TIME 2016 Election

Obama Political Guru Secretly Advised Hillary Clinton on 2016

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers the keynote address at the Dreamforce convention Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014, in San Francisco.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers the keynote address at the Dreamforce convention Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014, in San Francisco. Ben Margot—AP

Much of the President's team is already backing Clinton for 2016

A longtime top political adviser to President Barack Obama secretly met with Hillary Clinton recently to offer up his advice for how to avoid another presidential campaign loss if she runs again in 2016, according to a new report.

Politico, citing unnamed sources, reports that David Plouffe, the architect of Obama’s 2008 defeat of Clinton, met with the former Secretary of State in September. Clinton is widely expected to run again, and much of Obama’s political brain trust is already backing her. Plouffe reportedly advised Clinton to make better use of advanced data analytics, define a coherent rationale for her candidacy and stick to a defined message throughout a campaign.

The report details Republican efforts to develop a strategy to block Clinton from winning the White House in 2016—efforts that have yet to yield a clear answer.

“Everybody’s looking for a silver bullet, but in the absence of that we’re finding a lot of lead,” GOP strategist Michael Goldfarb said.

Read more at Politico

TIME 2016 Election

Ron Paul is Spouting Off on Ebola, Secession and Terrorism in Canada

Ron Paul
Former Congressman Ron Paul gestures during a rally for Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli in Richmond, Va., Monday, Nov. 4, 2013. Steve Helber—ASSOCIATED PRESS

His punditry is creating problems for his son's likely White House run

In recent months, retired congressman and Libertarian darling Ron Paul has made pronouncements on Ebola, secessionist movements and terrorism in Canada that appear designed to stoke controversy, even as his son Rand tries to stake out less fraught territory in preparation for a likely presidential campaign.

Ron Paul piped up Sunday following a series of attacks on members of the military in Canada that investigators believe are likely tied to jihadist ideology.

“Though horrific, it should not be a complete surprise that Canada found itself hit by blowback last week,” Paul wrote in a column. “That is the danger of intervention in other people’s wars thousands of miles away. Those at the other end of foreign bombs – and their surviving family members or anyone who sympathizes with them – have great incentive to seek revenge. This feeling should not be that difficult to understand.”

Paul’s recent spate of controversial public pronouncements—as a professional provocateur he rarely makes any other kind—are fast becoming a political liability for his son Rand, who is widely expected to mount a campaign for the White House in 2016.

As his soapbox of late, Paul is chiefly using Voices of Liberty, a Ron Paul-centric subscription news and commentary service launched in July, the newest of several overlapping organizations built around Ron Paul’s personal brand—The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, Ron Paul Curriculum and The Foundation for Rational Economics and Education. Voices of Liberty “amplifies the messages of freedom through insightful news coverage, engaging shows and your involvement!,” according to the group’s website. The flurry of activity around the new site has revived an old challenge for the Paul family.

Ron Paul Inc.’s most widely noted declaration of late was the suggestion that the insecticide DDT be used as an Ebola treatment (at present the only known Ebola treatments experimental and DDT is not among them). In fact, Ron Paul never said such a thing—it appears to have been a mistake inserted into a Voices of Liberty press release by a PR rep. In any event, it wouldn’t be the first time statements attributed to Ron Paul, possibly falsely, have become problematic for his son. Rand has already spent more time than he would like distancing himself from his dad’s notoriously shrill and racist newsletters from the 1990s, which the elder has contended were written not by him personally but by a staffer.

In a column Sunday, Paul made the dubious-at-best claim that “the people of Liberia and other countries would be better off if the U.S. government left them alone.” The sentiment is vintage Ron Paul, his austere libertarianism taken to its logical extreme, but hard to reconcile with a society and economy that have come to a screeching halt as Ebola drives people out of public spaces.

It’s not just Paul’s outlandish statements that could be problematic for Rand Paul.

On Ebola the senior Paul has been at odds with Rand, who has devoted considerable airtime to stoking fears over the disease, suggesting it is more contagious and the threat to American society more serious than the government has let on. In contrast, Ron Paul has suggested the exact opposite: that the government is exaggerating Ebola fears, perhaps for nefarious purposes.

In recent weeks the elder Paul has cheered the near-success of the Scottish secessionist movement—and in so doing apparently advocated for secession of states within the U.S.—and lambasted the Obama administration over the new Status of Forces agreement that will keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan well beyond the originally envisioned 2014 pullout date and possibly into 2024.

And it’s clear that in coming months, he’ll keep sounding off on other subjects.

