News Wrap: Polls open in high-profile congressional primaries; ISIS leader killed

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U.S. Senator and Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio speaks at a campaign rally in The Villages, Florida, March 13, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo - RTX2NJDD

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GWEN IFILL:  This was primary day in some states, with two big-name Republican senators working to hold onto their seats.

In Arizona, John McCain campaigned for a sixth term one day after turning 80.  And in Florida, Marco Rubio sought nomination for a second term, after dropping his presidential bid.

Also in Florida:  Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz faced Bernie Sanders backer Tim Canova.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  Good weather sent thousands more African migrants sailing for Sicily today.

Dan Rivers of Independent Television News reports at least 11,000 people have been rescued since Sunday.

DAN RIVERS:  They have risked everything to get this far, and now their desperation overwhelms them.  Some plunge into the water to swim the last few yards to safety.  Many must have feared they would never make it.

This vessel was carrying more than 500 migrants, mostly from the Horn of Africa, who had been packed into this small boat found drifting 13 miles off the coast of Libya.  The first off were dozens of children who might not fully appreciate the change they were in.  It was thanks to a Spanish aid agency that they were plucked to safety.

LAURA LANUZA, Proactiva Open Arms:  They were really desperate.  For us, it was really hard, because what we saw is basically many, many, many children, many babies and a lot of women, which is kind of exceptional, because, in general, there are more men traveling than women and children.  For them especially, this crossing is really, really difficult.

DAN RIVERS:  It shows how desperate they are when 5-day-old twins are found aboard, born into a migration, barely a week old and already homeless.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  The International Organization for Migration reports more than 100,000 people have reached Italy by boat this year.  More than 2,700 have died in the attempt.

GWEN IFILL:  In Italy, grieving survivors of last week’s earthquake paid final respects to loved ones today.  Hundreds gathered at a state-sponsored funeral in Amatrice, where at least 231 people were killed.  Firefighters and first-responders stood along caskets under makeshift tents as family members looked on.  Later, a mass was held, and mourners released white balloons.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  One of the Islamic State group’s leading figures has been killed in Northern Syria.  The militants say Abu Muhammad al-Adnani died today in Aleppo province.  A U.S. defense official says he was targeted in an airstrike.  He’s the ISIS leader who declared a modern-day caliphate across Syria and Iraq two years ago.

GWEN IFILL:  At least 10,000 people may have died so far in Yemen’s civil war.  That estimate today from the U.N. Humanitarian Office is nearly double any previous figure.  The fighting in Yemen has now lasted 18 months.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  In economic news:  France joined Germany today in dousing hopes for a free trade deal between the U.S. and the European Union.  A top German official said Sunday that negotiations have failed.

Today, French President Francois Hollande added his skepticism in a speech in Paris.

PRESIDENT FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, France (through translator):  The negotiations are bogged down.  Positions have not been respected.  It’s clearly unbalanced.  So, rather than prolonging talks, it is better to make sure that we can advise all parties that France will not be able to agree on an accord which has been prepared that way.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  The potential agreement has run into growing opposition in both the U.S. and Europe.  And Britain’s vote to leave the E.U. has further damaged prospects for a deal.

GWEN IFILL:  Back in this country, President Obama commuted the sentences of another 111 federal prison inmates.  That makes more than 670 during his time in office.  They’d been convicted of nonviolent drug crimes.  The president has argued that sentences in such cases are too long, and he’s called for congressional action to lessen the penalties.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  And on Wall Street, stocks gave back some of Monday’s gains.  The Dow Jones industrial average lost 48 points to close at 18454.  The Nasdaq fell nine points, and the S&P 500 slipped four.

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