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First Read’s Morning Clips

OBAMA AGENDA: Foreign-policy approval rating hits all-time low

Here's the link to the big story from one of us(!) on the new NBC/WSJ poll.

Competing headlines this morning: The New York Times "Obama Is Said to Consider Selective Airstrikes on Sunni Militants." The Wall Street Journal: "U.S. Rules Out Iraq Airstrikes for Now"

The New York Times editorial board says Obama has, "so far, struck the right note on Iraq."

Sunni militants attacked the country's largest refinery, per the AP: "The Beiji refinery accounts for a little more than a quarter of the country's entire refining capacity - all of which goes toward domestic consumption for things like gasoline, cooking oil and fuel for power stations. Any lengthy outage at Beiji risks long lines at the gas pump and electricity shortages, adding to the chaos already facing Iraq."

Obama will meet today with top Congressional leaders about the way forward in Iraq.

On the capture of Ahmed Abu Khattala, the New York Times writes: "Despite extensive speculation about the possible role of Al Qaeda in directing the attack, Mr. Abu Khattala is a local, small-time Islamist militant. He has no known connections to international terrorist groups, say American officials briefed on the criminal investigation and intelligence reporting, and other Benghazi Islamists and militia leaders who have known him for many years."

Khattala isn't going to Gitmo, the NSC said last night. Spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden: "Some have suggested that he should go to GTMO. Let me rule that out from the start. The Administration's policy is clear on this issue: we have not added a single person to the GTMO population since President Obama took office, and we have had substantial success delivering swift justice to terrorists through our federal court system."

The new Ukrainian president says he's prepared to call a cease-fire after a phone call with Russia's Putin, the AP reports from Kiev.

Per NBC's Kristen Welker, today will be outgoing White House press secretary Jay Carney's last briefing at the White House.

The New York Times: “Six additional Internal Revenue Service workers lost emails sought by congressional investigators when their computers crashed, investigators announced Tuesday, escalating Republican suspicions that the employees may have been trying to cover up political targeting of Tea Party organizations.”

Obama got a warm reception yesterday at an LGBT fundraiser for his action to bar federal contractors from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

CONGRESS: Barra is back on the Hill

From the Detroit Free Press: "General Motors CEO Mary Barra heads back before congressional investigators this morning armed with an internal report on what led to the recall of 2.6 million cars for a deadly defect but facing tough new questions about just how pervasive safety problems are at GM."

The race for House whip is showing the divisions within the conservative Republican Study Committee, writes the Wall Street Journal.

Roll Call has this roundup of the race: "Candidates for House GOP majority whip are pushing their cases hard in the last hours of the race, each promising to heal a party scarred by infighting and at the same time wrangle the conference into a united voting bloc."

Something that doesn't happen every day: Lindsey Graham and John McCain are split over whether the U.S. should engage with Iran to help with the crisis in Iraq.

Says Ted Cruz of one of his top GOP critics, Rep. Peter King: "“I’ve never met him. To be honest, I don’t think I had ever heard of him until he started getting on television attacking me."

OFF TO THE RACES: Braley leads Ernst by four points

Hillary Clinton on the Benghazi, yesterday: "I'm still looking for answers because it was a confusing and difficult time...There's a lot we don't know."

IOWA: A new Quinnipiac poll shows Bruce Braley hanging onto a slight lead over Joni Ernst, 44-40. There's an "unusual gender gap," with more women backing Braley and more men supporting Ernst. And 57% of respondents said Ernst's ads have been effective.

GEORGIA: At least as of now, Rep. Jack Kingston has the momentum in the runoff race against David Perdue, writes the Hill.

KENTUCKY: A pro-McConnell group is attacking Alison Lundergan Grimes on TV for failing to publicly address coal at a fundraiser with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

MISSISSIPPI: The New York Times asks this central question of the Cochran/McDaniel race: "Do voters hate spending even when it is spending that comes home to them?"

Mississippi Democratic operative James "Scooby Doo" Warren says he's leading a black GOTV effort for Cochran, via the Clarion Ledger.

Cochran is also getting heat for his bizarre "farm animal" comment in a radio ad by the Now or Never super PAC. "Tell Thad Cochran you're no farm animal. And you're not going to take being on the receiving end of his so-called fun any longer."

PROGRAMMING NOTES.

*** Wednesday’s “The Daily Rundown” line-up: NBC’s Chuck Todd interviews Fred Yang, Bill McInturff, NBC’s Richard Engel, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Rep. Ed Royce, NBC’s Shawna Thomas, Defense Atty Ed MacMahon, Sen. Claire McCaskill

*** Wednesday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Richard Lui, filling in for Tamron, interviews Rep. Lois Frankel from the Foreign Affairs Committee on Iraq; Washington Post’s Military Reporter Dan Lamothe on the Benghazi arrest; Guardian journalist Felicity Lawrence and former ambassador Mark Lagon on allegations of Thai shrimping boats bringing produce to the US using slave labor; and filmmaker Joe Berlinger on his upcoming documentary US vs. Whitey Bulger.

*** Wednesday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews Sen. Joe Manchin, Sen. Bob Menendez, NBC’s Richard Engel, USA Today’s Susan Page, the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza and International Rescue Committee’s Iraq country director Nora Love.

*** Wednesday’s “The Reid Report” line-up: MSNBC’s Joy Reid talks about U.S. options in Iraq with Michele Flournoy, former undersecretary of defense for policy. Plus, the politics of Benghazi after the arrest of the alleged mastermind with The Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky. FDR’s grandson, James Roosevelt, Jr., joins Joy to talk about the successes of the Affordable Care Act.