TIME Chris Christie

Chris Christie Highlights Glory Days at Campaign Launch

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks during the "Road to Majority" conference June 19, 2015 in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong—Getty Images New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks during the "Road to Majority" conference June 19, 2015 in Washington, DC.

For Chris Christie, the gymnasium will be a familiar setting. Livingston High School is where he watched classmates play basketball and cheer the football team before big games, cheering on the powerhouse Lancers. He rose over his contemporaries—including the man who now serves as President Obama’s top economic adviser, as well as a former baseball teammate whose role in closing a bridge into New York City would dog Christie’s political future—to become a three-time student body president.

On these polished hardwood floors, trimmed in green paint, the New Jersey Governor will try to return to the rosier times, when ahead of him lay years as the Big Man on Campus at Delaware and then a high-profile posting as a young U.S. Attorney. As Christie launches his White House bid on Tuesday, his approach echoes the craggy vocals of his musical hero, a beloved figure in the Garden State with whom the politically ambitious Christie has had a tortured relationship.

“Glory days,” Bruce Springsteen bellows on the eponymous track, released while Christie in his young 20s. “Well, they’ll pass you by, glory days.”

It’s as fine a metaphor as any for the famously outspoken governor, who has descended from far-and-away front-runner to potential also-ran in a matter of 18 months.

Burdened by the lingering scandal of the politically motivated closure of approach lanes to the George Washington Bridge by former aides, including his longtime pal and fellow Livingston High School alumnus David Wildstein. The state’s fiscal malaise has taken its toll; the wonk a year ahead of Christie, White House Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Alan Krueger has faced it on the national level. And Christie’s challenge to his state’s public sector unions on pensions and benefits, deemed too modest, have sent him into a six-month scramble for a fix as he has tried to lay the groundwork for the most difficult campaign in American politics.

His national poll numbers have collapsed, from a high of 20 percent in the RealClearPolitics average just before the Bridgegate revelations in early 2014 to 4 percent today. Even the announcement date reflected Christie’s newfound troubles—pushed forward to allow him to fight to earn a spot on the first debate stage in Cleveland on Aug. 6. Even at home, his poll numbers put him among the most unpopular governors in the country.

Christie aides maintain that despite the low approval figures, his overall strategy hasn’t substantially changed. But it’s clear his ambition has. Gone are the long-laid plans to run a national campaign as a well-funded establishment powerhouse. His fundraising numbers, which will be announced next month, are expected to pale in comparison to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Sen. Ted Cruz, let alone former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Some of the mega-donors who pushed him to enter the 2012 race against Mitt Romney have moved on, while others have opened their checkbooks only for cautious sums.

What Christie has left are his glory days: the personal narrative of growing up in a blue-collar family to prosecuting terror cases that will serve at the core of his speech. More important, will be recapturing the spirit of the long days of 2011, when the relative-unknown Governor became a YouTube and cable news staple in weekly clashes with critics over his pension reform plan. The give-and-take, in which Christie would argue that the state would go broke unless the retirement programs were restructured, defined Christie’s tenure in Trenton and, he hopes, one day the White House.

It’s an all-in bet that Christie’s dynamism on the stump and raw political talents can overcome more than a year of drama-filled headlines. That New Hampshire, the state with a penchant for embracing candidates’ “straight talk,” could vault Christie back into the top-tier. That the rest of the field, filled with candidates calibrating their messages to appeal to one group or another, will wear on voters seeking a leader.

“Voters are starved for authenticity, which is why Governor Christie has been successful in winning in a blue state,” Christie’s chief strategist, Mike DuHaime, told TIME last week. “Voters are looking for leaders who treat them like adults and tell them the truth. They are rejecting politicians who tell everyone what they want to hear and speak only in cautious focus-grouped terms.”

In four policy rollouts in recent months, Christie has deployed his “tell it like it is” message to calling for privatizing college loans and raising the retirement age. “They call it the third rail of American politics,” he said recently in New Hampshire. “They say, ‘don’t touch it.’ So we’re not going to touch it. We’re going to hug it.”

It’s signature Christie, and more such proposals are planned in the coming months.

Already Christie has held eight town halls in New Hampshire this year, and he will hold three more this week, beginning seven hours after his announcement address.

Christie’s speech Tuesday in the high school gymnasium, is staged to mimic the feel of the more than 135 town hall events he conducted in New Jersey, spotlighting the centrality of that storyline to his campaign. His pre-announcement video provides the origin story for those moments, a staple of his stump speech designed to make New Jersey brash palatable to the rest of America.

“I get accused a lot of times of being too blunt and too direct and saying what’s on my mind just a little bit too loudly,” Christie says at one of the Granite State town halls. “I have an Irish father and I had a Sicilian mother … My mom was the one who set the rules and set the tone. No suffering in silence, if you’ve got a problem, tell me.”

