Georgia On Our Minds

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • TIME TO PICK A CANDIDATE: Two months of Republican-on-Republican badmouthing will finally come to an end in Georgia tonight, according to ABC's CHRIS GOOD. Either Rep. Jack Kingston or former Dollar General CEO David Perdue will become the GOP candidate for the state's open Senate seat, to be vacated by retiring GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss, kicking off what's expected to be one of the most hotly contested elections in the country. The top two finishers in a seven-way May 20 primary, Perdue and Kingston have run an intensely negative race against each other ever since - one marked a few minor controversies and stumbles, and TV airwaves saturated with negative ads. Perdue, the cousin of former Gov. Sonny Perdue, has aired a string of TV ads assailing Kingston as a big spender who will continue Washington's current ways. In his own series of negative ads, Kingston has relentlessly questioned Perdue's business record, pointing to layoffs, offshoring, and a bailout by a government agency at companies with which Perdue was involved.
  • 538.COM's DEEP DIVE INTO THE PEACH STATE: Courtesy of senior political writer Harry Enten: Perdue will likely need to over-perform in the Atlanta metropolitan area. Perdue led Kingston by 17 to 18 points in Cobb (a traditional swing county in Republican primaries), Gwinnett, and Fulton counties in the first round. If Perdue is to win the runoff, he'll need to fight off Handel's influence and win these counties by potentially upwards of 10 percentage points. He'll be building on his base anchored by Bibb and Houston counties around Macon in the middle of the state. Kingston, meanwhile, needs another strong performance around his Savannah (Chatham County) centered congressional district in the southeast. Kingston regularly won 75 percent or more of the vote and no less than 64 percent of the vote in 30 southeastern counties.
  • WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? The runoff has bought time for Democrat Michelle Nunn, a candidate who has raised Democratic hopes of taking a Senate seat in a deep-red GOP stronghold, GOOD notes. In early May, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution survey showed her beating Perdue by one percentage point (statistically even) and topping Kingston by 10 in prospective matchups. Despite an electorate comprised of 41 percent minorities among active registered voters, no Democrat has won a statewide election in Georgia since Sen. Zell Miller in 2000, and no Democratic presidential candidate has come within 5 percentage points of winning Georgia since Bill Clinton carried it in 1992, eking out a win from George H.W. Bush by fewer than 1 percentage point. (Ross Perot collected 13.3 percent that year.) After the runoff, the winner can be expected to ramp up attacks on Nunn.


ABC's JEFF ZELENY: As Gov. Rick Perry is dispatching National Guard troops to the border, Congress is still sitting on President Obama's emergency immigration spending request. It's always been clear the White House won't get the full $3.7 billion it asked for. With time ticking away before lawmakers leave town for August recess, an agreement is slowly coming together this week for the House and Senate to hammer out. The House Republican plan is expected to be revealed first, likely proposing roughly half of what the president initially requested. But money is the easy part. It's unclear how many votes any immigration measure will get without changing the underlying 2008 law at the root of the latest chapter of the border crisis. And many Democrats are reluctant to do that. Any arm-twisting from the president will have to be done long-distance. He's leaving for a West Coast fundraising swing later today, a trip that underscores the notion that there's plenty blame to go around on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue for one of the least productive periods in memory on Capitol Hill.

ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: It's a busy morning in the Bluegrass State with dueling ads on both sides of the Senate race. Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes is out with a new television ad hitting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on that eyebrow raising "not my job" comment, while a pro-McConnell super pac ad is out with its own spot going after Grimes. Grimes' ad features an out of work coal miner, David Stanley asking a question of McConnell. "Mr. McConnell, in the last two years, we've lost almost half of our coal jobs in Eastern Kentucky. Why'd you say it's not your job to bring jobs to Kentucky?," Stanley said, before taking a long pause. The ad refers to McConnell being asked by the Beattyville Enterprise in April what he would do to bring jobs to the county. His response was it's "not my job." This is Grimes' second ad featuring a Kentuckian asking McConnell a question and it's the first ad, released earlier this month and deemed misleading by independent fact checkers that is the focus of the new ad out from the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition. "A false attack on Mitch McConnell's record on Medicare," the narrator says. "Like Obama, Grimes doesn't tell the truth, and that hurts Kentucky." Two ads, one morning, expect this to continue through November. Watch Grimes' ad here: and Watch the pro-McConnell ad here:



