Sen. Claire McCaskill Announces She Has Breast Cancer

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) announced on Monday afternoon that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

McCaskill, who delivered the news on her Tumblr account, explained that she will be receiving treatment in St. Louis over the course of the next three weeks, and will enter into official congressional record the votes she would have cast during her absence.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s courtroom chair was draped in black on February 16 to mark his death.

As Republicans and Democrats gird for a showdown over when and with whom to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the political question is which party will benefit from the battle. If a new survey is any indication, Republicans could end up sacrificing seats in the Senate if they refuse to allow a vote on President Barack Obama's nominee until after the elections in November.

The Democratic-leaning firm Public Policy Polling (PPP) released a survey Monday showing the political peril of objecting to any nominee Obama may put forward, as leading Senate Republicans have indicated they will do. The danger may be greatest for Republican senators up for reelection this year in purple states, including the subjects of the PPP survey, Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. Both senators have taken the position that the next president should appoint Scalia's replacement—and both have been attacked by their Democratic challengers for holding this stance. For Republicans, whose hopes of confirming a conservative replacement for Scalia next year could hinge on retaining control of the Senate, the poll results are bad news.

In both Ohio and Pennsylvania, a majority of voters want to see a new justice confirmed this year. Among Ohioans, 58 percent want to see a new justice this year, while 35 percent would prefer to wait. Pennsylvania residents feel the same way, by a 57 percent to 40 percent margin. As PPP notes, independent voters, who could sway a tight Senate race, are even more supportive of approving a replacement this year, by 70 percent to 24 percent in Ohio and 60 percent to 37 percent in Pennsylvania.

In both states, 52 percent of respondents said they were less likely to reelect their current senator if the senator refuses to confirm any replacement no matter whom is nominated. Only 25 percent said a blanket refusal to confirm an Obama nominee would make them more likely to vote for reelection. Among independents, again, the numbers are even worse for Portman and Toomey.

The battle over Scalia's replacement is just getting started, and voters are still making up their minds about it. Both parties, as well as outside groups, are only beginning their public campaigns for and against an Obama nominee. But for Republicans hoping to hold onto the Senate—which would require the reelection of Republican senators in states such as New Hampshire, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Illinois, as well as Ohio and Pennsylvania—this is a first indication that obstructing a vote on the president's Supreme Court pick may take a political toll.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich caused a stir on Monday when he made comments that initially appeared to suggest his women supporters were leaving the kitchen to back him.

"How did I get elected?" said the Republican presidential candidate at a campaign event. "I didn't have anybody for me. We just got an army of people, and many women who left their kitchens to go out and to go door to door to put up yard signs for me."

That quote made the rounds on social media. But it appears to have been taken out of context. NBC News' Kailani Koenig reported:

Still, a woman in the crowd didn't take well to Kasich's remark. She told him that she would still come out to support him but would not do so from her kitchen.

"I gotcha," Kasich replied.

Kasich's campaign later responded to the outcry over the statement:

This story has been updated to include the full context of the quote.

106-year-old Virginia McLaurin had always dreamed of visiting the White House, and last week she finally got her chance. 

"It's an honor!" McLaurin told Obama, with both of her arms raised in excitement as she met the president. The moment was captured in a heartwarming video shared by the White House.

As McLaurin made her way to be introduced to the first lady, Obama can be heard jokingly telling her to "slow down." As the three embraced each other, the group spontaneously started to dance with joy.

"I want to be like you when I grow up!" Michelle said.

"You can!" McLaurin replied.

Dance Party with 106-year-old Virginia McLaurin

What's the secret to still dancing at 106? Watch 106-year-old Virginia McLaurin fulfill her dream of visiting the White House and meeting President Obama. #BlackHistoryMonth

Posted by The White House on Sunday, February 21, 2016

McLaurin launched a social media campaign over a year ago to help fulfill her lifelong goal to visit 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and meet the Obamas. Her visit was perfectly timed for Black History Month.

"I never thought I'd live to see a colored president," she said in a YouTube video posted in 2014. "I'm so happy."

Hillary Clinton, left, greets supporters with her husband and former President Bill Clinton at a Nevada Democratic caucus rally.

Hillary Clinton appears to have eked out a win in the Nevada Democratic caucuses on Saturday. With more than half of precincts reporting, the networks called this third contest of the 2016 Democratic primary in Clinton's favor around 5 p.m. ET.

Bernie Sanders kept it close, but Clinton performed well in Las Vegas' Clark County, especially among minority voters, helping the former secretary of state hang on for the victory.

