By CHRIS GOOD ( @c_good)
ABC's RICK KLEIN: Is it possible to embrace Obamacare without embracing Obama? That's the mission embarked on by Sen. Mark Pryor, who's done a very rare thing for a red-state Democrat: He's touting his support of the Obama health care law in a new statewide television ad. The ad - first reported by The Washington Post's Greg Sargent - makes savvy use of Pryor's personal health history, and of his still-popular father, a former senator and Democratic legend in the state. What makes it noteworthy, though, is the way Pryor is trying to reframe the debate around Obamacare, during something of a lull in the anti-Obamacare messaging war. He doesn't seek to own all of the law - or even mention the law by name. What will be interesting to see now is whether he gets company; we know he'll get pushback.
ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: The trial of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell continues today and it's likely to be the juiciest day in a trial full of jaw dropping moments. Last night the defense was about to get into the state of the McDonnells' marriage, but the judge interrupted and said it should be saved for today. Why is something that sounds so personal critical in this corruption trial? The defense has argued Bob and Maureen McDonnell's marriage was so broken there was no way the two could have conspired together to accept the lavish gifts from Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams in exchange for helping to promote his product. They have even argued their marriage was so on the ropes the then-first lady of Virginia had a "crush" on Williams. The trial has detailed many instances of Maureen McDonnell seeming to have lost her grasp on reality, with witnesses even testifying she seemed to have "mental health" issues. Today, we will hear Bob McDonnell discuss the inner workings of his marriage and his relationship with his wife from his own point of view. It could be the most crucial day of the trial.
THE BUZZ, with ABC's SCOTT WILSON
RICK PERRY PLEADS NOT GUILTY TO FELONY CHARGES. Texas Gov. Rick Perry Wednesay pleaded not guilty to two felony charges on which he was indicted relating to a 2013 veto threat, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ reports. Perry's attorneys entered the not-guilty plea Wednesday morning and waived his formal arraignment scheduled for Friday morning. "The waiver of arraignment contains the plea of not guilty," David Botsford, an attorney for Perry, said. In a theatrical manner, Perry turned himself into authorities Tuesday at the Travis County Courthouse, getting his fingerprints taken and smiling for a mug shot. The two felony counts - abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public official - originate from Perry's threat to veto $7.5 million in funding for Texas' public integrity unit after District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg refused to resign following a 2013 DWI conviction. Perry will travel to Washington Thursday for a speech on the border crisis before heading to New Hampshire, where he has events scheduled for Friday and Saturday. http://abcn.ws/VET3q7
WORLD 'APPALLED' BY JAMES FOLEY BEHEADING, OBAMA SAYS. "The entire world is appalled" by ISIS's slaughter of American journalist James Foley, a visibly angry President Obama said Wednesday, report ABC's ERIN DOOLEY and ARLETTE SAENZ. "No just God would stand for what they did yesterday or every single day," the president said during a news conference in Martha's Vineyard. "People like this ultimately fail. They fail because the future's won by those who build and not destroy. The world is shaped by people like Jim Foley." The terrorist group beheaded Foley in a grisly video posted online Tuesday evening. The U.S. intelligence community verified the video's authenticity yesterday morning. According to one senior U.S. official, ISIS had warned the U.S. that they planned to kill Foley to avenge airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq. Prior to his execution, U.S. officials say, they used Turkish, Russian and Czech intermediaries to advocate for his release. "A group like ISIL has no place in the 21st century," Obama said Wednesday, using the acronym by which the militant group is also known. "They have rampaged across cities and villages killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence. They abduct women and children and subject them to torture and rape and slavery … ISIL has no ideology of any value to human beings." http://abcn.ws/YA2ed1
BUSH'S BIRTHDAY GIFT TO CLINTON A BUCKET OF COLD WATER? When former first daughter Jenna Bush Hager, pro-golfer Rory McIlroy, San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh and philanthropist Woody Johnson nominated President George W. Bush for the ice bucket challenge to strike out ALS, the former president wasn't sure that pouring a pail of freezing water on his head - even in the name of raising awareness for a fatal disease - was properly dignified, ABC's ERIN DOOLEY notes. "To you all who have challenged me: I do not think it's presidential for me to be splashed with ice water, so I'm simply going to write you a check," President Bush says in a video posted to his Facebook page Wednesday. Just when you're starting to fear Bush's video will be even more boring than a ceremonial ribbon cutting, former first lady Laura Bush appears with a bucket. Grinning, she unceremoniously dumps its contents on the former commander-in-chief's head. A sopping George W. then nominates his presidential predecessor, Bill Clinton. "Yesterday was Bill's birthday and my gift to Bill is a bucket of cold water," Bush deadpans. http://abcn.ws/1uWDr0d
