TIME Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton Makes First Attacks on GOP

Democratic presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addresses the Women in the World Conference on April 23, 2015 in New York City.
Andrew Burton—Getty Images Democratic presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addresses the Women in the World conference on April 23, 2015, in New York City

"It is not leadership," she said

Hillary Clinton aimed the first substantial attacks of her new candidacy at Republican policies during a speech in New York City on Thursday, criticizing the GOP on immigration, health care and the delayed nomination of Loretta Lynch to Attorney General.

“There are those who offer themselves as leaders who would deport mothers working to give their children a better life rather than risk ire of talk radio,” Clinton said at the annual Women in the World conference in Manhattan.

“There are those who offer themselves as leaders who even play politics with the nomination of our nation’s chief law-enforcement officer and victims of human-rights trafficking,” Clinton continued to raucous applause from the friendly audience, referring to the months-long delay in Congress over Lynch’s nomination, which ended Thursday.

“This is not the way to move America forward. It’s not going to create a single job, raise anyone’s wages or strengthen our families,” she said.

Clinton’s keynote address Thursday night at the conference in New York City had been planned before she launched her campaign, a spokesperson for her campaign said.

With the second week of her candidacy reaching its end, Clinton has thus far avoided attacking Republicans and instead focused on her small-grain campaign rollout in Iowa and New Hampshire, where she spoken at roundtables, visited factories and local businesses.

Read more: How New Hampshire’s Women Paved the Way for Hillary Clinton

When Republicans last weekend impugned Clinton for controversies surrounding her philanthropies acceptance of foreign donations, she called the attacks “distractions.”

Clinton said earlier this week in New Hampshire she wants to rise above partisan attacks during her campaign. “I am tired of people running to elect their fellow citizens by being nasty to each other,” she said at a house party in Claremont, New Hampshire. “That doesn’t solve a problem. Enough with the attacks and the anger, let’s find answers together and figure out what we’re going to do.”

Now, however, as her campaign ramps up, Clinton appears ready to offer more direct criticism over GOP policies.

“We have to have leaders who recognize that the time has come. There are those who offer themselves as leaders who see nothing wrong with denying women equal pay,” Clinton said, “or would defund the country’s leading provider of family planning, and want to let health insurance companies charge women once again just because of our gender” — a reference to Republican efforts to defund Obamacare.

“It isn’t leadership,” she said.

TIME

Clinton Allies Knock Down Donor Allegations, New Questions Pop Up

Hillary Clinton attends the Hillary Rodham Clinton Awards for Advancing Women in Peace and Security at Georgetown University in Washington, DC on April 22, 2015.
Win McNamee—Getty Images Hillary Clinton attends the Hillary Rodham Clinton Awards for Advancing Women in Peace and Security at Georgetown University in Washington, DC on April 22, 2015.

Hillary Clinton’s allies are pushing back against the suggestion in a new book that donations to the Clinton Foundation influenced the handling of the sale of U.S. uranium mines to a Russian-backed company.

The new book, Clinton Cash: the Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich, says that Hillary Clinton failed in 2010 to block the purchase of American uranium mines by a Russian-backed company while people with financial and strategic interests in the sale were making millions of dollars of donations to the Clinton Foundation, a philanthropy run by her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

The suggestion of outside influence over U.S. decisionmaking is based on little evidence — the allegations are presented as questions rather than proof. The deal’s approval was the result of an extensive interagency process that required the assent of at least nine different officials and agencies. A former State Department official who participated in the deal’s approval told TIME that Clinton did not weigh in on the uranium sale one way or the other, and her campaign calls the allegations in the book “absurd conspiracy theories.”

But the book’s dark suggestions reflect the growing problem Clinton faces in her run for the White House in 2016 as more and more details of the foundation’s fundraising activities present the appearance of impropriety and lack of transparency during her time as Secretary of State.

One chapter of the book, written by conservative author Peter Schweizer and obtained by TIME, focuses on an obscure deal that had been years in the making. Schweizer says Secretary Clinton failed to block the Russian State Atomic Nuclear Agency (Rosatom), a Kremlin-controlled nuclear agency, from purchasing a controlling stake in an American Uranium mining concern, Uranium One. The company’s chairman, Ian Telfer, was a major donor to the Clinton Foundation. Several other Clinton Foundation donors stood to gain from the agreement as well.

Because the proposed sale involved the transfer of potentially strategic U.S. assets, the Uranium One transaction was subject to approval by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), an interagency panel that comprises powerful federal agencies. In prior years, Clinton had urged the committee to take a hawkish view of deals involving U.S. strategic assets, and Schweizer says that should have inclined her against the Rosatom purchase. “Despite a long record of publicly opposing such deals Hillary didn’t object,” Schweizer writes in the version of the chapter obtained by TIME. “Why the apparent reversal? Could it be because shareholders involved in the transaction had transferred approximately $145 million to the Clinton Foundation or its initiatives? Or because her husband had profited from lucrative speaking deals arranged by companies associated with those who stood to profit from the deal?”

