TIME White House

Here Are the Best Responses to Obama Joining Twitter

The President now has his very own handle, @POTUS

President Barack Obama tweeted from his personal Twitter account first the first time on Monday.

It took just a few hours after the tweet went up at 11:38 a.m. ET for @POTUS to rack up more than 1 million followers, appearing to handily beat the current Guinness World Record for the fastest time to hit that milestone (it took Robert Downey Jr. 23 hours and 22 minutes in April 2014).

A video posted by the White House gave what seemed to be proof that it was actually Obama typing on a smartphone and not a staffer:

The Chicago Cubs appeared slightly offended that Obama, a noted White Sox fan, followed the Sox, Blackhawks, Bulls and Bears, but not their team.

Michelle seemed pretty excited:

Joe Biden was pleased:

And Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s senior advisor, was glad he signed up:

But it was perhaps No. 42 who had the greatest reaction—and a good question (#askingforafriend, of course):

Despite a busy schedule—he tweeted from Camden, New Jersey—Obama responded promptly, and with a good question in response:

Read next: You Asked: Why Are My Devices Messing With My Brain?

TIME Hillary Clinton

Why Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Isn’t the Most Liberal Ever

Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at Rancho High School in Las Vegas on May 5, 2015.
Ethan Miller—Getty Images Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at Rancho High School in Las Vegas on May 5, 2015.

Her positions are all within mainstream political opinion

A number of Beltway pundits have recently decided that Hillary Clinton is not just running a liberal campaign, but perhaps the most liberal campaign in decades. But that’s not entirely accurate.

Just as you can’t step into the same river twice, no presidential campaign ever faces the same electorate. And on a range of issues, America has become more liberal since the last time Clinton ran.

Without exception, the positions that have been cited as “boldly liberal” are entirely in line with mainstream public opinion.

Take gay marriage, which Clinton endorsed in 2013. As of last year, 6 in 10 Americans—and a whopping 74% of Democrats—were in favor of it too, according to a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.

Or immigration. Last week, Clinton was congratulated by many liberals for backing a broad path to citizenship for roughly 11 million undocumented people. But in an NBC/WSJ poll last fall, 60% of Americans were in favor of a “path to citizenship” and nearly 75% were even more in favor of it if the plan involved asking immigrants to jump through certain hoops, such as paying back taxes.

Or criminal justice reform. Last week, Clinton called for reforming sentencing laws and reducing how much military-grade equipment is funneled off to police departments. But as of last year, that’s pretty much exactly where most Americans were, too: 63% were against mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent crimes, according to Pew Research, and nearly 60% thought militarization of police had gone too far.

The same is true on other socially liberal issues that Clinton has backed lately, much to the delight of the liberal base, including better gun control measures, a minimum wage increase, and paid family leave. As of 2013, 91% of Americans supported mandating criminal background checks before someone is allowed to purchase a weapon, and 60% supported reinstating a ban on assault weapons, according to Gallup. Roughly two-thirds of Americans are now in favor of raising the minimum wage and 60% believe that employers ought to give paid time-off to employees when they’re sick, according to a February AP-GfK poll.

In early May, liberal activist groups claimed victory after Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, hinted that the Democratic front-runner would soon announce a comprehensive plan to make college more affordable. But again, she’s right in line with most Americans. According to the Harvard Institute of Politics, 79% of Americans described student debt as “a problem” that needs to be addressed.

At the same time, Clinton has kept mum on some liberal ideas that are more divisive. She’s avoided taking a stance on President Obama’s big new free trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which many liberals have criticized. While she’s made some populist remarks about reining in Wall Street, she’s stopped short of getting specific on liberal ideas like capping CEO pay or breaking up the big banks. And she’s not taken a definitive stance on the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which has become a signature issue for environmentalists hoping to address climate change.

It’s possible, then, to imagine a more liberal campaign than the one Clinton is running. And if seems like she has the most liberal campaign in history, that’s partly because she’s facing an America that is more liberal on those issues.

TIME White House

How Camden Became the Poster Child for Police Reform

Officer Adam Fulmore, of the Camden County Police Department, goes on a foot patrol in the Parkside neighborhood of Camden, N.J. on Aug. 22, 2013.
Andrew Burton—Getty Images Officer Adam Fulmore, of the Camden County Police Department, goes on a foot patrol in the Parkside neighborhood of Camden, N.J. on Aug. 22, 2013.

For a speech highlighting police reform, President Obama chose to travel to Camden, New Jersey.

The Philadelphia suburb is one of the nation’s poorest and most violent cities, but in the past two years it has also become something of a poster child for police reform, earning praise from Obama and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie alike.

