TIME Campaign Finance

Few New Mega-Donors Join 2016 Fundraising

Jeb Bush
John Raoux—AP In this July 27, 2015 file photo, Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks in Longwood, Fla.

The 2016 presidential race may be a whole new ball game in terms of fundraising, but most of the players’ names are awfully familiar — even if their faces are a bit more lined.

Very few of the top donors to the super PACs backing one of the many GOP White House hopefuls or handful of Democratic candidates are new to giving substantial political gifts, according to a review of Federal Election Commission data by the Center for Responsive Politics, and many have been active for decades.

The relative absence of new faces in the very small pool of really big donors magnifies the impact of ultra-wealthy individuals who have been participating in the process for years — the Robert McNairs, Jeffrey Katzenbergs and Richard Uihleins of the fundraising world.

But they are anteing up more than ever before as their favored candidates’ campaigns become ever more intertwined with the super PACs, announcing combined fundraising totals and splitting up activities, like voter outreach, that once were firmly functions of the campaign committees — not the supposedly independent outside groups.

While there are no complete ingenues among the rosters of top donors to the super PACs, which filed their disclosure reports for the first half of the year this week, there are a few who previously haven’t given sums anything like those they are notching this year. They include the Texas-based Wilks family, four members of which gave $15 million to groups backing Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas); brothers Farris and Dan are religious conservatives who got rich in the fracking business. Another: Laura Perlmutter, who gave $2 million to a super PAC supporting Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

The pure numbers are staggering: In the 2012 election cycle, all the presidential super PACs together had raised about $26 million by June 30 of the year before the vote. This time, the total comes to more than $258 million at the same point in time.

That’s about double the more than $130 million the presidential campaigns raised in the first six months of this year, setting up a new paradigm for campaign finance at the federal level. Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton, with combined totals of $114 million and $71 million respectively, have settled themselves atop the all time list of presidential campaign-related fundraising in the first six months of the year before the election.

Several of the Republican efforts have been utterly dominated by outside groups raising unlimited amounts from individuals, corporations and other organizations. Seven Republican candidates reported larger fundraising totals for their supposedly unconnected super PACs than they disclosed for their campaigns, with the pro-Bush Right to Rise group pulling in nearly 10 times as much as the campaign itself.

A caveat, though: Absent this super PAC fundraising, the candidates themselves are lagging far behind the pace set in 2007, the last campaign with no incumbent seeking re-election. Six of the seven largest fundraising totals at this point in all prior cycles came in 2007 when Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and John Edwards all raised more than $23 million by June 30. Only four of this year’s competitors (Bush, Clinton, Cruz and Rubio) have reached that level for their campaigns and super PACs combined.

One important impact of super PAC activity in the 2012 presidential race could be looming again itself again in the earliest stages of the 2016 contest. These groups, which allow candidates to benefit from the seemingly limitless financial support of a small number of ardent and affluent supporters, can keep campaigns going long after they ordinarily would have died a natural death.

In 2012 the campaigns of former Rep. Newt Gingrich (Ga.), former Sen. Rick Santorum (Penn.) and other Republicans were prolonged by funding in the tens of millions from a handful of supporters. Friday’s filings show that contributions from five or fewer donors make up the majority of the super PAC funding for nine of the GOP candidates: Rubio, Rand Paul, Cruz, Rick Perry, Carly Fiorina, Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee and Santorum. In many cases, the money given by five or fewer individuals or institutions is more than the total given by all individuals directly to the presidential campaign committees of these contenders.

Some donors have hedged their bets, giving large amounts to groups backing multiple candidates. Hedge fund manager Robert Mercer, for instance, was among the top three donors to super PACs backing both Jindal and Cruz, though he gave far more to the pro-Cruz effort. Houston Texans owner Robert McNair was more equitable, giving $500,000 each to super PACs backing no less than four Republican candidates: Security is Strength (Graham), Unintimidated (Walker), Keep the Promise (Cruz) and Right to Rise USA (Bush).

Only a few of the 17 declared Republican candidates, five Democrats, or the Green Party entry lacks at least one supporting super PAC, including Sen. Bernie Sanders(D-Vt.), former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee and Green Party candidate Jill Stein. On the other hand, Paul has at least two major super PACs in his corner, andCruz has four, each of which seems to have been “purchased” by one or two mega-donors and has a name that is some version of “Keep the Promise.”

