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    Warplanes carried out Sunday air raids on two villages in northern Syria as Russia said a northern town held by a predominantly Kurdish militia came under fire from the Turkish side of the border, NBC News reported.

    The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the airstrikes hit the villages of Daret Azzeh and Qobtan al-Jabal. The group did not say whether the warplanes were Russian or Syrian, but the Local Coordination Committees said the warplanes were Russian.

    The air raids came on the second day of a cease-fire brokered by Russia and the U.S., to curb the violence of the country's five-year civil war. 

    It was not immediately clear if the warplanes struck areas controlled by al-Qaeda's branch in Syria, known as the Nusra Front. Both the Nusra Front and the Islamic State group are excluded from the truce.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    In this file photo, Syrians stand on the debris of a building after the war crafts belonging to the Russian army carried out airstrikes on the residential areas in the opposition controlled Meshed district of Aleppo, Syria on February 5, 2016.In this file photo, Syrians stand on the debris of a building after the war crafts belonging to the Russian army carried out airstrikes on the residential areas in the opposition controlled Meshed district of Aleppo, Syria on February 5, 2016.

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    Just two days before what Ted Cruz said "could well be the most important day of the entire primary process," the Texas senator ratcheted up his attacks on GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump on Sunday by raising questions about the businessman's refusal to release his tax returns.

    "The fact that Donald seems terrified to release his taxes suggests that there's a bombshell there," Cruz said on Meet the Press. "Maybe it is the case that Donald -- there have been multiple media reports about Donald's business dealings with the mob, with the mafia."

    Pressed on his claim about possible mafia ties, Cruz pointed to "multiple" news stories about Trump's "dealings with, for example, S&A Construction, which was owned by 'Fat Tony' Salerno, who is a mobster who is in jail. It is owned by two of the major New York crime families. And that has been reported in multiple media outlets." 



    Photo Credit: Getty Images
    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.

    Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) finished first and second in the Nevada GOP caucuses on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016.Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) finished first and second in the Nevada GOP caucuses on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016.

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     A 22-year-old man is dead after a stabbing early Sunday morning in Waterbury.

    Police were called to 315 Baldwin St. at 4:25 a.m. on calls for a disturbance.

    When they arrived, they learned that the victim, Ricardo Medina, was walking down Baldwin St. when he was stabbed once in the chest and once in the side.

    Medina was transported to St. Mary's Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

    The investigation is still active at this time.


    Police responded to 315 Baldwin Street where they found the victim suffering from two stab wounds.Police responded to 315 Baldwin Street where they found the victim suffering from two stab wounds.

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    A Maine man was killed in a motorcycle crash on Route 17 in Durham Sunday afternoon.

    Connecticut State Police say Scott Coffin, 51, on Windham, Maine was traveling north on Route 17 near the intersection with Dinatale Drive around 3: 21 p.m. The motorcycle crossed the double yellow line then collided with a utility pole and a tree. Coffin was thrown off the vehicle. He sustained fatal injuries.

    Police believe the motorcycle was the only vehicle involved in the crash, which is under investigation. Anyone with information should contact Trooper Bozso #1425 at Troop F at (860) 399-2100.
     



    Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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    A special meeting took place Sunday between a little boy fighting leukemia and a fire captain who went out of his way to make that boy smile.

    Four-year-old Christian Reynoso of Hamden has always loved firefighters. When Branford Fire Captain Joe Petrosino heard about Christian’s diagnosis last summer, he snapped a photo of his department’s brand new fire truck and posted it to Facebook, creating the page Fire Trucks for Christian.

    Thousands of people liked the page and thousands of photos came pouring in for Christian. But it wasn’t until Sunday that Christian visited Capt. Petrosino at Branford Fire Headquarters. He checked out the apparatus and even got a “hot lap” on the Kabota.

    In December Christian's family shared the news that his cancer was in remission. He is about to begin his final stretch of treatment. On Sunday his mother posted to the Facebook page thanking everyone for the support and kindness they’ve seen throughout the journey.

    For more information and to share pictures with Christian check out the Facebook page here by clicking here.
     



    Photo Credit: Brad Young

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    The Shelton community is mourning a high school student who was killed in a crash early Sunday morning.