Christie would do well to heed his late mother. Sondra Christie’s advice given to the still-unformed future Governor could be what lifts him out of the current slump. If that tough talk cannot, Christie will be left with another truism from his idol, Springsteen: “Time slips away and leaves you with nothing, mister, but boring stories of glory days.”

TIME Hillary Clinton

What Hillary Clinton Learned From This 2013 Campaign

Hillary Clinton Addresses Virginia Democratic Party's Annual Jefferson-Jackson Party Dinner
Alex Wong—Getty Images Democratic U.S. presidential hopeful and former U.S. Secretary of the State Hillary Clinton comes on the stage with Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe during the Democratic Party of Virginia Jefferson-Jackson dinner June 26, 2015 at George Mason University's Patriot Center in Fairfax, Virginia.

Her campaign manager, a number of staffers and her strategy all come from the successful Virginia gubernatorial race

When Terry McAuliffe stormed the stage at a Virginia Democrats’ rally at George Mason University on Friday, Hillary Clinton followed on with an arm around her decades-long friend and political partner.

“I’ll tell you an honest story. When we’re on vacation, come about 6 o’clock at night, I’m ready for a cold beer,” McAuliffe told the crowd of 1,800 supporters, heaping unscripted love on Clinton as she stood smiling by his side. “I don’t go looking for Bill Clinton. I go looking for Hillary Clinton. Because she’s a lot more fun than Bill Clinton is, and I love him too!”

“Woah!” said Clinton, taking the microphone and matching McAuliffe, gush for gush. “I love your governor and I love your first lady.”

Clinton and McAuliffe shared more than just a stage and some kind words on Friday: they are now splitting the spoils of his successful 2013 race for governor of Virginia. Now in its third month, Clinton’s campaign for president has adopted key strategic lessons from McAuliffe’s gubernatorial race, including the finer details of a data-driven field organization focused on turning out the Democratic base and unmarried women, leaning into progressive Democratic positions and hiring many of the same staff members that helped McAuliffe win the governor’s mansion. And Democrats say that McAuliffe’s 2013 victory sets the stage for the state to go blue in the 2016 general election, when Hillary Clinton is the likely candidate.

Bill and Hillary Clinton took a keen interest in the 2013 race—and campaign manager Robby Mook—beyond their role as longtime friends of McAuliffe, her 2008 presidential campaign chairman and his 1996 presidential co-chair. McAuliffe’s staffers recall their candidate receiving excited late-night calls from Bill with stump speech pointers and campaign advice. And shortly after McAuliffe was sworn in on Jan. 11, 2014, the Clintons met with Mook at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond to discuss the race, seen by people familiar with the meeting as an early audition for his role as Hillary’s campaign manager.

Former McAuliffe aides are quick to say that their energy in 2013 was focused on getting their man to the governor’s house. But since then, the victorious McAuliffe campaign has become a ex post facto lab experiment for Clinton’s current bid for the White House.

A purple state that is trending blue, Virginia bears similarities to the general American electorate: its nonwhite population is growing and its voters are increasingly adopting liberal stances social issues. The swing state offered an ideal test run for the Clinton operation, combining vast rural tracts with midsized cities and expansive suburbs.

More alike than the voters, though, is the ethos, spirit and strategy of the campaigns themselves, much of it coming from Mook, the general on McAuliffe’s campaign who is now leading Clinton’s army.

“I can’t think of a state campaign where the esprit was as good as it was in Terry’s campaign. It was not just a minimal amount of backbiting: there was no backbiting,” said Geoff Garin, the pollster for McAuliffe’s campaign who is now working on the pro-Clinton super PAC, Priorities USA Action. “And part of Robby’s strength as a leader is he does get people engaged and pulling in the same direction.”

Central to McAuliffe’s campaign was his embrace of staunch Democratic positions on gay rights, abortion, gun control and healthcare a hard play for the Democratic base in Virginia that capitalized on the left-shifting electorate in his 2013 race for governor. Clinton has likewise embraced gay marriage, making it a central platform of her campaign messaging this year, just as public support has reached an all-time high. And she has fervently called for action on gun control at a time when a majority of Americans are in favor of universal background checks. Both have also embraced the Affordable Care Act, the controversial law that is growing in acceptance among the general populace but remains anathema to Republicans.

Those progressive positions succeeded in energizing the Democratic base without alienating Virginia moderates, also a central organizing tack of Clinton’s campaign.

To turn out Democrats, McAuliffe adopted and expanded the Obama grassroots vision, bringing on a huge staff of field organizers and signed up volunteers to knock on doors and work the phones from the very beginning of his campaign. Clinton hired about 100 field staff across all 50 states, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia for a two-month intensive effort after her announcement, and at least half the staff remains on the payroll.

Both the 2013 and the current presidential campaigns will rely on an army of volunteers, a flurry of commit-to-vote cards, targeted door-to-door canvassing and plenty of money to fund the efforts.

