Last week was dominated by a Republican family feud starring Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. (Paul dubbed Christie the “king of bacon” and when he suggested a truce over beers, Christie did not seem to be in a drinking mood). The spat between the two potential presidential hopefuls was more than just good, clean political fun — it also highlighted a widening rift between two factions within the GOP. Divisions aside, Republicans were united in their attempt to turn the Democrats’ “War on Women” attacks back on their opponents in the other party as Democratic men behaving badly (think New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner and San Diego Mayor Bob Filner) remained in the news. By the end of the week, Edward Snowden had left the Moscow airport and members of Congress left Capitol for their August recess.
And while much of official Washington may be off on vacation, your ABC News Political Unit is keeping an eye on a few big stories for the week ahead:
1. CONGRESS CAN RECESS, ‘BUT THEY CAN’T HIDE’:
Those are the words one Tea Party-affiliated group called FreedomWorks used in a warning shot on Friday to members of Congress heading back to their home districts for the long August recess. FreedomWorks is encouraging activists to confront lawmakers at town hall meetings this month and ask them to support defunding Obamacare. FreedomWorks is part of a coalition of groups, including the Tea Party Patriots, the Family Research Council, the Heritage Foundation and the Club for Growth, which plan to hold events and turn up the heat on elected officials. “If in the next 60 days, hundreds of thousands or millions of Americans stand up and demand their elected officials do the right thing, that will change this public policy debate in Washington,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., said Thursday at a Capitol Hill rally to kick-off the month of action. But liberal groups, such as Organizing for Action, Americans United for Change and Protect Your Care, are not sitting this fight out — they are planning their own counter-offensive in states across the country. Immigration reform will also be a hot topic during recess with “persuadable” members likely to face pressure from both sides of the immigration reform debate before they return to Washington in September. And the House Republican Conference released a memo this week with some advice to members of Congress for their month away from the nation’s capitol: namely, to reach out to “women, Asian-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and millennials.”
2. GO WEST, MR. PRESIDENT, GO WEST:
President Obama heads west once again next week. On Tuesday he travels to Phoenix, continuing his middle class jobs tour, then he heads to California to tape an appearance on the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” and on Wednesday continues further south to visit troops at southern California’s Camp Pendleton military base. There he will thank the soldiers for their “extraordinary service to our nation,” according to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. Carney said Obama’s speech in Arizona (the location is still to-be-determined) would build on the themes he has been focusing on in his travels over the past week: “On Tuesday in Tennessee, the President laid out one cornerstone of that vision, a plan to create good jobs that pay decent wages by investing in manufacturing and infrastructure,” Carney said. “Next week in Arizona, the President will lay out his plan to continue to help responsible homeowners and those Americans who seek to own their own homes as another cornerstone of how we can strengthen the middle class in America.”
3. WHEN A BILLIONAIRE SPEAKS, PEOPLE LISTEN:
President Obama won’t be the only one making political news in California next week. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who started his own political action committee earlier this year, plans to make public remarks about immigration reform for the first time. Zuckerberg’s group, FWD.us, has made immigration reform the first big issue on its agenda even while drawing criticism from some liberal Democrats for controversial television ads it funded. The 29-year-old Zuckerberg will speak on Monday at a San Francisco-area movie screening of a film about undocumented immigrants. Attendees are expected to include “Silicon Valley tech stars along with dozens of Asian and Latino youths brought to this country as children — the Dreamers,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle. But billionaires beware: Money isn’t everything. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who started groups in support of immigration reform and gun control, is coming under criticism for some of his efforts. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., pointed some of the blame for the failed push for comprehensive background checks directly at Bloomberg. Leahy, in an interview set to air on C-SPAN over the weekend, said Bloomberg’s tactics actually damaged lawmakers’ chances of convincing senators to come on board with the gun legislation.
New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner said in an interview with a local television station on Friday that he is “100 percent not” having romantic online relationships with any women right now. And in a separate interview with Univision last week, Weiner said he has not sexted with anyone for “at least a year or so,” but left open the possibility that there are more women out there who could still come forward: “I can’t say that things in my past will not come up again,” he told Univision. Despite a falling from front-runner to fourth place in the mayoral race polls over the past two weeks, Weiner has vowed to stay in the race. But what if there are more revelations? And what collateral damage are Weiner’s troubles causing for the Clinton brand? Weiner’s wife and long-time Hillary Clinton aide, Huma Abedin, is reportedly taking the month of August off from Hillaryworld in what Weiner’s campaign described as “ vacation time” that “she had always intended” to take. Oh, and by the way, Weiner was asked by NBC 4 New York on Friday whether he had spoken to either Bill or Hillary Clinton recently. He said he had not, and “I have no reason to believe she’s annoyed.”
5. IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE 2016 (IN IOWA):
There’s something in the air in the Hawkeye State, and it’s not just scent of fried Oreo cookies and pork chops on-a-stick at the Iowa State Fair. No, it’s the sweet smell of presidential politics. Next Saturday, a prominent evangelical Christian group, The Family Leader, is holding a summit featuring Sen. Ted Cruz and his father, Rick Santorum, Donald Trump and Iowa political figures like Sen. Chuck Grassley, Rep. Steve King and Gov. Terry Branstad. Other potential 2016 candidates will be passing through the important early caucus state at some point over the next few months too as they introduce themselves to voters there. Democrats aren’t letting the big GOP gathering go unanswered, however. Emily’s List is holding what it is billing as a “Madam President” forum in Des Moines next Friday featuring Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, the group’s president, Stephanie Schriock, and several Iowa women political candidates. McCaskill, Schriock and the other panelists will be talking about what it’s going to take to put a woman in the White House in 2016. (McCaskill has already thrown her support behind the pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC, Ready for Hillary).
BONUS ROUND: Will Obama’s 2012 campaign manager jump into the Montana Senate race? After several of the Democratic Party’s top recruits declined to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Montana Sen. Max Baucus, the party is looking for alternatives in a race that could be critical to whether the Democrats retain the majority in the Senate in 2014. One possibility: Former Obama campaign manager and current Organizing for Action Chairman Jim Messina. The idea of a Messina bid is already gaining some steam. Just take a look at a tweet from former top Obama adviser David Axelrod who appeared to be prodding Messina on Friday: “When is the draft @Messina2012 for U.S. Senate campaign going to begin? No one knows Montana better!”
ABC’s Joanie Greve, Abby Phillip, Mary Bruce, Shushannah Walshe and Arlette Saenz contributed reporting.
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) July 28, 2013