Declaring War On Ebola

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • WHAT THE PRESIDENT WILL SAY: President Obama plans to unveil today an expanded U.S. response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the worst outbreak of the disease in history, according to ABC's MARY BRUCE and DEAN SCHABNER. Obama, who has called the outbreak a national security priority, will outline new steps to address the crisis during a visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta this afternoon. According to senior administration officials, the ramped up military effort centers on command and control, logistics, training and engineering support. Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, Dr. Kent Brantly, the U.S. doctor who survived Ebola over the summer, will testify in a joint Senate hearing before the Senate HELP committee and a subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
  • SOME OF THE NEW STEPS: Creating a joint force command headquarters in Monrovia, Liberia. By end of the week, the U.S. will have general officer in place to lead the effort, known as "Operation United Assistance"; Providing engineers to build treatment units - up to 17 separate facilities with 100 beds each; Training support for health care workers, up to 500 health care workers per week, for as long as needed (although budgeting plans for a six-month period); Working to boost a messaging campaign to train households on how to protect themselves and help family members that may present symptoms.
  • BY THE NUMBERS: As of Sept. 7, there were 4,366 probable, confirmed and suspected cases in the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa, with 2,218 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. The countries affected are Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone.


ABC's JEFF ZELENY: President Obama's plan to arm and equip Syrian rebels is on a fast-track on Capitol Hill. Congressional leaders are trying to keep any loud objections to a minimum, primarily by placing significant strings on the administration's authority. The current plan is a short-term one, which Congress would revisit in the lame duck session after the election. House Republicans are likely to add a provision that would have been unthinkable during the earlier chapters of the war on terror: Specifically prohibiting the president to engage in combat, without seeking new Congressional approval. The White House is willing to accept that provision, just to move things along. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and other top military advisers will testify on Capitol Hill this week, but would the weighty ISIS debate be more deliberate if the midterm elections weren't less than 50 days away?

ABC's JIM AVILA: The White House began making its case for executive action on immigration reform by circulating a blog written by the Commissioner of the Border Patrol. President Obama has admitted he lost public support for unilateral reform when thousands of unaccompanied minors and their mothers began crossing the border in never before seen numbers this spring. So, in advance of promised presidential action in November, the Border Patrol announced that the Mexican frontier is more secure that it has been in decades. And that decisive action has brought the influx of Central American children under control. For the second month in a row (July and August) the number of unaccompanied minors has declined. And "while not declaring victory" the administration proudly announced that the "situation is improving." Not exactly "mission accomplished" but as close as the White House dares to get.

ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has two days of 2014 campaigning ahead of him, but he's also making stops in two early presidential primary states. Today, he will stop in South Carolina where he will stump with Gov. Nikki Haley and raise money for the South Carolina GOP and Republican Governors Association, where he serves as chairman. (He's also campaigning with North Carolina GOP Senate candidate Thom Tillis while he's in the relative neighborhood.) Wednesday, he will travel to New Hampshire to stump with GOP gubernatorial candidate Walt Havenstein, as well as Scott Brown, running for Senate in the Granite State. But, in South Carolina, Christie will face an unwelcome greeting that may seem familiar by now. A conservative legal group, the Judicial Crisis Network, is running radio and billboard ads slamming Christie for what they say is his history of appointing liberal judges in New Jersey. The billboard with Christie's face on it asks: "Why did you nominate liberal activists to the NJ Supreme Court?" The radio ads will run for five days, while the digital billboards in the Charleston area will run for seven days. The group ran similar television ads in Iowa and New Hampshire earlier this year when Christie visited. Although it's early, these attacks are likely similar to what Christie will face from the right if he does join the 2016 campaign trail. Listen to the radio ad here:

ABC's RICK KLEIN: Hillary Clinton's Iowa return was smooth enough - no gaffes, no too-awkward photo-ops, some good pictures, maybe even a few good memories for Iowa Democrats. But something else her visit revealed, a sentiment echoed by party activists and strategists: There's almost no realistic chance that she'll glide through the caucuses unopposed. Sen. Bernie Sanders used the same week Clinton was in town to make clear that he's considering running as a Democrat in 2016. Vice President Joe Biden will be in the state Wednesday, connecting with some political folks around an official event with a group of nuns promoting voter registration and social justice. Nobody's done more work in Iowa and on behalf of local Democratic candidates than Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley. And nobody brings more unprompted curiosity and speculation in Democratic circles than Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. If and when Clinton should run, she'd be the prohibitive favorite. But there are too many Democrats in the state who want a race, and the issues it would bring to the discussion, for this to be a no-contest.


BILL CLINTON UNPLUGGED: FORMER PRESIDENT GOES OFF-THE-CUFF IN IOWA. Are Clintonisms the new Bidenisms? In a free-flowing speech at the 37th annual Harkin Steak Fry over the weekend, former president Bill Clinton talked about everything from his evolving sense of style to Woodstock to his grandfather's cows, according to ABC's ERIN DOOLEY, RICK KLEIN and LIZ KREUTZ. "I wanted to be here to honor [retiring Sen. Tom Harkin], to spend my Sunday with my wife, to wear the birthday gift she gave me last August. What do you think, you like my shirt?" Clinton asked, as the crowd laughed and cheered. "I was kinda worried I'd look like a table cloth in a diner, but she said it was cool, so I'm feeling good." Unscripted comments like this one could help humanize former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who struggled with relatability during her 2008 presidential bid, should she decide to run again. On the other hand, an off-the-cuff comment from Bill could land Hillary in hot water in 2016. WATCH:



WEEKEND AT BERNIE'S: AS HILLARY SERVES STEAKS, LIBERALS CRAVE RED MEAT IN IOWA. ABC's RICK KLEIN and LIZ KREUTZ report Hillary Clinton wasn't the only person to draw a large and boisterous crowd in Iowa over the weekend. In a cramped church basement a few miles from downtown, a crowd of more than 400 sweltered through a 90-minute discussion Sunday night with Sen. Bernie Sanders, the self-described "democratic socialist" independent senator from Vermont who's considering a run for president as a Democrat. They followed a handwritten sign - "BERNIE SANDERS, DOWNSTAIRS" - to an overflow gathering near a folded-up Ping Pong table that was emotional, loud, passionate, sweaty, and angry. "There is a lot of anger out there," Sanders said, his signature Brooklyn accent drawing hoots and cheers. "Our job is get [people] angry at the right people for the right reasons." Sanders and those who came out to see him touched on a dizzying array of concerns. Social Security, trade, corporate welfare, campaign-finance reform, climate change, college costs, single-payer health care, Wall Street greed, immigration reform, Iraq War - they mixed to tell a story for Sanders and his followers where Republicans are definitely among the bad guys, but Democrats aren't necessarily the good guys.

U.S. 'COMMUNICATING' WITH ADVERSARIES AGAINST ISIS BUT NOT 'COORDINATING. 'Secretary of State John Kerry made clear during a roundtable with reporters in Paris that the US is open to communicating with both Iran and Syria on their shared concerns regarding the ISIS extremist group, although he insisted it's not "coordinating" with either of them, according to ABC'S ALI WEINBERG. But the administration does not appear to have a clear answer for when communicating ends and coordinating begins. Kerry said that the US isn't planning military action with Iran, but he left the door open to other types of synchronization between the two countries. "We're not coordinating with Iran, but as I said, we're open to have a conversation at some point in time if there's a way to find something constructive," he said. State Department spokesperson Marie Harf sought to explain the difference during Monday's briefing: "We're not going to be telling the Iranians what we're doing. We're not going to be coordinating actions with them. We're not going to be sharing intelligence with them. We've made clear how people can be helpful, but again, we're not going to be coordinating with them."

VIETNAM VET WHO RISKED LIFE TO SAVE COMRADES, EVADED TIGER AWARDED MEDAL OF HONOR. Sergeant Major Bennie Adkins endured 38 hours of relentless attacks, killed an estimated 175 enemy fighters, sustained 18 different wounds and evaded a tiger on the loose in the jungles of Vietnam in 1966. Nearly half a century later, he was awarded the nation's highest military honor by President Obama, ABC's MARY BRUCE AND NOAH WEILAND report. "This is strictly a humbling experience for me," Adkins, now 80 years old, told reporters at the White House. "I want to dedicate this to the five soldiers who paid the ultimate price in this battle." Specialist Four Donald Sloat was recognized for an astonishing act of self-sacrifice at the age of 20. On Jan. 17, 1970, when Sloat's squad was serving as a blocking force for tanks and armored personnel carriers, the lead soldier tripped a wire connected to a hand grenade booby-trap. Sloat picked up the grenade and intended to throw it, but realized it was close to detonating. "There were Americans in front of him and behind him, inside the kill zone. So Don held onto that grenade, and he pulled it close to his body, and he bent over it. And then, as one of the men said, all of a sudden there was a boom," the president said. Sloat's actions saved the lives of three of his comrades. His brother accepted the Medal of Honor in his place.


"POTENTIAL GOP PRESIDENTIAL CONTENDERS SUPPORT TWENTY WEEK ABORTION BAN," by The Brody File's David Brody. "Some potential GOP presidential candidates are showing their support for a piece of controversial abortion legislation. The Brody File has obtained letters from many of them backing a bill that would ban abortions in America after twenty weeks. Pro-lifers say the bill is one of the most important to come along in quite some time. It's a federal attempt to ban all abortions after twenty weeks, the halfway point of pregnancy. It's commonly referred to as the fetal pain bill, because of the prevailing medical opinion that an unborn baby can feel pain by then. Senator Lindsey Graham is the main sponsor of the bill. 'If you're telling parents to sing to the baby because they understand your voice, should we really be aborting a child at the stage of the pregnancy?' Graham tells The Brody File. 'I don't want anybody carrying the republican banner that doesn't get this. If you don't get this, then you're the extremist.'"


@AP_Politics: Obama lends voice to DNC's first ads of 2014, reports @Philip_Elliott

@GeraldFSeib: Fear is back: After long stretch of saying the country is safer than before 9/11, Americans reversed this month.

@alicetweet: . @cam_joseph - "Obama is such an anchor on @SenMarkPryor right now" in race v. @TomCottonAR

@ByronYork: New: Mike Huckabee gears up, studies up for 2016 run.

@michaelpfalcone: "Nothing good happens after 10 p.m." A day in the life of @SpeakerBoehner via @CalebJSmith