TIME 2016 Election

Chris Christie Battered By His GOP Rivals on Governors’ Circuit

Republican Governors
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, South Carolina Gov. Nikki R. Haley and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie listen as Indiana Gov. Mike Pence speaks during a press conference at the Republican Governors Association's quarterly meeting on Wednesday May 21, 2014 in New York. Bebeto Matthews—AP

On paper, New Jersey's Chris Christie leads the nation's Republican governors. In practice, he is becoming a favored target of his peers.

Forget, for the moment, about the cornfields and the straw polls, the live-free-or-die gun shops of Manchester and the sticky-sweet BBQ pits of South Carolina. There is a point in the 2016 presidential campaign, when the action that matters most is more likely to happen under gilded ceilings of Manhattan’s toniest restaurants than where voters actually live. Which is why New Jersey Governor Chris Christie found himself supping at Cipriani on May 18, seated between the billionaire who might fund his way to the White House and a rival governor who wants the job himself. It was a test meal, in its way, and Christie fumbled it.

Organizers had told the press to attend to hear Christie give a muscular address on his foreign policy vision. But the real audience was his table-mate, Sheldon Adelson, the casino mogul who dumped more than $100 million to elect Republicans in 2012 and was promising even more. Just weeks earlier, Christie had flown to Vegas with three other current and former Republican governors to meet with Adelson at his Venetian casino under the banner of the Republican Jewish Coalition. There Christie had botched his message, speaking of Israel’s “occupied territories,” a term that the Zionist Adelson does not favor. Christie later apologized during his few private minutes with the GOP kingmaker. Now he was back for what organizers called a “Major Speech on Israel and the Middle East.” And something went wrong again. He didn’t mention Israel once in his 18-minute address. In the midst of a political rehabilitation tour, his tablemate Texas Gov. Rick Perry saw a clear opportunity. When he rose to speak minutes later, Perry shoehorned three references to Israel within 90 seconds.

As the head of the Republican Governors Association, Christie is the charismatic captain of a club composed of formal partners but tacit rivals. And that rivalry has only gotten stronger in recent months. Despite surface-level niceties and some degree of symbiotic friendship, many want to see him and his presidential ambitions go up in flames. On Thursday, the tensions broke into view as Republican state leaders broke with Christie, who has refused to publicly appear with Rob Astorino, a long-shot candidates hoping to replace Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “Glad to be with my buddy @RobAstorino in Aspen,” tweeted Perry, a few days after Christie told reporters he did not believe that the Republican Astorino had a chance of winning. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker have all since expressed support for Astorino.

This follows several other thinly veiled slights in recent months. Just last week Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal implicitly criticized Christie’s habit of picking and choosing issues to engage on, saying the GOP must offer ideas not style. “The next big elections can’t be ones about personalities or just about slogans,” he told TIME, after a question about Christie. After Christie became ensnared in a scandal over lane closures on the George Washington Bridge, Jindal had told reporters, “No one governor’s more important than the other.” In February, Scott Walker used Christie’s scandal to sidestep questions about an investigation into improper political activities by his former aides. “He addressed it early on, but obviously he’s not out of the woods yet,” Walker told TIME, saying unlike his, Christie’s troubles were “just beginning.” And when Christie was nearly down-for-the-count in the immediate aftermath of the bridge scandal, Perry fanned the flames. “Is a conservative in New Jersey a conservative in the rest of the country?” Perry asked in February on ABC’s This Week.

As the Republican Party looks to its governors for leadership after years of chaos and infighting in Washington, Christie is no longer a cut above the rest, even as he travels the country as the official leader of Republican governors. Christie is routinely on the road meeting donors and reporters, and by the nature of the job working to defend the 20 Republican-held governorships up for re-election this year. Christie allies said the group was close, despite occasional disagreements. “First and foremost, they’re friends, so they want to be able to help each other,” says RGA Executive Director Phil Cox. Like any club, behind the pretense there are tense personal relationships, but the stakes are unusually high. Perry, Walker, and Jindal are just some of the governors competing in 2016’s proto-primary alongside John Kasich of Ohio, and Mike Pence of Indiana.

