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Is the U.S. heading back into Iraq?

BY Domenico Montanaro, Terence Burlij, Rachel Wellford and Simone Pathe  June 17, 2014 at 9:19 AM EST
Residents in Tuz Khormato of Iraq, located 55 miles south of Kirkuk, Saladin Province, are reported to have armed as a result of remaining unprotected against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant attacks. Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Residents in Tuz Khormato of Iraq, located 55 miles south of Kirkuk, Saladin Province, are reported to have armed as a result of remaining unprotected against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant attacks. Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The Morning Line

Today in the Morning Line:

  • Obama’s first steps on intervention in Iraq
  • US ‘open’ to coordination with Iran and airstrikes are possible
  • Expect some fireworks with Hillary Clinton on Fox later
  • The importance of Obama’s gay rights push

Some troops back to Iraq: President Barack Obama took his first steps to address the situation in Iraq with the White House announcing it is sending in 275 troops to secure the embassy in Baghdad with at least another 100 on standby. The U.S. is also considering sending in a small contingent of special forces for advising and training. It’s leaving some to wonder if there will be even more troops sent in if the situation gets worse. Just four days ago, President Obama said outside the White House: “We will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq, but I have asked my national security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support Iraq’s security forces, and I’ll be reviewing those options in the days ahead.” Asked if the president’s thinking has evolved on sending combat forces in at some point, White House National Security spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden told Morning Line, “No, it has not changed.”

Working with Iran is possible, as are airstrikes: The U.S. is in the strange bedfellows situation of possibly needing to work with Iran, and Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. is open to that. “We’re open to discussions if there is something constructive to be contributed by Iran,” Kerry said in an interview with Yahoo’s Katie Couric. That could potentially include military cooperation. “I wouldn’t rule out anything that would be constructive.” Airstrikes are also possible, Kerry said. “Well, they are not the whole answer,” he said, “but they may well be one of the options that are important to be able to stem the tide and stop the movement of people who are moving around in open convoys and trucks and terrorizing people. When you have people murdering, assassinating in these mass massacres, you have to stop that and you do what you need to do.”

Hillary Clinton on FOX: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is supposed to be interviewed by Fox News hosts Greta Van Susteren and Bret Baier Tuesday. Watch for fireworks. She also participates in a town hall hosted by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour at the Newseum at 5 p.m. ET. The Republican National Committee continues its targeting of Clinton with an ad to air on cable hitting her comment that she and her husband were “dead broke” when they left the White House. They are also continuing to trail her with an orange squirrel mascot wearing a T-shirt that reads, “Another Clinton in the White House is nuts,” which appears in an ESPN-style web video from the RNC.

Another week of unilateral Obama domestic action: On Monday, the White House announced more executive action, this time that Mr. Obama will sign an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Today, as the president heads to Pittsburgh for an event on the economy at 1:45 p.m. ET, the White House is also announcing executive action on manufacturing that include upgrading a website for manufacturers to access $5 billion in research and development money and a $150 million initiative to research better manufacturing materials. It also gives the president the chance to tout, as the White House did in a press release this morning, ahead of the midterms, that “The manufacturing sector has added 646,000 jobs since February 2010, the fastest pace of job growth since the 1990s.” AP’s Jim Kuhnhenn: “The trip combines important election-year tasks for Obama — maintaining a focus on the economy, raising money and nurturing an important Democratic voting and donor bloc.”

Obama’s gay rights push: After the event in Pittsburgh, the president flies to New York for a 5:25 p.m. ET “roundtable” (aka fundraiser) with Senate Majority PAC, the biggest outside spending group supporting Democrats this cycle so far. But also in New York, Mr. Obama attends and makes remarks at 8:05 p.m. ET at the Democratic National Committee’s LGBT gala before participating in a DNC fundraiser hosted by Anna Wintour at 9 p.m. ET. Politico notes that on Thursday, the Justice Department will release a report on how it has broadly interpreted the Supreme Court’s striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, which will note how the Obama administration has not been able to affect veterans and Social Security benefits the way it would have wanted. There will be a White House event Thursday as well on the report and Obama’s executive order, which the gay rights community sees as “so important that they call it the third leg of the stool of Obama’s revolutionary record on gay rights, along with repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and backing same sex marriage.” The Thursday events will also be on the same day the anti-gay rights group National Organization for Marriage holds a protest walk from the Capitol to the Supreme Court (which are right across the street from each other) before its own gala. Make no mistake: the gay community is vital to Democratic fundraising, and that’s a big part of this push.

House GOP leadership fight latest: The fight for House GOP whip is getting ugly, with staffs of Reps. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., the current deputy whip, and Steve Scalise, R-La., the conservative Republican Study Committee chairman, hitting each other in blind quotes and emails to reporters. “No one wants a whip who can’t count,” a Roskam staffer told Roll Call of Scalise, “and no one wants a whip who overpromises and under-delivers.” That’s because Roskam says he has a “rock solid” 90 people behind him and Roskam is claiming anywhere from 100 to 120, which Roskam’s team calls “soft.” A Scalise aide called Roskam’s numbers “fishy.” The winner would need 117 votes in a secret ballot (half of the 233-member conference plus one if they all vote). That might not happen on first ballot because Rep. Marlin Stutzman of Indiana is also in the race. And this isn’t a clean Southern faction versus establishment/Midwesterners. There’s apparently some bleedover with Roskam boasting support from some red state members, and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state whipping for Scalise and not Roskam. Of course, all this is predicated upon Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., being elevated to majority leader and fending off Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho.