The city’s mayor tells TIME that a restructuring of the police force helped transform an area that she said was borderline lawless. “Camden has had the reputation of being the most violent city in America for over two decades,” Mayor Dana Redd says. “It was almost like anything goes.”

On Monday, Obama will highlight the city’s reform efforts as a model for other municipalities where police and community relations are strained, tour a police data center and meet with young people from the area.

The city is home to about 77,000 residents but saw a record 67 homicides in 2012. That year, officials gutted the expensive, city-led police department and rebuilt a county police force in an effort to get more uniformed officers on the street. Many had been laid off in 2011—the year after, the city faced record homicides. In a city where violent crime was once rampant, the mayor says there’s been a 40% drop in homicides over the past two years.

A recent survey found students in middle and high schools feel significantly safer leaving the building. And the police and community members work together to keep peace. The city is also one of 21 communities across the nation that is taking part in a White House initiative to make better use of data and technology to increase transparency and track crime.

The President’s Task Force for 21st Century Policing released its final report on Monday, filled with pages of recommendations on how to make communities safer and restore trust. Camden was highlighted as a city on the right track. The Camden County Sheriff is quoted in testimony he gave before the task force saying, “the only way to significantly reduce fear, crime and disorder, and then sustain these gains is to leverage the greatest force multiplier: the people of the community.”

“It’s new paradigm unlike what the former police had to offer,” Redd says. “The new police department is really integrated in a way that connects with the community in positive engagement and our officers are serving as role models.”

That’s not to say the problems have been solved. The Wall Street Journal reports civil liberties groups have taken issue with the increase in citations for minor infractions and that groups like the NAACP are concerned about the fact that the new force’s union isn’t as strong as the past one. The mayor calls the overall experiment a “work in progress,” but notes that by restoring law and order to Camden, doors of opportunity will open in other areas. She wants to see businesses coming back, more students completing their educations, and perhaps even vibrant tourism in the city’s future.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” Redd says. “But, this year we can see a light at the end of the tunnel for the people of Camden.”

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly described the drop in crime in Camden. Homicides are down 40% in the last two years.
TIME Barack Obama

President Obama Now Has His Own Twitter Account

President Obama gets his own Twitter account

Two Twitter accounts weren’t enough for President Obama. On Monday, he signed up for a third.

Though Obama has been an avid user of social media — and by one study is the most followed world leader on Twitter — his other accounts @WhiteHouse and @BarackObama are controlled by the Administration and Organizing for Action, the nonprofit that succeeded his presidential-campaign arm.

The new account, @POTUS, looks like more of a personal account, perhaps to allow him to continue running it after he leaves the White House.

The account rapidly added followers, going from zero to almost 100,000 in less than half an hour and growing by the minute.

Obama made some interesting choices setting up the account. The short bio reads: “Dad, husband, and 44th President of the United States.” And the header photo at the top of his account page is a picture with his family crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge on the anniversary of the iconic civil rights march in Selma, Ala., in March.

The White House says the new account is a way for the President to engage directly with the American people.

“President Obama is committed to making his Administration the most open and participatory in history, and @POTUS will give Americans a new venue to engage on the issues that matter most to them,” wrote a White House blogger announcing the account.

TIME jeb bush

Jeb Bush Says Christians Can Refuse to Serve Gay Weddings

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks during a town hall meeting, on May 16, 2015, at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa.
Charlie Neibergall—AP Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks during a town hall meeting, on May 16, 2015, at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa.

He also said marriage equality is not a constitutional right

Jeb Bush said in a new interview that Christian business owners can refuse to serve gay weddings.

The presumptive Republican 2016 presidential candidate told the Christian Broadcasting Network that refusing service would not count as discrimination if it went against a business owner’s religious beliefs.

“A big country, a tolerant country ought to be able to figure out the difference between discriminating someone because of their sexual orientation and not forcing someone to participate in a wedding that they find goes against their moral beliefs,” Bush said.

The question became a flashpoint earlier this year amid debate over an Indiana law that proponents said would protect religious freedom but critics said would sanction discrimination.

Bush also said in the interview that he doesn’t believe same-sex marriage is a constitutional right.

