TIME White House

President Obama Honors Fallen Police Officers in D.C. Ceremony

President Barack Obama speaks to reporters following the Gulf Cooperation Council-U.S. summit at Camp David on May 14, 2015.
Kevin Dietsch—Corbis President Barack Obama speaks to reporters following the Gulf Cooperation Council-U.S. summit at Camp David on May 14, 2015.

The President delivered remarks at the 34th annual National Peace Officers Memorial Service on Friday

President Obama took a moment on Friday to thank the members of our nation’s law enforcement amid ongoing strife between police and communities of color.

During a speech at the National Peace Officers Memorial Service held at the U.S. Capitol at the close of Police Week, President Obama honored the lives of 131 peace officers who have died in the line of duty.

“To all of the families who are here today whose loved ones did not come home at the end of a shift please know how deeply sorry we are for loss that you’ve endured and know how deeply grateful we are for your loved one’s sacrifice,” Obama said Friday.

For a little over 10 minutes, President Obama delivered a measured address to the nation’s law enforcement, acknowledging the danger the nation’s men and women in uniform face every day, while noting the mistrust that exists between police and the communities they serve. That lack of trust has come to bear in recent weeks not only through the riots and protests on the streets of Baltimore, but also with the murders of officers in Mississippi, Queens, and Brooklyn.

Sheriff’s and police officers have even placed some of the blame for the spate of police killings and tensions on Obama. “Obama started this war on police intentionally,” wrote conservative Sheriff David A. Clarke, Jr., in a series of tweets. “Right in line with his community agitating.”

“Your jobs are inherently dangerous. The reminders are too common,” Obama said Friday. “We cannot erase every darkness or danger from the duty that you’ve chosen.We can offer you the support you need to be safer. We can make the communities you care about and protect safer as well.”

Obama rattled off ways that could be done: more resources for officers, confronting poverty, mending relationships between police and community members. He closed by saying, “Most of all we can say thank you. We can say we appreciate you and we’re grateful for the work you do every day.”

After his speech, the President met with families of many fallen officers who were in the gathered crowd.

TIME

Martin O’Malley Prepares to Launch Campaign

Possible Presidential Candidates Attend South Carolina Democratic Convention
Win McNamee—Getty Images Potential Democratic presidential candidate and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley delivers remarks at the South Carolinna Democratic Party state convention April 25, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina.

He will almost certainly announce in 15 days

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is ramping up his all-but-certain presidential campaign, leasing office space in in Baltimore for a campaign headquarters and asking donors and bundlers to begin serious fundraising.

Both those moves start the 15-day clock for O’Malley to officially announce his candidacy on May 30.

O’Malley has laid the groundwork for a presidential bid in Iowa and New Hampshire in recent months, leaning on his liberal record as governor, where he supported gay marriage, gun control and an end to the death penalty. He has emerged as a progressive challenger to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, differing with her stance on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and her past platform.

Now, O’Malley is making his strongest indications yet that he plans to challenge Clinton for the Democratic nomination. In a series of conference calls on Thursday night, he rallied his supporters and reiterated what has long been a message for the candidate-in-waiting: that the country needs new, forward-looking leadership with progressive values.

In the about half-dozen separate calls over the course of the night, O’Malley spoke with alums of the 1984 and 1987 Gary Hart presidential campaigns, fundraisers and bundlers, former staffers, and connections in key states throughout the country, people on the calls said.

Read more: What Martin O’Malley Hopes to Learn From Gary Hart

“He made it very clear that he is more inclined than ever to do it,” said one person. “This was the last box to check in his process.”

On Friday morning, O’Malley supporters began calling a network of donors around the country to support his likely campaign.

Presidential candidates have 15 days from the start of official candidacy activities—like raising and spending sums of money north of $5,000, or making statements that refer to themselves as a candidate—before they must announce.

O’Malley leased 7200 square feet of office space in downtown Baltimore on Friday and is preparing to move 40 employees from his PAC to what is likely to be his new campaign headquarters. The Baltimore Sun first reported the move, and an O’Malley aide confirmed it to TIME.

In his Thursday calls with supporters, O’Malley said he would announce his decision whether to run for president on May 30 in Baltimore. A registration page to attend his likely launch at omalleyannouncement.com says “Paid for by O’Malley for President” at the bottom.

O’Malley’s decision to set his likely campaign launch and headquarters in Baltimore indicates just how willing he is to attach his political fate to the restive city where he served as mayor from 1999 through 2006. He has consistently pointed to his accomplishments as the city’s administrator and the reduction in crime, but critics say his aggressive police policies worsened police relations with the black community.

