TIME Lincoln Chafee

Lincoln Chafee Has A Lot of Nice Things to Say About Republicans

Michael Bonfigli—The Christian Science Monitor Former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee speaks in Washington, D.C. on July 28, 2015.

For someone running for the Democratic nomination for President, Lincoln Chafee has a lot of nice things to say about Republicans.

That may be because he used to be one: Chafee was a Republican Senator from Rhode Island from 1999 to 2007, then an Independent for the beginning of his tenure as Governor of the state from 2011 to 2015, finally switching his party affiliation to Democrat in 2013.

But even as he seeks the Democratic nomination against political juggernaut Hillary Clinton and populist wunderkind Bernie Sanders, Chafee still has plenty of kind words for his former party. Speaking at a breakfast in Washington, D.C., Tuesday morning, Chafee cited two Republicans as his favorite modern Presidents.

“Theodore Roosevelt, certainly I think I compare favorably to him saying ‘speak softly and carry a big stick,'” Chafee said, citing his quiet courage as similar to the trust-busting Republican’s.

When asked to name a more recent President, Chafee went with another Republican, George H. W. Bush. “I do admire courage in politics, and guts and backbone,” he said. “[George] H. W. Bush [addressed] the real issue of deficits … He knew the political sacrifice that was going to come.”

He mentioned a Democratic President as well: Bill Clinton, who happens to be the husband of his most formidable primary opponent. “Bill Clinton putting in his deficit reduction plan, that took guts,” he said.

Chafee also spoke fondly of another Bush: Jeb, his potential 2016 rival and a high school classmate from Andover boarding school in Massachusetts in the 1960s.

“We were in a small dorm… so we knew each other well and played ping pong in the basement,” Chafee said. “Our dads talked politics, and [it was 1968 and 1969] so a lot of changes were happening in the country in those years, so just naturally politics was very much in many students minds. … We tended naturally to support our fathers.”

Bush’s father was George H.W. Bush, who would go on to be elected President in 1989; Chafee’s father was John Chafee, the Governor of Rhode Island who became a Republican Senator from the state in 1976.

But Chafee wasn’t entirely complimentary of the GOP, returning to his main talking point in the primaries: the fact that most members of his former party in Congress (as well as Hillary Clinton) voted for the Iraq war in 2002, while he voted against.

“I think it’s important for the Democratic party to make this chaos in the Middle East a Republican chaos,” he said. “They were the ones that created Iraq and created all the problems now… ISIS, Boko Haram in Nigeria, it all started with the invasion of Iraq. Politically speaking, the Democratic party needs to show that’s a Republican mistake.”

Chafee is polling within the margin of error in most national polls: a recent Monmouth University poll had him at 0%, with a 5.2% margin of error.

Read Next: Lincoln Chafee Is Trying to Re-Run Obama’s 2008 Playbook

TIME 2016 Election

Donald Trump Lawyer Sorry for Saying ‘You Can’t Rape Your Spouse’

Presidential campaign disavows aide's comments amid controversy

Donald Trump’s lawyer and top aide apologized Tuesday after he ensnared the candidate in fresh controversy by responding to years-old rape allegations against Trump—since retracted—by saying that sexual intercourse with a spouse can never legally be considered rape.

“As an attorney, husband and father there are many injustices that offend me but nothing more than charges of rape or racism,” Michael Cohen told CNN. “They hit me at my core. Rarely am I surprised by the press, but the gall of this particular reporter to make such a reprehensible and false allegation against Mr. Trump truly stunned me. In my moment of shock and anger, I made an inarticulate comment—which I do not believe—and which I apologize for entirely.”

Cohen had responded angrily earlier to questions about a 1989 incident, and his comments quickly sparked an uproar.

“You’re talking about the frontrunner for the GOP, presidential candidate, as well as a private individual who never raped anybody,” Michael Cohen, Trump’s special counsel and a longtime aide, reportedly told The Daily Beast in response to its reporting on allegations in the early 1990s that Trump raped his then-wife Ivana Trump.“And, of course, understand that by the very definition, you can’t rape your spouse.”

“It is true,” Cohen added. “You cannot rape your spouse. And there’s very clear case law.”

Prohibitions against spousal rape were actually enacted in the 1970s, and it was illegal in all 50 states by the early 1990s. It became illegal in New York state in 1984. Ivana Trump originally made the comments in a deposition surrounding their divorce, she told CNN in a statement Tuesday, saying at the time that she felt “violated” by a 1989 incident between the couple. But Ivana Trump disavowed the accusation Tuesday in response to The Daily Beast report.

