OBAMA AGENDA: Police officers shot in Ferguson
Breaking overnight: "Two police officers suffered ‘very serious’ wounds after being shot early Thursday during a demonstration in Ferguson, Missouri, authorities said. Gunfire rang out as about 50 protesters and about 30 police officers remained outside the Ferguson Police Department shortly after midnight local time (1 a.m. ET) at a dwindling rally following the resignation of the embattled force's chief."
From the AP: "U.S. military and intelligence officials are voicing increasing pessimism about a key tenet of the Obama administration's strategy to dislodge the Islamic State group and stabilize Iraq. They say they are seeing little sign of any political accommodation between the country's Shiite-led government and an alienated Sunni population from which the extremist force is drawing money and personnel."
Obama's proposal to authorize military force on Capitol Hill is really in trouble, POLITICO notes.
Benjamin Netanyahu says he sees a "real danger" of losing his re-election bid.
More Secret Service troubles: The Washington Post broke late yesterday that two senior Secret Service agents are under investigation for driving a car into a White House barricade after drinking.
CONGRESS: GOP united in criticizing Obama on foreign policy
The New York Times on how foreign policy is uniting congressional Republicans: "The renewed emphasis on foreign policy has done more than provide Republicans with a rallying point — it has also given them a respite from internal divisions that were exposed in an unsuccessful effort to block the president’s immigration actions and the embarrassing collapse of border security and abortion legislation in the House."
The Washington Post on Tom Cotton's new role: Leading conservative hawk. And there's this observation: "Unlike the 2010 Republican wave election, which produced a class that flashed a non-interventionist, war-weary streak embodied by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), the 2014 class is a more hawkish crowd."
The bipartisan human trafficking bill might be derailed by the insertion of an anti-abortion provision that's causing flared tempers on both sides.
OFF TO THE RACES: Why sitting governors have a fundraising disadvantage
CHRISTIE: WNYC reports: "The political operative who helped mastermind the notorious lane closures at the George Washington Bridge – and is now cooperating with a federal investigation of the Bridgegate scandal – had more extensive contact with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s inner circle than the governor has acknowledged."
CLINTON: A top talker today, from the New York Times: "Mrs. Clinton, many Democrats say, is simply too big to fail."
And from the Washington Post: "Senior Democrats are increasingly worried that Hillary Rodham Clinton is not ready to run for president, fearing that the clumsy and insular handling of the nine-day fracas over her private e-mails was a warning sign about the campaign expected to launch next month."
Dan Balz has this smart take: "The absence of a strong Democratic bench has never been more apparent."
The Wall Street Journal looks back at the Clintons' 2009 decision to run Hillary Clinton's email through the private server at their home. "A private server had obvious advantages. It would give Mrs. Clinton more control over her email, people familiar with her team’s reasoning said. Privately, aides of the former president worried that adding her account would make the system a target for hackers. They also weren’t aware she would use it for all her official correspondence."
POLITICO, on the Clinton strategy: "In order to hasten the issue’s fade to irrelevance, Clinton’s team is redoubling its hiring and organizing efforts within the early presidential nominating states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, operating as if she were facing a serious Democratic challenger. Allies think such political maneuvers would surely draw headlines given the political press corps’ deep appetite for news of Clinton’s plans over the coming months, distracting from the email questions."
(Hmmm, where have we seen that headline and story before?)
GRAHAM: TIME: "Almost two months after the South Carolina Republican announced that he was “definitely” looking at a presidential run, an online straw poll from his home state’s party still did not include him."
O’MALLEY: After saying he’s “a little sick” of the email story, Martin O’Malley said this morning that it’s “important” that a secretary of state use an official email server.
RUBIO: Rubio's slow-and-steady approach is winning fans, writes the National Review.
And around the country…
FLORIDA: Marc Caputo reports on the early race to replace Marco Rubio
ILLINOIS: The Chicago Sun Times' Lynn Sweet: "Rep. Aaron Schock’s political director went on 'official' New York trip"
UTAH: Utah lawmakers - with the backing of the Mormon church -- have passed a bill banning LGBT discrimination.
*** Thursday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Tamron Hall speaks with Alderman from St. Louis Antonio French and President of the St. Louis Chapter of the NAACP Adolphus Pruitt about the 2 cops that were shot in Ferguson last night after Police Chief Thomas Jackson announced his resignation, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) about his new Iran sanctions bill, and Hip hop artist and actor Cliff “The Method Man” Smith about his new movie: The Cobbler.
*** Thursday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews Sen. Tim Kaine, “Meet the Press” Moderator Chuck Todd, Photojournalist Bradley Rayford, who witnessed the police shooting in Ferguson, MO last night, Democratic strategist Kiki McLean, the AP’s Julie Pace, NBC’s Ron Allen and Ron Mott and Retired Col. Jack Jacobs.