The State Department’s role in approving the deal was part of an extensive bureaucratic process, and the chapter offers no indication of Hillary Clinton’s personal involvement in, or even knowledge of, the deliberations. State has just one vote on the nine-member committee, which also includes the departments of Defense, Treasury and Energy. Disagreements are traditionally handled at the staff level, and if they are not resolved, they are escalated to deputies at the relevant agencies. If the deputies can’t resolve the dispute, the issues can be elevated to the Cabinet Secretary level and, if needed, to the President for a decision. The official chairman of CFIUS is the Treasury Secretary, not the Secretary of State.

Before purchasing a controlling stake in Uranium One, the Russian conglomerate also had to get approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, an independent agency outside of the State Department’s purview, as well as Utah’s nuclear regulator. It also received the sign-off of Canada’s foreign investment review agency. The deal itself was the outgrowth of a diplomatic initiative launched by the Administration of George W. Bush to expand trade opportunities between Russia and the U.S., including in the area of nuclear power.

One official involved in the process said Clinton had nothing to do with the decision in the Uranium One case. Jose Hernandez, who as former Assistant Secretary of State for Economic, Energy and Business Affairs was the State Department’s principal representative on the committee, rejected the notion that Clinton’s foundation ties had any bearing on the deal. “Secretary Clinton never intervened with me on any CFIUS matter,” he told TIME. A spokesperson for Hillary for America, Josh Schwerin, also attacked the suggestions made in the book. The transaction “went through the usual process and the official responsible for managing CFIUS reviews has stated that the Secretary did not intervene with him,” Schwerin says, “This book is twisting previously known facts into absurd conspiracy theories.”

Throughout the new book, Schweizer suggests that Clinton used her authority as Secretary of State to intervene on behalf of companies that donated to her family’s foundation. Clinton has sought to distance herself from the charges on the campaign trail, calling the GOP claims “distractions.”

Even if Clinton was not involved in approving the deal with the Russian company, the book does raise more questions about the Clinton Foundation’s transparency regarding its donors and shows that the issue will continue to dog her candidacy. The book reports that Telfer, the Uranium One chairman, donated $2.1 million to a Clinton Foundation subsidiary through a charity he controls around the time the purchase was being finalized, an assertion TIME has verified through a review of public records. Those donations do not appear on the foundation’s disclosure of donors. Telfer is listed for smaller donations he made directly to the parent foundation.

In 2008 the Clinton Foundation and President Barack Obama’s transition team signed a memorandum of understanding about the foundation’s activities to allay congressional concerns over potential conflicts of interest stemming from its donors as Clinton was preparing to become Obama’s Secretary of State. “In anticipation of Senator Clinton’s nomination and confirmation as Secretary of State, the foundation will publish its contributors this year,” the agreement states. “During any service by Senator Clinton as Secretary of State, the foundation will publish annually the names of new contributors.”

Exempt from that relationship were an array of Clinton Foundation subsidiaries, including the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership, a Canadian-based charity that works to establish “social enterprises” in the developing world. Telfer is one of three directors of a charity called the Fernwood Foundation, according to Canadian tax records dug up by Schweizer and verified by TIME. Fernwood has donated $2.1 million to the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership, which at one point passed through as much as 88% of its donations to the main Clinton Foundation, Schweizer writes. Schweizer alleges that Telfer had 1.6 million shares in Uranium One and profited hugely off the deal, a claim that couldn’t be independently verified.

The Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership is listed as having given contributed more than $25 million to the foundation according to its online disclosures, but the foundation does not list any of the Giustra Partnership’s individual donors. When contacted by TIME, a spokesman for the Clinton Foundation deferred comment to the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership, which didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Without a full account of donors to the foundations, allegations like the one in Schweizer’s book will follow Clinton’s candidacy even as she seeks to remain above the fray. The campaign, for its part, will continue to do its best to discredit Schweizer’s book and distance itself from Republican attacks.

“While Republicans focus their efforts on attacks, Hillary Clinton is going to continue to focus on how to help everyday Americans get ahead and stay ahead,” the Clinton campaign said in a memo circulated Tuesday night. “That’s what her campaign is about, and no book — especially one as discredited as this one — is going to change that.”

Read next: How New Hampshire’s Women Paved the Way for Hillary Clinton

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TIME 2016 Election

Want to Be President? Book Your Late Show Appearances Now

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson -- Season 26
NBC—Getty Images Macks says Bill Clinton's 1988 performance on The Tonight Show rehabilitated him after giving a boring nominating speech for Michael Dukakis at the Democratic convention. He "moved from the loser of the week to political winner of the week."