“The hallmarks of what Robby did in Virginia, and what he’s building now, is that the organizing occurred on the ground very early in the campaign,” Garin said.

Beyond Mook, a bevy of key McAuliffe alumni have migrated to the Clinton camp. Brynne Craig, Clinton’s deputy political director, was the political director on McAuliffe’s campaign. Josh Schwerin, a spokesman on Clinton’s campaign, was the press secretary in the 2013 gubernatorial race. And some of the key players organizing Hillary’s large ground operations in Iowa are former McAuliffe staffers as well, including Clinton caucus director Michael Halle and organizing director Michelle Kleppe. In fact, when Clinton announced on April 12, about a dozen McAuliffe veterans were already on the ground in Iowa, having arrived quietly days before to help lay the groundwork for her campaign in the first-in-the-nation caucus state.

Despite the talk of focusing on the race at hand, it was clear that whatever happened during the gubernatorial campaign would matter in 2016.

“Everybody knew Robby was in the running for that job” of running the top 2016 Democratic operation, said someone close to the McAuliffe campaign. “But there was a real sense of cream rising to the top broadly: nobody could do well if this campaign didn’t go well.”

Clinton and McAuliffe have had long and closely entwined careers. McAuliffe put up $1.35 million as collateral on Clinton’s mortgage to buy their home in Chappaqua, N.Y. The Clintons, in turn, have provided McAuliffe a large network for his business and political enterprises.

And together, they are magnets for controversy. On the campaign trail in Virginia in 2013, McAuliffe’s strategy was to sidestep the accusations of shady business deals, including a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation of an electric car company he founded. Clinton, similarly, has herself largely tried to skirt questions about the Clinton Foundation and her private email server during her time as Secretary of State. Both are reflection of Mook’s long-held strategy “to keep the principals in their box and away from making mistakes, giving the rest of the campaign room to do its job,” says a McAuliffe confidant.

“People who have a lot of history—that needs to be managed when you’re messaging to voters,” said another former McAuliffe campaign staffer. “The campaign in Virginia relied on us not taking the bait on fights on anything in his public record. And you may see that with Clinton campaign.”

McAuliffe, for his part, acknowledged as much in an interview with TIME earlier this year, crediting Mook for keeping his campaign’s eye on the prize.

“In Clinton world there are a lot of friends, a lot of people who want to help, and what he is able to do is direct all of their energy in a positive way. He can make sure campaign staff can do their jobs without losing focus,” McAuliffe said.

McAuliffe’s victory was due in no small part to unmarried women voters, whom he won by a huge margin of 67% to just 25% for Cuccinelli. McAuliffe blasted ads during the campaign framing Cuccinelli as a right-wing zealot on contraception and abortion issues. That demographic is crucial for Clinton, who tops unmarried woman over a generic Republican candidate with 66% of the vote to 29%, according to a recent Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research poll.

For all the similarities, there are fundamental differences in the two campaigns. McAuliffe outraised his opponent for the governor’s office by about $15 million—a large margin for a gubernatorial race that Clinton is unlikely to replicate in 2016.

“It’s easy to be the smartest guy in the room when you are able to spend at least $15 million more than your opponent in a statewide race,” said a former advisor to McAuliffe opponent Ken Cuccinelli. “One of the other major differences between 2013 and 2016 is that the huge funding disparity between the two candidates won’t be present again.”


Morning Must Reads: June 29

Mark Wilson—Getty Images The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

After a momentous week of American politics, Republicans are struggling to adapt to a changing America, but the Supreme Court rulings offer the party an opportunity to leave some baggage behind before next year’s election. Already a fault-line is emerging within the party on whether to fight for or drop a federal Constitutional amendment to roll back the high court’s decision and allow states to define marriage. Republicans like Lindsey Graham and Jeb Bush bucking their base on the issue are part of an emerging trend this cycle of GOP candidates attempting to cast themselves as the inheritors of John McCain’s “Straight Talk.” Chris Christie, one of the leading practitioners of that style of politics, is set to announce he is running for president on Tuesday. He released a biographical preview video Sunday night spotlighting his mantra of “telling it like it is.”

