CNN's John King and other top political reporters empty out their notebooks each Sunday on "Inside Politics" to reveal five things that will be in the headlines in the days, weeks and months ahead.
Washington (CNN) – A rare dose of high-powered bipartisanship, plus a mix of 2014 and 2016 nuggets from our weekly trip around the Inside Politics table:
1. RAND –MAN IN THE MIDDLE ON FOREIGN POLICY?
Politico’s Mike Allen shared important reporting about an effort by Rand Paul to address what is perhaps his most significant obstacle as he pursues the 2016 GOP presidential nomination: the isolationist label.
The freshman Kentucky senator has long complained it’s an unfair knock, and an unfair “guilt by association” situation with his father, former Rep. Ron Paul.
But Mike says the senator is planning a high-profile pitch at the National Defense University this fall to address his critics, and attempt to reposition himself on the foreign policy spectrum.
“He’s going to argue that he’s smack in the middle - the same place that George H.W. Bush was, that Reagan was, and that Ike was,” said Allen.
2. 2016 PLAN B PATH IF HILLARY SAYS NO
Watch Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar as she moves to raise her national profile and make new friends in the kickoff presidential battleground of Iowa.
No, as Robert Costa of The Washington Post made clear, the Democratic senator has no plans to seek the 2016 Democratic nomination if her former Senate colleague, as expected, makes the race.
But Robert shared reporting of a Klobuchar plan to be ready in case Democrats need a Plan B, or perhaps for a cycle down the road a few years.
“Members of her inner circle tell me that she won't run against Secretary Clinton, but should Secretary Clinton, for some reason, bow out of consideration, Senator Klobuchar is building up a national network, talking to donors and later this month, she'll be in Iowa,” said Costa.
Her tweet about a time where she had to skip flying on Air Force 1. Of course, if she becomes president, the plane will have to wait!
3. TEA PARTY “CRUSH” STRATEGY DUE FOR ITS LAST BIG TESTS
There are two significant tea party tests left on the GOP Senate primary calendar, and Jonathan Martin of The New York Times tells us the establishment is guardedly optimistic.
One is against incumbent Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee; the other against incumbent GOP Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas.
The latter for weeks has been described as the more vulnerable of the two, but Jonathan says there are those who believe that might have shifted – meaning Alexander suddenly has more to worry about – because of the shifting issues terrain in Washington.
“There’s some concern about Roberts, because of the campaign he's run, whereas Alexander has run a better campaign, but keep in mind, Alexander has been targeted by Laura Ingraham and Sarah Palin over the immigration issue, which is, as we know, boiling right now,” said Martin.
Alexander’s tweet showing he supports a Senate tea party favorite on the border crisis issue:
4. TWO FIRST LADIES AND A LESSON FOR THE MEN OF WASHINGTON
Laura Bush and Michelle Obama are teaming up this week, for a mix of policy talk and socializing with the spouses of African leaders who will be in the United States for a summit meeting.
And Nia Malika Henderson of The Washington Post tells us the main goal of the Bush-Obama partnership is to discuss their own lives in the context of helping elevate the role of women in the nations of their guests here in Washington.
But perhaps this rare, bipartisan effort might send a message to others in this dysfunctional town?
5. 93 DAYS, AND COUNTING ..... WITH BIG MONEY DECISIONS LOOMING SOON
Republicans need a gain of six Senate seats to take the majority, and are looking at opportunities in a dozen or more states with seats now held by Democrats. But the map will inevitably shrink, and here are two races to watch if you want to feel plugged in when big financial calculations are made after Labor Day.
OREGON: GOP nominee Monica Wehby trails in the polls and in fund-raising, and it’s a state President Obama carried twice. But the GOP and its allies aren’t giving up yet. A group financed by the Koch Brothers just launched a multimillion ad by in the state, hoping to soften up support for Democratic incumbent Sen. Jeff Merkely.
Check back at the end of the month: if the numbers have moved, more money will follow. But if they don’t narrow much, don’t be surprised if Wehby gets squeezed and both national party groups and deep-pocketed Super PACs steer major resources to more competitive states.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Many Republican strategists in the state are frustrated Scott Brown isn’t polling better against incumbent Democrat Jeanne Shaheen. But a few GOP activists insist Brown has moved the dial some in the past couple weeks, and remains in striking distance.
Also giving the GOP some hope even though it’s another state the President carried twice? One prominent GOP activist, borrowing the local slang a bit, suggested President Obama’s New Hampshire poll standing was “wicked bad.”