OBAMA ON RUSSIAN SEPARATISTS: 'WHAT EXACTLY ARE THEY TRYING TO HIDE?' The behavior of Russian-backed separatists controlling the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash site in Ukraine "begs the question, what exactly are they trying to hide?" Obama said yesterday, ABC's ERIN DOOLEY reports. The president said that the separatists and their "Russian sponsors" must allow investigators "immediate, full, and unimpeded access" to the wreckage of the downed plane. "We have to make sure that the truth is out and that accountability exists," he added. "Our immediate focus is on recovering those who were lost, investigating exactly what happened, and putting forward the facts." Investigative teams are standing by, ready to scour the crash site, Obama said, but pro-Russian separatists are preventing the investigators from entering the crash zone, allegedly tampering with evidence and even removing bodies without proper care. Separatists' refusal to allow workers to recover the victims' remains "is an insult to those who've lost loved ones … the kind of behavior that has no place in the community of nations," Obama said.

WILL NATIONAL GUARD HELP STOP IMMIGRANT INFLUX IN TEXAS? Texas Gov. Rick Perry calls it "Operation Strong Safety," but critics say it's closer to "operation symbolic act," ABC's JIM AVILA and SERENA MARSHALL report. Perry announced yesterday that 1,000 National Guard troops would be deployed over the next month to the southern border. But by law, they can't make arrests and instead will act only as a "visual deterrent." "What we're asking the National Guard to do is to be a force multiplier, to be there as a partner with the law enforcement," Perry said Monday at a news conference. "Which they have done multiple times before." In 2006 and 2010, presidents Bush and then Obama ordered the National Guard in to assist border patrol. In 2006, operation Jump Start brought 6,000 National Guard to work mainly in non-law enforcement duties, relieving the Border Patrol agents in those positions to move into border security rules. But because the governor, and not the president, has ordered this deployment, the troops are unable to move into U.S. Customs and Border Protection jurisdiction without a coordinated effort with the federal government.

GUN CONTROL TAKES CENTER STAGE ON CHRISTIE TRIP. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie traveled to Connecticut to campaign with Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley, but the issue of gun control dominated the evening , ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE reports. Outside one of the fundraisers Christie attended, he was greeted by about 170 protesters angry at his decision in July to veto legislation that would have banned magazines with more than ten rounds of ammunition. In this state still reeling from the 2012 Sandy Hook School shooting, protesters from Newtown, Conn. held signs that said "Not One More" and "Be a Gun Sense Voter." At a diner he stopped at with Foley earlier he was asked by a voter from Newtown how he would limit gun violence in the nation without limiting access to high-capacity magazines and Christie answered that he believes there is "no evidence that high capacity magazines does anything to limit violence. Christie was also asked if he thought he could be a viable 2016 presidential candidate if he did not veto the bill and he answered, "I don't make decisions on what bills to sign or veto based upon someone's perception of viability."

MEMBERS OF CONGRESS PLAN TO LIVE ON MINIMUM WAGE FOR A WEEK. A trio of Democratic politicians are about to find out what it's like to be poor, ABC's SCOTT WILSON notes. Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill. and Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, announced yesterday that they plan to "step into the shoes of a minimum wage worker and live for one week on just $77." It's part of the Live the Wage Challenge starting Thursday - marking the fifth anniversary since Congress last increased the nation's minimum wage. A minimum wage of $10.10 pegged to cost-of-living increases would provide Americans who "work hard and play by the rules" a chance at joining the middle class, Ryan said during a call with reporters. The federal minimum wage in the United States is currently set at $7.25 an hour - and has not been increased by Congress in since 2009. The federal minimum wage for tipped workers has remained at $2.13 an hour since 1991.