The Jindal-Christie relationship is the most fraught, stemming from a bitter leadership battle for the high-profile helm of the RGA in 2012. Christie won out, securing enough votes to force Jindal to accept the number two spot. And with Perry, Christie’s conversations frequently could not be described as civil, people familiar with the exchanges said. With Christie’s fortunes soured, his opponents hurriedly planned trips to New York to meet with the donor class he once seemed to have a lock on. Jindal and Perry have been there as much as twice a month since the beginning of the year, while Walker has made at least four trips as he raises money for his own re-election. Meanwhile, top donors are once again clamoring for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to enter the race.

“It’s like your fiancé cheated on you,” said a person close to one of the ambitious governors, explaining why no other governor has yet emerged as a new favorite. “You don’t propose to the next girl you meet. You take your time to have some fun and meet everyone else.” Meanwhile many of the governors Christie is working to re-elect have tried to place some distance between themselves and Christie, with fewer joint events open to reporters. The calls from New York financiers for Christie to run have become less frequent as they take stock of the field. Christie’s core argument to his party and Wall Street has been his electability, and he is still struggling to show he can win despite the setbacks. More importantly to donors, the question is whether he has learned from the experience. “He’s still surrounded by the same guys,” said one top Republican bundler who was previously committed to Christie. “Where’s the growth? I’m not seeing it yet.”

But it is Christie’s economic record that is emerging as a concrete boot to his likely campaign. His state’s finances are in shambles, with Christie forced to rollback a signature effort to begin paying down the state’s skyrocketing unfunded pension liabilities after overestimating state revenues by nearly $1 billion for each of the next two years. Christie’s state lags most of his GOP colleagues on annual rankings of the best state to do business, while its unemployment rate puts New Jersey in the bottom third of states. Where Christie talks up the successes of all GOP governors, Perry and Jindal travel the country referring to the governors as “competitors” for jobs, not-so-subtly highlighting their states’ relative successes.

The bridge scandal has also revealed the insularity of Christie’s team, centered around strategist Mike DuHaime and former law partner and political fixer Bill Palatucci. The former Giuliani for President campaign manager and Republican National Committee member, are the hard-charging pair behind the harder-charging would-be-candidate. Todd Christie, the governor’s brother, rounds out the inner circle that once included Bill Stepien, his former campaign manager who was poised to take on a role with the RGA and was forced to resign in the wake of his involvement in the bridge scandal.

Where Jindal, Perry and Walker all maintain national and grassroots donor lists thanks to political action committees, Christie’s political network is largely confined to New Jersey outside of his appeal to large donors. “He’ll start out at a disadvantage,” said on GOP digital operative familiar with the potential candidates’ operations.

At the Law Vegas gathering of Republican Jewish donors in March, Scott Walker tried to steal some of Chris Christie’s thunder. He sonorously told of lighting a “menorah candle” around Hanukah and that his son Matthew’s name is derived from the Hebrew for ‘Gift from God.’ Walker sidestepped his lack of foreign policy experience by telling of Ronald Reagan’s showdown with air traffic controllers that “sent a message around the world,” and highlighted his ability to win over Latino voters around Milwaukee. Each of these anecdotes were staples of Christie’s now-familiar pitch to donors and party activists.

Thankfully for Christie, he’s still the more dynamic speaker. Following 45 minutes after Walker, Christie told the same stories—but this time, the crowd was brought to their feet for applause.

Correction: The story has been changed to properly describe the people who had characterized the New York event as a “Major Speech on Israel and the Middle East.” They were event organizers.

TIME 2016 Election

Sen. Rand Paul Is Killing It On Twitter: 10 Tweets You Should See

Rand Paul's Twitter offers more than just politics. Here are 10 of the senator's best tweets, from selfies at Subway to Coolio's Gangsta's Paradise.

Presidential candidates simply need to tweet, but there has never really been one who knows how to do it well. Enter Kentucky’s Rand Paul, a United States Senator who calls himself #DJRandPaul on Twitter, who is already way ahead of the other prospective 2016 contenders in the Twitter primary.

In a world of staff run Twitter accounts overflowing with campaign promises and political jargon, he brings candor, absurdity and personality. Between the standard tweets about current events and congressional hearings, there are music videos, Subway photos and shots of his socks. Surely not every senator can be a DJ like Paul, but they can take note that sometimes a little entertainment value goes a long way.

