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First Read's Morning Clips: Romney Takes Aim at Trump

Image: Reports say Romney not running for President
epa04595415 (FILE) A file photo dated 15 March 2013 of former presidential candidate and Governor Mitt Romney waving at the 40th Annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, USA. Media reports on 30 January 2015 state that Republican Mitt Romney - who was defeated by US President Obama in the 2012 presidential elections - will not run again for President in 2016. EPA/SHAWN THEW *** Local Caption *** 50753785SHAWN THEW / EPA

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OFF TO THE RACES: Romney to call Trump a “phony” and “fraud”

In a speech skewering Donald Trump today, Mitt Romney is expected to call him a "phony" and a "fraud" who is "playing the American public for suckers."

Here's a running list from of all the Republicans speaking out against Donald Trump.

The New York Times, previewing tonight's debate: "With Donald J. Trump on the verge of running away with the Republican nomination, there will be no shortage of drama. As he continues to win primary contests, the pressure on Mr. Trump has been rising, and if the most recent debate was any guide, Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz will be attacking him from all angles in an effort to show that he lacks the knowledge and temperament to be president."

Adding to the drama tonight: It'll be the first time since their infamous last debate meeting that Megyn Kelly and Donald Trump will face off.

CLINTON: The Post scooped last night: "The Justice Department has granted immunity to a former State Department staffer, who worked on Hillary Clinton’s private email server, as part of a criminal investigation into the possible mishandling of classified information, according to a senior law enforcement official. The official said the FBI had secured the cooperation of Bryan Pagliano, who worked on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign before setting up the server in her New York home in 2009. As the FBI looks to wrap up its investigation in the coming months, agents are likely to want to interview Clinton and her senior aides about the decision to use a private server, how it was set up, and whether any of the participants knew they were sending classified information in emails, current and former officials said."

NBC's Alex Seitz-Wald writes that Clinton has been trying to convey inevitability after her big Super Tuesday wins, even as Sanders vows to fight on.

CARSON: From the Center for Public Integrity: "Ben Carson may be about to suspend his presidential campaign, but the massive donor list lives on — and is potentially worth millions. While the retired surgeon didn't win many delegates, his campaign did convince more than 700,000 people to give money, and now has a lucrative opportunity to rent the donors' names and contact information to other candidates, political committees or for-profit data brokers again and again."

RUBIO: Can he pull off a win in his home state? The Washington Post takes a look.

SANDERS: He’s not letting up on his attacks on Clinton’s Wall Street record and her speech transcripts.

TRUMP: NBC's Ali Vitali reports on the details of Donald Trump's health care plan. "In a seven-point plan posted to his website and publicized by a tweet, Trump says he will do away with the individual health insurance mandate, as well as allow competition over states lines for health care plans, and block grant Medicaid to the states, allowing them to follow through on his prescription to "eliminate fraud, waste and abuse to preserve our precious resources...The decision to go against the idea of an individual mandate is new for Trump, who told CNN during a February town hall before the South Carolina primary that he "likes the mandate" and that makes him "a little bit different" than other conservatives."

NBC's Leigh Ann Caldwell writes: "After Donald Trump notched a resounding set of victories in Super Tuesday voting states, anti-Trump campaigns in conservative circles gained some fresh momentum Wednesday. Club for Growth, a conservative anti-tax group, announced a new $1.5 million ad buy in the upcoming primary state of Florida."

And from the Washington Post: "In a flurry of conference calls and meetings, top Republican donors and strategists laid plans for a multimillion-dollar assault on the front-runner in a series of states holding contests on March 15. Ground zero is Florida, where home-state Sen. Marco Rubio, the leading establishment candidate, is going all in to defeat Trump, who leads in the polls there. But other Republicans yielded to Trump after he swept seven out of 11 states on Tuesday, the biggest day of balloting yet. Alex Castellanos, a veteran media consultant who earlier in the season had tried unsuccessfully to organize an anti-Trump campaign, said, “A fantasy effort to stop Trump . . . exists only as the denial stage of grief."

His speech at CPAC on Saturday is causing plenty of internal strife among activists. "Potentially complicating matters further, sources tell POLITICO that Trump has made multiple donations totaling more than $100,000 ― including a $50,000 check last year ― to the American Conservative Union, the group that organizes CPAC. That dwarfs the amounts donated in recent years by allies of Trump’s rivals, all of whom are also scheduled to speak at the annual gathering, and seems likely to fuel already percolating suspicions among his opponents that the ACU has its thumb on the scale for Trump."

The Wall Street Journal looks to "The Art of the Deal" as a blueprint for Trump's strategy.

OBAMA AGENDA: Vetting Jane Kelly

From the New York Times: " President Obama is vetting Jane L. Kelly, a federal appellate judge in Iowa, as a potential nominee for the Supreme Court, weighing a selection that could pose an awkward dilemma for her home-state senator Charles E. Grassley, who has pledged to block the president from filling the vacancy. The F.B.I. has been conducting background interviews on Judge Kelly, 51, according to a person with knowledge of the process. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the White House is closely guarding details about Mr. Obama’s search to fill the opening created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia... Democrats have privately said that selecting Judge Kelly might force Mr. Grassley to change his stance and hold hearings, out of a sense of obligation to a respected jurist from his home state and concern about tarnishing his reputation in Iowa months before he faces re-election. The six-term senator is facing pressure from voters to consider any nominee on the merits, but he said in an interview Wednesday that he would not change his position even for a fellow Iowan."

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