A round of staff hiring in the last few weeks has increased speculation about O’Malley’s announcement, with the former governor bringing on more press staff and a national political director, Obama alum Karine Jean-Pierre, last week.

For the next 15 days before his Baltimore announcement, O’Malley will be rallying his network.

“He’s assessed the state of the nation as he sees it and the need for new leadership options,” said another person who was on the calls. “I think he’s ready to go.”

TIME

Morning Must Reads: May 15

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

Good morning from Scottsdale, where the Republican National Committee is holding its spring meeting. Eight months away from the Iowa caucuses, the Republican Party is bracing itself for a greatly intensified primary next year, with many operatives predicting a drawn-out delegate fight to the nomination. The key cause: a crowded and unusually talented field that is bolstered by unlimited sums from super PACs. But party efforts to condense the primary calendar after 2012 may have made the situation worse for the GOP.

On the trail: On Saturday, 11 potential and actual Republican candidates will gather for the latest cattle-call at the Iowa GOP’s Lincoln Dinner in Des Moines, with candidates limited to 10 minutes of speaking time each—which means the 5:30 p.m. dinner will be lucky to end by 10 p.m. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has scheduled her second visits to Iowa and New Hampshire since announcing her candidacy for next week.

Must Reads

Republicans Prepare for Painstaking Nomination Fight (TIME)
Insiders expect a fight like Democrats had in 2008—just with more candidates

Republican Party to Vote In Support of Religious Freedom Laws (TIME)
Undeterred by controversy after Indiana and Arkansas RFRAs

Jeb Bush Reverses Himself: ‘I Would Not Have Gone Into Iraq’ (TIME)
But says the war was “worth it” for the families of those who died

Democrats Play Hardball on Voting Laws Ahead of 2016 (TIME)
The party steps up its efforts to expand early voting

Clinton’s Litmus Test for Supreme Court Nominees: Pledge to Overturn Citizens United (WP)
Even as she takes courts super PAC money

Benghazi Panel Wants Documents Before Hillary Clinton Testifies (NYT)
Testimony delayed

Sound Off

“I’m going to filibuster. I’m going to do everything it takes to block a short-term extension.” — Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) on efforts to extend the controversial PATRIOT Act, which is set to expire at the end of the month.

“Are you really going to ask such a stupid question?” — Speaker of the House John Boehner to a reporter asking about this week’s Amtrak derailment and criticism over transportation funding

Bits and Bites

House passes Iran review bill, sending it to Obama

From Rand flip-flops to Hillary bumper stickers

Why presidential candidates must answer hypotheticals

Clinton backs Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill

What 2016 Republicans look like with John Bolton’s mustache

TIME religious freedom

Republican Party to Vote in Support of Religious-Freedom Laws

Protesters
Doug McSchooler—AP Thousands of opponents of Indiana Senate Bill 101, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, gather on the lawn of the Indiana state house to rally against that legislation on March 28, 2015

The GOP follows presidential candidates as issue takes hold on campaign trail

The Republican National Committee is expected to approve a resolution Thursday reaffirming support for so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, undeterred by controversy in Indiana and Arkansas over whether such measures sanction discrimination against gays and lesbians.

The Resolution Affirming Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRA) passed through the RNC’s resolutions committee Wednesday during the RNC’s spring meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz., and will be voted on by the full 168-member governing body Friday. The party traditionally votes on all resolutions as a package, and the RFRA resolution is expected to pass with little or no opposition.

“The Republican National Committee stands firm in upholding natural, human, constitutional, and, under the RFRA, statutory rights of religious freedom,” the resolution states.

A nationwide firestorm erupted after Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed a RFRA resolution into law that critics contended would allow business owners with religious objections to opt out of servicing same-sex weddings. Indiana’s resolution went further than the federal statute, which has been on the books since the Clinton administration. A similar controversy in Arkansas led to Governor Asa Hutchinson demanding changes to the law to bring it in line with the federal statute before signing it.

The cautiously worded RNC resolution encourages states to mirror the federal law, rather than the controversial Indiana version.

“The Republican National Committee supports and encourages States’ actions to enact laws that mirror the federal RFRA to protect citizens’ rights to lead all aspects of their lives according to their deeply held religious beliefs,” it states.

The resolution comes as the issue of religious freedom has become a significant conversation piece on the presidential campaign trail.

