TIME 2016 Election

Rand Paul Wins CPAC Straw Poll, Scott Walker Takes Second

Rand Paul speaks at CPAC in National Harbor, Md. on Feb. 27, 2015.
Mark Peterson—Redux for TIME Rand Paul speaks at CPAC in National Harbor, Md. on Feb. 27, 2015.

Sen. Rand Paul won the Conservative Political Action Conference for the third year in a row, but the real action was in second place, where Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker took the honors.

Paul’s victory, with 26% percent of the vote, was widely expected due to the throngs of young, libertarian-minded attendees. (He won 25% of the vote in 2013 and 31% in 2014.) But Walker’s second-place win showed the Midwesterner’s growing credibility among conservatives.

In securing 21% of the vote, Walker is sure to ignite more buzz as he seeks to appeal to both the party’s wealthy elite and its conservative base. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush may be dominating the fundraising primary, but Walker is picking up support among the party’s grassroots.

Walker’s continued rise has only pressured the more moderate Chris Christie, who placed 10th with the unfriendly audience and is finding his path to the nomination narrowed by Walker and Bush.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, whose fiery brand of conservatism appeals particularly to the CPAC attendee, placed third with 12% of the vote.

But the straw poll’s results are hardly predictive of the GOP primaries, providing only a murky window into the polarized political party. Only registered attendees are provided a code with which to vote, turning campaign staffers and volunteers into temporary travel agents.

Bush came in fifth with 8% of the vote. He faced a skeptical crowd at CPAC, where the conservative base views the Bush heir as an establishment figure backed by Washington D.C.’s power brokers. Many view his support of the Common Core education standards and immigration reform with suspicion, and his appearance on Friday punctuated was by heckles and jeers.

Busing in supporters to pack the audience and juice the vote in the straw poll is a longstanding CPAC tradition. On Friday crowds of young students descended on the Convention Center, bused in by Bush allies who helped them obtain passes to the conference when he spoke.

Paul and Cruz’s PACs organized discounted registrations and hotel rooms nearby for young attendees, who play an outsized role in swaying the poll’s results.

Jeb’s fifth place finish, despite a coordinated effort to boost his support, highlights a central challenge of his campaign: convincing conservatives that he is one of them. Bush aides believe that once the candidate has time to share his record in Florida that conservatives will warm to him.

Bush will travel to Iowa next week for the first time this cycle, where he is expected to receive another wary reception.

The poll surveyed 3007 CPAC attendees between Wednesday and Saturday, a 22% increase over the previous year. Nearly half the voters were ages 18 to 25, indicating a heavy presence on college-age Republicans. Walker, whose son Matt is Midwest vice chairman for the College Republican National Committee, relied heavily on the student vote.

TIME 2016 Election

Conservatives Mostly Silent on Gay Marriage at CPAC

Ted Cruz CPAC
Mark Peterson—Redux for TIME Ted Cruz speaks on stage at CPAC in National Harbor, Md. on Feb. 26, 2015.

Don't ask, don't tell

It’s a momentous time for gay marriage. Every few weeks a federal judge orders a state — most recently, deep-red Alabama — to recognize same-sex unions, bringing the total to 37. The Supreme Court could expand that nationwide with a ruling sometime this summer. But you wouldn’t know that from the discussions at a gathering of conservative activists this week.

At the Conservative Political Action Conference near Washington, talk of gay marriage was either brief or nonexistent. When prospective candidates brought up the issue, it was to quickly note their disapproval before moving onto another topic. Gone were the fiery speeches of just a few years ago.

“Marriage is a question for the states, and it is wrong for the federal government or unelected judges to tear down the marriage laws of the sates,” Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said in a brief response to a question by Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday.

Attendees at CPAC, many of them young libertarians, are unenthusiastic about the family values moralizing that pervaded much of the conservative discussion on gay marriage over the past decade. At a small breakout session on marriage, some CPAC attendees loudly booed a speaker who advocated continuing the fight against marriage equality.

“Any outright condemnation of gay people is not just a non-starter with general electorate, but also with the conservative base here at CPAC,” Gregory T. Angelo, executive director of the conservative gay-rights group Log Cabin Republicans, told TIME. “It’s something that doesn’t resonate.”

One reason for the change at CPAC is the broader changes in public opinion. According to a Gallup poll taken in May last year, 55% of Americans believe same-sex marriage should be legal, with just 42% opposing. That’s a complete reversal of public opinion from 2004, when just 42% supported gay marriage and 55% opposed.

Gay marriage was once a rallying cry for conservatives at CPAC, much as it was on the national stage. In 2006, then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist vowed at CPAC to pass a constitutional ban of gay marriage.

