TIME

Morning Must Reads: July 2

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

By Zeke Miller

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails offer an intimate portrait of her interactions with her inner circle of friends and advisors. The roughly 3,000 messages released late Tuesday show the ordinary and unusual ways in which a high-profile figure cultivates relationships in government. Clinton’s campaign announced a roughly $45 million haul since launching in April, a record sum for a presidential campaign at this stage, surpassing even President Obama’s re-election haul. But with super PAC fundraising factored in, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is expected to emerge atop the money pile when his groups announce their finances. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is in the midst of a five-day New Hampshire swing after his announcement, told reporters Wednesday he does not believe government officials should receive exemptions from issuing same-sex marriage licenses if they have objections. Sen. Lindsey Graham has a enlightens us about what he’ll do with his friend Sen. John McCain if he wins the White House. And Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is drawing ever larger crowds on the stump and has risen in the polls in Iowa, but he’s still not a threat to Clinton’s dominance.

Here are your must-reads:

Must Reads

Emails Offer Glimpse Into Hillary Clinton’s Private Side
Buried in more than 3,000 messages are hints at what Clinton is like with closest friends, TIME’s Philip Elliott and Sam Frizell report

As Donald Trump Surges in Polls, Democrats Cheer
The reality television host’s presidential bid is making Democrats giddy [Washington Post]

Scott Walker’s Hard Right Turn in Iowa May Hurt Him Elsewhere
He needs to win Iowa, but at what cost? [New York Times]

Hillary Clinton’s Missing $200 Million Man
No sign of the former president on the fundraising circuit [Politico]

Obama Announces Renewed Diplomatic Ties With Cuba
Calls on Congress to lift embargo [Wall Street Journal]

Christie Opposes Exemptions for Clerks Who Object to Same-Sex Marriage
Breaking with many of his party’s social conservatives on response to Supreme Court ruling [TIME]

Sound Off

“I just admire John. He’d be like the uncle you put in the basement. I’d put him in the basement of the White House — call him when I needed him.” — Sen. Lindsey Graham to MSNBC on what he’d do with his friend Sen. John McCain if he won the White House

“I think there is a great deal of hypocrisy, particularly among other candidates who say, oh well, they smoked pot in high school. They didn’t get punished, but they still want to punish people, even for medical marijuana. I think the media needs to ask some of these people, ‘Are you really going to put grandma in jail for taking medical marijuana for her multiple sclerosis?'” — Sen. Rand Paul in Iowa on Thursday. Meantime, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told reporters he’s never used marijuana. “Never have, was not my thing.”

Bits and Bites

Bernie Sanders catching steam in Iowa [TIME]

President Obama sang the Davy Crockett theme song at an event [TIME]

Hillary Clinton, loudly and proudly, taps into a vein of support among gay voters [New York Times]

Hillary Clinton on track to raise record $45 million in first quarter [TIME]

Marco Rubio increases ad buys to $7 million in early voting states [New York Times]

Obama will badger Scott Walker in Wisconsin [Politico]

Bernie Sanders draws big crowd to Wisconsin rally [Wall Street Journal]

Maine’s Tea Party governor endorses Chris Christie [TIME]

 

 

TIME Chris Christie

Christie Opposes Exemptions for Clerks Who Object to Same-Sex Marriage

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) holds a town hall meeting at the American Legion Dupuis Cross Post 15 July 2, 2015 in Ashland, New Hampshire.
Darren McCollester—2015 Getty Images New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) holds a town hall meeting at the American Legion Dupuis Cross Post 15 July 2, 2015 in Ashland, New Hampshire.

“You took the job and you took the oath."

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie broke with many in his party’s social conservative wing Wednesday, telling reporters that government employees who have objections to issuing same-sex marriage licenses should not be allowed to opt out.

While many conservatives have called for steps to protect government employees who have objections to Friday’s same-sex marriage ruling from the Supreme Court, Christie said those who work for the government should abide by their oaths.

“I think for folks who are in the government world, they kind of have to do their job, whether you agree with the law or you don’t,” Christie told reporters following a town hall at a lakeside home, noting there are laws that he enforces as governor that he disagrees with. “I’m sure there are individual circumstances that might merit some examination,” he added, “but none that come immediately to mind for me.”

Other Republican presidential candidates have stressed the importance of protecting religious freedom. Fellow GOP presidential candidate Bobby Jindal issued an executive order in May in an attempt to protect those who believe that same-sex unions should not be recognized. His executive counsel released a memo Monday arguing that state employees with objections should be protected.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee took a similar line on Sunday: “If they have a conscientious objection, I think they should be excused.”

