TIME rick perry

Appeals Court Drops One of Rick Perry’s Indictments

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry at a meet and greet in Fort Dodge, Iowa on July 13, 2015.
Charlie Neibergall—AP Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry at a meet and greet in Fort Dodge, Iowa on July 13, 2015.

Perry was indicted last August on the coercion charge and a separate charge of abuse of official power

(AUSTIN, Texas) — One of two felony indictments against former Texas Gov. Rick Perry was tossed out Friday, giving the Republican presidential candidate a potentially huge legal victory in the face of flagging polling numbers for the 2016 race.

The 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin sided Friday with Perry’s high-powered legal team in ruling that the charge of coercion of a public servant essentially constituted a violation of Perry’s free speech rights.

Perry was indicted last August on the coercion charge and a separate charge of abuse of official power, which wasn’t affected by the ruling. It’s still likely he’ll have to face that charge.

The case stems from Perry publicly threatening, and then exercising, a veto of state funding for public corruption prosecutors. His move came in the wake of the Democrat who heads the investigative unit rebuffing Perry’s calls to resign after she was convicted and jailed for drunken driving.

Michael McCrum, the San Antonio-based special prosecutor leading the case, did not immediately return a call seeking comment. He will likely have the option of further appealing Friday’s decision.

Lead Perry counsel Tony Buzbee called the decision “a clear step towards victory for the rule of law.”

“The only remaining count we believe to be a misdemeanor, and the only issue is whether the governor’s veto — or any veto in the absence of bribery — can ever be illegal,” Buzbee said. “The appeals court made clear that this case was questionable … and we are confident that once it is put before the court, it will be dismissed on its face.”

Perry left office in January and has spent most of his time campaigning in the early-voting states Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, but polls show him badly trailing the race’s front-runners. He made a single court appearance in the matter, which so far hasn’t affected his 2016 campaign schedule.

The former governor has for months called the case against him politically motivated, but the Republican trial judge repeatedly refused to toss it on constitutional grounds, which prompted the appeal. McCrum has said Perry deserves to go to trial based on the evidence — not politics.

Still, the court wrote, the coercion charge “violates the First Amendment and, accordingly, cannot be enforced.”

TIME Donald Trump

Watch Donald Trump’s Most Outrageous Moments

He's said a lot more than just "you're fired"

It seems that every time Donald Trump opens his mouth, a maelstrom of controversial words come out — and things have only got worse as he’s begun his presidential campaign.

From his comments about “rapist” immigrants to his attack against John McCain, Trump has many Americans in uproar over his fighting words. He may or may not make it very far in the 2016 presidential election, but one thing’s for certain: it’s going to one heck of a show.

Watch his most controversial and outrageous statements in the video above.

TIME Hillary Clinton

Investigators Seek Justice Department Inquiry Over Hillary Clinton Emails

Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton Campaigns in Iowa
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Hillary Clinton, former U.S. secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, pauses while speaking during a campaign event in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, U.S., on Friday, July 17, 2015.

Clinton says she did not email any classified material to anyone from her email server

A pair of inspectors general have requested an investigation into the handling of potentially classified government information once stored on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server, the New York Times reported late Thursday.

The request reopens a fresh wound for Clinton — the decision to use a private account for government business, and then choosing to delete ostensibly personal information from the server after information was requested by Congress. The controversy has contributed to a decline in Clinton’s favorability rating and has provoked questions about her trustworthiness.

The request for the investigation, the New York Times reported, references “hundreds of potentially classified emails” contained among Clinton’s messages, though it is unclear whether the messages were marked as such when Clinton sent or received them. The Department of Justice has yet to decide whether to pursue charges, nor is it clear whom would be the target of the investigation.

A Department of Justice official said despite initially confirming that the request was not for a criminal investigation, that is not the case. “The Department has received a referral related to the potential compromise of classified information,” the official said. It is not a criminal referral.”

In May, when releasing the first batch of Clinton emails to the public, the State Department, at the request of the intelligence community, classified 23 words of an email relating to the arrest of a suspected assailant in the 2012 Benghazi attack which killed four Americans.

At the time, the State Department said, the email was unclassified while it resided on Clinton’s server and when it was sent to the House Select Committee on Benghazi. A senior department official told TIME then that the retroactive classification does not mean Clinton did anything improper, adding “this happens several times a month” when Freedom of Information Act reports are prepared for the public.

In a statement, Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill brushed back on the assertion that Clinton had done anything wrong.

