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The Lid: The GOP’s Gamble Against Garland

Welcome to The Lid, your afternoon dose of the 2016 ethos… Americans are finalizing their NCAA brackets, an exercise which usually includes irrationally intense allegiances, blind confidence in arbitrarily-chosen statistics and taunting of loved ones over minor victories. The good news is that the last three months of presidential primaries were great practice for all of that.

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‘16 from 30,000

As if this year wasn’t House-of-Cardsy enough, we’ve got a Supreme Court nomination battle playing out alongside a possibly permanent rift in one of the country’s two major parties. And the court battle -- especially the way that President Obama has decided to play it -- gives us a good look both at the competing impulses on the GOP side and at the Republican leadership’s attempts, such as they are, at seeing around political corners. Most Senate Republicans are steadfastly refusing to consider nominee Merrick Garland, an older and more moderate jurist with bipartisan connections (aka a man seen as the president’s closest plausible option as a consensus pick.) But others with either more moderate constituencies (Jeff Flake, Susan Collins) or tough reelection battles (Mark Kirk, Kelly Ayotte) say they’re open to considering the nomination or at least meeting with the nominee. And then there’s the fact that - by pledging to block this nominee until the election - Republicans are essentially taking their chances by gambling that Hillary Clinton won’t win and nominate a much more liberal judge. Another possibility: If the Democratic nominee wins in November, a lame duck Congress could greenlight Garland’s nod, but doesn’t that further inflame the fired-up GOP wing of the party?

POPPING ON NBC POLITICS

  • The FOX News debate in Salt Lake City has been cancelled after Trump - and then John Kasich - said they wouldn’t participate.
  • Today’s big news: President Barack Obama has nominated federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.
  • You can learn more about Garland here.
  • A spokeswoman for Paul Ryan says he ‘will not accept’ the GOP nomination if offered at a contested convention.
  • Florida Governor Rick Scott urged the GOP to unite behind Trump.
  • But one day after Sen. Marco Rubio suspended his presidential campaign, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said "my hope and my prayer" is that Ted Cruz wins the GOP nomination, according to The Post and Courier newspaper.
  • And from First Read this AM: Clinton, Trump start leaving rivals in the dust.

FOR THE RECORD…

“The only thing I can say now is my hope and my prayer is that Sen. Cruz can come through this."

  • South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley on who she supports in the 2016 race after Marco Rubio dropped out.