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First Read’s Morning Clips: Back to the Drawing Board

TRUMP AGENDA: Back to the drawing board on health care

Leigh Ann Caldwell offers the latest on the health care negotiations and yesterday’s delay.

Benjy Sarlin fact-checks the claim that the drop in insured Americans under GOP health care plans is largely due to the fact that more people would choose not to have insurance.

The New York Times, on Mitch McConnell: “Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, has long enjoyed a reputation as a master tactician. But when it comes to repealing the Affordable Care Act, he seems to have miscalculated in the first round of play.”

And from Dan Balz in the Washington Post: “For Republicans, Obamacare was always the great unifier. In a fractious party, everyone agreed that the Affordable Care Act was the wrong solution to what ailed the nation’s health-care system, with too much government and too little freedom for consumers. Replacing Obamacare has become the party’s albatross, a sprawling objective still in search of a solution. The effort to make good on a seven-year promise has cost the Trump administration precious months of its first year in office, with tax restructuring backed up somewhere in the legislative pipeline, infrastructure idling somewhere no one can see it and budget deadlines looming.”

Insurers are lamenting Senate efforts to pull the individual mandate, the Wall Street Journal writes.

POLITICO looks at how Chuck Schumer kept his party and activists together on health care.

The progressive group PCCC is up with a TV ad targeting Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).

The pro-Trump group that had booked ads criticizing Republican Dean Heller over his health care opposition now says that it’s pulling the spots.

A new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll shows that just 17 percent of Americans say they approve of the Senate health care bill.

“The health-care overhaul that Senate leaders floated this past week does more than roll back an entitlement Republicans have loathed since the day it was enacted in 2010. It portends a deeper struggle over the safety net that pits the elderly against the poor,” writes the Wall Street Journal.

The Washington Post notes that Republican lawmakers who neither fear nor revere Trump are feeling increasingly emboldened to go their own way.

From Andrea Mitchell, Ken Dilanian and Courtney Kube: “When the White House issued a statement Monday evening threatening to exact ‘a heavy price’ in response to a potential chemical attack by the Syrian government, senior national security officials were caught off guard. White House officials say there were consultations, but key officials who help make Middle East policy at the Pentagon and the State Department had no idea the statement was coming, multiple U.S. officials told NBC News. Many of them knew about the intelligence suggesting possible preparations for a chemical attack, but they weren't aware the White House was going to issue a public threat of military action — a major step. The disconnect underscores the extent to which President Trump is making foreign policy on the fly, with little regard for the opinions of the diplomatic and military establishments, and with a freewheeling style that couldn't be more different from the lawyerly approach of the Obama team, current and former U.S. officials told NBC News.”

The New York Times: “Paul Manafort, who was forced out as President Trump’s campaign chairman last summer after five months of infighting and criticism about his business dealings with pro-Russian interests, disclosed Tuesday that his consulting firm had received more than $17 million over two years from a Ukrainian political party with links to the Kremlin.”

Roger Stone will testify in the House Russia probe next month.

The Washington Post: “Trump attorney Jay Sekulow’s family has been paid millions from charities they control.”

Sarah Palin is suing the New York Times for defamation.

OFF TO THE RACES: Gillespie gets grilled on health care

IL-GOV: The health care debate is helping Democratic candidates ratchet up pressure on Rauner.

MA-SEN: Elizabeth Warren appears to be in good shape for re-election, a new poll finds.

MT-SEN: A district court judge from Billings is the latest to say he’s weighing a run against Jon Tester.

NJ-GOV: Kim Guadagno is weighing in on efforts to overhaul the state’s biggest insurer.

VA-GOV: Ed Gillespie is getting grilled on health care wherever he goes, the Washington Post notes. “In an interview, Gillespie said his three priorities for the federal health-care overhaul are protecting states such as Virginia that did not expand Medicaid to low-income adults from quicker cuts to the federal program; reducing premiums and out-of-pocket expenses; and making sure patients with serious conditions can still get covered.”

WI-SEN: From the AP: “Deep-pocketed political neophyte Nicole Schneider has ruled out a run for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin as a Republican.”