For those who have not yet followed, here are some of Paul’s best Twitter moments:

He offers his unique interpretations of current events. The Kentucky senator tweeted his thoughts on the President and the NSA after Obama met with Pope Francis in Vatican City for the first time.

He snaps photos of his cardboard cutout self. Is that considered a selfie?

In his free time, when he’s not tied up with his senatorial duties, Rand is apparently a DJ – at least via Twitter.

The DJ does not rest, as evidenced by the ensuing slew of music videos posted on his Twitter feed.

Sometimes he combines his double lives, offering DJ picks with a political spin.

In one tweet, he dedicates Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer” to Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), with whom he says he shares a “bromance.”

Cory Booker isn’t the only senator getting music video dedications though. Paul passively aggressively tweets not-so-subtle hints to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) about getting the vote over with already, in the form of a music video, of course.

Song lyrics never seem to be far from Rand’s mind when he’s tweeting, even at the Republican Party of Texas state convention.

But his Twitter account offers more than just music. There is also a blurry selfie at Subway, which Paul seems none too thrilled about. The other man pictured is Brad Woodhouse, the former spokesman of the Democratic National Committee, who now runs the liberal opposition research SuperPac, American Bridge.

And, the GOP socks. No words.

TIME Morning Must Reads

Morning Must Reads: July 21

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

In the news: The bloodiest day of this Gaza conflict so far; Malaysia Airlines flight MH17; 2016 jockeying; How Congress will reform the VA, respond to the border crisis and replenish the Highway Trust Fund

  • “Day 13 was the bloodiest so far. More than 100 Palestinians were killed in heavy bombardment and street battles in Gaza on Sunday and 13 Israeli soldiers were slain in the most intense day of fighting in Israel’s current offensive against Hamas, officials said.” [WashPost]
    • Havens Are Few, If Not Far, For Palestinians in Gaza Strip [NYT]
    • The Explosive, Inside Story of How John Kerry Built an Israel-Palestine Peace Plan—and Watched It Crumble [New Republic]
  • “Ukraine launched a military assault to break pro-Russian rebels’ hold on the eastern city of Donetsk on Monday in the first major hostilities in the area since Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down last week.” [Reuters]
    • “Ukraine is ready to hand over the investigation of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 disaster to Dutch authorities, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Monday, an offer aimed at resolving a days-long standoff over access to the rebel-held crash site that came even as fighting appeared to be intensifying.” [WSJ]
    • “Russia’s behavior so far suggests that it will not stand by and watch the insurgency falter, regardless of how much evidence arises that its foot soldiers shot down that plane…It would not only mean further isolation for Russia, it would also prolong or even deepen the most dangerous phase in its conflict with Ukraine.” [TIME]
    • A Working Theory of the MH 17 Shoot-down [TIME]
  • With liberals pining for a Clinton challenger, ambitious Democrats get in position [WashPost]
    • “Hillary Clinton has earned at least $12 million in 16 months since leaving the State Department, a windfall at odds with her party’s call to shrink the gap between the rich and the poor.” [Bloomberg]
    • The Biden Agenda [New Yorker]
  • “If you’re searching for signs that a Republican politician is serious about a 2016 presidential run, watch what he or she says about Common Core.” [TIME]
  • Inside Rand Paul’s Jewish Charm Offensive [National Journal]
  • “The House and Senate are far from agreement on President Obama’s request for $3.7 billion to address the tens of thousands of children flowing from Central America to the U.S.-Mexico border…the House and Senate are still trying to break a logjam over concerns about the cost of reforming the Veterans Affairs Department…The Senate also hopes to provide final passage of a House-passed bill to replenish the Highway Trust Fund before later this summer when it is projected to run out of money.” [National Journal]
    • Obama aides were warned of brewing border crisis [WashPost]
TIME 2016 Election

2016 Conservatives Take the Common Core Test

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks at the White House in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 14, 2014.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks at the White House in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 14, 2014. Jacquelyn Martin—AP

The state standards are becoming a defining issue for GOP presidential hopefuls

If you’re searching for signs that a Republican politician is serious about a 2016 presidential run, watch what he or she says about Common Core.

Over the past several months, the state education standards developed by a bipartisan group of governors and educators have become one of the conservative movement’s biggest bugbears. Common Core is now “radioactive,” as Iowa GOP Gov. Terry Branstad put it recently. And the animus toward it within the Republican base has sent the politicians who are vying to be their next leader scrambling to distance themselves from the policy.

