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The Lid: Is Ted Cruz the Duke of the 2016 GOP Race?

Welcome to The Lid, your afternoon dose of the 2016 ethos… Mitt Romney said Friday that he is voting for Ted Cruz in next week’s Utah caucuses, but his aides emphasized that he’s not actually ENDORSING the Texas senator. It’s pretty much the same as picking Duke to make the Sweet Sixteen even though you say they’re overrated and hate yourself for it.

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‘16 from 30,000: “How do you like Ted now?” You could say the stop Trump faction of the Republican party waited too long to work up the nerve to ask their crush to the prom. And now if they want to dance they’re really going to need to settle on someone they never would have otherwise chosen. Enter Ted Cruz.

Lindsey Graham, who just two month ago joked that no one in the Senate would convict someone for shooting Cruz, is now for him. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said she hopes Cruz can “come through this.” And today’s big news -- Mitt Romney said he will support Cruz in the Utah caucuses. “A vote for Governor Kasich in future contests makes it extremely likely that Trumpism would prevail,” he wrote in a Facebook post. It’s unclear what difference, if any, it would have made if the anti-Trump movement rallied around just one candidate earlier. But the bigger news may be that Kasich’s contested convention strategy does not seem to have the support of the de facto leader of the stop Trump faction -- Mitt Romney.

POPPING ON NBC POLITICS

  • Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, announced Friday afternoon that he will vote for Senator Ted Cruz in the Utah caucus next Tuesday.
  • John Kasich’s delegate math keeps voters largely out of the equation, one of us writes.
  • NBC’s Perry Bacon looks at whether Donald Trump broke the GOP.
  • And from First Read this AM: Republicans opponents still don't have a unified strategy to stop Trump

FOR THE RECORD…

“Failed presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the man who ‘choked’ and let us all down, is now endorsing Lyin' Ted Cruz. This is good for me!”

  • Donald Trump tweet

WEEKEND SKED

On Saturday: Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are in Arizona. Kasich and Cruz are in Utah.

On Sunday: Sanders is in Washington

John Kasich, Mitch McConnell, and Harry Reid join Chuck Todd on Meet The Press.