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First Read’s Morning Clips

OFF TO THE RACES: What last night’s GOP focus group told us

One of us(!) attended a focus group of Republican voters in Indianapolis last night. Here are some of the takeaways - including why Ben Carson won high marks as a unifying figure who could win the general election.

More polls, same top order: A Washington Post/ ABC GOP poll shows Trump in first, Carson second.

BIDEN: Bidenwatch continues. Here's a good summary of what seem to be his recent digs at Hillary Clinton, from POLITICO.

And the New York Times does a deep dive into his apparent reversal on his position before the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

CLINTON: The New York Times previews the Benghazi hearing -- and looks at how panel head Trey Gowdy is fighting to maintain credibility for the committee.

A new poll in New Hampshire shows Clinton catching up to Sanders.

PAUL: The fate of the Ron Paul staffers accused of corruption during the 2012 race now rests with the jury.

WEBB: Alex Seitz-Wald has a good look at Webb's decision to drop his bid for the Democratic nomination.

The Des Moines Register profiles his lone donor in Iowa.

CONGRESS: Ryan to House GOP -- take it or leave it

What will it take for Paul Ryan to jump into the Speaker race? He laid out his asks last night in a closed-door meeting.

More from the Washington Post: "That meeting ended without specific commitments, according to members present, and at the subsequent GOP conference meeting, Ryan made clear he would need firm support from key groups by week’s end to move forward. The Freedom Caucus was explicitly mentioned, members said, as well as the conservative Republican Study Committee and the moderate Tuesday Group."

And from POLITICO: "Ryan would trade his quiet weekends spent in solitude with his family in Janesville, Wisconsin, for an obtrusive security detail, and his committee work for the plush speaker suites – only if the entire GOP conference was in sync. Clearing the bare minimum 218 votes on the House floor would get him the job, but he wants more than that. He wants a mandate."

OBAMA AGENDA: Assad visits Moscow

"President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia called his counterpart, Bashar al-Assad of Syria, to Moscow for an unannounced visit to discuss their joint military campaign and a future political transition in Syria, the Kremlin announced on Wednesday," writes the New York Times.

From the AP: "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under fire for suggesting that a World War II-era Palestinian leader convinced the Nazis to adopt their Final Solution to exterminate European Jews. Holocaust experts are slamming Netanyahu's comments as historically inaccurate. Critics are saying Wednesday the statement amounts to incitement against modern-day Palestinians in the midst of a wave of violent unrest and Israeli-Palestinian tensions."