Obama Goes Back To School

Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • THE WHEELS ON THE BUS: It's back on the trail for President Obama today as he kicks off a two day bus tour to promote a new college affordability plan, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ reports. Obama's plan will create a new ratings system for universities by 2015 that will eventually tie financial aid to college performance and value. The new ratings system will evaluate colleges and universities based on data such as the percentage of students receiving Pell grants, average tuition, scholarships and loan debts, graduation rates, and earnings of graduates. The president will also challenge universities to engage in innovation and competition and provide information to assess a college's value. He will expand his pay as you earn system, which caps the amount borrowers pay on student loans to ten percent of their income, to all college borrowers.
  • WHERE HE'S GOING: The president is taking this pitch straight to universities and students eyeing a college degree. The president starts his day in New York at the University at Buffalo before continuing on to Henninger High School in Syracuse, NY. On Friday, he speaks at Binghamton University and Lackawanna College in Scranton, PA, hometown of Vice President Joe Biden who will join him there.


ABC's RICK KLEIN: David Dewhurst may as well have been dialing up Wendy Davis' fundraising line when he punched "9-1-1." The lieutenant governor of Texas drew himself national attention, and some new momentum for his new-media-savvy primary challengers, when he called a local police department to see if he could get a relative out of jail following a legal scrape. The impact, though, could be broader than that, given the timing: Wendy Davis is in the late stages of deciding whether to run for governor next year. Dewhurst played an important role in Davis' famous filibuster - he was in the chair while she was on the state Senate floor - though that hardly matters. If ever there's an example for running your strongest candidates when opportunities present themselves, the Dewhurst episode is it. If Davis needed further encouragement, there's a tape ready to played on a loop now waiting for her.

ABC's MICHAEL FALCONE: ABC News recently joined Rick Santorum, the once and possibly future White House hopeful, for a morning-to-midnight ride-along around Iowa. It may be more than three years before the 2016 election, but earlier this month Santorum was already back in the state that traditionally kicks off the presidential nominating contest, and the one that gave him a belated victory in the caucuses last year. What became immediately apparent is how much he loves this place: the cornfields, the Pizza Ranch buffets, the Norman Rockwell-esque main streets, the county GOP chairs who treat him like a celebrity, the couple in Oskaloosa who let him stay at their home as if he were a member of the family, and the voters who still recognize him and want to shake his hand. I spent 17 hours embedded with the former Pennsylvania senator traveling more than 430 miles around Iowa, following an itinerary that felt a lot like a typical day here during his 2012 presidential campaign. Is Santorum running for president again in 2016? He won't say - at least not until after the 2014 midterm elections have come and gone. But here's a taste of what it's like to spend a day with him. Decide for yourself: http://abcn.ws/1dvABoC

ABC's DEVIN DWYER: Will President Obama pardon Bradley Manning? It seems highly improbable the anti-leak crusader Obama would grant clemency to the man behind the biggest leak of classified material in U.S. history. Mr. Obama did, after all, publicly condemn Manning as a rogue law-breaker before he even went on trial. Then again, the White House is not rejecting the idea out of hand. "If there is an application that's filed by Mr. Manning or his attorneys, that application will be considered in that process like any other application," said spokesman Josh Earnest on Wednesday. Manning's legal team says a pardon request is in the works, hopeful that at the very least Obama will commute his sentence to time served.

ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: As the Watergate scandal was exploding, President Richard Nixon was consoled by two men who would be presidents. Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush called Nixon, according to new recordings released Wednesday out of the Nixon Library and Museum. It was hours after Nixon had addressed the nation on April 30, 1973 but he still joked around with the then-governor of California telling Reagan, "I so appreciate your calling and give my greatest love to Nancy. How did you ever marry such a pretty girl? Good God!" The conversation ended with Reagan telling Nixon, "This too shall pass." "Everything passes," Nixon answered. When George H.W. Bush called, he told Nixon he had been trying to get through to the president earlier, but Nixon said he had "been on the phone, George, all night." Nixon assured Bush, who was RNC chairman: "The main thing is, you had nothing to do with this goddamn thing. We're gonna go on." Bush told Nixon to call him for any support and angrily called the political commentators "arrogant bastards. "The thing that burns me up is the feeling that you had and it came through and there's so little credit," Bush told Nixon, who replied he thinks "the people may understand it" and "to hell with the commentators." "This is gonna come through good," Bush assured Nixon, who then thanked him, calling Bush "boy" affectionately before getting off the phone. http://abcn.ws/14kbXnF