Here are your must-reads:

Must Reads

The Straight Talk Express Gets a Few More Passengers
Republican candidates see an opportunity in bucking their base [TIME]

As Left Wins Culture Battles, G.O.P. Gains Opportunity to Pivot for 2016
A possible inflection point for the party [New York Times]

Why the Next Gay Rights Push Will Be Different
TIME’s Philip Elliott on what’s next for the movement after Friday’s Supreme Court ruling

Cruz Tries to Prove a Conservative Can Win
The Texan pitches himself as a true believer—with the money—TIME’s Alex Altman reports

Chris Christie’s Nothing-Left-to-Lose Campaign
The New Jersey governor is weakened, but not down for the count [Politico]

5 Days That Left a Confederate Flag Wavering, and Likely to Fall
Behind the scenes in South Carolina [New York Times]

Sound Off

“The debt is not payable…There is no other option. I would love to have an easier option. This is not politics, this is math.” — Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro García Padilla to the New York Times on his commonwealth’s dire financial position

“I would probably comb my hair back. Why? Because this thing is too hard to comb … I wouldn’t have time, because if I were in the White House, I’d be working my ass off.” — Reality television star and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in Iowa over the weekend

Bits and Bites

Chris Christie teases campaign launch [TIME]

Martin O’Malley taps Dave Hamrick, Obama veteran, as campaign manager [New York Times]

Jeb Bush dogged by decades of questions about business deals [Washington Post]

Education Department dials back plan to rate colleges [TIME]

Will he run? Biden speculation mounts [Wall Street Journal]

This map shows how gay marriage spread across the United States [TIME]

Supreme Court term to end with 3 rulings [Wall Street Journal]

Biden worships, speaks at S.C. church [Associated Press]

TIME Chris Christie

Chris Christie Teases Campaign Launch

He's seeking to show a softer side

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie released a video Sunday evening previewing his formal presidential announcement highlighting his commitment to “telling it like it is.”

The video seeks to cast Christie’s famously outspoken persona in a softer light, featuring the presidential candidate re-telling a familiar story from before his mother’s death. “There’s nothing left unsaid between us,” he says, quoting her at a New Hampshire town hall.

“You better tell them exactly what you’re thinking and exactly what you’re feeling,” Christie continues. “And when you ask about my moral compass, that’s it. That’s it.”

Christie, whose poll numbers have cratered at home and nationally following the politically motivated closures of lanes to the George Washington Bridge by former aides in 2013 and an ongoing fiscal crisis, is betting his political future on his unfiltered style and substance resonating with voters. His campaign’s strategy is New Hampshire-or-bust, seeking to follow the path of Sen. John McCain’s 2000 and 2008 bids.

But the “Straight Talk Express” is a lot more crowded this cycle, with more candidates seeking to appeal to voters by showing a willingness to stand up to the party base.

Leaving no doubt about the nature of Christie’s announcement Tuesday at his former high school in Livingston, New Jersey, the video is paid for by “Chris Christie for President, Inc.”

Read Next: The Straight Talk Express Gets a Few More Passengers

TIME 2016 Election

The Straight Talk Express Gets a Few More Passengers

The Straight Talk express bus during Senator John McCain's(R-AZ) visit to a polling booth during the "Straight Talk Express" campaign for the Republican nomination in Nashua, New Hampshire on January 8, 2007.
NBC NewsWire via Getty Images The Straight Talk express bus during Senator John McCain's(R-AZ) visit to a polling booth during the "Straight Talk Express" campaign for the Republican nomination in Nashua, New Hampshire on January 8, 2007.

Suddenly, truth-telling is in vogue

It takes a savvy politician to run for president by telling people what they don’t want to hear—or perhaps a crazy one. Yet here was Lindsey Graham, South Carolina’s senior senator, shuffling into the state capitol June 22 to advocate the removal of the Confederate flag. Graham’s nascent presidential campaign depends on winning the Palmetto State — where six in 10 voters oppose the relocation of the rebel emblem.

But it wasn’t the first time Graham, who supports comprehensive immigration reform and climate science, has put conscience ahead of his constituents. And he’s hardly the only candidate risking the repercussions of defying the party base as the race for the White House ramps up.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has stuck by his moderate positions on education and immigration. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will make controversial entitlement reforms a cornerstone of his comeback bid. Ohio Gov. John Kasich infuriated conservative activists by expanding Medicaid in Ohio. And long-shot candidate former New York Gov. George Pataki has made disagreeing with his party’s mainstream a point of pride.

The maverick style has gone mainstream. Fifteen years after John McCain tried to ride the Straight Talk Express to the GOP nomination, the truth-telling persona has become as much a fixture of presidential campaigning as the flag pin. And in the 2016 Republican primary, more candidates than ever before are betting that a base-bucking approach will pay off with voters sick of the quadrennial presidential pander.

“You have to understand,” Kasich explained to TIME in a recent interview, “the Republican Party is my vehicle, and not my master.”

All this is a stark change from the 2012 campaign, when the GOP field was desperate to indulge the activist base that seemed to hold the keys to the White House. The rush to the right often manifested in ways that were embarrassing or ugly. There was the debate where nearly the entire field pledged to veto a 10-to-1 deal of spending cuts for new tax revenue—a pact most sensible conservatives would snap up in a second. There was the collective unwillingness to call out conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh’s ad hominem attack against women’s rights’ activist Sandra Fluke. There was the forum in Florida where the candidates stood idly by as a gay soldier was booed on live television.

