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First Read's Morning Clips

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

OFF TO THE RACES: RIP, Iowa straw poll?

The Iowa Straw poll may be on its deathbed, with a vote coming Friday on the event's fate.

Yahoo's Jon Ward has an in-depth look at the "all-out war" over voter contact data between the Kochs and the RNC.

The New York Times' Ashley Parker writes on a unique challenge for Republican candidates: finding a digital firm with the skills and experience they need.

BUSH: The big Washington Post piece on Jeb Bush's early stumbles: "In interviews this week, dozens of Bush backers and informed Republicans — most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to comment candidly — described an overly optimistic, even haughty exploratory operation. Strategic errors were exacerbated by unexpected stumbles by the would-be candidate and internal strife within his team, culminating in a staff shake-up this week." MORE: "Forced to make up lost ground, Bush, his aides and his super-PAC allies are now preparing plans to attack the records and experience of his GOP competition, especially Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Rand Paul (Ky.) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. A summer envisioned as a season of slow and warm introductions to voters is poised to be a battle as Bush tries to recapture his place atop the pack."

CARSON: He's calling himself a "pragmatic dove" in his speeches to Iowa conservatives.

CLINTON: She's planning a major announcement about a student loan reform plan, and it's got fingerprints from Elizabeth Warren's favorite policy experts, POLITICO writes.

Bill Clinton told Bloomberg that he would likely stop giving paid speeches if his wife becomes president.

FIORINA: Team Fiorina is out with a new web video arguing that Hillary Clinton's title and impressive travel statistics as Secretary of State don't amount to real accomplishments.

KASICH: The Washington Examiner writes that some influential South Carolina Republicans might not be happy with the Ohio governor's decision to hire two operatives who worked to unseat their governor in 2014.

TRUMP: He's heading to Iowa right after his June 16 announcement.

OBAMA AGENDA: What more U.S. military advisers to Iraq means

The Washington Post's take on the president's announcement of more military advisers in Iraq: "Taken together, the steps and limits show Obama’s deep-seated conviction that only the Iraqis can resolve a fight driven by Sunni feelings of anger, persecution and abandonment at the hands of the Shiite government in Baghdad. The president’s ­focus, for now, is on forcing the Iraqis to solve their own problems. He is also determined to keep Americans — who haven’t suffered a single combat casualty in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria — out of harm’s way."

How are Russians funding the conflict in Ukraine? Crowdfunding, writes the New York Times: "These organizations are part of an online campaign that is brazenly raising money for the war in eastern Ukraine, using common tactics that have at least tacit support from the government of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. Although they often portray their mission as humanitarian, most of the groups explicitly endorse the armed insurgency and vow to help equip forces in the two regions at the center of the fighting, Donetsk and Luhansk."

CONGRESS: Trade vote in House set for Friday

The latest on the trade vote, from the Wall Street Journal: "House Republican leaders worked to lock up support for fast-track trade legislation that could come to a vote as soon as Friday, attracting more GOP votes with new immigration and trade-enforcement provisions while also trying to stamp out a flare-up among Democrats. GOP leaders have concluded they have lined up enough support to give the fast-track bill a good chance of passing on Friday. An issue involving a workers’ aid program, however, threatened to upset their efforts to assemble a majority for the trade bill, prompting new talks between House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.)."


*** Thursday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell will interview Gov. Peter Shumlin, UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski, the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, USA Today’s Susan Page and NBC’s John Yang, Stephanie Gosk and Pete Williams.

*** Thursday’s “Live with Thomas Roberts” line-up: Thomas speaks with NOW President Terry O’Neill about a landmark birth control expansion in Oregon. Plus Fmr. US Marshal Mike Earp talks about the manhunt for two escaped prisoners in New York State.