When asked about protection for clerks who object to providing same-sex marriage licenses, Christie implied that there could be specific accommodations made for religious exemptions on a case-by-case basis. But overall, he said those trying to opt out should rethink how they are doing their jobs.

“You took the job and you took the oath,” he said. “When you go back and re-read the oath it doesn’t give you an out. You have to do it.”

TIME Chris Christie

Maine’s Tea Party Governor Endorses Chris Christie

Chris Christie, Paul LePage
Robert F. Bukaty—AP New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, left, and Maine Gov. Paul LePage in Bangor, Maine, on, Aug. 12, 2014.

He's the first sitting Republican governor to endorse in the 2016 race

Maine Governor Paul LePage became the first sitting Republican governor to endorse a presidential candidate Wednesday morning when he boosted New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at the waterside Becky’s Diner in downtown Portland.

The two make an easy pair, with Christie having made a number of trips and steering more than $2 million as chairman of the Republican Governors Association to boost LePage’s re-election candidacy last year. They share a similar temperament, with both known for high-profile flare-ups in front of television cameras. Just last week, LePage joked about shooting a newspaper cartoonist who has been critical of him.

“He’s a little bit shy,” LePage quipped about Christie as he delivered his endorsement. “I’m going to work over the next year, to bring him out of his shell.”

“He’s not gonna be a politician and talk out of both sides of his mouth,” LePage told a gaggle of about 30 journalists after greeting and posing for photos with diners eating short-stacks and sipping coffee . “What he’s gonna do is tell you things you may not want to hear but you need to hear, and then he’s gonna go to work to fix them.”

Christie thanked LePage for the endorsement. “I think that says a lot about our candidacy, and quite frankly, it says more about Paul LePage,” he said. “This is a guy who knows how to make decisions.”

“He’s a great friend and he’s going to be an important part of this campaign as we move forward,” he continued.

The hastily arranged event less than 24 hours after his presidential announcement took Christie on a detour from his five-day swing to New Hampshire, where he is devoting his all, to neighboring Maine, whose caucuses proved inconclusive amid a bitter intra-party squabble in 2012.

LePage’s endorsement of Christie forty miles north of the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport comes after matriarch Barbara Bush appeared in a Republican Governors Association ad on LePage’s behalf last year, endorsing the controversial figure on behalf of herself and former President George H.W. Bush.

Speaking to reporters, Christie condemned clerks and other government officials in several southern states who have refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses after last week’s Supreme Court ruling, pointing to his own experience in New Jersey after his state Supreme Court ordered it legalized two years ago.

“I believe that folks need to enforce the law, enforce the Constitution if you’ve taken an oath,” Christie said. “Whether you agree with any particular law or not, they don’t put that caveat in your oath. The oath is to enforce the law and the Constitution.”

Christie said he was not concerned that some presidential candidates will be excluded from the stage at the first two presidential primary debates beginning next month, saying he believes he will make the cut, even as he is in danger of falling from the top 10 in several surveys.

“My view is, I intend to be on the debate stage and I intend to speak my mind and I’m sure that that will go well for us,” he said. “And we’ll see what everyone else does. But in the end, it’s up to the party and the debate sponsors.”

TIME

Morning Must Reads: July 1

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

The State Department released thousands of pages of Hillary Clinton emails late Tuesday, which provide a look at her inner circle, including their fears about her stature within the Obama Administration and her correspondence with outside advisors on her private email account. The documents also lengthen the list of who knew about the emails she kept on a private server, including then-top White House officials David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel. They also show the mundane side of the job, including scheduling frequent snafus and a troublesome fax machine. A pair of new surveys show Donald Trump rising to second place in the polls among Iowa and national Republicans, with Scott Walker leading the field in the Hawkeye State and Jeb Bush holding the lead across the nation. More than Trump’s strength, the polling reflects his universal name identification, but should be giving the mass of more credible Republican candidates polling below him some pause. President Obama reflected on his positive week last week, but brushed aside notions that it was his “best ever.” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has strong words for Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts after last week’s rulings, and pledges to nominate more justices like Samuel Alito. The U.S. Export-Import Bank‘s federal charter expired overnight, as conservative Republicans made gains in a years-long effort to shutter the bank they deem a bailout to business. But the lights are still on at the bank, which has cash reserves for more than a year, and will be the subject of a salvage effort by Democrats and moderate Republicans after the congressional recess.

