TIME jeb bush

Jeb Bush Bungles ‘Anchor Baby’ Explanation

The Republican presidential candidate says he was referring to Asians committing "fraud"

Jeb Bush struggled Monday to explain his position on birthright citizenship, suggesting that his use of the term anchor babies was directed not at Hispanics but rather at Asians.

“What I was talking about was the specific case of fraud being committed,” Bush told reporters during an immigration-focused press conference in McAllen, Texas. “Frankly it’s more related to Asian people [who are] coming into our country, having children, and … taking advantage of a noble concept, which is birthright citizenship.”

The remark may muddy a border visit designed to juxtapose the GOP presidential candidate’s platform on immigration with that of Donald Trump, who has proposed building a massive wall along the southern border and forcing Mexico to foot the bill. Trump’s hard-line stance on immigration has prompted his rivals to lurch to the right. That includes Bush, who has long been a champion of immigration reform and touted his own multicultural family as a strength of his candidacy.

The former Florida governor’s use of the epithet was a sharp departure for Bush, who throughout his campaign has called for the GOP to adopt a more inclusive tone. It was a potential liability in his quest to woo Hispanic voters.

Bush pushed back against the notion that his use of anchor baby was pejorative, and said the criticism that ensued was politically driven. “My background, my life, the fact that I’m immersed in the immigrant experience — this is ludicrous for the Clinton campaign and others to suggest that somehow I’m using a derogatory term,” Bush said. “I support the 14th Amendment. Nothing I’ve said should be viewed as derogatory toward immigrants at all.”

Federal authorities have been investigating reports of a budding Chinese “birth tourism” industry, in which mothers are alleged to have traveled to the U.S. to give birth, then returned home with infants who are newly minted American citizens. But redirecting the focus toward Asians may be equally damaging, given that the group sided with Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential campaign in roughly the same numbers as Latinos.

Taking another page from Trump’s playbook, Bush shrugged off the backlash as a symptom of a system in which political correctness runs amok.

“This is all how politics plays,” he said. “And by way, I think we need to take a step back and chill out a little bit as it relates to the political correctness that somehow you have to be scolded every time you say something. It’s not fair to be taken out of context. That’s the nature of politics, but I just don’t think that this is appropriate.”

TIME Immigration

The Republican 2016 Field Takes a Hard Right on Immigration

Rivals take a page from Trump's tough talk

Former Sen. Rick Santorum, the son of an Italian immigrant, shrugged when asked Thursday if everyone born in the United States was, in fact, a citizen. “There is a legal dispute as to what the language of the 14th Amendment means,” the law school graduate told reporters who were summoned to hear his plan to deal not only with the immigrants in this country illegally but also to curb those entering legally.

With his carefully considered words, Santorum joined the growing legion of Republican White House hopefuls taking tougher—and perhaps unrealistic—approaches to immigration policy. It’s no longer just Donald Trump, whose rise in the polls came after he labeled Mexican immigrants “criminals” and “rapists.” Trump’s rivals have also been recalibrating their immigration rhetoric to tap into voters’ frustrations.

A host of GOP candidates called this week for an end to automatic citizenship for American-born children of immigrants in the United States illegally. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal each backed Trump’s call to end automatic citizenship. Jindal hoped no one would notice that he was born to parents in the United States on green cards. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush urged tougher enforcement against “anchor babies,” an epithet for children born to parents in the country illegally and often a reason families in the country illegally are not deported.

This is the nightmare many Republican leaders feared. Ever since Hispanic voters helped lift Barack Obama to reelection in 2012, party elders have been warning the GOP to ditch the divisive language on immigrants. A party seen as anti-immigrant cannot win the votes of immigrants, GOP strategists say, which could doom the party’s future with the Hispanic voting bloc projected to grow from 24 million to 40 million over the next 15 years.

“America is changing demographically, and unless Republicans are able to grow our appeal the way GOP governors have done, the changes tilt the playing field even more in the Democratic direction,” a Republican National Committee panel wrote in its autopsy after 2012 nominee Mitt Romney’s loss. “It does not matter what we say about education, jobs or the economy; if Hispanics think we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies.”

The well-received report, however, failed to tamp down the embers of nativism that linger in pockets of the Republican base. Many GOP voters see the complexion of the country changing in ways they don’t like, an economy recovering too slowly and a workforce that does not necessarily look like it did a generation ago. This cohort is a dominant force in many conservative congressional districts, which is the primary reason a bipartisan rewrite of U.S. immigration law never came to a vote in the GOP-controlled House after sailing through the Senate.