Sarah Begley is a culture and breaking news reporter for TIME.

Veteran Tonight Show writer Jon Macks explains why candidates need late-night

As politicians throw their hats in the ring for the 2016 presidential race, they may want to consider booking John Oliver as well as John Dickerson. According to 22-year Tonight Show veteran writer Jon Macks, late-night talk shows are key podiums for ambitious candidates.

As Macks explains in his new book Monologue: What Makes America Laugh Before Bed, late show appearances can go a long way in establishing (or improving) a politician’s image. Take Bill Clinton’s 1988 appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. He wasn’t a candidate yet, but he had just given a speech for Michael Dukakis at the Democratic convention, and it fell flat. As Macks puts it, after he played the saxophone for Johnny Carson, “he was declared ‘politically rehabilitated’ and had moved from the loser of the week to political winner of the week.” It may not have been enough to help Dukakis, but it established Clinton as a fun guy, the proverbial candidate you could have a beer with.

In 2008, Macks says he could gauge waxing and waning support for Obama and McCain based on the audience reaction to Jay Leno’s jokes. “The key to divining the current status or future prospects of a candidate,” he writes, “is when the audience laughs at the mere mention of the name instead of waiting for the joke.”

Obama was something of a punchline on the show just as his numbers were shrinking, but then McCain called the economy “fundamentally sound” despite the collapse of Lehman Brothers, giving late night hosts a new angle. In the weeks before Election Day, Jay Leno joked, “Today John McCain campaigned in the Ohio town of Defiance. Next comes Anger, then finally Acceptance.” David Letterman took it a step further when McCain canceled an appearance on his Late Show: “This doesn’t smell right. This is not the way a tested hero behaves. Somebody’s putting something in his Metamucil.” The numbers started to shift in Obama’s favor — not because late-night necessarily has an influence on the candidates, but because the shows are a bellwether of national mood.

Comedy can be an influence, though, according to Macks. “Jokes are a thermometer,” he writes, “but they are also a thermostat. If a person or event is a blank canvas and each late-night host is using his monologue to paint that canvas, then those jokes and shows are creating opinions about people and events, not just reflecting what is out there already.”

A word to the wise for Cruz, Paul, Rubio, Clinton and any others: call the bookers. It won’t stop comedians from mocking you, but it will show you can take a joke. And if there’s one thing America can’t stand, it’s a candidate with no sense of humor.

 

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the show Bill Clinton appeared on in 1988. It was The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Hillary Clinton

Clinton Campaign Leans On Liberal Groups to Mount Attack on Critical Book

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Jim Cole—AP Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to students and faculty during a campaign stop at New Hampshire Technical Institute on April 21, 2015, in Concord, N.H.

A memo circulated by the Clinton campaign relies heavily on liberal media reports

Less than two weeks into Hillary Clinton’s second presidential campaign, the candidate and her Republican foes are already in the midst of an information war by proxy.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign circulated a memo Tuesday that aims to discredit the author of a soon-to-be published “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich,” by linking author Peter Schweizer to the Clinton family’s conservative foes.

The main source of information for the Clinton campaign’s memo: Two left-leaning organizations backed by Clinton allies. “We wanted to share with you what we have learned about this book, the author and the false accusations he’s making so that you can help us shed light on the truth and debunk the myths,” said the Clinton campaign in the memo. “The book was backed by a Koch Brothers-linked organization and a billionaire family that is bankrolling Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign,” the Clinton’s note continues.

The memo, written by the campaign’s national press secretary Brian Fallon, relies heavily on reporting from an outside website set up by Clinton loyalists long accustomed to supporting the Clinton cause: Media Matters, a left-leaning website founded by Clinton ally David Brock, and ThinkProgress, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, which was founded by Clinton campaign chairman and former White House chief of staff John Podesta. In an interview earlier this week, Podesta dismissed the book as “a bunch of conspiracy theories.”

The Clinton campaign’s use of the outside groups is a first glimpse of how the official Clinton campaign plans to use a coalition of technically independent groups that progressive donors hope will elevate Clinton to the White House. Under current campaign finance rules, Clinton cannot privately coordinate spending on political messaging with either Media Matters or the Center for American Progress Action Fund. But all of the groups can make use of each other’s published work.

“These types of books are standard fare in political campaigns now, and this one is clearly part of a coordinated Republican strategy. But this is not the first work of partisan-fueled fiction about Hillary Clinton’s record, and we know it will not be the last,” said Fallon in the memo. “Clinton Cash” purports to find instances in which U.S. policy benefited companies that donated to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State. It points to alleged conflicts of interest in which Clinton is said to have used her office in the Obama Administration to specifically aid donors to her philanthropy.

