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OBAMA AGENDA: Search continues in Paris

The latest in France, from the New York Times: "The search continued Thursday for two brothers suspected of carrying out the deadly terrorist attack on the offices of the newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris a day earlier, as officials said they had arrested and questioned seven people overnight in connection with the assault."

USA Today previews Obama's day in Phoenix, where he'll talk housing.

More on the proposal, from the New York Times: "President Obama, often criticized for inattention to the housing sector, will seek to address the problem Thursday, lowering insurance rates on federally issued mortgages to first-time home buyers, minorities and struggling Americans. The move is modest, producing savings of $900 a year per home buyer. However humble, the move illustrates just how difficult it has become to stimulate the housing sector since the 2008 financial crisis. Mr. Obama’s proposals could bring 250,000 new home buyers into the market and lower refinancing costs for an estimated 800,000 homeowners, administration officials said."

"Key Senate Republicans indicated Wednesday that two of President Barack Obama ’s highest-profile nominations—for attorney general and secretary of defense—probably will be confirmed, but only if there are no major missteps during what the senators promise will be probing confirmation reviews," reports the Wall Street Journal.

The Arizona Republic reports that many agency leaders say the $360 million border drone program to detect people and drugs crossing into the U.S. is too expensive and ineffective.

CONGRESS: Watching Harry Reid

The Washington Post's Paul Kane, on recovering Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid: "Once he’s back, Reid will help dictate how the Senate functions over the next two years. Senate rules put great power in the minority leader’s hands, and as a practiced veteran of those obscure rules, the Nevada senator knows how to tie the chamber in knots when he so desires."

Writes the Texas Tribune's Abby Livingston: President Obama has never called Sen. John Cornyn to lobby for legislation. "I just worry with a president who’s so detached and disengaged and apparently disinterested in doing the grind work that goes along with passing legislation that it would be hard to do anything, impossible to do anything really big and meaningful and a lot of those things we really need to do," the senator said.

"House leadership plans to move as early as next week on legislation to override Obama’s actions that could protect millions of undocumented immigrants from deportations," writes POLITICO. "That move is likely to be paired with spending for the Department of Homeland Security, which got only short-term funding from an agreement in December."

The Wall Street Journal: "A push by House Republicans to roll back a series of Wall Street regulations failed to advance Wednesday amid resistance from Democrats, an unexpected setback for the GOP’s efforts to use its increased majority to ease financial rules. Republicans were six votes short of the two-thirds support needed to advance the legislation, which included a controversial delay to a provision stemming from the 2010 Dodd-Frank requirement that banks sell stakes in certain complex securities. The bill failed by a vote of 276-146."

In Detroit yesterday, Obama said the turnaround of the auto industry proves that "any comeback is possible," writes Andrew Rafferty of NBC.

OFF TO THE RACES: GOP’s different tone since the Obama Era

Writes Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: "In its own vivid way, Mr. Huckabee’s march from author of a self-help and clean-living guide to cheerleader of artery-clogging calories and conservative traditionalism highlights the Republican shift during the Obama era. The party is different in tone and substance, moving toward a stricter, limited-government brand of conservatism in response to President Obama’s liberalism, a change that has generational and ideological dimensions. Now, deviations from orthodoxy on education, health care, immigration and the environment that some Republicans flirted with or embraced during George W. Bush’s presidency are as out of vogue on the right as flip phones."

From NBC's Perry Bacon Jr. "Key voices in both parties are rejecting the optimistic way President Barack Obama is describing the current state of the American economy, illustrating an important divide that could impact both the president's last two years in office and the 2016 campaign."

New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan is demurring about whether she'll run for re-election in 2016 or challenge Sen. Kelly Ayotte. "My job as the governor of New Hampshire is the best job anywhere," she told NH1.

Rob Portman’s Senate campaign announced it ended 2014 with $5.8 million cash on hand.

POLITICO writes that national Republicans are worried about a congressional run by the Staten Island prosecutor who oversaw the grand jury investigation that failed to indict police officers involved in the choke-hold death of Eric Garner.

BUSH: Jeb Bush’s Clinton swipe last night, per CT Politics: “‘If someone wants to run a campaign about 90s nostalgia, it’s not going to be very successful.”

POLITICO reports that Jeb Bush is preparing to make an early disclosure of decades of tax returns.

The Washington Post looks at how Jeb Bush is talking about gay marriage. "With a more welcoming message, Bush is trying to shift the Republican Party’s rhetoric on an issue on which the public has been evolving much faster than the GOP. A party that not long ago championed its opposition to same-sex marriage now finds itself on the defensive — even within its own ranks, where social conservatives are at odds with business leaders and young people who openly support gay rights."

Also from the Post: "Former Florida governor Jeb Bush is quickly building a sophisticated political operation as he considers a presidential run, scooping up top GOP operatives and pressing party fundraisers to pull in large sums to back his efforts. A day after Bush and his allies unveiled two political action committees, both dubbed Right to Rise, his aides were scheduling new finance events in Washington and other cities and pressing bundlers, who raise money from multiple donors, to make commitments to support the groups."

CHRISTIE: Per the Wall Street Journal: "Federal prosecutors in New Jersey have subpoenaed Gov. Chris Christie’s re-election campaign for documents relating to government meetings that were allegedly canceled with Jersey City’s mayor after he declined to endorse the governor, according to people familiar with the matter."

American Bridge 21st Century has put together a greatest-hits video of Chris Christie's Cowboys fandom.

CLINTON:'s Alex Seitz-Wald: "Hillary Clinton’s 2016 timeline finally comes into focus"

HUCKABEE: Huckabee promoted his new book on televangelists' Jim and Lori Bakker's TV show.

ROMNEY: The Washington Post: "Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who has been encouraged by his allies to consider another run for the White House, will meet with several of his former political advisers Wednesday in Menlo Park, Calif., for a private dinner."

RUBIO: The Miami Herald reports that Marco Rubio calls his relationship with Jeb Bush "a good one" but said their common home state wouldn't influence his decision to make a presidential run. "People who have worked together in the past, people who are friends, have ended up running for the office of the presidency."

SANTORUM: Bloomberg writes: "Staunch conservative Rick Santorum may have landed on a new strategy to try and win the Republican presidential nomination: run as a uniter."

WALKER: One of us(!) confirms that former RNC Political Director Rick Wiley, who worked for the RNC during the 2012 cycle, has joined Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's team -- in a move that's a possible sign of Walker's 2016 intentions. The move was first reported by CNN.

Walker dinged Chris Christie for his friendship with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones via Twitter Wednesday, writes one of us(!)


*** Thursday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Tamron Hall interviews International affairs correspondent Michael Kay, CAIR’s Zainab Chaudry, Slate writer Josh Keating, and Congresswoman from Texas Sheila Jackson Lee regarding the latest on the shooting at in Paris, and Kate Sheppard senior reporter and the environment and energy editor at the Huffington Post about recent Earthquakes in Texas being linked to fracking.

*** Thursday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews Rep. Keith Ellison, Time’s Vivian Walt, MSNBC Contributor Michael Sheehan, NBC’s Pete Williams, the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza and USA Today’s Susan Page.