Read Next: Jeb Bush Casts Wide Net on Religious Liberty in Address

TIME

Morning Must Reads: May 18

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

Good morning from Washington. President Obama will travel to Camden, N.J., this afternoon to tour a police operations center and visit with local youth, in his latest effort to raise awareness about police-community relations following turmoil in Ferguson and Baltimore. Obama will also unveil the results of a report he ordered on the transfer of military-style equipment to police forces, instituting new approval requirements and banning many transfers of camouflage uniforms and grenade launchers that the Administration says are more militaristic in nature.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will skip Obama’s visit to his state in order to deliver remarks on foreign policy in New Hampshire in the latest effort to resurrect his presidential hopes. Breaking with civil libertarians in both parties, Christie will deliver a strong defense of the National Security Agency’s spying programs, calling most privacy fears “baloney.”

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is returning to Iowa today where she will attend a grassroots organizing event in Mason City.

Must Reads

Republican Candidates Dodge Immigration Questions (TIME)
It’s not their favorite topic

Obama to Limit Military-Style Equipment for Police Forces (NYT)
After Ferguson, Baltimore, White House to order changes

Energized Republicans Put On a Campaign Show in Iowa (TIME)
Joe Klein assesses the GOP field

Sensing a voter shift, Clinton tacks to the left (WP)
Hillary Clinton is running as the most liberal presidential front-runner in decades

Christie to Call For Larger Military, Defend Intelligence Collection (TIME)
Caters to GOP’s hawkish wing

Sound Off

“I don’t understand the question you’re asking,” — Sen. Marco Rubio to Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace during a length back-and-forth over the invasion of Iraq

“Thousands of years of culture and history is just being changed at warp speed. It’s hard to fathom why it is this way.” — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on the Christian Broadcasting Network Sunday, saying he does not believe the Constitution provides for a right to same-sex marriage

Bits and Bites

Pentagon faulted in assault cases

GOP: Business lobby blowing it on trade

Defense bills cause transparency jitters

Ben Carson makes faulty Lincoln analogy

Sanders to introduce bill to make college tuition-free

Senate candidate Loretta Sanchez appears to disparage American Indians

TIME Chris Christie

Chris Christie to Call For Larger Military, Defend Intelligence Collection

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Olivier Douliery—Getty Images New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

He'll call for more warships and military planes in a speech Monday

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will call for an expanded military and defend American intelligence programs Monday in a speech laying out his foreign policy vision in New Hampshire.

The all-but-certain Republican presidential candidate is set to criticize the emerging Iran nuclear agreement as well as President Obama’s handling of the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), according to prepared remarks released by his political action committee.

“With Iran, the President’s eagerness for a deal on their nuclear program has him ready to accept a bad deal,” Christie will say.

Christie will issue a full-throated defense of American spying efforts, seeking to draw contrast with more dovish members of his own party, as well as many Democrats, who have unified against the National Security Agency since the Edward Snowden revelations in 2013.

“They want you to think that there’s a government spook listening in every time you pick up the phone or Skype with your grandkids,” Christie will say. “They want you to think of our intelligence community as the bad guys, straight out of the Bourne Identity or a Hollywood thriller. And they want you to think that if we weakened our capabilities, the rest of the world would love us more.”

“Let me be clear: all these fears are baloney,” Christie will add. “When it comes to fighting terrorism, our government is not the enemy. And we shouldn’t listen to people like Edward Snowden, a criminal who hurt our country and now enjoys the hospitality of President Putin—while sending us messages about the dangers of authoritarian government.”

Christie will also propose an expansion of federal defense spending, including a repeal of the mandatory budgetary caps known as sequestration.

“The Army and Marines should not be reduced below their pre-9/11 strength, and our active duty forces should be at 500,000 Army soldiers and 185,000 Marines,” he will say, drumming the call of the nation’s defense hawks. “Our Navy should have more ships,” adding the Navy needs at least 350 vessels. The Air Force, Christie will say, should have 2,000 combat aircraft and a total strength of 6,000 aircraft.

Christie’s call for an expanded military mirrors the plans of other Republicans, even the more dovish Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who earlier this year called for an expansion of the military budget.

Read more: Rand Paul Proposes Boosting Defense Spending

Christie has seen his path to the presidency narrow amid a troubled fiscal situation in his state and the continued fallout of the politically motivated closures of approach lanes to the George Washington Bridge by former aides in 2013. Monday’s remarks are the third in a series of addresses designed to restart his presidential efforts, as he prepares to make his candidacy official in the coming months.

Casting himself as a decisive leader in contrast to Obama, whom he says has not defined a strategy for America in the world, Christie will argue that the current administration is alienating American allies. One piece of evidence he’ll cite: Last week, Obama was set to host Gulf leaders, but several, including Saudi King Salman, pulled out in an apparent snub to the White House.