“Contrary to the initial story, which has already been significantly revised, she followed appropriate practices in dealing with classified materials,” Merrill said. “As has been reported on multiple occasions, any released emails deemed classified by the administration have been done so after the fact, and not at the time they were transmitted.”

In a March news conference, Clinton denied that she used the unsecured account for classified information. “I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email,” she said. “There is no classified material. So I’m certainly well aware of the classification requirements and did not send classified material.”

The State Department is in the midst of a review of 55,000 pages of emails from Clinton’s server, and is under court order to produce them regularly to the public in order to comply with overdue Freedom of Information Act requests.

In her public comments on the server issue, Clinton has at times been less than forthright, telling CNN earlier this month that she hadn’t received a subpoena when she clearly had, and suggesting she had gone above and beyond complying with government records rules.

“The truth is everything I did was permitted and I went above and beyond what anybody could have expected in making sure that if the State Department didn’t capture something, I made a real effort to get it to them,” Clinton told CNN this month. But, in fact, Clinton was under legal obligation to preserve all messages pertaining to her work and to hand them over to the State Department.

Update: This story has been updated to reflect that after initially confirming it had received a criminal referral, the Justice Department now says the request was not for a criminal investigation.

TIME

Morning Must Reads: July 24

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

Two inspectors general have requested that the Department of Justice open a criminal investigation into the handling of classified information surrounding Hillary Clinton‘s use of a private email server while at the State Department. There are no indications yet that Clinton herself is the subject of the potential probe, but it is the latest embarrassment for Clinton on a sensitive subject that goes to her trustworthiness. The State Department has previously redacted some documents contained on her server as classified, but only marked them such after the fact.

President Obama has embarked on a four-day trip to Kenya and Ethiopia — a trip of many firsts — that will take him back to his father’s homeland. Obama is expected to deliver a speech on Sunday that references his complex personal relationship with Kenya. In an interview with the BBC, Obama lamented that he has yet to make significant progress on gun control reforms in the U.S., just hours before another mass shooting in Louisiana.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush criticized former Maryland New Jersey Gov. Martin O’Malley for apologizing for saying “all lives matter” during a “Black Lives Matter” protest. Chris Christie is out with a new television ad criticizing the Iran nuclear agreement. And Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal comes under fire for having his state pick up some of his campaign travel tab.

Here are your must-reads:

Must Reads

President Obama Heads to Kenya and Ethiopia for Trip Filled with Firsts
TIME’s Maya Rhodan previews the Obama visit

Criminal Inquiry Is Sought in Clinton Email Account
Classified information on server draws legal scrutiny [New York Times]

Hillary Clinton, Republicans Play Different 2016 Gender Cards
The Clinton campaign sees an opportunity, TIME’s Jay Newton Small writes

#BlackLivesMatter Is Winning the 2016 Democratic Primary
TIME’s Sam Frizell reports on how the movement is changing Democrats’ rhetoric

How Donald Trump Cashes in Even When His Name-Brand Properties Fail
It’s all about celebrity [Washington Post]

Sound Off

“Certainly not to Vader. I was always a Han Solo guy. And when it comes to comics, I was more of a Spider-Man guy.” — Sen. Ted Cruz asked by the New York Times Magazine whether he’s been attracted to anti-heroes

“If you ask me where has been the one area where I feel that I’ve been most frustrated and most stymied, it is the fact that the United States of America is the one advanced nation on Earth in which we do not have sufficient commonsense gun safety laws even in the face of repeated mass killings.” — President Obama in an interview with the BBC

Bits and Bites

Hillary Clinton to Call For the Raising of Some Capital Gains Taxes [TIME]

Donald Trump Unapologetic on Visit to U.S.-Mexico Border [TIME]

Chris Christie Sidesteps Questions on N.J. Transit Train Delays [New York Times]

Mike Huckabee Trolls Hillary and Bill Clinton to Tap Republican Id [TIME]

Bush Says O’Malley Should Not Have Apologized for Saying ‘White Lives Matter’ [Yahoo]

U.S. to Step Up Battle Against Corporate Espionage [Wall Street Journal]

Lawmakers to Introduce Historic LGBT Non-Discrimination Bills [TIME]

Hillary Clinton to Return to the Hamptons for Vacation [New York Times]

Lieutenant Governor to Jindal: End State Spending on Campaign Travel [Associated Press]

New Chris Christie Ad Attacks Obama on Iran Deal

TIME White House

The Lack of Change in Gun Laws During His Presidency Has Been ‘Distressing,’ Obama Says

Michelle Obama Hosts 2015 Beating The Odds Summit At White House
Mark Wilson—Getty Images U.S. President Barack Obama greets guests during a surprise visit to First Lady Michelle Obama's event on higher education in the East Room of the White House July 23, 2015

The President spoke of feeling "most frustrated and most stymied" over the issue

Failure to pass what he called “common-sense gun-safety laws” during his tenure in the White House has ranked among his greatest frustrations, Barack Obama has told the BBC, in a wide-ranging interview covering much of the last years of his presidency.