“The Republican Party will always stand for and defend religious freedom,” RNC press secretary Allison Moore tells TIME.

Separate RNC resolutions expected to pass Friday include one supporting Republican lawmakers in their criticism of the emerging nuclear agreement between the Obama Administration and Iran, and another calling for the replacement of the Administrative Procedure Act, a law that sets how executive agencies propose and enact regulations.

Yet another resolution reaffirms the party’s neutrality in the presidential nominating procedure, even as the RNC has seized control of the debate process. The party and television networks hosting the early debates this summer are struggling with how to include a field of more than a dozen candidates on stage.

TIME Republican Party

Republicans Prepare for Painstaking Nomination Fight

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus at the National Press Club in Washington, in 2013.
Manuel Balce Ceneta—AP Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus at the National Press Club in Washington, in 2013. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus at the National Press Club in Washington, in 2013.

It could be like the Obama-Clinton fight of 2008, only with more candidates

After Mitt Romney’s bruising nomination fight in 2012, Republican Party officials changed the rules in an effort to streamline the 2016 primaries. But the increased influence of super PACs and an unusually deep bench of candidates mean the changes could have the opposite effect intended.

Several Republican presidential hopefuls are already preparing for a long, blistering and potentially inconclusive nominating fight that could go all the way to the national convention.

“The rules were designed to make it more of a contest so that more states and activists are engaged in the process—and that’s definitely going to happen,” says Steve Duprey, the New Hampshire National Committeeman who helped to shepherd the rules changes through in 2012 and 2013. “The bad news is, this campaign is likely to go on longer than we’ve seen in a long time.”

Republican Party officials blamed a broken primary process in 2012 for contributing to Romney’s defeat and set about changing the party rules to keep it from happening again.

The committee shortened the calendar between the first caucus and the last primary, required the binding of delegates in primaries and caucuses and raised the bar for nominating candidates on the convention floor, requiring a nominee to win the majority of eight state or territory delegations. The idea was that a compressed timetable would favor better-funded candidates, while keeping lesser candidates from making a scene in Cleveland.

But three years later, the primary will be playing out in a very different stage, one where a massive crop of candidates with huge sums of unlimited cash have little incentive to exit early. Party operatives and campaign aides are predicting a longer, more intense contest next year than in 2012. They believe it will be more akin to the Obama-Clinton fight in 2008—a slow state-by-state contest to rack up delegates—only with a lot more candidates remaining competitive.

On paper, the RNC’s efforts will shorten the time from the Iowa Caucuses to when the nominee clinches a majority of delegates—primarily accomplished by a successful effort to keep the first contests from advancing into February. But Romney’s victory was all-but-assured months before he secured 50% of convention delegates in late May 2012.

Josh Putnam, an assistant professor at Appalachian State University who runs the exhaustive Frontloading HQ blog tracking the primary calendar, explains that about 50% of delegates to the GOP convention will be awarded by March 8, 2016, with 75% awarded by April 26—both weeks earlier than in 2012. “That is important because the last two Republican nominees established a lead by that 50% point and had clinched the nomination around the time that 75% of the delegates had been allocated,” he says.

But changes in campaign finance and an unusually strong field threaten to throw that precedent out the window. Now many party strategists expect four to six candidates to emerge as a top tier from the four early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. With roughly the same delegate support and momentum, they expect that the proportional contests in early March—when a front-runner usually emerges—may not be decisive. On March 1, for instance, more than 600 delegates are set to be awarded. “Lots of people will be able to claim victory that day,” said one top advisor to a Republican candidate.

Meanwhile, the rest of field may be in no hurry to go anywhere. The explosion of mega-donors writing significant checks to candidates and their super PACs has mitigated the historical impetus for dropping out, while the lessons of the up-and-down 2012 primary have incentivized staying in the race even when the odds turns slim.

“This could actually be a convention that matters for the first time since 1964,” says Saul Anuzis, the Michigan state chairman for Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential bid and a former RNC member who backed the rules changes. “I still don’t think most of the campaigns have an infrastructure in place to deal with it.”

Not all strategists blame the predictions of a messy nomination process on the new rules. Michael Shields, the former RNC chief of staff, told TIME he believes the deciding factor in stretching out the primary in 2016 is likely to be the number of candidates who can raise money. “It would have been longer without the reform,” he said.

To be sure, all the prognosticating could also be wrong—a single candidate could build enough momentum in the early states to run away with the nomination in weeks. But with a field of more than a dozen candidates that appears at the moment to be unlikely.

