By JOHN R. PARKINSON ( @jparkABC)
ABC's MARTHA RADDATZ: This morning a U.S. official says that General Lloyd Austin, who heads central command, is now in Iraq today for a series of meetings on what to do next regarding ISIS. It is Austin, who is overseeing the airstrikes in Iraq and he would be the general in charge, if a decision is made to expand airstrikes into Syria. As the Pentagon prepares options for strikes and the president orders U.S. surveillance planes to start gathering intelligence for potential targets, another critical decision the president is considering today is whether to send in warplanes and humanitarian aid to help more than 10,000 Iraqis in another town in Northern Iraq now under siege by ISIS. Syria has robust air defenses and U.S. warplanes would take all precautions, but since the U.S. would be targeting ISIS, the enemy of the Assad regime, it is doubtful U.S. planes would be targeted.
ABC's RICK KLEIN: The pictures of Sen. Kay Hagan greeting President Obama in Charlotte weren't on the Charlie Crist level. (That level of political infamy ranks alongside the Joe Lieberman-George W. Bush embrace, history enshrined by Crist's victory in the Democratic primary for governor Tuesday.) Yet how Hagan handled the presidential visit suggests a realization that while Obama can't and won't help virtually any endangered Democrat this year, the president's negative effects are already baked into the electoral cake. Hagan didn't do any logistical gymnastics to avoid being seen next to a president who was coming to her state to speak to the same gathering Hagan herself was scheduled to address. Then, Hagan sought to put distance between herself and the president, declaring that "promises alone aren't going to get it done" regarding cleaning up the troubled VA. So the pictures of Hagan and Obama exist - as does video of Hagan issuing a critique of Obama. If voters see the daylight, Hagan and other Democrats have a chance in November.
ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: As far as primary nights go last night was mostly predictable. Charlie Crist successfully completed his political conversion easily winning his Democratic primary. In Arizona, though, Scott Smith, the former mayor of Mesa and Gov. Jan Brewer's hand-selected successor, went down. The more conservative choice, the state's treasurer and former chief executive of Cold Stone Creamery, Doug Ducey won. He had the rare combination of the backing of pro-business GOP groups, as well as tea party favorites Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin. But, Brewer saw in Smith a man that could continue some of her legacy, especially those policies in the red state seen as more moderate like her controversial decision to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act in the state. With Ducey the state gets a more conservative choice and possibly a more difficult general election, if Democrats have anything to say about it. Ducey will face Fred Duval, a former member of the Arizona Board of Regents, the group that runs the state's three public universities.
with ABC's ERIN DOOLEY ( @erindooley1 )
NINE-YEAR-OLD GIRL ACCIDENTALLY KILLS SHOOTING RANGE INSTRUCTOR. Authorities say a 9-year-old girl vacationing with her family accidentally shot and killed an instructor at a shooting range in Arizona this week. ABC's DAN GOOD notes the shooting happened at 10 a.m. Monday at Bullets and Burgers, a facility located at Arizona Last Stop, a tourist spot southeast of Las Vegas. The instructor - identified as Charles Vacca, 39 - was standing next to the girl, teaching her how to use an automatic Uzi. Nearby, the girl's parents captured video of the experience. As the girl fired, the recoil caused her to lose control of the gun and Vacca was accidentally struck in the head, the Mohave County Sheriff's Office said. Vacca was flown to University Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. http://abcn.ws/1C142v9
DELAYS DIDN'T NECESSARILY CAUSE VETERAN DEATHS, VA REPORT FINDS. When it was revealed in April that Veterans Affairs officials had maintained secret wait lists and covered up wait times for veterans seeking health care at the facility in Phoenix, Ariz., the deaths of at least 40 such veterans stoked national outrage. But those long wait times and cover-ups didn't cause the deaths, according to a report released Tuesday by the VA's inspector general , ABC's CHRIS GOOD, SERENA MARSHALL, and ERIN DOOLEY report. "While the case reviews in this report document poor quality of care, we are unable to conclusively assert that the absence of timely quality care caused the deaths of these veterans," the report stated. http://abcn.ws/1pEbO98
WHAT WE'RE READING
"SO YOU'RE SAYING THERE'S A CHANCE?!" Romney Won't Rule Out 2016. "Well, you know, let's say all the guys that were running all came together and said, 'Hey, we've decided we can't do it, you must do it,' That's the one of the million we're thinking about," Romney told Hugh Hewitt, as noted by TIME's Zeke Miller. "The Dumb and Dumber, one of a million." http://ti.me/1letYhq
BOEHNER HUDDLES WITH DONORS IN JACKSON HOLE: The Ohio Republican has spent the last two days in the Wyoming resort town with roughly 150 of the party's donors, talking about his summer raising money for Republicans and urging the well-heeled crowd to help fill the House GOP's coffers during this election year, POLITICO'S Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer note. http://politi.co/YXeUea
IN THE NOTE'S INBOX
LAWMAKERS WANTS TRAVEL LIMITS TO SYRIA: Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., says restricting unsanctioned travel to Syria would help prevent terrorist groups operating in Syria from radicalizing Americans. Wolf introduced legislation earlier this year that would also prohibit material support to militant groups in Syria.
COULD CBO's BUDGET UPDATE SHAPE MIDTERM FISCAL DEBATE? The Congressional Budget Office will release new deficit and economic projections today at 10:00 a.m. The American Action Forum notes CBO had previously projected a deficit of $722 billion in FY2014, almost $140 billion more than the White House's $583 billion estimate.
@markknoller : Expected to hit 90° in DC today. Seems excessive for the end of August.