— -- NOTABLES
--TRUMP RE-CONSIDERING THIRD-PARTY PLEDGE: Donald Trump may soon do what Republican leaders have been asking the billionaire candidate to do -- pledge not to run as an independent candidate for president, a senior Trump adviser told ABC's JONATHAN KARL. Trump refused to take that pledge at the start of last week's GOP debate but is now seriously considering promising not to run as an independent if he does not win the Republican nomination, the adviser said. Trump has repeatedly said he wants to run as a Republican and expects to win the GOP nomination, but he has also insisted that if he is not treated well by party leaders and does not get the nomination he may run as an independent. http://abcn.ws/1KZgXS7
--BACKSTORY: Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has directly called on all candidates to pledge not to make a third-party run, KARL notes. The Republican Party has leverage here: senior GOP officials say it is possible that future debates could be limited to candidates who have pledged support for the party -- a move that could leave Trump out of debates if he is still leaving open the possibility of running as an independent. The RNC has already made it clear that it will withhold valuable party data on Republican voters from any candidate unwilling to pledge support to the party. http://abcn.ws/1KZgXS7
--HILLARY CLINTON TO ANNOUNCE PLAN TO MAKE COLLEGE MORE ACCESSIBLE AND AFFORDABLE later today in Exeter, New Hampshire. Clinton's plan, which will cost $350 billion over the next 10 years, will aim to curb the $1.2 trillion of student debt and lower the cost of getting a degree, ABC's LIZ KREUTZ reports:
--THE PLAN: In Clinton's plan, families will still be expected to make a "realistic family contribution" --meaning she's not pushing for a completely "debt free" tuition, as some of her democratic challengers have called for -- however, there will be incentives given to states that commit to guaranteeing that students do not need to take out loans to cover tuition at 4 year universities. Among other things, the plan will also allow students to refinance private loans at a lower interest rate and allow students to use their Pell grants for living expenses. It also continues Obama's push for free community college. According to the Washington Post, in recent weeks Clinton's campaign sat down with Elizabeth Warren's policy staff to discuss the topic. Many of the proposals in Clinton's plan are said to mirror Warren's. WATCH: Hillary for America video on college affordability: https://youtu.be/_GL-N-ahseU
--ANALYSIS -- ABC's RICK KLEIN: The truth is there's nothing to do but wait. Yes, Donald Trump has won the near-universal scorn of the Republican establishment, and no, he's not likely to win a fight against Fox News or one of its most popular anchors. Yes, he's said offensive things about women and stands by them, and yes, he's choosing a new fight with the only woman in the Republican presidential field. But to take those developments and predict the beginning of the end of Trump's campaign is folly, or some form of wishful thinking. The fact is his support has been coming from corners of the Republican Party that don't respond to normal, predictable political pressures. He continues to dominate the campaign, to the detriment of anyone else trying to get out any sort of message that isn't related to Trump. And so this is a defining week for the contest -- until it isn't.
TODAY ON THE TRAIL with ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: Bobby Jindal is in Iowa. At 1pmET he will hold a lunch event at (where else?) a Pizza Ranch in Vinton, followed by a 7pm town hall in Marion. Ted Cruz continues his bus tour of the South today and stops in Tennessee. He holds a "biscuits and gravy" breakfast this morning at 9am in Chattanooga followed by another event in Murfreesboro at 11:15am. At 1:30pm he stops in Franklin for something he is billing as a "Southern Sweets" event. This evening, he holds a BBQ dinner campaign event at the Jackson Fairgrounds in Jackson at 5:30pm ET. Lindsey Graham is in South Carolina. He holds an event he is billing as a "No Nukes for Iran" town hall in Greenville at 2pm.
with ABC's VERONICA STRACQUALURSI
TRUMP OFFERS NO APOLOGY OVER 'BLOOD' COMMENTS. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump offered no apology to Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly Sunday, saying he didn't cross the line regarding his comments about her following Thursday's debate and calling out some of his rivals who said he should apologize his comments. Trump sparred with Kelly during Thursday's debate and criticized her afterwards, including telling CNN the next day that "there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever" while speaking about the questions she asked him. In an interview with ABC's "This Week," Trump reiterated his earlier clarification that by "wherever" he meant her nose, ABC's ALI DUKAKIS and BENJAMIN BELL report. "I have nothing against Megyn Kelly," he said. "She asked me a very, very nasty question." http://abcn.ws/1DFcEvn
TRUMP PUSHES BACK AFTER BEING DISINVITED FROM REDSTATE GATHERING. RedState's Erick Erickson withdrew Trump's invitation from the event, which several other candidates were slated to attend. Erickson said when he heard about Trump's comment, he asked his campaign if Trump meant what was implied and whether he planned to clarify or apologize. "It's disrespectful to Megyn Kelly. It's disrespectful to female journalists," he said. "I don't want my daughter in the room with Donald Trump." In a statement, Trump's campaign called Erickson a "total loser" who "has a history of supporting establishment losers in failed campaigns," according to ABC's BEN CANDEA, JESSICA HOPPER and JOHN SANTUCCI. http://abcn.ws/1glSKL6
HOW TRUMP USED TWITTER TO ATTACK WOMEN. While Trump may not have time for "political correctness," he has had the chance to unleash a slew of tweets attacking women over the years. Here's a list of his most memorable, courtesy of ABC's SUMMER FIELDS. http://abcn.ws/1hqhmTM
CORY BOOKER FEARS 'VOTING RIGHTS ACT IS UNDER THREAT.' As the country marks 50 years since the Voting Rights Act was signed into law, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., expressed concern Sunday that the voting rights of many are still "under threat." "Well, first, I just want to press the case because many people don't understand that ... the Voting Rights Act is under threat. And these voter ID laws which are being passed in many states have a disproportionate impact on poor folks," he said. The former mayor of Newark appeared on ABC News' "This Week" four days after a Texas court struck down a voter ID law deemed discriminatory, ABC's HAYLEY WALKER notes. http://abcn.ws/1gV0810
5 STORIES YOU'LL CARE ABOUT IN POLITICS THIS WEEK. Raise your hand or roll your eyes if you must. We know you were watching the first Republican debate because, let's face it, everybody did. King James' house belonged to King Donald, but the crown could be passed around faster than a selfie with Kim Kardashian. And this is a bad time to be on the paleo diet --- Iowa's state fair will be delicious, if less than nutritious. ABC's RICK KLEIN highlights some of the stories the ABC News political team is tracking in the week ahead. http://abcn.ws/1f1haZa
WHAT WE'RE READING
"THE AUGUST DOLDRUMS AND DONALD TRUMP," by RedState's Erick Erickson. "Stories in August can turn to hurricanes because they stay, attract more and more attention as moisture, and gain strength unable to be blown quickly off the front page by tomorrow's news. They stay tomorrow's news. Donald Trump is in the August doldrums, stuck with nothing to push him off tomorrow's paper. His problem is not Megyn Kelly. His problem is not me. His problem is he is now stuck on the front page. That may seem like a good thing -- all the attention is on him now. But tabloid coverage is not the coverage one needs when running for President. Tabloid coverage is about the candidate himself, not his issues." http://bit.ly/1L1rTS6
@AlexConant: Rubio on Clinton higher ed plan: "She is just raising taxes and then pouring it into a 20th Century, outdated higher ed system."
@nycjim: The weirdness of Washington, DC, where marijuana is both legal and illegal. http://wapo.st/1J4Q0ik