As these frustrations fuel Trump’s rise, his rivals are grasping for rhetoric and programs that can reach his supporters. For instance, Santorum’s immigration plan calls for cutting the number of immigrants coming to the United States by a quarter. “The American worker is struggling and, as a result, the American family is struggling,” Santorum said. Like Trump, the runner-up for the 2012 presidential nomination called for a giant wall along the U.S.-Mexican border, but one built on American lands by American workers. Walker, a former proponent of a path to citizenship, has recast himself as an immigration hardliner in a bid to give his campaign a jolt in the all-important Iowa caucuses. Bush’s use of the “anchor baby” slur is a far cry from his prior calls for the party to use more sensitive language on immigration and his condemnation of Trump’s “rhetoric of divisiveness.” Gone are the days when Bush described illegal immigration as “an act of love.”

Given the raw language and tone, the GOP could once again find itself shut out of a voting bloc that is swelling in size and influence. The nonpartisan National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials estimates that the bloc will be about 11 percent of all eligible voters in 2016. The Pew Hispanic Center projected after the 2012 election that 40% of the growth in the U.S. electorate by 2030 will come from Latinos.

GOP leaders have tried to repair the relationship. Business groups, GOP operatives and top lawmakers all sought to patiently nudge the party toward a comprehensive immigration-reform deal that would stop the demographic bleeding. It’s why Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who supports a path to legal status for immigrants in the country illegally, defended the practice of birthright citizenship. It’s why Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, the son of Cuban immigrants, has also worked to distance himself from those who would end automatic citizenship. To CNBC on Thursday, Rubio was blunt: “These are individual candidates who are responsible for their own rhetoric.” It’s why Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of the architects of the Senate’s reform program, called Trump’s proposals “gibberish.”

“That’s going to kill the Republican Party,” the South Carolina Republican said as he visited the Iowa State Fair this week.

But there’s a reason Trump is the one leading in the polls while Graham is barely flirting with 1%. The tough talk resonates with the conservative electorate that picks the GOP nominee. And with every step Republicans take toward earning the votes of Hispanics, each clanging insult from Trump and his imitators throws up another hurdle for Republicans in the long slog to the White House.

TIME 2016 Election

Why Democrats Are Struggling With Black Lives Matter

Bernie Sanders black lives matters seattle
Elaine Thompson—AP Marissa Johnson, left, speaks as Mara Jacqueline Willaford stands with her and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., stands nearby as the two women take over the microphone at a rally on Aug. 8, 2015, in downtown Seattle.

The party's presidential candidates have had difficulty connecting with protesters

Hillary Clinton’s campaign stop in Keene, N.H., on Tuesday was billed as a community discussion on substance abuse. But some of the attendees had other matters on their minds.

Five members of the Black Lives Matter movement showed up to buttonhole the Democratic frontrunner about the tough-on-crime policies Clinton promoted during her husband’s presidency. Arriving late, they were barred from entering the packed forum at a local middle school—a decision made by the local fire marshal, according to the Clinton campaign. When the event was over, the former Secretary of State met privately with the activists.

The meeting had mixed results. “She was projecting that what the Black Lives Matter movement needs to do is X,Y and Z,” Julius Jones, a founder of the Black Lives Matter chapter in Worcester, Mass., told the New Republic, which broke the news of the planned disruption. “We pushed back [to say] that it is not her place to tell the Black Lives Matter movement or black people what to do, and that the real work doesn’t lie in the victim-blaming that that implies. And that was a rift in the conversation.”

It was also a reflection of the ongoing struggle of Democratic presidential candidates to connect with a protest movement that is only gaining steam a year after Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Mo. Activists have criticized each of the top Democratic candidates for failing to make the flaws of the U.S. justice system a significant part of their campaigns. At times, the friction has spilled into public view.

Members of Black Lives Matter have twice interrupted public events held by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose peevish reaction to the disruptions stoked tensions further. Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley drew jeers when he responded to protesters at Netroots Nation in July by proclaiming that “all lives matter,” which activists think undercuts their message. Clinton angered activists in June by using the same phrase at a Missouri church near Ferguson, where protests to commemorate Brown’s death sparked another spasm of violence in recent days.

