First Read's Morning Clips

OBAMA AGENDA: Transportation takes center stage

"President Barack Obama on Wednesday will announce plans to speed up permits for building roads, bridges and other infrastructure, part of a broader effort to highlight the administration's focus on transportation as a highway trust fund runs dry," the Wall Street Journal reports. "A White House official said the new plan would add to prior efforts to "cut through red tape and expedite permitting decisions," while retaining environmental protections."

More alarming climate news, via the New York Times: "The accelerating rate of climate change poses a severe risk to national security and acts as a catalyst for global political conflict, a report published Tuesday by a leading government-funded military research organization concluded. The Center for Naval Analyses Military Advisory Board found that climate change-induced drought in the Middle East and Africa is leading to conflicts over food and water and escalating longstanding regional and ethnic tensions into violent clashes. The report also found that rising sea levels are putting people and food supplies in vulnerable coastal regions like eastern India, Bangladesh and the Mekong Delta in Vietnam at risk and could lead to a new wave of refugees."

Roll Call: 'The White House wants the Senate’s $85 billion tax extenders bill amended so that it does not add to the deficit, but stopped short of issuing a veto threat Tuesday."

Sens. Mark Udall and Ron Wyden are taking on the Obama administration for what they call "a culture of misinformation" regarding warrantless surveillance by the NSA.

The Wall Street Journal: "Vice President Joe Biden's son and a close friend of Secretary of State John Kerry's stepson have joined the board of a Ukrainian gas producer controlled by a former top security and energy official for deposed President Viktor Yanukovych."


NEBRASKA: The Obama World-Herald writes that Ben Sasse's dominant win in the Senate primary "affirms Tea Party influence in Nebraska."

The World-Herald also writes that it was Pete Ricketts' "persistence" that got him over the finish line in the tough GOP primary for governor. "The Omaha investor kept chugging along, even after Attorney General Jon Bruning stole the spotlight in February with an 11th-hour bid. Ricketts kept moving forward, even after Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman attempted to crown Bruning as his successor with an 11th-hour endorsement last week."

By the way: Rep. Lee Terry survived a surprisingly strong primary challenge but only picked up 53 percent of the vote last night.

The Wall Street Journal's take: "Mr. Sasse's victory gives the conservative groups what may be their only major win during the 2014 primary cycle. Tea-party-aligned candidates lost in last week's North Carolina GOP primary, and they trail establishment favorites in polling in Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky and Mississippi. The next race to watch between establishment and tea-party Republicans comes June 24, when voters in Oklahoma will choose between Rep. James Lankford and former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon, who like Mr. Sasse has Mr. Cruz's endorsement."

WEST VIRGINIA : Here's Democratic Senate nominee Natalie Tennant laying out her general election argument against Capito, per the Charleston Gazette: "Tennant said she saw the race as a choice between “Washington politics” and “West Virginia values.” ... “There’s been documentation after documentation that shows she [Capito] has done the bidding of Wall Street when she has voted to allow CEOs of big banks to receive bonuses while the taxpayers were bailing them out,” Tennant said."

Worth noting: West Virginia is now officially set to elect its first female senator.

Roll Call's Abby Livingston on former Maryland GOP chairman Alex Mooney's win in the primary to replace Shelly More Capito: "Mooney has long sought a seat in Congress, considering a 2012 bid to replace his former boss, ex-Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett of Maryland, when it was unclear if the Republican would seek re-election. But many state and national Republicans are jittery over whether a tea party candidate in a state so reliant on federal funds can be viable, along with the fact that Mooney crossed state lines to run for Congress."

NEW JERSEY: "Councilman Ras Baraka, the fiery scion of a militant poet, was elected mayor of Newark on Tuesday, signaling a likely shift in the direction that New Jersey’s largest city had embarked upon for most of the last decade."

OFF TO THE RACES: Is Cantor in primary trouble?

Chris Christie says it would be "stressful" to run against Jeb Bush for president because he considers the former Florida governor "a wonderful friend."

Sen. Marco Rubio repeated his economic argument about climate change Tuesday but did not say - as he did in an interview Sunday - that he doesn't believe human activity is largely responsible for changes in the climate.

Add Sen. Rob Portman to the list of GOP pols talking about how to address poverty. In an appearance on FOX News Tuesday, the Ohio lawmaker focused on upward mobility, sentencing reforms and recidivism prevention. “Republicans and all Americans ought to be focused on this issue,” he said, advocating for “constructive conservativism” to implement poverty-reduction strategies that “use evidence-based research to determine what's the best way to do it and require results and performance.

ARKANSAS: An internal poll from Tom Cotton's campaign shows the Republican up 42-40 percent over Mark Pryor, a dramatic difference from NBC/Marist polling that found Pryor up 11 points.