“I have recently read some comments attributed to me from nearly 30 years ago at a time of very high tension during my divorce from Donald,” she told CNN. “The story is totally without merit. Donald and I are the best of friends and together have raised three children that we love and are very proud of. I have nothing but fondness for Donald and wish him the best of luck on his campaign. Incidentally, I think he would make an incredible president.”

The controversy over Cohen’s comments come as Trump has ridden incendiary rhetoric on immigration and other issues to the top of national polls for the Republican nomination. The latest batch of polls showed no sign of his momentum being halted, even as Republican leaders have condemned him in growing numbers after he said Arizona Sen. and Vietnam-era POW John McCain is “not a war hero.”

Ivana Trump’s original comments about feeling “violated,” according to The Beast, were originally published in the 1993 book Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump. But even before that book was published, she walked back the notion that what happened between them was “rape.”

“During a deposition given by me in connection with my matrimonial case, I stated that my husband had raped me,” she reportedly said at the time. “[O]n one occasion during 1989, Mr. Trump and I had marital relations in which he behaved very differently toward me than he had during our marriage. As a woman, I felt violated, as the love and tenderness, which he normally exhibited towards me, was absent. I referred to this as a ‘rape,’ but I do not want my words to be interpreted in a literal or criminal sense.”

Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told CNN that the candidate “didn’t know of [Cohen’s] comments but disagrees with them.”

Cohen, for his part, threatened The Daily Beast with legal action and financial ruin, the website reported.

“I will make sure that you and I meet one day while we’re in the courthouse,” Cohen was quoted as saying. “And I will take you for every penny you still don’t have. And I will come after your Daily Beast and everybody else that you possibly know. So I’m warning you, tread very f—ing lightly, because what I’m going to do to you is going to be f—ing disgusting. You understand me?”

 

TIME Campaign Finance

Why Some Donors Gave to Multiple Republican Candidates

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks with reporters as he emerges from the Senate chamber following a series or rare Sunday votes on July 26, 2015.
Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks with reporters as he emerges from the Senate chamber following a series or rare Sunday votes on July 26, 2015.

Houston entrepreneur Michael Rydin has contributed to five Republican presidential candidates so far: Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry and Carly Fiorina. But he’s not done. The software developer is now considering giving money to Donald Trump as well.

“I want to get a discussion going. Controversy gets people talking,” he said. “I know Trump is unlikely to become the president, but he gets other candidates talking on issues that they would otherwise avoid.”

Rydin is part of a select group of Republican donors who have given to more than one candidate in the crowded 2016 presidential primary. A TIME analysis of first-quarter campaign financial reports showed at least 971 people have given to two or more Republican candidates.

With an unprecedented 16 candidates running for office, donors who might support more than one candidate have more options than ever. And some are taking advantage of the opportunity to endorse more than one campaign.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has received the most donations from people who also gave to a rival candidate. The most popular combination of donations was Cruz and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, with at least 206 people giving to both, followed by Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, with at least 183 contributing to both.

Kenneth Abramowitz, a financial analyst in Connecticut, argues that “the more Republican voices, the better.” Abramowitz gave a total of $10,400 to the four Republican candidates who held breakfast and lunch events in his area: Jeb Bush, Carson, Rubio and Cruz.

Shelley Payer, a retired Florida banker who has given to three campaigns, says she gave to the candidates who interested her: Rubio, Paul and Carson.

“Everybody has something to say,” she said.

TIME Donald Trump

Donald Trump Is Not as Aggressive on Immigration As He Sounds

Among the Republican presidential field, Donald Trump has had some of the harshest words for undocumented immigrants. But when it comes to the actual policies he supports, he’s much less aggressive than he appears.

The New York real estate mogul kicked off his campaign with some sharp words about undocumented immigrants from Mexico: “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

He then doubled down, arguing that as President he would make Mexico build a wall along the border. “You force them because we give them a fortune,” he said in an interview with CNN. “Mexico makes a fortune because of us. A wall is a tiny little peanut compared to that. I would do something very severe unless they contributed or gave us the money to build the wall.”

