By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )
ABC's RICK KLEIN: Fresh off - or, more accurately, in the middle of - an immigration fight that's severely tested his ties to conservatives, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is mulling whether to jump into a hot-button social-issue fight. Rubio is considering lending his political weight to a major anti-abortion measure that's already passed the House. The measure, which would ban abortions beyond 20 weeks of pregnancy, has no realistic chance of passing the Senate, much less becoming law. But Rubio's involvement would give anti-abortion efforts a boost, building at the federal level on momentum in a wide swath of states. It would also be seen as a signal of how Rubio wants to define himself beyond immigration, as a likely 2016 presidential run takes shape.
ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ: Texas Governor Rick Perry is expected to announce today whether he will run for governor in 2014 - a decision which could deeply impact the political world in Texas. Perry's announcement comes at a time when Texas has been thrust into the national spotlight after state Sen. Wendy Davis held a filibuster over abortion restrictions, prompting Perry to call a special session and subsequently delaying his announcement about a future run. Should Perry, who has served as governor for nearly 13 years, decide to run, he could endure a tough primary as well as face strong opposition from Democrats in Texas like Davis. But if he opts against a run, the Texas governor will open the field for other gubernatorial hopefuls waiting in the wings. Regardless, Perry, who demonstrated his unpredictability when he chose to stay in the presidential race in 2012 after a disappointing loss in the Iowa caucuses, is keeping people guessing about his 2014 plans. As one Perry insider put it, " No one will know until it comes out of his mouth. If you made me bet, I wouldn't bet either way or would bet both ways."
ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: Disgraced former New York governor Eliot Spitzer's surprise re-entry into New York City politics Sunday night shocked the political world, especially considering that he only has four days to collect 3,750 signatures from registered New York City voters. Today, he told CBS This Morning that he made the decision as recently as this weekend. When asked after his prostitution scandal and resignation why New Yorkers should trust or like him, he made his pitch: "First I wouldn't say they should. I'm going to ask them to and I think there is a difference there that is important. I am going to say, 'Look I had a long career as a prosecutor, as attorney general, as governor, I sinned, I owned up to it, I looked them in the eye, I resigned, I held myself accountable.'..I hope they look back at what I did as attorney general, as governor, as a prosecutor and say, 'You know what this guy was ahead of the curve on Wall Street issues, he protected low wage workers on the environment.'" There have been local reports that he is separated from his wife, Silda Wall Spitzer, but he denied the claims and also denied entry into the race was because of polling that showed another disgraced New York City pol, Anthony Weiner ahead in the New York City's mayoral race answering, "No," if that helped him nudge him in. "I think, look we all know and we sense when we speak to people there is forgiveness in the public, whether that forgiveness will extend to any individual is always a separate and independent question and I will have to make a case very different than any other person has made and I expect I will make it every day between now and the election."
WHAT WE'RE WATCHING
FRONT SEAT TO HISTORY: COKIE ROBERTS' HISTORIC CHAT WITH MICHELLE OBAMA AND LAURA BUSH. It's something we've never seen before, let alone in Africa: first ladies Michelle Obama and Laura Bush sharing the stage for a conversation in Tanzania. And ABC's COKIE ROBERTS had the best seat in the house-the only other seat on stage, in fact-moderating a discussion between the two women. Roberts, who has written a book on American first ladies, caught up with Politics Confidential shortly after the first-of-its-kind meeting and remarked on the bond that the two first ladies share. "They genuinely like each other-that's clear-that they genuinely like each other," Roberts said of the relationship between the two first ladies. The historic meeting came together by chance, Roberts said, after Laura Bush discovered that President Obama's tour of Africa overlapped with a trip that she and her husband, former President George W. Bush, had planned to take to Africa for their own humanitarian work on the continent. "Mrs. Bush invited Mrs. Obama when she realized she was going to be in the country to come," Roberts said. "Mrs. Obama could have pretty much trumped this event, but she said she wanted to have a conversation with Mrs. Bush." http://yhoo.it/16iKteC
TERESA HEINZ KERRY HOSPITALIZED IN CRITICAL BUT STABLE CONDITION. Teresa Heinz Kerry was in critical but stable condition at a Boston hospital after being transferred there from a hospital in Nantucket, where she and husband Secretary of State John Kerry were vacationing, ABC's DEAN SCHABNER reports. A family spokesman said that Heinz Kerry was transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital from Nantucket Cottage Hospital, where she was taken by ambulance yesterday. "Late Sunday afternoon, Mrs. Teresa Heinz Kerry was taken by ambulance to Nantucket Cottage Hospital, accompanied by her husband, Secretary of State John Kerry," Kerry Personal Spokesman Glen Johnson said. "Once doctors had stabilized her condition, she was transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, again accompanied by the Secretary." http://abcn.ws/12m05Mh As ABC's MARTHA RADDATZ reported on "Good Morning America" today: Sources said Heinz Kerry had "seizure-like" conditions, which is why the ambulance was called. There is no certainty of the diagnosis yet. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/13wcdBE
