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Tales From the Trail: Clinton’s ‘Crazy’ Night Out; Rand Paul’s Debate No-Show

Want to know what the NBC News Embeds saw? Follow their daily journey to the inside of the 2016 presidential campaign here:

Hillary Clinton: ‘We were dancing and it was crazy'

Hillary Clinton has kicked off a media blitz as the Democratic race tightens in key early states, but one recent interview had little to do with politics and everything to do with date nights and ladies’ nights.

Clinton told British host Amanda de Cadenet on “The Conversation” that she loves taking long walks, going to the movies and watching TV when she finds (often elusive) downtime with former President Bill Clinton.

“We were dancing and it was crazy.”

“We’re constantly talking about the country and the world and what we can do to try and make a contribution, but we also have fun,” she explained in an interview posted online Thursday.

In fact, a long walk is exactly what the couple did during prep for her marathon Benghazi testimony last fall. The Clintons enjoy walking in the woods near their home in Washington, D.C. whenever possible.

But Clinton said even when they do have time together these days, the couple prefers to hang out with someone else: their 15-month-old granddaughter, Charlotte.

In the one-hour special on Lifetime, the former secretary of state also revealed she is terrified of snakes and loves ladies’ night.

“We were dancing and it was crazy,” she said of a recent outing with her girlfriends.

-- Monica Alba covering the Clinton campaign

South Carolina: Where the weather is better than Iowa

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Even presidential candidates have trouble packing.

“I’ve been on the road for 12 days without a break and in those 12 days I had to be in Iowa, of course,” Carly Fiorina told a crowd here. “South Carolina weather sure feels good because in Iowa it was -3, so that’s why I had to pack my boots.”

The candidate’s message persuaded one woman here, who declined to be named because she was missing work to attend the event, to become a supporter.

“I was undecided because she’s kind of down in the polls,” the woman told NBC News. “Seeing her today and hearing her speak the way she does, yeah, I’m going to vote for her.”

The woman also said she plans to persuade her husband into being a Fiorina supporter even though he’s currently in the Trump camp.

-- Jordan Frasier covering the Fiorina campaign

Can you hear Trump now?

PENSACOLA, Fla. — The Pensacola Bay Center was packed with voters, ears perked for the GOP frontrunner. That was good, because Trump’s microphone wasn’t making it easy to hear what he had to say.

His signature style – quick shifts between policy points to polls to jabs at rivals – was being garbled by a microphone that, as he described it, kept “popping.”

As audience members moved for a better vantage point and chance to hear him, Trump finally made his own displeasure known. Interrupting himself as he railed against America’s trade deficit with China, Trump unleashed this:

“By the way, I don’t like this mic. Whoever the hell built this mic system, don’t pay the son of a bitch that put this in. I’ll tell you, these people, no this mic is terrible. Stupid mic keeps popping.”

Then he addressed his director of advance: "You hear me, George? Don’t pay. Don’t pay! You know, I believe in paying but when somebody does a bad job, like this stupid mic, we shouldn’t pay the bitch. Terrible. Terrible.”

He guaranteed the crowd of over 10,000: “I’m not paying for this mic.”

“I hope it’s OK for you out there,” Trump offered.

Later, in the midst of signing “Trump” signs and posing for pictures with supporters, Trump paused to lash out against the mic once more. Flagging over that same advance man, Trump unleashed an expletive and said, “Don’t pay for that mic.”

Prior to the event, the mic situation seemed just fine for the USA Freedom Kids to sing the national anthem and a patriotic ode to Mr. Trump, who assumed the same stage minutes later.

The three girls, clad in American flag matching outfits, sang what can best be described as a politically-themed Kidz Bop anthem to a pop beat.

-- Ali Vitali covering the Trump campaign

Rand Paul finds the bright side of skipping GOP debate

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Rand Paul has taken GOP debate lemons and turned them into earned media lemonade.

The Kentucky senator and trailing GOP presidential contender was knocked down to the undercard debate on Thursday night, sparking speculation over his viability in the race.

But rather than spar in a little-watched showdown with the other low-polling candidates, Paul opted out, choosing instead to hold an online townhall during the debate. He has also turned his snub into far more airtime than he probably would’ve gotten on the undercard debate stage.

Over the past two days, he’s done interviews with “The Dr. Oz Show,” “The Daily Show” and multiple sit-downs with Fox News, CNN and MSNBC. On “The Daily Show,” he held a mock debate with host Trevor Noah, one that included bourbon and discussions about war in the Middle East, the economy and drugs.

The round-robin slew of appearances likely drew him more attention than the undercard or even primetime debate would’ve, where he’d have to fight the other candidates for speaking time.

In November, the undercard debate drew just 4.7 million viewers, less than a quarter of the number that watched the primetime debate. Paul told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Thursday that "we just weren't willing to take it."

“I think it's a mistake with only about three weeks to go in the election to let anyone designate your campaign as not being a contender. So we just made the decision that the media shouldn't get to decide this and the party shouldn't get to decide this,” he said.

-- Alex Jaffe covering tonight’s GOP presidential debate