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First Read's Morning Clips

A roundup of the most important political stories of the day.

OBAMA AGENDA: Russian aggression continues in Ukraine

“Fighting between the Ukrainian military and what Ukrainian and Western officials say are Russian troops worsened early Thursday, prompting fears in Ukraine that a Russian invasion of their territory has begun,” the Washington Post reports.

A pro-Russia rebel leader said he has as many as 4,000 Russian citizens fighting for him, the BBC writes.

The New York Times profiles the behind the scenes organization of ISIS: “As fighters for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria continue to seize territory, the group has quietly built an effective management structure of mostly middle-aged Iraqis overseeing departments of finance, arms, local governance, military operations and recruitment.”

The mother of an American journalist being held captive by ISIS made a video pleading for the militants to let her son go.

The Associated Press looks at the debate behind a familiar question for the Obama administration: Should Congress have a say in the decision to authorize airstrikes in Syria?

At home, White House lawyers are crafting the legal rationale behind whatever executive actions the president plans to take on immigration as his self-imposed summer deadline approaches, the AP reports.

The White House acknowledged Wednesday they are considering an international climate change agreement that could be enacted without Congressional approval, NBC News writes.

OFF TO THE RACES: Rubio’s 180

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, whose 2016 prospects took a hit when he work with a bipartisan group to forge an immigration deal, has now officially done a complete 180, the Wall Street Journal writes.

“The Republican National Committee will announce Thursday that it will pour an additional $8 million into get-out-the-vote efforts in targeted Senate races, another acknowledgment that reclaiming control of the chamber remains the GOP’s top priority in 2014,” Politico reports.

Per the Washington Examiner: “The Republican National Committee is on track to spend more than $100 million in the midterm campaign, with virtually every dime plowed into the party’s new digital voter-turnout program.”

The DNC is out with a web video on Rick Perry in advance of his travel to South Carolina. “Rick Perry -- courageous leadership, even under the threat of imprisonment.”

The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein has audio of another Republican -- this time the executive director of the Republican Governors Association -- showering praise on the Koch Brothers and their organizations during a June 16 event in California. "We've been very blessed because of your support of this seminar," said RGA executive director Phil Cox. "We've really had no stronger partner over the last four years than Americans for Prosperity. So thank you for all that you do."

And Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will be the top draws next month for a DNC fundraiser aimed at engaging women leaders.

ALASKA: “Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Begich faced his Republican challenger, Dan Sullivan, for the first time Wednesday evening in a debate in Anchorage, with the two candidates drawing sharp distinctions between their visions of the state’s future and its path over the nearly six years since Begich was elected,” the Anchorage Daily News reports.

ARKANSAS: “Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor on Wednesday defended his campaign's TV ad invoking the Ebola outbreak to criticize his Republican challenger, saying it addresses a serious issue and he doesn't view it as a scare tactic,”the AP reports.

MICHIGAN: Democrat Mark Schauer has edged ahead of Republican Gov. Rick Snyder among likely voters by two points, according to a new EPIC-MRA poll.

PENNSYLVANIA: A new Franklin & Marshall College poll shows Democrat Tom Wolf headed for an easy victory over incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett.

WISCONSIN: A new Marquette Law School Poll finds that the Wisconsin governor’s race remains a dead heat, with Republican Gov. Scott Walker receiving the support of 46 percent of registered voters and Democratic challenger Mary Burke receiving 45 percent support.


*** Thursday’s “The Daily Rundown” line-up: NBC’s Chuck Todd interviews White House Director of Communications Jennifer Palmieri, Chairman of the Republican National Committee Reince Priebus, former Senators John Sununu and Blanche Lincoln, The Cook Political Report’s Amy Walter, The Rothenberg Political Report’s Nathan Gonzales and The Washington Post’s Reid Wilson.

*** Thursday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Tamron Hall interviews AP reporter Juan Lozano and Legal Analyst Lisa Green on the verdict in the case of a Texas father accused of killing the drunk driver who killed his sons; Owner of “The Gun Store” in Las Vegas, Bob Irwin, on children shooting semi-automatic rifles in the wake of the gun range tragedy; and in our exclusive Born in the U$A series, Celeste Beatty, Founder & Brewer of The Harlem Brewing Company.

*** Thursday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews Rep. Luis Gutierrez, Middle East Institute Fellow Steven Simon, Bloomberg Deputy Managing Editor Jeanne Cummings, the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza and NBC’s Pete Williams.