SUPREME COURT BLOCKS VIRGINIA GAY MARRIAGE, FOR NOW. The Supreme Court Wednesday blocked same sex marriages from going forward in Virginia, putting on hold a lower court ruling from last month that struck down the state's strict ban on gay marriage, according to ABC's ARIANE DE VOGUE. The action by the high court means that gay marriages, that were set to begin Thursday,will not go forward while supporters of the state ban appeal the issue to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court acted on an application filed by Michele B. McQuigg, a state clerk who had petitioned for a stay pending appeal. In a one page order, with no noted dissents, the Supreme Court granted the request. While Mark R. Herring, Virginia's Attorney General, has argued that the state ban is unconstitutional, he urged the Supreme Court to grant the stay. In court briefs Herring said it was "painful to keep Virginia's same-sex couples and their children waiting," but that the "balance of hardships" favored a stay. http://abcn.ws/1s05Ihn
WHITE HOUSE KNEW OF RECENT ISIS THREAT TO KILL US JOURNALIST. ISIS had recently threatened to kill U.S. journalist James Foley to avenge airstrikes the United States has conducted in Iraq, a senior U.S. official told ABC News. The White House had been aware of the threat prior to the release of a video Tuesday night that appears to show the beheading of Foley and warns that militants will carry out a similar act against U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff, who went missing in August, the official said, according to ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ and JONATHAN KARL. President Obama was briefed on the video aboard Air Force One Tuesday night as he returned to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, from Washington to resume his August vacation. The White House said the intelligence community is working to authenticate the gruesome video that allegedly shows Foley's beheading. "If genuine, we are appalled by the brutal murder of an innocent American journalist and we express our deepest condolences to his family and friends," Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said. http://abcn.ws/1pe6nh0
SUPPORT FOR U.S. AIRSTRIKES IN IRAQ JUMPS. After splitting evenly two months ago, a majority of Americans now support U.S. air strikes in Iraq - but without additional credit to Barack Obama for ordering them, notes ABC's GREG HOLYK. Support for the military action against Sunni insurgents in Iraq is up by 9 percentage points since June, from 45 to 54 percent in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, while opposition is down by 7 points, to 39 percent. Yet views on Obama's handling of the situation are essentially unchanged - 42 percent approve, while 51 percent disapprove. On a third question, the public divides on providing arms and ammunition to the Kurdish military forces who are opposing the insurgents, with 45 percent in favor, 49 percent opposed. The air strikes, which began nearly two weeks ago, represent the most significant U.S. military operations in Iraq since the withdrawal of the last ground troops in late 2011. Interviews for this survey, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, were completed before the announcement that U.S. air strikes had assisted Iraqi and Kurdish forces in recapturing the Mosul Dam, a major strategic objective. http://abcn.ws/1pKPn1O
RICK PERRY'S MUGSHOT VS. OFFICIAL GOVERNOR'S PORTRAIT, WHICH IS BETTER? Texas Gov. Rick Perry turned himself into authorities Tuesday and posed for what might be one of the best looking political mugshots in history, notes ABC's SCOTT WILSON. The question is, did Rick Perry take his mugshot with all the gubernatorial swagger expected of his office? And how does his mugshot stack up to the governor's official portrait? Though the intense gaze in Perry's portrait wasn't quite replicated in the mugshot, there certainly seems to be some similarity between the two pictures. First, the governor definitely likes the way he looks - and a cop with a camera certainly wasn't going to change that. Perry's compulsively-coiffed hair and casual smirk almost make you forget that the man is looking at the possibility of spending the next century behind bars. In neither photo was Perry wearing his infamous hipster glasses - the pair that the ophthalmologist-senator, and possible presidential hopeful Rand Paul zinged him on in a Politico op-ed last month. http://abcn.ws/1lhXgw1
AG ERIC HOLDER IN FERGUSON RECALLS BEING 'ANGRY' AFTER POLICE ENCOUNTERS. Attorney General Eric Holder went to the strife torn town of Ferguson Wednesday where he met with the family of slain teenager Michael Brown and talked about his own run-ins with police that left him "angry and upset," ABC's ERIN DOOLEY reports. The nation's top law enforcement official, who is the first African-American named to the post, said he hoped his presence and interest in the case would have a "calming influence on the area." Ferguson has been roiled by angry protests, rock and bottle throwing and some looting since Brown, 18, was shot and killed by Police Officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9. Brown was African-American and Wilson is white. Holder told people in Ferguson that he understood their mistrust of police. "I am the attorney general of the United States. But I am also a black man," Holder said. "I've confronted this myself." Holder, who also met with local FBI agents and justice department personnel, promised a "thorough" federal investigation. "My hope is that will give people some degree of confidence," he said. http://abcn.ws/1z340OS
DFA ENDORSES AMANDA CURTIS. The progressive group Democracy for America has endorsed Amanda Curtis, the Democrats' Senate candidate in Montana, who stepped in after Sen. John Walshe stepped out. DFA Chair Jim Dean on the endorsement: "Amanda Curtis is precisely the new progressive hero Montana Democrats need to defeat a Koch-brothers funded right-wing extremist like Steve Daines. Democracy for America members in Big Sky Country and across the nation couldn't be more excited about supporting Amanda are looking forward to knocking on the doors and making the phone calls necessary to make Montana's voice for working families in Washington."
@timgrieve From Rodney King to Michael Brown. http://www.nationaljournal.com/political-connections/the-fire-this-time-20140821 … via @nationaljournal