TIME Immigration

White House Leak Hits Democratic Governor After Immigration Comments

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley speaks with reporters in his office inside the Maryland State House in Annapolis, Md., on April 7, 2014.
Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley speaks with reporters in his office inside the Maryland State House in Annapolis, Md., on April 7, 2014. Patrick Semansky—AP

Policy differences over immigration between the Maryland's governor and the Obama Administration leads to an unusually nasty battle in the press.

In 2012, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley was ubiquitous on the campaign trail for President Barack Obama’s re-elect, appearing regularly on cable TV and in spin rooms to lob attacks on behalf of the president. He was the only governor on Obama’s National Finance Committee. He and his Celtic rock band even played the White House on St. Patrick’s Day.

But all of that goodwill came tumbling down Friday after O’Malley, who is positioning himself for a White House bid in 2016, whacked the White House’s handling of the surge of unaccompanied minors across the nation’s southern border. “It is contrary to everything we stand for to try to summarily send children back to death,” O’Malley told reporters at the National Governors Association, breaking with the president who has said that most of the migrants will be returned to their home countries. The statement drew a private complaint from Domestic Policy Director Cecilia Muñoz in the form of a phone call.

But that phone call didn’t stay private, with Muñoz’s frustrations relayed to the press on Tuesday, as well as O’Malley’s request on the call to keep the children out of a proposed detention facility in Westminster, Md. The leak—which Democratic operatives pinned on the White House and which O’Malley pinned on Muñoz personally in a conversation with the Washington Post—suggested that the governor was being a hypocrite, gaining points with the Democratic base for calling more humane treatment for the children while declining to house them in his state.

“He privately said ‘please don’t send these kids to western Maryland,'” the “Democratic source” behind the leaked call told CNN.

But O’Malley and his aides offer a sharply different take on what transpired. “What I said was that would not be the most inviting site in Maryland. There are already hundreds of kids already located throughout Maryland,” O’Malley told CNN Wednesday morning. Days after the call, the proposed facility was sprayed with misspelled graffiti, saying “No illeagels here. No undocumented Democrats.”

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest declined to discuss the source of the leaked details of the phone call. “From the podium here, I’m not going to be in a position to share the details of a private conversation between a senior White House official and a prominent governor of an important state,” he said, adding that the relationship between the White House and O’Malley was “as strong as ever.”

A senior O’Malley administration official said the state is working with the federal government on a number of Maryland sites to house the detainee children. On Monday, O’Malley’s administration began the process to speed licensing for future Department of Health and Human Services facilities in the state. “His focus continues to be on trying to be a constructive force in resolving this humanitarian crisis at the border and making sure that these children are cared for while they await due process,” the official said.

The sharp White House response and the controversy over the Maryland facility masks the real controversy at play. The real difference between the O’Malley and the White House is not whether the children should be housed in Maryland, but how the illegal immigrants should be treated in the first place. “The better course here is to place as many kids with families and relatives as we possibly can or use the available foster system,” O’Malley said Friday, saying they should be held in the “least restrictive setting,” rather than the current facilities which he compared to “kennels.” The White House, on the other hand, is seeking a legal change that will allow them to more quickly deport those children that do not present humanitarian claims, without ever placing with families in the United States. It is that law-and-order approach that has the White House on defense from many in its own party.

TIME 2016 elections

Clinton’s Potential 2016 Rival: We Can’t ‘Send Children Back to Death’

Martin O'Malley
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley speaks during a general session at the California Democrats State Convention, March 8, 2014, in Los Angeles. Jae C. Hong—AP

Clinton's Potential 2016 Rival: We Can't 'Send Children Back to Death'

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley broke publicly with President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Friday, calling for a more humane policy toward the tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors who have illegally crossed into the United States.

“It is contrary to everything we stand for to try to summarily send children back to death,” the Democratic lawmaker told reporters. O’Malley also criticized the “kennels” in which those who have been detained are being kept and calling for the children to be placed in “the least restrictive” locations, including foster homes or with family members in the U.S.

