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OBAMA AGENDA: Should the U.S. have foreseen the Iraq unrest?

The latest in Iraq, from the AP: "Nearly 300 armed American forces are being positioned in and around Iraq to help secure U.S. assets as President Barack Obama nears a decision on an array of options for combating fast-moving Islamic insurgents, including airstrikes or a contingent of special forces."

The New York Times writes that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki isn't demonstrating a commitment to a political reconciliation in Iraq. "Just as he did in a similar, though not nearly as threatening, crisis in 2008 in Basra, he is pinning his hopes on the military option. He is determined to use the Shiite fighters he trusts to stabilize the country and, he hopes, rout the Sunni insurgents and reimpose the government’s control over its territory."

Why this is so complicated, Strange Bedfellows edition: The Wall Street Journal writes that Sunni fighters are being helped by local tribes who aren't Islamists but share opposition to the Shiite government. "The uneasy alliance helps explain how several hundred insurgents from Islamic State of Iraq and Al Sham, or ISIS, have handily defeated a far larger, better-equipped Iraqi army and come to control about a third of Iraqi territory."

Direct talks about the Iraq crisis are starting between the State Department and Tehran, the Wall Street Journal writes.

From NBC's Perry Bacon Jr. and Andrew Rafferty: Should the United States have foreseen the unrest in Iraq coming? Experts say the signs were evident.

The Washington Post: "President Obama on Tuesday will announce his intent to make a broad swath of the central Pacific Ocean off-limits to fishing, energy exploration and other activities, according to senior White House officials."

The New York Times writes that the temporary release of women and children captured coming into the country illegally has fueled rumors of "permits" to stay in the United States, contributing to the flood of migrants across the border.

NBC's Peter Alexander reported yesterday that Obama plans to sign an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation.

CONGRESS: Boehner encouraged Ryan to run for majority leader

House Speaker John Boehner encouraged Paul Ryan to run for majority leader, the Washington Post reports, but the Wisconsin lawmaker responded with a firm no, via the Washington Post: "If I wanted to be in elected leadership, I would have run for it years ago.”

Raul Labrador is a longshot for the second-in-command House GOP job, but he says he's building support and that he's in it to win it. "I’m not doing this as a protest. I’m doing this to win,” Labrador told The Hill.

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From Roll Call: "Labrador seems to think he can win the race; McCarthy seems to think he needs a strong vote margin if he wants to be majority leader for more than six months ... McCarthy has yet to do a news interview — he hasn’t even formally announced his candidacy. Meanwhile, Labrador is using the media to ask voters across the country to help him make his case to their representatives."

OFF TO THE RACES: This Charming Man…

Democratic group American Bridge is seizing on David Brat's comments to one of us(!) last week indicating that he's not supportive of a federal minimum wage hike, tying Brat to other prominent GOP candidates like Michigan's Terri Lynn Land, Iowa's Joni Ernst and North Carolina's Thom Tillis in a new web video.

The Koch brothers are launching a super PAC, the Freedom Partners Action Fund, that aims to spend upwards of $15 million for this year’s midterms, POLITICO reports.

The New York Times: "With the midterm elections only months away, efforts to carry out some of the country’s strictest photo ID requirements and shorten early voting in several politically pivotal states have been thrown into limbo by a series of court decisions concluding that the measures infringe on the right to vote."

Jeb Bush is still doubling down on his embrace of the Common Core education initiative, a stance - along with immigration - that could define a potential presidential run, the Wall Street Journal writes.

The Santa Fe New Mexican: "Jamie Estrada, a former campaign manager for Gov. Susana Martinez, pleaded guilty Monday to stealing email intended for the governor and lying about it to the FBI."

ARKANSAS: Tom Cotton is trying to fix what could be a charm problem with voters. "“I’m warm, dammit,” he joked to a POLITICO reporter covering the Senate race.

IOWA: GOP Senate candidate Joni Ernst is up with a new ad accusing Bruce Braley of "running a dirty campaign," citing his "insult" to farmers and allegations that his first anti-Ernst ad had sexist undertones.

LOUISIANA: Republican and strident anti-Obamacare Sen. David Vitter says he’s open to expanding the state’s Medicaid program if he’s elected governor, per the AP.

MISSISSIPPI: Chris McDaniel's pitch to voters now: "The only chance Cochran's got now are fear tactics and fear mongering and Democrats."

NORTH CAROLINA: Animating Democrats today: Talking Points Memo reports that GOP Senate candidate Thom Tillis said in an interview that, while minority populations have been growing, the "traditional population of North Carolina and the United States is more or less stable."

OKLAHOMA: Pre-primary reports show James Lankford with a big fundraising advantage over T.W. Shannon.

Shannon, faced with negative ads by outside groups supporting Lankford, is striking back with an ad featuring mentor and former Rep. J.C. Watts


*** Tuesday’s “The Daily Rundown” line-up: NBC’s Chuck Todd interviews NBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin, Foreign Relations Chair Sen. Bob Menendez, Fmr. Deputy Defense Secy Paul Wolfowitz, Rep. Steny Hoyer, Maine Independent Gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler, The Washington Post’s Reid Wilson

*** Tuesday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Tamron Hall interviews Michael Daly of the Daily Beast and Iraq War Veteran Perefecto Sanchez about the latest developments in Iraq; and Jenny Devereaux, mother of a 3 year old girl who was not allowed to use the restroom on a Jet Blue flight.

*** Tuesday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviewsformer U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, Rep. Mike Rogers, Gen. Barry McCaffrey (Ret.), National Geographic Explorer Dr. Enric Sala, the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza and Karen DeYoung and AP’s Julie Pace.

*** Tuesday’s “Ronan Farrow Daily” line-up: Guest host Krystal Ball interviews Richard Haass from the Council on Foreign Relations on Iraq, Representative Gerry Connolly (D-VA) on the future of the GOP, Representative Jean Schakowski (D-IL) on sexual violence in war, Jimmy Conrad on the U.S.’s improbable victory over Ghana in the World Cup, Huffington Post’s Howard Fineman and Washington Post’s Robert Costa on immigration reform, the economy and the President.

*** Tuesday’s “The Reid Report” line-up: MSNBC’s Joy Reid discusses the U.S. mission in Iraq with medal of honor recipient Col. Jack Jacobs. Then the sectarian rift with Scott Anderson, author of “Lawrence in Arabia” and MSNBC contributor Rula Jabreal. Plus, the filmmakers behind HBO’s “The Case Against ” Ryan White and Ben Cotner discuss the president’s latest action on LGBT rights. And on the 42nd anniversary of the infamous break-in, we’ll look at the lessons learned from Watergate with former prosecutor Nick Ackerman.