WHITE HOUSE PICKS PANEL TO REVIEW NSA PROGRAMS. A group of veteran security experts and former White House officials has been selected to conduct a full review of U.S. surveillance programs and other secret government efforts disclosed over recent months, ABC's MIKE LEVINE and JONATHAN KARL report. Despite internal word of an announcement Thursday, relayed to ABC News, the White House said early Thursday an announcement may now come later. The White House said it is planning to announce the names soon. The group will "consider how we can maintain the trust of the people [and] how we can make sure that there absolutely is no abuse," President Obama said two weeks ago when announcing the group's formation, without identifying who would be on the panel. The identities of the panelists have been a topic of speculation online, raising questions over whether the group would truly be independent in its review. The White House has insisted the group has full independence. http://abcn.ws/14EKPfA

TEXAS LT. GOV. CALLS POLICE AFTER RELATIVE'S ARREST. Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst called a police station to seek the release of a relative jailed on a shoplifting charge, outraging his rivals who have accused him of abusing his power, according to ABC's ANTHONY CASTELLANO. Dewhurst, a Republican who has been in office since 2003, called the Allen Police Department Aug. 3 to seek the release of a relative whom he describes as a "sister-in-law" and a "step-niece-in-law" in different parts of the call. Police released the 12-minute conversation Wednesday. After identifying himself, Dewhurst, 68, is heard asking a sergeant what he needed to do to obtain the release of his relative. The officer tells Dewhurst the case is now in the hands of Collin County authorities and there's nothing he can do. "I am, every year, the No. 1 pick of all of the law enforcement agencies within Texas," Dewhurst tells the officer. "You don't know it, but I'm a supporter of you and a supporter of everybody in law enforcement." Then, Dewhurst asks the sergeant if he can have the number of the county judge, but the officer declined to provide it. Dewhurst, who is running for re-election in 2014, continued to ask what he needed to do to get the relative out of police custody. The sergeant once again explained the procedure and provided him with the number to Collin County, where the relative was going to be transferred. Dewhurst asked the sergeant for his supervisor's number, but the officer said he was not authorized to distribute it. "This lady, in my mind, is 100 percent innocent, and it's just an unfortunate situation of circumstances," Dewhurst said. http://abcn.ws/16z8TDx

-ON DEFENSE: Dewhurst spokesman Travis Considine said in a statement, "David acted as a concerned family member in an attempt to acquire information on how to post bail for his niece while reiterating multiple times in the full conversation that law-enforcement follow their normal protocols and procedures." Allen County Police Department Sgt. Jon Felty told ABC News that Dewhurst did "nothing wrong" and "did not threaten anyone." "He did whatever any family member would do in a similar situation," Felty said. "He did not ask for anything out of line and I do not have a problem with it.

WILL LIBERALS SCREAM FOR HOWARD DEAN AGAIN? Howard Dean yesterday became the latest Democrat to head to Iowa while skillfully dodging questions about whether he's interested in running for president in 2016, ABC's ABBY PHILLIP reports. Dean, a former Democratic candidate for president in 2004 and former governor of Vermont, has a long history with Iowa - namely his prospective presidential bid essentially ended there almost 10 years ago with a feral scream heard around the world. He spoke yesterday at an Iowa Federation of Labor event about an effort by the liberal group Democracy For America to elect more Democratic state legislators. Dean is known to be outspoken, so he didn't dodge either his presidential ambitions or that infamous Iowa moment in which he screamed out all the states he was going to win. "It's great to be back," Dean reportedly told the crowd. "I promise not to list any states." Asked by Iowa radio whether he would run if Hillary doesn't, Dean answered, "We're not going there," according to Radio Iowa's O. Kay Henderson. "I'm supporting Hillary." http://abcn.ws/1d2E00g

-TEAM DEAN: If Dean were to run, he'd probably have to do it by heading straight for Clinton's (or Vice President Joe Biden's) left flank. That would mean a more populist message, focused on expanding, not "reforming" entitlements and Wall Street reform, which some liberal Democrats feel the mainstream of the party has largely abandoned for the sake of political expediency. "If no candidate endorses these positions there's absolutely room for a Howard Dean, Elizabeth Warren-type of candidate," said Matt Wall, press secretary for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. "That's popular in Democratic states, and our polling shows that it's popular even in Republican states."