Those comments drew criticism from parts of the Republican establishment as well as many Hispanics, but they were part of an overall sales pitch that helped push Trump toward the head of the pack. A Fox News poll at the end of June showed Trump in second place behind Jeb Bush, with his support more than doubling since those controversial statements.

But when it came time to discuss the actual policies he’d support, Trump was not nearly as harsh.

On July 23, he told CNN that he would not actually build a wall the entire length of the border with Mexico. “In certain sections, you have to have a wall,” he said.

On MSNBC the next day, Trump endorsed a “merit system” for the millions of undocumented immigrants already in the country—something that sounds a lot like a path to some sort of legal status, if not citizenship.

“I have to tell you, some of these people have been here; they’ve done a good job; in some cases sadly they’ve been living under the shadows,” he said. “We have to do something. … Somebody’s been outstanding, we (ought to) try to work something out.”

That puts Trump to the left of, say, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, whose campaign told TIME in May that he would not support a pathway to legal status or citizenship under any circumstances. And it puts him in line with other Republican candidates, such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who have endorsed some kind of legal status but not citizenship.

Trump was never as aggressive on the issue as his campaign launch made it seem. In the past, he’d even gone after Republicans for taking too harsh a tack against immigrants.

In the wake of Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s defeat in 2012, Trump blasted him for a “mean-spirited” policy suggestion during the GOP primary that the U.S. should make daily life uncomfortable enough for undocumented immigrants that they would simply leave.

“He had a crazy policy of self-deportation which was maniacal,” Trump told Newsmax at the time. “It sounded as bad as it was, and he lost all of the Latino vote.”

Read Next: Republican Candidates Dodge Immigration Questions

TIME mike huckabee

President Obama Says GOP Criticism ‘Ridiculous’

President Barack Obama aggressively pushed back against Republican criticism of a deal his Administration helped negotiate to keep nuclear weapons out of Iran’s hands, telling reporters traveling with him to Ethiopia that the GOP presidential hopefuls who hope to succeed him were using “ridiculous” and “ad hominem” attacks to avoid a serious debate rooted in substance.

During a news conference in Addis Ababa, Obama was asked about remarks made a day earlier by Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas Governor who compared the deal to the Holocaust. Obama used the question to level broader criticism of the jockeying happening inside the Republican Party that is still in the early days of a search for a 2016 nominee.

“I have not yet heard a factual argument on the other side that holds up to scrutiny,” Obama said of his GOP critics. “There is a reason why 99 percent of the world thinks this is a good deal. It’s because it’s a good deal.”

The Republican candidates looking to follow him into the White House do not share his analysis. For instance, Huckabee said the proposed deal gives too much trust to Iran and betrays Israel, musing to the conservative Breitbart News that Obama was ready to “take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.”

The oven remark was a clear reference to the Holocaust, when Nazis murdered millions of European Jews in concentration camps. Iranian leaders often use strong anti-Israel rhetoric, promising “death to Israel,” though few analysts think the country is actually preparing to engage in a genocide.

Obama, whose great uncle helped to liberate part of the Buchenwald camp in Germany, took offense to Huckabee’s rhetoric and said it matched up with other statements he has heard from Republicans. Obama said it “would be considered ridiculous if it weren’t so sad.”

“We’re creating a culture that is not conducive to good policy or good politics. The American people deserve better. Certainly, presidential debates deserve better,” Obama said, speaking broadly about a crowded Republican field that has been marked by daily oneupmanship. “In 18 months, I’m turning over the keys. I want to make sure I’m turning over the keys to somebody who is serious about the serious problems that the country faces and the world faces.”

Obama has long shown an impatience with the political showmanship, especially when it comes to foreign policy. The President said his would-be-replacements should take time to more carefully study the issues before jumping forward with criticism to motivate the party’s base.

“We have robust debates. We look at the facts. There are going to be disagreements but we just don’t fling out ad hominem attacks like that because it doesn’t help inform the American people,” Obama chided.

Speaking in Des Moines, Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton joined Obama in criticizing Huckabee’s rhetoric.

“Comments like these are offensive and have no place in our political dialogue,” Clinton said. “I am disappointed and I’m really offended personally.” The former Secretary of State said there is space for candidates to disagree on the details of the deal, but said Huckabee’s rhetoric “steps over the line” and deserved to be repudiated.

For his part, Huckabee was not backing off. From his campaign headquarters in Little Rock, Ark., Huckabee released a statement that doubled-down on his earlier rhetoric after hearing Obama’s criticism.

