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OFF TO THE RACES: What happens to Rubio’s delegates?

NBC's Ari Melber on the states where Marco Rubio's delegates won't be bound to vote for him. "When he suspended his campaign, Marco Rubio said he wasn't running for president but urged local GOP officials to let him keep his delegates… It turns out, however, that Rubio won't get to keep them all. The Florida senator's strategy is hitting some turbulence, NBC News has learned, because several state parties have determined Rubio does not get to hold onto all his delegates. Only 34 of the 172 delegates Rubio won in the primaries will be immediately up for grabs on the first ballot in Cleveland. That development is opening up a fierce competition to win these lapsed Rubio delegates, which are located in Oklahoma, Minnesota and Louisiana."

The New York Times, on tonight's Democratic debate: "If Mr. Sanders is to put to rest skepticism about his readiness for the presidency — and a lingering perception that he is chiefly a potent protest candidate — a commanding and fluent debate performance is an essential first step."

Via ABC: “Donald Trump ranks as the most unpopular top-tier presidential contender in more than 30 years of ABC News/Washington Post polls, trailing only former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke among presidential candidates in any election year since 1984.”

The AP: "While the White House hopefuls have been blanketing New York state for several days, holding rallies and mingling at local hangouts, Thursday's events are among the last high-profile opportunities they'll have to appeal to voters."

CRUZ: The Washington Post writes that Cruz "is effectively creating his own primary calendar, map and electorate in hopes of cobbling together enough support to prevent front-runner Donald Trump from clinching the nomination outright."

He hinted that he's already considering potential vice presidential candidates.

SANDERS: His campaign said 27,000 people attended his rally in Washington Square Park.

A pre-program speaker, health care reform activist Paul Song, has apologized for using the term "corporate Democratic whores" before Sanders' speech last night.

Tonight's debate could be his last big chance to shake up the race, POLITICO writes.

The Wall Street Journal writes that Sanders is taking some of the riskiest steps of his campaign by bashing both Clintons and leaving the trail for two days to go to a conference at the Vatican.

TRUMP: "Florida prosecutors will announce Thursday whether they plan to prosecute Donald Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, on a battery charge in connection with former Breitbart News Network reporter Michelle Fields, Fields said Wednesday."

The LA Times points out that Trump's objections about the primary system "feeds into a widespread misconception that political parties choose their White House nominees by popular vote."

He confused a crowd in Pittsburgh when he asked "How's Joe Paterno?" (Apparently he mean the statue, not the man.)

He met with Fox anchor Megyn Kelly yesterday.

Phil Rucker from the Washington Post rode the Staten Island Ferry to get a snapshot of what Trump supporters had to say.