Obama said he felt he had made strides in many political arenas but that it was “distressing” not to have affected significant change in gun laws “even in the face of repeated mass killings.”

With less than two years left in power, Obama said guns were the policy area that made him feel “most frustrated and most stymied. “If you look at the number of Americans killed since 9/11 by terrorism, it’s less than 100,” he said. “If you look at the number that have been killed by gun violence, it’s in the tens of thousands.”

During a turbulent summer that saw nine African Americans killed at a South Carolina prayer meeting in June, Obama told reporters that “politics in [Washington]” precluded most options for change in gun control policy.

The BBC interview was conducted previous to the July 23 shooting at a movie theater in Louisiana and did not touch on that event.

[BBC]

TIME 2016 Election

Hillary Clinton to Call For the Raising of Some Capital Gains Taxes

Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton Campaigns In South Carolina
Sean Rayford—Getty Images Democratic Presidential candidate and former U.S. Secretary of the State Hillary Clinton meets with mayors and local leaders at Brookland Baptist Church on July 23, 2015 in West Columbia, South Carolina.

The Democratic frontrunner says she's focused on long-term economic growth

Hillary Clinton will on Friday propose raising some short-term capital gains tax rates, a campaign aide has said.

The call is one of a series of proposals intended to spur long-term economic investment, said the aide.

The Democratic frontrunner will announce the tax plan during a speech at New York University, the aide added, where Clinton is expected to discuss the pitfalls of business short-termism and the “tyranny of today’s earnings report.”

Business leaders “say everything’s focused on the next earnings report or the short-term share price,” Clinton said in a speech last week. “The result is too little attention on the sources of long-term growth: research and development, physical capital, and talent.”

The campaign has so far provided few details about Clinton’s capital gains tax plan, but it appears she would significantly raise capital gains tax rates on wealthy investors holding short-to-medium-term investments.

Investments taxed at 24%—that’s the rate currently paid by top earners on investments held for more than one year—would be taxed at a higher rate, an aide said Thursday. More details about the plan will be laid out on Friday.

The goal, the campaign says, is to encourage stock traders to hold their investments for longer periods of time, and allow companies to hold more capital for long-term investments in hiring and facilities.

Clinton will call for a review of securities rules to address excessive shareholder activism, as well as greater stock buyback disclosure and a new scrutiny of executive compensation.

She will also point to figures to show that expenditures on dividends and stock buybacks doubled among the biggest American companies over the last decade, while investment in new plants and equipment dropped.

In laying out her economic vision for the country last week, Clinton said she is focused on pursuing fairer, long-term growth that focuses on growing middle-class incomes.

TIME Military

Russian Bombers Buzzing U.S. Unlikely to Carry Nukes

RUSSIA-HISTORY-VICTORY-DAY-WWII
VASILY MAXIMOV / AFP / Getty Images A trio of Tu-95 bombers flies over the Kremlin in May.

But Moscow’s growing assertiveness concerns U.S. military

The bad news for Americans old enough to remember Cold War shivers is that Soviet-era Tu-95 Bear bombers recently showed up off the U.S. coast. The good news, for Americans, is that the 1950s-era Russian air force turboprop airplanes keep crashing.

And that combination, a former Air Force general says, makes it unlikely that the Russian bombers are carrying any nuclear weapons close to U.S. shores (the bomber would carry such weapons inside its fuselage, making it impossible for outsiders to tell if there any are aboard, Air Force officials say).

“Risking the loss of a long-range bomber like a Tu-95 with a nuclear weapon on board is a pretty big risk,” says David Deptula, a retired three-star officer who spent 3,000 hours in fighter planes, including 400 in combat. “It would be very imprudent to be carrying a nuclear weapons on board a flight like that.” A pair of Russian pilots died July 14 when their Tu-95 crashed in Russia’s Far East; a second Tu-95 ran off a Russian runway June 8 following an engine fire, injuring several crew members.