    Shelton police say 17-year-old Edmund Conklin was driving on Bridgeport Avenue between the Crown Point Plaza and Long Hill Cross Road at 4:45 a.m. when the accident occurred. When police arrived they found Conklin’s vehicle rolled over and Conklin outside the vehicle. He was transported to the hospital for treatment but he did not survive his injuries.

    Police say they’ve been in touch with school officials and that the Shelton High School crisis team has been enacted.

    Superintendent Chris Clouet informed the district in a letter posted on the Shelton Public Schools website.

    “Sadly, I must communicate with all of you that a young man, a senior at Shelton High School, died today as a result of a car accident,” he wrote. “More details will be forthcoming. First and foremost, this is a family tragedy; secondly, a shock to the entire school community. For Shelton High School students, support will be available at the high school. Please hold this young man in your thoughts and prayers.”

    High School headmaster Dr. Beth A. Smith tweeted that Conklin was a senior. Support will be available for students at the school.
     



    Photo Credit: File Photo

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    Jeff Sessions of Alabama became the first sitting U.S. senator to endorse Donald Trump on Sunday, NBC News reported. 

    Wearing "Make America Great Again" hat, Sessions told the crowd that he was throwing his support behind this "movement" because, in his best estimation, "at this time in America's history, we need to make America great again!"

    Sessions' endorsement comes after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie endorsed the real estate mogul. 

    "I'm becoming mainstream. All these people are now endorsing me," Trump told the sprawling Alabama crowd. "When I get Jeff Sessions, that means a lot to me. That means a lot. That's a biggie, especially since he's never done it before."

    Sessions was an adviser in crafting the Trump's immigration policy plan and the two met on Capitol Hill in September joined by Sarah Palin.



    Photo Credit: WireImage

    Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions endorses Donald Trump for President at Madison City Stadium on February 28, 2016 in Madison, Alabama.Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions endorses Donald Trump for President at Madison City Stadium on February 28, 2016 in Madison, Alabama.

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    A teen girl who was initially believed to have died after being shot in the head during the shooting spree in Kalamazoo, Michigan, is now breathing on her own.

    Abigail Kopf, 14, no longer needs a breathing tube, according to an update posted to her GoFundMe page on Saturday.

    “Our hearts are full of joy right now as we celebrate a milestone for Abbie,” the message read. “The tube is out she's breathing on her own. And she wiped her own face with a towel! Bless you all and we have so much gratitude for your support.”

    The teen was thought to be dead after she was taken to the hospital, but squeezed her mother’s hand, according to officials. A doctor then asked Kopf a question, wanting a thumbs-up response.

    “She gave him two thumbs up," State police Lt. Dale Hinz said. "It's a glimmer of hope in this otherwise tragic situation."

    Kopf was in a car outside an area restaurant when she was shot, according to authorities. The teen was among eight total victims who were shot at three different locations Feb. 20. Two survived.

    The suspected gunman, an Uber driver who authorities say paused between shooting to pick up fares, faces six counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder.

    Supporters have donated more than $17,000 to Kopf’s GoFundMe page to help her family pay medical bills.



    Photo Credit: WOOD-TV

    The teen was among eight total victims who were shot at three different locations Feb. 20. Two survived.The teen was among eight total victims who were shot at three different locations Feb. 20. Two survived.

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    It’s strange now to think of President Obama enduring a long wait to be seated at a restaurant, but 15 years ago, that’s exactly what he did. Obama talked about reservations and dining out in a 2001 episode of WTTW’s restaurant review show “Check, Please!” that resurfaced this weekend.

    ”Check, Please!” features three Chicagoans outside the food industry, who each recommend a restaurant for the other guests to try. They then review each other’s choices with the host. The show’s 15th season finale aired Friday night, and featured a clip of an old episode where Obama was a guest.

    Obama’s episode was filmed on Aug. 14, 2001, but didn’t air until 2009, shortly before Obama’s presidential inauguration. At the time of Obama’s appearance, he was a state senator, representing parts of Chicago’s South Side including the Hyde Park neighborhood.

    “We've got a 3-year-old and a 2-month-old so going out to a restaurant is a really big deal,” Obama said, referring to daughters Malia and Sasha, while reviewing Wicker Park bistro Le Bouchon.

    “The only thing that makes me hesitant about going to Le Bouchon is just getting a reservation,” he said, adding, “The days are passed where my wife and I can eat a 9 o’clock dinner.”

