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'16 from 30,000
Another day, another data point that underscores the loyalty of Donald Trump's core supporters -- and the dangers it could pose for the GOP as an institution. A new Suffolk/USA Today poll shows that 68 percent of Trump's supporters would back him if he bolted the GOP and mounted an independent bid. (An important caveat, as the pollsters themselves note, is that the margin of error on that figure is particularly high due to small sample size.) The finding was not lost on Trump himself, who tweeted about it within an hour of the poll's release. It's hardly a subtle reminder to party leaders, who remain in the uncomfortable position of trying to distance themselves from his most controversial comments while avoiding jolting him into a third-party run that would surely gut their chances at the White House. By the way -- Trump highlighting this statistic isn't about being a winner; garnering the support of two-thirds of 30 percent of the GOP primary electorate is hardly a recipe for a general election win. This is all about spooking the GOP establishment.
POPPING ON NBC POLITICS
- Donald Trump defended his call to block most Muslims from entering the U.S. amid a growing chorus of influential Republicans condemning the proposal.
- Jeb Bush and his superPAC have now spent almost as much as the rest of the GOP field combined on TV ads. NBC's Mark Murray reports.
- Bernie Sanders was very unhappy when reporters - instructed by his press secretary not to ask him about ISIS at a press conference - asked anyway.
- White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that Trump's statement is "disqualifying" and that other GOP candidates should say they won't support him if he's the GOP nominee.
- Rush Limbaugh is defending Trump's statement on Muslims, saying it's "all part of a negotiation."
CAMPAIGN QUICK READ OF THE DAY
Buzzfeed has a deep dive into the father-son rivalry between Ron and Rand that helped undermine the younger Paul's presidential bid.
FOR THE RECORD…
"Maybe Donald negotiated a deal with his buddy @HillaryClinton. Continuing this path will put her in the White House. "
Jeb Bush on Twitter, responding to Trump's comments about support for a third-party bid
Hillary Clinton campaign in Iowa.
Jeb Bush and Carly Fiorina are in New Hampshire.
Marco Rubio and Ben Carson are in Michigan.
And John Kasich speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City.