Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
* Shortly after the first four presidential nominating contests, the so-called SEC Primary will take place on March 1, featuring primaries in, among other states, Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, and Tennessee. As for who's favored, Politico reports, "In interviews with more than two dozen party officials, political operatives and activists, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump were repeatedly named as front-runners and likely winners in one of the most conservative regions of the country."
* There's a very crowded race to replace John Boehner in his heavily Republican Ohio district. In a sign of the times, the establishment-backed candidate has already dropped out.
* Ted Cruz announced to a Tennessee audience that if he's elected president, he will withdraw the United States from the international climate agreement recently reached in Paris.
* In a bit of a surprise, Rep. Robert Hurt (R-Va.) announced yesterday that he'll retire at the end of this term, just six years into his congressional career. It's generally seen as a solidly Republican district, but note that Virginia's 5th used to be represented by Tom Perriello (D).
* The plans for the next Republican debate, hosted by the Fox Business Network, are still coming together, but it looks like the prime-time main stage may feature just six candidates, with John Kasich, Carly Fiorina, and Rand Paul being relegated to the kids table.
* As Rachel noted on the show the other day, former President George W. Bush participated in a private conference call with Jeb Bush's national finance team on Friday, and sounded optimistic. "I am very upbeat about our chances of winning," the former president inexplicably argued. "Jeb is a candidate who is peaking at the right time, I guess is the best way to put it. As we head into the actual voting season I feel very good about our chances."
* And while Donald Trump does not yet have any congressional endorsements -- he's the only prominent Republican with none -- Rep. David Rouzer (R-N.C.) conceded on a radio show late last week that he believes the New York developer is likely to prevail. "I think he'll be the nominee," Rouzer said, adding, "Trump's probably going to be president." To date, the freshman North Carolina Republican has not endorsed anyone from the GOP field.