    The full segment can be seen on the show’s website, where Obama recommends Hyde Park’s Dixie Kitchen, which closed in 2009, but has other locations in Evanston and Lansing.

    Then-host Amanda Puck opens the conversation with a joke, saying, “So Barack, it looks like you’re served some liberal portions there,” to which Obama responds by praising cheap food and big portions.

    “The prices are right and the portions are good,” he said, later adding, “I’m not looking for some fancy presentation or subtle flavors, what I’m looking for is food that tastes good for a good price.”

    He ends by giving an impassioned plea for restaurateurs to bring their businesses to the South Side.

    “Particularly on the South Side, a lot of times we don’t have the same number of options that some of the Northwest Side neighborhoods do, like Lincoln Park or Bucktown, so restaurateurs that are out there, just want to let you know that if you give good value, and are not too expensive, you can do some good business on the South Side of Chicago.” 



    Photo Credit: Getty Images
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    Then-state Senator Barack Obama gestures prior to speaking at his 43rd birthday celebration and fundraiser August 4, 2004 in Matteson, Illinois. At the time, Obama was running for the U.S. Senate.Then-state Senator Barack Obama gestures prior to speaking at his 43rd birthday celebration and fundraiser August 4, 2004 in Matteson, Illinois. At the time, Obama was running for the U.S. Senate.

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    Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump claimed on Sunday that a university in his name received an "A' rating from the Better Business Bureau on NBC's "Meet the Press."

    Trump University is largely shut down in 2011 and is the subject of multiple lawsuits alleging false marketing for what was essentially an entrepreneurship seminar, not a college. 

    "We have an A from the Better Business Bureau," Trump said during his interview. 

    But in a statement, the bureau told NBC News on Sunday that Trump University currently has no rating because "the company is believed to be out of business."



    Photo Credit: Getty Images
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    Republican presidential front-runner Donald TrumpRepublican presidential front-runner Donald Trump

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    Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev denied any links to terrorism only a few months before the April 2013 attack that killed three people and injured 260 others, according to federal documents obtained by The Boston Globe.

    Tsarnaev, 26, who was killed in a manhunt after the attack, passed a U.S. citizenship test three months before he and his brother Dzhokhar set off the bombs, The Globe reported Sunday, citing redacted immigration records it received under the Freedom of Information Act.

    Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was sentenced to death in May 2015 for his role in the attack.

    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS, said in a statement Sunday that the cases of Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his friend Ibragim Todashev, who was killed in Florida by an FBI agent a month after the bombings, were handled correctly.


    Tamerlan Tsarnaev during his practice at the Wai Kru Mixed Martial Arts on April 14, 2009 near Boston, Massachusetts. Tsarnaev denied any links to terrorism only a few months before the April 2013 attack that killed three people and injured 260 others.Tamerlan Tsarnaev during his practice at the Wai Kru Mixed Martial Arts on April 14, 2009 near Boston, Massachusetts. Tsarnaev denied any links to terrorism only a few months before the April 2013 attack that killed three people and injured 260 others.

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    Donald Trump is leading in the Super Tuesday states of Georgia and Tennessee, while Ted Cruz is ahead in his home state of Texas, according to a trio of new NBC News/Wall Street Journal polls.

    In Georgia, Trump gets support from 30 percent of likely primary Republican voters – followed by Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio tied at 23 percent each. Ben Carson and John Kasich both received nine percent support from Republican voters in the state.

    Trump also leads Cruz by 18 points in Tennessee, receiving support from 40 percent of likely GOP voters to the Texas Senator’s 22 percent, while Rubio gets 19 percent support.

    But in Texas, Cruz is ahead of Trump, garnering the support of 39 percent of Republican voters while Trump stands at second place with 26 percent, followed by Rubio at 16 percent. Carson and Kasich trail behind with eight and six percent. 

    Meanwhile, in the Democratic race, Hillary Clinton is topping Bernie Sanders in all three of those southern states by about a 2-to-1 margin.  



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonDonald Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

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    Partly cloudy skies overnight will permit temperatures to fall back to near 30 degrees.

    With the last day of February in the books, meteorological winter has concluded. This winter tied the record for warmest winter both inland and at the shoreline.

