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First Read's Morning Clips

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

OBAMA AGENDA: Here come the French

From the AP: "Joining U.S. forces acting in Iraqi skies, France conducted its first airstrikes Friday against the militant Islamic State group, destroying a logistics depot that it controlled, Iraqi and French officials said."

Our wrap of yesterday's ISIS vote and the president's remarks: "President Barack Obama on Thursday thanked Congress for quickly giving bipartisan approval of his request to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels to combat Islamic terrorists, saying it shows the world that Americans will not give in to fear ... MORE: Moments before he spoke, the Senate voted to authorize a mission to train Syrian rebels against ISIS, sending the measure to the president’s desk before lawmakers skip town for the midterm elections. The vote on the stopgap funding bill that contained the authorization was 78 –22. Twelve Republicans and ten Democrats voted against the measure."

Airstrikes are the easy part, writes the New York Times. "The American air campaign to thwart the advance of fighters from the Islamic State has been the easy part of President Obama’s strategy in Iraq and Syria. Soon begins the next and much harder phase: rolling back their gains in Mosul, Falluja and other populated areas, which will require American advisers to train and coordinate airstrikes with Iraqi forces."

The Times also reports on U.S. intelligence efforts to build the Syrian rebels into an effective ground force.

We wrote yesterday that the president is owning the war strategy -- and opening himself up to criticism that he's not listening to his generals. Today, from the Washington Post: "Flashes of disagreement over how to fight the Islamic State are mounting between President Obama and U.S. military leaders, the latest sign of strain in what often has been an awkward and uneasy relationship."

The White House is launching a new push to end sexual assaults on college campuses.

The big global political story today: Scotland votes no. From The Scotsman: "During a referendum that attracted record numbers of voters and was hailed as a triumph of democracy, the people voted to maintain the 307-year Union. A decisive No vote was the culmination of two and a half-years of vigorous and at times edgy campaigning, which looks certain to change the constitutional map of Britain for ever."

Your depressing Friday stat of the day: Just 36 percent of Americans can name all three branches of government.

CONGRESS: Gone for the rest of the fall

NBC's Frank Thorp reports on Congress's departure until after the November elections: Up until Thursday, the House had been in session for roll call votes for 92 days in 2014, or 35% of this year. During those 92 days, the House held 515 roll call votes. (Past election years when leaving to campaign: in 2012, it held 603 votes; in 2010, 565 votes)

Most vulnerable Senate Democrats backed the president's request to authorize arming the Syrian rebels -- except for Alaska Sen. Mark Begich.

The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent writes that deep divisions about the war COULD perhaps play out in 2016.

OFF TO THE RACES: Chris Christie cleared (for now)?

An exclusive from NBC 4 New York: "The U.S. Justice Department investigation into Gov. Chris Christie’s role in the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal has thus far uncovered no evidence indicating that he either knew in advance or directed the closure of traffic lanes on the span, federal officials tell NBC 4 New York."

(But as we’ve said before, Bridge-gate has become the LEAST of Christie’s problems as of late.)

Wall Street Journal headline, after the politically intriguing Syria vote: "Rand Paul Adjusts Foreign Policy Stance."

Republicans are trying to catch up in the early-voting game, writes the Journal.

ARKANSAS: Tom Cotton is up with a new ad trying to defend his vote against the farm bill. But critics say he's fudging the truth about how the farm bill works.

COLORADO: The Denver Post sounds a little skeptical of that Q-poll showing Cory Gardner up 8 points.

KANSAS: Chad Taylor's name won't be on the ballot in November. From one of us(!): "The Kansas Supreme Court has ordered the state to comply with a Democratic Senate candidate’s request that his name be removed from the November ballot. Usually, a political foe’s withdrawal from a race would be cause for a candidate to celebrate. But in this case, Republican Sen. Pat Roberts could now face a tougher general election against an independent – without a Democrat to split the opposition’s vote."

More, from the Wichita Eagle: "Minutes after the Kansas Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision overturning Kobach’s decision to keep Taylor on the ballot, Kobach declared the state’s Democratic Party must convene its state committee and choose another nominee by Sept. 26."

KENTUCKY: Alison Lundergan Grimes says she would have voted against yesterday's authorization.

LOUISIANA: Headline at home for Mary Landrieu: "Sen. Landrieu one of 5 Democrats to support GOP amendment to curb president's immigration policies"

NORTH CAROLINA: From yesterday: Larry Sabato says things are looking up for Kay Hagan.

WEST VIRGINIA: Shelley Moore Capito also voted for the authorization in the House.

WISCONSIN: More plagiarism accusations, via Buzzfeed: “Large portions of Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke’s jobs plan for Wisconsin appear to be copied directly from the plans of three Democratic candidates who ran for governor in previous election cycles.”


*** Friday’s “The Daily Rundown” line-up: NBC’s Kristen Welker anchors from Washington and interviews Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), The Washington Post’s Mike Wise, NBC’s Jim Maceda, Chuck Todd, Peter Alexander, Kelly Cobiella, Miguel Almaguer, Mark Murray and CNBC’s Dominic Chu.

*** Friday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Tamron Hall interviews the Assistant Democratic Leader, Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) on the fight against ISIS, Former NY Giant and Hall of Famer Harry Carson on the NFL under fire, and Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo on the search for the missing UVA student.

*** Friday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews Rep. Loretta Sanchez, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, the Financial Times’ Gillian Tett, the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza and Nia-Malika Henderson, Buzzfeed’s John Stanton and NBC’s Jim Maceda and Peter Alexander.