The Media Matters report cited in the memo points out that Schweizer is president of the Government Accountability Institute, which has received funding from major donors to the Republican party and other conservative causes. The memo goes on to note that some Republicans, including Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, have received pre-release briefings about the book. Schweizer is a fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution and a former speechwriting consultant to former President George W. Bush.

During her listening tour in New Hampshire on Monday, Clinton aimed to rise above the fray surrounding her foundation, calling the book and the Republican rigamarole around it a “distraction.” But the circulation of the memo shows that the Clinton campaign and its allies are willing to get into a nasty fight over Clinton’s record—just from behind the scenes.

“While Republicans focus their efforts on attacks, Hillary Clinton is going to continue to focus on how to help everyday Americans get ahead and stay ahead,” says the memo. “That’s what her campaign is about, and no book—especially one as discredited as this one—is going to change that.”

With reporting by Zeke J. Miller

TIME Environment

Obama’s Florida Visit Takes Climate Change Fight to the Front Lines on Earth Day

President Obama speaks during a press conference at the White House in Washington, DC, April 17, 2015.
Jim Watson—AFP/Getty Images President Obama speaks during a press conference at the White House in Washington, DC, April 17, 2015.

"It’s about protecting our God-given natural wonders, and the good jobs that rely on them"

President Obama traveled to Florida on Wednesday to highlight the impact of climate change on the American economy. The choice of Florida, where sea levels are rising rapidly and state officials aren’t allowed to discuss climate change, brings Obama to the front lines of the debate over how to address the changing environment.

Obama’s Earth Day speech at Everglades National Park portrayed climate change as an issue with real-world effects that are relevant beyond the community of environmental activists. The site is a key source of drinking water for more than a third of Florida’s nearly 20 million people and tourism at the park provides a significant boost to the local economy, Obama said in his speech.

“This is not a problem for another generation. Not anymore,” Obama said. “This is a problem now. It has serious implications for the way we live right now. Stronger storms. Deeper droughts. Longer wildfire seasons.”

The visit comes one day after the White House announced measures to support national parks and prepare communities across the country for storms caused by climate change.

Obama’s decision to make his speech in Florida brings him to the nexus of the fight against climate change in the U.S. While the state’s natural treasures and densely populated communities face the pressure of rising sea levels, many in the state do not believe in climate change. State employees have been banned from even using the term “climate change” while working in their official capacities. (Obama seemed to take the Florida state government to task directly for its policy prohibiting discussion of climate change, saying “climate change can’t be omitted from the conversation.”)

“Southeast Florida is really ground zero on climate change and sea level rise in particular,” said Christina DeConcini, director of government affairs at the World Resources Institute. “There’s a disconnect there. It seems if you were an elected official in the state of Florida, it would be incumbent on you to protect your constituents.”

To be sure, there’s a lot to protect. The southern Florida region, most threatened by rising sea levels, is home to real estate valued at more than $130 billion, as well as two nuclear power plants, 74 airports and hundreds of public schools, according to a government report. And then there’s the threat to the Everglades, which helps support the state’s $80 billion tourism industry.

In Miami and the surrounding area, much of the preparation for rising sea levels and other climate change effects has fallen into the hands of local initiatives, at least in part because the state government has been largely unresponsive. The Southeast Florida Regional Compact, a partnership between four counties in the Miami area, has developed tactics to manage streets that regularly flood with water, identify vulnerable transportation systems and prepare to relocate communities that may be especially affected by climate-related disasters.

“These four counties said, ‘you know what sea level rise and the consequences need to be dealt with together. The water doesn’t respect county boundaries,” said Colin Polsky, director of the Florida Center for Environmental Studies. “I can’t say there’s zero collaboration with the state, but it’s kind of chilling if state officials feel like they can’t even use the words climate change.”

Obama’s speech on Wednesday seemed to be an implicit challenge to presidential contenders Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush. The two Florida Republicans, a Senator and former Governor, respectively, have expressed doubt about man-made climate change, despite the clear evidence of climate change in their own backyards.

Aside from challenging Republicans on climate change, Obama touted his plan to reduce America’s carbon emissions by at least 26% by 2025. The commitment has been portrayed as key to fostering an international agreement on this issue at this December’s U.N. climate talks in Paris.

But even a landmark carbon emissions agreement won’t be enough to stop sea levels around Florida from rising in the short term, Polsky said.

“There’s already enough warming that we committed to our atmosphere based on the past couple hundred years of emissions,” he said. “We could stop emissions tomorrow and the ice would continue to melt.”

TIME Hillary Clinton

How New Hampshire’s Women Paved the Way for Hillary Clinton

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Jim Cole—AP Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to students and faculty during a campaign stop at New Hampshire Technical Institute on April 21, 2015, in Concord, N.H.