Some campaigns are only just coming to the realization that this contest will be far different from the last, having spent the past months focused on the early states. “Those who have started to think it through recognize it’s going to be a long chase for delegates,” said a veteran GOP strategist.

Anuzis said Cruz is planning for the long haul and is already eyeing favorable congressional districts in California—which will go to the polls on June 7, 2016, and awards its delegates to the winners in each congressional district. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign has hired Jon Waclawski, a veteran of the RNC counsel’s office who was involved in drafting the rules after the 2012 campaign, as its counsel and chief delegate counter. People close to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s campaign said his team is drawing up plans to deal with what they expect to be a painstaking fight for delegates.

“This changes the way you have to run your entire campaign,” says one candidate aide. “You really do have to target, racking up local endorsements, for instance. Those people are going to be important when you’re competing on a congressional district by congressional district basis.”

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s advisers see the proportional contests in early March, and the potential for a drawn out delegate fight, working to their advantage. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum told reporters Thursday that he is broadly supportive of the rules changes, but is worried about the compressed calendar, “and it becomes just a money issue, and not an issue of momentum.”

What remains to be seen is whether this intensified primary process will be a benefit or liability to the eventual nominee in the general election. The knockdown, drag-out 2008 Democratic contest is viewed as having ultimately helped Obama, who emerged tested with a network of support outside of the early primary states. For months after winning the nomination, Republican presumptive nominee Sen. John McCain could hardly gain notice from the media­. “Will there be some broken glass, will there be some negative attacks, sure,” Shields acknowledged. “But I do believe this process, like the Obama-Hillary one, will leave our nominee stronger.”

Others are less sanguine, fearing the compressed timeframe could result in a more weakened nominee, battered by months of attacks from candidates and super PACs

“It’s pretty different when it’s a two person extended race opposed to a multi-person race—and in 2008 you didn’t have super PACs playing the role that they did and they generally tend to go negative,” said another longtime GOP operative.

With reporting by Philip Elliott/Little Rock, Ark.

TIME celebrity

Beyoncé Attended a Hillary Clinton Fundraiser in New York City

Bey wants Hillz to run the world

If you’ve got the support of Queen Bey, you’ve basically got the entire election on lock, right? On Wednesday night, Beyoncé supported Hillary Clinton by attending her fundraiser event in New York City, Bloomberg reports.

A Beyoncé fan account tweeted the following photo:

Other high-profile attendees included Sharon Osbourne, Meghan Trainor and Epic Records CEO LA Reid, who hosted the event. Each attendee was expected to give $2,700, leaving Clinton with some $1.1. million.

Money’s great and all, but once you’ve got the support of the Queen, that’s kind of all you need.

TIME Missouri

Missouri House Speaker Resigns After Sending Sexually Charged Texts to Intern

In this Jan. 7, 2015, file photo, John J. Diehl Jr., center, is sworn in as the Speaker Pro Tem of the House of Representatives during the opening of the Missouri legislature in Jefferson City, Mo.
Don Shrubshell—AP In this Jan. 7, 2015, file photo, John J. Diehl Jr., center, is sworn in as the Speaker Pro Tem of the House of Representatives during the opening of the Missouri legislature in Jefferson City, Mo.

He acknowledged "making a serious error in judgment"

(JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.) — Missouri House Speaker John Diehl said Thursday that he is resigning from the Legislature after acknowledging that he exchanged sexually charged text messages with a Capitol intern.

Diehl said he is resigning both from his House speaker’s position and from his elected job as a Republican representative from suburban St. Louis.

Diehl acknowledged “making a serious error in judgment by sending the text messages” to the intern.

“I will be resigning the position of speaker of the House and the office of state representative in a way that allows for an orderly transition,” Diehl said in a prepared statement provided to The Associated Press.

His resignation comes a day after The Kansas City Star released a story accompanied by screenshots of what the newspaper said were electronic messages between Diehl and the intern. Some of the messages were sexually suggestive.

Diehl, 49, had been chosen by colleagues as speaker in January. He is an attorney who lives with his wife and three sons in the St. Louis suburb of Town and Country. He was first elected to the House in 2008 and now presides over one of the largest Republican legislative majorities in state history. He’s known for his ability to work deals and to persuade rank-and-file members to stick together on the party’s priorities.