    Tomorrow isn't as mild, though it's still above the average for March 1. Highs will be in the 40s with increasing clouds ahead of evening showers and sleet in the hills.

    A period of steady rain is possible early Wednesday morning, but the trend will be improvement after daybreak.

    Temperatures will be in the 50s on Wednesday with some sunshine and wind in the afternoon.

    The story for late week will be unseasonably chilly air with the threat for some snow.

    Highs will struggle to the freezing mark on Thursday under lots of sunshine.

    A storm passes by offshore on Friday, but it's too soon to totally write it off. Temperatures will barely crack freezing.

    Right now, the forecast calls for a chance of snow. Should the storm track closer, there would be a threat for accumulating snow.

    The weekend looks pretty good with a blend of clouds and sunshine and highs near 40 degrees. There can be some light snow on Sunday.

    A major warm-up is expected late next week. Click here for more.


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    Wildlife officials are calling Florida's annual public python hunt a huge success with 106 snakes removed from Everglades National Park.

    Top "2016 Python Challenge" prizes went to a team led by team captain Bill Booth. Booth's team took the top spot for most pythons caught by a single team with 33 pythons. Their team received a grand prize of $5,000.

    His team also took home top honors for catching the longest python - a 15 footer - for which they won a $3,000 cash prize.

    In the individual category, Daniel Moniz won $3,500 for catching the most pythons by an individual at 13 snakes caught.

    Moniz also won $1,000 for the longest python caught by an individual - a 13-foot, 8.7-inch long snake.

    More than 1,000 people from 29 states registered to take part in the month-long competition to remove Burmese pythons from the Everglades ecosystem.

    “We are pleased with the success of this year’s Python Challenge,” said FWC Commissioner Ron Bergeron in a statement. “Each python that is removed makes a difference for our native wildlife, and the increased public awareness will help us keep people involved as we continue managing invasive species in Florida.”

    All participants had to first complete an online training module, and more than 500 people attended in-person training's where they learned how to identify, locate and safely and humanely catch the pythons.

    NBC 6 anchor Keith Jones went through the training and walked away with a few battle scars after a 9-foot python caught him mid-capture, sinking his fangs into Jones' hand.

    When asked if it hurt, Jones replied "not at all" as he continued to bag the snake.

    There are no known native predators to the Burmese python, which contributes to an imbalance in the ecosystem in the Florida Everglades. The snakes are known to prey on other native species, including snakes, birds, reptiles and mammals.

    All pythons turned in at Python Challenge drop off locations were humanely killed if brought in alive, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokeswoman Carli Segelson. Competition rules instructed participants on how to humanely transport the snakes.

    Scientists will study the carcasses of the pythons for research.

    For more information, visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
     



    Photo Credit: FWC

    Photo (L to R): Bill Booth, Dusty Crum, Daniel Moniz and Bill BoothPhoto (L to R): Bill Booth, Dusty Crum, Daniel Moniz and Bill Booth

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    Former President Bill Clinton and current U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz  (R-TX) are taking part in rallies in North Texas Monday, one day before the Texas primary and Super Tuesday.

    After events in Oklahoma Sunday, Cruz held a rally at Gilley's in Dallas Monday morning where Gov. Greg Abbott and former Gov. Rick Perry both spoke on his behalf. Both Perry and Abbott have previously endorsed Cruz.

    Cruz will also travel to Houston Monday evening for another event.

    Clinton is taking part in a public event at Tarrant County College's Trinity River Campus in Fort Worth at noon.

    Clinton will also visit Houston and San Antonio to encourage supporters to vote for Hillary Clinton in Tuesday’s primary.

    Technical difficulties prevented us from streaming Clinton's rally in Fort Worth.



    Photo Credit: NBC 5 News

    U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks at his U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks at his "Cruz to Victory" rally in Dallas, Feb. 29, 2016.

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    The Walmart at 515 Sawmill Road was evacuated after the store received a threat, according to police.

    Officers responded to the store around 11 a.m. after someone phoned in a threat. The nature of the threat was not clear.

    Police gave the all clear a short time later and people were allowed back in the store.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

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    Meteorological winter will go into the record books tied for warmest in 112 seasons of record-keeping in the Hartford area.

    The average temperature for the months of December, January and February was 35.2 degrees.