Anti-gay marriage displays were much more common in previous years, such as one by the Traditional Values coalition in 2004, which featured a woman dressed as a bride serving wedding cake. Traditional Values’ chairman, a prominent conservative said at the conference that year, “Babylon is symbolic of promiscuity, hedonism and homosexuality,” according to a report in Salon at the time.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose emerging presidential campaign has attracted moderate voices on gay marriage, appeared reluctant to speak about the topic just days hiring as his director of communications the strategist Tim Miller, who is gay. Hannity asked Bush whether his views on the issue have changed.

“I believe in traditional marriage,” Bush said curtly, without elaborating.

It was a contrast even with CPAC in 2014, when former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum reached out to evangelicals, saying “I want to talk about reclaiming marriage as a good for society and celebrating how important it is for our economy.” This year, Santorum devoted his speech to ISIS and foreign policy.

Young attendees at CPAC largely expressed support for gay marriage.

One young attendee and activist, Drew Constable, was adamant. “Any two consenting adults should be able to marry,” Constable said.

TIME 2016 Election

Conservative Activists View Jeb Bush With Skepticism

A raucous crowd at CPAC showed deep divides on Friday over a Jeb Bush candidacy

When Jeb Bush walked in at a grassroots gathering Friday, the Tea Party walked out.

As the former Florida governor spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference near Washington, several dozen younger attendees left the room, led by a perennial Tea Party protester in revolutionary-era garb and a billowing Gadsden flag. Outside the hall, a chant of “No more Bushes” could be heard, while inside Bush folded his hands and stood uncomfortably.

The rowdy scene revealed deeper divides between hardline conservatives and supporters of more Establishment favorites such as Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. But as the frontrunner among donors, it was Bush who drew the ire of many activists in the audience.

Read more: Jeb Bush Pitches Skeptical Conservatives at CPAC

To be fair, CPAC is not representative of the entire Republican Party. Attendees of the annual event are as likely to sport a denim vest, T-shirt or scruffy facial hair as they are to wear suits and loafers. One man wearing a Judas Priest sweatshirt over a maroon tie told a reporter that for him, CPAC is “just an excuse to go on a five-day bender.” The Republican National Convention, it ain’t.

Bush’s recent success with big donors was more a liability among the crowd here than an asset. “When you see the candidates supported by the status quo figures, you have to wonder,” said Bob Bodi, a Republican activist in Ohio, who wore a burgundy tie dotted with GOP elephants. “Conservatives aren’t willing to watch an election be bought.”

CPAC attendees also complained that Bush is milquetoast. “I’m not sure he has the fire in the belly to get the country back on track,” said Bill Rogers, a septuagenarian working through a glass of wine one evening after most had headed home. “He’s too soft on immigration.” Still others doubted his commitment to conservative values. “He doesn’t focus enough on first principles,” said Razi Lane, a first-year student at Hillsdale College in Michigan. He conjured James Madison and John Locke to criticize Bush. “Who represents natural law better? Ted Cruz.”

It wasn’t just local activists who expressed skepticism about a Bush candidacy. The talk-show host Laura Ingraham lambasted Bush on his money connections in a speech Friday morning. “The idea that we should conduct any kind of coronation,” Ingraham said, “because 50 rich families decide who will best decide their interests? No way, Jose.” Donald Trump, the real estate mogul and indefatigable presidential possible roused the crowd when he said Bush “is in favor of Common Core, he’s weak on immigration.”

But apart from the Sen. Ted Cruz late-night dorm room debaters and National Rifle Association activists at CPAC, Bush also had his supporters in the crowd. As in past years, presidential hopefuls’ allies bused in groups of supporters to vote for them in the straw poll and represent them in the crowd. Mitt Romney did it, Rand Paul’s allies do it, and so did Bush’s. Bush’s supporters like his tolerant stance on immigration, his willingness to compromise, qualities they say make him electable. “You have to give a little and you have to compromise and that’s something our country is lacking,” said Mallori Ware, a 19-year-old first-year at Liberty University and CPAC supporter of Bush. “We’re not going to elect someone to office who’s too conservative.”

The CPAC conservatives disagree, and a fight is brewing in the buzzing convention halls, one that will define the GOP for the next year. The night before Bush gave his tumultuous talk, Maggie Wright, a 69-year-old committed Cruz activist was adamant: she wouldn’t walk out in protest the next day. Out of politeness? No, not at raucous CPAC. Wright would stay to hear Bush’s speech, and “use it as ammo when Ted runs.”

TIME 2016 Election

Ted Cruz Stresses Conservative Cred At CPAC

Cruz doled out the red meat to a supportive crowd on Thursday

Sen. Ted Cruz was in his element at the Conservative Political Action Conference Thursday, throwing out tweet-sized red meat to a crowd of grassroots activists.

As he prepares for a possible run for the Republican presidential nomination, the Texas Republican stressed his conservative bona fides, arguing that primary voters should look at actions, not words.