“Through all of the great world religions we are told that hospitality to strangers is an essential human dignity,” O’Malley said. “It is a belief that unites all of us. And I have watched the pictures of young kids who have traveled for thousands of miles. I can only imagine, as a father of four, the heartbreak that those parents must have felt in sending their children across a desert where they can be muled and trafficked or used or killed or tortured. But with the hope, the hope, that they would reach the United States and that their children would be protected from what they were facing at home, which was the likelihood of being recruited into gangs and dying a violent death.”

Speaking to reporters on the margins of the National Governors Association, O’Malley, who is weighing a bid for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016, declined to talk about his political future. Still, his response was a clear effort to distinguish himself from his leading rival and the incumbent president. Clinton told CNN last month that most of those detained should be sent back. “They should be sent back as soon as it can be determined who responsible adults in their families are,” she said. President Barack Obama said Wednesday that the parents of the migrants need to know that “it is unlikely that their children will be able to stay.”

O’Malley went so far as to call the children “refugees,” a term with legal weight that would allow most of them to remain in the U.S. He called on Congress and the President to avoid modifying the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008. That measure requires that children who are not from Canada or Mexico who have crossed the border to be given an opportunity to see an immigration judge to make their case for amnesty. Lawmakers on both sides, as well as the White House, are reviewing ways to amend that law to ease deportations of the tens of thousands of migrant children, who are largely from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

O’Malley said “the whole world is watching” how the U.S. responds to the humanitarian crisis.

“We have to do right not just by these kids but by our kids and protect the children who are here, put them in the least restrictive settings, get them out of these detention centers and these kennels where they are being cooped up, and operate as the good and generous people that we have always been,” he added. “That’s what’s at stake here, as well as the lives of these kids.”

TIME 2016 Campaign

First Lady: U.S. Should Elect Female President ‘As Soon as Possible’

White House Summit on Working Families
US First Lady Michelle Obama speaks at the White House Summit on Working Families, in Washington DC, June 23, 2014. Michael Reynolds—EPA

As long as it's not her, Michelle Obama said at the Summit on Working Families.

Michelle Obama said the U.S. is ready for a female president and that the country should elect one “as soon as possible” on Monday.

“The person who should do the job is the person who is most qualified — and we have some options, don’t we?” Obama told ABC’s Robin Roberts at the Summit on Working Families in Washington, D.C., according to video from C-SPAN3.

“I think this country is ready — this country is ready for anyone who can do that job,” she said.

Though she did not make any kind of endorsement, Obama’s remarks seem to acknowledge a possible run by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose 2016 campaign future has been the subject of wild speculation. President Barack Obama has said in the past that Clinton would be a “very effective” president if she decides to run and wins.

Michelle Obama, however, isn’t thinking about any kind of run for office herself. She said her post-White House plans “definitely will not be” political, but instead “mission-based” and “service-focused.”


TIME States

Prosecutors Say Wisconsin Governor at Center of ‘Criminal’ Fundraising Scheme

Wisconsin Republican Convention
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks at the Republican party of Wisconsin State Convention on May 3, 2014, in Milwaukee. Jeffrey Phelps—AP

Legal setback for 2016 presidential hopeful

Prosecutors say Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is at the center of a “criminal scheme” to coordinate fundraising with conservative groups across the country, according to documents revealed on Thursday.

The documents were unsealed Thursday by order of a federal judge as part of a lawsuit that sought to block a secret state investigation, known as a “John Doe probe,” into the 2012 gubernatorial recall elections, which the incumbent Walker won. In the filing, the prosecutors say Walker, his chief of staff Keith Gilkes and another top adviser illegally coordinated with national conservative groups and national figures including GOP strategist Karl Rove. Rove’s assistant said he was traveling Thursday and couldn’t comment.

Walker, a potential Republican candidate in the 2016 presidential elections, has not been charged with a crime. In a statement, Walker decried the investigation as “partisan… with no basis in state law.”

“The accusation of any wrongdoing written in the complaint by the office of a partisan Democrat District Attorney by me or by my campaign is categorically false. In fact two judges, in both state and federal courts, have ruled that no laws were broken,
” he said.