Read next: Obama Rebukes State Ebola Quarantine Rules

TIME justice

Report: Investigators Mistreated Monica Lewinsky in Clinton Probe

Monica Lewinsky
Monica Lewinsky speaks to attendees at Forbes Under 30 Summit at the Convention Center in Philadelphia, Pa on October 20, 2014. Star Shooter—Star Shooter/MediaPunch/IPx

According to a December 2000 report thought sealed from public view

Former White House intern Monica Lewinsky was mistreated in 1998 by authorities who were looking into her alleged affair with former President Bill Clinton, according to a newly released government report from two years after the incident.

The report, thought to be sealed from the public but recently obtained by the Washington Post via a Freedom of Information Act request, details a 12-hour meeting in January 1998 between Lewinsky, FBI agents and prosecutors.

Lewinsky had been scheduled to meet with Linda Tripp, a White House secretary, at the food court of a Washington, D.C.-area mall. Instead, she was ambushed by federal agents and prosecutors. According to Lewinsky’s version of events — detailed in a rare public appearance earlier this week — when she asked to see an attorney, she was told her cooperation would be worth less if she spoke to counsel and told she could receive some 27 years in prison for allegedly lying about her affair with the President in an affidavit, among other crimes.

The findings vindicate her side of how things played out that day and, the report found, call into question ethical decisions made during the aggressive questioning of Lewinsky and her mother by lawyers working for Ken Starr’s Office of Independent Counsel.

[The Washington Post]

TIME 2016 Election

Christie Offers Democrats A Killer Soundbite on Minimum Wage

Faith And Freedom Coalition Holds Policy Conference
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie addresses the Faith and Freedom Coalition's 'Road to Majority' Policy Conference at the Omni Shoreham hotel on June 20, 2014 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

It's not what he said. It's how it will sound when edited.

The journalist Michael Kinsley observed that “A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth – some obvious truth he isn’t supposed to say.” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s sin Tuesday provided a modern corollary.

Speaking at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Christie seemed to invite the controversy by saying, “I gotta tell you the truth, I’m tired of hearing about the minimum wage, I really am.”

On Twitter, Democrats instantly seized on the quote fragment. The Democratic National Committee and Democratic Governors Association swiftly blasted out statements in condemnation, as opposition research group American Bridge posted it to YouTube. “Our hearts are breaking,” said DNC Press Secretary Mike Czin in a statement. “Poor guy. It must be almost as tiring for him as it is for the millions of Americans who work full time but live in poverty because the minimum wage is too low.”

In proper context, Christie’s statement fit within the Republican Party’s longstanding position on the minimum wage: He argued the focus should be on creating minimum wage jobs, not raising the pay scale for the least-paid. “I don’t think there’s a mother or father sitting around a kitchen table tonight in America who are saying, ‘You know honey, if my son or daughter could just make a higher minimum wage, my God, all our dreams would be realized,” Christie said. “Is that what parents aspire to for their children?”

But that more nuanced argument is not something most voters will hear this fall—or when Christie mounts a likely bid for the White House in 2016. Instead they are likely to hear “I’m tired of hearing about the minimum wage,” over and over and over again thanks to his Democratic foes, especially if Christie becomes the Republican Party’s nominee.

The moment was not unlike Mitt Romney’s 2012 line that “I like being able to fire people” when they do poor work—a tenet of the free market, but an statement that played into the insensitive rich guy narrative Democrats and his GOP primary opponents had already invested millions in developing.

In the modern campaign, where every public or private utterance is liable to be recorded or tweeted by a reporter or opposing tracker, Christie’s unforced error Tuesday wasn’t saying something wrong. It was saying something that could be edited to sound like something else entirely.

TIME Internet

Monica Lewinsky Just Joined Twitter

Here she goes

Updated Oct. 20, 10:30 a.m. EST.

Monica Lewinsky joined the flock on Monday morning, and here’s what she had to say:

Vanity Fair, which featured her tell-all story earlier this year, was the first to confirm her new account. It quickly received a Verified checkmark.

Is it just that she’s excited to join Twitter? Or is Monica getting ready to tweet her way through the 2016 election?

TIME 2014 Election

No One Should Be Excited About Winning the Senate

Views Of The U.S. Capitol As Congress Plans To Return Nov. 12
The U.S. Capitol Building on Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Both parties quietly acknowledge gridlock will reign no matter who wins

When all is said and done next month, hundreds of millions of dollars will have been spent to influence a few million voters who will determine the balance of power in the U.S. Senate.

That power might not be worth the effort.