The uneasy relationship between the potential Democratic standard-bearers and a pillar of the party’s electoral coalition carries significant consequences. A linchpin of the Democratic blueprint for holding the White House is repeating the success Barack Obama enjoyed with black voters. In 2012, Obama was lifted to victory by the historic black turnout, which surpassed the percentage of white voters for the first time since the Census Bureau began tracking such figures in 1996. But without Obama at the top of the ticket in recent mid-term elections, Democrats have failed to muster the same enthusiasm among blacks. Democratic strategists acknowledge a dip in the community’s voting rate in 2016 would dent the party’s chances.

Members of the Black Lives Matter movement say that is a distinct possibility, depending on whether the Democratic nominee can repair a frayed relationship. “We are going to have very clear demands,” says Brittany Packnett, an educator and activist. “If those aren’t met, you may see people behaving in alternative ways. People may not show up to vote.”

In the activists’ eyes, each of the candidates must overcome checkered records on criminal justice. The 1994 crime bill signed by Clinton’s husband consigned a generation of blacks to lengthy prison sentences for nonviolent crimes. As mayor of Baltimore and later as governor, O’Malley took a zero-tolerance approach to community policing, sparking tensions that exploded into rioting last spring when 25-year-old Freddie Gray died of injuries sustained in police custody. Sanders touts his record of civil-rights activism, but as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, he voted for the 1994 crime bill. Now a senator from an overwhelmingly white state, his campaign has largely focused on economic rather than racial inequality.

“There’s something insufficient about all of them,” says one activist associated with Black Lives Matter.

The candidates are taking steps to convince the movement they are allies, not adversaries. Senior officials with each of the campaigns have initiated discussions with prominent figures in the movement, such as Packnett, who was tapped by the Obama Administration to serve on a White House task force studying police reform, and DeRay McKesson, one of its most visible figures. Clinton delivered a speech on justice reform that acknowledged and denounced “the inequities that persist in our justice system.” Sanders hired a well-respected black organizer and unveiled a new criminal justice-plan this week.

O’Malley has done perhaps the most to make criminal justice a centerpiece of his platform. He has called for a constitutional amendment to protect each citizen’s voting rights. And he recently released a detailed criminal-justice platform that calls for body cameras, national use-of-force standards, better data collection on police shootings and an end to mandatory minimums for drug crimes, among other reforms. Democrats, he explained in an interview with Ebony, can’t expect to marshal “a large and diverse coalition if we’re not able to speak to the concerns of everyone within that coalition.” But O’Malley must square that rhetoric with a record of tough-on-crime policies. When he cut short a European trip to return to his scarred hometown during the riots, some Baltimore residents reacted with boos.

“All three candidates have responded to the movement in some way,” Mckesson says. “Their rhetoric has caught up.” But activists are still waiting to see how talk translates into policy.

Read next: This Photographer Shows What It Means to Be a Cop Today

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TIME Debates

Here’s the One Fox Republican Debate Question Each Candidate Doesn’t Want

Thursday's debate may come down to who gets stumped

Debate success is a mix of skill, preparation and chance. The candidate who emerges victorious from Thursday’s debate will come down in large part to the questions Fox News pitches at them.

For their part, moderators Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace have vowed to pose tough questions. Here are the ones that each candidate doesn’t want to answer:

Donald Trump is leading the Republican field now, but he wasn’t always an outspoken conservative. Hillary Clinton attended his most recent of three weddings, and husband Bill Clinton joined for the reception. He has written checks to Democratic candidates and campaign committees. He backed the requirement that all Americans be required to get health insurance, an idea at the core of Obamacare. So the obvious question to the loud-mouthed real estate mogul: “Just 15 years ago you were pro-choice, supported single-payer healthcare and a 14% wealth seizure by the federal government. Now you are against those things. Sir, how can we believe that you aren’t really a Democratic plant sent into this race to soften us up so your friend Hillary Clinton can be President?”

Jeb Bush has made education reform one of his signature policy issues. He was an early and vocal backer of the voluntary Common Core education standards, which enjoyed broad Republican support before more recently coming under fire from grassroots conservatives. GOP Govs. Chris Christie, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal and Mike Huckabee have all abandoned their support for Common Core. Now Bush is the lone holdout for Common Core, though its toxicity is plain enough that he avoids using the term and couches his endorsement as support for accountability. The question for Bush: “How do you respond to Republican voters who view your support for Common Core as an attempt to nationalize education?”

