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First Read's Morning Clips: Cruz, Trump Team Up Against Kasich

A roundup of the most important political news stories of the day
Image: File photo of U.S. Senator Cruz greeting Trump onstage as they address a Tea Party rally at the U.S. Capitol in Washington
FILE: U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) (R) greets businessman Donald Trump onstage as they address a Tea Party rally against at the U.S. Capitol in Washington in this September 9, 2015 file photo.JONATHAN ERNST / Reuters

OFF TO THE RACES: Trump, Cruz team up to block Kasich in Cleveland

From Ari Melber: "The Donald Trump and Ted Cruz campaigns are working to prevent John Kasich from appearing on the ballot at the Republican National Convention in July, MSNBC has learned, an aggressive strategy suggesting the GOP's leading candidates are girding for a contested convention to select the party's nominee...While Trump and Cruz are locked in a bitter battle, aides to both men tell MSNBC it is in their mutual interest to keep Kasich off the ballot. The convention rules control who is on that ballot — and thus eligible to win the nomination."

Trump is calling for Kasich to drop out, saying if the Ohio governor left the race, "I automatically win."

The latest on the Tennessee delegate fight, from NBC's Alex Jaffe and Vaughn Hillyard.

And here's what you need to know about the drama in North Dakota over the weekend.

RNC head Reince Priebus spoke to one of us(!) about whether Donald Trump is the strongest GOP candidate.

From the Washington Post: "Wisconsin has become an unexpected battleground for Donald Trump and the conglomeration of forces desperately aligning against him, with Tuesday’s primary emerging as a key moment that could reshape the Republican nominating contest both mathematically and psychologically."

"Since his loss in Iowa, Mr. Trump has wanted a rematch with Mr. Cruz. In Wisconsin — another state stocked with conservative activists desperate to stop Mr. Trump — he is getting something like it. And it is not going so well," writes the New York Times.

The debate over debates continues. From Monica Alba and Danny Freeman: " Hillary Clinton's campaign said rival Bernie Sanders has rejected three proposed debate dates ahead of the New York primary on April 19 — marking the latest dustup in an increasingly heated fight for the Democratic nomination. But Clinton told NBC's "Meet The Press" that "I'm confident we will" have a debate."

Clinton and Sanders are warring over the issue of fundraising for other Democrats, too.

CLINTON: She's getting ready for the Trump "insult machine."

From the AP: "After a year of campaigning, months of debates and 35 primary elections in the Democratic presidential race, Sanders is finally getting under Clinton's skin. Clinton has spent weeks largely ignoring Sanders and trying to focus on Republican front-runner Donald Trump. Now, after several primary losses and with a tough fight in New York on the horizon, Clinton is showing flashes of frustration with the Vermont senator — irritation that could undermine her efforts to unite the party around her candidacy."

CRUZ: He's trying to seize on Donald Trump's struggles with female voters, POLITICO notes.

SANDERS: The New York Times writes: "Mr. Sanders is now campaigning more effectively than many expected, exposing Mrs. Clinton’s weaknesses as a candidate, and is positioning himself to win contests like the Wisconsin primary on Tuesday. But allies and advisers of Mr. Sanders say they missed opportunities to run an aggressive political operation in 2015 that would have presented more of a challenge to Mrs. Clinton."

The Wall Street Journal notes that his cash flow ensures that the race will keep going.

TRUMP: The Washington Post got a peek at a Trump memo excoriating critics who say the campaign is waning.


*** Monday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell looks ahead to Tuesday’s Wisconsin primary contest with Joel Benenson – senior advisor to the Clinton campaign; Tad Devine – senior advisor to the Sanders campaign; WTMJ Milwaukee radio host Charlie Sykes; the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, Robert Costa and Abby Phillip; plus NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg after meeting with Pres. Obama this morning.