Russia has been averaging about five such flights annually over the past five years, the North American Aerospace Defense Command reports (although it spiked to 10 last year). “This is nothing new,” NORAD’s Michael Kucharek says. Each time the Russian bombers approach, the joint U.S.-Canadian force dispatches interceptors to eyeball them. “We go up and visually identify the aircraft, and let them know that we are there,’ Kucharek says. “They see us and we see them.”

“I don’t know what to make of it,” Merrill “Tony” McPeak, retired general and Air Force chief of staff, says of the Russian fly-bys. “The training value—polishing skills in navigation, aerial refueling, et cetera—can be achieved flying over Russian territory.”

Deptula says the flights are Russian President Vladimir Putin’s way of asserting Russian might. “He’s showing they still have a way to project power when and where they want to,” Deptula says. “It reinforces the fact that they do have a capability to project power that not many nations do.”

Russia’s actions in the skies, along with those in Ukraine and Crimea, have the U.S. military brass increasingly concerned. On Thursday, Lieut. General Robert Neller, tapped to be the next commandant of the Marine Corps, said he views Russia as the nation that poses the biggest threat to the U.S. “Their actions, and the fact that they have strategic forces, make them the greatest potential threat,” Neller said.

He was echoing the views of General Mark Milley, soon to be the Army chief of staff, and Marine General Joseph Dunford, soon to become chairman of the Joint Chiefs. “If you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States, I’d have to point to Russia,” Dunford said at his confirmation hearing July 9. “If you look at their behavior, it’s nothing short of alarming.”

The latest Russian flight took place July 4 off the central Californian coast, and a pair of U.S. F-15s were dispatched to check out the intruders. “Good morning American pilots, we are here to greet you on your Fourth of July Independence Day,” a Russian crew member aboard one of the Tu-95s radioed the Americans. The Russians conducted similar flights in 2012 and 2014.

NORAD is pretty mellow about the flights, none of which has come inside the 12-mile territorial limits claimed by both the U.S. and Canada. The latest flight came within about 40 miles of the California coast. “We’ve seen these flight profiles before,”Kucharek says. “If a country has a military, they have to exercise their capabilities.”

That attitude is a far cry from the Pentagon’s view of the Tu-95 during the 1980s, when the lumbering bomber was featured regularly in its annual Soviet Military Power guide, a glossy publication designed to bolster support for President Ronald Reagan’s military buildup.

Engels-2 Aircraft Military Base
Wojtek Laski / Getty ImagesThe Tu-95 is the backbone of Russia’s bomber fleet

“The Tu-95/Bear is the primary intercontinental air threat to the United States,” the 1983 version said. “Capable of delivering free-fall bombs or air-to-surface missiles, under optimum conditions this aircraft can cover virtually all U.S. targets on a two-way mission.”

But Marine Lieut. General Neller apparently isn’t losing any sleep over the Tu-95 flights. “I don’t think they want to fight us,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday. “Right now I don’t think they want to kill Americans.”

TIME

President Obama Heads to Kenya and Ethiopia for Trip Filled with Firsts

President Barack Obama is heading back to his ancestral homeland.

A couple of decades ago, Obama traveled to Kenya, the birthplace of his estranged father, to learn about his heritage. On Thursday evening, he left Washington to make the trip again. And when he arrives on Friday, he’ll become the first sitting U.S. president to visit the East African nation.

Over the course of four days, Obama will travel both to Kenya and Ethiopia, starting in Nairobi for the annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit and ending in Addis Ababa, where the African Union is headquartered. The trip is peppered with firsts: the first time Obama has traveled to Kenya as commander-in-chief and the first time a sitting president has visited Ethiopia. His speech before the African Union will also be the first time a sitting American president addresses the body.

The explicit purpose of the trip is for Obama to participate in the annual gathering of entrepreneurs, business leaders, and government officials, of which he is co-chair, and to engage with African leaders. Throughout the trip he will participate in a number of bilateral meetings and press conferences. He will participate in a civil society event, meet with government officials, and address the Kenyan people directly.

National Security Advisor Susan Rice said Wednesday he will not have time to visit the village where his family is rooted, but will make time to meet with family members while he’s in Kenya. Rice also said the trip will offer President Obama an opportunity to advance the U.S.’s trade and investment relationship with Africa, call for greater human rights protections and transparency in government, and highlight American efforts to increase opportunities for the next generation of Africans.