GEORGE W. BUSH ON GAY MARRIAGE, IMMIGRATION, AND WHY OBAMA KEPT HIS TERRORISM POLICIES. President George W. Bush cautioned against criticizing gay couples, saying in an interview on "This Week" that you shouldn't criticize others "until you've examined your own heart." Bush had waded into the revitalized same-sex marriage debate last week in a comment to a reporter in Zambia, who asked whether gay marriage conflicts with Christian values, ABC's CHRIS GOOD reports. "I shouldn't be taking a speck out of someone else's eye when I have a log in my own," Bush said last week. In an interview in Tanzania with ABC News Chief White House Correspondent JONATHAN KARL, the former president explained his comment further. "I meant it's very important for people not to be overly critical of someone else until you've examined your own heart," Bush told Karl. As president, Bush opposed gay marriage, and Republicans pushed ballot measures to ban it at the state level. The topic has seen rejuvenated discussion after the Supreme Court overturned the federal ban on same-sex marriage, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). http://abcn.ws/18FPCDM
-ON IMMIGRATION: Bush said he thinks a major immigration reform bill "has a chance to pass." In 2007, Bush sought to pass an immigration bill similar to what's been proposed in Congress this year, seeking to provide citizenship opportunity for undocumented immigrants already living in the U.S. "It's a very difficult bill to pass because there's a lot of moving parts," Bush said on "This Week." "But it looks like they're making some progress." Bush said immigration is important to pass because of a "broken system," not to improve the Republican Party's political standing among Latino voters. "Good policy yields good politics, as far as I'm concerned," Bush said.
-ON NATIONAL SECURITY: As president, Obama has maintained some of Bush's national-security policies such as overseas drone strikes, and, most recently, the White House and the National Security Agency acknowledged that until 2011, the NSA continued collecting email "metadata" records for U.S. citizens. The Bush-launched program continued with Obama's approval. Asked why some of his counterterrorism programs have continued under Obama, Bush suggested that Obama realized the gravity of security threats after becoming president. "I think the president got into the Oval Office and realized the dangers to the United States," Bush said on "This Week." "He's acted in a way that he thinks is necessary to protect the country. Protecting the country's the most important job of the presidency."
TODAY ON THE HILL: After more than a week away from Washington, DC to celebrate the Independence Day holiday, the House returns for legislative business this afternoon. But it's a light day on the House floor where lawmakers will consider up to three pieces of legislation under suspension of the rules. The Senate is also back in session today and one vote is scheduled. After 30 minutes of debate, the Senate will vote at 5:30 p.m. ET on the nomination of Wyoming Attorney General Gregory A. Phillips to become a Tenth Circuit judge. Phillips was appointed to his current job by Republican Gov. Matt Mead in 2011. President Obama nominated him in January.
TODAY AT THE WHITE HOUSE: According to the White House: "In the morning, the President will hold a meeting with his Cabinet and senior officials to lay out his vision for smarter government during his second term. Following this meeting, the President will make a statement on his Management Agenda in the State Dining Room. The Cabinet meeting will be closed press and the President's remarks will be pooled press."
EGYPTIAN AMBASSADOR: MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD SHOULD 'JOIN THE PROCESS'. Egypt's ambassador to the U.S. says the Muslim Brotherhood should "join the process" and accept deposed president Mohamed Morsi's ouster, ABC's CHRIS GOOD notes. "My advice to the Muslim Brotherhood is they need to acknowledge the mistakes that they made and they need to join the process. Let us look ahead to the future," Egyptian Ambassador Mohamed Tawfik told ABC's JONATHAN KARL on "This Week" Sunday. "There is room for everyone in Egypt, but there is no room for violence, there is no room for incitement to hatred and incitement to commit acts of violence." A member of the Muslim Brotherhood political party in Egypt, Morsi was democratically elected last June only to see a swell of popular opposition one year later. Last week, the Egyptian military removed Morsi from power and installed an interim president, Adly Mansour. Tawfik was appointed by Morsi to his current post but now supports the movement against Morsi. The ambassador said on "This Week" that Morsi was deposed because he did not act in the interest of all Egyptians - the same criticism leveled by protesters who say Morsi pursued a religious agenda at the expense of Egypt's economy. http://abcn.ws/12OMJb8 More highlights from Sunday's episode of "This Week": http://abcnews.go.com/ThisWeek/
