The Note: Trump on the Stump


--RUBIO LAUGHS OFF TRUMP QUESTIONS ABOUT HIS ELIGIBILITY TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT: After a second place finish in South Carolina's Republican primary, Marco Rubio laughed off a suggestion by Donald Trump that the Florida senator may not be eligible to run for president. “I’m gonna spend zero time on his interpretation of the Constitution with regards to eligibility and I’m gonna spend all my time talking about what this campaign should be about,” Rubio said yesterday on ABC’s "This Week." (On Saturday Trump retweeted a Twitter user's claim that Rubio is ineligible to be president). When asked about the retweet, Trump said in a separate interview on "This Week" he had never looked into Rubio's eligibility and was only starting a dialogue, ABC’s INES DE LA CUETARA reports. “This is a pattern, this is a game he plays," said Rubio. "He says something that’s edgy and outrageous, and then the media flocks and covers that and then no one else can get any coverage on anything else.”

--ANALYSIS -- ABC’s RICK KLEIN: With only three contests down on both sides, both frontrunners are stronger than they seem – and for opposite reasons when it comes to delegate math. The Democrats award delegates proportionally throughout the process, making it easy for two candidates to pick up delegates, but not easy at all to easily overcome a lead once it’s built. Add the set-to-grow Hillary Clinton pledged-delegate lead to her dominance among superdelegates, and it gets harder – and fast – for Bernie Sanders to catch up. On the Republican side, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have landed on the same talking point: that 70 percent of Republicans are consistently choosing someone other than Donald Trump. That might benefit a non-Trump candidate, particularly as winner-take-all states begin to vote March 15 – except there’s still too many of those candidates. Cruz’s home state of Texas votes March 1, while Rubio’s Florida and John Kasich’s Ohio go on March 15 – will there be any incentive for any of them to get out of the race until then? Conversely, Trump wins in those states could effectively end those candidacies, just as the larger bounties of winner-take-all states begin to come available. A messy field benefits the frontrunner on the Republican side – in this case, Trump.

TODAY ON THE TRAIL with ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: Donald Trump holds a late evening rally in Las Vegas today. Marco Rubio stops in rural Elko, Nevada (which will also get a visit from Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, Jr. today) followed by events in Reno and Minden tonight. Ted Cruz holds three rallies starting this afternoon in Vegas before heading over to Elko and then Reno tonight. John Kasich is not in Nevada, but Virginia. Ben Carson remains in the race. He is in Nevada today with two town halls. This afternoon he's in Virginia City and tonight he's in the Vegas suburb of Henderson.  On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders is also focused on Super Tuesday with a rally in Amherst, Massachusetts. Clinton is off the trail fundraising in California, but her husband is stumping for her in delegate-rich Texas. He holds a "get out the vote event" this afternoon in Laredo and a rally this evening in Dallas.


THE END OF JEB!: INSIDE THE DEMISE OF THE ONE-TIME FRONTRUNNER. On a sweltering day in Miami last June, surrounded by a diverse group of supporters, Jeb Bush announced his candidacy for president of the United States. "My message will be an optimistic one," Bush promised. In a remarkable turn of events, eight months later, Bush -- the son and brother of presidents -- suspended his campaign, flanked by his tearful wife and youngest son. But in a race for the GOP  nomination marked by tumult and change, one thing had not: His message. "I committed that I would campaign as I would serve," Bush said, repeating almost word for word a line from that very first speech. "Going everywhere, speaking to everyone, keeping my word, facing the issues without flinching and staying true to what I believe." Bush famously said in December 2014 that Republicans might have to be willing to "lose the primary to win the general without violating your principles." He seemed to do just that. In countless town hall meetings, conversations with voters and interviews with the media, Bush defended policies, some of which were anathema to the Republican Party. ABC’s CANDACE SMITH takes a look at how it all happened:

REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK: THE MOST INTERESTING MOMENTS COVERING JEB BUSH. Regardless of his successes and failures as a candidate and irrespective of his policies, Jeb Bush was a fun guy to cover. He treated the media with respect, and his staff, ever the consummate professionals, made the candidate accessible, holding press availabilities several times a week. And Bush himself, much to the chagrin of his communications department, was physically unable to not answer a question posed to him. His candor, dry sense of humor, and penchant for joking with the reporters who covered him made the jobs of the traveling press interesting, to say the least. Here are a few of the most interesting moments covering Bush, courtesy of ABC’s CANDACE SMITH:

CRUZ SAYS HE ‘EFFECTIVELY TIED’ RUBIO IN SOUTH CAROLINA. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said he "effectively tied" Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for second place in South Carolina's Republican primary, as the two senators were separated by a little more than 1,000 votes, but both finished far behind front-runner Donald Trump. Despite only winning one of the early voting states so far, Cruz believes his combined results show he is the “only one strong conservative remaining in this race who can win” the Republican presidential nomination, ABC’s ADRIENNE SALAZAR writes. "Our game plan from day one was do well in the first four states and consolidate conservatives to go forward into Super Tuesday,” Cruz said Sunday on "This Week." “I think we're positioned ideally to do exactly that.”

TRUMP TAKES OWNERSHIP OF REPUBLICAN PARTY. Donald Trump now owns the Republican party. The only question left is whether what’s left of the GOP establishment can winnow the field fast enough to take it back, ABC’s RICK KLEIN writes. South Carolina reveals a three-way Republican race -- with six candidates in it. Pressure will be enormous for all but Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz to exit before it’s too late for the party to block Trump. What Trump has established himself, though, cannot and should not be ignored. He has mocked, taunted and threatened the party establishment on his way to his undisputed front-runner status. Despite all that – and maybe because of it – Trump romped in Saturday’s South Carolina primary. He’s done it by bringing the party along to his positions.

DANNY GLOVER ‘FEELING THE BERN’ IN SOUTH CAROLINA. Actor Danny Glover introduced Bernie Sanders at a large rally in Greenville, South Carolina, Sunday night. Glover endorsed Sanders earlier this month, but this appearance onstage was his first side-by-side with the Vermont senator. "What a moment, what a moment," Glover said as he took the stage. "You can feel the Bern, don't you feel it?" Coming off a loss in the Nevada caucuses Saturday, the Sanders campaign staff is now bracing for back-to-back losses, as the the Vermont senator continues to lag behind Hillary Clinton in the polls in South Carolina, which holds the nation's next primary on Saturday. Their hope is to exceed expectations here, especially with the African American vote, which so far has largely and almost uniformly backed Clinton. ABC’s MARYALICE PARKS has more.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT -- HERE’S WHAT HAPPENED IN SOUTH CAROLINA AND NEVADA: To see how the players from both parties fared, here's a look at some of the highlights from Saturday, courtesy of ABC’s ALI DUKAKIS and TOM THORNTON. AND ABC’s PAOLA CHAVEZ highlights some of the best lines from Saturday night’s victory and concession speeches:


@scottwongDC: New @MarcoRubio endorsements: FL Reps. @RosLehtinen, @MarioDB & @RepCurbelo; NV @RepHardy; NC @SenThomTillis & @TimPawlenty

@TheBradMielke: Donald Trump lost two counties in South Carolina: Charleston & Richland. But they didn't break for Cruz -- Rubio won both. #SCPrimary

@matthewjdowd: Folks you want to know why I have understood Trump phenomenon: grew up with many Trump voters in Detroit, have six working class brothers

@CNNPolitics: Republican rivals race to win Jeb Bush's billionaires 

@amyewalter: What NV/SC mean going forward: Hillary has firewall, Bernie has a ceiling: Trump= solid frontrunner, can Rubio win?