TIME feminism

Austin Held Sexist Training on How to Deal with Women, Outraged Leaders Say

Members of the Austin city council listen to city manager Marc Ott during a news conference at City Hall, on May 13, 2015, in Austin, Texas.
Eric Gay—AP Members of the Austin city council listen to city manager Marc Ott during a news conference at City Hall, on May 13, 2015, in Austin, Texas.

"I heard about it last night and was speechless"

Women aren’t interested in math, ask a lot of questions and process ideas differently from men.

That’s what members of the Austin city council staff heard during a recent training session on how to work with female leaders, which the city manager organized in March after Austin elected a majority female city council (seven women out of 10 members) for the first time in the city’s history.

The training, billed as a diversity meeting entitled “The Changing Dynamics of Governance: Women Leading in Government,” sparked widespread outrage in the city’s government and beyond after it was recently reported in the Austin-American Statesman, shocking the female members of the city council, who had not been invited to attend a meeting that was designed for staff. The training was so offensive that the city removed the video of it from its website, saying in a press release: “the training was not consistent with the City’s culture, philosophy, and management approach.”

Fox’s local station in Tampa Bay has a link a snippet of the video, depicting one speaker, Jonathan K. Allen, the city manager of Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., who has since been fired, saying: “If you use or attempt to use the same communication or management techniques that you used or attempted to use in a predominantly male-dominated environment, you will be making a serious error in your professional development because they don’t process things the same way.”

Allen also said women ask a lot of questions, citing conversations with his 11-year-old daughter, according to the Austin-American Statesman, which broke the story on Tuesday night. “My daughter taught me the importance of being patient,” he said, and added that women weren’t much interested in financials, paraphrasing female leaders he worked with: “Mr. Manager, I don’t want to hear about the financial argument, I want to hear about how this impacts the whole community.”

“I heard about it last night and was speechless,” Leslie Pool, an Austin city councilwoman, told Fox, adding: “Oh math is hard, right. Well I took Qualitative Analysis in my master’s degree class at the LBJ School a decade or more ago, and I actually did pretty darn well.”

Several female council members addressed the controversy in a press conference held Wednesday.

In a joint response to the controversy over the training session, speakers Jonathan K. Allen and Dr. Miya Burt-Stewart issued a statement published by the Austin-American Statesman: “Any interpretation that we do not support and appreciate the growing number of women executives and elected officials in both the public and private sector is absolutely not true.”

Austin City Manager Marc Ott indicated that the training had been a mistake. “I take responsibility for this,” he told Fox. “The buck stops at the city manager so I take responsibility, it should not have happened, it should have been vetted.”

TIME White House

Secret Service Report Says Agents Likely Impaired by Alcohol During Drive

Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy, center, and other law enforcement officials arrive on Capitol Hill in Washington, on April 29, 2015.
Cliff Owen—AP Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy, center, and other law enforcement officials arrive on Capitol Hill in Washington, on April 29, 2015.

The two senior agents hit a construction barrier and drove within inches of a suspicious package earlier this year

(WASHINGTON) — What were they thinking?

For months new Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy had been warning agents and officers that misconduct and drunken shenanigans would not be tolerated in the once-vaunted law enforcement agency. And yet, according to investigators, two senior Secret Service agents spent five hours at a bar, ran up a significant tab, and then drove back to the White House, where they shoved their car into a construction barrier and drove within inches of a suspicious package earlier this year.

All this just months after Secret Service director Julia Pierson was ousted in the aftermath of a series of embarrassing security breaches involving Secret Service agents and officers.

George Ogilvie and Marc Connolly were “more likely than not” impaired by alcohol when they drove through a secure area at the White House earlier this year, the Homeland Security Department’s inspector general said in a new report released late Wednesday.

They were among dozens of agency personnel who went to a retirement party for another agent but when the party wrapped up on March 4, the pair and two other, non-agent Secret Service employees, stuck around the Irish-themed bar for three more hours. Ogilvie, the assistant special agent in charge of the agency’s Washington field office, opened a tab and paid for eight scotches, two vodka drinks, three beers and a glass of wine.

The incident became public days later and forced Clancy to follow in the steps of Pierson and head to Capitol Hill to once again explain a Secret Service scandal to lawmakers.

In a statement Wednesday, the agency’s third director in less than three years said he was “disappointed and disturbed at the apparent lack of judgment described in this report. Behavior of the type described in the report is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

Inspector General John Roth’s 18-page report on the incident said that Ogilvie, Connolly and their two companions all denied drinking all the drinks Ogilvie paid for before driving his government sport utility vehicle into a secured area at the White House, pushing a large construction barrier with the vehicle’s bumper and passing within inches of a suspicious item that had been left in the area.

