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First Read's Morning Clips

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

OBAMA AGENDA: “Less than 50-50” on reaching nuke deal with Iran

Via POLITICO: “President Barack Obama pegged the chances of a nuclear agreement with Iran at “less than 50-50,” even as he worked to reassure Senate Democrats that he won’t accept a bad deal, according to a U.S. senator who attended a gathering at the White House.”

The New York Times writes that - deal or no deal - Greece is bracing for a collapsing economy.

And from the AP: "Greece's government was racing Thursday to finalize a plan of reforms for its third bailout, hoping this time the proposal will meet with approval from its European partners and stave off a potentially catastrophic exit from Europe's joint currency, the euro, within days. Details of Greece's reforms are to be submitted Thursday, giving time for creditors to review them ahead of a summit of the European Union's 28 members set for Sunday."

"The South Carolina House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly early Thursday to remove the Confederate flag from the Capitol grounds, just weeks after the fatal shootings of nine black church members reignited the flag debate," writes NBC News.

More from The State: "The House did not change the Senate bill after spending much of Wednesday considering amendments from Republicans who insisted on finding another way to honor the Confederate dead if the controversial banner was removed from the State House grounds. More than 25 amendments were voted down or rejected before they came for a vote."

CONGRESS: House passes No Child Left Behind rewrite

The Wall Street Journal: "The House on Wednesday narrowly endorsed a sweeping rewrite of the No Child Left Behind education law, passing 218-213 a measure aimed at significantly reducing the federal government’s role in K-12 education."

OFF TO THE RACES: On Jeb’s “People need to work longer hours”

The Washington Post looks at how the Puerto Rican debt crisis has become an issue for 2016.

Bloomberg has a smart take on the electorates that the GOP candidates have faced: "Of the 40 elections that the 17 announced or soon to announce GOP candidates have collectively run in at the state level (not all of them wins), only four of those contests were in presidential election years—Gilmore lost in Virginia in 2008, Lindsey Graham won re-election in South Carolina in 2008, Ted Cruz was elected in Texas in 2012, and Rick Santorum was re-elected in Pennsylvania in 2000. None of the other 13 candidates has ever faced statewide voters in a presidential election year."

BUSH: In Hudson, NH last night, Bush said: "You can love the Mexican culture, you can love your Mexican-American wife and also believe that we need to control the border," per NBC's Monica Alba.

And he told the Union Leader: "My aspiration for the country and I believe we can achieve it, is 4 percent growth as far as the eye can see. Which means we have to be a lot more productive, workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours and, through their productivity, gain more income for their families. That's the only way we're going to get out of this rut that we're in.” MORE: "In a statement, a Bush aide clarified that he was referring to the underemployed and part-time workers: “Under President Obama, we have the lowest workforce participation rate since 1977, and too many Americans are falling behind. Only Washington Democrats could be out-of-touch enough to criticize giving more Americans the ability to work, earn a paycheck, and make ends meet."

POLITICO notes that he's enjoying a spike in the polls again. The question is whether or not it will last.

CLINTON: From the New York Times: "Her presidential campaign has said little yet about the costs of her policy ideas or how she would pay for them, but Mrs. Clinton is calling for government activism on a scale that she has not sought since her failed health care initiative in 1993 and 1994. But if her liberalism was seen as out in front of where many Democrats were then, she now seems to be catching up to the mood of the party."

JINDAL: He's expected to say at the National Right to Life Convention tonight: "The Republican smart guys in Washington see cultural issues such as protecting life as a side issue and a distraction. They urge us to minimize discussions of such things that they fear will alienate voters. They are wrong and they are spineless."

O'MALLEY: He's releasing a Wall Street reform proposal focused on "implementing strong accountability and structural reforms that build upon the Dodd-Frank Act and put an end to too-big-to-fail, too-big-to-manage, and too-big-to-jail financial firms."

SANDERS: The Upshot looks at the data and comes to a conclusion we've written about before, too: Bernie Sanders is about to hit a wall.

TRUMP: "Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called presidential candidate Donald Trump and asked him to pull back his rhetoric on immigration, a source familiar with the conversation told NBC News on Wednesday," NBC News reports.

More, from the Washington Post, which broke the story: "Priebus’s decision to reach out to Trump came after days of talks with Republican donors and officials about how best to manage Trump’s outsize presence on the airwaves. Many financiers who are influential at the RNC have been fuming about Trump’s ascent and told Priebus that he must ensure that the RNC’s efforts over the past year to win more of the Hispanic vote is not harmed."

The DNC has a web video linking Trump to the entire GOP field – calling them the “Retrumplican Party.”

And around the country...

FLORIDA: Via the Miami Herald: "U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, the liberal firebrand whose unpredictability enthralls progressives and worries moderates, announced Thursday that he will run against the more moderate U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy for the Senate seat that would be vacated by current Sen. Marco Rubio, a candidate for the presidency."

MARYLAND: The Baltimore Sun reports that Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has fired the city's police commissioner amid criticism of his leadership during the recent riots.


*** Thursday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Tamron Hall speaks with Republican Strategist Rich Galen and Washington Post Columnist Dana Milbank about Donald Trump’s interview with NBC News reporter Katy Tur, Vice Chair of Baltimore City Council Brandon Scott on the Chief of Baltimore's Police Dept. being fired, CNBC’s Ron Insana regarding the latest Wall Street numbers after yesterday’s shutdown after an alleged computer glitch, FBI Special agent Larry Meyer and Glamour Magazine Executive Editor Wendy Naugle about a new piece in the publication about “Sextortion”, and Director of the Amy Winehouse Documentary “Amy” Asif Kapadia.

*** Thursday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC's Andrea Mitchell reports on Iran nuclear negotiations from Vienna. She'lol interview Sen. John McCain and Sen. Chris Coons. NBC's Kristen Welker will interview Fmr. FBI Executive assistant director Shawn Henry, the Huffington Post's Sam Stein, the Washington Post's Karen Tumulty, msnbc's Joy Reid and NBC's Miguel Almaguer

*** Thursday’s “Live with Thomas Roberts” line-up: Frances Rivera interviews The Washington Post’s Robert Costa about RNC chair Reince Priebus asking Donald Trump to “tone it down” on immigration, PR expert Howard Bragman about a new call for 2005 Bill Cosby court documents to be unsealed, CNBC Contributor Ron Insana about the market aftermath of Wednesday’s NYSE glitch, FBI Special Agent Larry Meyer about “sextortion” and the hunt for hundreds of one Florida man’s victims, Global Poverty Project’s Hugh Evans and Kweku Mandela about the 2015 Global Citizen Festival.