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS WITH VLADIMIR PUTIN: WHAT JOE BIDEN AND GEORGE W. BUSH SAW. Vice President Joe Biden and former President George W. Bush both looked into Russian President Vladimir Putin's eyes - but they each saw very different things. Biden recently told the New Yorker's Evan Osnos of a 2011 meeting with Putin. The vice president got close to the Russian leader - so close, in fact, that the two nearly touched noses. Here's what happened: "Biden held his hand a few inches from his nose. "I said, 'Mr. Prime Minister, I'm looking into your eyes, and I don't think you have a soul.'" "And he looked back at me, and he smiled, and he said, 'We understand one another.'" Although Biden looked at Putin and saw no soul, more than a decade earlier then-President George W. Bush saw something very different when he came eye-to-eye the Russian leader: "I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straight forward and trustworthy and we had a very good dialogue," Bush said according a BBC account.

JOHN KERRY ARRIVES IN CAIRO TO BROKER CEASEFIRE AS ISRAEL/GAZA FIGHTING RAGES ON. As fighting in between neighboring Israel and Gaza rages on, Secretary of State John Kerry arrived here with a mission to try to stop the bloodshed - but his first task is to get the many stakeholders in the region to agree on what would even constitute a ceasefire, ABC's ALI WEINBERG reports. Kerry came to Cairo because Egypt has been a key mediator between Israel and Hamas, the governing body of Gaza, which the U.S. and Israel consider a terrorist group. Egypt also released a proposal for an immediate ceasefire without conditions on either side, which Israel accepted but Hamas rejected. Kerry is here now, rather than earlier in the conflict, partly because of the mounting civilian casualties on both sides of the Israel/Gaza border, but especially since Israel began its ground invasion of Gaza on Thursday. Kerry is scheduled to meet with Egyptian officials today, including President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, and Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby.


MEET THE AFGHANISTAN WAR VET WHO RISKED CERTAIN DEATH. Badly injured, alone, and surrounded by Taliban fighters, Ryan Pitts had resigned himself to dying. "The other guys had died fighting; I owed it to them to do the same," the former U.S. Army staff sergeant, who will be awarded the Medal of Honor at the White House yesterday, told ABC's JORDYN PHELPS in a recent interview. Pitts is credited with maintaining an observation post and preventing the bodies of fallen soldiers from falling into enemy hands during a 2008 battle in Afghanistan that claimed the lives of nine Americans. Pitts and his platoon were establishing a new U.S. outpost outside the small village of Wanat, when a force of 200 Taliban fighters surrounded the outpost in the early morning hours of July 13, 2008 and launched a surprise assault. "There was a burst of machine gun fire from the north and then it just erupted with RPGs and fire from pretty much 360 degrees - every location," Pitts recalled. Pitts was at an observation post about 300 feet away from the main outpost when the attack erupted. He remembers being wounded almost immediately.


PRESIDENT OBAMA REVEALS HIS TOP 5 SECRETS TO SUCCESS. Speaking at an event Monday promoting My Brother's Keeper, an initiative designed to help at-risk youth navigate tough school districts, a particularly earnest President Obama reflected on the principles that got him all the way to the White House. The president, who has remarked that he sees himself reflected in struggling young men of color just like the ones who crowded into D.C.'s Walker Jones Educate Campus to hear him speak yesterday, said he hopes the My Brother's Keeper Mentor program can keep boys from slipping through the cracks. ABC's ERIN DOOLEY has the scoop with President Obama's Top 5 Secrets to Success. 1 - Find Out What Makes You Tick 2 - Practice Makes Perfect 3 - There Is No 'I' in Team 4 - No Slacking 5 - Haters Gonna Hate, But That's Okay.


@jonkarl: Apollo 11 moon landing: one of the most memorable televised events ever. Obama's meeting today w Apollo 11 reps: TV cameras denied access

@PhilipRucker: NEW: Up close with Rick Perry in Iowa, as he seeks redemption and finds power in immigration standoff …

@SusanPage: ICYMI: @JohnCornyn says @GovernorPerry revival shows 'there are second chances in life, including political life.'

@brianjameswalsh: AFP to open its 35th state office in SD. Great to see real conservative groups focused on winning elections in Nov. …

@DavidMDrucker: " @ron_fournier: this tweet is provided by an anonymous source approved by @PressSec" // #WithKnowledgeOfTheSituation