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Republican Ben Carson confirmed during his speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference that he is ending his bid for the White House.

The famed neurosurgeon had implied he was dropping out on Wednesday after a disappointing Super Tuesday finish, and he skipped Thursday night's debate in his hometown of Detroit.

Not even the best political forecasters could have guessed that Donald Trump's hand and genitalia size would become 2016 presidential campaign topics. But they have, and it's thanks in large part to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

The GOP may be in the midst of an identity crisis, but the Democratic Party is also facing a political crisis that could be made a lot worse if it doesn't win the White House in November.

Here's why:

Part of President Obama's legacy is the health of his party. He's had many successes in office — health care reform, climate change regulations, Wall Street reform — but his legacy will also include one huge failure: a diminished Democratic Party.

Something is happening in the Republican Party that has not happened in living memory.

The party of unity, tradition, order and hierarchy is breaking apart over one man who personifies the concept of disruption.

Donald Trump's so-far inexorable advance toward the Republican presidential nomination has divided the party. This divide is not like the garden variety primary fights of recent cycles. It goes beyond the familiar squabbles of the party's postwar era (center versus right, moderate versus conservative, eastern versus western).

As hundreds of thousands of Arab and African migrants arrive in Europe, Spanish lawmakers meet to discuss the continent's crisis — and all eyes are on one woman. She's the only national politician whose skin is the same color as many of the African migrants crossing the Mediterranean to Spain. But she made a different journey from Africa.

"I was born in Equatorial Guinea when it was a Spanish colony," explains Rita Bosaho, Spain's first black member of parliament. "My parents died when I was very young, and I came to live with a foster family in Spain."

There's a first time for everything. That's certainly held true in this campaign dominated by Donald Trump.

And Republicans opposed to Trump are beginning to abandon the idea that Marco Rubio (or anyone else) can win a majority of delegates before the first round of balloting at this summer's GOP convention in Cleveland, where the party will officially pick its nominee.

Republican front-runner Donald Trump released a seven-point plan to change the country's health care system that includes several familiar GOP proposals and one that puts him in agreement with, believe it or not, Democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders.

The most recent Republican presidential nominee is taking shots at Donald Trump's fitness to be president.

And he's not mincing his words.

Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, called the current GOP front-runner "a phony, a fraud" in a speech Thursday morning in Salt Lake City. And he didn't stop there.

Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich meet Thursday in the 11th debate of this year's Republican presidential primary. It airs at 9 p.m. ET on Fox News.

It's the first forum since Trump won seven states on Super Tuesday, solidifying his status as the candidate to beat in the Republican field. It's also the first debate since last week's raucous insult-fest in Houston.

This year's South by Southwest festivals in Austin, Texas, will have more than the usual dose of Washington, D.C.

President Obama will be talking with the editor in chief of The Texas Tribune in an conversation that will open SXSW Interactive, while first lady Michelle Obama will deliver the keynote address for SXSW Music.

A day after he failed to crack 11 percent in any of the Super Tuesday presidential contests, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson appears to be effectively ending his campaign for president.

How would Donald Trump's most attention-grabbing promises become reality?

One answer came from one of the members of Congress who would face the task of actually enacting the promises. He's Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino, who recently became one of the first prominent Republicans to endorse Trump for president. Marino's answer: On one key issue, Trump doesn't literally mean what he says.

The results of the biggest voting day in the presidential contest thus far may not have been everything that front-runners Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton had hoped, but they were enough to set the course for the remainder of the nominating season.

And they were surely enough to intensify the pressure on their respective rivals.

Super Tuesday was a big night for both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. They each captured seven states in their respective Democratic and Republican races, extending leads over their remaining rivals.

PHOTOS: Scenes From Super Tuesday

Mar 1, 2016

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton scored big wins on Super Tuesday, after a day of voting in more than a dozen states. Scroll down for scenes from the day, from polling places and campaign events to candidate speeches at some unique venues.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

It's the biggest voting night yet this year: Voters went to the polls and caucus sites in 13 states Tuesday, with 1,460 delegates at stake. And while results are still coming in, it's already clear: It's a great night for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Even across the wide array of states — diverse and not, high-income and low-income, ideological and moderate — there are a few big trends that explain the results.

