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The Trail 2016: The Final Four

Welcome to THE TRAIL 2016, your daily rundown from The Hill on all the latest news in the White House, Senate and House races. 

Ben Carson’s unlikely run through the Republican nominating contest effectively came to an end on Wednesday, as the former neurosurgeon announced he didn’t see a path forward and wouldn’t participate in Thursday’s debate in his hometown of Detroit. 

Carson has been an afterthought in the race for some time, but he’ll be remembered as the first candidate to mount a true challenge against Trump, memorably running atop the polls alongside the front-runner over the summer as he raked in tens of millions of dollars and earned the respect of many conservatives impressed by his quiet dignity. 

That brings the field down to a final four just in time for March Madness. 

On Thursday, Mitt Romney will address the dynamics of the presidential race and the political landscape in much-anticipated speech. He isn’t expected to launch his own bid or even endorse, but he could be looking to give direction to the growing faction of anti-Trumps who are becoming increasingly panicked and searching for over a way forward. 

For more on these efforts,read The Hill’s Jonathan Swan on the big-money groups banding together to stop Trump in Florida – a critical winner-take-all contest on March 15 that could be Marco Rubio’s last stand. 

Plus, check back at The Hill later tonight for a dispatch from Scott Wong and Alexander Bolton on the latest maneuverings from hill Republicans who are in disarray over the prospect of a Trump candidacy. 

On the Democratic side, The Hill’s Peter Schroeder will have a story on Elizabeth Warren’s low-profile role in 2016, and how liberals are reacting to her spot on the sidelines.

 

RACE TO 1600 PENN 

REACHING OUT: The Hill’s Cristina Marcos reports: Speaker Paul Ryan has been in touch with Donald Trump’s campaign to discuss the party’s agenda going into November. 

DOMINANT: The Hill’s Bob Cusack and Ian Swanson report: The seven reasons why Donald Trump has been dominating the GOP race for seven months now. Meanwhile, former Bush adviser Alex Castellanos says it’s too late to “ask mommy to step in and rewrite the rules” to stop Trump. 

ON TO THE GENERAL: The Hill’s Amie Parnes reports: Hillary Clinton is already bracing for an ugly general election fight against Donald Trump. The Clinton campaign is already turning away from Sanders, saying he faces “a difficult path” to the nomination. 

NOT MY COMMANDER IN CHIEF: The Hill’s Scott Wong reports: Some GOP defense hawks are already openly talking about defying a President Trump.

LABOR DISPUTE: The Hill’s Tim Devaney reports: Donald Trump could cut into the Democratic advantage among union members in 2016.

 

ODDS AND ENDS: 

ONE MOGUL TO ANOTHER: The Hill’s Jesse Byrnes reports: Rupert Murdoch says the GOP would be crazy not to rally behind Donald Trump. 

SEE WHAT HAPPENS: The Hill’s Ben Kamisar reports: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), who resigned her post at the DNC to back Bernie Sanders, says she was warned against crossing the national party and the front-runner. 

ENTHUSIASM GAP: The Hill’s Jonathan Easley reports: Republicans crushed Democrats in voter turnout on Super Tuesday. 

DIGGING DEEP: The Hill’s Mark Hensch reports: Clinton ally David Brock says he’s been digging up dirt on Donald Trump for months in preparation for the general election. 

THE LIST GROWS: The Hill’s Lisa Hagen reports: Charlie Baker, the Republican governor of Massachusetts, won’t be voting for Trump in the general election. 

GANGING UP: The Hill’s Mark Hensch reports: Conservative radio host is calling for a Cruz-Rubio ticket to stop Trump. 

CALL IT A COMEBACK: The Hill’s Megan R. Wilson reports: None of the candidates running for president has said he’d keep President Obama’s anti-lobbying restrictions in place, leaving K Street to eye a comeback. 

MESSAGE FOR THE HATERS: The Hill’s Jesse Byrnes reports: Ben Carson filmed a video response to those calling on him to drop out of the GOP race, called “Dear Haters.” 

HIGH HEAT: The Hill’s Luke Barr reports: Former pitching ace Curt Schilling said Hillary Clinton “should be buried under a jail somewhere.” 

RUBBER SHEETS: The Hill’s Jesse Byrnes reports: Mike Huckabee is calling GOP hand-wringing over Donald Trump establishment “bed-wetting.” 

EARN IT: The Hill’s Mark Hensch reports: Former NAACP chief Ben Jealous, who supports Bernie Sanders for president, is warning Hillary Clinton against taking African-American voters for granted.

 

THE DAILY TRUMP 

MEDIA PASS: The Hill’s Jesse Byrnes reports: The Trump campaign has in the past granted press credentials to a “pro-white” radio host. 

A GUIDE FOR EX-PATS: The Hill’s Mark Hensch reports: The New York Daily News kept up their assault on Trump with a new issue outlining how Americans can flee the country in case Trump becomes president. That fits in perfectly with a spike in Google searches during Super Tuesday about moving to Canada.

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY 

“At no point did I ever think, ‘My God, this guy sounds like he’s thinking of running.’ I just thought it was somebody that was deeply interested and talking about things that you don’t normally hear him talk about in public. But now looking back on everything that’s happened, I think two or three years ago he was planning this.” 

Rush Limbaugh on a conversation with Donald Trump about politics prior to the business mogul filing to run for president     

 

CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGNS 

WHITE HOUSE ENDORSES: The Hill’s Jordain Carney reports: President Obama and Vice President Biden have endorsed Rep. Patrick Murphy in his Democratic primary fight against Rep. Alan Grayson for Florida Senate. They’re also backing former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland against upstart rival P.G. Sittenfeld in the Buckeye State. 

THE OTHER FLORIDA DEM: The Hill’s Molly Hooper reports: Grayson lashed out at Senate minority leader Harry Reid, who has called on him to drop out, in a video interview with The Hill.

 

MONEY WATCH 

NOT EVEN CLOSE: The Hill’s Ben Kamisar reports: Hillary Clinton might be winning the delegate count, but Bernie Sanders crushed her in February fundraising.

 

WHAT WE ARE WATCHING FOR TODAY AND TOMORROW:

(All times Eastern) 

The Conservative Political Action Conference kicks off Thursday morning from National Harbor, Maryland. Thursdays slate includes: Scott Walker, Rick Santorum, and a host of conservative lawmakers and influencers. See the full agenda here

Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich will face-off in a Republican presidential debate hosted by Fox News on Thursday at 9 p.m. in Detroit. 

Donald Trump will hold a campaign rally in Portland, Maine, at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday. 

Ted Cruz will rally supporters in Overland Park, Kansas at 7:30 p.m. and will be a guest on Fox News’s “The Kelly File” at 9 p.m. on Wednesday. 

Marco Rubio will be a guest on Fox News’s “The Kelly File” at 9 p.m. on Wednesday. 

John Kasich is holding a foreign policy town hall in Warren, Mich., starting at 6 p.m. on Wednesday. On Thursday, Kasich will hold a press conference with chief campaign strategist John Weaver on the state of the race at 1 p.m. in Detroit.

Hillary Clinton is rallying supporters in New York City on Wednesday evening.

Mitt Romney will deliver a speech on the state of the Republican presidential race at 11:30 a.m. at the University of Utah.

 

TWEET OF THE DAY

Write us with tips, suggestions and news: Jonathan Easley, Ben KamisarJonathan Swan, Lisa Hagen. 

Sign up to receive The Trail | 2016 overnight newsletter here.

Tags Alan Grayson Bernie Sanders Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren Harry Reid Hillary Clinton Marco Rubio Paul Ryan Ted Cruz Tulsi Gabbard

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