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First Read's Morning Clips: About Last Night

Image: Democratic debate in Michigan
Democratic Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders before the start of a debate at the Whiting Auditorium in Flint, Michigan. Michigan will hold its presidential primary on March 8.JEFF KOWALSKY / EPA

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OFF TO THE RACES: Sanders punches on trade, Clinton counterpunches on auto bailout

NBC's Alex Seitz-Wald on last night's Democratic debate: 'Sunday night's Democratic presidential debate in Flint, a city where manufacturing jobs have been replaced by poisoned water, should have been on Bernie Sanders' turf: a discussion of trade policies, corporate greed and government spending cuts that have led to horrible consequences. Sanders fought as if his life depended on it — and it just might, as he has fallen dangerously behind Hillary Clinton in the delegate count. But Clinton came prepared to the CNN debate and more than held her own, preventing Sanders from the clear victory he needs to change the trajectory of the race ahead of Michigan's primary Tuesday."

One thing that wasn't discussed Sunday night at the debate: national security.

Our latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll shows Trump and Clinton with big leads in Michigan.

The New York Times: "Senator Bernie Sanders, anxious that the Democratic nomination is slipping away from him, launched a series of cutting and sarcastic attacks against Hillary Clinton over trade, welfare reform and Wall Street in a debate Sunday night that often felt like a war over Bill Clinton’s legacy and the moderate Democratic policies of the 1990s."

Mitt Romney told one of us(!): “I'm not a candidate, I'm not going to be a candidate, I'm going to be endorsing one of the people who's running for president.”

BUSH: He could endorse Marco Rubio before the Florida primary but is still weighing the move.

RUBIO: A tough story from the Washington Post: "Party leaders, donors and other supporters of Rubio portray a political operation that continues to come up short in its message, in its attention to the fundamentals of campaigning and in its use of a promising politician. The failures have all but doomed ­Rubio’s chances of securing the GOP nomination, leaving him far behind Trump and Cruz in both delegates and states won."

He won the primary in Puerto Rico.

SANDERS: He won yesterday's caucuses in Maine.

TRUMP: Bloomberg reports that Trump's organization has been courting rich Chinese funders - who invest in order to receive expedited visas - to build a tower in New Jersey.

From the New York Times: "Outside groups are moving to deploy more than $10 million in new attack ads across Florida and millions more in Illinois, casting Mr. Trump as a liberal, a huckster and a draft dodger. Mr. Trump’s reed-thin organization appears to be catching up with him, suggesting he could be at a disadvantage if he is forced into a protracted slog for delegates."

The Wall Street Journal: "Donald Trump’s success in attracting white, working-class voters is raising the prospect that the Republican Party, in an electoral gamble, could attempt to take an unexpected path to the White House that would run through the largely white and slow-to-diversify upper Midwest."

The Washington Post, on Paul Ryan's tough spot managing Trumpism. "When he was drafted into the speaker’s chair four months ago, Ryan acknowledged the job would be difficult. But, thanks to Trump, it has become much worse than that. He has come to embody the party establishment’s existential conflict: deeply wary of Trump’s divisive antics but reluctant to reject him entirely."

And here's POLITICO: "The Electoral College landscape has been fairly stable over the past four presidential elections: 40 states have voted for the same party in every race since 2000. But Trump’s candidacy – and a unique base of support that’s carried him to victory in places as varied as Alabama and Massachusetts -- is raising the prospect of a scrambled November landscape that features long-time Democratic strongholds in play and states that have been firmly Republican for a half-century in jeopardy."

Remembering Nancy Reagan, President Reagan's adviser and fierce guardian.

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