OBAMA AGENDA: How the VA remarks played
The Wall Street Journal: "Obama Pushes Accountability at VA"
The Arizona Republic: "Obama addresses Phoenix VA scandal; McCain says remarks 'fell short'"
USA Today: "Obama says he won't tolerate misconduct at VA"
LA Times: "At least for now, Obama stands by VA Secretary Eric Shinseki"
The Arizona Republic reports: “The top executive for the Phoenix VA Health Care System has been directed to repay thousands of dollars in bonus money she received last month as the national controversy erupted over allegations of delayed care and deaths at the Carl T. Hayden Medical Center.”
The New York Times editorial board chastises Obama for his handling of the VA's problems, writing that "expressing outrage is hardly enough for a president who, as a candidate in 2008, criticized the agency and vowed to improve care and address backlogs. It is past time for a more visible personal commitment to right these wrongs as well as strong White House support for legislation that would make it possible for top agency officials to fire those responsible for wrongdoing."
Making headlines around the world: "Thailand's army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha took control of the government in a coup on Thursday saying the army had to restore order and push through reforms, two days after he declared martial law."
Bloomberg: "The U.S. sent 80 troops to Chad to help international efforts to rescue more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped last month by Islamist militants, the White House said."
CONGRESS: Dems will participate on Benghazi committee
Democrats will participate in the Benghazi select committee after all, saying that it's important for their party to be at the table despite what they call an "unfair" process.
NBC's Frank Thorp reports: "In a bipartisan 390 to 33 vote, the House voted to give the VA secretary more power to remove career employees serving as hospital directors or executives."
The Washington Post: 'House Majority Leader Eric I. Cantor (R-Va.) said Wednesday that he supports a GOP-sponsored measure that would allow the children of illegal immigrants who serve in the U.S. military to seek U.S. citizenship. But he declined again to say when or if he will schedule a vote on the proposal."
Roll Call notes that the defeats of Rep. Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey leave “a conservative hole in the House.”
OFF TO THE RACES: The “meh” election?
The New York Times writes that "With Tuesday’s primaries reinforcing the strength of the Republican establishment, House Democrats are reassessing their electoral strategy based on a major internal research project that shows their candidates stand a better chance when they portray Republicans as uncaring toward working-class Americans while they continue to back policies favoring the wealthy and corporate America."
One of us (!) reports that the super PAC funded by environmentalist billionaire Tom Steyer "will spend as much as $100 million this election season attacking Republicans in seven key states who it says are climate-science “deniers," elevating the issue of climate change in these contests."
An AP-GfK poll getting pickup nationwide today: "Meh: Nearly half don't care who controls Congress"
Jonathan Martin in the New York Times: "Hoping to push their agenda ahead of the presidential election, a group of prominent conservatives has devised a 121-page policy manifesto aimed at giving the Republican Party a message that will attract some of the middle-class voters the party lost in recent White House races." MORE: "The document, to be unveiled Thursday, features eight essays with proposals on issues including health care, taxes and education."
Some analysis from Reuters on a looming problem for Hillary Clinton: "There may well be nothing to hide. But the public perception is that the Clintons tend to get into the bunker and batten down the hatches whenever they are under scrutiny. Even when they are innocent."
Noted: Rick Perry is arguing that "the expansion of Internet gambling will result in the expansion of government and raise more questions about the government presence in our daily lives." (cc: Sheldon Adelson)
GEORGIA: Can Michelle Nunn win? The Upshot: "Demographic change has pushed Georgia far enough that a Democrat could conceivably squeak out a narrow win if everything goes right. But there should be no mistaking this race for a true tossup. Ms. Nunn will need to match the best performance by a Democratic candidate for federal office in more than a decade, even though she’s not an incumbent and the state’s white voters have become more conservative."
The nine-week runoff between David Perdue and Jack Kingston is shaping up to be bruising and very costly, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes.
IOWA: Roll Call writes that "With less than two weeks until Iowa’s congressional primaries, it’s still unclear whether a Republican Senate candidate can clear the 35 percent vote threshold needed to win the nomination outright."
KENTUCKY: NBC's Andrew Rafferty rounds up the first salvos in the Grimes-McConnell general election race.
The Washington Post notes that Grimes is making her gender a central piece of her campaign.
Rand Paul tells POLITICO that he’ll stump for McConnell in northern Kentucky, where the minority leader needs to make up ground with conservatives.
LOUISIANA: "The Louisiana State Legislature on Wednesday passed a bill that could force three of the state’s five abortion clinics to close, echoing rules passed in Alabama, Mississippi and Texas and raising the possibility of drastically reduced access to abortion across a broad stretch of the South," the New York Times writes.
Meanwhile, Common Core backers are accusing Gov. Bobby Jindal of making 2016 - not his real views on local education policy - his priority.
MISSISSIPPI: That Mississippi blogger case is still simmering. The Clarion-Ledger: "Clayton Kelly faces a second felony charge for allegedly photographing U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran's wife in a nursing home and using the photos in a political video ... Madison County District Attorney Michael Guest said the new charge is "photographing or filming another without permission where there is expectation of privacy."
NORTH CAROLINA: Republicans close ranks, per the Charlotte Observer: "In a rare move to reprimand one of their own, House Republicans took a vote of “no confidence” that effectively removes a vocal critic of Speaker Thom Tillis from the caucus.
PENNSYLVANIA: Looks like general election mode for Gov. Tom Corbett? The AP: " Pennsylvania's governor says he won't appeal a court decision that struck down the state's gay marriage ban. Gov. Tom Corbett's decision Wednesday means that same-sex marriage will remain legal in Pennsylvania, without the threat that a higher court will reinstate the ban."
WISCONSIN: A new Marquette University poll finds both Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke getting the support of 46 percent of registered voters.
*** Thursday’s “The Daily Rundown” line-up: NBC's Chuck Todd interviews Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), IAVA Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff, Texas Congressional Candidate John Ratcliffe, Democratic Pollster Mark Mellman and UCLA Political Science Professor Lynn Vavreck.
*** Thursday’s “Jansing & Co.” line-up: Chris Jansing interviews Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Washington Post Reporter Nia-Malika Henderson, USA Today Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page, Republican Strategist Rick Tyler, Former Communications Advisor to President Obama Corey Ealons, MSNBC Contributor and Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Affairs at Columbia University Dorian Warren, National Employment Law Project staff attorney Tsedeye Gebreselassie, Fifteen Minutes Public Relations founder Howard Bragman, and attorney Cheryl Pilate who’s client Russell Bucklew was just granted a stay of execution from the U.S. Supreme Court.
*** Thursday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Tamron Hall interviews Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee on the Democrats participation on the republican led Benghazi committee; former NFL players Ron Pritchard and JD Hill who are suing the NFL for supplying addictive drugs ; high school student Paris Gray who was given in-school suspension for her yearbook quote; and actors Jesse Metcalfe & Cara Santana on their recent trip to Botswana for UNICEF.
*** Thursday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews Rep. Elijah Cummings, author Sebastian Junger, Brennan Center for Justice President Michael Waldman, the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza and Kathleen Parker and Sam Kass, White House Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives.
*** Thursday’s “The Reid Report” line-up: MSNBC’s Joy Reid interviews Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA), Eric Boehlert from Media Matters for America, msnbc.com’s Irin Carmon, MSNBC Contributor and journalist Rula Jebreal and the Grio’s Kunbi Tinuoye