Cory Booker's Summer Cruise

Credit: Mel Evans/AP Photo

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • MEASURING THE DRAPES: It's primary day for U.S. Senate in New Jersey and Newark Mayor Cory Booker is poised for victory, ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE reports. He will still have to go up against conservative businessman Steve Lonegan in the general election, but polls show Booker with a massive lead over his Democratic opponents in today's primary and Lonegan, the Republican. A Quinnipiac University poll from earlier this month had Booker up 37 points against his Democratic challengers and 25 points over Lonegan. Despite some bad press recently, including a New York Times story that questioned his relationship with an Internet start-up as well as a first time primary in the middle of the summer when New Jersey residents like to visit the shore, it's likely Booker can start measuring for his office's drapes after this evening.
  • IN THE MONEY: The Washington Post's Sean Sullivan outlines five reasons Cory Booker is all but certain to win today's primary. One of the biggest - his fundraising prowess. Sullivan writes, "We knew headed into this race that Booker was a fundraising behemoth. He's lived up to his reputation. Booker raised a whopping $4.5 million during the second quarter, and had nearly as much money in the bank a month out from Election Day. He added another $2 million+ during the first 24 days of July. Only Rep. Frank Pallone (D) has really even come close in the money chase, but even he is a ways off Booker's pace. The reality in a populous state like New Jersey with big media markets (New York, Philadelphia) is that you have to be able to raise money to compete. Booker has been setting the pace, and the opposition simply hasn't been able to match him."
  • A QUESTION FOR CORY: "Why on earth does Booker want to be a U.S. Senator?" asks Time Magazine's Jay Newton-Small. She notes, "Booker's claim to fame is the ancient art of retail politics, with a very modern social media twist. Snowed in during a blizzard? Just tweet him and he'll come dig you out. (Maybe personally.) Pothole? Let him know; he'll send a crew. Booker might even come and rescue you from a burning house. These prolific deeds and tweets - and tweets of deeds - have helped make Booker one of New Jersey's most admired public figures, with an approval rating in the high 60s earlier this year. Now consider the U.S. Senate. Retail politics is a skill wasted in that stuffy chamber, where senators only have to go out and touch real people - er, shake hands with their constituents - once every six years. Senators don't fix potholes. Never mind flaming buildings-they rarely even kiss babies. Senators spend their days in meetings: with lobbyists, with interest groups, with other senators, with the administration, with fundraisers and with their leadership. They're inside operators."


JOHN LEWIS: CHICKENS MORE PRODUCTIVE THAN CONGRESS. AT LEAST THEY PRODUCE EGGS. Superman came from Krypton. A radioactive spider gave Spider-Man his powers. And civil rights movement hero John Lewis? The origin story of the Democratic congressman from Georgia goes back to his family's chicken coop. With the 50th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech looming, Lewis sat down with "Top Line's" RICK KLEIN and OLIVIER KNOX to talk about his new comic book-style autobiography, "March," Trayvon Martin, the Voting Rights Act - and how those long-ago chickens were more productive than today's Congress. "Some of these chickens would bow their heads, some of these chickens would shake their heads, they never quite said amen," says Lewis. "But I'm convinced that some of those chickens that I preached to in the '40s and the '50s tended to listen to me much better than some of my colleagues listen to me in the Congress. As a matter of fact, some of those chickens were a little more productive. At least they produced eggs." But Lewis' new book is about much more than chickens. He goes on to tell his life story and involvement in the civil rights movement. WATCH:


HILLARY CLINTON LAUNCHES SPEAKING SERIES… Six months after leaving her post as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton is jumping back into the public sphere, ABC's ABBY PHILLIP reports. At the American Bar Association Conference in San Francisco on Monday, Clinton announced a series of speeches to address high profile public policy issues including voting rights, which she addressed today. Next month in Philadelphia she plans to deliver remarks on the balance transparency in national security policies, likely addressing the controversy over the National Security Agency's spying programs. A third speech will focus on the impact of U.S. national security policies on its reputation abroad.