It’s hard to pin down Scott Walker‘s position on immigration. Ten years ago, Walker favored comprehensive immigration reform. In 2010, he criticized Arizona’s controversial immigration law, only to quickly reverse his stance. In 2013, he supported the Senate’s bipartisan overhauls of the U.S. immigration system, which included a difficult pathway to citizenship. Now he opposes the same citizenship, and appears to have staked out an even tougher position, calling for reducing levels of legal immigration, too. The question for a candidate who casts himself as a principled fighter: “As President, what would you do with the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S.? Do we simply have too many immigrants — here legally or otherwise — and can you guarantee us that your view today would not change if you are elected?”

When Mike Huckabee announced his candidacy for president in May, he boasted of passing 94 tax cuts during his two terms as governor of Arkansas. Independent fact-checkers questioned that figure, noting that he also raised taxes 21 times. The total net tax increase during his term was $505 million, leading the Cato Foundation to award Huckabee an F grade on taxes in 2006. “Can you explain why you chose to repeatedly raise taxes while governor of Arkansas?”

Ben Carson, a former pediatric neurosurgeon, enjoyed a groundbreaking medical career. Yet the first-time political candidate has not been put through the vetting that accompanies a White House bid. The conservative National Review looked at Carson’s connections to a potentially problematic health supplement company that has been accused of false advertising and conspiracy to commit fraud. The question for Carson: “Most Americans know you for your accomplishments in the operating room. But you’ve also promoted a company that has promised miracle cures for everything from cancer to multiple sclerosis to HIV/ AIDS, and you have no experience in elected office. What prepares you to be president?”

Ted Cruz frequently invokes Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment: “Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican.” Yet Cruz criticizes his colleagues all the time—including, just last week, during a remarkable speech on the Senate floor in which he accused GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell of lying. “How does calling your party’s leader a liar square with your pledge not to attack fellow Republicans?”

He’s young and charismatic, a magnificent orator who doesn’t look like the typical white politician. Sounds like Marco Rubio, right? Well, the same was said eight years ago about another up-and-comer: Barack Obama. Many conservatives are not sure they want to bet on yet another first-term Senator with magnetic appeal and a thin resume. “Why, Sen. Rubio, should Americans risk another eight years of a learn-on-the-job President?”

On the eve of the debate, the man running Rand Paul’s super PAC was indicted for allegedly participating in an endorsement-for-pay conspiracy that occurred during his father’s 2012 presidential campaign. Paul also stood by an aide who was outed for writing neo-Confederate columns under the pseudonym “The Southern Avenger.” The question for Paul: “Given the people you surround yourself with, why should Americans trust your judgment as President?”

Chris Christie’s dreaded question is based on an answer he gave this week while campaigning in New Hampshire. “I’m a Catholic,” the famously candid New Jersey Governor said, “but I’ve used birth control, and not just the rhythm method, OK?” Awkwardness ensued. The question no candidate ever wants to answer, but one that is fair to ask Christie now: “Sir, can you tell us more about your birth control practices?”

On the campaign trail, Ohio Gov. John Kasich touts his stewardship of the Buckeye State and his role in crafting Congress’s last balanced budget. But in between political offices, Kasich went to work at Lehman Brothers, the investment bank whose collapse contributed significantly to years of economic malaise and soaring unemployment. The question for Kasich: “Were investment bankers like you responsible for the Great Recession?”

TIME Rand Paul

Rand Paul Ally Indicted in Alleged Conspiracy

Rand Paul
Jim Cole—AP Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., shown on a video screen from C-SPAN's Washington studio, speaks during a forum on Aug. 3, 2015, in Manchester.

The charges come at a bad time for Paul's struggling campaign

A top ally of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul was indicted Wednesday in connection with an alleged plot to pay off an Iowa state senator in exchange for endorsing the 2012 presidential campaign of Paul’s father.

Jesse Benton, who runs the super PAC supporting Rand Paul’s presidential campaign, was charged with conspiracy, making false statements to the FBI and the Federal Election Commission and other offenses stemming from the alleged endorsement-for-pay scheme. Two other senior aides on Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign, John Tate and Dmitri Kesari, were also indicted.

“When political operatives make under-the-table payments to buy an elected official’s political support,” said Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell, “it undermines public confidence in our entire political system.”