What’s a wealthy donor to do? The two primary outside groups supporting Hillary Clinton’s campaign have addressed the potential for confusion by organizing a joint fundraising committee to distribute funds among themselves — one-stop shopping that keeps prospective contributors from having to choose and the groups from having to compete for checks. Priorities USA Action will get the bulk of the funds, with a smaller share going to Correct the Record, the group that fights attacks on the former secretary of state.

TIME Campaign Finance

Super PACs’ Haul So Far Tops $266 Million

Republican presidential candidate and former Florida governor Jeb Bush speaks to workers at Thumbtack on July 16, 2015 in San Francisco, California.
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Republican presidential candidate and former Florida governor Jeb Bush speaks to workers at Thumbtack on July 16, 2015 in San Francisco, California.

That's 17 times as much as they did in 2012

Presidential super PACs operating expansive shadow campaigns — buying ads, hosting town hall meetings and hiring canvassers — have raised more than twice as much money as the candidates themselves, newly filed campaign finance documents show.

About three dozen such super PACs collectively raised more than $266 million from January through June while the campaigns of 2016 presidential hopefuls collectively raised just half that much — about $130 million — according to a Center for Public Integrity review.

The total raised by super PACs is about 17 times more than comparable groups raised during the same period four years ago, when the term “super PAC” had yet to make it into the dictionary.

Super PACs, made possible thanks to the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, can accept unlimited donations from corporations, unions and individuals. They may use the funds to support or oppose candidates, but are prohibited from coordinating their spending with campaigns.

Leading in the money chase: Right to Rise USA, a group that supports former Florida Republican Gov. Jeb Bush, which raised more than $103 million.

Bush helped raise millions for the group, despite the anti-coordination rules. Bush attended numerous fundraising events for the super PAC, but got around the prohibition by making appearances prior to announcing his 2016 candidacy.

Two dozen donors each gave Right to Rise USA at least $1 million during the year’s first half, with about 90 percent of it coming before Bush officially launched his campaign in June. One of those million-dollar donors was NextEra Energy, a Florida-based Fortune 200 energy company.

A pair of famous Texas retirees also made handsome donations to Right to Rise USA: former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, who gave $125,000 and $95,000, respectively.

Millionaires club

While the pro-Bush super PAC dominated all others, a cluster of five super PACs supporting the presidential candidacy of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, raised about $38 million.

Two groups backing Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin raised more than $26 million.

And a super PAC backing Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., raised about $16 million.

In each case, the super PACs raised more than the candidates themselves — sometimes many times over. Bush’s official campaign, for instance, has collected just $11 million to date.

Never before have super PACs played such a prominent role in a presidential contest — especially so early in the process. Now, nearly every major candidate has a super PAC doppelganger.

Among the Republican contenders, only celebrity business tycoon Donald Trump, who so far has self-funded the bulk of his campaign, doesn’t yet have an allied super PAC capable of raising significant cash.

This represents a dramatic shift from four years ago.

At this stage of the 2012 presidential election, only President Barack Obama and eventual Republican nominee Mitt Romney enjoyed the support of aligned super PACs. Super PACs supporting many 2012 GOP hopefuls did not form until the fall or winter of 2011.

“The first thing I’m going to do as a presidential candidate is see if there’s a super PAC out there to support me, or someone willing to form a super PAC to help me,” said John Grimaldi, a political operative who worked for a pro-Newt Gingrich super PAC in 2012 but is not working for a campaign or super PAC this election cycle.

“A super PAC eliminates a major portion of your campaign expenditures as a candidate,” Grimaldi continued. “It makes it easier to run.”

Why? The answer, in part, is that deep-pocketed donors who are prohibited from donating large sums of money directly to the candidates themselves may give unlimited amounts to super PACs — as may corporations and labor unions.

No limits, no problem

Candidates may only accept donations of $2,700 per person, per election, and $5,000 per election from corporate or labor political action committees.

