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First Read's Morning Clips

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

OBAMA AGENDA: New airstrikes in Iraq and Syria

NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski reports that U.S. and coalition forces launched five new airstrikes against terrorist targets in Iraq and Syria this morning.

A White House official tells NBC News to expect a "forceful and optimistic message of American leadership" from Obama at the United Nations today. "On ISIL, the President will call on the world to join him in this effort to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist organization. However he will speak more comprehensively about the need to tackle the forces that give rise to ISIL - extremist ideology, sectarian conflicts and the need for more affirmative alternatives to terror."

The New York Times, on the strikes against the Khorasan network: "American military and intelligence analysts were still studying damage reports from the initial air assault, but senior Obama administration officials expressed hope that they had killed Muhsin al-Fadhli, the leader of Khorasan and a onetime confidant of Osama bin Laden. The officials said they had been contemplating military action against Khorasan in recent months, but President Obama’s decision to hit the Islamic State’s forces inside Syria provided a chance to neutralize the other perceived threat."

Analysis from the Washington Post: "In Syria, Obama stretches legal and policy constraints he created for counterterrorism"

The threat of ISIS, overshadowing. The Associated Press: "Many diplomats hope that crisis won't drown out the plight of millions of civilians caught in conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Ukraine and Gaza; the misery of the largest number of refugees since World War II; and global support for new U.N. goals to fight poverty and address climate change."

The administration is emphasizing the coalition that's carrying out strikes on ISIS, but the New York Times reports that the "vast majority" of airstrikes have been by the U.S. military.

The Washington Post's Rajiv Chandrasekaran offers a good primer on the Persian Gulf nations that are aiding with the airstrikes -- and why their relationship with each other is so complicated. "The differences among the countries have grown so stark and acrimonious that earlier this year, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar, which has funded Islamists across the region to the consternation of the other three nations. In the months that followed, they have continued to wage a proxy war of sorts in Egypt and Libya, where the UAE recently conducted airstrikes against rebels backed by Qatar."

The New York Times ed board isn't sold yet. "President Obama has put America at the center of a widening war by expanding into Syria airstrikes against the Islamic State, the Sunni extremist group known as ISIS and ISIL. He has done this without allowing the public debate that needs to take place before this nation enters another costly and potentially lengthy conflict in the Middle East."

OFF TO THE RACES: Tight in Florida

NBC's Perry Bacon Jr. reports on the challenges Jeb Bush will face if he runs in 2016 -- beyond just that familiar last name.

Former Sen. Jim Webb is "seriously looking" at a White House run, he said Tuesday.

Conservative Ben Carson also says he’s likely a candidate, via the Baltimore Sun.

Via Reuters: "Conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza avoided prison on Tuesday when a U.S. judge sentenced him to serve eight months in a community confinement center after he pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance law."

This, again. From The Hill: "For months, several clusters of conservative lawmakers have been secretly huddling inside and outside the Capitol, plotting to oust John Boehner from the Speaker’s office when House Republicans regroup after the November elections."

A fun piece from Roll Call's Abby Livingston: When SHOULDN'T campaign operatives air their candidate's ads? Hint: Judge Judy is no favorite.

ARIZONA: The Arizona Republic: “The gun control group founded by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords said Tuesday it will stop airing a controversial TV ad accusing Republican congressional candidate Martha McSally of opposing legislation to prevent convicted stalkers from buying guns. Pia Carusone, senior adviser for the pro gun-control group Americans for Responsible Solutions, said the group's political action committee was pulling the ad because a statement issued by McSally on Tuesday made it clear that McSally had changed her position on the issue.”

ARKANSAS: National Journal looks at how Arkansas has become ground zero for political ad makers this cycle.

COLORADO: The Denver Post reports on a debate in one of the most hotly contested House races in the country -- and it had some stumbles from Mike Coffman on the issue of climate change. "Asked whether climate change could be reversed, he answered, "Don't know." Asked by a Post moderator, "What? Sir?" Coffman said, "Um, no.""

FLORIDA: A new Quinnipiac poll shows a neck-and-neck race for governor in the Sunshine State, with Rick Scott at 44 percent support from likely voters and Charlie Crist at 42 percent.

KANSAS: The Wichita Eagle asks the question on everyone's mind: Who would Greg Orman caucus with? (And what could he get out of the deal in the Senate?)

The latest on the Chad Taylor court case: "The Kansas Supreme Court has ordered that a case brought by a registered Democrat against the Kansas Democratic Party be transferred to the district court of Shawnee County. David Orel, a Democrat from Kansas City, Kan., filed a petition with the court last week to compel Democrats to appoint a replacement for Chad Taylor in the U.S. Senate race. The race has gained national attention and could prove critical in determining which party wins control of the Senate."

KENTUCKY: Alison Lundergan Grimes is pushing for an advantage with female voters.

NORTH CAROLINA: Jeb Bush is giving a boost to Thom Tillis Wednesday in Greensboro.

RHODE ISLAND: What felony convictions? Buddy Cianci is leading in the race for mayor of Providence.


*** Wednesday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Tamron Hall interviews Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), Fmr. Ambassador Marc Ginsberg, and Fmr. CIA counterterrorism analyst Aki Peritz with the latest on the ISIS threat, the Khorasan plot, and the airstrikes in Syria.

*** Wednesday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, NBC’s “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd, Richard Engel and Pete Williams, the Global Business Coalition for Education’s Sarah Brown, actress/Global Citizen Ambassador Bridget Moynahan, the Cook Political Report’s Amy Walter, the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza and Anne Gearan.