Yet four years later, the number of candidates eager to establish their independence exceeds the number who are purely focused on pleasing the base. “Voters are looking for leaders who treat them like adults and tell them the truth,” says Mike DuHaime, Christie’s chief strategist. “They are rejecting politicians who tell everyone what they want to hear and speak only in cautious focus-grouped terms.”

In some ways, the tell-it-like-it-is caucus is responding to Americans’ well-documented dissatisfaction with the nation’s institutions—and especially its elected officials.

“Most of these candidates understand that of the forces shaping the electorate, there is nothing more dominating than the utter collapse of trust between the American people and just about every institution you can think of,” explains Steve Schmidt, McCain’s former top strategist. “What they get is the macro-political climate in the country. They get the sour mood of the American people, the collapse of trust between most American institutions and the American people, and that they want a real leader.”

“Folks hate Washington, D.C.; its policies, its politics, its attitude,” adds New Hampshire-based GOP strategist Dave Carney. “We thirst for someone to treat us as adults, and be straight with us about the problems and challenges we face as a nation.”

But that’s not the only reason why Ted Cruz, whose Oval Office aspirations may hinge on winning the Iowa caucuses, called for an end to the ethanol subsidies that have long fattened local interests. Or why Bush told the Wall Street Journal last December that the next GOP nominee must be willing to “lose the primary to win the general without violating your principles.”

“Folks will tell you in politics, ‘don’t talk about that subject,’” Christie said in New Hampshire this month, in a reference to raising the retirement age. “They call it the third rail of American politics. They say, ‘don’t touch it.’ So we’re not going to touch it. We’re going to hug it.”

The maverick shtick is popular because it can be good politics. Each of these campaigns has mapped their paths to the White House through New Hampshire, where style has always been as prized as substance. They know that truth-telling can be a recipe for media attention, and that presenting one’s self as an agent of change can help establish a niche in a crowded field.

Their numbers are also growing as a side effect of new rules put in place after the 2012 race to shorten the primary calendar and limit the number of televised debates. The guidelines, imposed by the Republican National Committee to limit the damage inflicted on the eventual nominee, have had the unexpected effect of nationalizing the race. With more states voting early on, contests in places like Iowa and South Carolina become less vital to a candidate’s chances. That saps the power of hardcore activists and hands more influence to moderate voters in bigger, more diverse states. And with national polling being the standard to get on stage at the all-important televised debates, candidates have to define themselves more. “Loud doesn’t mean a lot,” Graham says.

The would-be mavericks are also responding to a well-documented hunger for a virtuous statesman, as embodied by the cinematic archetypes of Frank Capra’s Mr. Smith or Aaron Sorkin’s Jed Barlet. Or even the real-life McCain, whose bull-shooting sessions with the press on the back of his bus are the stuff of political legend.

Still, it’s a safe bet that political calculations will ultimately trump conscience. Graham’s good friend McCain pandered on the Confederate flag in his 2000 campaign and tapped Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008 when he needed to galvanize the base. And candidates of all stripes can cast the same old red-meat as telling uncomfortable truths that somehow only discomfort the other party.

“It remains to be seen,” Schmidt says, “whether we’re going to have truth-telling candidates rather than candidates using ‘truth-telling’ as a prop.”

TIME 2016 Election

Presidential Candidates Respond to Supreme Court Marriage Ruling

White House aspirants were out with statements responding to the Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide within seconds of the decision being announced Friday morning.

Democrats were elated with the decision, following that party’s swift turn on the issue over the last decade. The Republican reaction was more mixed, with all expressing disappointment with the high court’s ruling, but disagreeing on the next steps forward.

Social conservatives pledged to continue to keep fighting against same-sex marriage, while other candidates said they would move to ensure that those who object to such unions were not punished for their beliefs.

Gay Marriage US Supreme Court Ruling
Joshua Roberts—ReutersSupporters of gay marriage rally after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the U.S. Constitution provides same-sex couples the right to marry at the Supreme Court in Washington June 26, 2015.

Here are the reactions, in roughly chronological order:

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D):

Today, the Supreme Court affirmed that marriage is a human right — not a state right. I’m grateful to the people of Maryland for leading the way on this important issue of human dignity and equality under the law. The American Dream is strongest when all are included.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D):

Along with millions of Americans, I am celebrating today’s landmark victory for marriage equality, and the generations of advocates and activists who fought to make it possible. From Stonewall to the Supreme Court, the courage and determination of the LGBT community has changed hearts and changed laws.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R):

The Supreme Court has spoken with a very divided voice on something only the Supreme Being can do — redefine marriage. I will not acquiesce to an imperial court any more than our Founders acquiesced to an imperial British monarch. We must resist and reject judicial tyranny, not retreat.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R):

The Supreme Court decision today conveniently and not surprisingly follows public opinion polls, and tramples on states’ rights that were once protected by the 10th Amendment of the Constitution. Marriage between a man and a woman was established by God, and no earthly court can alter that.