“We are not subject to contribution limits like the campaigns are, so that certainly helps build resources to get our message out,” said Jordan Russell, spokesman for the Opportunity and Freedom PAC, which is backing former Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s White House run.

The Opportunity and Freedom PAC has already spent more than $2.3 million on advertisements touting Perry — more than twice as much as the Republican’s presidential campaign raised through the end of June.

This dynamic frustrates many of the presidential contenders, and some, including Cruz, are openly calling for contribution limits to candidates to be eliminated entirely.

“Our current campaign finance system is ridiculous,” Cruz told the Center for Public Integrity in a recent interview. “The way to do it is to let campaigns speak for themselves directly.”

Even grassroots favorites, such as Republican Ben Carson, a former neurosurgeon, have allied super PACs.

One super PAC working on Carson’s behalf raised $13.5 million last year and another $2.9 million during the first half of 2015, while Carson’s campaign, which was launched in May, has raised $10.6 million.

“I personally have not gone around chasing after billionaires and special interest groups,” Carson told the Center for Public Integrity. “We’re getting an enormous response from the grassroots. That’s the people that I want to be beholden to.”

Wealthy donors have certainly helped fuel the super PAC spree — and many of them are hedging their bets and supporting multiple White House contenders in a field that’s grown to 17 Republicans and five Democrats.

Hedging their bets

Rich donors flirting with multiple Republican candidates spread, in some cases, millions of dollars among super PACs backing different candidates. This continues a trend that first emerged after presidential candidates themselves released campaign disclosures earlier this month.

Take hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, who laid down $11 million to a pro-Cruz super PAC called Keep the Promise I, making him practically the sole funder.

That’s a pretty big investment.

But surprisingly, Keep the Promise I steered $500,000 to a super PAC backing Cruz rival Carly Fiorina — presumably at Mercer’s direction, and possibly a sign that were Cruz to falter or withdraw, Mercer could direct the super PAC elsewhere.

On top of that, Mercer wrote a $250,000 check to Believe Again, a super PAC supporting Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s Republican presidential bid.

Then there’s former Univision CEO Jerry Perenchio, who was the biggest donor to the super PAC backing Fiorina, who gave nearly $1.6 million. He also gave $100,000 to the pro-Bush Right to Rise USA super PAC.

Meanwhile, Robert McNair, the billionaire owner of the NFL’s Houston Texans, donated $500,000 apiece to super PACs backing Republicans Bush, Cruz, Walker and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

An investment firm tied to Manoj Bhargava, the politically active founder of beverage company 5-hour Energy, similarly placed multiple six-figure bets on super PACs supporting three GOP presidential candidates, all governors.

The company, called ETC Capital LLC, gave $150,000 to America Leads, a super PAC backing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, $150,000 to the Unintimidated PAC, which supports Walker, and $100,000 to the pro-Jindal Believe Again super PAC.

Bhargava’s investment firm was among the top five donors last year to the Republican Governors Association, so it’s perhaps not surprising that the firm would back three current Republican governors seeking the White House, two of whom — Christie and Jindal — are past RGA chairs.

Even Marlene Ricketts, the matriarch of the family that owns the Chicago Cubs baseball team and the mother of Walker’s campaign finance chairman, Todd Ricketts, spread her money around.

She donated $10,000 each to groups backing Bush, Christie, Cruz, Graham, Perry and Rubio.

But her largest donation — $4.9 million — went to Walker’s Unintimidated PAC, representing a quarter of the super PAC’s take.

Working closer with candidates

Bradley Crate, chief financial officer for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, said that four years ago, super PAC leaders proceeded with a measure of caution, afraid of violating laws that restricted how they interfaced with political candidates.

Today, such fears have largely dissipated, with the ideologically gridlocked Federal Election Commission often unable to agree on how to interpret and regulate the most basic of election law matters.

This gives super PACs the opportunity to work more intimately with candidates. Some are even absorbing many of the responsibilities traditionally reserved for a candidate’s own campaign, said Crate, now president of Red Curve Solutions, a Massachusetts-based campaign finance consulting firm.

“That’s what I would do,” he said.

Alex Cohen and Chris Zubak-Skees contributed to this report.

This story is from The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization in Washington, D.C. To read more of their reporters’ work, go here or follow them on Twitter.