    The other winter season with a mean temperature of 35.2 degrees was 2001-2002, with the third warmest winter now being 2011-2012.

    Additionally, the Bridgeport area tied the record for warmest winter. Records there date back 68 seasons to 1948-1949.

    In the Bridgeport area, the average temperature for this winter was 38.5 degrees.

    Remember, December smashed records as the warmest December on record.

    It's worth mentioning that the 2011-2012 winter shows up in the top three warmest both inland and on the shoreline.

    That winter preceded the warmest March in recorded Connecticut history, when the inland temperature hit 70 degrees seven times and even eclipsed 80 degrees once.


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    A hiker found what is believed to be a detonated pipe bomb in the woods near Crescent Lake in Southington on Sunday, according to police.

    The person called officers around 3:30 p.m. after finding a suspicious black object that resembled a pipe bomb. Police responded to 495 Shuttle Meadow Road and found the device resting against the base of a tree.

    According to police, the device was an eight-inch long metal tube with a small hole drilled in the base and one end covered in duct tape.

    Southington police called in the State Police Bomb Squad, which safely contained the device and removed it from the scene. It appeared the device had already been detonated and may have been in the woods for about a year, police said.

    Anyone with information about the device is asked to contact Det. Kyle Dobratz, of the Southington Police Department, at 860-378-1654.



    Photo Credit: Southington Police

    A hiker found what is believed to be a detonated pipe bomb in the woods near Crescent Lake in Southington on Sunday.A hiker found what is believed to be a detonated pipe bomb in the woods near Crescent Lake in Southington on Sunday.

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    Four students were hurt when gunfire erupted Monday morning in a school cafeteria in Madison, Ohio, authorities said.

    According to the Butler County Sheriff's Office, a 14-year-old boy shot two peers during lunchtime at Madison Junior/Senior High School, which serves 1,600 students in grades 7 through 12.

    School officials described the students' injuries as non-life threatening and said they were airlifted to a local hospital for treatment. A doctor at Miami Valley Hospital said the two boys, ages 13 and 14, will fully recover.

    Two other students — a 14-year-old girl and 14-year-old boy — suffered shrapnel wounds or were hurt while trying to leave the building, NBC affiliate WLWT reports.

    The suspected gunman was taken into custody and will be charged with two counts of attempted murder, two counts of felonious assault, inducing panic and making terroristic threats, according to the sheriff's office.

    "This is a tragic and horrific event that you hope never happens," Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones said in a statement Monday.

    Officials said the school was on lockdown and students were dismissed just before noon.

    Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican running for president, told reporters, "obviously it's a tragedy," but added, "thank God no life was lost."

    School and community relations coordinator AJ Huff said the school's emergency training paid off Monday.

    "It has been valuable for our teachers and administrators," Huff explained. "When I got the call, I immediately knew what to do, how to handle things, and students knew how to react."



    Photo Credit: Tim Chesnut/WLWT
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    Four students were hurt in a shooting at Madison High School in Ohio on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016, NBC affiliate WLWT reports.Four students were hurt in a shooting at Madison High School in Ohio on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016, NBC affiliate WLWT reports.

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    The Republican primary exploded in vitriol just before Super Tuesday when 11 states, including Texas, will vote — and for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), overshadowed first by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) broadside against Donald Trump and then by the surprise endorsement of Trump by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a win in his home state is do or die.

    The latest blow to the Texas senator came Sunday afternoon: another endorsement of Trump, this one by U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a determined opponent of immigration reform and one of Cruz's few allies in the Senate.

    “It appears unlikely that he’ll have a dramatic, convincing, big win but he needs to at least squeak it out because if he loses I think it’s the end of the line for him,” Southern Methodist University political science professor Cal Jillson said.

    Texas is expected to offer a home-field advantage to Cruz, especially among conservatives with whom he is popular, and he has gotten the endorsements of both the current Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and the former Republican Gov. Rick Perry.

    An NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll released Sunday showed Cruz leading Trump 39 percent to 26 percent among likely Republican voters, with Rubio at 16 percent.

    But other polls have ranged from putting Cruz comfortably ahead by up to 15 points to being dead even with Trump. The Real Clear Politics poll average had Cruz ahead by 8.6 percentage points.

