By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)
- NEWT SURVEYS THE 2016 FIELD: The Republican National Committee is holding their summer meeting in Boston this week and the star of the first day was former House Speaker Newt Gingrich who held a panel with Chairman Reince Priebus and also weighed in on some of the issues affecting the party, including whether Hillary Clinton is beatable in 2016, ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE reports. Gingrich told reporters “it’s a long way from here to her coronation” and ran down a list of who he thinks will be “formidable” GOP presidential contenders. He named New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie citing his ability “to govern as effectively” as “a terrific achievement”; Ohio Gov. John Kasich noting his time as budget chairman; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and his “ability to reform Wisconsin; and former presidential candidate and Texas Gov. Rick Perry who he said will “turn out to be a much more formidable candidate than the national media thinks because he was the longest serving governor in Texas and 30 percent of the jobs created in America in the last seven years were created in Texas so in a country that ain’t growing he’s got a pretty good story to tell.” He also named Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. noting he thinks the party will have the “ largest Republican field probably since 1968 in terms of viable, serious competent people and I think the one who comes out of all that is likely to a very formidable opponent for Sen. Clinton.”
- ‘THIS IS A VERY DEEP PROBLEM’: On Wednesday, Gingrich also said that lawmakers who criticize Obamacare but offer no alternatives will be left with “zero answer” for constituents who ask for a policy solution to the president’s health care reform law, WALSHE notes. “I would bet for most of you, you go home in the next two weeks while your members of Congress are home and you look at them in the eye and you say, ‘What is your positive replacement for Obamacare?’ and they will have zero answer,” Gingrich told state party chairs, activists, and operatives at the Republican National Committee summer meeting. “We are caught up right now in a culture – and you see it every single day – where as long as we are negative, as long as we are vicious, as long as we can tear down our opponent, we don’t have to worry, so we don’t. “This is a very deep problem,” he added. “I’m being totally candid with you.” He recalled that the GOP was able to block “Hillarycare” in 1994 because they had a “positive alternative approach” to health care. http://abcn.ws/18vGQVB
- ON THE GOP FAMILY FEUD: As for the spat between Gov. Christie and Sen. Paul, which is highlighting the two wings of the GOP Gingrich just blamed politics saying, “It’s going to be hard for the libertarian to make the establishment happy, it’s going to be hard the for the establishment to make the libertarian happy. Welcome to politics it’s a tough business.” He added he thinks “everybody has got to sort this stuff out over time.” “He [Christie] can critique Rand Paul and Rand Paul can critique him. I think it’s terrific that the Republican Party is strong enough and viable enough that we have arguments. I’ve been in the party in periods when there was nobody left to argue so I’m pretty happy to watch this stuff.” NOTED: Gov. Christie delivers a speech at the RNC meeting today.
WHITE HOUSE WARNS EGYPT’S INTERIM GOVERNMENT: ‘THE WORLD IS WATCHING’. The White House yesterday strongly condemned the violence in Egypt, calling it a “step in the wrong direction,” and urged the military-backed interim government to “respect the basic universal human rights of their people,” ABC’s MARY BRUCE and JIM AVILA note. “The violence that we saw overnight is a step in the wrong direction,” Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters in Martha’s Vineyard, where President Obama is vacationing with his family. “We also strongly oppose a return to a state of emergency law and call on the government to respect basic human rights, such as freedom of peaceful assembly and due process under the law,” Earnest added. The spokesman said the administration “will continue to hold the interim government accountable for the promise that they’ve made to speed the transition to a civilian, democratically elected government.” “Violence will only make it more difficult to move Egypt forward on path to lasting stability and democracy and runs directly counter to the pledges by the interim government to pursue reconciliation,” he said. “We’re going to remind them that they made that promise and encourage them to keep it.” http://abcn.ws/1d7KecZ
MARK YOUR CALENDARS: SEPT. 3 FOR SAME-SEX BENEFITS AT THE PENTAGON. The Pentagon announced that beginning Sept. 3 all married gay service members will be eligible for benefits, thanks to the Supreme Court striking down DOMA, ABC’s DANA HUGHES reports. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel issued a memo stating that if a couple were stationed in a state that does not recognize gay marriage they will be allowed to get married in a state that does and the Defense Department will still afford them their rights. It’s an extraordinary trajectory from just two years ago when gay military personnel were not even allowed to serve openly. Now they can serve, get married and receive the same benefits as their heterosexual married colleagues. http://t.co/tyUQAnJIa7
PROGRESSIVE AD HITS MITCH MCCONNELL ON SOCIAL SECURITY, MEDICARE. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee is launching a new television ad pushing embattled Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to oppose cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits, ABC’s ABBY PHILLIP reports. The ad features Kirk Gillenwaters, a Louisville, Ky., worker who has been employed at a Ford plant for decades. “We work hard for these companies and we’re promised a secure retirement in return,” Gillenwaters says. “But our pensions are being cut and we need Social Security.” “When Sen. Mitch McConnell supports cutting Social Security, he’s breaking a promise – and he’s hurting our families,” he continues. The ad comes at a time when McConnell, a 36-year veteran of the Senate, is being targeted by national Democrats, who hope Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan-Grimes can unseat him. And McConnell also has a challenger from within his own party, the Tea Party-backed businessman Matt Bevin. http://abcn.ws/13mzZ2M