Here are your must-reads:

Must Reads

Tax Returns Show Jeb Bush Did Well After Being Governor
His net worth now ranges between $19 million and $22 million [TIME]

U.S., Cuba to Announce Plan to Open Embassies
Another milestone in the rapprochement [Associated Press]

Why 2016 Campaign Spending Is Heating Up Now
TIME’s Phil Elliott reports on the early start to the air war

Export-Import Bank Goes On Hiatus
For now…[CNN]

New Hillary Clinton Emails Show Expansive Role of Sidney Blumenthal
Clinton insiders expressed concern over her place in Obama orbit [Politico]

Sound Off

“Every opinion that I’ve seen Justice Alito put out has been consistent and reasoned, and if I became President of the United States, I’d be out there looking for Sam Alitos to put on the Court.” — New Jersey Gov Chris Christie on Tuesday in New Hampshire

“The only bad part about it was I couldn’t go out and peek at it myself, because then I would have had to clear out all the people, or the Secret Service would have. So I — I could only reflect on it from a television screen. That’s a moment worth savoring.” — President Obama on the crowds celebrating last week’s Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage outside his White House window

Bits and Bites

Chris Christie criticizes Supreme Court’s chief justice [TIME]

De Blasio accuses Cuomo of hurting New York City out of ‘revenge’ [New York Times]

Mexicans bash Trump piñata, call him imbecile [Reuters]

Bush PAC said to use women’s opinions of Clinton for potential lines of attack [New York Times]

Obama to Girl Scouts: ‘What are you guys doing in my yard?’ [Washington Post]

Supreme Court to hear challenge to union fees [New York Times]

Leaked: What’s in Obama’s trade deal [Politico]

President Obama reflects on his ‘best week’ [National Journal]

Donald Trump sues Univision for $500 million [Politico]

 

TIME Chris Christie

Chris Christie Criticizes Supreme Court’s Chief Justice

Gov. Chris Christie announces his presidential campaign on June 30, 2015 at Livingston High School in Livingston, New Jersey.
Steve Sands—WireImage Gov. Chris Christie announces his presidential campaign on June 30, 2015 at Livingston High School in Livingston, New Jersey.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he is “incredibly disappointed” with Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts after his opinion last week on Affordable Care Act subsidies, suggesting the jurist acted inconsistently with his opinion the following day when he opposed legalizing same-sex marriages.

Meeting New Hampshire voters at his first town hall since declaring his presidential campaign early Tuesday, Christie was asked what type of justices he would nominate to the Supreme Court. He replied that he was partial to the legal reasoning of fellow New Jerseyan, Associate Justice Samuel Alito, one of the court’s most conservative members.

“Every opinion that I’ve seen Justice Alito put out has been consistent and reasoned, and if I became President of the United States, I’d be out there looking for Sam Alitos to put on the Court,” Christie said.

“Those are the kind of justices I’m looking for,” Christie said. “If you read Justice Alito’s decisions, what they are is an absolute tribute to what the role of the court should be in my view. Which is they are not there to make laws, they are not there to make social policy, they are there to interpret the laws passed by the Congress and signed by the president, and that’s it.”

Christie continued that he was upset with Roberts, who is a member of the conservative wing of the Court but has twice ruled to save central components of the controversial healthcare law.

“I’m incredibly disappointed in Chief Justice Roberts. In two days in a row, he had two opinions that you couldn’t square with each other,” Christie said. “On Thursday, he writes an opinion on Obamacare that basically says ‘I know the words don’t say this, but I think they mean it, so I’m going to vote to keep Obamacare.’ The next day, he votes against same-sex marriage by saying the Court has no role in second-guessing the people and their legislature. Well, man, you just did it yesterday.”

Roberts authored a 6-3 decision in King v. Burwell in which he argued that a typographical error should not override the legislature’s intent to make health insurance subsidies available to those on federal exchanges. Roberts called the mistake one of “more than a few examples of inartful drafting,” but said, “A fair reading of legislation demands a fair understanding of the legislative plan.”

“Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” he continued. “If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter.”

The following day, Robert’s decried the majority’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges in favor of nation-wide same-sex-marriage, arguing the Court was usurping the role of the legislature.

“Understand well what this dissent is about: It is not about whether, in my judgment, the institution of marriage should be changed to include same-sex couples,” he wrote. “It is instead about whether, in our democratic republic, that decision should rest with the people acting through representatives, or with five lawyers who happen to hold commissions authorizing them to resolve legal disputes according to law. The Constitution leaves no doubt about the answer.”

Alito voted with the minority in both cases.

TIME jeb bush

Tax Returns Show Jeb Bush Did Well After Being Governor

Republican presidential candidate and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush answers questions from employees of Nephron Pharmaceutical Company June 29, 2015 in West Columbia, South Carolina.
Sean Rayford—Getty Images Republican presidential candidate and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush answers questions from employees of Nephron Pharmaceutical Company June 29, 2015 in West Columbia, South Carolina.