TIME Congress

U.S. Lawmakers Draft ‘CECIL Act’ to Curb Trophy Hunters

It's named for Cecil the lion

U.S. lawmakers joined the chorus of outrage over the killing of Cecil the lion on Friday, announcing a bill that would stop people from importing “trophies” gleaned from hunting potentially endangered animals.

The bill, Conserving Ecosystems by Ceasing the Importation of Large (CECIL) Animal Trophies Act, would make it illegal for trophy hunters to bring back parts of any species proposed or listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

“Let’s not be cowardly lions when it comes to trophy killings,” Senator Bob Menendez said in a public statement, adding that the legislation is “a necessary and prudent step that creates a disincentive for these senseless trophy killings and advances our commitment in leading the fight to combat global wildlife trafficking.”

The bill is co-sponsored by Senators Cory Booker, Richard Blumenthal and Ben Cardin.

The proposed legislation comes after an outpouring of rage against a Minnesota dentist who paid $55,000 to slay the lion during a hunting excursion in Zimbabwe. African lions are not considered endangered species, but last year the United States Fish and Wildlife Service proposed placing them on a list of threatened animals.

TIME Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton Releases Eight Years of Tax Returns

Democratic Presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calls for an end to the Cuban trade embargo as she gives a policy speech at the Florida International University on July 31, 2015 in Miami, Florida.
Joe Raedle—Getty Images Democratic Presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calls for an end to the Cuban trade embargo as she gives a policy speech at the Florida International University on July 31, 2015 in Miami, Florida.

Since 2007, the Clintons have paid $43.8 million in federal taxes

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released eight years of tax returns Friday, as well as a complete listing of the millions she and her husband have received for paid speeches over the years.

Clinton’s release of her returns from 2007-2014 bring to 38 the number of years of publicly released tax returns by the Clintons over the course of four presidential campaigns, topping former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s previous record of 33 years set last month.

Since 2007, the Clintons have paid $43,885,310 in federal taxes, with an effective tax rate of 35.7 percent in 2014—roughly the same as Bush’s average of 36 percent.

The Clintons reported devoting more than 10 percent of their income to charity, outpacing Bush’s reported 3.1 percent average from 2007-2013.

Earlier this year, Clinton filed her personal financial disclosure revealing she and her husband earned more than $30 million in paid speeches since January 2014.

In a statement coinciding with the release, Clinton reiterated her call for comprehensive tax reform, including closing the carried interest loophole and passing the so-called Buffett Rule, which would set a minimum effective tax rate for the highest earners. Contrasting her plan with Republicans, Clinton repeated her call to raise the short-term capital gains tax rate for those in the highest income bracket.

“They want to give me another tax cut I don’t need instead of putting middle class families first,” Clinton said of Republicans. “Families like mine that reap rewards from our economy have a responsibility to pay our fair share. And it’s not just the right thing to do—it’s also good for growth.”

TIME justice

Former Prisoners Applaud Program to Help Inmates Go to College

Alphonso Coates college prison education partnership
Patrick Semansky—AP Inmate Alphonso Coats, a participant in the Goucher College Prison Education Partnership, sits in a discussion with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and other officials inside the Maryland Correctional Institution-Jessup on July 31, 2015, in Jessup, Md.

Glenn Martin knows exactly the kind of difference getting an education can make for a person behind bars. When Martin was 23, he was sentenced to six years in prison for robbery. That time, he told TIME on Friday, was arguably the lowest point in his life.

But a meeting he had with a correction’s officer during his early days behind bars in state prison in New York changed his life. After reviewing his file, the officer suggested that he consider advancing his education and enrolling in college courses.

“That was the first time anyone had ever said to me ‘you should go to college,’” Martin says. “I grew up in [the Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn]. I distinctly remember people saying the opposite to me.”

While in prison, Martin was able to earn his associate’s degree through a prison education program called the Consortium of the Niagara Frontier, one of New York’s oldest post-secondary correctional education programs. It was in that program that Martin says he was able to consider all of the possibilities that lie ahead of him in life.

“I started to think of myself differently,” Martin says. “I saw hope beyond being in that prison for six years.”