“We all know that in a campaign every, candidate comes out and tells you, ‘I’m the most conservative guy that’s ever lived,'” Cruz said. “If you’re really a conservative you will have been in the trenches and you will bear the scars.”

“I demand action, not talk,” Cruz said.

Cruz has made a name for himself as a hardline opponent of the Obama White House, helping prompt a government shutdown in 2013 in an unsuccessful bid to defund the Affordable Care Act. His pugnacity has drawn ire from Republicans like Sens. Lindsey Graham and John McCain, who has called Cruz “wacko bird” and “crazy.” But Cruz stood by his record during his speech on Thursday, drawing applause from an audience.

“If a candidate tells you they oppose Obamacare, fantastic,” said Cruz in a reference to his 21-hour speech against the law. “But when have you stood up and fought against it?”

Cruz also is seeking to establish an ideological distance between his likely campaign and Washington DC, which he impugned for its “mendacity.”

“We need to run a populist campaign, standing for hardworking men and women,” Cruz said “We need to take the power out of Washington and bring it back to the people.”

Cruz took some pointed shots at the presumptive Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, saying that she “embodies the corruption of Washington.” Cruz was asked in a question-and-answer session with Fox News commentator Sean Hannity after his speech to describe Bill Clinton. The Texas senator answered “youth outreach” to snickers from the crowd—a less-than-subtle reference to the Monica Lewinsky scandal during his presidency.

“What I’m trying to do more than anything else is bring a disruptive app to politics,” Cruz said.

TIME 2016 Election

Conservatives Aim to Take Campaign Tips From Obama Playbook

CPAC 2015 Republicans Conservatives
Mark Peterson—Redux for TIME An empty ballroom set up for the start of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Md. on the morning of Feb. 26, 2015.

They're studying the tactics used by President Obama in 2008 and 2012

Conservative organizers hope to overcome a crucial shortfall in digital savvy and voter reach ahead of the 2016 election by taking a page out of President Obama’s winning campaign playbook.

“We can do better on the center-right at moving people to the polls before they close,” said Ned Ryun the founder of American Majority, a political action committee that focuses on local organizing. “If you’re going to turn out a sophisticated, targeted campaign, look at the last three elections.”

Ryun was one of many GOP activists at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington D.C. who huddled in training rooms Wednesday to plan a strategy that will build local campaign infrastructure and social media strategies in order to get voters to the polls.

Organizers pointed to several Democratic outreach strategies as effective models. Building local support based on meticulous electronic data election was something “the Obama campaign did very well in 2012,” Ryun added. Conservatives also said they envy Democrats efforts to target unregistered voters and convince voters to go to the polls.

Part of the advantage comes from more focus by progressives and the Democratic party on training frontline organizers and campaign staff in the latest tools of the trade. This is the first year CPAC is hosting its own “activism boot camp,” modeled in large part on boot camps held by progressive groups such s the New Organizing Institute. The aim is to broaden the GOP’s reach by training organizers in social media, research for negative ads and targeting voters.

In recent years on the presidential level, the disparity has been stark. The Obama 2012 campaign’s sophisticated voter targeting and data-driven approach to getting out the vote applied a level of technical sophistication the Romney campaign lacked. Obama volunteers knocked on over 7 million doors on election day, using complex data to target voters, according to a 2012 Obama campaign report. That compares with Romney’s 1 million door knocks, Ryun said.

The Romney campaign also did a “very poor” job in establishing a campaign infrastructure, said Ryun. “The emphasis of the Romney campaign on infrastructure and the get out the vote that should have been there, was not there.” Much of the conservative effort will also be focused on attacking Democratic candidates. The research arm of America Rising, a GOP-friendly super PAC that combs opposition candidates’ public records to inform critical advertisements, has been investigating Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s background since 2013.

During a presentation on Wednesday, Geoff Embler, vice president at American Rising, quoted the campaign manager for the 2008 Obama campaign David Plouffe, who said in 2012, “nowadays, if it doesn’t have a video component, it doesn’t really go anywhere.” “That is a philosophy we’ve really taken to heart,” Embler said his group, which is known for extensively culling video to run ads against opponents.

Democrats have tended to use Twitter and Facebook more fluently than GOP organizers, building campaigns around hashtags and effective Facebook posts. There are limits though to mimicking Obama’s 2012 strategy, organizers said. “You can’t run a social media campaign in 2016 just based on what Obama did in 2012 or you’ll get crushed,” American Majority national executive director Matt Batzel said. “It’s innovate or die.”

TIME Companies

Why Warren Buffett Wants to Buy a Bunch of German Companies

Germany is the über-economy of Europe

Legendary investor Warren Buffett is preparing to buy companies in Europe’s biggest and most reliable economy after purchasing a German motorcycle parts maker this month.

