Welcome to THE TRAIL 2016, your daily rundown from The Hill on all the latest news in the White House, Senate and House races. 

The Democratic presidential race kicked into a new, hostile gear Thursday as the day dealt with the fallout of Bernie Sanders’s accusation that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe 'Palmetto Promise': South Carolina will decide the race Alabama Senate contender hits Sessions in new ad: 'Hillary still ain't in jail' Worries grow as moderates split Democratic vote MORE is not “qualified” to be president. 

Sanders doubled down on those comments, first made during a late Wednesday night rally, again on Thursday at a press conference, where he characterized himself as fighting back against what he said were insinuations by Clinton. His campaign manager later went on to accuse the Clintons of running a “smear campaign.” 

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Clinton’s campaign denied that anyone had challenged Sanders’ qualifications and she didn’t directly respond during a Thursday morning interview, instead arguing that she’d rather have Sanders as president instead of any of the Republican challengers. President Obama came to her defense, lauding her qualifications to serve as president. 

It’s all a cap to a contentious week on the Democratic side that’s included repeated attacks from the Clinton campaign and its allies centered on alleged missteps by Sanders during a recent interview with the New York Daily News

Head on over to The Hill tonight, tomorrow and throughout the weekend for more campaign news relating to the heated Democratic and Republican races and efforts to capture the vote and the all-important delegates.

 

RACE TO 1600 PENN 

Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonDemocrats' choice: Unite or go down to defeat Biden says he has to do 'really well' in South Carolina Klobuchar says English should not be US national language, reversing from prior vote MORE FACES PROTESTERS: The Hill’s Ben Kamisar reports: President Clinton took on repeated criticism from Black Lives Matter supporters during a campaign stop in Philadelphia who took issue with his support of the 1990s crime bill. 

NEW YORK VALUES UNDER ATTACK: The Hill’s Harper Neidig reports: John Kasich targets Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCruz 'impresses' his daughter with Chris Evans meeting Three Senate primaries to watch on Super Tuesday The advantage of paying for medical care directly MORE with a new ad on Cruz’s “New York values” comment. Cruz said Thursday he doesn’t regret that comment.   

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NOT HELPING, ORRIN: The Hill’s Naomi Jagonda reports: Republican Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchTimeline: Trump and Romney's rocky relationship Key Republicans say Biden can break Washington gridlock Trump awards Medal of Freedom to racing industry icon Roger Penske MORE apparently hasn’t gotten the memo from the Speaker’s office as he floated the possibility of Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan says Biden likely won't get Democratic nomination Judd Gregg: Honey, I Shrunk The Party The Hill's Morning Report — Dems detail case to remove Trump for abuse of power MORE being drafted to run for president at the GOP convention, despite Ryan’s repeated attempts to quash those rumors.    

REMEMBER ME?: The Hill’s Sylvan Lane reports: Former GOP White House hopeful Rick Santorum isn’t interested in endorsing a candidate and called the GOP race “wide open.” 

LASER FOCUS: The Hill’s Lisa Hagen reports: Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump administration eyes proposal to block jet engine sales to China: report Trump takes track to open Daytona 500 Brazile 'extremely dismayed' by Bloomberg record MORE has cancelled a rally in California so that he can focus on running up the score in New York. 

SCHOOL’S OUT: The Hill’s Rebecca Savransky reports: New York City students threatened a walkout if Ted Cruz visited their school, promoting the candidate to cancel his visit.  

 

ODDS AND ENDS: 

OY VEY: The Hill's Tim Devaney Reports: Trump Vodka, which is popular in Israel, where it is marketed as a kosher drink for Passover, does not live up to its billing, according to a report in the Jerusalem Post. The newspaper found that many bottles on store shelves are not, in fact, kosher.

A LAUGHING MATTER: The Hill’s Devin Henry reports: Hillary Clinton laughed off concerns from an anti-fracking activist who asked her to reject future donations from the hydraulic fracturing industry. 

WHO AMONG US: The Hill’s Jesse Byrnes: Ben Carson fumbled through an interview on CNN as a Donald Trump surrogate, defending Trump’s chief of staff’s battery charge by noting that the anchors had probably faced charges themselves.   

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE DELEGATES: NBC News reports: Donald Trump might have won Arizona, but Ted Cruz is angling on the local level to ensure that many of Trump’s delegates actually are loyal to him.

 

POLL POSITION 

BAD MOOD RISING: The Hill’s Jessie Hellmann reports: A new poll from the Associated Press has Donald Trump with a 70 percent unfavorable rating.  And another showed that one-third of GOP Virginian voters would not back him in a general. 

