--TRUMP HITS HIGHEST SUPPORT YET IN NEW NATIONAL POLL: Donald Trump is showing no signs of slowing down. He's won over the support of almost a third of Republican voters in the country, stretching to 32 percent support -- his highest national number this election cycle -- in a new CNN/ORC poll out today, ABC's RYAN STRUYK reports. So what's behind the real estate mogul's eight-point boost since August? Two groups: women and college grads. Trump is up 13 percentage points among Republican women in the last month, according to CNN/ORC polls. He's also climbed 12 points among Republicans with college degrees. And now, a bare majority of Republican voters -- 51 percent -- say they think that Donald Trump will win the Republican nomination. Trump is trailed by neurosurgeon Ben Carson, up 10 points since August to 19 percent support, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush with 9 percent. http://abcn.ws/1UJ3Kzx
--MEANWHILE, IN IOWA: A new poll in the Hawkeye State shows Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton's lead completely gone for the first time. A new Quinnipiac University poll out this morning shows Bernie Sanders at 41 percent and Hillary Clinton at 40 percent in Iowa -- a virtual tie. Clinton is down 12 points since early July, while Sanders is up 8 points in the same timespan. The results highlight a stark gender gap among Democratic voters: 49 percent of men support Sanders, while 28 percent support Clinton. But 49 percent of women support Clinton, while 35 percent support Sanders. Vice President Joe Biden, who is still weighing a White House bid, clocked in at 12 percent. http://abcn.ws/1UJ3Kzx
--SCOTT WALKER'S PLAN TO 'WREAK HAVOC': Scott Walker heads to President Ronald Reagan's alma mater, Eureka College, today to lay out his plan to "wreak havoc" on Washington and renew the late president's call to "drain the swamp" in the nation's capital, ABC's JORDYN PHELPS reports. "Since he left, the swamp has filled up again," Walker will say, according to an advance except of his speech. "We cannot expect those from Washington to fix Washington. Some people think you can fix Washington by putting new so-called experts in the same old places." Walker is also rolling out a series of "Day One promises" that he will be accountable to if elected, including a pledge to repeal and replace Affordable Care Act, do away with so-called "sanctuary cities" that do not enforce some federal immigration laws, and terminate the Iran deal. Going forward, Walker's campaign will be rolling out a new "Day One promise" every week.
--ANALYSIS -- ABC's RICK KLEIN: With Donald Trump and Ben Carson ensconced as Nos. 1 and 2 in the GOP field, this is a fight that matters and could interesting fast. The fact that it's a fight at all matters, given the fact that Trump wasn't attacking Carson, and Carson wasn't attacking Trump. "I don't in any way deny my faith in God," Carson said Wednesday. "And I think that is the big difference." That may seem mild in the world of low-energy losers who don't have a clue, but this hits Trump directly in an area of potential weakness. Evangelicals who are supporting Trump (and there are plenty of them) are more likely to wind up doing so despite his views on faith and religion, not because of them. Carson is a man and a candidate of faith, of course. Notably, so is Ted Cruz, who chose to spend his day alongside Trump, sharing a hug and a stage in Washington with the frontrunner. Most immediately, this means Carson can expect some Trump attacks. And Trump, should he attack, would be going after a widely popular retired neurosurgeon, as opposed to a career politician.
with ABC's PAOLA CHAVEZ and VERONICA STRACQUALURSI
TRUMP ON THE ATTACK AGAINST BEN CARSON, CARLY FIORINA. Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump says opponent Ben Carson "makes Bush look like the energizer bunny." The Trump attack comes after Carson took a swing at Trump on faith Wednesday night. "I've realized where my success has come from and I don't in any way deny my faith in God....And I think that is the big difference," Carson said in response to a question when asked to differentiate between the two of them, ABC's JOHN SANTUCCI and KATHERINE FAULDERS report. Carson said he doesn't get the impression that faith is a big part of Trump's life. "By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life and that's a very big part of who I am...I don't get that impression, maybe I'm wrong but I don't get that." Trump fired back on Twitter last night: "Wow, I am ahead of the field with Evangelicals (am so proud of this) and virtually every other group, and Ben Carson just took a swipe at me." On CNN's New Day, Trump called the neurosurgeon, who is credited with performing the first successful separation of conjoined twins, an "OK doctor."
