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A1: The stories you need to read before your first conference call.
-- Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl arrived at an Army Medical Center near San Antonio early this morning after leaving Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany. In a press release, the Pentagon said Bergdahl will "continue the next phase of his reintegration process. There is no timeline for this process." (Washington Post, ABC News)
-- Al Qaeda-inspired Sunni insurgents swept through towns as close as 60 miles away from Baghdad. More than 90,000 Iraqi soldiers have deserted instead of confronting militants. Meanwhile, Kurdish soldiers have taken control of the northern city of Kirkuk, an important oil city. Iraq seems headed to a partition along ethnic Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish lines. (Washington Post) The U.S. is secretly flying drones over Iraq to collect intelligence on the insurgents. (Wall Street Journal)
-- Iran has deployed two battalions of its elite Quds force to fight the ISIS militants and back up the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The battalions are helping Iraqi forces retake control of Tikrit. (Wall Street Journal) U.S. intelligence forces were taken by surprise by the militants' quick strike through northern Iraq. (Foreign Policy) Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Thursday President Obama's entire national security team should resign after the "colossal failure of American security policy." (Politico)
-- Reps. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) and Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) both said Thursday they will not run for House Majority Leader, leaving Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on a glide path to a promotion. (Dallas Morning News) McCarthy gets profiled in today's Washington Post and Politico. Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) told The Post's Phil Rucker on board a flight from D.C. to Salt Lake City that he would consider running for majority leader now that Sessions and Hensarling have said no. He huddled with Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), also on board, for a lengthy chat. (Washington Post)
-- Hillary Clinton literally went ten rounds over seven minutes with NPR host Terry Gross, refusing to discuss her evolution on the Defense of Marriage Act and gay rights on Thursday. "I'm pretty sure you didn't answer my question," Gross said at one point. "I think you are trying to say that I used to be opposed and now I am in favor and I did it for political reasons. And that's just flat wrong," Clinton said later in the interview. (NPR, BuzzFeed, Washington Post) Reid's Take: Clinton's roll-out has been marred by avoidable flubs. It serves as a reminder that she wasn't exactly the best candidate in the world when she ran in 2008, either.
-- The RNC's site selection committee got a big reception in Dallas Thursday, including a musical performance, fireworks, confetti and two real live elephants. RNC national finance chairman Ray Washburne would serve as the host committee's official chairman, and the host committee is in talks to hire a former Dallas city manager to lead the group. The one problem: Dallas can't accommodate a June convention, because of potential conflicts with the Dallas Mavericks and the Dallas Stars. (Dallas Morning News) Click for a funny photo of site election chairwoman Enid Mickelsen and her big new buddy.
National Roundup: What's happening outside the Beltway.
-- WH'16: Iowa Republicans will hear from Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) this weekend at their state convention this weekend in Des Moines. Paul will be coming from Park City, Utah, where he participates in Mitt Romney's annual "ideas summit" alongside GOPers like Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Hank Paulson, George Schultz and Meg Whitman. (Des Moines Register, Washington Post) Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) will address the Alabama GOP's annual dinner next week in Birmingham. (Birmingham News)
-- Hawaii: State Sen. David Ige (D) leads Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) by a 48 percent to 37 percent margin among Democratic primary voters in a new Civil Beat Poll. Fifty-one percent of Democrats said they had a negative opinion about Abercrombie. In the general election, both Ige and Abercrombie run neck and neck with former Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona (R), with former Honolulu Mayor and former Democrat Mufi Hannemann, the Hawaii Independent Party candidate, scoring in the double digits. (Civil Beat)
-- Mississippi: A new WPA Opinion Research poll conducted for state Sen. Chris McDaniel's (R) campaign shows him leading Sen. Thad Cochran (R) by a 49 percent to 41 percent margin in the June 24 runoff. It's the third poll since the June 3 primary, and all three show McDaniel ahead, though the other two were flash robo-polls the day after the primary. One area where Cochran could grow: Among Democratic voters, who can cross over to vote in the GOP runoff. The Cochran campaign is working on voters in the Delta and Jackson to bolster his numbers. (Jackson Clarion-Ledger)
-- Virginia: Republicans on Thursday used their new majority in the state Senate to pass a two-year budget that does not include an expansion of Medicaid or a private alternative. The budget blocks funding of an expansion without the explicit approval of the full General Assembly, likely heading off any chance for Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) to act by executive order. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
-- Arkansas: More bad news for Medicaid expansion: State Rep. John Burris (R), the author of the so-called private option plan that allowed low-income residents to buy private insurance rather than expand Medicaid, lost a runoff election on Tuesday for a state Senate district in North Little Rock. The private option passed by a single vote; the candidate who beat Burris, Scott Flippo (R), opposes the private option. State Senate President Michael Lamoureux (R) said it was hard to envision the program's reauthorization in next year's sessionn. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)
-- Massachusetts: The Bay State's minimum wage would climb from $8 an hour today to $11 an hour in 2017 under a measure that easily passed the state Senate on Thursday. That would be the highest state-level minimum wage in the country. The state House is expected to pass the measure next week, and Gov. Deval Patrick (D) has said he will sign it. (Boston Globe)
DC Digest: What's on tap today in DC.
