First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Michael Bloomberg is trying to take the Colin Powell Doctrine — the use of overwhelming force — and apply it to a presidential campaign.
He's spent $300 million over the advertising airwaves since announcing his bid on Nov. 24. (That comes to $3.6 million per day.)
He's paying entry-level field organizers $6,000 a month - about twice what other campaigns would pay; he's even throwing in three catered meals a day for staffers.
And the New York Times reports that Bloomberg paid a local Miami artist thousands of dollars to produce an oversize painting of "Bloomberg 2020" — in just 36 hours.
Michael Bloomberg. Is. Everywhere.
There is no persuasion. It's overwhelming force.
And the question is whether the American public and the Democratic Party get pulled in by Bloomberg's financial tractor beam.
After all, we're just four years removed from when the Trump Show — via free, not paid, media — sucked GOP voters in.
Or whether, despite all of the money and advertising, the public doesn't buy the product.
Some of us are old enough to remember when "New Coke" bombed.
We'll start finding out in less than three weeks — on Super Tuesday.
Trump's latest quid pro quo?
One argument we heard Democrats make in the impeachment battle was that they had to draw the line on Trump soliciting a foreign country to dig up dirt on a presidential rival.
If they didn't, the argument went, it would only give the president the green light to do it again.
What they might not have anticipated was that Trump appears now even more emboldened after his impeachment acquittal than he was before then.
Just check out the president's tweet from yesterday:
"I'm seeing Governor Cuomo today at The White House. He must understand that National Security far exceeds politics. New York must stop all of its unnecessary lawsuits & harrassment, start cleaning itself up, and lowering taxes. Build relationships, but don't bring Fredo!"
Is the translation here: National security — the Trump administration's move to block New Yorkers from participating in the Global Entry program at airports - is linked with the state dropping its lawsuits against Trump?
Tweet of the day
2020 Vision: Frontline Dems sound the alarm on Sanders
Now that Bernie Sanders is a legitimate possibility to be the Democrats' 2020 presidential nominee, House Democrats from some of the most competitive districts are speaking out.
Here's Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., who's backing Amy Klobuchar: "I'm the first Democrat to win in my district since 1958," he said, per the New York Times. "I attracted a lot of independent and moderate Republican support, many of whom probably voted for a Democrat for the first time in a long time. And while I respect Bernie Sanders as a senator, as a candidate, his candidacy is very challenging for people who come from districts like mine."
And here was Rep. Joe Cunningham, D-S.C.: "South Carolinians don't want socialism," he said. "We want to know how you are going to get things done and how you are going to pay for them. Bernie's proposals to raise taxes on almost everyone is not something the Lowcountry wants and not something I'd ever support."
Notably, Sanders doesn't hold a single endorsement from a member of Congress who represents a swing district, or from a senator/governor who represents a swing state.
On the campaign trail today
Bernie Sanders holds Super Tuesday rallies in Durham, N.C., Raleigh, N.C., and Mesquite, Texas… Amy Klobuchar stumps in Nevada… Pete Buttigieg hits both Nevada and California… And Joe Biden campaigns in Henderson, Nev.
Dispatches from NBC's campaign embeds
Bernie Sanders is trying to distance himself from self-proclaimed supporters who attacked the Culinary Union for comments they made about Sanders' Medicare for All plan, NBC's Gary Grumbach flags. In an interview on PBS NewsHour with Judy Woodruff, Sen. Bernie Sanders floated the idea that the online harassment of Culinary Union members is not coming from actual Sanders supporters. "You know, it's a funny thing. Obviously, that is not acceptable to me and I don't know who these so called supporters are. You know, we're living in a strange world on the internet. And sometimes people attack people in somebody else's name," Sanders said. After those comments, Sanders distanced himself even further. "Anybody making personal attacks against anybody else in my name is not part of my movement," he said. Sanders said. "We don't want them."
And Michael Bloomberg isn't just seeing support in Super Tuesday states. NBC's Mike Memoli reports that Bloomberg received "4,777 write-in votes for president in the Democratic primary in New Hampshire, or 1.7% of all cast. That's nearly four times as many as Deval Patrick, who was on the ballot." In the New Hampshire Republican primary, he received another 801 votes.
Data Download: The number of the day is … $580,600
That's the price tag per couple for President Trump's Palm Beach fundraiser this weekend, the most expensive of his presidency.
More, from the Washington Post: "The dinner, taking place just a few miles from Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club, shows how enthusiastically Trump has embraced big-dollar fundraising in his bid for a second term — a dramatic about-face from 2016, when he criticized the influence of wealthy donors on the politicians who court them."
The Lid: Sweet Home Alabama
Don't miss the pod from yesterday, when we reported on some interesting Senate poll results.
ICYMI: News clips you shouldn't miss
Muddled early results and a long primary arejust what Michael Bloomberg needs.
Moderate lawmakers are searching for alternatives as Biden stumbles.
Nancy Pelosi says Bill Barr has "deeply damaged the rule of law."
Trump Agenda: A New Hope
The Trump loyalistsare coming back.
Trump's latest pick for the Fed faces some Senate skeptics.
The Senate passed a resolution limiting Trump's power to order military action against Iran.
Kevin McCarthy is pushing a modest package to address climate change. Some in the GOP aren't happy with it.
The Pentagon is shifting more money to the border wall.
The US is bringing new charges against Huawei.
2020: The endorsements cometh
Bloomberg is catching up in the congressional endorsement race.
But here's how his rivals are trying to blunt his impact as he wades into the race.
The New York Times takes another big look at Pete Buttigieg's experiences as mayor.