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the three senior advisers to Ron Paul negotiated a deal during the fall of 2011 to pay Kent Sorenson, then an Iowa state senator, to renounce his support for Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann and endorse the elder Paul instead. Sorenson made the eye-popping switch at a public event on Dec. 28, 2011, just days before the Iowa caucuses, where Ron Paul placed third.

The indictment alleges the defendants ultimately paid Sorenson more than $70,000, using monthly installments of approximately $8,000 each. According to the charges, the trio concealed the payments “by causing them to be recorded – both in campaign accounting records and in FEC filings – as campaign-related audio-visual expenditures.” The cash was funneled through two companies before filtering down to Sorenson and his spouse, according to DOJ documents.

Benton denied the allegations last year. “I am not splitting hairs,” he told the FBI in July 2014, according to the indictment. “Sorenson was not getting paid off.” Sorenson pleaded guilty last year to concealing payments made for switching his endorsement and obstructing the subsequent criminal investigation.

Benton, who is married to Ron Paul’s granddaughter, has long been a close ally of Rand Paul’s. He served as a spokesman and later campaign manager of Paul’s 2010 Senate bid. In 2014, Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell hired Benton as campaign manager in a bid to shore up support with the party’s grassroots during a primary challenge, but Benton left the post before the election amid the ongoing investigation into the Sorensen scandal. “The press accounts and rumors are particularly hurtful because they are false,” Benton said then.

The indictment adds to the sense of turmoil swirling around Rand Paul’s presidential campaign as he prepares to compete in the first Republican debate on Thursday in Cleveland. The Kentuckian has seen his poll numbers slip as he struggles with fundraising. Paul is also running for re-election to the Senate.

“Senator Rand Paul is disappointed that the Obama Justice Department chose to release this just prior to the highly anticipated first Republican presidential debate; it certainly appears suspiciously timed and possibly politically motivated,” said a Paul campaign spokesman. “Additionally, these actions are from 2012 and have nothing to do with our campaign.”

In a statement Wednesday, Ron Paul also cast the charges as a political ploy. “I think the timing of this indictment is highly suspicious,” he said, “given the fact that the first primary debate is tomorrow.” An attorney for Benton made the same claim.

“That this indictment is now suddenly announced on the eve of the first Republican Presidential debate strongly supports our belief that this is a politically motivated prosecution designed to serve a political agenda, not to achieve justice,” Benton’s attorney Roscoe Howard said in a statement, according to the Washington Post. “Mr. Benton is eager to get before an impartial judge and jury who will quickly recognize this for what he believes it is: Character assassination for political gain.”

TIME Debates

Here’s What Each Candidate Needs to Do at the First Republican Debate

Welcome to the Donald Trump show.

Seventeen Republican presidential hopefuls will take the stage here Thursday evening for the first of 12 debates of the 2016 election, but the star of the spectacle will be the blustering businessman at center stage. Trump’s presence promises to make the crowded forum unlike any in recent memory.

Meanwhile, the jam-packed field has shunted seven candidates out of the main debate and into an undercard. That could prove a blessing in disguise for second-tier candidates, giving them a forum for substantive discussion without Trump sucking up the oxygen.

In the first major event of the 2016 campaign, here are the challenges and opportunities for each of the candidates:

  • The Main Event: Donald Trump

    Donald Trump
    Stephen B. Morton—AP Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in Bluffton, S.C. on July 21, 2015.

    The reality television star and real estate magnate rocketed to the top of polls with his bombastic rhetoric. Now he has a target on his back, and a pack of struggling rivals are ready to take aim. Trump has no experience as a debater, an extremely thin skin and a taste for schoolyard insults. People want provocation from him, and he will deliver. But if he comes off as a cartoonish reality show character without an ability to handle actual policy, he might find that his frontrunner status erodes. Trump knows better than anyone how to roll out a new product. Now he has to show the stuff is worth buying.

  • The Main Event: Jeb Bush

    Jeb Bush
    Wilfredo Lee—AP Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks to the National Urban League on July 31, 2015, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

    The establishment front-runner is sitting on more than $120 million in the bank, but has yet to show he can win over Republican voters. In a spectacle dominated by Trump, Bush wants to come off as cool, collected and informed. His pitch is that he is the adult conservative tough enough to take on Hillary Clinton, but with a sunny tone that broadens the party’s appeal. That’s a high bar. If he gets pushed around by Trump or fails to make an impact, then his allies may start burning their television ad money on early states sooner than he would have hoped.

