The Edge: And Then There Were Nine

Patrick Semansky / AP

Today in One Paragraph

Rand Paul and Rick Santorum dropped out of the 2016 presidential race. President Obama visited the Islamic Society of Baltimore, marking the first time he’s been to a U.S. mosque while in office. In Washington, Michigan and federal officials testified before the House Oversight Committee about the water-contamination crisis in Flint. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders agreed to four more primary-season debates. And overseas, the United Nations suspended peace talks aimed at putting an end to the Syrian civil war.

Top News

Rand Paul and Rick Santorum: Out. Two days after disappointing margins in the Iowa caucuses, Paul announced that he is suspending his campaign, and Santorum is expected to do the same tonight—and make an endorsement. The two Republican presidential candidates lagged in the polls for much of the election cycle behind leading contenders like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. (CNN)

Obama Takes on Anti-Muslim Rhetoric. At the Islamic Society of Baltimore on Wednesday, the president met with and spoke to Muslim leaders and community members. “You’re right where you belong. You’re part of America too. You’re not Muslim or American, you’re Muslim and American,” Obama said. (David Graham, The Atlantic)

On the Hill. At the first congressional hearing about the contamination of Flint’s water supply, government officials fought over who is to blame for the crisis. Darnell Earley, a former Flint emergency manager, refused an invitation to testify, but Representative Jason Chaffetz, the chair of the committee, said he’ll ask U.S. Marshals to “hunt him down” if necessary. (Matthew Daly, Associated Press; Todd Spangler, Detroit Free Press)

Mark Your Calendars. As the contest between the two Democratic presidential candidates heats up, the Clinton and Sanders campaigns have negotiated a new slate of debates—the first of which will take place tomorrow at 9 p.m. ET on MSNBC. A spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee confirmed that the debates will be sanctioned. (Greg Sargent, The Washington Post)

Peace Talks Put on Hold. A UN envoy tasked with negotiating an end to the Syrian five-year civil war put the talks in Geneva on hold until February 25. The announcement came after the Syrian government—backed by Russia—claimed a major advancement against the opposition. (BBC)

Tomorrow in One Paragraph: Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton square off in a debate at the University of New Hampshire. Donald Trump returns to the fray in New Hampshire, where Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Jeb Bush, and Chris Christie are also making the rounds.

Follow stories throughout the day with our new Politics & Policy page. And keep on top of the campaign with our 2016 Distilled election dashboard.

Top Read:

“This was the basic problem that Paul’s presidential campaign never managed to solve: He was trying to perform a personality transplant on the Republican Party, and political parties just aren’t that easy to change.” The Atlantic’s Molly Ball on Rand Paul’s failed bid for the presidency.

Top Lines

The Democratic Divide. The party has thus far seemed more united than the GOP, but after Sanders’s near-victory in Iowa, the party is dealing with a split over whether to gravitate toward pragmatism or idealism. (Laura Meckler, The Wall Street Journal)

‘Writing a Script.’ After the racist episodes that “rocked” campus last fall, the University of Missouri—like other schools across the country—is learning how to have blunt conversations about race. (John Eligon, The New York Times)

Top Views

‘Understanding Zika.This video lays out the danger the virus poses: Who’s most at risk and how bad is it? (The New York Times)

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