…DENOUNCES VOTER SUPPRESSION EFFORTS. Devoting her American Bar Association speech to what she called the "assault on voting rights," Hillary Clinton denounced the Supreme Court's invalidation of pre-clearance requirements in the Voting Rights Act, which require jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to clear voting law changes with the federal government. "Some take the historic success of the Voting Rights Act as a sign that discrimination is a thing of the past," Clinton said. "By invalidating pre-clearance, the Supreme Court has shifted the burden back onto citizens facing discrimination and those lawyers willing to stand with them." And she condemned efforts to tighten voting requirements in several states including Florida, Texas and North Carolina, whose voting rights law she dubbed "the greatest hits of voter suppression." "Anyone who says racial discrimination is no longer a problem in American elections must not be paying attention," Clinton said.

FOUR WAYS OBAMA ADMINISTRATION WANTS TO REVAMP THE JUSTICE SYSTEM. During his confirmation hearing to become the nation's top law enforcement official, Attorney General Eric Holder vowed, "We have to be tough, we have to be smart, and we have to be fair" in the U.S. criminal justice system. More than four years later, he announced major reforms the administration maintains will accomplish those goals, ABC's MIKE LEVINE reports, In making his announcement yetserday, Holder noted that incarceration has cost taxpayers nearly $80 billion annually in recent years - money that could be put to use elsewhere in these challenging economic times. And while the U.S. population has increased by about a third since 1980, the federal prison population has grown by almost 800 percent in that time - an "astonishing rate," according to Holder. "It's clear … that too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long, and for no good law enforcement reason," Holder said in remarks to the American Bar Association's annual convention in San Francisco. What's more, "many aspects of our criminal justice system may actually exacerbate" the "vicious cycle of poverty, criminality, and incarceration" rather than alleviate it, he said. Here are the main reforms as Holder announced yesterday: ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE weighs in on Holder's reforms to the "mandatory minimums":

NOTED: OBAMA'S OWN DRUG USE A BACKDROP TO MORE LENIENT SENTENCES. President Obama knows something about being a low-level, nonviolent drug offender, such as the kind the Justice Department yesterday exempted from harsh mandatory prison sentences, ABC's DEVIN DWYER writes. In a sense, he was one himself once, although the young Barry Obama was never arrested or charged with a crime. Obama wrote openly in his 1995 memoir, "Dreams From My Father," about using marijuana and "maybe a little blow" during his high school days in Hawaii in the 1970s. Biographer David Maraniss reported that Obama was even a pot-smoking trend-setter and leader in the "Choom Gang." But decades later, openly reflecting on the "stupid" choices he made, Obama has hinted that his career trajectory could have been different if he had been arrested and charged. A disproportionate number of young African-American men are put behind bars for low-level drug offenses, at 10 times the rate of whites, according to the NAACP. It's against this backdrop of personal experience that Obama has been quietly retooling the government's five-decade "war on drugs," treating it more as a public health issue than a battle against crime. It's a shift that today came to the fore.

ANTHONY WEINER HINTS AT HILLARY CLINTON 2016 RUN. Embattled New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner may have let slip former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's plans to run for president in 2016, ABC's BEN WALDRON notes. In an interview with Buzzfeed's Ben Smith Monday, Weiner said he knew what role his wife Huma Abedin will play in Clinton's 2016 campaign, suggesting a Clinton presidential run is indeed in the cards. "I do," replied Weiner, when asked directly by Smith about whether his wife will have a role in a 2016 Clinton campaign. Weiner demurred however when pressed to specify exactly what his wife's role will be. "I'm not telling you," Weiner said to laughter from the audience. Weiner added that his most recent sexting scandal has damaged his wife's professional position. "I feel that what I've done has hurt her," Weiner said. "It's hurt her professionally, it's hurt her personally." Abedin, a top adviser to Hilllary Clinton and long-time family friend, is due to take a lengthy vacation from her job with the former secretary of state and first lady. It is unclear when she will return. The Clintons are thought to be unhappy with Weiner for continuing his mayoral campaign amid his latest sexting scandal. Weiner says he hasn't spoken to the Clintons in months.

REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS CALL OBAMA RODEO ACT 'SHAMEFUL' AND 'OUT OF LINE.' Republicans joined Democrats on Monday in condemning a Missouri State Fair rodeo act that featured a bull nearly stampeding a clown wearing an Obama mask, ABC's JOAN E. GREVE notes. "Inappropriate," "shameful" and "out of line" were among the responses to Saturday's performance in Sedalia, Mo. "If what's being reported is true, then it's shameful and it's unacceptable," Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., wrote in her official statement on the event. "Missouri is better than this, and I expect someone to be held accountable." Some Missouri Republicans were equally outraged. State Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder tweeted, "The @MoStateFair celebrates Missouri and our people. I condemn the actions disrespectful to POTUS the other night. We are better than this." As of the afternoon, the clown has reportedly been "permanently banned" from performing at the fair "ever again." Missouri State Fair officials issued an apology for the "disrespectful" show that they posted to their Facebook page. "The performance by one of the rodeo clowns at Saturday's event was inappropriate and disrespectful, and does not reflect the opinions or standards of the Missouri State Fair," the apology read.