The Granite State has long been receptive to female politicians

After Hillary Clinton had shaken off most of the press corps shadowing her across New Hampshire on Tuesday, she arrived at a quaint house in downtown Concord just blocks from the golden-domed state capitol. Inside, in her wheelchair, sat the matron of New Hampshire presidential politics: 94-year-old former state senator Mary Louise Hancock. “How are you, my gosh, it’s great to be here,” Clinton said, greeting her. “I am so happy to be here.” Hancock replied: “Even if it’s not true, I’m glad you said it.”

Hancock was one of the New Hampshire’s early woman state senators and remains a giant in the state’s Democratic Party politics, and she’s given Clinton her blessing in the primary. She is just one key female ally to the growing Clinton operation in the Granite State, which has been safe Clinton country since the state boosted Bill to the Democratic nomination for President in 1992. Hillary or Bill, or both, go back nearly every year, and they stay in close contact with long-established allies in the state. When Hillary Clinton campaigns this year, she will count on a steady network of female Democratic supporters like Hancock.

In her first trip to New Hampshire, Clinton has already made good use of a large network of women in the state. On her first evening in New Hampshire this week on Monday, she held a private meeting in the home of Sylvia Larsen, the former state senate majority leader. Kathy Sullivan, the former chairwoman of the Democratic Party, was there, as was Terie Norelli, the former speaker of the state house of representatives, several people who attended the meeting told TIME. The next day at Hancock’s house, Clinton greeted former state first lady Susan Lynch, New Hampshire Community Loan Fund president Juliana Eades and Democratic operative Karen Hicks.

New Hampshire has long been a good place for female politicians. In 1999, it was the first state to have a female governor and women heading up both chambers of the state legislature at the same time. In 2009, its state senate became the first legislative body in the U.S. to have a female majority, 13-11. In 2013, it sent an all-female delegation to Washington, and currently both U.S. Senators (Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, and Kelly Ayotte, a Republican) and Governor Maggie Hassan are women.

“There is no bias in new Hampshire. Women can do very well here and have a track record of doing very well in New Hampshire,” said Jim Demers, a Democratic strategist who co-chaired Obama’s 2008 campaign in New Hampshire and is now organizing for Clinton. “It just so happens we’ve elected a lot of women in the state because they were the better candidate.”

Despite Clinton’s deep connections with Democratic women, she’ll encounter skepticism among Independent voters in the state, who are loath to cede the state in an uncontested primary. A strong movement in the state urging Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren to run for President hasn’t lost much steam even though Warren has repeatedly said she won’t launch a campaign. According to a recent poll, Warren still commands a healthy 23% of support, compared to Clinton’s 45%.

“History proves that no candidate in New Hampshire is inevitable,” said Terry Shumaker, a longtime Clinton friend and supporter. “If Hillary or any other candidate came here and ran a perfunctory campaign, they would likely lose the primary. But she’s been in three New Hampshire campaigns, so I know she won’t do that.”

Clinton has been busy over the last year laying a strong groundwork for her campaign. In 2014, she went back to New Hampshire to help Shaheen’s re-election campaign. Shaheen was one of the few Democrats up for re-election who wasn’t swept up by the Republican tide in 2014. Since then, Shaheen’s team, including Mike Vlacich, Harrell Kirstein and Kari Thurman, have all jumped ship to Clinton.

New Hampshire’s female-friendliness can be traced back to two quirks in the statehouse’s organization. New Hampshire pays its legislators a pittance: state senators and representatives in the Granite State receive $100 a year, and they get none of the per diem expenses that other states offer. That means that politicians in the state have to either be very comfortable financially to begin with or have part-time jobs. For many stay-at-home mothers in past decades, that made it easy to be a state legislator. Once a first group of women had blazed a trail, that made it easier for women today to get elected.

The state also has a famously wide political field: with 400 members in the state’s house of representatives, most legislators represent a couple thousand voters in their districts. With a larger pool, more women have access to political leadership, and some say there’s a well-established school board–to-statehouse pipeline.

“Being a state legislator in New Hampshire might not be that big of a leap from belonging to the PTA,” said Jennifer Frizzell, vice president of public policy at Planned Parenthood. “The political pipeline for women here is well developed.”

TIME TIME 100 Gala

David Koch Explains Why He Likes Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

"He's got a wonderful, good-hearted character that I admire immensely"

Billionaire industrialist David Koch praised Scott Walker for his extensive union reforms and his “good-hearted character” Tuesday night, reinforcing the notion that the Wisconsin governor might enjoy the support of the noted conservative donor for his potential 2016 presidential bid.

“I think he’s been a very successful governor, he’s reformed the union system in Wisconsin,” said Koch, who was attending the 2015 TIME 100 Gala in New York City. “He’s got a wonderful, good-hearted character that I admire immensely.”

