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Hillary Clinton Calls Out Republicans By Name — and It's No Accident

Mark and Carrie explain how Hillary Clinton's more direct attacks play into her larger campaign strategy.

First Read is a morning briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter

Hillary calls out GOP field by name -- and it’s not by accident

In her speech in Texas yesterday, Hillary Clinton offered policy proposals to expand voting rights. She called for at least 20 days of early voting in states, as well as automatic voter registration -- when American citizens turns 18, they are automatically registered to vote, unless they opt out. But for the first time since becoming a presidential candidate, Clinton also called out the GOP field when it comes to voting rights:

  • "Here in Texas, former Gov. Rick Perry signed a law that a federal court said was actually written with the purpose of discriminating against minority voters. He applauded when the Voting Rights Act was gutted, and said the lost protections were “outdated and unnecessary.”
  • "In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker cut back early voting and signed legislation that would make it harder -- for college students to vote."
  • "In New Jersey, Governor Christie vetoed legislation to extend early voting."
  • "And in Florida, when Jeb Bush was governor, state authorities conducted a deeply flawed purge of voters before the presidential election in 2000."

As Hillary is beginning to ramp up her campaign before her big rally next Saturday, calling out Republicans by name isn’t an accident: She’s trying to make them her foil (just as the GOP candidates have been doing to her). And so while the Martin O’Malleys are competing with Hillary, she’s making her competition the GOP field.

Walker fires back

At least one of the called-out GOP candidates fired back at Hillary. Here was Scott Walker in a statement: "Hillary Clinton's rejection of efforts to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat not only defies logic, but the will of the majority of Americans. Once again, Hillary Clinton's extreme views are far outside the mainstream." To be sure, Walker isn’t going to miss an opportunity to fire back at Hillary. But keep this in mind: As the Obama White House has ALREADY elevated Scott Walker, don’t be surprised if we keep seeing Obama/Hillary trying to draw him out in policy fights. If you’re a Democrat who would rather see Walker emerge as the GOP nominee -- instead of Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio -- isn’t your goal to pick fights with him?

Jeb is struggling with conservatives more than Romney did at this same point four years ago

Our colleague Dante Chinni notes in the Wall Street Journal that Jeb’s standing with conservatives is WORSE than Mitt Romney’s in the 2012 cycle. Consider:

  • Jeb’s fav/unfav with conservatives: 33%-28% (April 2015 NBC/WSJ poll)
  • Romney’s fav/unfav with conservatives: 40%-14% (June 2011 NBC/WSJ poll)
  • Jeb’s poll position with conservatives: 3rd (April 2015 NBC/WSJ poll)
  • Romney’s poll position with conservatives: 1st (June 2011 NBC/WSJ poll)

Kasich knocks Jeb: “I thought Jeb was just going to suck all the air out of the room, and it just hasn’t happened”

Speaking in New Hampshire yesterday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich explained why he’s more than likely to run for president. “I thought Jeb was just going to suck all the air out of the room, and it just hasn't happened,"’s Paul Steinhauser reports. Kasich later said, "No hit on Jeb. No hit on you, Jeb!"

Another strong jobs report: 280,000 jobs added in May, though unemployment rate inches up to 5.5%

“U.S. employers added a robust 280,000 jobs in May, showing that the economy is back on track after starting 2015 in a slump,” the AP writes. The Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate ticked up to 5.5 percent from 5.4 percent in April. But that occurred for a good reason: Hundreds of thousands more people sought jobs in May, and not all found them. Last month's strong job growth suggests that employers remained confident enough to keep hiring even after the economy shrank during the first three months of the year. The government also revised up its estimate of job growth in March and April by a combined net 32,000.”

China denies being responsible for U.S. data breach

Here’s the biggest news from yesterday: “China accused the United States of making ‘groundless accusations’ and being ‘irresponsible’ Friday in blaming Chinese hackers for a vast data breach that could be the biggest cyberattack in U.S. history,” NBC News reports. “Four million federal workers may have had their personal information compromised in the attack, which officials said could affect every agency of the U.S. government. U.S. officials and lawmakers identified the likely culprit as China, which has been suspected of involvement in previous government hacks. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the hack was ‘extremely sophisticated,’ and ‘that points to a nation state’ as the responsible party, likely China.”

Pelosi says it’s up to Boehner to find the votes to pass fast-track authority in House

Politico: “Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said it is not her responsibility to help House Republicans pass a controversial piece of trade legislation at the top of President Barack Obama’s priorities The California Democrat told reporters on Thursday that it is up to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to provide the bulk of the 217 ‘yes’ votes needed to pass fast-track authority, a measure that would allow Obama to more easily pass a Pacific trade deal.” The question we have: Is Pelosi going to fight Obama trying to twist the arms of House Democrats?

Rubio on Iraq: "It’s not nation-building. We are assisting them in building their nation”

On Thursday, Marco Rubio got stuck in some linguistic mud on Iraq as he was discussing his apparent support for U.S. military assistance in Iraq. "It’s not nation-building. We are assisting them in building their nation." Rand Paul’s campaign pounced. "Just weeks after Sen. Rubio failed to coherently express his position on the 2003 invasion of Iraq, he continues to be confused by the war and the basics of foreign policy," Paul spokesperson Sergio Gor said in a statement, per NBC’s Andrew Rafferty. "Sen. Rand Paul, like most Americans, believes the Iraq war was a mistake and opposes nation building while Sen. Rubio contradicts himself almost on a daily basis."

On the trail

Lindsey Graham and Mike Huckabee are in Iowa… Chris Christie stumps in New Hampshire, as does Rand Paul and John Kasich… Scott Walker keynotes at the North Carolina GOP state convention… Marco Rubio is in Idaho… And Jeb Bush delivers remarks at an education event in Miami, FL.

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