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First Read’s Morning Clips

OFF TO THE RACES: The fundraising expectations game

The AP gives a good rundown of the fundraising expectations game -- and particularly its effect on Bush.

NBC's Elissa Nunez looked back at the history of 3rd quarter fundraising totals in primaries. A big number doesn't always mean a big win.

National Journal’s Ron Brownstein on the results from the recent NBC/WSJ poll: “Poll: GOP Candidates Culturally Out of Step with Most Americans.”

BIDEN: He said last night: "Listen, I’m not Bernie Sanders. He’s a great guy, by the way. No he really is. I’m not a populist. But I’m a realist."

From the AP: "Biden's small team of political advisers has been quietly reaching out to Democrats who could join the campaign in senior roles, including State Department official Marie Harf and former Obama campaign official Paul Tewes." MORE: "Yet younger operatives interested in working for Biden — and who would be crucial to quickly filling the campaign's ranks in early voting states— have struggled to get clarity about whether they'll be needed."

BUSH: The New York Times recalls his battles over affirmative action during his tenure as Florida governor.

CLINTON: She called for a no-fly zone in Syria, msnbc's Alex Seitz-Wald reports.

The Washington Post reports that the Clinton team has seen a political gift in Kevin McCarthy's comment on the Benghazi hearing.

She'll appear on Saturday Night Live this weekend.

Bill Clinton's role in the campaign, to no one's surprise, is expanding. POLITICO explains.

PAUL: He'll report having raised $2.5 million.

RUBIO: His staff booted a Bush super PAC tracker from an event.

TRUMP: "I think one of the reasons I'm doing so well is that I am a Christian, I'm a Protestant, I'm a Presbyterian, and I'm a total believer," Trump told CBN News from his golf course in Southern California. "I believe in the Bible," he continued. "I believe in God and I think I will help them so much with this country.

CONGRESS: McCarthy walks it back

Kevin McCarthy on Fox: "This committee was set up for one sole purpose, to find the truth on behalf of the families of four dead Americans. Now I did not intend to imply in any way that that work was political."

Earlier Thursday, Jason Chaffetz said that Kevin McCarthy should apologize for his comments about the Benghazi Committee, NBC's Andrew Rafferty reports.

OBAMA AGENDA: “It is not enough”

From Obama’s comments yesterday in the wake of the Oregon shooting: ""Our thoughts and prayers are not enough. It's not enough — it does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel, and it does nothing to prevent this carnage from being inflicted some place else in America next week or a couple months from now."

In 2015, there have been 294 mass shootings.

Per NBC News: “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 153,144 people were killed by homicide in which firearms were used between 2001 and 2013, the last year that data are available (that number excludes deaths by ‘legal intervention’). The Global Terrorism Database — which uses a criteria to determine terrorist attacks but also includes acts of violence that are more ambiguous in goal — estimates that 3,046 people in the U.S. died in terrorist or possible terrorist attacks between 2001 and 2014.”

On Benjamin Netanyahu's remarks to the U.N., from the Washington Post: "The Israeli leader spent the bulk of his 40-minute speech to the U.N. General Assembly on the nuclear deal finalized in July. At one point, he theatrically paused for 44 seconds and glared at the half-filled hall after he excoriated the United Nations for its “deafening silence” over Iran’s threats to annihilate Israel."

"After two days of attacks directed exclusively against insurgents opposed to the Syrian government, there is little question that Russia is determined to re-establish President Bashar al-Assad as Syria’s leader," the New York Times writes.

The Boston Globe: "Secretary of State John Kerry occasionally uses a private e-mail account to conduct State Department business, a department official acknowledged Wednesday, a disclosure that comes amid heightened scrutiny over how government officials secure potentially sensitive information."

PROGRAMMING NOTES.

*** Friday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell covers the Oregon campus shooting with Douglas County Commissioner Chris Boice, Erica Lafferty – the daughter of the late Sandy Hook Principal, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Sen. Ben Cardin, the Brady Campaign’s Dan Gross, MSNBC’s Jacob Soboroff and NBC’s Thomas Roberts and Jacob Rascon.