First Read's Morning Clips

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OFF TO THE RACES: Carson -- the new leader of the GOP pack?

BUSH: The AP notes that the Bush campaign's focus is on Rubio as he and his family worked to reassure GOP donors.

NBC's Jordan Frasier writes that former President George W. Bush told supporters: "One reason Jeb is going to win because he’s a fierce competitor."

CARSON: He leads Donald Trump for the first time in the latest New York Times/CBS poll.

The Washington Examiner visited Carson's campaign headquarters to get a sense of how robust his campaign organization really is. One conclusion: "[I]t turns out that he's just as focused on assembling the nuts and bolts of a typical campaign organization as the wealth of experienced contenders he's competing against for the nomination, with a few caveats. In particular, Carson doesn't employ a pollster, nor does his operation feature a rapid-response media war room."

He's got a new ad highlighting his outsider candidacy, via the New York Times.

CRUZ: He told POLITICO: "The most encouraging thing I would say is that I think three of the lanes are collapsing into one, which is the evangelical lane, the conservative tea party lane, and the libertarian lane are all collapsing into the conservative lane and we’re seeing those lanes unify behind our campaign.”

The Washington Post notes that Cruz is quietly building an impressive fundraising network.

TRUMP: CNN looks at Trump's attempts to build an organization in Iowa that can turn out caucusgoers.

CONGRESS: We have a deal

From Frank Thorp and Alex Moe: "Congressional leaders have reached a tentative budget deal with the White House in a breakthrough that would set government funding levels for the next two years and extend the nation's debt limit through 2017, avoiding routine talks of a government shutdown. The 144-page bipartisan funding bill, labeled a "discussion draft," was posted online just before midnight setting up a potential vote in the House as early as Wednesday. If approved, the agreement would be a milestone after years of gridlock and annual threats of government shutdowns."

More from the Washington Post: "The agreement includes about $80 billion in additional spending over two years, divided equally between defense and domestic programs. Those spending increases would be offset by savings from changes to the Social Security disability insurance fund and Medicare payments to doctors and other health care providers. New revenue would be raised by auctioning off portions of government owned broadcast spectrum, selling oil from the Strategic Oil Reserve and by cracking down on audits of large business partnerships."

And from the New York Times: "While fiscal turmoil might energize conservatives demanding that Republicans hold firm against the Obama administration, it probably would not sit well with many other American voters as they watched their retirement savings plummet, their mortgage rates soar, their car and student loan costs climb and unemployment tick back up."

POLITICO notes that top Republicans think that Paul Ryan could be an even more prolific fundraiser than his predecessor.

Roll Call explains how a bipartisan group managed to force a move on the Ex-Im bank.

OBAMA AGENDA: Closer to the front lines in Syria/Iraq?

From the Washington Post: "President Obama’s most senior national security advisers have recommended measures that would move U.S. troops closer to the front lines in Iraq and Syria, officials said, a sign of mounting White House dissatisfaction with progress against the Islamic State and a renewed Pentagon push to expand military involvement in long-running conflicts overseas."


*** Tuesday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews former White House Communications Director Anita Dunn, former White House speechwriter and Washington Post Op-Ed columnist Michael Gerson, the Washington Post’s Anne Gearan and Chris Cillizza, MSNBC Food Correspondent and Chef Tom Colicchio, and CNBC’s John Harwood with a preview of tomorrow’s GOP debate.

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.