2014 watch — Ernst up with new TV ad: Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst released her first general election television ad on Monday, attacking Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley for running a “dirty campaign.” The spot raises Braley’s disparaging comments about veteran Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley as “a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school” and points to criticism of the Democrat’s first campaign ad blasting Ernst for not cutting spending as a state senator. “I’m Joni Ernst, and I approve this message, because I may not have a law degree, but I’ve got something Washington needs a whole lot more — Iowa values,” Ernst declares in the ad. The Braley campaign shot back that Ernst’s “plans to privatize Social Security” and “repeal the federal minimum wage” are “out-of-step” with Iowa values.

2014 watch — New Miss. polls: In Mississippi, new polls in the June 24th runoff between six-term GOP Sen. Thad Cochran and state Sen. Chris McDaniel show very different results. One poll — a Democratic, one-day robo poll — shows the race too close to call with Cochran up 48 percent to 47 percent. Meanwhile, a Republican poll shows McDaniel up 12 points, 51 percent to 42 percent. So what do both of these tell us? Not much. Most still believe McDaniel is at least a slight favorite because of the difficult needle Cochran has to thread in turning out not just Republicans, but independents and Democrats. On the first poll, the pollster previously worked for Democratic Senate nominee Travis Childers. Take a look, by the way, at Childers’ FEC filings. He has raised a paltry $82,000 with just $73,000 cash on hand. Democrats might be excited about this race being on the table if McDaniel wins, but Childers has to do better than that.

Daily Presidential Trivia: On this day in 1972, five men were arrested for burglarizing the Democratic Party Headquarters in the Watergate complex in Washington, DC. What was the name of the organization they worked for? Be the first to Tweet us the correct answer using #PoliticsTrivia, and you’ll get a Morning Line shout-out. Congratulations to David Schooler (‏@GandTMan) for guessing Monday’s trivia: How many times did Al Gore run for president? The answer was: 2.

LINE ITEMS

  • The Washington Post reports that Mr. Obama plans to announce an expansion of a marine sanctuary in the central Pacific Ocean, which would create the world’s largest marine sanctuary.

  • A new poll conducted by the Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Annenberg Survey found that Bill Clinton is the most admired president of the past 25 years.

  • The National Republican Congressional Committee raised $900,000 at their annual House leadership fundraiser in New York City, attended by Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy.

  • Brat’s back: Dave Brat’s campaign released a video greeting campaign staffers Monday. Brat will hold his first campaign event since his surprise win over Rep. Eric Cantor Tuesday night. The economics professor also hired a new communications director, Brian Gottstein, who worked for former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

  • Kentucky Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes is called “two-faced” for her position on coal in a new ad from a conservative non-profit backing Sen. Mitch McConnell.

  • In a close race to serve the remaining two years of Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn’s Senate term, Rep. James Lankford has significantly outraised his tea party opponent T.W. Shannon. The money on both sides is being used to go negative in the week leading up to the primary.

  • Shannon released two new ads Tuesday. A positive spot challenges Mr. Obama’s spending, while the second ad uses former Rep. J.C. Watts to hit back against attack ads from the Foundation for Economic Prosperity.

  • A former campaign manager for New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez pleaded guilty to intercepting emails to the governor and her staff and passing them along to her opponents even after Martinez had been inaugurated in 2011.

  • The Supreme Court ruled Monday that if an individual intends to buy a gun for someone else, he or she must say so. In a separate ruling, the court unanimously supported a challenge to an Ohio law that makes it illegal to lie about a candidate’s position during a campaign. NewsHour’s Jeffrey Brown talked to Marcia Coyle of The National Law Journal about the two outcomes Monday.

  • A new study from the University of Rochester finds that judges are more likely to rule in favor of women’s rights if they have daughters.

  • Dana Milbank describes a Heritage Foundation event on Benghazi that, he writes, “deteriorated into the ugly taunting of a woman in the room who wore an Islamic head covering.”

  • The National Review’s Eliana Johnson reports that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker met with donors in New Jersey last week, telling the crowd that the way to defeat Hillary Clinton in 2016 is to “move it from a personality race.” Walker added: “The only way we win that election is to transform her personality to Washington versus the rest of us.” Walker also took a swing at friend and fellow Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for failing to reduce property tax in the Garden State.

  • Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner announced the support Monday of 16 former GOP elected officials, including former Sen. John Warner and former Gov. Linwood Holton.

  • In the only House primary they’ve spent in this cycle, American Crossroads has dropped more than $750,000 in independent expenditures in New York’s 21st Congressional District to help former White House aide Elise Stefanik against three-time GOP candidate Matt Doheny.

  • Sen. David Vitter, R-La., who is running for governor next year, suggested he’s open to accepting federal money to expand Medicaid.

  • In an interview with CNBC, Texas Gov. Rick Perry did not back down on his comments last week comparing homosexuality to alcoholism.

  • Keep an eye on the Rundown blog for breaking news throughout the day, our home page for show segments, and follow @NewsHour for the latest.

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Questions or comments? Email Domenico Montanaro at dmontanaro-at-newshour-dot-org or Terence Burlij at tburlij-at-newshour-dot-org.

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