“The price of inaction is steadily rising,” he will say. “Just last week we saw the embarrassment of almost all the Gulf leaders, including the Saudi king, pulling out of President Obama’s summit at Camp David. Our allies want policies, not photo ops, and we’re not listening to them.”

Christie will call for the linkage between the sanctions on Iran stemming from its nuclear program to that country’s efforts to destabilize the Middle East, including its support for Hezbollah and the Houthis in Yemen. Such suggestions have been rejected by the Obama Administration as an effort to undermine the nuclear deal.

TIME Immigration

Republican Candidates Dodge Immigration Questions

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush speaks at the Republican Party of Iowa's Lincoln Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, United States, May 16, 2015.
Jim Young—Reuters Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush speaks at the Republican Party of Iowa's Lincoln Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, United States, May 16, 2015.

The GOP wanted to talk differently about immigration in 2016. Instead they're trying to avoid talking about it at all

Sitting in a hotel conference room of a Scottsdale, Ariz., resort, Mike Huckabee kibitzed with a few reporters Friday about issues ranging from the Iraq War to the suspension of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

But when the talk turned to whether undocumented immigrants should have a path to U.S. citizenship, the former Arkansas governor clammed up. “Until we have a secure border,” Huckabee demurred, “there isn’t any other discussion for us to be having.”

Huckabee isn’t the only Republican presidential candidate to dodge the topic lately. As the 2016 race ramps up, GOP candidates are increasingly skirting the specifics of immigration policy. It’s a trend that threatens the party’s hopes of reclaiming the White House.

Routed in the battle for Hispanic voters in 2012, the Republican Party promised to speak differently about immigration this time. But the need to repair its relationship with Latinos has collided with its candidates’ need to court the conservative activists who dominate the GOP nominating contest. As a result, many of the party’s presidential hopefuls don’t want to divulge the details of their positions on an issue with major political and policy ramifications.

To discern the differences between the candidates on immigration, TIME distributed a brief survey to declared and likely White House hopefuls. The questions focused on the fate of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S., a subject at the heart of the bipartisan debate over comprehensive immigration reform:

  1. Do you support an eventual pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently residing in the U.S., and if so, under what conditions?
  1. Do you support an eventual pathway to legal status short of citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently residing in the U.S., and if so, under what conditions?
  1. Do you support a separate process to give legal status or citizenship to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as minors?
  1. Do you support any government benefits, such as in-state college tuition, for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as minors?

Some likely GOP candidates offered clear and succinct answers. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum was a “no” on all four, according to his spokesman. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of the architects of the Senate’s bipartisan attempt to overhaul U.S. immigration laws in 2013, stuck by his support for a path to citizenship under detailed conditions. “Citizenship need not be mandatory, but it needs to be an option for those who are qualified,” said Graham spokeswoman Brittany Bramell. Graham also backed a process to give legal status or citizenship—along with government benefits like in-state tuition—to minors brought to the U.S. by their parents.

But the majority of the field offered muddier responses, or declined to answer at all. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal was one of several to argue the debate should be postponed until the southern border is secured.

“Any discussion about dealing with who is already here is counterproductive until the border is secure,” Jindal told TIME in a statement issued through his spokesman. “Any attempt to deal with the millions of people who are currently in this country illegally prior to securing the border is illogical, and is nothing more than amnesty.”

Asked about a pathway to legal status for undocumented workers who met certain conditions, Jindal dismissed it as “a hypothetical conversation.” As for legal status or citizenship for those brought to the U.S. as minors, Jindal turned the focus to Obama. “A serious discussion about those individuals is just not possible right now because of the reckless policies of this administration,” he said. “This President has done everything he can to encourage illegal immigration.”

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, whose path to the GOP nomination runs through the conservative grassroots, opposes a path to citizenship for the undocumented. But it’s unclear where Cruz, who casts himself as a proponent of immigration reform, stands on the matter of legal status. He did not directly answer questions from TIME at a recent question-and-answer session hosted by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

These evasions reflect the divisiveness of a topic that splits the party’s bigwigs and its base. The fate of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S. is such a freighted question among conservative activists in early voting states like Iowa that White House hopefuls are leery of sinking their campaigns with a single slip of the tongue.

Take former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is likely to launch his second campaign for the presidency next month. Many recall the brain freeze Perry suffered in the middle of a 2011 debate as the moment his first bid for the White House went awry. But the face plant capped a free fall set in motion at an earlier debate, when Perry excoriated critics of in-state tuition breaks for undocumented minors. “If you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they have been brought there by no fault of their own,” Perry argued then, “I don’t think you have a heart.”

