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OFF TO THE RACES: A kinder, gentler GOP debate
From Benjy Sarlin: Five takeaways from what was a comparatively "kinder, gentler" GOP debate in Florida.
And breaking late last night: Donald Trump told Katy Tur that the Breitbart reporter who accused Trump's campaign manager of violently grabbing her probably "made the story up."
If you missed the debate, you can read our play-by-play coverage below.
The New York Times: "After 11 adversarial debates, the two chief antagonists to Donald J. Trump on Thursday night largely abandoned their strategy of brutally attacking him, choosing instead to use their final face-off before next week’s round of big Republican primaries to project gravitas and champion conservative positions on trade, jobs and Israel."
And the Washington Post: "There was an unfamiliar buzz on the debate stage here Thursday night: the sound of Republican presidential candidates engaging in a sober discussion of policy, rather than savaging each other."
The Miami Herald: "Republican primary debates, turned topsy-turvy seven months ago from the moment Donald Trump first took the stage, regained a semblance of normalcy Thursday night at the University of Miami. And the result was disorienting.
POLITICO, with more delegate math and this quote from a GOP strategist: "A number of us who have done modeling district-by-district using demographics, polling, previous cycles’ results … the way we see it is Trump finishing in the 1,350- to 1,370-delegate range if he wins Ohio and Florida, and right around 1,200 without them
CARSON: He'll endorse Donald Trump today in Florida.
CLINTON: She accused Trump of "urging people on" to violence at his rallies.
Her new ad features the mothers of victims of gun violence and police confrontations.
CRUZ: A Miami Herald column this morning: "Ted Cruz & Marco Rubio aren't the Cuban Dream Team."
TRUMP: The Washington Post, on his latest strategy: "Ahead in the race for the nomination, he adopted a more restrained and subdued demeanor, even passing up opportunities to strike back when his opponents tried to engage him. It was a strategy common to front-runners — play not to lose, avoid mistakes or eruptions, and force the opposition to change the dynamic."
Ashley Parker of the New York Times writes about the perils of protesting at a Trump rally: "Trump supporters typically begin shouting, pointing, jeering — and sometimes kicking or spitting — at the protester, surrounding the offender in a tight circle, like an antibody trying to isolate and expel an unwanted invader from the bloodstream."
David Ignatius in the Washington Post: "The rise of Trump, love him or hate him, conveys an inescapable message: The United States’ political institutions are in decay, and voters are angry at a government that they perceive (correctly) to be broken. The danger is that Trump’s responses would probably make the underlying governance problems worse — and increase polarization and dysfunction even more."
The Wall Street Journal reports: "Donald Trump might be scoring millions of dollars in federal tax breaks by promising to limit development on some of his properties. The self-described “ardent philanthropist” donated development rights for some of his most valuable properties to conservation groups and local governments, protecting songbirds and big brown bats, and giving himself the ability to claim federal tax deductions, according to land records in four states."
He’s stepping up his preparation for a possible contested convention.