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First Read's Morning Clips

<p>A roundup of the day's most important political stories.</p>

OBAMA AGENDA: That was one busy Wednesday

There was more violence in Ukraine, as 22 more people died after a short-lived truce. AP with this disturbing nugget: “Government snipers were reported to be shooting at some of the protesters.” And, now there’s dissension: “Shocked by the violence, the chief of Kiev's city administration, Volodymyr Makeyenko, said Thursday he was leaving Yanukovych's Party of Regions.”

AP: “Even given President Barack Obama's own penchant for finding foreign travels eclipsed by distractions, his day-trip to Mexico stands out as tour de force of multitasking and juggling intrusions.” He was there to talk “trade, security and energy,” but also had to deal with Ukraine, decry violence in Venezuela; and “he applauded a clothing retailer's wage practices, placed a call to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and kept enough of an eye on Olympic hockey to know that the U.S. victory over the Czech Republic had set up a U.S.-Canada semifinal clash.”

Keystone pipeline opponents scored a victory yesterday. A Nebraska judge overturned a state law that would have eased the way for the pipeline. It involved eminent domain and allowing the pipeline to go through private property even if the landowners didn’t allow access. Three landowners had filed suit. Now the little-known state Public Service Commission could be the one with the final decision.

And Keystone opponents had to be happy with Obama’s comments in Mexico, as he spoke of having only “one planet,” and needing to show “leadership” to have “leverage” over China, India and other emerging-market countries. Here’s what he said:

"One of the wonderful things about North America is we have this amazing bounty of traditional fossil fuels, and we also have extraordinary businesses that are able to extract them in very efficient ways. And that's something that we should welcome because it helps to promote economic growth. But we only have one planet, and so I believe that ultimately we can both promote economic development and growth, recognizing that we're not going to immediately transition off of fossil fuels, but that we do have to point to the future and show leadership so that other countries who will be the main emitters fairly soon – China, India, other emerging markets – so that they can look at what we're doing and we have leverage over them in terms of them improving their practices as well."

National Journal notes that health-care enrollment numbers will drop because right now they count people who have signed up but not paid.

Wal-Mart’s considering a minimum-wage increase for its employees.

California is coming up short in signing up Latinos.


House Speaker John Boehner bought a luxury $835,000 Florida waterfront condo.

OFF TO THE RACES: “Can you even imagine not hugging?”

The RNC tells First Read that it raised $7.8 million last month and has $9.8 million in the bank. So far through the 2014 cycle, the RNC has consistently outraised the DNC -- though the DNC hasn’t yet released its fundraising haul for last month.

FLORIDA: The Washington Post profiles gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist. And check out this opening paragraph: “Charlie Crist doesn’t take to bed when he gets sick. He takes three Red Bulls, two cups of coffee, a glass of Mountain Dew, Sudafed and cough drops. Then, he discards the box of Mucinex his 81-year-old father suggested he take, pushes through the back door of a Fort Myers restaurant and wraps his arms around his Democratic supporters. ‘I can’t help it; I have to hug,’ he says afterward, when asked whether he worries about passing on his cold to voters. ‘Can you even imagine not hugging?’”

Meanwhile, a 101-year-old man is running for Congress. The oldest member of Congress is Ralph Hall of Texas, who is 90.

KENTUCKY:’s Benjy Sarlin dives into Mitch McConnell’s GOP primary race against Matt Bevin. “This week was a turning point in the brutal competition between Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and tea party challenger Matt Bevin for the Republican senate nomination in Kentucky. After an array of punishing headlines, one candidate has become so compromised that winning the nomination seems like a long shot at this point. The question, however, is which candidate.”

LOUISIANA: Ex-Democratic Gov. Edwin Edwards, who served eight years in prison on racketeering charges, is running for Congress. He tells Al Hunt: "I'm just figuring out all the legalities and how to set up a super PAC, and then I'm going.” (Um, federal candidates aren’t allowed to set up their own Super PACs… It’s illegal.)

MASSACHUSETTS: Martha Coakley could be hurt by a state convention nominating process (which ends March 2nd) and could see the connected state Treasurer Steven Grossman wind up with more votes, National Journal notes. Candidates need to clear a 15% threshold to get on the primary ballot, but a loss at convention or a close second-place finish for Grossman threaten to make Coakley again look like a weak frontrunner.

MICHIGAN: Rep. John Conyers (D) could face a primary challenge.

TEXAS: Sarah Palin endorsed Pete Sessions (R)’s primary opponent. She said of Sessions that his primary opponent, Katrina Pierson, “is taking on a powerful incumbent who has so lost touch with the people of his district that he’s not even bothering to spend much time in Texas anymore.”

And she applauds Greg Abbott’s decision to campaign with Ted Nugent.

Flashback: Palin called Texas her “Alaska’s little sister state,” which became a controversy in 2008. She reiterated it in 2013.


*** Thursday’s “The Daily Rundown” line-up: NBC’s Chuck Todd interviews: NBC’s Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel, former Ambassador to the Ukraine Stephen Pifer, Telemundo’s Jose Diaz-Balart, contributor to the New York Times Magazine Robert Draper and former RNC Chairman and MSNBC Analyst Michael Steele. Plus a packed data bank and Chucks Thursday Takeaway.

*** Thursday’s “Jansing & Co.” line-up: Guest host Ari Melber interviews Politico’s Anna Palmer, Demos’ Bob Herbert, DCCC Chair Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY), political analyst Zerlina Maxwell, GOP strategist John Feehery, and’s Howard Bragman

*** Thursday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, Ambassador Chris Hill, NBC’s Richard Engel and Pete Williams, the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza and Karen Tumulty, “The Square” Filmmakers Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer and Bendixen & Amandi International managing partner Fernand Amandi.

*** Thursday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: MSNBC’s Craig Melvin, filling in for Tamron Hall, interviews former Amb. To the UN and Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM), NJ Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi (R-Bergen), and TIME’s Bill Saporito.