Roth was expected to testify about his investigation before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Secret Service officers on duty and investigating the suspicious item when Ogilvie and Connolly drove through later told investigators they thought something was “not right” and were “not making sense” as they spoke to officers on the scene. None of the on-duty officers gave the agents a field sobriety test. Both were instead allowed to leave the White House complex driving government-owned vehicles, despite a watch commander’s concern that Connolly was not fit to drive.

In advance of the report’s release late Wednesday, Connolly, the deputy special agent in charge of the Presidential Protection Division, notified the agency that he would retire. Ogilvie has been placed on administrative leave.

The incident once again focused a congressional spotlight on an agency that didn’t need more attention for scandals. The scandal-plagued agency has been in the spotlight since 2012 when more than a dozen agents and officers were caught up in a prostitution scandal in advance of a presidential trip to Colombia. Since then, there have been a handful of other incidents, the most serious being a security breach at the White House in September.

In that incident, a Texas man armed with a knife was able to climb over a perimeter fence and run deep into the White House before being apprehended. It was later revealed that a few days before that incident, President Barack Obama rode an elevator in Atlanta with an armed contractor. The Secret Service didn’t know the man was armed until after Obama got off the elevator.

Pierson’s handling of those incidents ultimately led to her ouster. An independent panel concluded that the agency was “insular” and in need of new leadership. The panel recommended hiring a new director from outside the agency, but Obama instead chose Clancy, a retired agent who once ran the president’s protective detail.

TIME jeb bush

Jeb Bush Reverses Himself: ‘I Would Not Have Gone Into Iraq’

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush speaks at a town hall meeting in Tempe, Ariz. on May 14, 2015.
Deanna Dent—Reuters Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush speaks at a town hall meeting in Tempe, Ariz. on May 14, 2015.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush sought to turn the page on a week of terrible press coverage Thursday, telling a group of Arizona voters that knowing what is known now, he would not have launched the 2003 Iraq War.

“Knowing what we know now I would not have engaged—I would not have gone into Iraq,” Bush said, in reference to his greatest liability—the unpopular war launched by his brother, former President George W. Bush.

It was the latest turn in a tumultuous week that began with an interview with Fox News host Megyn Kelly on Saturday in which he said he would have supported going to war, even knowing that the Iraqi government did not possess weapons of mass destruction. “My mind kind of calculated it differently,” Bush later explained, saying he misheard Kelly’s question.

On Wednesday, Bush dodged the same question Kelly asked him days earlier, saying he wouldn’t answer “hypotheticals” and that the question did a “disservice” to the memories of the 4,491 American war dead.

But that didn’t put the questions to rest, Bush’s Republican opponents lined up to criticize him for the comments, while Democrats gleefully used the opportunity to tie him to his brother.

“If we knew then what we know now and I were the President of the United States, I wouldn’t have gone to war,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told CNN Tuesday. Sen. Rand Paul told the Associated Press that Bush’s comments represent “a real problem if he can’t articulate what he would have done differently.”

“Knowing what we know now, of course we wouldn’t go into Iraq,” Sen. Ted Cruz told The Hill.

Sen. Marco Rubio went even further in an interview Wednesday at the Council on Foreign Relations. “Not only would I have not been in favor of it, President Bush would not have been in favor of it. He said so,” he said.

Bush’s reversal may put the controversy to rest temporarily, but it only further highlights the challenges the entire Republican field with respect to talking about the conflict.

In a gaggle with reporters after his remarks, Bush maintained that the war was “worth it” for the families of the war dead.

“It was worth it for those families,” he said. “It was worth it for the people that made major sacrifices. In 2008 Iraq was stable. It was fragile, but it was stable. It was because of the heroic efforts of a lot of people. And re-litigating this and going through hypotheticals I think does no good to them.”

Bush said that after the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), the U.S. must “re-engage” in Iraq beyond what President Obama has done.

“I think we need to re-engage and do it in a more forceful way,” Bush said. “The president is very reluctant for whatever reason to make a clear commitment that we should have kept 5,000, 10,000 troops there.”

He acknowledged that there has been success countering ISIS since Obama ordered airstrikes and deployed trainers to assist Iraqi forces last year, but said more has to be done. “We can’t do it by drones. We have to be there to train the military and to do the things that are being done right now. And I believe that if we had stayed the course in that, if we do, we will be successful.”

Read more: Why Presidential Candidates Must Answer Hypotheticals

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