"CRISES OFTEN INTRUDE WHEN PRESIDENTS TAKE VACATION BREAKS," by Bloomberg's Lisa Lerer. "Call it the curse of the presidential vacation: Surf, sun, sand and crises. It's a ritual that Barack Obama became a part of during his first summer as president in 2009: He interrupted his August vacation in Martha's Vineyard to reappoint Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, protests against his health-care plan erupted at town-hall meetings across the U.S., and Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy, a Democratic Party icon, died. Obama, 52, returned to the resort island this week during another period of unrest. Facing growing tension with Russia before a Group of 20 summit in St. Petersburg, new concerns about al-Qaeda terrorism, and across-the-board budget cuts in military and domestic programs, Obama and his team are preparing for the unexpected. … Obama has taken far less time away from the White House than his predecessor. While Obama has spent 92 days on 14 vacations, Bush spent 323 days at his ranch and 26 days at his family vacation home in Kennebunkport, Maine, at the same point of his presidency, according to CBS News correspondent Mark Knoller, who keeps detailed records of presidential travel."


-MOVE ON ANNOUNCES FIRST 2014 ENDORSEMENTS. Political Action announced the group's first endorsements of the 2014 midterm election cycle. According to an announcement, the group says its members "have voted overwhelmingly" to endorse Sen. Brian Schatz for U.S. Senate in Hawaii and Rep. Mike Honda for Congress in California's 17th Congressional district. "Sen. Schatz and Rep. Honda are strong progressives who have helped lead the fight to protect Social Security. Time and again, they've stood up to big corporations and special interests to do right by their constituents. MoveOn members overwhelmingly support them for reelection, and we will use our combined people power of more than 8 million MoveOn members nationwide to see that they win," Ilya Sheyman, the executive director of Political Action, said in a statement. MoveOn notes that both Schatz and Honda are running in contested Democratic primaries.

-HARVARD INSTITUTE OF POLITICS ANNOUNCES FALL FELLOWS. Harvard's Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government announced its fall fellows yesterday. The are: Mo Cowan, U.S. Senator (D-MA; Feb. 2013-July 2013); former senior advisor, chief of staff and chief legal counsel to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick; Ginny Hunt, strategy principal, Google; founder, Google's public sector product and engineering team; Sasha Issenberg, columnist, Slate; Washington correspondent and former Americas editor, Monocle; author of The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns and The Sushi Economy: Globalization and the Making of a Modern Delicacy; Karen Mills, administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration (2009-present); member, President Obama's cabinet and economic leadership team; Beth Myers, advisor, Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign; campaign manager, Mitt Romney's 2008 presidential campaign; chief of staff, Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (2002-06); Ana Navarro, political commentator, CNN/CNN Español; National Hispanic co-chair, Jon Huntsman's 2012 presidential campaign; Hispanic Advisory Council national co-chair and national surrogate, John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign. In addition, the Institute will welcome Hilda L. Solis, former U.S. Labor Secretary (2009-13) and U.S. Representative (CA-32nd, D; 2001-09) and Antonio Villaraigosa, two-term mayor of Los Angeles (2005-13) as Visiting Fellows.


@CraigCaplan: Biden 2016 talk makes for top news in VP's homestate paper day after Hillary's policy speech @joshledermanAP …

@learyreports: . @marcorubio on talk radio in Tallahassee now says Obama will be "tempted" to legalize all immigrants by exec order if congress doesn't act.

?@jwpetersNYT: Why you're not seeing more angry scenes from town halls. The Tea Party as a victim of its own success …

@PostRoz: Scoop from @WPJohnWagner on #mdgov. On secret tape, AG Gansler says Lt. Gov. Brown relying on race for nomination.

@CoryBooker: Such an honor to get your 1st vote! RT @beckwoodworth: Voted for my first time today. It was an honor to vote for Mayor Cory Booker!