GABBY GIFFORDS MEETS WITH GEORGE H.W. BUSH ON GUN CONTROL TOUR. Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband former astronaut Mark Kelly had lunch over the weekend with former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara at their Kennebunkport, Maine home, Giffords spokeswoman Pia Carusone tells ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE. Giffords and Kelly were taking part in a seven-day seven-state "Rights and Responsibilities Tour," to push for expanded background checks for firearms purchases. They were accompanied by some families of victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting who were with them last Friday in New Hampshire and Saturday in Maine. This isn't the first time Giffords and Bush have met. When Giffords was recovering in a Houston hospital, Bush and his wife Barbara went to visit her. In her 2011 memoir with Kelly, they write that at that point in her recovery she could only say "chicken" to the former president and first lady. Bush has an interesting history with gun control himself. In 1989, then President George H. W. Bush issued an executive order halting the importation of some semi-automatic firearms after a mass shooting that killed five children and wounded 29 others in California in January 1989. The shooter used an AK-47 assault rifle. http://abcn.ws/13BzdxT
BACKSTORY: In 1995, President George H.W. Bush resigned from the National Rifle Association after the NRA compared agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to "Nazis" who harass gun owners. "Your broadside against federal agents deeply offends my own sense of decency and honor, and it offends my concept of service to country," Bush wrote in a letter to the NRA president Thomas Washington on May 3, 1995. "It indirectly slurs a wide array of government law-enforcement officials, who are out there, day and night, laying their lives on the line for all of us." In a fundraising letter at the time NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, who still holds that title, described federal agents as "wearing Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms" and wanting to "attack law-abiding citizens," which Bush called "vicious slander on good people." Bush's resignation letter ended with: "You have not repudiated Mr. LaPierre's unwarranted attack. Therefore, I resign as a life member of NRA, said resignation to be effective upon your receipt of this letter. Please remove my name from your membership list. Sincerely, George Bush."
HAPPENING TOMORROW: BIDEN TO ATTEND ARIZONA FIREFIGHTER MEMORIAL. Vice President Joe Biden will attend a memorial in Arizona tomorrow for the 19 firefighters killed in a raging wildfire last week, ABC's MARY BRUCE reports. Biden will travel to the Prescott area to attend a service honoring the members of the elite Granite Mountain Hotshot crew who were killed Sunday while battling the Yarnell fire. Their deaths marked the worst wildfire tragedy since 1933 and the deadliest day for U.S. firefighters since the events of 9/11.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: U.S. PARENTS ARE LOATH TO RAISE FUTURE POLITICIANS. Mommas don't want their babies to grow up to be politicians, a new poll finds, according to ABC's ABBY PHILLIP. U.S. parents who are pretty down on Washington and don't want their kids anywhere near the political world. A recent Gallup poll finds that only 31 percent of Americans want their son or daughter to go into politics. Combined with years of Congress' in-the-dumps approval ratings - Gallup put Congress' approval rating at 13 percent in March - the news isn't exactly a surprise. As it turns out, Americans have never really loved the idea of raising future politicians. Fewer than 30 percent of Americans have said they want their son to go into politics since the 1960s. http://abcn.ws/15kiDSj
WHAT WE'RE READING
"SPITZER REJOINS POLITICS, ASKING FOR FORGIVENESS," by The New York Times' Michael Barbaro and David W. Chen. "Eliot Spitzer, who resigned as governor of New York five years ago amid a prostitution scandal, is re-entering political life, with a run for the citywide office of comptroller and a wager that voters are ready to look past his previous misconduct. In a telephone interview on Sunday night, Mr. Spitzer, 54, sounding restless after an unwelcome hiatus from government, said he had re-envisioned the often-overlooked office and yearned to resurrect the kind of aggressive role he played as New York State's attorney general. He said that after consulting with his family and taking the temperature of the city's electorate, he believed New Yorkers would be open to his candidacy. 'I'm hopeful there will be forgiveness, I am asking for it,' he said. His re-emergence comes in an era when politicians - like Representative Mark Sanford of South Carolina and the New York mayoral contender Anthony D. Weiner - have shown that public disapproval, especially over sexual misconduct, can be fleeting, and that voters seem receptive to those who seek forgiveness and redemption. His decision startled the city's political establishment, which is already unsettled by the rapid rise of Mr. Weiner, who also plunged into a campaign without party elders' blessing." http://nyti.ms/1a4rGrs
@TerryMoran: Egypt is without a government since Wednesday.Power, but no legitimacy. It is the law of the gun. Right now, the Army is shooting, Tomorrow?
@GlennThrush: @jonathanweisman sees the burning forest for the rotten trees on the Hill, vis-a-vis student loans and dead deadlines http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/08/us/politics/in-congress-gridlock-and-harsh-consequences.html?pagewanted=all …
@politicalwire: At this time in 2011, Congress had passed 23 laws. This year it's only 15 - the lowest ever tracked. http://politicalwire.com/archives/2013/07/08/congress_returns_to_total_gridlock.html …