  • The Main Event: Scott Walker

    Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker Delivers Keynote At The American Action Forum
    Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg/Getty Images Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, speaks during a panel discussion at the American Action Forum in Washington on Jan. 30, 2015.

    The Iowa front-runner has been an uneven performer, and Thursday night’s forum marks a significant test. He will try to emphasize his battle-tested record in Wisconsin, a blue state where he won three successive elections despite kneecapping powerful public-sector unions. Walker has sought to skirt controversial issues during the early phases of the primary campaign, so the Fox moderators are likely to put him on the spot. Look for rivals to raise his flip flops on issues like immigration.

  • The Main Event: Ted Cruz

    Ted Cruz
    Nicholas Kamm—AFP/Getty Images Senator Ted Cruz addresses the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Feb. 26, 2015.

    The conservative firebrand was a champion debater in college, but this is a different sport entirely. Cruz comes in with soaring expectations, but it’s unclear how his skills—and penchant for long-winded answers—will translate onstage. His challenge, at a minimum, is to be the second choice for every voter who wants a pure conservative. Look for him to make bold statements of principle, while avoiding direct attacks on Trump and Carson.

  • The Main Event: Ben Carson

    Ben Carson
    Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg/Getty Images Ben Carson during the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md.,on Feb. 26, 2015.

    The retired neurosurgeon became a darling on the conservative speaking circuit during the past two years, but his unconventional style has been marked by oddball and inflammatory statements. Carson retains a cadre of die-hard supporters, but onstage he’ll have to prove that his candidacy is more than a fading fad. He has said several times he never wanted to run for the White House, and at times he seems to be running an accidental campaign. Now he has a chance to show voters that he has changed his mind.

  • The Main Event: Mike Huckabee

    Annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Held In D.C.
    Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee speaks during the second day of the Conservative Political Action Conference at the Gaylord International Hotel and Conference Center on March 7, 2014 in National Harbor, Md.

    The former Arkansas Governor’s ability to overperform expectations in debates was key to his Iowa caucus victory in 2008, and his campaign is betting on another set of performances to push him out of the pack. Having worked in television his whole life, he knows how to work a camera, and convince viewers he is talking to them. His challenge this time is to convince Iowa caucus goers that he is not yesterday’s news. Look for him to possibly square up against Walker, who is already eating into his numbers. Also watch for the cues he sends to social conservatives on issues like marriage and religious freedom.

  • The Main Event: Marco Rubio

    Marco Rubio
    Carolyn Kaster—AP Senator Marco Rubio speaks in National Harbor, Md., on Feb. 27, 2015.

    One of the most popular candidates in the field, Rubio is running a tortoise campaign, intentionally flying under the radar as rivals damage their appeal with constant skirmishing. The Florida senator wants to avoid confrontation and continue to position himself as a consensus second choice for now, hoping that he can take advantage if Bush and Walker stumble. But he also has to show up. For the past few weeks, outside of some ad spending on his behalf, he has barely been a presence in the campaign, and his poll numbers show it.

  • The Main Event: Rand Paul

    Rand Paul Announces His Candidacy For The Republican Presidential Nomination
    Luke Sharrett—Getty Images Senator Rand Paul announces his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination during an event at the Galt House Hotel in Louisville, Ky., on April 7, 2015

    Amid the rise of the Islamic State, the libertarian Senator’s dovish foreign policy is growing out of synch with an increasingly hawkish GOP. A frequent target of Christie and Rubio, Paul is apt to become a target in the debate, and he has a habit of growing prickly when challenged. Slipping in the polls, Paul can give his candidacy a much-needed boost with a strong showing. This is a perfect chance for him to make the case that he can expand the party by attracting young voters and minorities.

  • The Main Event: Chris Christie

    New Jersey Governor Christie speaks while being interviewed onstage at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor in Maryland
    Kevin Lamarque—Reuters New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks while being interviewed onstage at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Feb. 26, 2015.

    Once the GOP front-runner, the New Jersey Governor barely clinched his spot on the debate stage with a week-long Fox News blitz. Still tarnished by Bridgegate and distrusted by the party’s conservative wing, Christie will be looking for a spot to showcase his brash personality. If he doesn’t have a memorable moment, he’ll be in real trouble. A tussle with Trump could be in the cards.

  • The Main Event: John Kasich

    Republican Presidential Candidates Speak At Faith & Freedom Coalition's "Road to Majority" Conference
    Drew Angerer—Bloomberg/Getty Images John Kasich, governor of Ohio, speaks during the Faith and Freedom Coalition's "Road to Majority" conference in Washington on June 19, 2015.

