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Ari Shapiro

Mitt Romney is disavowing a plan by some wealthy Republicans to attack President Obama for ties to his controversial former pastor. Even the people behind that proposal said they are abandoning it after their idea was plastered on the front page of The New York Times.

The proposal centered on the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who was a mentor to Obama before the two parted ways during the last presidential campaign.

Republicans unaffiliated with Romney were considering spending $10 million on a racially tinged advertising campaign tying Wright to the president.

In a hastily arranged radio interview, Mitt Romney apologized Thursday for pranks he played in high school that "might have gone too far."

The interview came a few hours after The Washington Post published a detailed story recounting incidents from Romney's years at Michigan's prestigious Cranbrook prep school in the 1960s.

President Obama has completed what he calls his "evolution" on gay marriage. After equivocating on the issue for more than a year, he now says same-sex marriage should be legal. Obama's endorsement of gay marriage makes it a prominent issue in the November election.

From now until November, President Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney will emphasize their differences. But the two men's lives actually coincide in a striking number of ways: Both attended Harvard. Both have been heavily influenced by their respective churches. Each descended from polygamists.

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Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney campaigned outside of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh on Monday, a day before Pennsylvania and four other states hold their primary contests.

Romney isn't concerned about the primary, but Pennsylvania will likely be an important swing state in the general election. And Monday also offered a chance to audition a potential running mate: Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

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And I'm Melissa Block. Lorain County, Ohio, is getting a lot of political love this week. Yesterday, President Obama spoke at a community college there, and today, it was Mitt Romney's turn. He spoke at a shuttered gypsum factory. NPR's Ari Shapiro joins me now from Lorain County. And, Ari, why Lorain? What's so special about it?

At the end of the month, President Obama will deliver a string of punch lines at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. It's an annual tradition, a chance for the man at the top of the pyramid to poke fun at his political opponents and himself.

Humor is an essential tool in any politician's kit — all the more so in an age of instant, constant media. It can disarm an opponent, woo a skeptical voter or pierce an argument. This year, both Obama and presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney are using it to try to win the upper hand in the presidential race.

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Let's assess where the presidential race now stands. Mitt Romney made it through last night with three wins and no surprises, in Wisconsin, Maryland and Washington, D.C.

MONTAGNE: Rick Santorum won nowhere but isn't giving up. In a moment we'll ask NPR political correspondent Mara Liasson how much longer this race can go on.

Until recently, "Obamacare" was a word mostly used by opponents of President Obama's health care law. Now, supporters of the law are attempting to claim it as their own.

During the three days of health care hearings, protesters outside of the Supreme Court in favor of the law returned to one chant more than any other: "We love Obamacare."

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In the third and last day that the U.S. Supreme Court considered the Obama health care law, it turned its attention from the abstract legal issues to the very practical – what if it did overturn a key part of the law. In sessions in the morning and afternoon, the justices took on two separate questions related to the federal health care overhaul.

NPR's Ari Shapiro reports.

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An Army staff sergeant's alleged massacre of Afghan civilians has brought new calls for the United States to leave Afghanistan even before the timetable set by President Obama, who has announced that the U.S. combat mission will be over by the end of 2014.

Some Republican presidential candidates are among those publicly asking if now is the time for the U.S. to leave Afghanistan.

But not Mitt Romney.

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There was a big movie premier Thursday — big in the political world, anyway. This movie is actually an ad of sorts, designed in hopes that it will go viral and help President Obama's re-election prospects.

Every good political campaign has a motif, from President Obama's "hope" to John McCain's "maverick."

Mitt Romney's brand is still taking shape, yet one word finds its way into nearly every speech he gives.

"I want to restore America to our founding principles," the former Massachusetts governor said in Iowa.

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This weekend, Mitt Romney is doing something extraordinary; something he probably hasn't done in months. Nothing - nothing in public, at any rate. After weeks and weeks of nonstop campaigning, this is a rare weekend off.

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Mitt Romney is on the road again, this time in the deep South. He's campaigning today in Mississippi and Alabama, both states that hold primaries next Tuesday. NPR's Ari Shapiro was at a Romney rally at a port on the Gulf of Mexico.

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It was the biggest day yet in the Republican presidential race. Mitt Romney hoped that Super Tuesday would reinforce his frontrunner status. And to some degree it did. He won six of the 10 states, including the most populous and hotly contested state, Ohio.

In a final burst of campaigning in Michigan on Tuesday, embattled GOP front-runner Mitt Romney complained that rival Rick Santorum was making automated phone calls to Democrats and urging them to vote against Romney in the Republican race. (Although only declared Republicans can vote in the party primary, voters can change their affiliation to cast a ballot.)

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Along with Arizona, Michigan holds its Republican presidential primary Tuesday. If Rick Santorum beats native son Mitt Romney in Michigan, it could throw the race into turmoil.

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The Republican race for president heads to Michigan and Arizona this week. Both states hold primaries on Tuesday. Former Governor Mitt Romney was in Michigan yesterday, his campaign bus logging more than 250 miles across the state. He's fighting the recent surge of former Senator Rick Santorum.

Romney held three events in three towns - Lansing, Troy and Flint - and NPR's Ari Shapiro was with him at all three stops.

Mitt Romney is on a bus tour across Michigan, hoping to win the votes of the state where he grew up. With primary day on Tuesday, Romney seems to have closed the gap in polls with Rick Santorum.

This trip has the feel of those early days campaigning back in New Hampshire, before any votes were actually cast: the long bus rides, the snowy landscape, even the impromptu restaurant drop-ins.

Symbolically speaking, this month's Michigan's primary may be the most important of the GOP presidential race to date. It's the state where Mitt Romney grew up, and his father was a beloved government and business leader. And now, Romney seems to have a real chance of losing the state to Rick Santorum.

Thousands of Republican activists from around the country are in Washington, D.C., listening to party leaders and conservative media stars at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

The backdrop of CPAC, which wraps up Saturday, is the heated presidential race. Three of the remaining candidates spoke Friday. The fourth, Ron Paul, skipped the conference. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin headlined the final session Saturday.

Four years ago, Mitt Romney took his farewell bow at the meeting, leaving the presidential race.

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