Behind closed doors, Democrats readily admit their Senate agenda is dead in the water, whether they win or lose. Republicans agree their pitch to radically alter the course of Washington by picking up a few seats after November is essentially a fairy tale. In conversations with more than two-dozen operatives and party strategists, none was willing to make the case against winning the Senate with their name attached, wary of upsetting those who have invested do much in the cycle. But several on both sides of the aisle argued that winning could actually be a bad thing in the long run.

“The irony of this cycle is that hundreds of millions are going to be spent fighting over an outcome that won’t impact the policy American’s see out of Washington one bit,” said one senior Capitol Hill Democrat. “If Democrats lose the Senate, the 2016 Democratic nominee can run against Congress and Senate Democrats would be poised to recapture it in two years. Unless or until the House changes, Washington won’t change.”

Republican operatives are quick to say the same about control White House, but express outright worry about the impact of taking the Senate their chances of doing so in 2016. “We’re promising people that things will dramatically change if we win the majority, but we all know that’s not going to happen,” said a Republican operative working on Senate races. “Where will that leave our candidates in 2016?”

In many circles, the talk is more than just a defeatist attitude. It’s strategic question that has rarely been voiced publicly. Operatives on both sides see upside in being in the minority next year. In Democrats’ telling, likely-candidate Hillary Clinton could run on a narrative of Republican obstruction to passing legislation on issues like income inequality, raising the minimum wage, and equal pay for women. Republicans, looking to boost a bench of governors eyeing the White House, see a potent message in allowing them to rail against Washington dysfunction.

“It really is a kind of prank prize, but more for Democrats than Republicans,” said Republican consultant Rick Wilson. “For the GOP, the chance of a Senate majority to block Obama’s Supreme Court nominees is worth all the agony, trouble, hard choices, and put-up-or-shut-up problems.”

Republicans know they may have substantially less latitude, not more, to oppose President Barack Obama outright if they gain the majority. They may be able to oppose specific nominees, but would be wary of earning an obstructionist title in practice, lest their 2016 candidates go down in flames. Others point to the fleeting nature of the potential Republican pick-up, with the GOP facing an unfavorable map in 2016 that is likely to result in losing seats.

Ultimately the biggest winners and losers are the Senators themselves, with the potential to see their power dramatically increased or diminished as committee chairmanships and the Senate agenda hang in the balance.

The primary fear among Democrats is nominations, particularly the potential or a vacancy on the Supreme Court, which Obama alluded to in conversations with donors this summer. After that, former Harry Reid aide Rodell Mollineau said, it’s about controlling the conversation in Washington. “Do you really want to spend the next two years on defense talking about national right to work laws and whatever harsh immigration policies Republicans come up with, or would you rather have a conversation about jobs and minimum wage,” he said.

On the Republican side, operatives now see the building up of expectations as necessitating a win, following the party’s 2012 defeat and inability to take the Senate during the 2010 wave. “Another loss would only further send the party’s political infrastructure down a spiral that will be hard to dig out of in time to fight against Hillary in 2016,” said one Republican operative focused on 2016 races. “We need momentum excitement coming out of November to get supporters engaged so we can start building the political behemoth that will be required to take on Hillary.”

TIME 2016 Election

Jeb Bush Says Wife ‘Supportive’ of 2016 Bid

"This is ultimately my decision with as much consideration as I can to take into account the people that I really love"

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has won a big endorsement for a potential 2016 presidential run: his wife.

Bush told the Associated Press in an interview Tuesday that his wife Columba, who is widely known to be wary of the political spotlight, is “supportive” of him if he decides to mount a campaign.

“My wife is supportive, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t understand the challenges that this brings,” Bush said. “This is ultimately my decision with as much consideration as I can to take into account the people that I really love.”

Bush added that his mother, former First Lady Barbara Bush, has come around to having a third Bush in the White House. Last year she said that “we’ve had enough Bushes” as president, even though she thinks Jeb Bush is “by far the best qualified man” for the job.

“As it relates to my mom, my mom’s been around the track,” Jeb Bush said. “She just believes that it’s something that she doesn’t want my family to go through, although she’s changed her mind on that. So I’m marking her down to ‘neutral, trending in a different direction’ than she was.”

[AP]

TIME 2016 Election

Hillary Clinton’s Burden of History

Hillary Clinton
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at a forum sponsored by the Center for American Progress in Washington, Sept. 18, 2014. Molly Riley—AP

Everything old is new again for the Clintons, as documents reveal White House secrets.

Buried in the 10,000 pages of documents released by the Clinton Presidential Library Friday is one bearing the customized stamp “Document Produced To Independent Counsel.”