Sanders congratulated Clinton on her win, but framed the close results as something of a victory for his campaign, which was far behind in the state until the past week.

And in case you were wondering, there were no coin flips. There were, however, the far more reasonable games of high card.

I was supposed to be writing a wrap-up piece about the South Carolina Republican primary this afternoon, but an attack of writers' block led me to more inspiring territory: the compilation of the (mostly) complete music playlists of every candidate I've seen speak over the last two weeks, in New Hampshire and now South Carolina. Shazam: It's every political reporter's best friend.

This list is incomplete, and can change a lot depending on the candidate's audience or the whims of the artist (heaven forbid Rachel Platten decides to endorse Bernie Sanders). I don't ascribe any deeper meaning to these musical selections either, although suffice it to say there is a pretty big difference between Sanders and Hillary Clinton, and for that matter, between Donald Trump and everyone else.

See for yourself.

Hillary Clinton:

  • Jill Scott, "Run, Run, Run"
  • Mary J. Blige, "Real Love"
  • Katy Perry, "Roar"
  • Kelly Clarkson, "Stronger"
  • American Authors, "Best Day of My Life"
  • Bon Jovi, "We Weren't Born to Follow"
  • Pharrell, "Happy"
  • Rachel Platten, "Fight Song"

Bernie Sanders:

  • Simon and Garfunkel, "America"
  • Janelle Monae, "Tightrope"
  • Pearl Jam, "Lightning Bolt"
  • Bob Marley, "Revolution"
  • Disco Infernor, "The trammps"
  • Muse, "Uprising"
  • John Lennon, "Power to the People!"
  • Tracy Chapman, "Talkin' bout a Revolution"
  • Steve Earle, "The Revolution Starts Now"
  • Neil Young, "Rockin' the Free World"

John Kasich:

  • Florida Georgia Line, "Round Here"
  • Zak Brown Band, "Jump Right In"
  • Darius Rucker, "Wagon Wheel"
  • Jake Owen, "Anywhere With You"
  • Diekes Bentley, "Free & Easy"
  • Rodney Atkins, "It's America"
  • John Fogerty, "Centerfield"
  • Eric Paslay, "Friday Night"

Marco Rubio:

  • Kid Rock, "Born Free"
  • Montgomery Gentry, "This is My Town"
  • Darius Rucker, "Homegrown Honey"
  • MercyMe, "Greater"
  • Eric Church, "Springsteen"

Donald Trump:

  • Elton John, "Tiny Dancer"
  • The Beatles, "Hey Jude"
  • The Beatles, "Revolution"
  • Rolling Stones, "Can't Always Get What You Want"
  • Rolling Stone, "Sympathy for the Devil"
  • Rolling Stone, "Brown sugar"
  • Adele, "Rolling in the deep"*
  • Twisted Sister, "We're not Gonna Take It"
  • Danude, "Sandstorm"

Jeb Bush:

  • Of Monsters and Men, "Dirty Paws"
  • Blake Shelton, "Hillbilly Bone"
  • Billy Currington, "That's How Country Boys Roll"

Ted Cruz:

*Pulled at request of the artist.

When Bernie Sanders was a 21-year-old University of Chicago undergrad, he was arrested for resisting arrest at a 1963 anti-segregation protest on the South Side. As we've reported, the Vermont senator was a civil rights activist in college, leading his campus chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality in sit-ins on and off campus. He also attended the 1963 March on Washington. Now, the Chicago Tribune has unearthed a photo of the young presidential candidate being hauled away by police that same year. 

Check it out:

Donald Trump ended his final campaign rally of the South Carolina primary Friday night with a story about a four-star general, Muslim insurgents, and bullets dunked in pig blood. Forty minutes into his address at a not-quite-full convention center in North Charleston, after mocking Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's lack of enthusiasm for waterboarding, the Republican presidential front-runner told the crowd that he wanted to share an anecdote he'd heard about General John Pershing.

"General Pershing was a rough guy," Trump said. He explained that during the early 1900s, when the general was battling Muslim insurgents in the US-controlled Philippines, he decided to make a point:

He caught 50 terrorists who did tremendous damage…and he took the 50 terrorists and he took 50 men and dipped 50 bullets in pig's blood. You heard about that? He took 50 bullets and dipped them in pig's blood [which is considered haram]. And he has his men load up their rifles and he lined up the 50 people and they shot 49 of those people. And the 50th person, he said, you go back to your people and you tell them what happened. And for 25 years there wasn't a problem.

"We've got to start getting tough and we've got to start being vigilant and we've got to start using our heads or we're not gonna have a country, folks," Trump concluded.

