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First Read’s Morning Clips

OBAMA AGENDA: Authorizing strikes in Iraq

The Wall Street Journal: "President Barack Obama authorized targeted airstrikes and emergency assistance missions in northern Iraq, saying Thursday the U.S. must act to protect American personnel and prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in the face of advances by violent Islamist militants."

The New York Times lede: "In sending warplanes back into the skies over Iraq, President Obama on Thursday night found himself exactly where he did not want to be. Hoping to end the war in Iraq, Mr. Obama became the fourth president in a row to order military action in that graveyard of American ambition."

So far, the move is seeing little resistance from Congress, writes the Wall Street Journal.

The fighting is back on in Gaza after a three-day truce. The Associated Press: "Israel launched at least 10 airstrikes in response to rocket and mortar fire from Gaza. One hit the backyard of a mosque and killed a 10-year-old boy, Palestinian officials said. In Israel, two people were hurt by rocket fire, police said. It is not clear if the renewed fighting will derail the Cairo talks, which are aimed at reaching a sustainable truce, or if Egyptian mediators can find a way to prevent further escalation."

Obama signed a $16.3 billion veterans’ health reform bill into law Thursday.

ABOUT LAST NIGHT: Alexander wins – but with less than 50%

TN-SEN (GOP): Alexander - 49.6% Carr - 40.5% Flinn - 5.2%

TN-SEN (DEM): Ball - 36.4% Adams - 35.6% Davis - 17.6%

TN-04: DesJarlais - 44.9% Tracy - 44.8%

TN-03: Fleischmann - 50.8% Wamp - 49.2%

From NBCNews.com: "Any hopes the tea party had of knocking off an incumbent Republican senator this midterm cycle were shattered Thursday when Sen. Lamar Alexander won the Tennessee GOP primary. The Associated Press called the race for the two-term senator whose fundraising advantage helped him survive a challenge from conservative state Rep. Joe Carr.

Scott DesJarlais may have survived the challenge from Jim Tracy after all. The Tennessean: "With all precincts reported, the secretary of state's office reported that DesJarlais, R-South Pittsburg, had defeated the Shelbyville Republican, 34,787 votes to 34,752 votes. The results are unofficial. Tennessee does not have an automatic recount law, but a candidate can request one from state and party officials. There also could be uncounted absentee or provisional ballots."

The Tennessean also looks ahead to the Senate general election. "[E]ven though the Tennessee Democratic Party remains undermanned compared with the state's dominant Republicans, it at least will have a candidate this fall who's not a national joke — something the party couldn't say two years ago."

OFF TO THE RACES: Libertarians of the world, unite!

Robert Draper asks in the New York Times Magazine: "Has the ‘Libertarian Moment’ Finally Arrived?" MORE: "Libertarians, who long have relished their role as acerbic sideline critics of American political theater, now find themselves and their movement thrust into the middle of it."

The Wall Street Journal writes of the NBC/WSJ poll earlier this week: "[W]ith their blood boiling and Election Day only three months away, voters look ready to do … maybe not too much."

The Washington Post sums up the short term/ long term dilemma that immigration poses for Republicans: “The tough rhetoric can help Republicans with their goal of making the mid-terms a referendum on Obama’s leadership in their bid to win the Senate. And it helps aspiring presidential candidates as they seek early support among conservatives who will be important in deciding the nomination. But the strategy runs counter to the party’s announcement — after losing the presidential race two years ago — that its future depends largely on broadening its appeal to minority groups and that its viability as a national force in 2016 and beyond depends on making inroads with Latinos, one of the fastest-growing voting blocs.”

ALASKA: NBC's Kasie Hunt talked to Mark Begich about the cease-and-desist letter his Senate colleague Lisa Murkowsi sent requesting that an ad mentioning her be taken down. "’The ad is factual, it talks about the 80 percent of the time we vote together,’ said Begich, who's one of a half dozen endangered Democratic incumbents whose political fate will determine whether Republicans take control of the Senate in the midterm elections. 'And that is laying out what we've been saying and what Alaskans have been telling me they love, and that's a delegation working together.'"

The Alaska Dispatch News: "Independent groups supporting Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Begich and Republican challenger Dan Sullivan have launched yet another salvo of ads, with Sullivan’s backers charging that Begich allies are trying to meddle in the GOP primary election that’s less than two weeks away."