On Friday, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin became the latest 2016 contender to ditch the standards, issuing a one-sentence statement calling on the Badger State legislature to repeal Common Core and replace it “with standards set by the people of Wisconsin.” But Walker is hardly the first national figure to revisit his position toward Common Core as the conservative outcry intensifies.

Earlier this week, New Jersey governor Chris Christie signed an executive order creating a commission to examine the efficacy of the standards. The move was a hedge by Christie, who has supported Common Core, and may buy him cover to move further away from the policy later if the politics continue to sour.

Other likely 2016 hopefuls have been less equivocal. In April, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed legislation dropping Common Core. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, whose state adopted the standards in 2010, issued executive orders last month to spike the policy—against the wishes of his state’s education superintendent.

These GOP governors are at the back of the pack of 2016 hopefuls when it comes to ditching Common Core. Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed a law banning the standards in his state. Senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio all came out in opposition last year as the backlash built, fed by the (inaccurate) perception that Common Core is a federal takeover of education foisted on the states. By now, the only potential 2016 GOP candidate unambiguously in favor of the standards is former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush—and his embrace of the policy is a major reason many believe his brand of conservatism is out of step with the national mood.

The irony in this trend is that key features of Common Core—including tougher standards, state-drawn curricula and teacher accountability—reflect conservative values. (So much so that the American Federation of Teachers, the influential union, is now backing away from the policy.) But political winds can blow away policy convictions when they’re inconvenient. Just ask Barack Obama. He spent much of his presidential campaign attacking No Child Left Behind, the national education standards championed by George W. Bush. Once he entered the Oval Office, Obama set about promoting his own set of national standards.

TIME 2016 Election

McCain to GOP: If You Want to Beat Hillary, Pass Immigration Reform

Senate Clears U.S. Debt-Limit Suspension For Obama's Signature
Senator John McCain speaks to the media after leaving the Senate floor in Washington on Feb. 12, 2014. Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg/Getty Images

'We are marginalizing the Republican Party'

Arizona Sen. John McCain said Thursday that he believes Republicans can defeat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016, but only if they pass immigration reform.

“She’s the odds-on favorite right now,” McCain said of Clinton at the “Politics on Tap” event hosted by CNN and National Journal. “But I think we have a long list of people who could defeat Hillary Clinton.” McCain suggested New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich by name as potential Clinton vanquishers. “We’ve got some very successful governors that have done very well in their states that I think once exposed to the American people could be very competitive.”

McCain noted that Clinton’s poll numbers have dropped over the recent controversy over her wealth and her speaking fees, but said that could all be for naught if the Republican Party doesn’t enact immigration reform.

“I expect it to be very competitive,” McCain said, “except if we don’t enact some kind of comprehensive immigration reform, I do not see a way for us to really win a general election.”

Pressed on the lingering House Republican opposition to taking up immigration reform, McCain said he will continue to “hope and pray and work” to make them reconsider.

Passing immigration reform was the sole policy recommendation of the 2013 Republican Party autopsy into its 2012 rout, but the House Republican conference has repeatedly blocked any action on the measure since the Senate passed a reform bill last year.

“Hopefully my colleagues in the House will realize the same demographics that I am referring to and that they will at least in some way bring up immigration reform, whether it’s piecemeal, whether it’s one-at-a-time,” he said. “I think as the 2016 campaign gets closer that my colleagues will recognize … that we are marginalizing the Republican Party,” McCain added.

TIME 2016 Election

Why Rand Paul Is Schmoozing in Silicon Valley

Faith And Freedom Coalition Holds Policy Conference
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) addresses the Faith and Freedom Coalition's 'Road to Majority' Policy Conference at the Omni Shoreham hotel June 20, 2014 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images

As Kentucky Senator Rand Paul heads to San Francisco Thursday for a series of events over the weekend, he’s looking for two things above all: cash and geeks. Paul hopes to dip into the wealth of deep pocketed tech entrepreneurs, like PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel who donated more than $2.7 million in support of his father Ron Paul’s 2012 long shot presidential run. He also hopes to recruit tech savvy talent to work on his campaign, reports Politico.

