The sounds of silence
Talk about not having someone's back.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a darling of the Republican Party's conservative wing, didn't offer a word of support for party leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, when asked if he would back McConnell over Tea Party-backed challenger Matt Bevin in the primary.
"That's a decision for the people of Kentucky to make," Cruz told NBC News recently.
And Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin told NBC News to "pretend we never talked" when he said he thought McConnell was "very capable of taking that challenge on himself."
Sen. Mike Lee of Utah -- who threatened to shut down the federal government if his effort to defund President Obama's healthcare law fails -- says he'd love to talk to McConnell about the initiative but walked off when asked about whether he planned to support Bevin or McConnell.
"You've gone off topic," he told NBC News. "Thank you though."
McConnell is caught between rock and hard place: He is the biggest GOP target on whom some in the Tea Party have set their sights and the one Democrats are salivating to take down.
Democrats have put up a credible candidate for the 2014 senatorial election: Secretary of State Allison Grimes, a member of a family steeped in Kentucky politics.
Bevin has spent some of his own personal fortune to hire Cold Spark Media, a consulting firm that ran Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey's successful conservative primary challenge and eventual win.
"This is the exact scenario Senator McConnell wanted to avoid: credible challenges from both the right and the left simultaneously," said Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, while recognizing that Grimes has a tough slog in a red state. "This race is going to be all about McConnell and whether Kentucky is ready for a change."
Ethics group raises questions about ties that bind PAC, firm
The Federal Election Committee received a complaint about unsolicited and anonymous text messages sent just before the 2012 election.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed the complaint against ccAdvertising, Gabriel S. Joseph III and Americans in Contact PAC, saying the messages advocated the defeat of President Barack Obama.
The complaint said the political action committee should have listed its affiliation with the company and should have had a disclaimer on the text messages about who paid for them. The complaint also alleges that since the PAC was really a separate segregated fund of a company, it violated the law by soliciting contributions from the general public not just its restricted class of executive and administrative employees.
"CcAdvertising and AICPAC are one and the same," said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. "AICPAC isn't, as it claims, a PAC designed to fund political campaigns. It is a sham PAC that does little more than funnel money into ccAdvertising's coffers and Gabriel Joseph's pockets."
Sloan said ccAdvertising contributors thought they were donating money to a political committee they thought would support specific candidates.
"It was nothing but a scam," she said.
Hillary Clinton: The candidate with the most -- and least
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the Democrat most voters want to see win the party's 2013 presidential nomination, a Rasmussen Reports survey revealed.
She's also the Democrat they least want to see win that nomination.
The recent Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds 63 percent of likely Democratic voters would choose Clinton if the 2016 Democratic presidential primary were held in their state today. She also is the favorite among likely voters at 39 percent.
But the former U.S. senator and first lady also is No. 1 when voters are asked which candidate they would least like to see win the Democratic nomination in 2016: 27 percent expressed that view.
Racking up frequent flyer miles
Leading contenders for the presidency in 2016 are getting their travel itineraries, GPSs and Rand McNallys in order, having either made or scheduled 20 trips to nominating states, an analysis by The Hill indicated.
The huge majority of the traveling is by Republicans where contenders scheduled at least 25 trips to early-voting states since the 2012 election. Democrats have scheduled only five.
Analysts said the disparity is likely because Democrats have a formidable front-runner in Hillary Clinton -- even though she hasn't announced her 2016 intentions -- while the GOP field is wide open.
Among Republicans seen as possible 2016 candidates, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky has at least six trips scheduled to early-voting states while Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has five, The Hill said.
Paul, Cruz and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal are the only potential 2016 candidates this year with events in all three of the first nominating states -- Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
"Unlike the Democrats, there is no clear front ground runner on the Republican side, and the candidates are trying to elevate their name recognition in these states," Thomas Whalen, a professor at Boston University, told The Hill.
The most active traveler among unannounced Democrats is Vice President Joe Biden, who's headlining an out-of-state fundraiser for New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan later in August.
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley visited South Carolina this year.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, considered a long-shot presidential candidate, scheduled a trip to neighboring Iowa later this month.