Perry takes a different tack now. In response to TIME’s questions, a spokesman for the former Lone Star State governor compiled a summary of his tough record on illegal immigration, including a “border surge” to stem the tide of undocumented immigrants from Central America in 2014, an increase in border-security funding and a mandate for state agencies and contractors to use e-verify, an electronic system designed to prevent employers from hiring undocumented workers. “Under Gov. Rick Perry’s leadership, Texas did more to secure the southern border than any state in the nation,” said spokesman Travis Considine.

Perry isn’t the only Republican to recalibrate his approach. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has shifted on immigration more than any other GOP candidate. Once a supporter of a path to citizenship, Walker is now a firm no. “He believes citizenship should be reserved for those who follow the law from the beginning,” spokeswoman AshLee Strong told TIME. Asked if Walker supported an eventual pathway to legal status for those in the U.S. illegally or a separate process for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as minors, Strong replied: “He believes that following the President’s illegal executive action, the U.S.’s priorities must be repealing the executive action, securing the border, and enforcing the laws on the books while implementing a workable e-verify system.”

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who helped craft the 2013 Senate measure, has edged away from his support of a comprehensive reform bill; he now says he would support a path to citizenship only after tough border measures are imposed first. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a fluent Spanish speaker whose wife is from Mexico, is a supporter of immigration reform who has urged the party to rethink its approach on immigration. But while he once spoke favorably about a path to citizenship, he prefers a path to earned legal status.

“Governor Bush believes once immigrants who entered illegally as adults plead guilty and pay the applicable fines or perform community service, they should become eligible to start the process to earn legal status,” spokeswoman Allie Brandenburger told TIME. “Such earned legal status should entail paying taxes, learning English, committing no substantial crimes, and not receiving government benefits. Governor Bush believes this must be accompanied by measures to secure the border and reform America’s broken immigration system to make it economically driven.”

Candidates like Bush and Rubio are trying to navigate the tightrope on a tricky policy issue by taking a position that can win over moderate voters (including the center-right business community, which favors reform) without alienating the GOP base. Their position grew more precarious recently, when likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, vying to maintain the party’s grip on the nation’s fastest-growing demographic group, positioned herself as a greater advocate of undocumented workers than anyone in the field.

“We can’t wait any longer for a path to full and equal citizenship,” she said, claiming Republican candidate has consistently supported that policy. “When they talk about ‘legal status,’ that is code for second-class status.”

With reporting by Zeke J. Miller/Scottsdale, Ariz.

TIME Campaigns

California Senate Candidate Caught Ridiculing Native Americans

Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., participates in the news conference on Food and Drug Administration menu labeling regulations
Bill Clark—AP Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., participates in the news conference on Food and Drug Administration menu labeling regulations on April 28, 2015.

Sanchez used an offensive gesture before a group of Indian Americans

California Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez, a U.S. Senate candidate, was caught using a derogatory gesture directed at Native Americans at an event for Indian Americans on Saturday.

In a video captured by an observer, Sanchez tells a story about how she was invited to an event by what she thought was a Native American group. “I’m going to his office, thinking I’m going to meet with a… ” Sanchez said before clapping her hand over her mouth and making a chanting sound.

The gesture, reminiscent of 1950s depictions of Native Americans widely condemned as racist, drew tepid laughter in the crowd as well audible several outraged cries of “oh my God” and “What the heck was that?”

Sanchez has since declined to comment on the appropriateness of her gesture. “I think that Native Americans have an incredibly great history, and a great presence in our country, and many of them are supporting our election,” she said in response to a question from the Sacramento Bee.

TIME 2016 Election

Marco Rubio Struggles to Say Whether Iraq Invasion Was a ‘Mistake’

Latest GOP presidential hopeful to get entangled in the question

Florida Senator Marco Rubio became the latest GOP presidential hopeful on Sunday to become entangled in answering a question about whether it was a mistake for the U.S. to go to war in Iraq in 2003.

When asked by Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace, Rubio said it wasn’t a mistake at the time by then-President George W. Bush, given the intelligence he was presented in regards to weapons of mass destruction said to be in Iraq. Wallace asked Rubio whether that was a flip-flop from previous answers, and then pressed him several more times.

“It’s not a mistake. I still say it was not a mistake because the President was presented with intelligence that said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction,” Rubio said. “It was governed by a man who had committed atrocities in the past with weapons of mass destruction.”

The question came after a week when a number of confirmed or presumed Republican presidential candidates found themselves addressing the same issue. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush came under fire for multiple answers about his brother’s action. He later clarified that he wouldn’t have ordered the invasion given what he knows now about the intelligence at the time.

[Fox News]

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