HUFFPOST HILL - 'Fine, Let's Get Out Of Here,' Drunk GOP Tells Ted Cruz At 3 a.m.

Mitt Romney, taking a break from sadly smiling into a mirror and blinking, announced he’ll vote for Ted Cruz. Twitter will not expand its 140-character limit, so “Your Stupid: A Treatise On A Medium Post That Enraged Me” will have to wait. And conservative groups are targeting vulnerable senators for supporting hearings for Merrick Garland. Nothing gets voters in West Virginia riled up quite like the prospect of a white guy in power. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, March 18th, 2016:

The GOP primary, in one GIF.

TV MEDIA BUCKLING UNDER TRUMP - Kyle Blaine "Staffers at the five major television networks are grappling with what role their organizations may have played in amplifying Donald Trump’s successful campaign of insults, generalizations about minority groups, and at times flat lies. Conversations with more than a dozen reporters, producers, and executives across the major networks reveal internal tensions about the wall-to-wall coverage Trump has received and the degree to which the Republican frontrunner has — or hasn’t — been challenged on their air. Two network sources also confirmed the unprecedented control the television networks have surrendered to Trump in a series of private negotiations, allowing him to dictate specific details about placement of cameras at his event, to ensure coverage consists primarily of a single shot of his face." [BuzzFeed]

ANTI-TRUMP REPUBLICANS STARTING TO WAVER - Alex Isenstadt: "At a posh resort in Palm Beach, Fla. — just minutes from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate — many of the Republican Party’s biggest donors discussed whether to continue shelling out millions on an anti-Trump offensive that so far has done little, if anything, to halt his rise. Many of those gathered, including New York hedge-fund manager Paul Singer and members of the Chicago Cubs-owning Ricketts family, have been the primary funders of Our Principles, a super PAC that spent heavily to defeat Trump, plastering Florida and other states with TV ads that portrayed him as a heartless businessman. Several of the donors reiterated their hope that Cruz or Kasich could still somehow win, sources familiar with the gathering told POLITICO. But others indicated they would be open to supporting Trump in the general election." [Politico]

HA. HA. FANTASTIC - "Gonna vote for that Texas fella; you know, the sourpuss, with the nose." Mitt's Facebook page: "This week, in the Utah nominating caucus, I will vote for Senator Ted Cruz. Today, there is a contest between Trumpism and Republicanism. Through the calculated statements of its leader, Trumpism has become associated with racism, misogyny, bigotry, xenophobia, vulgarity and, most recently, threats and violence. I am repulsed by each and every one of these. The only path that remains to nominate a Republican rather than Mr. Trump is to have an open convention. At this stage, the only way we can reach an open convention is for Senator Cruz to be successful in as many of the remaining nominating elections as possible. I like Governor John Kasich. I have campaigned with him. He has a solid record as governor. I would have voted for him in Ohio. But a vote for Governor Kasich in future contests makes it extremely likely that Trumpism would prevail." [Facebook]

@realDonaldTrump: American's want to see a President who will fight FOR them- not a bunch of failed politicians fighting w/ each other about how to stop me.

DELANEY DOWNER - Republicans have made environmental regulations their punching bag for years. But now that there’s a water crisis unfolding in Flint, Michigan, they’ve decided that what we actually need is more rules. “We need the Lead and Copper Rule to be updated,” House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) told reporters Thursday after wrapping up his third and possibly final hearing on the Flint water crisis. Chaffetz had been asked how to prevent water crises like the one in Flint, where thousands of children have been exposed to high levels of lead in the drinking water. His response pointed to a regulation promulgated under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act -- a rule that Chaffetz said the Environmental Protection Agency had not enforced aggressively enough or updated fast enough. “Let this be a warning to every state and municipality that they need to check on lead and they need to check and pay attention to their water supply,” Chaffetz said. “Unfortunately, I don’t think that Flint is the only situation where there’s a real problem.” [w/ HuffPost's Kate Sheppard]

Does somebody keep forwarding you this newsletter? Get your own copy. It's free! Sign up here. Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to huffposthill@huffingtonpost.com. Follow us on Twitter - @HuffPostHill