The 2016 White House hopeful made hefty paychecks—and has tax bills to match.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is trying to make history. No, not as the third member of the Bush clan to win the Presidency. He is going for something easier: releasing his taxes, and more of them than any other White House hopeful ever.

The 2016 contender for the Republican Party’s White House nomination on Tuesday released 33 years of his tax returns, a move his campaign touted as a demonstration of his transparency with voters. It follows a trove of emails he released from his time as Florida’s Governor, between 1999 and 2007.

“This release will show voters how I earned a living over the past three decades and how much of that living I had to give back to Uncle Sam. Spoiler alert: a lot,” Bush wrote. He added: “In my case, I paid the government more than one in three dollars that I earned in my career. Astounding.”

Yet the motive behind the release was not as simple as promising a first-hand reasoning why he wants to lower taxes, or as pure as letting Americans look under the hood at his family’s income. Throughout the commentary that accompanied the release, he continued to criticize the Democrats’ front-runner for the nomination, Hillary Clinton. She and former President Bill Clinton, too, have made millions as members of another well-connected family dynasty. “I have paid a higher tax rate than the Clintons even though I earned less income,” Bush wrote in a blog post about his tax returns.

A complete picture of Bush’s 2014 income was not included in those documents, however. He requested an extension on his federal 2014 tax returns, which are due by October 15, 2015. He also received a 45-day extension on the required personal financial disclosure required of presidential candidates.

Hillary Clinton released eight years of returns in 2008, but has yet to release her latest financial figures beyond the mandated filing of her assets with the Office of Government Ethics, but her campaign says she will release both in due time.

Bush’s 33-year release is a new record in American politics, topping the one set in 1996 by then-Sen. Bob Dole, who released 30 years of returns. Then-Gov. George Romney of Michigan released 12 years’ worth in 1968. More common has been to release just a few years. In 2012, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney only released two years of returns, totaling hundreds of documents detailing complicated financial positions lingering from his time as a private equity executive. Sen. John McCain also released two years of returns in 2008. Romney and McCain each had other disclosures available through forms they had to complete as state- and federal-level officeholder.

Since leaving office in 2007, Bush has earned about $23.6 million from speaking fees, board memberships, and a range of consulting and business ventures. His net worth is somewhere between $19 million and $22 million. Both sums are substantially lower than what the Clintons have earned, but not so low as to distract from the fact that they’re both very well off. Most people seeking the White House are, after all.

Bush took care to emphasize that his average tax rate, 36 percent, was greater than Bill and Hillary Clinton’s 30 percent in 2014. (By comparison, the Congressional Budget Office says the average American pays 17.6 percent of income in federal taxes.) Yet there were four years, 1985-88, when he had a tax rate of zero because he took such a loss on investments. In two years, he had no tax liability. In three years, he had net negative income. “Over those years my income fluctuated based on our successes, failures and the bumpy Miami real estate market,” Bush wrote.

Bush donated $739,511 to charity from 2007-13, for a charitable contribution rate of 3.1 percent. But Bush claims to have helped raise tens of millions more as a board member of several charitable organizations, including the Barbara Bush Foundation Celebration of Reading foundation.`

According to Bush spokesman Tim Miller, Bush earned $2 million annually from Barclays Capital, where he served as an adviser from 2009-2014, and $1.3 annually million from Lehman Brothers for his work there in 2007-08.

During the window the documents cover, Bush earned roughly $38 million net income. He also paid almost $13 million in taxes—more than 250 times what the average American worker earns this year.

TIME

Morning Must Reads: June 30

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

Today marks the official deadline for the Iran nuclear talks in Vienna, but the U.S. government is operating with July 9 as it’s de facto deadline. That’s the date by which American officials must submit the legislation to Congress to allow lawmakers 30 days to consider the deal, should there be one, before their August recess. If they fail to meet that deadline, Congress would have more time to consider the deal, and critics would have more time to drum up opposition to an agreement. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is announcing for president Tuesday by reaching back to his “Glory Days” as a high school student, and to his pre-Bridgegate swagger. Christie will need both in order to mount an unlikely comeback bid for the GOP nomination. The 2013 race to elect Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe was more than just the previous employer of Hillary Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook—it served as a key test-bed for the strategies he’s employing to try to elect the former Secretary of State next year. President Obama announced in an op-ed that he will take action this week to increase overtime pay for many hourly workers. Reality television star and president candidate Donald Trump‘s war of words with Univision and NBC help all parties in the high-profile spat. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will release 33 years of tax returns this afternoon. And today is a crucial fundraising deadline for presidential contenders, marking the last day for donations in the second quarter. The first results, serving as an important barometer for candidate viability will start to trickle in as soon as this week, and all must be filed by July 15.