As the scion of the country’s most prominent libertarian, Paul may find Silicon Valley to be fertile ground. Though the Silicon Valley tech scene has tended to support Democratic candidates and champion socially liberal causes, the libertarian streak that runs through the community has deep roots.

Many in the tech world embrace what author Steven Levy dubbed the “hacker ethic,” a value system stemming from the earliest days of computers that prizes transparency and voluntary collaboration and fundamentally distrusts any central authority.

With startups like Uber and Airbnb recently encumbered by regulatory moves at the state and local level, Paul’s libertarian vision of limited government oversight in the market has appeal. And Paul’s public displays of opposition to the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance programs speaks both to Silicon Valley’s libertarian bent and to concern for the bottom line of tech titans like Google and Facebook, both of which could see business hurt by NSA snooping.

But Rand Paul is a Republican, not a registered Libertarian, and he has staked out positions that put him at odds with Silicon Valley big wigs, most notably on immigration. Paul voted against last year’s grand “Gang of Eight” compromise on immigration reform, a measure championed by Fwd.us, the Silicon Valley lobbying group led by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who would like to see more visas available for the kinds of highly-skilled workers Facebook likes to employ.

“So far he’s tried to have it both ways,” Republican pollster Whit Ayres told TIME. “There might be some alignment on some libertarian issues but there certainly is no alignment based on immigration reform.”

With unaccompanied minors flooding across the U.S.-Mexico border in recent weeks, a Gallup poll out Wednesday reveals that immigration now tops the list of problems Americans see facing the country. If he is to make powerful allies among the tech titans of Silicon Valley, Paul will have to strike a delicate balance between the Zuckerberg set and the Tea Party border security hawks that first propelled him to national prominence.

In recent days, the Senator has reportedly met privately with both Thiel and Zuckerberg.

“Maybe they’re trying to woo him to their side,” Republican strategist Michael Hudome said. “He’s not to be underestimated.”

TIME 2016 Election

Hillary Clinton Gives Daily Show’s Jon Stewart No Clues on 2016 Candidacy

The former Secretary of State dodges The Daily Show host's persistent quizzing about her presidential intentions

+ READ ARTICLE

Hillary Clinton’s Tuesday appearance on The Daily Show failed to provide any clarity on whether she will run for President, despite host Jon Stewart’s best attempts.

“She’s here solely for one reason: to publicly and definitively declare her candidacy for President of the United States,” Stewart said jokingly when introducing Clinton. But the best he could coax out of the former Secretary of State and First Lady was that speculation on her candidacy had turned into a “cottage industry.”

Clinton’s appearance on The Daily Show comes near the end of a book tour that has taken her across the U.S., to Europe and to the studios of most major American television networks for extended interviews. It is a return performance for Clinton, who first appeared on Stewart’s Comedy Central show when she was a Senator for New York promoting her 2003 memoir, Living History. She also made an appearance during her 2008 presidential campaign.

During Tuesday’s show, Clinton touched on several of the domestic and international issues she tackled as Secretary of State, topics that are the backbone of her latest book, Hard Choices, which currently occupies the No. 2 slot on the New York Times’ nonfiction best-seller list.

Stewart called the book an “eyewitness view to the history of those four years,” but repeatedly came back to the question of 2016. “I think I speak for everybody when I say, no one cares (about the book), they just want to know if you’re running for President.”

On that point, however, Clinton intends to keep feeding that cottage industry.

Watch the extended interview with Clinton below.

The Daily Show
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TIME Newsmaker Interview

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal Explains His Vision for a Path to Victory in 2016

Bobby Jindal
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal delivers the keynote address during Faith and Freedom Coalition's Road to Majority event in Washington on June 21, 2014. Molly Riley—AP

Says GOP must put forward ideas to "earn the right to be the majority party."

Just days after Mitt Romney’s rout in 2012, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal declared that it was time for the GOP to “stop being the stupid party.” Twenty months later, Jindal is hard at work trying to make that the case.

The boyish-looking 43-year-old Republican is closing in on a decision whether to run for the White House in 2016, but first he is criss-crossing the country fundraising for GOP candidates and for his policy organization, America Next. The group has already outlined his proposals to repeal and replace Obamacare, with future plans on education reform and energy policy coming in the coming months.