Now, at 43, Martin serves as the president of Just Leadership USA, an organization aimed at significantly reducing the incarceration rate nationwide by 2030. And it was in that role that Martin was invited to attend an event at a prison in Maryland on Friday, where he participated in a roundtable discussion with the U.S. Attorney General and the Secretary of Education.

As TIME reported earlier this week, Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan traveled to the Maryland Correctional Institution at Jessup to announce that the administration would temporarily grant incarcerated individuals access to federal aid that can help them pay for college. The experimental initiative reverses a 1994 law that blocked state and federal prisoners’ access to Pell Grants which critics say hurt their chances to start over.

The research on the topic of institutional education is clear: according to a 2013 study by the RAND Corporation funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, prisoners who took educational courses behind bars were 43% less likely to return to prison in three years than those who did not. With about 1.5 million Americans behind bars, changing the Pell Grant system could have a major effect.

“America is a nation of second chances. Giving people who have made mistakes in their lives a chance to get back on track and become contributing members of society is fundamental to who we are,” Duncan said in a statement.

Through the pilot program, prisoners who are eligible for release within the next five years and otherwise meet the requirements for federal aid could have access to grants to pay for tuition, fees, books, and supplies. Though the program is limited to Pell Grants and does not apply to any other type of aid, those who work in education are hopeful.

Vivian Nixon, the executive director of the College and Community Fellowship an organization that helps formerly incarcerated women get an education, didn’t have a chance to get an education while she was behind bars. When she was in her mid-thirties, Nixon was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for a series of white-collar crimes.

The possibility of being able to further her education while incarcerated gave Nixon hope, but those dreams were dashed when she was transferred to a prison that didn’t offer any post-secondary education courses. After suffering bouts of hopelessness and depression, Nixon started tutoring other women working toward their GED behind bars. Over the past decade and a half, she’s made it her mission to get the federal government to make it easier for prisoners to get an education.

“Education is transformative,” Nixon says. “When people are educated it opens up a whole set of different choices and without the kind of knowledge or confidence that education brings you can easily slip back into the old habits that landed you in prison.”

For Nixon and Martin, who collaborated to form the Education from the Inside Out Coaltion, an organization that aims to increase educational opportunities for prisoners, Friday was a special day. Both of them saw their handwork come to fruition firsthand.

“For [decades] we’ve dealt with this issue in ways that make for good politics, but bad policy,” Martin said. “This is an opportunity to undo some of that.”

TIME Hillary Clinton

Doctor: Hillary Clinton In ‘Excellent’ Physical Condition

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton can be seen wearing special glasses while testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on January 23, 2013 in Washington, D.C.
MANDEL NGAN—AFP/Getty Images US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton can be seen wearing special glasses while testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on January 23, 2013 in Washington, D.C.

The letter has the most detail yet on her 2012 concussion

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is in “excellent physical condition,” her doctor said in a letter released Friday.

According to Dr. Lisa Bardack, her physician, Clinton, is in good health, currently diagnosed with only hypothyroidism and seasonal pollen allergies. The letter is the first of its kind to be released in the 2016 cycle, and comes as Clinton, 67, has come under scrutiny from some Republicans for her age and questions about her health stemming from a 2012 incident in which she suffered from a blood clot and concussion.

Bardack’s letter provides the most detailed accounting of the 2012 episode, which came as Clinton was set to testify before Congress on the 2012 Benghazi attacks shortly before leaving office.

According to Bardack, Clinton fainted after becoming dehydrated from a stomach virus and suffered a concussion during the fall. During subsequent evaluations, Bardack said, Clinton was diagnosed with a “transverse sinus venous thrombosis,” a type of blood clot in the brain, and was given anticoagulants to dissolve the clot. After the concussion, Clinton experienced double-vision and wore glasses with a Fresnel Prism.

“Her concussion symptoms, including the double vision, resolved within two months and she discontinued the use of the prism,” Bardack wrote. “She had follow-up testing in 2013, which revealed complete resolution of the effects of the concussion as well as total dissolution of the thrombosis. Mrs. Clinton also tested negative for all clotting disorders.”