WILL THE DISGRACED ‘OBAMA’ RODEO CLOWN RIDE AGAIN? He’s been back in Congress for less than a year, but already Rep. Steve Stockman has generated a collection of headlines that many veteran lawmakers would take an entire career to produce – and here’s one more, ABC’s JOHN PARKINSON notes. Stockman has invited the clown who created a stir for donning a mask of President Obama while sporting an upside down broomstick attached to his backside at an event in Missouri last Saturday to perform at a rodeo in Texas’ 36th District. “Liberals want to bronco bust dissent. But Texans value speech, even if its speech they don’t agree with,” Stockman, who also served in the House of Representatives for one term in the mid-1990s after the Gingrich revolution, wrote in a statement announcing his latest act. “Disagreeing with speech is one thing. Banning it and ordering citizens into reeducation classes for mocking a liberal leader is another. Liberals have targeted this man for personal destruction to create a climate of fear.” The rodeo clown has not been publicly identified, although the Associated Press identified him as Tuffy Gessling. The Missouri State Fair on Monday imposed a lifetime ban to prevent him from ever performing there in the future. On Monday, the president of the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association resigned in protest that the association had not banned the rodeo clown from its membership. http://abcn.ws/19u9X09
NORTH CAROLINA GOV. SAYS VOTER ID CRITICS RELY ON ‘SCARE TACTICS’. North Carolina’s governor is defending a voter ID bill he signed into law earlier this week, saying that critics’ complaints that the new law will hurt voting are simply “scare tactics,” ABC’s ALISA WIERSEMA notes. Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, discussed the new law in a YouTube video arguing that North Carolina is joining many other states that already have voter ID laws, and those from the “extreme left” who criticize the photo ID law are relying on “scare tactics” and “divisive politics.” McCrory (R) signed the voter ID act into law on Monday, introducing a number of voting changes to a possible election battleground state. Some of the most controversial provisions of the law include requiring all voters to show a state-issued ID at the polls, shortening the early voting period by a week, ending same-day registration, and prohibiting “out-of-precinct” voting. McCrory said in his YouTube video that the legislation is based on “common sense reforms” aimed to help ensure “that no one’s vote is disenfranchised by fraudulent ballot.” http://abcn.ws/16LDD32
TEXAS DEMS DRUM UP SUPPORT FOR WENDY DAVIS’ NEXT MOVE. Democrats aren’t playing coy anymore; they want Wendy Davis to run for governor of Texas, ABC’s ABBY PHILLIP notes. The state senator, who became a national phenomenon when she filibustered an anti-abortion bill in the state legislature for 13 hours, says that she will decide on a gubernatorial run by Labor Day. In the meantime, Democratic groups, including Battleground Texas (a Obama-world effort to turn Texas from red to blue), have launched a “We Want Wendy” campaign, designed to stir up her supporters and demonstrate that she has a pre-groomed base of support. “We have seen that Wendy Davis is a unique leader in Texas; she has a brand that Texans would identify with and she would make a fantastic governor,” Jenn Brown, executive director of Battleground Texas told ABC News. “We’re focused on trying to show her how much support there is out here for her and how ready volunteers and activists are for her.” Initially, it seemed that Texas Democrats were of two minds when it came to whether Davis should launch a long-shot bid to be the state’s next governor in 2014. http://abcn.ws/1bwqs9e
HARRY REID’S INTERN SEEKS DONATIONS TO WORK FOR FREE. Nevada college student Jessica Padron won the prestigious honor to be an intern for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Then she had to figure out how to afford the honor since the DC internship is not paid, ABC’s ALISA WIERSEMA writes. Padron, 20, has resorted to crowd-sourcing on Indiegogo.com to raise the $6,500 she estimates she will need for airfare, rent and food during her four-month Washington tenure. Her bid for cash is titled Latina Leadership Fund – Dreams and Political Aspirations. With 11 days left until her Aug. 25 deadline, Padron is more than halfway to achieving her financial goal with $3,940 already donated to her cause. While Padron is still seeking donations, she has dropped mention of Reid’s office in her Indiegogo.com plea and is no longer eager to talk about her unorthodox means of getting to Washington. She told ABC News that she “is not seeking any more press” because “there is a statute or a code of ethics that an intern or any staffer can’t use the name of the office [when fundraising].” “I don’t want to break any rules,” Padron said. Reid’s office declined to comment about their future intern. http://abcn.ws/16bxPkt
WHAT WE’RE READING
“IS RAND PAUL FOR REAL?” an ABCNews.com Op-Ed by GOP public relations consultant Joe Brettell. “Paul, 50, faces a taller task than his father, former Texas Rep. Ron Paul. In order to be viewed as viable in the run-up to 2016, he must display at least some measure of electoral coattails that will show voters and, more importantly, donors that he has some muscle. That test will begin close to home, where Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will be in a tough fight to retain his seat. Paul is heavily invested in the contest, with his former campaign manager running the McConnell campaign and Paul, himself, supporting McConnell in the race. The results will largely be viewed by the political elite as a litmus test for Paul’s strength in the state and his ability to rally his vaunted grassroots support into action. Moreover, it’s important to remember that the  GOP nomination will be decided by delegates, not states, making voter enthusiasm and an ability to organize the grassroots vital to success. Few can argue the disruptive, often transformative effect that the Paul grassroots movement has had in the past several election cycles, affecting state conventions across the country in the most recent election. … Political observers looking for early signs on whether a Paul candidacy might work should watch conventions in key states to determine whether his supporters will continue to surprise power brokers, or whether establishment Republicans have caught on to the game.” http://abcn.ws/141Fhiw
@DRUDGE_REPORT: Limbaugh, Hannity, Levin eyed as 2016 GOP debate moderators…
@GOP: Today we honor India Day and celebrate with the many Indian Americans in the US our shared values of freedom, democracy and opportunity.