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The Lid: Cash Complicates 2016 Field

Image: Howard "Cowboy" Woodward, Rick Perry, Rand Paul, Adam Gabbatt, Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Rick Perry, Jeb Bush

Adam Gabbatt of The Guardian newspaper holds images of possible Republican candidates, from left, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Donald Trump, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, bellow, as he interviews Howard "Cowboy" Woodward during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Md., Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) Carolyn Kaster / AP

Welcome to The Lid, your afternoon dose of the 2016 ethos… Today, the New York Times reported that college-aged Ted Cruz was an “extreme fan” of the Les Miserables soundtrack, *AND* USA Today reported that the Koch brothers are planning to “audition” five Republicans to decide which 2016 hopeful to support. Which really, really makes us hope that there’s some kind of underground musical theater sing-off component to this whole money-in-politics business, because that would be awesome.

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’16 AT 30 THOUSAND

Much to the chagrin of headline-writers everywhere, there’s no slam dunk answer for who can definitively be called the Republican frontrunner at this early stage of the 2016 campaign. Yes, Jeb Bush has (narrowly) the top spot in national polling averages. But four in ten *Republicans* told our NBC/Wall Street Journal pollsters last month that they wouldn’t consider voting for him. And yes, Scott Walker has had a banner year so far when it comes to building support, but he’s still largely unknown to many voters. Complicating the equation: in the age of super PACs funded by single donors, nearly any candidate can come by enough cash to stay viable and hope for a momentum change. This cycle might not be the frontrunner-rollercoaster we saw in 2012 (we’re old enough to remember when Herman Cain led the field in national polls), but it’s probably not going to be a smooth ride either.

POPPING ON NBC POLITICS

The House panel probing the Benghazi attacks might not release its report until 2016, prompting complaints from Democrats that Hillary Clinton’s foes are politicizing it, Alex Moe reports.

Leigh Ann Caldwell looks into Scott Walker’s relationship with the Kochs.

The White House is stopping short of the term "genocide" to describe the massacre of up to 1.5 million Armenians a century ago.

First Read breaks down the money-in-politics stories to watch in the 2016 race.

CAMPAIGN QUICK READS

BUSH: He slammed Hillary Clinton for what he calls a flip-flop on a pending trade deal.

CLINTON: She’s reportedly launching grassroots organizing efforts in all 50 states.

PAUL: Rand Paul has missed a lot of Foreign Relations Committee meetings on days he found the time to be on TV, Buzzfeed reports.

O’MALLEY: He is shipping off to New Hampshire again next month, the Boston Globe reported.

FOR THE RECORD…

“How dare you insult my father!”

  • Ted Cruz’s retort to Austan Goolsbee during a college debate, according to a New York Times profile of the GOP presidential candidate.

TOMORROW’S SKED

Scott Walker speaks at the Minnesota Freedom Club dinner in Edina

Hillary Clinton gives the keynote address at the Women in the World Summit in New York City

Chelsea Clinton makes an appearance at a women’s rights event at the Council of Foreign Relations in New York.

Carly Fiorina’s Iowa barnstorm continues with events in Ames, Ottumwa and DeWitt.