Created to help track the untold number of documents produced for independent counsel Ken Starr’s investigations of the Clintons, the stamp is a totem of the problem that has dogged Hillary Clinton since she ran for the U.S. Senate in 2000: her history.

The Library made the documents available Friday, completing the release of 30,000 pages of previously restricted White House records on everything from the failed HillaryCare push to the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Those controversies generated internal debates and gotcha-moments now bearing out 14 years after the former First Lady and her husband vacated the White House, complicating her bid to be a repeat occupant.

Deliberations over Supreme Court appointments, controversial pardons, and meetings with foreign leaders are bared for the world to see. Even personal feuds, like that between the former president and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, are on display in the margins of official documents and notes to staff. To read the document trove is to reenter a White House at the center of political and personal maelstroms.

The stamped memo captures the mid-1990s Clinton White House at a peak of high drama. Written by Deputy White House Counsel Bruce Lindsay to prepare President Bill Clinton for an interview on the Whitewater scandals, it strikes a familiar chord for those who view the former president as deceptive and those who view him as unfairly besieged by enemies. “NOTE: Of course, it is strongly recommended that you not answer specific factual questions about Whitewater, using the appointment of a special counsel as a legitimate way to deflect questions.”

Other documents reveal Hillary Clinton’s distaste for the press, her staff’s attempts to crack down on internal leaks, and the influence of donors in the White House. Ultimately, the documents, with an audience of Washington politicos, appear neither good nor bad for Clinton as she moves towards a run for the White House in 2016. Many simply reveal another perspective of issues well-covered twenty years ago. As much as anything else does, they simply define who she is and where she’s come from, even as she contemplates a new chapter in her life.

Conventional wisdom holds that longtime Senators with equally long voting records have a harder time running for the White House than governors do, a problem that Clinton has on steroids. Unending media interest in her and her husband, a sped-up news cycle, and the country’s increasingly short attention span have made even old news of interest as Clinton looks to 2016. Republicans will try to use these documents to revive the “Clinton Fatigue” that plagued the couple’s last years in office and cast a tall shadow over her failed 2008 presidential bid.

But Clinton will benefit some, too. The documents are proof of her intimate involvement in nearly every aspect of professional Washington for more than two decades. They show the Clintons and their aides tangling with complicated policy challenges, and reveal them slowly developing skills to manage the national media amid scandal.

Ultimately, the greatest challenge Clinton faces in the documents may not be answering for past political maneuvers or the snide remarks of aides, but finding a way to simply leave the past behind.

TIME 2016 Election

Rand Paul Visits Ferguson Ahead of Fresh Protests

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) while speaking at the Values Voter Summit in Washington.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) speaks at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, Sept. 26, 2014. Doug Mills—The New York Times/Redux

Paul is the first potential 2016 contender to visit the city

Sen. Rand Paul met with civil rights leaders Friday in Ferguson, Missouri, the city torn apart by racial unrest following the August shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer. During his visit, the Republican Senator, who is seen as a likely presidential candidate, stated his concerns about long prison sentences for nonviolent crimes, the loss of voting rights for felons and military programs to give unused equipment to local police departments.

“I wanted to find out what we could do to make the situation better,” Paul said of his visit Friday.

“Given the racial disparities in our criminal justice system, it is impossible for African-Americans not to feel like their government is particularly targeting them,” Paul wrote in an opinion piece for TIME this summer.

The meeting came just days after another young black man was shot by police in nearby St. Louis, after allegedly firing a stolen handgun at an officer. And it came on the eve of a weekend series of protests organized to keep national attention on the state’s issues.

Paul joined the leaders in the conference room of a real estate office across the street from an art installation Friday, where residents had tied ribbons to a metal fence with messages commemorating the protests that began in August after the shooting of 18-year-old African-American student Michael Brown. Paul arrived in town Thursday for a round table discussion at the Show Me Institute, a conservative think tank in St. Louis. That event, like the discussion with local and civil rights leaders in Ferguson, was not open to the press.

Friday’s discussion was free-ranging, less a speech than a question and answer session. People at the event said that they remained concerned about the GOP’s opposition to federal funding for job training and education and other social programs. Paul said that he would support increases in federal spending for job training in urban communities that could be paid for with cuts to the costs of incarceration. “I think there would be money for job training if you greatly lessened criminal sentencing,” he said.

“They are also frustrated that things aren’t happening fast enough,” Paul said after the meeting, which was organized by the NAACP.