NOT SO WHITE KNIGHT: The Hill’s Harper Neidig reports: Paul Ryan may still face an uphill battle if he decided to run for president as the party’s white knight, as a new poll shows him losing a general election to both Hillary Clinton and Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocrats redefine center as theirs collapses Speculation swirls around whether Bloomberg will make Las Vegas debate stage Pelosi: 'I'm not counting Joe Biden out' MORE

TRUMP TOPS TERRAPINS: The Hill’s Rebecca Savransky reports: Donald Trump is up 10 points in Maryland over John Kasich with Ted Cruz in third place. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is up on Bernie Sanders by 15 points.

 

THE DAILY TRUMP 

VOTE FOR THE LOCAL BOY: The Hill’s Harper Niedig reports: Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani will vote for Donald Trump in this month’s primary. 

VICE PRESIDENTIAL INTRIGUE: The Hill’s Julian Hattem reports: Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsAlabama Senate contender hits Sessions in new ad: 'Hillary still ain't in jail' Barr back on the hot seat McCabe: 'I don't think I will ever be free of this president and his maniacal rage' MORE told reporters not to bet on him serving as Donald Trump’s vice president despite repeated rumors.   

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY 

“Any New Yorker who even thinks of voting for Ted Cruz should have their head examined.”

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--Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.), blasting Cruz, who upset many New Yorkers after chiding Donald Trump’s “New York values.” Cruz has said he was only referring to the values of the liberal politicians running the state.

 

CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGNS 

GOOD LUCK WITH THAT: The Hill’s Peter Sullivan reports: A leading anti-abortion group is calling on California Attorney General Kamala Harris to resign and end her Senate campaign after her office raided the home of anti-abortion videomaker David Daleiden.   

GOP LOOKS GOOD IN PA: The Hill’s Lisa Hagen reports: Sen. Patrick ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyNSA improperly collected US phone records in October, new documents show Overnight Defense: Pick for South Korean envoy splits with Trump on nuclear threat | McCain blasts move to suspend Korean military exercises | White House defends Trump salute of North Korean general WH backpedals on Trump's 'due process' remark on guns MORE leads both leading Democratic challengers in hypothetical general election matchups.

 

MONEY WATCH 

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TAKE OUT THE CHECKBOOK: The Hill’s Lisa Hagen reports: The Democratic House Majority PAC has reserved an additional round of television spending in Chicago; Duluth, Minn.; Lansing, Mich.; Minneapolis; and Washington, D.C. On top of spending from last week, that brings the reservations to $12 million.

 

WHAT WE ARE WATCHING FOR TODAY AND TOMORROW AND THE WEEKEND:

(All times Eastern) 

President Bill Clinton campaigns for Hillary Clinton in Scranton, Pa., today at  5:15 p.m. On Friday, she’ll hold a roundtable on “Growing jobs and raising incomes” in Buffalo, N.Y.,. at noon; a campaign event in Buffalo at 2 p.m. and one in Rochester at 6 p.m. President Clinton campaigns for her in  Erie, Pa., at 10:15 a.m. Friday. 

John Kasich holds a v\Veterans town hall in Brooklyn, N.Y., at 7 p.m. today, joined by former talk show host (and veteran) Montel Williams. On Friday, he holds town halls in Fairfield, Conn. , at noon and in Syracuse at 6 p.m. On Saturday, he’ll hold town halls in Rochester, N.Y. at 11 a.m. and  in New Rochelle at 4 p.m. He’ll be the special guest at the Rockland County GOP Lincoln Day Victory Ball at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in Pearl River, N.Y. 

Ted Cruz will be a guest on “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox News at 8 p.m. today. He will be the only Republican presidential candidate to address the Colorado State GOP Convention in Colorado Springs on Saturday (time not specified). 

Ted Cruz and Ohio Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanGOP senators offering bill to cement business provision in Trump tax law Mnuchin defends Treasury regulations on GOP tax law Bipartisan lawmakers introduce bill to combat cyberattacks on state and local governments MORE are among the confirmed speakers for this weekend’s Republican Jewish Coalition’s Spring meeting, which runs Friday through Sunday. 

Colorado Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetToward 'Super Tuesday' — momentum, money and delegates Trump seeks split-screen moments in early primary states Sanders calls James Carville 'a political hack' MORE holds an evening fundraiser with Vice President Biden on Friday in Denver.

 

TWEET OF THE DAY

 

Write us with tips, suggestions and news: Jonathan Easley, Ben KamisarJonathan Swan, Lisa Hagen. 

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