This past week, crises continued on our own southern border, and on another between Israel and Gaza. We said goodbye to Eric Cantor last week with more finality than we were expecting. Congress is getting away from Washington for five weeks, but we aren’t so lucky.
We saw a GOP lawsuit against the president take a step forward, but it’s the Democrats' coffers that were benefitting. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie stopped by New Hampshire, his second early primary state in as many weeks. Former IRS official Lois Lerner used some eyebrow-raising language -- apparently against conservatives -- and we saw some jaw-dropping accusations in the trial against former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, which include vacations, sport cars and, of course, bling.
Here's a glimpse at some of the stories the ABC News political team will be covering in the week ahead:
We had a week off from the primary calendar this past week, but primary season comes roaring back to life with three -- yes, three -- days of primaries next month. Tuesday is traditionally the day voters go to the polls, but this week will see ballots cast on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
On Tuesday, primaries will be held in Kansas, Washington, Michigan and Missouri, while Thursday brings a vote in Tennessee, and Saturday in Hawaii. Kansas features another GOP establishment versus tea party Senate brawl with three-term incumbent Pat Roberts facing off against Dr. Milton Wolf, a distant cousin of President Obama. Wolf pulled off something of an announced ambush this week to try to get Roberts to debate before Tuesday. A similar fight will play out Thursday when incumbent GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander takes on tea partier Joe Carr. Sarah Palin has gotten involved by backing Carr but, in both cases, the polls look good for the incumbents, Roberts and Alexander. Of course, we could be surprised.
Also in Tennessee, we may see an incumbent congressman go down when Rep. Scott DesJarlais must face his personal drama that could be his downfall. And the Aloha State has turned into quite the battle, with the Senate Democratic primary turning into an intra-party clash, with incumbent Sen. Brian Schatz up against Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, the woman Sen. Daniel Inouye had requested to fill his seat after he died. That wish went unfulfilled by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, and he’s now in a primary battle himself, one he could very well lose. The race is of course going on in the state the president called home. Obama has backed Schatz, while Abercrombie was friends with Obama’s parents before he was even born.
|AFRICA COMES TO DC|
President Obama is hosting the first U.S.-Africa Leaders summit next week, expecting around 50 leaders from across the continent for the first-of-its-kind conference. The African Union chair, African business leaders, young African leaders, as well as a former president and two first ladies are all expected to attend.
International civil society groups are also attending after they initially criticized the summit for not including them more. Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg are expected to give welcoming speeches at the summit, which will include a session moderated by former President Bill Clinton and topics such as “Investing in Women, Peace, and Prosperity,” and “Investing in Health: Investing in Africa's Future.”
President Obama will be hosting leaders at the White House for dinner on Tuesday, as well as a government leader session at the State Department on Wednesday. The first lady will welcome spouses attending the summit at a program at the Kennedy Center, co-hosed by former first lady Laura Bush and the Bush Institute. The final day will include a news conference with the president themed towards investing in the next generation. The goal is to “build on the progress made” since the president traveled to Africa last year, as well as using the opportunity to push for human rights and investment opportunities in the African continent.
But expect the topic that will command attention and headlines at the summit to be the Ebola outbreak in three West African countries. There will likely be discussion on how to put an end to the virus that has killed hundreds in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The presidents of those countries are no longer attending in order to deal with the crisis at home.
|IOWA, 2016 in 2014|
Yes, it’s only 2014, but the pilgrimages to the Hawkeye State and to kiss the ring of Gov. Terry Branstad have already begun. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was there a few weeks ago and next week brings a flock of possible 2016ers, including Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee.
This weekend, Rubio and Cruz will both attend an annual summer party for GOP fundraiser Bruce Rastetter as well as a fundraiser for Senate candidate Joni Ernst. The long-running annual summer bash tends to attract possible presidential candidates. On Monday, Paul kicks off a three-day trip to the state that gets the first crack at testing presidential candidates. He has a jam-packed schedule attending events at the Iowa Republican Party offices around the state as well as holding fundraisers, including one for controversial Rep. Steve King. Perry launches a four-day tour next Saturday, beginning with a gathering of evangelical Christians where he will be joined by possible rivals Jindal, Santorum, Cruz, and Huckabee. On his trip, Perry will also attend fundraisers for state senate candidates, as well as travel around the state, and Santorum will headline a county GOP picnic, the kinds of events that are must-dos for every politician hoping to win the state’s 99 counties.
The most fun part of the week, though, will be the kick-off of this year’s Iowa State Fair. From the butter cow sculpture to corn dogs on a stick, it’s a required stop for candidates testing the waters and expect many of the names above to stop by the soap box, and maybe even enjoy the fried butter on a stick (oh yes, it’s real).
|SCHOOL’S OUT FOR SUMMER|
Members of Congress were summoned back from the airport Thursday as they were getting ready to dive into their August break, but even with those extra hours at the Capitol, their five-week recess will definitely start next week. They are already getting criticized for getting little done.
They’ve had weeks to deal with important issues like the crisis on the border, but a House conservative rebellion threw a wrench in Speaker John Boehner’s initial border bill plans. The House passed two bills late Friday night, but they have little to no chance of passing the Senate. Just another marker of the 113th Congress' division and dysfunction.
Their vote to move forward with a lawsuit against the president has given steam to impeachment talk, which is doing nothing but raising funds for the Democrats, who have pulled in loads of cash since the I-word was first raised. Boehner has promised impeachment is off the table, but the lawsuit just helped fuel Democrats’ fundraising emails. So will members of Congress be greeted by angry constituents at town hall meetings? We’ll be watching. Of course, many members don’t have them at all now, for fear they will be greeted by angry enraged voters. And this time it could be immigration again that fuels that anger.
It’s not just Congress going on vacation. President Obama and his family will head to Martha’s Vineyard next Saturday for a two-week trip. The first family has gone there every year of his presidency, besides 2012 during his re-election campaign. This will be the longest of his presidency. Expect the president to take in some golf and of course for Republicans to criticize him for taking some time away, although they are on summer vacation as well.
A $6,000 Rolex, a $3,000 bottle of Cognac, luxurious vacations, a Ferrari -- it’s not “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” but the trial of a former governor.
Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen are on trial, charged with selling political favors in exchange for lavish gifts, trips and shopping expeditions. The first week has passed with jaw-dropping allegations from the prosecution’s star witness -- Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams -- but the trial is far from over. Only a handful of witnesses have finished testifying from a list of up to 61 names. It is expected to go on for five to six weeks, but could go much longer.
According to the Washington Post, Williams said he took the then-first lady on a lavish shopping trip, making stops at Louis Vuitton, Oscar de la Renta and Bergdorf Goodman. He also testified upon seeing his luxury cars she told him “it’d just be nice” if one was available to drive when the family vacationed at his Tony Lake home. They ended up driving in his Ferrari during that trip.
Williams also testified the then-first lady said upon seeing Williams’ Rolex: “I’d really like to get one of those for the governor. He just wears these old watches.” Williams then said he told Maureen McDonnell, “Do you want me to get one of these watches for the governor?” Williams testified that she answered, “Yes, that would be nice.” Williams also asserted he is not “personal friends” with the McDonnells and instead bought them pricey gifts because he “thought it was good for my company,” adding he doesn’t believe he would have gotten a launch party for his product at the governor’s mansion without the expensive gifts. The one-time Republican rising star and his lawyers have consistently described Williams as a “family friend” and because of that relationship the gifts did not have to be reported under Virginia law. And that’s only a sliver of the week’s testimony. We’ll be watching for more eyebrow raising testimony next week.
ABC News’ Dana Hughes and Christopher Good contributed to this story.