TRUMP SAYS HILLARY CLINTON'S APOLOGY ON EMAIL IS NOT ENOUGH. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Hillary Clinton's apologizing for her use of a private email server is insufficient for her to wipe the slate clean with voters, suggesting she may have to drop out of the race. "She broke the law. If you shoot somebody, you can't just say you are sorry," the New York real estate mogul told ABC News Wednesday just before addressing a crowd of anti-Iran deal and Tea Party activists on Capitol Hill, according to ABC's ALI WEINBERG AND JONATHAN KARL. http://abcn.ws/1EOUFDB
NOTED: TRUMP FLIP-FLOPS ON CANADA-BORN TED CRUZ'S ELIGIBILITY TO RUN. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has reversed his position on Ted Cruz's eligibility to run for president, now saying his Canadian birthplace shouldn't disqualify him. "I hear it was checked out by every attorney and every which way and I understand Ted is in fine shape," Trump told JONATHAN KARL just before speaking at a Capitol Hill rally blasting the Iran nuclear deal. That stands in stark contrast to what Trump said about Cruz in December, when he told ABC News that Cruz's Canadian birth could prevent him from running, ABC's ALI WEINBERG notes ."I think he's a really nice guy, I've gotten to know him a little bit, but I think if he's born in Canada it's a problem no question about it," he said during an interview at Washington's iconic Old Post Office, which Trump recently acquired and is transforming into a luxury hotel. http://abcn.ws/1gaeDg2
DECODING JEB BUSH'S TAX PLAN. Of all the topics U.S. voters have to understand, none is more complicated than taxes. Think 80,000 pages of convoluted code, abstract loopholes and what seems like innumerable exemptions. Confused yet? Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said he wants to change all that. In short, he plans to simplify the tax code, making it so that ordinary people can understand and file their own taxes. So what would this mean for you? ABC's CANDACE SMITH asked these two economists to help us figure it out: Kevin Hassett: director of economic policy studies, the American Enterprise Institute, served as a policy consultant to the U.S. Treasury under Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Harry Stein: director, fiscal policy, the Center for American Progress: http://abcn.ws/1EPUlnY
HILLARY CLINTON SAYS SHE 'WILL NOT HESITATE TO TAKE MILITARY ACTION' IF IRAN ATTEMPTS TO GET NUCLEAR WEAPON. Addressing Iran directly on Wednesday, Hillary Clinton said unequivocally that she "will not hesitate to take military action" as president if the country attempts to obtain a nuclear weapon. "The United States will never allow you to acquire a nuclear weapon," Clinton said during remarks at the Brookings institution in Washington, D.C Wednesday morning, in a message aimed directly at Iran's leaders, according to ABC's LIZ KREUTZ. http://abcn.ws/1O1gOBp
CLINTON HOPES POPE FRANCIS WILL 'PRICK THE CONSCIENCE OF EVERYONE' DURING ADDRESS TO CONGRESS. Hillary Clinton is a "great admirer" of Pope Francis and hopes that when he addresses Congress for the first time later this month he will "prick the conscience of everyone," the Democratic presidential candidate told ABC News' David Muir. Muir, who recently sat down with the pontiff for a first-ever virtual town hall with Americans, asked Clinton during an exclusive interview in New York City on Tuesday what she makes of some of the radical changes Francis is making to the church, according to ABC's LIZ KREUTZ, specifically his recent revisions to the process by which Catholics may annul marriages. http://abcn.ws/1Q0RWar
JOE BIDEN'S NO. 1 ADVISOR: WHY JILL BIDEN MAY BE KEY TO HIS 2016 DECISION. In 1975, Frank Biden encouraged his brother Joe, a first-term Delaware senator, to call an aspiring teacher and part-time local model named Jill Jacobs to ask her out on a date. "You'll like her Joe....She doesn't like politics," Frank told Biden, according to the vice president's 2007 memoir, "Promises to Keep." Forty years and two unsuccessful presidential campaigns later, Jill Jacobs is now Dr. Jill Biden, the Second Lady of the United States, a full-time community college professor and on the cusp of her husband potentially launching a third run for the White House. Vice President Joe Biden's 2016 decision could ultimately hinge on how his wife feels about another campaign, especially as the family grapples with the death of their son Beau, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ notes. http://abcn.ws/1ixJapL
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
WHAT CONGRESS DID ON THEIR SUMMER VACATION. It's back to Washington D.C. for Congress. Fresh from their summer vacations, members of the House and Senate have a heavily packed agenda ahead of them. For five weeks, Congress was out of session and free to return home, however their vacation was still a working vacation. But here's a snippet of what Congress was up to while they were away from the Capitol, ABC's VERONICA STRACQUALURSI writes. http://abcn.ws/1gaZrzd
WHAT WE'RE READING
"TED KENNEDY'S WIDOW, VICKI, EMBARKS ON NEW LEGAL CAREER," by the Wall Street Journal's Sara Randazzo. "After an 18-year hiatus from private law practice, Victoria Reggie Kennedy is back at the law firm Greenberg Traurig LLP, where she worked for a few years in the 1990s. But the widow of the late Senator Ted Kennedy doesn't plan to use the new role to make waves on Capitol Hill. 'It is very important to her not to be thought of as a lobbyist,' said Richard Rosenbaum, Greenberg Traurig's chief executive. Mrs. Kennedy's work this time around will also differ from the bank regulatory practice she had in her first legal career. Instead, she said she'll be taking the '40,000-foot look' for clients with strategic and regulatory problems as a senior counsel in Greenberg Traurig's Washington, D.C., and Boston offices. The advice she gives will focus more on the big picture than on the ins and outs of the laws, she and Mr. Rosenbaum said." http://on.wsj.com/1FylCpD
@JebBush: Trumps demeaning remarks are small and inappropriate for anyone, much less a presidential candidate. Carly & country deserve better. Enough
@HotlineJosh: If Clinton loses to Sanders in *both* Iowa and NH, there won't be a Southern firewall. There will be a call to the bullpen.
@jwpetersNYT: Rather than who Republicans think their nominee will be, isn't it more meaningful to know how many of them are truly decided at this point?
@JenniferJJacobs: Are US and its allies are winning or losing fight against ISIS? "Losing," 48% of Iowa Dem caucusgoers say. 27% say winning, @QuinnipiacPoll.