In it, but not of it. TPM DC

After months of failing to get off the ground, the GOP’s Stop Trump movement is in a mad dash to throw the frontrunner off his path to the 2016 nomination, and the March 15 primaries set up a major -- if not final -- deadline.

Republican elites -- Mitt Romney chief among them -- are angling to block Trump by urging the three remaining non-Trump candidates to stay in the race and harvest delegates in states where they might have an advantage in order to deny Trump the majority of delegates necessary to win the nomination. Marco Rubio's performance in Florida next week is the plan's linchpin.

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Desperate to avert the impending reality that Donald Trump will be named the Republican Party's presidential nominee, some party leaders have been agitating to block him at the GOP convention in Cleveland. Having failed to get their act together to derail Trump at the ballot box, they now hope against hope that they can turn the convention from the traditional coronation into that rare, political unicorn: the contested convention.

No less a figure than former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney laid out a scenario last week where Trump could be denied the nomination at the convention. It requires the candidates remaining in the race to band together and Republican primary voters to begin to cast their vote strategically in favor of whoever can block Trump. He urged Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) to put ego aside and work toward one goal: stopping Trump.

"Given the current delegate selection process, that means that I'd vote for Marco Rubio in Florida and for John Kasich in Ohio, and for Ted Cruz or whoever has the best chance to beat Mr. Trump in a given state," Romney said. He reiterated again Friday that this was a scenario where he believed Trump could be stopped, while Kasich told attendees at a conservative confab that a contested convention is where this race is headed.

Political scientists, political junkies and political reporters have dreamed about contested conventions for years. Now they are in the grips of the contested convention fantasy made suddenly real by Romney. But experts on the convention process and the complicated politics surrounding such a move argue it will be exceedingly difficult to stop Trump at the convention -- and gravely damaging to Republican electoral prospects in the fall and perhaps beyond, even if it is successful in preventing Trump from the securing the nomination.

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Frank Gaffney is back at the Conservative Political Action Conference that for a time shunned his extremist views.

Gaffney, the founder for the Center For Security Policy, led a panel Thursday titled "Countering the Global Jihad" where he invited some of Europe's most notorious anti-Muslim voices to weigh in on how the Western world should be combatting the perceived threat of Islam.

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Senate Democrats accused their Republican counterparts of hiding from the public, rather than explaining why they won’t even consider President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee. The allegations flew after an unrelated public meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee -- the committee that would typical host Supreme Court nomination hearings -- scheduled for Thursday was abruptly canceled.

“This would have been the first opportunity for all members of this committee to debate in public the Republican chairman's unilateral decision to issue a blanket hold on an unnamed Supreme Court nominee,” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), a committee member, said on the Senate floor Thursday. “They're afraid to discuss the issue. They cannot in public debate win the argument that we shouldn't be doing our job.”

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As the debate over whether President Barack Obama should be allowed to nominate someone for the Supreme Court grows ever more rancorous in the halls of Congress, it is no doubt echoing across the street in the quieter quarters of the Supreme Court. There, the people arguably most affected by the vacancy left by the late Justice Antonin Scalia -- the eight justices still on the bench -- can hide away from the public eye and avoid weighing in on whether lawmakers should consider Obama’s nominee to replace him.

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Oral arguments in a major abortion case at the Supreme Court Wednesday gave few clues as to how the key swing vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy, felt about the case. The absence of Justice Antonin Scalia, who died last month, was felt as only two justices in the court’s conservative bloc offered a vocal defense of the law, while the court’s liberals were able to pursue the sharpest lines of questioning.

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