“What’s ridiculous and sad is that President Obama does not take the Iran threats seriously. For decades, Iranian leaders have pledged to ‘destroy,’ ‘annihilate,’ and ‘wipe Israel off the map’ with a ‘big Holocaust,’” Huckabee said. His statement to reporters included links to Iranian leaders’ comments using that rhetoric.

Huckabee pledged he would never allow that to happen. “I will stand with our ally Israel to prevent the terrorists in Tehran from achieving their own stated goal of another Holocaust,” he added. In a follow-up email to supporters, Huckabee asked them to sign a petition urging Congress to skip its summer break and stay in Washington to “fulfill your constitutional duty and KILL the dangerous Obama-Kerry nuclear deal with the Iranians.”

There was no real downside for Huckabee to continue his line of criticism. The former Baptist pastor is a favorite among the evangelical wing of the GOP and he is a frequent guide to the region, taking paying guests on tours of Biblical sites. Republicans—especially those voters who pick the party’s nominee—overwhelmingly support Israel and are more than willing to listen to criticism of anything Obama backs.

Republicans have been almost unified in their opposition to the deal with Iran, which was negotiated by world powers China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States.

Under the deal, Iran will get relief from sanctions and regain access to international oil markets, which will bring it a windfall of about $100 billion. In exchange, Iran must dispose of most of its low-enriched uranium, stop efforts to produce or acquire more nuclear fuel and consent to inspections. The deal is expected to block Iran from obtaining the technology needed to build a nuclear weapon for at least a decade.

With additional reporting by Sam Frizell.

TIME 2016 Election

Hillary Clinton Pledges to Install 500 Million Solar Panels if Voted President

“We are on the cusp of a new era”

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Sunday made tackling climate change one of her key goals were she to enter the White House, pledging to have more than half a billion solar panels installed nationwide by the end of her first term in office.

Clinton also called for a major increase in other renewable-energy sources, saying she wants every U.S. home to be powered by clean energy within a decade, reports Reuters.

“I want more wind, more solar, more advanced biofuels, more energy efficiency,” she said at a weekend rally in Iowa. “And I’ve got to tell you, people who argue against this are just not paying attention.”

The two goals were unveiled in a video posted to Clinton’s campaign website Sunday, and are part of a comprehensive agenda on climate change that will be laid out over the next few months.

“We are on the cusp of a new era,” she said in the campaign video. “We can have more choice in the energy we consume and produce.”

According to the former Secretary of State’s campaign, her climate-change agenda will increase output of solar energy by 700% by the end of the decade.

On Monday, the presidential candidate will explain her clean energy plan in more detail at a tour of an energy-efficient transit station in Des Moines, Iowa.

[Reuters]

TIME 2016 Election

Donald Trump Surges in Latest Republican Polls

The real estate mogul is beating his rivals despite criticism from his rivals

Donald Trump is leading the pack among candidates for the 2016 Republican Party nomination in the latest batch of polls.

A CNN Poll on Sunday showed Trump leading with 18% support among Republicans. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush was second at 15%; Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker rounded out the top three at 10%. Trump’s ratings in the poll have surged 6 points in the last month, while his rivals have remained relatively steady.

And while the poll is by no means a reflection of who will take the Republican Party nomination in 2016, it suggests Republicans are excited by a Trump candidacy. Fifty-two percent of Republicans want to see Trump continue his run and 42% of Republicans currently backing another candidate want Trump to remain in the field.

CNN’s survey is in line with an NBC poll of New Hampshire voters, also released Sunday, showed Trump holding 21% of Republican support, with Bush trailing at 14% and Walker at 12%.

In an NBC poll of Iowa Republican voters, Walker is leading the pack at 19%, with trump narrowly behind at 17%. Bush follows them at 12%, then Ben Carson at 8%, Mike Huckabee at 7%, and Rand Paul at 5%.

And yet another poll from YouGov goes further, showing Republican support for Trump at 28%.

Trump’s surge came after a week of strong, united Republican rebuke on the candidate’s controversial comments on Sen. John McCain’s service and suggesting the Vietnam War veteran was “not a war hero.”

“A number of my competitors for the Republican nomination have no business running for president,” Trump wrote in USA Today. “I do not need to be lectured by any of them.”