Here are your must-reads:

Must Reads

Chris Christie Highlights Glory Days at Campaign Launch
The outspoken New Jersey governor’s path forward requires reclaiming his past [TIME]

What Hillary Clinton Learned From This 2013 Campaign
The 2013 election of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe laid the groundwork for the 2016 presidential campaign [TIME]

Both Sides Won When Donald Trump Was Fired
TIME’s Philip Elliott reports on the mutually-beneficial spat between the reality television star-turned-candidate and the networks that cut ties with him

U.S. Tells Iran That Preliminary Nuclear Deal Must Stand
Talks continue as deadline nears [New York Times]

Lack of Clear Front-Runner in Huge 2016 Field Highlights Fractures Within GOP
Why not run for president? [Los Angeles Times]

Supreme Court Blocks Obama’s Limits on Power Plants
A setback for the White House at the high court [New York Times]

Sound Off

“I’ve gotten good at this…This is so much fun, we should do it again.” — President Obama Monday when signing a pair of bills, including the controversial Trade Promotion Authority legislation

“The symbols that have divided the South in many ways, the symbols that were used in most recent modern history, perhaps not at the beginning of the time, but the symbols were racist.” — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on the Confederate flag, reflecting the altered political landscape surrounding its flying

Bits and Bites

Obama announces overtime pay hike in op-ed [Huffington Post]

Jeb Bush to release 33 years of tax returns [Fox News]

Joe Klein: Barack Obama’s defining moment [TIME]

Hillary Clinton faces a more liberal Democratic fund-raising landscape [New York Times]

Supreme Court temporarily blocks Texas abortion restrictions [Wall Street Journal]

White House on Greece: Not our problem [Politico]

U.S. government web portal shut down over security concerns [Wall Street Journal]

Union sues personnel office over hack of employees’ information [Washington Post]

Heavy hitters raising cash for Democratic candidate Martin O’Malley [Boston Globe]

Does Kerry want an Iran deal too much? [Politico]

Benghazi emails put focus on Hillary Clinton’s encouragement of adviser [New York Times]

 

TIME jeb bush

Jeb Bush to Release 33 Years Of Tax Returns

Republican presidential candidate and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush answers questions from employees of Nephron Pharmaceutical Company June 29, 2015 in West Columbia, South Carolina.
Sean Rayford/Getty Images Republican presidential candidate and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush answers questions from employees of Nephron Pharmaceutical Company on June 29, 2015 in West Columbia, South Carolina.

He'll set a record for transparency

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will release 33 years of personal income tax returns, his campaign confirmed Tuesday.

The afternoon release comes on the final day of the fundraising quarter in which Bush is expected to have hauled in record sums of cash for any presidential candidate at this stage of the campaign. News of the tax return release was first reported by Fox News.

The 33-year release is a new record in American politics, highlighting Bush’s stated commitment to transparency, topping the record set in 1996 by then-Sen. Bob Dole, who released 30 years of returns, and George Romney, who released 12 years’ worth in 1968. In 2012, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney only released two years of returns, totaling hundreds of documents detailing complicated financial positions lingering from his time as a private equity executive. Sen. John McCain also released two years of returns in 2008.

Hillary Clinton released eight years of returns in 2008, but has yet to release her latest financial figures beyond the mandated filing of her assets with the Office of Government Ethics. Bush’s move adds pressure to Clinton, who is under fire, along with former President Bill Clinton, as being out-of-touch with average Americans for making tens of millions off speeches and books.

The release Tuesday will provide the first window into Bush’s finances in more than a decade. Bush made millions in Florida real estate and other ventures in the 1980s and early 1990s, before becoming governor in 1999. After leaving office eight years later, Bush joined several corporate boards as well as the failed investment bank Lehman Brothers and later Barclay’s. In recent years, Bush launched at least three private equity funds, including the $61 million BH Global Aviation fund created in 2014. Bush severed his official ties to all his business ventures as he prepared to run for president early this year.

TIME Chris Christie

Chris Christie Highlights Glory Days at Campaign Launch

"No suffering in silence, if you’ve got a problem, tell me”

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.

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 an 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, are 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.”

Update: A Clinton campaign spokesperson said campaign manager Robby Mook has no recollection of meeting the Clintons after Gov. McAuliffe’s inauguration. That reference has been removed.

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