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OBAMA AGENDA: “Heartbroken” over Fort Hood shooting

The president said "we are heartbroken" over the shooting at Fort Hood -- the second at the facility in five years.

The New York Times lede on the McCutcheon ruling: "Big donors, leaders of political parties and candidates with access to wealthy supporters will be the biggest beneficiaries of the Supreme Court decision issued on Wednesday, a ruling that could fundamentally reshape the political terrain in the 2014 elections and beyond."

Here's a roundup of reaction from legal experts on both sides of the issue, via the Wall Street Journal.

More, from the Washington Post: "The change could help candidates raise more money to fend off attacks by outside groups, focusing their fundraising on big-dollar givers whose full largess was off-limits until now — and making officeholders more indebted to those wealthy contributors. And it could bring at least some additional transparency to the role of such big donors, whose contributions to many outside political groups are kept secret but whose checks to candidates and party committees must be reported to the Federal Election Commission and publicly disclosed."

The New York Times writes in an op-ed on the Supreme Court's "crusade to knock down all barriers to the distorting power of money on American elections."

The positive Obamacare enrollment numbers have given Democrats a much-needed shot in the arm, writes the New York Times.

The president is meeting with congressional leaders today to brief them on Ukraine and his trip to Europe last week.

Today in "Wait, What?" -- The AP: "U.S. Secretly Created 'Cuban Twitter' to Stir Unrest."

CONGRESS: Working on a smaller minimum-wage increase

Some Democrats say that if their push for a $10.10 minimum wage doesn't have sufficient support in the Senate, they're open to working with Republicans to negotiate a smaller increase with a better chance of passage, the Wall Street Journal reports.

House leaders believe the Ryan budget can pass despite some opposition from Tea Party members who say it doesn't go far enough.

The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent looks at the House Republicans running in key Senate contests who will be voting on the Ryan budget.

Measuring drapes? "Senate Republicans already have their agenda set should they take the majority this fall," writes The Hill. "Seven months before the election, the GOP senators in line to become committee chairmen know what they would do with their gavels."

The Wall Street Journal notes that GM head Mary Barra faced a Senate panel Wednesday "with four former prosecutors and little patience for her carefully-worded responses to why it took nearly a decade to recall cars with defective ignition switches."

Stand by your man. POLITICO: “A wide cross section of the Senate Democratic Caucus said in interviews that they are willing to back Reid as either majority or minority leader in the next Congress — no matter how controversial the Nevada Democrat has become as part of the furious battle for control of the chamber this fall.”

OFF TO THE RACES: The RGA’s big haul

The RGA is boasting a record first-quarter haul of $23.5 million, Reuters reports.

Gov. Chris Christie's approval ratings have stabilized, one of us wrote yesterday, but New Jersey voters aren't buying the results of the Gibson Dunn investigation.

FLORIDA: Noted: Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida says he will not try to run for re-election if he mounts a 2016 presidential campaign.

GEORGIA: In her first ad, Democrat Michelle Nunn plays up her work for former president George H.W. Bush's Points of Light Foundation.

KENTUCKY: Sam Youngman of the Lexington Herald-Leader: "Republican U.S. Senate candidate Matt Bevin believes the legality of cockfighting should be decided by states and not the federal government, his spokeswoman said Wednesday following a news report that Bevin attended a pro-cockfighting rally over the weekend."

NEW HAMPSHIRE: The Boston Globe: "Officials at Nixon Peabody LLP say Scott Brown, who has been exploring a run for US Senate in New Hampshire, is no longer working for the law firm."

PENNSYLVANIA: MSNBC’s Michael LaRosa reports writes that Allyson Schwartz’s (D) campaign penned a memo arguing that she can still win the state’s Democratic gubernatorial primary, despite Tom Wolf’s (D) big lead in the polls. Schwartz campaign Manager Corey Dukes sent out a message today boasting that his campaign's "media strategy close to the election against a self-funder who takes an early lead has proven to be effective in Pennsylvania and across the country." More: "We have over $5 million on hand to spend communicating with voters across Pennsylvania about Allyson’s experience and leadership. We have a deep base of support in the Philadelphia media market, which will only grow as voters hear our message. And, we have tremendous growth opportunities in every region of the Commonwealth," Dukes said.

SOUTH CAROLINA: The Economist offers a roundup of the political scene in South Carolina, which is as messy as always in a packed election year.

WISCONSIN: Meredith Clark of profiles Mary Burke, the all-but-certain challenger to Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

UTAH: Utah may end up being a Senate race political ground zero in 2016, writes Roll Call's Abby Livingston. "Sen. Orrin G. Hatch’s expected retirement in four years will create the Beehive State’s first open-seat Senate race since 1992 — that much is a certainty. But in the more immediate future, some Utah Republicans perturbed with Sen. Mike Lee’s role in the government shutdown are considering a primary challenge to the first-term incumbent in 2016."


*** Thursday’s “The Daily Rundown” line-up: NBC’s Chuck Todd interviews Col. Jack Jacobs, Gen. Barry McCaffrey, Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA), Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX), Jim Cavanaugh, Bob Bauer and Ben Ginsberg.

*** Thursday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews Sen. Claire McCaskill, Rep. Ed Royce, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, Col. Jack Jacobs, NBC’s Richard Engel, Charles Hadlock and Jim Miklaszewski and author Katherine Schwarzenegger.