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First Read's Morning Clips

A roundup of the most important news stories of the day.

OFF TO THE RACES: All tied up

A new Quinnipiac poll shows it's anyone's game on the GOP side, with Rubio, Walker, Bush, Carson and Huckabee EACH coming in at 10 percent support. And there's new numbers on Clinton's "honest and trustworthy" perception too.

BUSH: The Washington Post listened in to his remarks to an Alabama GOP group, where he said "I think a lot of leaders in public life or aspiring leaders get overwhelmed by the here and now, they change their views because they’re trying to mirror the sentiments of the time. And they get lost."

From the AP: "During his transition from Florida governor to likely presidential candidate, Jeb Bush served on the boards or as an adviser to at least 15 companies and nonprofits, a dizzying array of corporate connections that earned him millions of dollars and occasional headaches."

CLINTON: More eyebrow-raising stuff about the Clintons and their finances from POLITICO. "Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime confidant of Bill and Hillary Clinton, earned about $10,000 a month as a full-time employee of the Clinton Foundation while he was providing unsolicited intelligence on Libya to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to multiple sources familiar with the arrangement." CNN notes that she engaged in some rare discussion of her faith in South Carolina.

NBC's Leigh Ann Caldwell writes that South Carolina needs Hillary Clinton more than she needs it.

KASICH: He'll declare his bid sometime after June 30, the Washington Post writes.

PATAKI: He's in. His website,, is live with a presidential announcement video. It's his day to announce, and Paul Steinhauser writes that he's not kidding around this time.

PAUL: Per a release: “In advance of Rand Paul’s latest attempts to hide his divisive and outdated policies with a book tour in southeast Iowa, the Iowa Democratic Party will hold its own book signing for Rand Paul—Take a Seat: Clinging to the Policies of the Past that Divide America, to highlight the Real Rand Paul TODAY at 10 a.m. on 421 W. River Drive in Davenport.”

RUBIO: His campaign has a new video contrasting his recent visit to South Carolina with Hillary Clinton’s from yesterday.

SANDERS: In New Hampshire, he took on Clinton on trade, telling NH1: "I think it’s important for Sec. Clinton and all candidates, not just Sec. Clinton, to have an opinion on the issue, you can be for it, you can be against it, I’m against it."

SANTORUM: He's in, and he's going to have to try to replicate his 2012 success without his former team, writes NBC's Andrew Rafferty.

He writes in a Des Moines Register op-ed: "Today, nearly 75 percent of Americans don't hold a college degree and about 90 percent don't own their own business. Who is fighting for them?"

WALKER: He's defending mandatory ultrasounds, calling the technology "just a cool thing out there.”

And around the country...

NEBRASKA: "Nebraska became the first conservative state in more than 40 years to abolish the death penalty on Wednesday when lawmakers boldly voted 30-19 to override the (Republican) governor's veto," writes NBC News.

OBAMA AGENDA: Russia gathering troops near Ukraine border

Reuters: "Russia's army is massing troops and hundreds of pieces of weaponry including mobile rocket launchers, tanks and artillery at a makeshift base near the border with Ukraine, a Reuters reporter saw this week."

Top State Department official Wendy Sherman will leave after the conclusion of the Iran talks, CNN reports. The first hearing has been held in that election-year House GOP lawsuit against the Obama administration on the health care law.


*** Thursday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Tamron Hall speaks NBC’s Charles Hadlock and Jay Gray about the latest on the flooding in Texas, with Amy Reed about a report that the Newark office of the FBI is investigating Johnson and Johnson’s laparoscopic power Morcellator device that allegedly spreads cancer in women – Amy says she is a victim of this, and NBA legend and champion with the LA Lakers and Golden State Warriors Jamaal Wilkes about the NBSA finals and his new memoir.

*** Thursday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell will interview Rep. Peter King, Fmr. U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey, the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, USA Today’s Susan Page and NBC’s Bill Neely, Jacob Rascon, Jim Miklaszewski and Jay Gray.