The secretive investigation began in 2012 ahead of the gubernatorial recall election, when prosecutors began looking into whether independent conservative groups—which have no limit on their fundraising—illegally coordinated with campaigns for Walker and other state candidates, whose fundraising is much more regulated. But in May, a federal judge put the probe on hold, ruling that it was a breach of free-speech rights. That judge, U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa, also said in his ruling that that the type of coordination in question is not illegal if it focuses just on advocacy, and not on getting the candidates elected. A separate Wisconsin judge overseeing the probe had previously made a similar judgment.

The prosecutors are appealing Randa’s decision to halt the investigation.

But the controversy has the potential to disrupt Walker’s political ambitions, both in 2016 and in the fall. Walker, who is in the final months of his first term as governor, faces a close race for reelection. Polls show Walker and Democrat Mary Burke, a former Wisconsin state commerce secretary, locked in a tight race.

“Wisconsin has always been a clean-government state and allegations like this really resonate with voters,” said Scott Becher, a Wisconsin Republican political consultant turned public relations advisor.

Becher said that if Walker hopes to run in 2016, “voters of the state need to reelect him and he needs to have a good credible answer to what happened here.”

TIME 2016 elections

Hillary Clinton Reflects on Her Late Mom and Becoming a Grandmother

U.S. Presidential candidate, Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) speaks on stage with her mother Dorothy Rodham, during a rally in Des Moines
Then U.S. presidential candidate and Senator Hillary Clinton on stage with her mother Dorothy Rodham during a rally in Des Moines, Iowa, on Dec. 7, 2007 Jason Reed—Reuters

"No one had a bigger influence on my life or did more to shape the person I became," Clinton writes about Dorothy Howell Rodham, who passed away in 2011, in a excerpt from Hard Choices published on Mother's Day in Vogue

Hillary Clinton has been thinking a lot about her own mother as her daughter Chelsea expects her first child, the former Secretary of State writes in an excerpt from her new memoir, Hard Choices.

Dorothy Howell Rodham, who passed away in 2011, helped inspire Clinton’s passion for public service after overcoming an abusive childhood in Chicago.

“Mom helped Chelsea navigate the unique challenges of growing up in the public eye and, when she was ready, encouraged her to pursue her passion for service and philanthropy,” she writes in the excerpt published in Vogue from her upcoming book. “Even in her 90s, Mom never lost her commitment to social justice, which did so much to mold and inspire me when I was growing up. I loved that she was able to do the same for Chelsea.”

Clinton also writes in the excerpt about the blessings and challenges of taking care of an aging parent.

“Mom was a fighter her entire life, but it was finally time to let go,” she writes. “I sat by her bedside and held her hand one last time. No one had a bigger influence on my life or did more to shape the person I became.”

You can hear Clinton read the excerpt aloud over on Vogue‘s website. Hard Choices hits bookstore shelves June 10.


TIME 2016 elections

Marco Rubio: I’m Ready to Run for President

Senator Marco Rubio addresses the New Hampshire Rockingham Committee Freed Founder's Dinner in New Castle, N.H., on May 9, 2014.
Senator Marco Rubio addresses the New Hampshire Rockingham Committee Freed Founder's Dinner in New Castle, N.H., on May 9, 2014. Scott Eisen—Getty Images

The Republican senator from Florida said in an interview on Sunday he's ready to be commander-in-chief and didn't waste time with digs at potential nomination rival Sen. Rand Paul and Hillary Clinton, who Rubio gave an "F" to for her former job as Secretary of State

Marco Rubio says he is ready to become the President of the United States.

“I think that’s true for multiple other people that would want to run,” Florida’s junior senator told ABC’s Jonathan Karl on This Week Sunday. “I mean, I’ll be 43 this month, but the other thing that perhaps people don’t realize, I’ve served now in public office for the better part of 14 years. Most importantly, I think a president has to have a clear vision of where the country needs to go and clear ideas about how to get it there, and I think we’re very blessed in our party to have a number of people that fit that criteria.”

Rubio was once considered to be a frontrunner for the 2016 Republican presidential nominee, but his poll numbers have been slipping as of late. He told Karl he’s not paying much attention to those polls (“It’s probably the TIME cover jinx, just like the Sports Illustrated jinx,” he joked, in reference to TIME’s February 2013 cover story on the senator).