Paul’s trip to Ferguson—the first by a 2016 candidate—is a reminder of how his position on criminal justice reform can make a Republican more palatable to the African-American community. As riots turned violent in Ferguson, Paul distinguished himself among Republicans by striking a more forceful tone in addressing the root of the protesters’ anger and putting forth potential solutions.

“He is stumping like he should be trying to stump if he wants to run for President,” said John Gaskin II, who participated in Friday’s event.

The fatal police shooting of Brown on August 9 revealed a deeper crisis of trust between the authorities and Ferguson community and sparked a discussion about race relations in America. While the armored trucks are gone and the air free from tear gas, this weekend demonstrators are expected to continue calling for the arrest of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who has remained free but silent since killing Brown.

TIME Campaign Finance

FEC Clears Doubling of Donations With Convention Ruling

US Campaign 2012
The Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 30, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Charles Ommanney—Getty Images

Separate convention funding will allow parties to tap as much as $250,000 per donor every four years

Four weeks before the midterm elections, the Democratic and Republican Parties set aside their political differences to celebrate a development they could both agree on: raising more money.

The rare bout of bipartisanship follows a Federal Election Commission decision to allow the parties to raise extra cash to put on their increasingly irrelevant quadrennial prime time love-fests: the presidential nominating conventions.

Congress decided earlier this year to strip each party’s convention of public financing—$18,248,300 a piece in 2012—in hopes of diverting the funds to fund pediatric medical research.

As a result, the committees faced the prospect of funding the conventions from their existing “hard money” accounts, taking dollars out of field campaigns or television advertisements to pay the expensive three- or four-day long events.

To get around that problem, the parties jointly asked the FEC to let them set up separate committees to raise funds and pay for the conventions.

Last week the FEC’s attorneys prepared dueling opinions for the commission to vote on. One argued that the separate convention committees would be arms of the party and should be subject to the same limit. That opinion lost. The other argued the parties should be allowed to have a separate limit. Democratic Vice Chair Ann Ravel joined commission Republicans to pass that option by a 4-2 decision.

The result was a big win for both parties. Instead of tapping core budgets, which are built on maximum donations of $32,400 per donor annually and fund nearly everything the party does, the parties can double dip, raising another $32,400 from the same donors, just for the convention.

Campaign finance reform advocates blasted the outcome Thursday, noting that individuals can now cumulatively donate over $250,000 to the RNC or DNC each presidential cycle. “This is a disgraceful and activist decision that ignores the laws passed by Congress to combat corruption,” said Larry Noble of the Campaign Legal Center in a statement. “One has come to expect such efforts to dismantle the current contribution limits brick by brick from the current Republican Commissioners, but Vice Chair Ravel’s vote to give the national party committees a new way to tap wealthy donors is incredibly disappointing and irresponsible.”

The Campaign Legal Center warned in comments submitted before the meeting that it could lead to a slippery slope where different party functions are broken off into separate accounts with their own contribution limits, subverting longstanding laws designed to limit the amount of money in the nation’s political system. (The Republican National Committee has filed suit to lift those individual contribution limit to national parties.)

The RNC and DNC celebrated the ruling as “an important, if modest, first step for the parties in continuing to meet their historic responsibility to conduct conventions, which play such a vital role in our democratic process.” But in recent decades the carefully-scripted conventions have become increasingly irrelevant to the political process, as nominees lock up the required delegates well before the gatherings and the party platforms are frequently ignored by candidates for president on down. And while they are opportunities for each party to promote its message on television for a week in prime time, viewership is down and they rarely move the polling dial to lasting effect. Indeed, nominating conventions have become little more than expensive opportunities to reward party insiders with swanky parties and access to political figures.

In fact, the new convention funds are separate from the tens of millions raised by both parties’ “host committees” which are exempt from FEC contribution limits and accept millions in corporate and individual donations. The FEC justifies this separate fund arguing that the host committees are primarily engaged in promoting the cities in which the convention is held, not nominating the party’s presidential candidate. But that distinction is tenuous, at best, particularly when the party’s candidate is asked to step in to help close a shortfall, as Mitt Romney was asked to do in Tampa in 2012. Not to mention longstanding research showing that conventions don’t actually boost the economic development of the host cities.

President Barack Obama’s 2012 host committee secured a loan from Duke Energy that was later forgiven by the Charlotte, NC-based energy company, skirting the candidate’s pledge not to accept corporate funds.

“We appreciate the FEC’s recognition that, as the party convention committees adjust to the loss of public funding, they have authority to raise funds that will help pay the costs of their national conventions,” both parties said in their unusual joint statement.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser