Obama Says He Hasn't Made a Decision on Syria; de Blasio Surge Continues in NYC Mayoral Race

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  • Pres. Obama said Wednesday in an interview with the "PBS Newshour" that the U.S. has concluded the Syrian gov't carried out chemical attacks against civilians, but he also said "he has not made a decision about action" against Syria and "stressed he has 'no interest' in 'any kind of open-ended conflict' there" (PBS).
  • "U.S. officials say the intelligence linking" Syrian Pres. Bashar al-Assad "or his inner circle to the alleged chemical weapons attack that killed at least 100 people is no 'slam dunk.' The officials say questions remain about who controls some of Syria's chemical weapons stores, and there are doubts about whether Assad himself ordered such a strike" (AP).
  • A new Quinnipiac Univ. poll of NYC mayor Dem primary LVs, conducted 8/22-27, shows Public Advocate Bill de Blasio leading City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, 36-21%, with Comp. Bill Thompson at 20%, ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner at 8%, Comp. John Liu at 6% and ex-Councilor Sal Albanese at 1%. In the previous poll, conducted 8/7-12, de Blasio led Quinn, 30-24%, with Thompson at 22%, Weiner at 10%, Liu at 6% and Albanese at 1% (release).
  • A new Fairleigh Dickinson Univ. poll of NJ RVs, conducted 8/21-27, shows Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) leading the NJ SEN special over ex-Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan (R), 50-22%. In the NJ GOV race, Gov. Chris Christie (R) leads state Sen. Barbara Buono (D), 50-26% (release).
  • Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) "won't attend" Bill Clinton's health care speech in Little Rock next week, citing a previous engagement (The Hill). Pryor "isn't shying away from Obama," telling Bloomberg News that the POTUS "is 'always welcome'" to visit AR before Pryor's reelection (Bloomberg News).
  • According to a new Franklin & Marshall College poll of PA RVs, conducted 8/21-26 for the Philadelphia Daily News/WGAL-TV/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review/WTAE-TV/WPVI-TV/Times-Shamrock Newspapers/Harrisburg Patriot-News/ Lancaster Newspapers, 20% believe that Gov. Tom Corbett (R) "has done a good enough job" to "deserve" reelection, while 69% "believe it is time for a change." In the previous poll, conducted 4/30-5/5, 25% believed Corbett deserved reelection, while 69% thought "it was time for a change" (release).
  • TX state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) "said Wednesday she is postponing the announcement of her decision" on the TX GOV race "so she can help care for her sick father," who is "in critical condition" at a Fort Worth hospital "following complications from abdominal surgery" (Texas Tribune).
  • In the AL-01 special, GOPAC "released a 30-second television ad on Wednesday in support" of state Rep. Chad Fincher (R) (Roll Call).
  • AR LG Mark Darr (R) "says he will no longer be a candidate" for AR-04, one week after "discrepancies and expenses in Darr's campaign finance reports" emerged (TalkBusiness.net).
  • The NRCC is launching a $25K ad buy against Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) in WV-03, with a new TV ad that, "with cloudy skies and ominous music ... accuses Rahall of voting in favor of a carbon tax while trying to align him" with Obama and House Min. Leader Nancy Pelosi (Charleston Daily Mail).


Hotline editors weigh in on the stories that drive the day

• A sign of the political headwinds Syria hawks face in Congress: Marco Rubio, a leading GOP foreign policy voice, remained conspicuously quiet during the debate over Syria, as Rand Paul and Ted Cruz sounded skeptical notes about the proposed intervention (Rubio indicated support for military action in a statement Wednesday.) Another prominent pol who has been silent: former Sec/State Hillary Clinton, acutely aware how her support of the Iraq war derailed her WH '08 campaign.

• Just weeks after Pryor defended his vote for the Affordable Care Act, he's skipping the Bill Clinton event, even though Clinton has already campaigned for him. Clinton remains hugely popular in the state and could be a strong ally in helping Pryor to explain his vote. Perhaps the GOP's constant hammering on the issue is beginning to take its toll.

• There's nothing wrong with the NRSC's decision to scout for candidates in HI; that's the NRSC's job, and it's not like it broke the bank exploring this long shot -- though after ex-Gov. Linda Lingle's (R) 2012 loss, the party's statewide prospects look as dim as ever. What is wrong is the cmte's repeated assertion that the primary between Sen. Brian Schatz (D) and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D) is the most "brutal" in America. The potential is certainly there, but the Dem race has been relatively quiet so far.

• DC Mayor Vincent Gray (D) faces a critical decision by week's end. No, not on whether to seek renomination in next spring's primary, but whether to sign or veto the DC Council's "Living Wage" bill. The embattled Gray has expressed concerns about the legislation, which would impose a higher minimum wage for employees of big-box stores like Wal-Mart. With the mayoral candidates on the Council split on the bill, the decision Gray makes -- and how he frames it -- will be a big indicator of whether he's planning to seek a second term. A Gray spokesman told the Washington Post this week that most of the phone calls and mail they've received urge Gray to reject the bill.



  • In his speech commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, Obama "stepped into the space on Wednesday where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once stood, summoning his iconic dream of a colorblind society in a celebration of a half-century of progress and a call to arms for the next generation" (New York Times).
  • "We shouldn't ask people to fight war, unless they know that they've got the full weight of our political leadership behind them and the American public supports the mission. And that presidential consultation with Congress over the next few days, I think, could be very critical in reaching a consensus that will then support whatever action needs to be taken" -- Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), on whether Obama should consult Congress on Syria (CNN).
  • SC Gov. Nikki Haley's (R) campaign "has reimbursed taxpayers $7,600 for out-of-state fundraisers over the last fiscal year, as per an agreement with agencies that provide her security detail" (AP).
  • "I think we should buy the strongest condoms that we can get" -- NYC mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis (R), asked in Wednesday night's GOP debate on WCBS-TV about proposed improvements "to the city's free 'NYC'-brand condom program" (Politicker.com).
  • CA state Sen./ex-San Diego City Council Pres. Ben Hueso (D) said Wednesday "he believed" a conversation with a reporter alleging that CA-52 candidate/'12 San Diego mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio (R) was caught masturbating in a San Diego City Hall bathroom "was off the record," but "'it's factual,' Hueso said" (U-T San Diego).
  • "He said, 'You want it mild or wild?' I said, 'Well, let's make it interesting'" -- SD Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R), recounting a conversation on Wednesday with his tandem instructor just before he participated in a charity skydive (Sioux Falls Argus Leader).
  • We're getting an early start to our Labor Day weekend, but we'll be right back here on Tuesday!


  • Jane Wyman was Ronald Reagan's first wife.
  • The winner is Ben Pearlman, and here's his Swizzle Challenge: "William "Mo" Cowan (D-MA) was the 8th African-American senator. How many had there been when MLK marched on Washington?" The 3rd correct e-mailer gets to submit the next question.



"I would be a total a--hole if I didn't support Chris Christie. Don't use, you don't have to use that word. You can find a better word" -- Lonegan, asked whether he would support Christie against Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) for WH '16 (TPM).


"'A--holes back Spitzer': Stringer tells state Assemblyman" (New York Post).

Josh Kraushaar, Editor-in-Chief

Steven Shepard, Executive Editor