You may have spent your summer grabbing ice cream cones with Rick Perry, or hopping rides with Paul Ryan aboard the Romney bus, or looking for Mary Landrieu’s house, or finding new ways to thank the Koch brothers.
Regardless, it’s back to business now, with campaign season starting and President Obama going just where red-state Democrats want him: Estonia. Actually, he’ll work in a (semi-)political stop before his foreign trip, as a still chaotic issue mix awaits the fall push for control of Congress.
Here’s a glimpse at some of the stories your ABC News political team will be tracking in the week ahead:
If we don’t have a strategy yet, the coming days may be the best chance to find one. President Obama takes two pressing world crises with him on his foreign trip starting Tuesday. First comes a visit to Estonia on Tuesday, a trip meant to reassure Baltic allies that are understandably concerned about Russian incursions in Ukraine. Then comes a NATO summit in Wales, where Ukraine and ISIS will be high on the newly urgent agenda. The president’s stark comments about a lack of a “strategy” to defeat ISIS in Syria is showing signs of undermining confidence in his leadership on the world stage. It’s a line that will stick the president, regardless of how the foreign travel goes.
Impeachment talk? That was so July. The talk of late summer, and maybe the fall, is of a government shutdown. The catalyst is the Obama administration’s public pondering of executive actions regarding undocumented immigrants. With the president eyeing mid-September action that could effectively legalize the status of millions of immigrants, there may be no single political move with a greater potential to scramble midterm politics. On the president’s left are immigration advocates and Latino leaders who are clamoring for more unilateral moves. In the middle are red-state Democrats who see executive action as a political loser and are publicly calling on the president to hold up. And on the right are Republicans, who are sounding alarms that include threatening funding mechanisms, depending on what the president does and when he does it.
Labor Day marks the traditional start of heavy campaign season, and there’s only a final small batch of primaries Sept. 9 standing in the way of full-on general election politicking. The midterms are looking like they’ll turn on a jumble of issues, with expected concerns about jobs and President Obama’s agenda getting the most traction in Republican efforts to recapture the Senate. But an increased focus on national security and foreign policy seems inevitable given world events, and a recent rash of ads highlighting the Veterans Affairs scandal surely won’t be the last flags and uniforms of the campaign year. Plus, Obamacare hasn’t quite faded from the landscape – and Republicans won’t want to let it go this fall.
President Obama has chosen an interesting place to spend part of his Labor Day. Wisconsin was the center of the action for the single biggest political confrontation involving organized labor in recent years: Gov. Scott Walker’s successful push to end collective bargaining for most public workers. Walker famously beat back a recall attempt shortly thereafter. But now he’s facing an equally difficult challenge for a second term. Walker is considered a 2016 contender, though that can only happen if he first beats businesswoman Mary Burke this fall. Burke is unlikely to appear alongside Obama at Laborfest in Milwaukee, though both will be addressing the gathering. But the president has vowed to return to campaign this fall. The fact that he’s starting the fall campaign season there hints at the message frame Democrats want to push this year; hint: we’ll hear more than a little about “working families." Democrats are generally far more optimistic about their chances in gubernatorial races, as opposed to congressional ones, this fall.
|CLINTON VS. CHRISTIE|
The political heavyweights won’t actually cross paths this time. But some surrogate work in Maine hints at a battle of the titans. Former President Bill Clinton is making a foray into a gubernatorial race by campaigning Tuesday with Rep. Mike Michaud, the Democratic candidate for governor of Maine. Gov. Chris Christie has already been to Maine twice to campaign for the incumbent, Gov. Paul LePage, with another trip promised in September, all in Christie’s role as chairman of the Republican Governors Association. Clinton and his wife figure to be the biggest draws on the Democratic side this fall. Christie is near the top of GOP wish-lists, bridge scandal and all. For his part, Christie will be spending a few days in the coming week in Mexico, where he’s promised to neither visit the border nor speak Spanish. (Seriously.)