During the interview, Rubio also said he did not believe humans have contributed to global climate change and that he would give Hillary Clinton an “F” grade for her job as Secretary of State. Rubio added that if he decided to run for president, he would not simultaneously seek re-election as a Florida senator.

“I believe that if you want to be president of the United States, you run for president,” Rubio said, in a thinly-veiled dig at Republican rival Rand Paul. Republican lawmakers in Paul’s home state of Kentucky recently unsuccessfully tried to pass a bill that would have let Paul run for the presidency and re-election in the Senate. “You don’t run for president with some eject button in the cockpit that allows you to go on an exit ramp if it doesn’t work out,” Rubio added.


TIME 2016 elections

Democrats’ 2014 Message In One Paragraph

President Obama laid out his party's top talking points for the midterm elections on Wednesday, explaining in a quick 175 words that universal pre-K and pay equity will take precedence, in a move designed to reach out to traditional constituencies

Before a crowd of Hollywood big-shots Wednesday night in Los Angeles, President Barack Obama laid out his party’s midterm messaging in a single paragraph.

Speaking at a joint fundraiser at the home of Disney chairman Alan Horn for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Obama presented the contrast between Democrats and Republicans going into this fall’s campaign.

We believe in pay equity; they say, no. We believe in a higher minimum wage; they say, no. We believe in making sure that we’re investing in our infrastructure and putting people back to work, and investing in innovation and basic research that can unlock cures for things like Alzheimer’s; their budget takes us in the opposite direction. We believe in early childhood education to make sure that opportunity for all actually means something, that it’s not just a slogan; they say, no. We think climate change is real. Some of them say it’s a hoax, that we’re fabricating it. And the biggest challenge we have is not just that there’s a fundamental difference in vision and where we want to take the country, not just the fact that they continue to subscribe to a top-down approach to economic growth and opportunity and we believe that the economy works better when it works for everybody and that real growth happens from the bottom up and the middle out.

In those 175 words, Obama touched on the basic talking points for Democrats this fall as they try to move beyond the still-unpopular Affordable Care Act to issues like pay and income inequality and universal pre-K. The poll-tested message, which was the centerpiece of the President’s State of the Union Address under the tagline “Opportunity for All,” is designed to reach out to traditional Democratic constituencies that may be slow to head to the polls in November.

With an audience of Democratic faithful like Barbra Streisand, James Brolin and Jeffrey Katzenberg, Obama tried to rally the troops to the midterm cause, even as much of the party has been distracted by a potential Hillary Clinton candidacy in 2016.

“So my main message to all of you is feel a sense of urgency about this election,” Obama said. “This is my last campaign, and I’m going to put everything I’ve got into it, but I need you to feel that this is just as important—because we can’t afford to wait until 2016.”


Christie Appointee Resigns from Port Authority

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks during a news conference in Trenton, New Jersey
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks during a news conference in Trenton, New Jersey March 28, 2014. Mark Makela—Reuters

The N.J. governor held a press conference Friday to clear his name following the bridge scandal and announced the resignation of Port Authority Chairman David Samson. Christie said there is no indication his close ally was involved in wrongdoing

The chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey under scrutiny for conflicts of interest and embroiled in the lane closure scandal around New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie resigned Friday.

Christie, who appointed chairman David Samson in 2011, said the official had considered leaving last year and added that there was no indication that Samson was involved in wrongdoing, the AP reports. Samson, who has also come under scrutiny for his law firm’s ties to companies contracted by the Port Authority, released a statement after the announcement was made.

“Over the past months, I have shared with the Governor my desire to conclude my service to the PANYNJ,” said Samson, a former attorney general of New Jersey. “The timing is now right, and I am confident that the Governor will put new leadership in place to address the many challenges ahead.”

Christie announced the resignation of his close ally Friday at a news conference that the governor organized amid an effort to clear his name from involvement in the September incident. On Thursday, a much-criticized investigation by lawyers hired by the governor released its findings that Christie was not at fault in the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge. The traffic jams were allegedly orchestrated by aides as political payback for the local town’s mayor not endorsing Christie’s reelection bid.

