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First Read's Morning Clips

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

OBAMA AGENDA: Distractions in Asia

Disasters at home and abroad are complicating President Barack Obama's long-delayed Asia trip, writes the New York Times. "White House officials, who have come with a busy agenda of economic and security issues, worry that the leaders — particularly President Park Guen-hye of South Korea, for whom the ferry tragedy is still unfolding — will be preoccupied when they meet Mr. Obama." More: “Mr. Obama faces an even more delicate situation in Malaysia, which his advisers had hoped to celebrate as a reliable partner in counterterrorism operations and a model of a majority-Muslim democracy in Asia. Instead, it has become a byword for confusion and opacity in the wake of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.”

From Reuters: “Obama, who is making the first full state visit to Japan by a U.S. President since 1996, must assuage worries by Tokyo and other allies that his commitment to their defense in the face of an increasingly assertive China is weak, without hurting vital U.S. ties with Asia's biggest economy.”

Obama praised the resilience of residents of Oso, Wash., Tuesday as he stopped in the area struck by a deadly mudslide, NBC's Andrew Rafferty reports.

The New York Times takes a look at Obama's distant relationship with some of his African relatives. "As the president has embraced the family more culturally near to him — the half sister on his mother’s side with whom he remained close, the Ivy League-educated brother-in-law he bonds with over basketball, the mother-in-law who lives upstairs — the Obamas are often relegated to the farther branches of his family tree.”

“The Supreme Court on Tuesday morning upheld Michigan's ban on using race as a factor in college admissions,” NBC’s Pete Williams reports. “In a 6-2 ruling, the justices said the state did not violate the U.S. Constitution when its voters banned affirmative action. The justices say that a lower federal court was wrong to set aside the change as discriminatory.”

The New York Times ed board slams the Supreme Court's "blinkered view of race in America" after its decision to allow states to ban race-conscious admissions policies.

OFF TO THE RACES: Good news for southern Dems

A New York Times Upshot/Kasier Family Foundation Poll finds Senate races in Kentucky, North Carolina, Louisiana and Arkansas tight, but Democrats so far are staying in the hunt despite the poor national climate. The toplines:

NC: Hagan 42 percent, Tillis 40 percent

LA: Landrieu 42 percent, Cassidy 18 percent, "No opinion" 20 percent

AR: Pryor 46 percent, Cotton 36 percent

KY: Grimes 43 percent, McConnell 44 percent

The Washington Post's Dan Balz writes that Bob Dole, at age 90, "has returned to his home state this week to say thank you to the people who supported him for so long. He is running for nothing but is nonetheless running hard."

Gov. Chris Christie is taking a hard line against pot legalization in New Jersey.

Christie didn't mention the George Washington Bridge scandal at a D.C. dinner Tuesday night, though he did poke fun at the media circus that surrounds him. "'These remarks are being broadcast live by C-Span tonight,' he said. 'What that will tell you is this must be the quietest political night in America in months.'"

Education was the focus of Rand Paul's swing through Chicago, the Wall Street Journal reports. '“While this is not a Republican or Democratic issue, there are people on two sides of the issue,” Mr. Paul said of school reform, before excoriating those he said are “dead-enders who just want the status-quo versus those who think we need to do something differently.'"

The Wall Street Journal talks to Elizabeth Warren about her push to make financial regulators more stringent. "'My job is to push: It's about encouraging the regulators to pick up the tools they've got and use them,' Ms. Warren, 64, said in an interview. 'That can't happen if the regulators aren't paying attention.'"

"Few doubt that Hillary Rodham Clinton’s nomination for president would be good for women," the New York Times wrote Tuesday. "But her candidacy would also probably block the paths for other women running for the White House, and, notably, for those who would like to be vice president."

FLORIDA: Businessman Curt Clawson won last night's Republican primary to replace Rep. Trey Radel. The News-Press: "Basketball-player-turned-businessman Curt Clawson scored big Tuesday night to win the Republican nomination for the District 19 congressional seat vacated by Trey Radel, snagging 38.25 percent of the vote. State Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto and former state Rep. Paige Kreegel were neck-and-neck in second place at 25.68 and 25.3 percent of the vote, followed by Michael Dreikorn with 10.77 percent."

GEORGIA: The Hill's Jessica Taylor writes that Karen Handel could be "hitting her stride at just the right time."

LOUISIANA: The Wall Street Journal: "The political arms of large corporations have given nearly five times as much money to Sen. Mary Landrieu as to her Republican opponent, Rep. Bill Cassidy, according to fundraising data compiled by The Wall Street Journal. Industry groups have run television advertisements supporting her re-election. And several big Washington trade associations that normally back Republicans, led by energy groups, are throwing their support behind the incumbent."

The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent talked to Landrieu, who called the state’s non-expansion of Medicaid ‘the Jindal gap” and had this to say about Obamacare: “My opponent offers nothing but repeal, repeal, and repeal. And even with all the law’s setbacks, we’re seeing benefits for thousands of people in Louisiana. … I think the benefits that people have received are worth fighting for.”

MISSOURI: The AP: "A Republican-led Missouri House committee plans to hold a hearing on measures seeking to impeach Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon." The resolutions include Nixon's decisions to allow same-sex couples married in other states to file joint tax returns in Missouri; another involves his refusal to fire tax employees.

NORTH CAROLINA: Congressional candidate Clay Aiken is up with his first ad, highlighting his harsh childhood and making no mention of his "American Idol" run.


*** Wednesday’s “The Daily Rundown” line-up: NBC’s Luke Russert interviews NBC’s Chuck Todd, SCOTUSBlog’s Amy Howe, NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez, The Atlantic’s Steve Clemons, Nate Cohn of the New York Times, Democratic Strategist Steve McMahon, Republican Strategist Kim Alfano and Politico’s Manu Raju.

*** Wednesday’s “Jansing & Co.” line-up: Guest host Richard Lui interviews the President of the American Civil Rights InstituteWard Connerly, Associate Professor & Director of Asian American at the University of Maryland Janelle Wong, Columnist at and MSNBC contributor Goldie Taylor, Staff Writer at The Hill Elise Viebeck, National Political Reporter for The Boston Globe Matt Viser, Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times Lynn Sweet, Director of Africana Studies and Assoc. Professor of English at Lehigh University James Peterson, Former Bush-Cheney Senior Advisor Robert Traynham, and the author of "The Coming Collapse of China" Gordon Chang.

*** Wednesday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Tamron Hall interviews Politico’s Josh Gerstein on President Obama’s trip to Asia and the latest in Ukraine; Rep. Emanuel Cleaver on Paul Ryan meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus next Wednesday; Ellie Krieger from the Food Network on the potential dangers of superfoods; Sopranos star, Steve Schirripa, on season 2 of “Karma’s A B*tch” -his Investigation Discovery series on getting revenge.

*** Wednesday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: Andrea Mitchell interviews NBC’s Chuck Todd travelling with Pres. Obama in Japan, Richard Engel, Jim Maceda and Gabe Guitierez, SC State Rep. James Smith, Fmr. Latta, SC Police Chief Crystal Moore and Scott Gilbert, the attorney for Alan Gross, the American held captive in Cuba.