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Defense Secretary nominee Ashton Carter faces his confirmation hearing today "against the backdrop of the Islamic State’s most recent high-profile execution, the burning alive of a Jordanian pilot who was part of the American-led coalition against the Sunni militancy."

The Boston Globe profiles Carter: "The truism about Carter is that he’s the smartest person in the room; the truth is he’s probably the smartest one in the building."

Obama would scrap strategies that high earners can use to contribute to Roth retirement accounts, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Dominating the conversation Tuesday, from the AP: "Islamic State group militants burned a captured Jordanian pilot to death in a cage, according to a purported video of the violence released Tuesday. The kingdom, which had vowed a swift and lethal response, executed two al-Qaida prisoners by hanging early Wednesday."

Today in eyebrow-raising FOIAed emails: The Washington Post looks at how Florida socialite Jill Kelley won the affections of top military brass.

CONGRESS: 67th time isn’t the charm

The House has approved full repeal of Obamacare again, report Alex Moe and Andrew Rafferty.

Senate Democrats blocked a DHS-funding bill, objecting to add-ons to limit the president's ability to implement his executive orders on immigration.

OFF TO THE RACES: Jeb goes to Detroit

Republican 2016 hopefuls all want to meet with Henry Kissinger, POLITICO reports.

Email we received: Former House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Rogers "starts a two-day visit today to the Hawkeye state. Rogers is expected to meet with Governor Terry Branstad and leading Iowa elected officials, donors and activists in the leadoff presidential state about his new initiative, Americans for Peace Prosperity and Security, which is aimed at educating, identifying and mobilizing pro-national security voters during the 2016 presidential caucuses and primaries . Rogers is expected to unveil the leaders of the Iowa effort in a Thursday statehouse news conference."

BUSH: The Detroit News: "Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is scheduled to speak in Detroit Wednesday about “restoring the right to rise in America,” the first in a series of speeches that will test potential themes for his possible run for president in 2016."

Jeb Bush WILL attend the March 7 Iowa Agriculture Summit, the Des Moines Register reports.

CHRISTIE: The Wall Street Journal's hed: "Christie Checks Swagger as U.K. Trip Ends"

Yet more not-great NJ ratings for Chris Christie: "Christie is not the overwhelming presidential preference of his fellow New Jersey Republicans – 46% say Christie would make the better president while 37% say Bush would be a better fit as Commander-in-Chief."

CRUZ: He admitted that he smoked pot as a teenager.

PAUL: Rand Paul yesterday, from one of us(!): "A day after he spoke about healthy children "who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines," Sen. Rand Paul issued a statement clarifying that he supports vaccines and that he "did not allege causation" between vaccinations and disorders. "I did not say vaccines caused disorders, just that they were temporally related -- I did not allege causation," Paul said. "I support vaccines, I receive them myself and I had all of my children vaccinated.""

And he tweeted a photo of getting a booster shot.

The Washington Post ed board rips Paul and Christie: "Mr. Paul’s reporting of anecdotes that he has ‘heard’ is particularly insidious. Measles was eliminated in the United States by 2000 with widespread use of the vaccine. No presidential candidate should endorse parental “choice” that could reopen the door to an ugly and preventable disease."

ROMNEY: He'll give the commencement speech at St. Anselm College in May.

WALKER: The Journal Sentinel outlines Scott Walker's budget plan: "One year after touting an expected budget surplus, Walker proposed sweeping spending cuts such as ending state funding for highway beautification, and Wisconsin Public Radio and Television; phasing out a long-standing racial integration program for students; and leaving most prison watchtowers vacant at night."

More, from the Wall Street Journal: "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s 2011 fight with public-sector unions sparked huge protests—and elevated him into a national figure in conservative politics. Now, as he eyes a run for president, he is targeting another group on the public payroll: university professors."

WARREN: Democracy for America has hired four campaign staffers and opened a Manchester office in the hopes of supporting an Elizabeth Warren run.

And around the country…

FLORIDA: "David Rivera’s former girlfriend repeatedly told a federal grand jury that the ex-congressman was the mastermind behind a complicated campaign finance scheme that landed her and another in prison,” reports the Miami Herald. “Nearly two dozen times, Ana Alliegro says, she testified that Rivera supplied more than $81,000 used in the crime, that he plotted the cover-up and he then helped her twice escape to a getaway in Nicaragua."

Alan Grayson says he might run for Senate, per The Hill.

NORTH CAROLINA: “Once we’re done debating whether children should be vaccinated, we can move on to other pressing public health questions, such as whether eateries can force their employees to wash their hands after they use the bathroom. At least one freshman U.S. senator thinks, “nah.” Because freedom.”

PENNSYLVANIA: The New York Times looks at the Pennsylvania attorney general who's charged with violating secrecy rules.


*** Wednesday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Tamron Hall speaks with terror expert and former CIA agent Kevin Strouse regarding ISIS execution of a Jordanian pilot, Minneapolis Star Tribune Columnist Samara Postuma about measles and vaccinating children, Miami trial attorney Michael Grieco about the Aaron Hernandez trial, both Evan Leedy (the college student behind a kick starter) and James Robertson (the Detroit man who walks 21 miles a day to work who the kick starter was for), and actor Jonathan Banks from AMC’s new series “Better Call Saul”.

*** Wednesday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden, Newsweek contributor and “Panic Virus” author Seth Mnookin, Rep. Adam Schiff, the New York Times’ Rod Nordland, NBC’s Richard Engel, Ian Williams and Ron Mott, msnbc’s Adam Reiss and the Washington Post’s Nia Malika Henderson and Jonathan Capehart.