VOICES FROM THE PAST: BUSH 41, REAGAN CONSOLED NIXON DURING WATERGATE. It was a day that President Richard Nixon surely would like to have forgotten. It was less than a year after the Watergate break-in, and three of his top aides had resigned and one had been fired. The 37th president went on national television to tell the American public that "whatever improper activities may yet be discovered in connection with this whole sordid affair … I want you to know beyond the shadow of a doubt that during my term as president, justice will be pursued fairly, fully, and impartially, no matter who is involved." Sixteen months later, he would resign in disgrace, but by the end of that day, April 30, 1973, he received two warm, encouraging phone calls from two future presidents, Ronald Reagan, who assured Nixon "this too shall pass," and George H.W. Bush who told him "this is gonna come through good," according to audio recordings released by the National Archives and Records Administration yesterday. Earlier that day, two of his top aides, H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, had resigned. So had Attorney General Richard Kleindienst, and White House counsel John W. Dean III was fired. It was 10 months after the Watergate break-in and 16 months before the 37th president would resign in disgrace. The audio was captured on a secret recording system that taped more than 3,000 hours between February 1971 and July 1973. The final installment of those tapes, 340 hours, was released Wednesday, ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE, ALISA WIERSEMA and JOHN DONVAN. http://abcn.ws/14kbXnF

-RONALD REAGAN - 'MY HEART WAS WITH YOU': The governor of California, Ronald Reagan, had reached him first that evening. While Nixon seemed eager to get off the phone with both Reagan and Bush, he spoke at times candidly with both men who would go on to become the 40th and 41st presidents. "I just want you to know, we watched and my heart was with you," Reagan said. "I know what this must have been and what this must have been in all these days and what you've been through and I just want you to know that, for whatever it's worth… you can count on us, we're still behind you out here and I wanted you to know that you're in our prayers." Nixon thanked Reagan and said, "Each of us has a different religion…but God damn it, Ron, we have got to build peace in the world. And that's what I'm working on here." "I so appreciate your calling and give my greatest love to Nancy. How did you ever marry such a pretty girl? Good God!" Nixon said. http://abcn.ws/14kbXnF

-GEORGE H.W. BUSH - 'ARROGANT BASTARDS': When George H.W. Bush called, he told Nixon he had been trying to get through to the president earlier, but Nixon said he had "been on the phone, George, all night." Bush told Nixon he watched the speech with his wife Barbara and they had "just attended a Republican leadership conference." "I really was proud of you and, by golly, I know it was tough and I just wanted to tell you that," Bush said. "Because to me it came through clearly and forcefully and it conveyed the depth of feeling that I know you must have had…. I just wanted to tell you that before I went to sleep." Nixon assured Bush, "The main thing is, you had nothing to do with this goddamn thing. We're gonna go on." Bush told Nixon to call him for any support and angrily called the political commentators "arrogant bastards." http://abcn.ws/14kbXnF


BEAU BIDEN UNDERGOES 'SUCCESSFUL PROCEDURE' IN HOUSTON. Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, son of Vice President Biden, "underwent a successful procedure" in Houston on Tuesday and will be discharged today, according to a statement from the vice president and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ notes. "Yesterday, our son Beau underwent a successful procedure," the Bidens said in a statement released this afternoon. "He is in great shape and is going to be discharged tomorrow and heading home to Delaware. He will follow up with his local physicians in the coming weeks." The statement did not detail what procedure Beau Biden underwent. Beau Biden traveled to Houston on Monday for medical evaluations after experiencing weakness and disorientation last week. The vice president accompanied his son to Texas on Monday and remained with him throughout the week. http://abcn.ws/1dtN0te


@stevenportnoy: Defending against allegations of overreach, US intell officials say: We 'Rat on Ourselves' http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/intelligence-officials-rat-americans-emails-collected/story?id=20028916 … (w/ @MeekWire)

@SalenaZitoTrib: Jersey-> @AaronBlakeWP: N.J. farmer cuts corn maze of Gov. Christie and Dem challenger #justwow http://cbsn.ws/185CzX0

@nowthised: Confused, conflicted, and now prison RT @BuzzFeedNews: Bradley Manning Thanks Supporters In "I Am A Female" Statement http://www.buzzfeed.com/jtes/bradley-manning-thanks-supporters-in-i-am-a-female-statement …

@biannagolodryga: I'm so happy for my @GMA colleague and friend @Ginger_Zee on her engagement to @ben_aaron. A match made in banana pudding heaven!

@matthewjdowd: Terrific Thursday to you!. i hope the hurdles along the way to where your heart wants to go you know you can clear them alone or with help.

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