Read next: How Donald Trump Became Donald Trump

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TIME Lindsey Graham

John McCain to Campaign for Lindsey Graham Next Week

John McCain and Lindsey Graham
John Leyba—Denver Post/Getty Images U.S. Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham at a Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab (CELL) event titled, Violent Extremism & U.S. Response, on April 1, 2015 in Denver.

McCain's in-person assistance is critical for Graham

Arizona Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, will campaign for the first time on behalf of his friend Sen. Lindsey Graham in New Hampshire next week.

According to a Graham spokesperson, McCain, who won the 2000 and 2008 New Hampshire primaries, will appear with the South Carolina senator at a barbecue at a VFW hall in Littleton, N.H. on Saturday, Aug. 1. The pair will campaign in the state throughout the weekend.

McCain’s in-person assistance is critical for Graham, who is casting his message as the natural successor to McCain’s “straight talk,” combining a hawkish foreign policy with calls to reform the immigration system, preserve the environment and modernize entitlement programs. It comes as a bevy of 2016 contenders are hoping to deploy a “tell-it-like-it-is” campaign in the Granite State.

The pair traveled extensively together in 2008, when Graham was a ubiquitous presence on McCain’s campaign bus and plane. Together with former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, the trio branded themselves as “the three amigos.” (The three were united in New York last week at an event opposing President Barack Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran.)

In an interview with TIME last month, McCain praised Graham for being a “happy warrior” on the campaign trial.

“He’s been on it with me for so long, he knows that one of the things that’s important about a campaign is to enjoy it, and that enjoyment many times will transmit itself to the voter,” McCain said. “He’s going to be a happy warrior. He already is. And sometime that’s very helpful in getting support, particularly when sometimes the face-to-face contact is what you get with voters in Iowa, and particularly New Hampshire.”

In 2012, McCain held off endorsing anyone until the day after the Iowa Caucuses, when he appeared with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at a joint New Hampshire town hall as the eventual GOP nominee, and McCain’s once bitter primary rival, sought to consolidate the party’s support.

TIME 2016 Election

Dispute Continues Over Hillary Clinton Testifying Before Benghazi Panel

Clinton's spokesman said there was a deal, but the committee's representative said no agreement had been reached

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the House Benghazi Committee remain at loggerheads over the conditions under which she would testify before the committee, probing the killing of four Americans in the September 2012 attack in Libya.

Clinton campaign spokesman Nick Merrill announced Saturday that Clinton had agreed to testify before the committee in a public hearing in October, but the committee’s communications director, Jamal Ware, said no agreement had in fact been reached.

“Earlier this week we were pleased for Secretary Clinton to receive an offer from Congressman Gowdy to appear before the committee in a public hearing in October, and yesterday accepted his invitation,” Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said in a statement.

“Secretary Clinton’s campaign may want to reach out to her lawyer, Mr. David Kendall, with whom the Committee has had ongoing conversations,” Ware said. “As of last night, Mr. Kendall was still negotiating conditions for her appearance.”

According to Ware, Kendall had two conditions for Clinton testify: that the questions be limited in scope to the Benghazi committee’s jurisdiction, and that the date remain firm despite the State Department’s alleged slow production of documents to the committee.

In recent months the committee has expanded its purview into investigating Clinton’s use of a private email server rather than a government email account. On Friday, a pair of inspectors general announced that they had found messages containing classified information among the 30,000 emails Clinton has turned over from the server, contrary to Clinton’s assertion in March. The inspector general for the intelligence community also notified the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the possible compromise of classified information being kept outside of government control, in reference to Clinton’s private server.

Ware said the committee believes that the email issue is well within its purview.

“Her email arrangement clearly falls within the scope of the Select Committee’s jurisdiction, which is charged by the House under the Resolution to look at Executive Branch efforts to comply with congressional oversight as well as the administration’s response in the aftermath of the tragic attacks in Benghazi,” he said.

A public hearing would mark a small victory for Clinton, who has pushed to testify in public, despite committee chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy’s hopes for her to testify in a classified setting.

TIME Donald Trump

Donald Trump Staffers Eye Third-Party Run

In 2011, as Donald Trump was considering yet another White House run, he quietly changed his voter registration from a Republican to an independent. Publicly, the real estate mogul’s defection from the GOP was pitched as a protest against a roster of White House hopefuls he found unacceptable. Privately, Trump and his advisers were laying the groundwork for a potential third-party presidential bid in 2012 that never materialized.