“The report will stand the test of time and it will be tested by the other investigations that are going on,” Christie said Friday. The report made no mention of the retiring chairman.

The report came under scrutiny in part because the lawyers’ ties to the Christie administration. Three people at the heart of the scandal also all declined to participate in the probe.

Christie said the lawyers would not “give away their reputations to do some kind of slipshod job for me.”



Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush Promote Higher Education

It's at least the third time that the two likely presidential candidates found themselves together in the past year

Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, both potential contenders for their respective parties’ nomination for president in 2016, came together at the same event Monday to promote greater access to higher education.

Former Secretary of State Clinton, a Democrat married to former president Bill Clinton, and former Florida governor Bush, the brother and son of Republican presidents, represent two of the nation’s most prominent political families.

And while they didn’t appear together onstage, both spoke at the conference about the need to make quality higher education more affordable in the United States and more accessible around the world, the Associated Press reports. Clinton thanked Bush early in her speech and noted his commitment to education in office and in the private sector.

Bush, she said, is a person “who really focused on education during his time as governor in Florida, and who has continued that work with passion and dedication in the years since.” The pair reportedly chatted backstage at the event.

The Florida Republican and former North Carolina Democratic Gov. Jim Hunt organized the Globalization of Higher Education conference, which brings politicians and education experts together to discuss ways to improve access to higher education.

It’s not the first time they’ve rubbed shoulders since rumors of presidential runs began swirling, the AP reports. They both attended the dedication for the library of former President George W. Bush, Jeb’s brother last April, and last September Jeb Bush, chairman of the National Constitution Center, presented Hillary Clinton with the group’s Liberty Medal.


TIME Newsmaker Interview

Interview: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Running for President, Sexual Assault in the Military and College Campuses and Why Women Should Rule

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand attends a press conference in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, Feb. 6, 2014.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand attends a press conference in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, Feb. 6, 2014. Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images

New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand tells TIME she'll consider running "someday," but says Hillary Clinton will be "our first woman president." Days after her sexual assault bill failed to overcome a filibuster, she adds "I will certainly never give up the fight"

President Obama may want to watch out: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has him in her sights. The New York Democrat is anticipating the next time she sees the President and has an proposition for him: “If he’s looking for ideas for things he can do with the power of the pen, [paid family leave] may be one of them—that he could actually instill paid leave for federal workers,” Gillibrand says, brimming with enthusiasm in an interview with TIME in her Senate office.

Her plan to expand paid family leave is just one part of a women’s agenda that Gillibrand says she’ll spend the better part of this year pushing. “One of the biggest problems is that our work place rules do not reflect the face of the workforce. In New York State, 48% of workers are women and our workplace policies are stuck in the 50’s and 60’s,” Gillibrand says. “Women are earning more than half of the college degrees, more than half of the advanced degrees. So when you’re constantly undermining them by not having the support necessary in the work place, you are going to undermine the full potential of our workers and our economy.”

Though Democrats have made women’s economic issues the centerpiece of their 2014 electoral strategy, Gillibrand says she is looking to work with Republicans. “My goal is to reach across the aisle and find some cosponsors on each piece of legislation,” she says. “I’m more concerned about that than making it an electoral issue.”

Still, it’s on the merit of the issues that she is helping half a dozen female candidates run for Congress as part of her program and PAC called Off the Sidelines, which is also the title of her forthcoming book in September. Gillibrand has five issues that she asks her candidates, women voters, and virtually every woman she meets, to support: raising the minimum wage, universal pre-kindergarten, affordable day care, paid family leave and equal pay for women. “It’s a call to action, asking women to participate in politics all across the country,” she says, “to make sure that women are voting, to make sure their voices are being heard.”

As for her own call to higher office? Say in 2016? Not happening, she says. “I will consider it someday, I’m sure, but not any time in the near future,” she says of running for President. “Hillary Clinton will be our first woman president. I think she will run in 2016. I think she will win in 2016. I will help her. I will campaign for her.”

