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OBAMA AGENDA: Latest out of Ukraine

The latest in Ukraine, via Reuters: "Ukrainian leader Oleksander Turchinov accused Russia of working to overthrow legitimate state power in Ukraine on Monday after pro-Russian rebels declared a resounding victory in a rebel referendum on self-rule in eastern regions. Russia said it respected the outcome of the referendum, in which separatists in the industrial Donetsk region claimed 90 percent support, and that the results should be implemented peacefully. It did not say what further action it might take."

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said over the weekend that he's "open" to a review of the Pentagon's ban on transgender people in the armed forces, though acknowledging that the issue is "a bit more complicated because it has a medical component to it.”

The New York Times profiles the Christian legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom, "the largest legal force of the religious right."

Meanwhile, the Washington Post writes that former legal foes are coming together to challenge Virginia's ban on same sex marriage.

OFF TO THE RACES: Rubio says he’s ready

Here's full analysis from one of us(!) of the new NBC News-Marist polls

It's all in a name: In Kentucky, voters give "Obamacare" a thumbs down but give better marks to the state's health care exchange, kynect.

Possible 2016 candidate Marco Rubio said on ABC's This Week that he's ready to be president. But here's another quote from the interview getting buzz: "I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it. That's what I do not -- and I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it. Except it will destroy our economy."

And here's Rubio in an interview with the New Hampshire Union Leader this weekend: "I want people to look at the Republican Party as the party that shows them the way to a new American century versus a Democratic Party that shows us how this is the new normal and we just have to get used to it, that the cashier at Burger King will always be a cashier, and all he or she can hope for is an increase in the minimum wage."

The Washington Post on Jeb Bush's Mexican-born wife, Columba: "Columba’s intense distaste for the public arena is one of the issues weighing most heavily on the former Florida governor as he grapples with whether to run for the White House in 2016, according to interviews with friends, former staffers and GOP donors close to the family."

In a New York Times op-ed, Rand Paul takes on Obama's nomination of David Barron to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit: "While he was an official in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, Mr. Barron wrote at least two legal memos justifying the execution without a trial of an American citizen abroad. Now Mr. Obama is refusing to share that legal argument with the American people."

In a speech at Liberty University, Gov. Bobby Jindal doubled down on his support of "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson: ""You may think that I was defending the Robertsons simply because I am the Governor of their home state, the great state of Louisiana. You would be wrong about that. I defended them because they have every right to speak their minds"

GEORGIA: Michelle Nunn at a weekend Senate debate, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "On her Democratic credentials, she said she’s “proud to have worked with President Obama.” But she thinks he could have done more to address the national debt and wishes he had included money for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project in his most recent budget."

IOWA: The Washington Post notes that Ernst's ads have "transformed" the Iowa Senate race.

KENTUCKY: The Lexington Herald-Leader backs McConnell in the state’s May 20 primary, saying challenger Matt Bevin “showed no inclination toward pragmatism, compromise or a real exchange of ideas, all critical to legislative success and leadership.”

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Some NH drama over the weekend, via John DiStaso: "Former Sen. Bob Smith said this week that if Scott Brown is the nominee of the Republican Party for the U.S. Senate, not only will he lose to Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in November, but “they (the GOP) will deserve to lose."

NEW YORK: Gov. Andrew Cuomo is trying to shore up support from liberal Democrats as he starts his re-election bid, the New York Times writes.

OREGON: The Oregon GOP Senate race is pulling in big outside money, the AP reports. "Three super PACs and a traditional political action committee have reported spending at least $956,000 supporting or opposing the two leading candidates, state Rep. Jason Conger and Portland physician Monica Wehby, according to campaign finance records."

PENNSYLVANIA: The New York Times checks in on Tom Corbett's tough re-election race for governor.

TEXAS: Another chapter in the politics of sriracha, via the Texas Tribune: "The self-styled "sriracha delegation" of Texas lawmakers heads to Irwindale, Calif., on Monday to woo the maker of a popular hot sauce to the Lone Star State. And the makeup of the delegation makes clear that bringing sriracha back to Texas is a spicy topic for both parties."

PROGRAMMING NOTES.

*** Monday’s “Jansing & Co.” line-up: Chris Jansing interviews Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Rep. John Mica (R-FL), NBC News National Security Analyst Don Borelli, MSNBC Political Analyst Jonathan Alter, MSNBC.com’s Senior Editor Beth Fouhy, Democratic Strategist Keith Boykin, Former George H. W. Bush White House Aide Joe Watkins, and Susanna Gattoni who is the attorney of Charles Warner who was just granted a six month stay of execution in Oklahoma after the botched execution Clayton Lockett a week and half ago.

*** Monday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Craig Melvin, filling in for Tamron Hall, interviews Samuel Okey-Mbonu, the Executive Director of the Nigerian-American Leadership Council, Jarrett Bell, NFL Columnist for USA Today, Michael Daly, The Daily Beast Special Correspondent, and Grace Bush, the student who graduated college at 16 years old.

*** Monday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Peter Alexander fills in for Andrea and will interview Save the Children Managing Director Mark Shriver, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America legislative director Alex Nicholson, Gayle Lemmon, the Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart and NBC’s Stephanie Gosk and Richard Engel.

*** Monday’s “The Reid Report” line-up: MSNBC’s Joy Reid interviews Security expert Evy Poumpouras about the missing Nigerian girls and whether negotiation is possible with the Boko Haram. Also, Roll Call’s Christina Bellantoni talks about the latest NBC News/Marist poll showing democrats staying competitive in red, southern states.

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