Snopes, the online mythbuster, classifies the Pershing tale—which is popular on the right—as a "legend." "We haven't eliminated the possibility…but so far all we've turned up are several different accounts with nothing that documents Pershing's involvement," it explains.

But a lack of evidence has never stopped Trump, especially when it comes to the anti-Islam invective that has helped keep him atop the polls in South Carolina. His proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States is hugely popular among Republicans; a recent survey of his supporters found that just 44 percent believed Islam should even be legal. So with his candidacy on the line, he's sticking with what got him to this point.

Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson told conservative voters in South Carolina on Friday that "godly" Sen. Ted Cruz offered them the best chance at preventing the United States from becoming "hell on Earth."

Appearing at a packed theater at the College of Charleston, Cruz was accompanied by a squad of conservative favorites the day before voters hit the polls in the critical South Carolina Republican presidential primary. This group of Cruz backers included Rush Limbaugh's brother, David, and Rep. Mark Sanford, who was once governor of the state and famously caused a scandal when he disappeared to see a mistress but told his staff he was hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Yet it was Robertson the audience came to see; some supporters even brought their own duck calls. Robertson tried to take front-runner Donald Trump down a notch by showing that Cruz has a reality television star of his own in his corner and, more important, God on his side.

Robertson's endorsement of Cruz could almost fit in a tweet. As Fox News host Sean Hannity interviewed Cruz on the stage, Robertson, clutching a Bible, walked up in camo attire and declared, "I'm for Cruz because you see this in my hand? Bibles and guns brought us here. And it will be Bibles and guns that keeps us here. And this man owns them both." Then Robertson picked up his camo backpack and walked back through the curtains.

About 15 minutes later, Robertson returned to the stage and read aloud from a book about presidents who pray. Prayer was the reason the United States won its independence, he explained, and it might be the only thing that could save the nation from its current fate. He expanded on his previous pitch for Cruz. "You say, 'Phil, you either got mighty lucky or God blessed you,'" he said. "But you know something, South Carolina? Can all the money the money I evvvvver make, can it remove your sin, South Carolina? That money? What about all this fame I received—will it raise me from the dead? That's why I follow Jesus. That's why I vote for people who follow Jesus."

Robertson continued: "We went with the atheists beginning about 50 years ago, and we've almost created in America a hell on Earth. Vote godly. I love you, and I love God. It's the only way to roll."

Cruz embraced Robertson warmly. In the past few days, Cruz has suggested that if he were elected president, he would nominate Utah tea party Sen. Mike Lee to the Supreme Court and ask Trump to build a wall on the Mexican border. Now he told the crowd there might also be a place for Robertson in his administration. "Can you imagine Phil Robertson as ambassador to the United Nations?" Cruz asked. "How much would you pay to see that?"

As the South Carolina contest hurdles toward its conclusion—and after Cruz has spent months hammering his opponents (especially Marco Rubio) on immigration—he is pushing a more fundamental message to voters on his final swing through the state: Vote for Cruz so that he can bring God back to America.

Cruz finished the event with a prayer. "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways," Cruz said, reciting from memory 2 Chronicles 7:14, "then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sins."

The audience knew the rest and finished the prayer with him: "And I will heal their land."

By the way, here's a commercial that Robertson made with Cruz a few weeks ago:

While Sen. Ted Cruz was firing up conservatives at an arena in Greenville, South Carolina, on Thursday night, someone—presumably a supporter of Donald Trump—was leaving copies of a racist far-right newsletter on the windshields of cars parked outside the venue. Here's the front page:

The Conservative Action Report appears to be affiliated with the South Carolina Conservative Action Council, which "proudly" defends the "Confederate South" and the Confederate flag. (This weekend, the group will hold an event to commemorate the Union army's "satanic" attack on Charleston.) One front-page story in the newsletter is headlined "Is Barack Obama a Muslim?" Another is called "Blacks and the Confederacy—the story the leftist mass media will never tell." An op-ed in the newsletter refers to Gov. Nikki Haley by her birth name, Nimrada Randhawa, and attacks her for her "Stalinesque" decision to remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds after last year's mass shooting in Charleston.

The newsletter, which endorses Trump and hails his proposed wall along the Mexican border, also slams Cruz (on trade) and Marco Rubio (on immigration).

The South Carolina Republican primary this year has so far been bereft of the slanderous whisper campaigns that have marked elections of the past in the Palmetto State. And this isn't exactly a "dirty trick." But it is a glimpse of the far extreme of the Trump coalition, which may well carry the Muslim-bashing tycoon to victory on Saturday.