-- President Obama makes his first visit as president to North Dakota, where he will visit the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Nation to participate in a roundtable discussion with Native American youth. The president and first lady will participate in a Flag Day celebration before departing this evening for Palm Springs.
-- Vice President Biden has meetings at the White House most of the day. This afternoon, he will ceremonially swear in Pam Hamamoto, the new U.S. Ambassador to United Nations Agencies in Geneva.
-- The House and Senate are out until next week. That means reservations at Bullfeathers for lunch are essential, and if you want a seat at Cap Lounge, get there by about 4 p.m.
-- Hahaha, 4 p.m., that's a good joke. World Cup schedule: Mexico-Cameroon kicks off at noon. Spain plays the Netherlands at 3 p.m. Chile and Australia play at 6 p.m. (FIFA) All the bars with World Cup specials on tap, from DCist (Hint: Everywhere).
TV Time Out: Our exclusive look at who's advertising, and where.
-- Michigan: The Sierra Club is putting its chips on the table for the first time this cycle with a $90,000 ad buy in Michigan's 7th congressional district. Once again, the environmental group is targeting Rep. Tim Walberg (R), who faces former state Rep. Pam Byrnes (D) in November. The ads began running Thursday and will continue through July 2.
-- North Carolina: Generation Opportunity, a Koch brothers-connected group focused on millenials, has joined the increasingly crowded fray with an ad attacking Sen. Kay Hagan (D) that started running Wednesday. The group is spending $797,000 on cable and broadcast ads set to run June 11 to July 1.
-- Colorado: Senate Majority PAC will start a summer assault on Rep. Cory Gardner (R) later this month with a $460,000 ad buy running June 23 to July 13. The group will spend about $100,000 a week in the Denver market and $50,000 a week in the Colorado Springs market.
The Buried Lede: The nuggets that deserve the spotlight.
-- Here's a good idea for legislators all over the country: Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy (D) this week signed legislation eliminating almost 1,000 pages of obsolete state regulations dating as far back as 1976. Those regulations included rules for programs that no longer existed, were superseded by technology or were just plain dumb -- like one that barred women from working alone early in the morning. (Associated Press)
B1: Business, politics and the business of politics
-- The U.S. purchased eight patrol boats for Afghan police back in 2010, for a total of $3 million. Great idea! Except that Afghanistan is landlocked, the boats haven't arrived, and they cost $375,000 apiece, about seven times what a typical patrol boat costs in the U.S. (Washington Post)
-- Markets are down slightly in early-hour trading after the Dow lost 109 points on Thursday. Asian markets are up, but European markets are losing ground. (CNN)
C1: The long reads you'll need to check out before tonight's cocktail party.
-- Jim Greer, the disgraced former Florida Republican Party chairman, tried to get Gov. Charlie Crist on the national Republican ticket in 2008 before being convicted of fraud for his role in a fundraising scheme. (Good profile of Greer in this 2010 Orlando Sentinel article.) Now he's written a tell-all book (reviews from the Sentinel here, the Tampa Bay Times here). Florida Republican consultant Rick Wilson read the book so you don't have to, and reviewed it hilariously on Amazon.
C4: The comics page, fun things to read when you're bored at work
-- With Hawaii's Abercrombie in trouble, we wondered: How rare is it for a sitting governor to lose renomination? So we asked Eric Ostermeier, author of the Smart Politics blog at UMN. His answer: Since 2000, it's happened to four governors: Missouri's Bob Holden and Utah's Olene Walker in 2004 (Walker was serving the remainder of Mike Leavitt's term when he left to run the EPA); Alaska's Frank Murkowski in 2006; and Nevada's Jim Gibbons in 2010. And all four of them lost to candidates who would become big names in politics, albeit for very different reasons. They lost, respectively, to Claire McCaskill, Jon Huntsman, Sarah Palin and Brian Sandoval.
-- The Minnesota Republican Party is regretting its decision to endorse attorney Michelle MacDonald in the race for state Supreme Court. That's because MacDonald was arrested last year for suspicion of drunken driving and resisting arrest, and her case heads to trial this fall, during the general election. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
Attn Matt Drudge: Things conservatives will get outraged by today.
-- One of the men released from Guantanamo in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl helped orchestrate an offensive against Taliban enemies in Afghanistan the day before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The man, Mohammad Fazl, was the Taliban's army chief of staff and deputy defense minister; he apparently met several times with Abdul Hadi al Iraqi, one of Osama bin Laden's top lieutenants. (Weekly Standard)
Attn HuffPo: What outrages liberals today
-- The average CEO at one of the top 350 U.S. companies took home wages and benefits worth $15.2 million in 2013, up 21.7 percent since 2010. That's almost 296 times the $52,100 the average worker made in 2013. The ratio of CEO to worker compensation is down from its peak, around 2000, but it's ten times higher than the ratio in 1978. (Economic Policy Institute)