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OFF TO THE RACES: Priebus vs. Iowa and New Hampshire?

Reince Priebus has stirred up a fight with backers of early nomination contests in New Hampshire and Iowa, saying “I don’t think there should ever be any sacred cows as to the primary process or the order."

Reaction from the Union Leader here.

BUSH: NBC's Jordan Frasier reports on Bush's big energy rollout.

He picked up top Scott Walker fundraiser Anthony Scaramucci.

CHRISTIE: He nabbed some big endorsements in Iowa. Does it mean that he might have a moment there? NBC's Leigh Ann Caldwell and Danny Freeman report.

CLINTON: It's official: She's proposing to scrap Obamacare's so-called 'Cadillac tax.'

Kevin McCarthy to FOX News: "Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would’ve known any of that had happened had we not fought and made that happen."

"A coalition of deep-pocketed liberal groups ― including a pair of super PACs backing Hillary Clinton ― has been meeting quietly for months, examining the 2016 map and plotting attacks against the powerful Koch brothers' network.

At midday Thursday, the architect of that effort, Clinton antagonist-turned-enforcer David Brock, is scheduled to present his findings ― complete with the back-up polling and research ― to the Senate Democratic Caucus, sources tell POLITICO."

FIORINA: She's on the Hill today to meet with GOP members and chiefs of staff.

RUBIO: He guest Skimm'd and laid out his strengths ("I believe what I stand for") and weaknesses (when he's passionate about an issue, he rushes the explanation.)

TRUMP: PEOPLE Magazine gives the Trumps the "at home with the family" treatment. "I just don't have the time that I would love to spend with my children and my wife," he says. "I see less of my grandchildren than I might like. But they get how important this is."

An outside tax group says that Trump's tax proposal will cost a whopping $12 trillion.

Forbes pegs his net worth at about $4.5 billion. Trump disputes that number.

And around the country...

A new Winthrop poll in South Carolina finds that Gov. Nikki Haley's approval rating remains stable, but the makeup of her supporters has changed. From the poll: "Governor Nikki Haley, who strongly urged legislators to take down the Confederate battle flag, has a 55% approval rating, nearly identical to her overall approval rating in March. Among Republicans and those who lean Republican, her approval rating is a strong 68%; however, this is lower than the 78% she garnered from GOP supporters among the general population in March."

CONGRESS: GOP vs. Planned Parenthood

Here's a wrap of Planned Parenthood in the spotlight on the Hill, from NBC's Andrew Rafferty.

Luke Russert has some #realtalk about how much can really get done before the end of Boehner's tenure as Speaker.

POLITICO notes that Kevin McCarthy doesn't have strong ties to K Street.

The Washington Post has the latest on the leadership race, including the meaning behind the short Trey Gowdy boomlet.

The New York Times delves into McConnell's relationship with Boehner: "Now, faced with defending Republican seats in a presidential election year in such potentially difficult states as Florida, Illinois, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Mr. McConnell is convinced that Republicans must avoid disruptions that can make them look incapable of governing. Given the legislative uncertainty in the aftermath of Mr. Boehner’s retirement, Mr. McConnell is hoping for one more act with the speaker, by pushing with Mr. Boehner to resolve some pressing issues before he exits at the end of October."

And more, from the Wall Street Journal: "Republican leaders, seeking to avoid repeated fiscal crises, have opened discussions with President Barack Obama about a two-year budget deal, aiming to avoid a spending fight in the middle of an election year. The preliminary talks are geared at finding a way around discretionary spending caps outlined in a 2011 budget law that many lawmakers see as draconian. Struggles over the size of government have been one of the main tensions in the GOP, pitting fiscal conservatives against pragmatists who want to boost military spending and are willing to negotiate with Democrats to do so."


"President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, in the latest step in his dispute with the West over the crisis in Syria, sought and won approval from the upper house of Parliament on Wednesday to use military force abroad," writes the New York Times.

From the AP: "In a potential major shift in policy, U.S. military commanders want to keep at least a few thousand American troops in Afghanistan beyond 2016, citing a fragile security situation highlighted by the Taliban's capture of the northern city of Kunduz this week as well as recent militant inroads in the south."

Kentucky clerk Kim Davis says that she met with Pope Francis; a Vatican spokesman neither confirmed nor denied the meeting.


*** Wednesday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Tamron Hall speaks with Congressman Gerry Connolly about Planned Parenthood; GOP Strategist John Feehery and Daily Beast Columnist and MSNBC Political Analyst Jonathan Alter about the latest political headlines; and Meathead Movers President and CEO Aaron Steed about his company and its connection to the #MoveToEndDV initiative.

*** Wednesday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews Sen. John McCain, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Michael D’Antonio - author of the new Donald Trump biography “Never Enough”, the Huffington Post’s Sam Stein, and the Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus.