By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )
ABC's RICK KLEIN: What the heck is Howard Dean doing in Iowa, anyway? Don't add him to any presidential short lists yet … but oh, by the way, after his appearance today at a labor event in Iowa, he'll pop up in New Hampshire next month. There is no perceptible groundswell for Dean to get the band back together, a decade after his campaign implosion. But when Dean says - and yes, he's said this - that he'd think about giving it another go if other Democratic candidates aren't speaking to the progressive base, take him seriously. Whether Dean becomes the vehicle or not, there's room to President Obama's - and Hillary Clinton's - left at the moment, on topics both foreign and domestic. Dean may not be the vehicle to channel that energy, but his reception could in part dictate what kind of vehicle will be in order.
ABC's MICHAEL FALCONE: Call him "the omnipresent Ted Cruz." The guy is everywhere these days - one week he's speaking to Christian conservatives in Iowa, stoking 2016 presidential speculation, another week he's in Texas revving up a crowd to defund Obamacare and somewhere in between he's fending off questions about his Canadian citizenship (which, he now says he will renounce). It's hard to believe that Cruz has been in the United States Senate for less than a year. He has already emerged as something of a political celebrity, celebrated by supporters on the right and ridiculed (last night at a Heritage Foundation rally in Dallas he was actually heckled) by detractors on the left. While other potential White House hopefuls have chosen to raise their profiles in more subtle ways (Politico reports today on "Scott Walker's stealth 2016 strategy"), Cruz has taken the opposite tack. It's unclear whether all the early exposure will pay dividends down the road.
ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ: It will be a meeting of the minds in Silicon Valley today when Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg talk on the Facebook campus. And there's tons the two can talk about, from their interest in getting immigration reform passed in Congress to the intricacies of the social media world. But today's meeting could also pay off for Rubio in the future. Earlier this year, Zuckerberg held a fundraiser for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as the two have shared a passion for education policy. If the Florida senator and young social media titan see eye to eye on immigration reform, maybe Rubio will get some donor help from Zuckerberg down the line too.
ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., already has three challengers at home, but a conservative super PAC called Carolina Conservatives United and their Defeat Lindsey Graham effort has launched a "Missing campaign," and is asking Gov. Nikki Haley to issue a statewide "Silver Alert" to help "find Lindsey Graham." (A Silver Alert helps to find missing seniors, especially those that may be suffering from dementia.) The group even put the senator's face on a milk carton, not exactly subtle. The press release from the group says Graham is "suffering from Potomac Fever and has definitely lost his way." Carolina Conservatives United was started by the former co-founder of GOProud Bruce Carroll. In a previous interview with ABC News he said they "want to make him answer for some of his voters and comments, but it's hard to find him back home. He's either in the Middle East or in Washington." According to Graham's Facebook page, he was in his home state last week attending an event for the National Shooting Sports Foundation in Greenville. In the post he says he "got to shoot my AR-15 along with my 9mm and an M4."