HAWAII: The Wall Street Journal reports from Honolulu on the Democratic brawl in the state's upcoming primary.

IOWA: From the AP: "Iowa's Republican Gov. Terry Branstad has spent the past year leading an effort to seize control of his state party, hoping to send a message that the kickoff presidential caucuses will be welcoming to all 2016 GOP hopefuls. But as conservative prospects flood the state for a major annual gathering of evangelical Christians this weekend, it's not clear whether the party makeover will make Iowa more attractive to a mainstream GOP contender."

The Washington Post looks at Bruce Braley’s stumbles, including a dispute over a neighbor’s chickens.

KENTUCKY: Mitch McConnell is campaigning in coal country too after Alison Grimes stumped there with Bill Clinton. The AP: "Rarely, if ever, mentioning Alison Lundergan Grimes by name, McConnell instead said unspecified "people are against the Kentucky way of life and need to be sent a strong message by the voters in November. ..."

MICHIGAN: From the Free Press: "Michigan Republicans say Democrat Lisa Brown, who wants to be her party’s nominee for lieutenant governor in the November election, has violated state election law by failing to form a campaign finance committee. The Michigan Secretary of State’s office said today it is investigating the complaint."

MONTANA: From one of us(!): "Montana Sen. John Walsh announced Thursday he is ending his campaign following a report that much of his U.S. Army War College research paper was taken from other sources without proper attribution, NBC News has confirmed. Walsh emailed supporters saying he is ending his campaign because the plagiarism controversy 'has become a distraction from the debate you expect and deserve.'"

What's next, from The Missoulian: "Democrats will be hard-pressed in quickly finding a strong candidate for Montana's U.S. Senate election after incumbent John Walsh's abrupt withdrawal from the campaign in a plagiarism controversy. ... As attention shifted from Walsh's troubles to his replacement, a potential white knight for the Democrats, former Gov. Brian Schweitzer, said he's not interested in the job. No one else in the state party has comparable political star power."

NORTH CAROLINA: Group Concerned Veterans for America is up with an ad hitting Kay Hagan on troubles at the VA -- but it came on the day that the president signed a compromise reform bill into law.

VIRGINIA: The latest in the McDonnell trial, from the Richmond Times Dispatch: "The former director of the Executive Mansion told investigators that she believed Gov. Bob McDonnell was “in denial” about the first lady’s “mental capacity.” Sarah Scarbrough testified Thursday that Maureen McDonnell said she did not want to be first lady, was often sad and upset, and could be sneaky. She also acknowledged saying the first lady’s attitude could be, 'Her way or no way.'"

PROGRAMMING NOTES.

*** Friday’s “The Daily Rundown” line-up: NBC’s Chuck Todd interviews NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski, NSC’s Ben Rhodes, Fmr. Sen. Bob Dole, Rep. John Conyers, John Dean, Dan Rather, Elizabeth Drew

*** Friday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Betty Nguyen interviews MSNBC Military Analyst General Barry McCaffrey and Former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Michael Leiter on the possible Iraq airstrikes and humanitarian effort; Legal Analyst Lisa Green on the guilty verdict for Theodore Wafer in the murder of Renisha McBride; and NBC News contributor Raul Reyes on U.S. schools bracing for up to 50,000 undocumented kids starting school this fall.

*** Friday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill, Gen. Barry McCaffrey, Nixon author John Dean, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, MSNBC Contributor Steve Schmidt, “Astronaut Wives Club” author Lily Koppel and Beth Williams, the wife of the last astronaut C.C. Williams.

*** Saturday’s “MSNBC Live Weekends” line-up at 2pmET: TJ Holmes fills in for Craig Melvin and his guests include the Des Moines Register’s Kathie Obradovich, Lt. Col Peter Lerner of the IDF, Samer Badawi of +972 Magazine, and Jordan Wright, granddaughter of Redskins founder George Preston Marshall.

*** Sunday’s “MSNBC Live Weekends” line-up at 3pmET: TJ Holmes fills in for Craig Melvin and his guests include Fmr. Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM), medical ethicist Arthur Caplan, former Washington Post Jerusalem Bureau Chief Janine Zacharia, Reuters investigative reporter David Rohde, and Michele Roberts, the new Executive Director of the National Basketball Players Association.