IOWA: The same day that she picked up backing from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Joni Ernst got the endorsement of the NRA. (GOP rival Sam Clovis got a nod from Bob Vander Plaats)

FLORIDA: Errrr, oops. The candidate Democrats touted as a great challenger to Florida special election winner David Jolly is dropping out amid charges he fudged his educational credentials.

KENTUCKY: The New York Times profiles Mitch McConnell's wife, former labor secretary Elaine Chao, calling her "an unapologetically ambitious operator with an expansive network, a short fuse, and a seemingly inexhaustible drive to get to the top and stay there."

Here's a strategy we haven't seen before: McConnell challenger Matt Bevin sent out a blast email yesterday crowing that he was NOT endorsed by the "liberally biased" Lexington Herald-Leader. It doesn't seem that Bevin shied away from seeking that nod earlier this year, though: the paper noted in its editorial backing McConnell that Bevin met with the board twice.

LOUISIANA: Mary Landrieu’s new series of ads features her dad, the former mayor of New Orleans.

MICHIGAN: NBC's Frank Thorp reports: "Longtime Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., will not be on the ballot for re-election this year after failing to secure enough valid signatures ahead of the Aug. 5 primary, election officials said Tuesday ... Conyers is expected to appeal the decision, but if it stands it could derail Conyers' bid for a 26th term in Congress. If Conyers were to win in November, he would become the longest serving current member of the House of Representatives, giving him the "Dean" title that Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., is giving up after her retires at the end of this term."

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Politico: “Scott Brown retired from the Army National Guard at a private Pentagon ceremony Tuesday afternoon. The Republican, running for New Hampshire Senate, signed up in 1978, at 19. He eventually became an officer and, after law school, part of the Judge Advocate General. After 35 years of service, he retires at 54 with the rank of colonel.”

NEW JERSEY: Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) has endorsed Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman in the NJ-12 Dem primary.

NORTH CAROLINA: "Clay Aiken edged out his now-deceased opponent Keith Crisco to become the apparent winner in the Democratic primary for a North Carolina congressional seat, according to a vote count released by the state’s Board of Elections on Tuesday."

VIRGINIA: Is Eric Cantor facing some trouble? The Washington Post: "This week, Cantor’s opponent in the June 10 primary — a tea party activist named David Brat — is gaining national attention as a potential threat to Cantor’s hold on his solidly Republican, suburban Richmond district. Brat has won support from some big-name conservatives and has tapped into discontent across Virginia’s 7th Congressional District. On Wednesday, Brat planned to travel to Washington to meet with leading conservative agitators, a sign that his effort is starting to be taken seriously at the national level."


*** Wednesday’s “The Daily Rundown” line-up: NBC's Chuck Todd interviews West Virginia's Democratic Senatorial Candidate Natalie Tennant, former New Jersey Governor Christie Todd Whitman, Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and NBC’s Ron Allen.

*** Wednesday’s “Jansing & Co.” line-up: Chris Jansing interviews Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times Lynn Sweet, Senior Political Reporter & Politics Managing Editor for the Huffington Post Amanda Terkel, Political Analyst & Contributor Zerlina Maxwell, and GOP Pollster Chris Wilson. Also, Chris will discuss the death penalty and lethal injection with Enterprise Editor for The Tulsa World Ziva Branstetter, Robert Campbell’s attorney Jonathan Ross, and Israel Santana who is family member of the victim that was killed by Campbell in 1991.

*** Wednesday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Tamron Hall interviews The Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky and Politico’s Anna Palmer on Karl Rove’s comments on Hillary Clinton; Jacob Gadd from The American Legion & chairman Jon Soltz on the VA scandal; Clint Hill, fmr Secret Service agent for JFK, on Jackie Kennedy’s newly discovered personal letters.

*** Wednesday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews Sen. Debbie Stabenow, NBC’s Stephanie Gosk, Richard Engel, Luke Russert and Ron Allen, Bloomberg’s Jeanne Cummings and the Cook Political Report’s Amy Walter.

*** Wednesday’s “The Reid Report” line-up: MSNBC’s Joy Reid interviews journalist Adaora Udoji about the latest on the kidnapped girls in Nigeria. Plus, The Huffington Post’s Arthur Delaney and The Nation’s Mychal Denzel Smith talk about Paul Ryan’s poverty policies.

*** Wednesday’s “Ronan Farrow Daily” line-up: MSNBC’s Ronan Farrow takes a look at the politics of age & health in presidential politics with MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki and the Washington Post’s Robert Costa. We’ll talk to Senator Bernie Sanders, chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs committee, about the scandal around VA Secretary Shinseki. Former NBA player Etan Thomas will be here to discuss Magic Johnson’s comments on Donald Sterling. Economist Jared Bernstein will be on to talk about the politics of minimum wage and whether passing a national wage raise is possible. And Fiona Dawson, host of Transmilitary, and Landon Wilson, a transgender Navy sailor, will discuss Chelsea Manning and trans issues in the military.