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First Read's Morning Clips

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OBAMA AGENDA: The Comedian-in-Chief

Here's NBC's roundup of Obama's White House Correspondents Dinner speech - complete with jabs at Chris Christie, Rand Paul and John Boehner.

Heartening news for Keystone XL pipeline opponents? Obama "is now getting into the weeds on climate change and considers it one of the key components of his legacy," the Washington Post writes. More: "While he routinely brings up climate change in closed-door meetings with world leaders, according to his aides, he also discusses it in his private life, talking about global warming’s implications with his teenage daughters."

The latest in Ukraine, from the New York Times: "Russian-speaking regions of Ukraine spun further out of the central government’s control on Sunday as a mob stormed a police station in this Black Sea port and freed from detention 67 pro-Russian militants, on the same day that Ukraine’s prime minister was visiting the city."

Obama will visit Arkansas on Wednesday to view tornado damage.

CONGRESS: Keystone drama

Stay tuned for Keystone drama on the Hill. The Washington Post: "The Senate is set to begin debate on a modest energy bill that has enough bipartisan support to pass on its own merits, but supporters of the pipeline, which is intended to transport oil from western Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast, are trying to leverage the bill to force votes on Keystone."

"House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., announced that the House will vote on May 7 on whether to ask Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to appoint a special counsel to look into allegations the IRS illegally targeted conservative organizations for extra scrutiny," Roll Call reports.

OFF TO THE RACES: Tough generic ballot for Democrats

A new USA Today poll finds a four point GOP advantage over Democrats on the generic congressional ballot, "the biggest at this point for Republicans in the past 20 years."

It also had President Obama’s approval rating at 44%, which is where last week’s NBC/WSJ had it.

Jason Horowitz of the New York Times spends the day with Rand Paul and his guest Rupert Murdoch at the Kentucky Derby in what was "part getting-to-know-you and part political audition, and marked a potential turn in the race for president." One quote to keep in mind is Murdoch on Chris Christie: "He’ll be a very strong, fighting candidate in the primaries, but there will be more and more stuff coming out, I think. Not him but, you know, on his aides. There will be more stories."

Michael Hirsh coins the phrase “Benghazi-Industrial Complex” to describe what he says are Republican efforts to keep Hillary Clinton from running for president.

Republicans are poised to grab even more state legislatures this fall, writes the Wall Street Journal. "Control of five state Senates would swing to the GOP with a gain of no more than three seats, and the party is targeting four additional state legislative chambers, believing the political environment favors Republicans this year. The party already has full legislative control in 26 of the 50 states and holds 29 governorships heading into 2014 elections."

The Washington Post: "A group of wealthy liberal donors who helped bankroll the Center for American Progress and other major advocacy groups on the left is developing a new big-money strategy that could boost state-level Democratic candidates and mobilize core party voters. The plan, being crafted in private by a group of about 100 donors that includes billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros and San Francisco venture capitalist Rob McKay, seeks to give Democrats a stronger hand in the redrawing of district lines for state legislatures and the U.S. House."

Gov. Rick Perry is headed back to Iowa later this month.

IOWA: Senate candidate Joni Ernst (of "castrating hogs" ad fame) is up with a new TV spot that features her wearing a black leather jacket, riding a Harley and firing a handgun at target practice. A line from the ad: "“Conservative Joni Ernst: mom, farm girl and a lieutenant colonel who carries more than just lipstick in her purse. Joni Ernst will take aim at wasteful spending. And when she sets her sights on Obamacare, Joni’s going to unload."

NEW HAMPSHIRE: The state legislature is preparing to take up a measure to raise the minimum wage, the Union Leader notes.

Another Dixville Notch? "Thanks to the interest of its residents and a piece of legislation that will be considered this week, this sparsely-populated, unincorporated township could become one of the first places where votes will be cast in New Hampshire’s 2016 presidential primary."

NORTH CAROLINA: The Raleigh News & Observer's Rob Christensen writes that "the expected ideological smackdown has fizzled" in the GOP primary contest. "The three televised debates more often sounded like a conservative gospel quartet than a battle for the party’s soul; the lack of money for some campaigns precluded insider vs. outsider wars on TV, and much of the national party establishment has lined up behind Tillis."

The Wall Street Journal delves into the GOP landscape in North Carolina ahead of Tuesday's primary.

OKLAHOMA: The New York Times' Jonathan Martin looks at GOP tensions around T.W. Shannon, whose father is Chickasaw and whose mother is black. "Now, as Mr. Shannon vies to make history, he has become both the political beneficiary of the tribes’ newfound wealth and a target for complaints about Native American sovereignty and possible competing loyalties."

WEST VIRGINIA: Noted: Sen. Joe Manchin on CNN's State of the Union: "I felt more productive as governor than any time in my life in anything I've ever done. I haven't had that same feeling in the Senate ... If that's going to be stopped because of pure hard-core politics, then I've got to make a decision after this cycle of 2014's over and I will do it. I kept all options open. I will keep all options open."

PROGRAMMING NOTES.

*** Monday’s “Jansing & Co.” line-up: Chris Jansing interviews Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY), Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor, Domestic Correspondent for The New York Times Josh Barro, National Political Reporter for The Washington Post Robert Costa, Senior Politics Writer for U.S. News & World Report David Catanese, Political Reporter for The Raleigh News and Observer John Frank, MSNBC’s Joy Reid, MSNBC’s Krystal Ball, Democratic Pollster Margie Omero, and Republican Strategist Joe Watkins.

*** Monday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Tamron Hall interviews the Founder of Burn Bright International, Ozioma Egwuonwu on the missing Nigeria girls; Kylie Wicker and her parents Sharon and Jeromy Wicker on the prosthetic hand a local high school engineering class made for the child; Rutgers professor Rudy Bell on Condoleezza Rice declining invite to speak after protests; Atom Egoyan, director of “Devil’s Knot”; Fmr Mets player and coach Mookie Wilson on his new autobiography, “Mookie: Life, Baseball and the ’86 Mets.”

*** Monday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews Sen. Daniel Coats, IAVA Chief Policy Officer Tom Tarantino, Al Jazeera’s Sue Turton, the New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof, USA Today’s Susan Page, the AP’s Julie Pace and NBC’s Keir Simmons.

*** Monday’s “The Reid Report” line-up: MSNBC’s Joy Reid interviews David Rohde from Reuters & MSNBC Military Analyst Col. Jack Jacobs on the latest in Ukraine as well as Pres. Obama’s foreign policy.

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