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First Read's Morning Clips

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

OBAMA AGENDA: The state of our race relations is … bad

From one of us(!): "A majority of Americans now say that race relations in the United States are bad, according to the latest NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll, which showed the most pessimistic assessment of racial issues in almost two decades. In the wake of protests over the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police, just four in ten Americans told pollsters that they believe race relations in the United States are "good," while 57 percent disagreed. And nearly a quarter - 23 percent - classified the current state of the country's racial issues as 'very bad.'"

Writes the Wall Street Journal: "U.S. oil prices resumed their slide on Wednesday after a brief respite the previous day, as a global oversupply of crude showed no signs of abating. Oil prices have almost halved since the summer, with producers from the U.S. to the Middle East ramping up output even as demand growth for the commodity has weakened."

Barack Obama, in an interview in People magazine, talks about times he's been mistaken for a valet or a waiter. ""It's one thing for me to be mistaken for a waiter at a gala. It's another thing for my son to be mistaken for a robber and to be handcuffed, or worse, if he happens to be walking down the street and is dressed the way teenagers dress."

USAID administrator Raj Shah is on his way out, reports the Washington Post.

From USA Today: “President Obama has issued a form of executive action known as the presidential memorandum more often than any other president in history — using it to take unilateral action even as he has signed fewer executive orders.”

CONGRESS: Hasta La Vista, 113th Congress

They're outta here. The Senate finally wrapped up its work late last night, including an extension of tax breaks but a failure to renew a terrorism insurance program.

The Hill reviews how Ted Cruz's immigration gambit helped Democrats confirm additional nominees.

NBC's Frank Thorp reports that Cruz apologized to his GOP colleagues for "inconveniencing their personal schedules."

Roll Call looks at how new House Oversight Committee chair Jason Chaffetz is looking to take the panel in a new direction.

OFF TO THE RACES: Hillary’s your early 2016 frontrunner – but barely

One of us(!) writes that Hillary Clinton is the early 2016 frontrunner -- but barely.

CC: Jeb Bush. Bobby Jindal, in Iowa, said he was "absolutely opposed to this idea of party insiders, the party establishment, donors or anybody other than voters picking our candidates, picking our nominees for us, picking our leaders for us."

Clinton yesterday: via the AP: "Today we can say again in a loud and clear voice that the United States should never condone or practice torture anywhere in the world. That should be absolutely clear as a matter of both policy and law, including our international treaty obligations."

And here's Bernie Sanders in Ames yesterday: "There's no way we are going to address the problems facing this country without a political revolution." (He told an audience that he still hasn't decided whether to run or not.)

From Perry Bacon Jr. and Leigh Ann Caldwell: "Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's announcement on Tuesday that he is "actively exploring" a presidential campaign has sent a jolt through a Republican 2016 primary process that had been heading to a quiet end in 2014. The move sets a new phase of the race in motion and makes it easier for Bush to prepare for a full-fledged campaign. At the same time, it increases the difficulty for some of his potential rivals to consolidate support among key Republican officials while giving others a handy target to use in gathering loyal, grass-roots support."

Democratic group American Bridge has a master cut of clips about Jeb Bush's issues with the conservative base.

National Journal reports that Marco Rubio believes he's got a different set of policies and donors that will set him apart from Bush.

ARIZONA: The AP: ' The results of a recount in the nation's last undecided congressional race from the midterm elections are set to be revealed Wednesday by an Arizona judge in a move that will determine the size of the GOP majority in Washington."

IOWA: Clip and save: The Des Moines Register's candidate tracker for 2016.

NORTH CAROLINA: From the AP: “Soon after taking office, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory and U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina accepted six-figure stock payouts from an online mortgage broker accused by regulators of deceiving its customers.”

VIRGINIA: Republicans are blasting Gov. Terry McAuliffe's new package of gun regulations as purely political.


*** Wednesday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Tamron Hall interviews Entertainment lawyer & USC professor Jonathan Handel on the new Sony hacking threats; Denton Cinquegrana, oil analyst, on the low gas prices; and Mike Reicher, of the LA Daily News on the LAPD body cameras

*** Wednesday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews NBC’s Chuck Todd, Joe Fryer, Bill Neely, Amna Nawaz and Keir Simmons, Fmr. Rep Barney Frank and Team Rubicon CEO Jacob Wood.