This decision will pave the way for an all out assault against the religious freedom rights of Christians who disagree with this decision. This ruling must not be used as pretext by Washington to erode our right to religious liberty.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (D):

For far too long our justice system has marginalized the gay community and I am very glad the Court has finally caught up to the American people.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R):

Guided by my faith, I believe in traditional marriage. I believe the Supreme Court should have allowed the states to make this decision. I also believe that we should love our neighbor and respect others, including those making lifetime commitments. In a country as diverse as ours, good people who have opposing views should be able to live side by side. It is now crucial that as a country we protect religious freedom and the right of conscience and also not discriminate.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R):

I believe this Supreme Court decision is a grave mistake. Five unelected judges have taken it upon themselves to redefine the institution of marriage, an institution that the author of this decision acknowledges “has been with us for millennia.” In 2006 I, like millions of Americans, voted to amend our state constitution to protect the institution of marriage from exactly this type of judicial activism. The states are the proper place for these decisions to be made, and as we have seen repeatedly over the last few days, we will need a conservative president who will appoint men and women to the Court who will faithfully interpret the Constitution and laws of our land without injecting their own political agendas. As a result of this decision, the only alternative left for the American people is to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to reaffirm the ability of the states to continue to define marriage.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham (R):

I am a proud defender of traditional marriage and believe the people of each state should have the right to determine their marriage laws. However, the Supreme Court has ruled that state bans on gay marriage are unconstitutional, and I will respect the Court’s decision. Furthermore, given the quickly changing tide of public opinion on this issue, I do not believe that an attempt to amend the U.S. Constitution could possibly gain the support of three-fourths of the states or a supermajority in the U.S. Congress. Rather than pursuing a divisive effort that would be doomed to fail, I am committing myself to ensuring the protection of religious liberties of all Americans

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson (R):

I call on Congress to make sure deeply held religious views are respected and protected. The government must never force Christians to violate their religious beliefs.

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina (R):

Justice Alito spoke for so many of us when he said that “[t]oday’s decision usurps the constitutional right of the people to decide whether to keep or alter the traditional understanding of marriage … All Americans, whatever their thinking on that issue, should worry about what the majority’s claim of power portends.”

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R):

While I disagree with this decision, we live in a republic and must abide by the law. As we look ahead, it must be a priority of the next president to nominate judges and justices committed to applying the Constitution as written and originally understood.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R):

I am disappointed the Supreme Court today chose to change the centuries old definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. I’m a firm believer in traditional marriage, and I also believe the 10th Amendment leaves it to each state to decide this issue. I fundamentally disagree with the court rewriting the law and assaulting the 10th Amendment. Our founding fathers did not intend for the judicial branch to legislate from the bench, and as president, I would appoint strict Constitutional conservatives who will apply the law as written.


Morning Must Reads: June 26

Mark Wilson—Getty Images The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

The Supreme Court saves Obamacare—again. The case boiled down to whether the Supreme Court should consider lawmaker’s intent in the face of what Chief Justice John Roberts called “inartful drafting.” Associate Justice Antonin Scalia colorfully argued against that perspective, but six of his eight colleagues disagreed with him. President Obama took a victory lap, proclaiming the law “settled.” But someone forgot to tell Republicans, who put out a series of biting statements pledging to continue to fight for repeal. The high court will tackle same-sex marriage next, ruling today or Monday on the landmark case.

Meanwhile, Martin O’Malley is worried about Bernie Sanders, and Donald Trump is suing Univision after the network pulled out of broadcasting the ‘Miss Universe’ pageant following the reality-television-star-turned-presidential-candidate’s rhetoric on illegal immigration.

Here are your must-reads:

Must Reads

Supreme Court Rules That a Typo Should Not Undo Obamacare
TIME’s Michael Scherer analyzes the ruling

Legacies of Obama Presidency and Roberts Court Are Forever Intertwined
Obama has reason to regret opposing the Chief Justice’s confirmation [Washington Post]

Terry McAuliffe’s Other Job
The Virginia governor remains an influential voice in Clinton’s circle [Politico]

State Department Can’t Find 15 Clinton Emails Released by Benghazi Panel
More email troubles for the Democratic front-runner [Associated Press]

To Many Iraqis, U.S. Isn’t Really Seeking to Defeat Islamic State
Many want a more robust American intervention [Wall Street Journal]

Sound Off

“We should start calling this law SCOTUScare.” — Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in his blistering dissent in the Obamacare case.

“Today, after more than 50 votes in Congress to repeal or weaken this law; after a presidential election based in part on preserving or repealing this law; after multiple challenges to this law before the Supreme Court — the Affordable Care Act is here to stay.” — President Obama taking a Rose Garden victory lap Thursday.