    With among the lowest name-recognition of any candidate in the top 10, the Ohio Governor surged after his announcement two weeks ago to make the stage. Kasich needs to keep the momentum going in a home-state debate, and carve out a niche as an establishment-friendly, grownup alternative to Bush. He wants to stay on offense, even as some of his rivals are likely to paint him as too squishy on core conservative issues to win the debate. Look for him to try to distinguish himself from the rest of the field on policy and experience.

  • The Undercard: Rick Perry

    GOP Presidential Candidate rick perry
    Joe Raedle—Getty Images Former Texas Governor Rick Perry and Republican presidential candidate speaks during the Rick Scott's Economic Growth Summit held at the Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Convention Center on June 2, 2015 in Orlando.

    After narrowly missing the cut for the main event, Perry’s challenge is to soldier on with a strong performance. Avoiding another “oops” moment is the first step toward proving he really is a sharper candidate. At the center of the undercard, the former Texas governor gets the benefits of more airtime and a Trump-free environment to continue his political resurrection after his disastrous 2012 campaign. But he has fallen far since his first debate in 2011, when he was seen as a frontrunner. Beating up on Donald Trump will not be enough to get him to the big boy table in September.

  • The Undercard: Carly Fiorina

    Conservative Activists And Leaders Attend The Iowa Freedom Summit
    Daniel Acker—Bloomberg/Getty Images Carly Fiorina, former chairman and chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard Co., during the Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines, Iowa on Jan. 24, 2015.

    The former HP CEO hoped to make the main stage, but her campaign is now shifting the goalposts, telling supporters they are playing a long game for the nomination. The lone woman in the field, Fiorina has proven herself a caustic and effective Hillary Clinton critic. But she needs a wider repertoire to make the second debate next month. Crowds love listening to her, but few leave the room wanting to vote for her. She needs to show she has the gravitas, not just the one-liners, to take on Clinton.

  • The Undercard: Rick Santorum

    Republican Presidential Candidates Speak At Faith & Freedom Coalition's "Road to Majority" Conference
    Drew Angerer—Bloomberg/Getty Images Rick Santorum, former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, speaks during the Faith and Freedom Coalition's "Road to Majority" conference in Washington on June 19, 2015.

    The 2012 runner-up’s campaign is in shambles, with little money trickling in and an exodus of top aides in recent weeks. He’s made barely a ripple on the stump, driving few headlines even in Iowa, where he’s been camped out in hopes of bottling the unlikely magic of the last campaign. No candidate has grumbled more about the RNC rules than the former Pennsylvania senator, who needs to stop complaining and start showing his campaign has life.

  • The Undercard: Bobby Jindal

    Key Speakers At The Conservative Political Action Conference
    Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg/Getty Images Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, pauses while speaking during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Md, on Feb. 26, 2015.

    The Louisiana governor’s last performance before a national audience was his widely panned rebuttal to President Obama’s State of the Union in 2009. Jindal, a Rhodes Scholar, should do better Thursday night, but his Iowa-centric campaign has a long way to go to reach relevance. Cruz and Huckabee are already doing a better job at reaching the same voters he is after. The question is can he do something that will be remembered.

  • The Undercard: Lindsey Graham

    Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, speaks during the Republican Party of Iowa's Lincoln Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa
    Daniel Acker—Bloomberg/Getty Images Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, speaks during the Republican Party of Iowa's Lincoln Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, on May 16, 2015.

    He’s quick with a quip and seasoned from his debates in the Senate, but Graham’s taste for bipartisan cooperation on issues like immigration makes him tough fit for the GOP base. Expect him to entertain; he’s clearly the funniest candidate out there. He also needs to make his mark on foreign policy. But he still needs to find a way to make the case that he is running for anything more than Scott Walker’s Secretary of Defense.

  • The Undercard: George Pataki

    george pataki
    Scott Olson—Getty Images George Pataki on May 16, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa.

    The former New York governor has been out of politics for a decade and the rust shows in his performances on the stump. Staking out a position as a moderate, Pataki been an ardent Trump critics. But denied the chance to go toe-to-toe with the reality television star, it’s hard to see how he breaks through. That may be fine with him. He seems to be just along for the ride.

