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First Read’s Morning Clips: Teaming Up

OFF TO THE RACES: Cruz, Kasich team up

The NBC team's story on Cruz and Kasich joining forces to fight Trump: "The campaigns of Ted Cruz and John Kasich announced an agreement Sunday night to coordinate their efforts to prevent Donald Trump from winning the GOP's presidential nomination before the Republican National Convention. "To ensure that we nominate a Republican who can unify the Republican Party and win in November, our campaign will focus its time and resources in Indiana and in turn clear the path for Gov. Kasich to compete in Oregon and New Mexico," Cruz's campaign manager Jeff Roe said in a statement late Sunday. The Kasich campaign sent its own statement minutes later. "Our goal is to have an open convention in Cleveland, where we are confident a candidate capable of uniting the party and winning in November will emerge as the nominee," Kasich's chief strategist, John Weaver, wrote."

The New York Times' take: "The arrangement is a striking departure for Mr. Cruz, who has in the past rebuffed calls from some Republican leaders — including members of the Kasich campaign and Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee — to divvy up states in an effort to complicate Mr. Trump's path. The move also signals a major shift in tone from the Cruz campaign toward Mr. Kasich, whom Cruz aides have long cast as a spoiler in the race. Mr. Cruz has openly questioned whether Mr. Kasich was auditioning to be Mr. Trump's vice president."

And from the Washington Post: "The deal was discussed in a private meeting last week between Cruz campaign manager Jeff Roe and Kasich chief strategist John Weaver in Hollywood, Fla., at the sidelines of the Republican National Committee meeting, said a source with knowledge of the discussions who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The deal was finalized Sunday in phone calls between the two advisers."

Our latest NBC/WSJ poll shows Trump and Clinton holding strong leads in Pennsylvania.

Making headlines over the weekend: "Conservative billionaire Charles Koch said in an interview that aired Sunday that Hillary Clinton could possibly be preferable to a Republican for president. The influential donor, who, along with his brother David and their larger network, has been consistently criticized by the left for large contributions to conservative political campaigns, was asked on ABC if he thought that Bill Clinton was a better president than George W. Bush. Koch responded that he preferred Bill Clinton in certain respects."

America's CEOs are not happy with the populist tone of the presidential campaign, writes the Wall Street Journal. "While some observers believe candidates may soften their stances once elected, executives worry that for now, the rhetoric of the election discussion could weigh on consumer confidence, thwart any immigration overhaul and derail a sweeping 12-nation trade pact, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, that the U.S. struck last year and that many businesses support."

Getting an outsized role in big primaries this cycle? Tiny Rhode Island.

Here's the Washington Post on how transgender issues became a flashpoint in the GOP race.

Former presidential candidate Jim Webb weighed in on the $20 bill controversy: "One would think we could celebrate the recognition that Harriet Tubman will be given on future $20 bills without demeaning former president Andrew Jackson as a "monster," as a recent Huffington Post headline did. And summarizing his legendary tenure as being "known primarily for a brutal genocidal campaign against native Americans," as reported in The Post, offers an indication of how far political correctness has invaded our educational system and skewed our national consciousness."

SANDERS: From the New York Times: "Even as his chances of winning the Democratic presidential nomination slip away, Senator Bernie Sanders and his allies are trying to use his popularity to expand his political influence, setting up an ideological struggle for the soul of the Democratic Party in the post-Obama era. Aides to Mr. Sanders have been pressing party officials for a significant role in drafting the platform for the Democratic convention in July, aiming to lock in strong planks on issues like a $15-an-hour federal minimum wage, breaking up Wall Street banks and banning natural gas "fracking."

TRUMP: His campaign manager says that comments about Trump playing a "part" have been taken out of context.

POLITICO profiles the "vigilantes who patrol Trump's rallies." MORE: "Bikers for Trump became a protective force, and it's not alone. Another group, Lions of Trump, popped up online after Chicago to scour social media for likely protesters and expose them. Its website prominently quotes the Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. At a Trump rally in Wisconsin in late March, a local Tea Party activist arrived several hours early and assisted a campaign security consultants in identifying area progressive activists, who were then removed. And Citizens for Trump, an all-purpose grassroots support group, has deployed a team scouring social media for death threats to Trump, while a handful of its members tour the country on the lookout for protesters at rallies."

OBAMA AGENDA: An additional 250 U.S. special forces to Syria

Breaking this morning: "President Barack Obama on Monday announced the deployment to Syria of an additional 250 U.S. special operations forces to assist local troops who are trying to dislodge Islamic State extremists, significantly broadening the American presence in the war-torn country. The move will bring the number of personnel to roughly 300, up from about 50 special operations forces currently in Syria."

"The Obama administration will likely soon release at least part of a 28-page secret chapter from a congressional inquiry into 9/11 that may shed light on possible Saudi connections to the attackers. The documents, kept in a secure room in the basement of the Capitol, contain information from the joint congressional inquiry into "specific sources of foreign support for some of the Sept. 11 hijackers while they were in the United States."

POLITICO does a deep dive into the state of Obama's relationship with the United Kingdom.