Bits and Bites

Pro-Martin O’Malley super PAC targets Bernie Sanders [TIME]

Congress could strip Samuel Adams of its craft beer crown [Fortune]

Jindal Campaign says he missed cable appearances because of plane problems [Daily Caller]

Hillary Clinton gets a tribute song as “Chelsea’s Mom” [YouTube]

Donald Trump to sue Univision [Politico]

The Roberts court’s surprising move leftward [The Upshot]

Christie to enter presidential race on Tuesday [WNYC]

High court upholds tool for fighting housing bias [Wall Street Journal]


Morning Must Reads: June 25

Mark Wilson—Getty Images The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

All eyes are on the Supreme Court, which has seven cases yet to decide this term, including a decision that could legalize gay marriage nationally and another that could undermine a central component of the Affordable Care Act. The high court is currently scheduled to announce decisions today, Friday, and Monday before breaking for the summer. With a week before the deadline for an agreement, U.S. and Iranian negotiators continue to meet in Vienna to hammer out a deal on Iran’s nuclear program. Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz will join the talks Friday, but the odds of reaching an agreement have fallen in recent weeks amid escalating rhetoric from Iran. But the U.S. has a Plan B—or H—ready, should military strikes be needed. President Obama had a testy exchange with a protestor in the White House East Room upset with the administration’s immigration policies. And there was a case of mistaken identity on Capitol Hill.

Here are your must-reads:

Must Reads

A Guide to the Supreme Court’s Latest Obamacare Case

TIME explains what is — and isn’t — at stake before the high court

Plan B For Iran

The U.S. preps a military option [Politico]

Obama scores a major trade win, burnishing his foreign policy legacy

A hard-fought victory pays off — now he just has to negotiate the trade deal [Washington Post]

Poll Finds Backing for Gay Marriage and a Split on Health Law

Public firmly behind expanding same-sex marriage, but Obamacare remains controversial [Wall Street Journal]

Behind John Boehner’s crackdown on conservatives

The Speaker enforces discipline in his conference for the first time [Politico]

Sound Off

“Listen, you’re in my house…it’s not respectful … Shame on you, you shouldn’t be doing this.” — President Obama during a three-minute exchange with an immigration protester in the East Room on Wednesday

“I don’t know how you can sit with somebody for an hour in a church and pray with them and get up and shoot them. That’s Mideast hate. That’s something I didn’t think we had here but apparently we do.” —South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham on accused Charleston shooter Dylann Roof

Bits and Bites

Democratic Presidential Hopeful Jim Webb Defends Confederate Soldiers [TIME]

Chaffetz’s blunder: Right name, wrong man in OPM flap [Politico]

Rand Paul’s t shirts made in Guatemala [CBS News]

Alabama Governor Orders Removal of Confederate Flags From Capitol [AL.com]

Bobby Jindal announces candidacy, promises daughter a puppy [USA Today]

Hillary Clinton’s ‘All Lives Matter’ Remark Stirs Backlash [New York Times]

Obama Cites Progress at Gay-Pride Reception [TIME]



Morning Must Reads: June 24

Mark Wilson—Getty Images The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

President Obama is revising the U.S. policy toward family members whose loved ones are being held hostage by terrorist groups, dropping the long-standing threats of prosecution for those paying ransom. The change follows the beheadings and failed rescue attempts of a number of hostages held by ISIS and other extremist groups in recent years. A government auditor found massive security gaps at the Office of Personnel Management, the beleaguered agency at the center of a massive hack of government employee data, allegedly carried out by China. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will become the latest GOP contender to enter the president race, but he faces a steep climb to the nomination as one of the least-known candidates in an already packed field. After years of being a litmus test for candidates in the South, the politics around the Confederate flag have dramatically shifted since last week’s Charleston shooting, but a host of U.S. remembrances to those supporting the rebel cause remain.

Here are your must-reads:

Must Reads

Bobby Jindal’s Uphill Battle

The Louisiana governor is launching his presidential bid from the back of the pack [TIME]

Bipartisan Push for Criminal Justice Reform Sets Its Agenda

Momentum builds behind effort to reform sentencing laws, TIME’s Alex Altman reports

Democrats Borrow From the Republican Playbook

TIME’s Jay Newton-Small on the rise of Democratic hostage-taking in Congress
Obama Ordering Changes in U.S. Hostage Policies

Families of hostages won’t be threatened with criminal prosecution for paying ransoms under proposed change [New York Times]

New report blasts personnel office cyber security management

High risk failures at agency at center of massive hack [Washington Post]

Calls to Drop Confederate Emblems Spread Nationwide

A once-moribund effort to scale back the flag’s use picks up steam [New York Times]

Sound Off

“[Wisconsin Gov. Scott] Walker weighed in and said the 20-week abortion ban is something he would like to see hit his desk … It sent a message to us.” — Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald to the New York Times. Walker had refused to take a position on the issue during his 2014 re-elect.