Clinton also suffered from deep vein thrombosis in 1998 and 2009, according to Bardack, as well as an elbow fracture in 2009, and takes Armour Thyoid and Coumadin daily.

“She does not smoke and drinks alcohol occasionally,” Bardack wrote. “She does not use illicit drugs or tobacco products. She eats a diet rich in lean protein, vegetables and fruits. She exercises regularly, including yoga, swimming, walking and weight training.”

Clinton’s last physical was March 21, 2015, and she is up to date on routine screenings, her doctor added.

“In summary, Mrs. Clinton is a healthy female with hypothyroidism and seasonal allergies, on longterm anticoagulation,” Bardack concludes. “She participates in a healthy lifestyle and has had a full medical evaluation, which reveals no evidence of additional medical issues or cardiovascular disease. Her cancer screening evaluations are all negative. She is in excellent physical condition and fit to serve as President of the United States.”

The full letter is below:

TIME Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton Takes the Fight to GOP in Florida Trip

Democratic Presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calls for an end to the Cuban trade embargo as she gives a policy speech at the Florida International University on July 31, 2015 in Miami, Florida.
Joe Raedle—Getty Images Democratic Presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calls for an end to the Cuban trade embargo as she gives a policy speech at the Florida International University on July 31, 2015 in Miami, Florida.

"The Cuba embargo needs to go, once and for all"

Hillary Clinton attacked Republicans presidential candidates on Cuba policy, voting rights and social welfare policy during a jaunt on Friday to Florida, the home state of contenders Sen. Marco Rubio and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and a likely swing state in the general election.

During two appearances in Fort Lauderdale and Miami, where Clinton discussed race and engaging with Cuba, the Democratic frontrunner called out Bush and others who have opposed President Obama’s thaw with the isolated island nation.

Clinton did not mention Bush’s name in her first speech at the National Urban League’s annual conference in Fort Lauderdale, but dropped the name of his super PAC, “Right to Rise.”

“You cannot seriously talk about the ‘Right to Rise’ and support laws that deny the right to vote,” Clinton said. “I don’t think you can credibly say that everyone has a right to rise and then say you’re for phasing out Medicare or for repealing Obamacare. People can’t rise if they can’t afford health care.”

Tim Miller, a spokesman for Bush tweeted a quick response to Clinton’s criticism: “The DNC and Hillary scramble to attack Jeb today and misrepresent his record betrays their fear of his ability to broaden GOP support,” he tweeted.

A few hours later on Friday in Miami, Clinton made a case for continuing to open up relations with Cuba, calling on Congress and the White House to lift the embargo on trade with Cuba.

“It’s time for [GOP] leaders to either get on board or get out of the way. The Cuba embargo needs to go, once and for all,” Clinton said.

The 2016 Republican candidates “have it backward,” Clinton said. “Engagement is not a gift to the Castros, its a threat to the Castros. An American embassy in Havana isn’t a concession, it’s a beacon.”

Republicans argue that the United States should not normalize relations with Cuba unless the government makes significant steps to curb human rights abuses and open up the country.

Clinton’s campaign in the last few days has set out specific criticism of Rubio, Bush and Scott Walker’s position on Cuban relations with a detailed “fact check” of their past statements, arguing that a policy of isolationism has not succeeded in leading to democratization in the communist island nation.

Clinton proposed on Friday finding ways to increase business with Cuba as well as the rest of the Americas, saying that the United States too often looks “east and west, but we don’t look south” and calling Latin America a crucial part of American foreign policy. “Our economies, our communities and even our families are deeply entwined,” Clinton said.

Polls show that Clinton has struck on a winning issue in Cuba: a Gallup survey found that 59% of Americans support reestablishing diplomatic relations with Cuba.

“We cannot afford to let out of touch out of date partisan ideas and candidates strip away all the progress we’ve made,” Clinton said.

TIME Foreign Policy

Watch Live: Hillary Clinton Calls on Congress to Lift Cuba Embargo

Hilary Clinton speaks at Florida International University in Miami, were she will call Congress to lift the embargo on Cuba

TIME Donald Trump

Here’s What Mark Cuban Has to Say About Running For VP on a Donald Trump Ticket

2014 Billboard Music Awards - Red Carpet
Bryan Steffy/Billboard Awards 20—Getty Images for DCP Mark Cuban

Cuban has praised Trump’s bid for the White House

If there’s one thing that Donald Trump’s campaign has been lacking, it’s the presence of a conceited and opinionated billionaire.