Buffett said in an interview published Wednesday in the newspaper Handelsblatt that his Berkshire Hathaway holding company is eyeing companies in Germany because of the size of its economy and its regulatory framework.

“Germany is a terrific market, lots of people, lots of buying power, productive, it’s got a legal system we feel very good with, it’s got a regulatory system we feel very good with, it’s got people we feel very good with—and customers,” Buffett said.

Berkshire Hathaway acquired family-owned motorcycle apparel and accessories retailer Detlev Louis Motorrad-Vertriebs in February and is looking to expand its footprint in Germany. Berkshire Hathaway purchased the company for a little more than 400 million euros ($456 million), Reuters reports.

Buffett said he was ready to pay cash for good German companies, despite the weakness of the euro currency, which has dropped more than 15% against the dollar over the past year.

[Handelsblatt]

TIME Environment

Watch How NASA Monitors Sand Flying From the Sahara to the Amazon

Millions of tons of Saharan dust land in the Amazon each year

A NASA satellite has been monitoring the movement of sand from the Sahara Desert in Africa to the Amazon rainforest in South America.

The space agency’s Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) is tracking the massive plumes of dust particles that make the Atlantic crossing from the great African desert to the largest rainforest in the world, where the particles settle and aid plant growth. The phosphorus content of the African dust is an important nutrient in the Amazon.

On average, 182 million tons of dust leave Africa each year, of which 27 million tons is deposited in the Amazon basin, according to data collected since CALIPSO launched in 2006. The amount varies each year, however.

“Using satellites to get a clear picture of dust is important for understanding and eventually using computers to model where that dust will go now and in future climate scenarios,” NASA research scientist Hongbin Yu says.

Read next: This Is How Incredible (and Terrifying) Space Looks in Virtual Reality

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME France

Drones Spotted Over Paris Again

A view shows the illuminated Eiffel Tower and La Defense business district in Paris, Feb. 24, 2015.
Gonzalo Fuentes—Reuters A view shows the illuminated Eiffel Tower and La Defense business district in Paris, Feb. 24, 2015.

For the second time in two days

Drones were again spotted overnight hovering above Paris on Wednesday, prompting an investigation in the city just a day after they were first spotted.

Between 11 p.m. Tuesday and 2 a.m. Wednesday, the unmanned aerial vehicles were spotted above Rue de Vaugirard, the Assembly, the city’s east train station, Porte de Saint-Ouen and Porte de la Chapelle, CNN reports.

Its unclear whether the drones are recreational and to whom they belong, but they’ve put authorities on edge following the terrorist attacks in the city last month.

Just a day earlier, five drones were seen over the Eiffel Tower, the Bastille, Place de la Concorde, Les Invalides and the U.S. Embassy, said Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre, a spokeswoman for the Paris prosecutor’s office.

[CNN]

TIME Smartphones

Siri Took All Those Language Classes You’ve Been Putting Off

Apple's Siri on iPhone
Oli Scarff—Getty Images A man uses 'Siri' on the new iPhone 4S after being one of the first customers in the Apple store in Covent Garden on October 14, 2011 in London, England.

Siri is learning Russian, Danish, Dutch and more

A new beta of iOS 8.3 Apple released Monday morning shows Siri will soon be fluent in many more languages.

The new iPhone operating system build shows that Russian, Danish, Dutch, Thai, Turkish, Swedish and Portuguese will be added to Siri’s impressive repertoire, 9to5Mac reports. The new iOS will also add different English accents for regions like New Zealand.

Siri already knows French, German, Japanese, Mandarin, Italian, Cantonese, Korean, and Spanish—as well as regional variants of those languages.

The new iOS will also have a slew of more racially diverse palette of emoji, allowing users to click and hold on any emoji to change the skin tone.

There’s no set release date for iOS 8.3 yet.

[9to5Mac]

TIME Gadgets

This Startup Is Basically Making Ultimate Frisbee With Drones

Exploring Santa Barbara's Coastal Charms
George Rose—Getty Images A Phantom drone buzzes above Gaviota State Beach at sunset on November 26, 2014, in Santa Barbara, California.

Drone tennis, drone pong, drone soccer, drone everything

A new “drone game” that allows players to pilot a drone across the sky in friendly competition has launched on Kickstarter. Players use a wand to control a drone’s flight and play games like pong, soccer or race through an obstacle course.

Made by the startup Zyro, the specially-designed drone used in the games is better protected than some other drones. It’s built to swing and spin with the wave of a wand, almost like hitting a ball with a tennis racquet. Players can choose whether to swing or pass Zyro based on the game they’re playing.

Zyro wants to open up its API to allow developers to work on new games.

So far Zyro has raised just over $650 out of the total $50,000 the project needs to be funded, with 18 days left.

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