In a Republican Party divided over tactics and policy, Jindal is trying to carve out a niche as the wonkiest candidate. On the stump at a fundraiser for Tennessee State Sen. Jack Johnson Sunday, Jindal reiterated his calls for the GOP to offer up policy alternatives, not just objections, delivering a thinly-veiled critique of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Dressed casually in jeans and a button down shirt, with an oversized New Orleans Saints belt buckle, Jindal appears unassuming sitting on a sofa backstage before the event. But then he starts talking. And fast. 180-words-per-minute fast, his much-maligned 2009 response to Obama’s first speech to a joint session of Congress notwithstanding. He touches on policy areas like education and immigration, healthcare and the Middle East.

He jokes that his father, an immigrant from India had an accent. “This is not an accent by the way,” he says in his thick Cajun drawl, drawing a laugh from the 500 or so attendees at the ‘Boots & Jeans, BBQ & Beans’ event. “This is how regular people talk.”

“You know we can get rid of debt, we can get rid of those taxes, those regulations, and the incompetence with a new majority and a new administration in DC,” he continues. “But the thing that worries me the most is this president’s relentless attempts to redefine the American dream.”

TIME caught up with Jindal in Franklin, Tenn. Sunday afternoon, where he was attending the fundraiser and meeting with donors for America Next to discuss his tenure and future aspirations.

The following exchange has been edited and condensed.

Vice President Joe Biden told the nation’s governors on Friday that the nation is looking to them to lead the country out of the current era of hyper-partisanship. What was your reaction to that?

I think there’s deep, deep frustration with D.C., and not just in the Republican party but across the country in the Democratic party as well. I think there’s a sense that the real divide is not Democrats versus Republicans, but it’s between D.C. and the rest of the country. I think ironically president Obama tapped into that in 2008. When he was running, when he talked about changing the culture in D.C. He talked about bridging the partisan divides. And I think there were a lot of voters who voted for him thinking he was being less ideological, he was being more competent, he wasn’t going to be hyperpartisan, and they are deeply disappointed.

Do you think that Republicans who say the party needs to stop trying to repeal Obamacare are leading the GOP astray?

Look, I personally think we have got to repeal it. I think we’ve got to replace it. I think we have to rip it out at the roots. And I think it is awful in terms of the effects you’re seeing. It was passed because of a bunch of lies. . . . I think as Republicans, yes we need to be consistent on repeal, but have to be very specific about what we are replacing it with. And I do think we do ourselves a disservice is all we say is we’re repealing it and not saying this is what comes next. The more people experience it, the less they like it. But they want to know what’s the alternative, they want to know, all right I know this isn’t working but what are you going to do. And that’s why we put our plans, our ideas forward. And I think it’s incumbent upon Republicans to do the same.

Eighteen months ago you warned the GOP against remaining the “stupid party.” Where does that stand now?

Three things: One I think we’ve made progress, but there is more work to be done. Second, I think it’s important we continue to be specific about our policy proposals. My third point is this: My big concern for our party is that in 2014 the temptation’s going to be—listen, I think Republicans are going to have a big year this year. All the trends seem to suggest that. And I think that we can take away the wrong lesson. My worry is that there are a lot of consultants in DC who are running around saying just run against Obamacare. It’s very unpopular, be against a president whose poll numbers are falling, and don’t give them anything to shoot at. That may or may not work in the short term, but there are two problems with that. One, that’s no way to govern. We have to earn the right to be the majority party for the long term. And second, if as conservatives we really think these are dangerous times for our country, if we really believe that, we need to be in the business of persuading people, trying to change the direction of government, getting the country back on track. And you can’t do that unless you are willing to put out specific ideas.

You’ve made education reform a signature issue in Louisiana, as have other Republicans on the national level. Do you think the issue is a political opportunity for the GOP?

I think it’s a huge issue for conservatives. And I say this seriously. I don’t think this should be a partisan issue. I think it’s an American issue. . . . The left has abandoned a lot of these kids and their families and they really don’t have much to say to them. You can’t tell them to just wait, because their kids only grow up once. Incremental progress isn’t enough. And what you’re seeing is you’re seeing amazing progress in a really short period of time. So for example in charter schools in New Orleans, in five years they have doubled the percentage of kids who are reading at grade level. This isn’t just theory—you can show dramatic progress quickly for folks. So I think it is the right issue substantively, so that’s the reason I think pursuing it shouldn’t just be a partisan issue. But secondly, certainly there are political benefits to Republicans, sure, and I think it’s a great example of how we can be consistent with our principles and speak to every voter.

