the state’s foreclosure crisis. The state led the nation in home foreclosures for five years in a row during the financial crisis. … Even now, in the vote-rich neighborhoods near the Vegas strip, 28 percent of all mortgages in Las Vegas are for amounts larger than the value of the homes. What that means is that Las Vegas has the highest rate of so-called underwater mortgages in the country. … Though the local state party is officially neutral, some of its actions favor Clinton. The party is running radio ads reminding Democrats about the caucuses targeted at African-Americans, a community in which Clinton has stronger support. At a caucus training session sponsored by the Democratic party, organizers used ‘Star Wars’ characters as stand-ins for Clinton and Sanders. They selected Princess Leia and Darth Vader. (Leia won the training caucus.)”

– Bloomberg, “The Coming War for the Democrats’ Caucus Archipelago,” by Sasha Issenberg: “The caucuses that follow Nevada’s are shaping up as a battleground for the Democratic campaigns … The 13 caucus states  represent a total of 488 pledged delegates, more than California has on offer in its June primary. Caucuses make a particular mockery of the one-man-one-vote standard. With votes grounded more strongly in place than they are in primaries, it is often not possible to make up for a weak showing in one area by overperforming in another …  [candidates] must play in every precinct. The challenge for Sanders’s campaign will be to replicate what it did over months in Iowa—identify potential supporters, educate them, and mobilize them—over a period of weeks. And without local party elites to support her, Clinton will need liberal pressure groups—including some that have never before endorsed in a Democratic primary—to spur efforts to identify sympathetic activists who can volunteer for her.”

– The Weekly Standard, “Some Vet Groups Still Waiting for Trump Foundation Checks,” by Michael Warren: “After Trump backed out of the Republican debate in Iowa to hold a fundraiser for vets, his campaign wasn’t shy about sharing the good news: Trump had helped raise more than $6 million for an undeclared number of veterans’ organizations over the course of one hour. But weeks later, it’s difficult to figure out how much of that has been disbursed to groups, and to whom … I’ve contacted all 22 of [the organizations listed on Trump’s site] and have so far heard back from nine. Those who spoke with me said their appearance on that list was the first word they had heard they would be receiving a donation. And for some, that was the last they’ve heard, too. ‘We found out like everybody else did, when the Trump Foundation put the list up on the website,’ said Kerri Childress of the Fisher House Foundation. ‘And frankly we haven’t heard anything since.’”

– Four interesting takes on the evangelical vote in South Carolina on the eve of the primary:

  1. The Greenville News’ Nathaniel Cary: “By and large, Upstate pastors have shied away from political involvement this election cycle, which could lead values voters to make up their own mind. Jim Guth, political science professor at Furman University, said his students have listened at local churches for political speech from the pulpit and are hearing little. ‘The ‘let’s just stay clear of this’ attitude seems to be prevalent this year,’ he said. That’s created a vacuum that Trump has more than filled.”
  2. Michael Lindsay, a sociologist who has studied evangelicalism in politics for two decades, told the Greenville paper that Trump, and to a lesser extent Cruz, have tapped into “populist evangelicals,” working-class folks who listen to conservative talk radio, are drawn to mass rallies and hold the idea that motivating great masses of people is the way to achieve political influence. Rubio garners the support of GOP evangelical power brokers who Lindsay describes as “cosmopolitan evangelicals,” strategy-minded, highly educated evangelicals who are reliant on their connections.
  3. “Trump is reaching out to new-school evangelicals, whose pastors become celebrities and best-selling authors and whose church choirs can rise to become chart-topping Christian pop-rock bands,” writes Bloomberg’s Kevin Cirilli. “Cruz, meanwhile, is going after more traditional evangelicals, many of whom frown upon the material trappings of the emerging new-school movement. … They focus more on the Bible’s teachings and place less emphasis on personal wealth.”
  4. Washington Post videographer Dalton Bennett created a 4-minute package featuring voter interviews, including with evangelicals who like Trump and hate him:

DAYBOOK:

On the campaign trail: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are in Las Vegas. Republicans are in South Carolina. Here is their rundown:

  • Trump: Pawleys Island
  • Cruz: Myrtle Beach, Charleston, West Columbia, Greenville
  • Rubio: Columbia, Pawleys Island, Hilton Head Island, North Charleston, Clemson
  • Kasich: Columbia, Conway, Mt. Pleasant, Charleston
  • Bush: Spartanburg, Greenville, Central

At the White House: President Obama goes to the Supreme Court to pay respects to Scalia. Later, Obama speaks at the Democratic Governors Association Meeting at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

On Capitol Hill: The Senate and House are in recess.

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

– Warm weather lovers, take heart! The Capital Weather Gang reports: “Clouds are something we may have to contend with, but those wanting a slight break from arctic air, take solace that these clouds signal warmer air slowly moving in. Additionally, contributing to our slow push to around 40 to mid-40s by afternoon? A strengthening southerly breeze nearing 10 mph. The cold’s hard to dislodge though, so be patient.”

– All lanes on the outer loop of the Capital Beltway shut down this morning for an “extended time.” Drivers should use alternate routes or expect significant delays throughout the morning. (Dana Hedgpeth)

– The Wizards beat the Utah Jazz 103-89. (Jorge Castillo)

– The Capitals beat the Islanders 3-2. (Isabelle Khurshudyan)

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

A tourist helicopter crashed in Pearl Harbor:

Here’s how Trump, Bush and Kasich weighed in about the pope’s comment last night:

John Kasich had an emotional moment with a University of Georgia student during his town hall in Clemson:

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