While the 2015 TIME 100 honoree is adamant that he is not yet officially endorsing any candidate, he had earlier signaled his support for Walker at a donor event in Manhattan on Monday, according to a report from the New York Times. Koch and his brother Charles were honored in this year’s TIME 100 by another presidential hopeful, Senator Rand Paul.

Koch praised Walker’s approach to public school education, and said he admired the way he has negotiated the unions in Wisconsin. He also said he thinks Walker has as much foreign policy experience as Democratic hopeful Hillary Clinton, despite the fact that she served as Secretary of State. “He has as much knowledge about the Middle East as she does,” he said.

When asked whether he thinks Walker could beat Clinton, Koch seemed unconcerned. “I’m not sure what Hillary’s political tactics are,” he said. “She’s got at long way to go.”

TIME celebrity

Rapper Waka Flocka Flame Announces He’s Running for President

Rapper Waka Flocka Flame prepares to shoot the video for "Rage The Night Away" in Los Angeles on March 18, 2014.
Chelsea Lauren—Getty Images Rapper Waka Flocka Flame prepares to shoot the video for "Rage The Night Away" in Los Angeles on March 18, 2014.

He released a campaign video

Waka Flocka Flame took time out of his favorite holiday (4/20) to make a special announcement Monday. Via Rolling Stone, the Queens-born “No Hands” rapper announced he’s making good on his 2012 tweet: “I’m dead a– running for president in 2016.”

In his campaign video, Flame discusses early initiatives like the legalization of marijuana (“The president gotta have a big, fat old blunt”), banning dogs from restaurants (“I don’t want to see no f—ing animal in the restaurant ever again”), and barring people with big feet from walking in public (“They gotta take trains, cabs, and buses”)—oh, and plan on learning all his lyrics at a young age. If there’s any justice in this world, this campaign will continue until election day 2016. #Waka2016

This article originally appeared on EW.com.

Read next: The Third Amigo Runs for President

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TIME Lindsey Graham

The Third Amigo Runs for President

Potential Republican 2016 presidential candidate U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaks at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua, New Hampshire, April 18, 2015.
Brian Snyder—Reuters Potential Republican 2016 presidential candidate U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaks at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua, New Hampshire, April 18, 2015.

Senator Lindsey Graham has watched two of his closest friends run unsuccessfully for President. Now, as he gears up for his own bid in 2016, the South Carolina Republican is hoping to use the lessons learned from their experiences to win.

Along with Arizona Senator John McCain and former Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, Graham has long been one of the “three amigos” — veteran politicians with an easy camaraderie built on a shared hawkish approach to foreign policy.

But while Lieberman’s bid for the Democratic nomination in 2004 failed to gain momentum and McCain’s primary campaign in 2000 and general election run in 2008 faltered, all three men think the timing may finally be right for Graham.

“The issue of national security will play more of a role in these primaries than anytime since Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980,” says McCain. “That I think is one advantage that he brings to the 20-person primary.”

Despite lackluster early polling numbers, Graham sees a straightforward path to the GOP nomination: staff up, advertise, set up a super PAC and raise $15 million to “get something going” in the crucial first states of Iowa and New Hampshire. Graham says he’ll “probably” make his decision official by late May or early June.

“For a guy like me it’s pretty simple,” says Graham. “I do well in Iowa and finish in the top tier in New Hampshire, I’ll win South Carolina. By the end of South Carolina there are three or four people left at the most.”

As he gets ready to run, Graham has looked to his two friends from the Senate for advice.

It may not help all that much. McCain recognizes that a vote for him in 2008 doesn’t necessarily translate to a vote for Graham. (“The one thing about the people of New Hampshire is they make up their own minds,” he says.) And overall the importance of having Lieberman and McCain by Graham’s side may matter more to members of the media — the return of the three amigos! — than to actual voters in a presidential race already crowded with at least six other formidable current and former Senators and governors.

But Lieberman and Graham have done more than offer an encouraging word. In March, as Graham became more vocal about his intentions, he spoke at a Capitol Hill event run by the Foreign Policy Initiative, a nonprofit think tank run by a former Lieberman staffer. Many staffers on Graham’s Security Through Strength PAC have McCain ties, including its spokesperson and two of its senior political advisers, while Graham’s New Hampshire visits have been shadowed by two other top McCain supporters.

“They’re a lot of McCainiacs up here still,” said Graham Saturday at a New Hampshire GOP conference featuring a score of presidential hopefuls.

McCain, who has reiterated the importance of the New Hampshire primary in his conversations with Graham, says his friend would thrive in the small group format that dominates the early months of jockeying. And Lieberman considers Graham’s humor and straight talk a major asset.

“He won’t hesitate to say things that don’t always poll well,” says Lieberman. “I think that will be very appealing first to Republican primary voters and to a state like New Hampshire.”