  • The Undercard: Jim Gilmore

    James Gilmore
    Charlie Neibergall—AP Former Virginia Gov. James Gilmore speaks during the Freedom Summit on Jan. 24, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa.

    Who? The former Virginia governor scored an invite after Fox News lowered the threshold for admittance to those whose names are offered consistently in national polling. But Gilmore is barely above zero in those surveys, and has no strong base of support. Unless he pulls a surprise, this will likely be his last debate.

TIME 2016 Election

Fox News Sets Republican Debate Roster

Ohio Gov. John Kasich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie made the cut, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry did not

The final roster for the first Republican presidential debate is set.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich squeaked onstage as the final members of the field of 10, Fox News announced Tuesday afternoon, while former Texas Gov. Rick Perry narrowly missed the cut and will be relegated to an undercard forum.

Businessman Donald Trump will hold center stage at the inaugural GOP 2016 debate Thursday in Cleveland, Fox said, flanked by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

The network, which established the criteria for invitation, averaged the five most recent national polls of Republican primary voters to determine which 10 candidates would make the 9 p.m. main debate stage. The second tier will participate in an earlier forum at 5 p.m.

Rounding out the top 10 are former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sen. Marco Rubio, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Sen. Rand Paul, Sen. Ted Cruz, Chris Christie and Kasich.

Missing the cut is a blow for Perry, who has seen his support slip in recent surveys. Candidates on the bubble have spent much of the past two weeks on Fox News and other national outlets in an effort to boost their chances of making the debate.

The debate selection criteria has drawn criticism from those left off the stage, like former Sen. Rick Santorum and Sen. Lindsey Graham, as well as political scientists and pollsters who argue that averaging national polls without considering their margins of error is flawed.

Fox lowered the threshold for entrance to the first forum last week, from candidates polling at 1% in national polls to all those whose names are consistently offered on primary surveys. The change ensured that Graham, former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal would be onstage for the secondary forum.

TIME Scott Walker

NBA Investor Backed Scott Walker Super PAC Before Stadium Push

Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin and Republican U.S. 2016 presidential candidate, waves after speaking during The Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, U.S., on Saturday, July 18, 2015.
Daniel Acker—© Bloomberg Finance LP 2015 Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin and Republican U.S. 2016 presidential candidate, waves after speaking during The Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, U.S., on Saturday, July 18, 2015.

On the day before Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker launched a push this spring to spend $250 million in public funds on a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks, the super PAC promoting Walker’s presidential campaign received a large check.

The May 27 donation to Unintimidated PAC, for $150,000, came from a limited liability corporation connected to Jon Hammes, a Milwaukee-area businessman and investor in the NBA franchise, as first reported by the Capital Times. Hammes has since signed on as a national finance co-chairman of Walker’s presidential campaign.

A Walker campaign aide noted the stadium deal, designed to keep the Bucks from bolting Milwaukee, had been brewing for months before the two-term governor announced his support for the latest proposal on May 28. The aide told TIME it was “a dangerous leap” to imply the decision to back the agreement was made for the benefit of an influential donor. Hammes has long been a supporter of Walker, donating more than $15,000 to Walker since 2005.

It’s not clear that the deal brought any political benefits for Walker’s presidential campaign. Free-market think tanks and powerful conservative organizations that have long been supporters of the governor denounced the use of public money to help finance a stadium for the team’s billionaire owners. Among them was the Wisconsin branch of Americans for Prosperity, the Koch-backed group that played a significant role in Walker’s election victories.

If the Bucks owners gained from the agreement, Hammes was not the only—or even the primary—beneficiary. One of the club’s majority owners, financier Marc Lasry, is a top fundraiser for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Others have also donated to Democratic candidates.

Walker has cast the arena deal as a way to protect taxpayers from the loss of current and future tax revenue that would ensue if the Bucks skipped town.

“This plan protects taxpayers from the loss of current and future tax revenue generated by the Bucks and visiting teams and supports a new arena without tax increases or state bonding,” Laurel Patrick, a spokeswoman for the governor, told TIME in June.

Unintimidated PAC, which like other super PACs is permitted to raise and spend unlimited sums in support of its favored candidate, is prohibited from coordinating with Walker’s campaign. While Walker was not yet a candidate at the time of the donation, his pre-campaign and super PAC had already established a so-called firewall preventing coordination in accordance with Federal Election Commission rules.

The Wisconsin legislature approved the arena deal last month in a pair of bipartisan votes.

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