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OBAMA AGENDA: Kerry back in Iraq

After meeting with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki yesterday, Secretary of State John Kerry is in Erbil today to meet with the president of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region. The New York Times: "The Kurdish expansion has put them in a position to demand more autonomy in political talks over Iraq’s future. But it may also complicate the effort to cobble together a new Iraqi government, particularly one that does not include Mr. Maliki, who has long been accused of autocratic tendencies by Iraqi politicians."

More, from Reuters: "The Kurds' capture of Kirkuk, just outside the boundary of their autonomous zone, eliminates their main incentive to remain part of Iraq: its oil deposits could generate more revenue than the Kurds now receive from Baghdad as part of the settlement that has kept them from declaring independence."

A new New York Times/CBS poll echoes our NBC/WSJ survey's findings on approval ratings for Obama's foreign policy performance. Almost 6 in 10 Americans disapprove of the way he's handling foreign policy, including a big jump in disapproval among Democrats.

Depoliticizing the climate debate? The Wall Street Journal: "Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, ex-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer, a hedge-fund billionaire and major Democratic donor, are linking arms Tuesday to release a report, Risky Business, that argues U.S. companies should treat climate change as any other business threat."

CONGRESS: Boehner flexes fundraising muscles

After resisting early calls to allow a White House lawyer to testify at today's House hearing on IRS emails, the administration dropped its objections.

After questions about whether he's eyeing retirement, House Speaker John Boehner is flexing his fundraising muscles, USA Today reports. "Speaker John Boehner is donating more than $1 million to the House Republican campaign fund this week, a total that suggests he is consolidating power in the House, not planning for retirement. On Tuesday, the Ohio Republican will announce at a closed-door meeting that he is transferring $1.5 million from his campaign war chests to the party's House campaign committee, bringing his total contribution to $17 million so far for the 2014 elections,more than any of his House colleagues."

Eric Cantor's loss could be bad news for advocates of a new voting rights bill, writes the Washington Post.

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy's support for closing in Export-Import Bank is a boon for insurgents who'd painted him as an establishment figure, Roll Call notes.

OFF TO THE RACES: Perry warns of “trail of tears”

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Christie Watch: "Investigations into the Christie administration and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey have zeroed in on possible securities law violations stemming from a $1.8 billion road repair agreement in 2011, according to people briefed on the matter," the New York Times reports.

Rick Perry is warning that the influx of young immigrants in the Rio Grande Valley could result in a "trail of tears."

COLORADO: The New York Times quotes former state GOP chair Dick Wadhams fretting about a Tancredo win: "If he’s the nominee, he will become the defining face of the Republican Party. The Democrats will make sure of it. He has said so many inflammatory things — the list is unbelievable."

Bill Clinton had this advice for Sen. Mark Udall on addressing Obamacare, via the Denver Post: "Here's how I feel about it: I can't tell him what to do," Clinton said of Udall, "but I think that the worst thing we could have done with our health care system was nothing."

IOWA: A coalition of environmental groups is launching a $1 million effort against Joni Ernst, tying her to Sarah Palin and the Koch brothers.

MARYLAND: Lt. Gov Anthony Brown is favored to win today's gubernatorial primary, ending one of the costliest races in the state's history.

MINNESOTA: Sen. Al Franken is up with a new ad taking on the financial industry, calling it "rigged" and touting his efforts for reform. "Wall Street wasn't happy about that, but I don't work for them. I work for you."

MISSISSIPPI: Oof. This Thad Cochran ad throws the kitchen sink at Chris McDaniel ("Mamacita," the "breasts" comment, etc.) But is it enough this late in the game?

Cochran seems to have a slight edge in absentee ballots, the Clarion Ledger reports.

Issues, smhissues. The Washington Post: "In its final days, the race has become a bitter and ugly contest with relatively little attention paid to the policy differences between the two candidates. Instead, there has been name-calling on social media, racial tension and warnings about voter fraud from McDaniel supporters, who sense a tea party victory but fear that Cochran — with the backing of some Democrats — could survive."

The New York Times sums up today's runoff election - and the Thad Cochran problem - thusly: "Comity may no longer get the job done in the Tea Party era."

NEW YORK: NBC's Kasie Hunt and Clayton Collins cover a defiant Rangel who disputes the notion of "new blood" in Congress. "Well if you're winning the race, why the hell would blood have something to do with it, if you're the winner?"

And MSNBC's Steve Kornacki pens this piece for Capital New York on the changing demographics in Rangel's district -- and around the country. "By 2050, Latinos will make up an estimated 34 percent of the country’s population, with whites dropping down to 46 percent and African-Americans at 12. As that Latino population matures politically and asserts itself more aggressively, other longtime incumbents like Rangel will find themselves fighting against the demographic tide just to survive."

OKLAHOMA: “Decent” turnout is expected in the state’s hotly contested Republican primaries, the Tulsa World writes.


*** Tuesday’s “The Daily Rundown” line-up: NBC’s Chuck Todd interviews Miss. GOP Chair Joe Nosef, State Sen. Adriano Espaillat, Rep. Charles Rangel, Fmr. Sen. Trent Lott, Fmr. Sen. Tom Daschle, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, Rep. James Lankford, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Atty. Gen. Doug Gansler, State Del. Heather Mizeur, Larry Hogan

*** Tuesday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Craig Melvin interviews Rep. Tammy Duckworth on Iraq; Erika Andiola, National Director of the DREAM Action Coalition, on the growing crisis of undocumented children crossing the US-Mexico border; Rasheda Ali, daughter of Muhammad Ali, who is joining the fight against Chicago gang and gun violence, also announcing a charity boxing exhibition to raise money for youth programs and scholarships; and Jaden Newman, a 9 year old basketball star who received a full recruiting packet from the University of Miami, and her father Jamie Newman, who is also her coach.

*** Tuesday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Peter Alexander will interview NBC’s Andrea Mitchell and air Andrea’s full interview with Secretary John Kerry from Iraq, Fmr. Gov. Haley Barbour, the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, NBC’s Richard Engel, Kasie Hunt and Ron Allen and “Redeeming the Dream” authors David Boies and Ted Olson.

*** Tuesday’s “The Reid Report” line-up: MSNBC’s Joy Reid interviews Reuters David Rohde and journalist Rania Abouzeid on the crisis in Iraq. The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank joins Joy to talk about the latest House hearing on the missing IRS emails. Also political strategist Angela Rye, Fmr SC GOP Party Chair Katon Dawson and Bob Herbert from Demos discuss today’s primaries in Mississippi and New York.