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OFF THE RACES: Trump still on top, per Q poll

A new national Quinnipiac poll shows Trump in first place among GOP voters at 28 percent, with 12 percent for Ben Carson and seven percent apiece for Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

The same poll shows Hillary Clinton at 45 percent, Bernie Sanders at 22 percent, and Joe Biden at 18 percent.

BUSH:'s Emma Margolin writes that the gay couple highlighted in Bush's new e-book won't vote for him.

Asked about Jorge Ramos, he said he thinks reporters should be "treated with a little more respect and dignity."

BIDEN: He said that he's still gauging whether or not he is emotionally prepared for a White House run.

Tom Harkin is lobbying Joe Biden not to enter the 2016 race, reports the New York Times.

POLITICO notes that his onetime "no" on the go-ahead to ambush Osama bin Laden could haunt him.

CLINTON: She responded to yesterday's shootings in Virginia by pledging to take on gun violence.

The Wall Street Journal notes that she's softened her tone on the email issue ever so slightly: "“I know people have raised questions about my email use as secretary of state, and I understand why. I get it."

She's working on a plan to secure the nomination on March 1, POLITICO reports.

GRAHAM: POLITICO looks at how Lindsey Graham is creating headaches for Republicans in the Palmetto State.

O'MALLEY: He says a Biden entry into the race "could only help" the Democratic primary debate.

SANDERS: The Upshot looks at inequality within Bernie Sanders' coalition.

He's making a direct pitch to Democratic party establishment insiders.

TRUMP: The Wall Street Journal on Donald Trump: "His success has baffled his rivals and critics, but it makes sense to people who have studied the psychological power of bullying."

"In a 35-minute interview this week with The Washington Post tracing his history with the Bushes, Trump unleashed a hailstorm of scorn. He found 33 ways to skewer the family — about one put-down per minute."

Ouch, in the Des Moines Register: "Leaked emails show that the Iowan who is Donald Trump’s new national co-chairman was throwing bombs at him as recently as last month, expressing grave misgivings about the authenticity of Trump's religious faith and his conservatism.'(Trump) left me with questions about his moral center and his foundational beliefs. ... His comments reveal no foundation in Christ, which is a big deal,' evangelical conservative activist Sam Clovis said in an email just 35 days before he quit his job as Republican Rick Perry’s Iowa chairman and signed on with Trump’s campaign."

The AP on his campaign structure: "While Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton boasts an army of more than 350 paid staffers, Trump's operation fields less than a tenth that number."

He said he doesn't want David Duke's endorsement.

WALKER: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker completed a full five-stop campaign day in Iowa Wednesday, going from one eatery to another in his pursuit of completing a “full Grassley” -- by visiting all 99 counties in the state, NBC’s Shaquille Brewster reports. According to the campaign, yesterday’s trip brought the number to 23. Brewster adds that each stop was with a small group of people, sometimes with formal remarks, others with no remarks and a lot of personal interactions. Throughout the day, Walker touched on many different topics outside of his traditional stump speech. He began by pausing to mention the shooting in Virginia, but over the course of the day talked about China, ethanol subsidies, differences with other candidates (mentioned Cruz specifically), and Donald Trump.

And around the country...

VIRGINIA: Former governor Bob McDonnell will find out soon if he must report to prison during his appeal.

OBAMA AGENDA: Remembering Hurricane Katrina

In New Orleans today, the president will mark the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. "You are an example of what's possible when, in the face of tragedy and hardship, good people come together to lend a hand, and to build a better future," he's expected to say.

The latest on the markets: "A recovery in global markets gained steam Thursday after concerns about slowing growth in China triggered a rout earlier this week. U.S. stock futures and shares in Europe and Asia rose sharply, building on a rebound that began Wednesday after reassuring comments from central bankers and positive U.S. economic data."

From Bloomberg: "The European Union is working on a political agreement that would set the stage for future energy deals in Iran, two people with direct knowledge of the talks said. The agreement could be signed as soon as November, they said, asking not to be identified because the talks are private. The accord would pave the way for any talks on specific contracts in the future and would come only after the nuclear deal reached in July between Iran and world powers enters into force, the people said."


*** Thursday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Tamron Hall speaks with Solina Lewis, friend of Adam Ward, the WDBJ cameraman who was killed in yesterday’s shootings; Los Angeles Times Political Reporter Kurtis Lee and Republican Strategist Matt Schlapp about the latest political headlines; Former Federal Prosecutor and Former U.S. Attorney Kendall Coffey on the latest with the New Hampshire prep school rape trial; and both New Orleans talk radio host and political commentator Kaare Johnson and City of New Orleans Chief Resilience Officer Jeff Hebert on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

*** Thursday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Luke Russert fills in for Andrea and will interview Adm. Thad Allen, U.S. Marshall Service Retired Chief Inspector/Commander Lenny Depaul, Georgetown University Clinical Psychiatry Professor Dr. Liza Gold, the Atlantic’s Molly Ball, the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza and NBC’s Hallie Jackson, Pete Williams, Craig Melvin and Gabe Gutierrez.

*** Thursday’s “Live with Thomas Roberts” line-up: Thomas interviews BBC’s Katty Kay and Fmr. Gov. and 2016 Candidate George Pataki, Lt. Gen. Russel Honore and author Kimberly Roberts about the 10-year anniversary of Katrina.