These days, Trump is busy seeking the Republicans’ presidential nomination and preparing for the GOP’s first televised debate on Aug. 6. Yet, his advisers tell TIME, he is still considering a potential third-party bid. His advisers are consulting with veterans of Ross Perot’s 1992 and 1996 presidential campaigns and examining state-by-state requirements to get on the ballot. Cost estimates swing wildly, but most conversations end up in the $10 million ballpark—a fraction of what Trump might spend on a bid for the GOP nomination that is hardly certain.

“Why would Mr. Trump not consider all of his options?” one campaign adviser asks TIME.

Trump is atop national polls of Republicans and he seems to have captured the imagination of the GOP electorate during this mid-summer lull. His tough talk on immigration has endeared him to some conservatives, while his populist rhetoric has given him a shot at voters who are drawn to a political outsider who is promising the shake-up Washington. Much like the Tea Party movement of 2010, Trump is tapping into public angst and giving normally apolitical Americans a candidate that they see as an outsider above the petty politics.

Trump’s Republican rivals for the nomination have been openly criticizing him—especially his comments about Mexican immigrants and Sen. John McCain—in the hopes of ending his boomlet. But Trump’s poll numbers have yet to take a hit. “You’d think he would be done by now,” said one veteran political consultant whose firm is working for a Trump rival. “Not this guy. Every time he’s attacked, people like him more,” the adviser adds with begrudging admiration. “It’s a sign that a lot of Americans feel the way he’s talking.”

For his part, Trump says he prefers to run as a Republican, telling reporters Thursday that “I’m a Republican.” He went on: “I’m a conservative. I want to run as a Republican. The best way to win is for me to get the nomination.” But, he warned, if the GOP Establishment doesn’t start treating him better, he will bolt the party make a third-party go of it. That would likely siphon votes away from the eventual GOP nominee and hurt the Republicans’ chances of winning their first national election since 2004. If Trump’s followers stick with him, he could end up being a spoiler in a three-way race. In a way, his ire might hand the Democrats’ a rare, third-consecutive White House term.

Going the third-party route, however, would require Trump to concede the GOP nomination is beyond his grip—something that, for the moment, is not the case. If his polling slides in the coming months, however, the third-party route could be tempting if he can stomach the decision. “He would have to say to himself that he can’t win. And when has Mr. Trump ever done that?” said an adviser to one of Trump’s rivals.

Even if Trump decides to make a bid outside the two-party structure, there’s no guarantee he could win a spot on ballots. Every state has its own rules and idiosyncrasies that require careful management. In some states, getting on the ballot is as simple as filling out a form and writing a check. In others, would-be-candidates have to collect a requisite number of signatures from each county or each congressional district. It’s a hurdle meant to keep gadflies off the ballot and keep the focus on the two major parties. Even serious White House hopefuls come up short in their efforts; Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, Jon Huntsman and Newt Gingrich failed to qualify for the Virginia primary Republican ballot in 2012.

But qualifying for the ballot as a third-party bid can be done. Perot did it in 1992 and, to lesser success, in 1996. Conservative Pat Buchanan did, too, in 2000.

“I’m trying to run a campaign and all I’m doing all day is trying to get on ballots,” said Bay Buchanan, who managed brother Pat Buchanan’s 2000 bid. It was an all-consuming task as she fought tooth-and-nail to get his name listed beside Al Gore and George W. Bush. And that was even before critics were challenging her in court. She estimates that she collected roughly 190,000 signatures in Texas alone to make sure she passed the 100,000-signature requirement—and she still faced challenges. Every state, it seemed, was re-litigating the signatures the campaign submitted on petitions.

“The two parties will do everything they can to keep you out of the debates,” she said. If a candidate is not on enough states’ ballots, that candidate is not in the debates.

“My advice: recognize the enormous challenge that you face,” said the veteran political operative, who is not working on any presidential campaigns in 2016. “In some of these states, you have six weeks—not six months—to collect thousands of signatures.” Some of her best operatives collected 200 signatures a day, but most were snagging 100 to 125 signatures outside grocery stores and shopping malls, she recalls.

Buchanan is skeptical anyone is able to mount a credible third-party campaign under the current election laws, regardless of how much personal wealth a candidate is willing to spend. “It’s an injustice in our system, how difficult it is,” she said. “If it’s impossible, you’re not going to get the kind of quality candidates that you need to shake up the system.”

With additional reporting by Zeke J. Miller

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