1. Trump's support was broad

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump notched big wins across the South on Super Tuesday as they extended their leads for their party's nomination.

On the Republican side, Trump has won seven states: Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, Vermont, Massachusetts and Georgia. Sen. Ted Cruz won his home state of Texas, eked out a surprise victory in Oklahoma and won the caucuses in Alaska. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio finally got his first outright win by taking the Minnesota caucuses.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., called out GOP candidate Donald Trump for insufficiently rebuking David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader, and his white supremacist politics.

"This is the kind of moment where we should be having a serious debate about the policies to restore the American idea. Instead the conversation over the last few days has been about white supremacists groups," he told reporters Tuesday after the weekly House GOP meeting.

Ryan has, for the most part, stayed out of presidential politics.

The big day is finally here — after tonight's Super Tuesday results, there will be a much clearer picture of how both the Republican and Democratic races could shake out. Will Donald Trump continue his dominance? Can Marco Rubio catch up? Can Ted Cruz rebound? Will Hillary Clinton roll through the South? Can Bernie Sanders bounce back after a devastating South Carolina loss?

If you want to understand Clinton's Super Tuesday strategy all you need to do is look at her travel schedule: Georgia, Arkansas, Tennessee and Monday in Massachusetts and Virginia.

In these states she's delivering a relatively new, more positive message. There's less drawing contrasts with her primary opponent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and more talk of "breaking down barriers" and "love and kindness."

The crux of Ted Cruz's campaign has long been mobilizing the Christian right to his side, working to galvanize enough evangelical voters to topple Donald Trump.

The Texas senator even launched his campaign at Liberty University, which claims to be the world's largest Christian college, declaring that "God isn't done with America yet."

After taking fire from all sides of the political spectrum for not condemning an endorsement from a white supremacist leader, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump blamed the incident on a "very bad earpiece" used in a cable news interview.

To understand how Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign is reacting to the candidate's gigantic loss in South Carolina's Democratic primary, it's important to understand how he reacted to another loss just a few weeks ago, in Iowa.

Hillary Clinton goes into Super Tuesday with a 26-pledged-delegate lead (91-65) over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. She also has a 433-superdelegate lead (453-20).

In crunching some numbers, an NPR analysis finds one very rosy scenario for Sanders in which he comes out with the majority of pledged delegates on Super Tuesday. This is considered unlikely, but it's his best possible day.

The phrase "Super Tuesday" first emerged in 1980, when three Southern states — Alabama, Florida and Georgia — held their primaries on the same day.

It grew to nine in 1984. But the modern-day Super Tuesday was born in 1988, when a dozen Southern states on the Democratic side, upset with the nomination of Walter Mondale four years earlier and frustrated with being out of power in the White House for 20 years save for one term of Jimmy Carter, banded together to try to nominate someone more moderate.

It backfired.

Politicians of all stripes have to sometimes contend with attracting supporters that don't quite fit the image they are trying to portray.

Donald Trump has received support in recent days from governors and a U.S. senator, but also a well-known white supremacist.

On the Sunday morning talk shows, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump refused to condemn endorsements from a prominent white supremacist and former KKK leader, and said he retweeted a Mussolini quote because "it's a very good quote."

More than a dozen states vote Tuesday, and almost 1,500 delegates are at stake. It's the biggest day of the 2016 presidential election, and it could be pivotal.

Seven Southern states are voting Tuesday — Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. That means on the Democratic side, black voters will play a pivotal role. (Six of those states, except Oklahoma, have significant black populations in Democratic primaries.) But for the GOP, those same Southern states mean a more socially conservative, more religious electorate.

With every state that voted in February, the contours of the 2016 presidential election changed. Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada all transformed the landscape in both parties.

On Saturday night, in South Carolina, the Earth moved once again. Hillary Clinton won, as expected, but the breadth and depth of her victory were breathtaking. She prevailed by more than 47 percentage points in the most populous state to vote thus far, winning by more than twice the margin of her loss to Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire on Feb. 9.

If Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz makes it to the White House, it will be historic — it would mean this country had its first ever Latino president.

Both have a Cuban background, but neither candidate can necessarily count on the support of Latino voters to win. That's because most Latinos in this country lean Democratic, even with no Latino candidate represented in the Democratic field.

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