August 7

* The campaign news of the day is no real surprise:

Democratic Sen. John Walsh suspended his campaign for a full Senate term on Thursday, bowing to pressure to back out of the race after a plagiarism scandal threatened to eliminate his already slim chance of victory in Montana.

In a statement to Lee Newspapers, Walsh said he wanted to focus on finishing his term as a senator.

“It is time for us all to return to the real issues of this election,” he said.

Philip Bump fills us in on the arcana of what’s next, and as it happens, it’s not even clear whether the party will be able to pick a replacement candidate in time. Montana, of course, was always thought to be one of three near-certain GOP pickups (including South Dakota and West Virgina), so the map isn’t really changed all that much here.

* Alex Roarty on the one hope Dems might have had to hang on to the Montana seat:

The Democrats have one Hail Mary pass in former Gov. Brian Schweitzer, whose name ID could make him the only truly viable candidate in the race. But after Schweitzer declined to run last summer, most took it as a sign he was worried about the dirt Republicans had on him. Not to mention that controversy of late has damaged his reputation as a serious politician.

* Commentators often say Dems are taking a great risk in talking up the economy, but the White House doesn’t seem to agree: It has provided Dems heading home for recess with extensive talking points to make the case for Obama’s economic record. Dems will have to hope the recovery accelerates PDQ. — gs

* Alaska Senator Mark Begich put up an ad touting how much he agrees with the state’s other senator, Lisa Murkowski, which included a picture of them smiling together. Murkowski was outraged and had her lawyer send Begich a letter demanding that the ad be taken down. Begich declined.

* Barack Obama did something extraordinary today: he actually signed a bill into law. It was the overhaul of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

* Contra Ross Douthat and other conservatives who are certain that another wave of Obama Lawlessness is on the way, Daniel Costa explains why the President has all the legal authority he needs to defer deportation for millions of undocumented immigrants, if he so chooses.

* It’s often noted that the failure of immigration reform has eroded Obama’s standing among Latinos, which is true, but Aaron Blake explains why Republicans aren’t going to be able to capitalize on it anytime soon.

* James Hohmann has a profile of the woman who just might unseat GOP golden boy Scott Walker:

Mary Burke might be the last candidate you’d expect to potentially topple one of the Republican Party’s leading governors and upend the 2016 presidential field. The only elected office she’s ever held is a school board seat. She didn’t even become a Democrat until her 40s. And in heavily working class Wisconsin, it was only two years ago that the scion to the Trek Bicycle fortune was being dismissed by her own party as a “1 percenter.”

Yet here she is, tied with Walker in the polls, finally getting some overdue attention from the national press — and within striking distance of delivering the biggest shock of Election 2014.

Who could have predicted that in a swing state that hasn’t given its presidential vote to a Republican in 30 years, governing as a union-busting Republican crusader might not have been the path to an easy re-election for Walker.

* The most comprehensive case yet for an Elizabeth Warren challenge to Hillary Clinton.

* Jonathan Bernstein explains why incumbent senators having tight primary races (but still winning) doesn’t tell you as much about the political situation as you might think.

* Rand Paul has some thoughts on the GOP’s social issues quandary:

“The party can’t become the opposite of what it is,” he told me. “If you tell people from Alabama, Mississippi or Georgia, ‘You know what, guys, we’ve been wrong, and we’re gonna be the pro-gay-marriage party,’ they’re either gonna stay home or — I mean, many of these people joined the Republican Party because of these social issues. So I don’t think we can completely flip. But can we become, to use the overused term, a bigger tent? I think we can and can agree to disagree on a lot of these issues. I think the party will evolve. It’ll either continue to lose, or it’ll become a bigger place where there’s a mixture of opinions.”

So in other words, the GOP has to hold to the positions it has on social issues, which are becoming increasingly unpopular, but it also to become a “bigger tent.” Which I guess you do by…um…well, I’m sure they’ll think of something.

* At the American Prospect, I asked whether 2016 is going to see a “theory of change” primary for the GOP, and what that might mean.

* And GOP Rep. Mo Brooks has gotten some attention for his belief that there’s a “war on whites” in America. Christopher Ingraham offers eight charts demonstrating that if there’s a war on whites, the whites are winning.