What do you make of the surge of unaccompanied minors crossing the southern border?

I think the president has played a role in helping to create the crisis we see on the southern border. It’s time for him to secure the border. I know he keeps looking for people to blame. He has to look in the mirror. The reality of it is this, we don’t need 1,000-page bills, right now we need to secure the border. As conservatives we talk a lot about this being the most ideological, the most liberal president. But I think the public’s also seeing an incompetent administration as well. We’ve seen that with the VA, we’ve seen that, I believe, with the release of the five prisoners from Gitmo. I think you see that with the border situation. I think you’ve seen that with the IRS. You’ve seen that example in case after case.

It’s time for him to secure the border, but I think this is also telling in that it goes to the competence of the administration. And I think that’s something that we’ve seen in Louisiana for a while. We saw it especially during the oil spill, the explosion in 2010. We saw the incompetence there. I think the rest of the country is seeing what we saw back then.

What’s the latest on your 2016 thinking?

We’ve said it’s something we’re thinking about, praying about. It’s something we’re considering. But we won’t make a decision until certainly after November.

TIME 2016 Election

Liz Cheney Trusts Hillary Over Bill Because of Monica

"I’d have to go with Hillary”

Some scandals never go away.

Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, indicated Monday that she trusts former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over her husband Bill because of the Monica Lewinsky affair 18 years ago.

“Whose judgment do you respect more, Bill or Hillary,” Dick Cheney was asked to laughter from the audience during a Politico event at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington.

“Oh boy, well,” Cheney said. “I didn’t vote for Bill and I don’t expect to vote for Hillary either.”

His daughter was more expansive.

“Taken in its totality in terms of all aspects of how one conducts themselves, I’d have to go with Hillary,” said Liz, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for Senate in Wyoming this year. When pressed why she trusts Hillary more than Bill, Liz responded, “Because I said in all areas of life.”

“I think I’ll just leave it there,” she added.

“I’m not sure there’s a difference,” said Dick Cheney’s wife Lynne.

Dick Cheney didn’t take the bait on most of the other rapid response questions. But he did say he would “probably” pick Secretary of State John Kerry’s judgment over Barack Obama’s.

“I really don’t think Obama has in his mind the same worldview that most of our presidents—Republican or Democrat alike—have had for the last 70 years,” Dick Cheney said.

TIME 2016 Election

Asked About Christie, Bobby Jindal Says Next Election Can’t Be About ‘Personalities’

Bobby Jindal
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal delivers the keynote address during Faith and Freedom Coalition's Road to Majority event in Washington on June 21, 2014. Molly Riley—AP

Amidst 2016 rivalry, the governor of Louisiana stops short of criticizing the New Jersey governor directly

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal looks and acts a lot like a presidential candidate these days, with a policy-focused agenda and clear strategy for distinguishing him from some of his Republican rivals.

Before a fundraiser Sunday for a local politician in Franklin, Tenn., TIME asked Jindal about the stylistic differences between him and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who made news over the weekend by dodging national policy questions. “Rather than focus on what other people may or may not be doing, I’ll just say I’ve always been a policy guy,” Jindal responded.

“The next big elections can’t be ones about personalities or just about slogans,” Jindal continued, in an apparent reference to Christie’s persona. “I think it’s incumbent upon our Republican Party to earn our way back to the majority. Let’s provide those specific answers.”

Jindal, who is known as a studious wonk, recently founded a policy group, called America Next, in an effort to win “the war of ideas” for conservatives. “When I did the 100 pages [of policy when I first ran for governor] the political consultants said it was a foolish thing to do,” Jindal said. “Who knows, but it’s just the way I am. I can’t imagine engaging in the political process without getting into the specifics, and I think people deserve that.”

This is not the first time that Jindal has made public comments about Christie, or found himself positioned as a rival. In 2012, Jindal and Christie were locked in a contentious behind-the-scenes battle to lead the Republican Governors Association—a fight Christie won. After Christie was bogged-down in the Bridge-gate scandal, Jindal minimized Christie’s leadership role, arguing on CNN in February “no one governor is more important than the other.”

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