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OBAMA AGENDA: “Hardened into contempt”

The big picture, from the Washington Post's Dan Balz: "From the Rose Garden to the Cabinet Room to near the Key Bridge in Georgetown, the president has signaled more than mere annoyance at the state of affairs at the halfway point of this year. His disdain for congressional Republicans has steadily increased; his disrespect for their tactics has hardened into contempt."

Noted: Obama on the "unfinished business" of restructuring the banking system, in yesterday's interview with Marketplace: "It's a great strength of our economies that we've got the deepest, strongest capital markets in the world, but what has also happened is that as the financial sector has grown, more and more of the revenue generated on Wall Street is based on arbitrage -- trading bets -- as opposed to investing in companies that actually make something and hire people. And so, what I've said to my economic team, is that we have to continue to see how can we rebalance the economy sensibly, so that we have a banking system that is doing what it is supposed to be doing to grow the real economy, but not a situation in which we continue to see a lot of these banks take big risks because the profit incentive and the bonus incentive is there for them."

Tension in Gaza, via the New York Times: "Palestinian militants in Gaza fired 14 rockets into southern Israel early Thursday, hitting two houses in the border town of Sderot, after Israel carried out 15 airstrikes overnight against Hamas-related targets in Gaza in response to earlier rocket fire, the Israeli military said."

"The Department of Homeland Security has awarded a $190 million contract to the company accused of methodically defrauding the government while carrying out background checks on millions of people, including former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden," the Wall Street Journal reports.

Fun Facts: Fourth of July edition. A possibly unintended period in the most famous sentence of the Declaration of Independence may have changed interpretations of the Founding Fathers' original intent, the New York Times writes.

CONGRESS: Sweating across the aisle

Former mixed martial arts fighter Markwayne Mullins is also a member of Congress, and he's got a following of lawmakers adhering to his "muscle-crushing, sweat-inducing workout," the New York Times' Ashley Parker writes.

Relations between the CIA and Congress are at a high over the Senate intelligence committee's report on post-9/11 interrogations, writes the Wall Street Journal.

OFF TO THE RACES: Another “47%” moment for a GOP candidate

The Washington Post's deep dive on Hillary Clinton's speaking fees at public institutions: "At least eight universities, including four public institutions, have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for Hillary Rodham Clinton to speak on their campuses over the past year, sparking a backlash from some student groups and teachers at a time of austerity in higher education."

The New York Times looks at Dick Cheney's return to the debate over Iraq, quoting David Plouffe calling him "the A-Rod of politics."

The Wall Street Journal notes that Rand Paul's foreign policy notions may be out of step with his own party's, but they're in tune with what the American electorate is saying about entanglements abroad.

And Paul is heading back to Iowa, the Des Moines Register reports. “The first confirmed event of Paul's upcoming trip is to speak at a special meeting of the Westside Conservative Club at 7:15 a.m. on Aug. 6, organizers told The Des Moines Register... He's tentatively scheduled to be here for three days.”

ARKANSAS: Mark Pryor and Tom Cotton are warring over a comment in which Cotton appeared to question Pryor's Christian faith. "“Barack Obama and Mark Pryor think that faith is something that only happens at 11 o’clock on Sunday mornings," Cotton said during an interview about the recent Hobby Lobby decision. Pryor labeled that a "deeply personal attack."

COLORADO: A Republican candidate's having a "47 percent" moment, after video recorded in a speech to the Denver Rotary Club in 2010 was released in which the gubernatorial nominee says: ""I see something that frankly doesn't surprise me, having been on Ways and Means Committee: 47 percent of all Americans pay no federal income tax," Beauprez said in the video. "I'm guessing that most of you in this room are not in that 47 percent — God bless you — but what that tells me is that we've got almost half the population perfectly happy that somebody else is paying the bill, and most of that half is you all."

KANSAS: "Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts and Republican primary opponent Milton Wolf have both signed a pledge to fight for repeal of the federal health care overhaul. But Wolf was getting credit Wednesday from the Washington-based conservative group behind the pledge for signing it first."

KENTUCKY: Alison Grimes is pushing her support for coal mining-related legislation, heading to the site of a 1970 mining disaster today to talk about fighting black lung disease.

MASSACHUSETTS: Mitt Romney was back on the scene Wednesday, backing Scott Brown over Democratic incumbent Jeanne Shaheen. "She is the ‘Simon Says senator,’” Romney said. “We don’t need that, we need an independent senator.”

MISSISSIPPI: A Cochran campaign press call was crashed by McDaniel supporters, including a man who asked about "harvesting cotton and black votes," the Clarion Ledger reports.

NEW YORK: Woes continue for Democratic House candidate Sean Eldridge, who's now parting ways with his campaign manager.


*** Thursday’s “The Daily Rundown” line-up: NBC’s Chuck Todd interviews The Clarion-Ledger’s Sam Hall, The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore, The Rothenberg Report/Roll Call’s Nathan Gonzales, The Atlantic’s Molly Ball, The Washington Post’s Reid Wilson, NBC’s Bill Karins, Fmr. Homeland Security Secy./Gov. Tom Ridge, CEA Chair Jason Furman

***Thursday's "News Nation with Tamron Hall" line-up: Tamron Hall interviews Warren Judge, Chairman of The Board of Commissioners for Dare County North Carolina about Hurricane Arthur, NBC News Legal analyst Lisa Bloom on the case of a Georgia man headed to court today when his toddler died after he left him in a locked car; economic analyst Zachary Karabell with the latest jobs report, and The entertainment editor Chris Witherspoon about this year's Essence Festival.

*** Thursday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews former Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, Washington Post’s Nia Malika Henderson, former White House speechwriter Michael Gerson, Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden, Asian Pacific Islander’s Amna Nawaz, NBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin and The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore