The Note: The GOP’s Summer Meltdown


--TRUMP WITHHOLDS ENDORSEMENTS FROM RYAN, MCCAIN: Donald Trump announced yesterday that he is not yet endorsing House Speaker Paul Ryan or Sen. John McCain in their re-election bids -- despite public endorsements from both men. In an interview with the Washington Post, the GOP presidential nominee said he is "not quite there yet" on backing his party's top elected official -- Ryan, notes ABC’s JENNIFER HANSLER. “I like Paul, but these are horrible times for our country,” Trump said. “We need very strong leadership. We need very, very strong leadership. And I’m just not quite there yet. I’m not quite there yet.”

--SENIOR GOP OFFICIALS EXPLORING OPTIONS IF TRUMP DROPS OUT: Republican officials are exploring how to handle a scenario that would be unthinkable in a normal election year: What would happen if the party's presidential nominee dropped out? ABC News has learned that senior party officials are so frustrated -- and confused by Donald Trump's erratic behavior -- that they are exploring how to replace him on the ballot if he were to drop out. So, how would it work? ABC’s JONATHAN KARL takes a closer look:

--OBAMA CALLS TRUMP 'UNFIT TO SERVE AS PRESIDENT’:  President Obama said yesterday that Trump is "unfit to serve as president." In a press conference with Singapore's prime minister, Obama added that Trump has shown he is not up to the task, in light of his handle on foreign affairs and his comments on military families, ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ notes.

--ANALYSIS -- ABC’s RICK KLEIN: Donald Trump’s challenge to the Republican establishment is no longer new. But his post-conventions behavior is creating a new definitional, if not existential, crisis for the GOP. Trump has only himself to blame for engaging in and sustaining a fight against a gold star family. Similarly, it was his choice to decline to endorse Paul Ryan and John McCain in their Republican primaries. His actions in the last few days have led to a meltdown in Republican circles, with some prominent party voices intervening to urge him to drastically change course, and some beginning to voice their intent to vote for Hillary Clinton. Trump is practically daring people like Ryan and McCain to un-endorse him, based, apparently, on his belief that he can win without their help. At a time when he should be expanding his appeal and his circle of supporters, the Republican nominee is moving in the opposite direction. Trump is letting Trump be Trump. The Republican Party, meanwhile, is getting a raw look at what that means – with limited time to do anything about it.


TRUMP SAYS RECEIVING A PURPLE HEART AS A GIFT IS 'MUCH EASIER.' In the wake of a New York Times report delving into his military deferments, Donald Trump said that receiving a Purple Heart as a gift is much easier than being awarded it for being wounded during military service, writes ABC’s CANDACE SMITH and JOHN SANTUCCI. Trump said that a man approached him before his Virginia rally and handed him his Purple Heart. "He said, 'That's my real Purple Heart. I have such confidence in you.' And I said, 'Man, that's, like, that's, like, big stuff.' I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier," Trump said.

NOTED: DUCKWORTH JOINS PURPLE HEART VETERANS BLASTING TRUMP FOR 'REPUGNANT' COMMENTS. Congresswoman and Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth -- who lost both legs and partial use of her arm in combat -- had a powerful message for Trump regarding his controversial remarks about receiving a Purple Heart as a gift, reports ABC’s JENNIFER HANSLER

KAINE WARNS DONALD TRUMP THAT ‘VIRGINIA IS NOT FOR HATERS.’ Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine stood up to Donald Trump yesterday in behalf of his adopted home state of Virginia, saying the Republican nominee has insulted the commonwealth multiple times, including his attack on the family of fallen soldier Humayun Khan and his removal of a crying baby from a Virginia rally. As ABC’s JESSICA HOPPER explains, Kaine hurled the attack in a format Trump frequently uses to launch missives of his own, tweeting this: "Virginia is not for haters!"

MORE TOP DNC OFFICIALS OUT AFTER WIKILEAKS EMAIL RELEASE. Three top Democratic National Committee officials are the latest to leave their positions in the wake of the Wikileaks email release, which appeared to show party officials trying to help Hillary Clinton and hurt Bernie Sanders. Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned last week and Tuesday, DNC CEO Amy Dacey stepped down in addition to communications director Luis Miranda and CFO Brad Marshall. Both Marshall and Dacey have been criticized for being on an email chain that seemed to question Sanders’ religion during the primaries, writes ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE.

IVANKA TRUMP CALLS SEXUAL HARASSMENT 'INEXCUSABLE'. Ivanka Trump called sexual harassment "inexcusable" during an interview on Fox News's "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren" Tuesday night. Van Susteren questioned Trump on her thoughts on sexual harassment following her father's comment to USA Today earlier in the day, when he said Ivanka would "find another career or find another company" if harassed. Donald Trump later appeared to double down on that comment, telling the Washington Post on Tuesday that it would "be up to the individual" being harassed to take action within their company, to either stay with their employer while seeking retribution, or quit. More from ABC’s JULIA JACOBO:

HOW TRUMP'S 'RIGGED' ELECTION PREDICTION MIGHT HELP HIM. In a packed convention center, in Columbus, Ohio, Donald Trump divulged what he called one of his greatest fears. "First of all, it [the primary season] was rigged, and I'm afraid the [general] election is going to be rigged. I have to be honest. Because I think my side was rigged,” he said last week of the Republican primaries. “If I didn't win by massive landslides — I mean, think of what we won in New York, Indiana, California 78 percent. That's with other people in the race, but think of it." ABC’s CANDACE SMITH has more:

TRUMP CAMPAIGN STAFFERS WHO'VE BEEN TOLD: 'YOU'RE FIRED.' Add Ed Brookover to the list of senior Trump campaign advisers who now must add the word “former” to their campaign titles, ABC’s JONATHAN KARL and JORDYN PHELPS note. Sources confirm to ABC News that Brookover, who served as a liaison between the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee, and who also served as Trump's delegate manager, was fired from the campaign on Monday.

RETIRING GOP CONGRESSMAN BECOMES FIRST TO BACK CLINTON. Rep. Richard Hanna of New York became the first Republican in Congress to say he would vote for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in November. The outgoing congressman wrote in an op-ed in The Syracuse Post Standard that he differs with Clinton on a number of policies but that Trump "is unfit to serve our party and cannot lead this country." "While I disagree with her on many issues, I will vote for Mrs. Clinton," Hanna wrote. ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE has more:


A TIMELINE OF DONALD TRUMP'S WHIRLWIND DAY. Donald Trump’s August has gotten off to an eventful start. The Republican presidential nominee spent the first day of the month making headlines across the nation. ABC’s JENNIFER HANSLER and ADAM KELSEY have a look at his newsworthy 16 hours Monday:


@matthewjdowd: Isn't it time friends and family gather together and have an intervention, and force Trump to go to a political version of inpatient rehab?

@amyewalter: The @PhilipRucker interview w/ Trump is raw look into the reality of his thinking - it's all ego, cable TV and ADD

@PhilipRucker: "I think he's gone from the chaos candidate to the Kamikaze candidate," @jheil says of Trump on @Morning_Joe, summing up GOP mess.

@DonnaCassataAP: Paul Ryan, Wasserman Schultz to test anti-establishment mood (from @AP)

@meganliberman: That Katrina Pierson interview on CNN was dumbfounding.