    Cruz, who has won only Iowa, campaigned hard against Trump on Sunday, criticizing his use of foreign labor to construct his projects and linking him to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. A candidate who once called Clinton one of the greatest secretaries of state would mean defeat for Republicans, he said.

    On NBC's "Meet the Press," he suggested that Trump was refusing to release his tax returns because of supposed ties to organized crime figures.

    Texas’ Democratic primary is receiving much less attention as Clinton holds a significant lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders. In that contest, one of 13 among Democrats, the NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll had Clinton ahead 59 percent to 38 percent. The Real Clear Politics poll average showed Clinton up by 25.5 percentage points.

    Matt Mackowiak, a Republican political consultant in Washington, D.C., and Austin, and founder of Potomac Strategy Group, noted that not only is Texas Cruz's home state but it has many more Republican delegates to allocate — at 155 the most of any Super Tuesday contest. Unless a candidate earns more than 50 percent of the state, they are awarded proportionately.

    One hundred and eight of the delegates are allocated in 36 congressional districts. If a candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, he wins three delegates. If not, the winner takes two delegates and the runner-up gets one.

    Another 44 delegates are awarded statewide, also proportionately if a candidate does not clear 50 percent of the vote but receives more than 20 percent. The final three delegates are members of the Republican National Committee from Texas.

    On the Democratic side, 222 delegates are at stake. Another 29 delegates are categorized as "superdelegates" who can choose a candidate to back at the party's national convention in July.

    Mackowiak said that Cruz's team probably thought in the fall that he could pass that 50 percent mark. But though not likely now, Cruz could still take a large share of the delegates, he said, and predicts the senator will win the state by 5 to 8 percentage points.

    Cruz has 27,000 volunteers in Texas and an organization with which he won a bitter Senate race in 2012 -- in a large state with 20 media markets that is difficult to organize, he said.

    "He starts with a huge advantage here as a native son, as someone who a lion’s share of elected officials have endorsed, who knows the state, who has county leaders and precinct leaders across the state," Mackowiak said.

    This year, Texas' primary has been pushed forward from May 29 and it has been hoping to be an influential contest with its large pool of delegates. Some of the sharpest exchanges among candidates came as they moved their campaigning into the Lone Star state after South Carolina's contest.

    At a rally in Dallas on Friday, Rubio escalated the sharp attack he had opened on Trump, mocking the businessman for worrying that his pants were "wet" the night before at the GOP debate and describing him as having "one of those little sweat mustaches."

    Later in the day Trump in turn made fun of Rubio's embarrassing 2013 State of the Union water break by holding up a water bottle and shouting, "It's Rubio."

    Most political observers thought Trump would fade in popularity, but instead, the businessman has been famously bypassing traditional campaigning to win -- taking advantage of his celebrity for large rallies and free media coverage.

    His success has relied on that celebrity as he taps into the appeal for an outsider. But there also is the simplicity of his message, which neither Cruz nor Rubio has been able to duplicate, Mackowiak said.

    "It’s hard to distill their message down into one or two sentences," he said. "It’s not hard for Trump. Everyone knows 'Make America great again.' Everyone knows what he has proposed on immigrant and trade."

    A poll from the University of Texas/Texas Tribune found that 21 percent of Republican primary voters thought the most important reason for choosing a candidate was to improve the American economy. The second was to give the Republican party a good chance to win in November.

    In the other Super Tuesday primary states of Georgia and Tennessee, Trump leads according to new NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls. Cruz and Rubio are tied in Georgia, while in Tennessee Cruz just edges Rubio.

    Cruz is seen an aggressive man with whom other people find it difficult to work, Jillson said. Late last week, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, at the same dinner at which he said his party had gone "bats**t crazy" for its embrace of Trump, also lashed into Cruz, saying he had alienated both Republicans and Democrats.

    "If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate and the trial was in the Senate, nobody could convict you," he joked.

    With Trump the front runner and Rubio the Republican establishment's pick to try to stop him, Cruz is the odd man out, Jillson said.

    “The odds are (Trump’s) going to be the Republican nominee,” Jillson said. “And if he’s able to edge Cruz in Texas and win everywhere else, it’s over and then we’ll see the very fascinating dance of the Republican establishment coming to terms with that fact.”



    Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images, File
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    Sen.Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Donald TrumpSen.Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Donald Trump

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