“This is an opportunity not only to support that Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which is something the president is deeply committed to,” Rice said. “But, it’s also an opportunity to strengthen and deepen our relationship to Africa.”

But for many in Kenya, the historic trip feels like an opportunity to welcome home their American brother, a man whose face has been painted on the sides of buildings and whose name resonates from villages to city centers. “They take it really personally,” a café owner told the Associated Press.

While Obama’s will largely focus on economic issues like trade and investments while he’s in Kenya, human rights activists are urging the president to address some serious concerns raised by those on the ground. Jedidah Waruhiu, of Kenya’s National Commission on Human Rights said on a conference call Wednesday she hopes that Obama uses his voice to “speak truth to human rights.”

Obama is also expected to address the issue of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights in Kenya. Earlier this week, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta called LGBT rights a “non-issue” that’s “not on our agenda at all” ahead of the visit by Obama.

“We as a country, as a continent, are faced with much more issues which we would want to engage the U.S. and all our partners with,” Kenyatta said.

If pressed, however, Obama isn’t likely to shy away from the topic. When Obama traveled to Senegal in 2013, he advocated for universal rights for LGBT folks to the dismay of his host. Ambassador Rice hinted Wednesday that if asked to address the in Kenya, Obama will speak openly. “This is not something that we think is a topic we reserve for certain parts of the world and not others,” she said.

“We always—not just in Africa, but around the world—when we are traveling to countries where we have concerns about the rule of law, human rights, corruption, whatever…we make those concerns known publicly and privately,” Rice said later on Wednesday.

The issue, Waruhiu said, is “emotive” in Kenya and activists worry about potential backlash if Obama goes too far on LGBT rights.

“However much he feels strongly about this issue—this is an issue that will cloud other important issues like security and trade any the country, because any other good thing he says or does in the country will be whitewashed with the whole issue of LGBTI issues,” she said.

The trip to Kenya and Ethiopia will also provide an opportunity for President Obama to discuss countering terror groups like al Shabaab, which has a stronghold in the region, and the ongoing crisis in South Sudan. Both activists and government leaders are looking forward to the pending discussions on counterterror strategies, promoting trade, and providing opportunity during Obama’s visit, though the president’s tone throughout his time in Kenya will be closely monitored.

“He needs to earn the Obama mania a little,” said Brian Dooley, Human Rights First’s Director of Human Rights Defenders on a conference call. “He can’t just turn up and expect to be welcomed as a prodigal son.”

“Some people are not happy he’s taken so long as president to visit Kenya,” he added Wednesday. “He needs to, I think, earn a bit of popularity and not take it for granted.”

TIME Donald Trump

Donald Trump Unapologetic on Visit to U.S.-Mexico Border

But says he was treated "very nicely"

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump paid a visit to the U.S-Mexico border Thursday, where he refused to apologize to those he offended when he suggested that many of those who have entered the country illegally are “rapists.”

“They weren’t insulted,” Trump said, “because the press misinterprets my words.”

Trump said Thursday he was “treated very nicely” during his visit to Laredo, Tex., but said he was not changing any of his positions after the trip — he still believes that the nation needs a border wall, which he has claimed he will force Mexico to pay for.

“We were treated so nicely,” Trump told reporters. “We learned so much in such a short amount of time.”

Flanked by a half-dozen private security guards, as well as local police officers, Trump maintained that visiting the border was a hazardous move. “Well they say it’s a great danger, but I have to do it,” he told reporters shortly after stepping off his Boeing 757 jet. “There is great danger with the illegals…there is a tremendous danger from illegals from the border.”

But it was an assertion rejected by Rep. Henry Cuellar, the Democratic representative from Laredo, who told TIME the truth is anything but. “When he talks about violence, Laredo had 3 murders per 100,000 [in 2013], as opposed to Washington, D.C., where he wants to have a new job, where it’s 16 per 100,000. If you compare that to New York, where he lives, I can bet that Laredo is a lot safer.”

The city of nearly 250,000, is about 96% Hispanic, with 91 percent of residents speaking a language other than English at home.

Trump had planned to meet with the National Border Patrol Council Local 2455 Executive Board at the Laredo airport before touring the border and meeting with other members of local law enforcement. But the union backed out early Thursday.

Trump also responded to questions about his threat to run as a third party candidate should he feel mistreated by the Republican National Committee. “I’m a Republican,” he said. “I’m a conservative. I want to run as a Republican. The best way to win is for me to get the nomination.”