In Graham’s mind, both Lieberman and McCain would have reached the White House at some point if it hadn’t been for events largely outside of their control. In 2000 the Gore-Lieberman ticket lost by only hundreds of votes in an election with over 100 million votes cast. “You can’t get any closer,” says Graham. In 2004, Lieberman ran for the Democratic nomination but “time had passed him by.”

In 2000, McCain lost the primary to George W. Bush. Then in 2008, he lost the general election in part because of the collapsing economy and Bush’s unpopularity at the tail end of two terms in the White House. “I don’t think there’s anything John could have done differently,” says Graham.

Graham wasn’t always intent on running. Even among his closest friends, it wasn’t clear that he wanted to pursue the White House until December, a few weeks after he cruised to take a third Senate term following a primary where he torched six challengers. Graham says he had a “long talk” with McCain and called Lieberman to ask him what he thought about making a run to be the 45th President.

“I said to him that there’s nothing to lose,” Lieberman told TIME. “This is not sort of a desperate run to be President. This is, I think, an exploration and a feeling that he wants a larger audience for his ideas.”

“That meant a lot to me,” says Graham of the phone call with Lieberman. “That encouraged me … I know what’s coming my way in terms of the money and scrutiny. I understand that. But what I wanted basically was somebody who I admire, who’s been on the world stage at the highest levels.”

“He really believes I should do it,” he adds. “That made me more likely to do it. I think if he had been sort of patronizing I’d have thought twice about it.”

Then Graham had a “reinforcing moment” in February, when he sat in the aisle of a plane headed from Munich to Andrews Air Force base between Lieberman and former Arizona Senator Jon Kyl, who Graham says is helping form his campaign organization. Graham peppered them with questions for about an hour about how he should run while the other two mentors discussed the financial and personal pressures of running against a tough field in a Twitter-paced media environment. Graham said they urged him to build off of his performance at the Munich Security Conference, which Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal called the “most impressive” in a lineup that included Vice President Joe Biden and McCain.

In two phone interviews lasting nearly 45 minutes combined, McCain and Lieberman both proved long-winded in their support of Graham. McCain calls him “like a younger brother to me” and says he’ll “do anything that he asks” when it comes to supporting Graham. Lieberman, who endorsed McCain in 2008 and has not ruled out crossing over again for Graham, says his friend has a “unique” track record of working with Democrats that could prove appealing to independent-minded voters in New Hampshire. While Graham has proved willing to go across the aisle to introduce major bills, introducing with his friends sweeping packages to reform the immigration system and address climate change, he hasn’t always proved successful in closing the deal.

Both Lieberman and Graham see the debates as key opportunities for Graham to shine. Lieberman says he doesn’t think he has ever seen Graham speak with a prepared text, noting that his friend writes by hand only outlines for major speeches. “When they pull out the teleprompter, then we’ve got trouble,” jokes Lieberman.

“He is an incredibly quick study — much quicker than I am,” adds McCain. “He can take an issue and he can digest it … He is really superb on his feet.”

McCain also thinks Graham will benefit from having studied his 2008 campaign. He recalls sitting in a hotel room with Graham as the South Carolina primary results were coming in, looking through maps of the state throughout the night before eking out a 3-percentage-point win over former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. “He was an immeasurable help in South Carolina,” says McCain. “We had to win that.”

Graham served as McCain’s stress ball, injecting some levity during the campaign’s long hours. In his interview with TIME, McCain claimed that one of Graham’s “favorite flicks” was the raunchy comedy Borat. “I don’t allege that Lindsey is a highbrow,” joked McCain. On the trail, McCain would needle Graham, telling reporters that his favorite restaurant was Olive Garden. On a rare free moment in Florida, McCain sought out the restaurant and the three of them went with their staffs.

“We went to like the first Olive Garden,” says Graham. “It’s like going to Mecca for me.”

“He suffers those jibes quite graciously,” says Lieberman. “John gets a line and he really runs with it.”

Their friendship, built over about a decade of committee hearings and overseas trips, has allowed the “amigos” to see Graham’s negatives too. In a race with more than a handful of strong competitors, both McCain and Lieberman wonder if he can raise enough money. Lieberman notes that Graham’s national recognition levels aren’t that high despite his TV appearances — he’s already been on five Sunday shows this year, more than Senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio, according to Roll Call. And his interest in running hasn’t yet caught up to pollsters. One New Hampshire GOP primary poll in February evaluated 18 candidates, but not Graham, while the South Carolina’s GOP party didn’t put him on its 25-person online straw poll until mid-March.

“I don’t know if he can win the nomination or be President of the United States, but he is one of the most really unusual great American stories in people I have known in my life,” says McCain.