CONSERVATIVES GEARING UP FOR SCOTUS FIGHT - Fast forward to February 2017 when President Clinton nominates Scarlett Johansson, who is quickly confirmed by the Democratic Senate. Catherine Ho: "Conservative legal group Judicial Crisis Network, which is helping lead the fight against President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, will launch a $2 million television, radio and digital advertising campaign aimed at blocking Senate consideration of Garland. The new round of ads brings the group’s total spending on the Supreme Court fight to $4 million. It is the latest in an onslaught of opposition from conservative interest groups that are throwing money and opposition researchers aimed at halting the nomination process and discrediting Garland. The ads are slated to run for three weeks starting Monday. They will air in six states, targeting senators of both parties: Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.)." [WaPo]

Day-um: "Sen. Mark Kirk is going hard after members of his own party that are refusing to consider President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, saying Republicans need to quit playing games and do their job. 'Just man up and cast a vote,' Kirk said Friday on 'The Big John Howell Show.'" [Sun Times' Chad Merda]

CONVENTIONAL WISDOM ALERT: DEMS COULD TAKE BACK HOUSE - Still incredibly difficult, but the chattering classes are really digging the Trump Sea Change narrative. Scott Wong: "House Democrats received a bit of good news on Friday: The nonpartisan Cook Political Report changed the ratings of 10 House races in Democrats’ favor. And given the unpredictable nature of this cycle, the elections and campaigns newsletter said it could not be certain Republicans will hold the House in November. 'So many assumptions have been wrong this cycle that it's difficult to be definitive about another: that the House majority won't be in play in 2016,' wrote longtime Cook political analyst David Wasserman. While a Donald Trump or Ted Cruz nomination 'wouldn’t guarantee a down-ballot disaster,' Wasserman wrote, it would make congressional races much more difficult to predict, especially if Trump becomes the GOP standard bearer." [The Hill]

RUBIO BOARDS WAAAHHHMBULANCE - David Montfomery: "Rubio said his positive campaign message didn’t match the national mood, and said media coverage helped snowball Super Tuesday losses into the end of his campaign. 'This election was entirely driven by national media coverage, in many ways,' Rubio said, in audio of the conference call obtained by the Pioneer Press. 'When the media narrative goes negative on you, and all the news is bad, it kind of knocks us off.'" [Twincities.com]

SHERIFF JOE AMBUSHED JANE SANDERS? Weird, right? "Mr. Sanders’s wife, Jane Sanders, had an impromptu discussion with Sheriff Arpaio at his so-called Tent City in Maricopa County, where jail inmates are housed under the hot sun. Sheriff Arpaio has said that the conditions there are no worse than those faced by many United States soldiers overseas. Mr. Sanders said that Sheriff Arpaio, who is well known for his hard-line stance on illegal immigration, had 'ambushed' his wife. 'She asked him about racial profiling, and he didn’t have an answer,' Mr. Sanders said. 'She asked him about conditions in Tent City and other abuses that he has perpetuated, and he didn’t have an answer. You know what, he cannot have an answer, because what he is doing is un-American and uncivilized.'" [NYT]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here are some baby animals yawning.

AMERICANS ACTUALLY CONCERNED ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE - Once enough Central Valley Californians start having lawns that resemble Shredded Wheat, there might be more political pressure to do something. Nick Visser: "A Gallup poll released this week shows an all-time high of 65 percent of Americans who said climate change was caused by human activities, up from 55 percent just last year. About the same percentage said they worry a “great deal” or a “fair amount” about the phenomenon, and more people than ever said climate change will pose a serious threat in their lifetimes...Even concern among Republicans rose 9 points to 40 percent. That’s less than half of the 84 percent among Democrats, but a stark contrast to the near-universal denial from leading GOP presidential candidates over the past year." [HuffPost]


- Snoop Dogg accidentally made a Romanian village famous.

- How to start a fire with a lemon.

- A very weird re-edit of a Star Trek episode.


@lordbeef: i see a lot of people criticizing capitalism. but have you considered this:
in capitalism, it's possible to get like, soooo rich

@joshgreenman: I'm a Charlie bit my finger guy in a Donald gave the Republican establishment the finger world.

@kept_simple: [extremely david brooks voice] my bobos

Got something to add? Send tips/quotes/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to Eliot Nelson (eliot@huffingtonpost.com) or Arthur Delaney (arthur@huffingtonpost.com). Follow us on Twitter @HuffPostHill (twitter.com/HuffPostHill). Sign up here: http://huff.to/an2k2e