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Morning Reads: The Next Nominating Contests Are Tomorrow; Super PACs More Hands On in Campaigns

A roundup of some of the stories we're reading at BillMoyers.com HQ...

Morning Reads: Super PACs Get More Hands On in Campaigns

Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hilly Clinton (C) meets with service workers at Caesars Palace Las Vegas Hotel and Casino on February 18, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. With two days to go before the democratic caucuses in Nevada, Hillary Clinton is campaigning in Las Vegas. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The next nominating contests –> On Saturday, Republicans will head to polling places in South Carolina and Democrats to caucus locations in Nevada to choose a winning presidential candidate. NPR’s Mara Liasson has five things to keep an eye on.

Multi-tasking –> Believing that television ads may not be the best use of their cash, super PACs are trying on new roles in the 2016 primaries, writes Byron Tau at The Wall Street Journal. Super PAC staffers are going door to door, canvassing for candidates, and conducting opposition research — tasks that were formerly carried out by the campaigns themselves. Unlike super PACs, however, campaigns are not free to accept unlimited sums from wealthy donors to fund these efforts.

AND: In a recent report, the Campaign Finance Institute finds that “Million-Dollar Donors Gave 24% of Money for all candidates and their Super PACs, 42% for Cruz, 38% for Rubio.”

The Pope vs. The Donald –> The BBC: “The Pope has questioned US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s Christianity over his call to build a border wall with Mexico. Pope Francis said ‘a person who thinks only about building walls… and not of building bridges, is not Christian.’ The New York businessman supports deporting nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants.” The Donald issued a typically Trumpian rebuttal. Alan Rappeport at The New York Times has details.

AND: FiveThirtyEight reminds us, “The Pope Is Way More Popular Than Donald Trump.” ALSO: The Washington Post’s Jenna Johnson and Philip Rucker point out that the pontiff  is only the latest of many world leaders to denounce the Trump phenomenon.

Why President Obama won’t attend Scalia’s funeral –> The decision seems to be in accord with the family of the associate justice’s wishes, writes Nolan McCaskill at Politico: “Obama’s decision to skip the funeral puzzled both allies and critics, especially because the president is facing a fierce fight with the Senate over the confirmation of Scalia’s replacement. However, people close to the Scalia family said Obama was making the right choice and that the Friday ceremony at the Supreme Court was the better place for Obama to pay his respects.”

No dissenters –> Tierney Sneed at TPM: “If any Republican senator is thinking about defecting from the GOP’s tough line on blocking a Supreme Court nomination until next year, then let them be warned. Outside conservative groups are preparing to go to war over who should get to pick a replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia, who died unexpectedly over the weekend, and they don’t want to see even a hearing considering the nominee President Obama has vowed to put forward.”

Skepticism and tribalism –> Many left-of-center economists have closed ranks on Bernie Sanders, writes Neil Irwin at The New York Times. They argue that his policies won’t create the economic benefits he predicts: “Behind closed doors, among the left-of-center policy types who populate the congressional offices, executive agencies and think tanks of Washington, I’ve seen enough eye rolls when Mr. Sanders’s name comes up to suspect something more tribal is going on. The wonkosphere vs. Bernie clash is not just a story of center-left versus left-left. It is also a clash between those who have been in the trenches of trying to make public policy for the last seven years versus those who can exist in a kind of theoretical world of imagining what public policy ought to be.”

Guess who wrote this –> “The senator [Bernie Sanders] is upset with a political and economic system that is often rigged to help the privileged few at the expense of everyone else, particularly the least advantaged. He believes that we have a two-tiered society that increasingly dooms millions of our fellow citizens to lives of poverty and hopelessness. He thinks many corporations seek and benefit from corporate welfare while ordinary citizens are denied opportunities and a level playing field. I agree with him.” Answer: Charles Koch.

Oops –> Congressman David Scott, Democrat from Georgia, was caught “literally plagiarizing a lobbyist” from the payday loans industry. He gave himself away when he uttered the words “They’ve all received positive feedback from our borrowers.” The Huffington Post’s Zach Carter and Ben Walsh explain: “As a member of Congress, David Scott doesn’t have any borrowers. But Richard Hunt, the top lobbyist for the Consumer Bankers Association, represents plenty of companies that do. Scott, it turns out, was basically reading from 2013 testimony that Hunt gave to the Senate without disclosing his source.”

“Day Without Latinos” –> Thousands of Latinos mobilized in Madison, Wisconsin, yesterday to oppose two pieces of legislation, one preventing the establishment of sanctuary cities and the other preventing cities from issuing identification to people — including undocumented immigrants — who cannot obtain a state ID. An estimated 14,000 gathered outside the statehouse and another 1,500 occupied it inside. Daniel Rivero reports for Fusion.

At last –> The Porter Gas Leak, which for months spewed methane and other compounds into the atmosphere, sickening nearby residents and contributing hugely to climate change, has been plugged. Alice Walton, Hailey Branson-Potts and Louis Sahagun report for the Los Angeles Times.

Worse than a stopped clock –> The Washington Post’s Paul Fahri has a delightful account of the faulty predictions made by perennially wrong conservative Bill Kristol (including two lengthy paragraphs listing diverse screw ups big and small). “The larger question about Kristol is how much it matters that he’s been wrong as often as he has been. Stock-market columnists, weather forecasters and horse-racing touts might never survive so many blown calls. But Kristol hasn’t just survived his errant predictions, he’s thrived.”

Today’s Morning Reads was compiled by John Light and edited by Michael Winship. See a story that you think should be included in Morning Reads? Tell us in the comments!

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