“One of my dorm mates in tenth grade is running for president also, Jeb Bush. We had some spirited games of ping-pong and our paths have not crossed much since high school but I think we still consider each other friends.” — Former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, a longshot Democratic presidential candidate, on his high school classmate.

Bits and Bites

Senate Clears Trade Bill’s Way to Passage [Wall Street Journal]

U.S. Flag Waves Over 10 Army Bases Proudly Named for Confederate Officers [TIME]

A field guide to the racists commemorated inside the U.S. Capitol [Washington Post]

Six plans to fix Obamacare should the Supreme Court eliminate federal subsidies [Washington Post]

Kasich: ‘I’m coming to Iowa … to show respect’ [Des Moines Register]

Pawn Stars host cuts video for Rubio

Families whose children were held captive in Syria felt that U.S. officials had abandoned them. So they secretly joined forces. [New Yorker]

TIME Bobby Jindal

Bobby Jindal Campaign Launches With Uphill Battle

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal speaks during the "Road to Majority" conference June 19, 2015 in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong—Getty Images Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal speaks during the "Road to Majority" conference June 19, 2015 in Washington, DC.

Once a rising star in the GOP, the Louisiana governor has slipped to an afterthought as he launches his presidential campaign

It’s been a long fall from grace for Bobby Jindal.

The Louisiana governor, who will launch his campaign for president on Wednesday in New Orleans, is polling in 15th place among major declared or likely candidates for the Republican nomination. That’s dead last. He’s all but certain to be excluded from the Fox News debate that will kick off the race for the White House on Aug. 6, a painful omission that won’t help his cause.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Ever since taking the governor’s mansion in Baton Rouge in 2008, Jindal, now 44, has been hailed as one of the GOP’s rising stars. A brainy young Indian-American, he was tapped to deliver the Republican rebuttal to President Obama’s first address to a joint session of Congress in 2009. In 2012, many conservatives floated him as a potential vice-presidential pick for Mitt Romney. The two-term governor, who had cruised to reelection and stockpiled goodwill among grassroots activists and Establishment donors alike, looked poised to be a player in the 2016 race.

So why does Jindal’s White House bid now seem such a long shot?

It’s easy to trace the start of the slide to speeches he began making at the end of 2012. In the aftermath of Romney’s loss, Jindal brutally excoriated the GOP as a hidebound party, captive to corporate interests and plagued by a pattern of incendiary remarks. Republicans, he declared, must “stop being the stupid party.”

Jindal looked like an apt candidate to lead the transition. A Rhodes Scholar, health-care policy expert and former McKinsey consultant, he launched a national policy group, released white papers and op-eds on everything from foreign policy to energy. He was at the forefront of the GOP in supporting over-the-counter contraception, a bid to counteract the Democrats’ potent “war on women” trope.

Read More: Bobby Jindal: America’s Next Top Columnist

“We need to stop being simplistic, we need to trust the intelligence of the American people and we need to stop insulting the intelligence of the voters,” he told Politico after Obama’s re-election.

But the truth-telling shtick didn’t last long. Soon the Ivy-league biology major was punting questions about evolution and climate change to shore up his standing with social conservatives. A governor with a glittering resume became better known to Americans as the defender of Duck Dynasty. Once a supporter of Common Core education standards, he watched conservatives turn against the program and launched a campaign to kill it in his state, home to one of the worst public education systems in the country. (Jindal has dramatically expanded school choice during his tenure.)

It wasn’t only that the turnabout struck some as inauthentic. It also forced Jindal to compete in a crowded space for donors and voter support. His pitch to voters centers on core fiscal and social conservative principles, a field occupied by more dynamic candidates like Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and better-known ones like retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who Jindal endorsed for President in 2011.

Read More: Why a Bobby Jindal Portrait Sparked a Racial Controversy

Back home, Jindal’s support has cratered at the worst possible time. The Louisiana governor has watched his approval rating slip into the 30s; a recent poll showed him trailing Hillary Clinton in the GOP stronghold. The budget is a mess, and he’s alienated allies by spending long stretches away from the state to tend to his national ambitions. “Bobby spotted at the capitol,” Republican state senator Dan Claitor tweeted on April 1. “(April Fool).”

Jindal still has the policy chops and conservative credentials to snap his slide. He’s cut the budget, pushed school choice and privatized state hospitals. In recent months he’s refined a stump speech that earns rave reviews from the GOP faithful. There’s no question he has the potential to catch a wave like a succession of lesser candidates enjoyed in 2012.

“Why has he not caught fire? He is not a candidate yet,” says a Jindal adviser. “When he gets into this race he will be the least-known candidate. He has only room to grow.”

“He’s been underestimated before,” the adviser adds, “and every time he’s won and he’s crushed the opposition.”

At the very least, he has nowhere to go but up.

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