No matter what happens, Graham sees little downside in running for the White House.

“There’s a nobility in trying,” he says.

Read next: Jeb Bush Narrowly Leads Tight Republican Presidential Race, Poll Says

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TIME Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton Continues Listening Tour in New Hampshire

US-POLITICS-CAMPAIGN-CLINTON
Don Emert—AFP/Getty Images Hillary Clinton participates in a round table discussion with Whitney Brothers management and employees on April 20, 2015 in Keene, NH.

KEENE, N.H.—Hillary Clinton responded to renewed controversy on Monday about the Clinton Foundation’s dealings, even as she sought to focus attention on her conversations with New Hampshire voters and a broad-brush economic vision.

“We’re back into the political scene, and therefore we will be subjected to all kinds of distractions and I’m ready for it,” Clinton told reporters. “I know that comes unfortunately with the territory.”

“It is, I think, worth noting that the Republicans seem to be talking only about me,” she continued. “They wouldn’t have anything to talk about if I weren’t in the race. But I am in the race, and hopefully we’ll get onto the issues, and I look forward to that.”

The foundation’s fundraising has been in the spotlight thanks in part to an upcoming book by former George W. Bush consultant Peter Schweizer called Clinton Cash, which purports to find instances in which U.S. policy benefited companies that donated to the Clinton Foundation while she was Secretary of State.

Republican presidential candidates lambasted Clinton during events in New Hampshire over the weekend, with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul saying the book’s findings would include “big news” that would “shock people.” (The book is not yet publicly available.)

But at her events Monday, Clinton kept the focus on her own campaign in the Granite State. “I want to hear from people in New Hampshire about what’s on their minds,” she said.

The second week of Clinton’s candidacy began much like the preceding week in Iowa, with small events and roundtable meetings with voters. On Monday she began with a tour of a factory run by the Whitney Brothers, where employees were building blocks, furniture and play toys for infants and toddlers. Then she sat at a roundtable in the company’s warehouse, fielding questions from company employees.

As expected, Clinton did not lay out any new policy positions, instead speaking in broader strokes about her initial goals for her small-event and voter-oriented campaign and her vision of a more inclusive economy.

“I want people to know that I’m listening, and that I’m accessible, and I’m running a campaign about them,” Clinton said. “That’s about the needs of the people of New Hampshire. That’s the kind of campaign I want to run.”

She reiterated comments she made last week during her Iowa events, when she lamented that hedge fund managers pay lower taxes than middle class Americans, thanks to low capital gains taxes. Clinton again sounded her support for a constitutional amendment to rein in money in politics and suggested increased regulation of the financial market.

“If it’s just playing back-and-forth in the global market place to get one-tenth of one percent advantage, maybe we should not let that go on because that’s at the root of economic problems we all remember painfully in 2008,” she said.

Clinton will be under pressure to clarify her views as the race continues. Her likely challengers for the Democratic presidential nomination are already staking out firm positions to her left and beginning to attack Clinton.

Just hours before the event in Keene, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley contrasted himself with Clinton, who last week articulated new views on immigration reform and same sex marriage.

“Do we have the ability as a party to lead by our principles or are we going to conduct polls every time we try to determine where the middle is on any given day?” he said in an interview with NPR on Monday.

New Hampshire has been Clinton-friendly country since 1992, when Bill came off a second place finish in the state to win the nomination. Hillary celebrated her birthday in New Hampshire in October 1991 campaigning for her husband, and many of New Hampshire’s Democratic leadership are firm Clinton allies. Hillary’s surprise comeback win in the Granite State in 2008 prolonged the primary battle against Barack Obama for months.

Several former aides from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s campaign for Senate last year have joined Clinton’s New Hampshire camp, along with the senator’s husband, Bill, was co-chair of Clinton’s 2007 campaign in New Hampshire. Hillary campaigned with incumbent Gov. Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire last year.

During her roundtable discussion, Clinton spoke about expanding pre-kindergarten education and the importance of early childhood programs while sitting in a warehouse for young children’s furniture and toys soon to be shipped to classrooms.

“Of course, it’s no accident that I’m at a place whose customer market is between six months and six years,” Clinton said.

She also emphasized the importance of manufacturing jobs in the U.S., remarking that many of the machines in the Whitney Brothers facility are foreign-made. “How do we get back into basic production again so we can resume our lead in manufacturing,” Clinton said. “You walk around here you see these machines from Italy or Germany or wherever else they’re from. Why? Why aren’t we producing these machines?”

Her tour of the Keene facility will be followed on Wednesday by a roundtable at a community college in Concord.

In both states, her small-scale events have been hemmed in by a large press corps. Clinton and the seven Whitney Brothers employees who sat with her were greatly outnumbered by the 70 or so members of the press gathered to watch her speak on Monday.

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