Fear not, Trump supporters! Dallas Mavericks owner and noted Mark-Cuban enthusiast, Mark Cuban, told Business Insider on Thursday that he would, “consider” running as Donald Trump’s vice-presidential running mate, if he were asked. However, Cuban went on to say that ultimately “probably not” take the position if offered because he’s “not cut out for politics . . . at least [the] way they are now.”

Cuban has recently praised the Trump campaign as “probably the best thing to happen to politics in a long long time” because Trump has shown that an unpolished businessman with an unconventional resume can run for office while speaking honestly about issues that matter to him. Writes Cuban:

Up until Trump announced his candidacy the conventional wisdom was that you had to be a professional politician in order to run . . . You had to have a background that was politically scrubbed. In other words, smart people who didn’t live perfect lives could never run. Smart people who didn’t want their families put under the media spotlight wouldn’t run.

TIME

Morning Must Reads: July 31

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

Republican candidates and their aides are locked in preparations for next week’s inaugural debate, but one thing they can’t control for is Donald Trump, whose presence is likely to dominate a substantial part of the debate. Strategies range from direct engagement and mockery to trying to fly under the radar, and are largely dependent on what Trump’s rivals need to accomplish, or not, next week.

In a preview of one potential general election matchup, Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush will share the same stage Friday at the National Urban League conference as they each seek to win over black voters. After turning out at record rates for President Obama‘s campaigns, black voters are very much in the mix this time around. Clinton is looking to maintain the Obama coalition, as Bush is hoping to shave off just a few percent in hopes they will boost him to victory.

Bush will use his remarks to highlight his education reform efforts in Florida, as well call for economic growth in urban centers and reforms for the nation’s safety net programs. He will likely also address the ongoing national debate over mistrust between police and the communities they serve. Clinton, after early missteps, has embraced the “Black Lives Matter” movement, which will be key a component of her remarks.

Here are your must-reads:

Must Reads

Republicans Debate the Best Way to Debate Donald Trump
TIME goes inside the strategic dilemma the rest of the GOP is facing

Koch Brothers Brave Spotlight to Try to Alter Their Image
The billionaire mega-donors show off their softer side [New York Times]

Congress Takes Off for the Summer, Setting Up an Autumn Showdown
Another shutdown? [Washington Post]

For Young Voters, Crushing Student Debt Is Front And Center
The issue is taking center-stage in New Hampshire as candidates try to adjust [NPR]

Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush to Share Stage at National Urban League
An effort to re-assemble or break the Obama coalition [CNN]

Sound Off

“I think it is regrettable that Republicans are once again trying to undermine, even end those services that so many women have needed and taken advantage of. I think that it’s another effort by the Republicans to try to limit the health care options of women and we should not let them succeed once again.” — Hillary Clinton criticizing GOP efforts to defund Planned Parenthood in the wake of several controversial videos

“I think I would get along very well with Vladimir Putin. I just think so.” — Donald Trump

Bits and Bites

Obama Rallies Grassroots to Get ‘Active’ in Iran Deal Organizing [TIME]

Clinton Campaign Complains of’ ‘Egregious’ New York Times Reporting Errors [Politico]

Here’s What the Bernie Sanders Cocktail Tastes Like [TIME]

With Debate and Convention, G.O.P. Looks to Reclaim Ohio in 2016 [New York Times]

Elizabeth Warren Wants You to Run For Office [TIME]

Slide Back in Time with the GOP Candidates [ABC]

Clinton Campaign Donors Also Big Backers of Foundation [Wall Street Journal]

Activists Release Fourth Planned Parenthood Video [TIME]

Sen. Schumer in Tight Spot on Iran Pact [Wall Street Journal]

No, Donald Trump Can’t Land his Helicopter at the Iowa State Fair [Des Moines Register]

Hillary Clinton Delivers ‘Cautious’ Message on Trade to AFL-CIO [Wall Street Journal]

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com