WHAT WE'RE WATCHING
ONE MORE THING TO WORRY ABOUT: IS THERE A CAPITOL HILL BRAIN DRAIN? In the 11th hour negotiations on Capitol Hill, away from the glare of the media and behind closed doors, there are high-level Congressional staffers working to close the deal. In many of the nation's biggest legislative crises in recent memory, Rohit Kumar has been at the table. As the chief negotiator for Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell during the Obama administration, Kumar has been so cunning in negotiating for Republican interests that an unnamed White House official recently characterized him as an "evil genius" to The Washington Post. "I do think it was intended as a compliment and I don't know who said it," Kumar tells "The Fine Print's" JEFF ZELENY. "If a partisan Democrat calls a Republican evil, that's probably intended as a compliment. … I don't like to characterize myself as evil, I certainly wouldn't characterize myself as a genius, but I have had some success in trying to help forge some of these deals." Kumar is now leaving his job on Capitol Hill to work in the private sector - part of a trend of key Hill aides who've recently left government - raising concern about Congress' ability to accomplish its looming agenda when it returns from August recess.But Kumar says he doesn't share such a concern and wouldn't have left if he did. WATCH: http://yhoo.it/172ctoK
FRIEND REQUEST: MARCO RUBIO AND MARK ZUCKERBERG. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., plans to meet with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in California today, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ reports. Though it is unknown what the senator and Facebook founder are planning to discuss, one topic of conversation could be immigration reform. Zuckerberg waded into the immigration debate earlier this year when he formed FWD.us, a group focused on advocating for immigration reform. Zuckerberg publicly voiced his support for immigration reform for the first time in a speech in San Francisco earlier this month. "This is something that we believe is really important for the future of our country - and for us to do what's right," Zuckerberg said. Rubio's meeting with Zuckerberg comes as he is on a fundraising swing through California this week for his PAC, Reclaim America, and re-election committee. The news was first reported by the Tampa Bay Times. http://abcn.ws/12nINTi
NOTED: Yesterday, Mark Zuckerberg announced a partnership between Facebook and some of the world's largest technology companies to bring the Internet to the parts of the world that don't have it, notes ABC's JOANNA STERN. Called Internet.org, the social network has joined forces with Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung, Ericsson and others to bring web access to the five billion people, primarily in developing countries, that don't own smartphones or have access to affordable connectivity. "There are huge barriers in developing countries to connecting and joining the knowledge economy," Zuckerberg said in a statement. "Internet.org brings together a global partnership that will work to overcome these challenges, including making internet access available to those who cannot currently afford it." http://abcn.ws/14Bzxsj
THE WAY TO WIN? TOP FIVE PRIORITIES OF THE GOP. The Republican National Committee laid out several areas of focus they believe are essential to victory in both 2014 and 2016. From technology to changes in the primary calendar, the GOP sent a message at their summer meeting last week in Boston that they have an ambitious agenda and want to do things differently. Much of the issues were outlined in their post 2012 autopsy called the "Growth and Opportunity Project," but last week they updated attendees as well as reporters on where they have gotten on those big goals originally outlined in March. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said this is when the "Republican permanent campaign was born. We want to be the party that takes no voter for granted and that fights to earn every voter's trust and I want 2013 to be the year people say it all began." Will they succeed? Here are the five biggest priorities of Republican Party, brought to you by ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: http://abcn.ws/19x2zOc
SAN DIEGO SCANDAL COMES TO THE OLD DOMINION. In Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli's gubernatorial campaign is calling on Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe "to break his silence" on embattled San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, ABC's MICHAEL FALCONE reports. "Terry McAuliffe hasn't even made a peep about the San Diego Mayor accused of making unwanted sexual advances towards sixteen women, including his employees and a great grandmother," an e-mail from the Cuccinelli campaign notes. "Terry McAuliffe shouldn't wait for President Obama to speak out against Bob Filner. He should do the right thing now." The hit comes on the same day that a new Quinnipiac University poll shows McAuliffe with 48 to 42 percent lead over Cuccinelli. "It seems obvious that Gov. Bob McDonnell's political troubles are hurting fellow Republican Cuccinelli," Quinnipiac pollster Peter A. Brown noted. In response, Cuccinelli campaign spokeswoman Anna Nix said in a statement: "Despite the barrage of negative attacks, the race for governor is extremely close and will remain as such."