Trump is all-but-assured a spot on the first GOP debate stage in Cleveland in two weeks.

TIME Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton, Republicans Play Different 2016 Gender Cards

Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton Campaigns in Iowa
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Hillary Clinton, former U.S. secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, pauses while speaking during a campaign event in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, U.S., on Friday, July 17, 2015.

The Clinton campaign see opportunity in a Republican critique

Lost in Donald Trump’s wowza of a speech in South Carolina on Monday, where he revealed Lindsey Graham’s cell phone number, was his tiny mockery of Hillary Clinton. About 30 minutes into the speech, Trump asks: “Who would you rather have negotiate against China, for example? … Trump or Hillary?”

He then pursues his lips, leans to the right and waves his right hand as if he was one of his Miss Universe contestants, batting his eyelashes: “Hi, everybody, hi.” He then straightens and fires directly at Clinton, “She’s the one with the tone.”

It’s not the first time Trump has gone after Clinton by referencing her gender. “You know, she’s playing the woman card really big. I watched her the other day and all she would talk about was, ‘Women! Women! I’m a woman! I’m going to be the youngest woman in the White House! I’m not going to have white hair, I’m going to dye my hair blonde!’” he said in his first campaign speech in Iowa after announcing his candidacy earlier this month.

Given the tsunami of outrage Trump tends to inspire, it’s not surprising that his comments on Clinton have only made moderate waves. But what’s surprising is that he’s not the only Republican who has criticized Clinton for acknowledging that she is a woman. Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell went after Clinton in the same way. “I don’t think arguing ‘vote for me because I’m a woman’ is enough,” the Kentucky Republican said at an event in his home state on Monday, according to The Associated Press. “You may recall my election last year,” McConnell said, referring to his Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes, whom he defeated by double digits in the 2014 midterm election. “The gender card alone is not enough.”

The Clinton campaign saw that comment as an opportunity. Perhaps waiting for the GOP to make the gender play, campaign aides quickly shot back with this sleek video where they literally play gender cards:

Echoing the video, Clinton responded to McConnell during a Facebook question-and-answer session. “Wow,” Clinton said. “Mitch McConnell really doesn’t get it. There is a gender card being played in this campaign. It’s played every time Republicans vote against giving women equal pay, deny families access to affordable child care or family leave, refuse to let women make decisions about their health or have access to free contraception.”

Republicans have always disdained identity politics, and playing to women is no exception. But McConnell risks misplaying his hand by comparing Clinton to his former opponent. Grimes had a relatively thin resume, Clinton has a record of championing women’s issues that goes back decades. “It’s just not true that she doesn’t have a record or that she’s running simply to be the first female president,” said Jennifer Lawless, director of American University’s Women & Politics Institute. “McConnell’s statement seems belittling and sexist.”

McConnell and Trump’s attacks open the door for Clinton to play to her strengths, reminding voters that the GOP record on women’s issues like equal pay, contraception and rape. President Obama won women in 2012 by 12 percentage points, one of the biggest gender gaps in history. As potential first female president, Clinton has the potential to expand that gap. “Hillary may be able to boost turnout among the groups of women that Democrats target and may even be able to pull off enough of the women that generally lean more Republican such as white suburban women to build a winning coalition,” said Michele Swers, a government professor at Georgetown and author of two books on women in politics.

The debate riles up Republican women sick of seeing their party tarnished as anti-women. “There’s a hypocrisy with Hillary’s gender bashing,” said Katie Packer Gage, who was Mitt Romney’s deputy campaign manager in 2012 and now runs an all-female GOP consulting firm. “She’s not the only one for equal pay for equal work. Everyone is for that.”

Republicans oppose Democratic legislation on equal pay because it could lead to more lawsuits and a boon to trial lawyers. They’ve introduced their own legislation that increases incentives for companies to provide equal pay. Those bills died, though, both in the House and the Senate at the end of the last Congress and the GOP has yet to reintroduce them again this session. Indeed, Republican men should probably not be talking about gender and Clinton at all, Gage said. “I don’t think it’s a particularly smart move for the men in our party to be leading the charge on this because it’s the gender card,” Gage said. “It’s better for women to speak out on it.”

But the GOP’s lone female presidential candidate, former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, has been noticeably mum on the issue. Her campaign did not respond to a request for comment. And none of the GOP’s high profile elected women have seemed inclined to wade into the debate. Meanwhile, unfortunately for the GOP, the only ones being heard on gender are Trump, McConnell and Clinton.

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