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May 7, 2014

Last night's GOP Senate primary in North Carolina was billed as a surrogate battle in the Republican Civil War between the establishment and grassroots. But it ended up being more of a surrender than a battle. And since establishment candidate Thom Tillis easily trounced his two grassroots conservative opponents, it would be easy to declare today that the tea party is toast.

The truth is probably more complicated than that. In fact, if the tea party didn't show up, or put up much of a fight, it might be because they already won the war. I'll let The Atlantic's Molly Ball explain:

[I]f Tillis represented the Republican establishment — something he denies, of course; it is not a label anyone embraces — he also represents the party's new, post-Tea Party mainstream. He was endorsed by National Right to Life and the National Rifle Association. As House speaker during a time when Republicans took over North Carolina's government for the first time since 1896, he oversaw a dramatic slate of rightward policies, from tax cuts to voter ID, that he terms a "conservative revolution."

It was hard for opponents to paint Tillis as a liberal when actual liberals were picketing his initiatives on the steps of the statehouse in Raleigh on a regular basis. If this race is any indication, the "Republican civil war" storyline so beloved of pundits in recent years may have to be retired... [The Atlantic]

The theory goes like this: In the beginning, the GOP establishment had grown old and fat and corrupt, and the tea party bench was full of young and talented and pure candidates. And so, when quality candidates like former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio and former Rep. and Club for Growth head Pat Toomey challenged moderate GOP candidates like then-Gov. Charlie Crist (Fla.) and then-Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.) — both of whom later became Democrats — it was like picking low-hanging fruit.

But there are only so many Rubios and Toomeys (and only so many Crists and Specters). So it gets increasingly harder to replicate this success. The well of quality tea party candidates goes dry, and eventually, you're scraping the bottom. What's more, the early victories send a message to the old guard that they'd better clean up their act.

And so, the tea party message gets co-opted by the establishment — which, for tea party conservatives, ought to be cause for celebration; incumbents who want to survive either get religion, or get ousted.

If the tea party is having a bad year, it's only because they are a victim of their own success. Matt K. Lewis

11:45 a.m. ET

Saturday night's Republican presidential debate featured a lot of heated conflict — once all of the candidates finally made it out on stage. Watch The Washington Post break down just how delightfully awkward the whole introduction process was. Julie Kliegman

11:26 a.m. ET

At Saturday's Republican presidential debate, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio attacked President Obama. A lot. To be exact, Rubio attacked Obama four times with some version of, "Let's dispel with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing. He knows exactly what he's doing."

His performance was widely mocked.

But Sunday on ABC's This Week, Rubio stood by his talking point.

"It's what I believe and it's what I'm going to continue to say, because it happens to be one of the main reasons why I am running," he said.

In other words, Rubio knows exactly what he's doing. Julie Kliegman

11:00 a.m. ET

Beyoncé released a new single and music video Saturday, marking her first major release since she surprise-dropped her self-titled album in 2013. "Formation," which heavily references Hurricane Katrina and the Black Lives Matter movement, centers on black pride.

Two filmmakers have called out Beyoncé, claiming she used footage from their documentary, That B.E.A.T., without permission, The New York Times reports.

Beyoncé's representative countered that the footage is properly licensed. Julie Kliegman

10:30 a.m. ET
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will debate in Flint, Michigan, on March 6, the Democratic National Committee announced Sunday. The city is grappling with an ongoing water crisis that has endangered residents' health.

"This debate is an opportunity to elevate the very serious issues facing the residents of Flint, and it's also an opportunity to remind voters what Democratic leadership can do for the economy — so that everyone in America has a fair shot," DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said.

Both candidates have drawn attention to Flint in recent months. Sanders has called on Gov. Rick Snyder (R) to resign. Clinton left the New Hampshire campaign trail Sunday to visit the city. Julie Kliegman

10:18 a.m. ET

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders made a brief cameo on Saturday Night Live alongside host Larry David. The sketch featured the two men on a sinking ship, with David's character asserting that he should be saved due to his wealth. Sanders played Bernie Sanderswitzky, a nod to his Jewish upbringing, and labeled David's character as the 1 percent.

Watch the uncanny duo below. Julie Kliegman

8:06 a.m. ET
Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images

Turkey is at capacity with accepting refugees, but will continue to do so as people flee Syria, the nation's deputy prime minister said Sunday, The Associated Press reports.

"In the end, these people have nowhere else to go," Numan Kurtulmuş said. "Either they will die beneath the bombings and Turkey will...watch the massacre like the rest of the world, or we will open our borders."

Turkey's border has been closed for three days as they provide aid to 35,000 Syrians on the other side. The nation has 3 million refugees, 2.5 million of whom fled Syria. The European Union has encouraged Turkey to host refugees, offering the nation 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion) in incentives to do so. Julie Kliegman

7:34 a.m. ET
Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images

International powers condemned North Korea for defying international warnings Sunday by launching a long-range rocket that the United Nations and others believe is a cover for a test of a ballistic missile that could reach the United States mainland, The Washington Post reports. It comes a month after the rogue state claimed to have detonated a hydrogen bomb.

U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice called it "yet another destabilizing and provocative action" and "a flagrant violation of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions." South Korea, Japan, China, Russia, Britain, France, and the European Union also condemned the launch, CNN reports.

The U.N. Security Council is set to hold an 11 a.m. emergency meeting in New York to go over a potential response to North Korea. Julie Kliegman

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