1972 MIAMI DOLPHINS FINALLY GET THEIR DAY AT THE WHITE HOUSE. President Obama yesterday finally honored the 1972 Miami Dolphins, four decades after their perfect season, welcoming "the only undefeated, untied team in NFL history to the White House for the very first time." President Obama admitted at a White House ceremony that it's "a little unorthodox" to honor a team this long after their championship was won, ABC's MARY BRUCE notes. He joked that some of the players might be a little hard to recognize because "they don't have the afros or the mutton chops, the Fu Manchus." "I know that some people may be asking why we're doing this after all these years. And my answer is simple: I wanted to be the young guy up here for once," Obama said, chuckling. "And let's face it, this is also just a fun thing to do. I like doing it as president," he said. "So I decided that it was high time to pay tribute to the NFL's only perfect team." The 1972 Dolphins beat the Washington Redskins to win the Super Bowl, but were never hailed at the White House because President Richard Nixon was immersed in the Watergate scandal. http://abcn.ws/18InFIc
FORMER BUSH ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL DEFENDS OBAMA'S CHOICE FOR DHS POST. A senior immigration official in the George W. Bush administration is defending President Obama's embattled choice for a top homeland security post, saying the nominee's willingness to make tough decisions means coworkers "might be unhappy with him and want to embarrass him" with unfair allegations, according to ABC's MIKE LEVINE. Alejandro Mayorkas, the current director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, who has been nominated to be deputy secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, is one of several immigration officials under investigation by the department's internal watchdog over complaints of alleged impropriety. But in a letter Monday to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which must approve the nomination before it can proceed, the former chief counsel and acting director of USCIS says such complaints come "with the territory of leadership" and "need to be viewed in full context." "Managing and coordinating the operations and policy of the Department of Homeland Security is a monstrous role. Not many people are equipped to do it well," Robert Divine wrote in the letter, obtained by ABC News. "I believe that Alejandro Mayorkas is one of those people." http://abcn.ws/156TCdA
MEET THE TOP 10 RICHEST MEMBERS OF CONGRESS. There are plenty of mega-millionaires walking the halls of Congress every day, according to The Hill's annual 50 Wealthiest Lawmakers list released Tuesday, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ notes. The wealthiest lawmaker of all is Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., whose net worth totaled $355.4 million in 2012. Issa also serves as Washington's top watchdog, chairing the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Rounding out the top 10 list were seven Democrats, four senators, and one woman. The annual list calculates the net worth of members of Congress by subtracting their liabilities from their assets listed on their financial disclosure forms. Here are the 10 most rich and quasi-famous on Capitol Hill: http://abcn.ws/14VCAuM
IN THE NOTE'S INBOX
-EMILY'S LIST ENDORSES MCCONNELL CHALLENGER, ENCOURAGES KENTUCKY VOTERS TO 'DITCH MITCH'. Today, the Democratic advocacy group, Emily's List, announced the endorsement of Mitch McConnell's Democratic U.S. Senate challenger in Kentucky, Alison Lundergan Grimes. As Emily's List notes, the 34-year old Grimes is "the youngest woman currently serving as secretary of state in the country, and the only woman currently holding a statewide office in Kentucky." And, "by winning, she would … become the first woman to represent the state in the U.S. Senate." Unseating the well-financed McConnell remains a tall order for Grimes, whose campaign got off to a rocky start. However earlier this month, the Cook Political Report moved the race into the "Toss Up" column. In a statement, Stephanie Schriock, president of Emily's List, disparaged McConnell as "hopelessly out-of-touch with the needs of his state." And a fundraising appeal sent to members by the group calls Grimes "a smart, exciting leader - and the polls show that Kentuckians believe she's ready to lead the efforts to Ditch Mitch."
@kakukowski: Roll Call: RNC Raises $5.9 Million in July, DNC Raises $3.9 Million http://blogs.rollcall.com/moneyline/rnc-raises-5-9-million-in-july-dnc-raises-3-9-million/ …
@jaketapper: Our special on Combat Outpost Keating and Medal of Honor recipient SSG Ty Carter airs tonight at 10 pm on CNN http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/2013/08/16/jake-tapper-reports-an-unlikely-hero-to-air-aug-21-at-10pm-et/ …
@PostReid: Buy South Dakota's old governor's mansion, up for auction this week - http://www.argusleader.com/article/20130820/UPDATES/308200052/Former-S-D-governor-s-residence-auctioned-Thursday-Rapid-City …