Besides, Gillibrand says, she has too much unfinished work in the Senate, like tackling sexual assault on college campuses and getting through her sexual assault in the military bill that failed last week—in no small part thanks to the tacit opposition of Obama, who said he wanted a year to study the issue. “That year of study is nearly expired by the end of this year so I will be asking for President Obama for his support for this legislation as we begin to show this is not a problem that can be fixed easily,” Gillibrand says. “I will certainly never give up the fight.” As Obama well knows few senators are as dogged as Gillibrand when she has found a cause. The President’s signature pens for legislation Gillibrand has pushed through—the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the 911 First Responders Fund and emergency aid for Sandy Hook—decorate Gillibrand’s office.

Gillibrand sat down with TIME for a wide-ranging interview on Tuesday morning. Below are excerpts of her remarks:

Q. What do you tell women who are thinking of running?

I describe what my life is like so they know it’s possible. I obviously bring my kids to school on most days, pick them up on most days. I make them dinner most days but I am somebody who can generally set my schedule. Unlike the lady who is going to clean this office tonight or the ladies doing a double shift in an emergency room, or a shift worker, they generally don’t get to set their hours. So I’m able to manage my time and be there for my kids in a way that I need to be and be here at work when I need to be. If I have late night votes, I’ll get a sitter. If I have late night meetings, I’ll get support. If I have to travel, my mom will visit.

Q. What is the Off the Sidelines goal?

It’s a call to action, asking women to participate in politics all across the country: to make sure that women are voting; to make sure their voices are being heard; to choose issues that they care about and become advocates on those issues.; to run for office and if they don’t want to run for office, find a woman candidate who shares your values. With only 18% women in the House and only 20% women in the Senate, often women’s voices aren’t heard at the level that they should be. We should have 51% of women in Congress reflecting our actual population, as opposed to being a very small minority.

Q. Are you targeting women voters with your women’s agenda?

I’m targeting the entire middle class because one of the biggest problems is that our work place rules do not reflect the face of the workforce. In New York State 48% of workers are women and our workplace policies are stuck in the 50’s and 60’s. We are the only industrialized country in the world that doesn’t have paid medical family leave. What happens time and time again is that in a family emergency—an ill child, or a dying parent, or a new baby—it’s often the women that have to ramp off their careers because they don’t have paid leave… Unfortunately, this results in more women having to start again in a lower paying job, sometimes having to change fields, missing out on promotion and retirement. When all of your workforce isn’t working to your full potential it’s just a drag on the economy. Women are earning more than half of the college degrees, more than half of the advanced degrees…

Raising the minimum wage affects everyone but two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women, so it especially affects women. If you raise the minimum wage, you’re going to create economic growth. More people are going to spend more money in the economy every single day, so it’s important for the whole economy. The same with universal pre-K or affordable day care. Both of these issues would keep more working parents in the work force during early childhood years, but it also allows those children to reach their full potential. The National Institute of Health says every dollar that you put into early childhood education, you get $11 out during the lifetime of that individual. It’s such an economic engine that’s going untapped and we’re not realizing the full potential of our future workforce.

Q. How much of the agenda, though, do you think you could realistically get through in an election year?

The one’s that moving the fastest is minimum wage. I’m actually quite optimistic that we might be able to include that by the end of the year. Paid family medical leave… I hope to speak to the president specifically about it and ask: why not do this for federal workers? If he’s looking for ideas for things he can use with the power of the pen, this may be one of them, that he could actually instill paid leave for federal workers… Universal pre-K is going to be something that goes state by state the same way that we did marriage equality and then will get amplified on the federal level… The Affordable day care legislation is a tax credit, something Republicans are very fond of… Every piece of it has the possibility to move forward in this Congress.

Q. Are women voters the Democrats’ secret weapon n the 2014 midterms?

I’m hoping that it’s not a partisan issue. I am hoping that we will actually build Republican support this year. My goal is to reach across the aisle and find some co-sponsors on each piece of legislation.

Q. Last week must have been disappointing. You saw your bill on sexual assault on the military fail to overcome a filibuster. Where do you go from here?

I will certainly never give up the fight. We’re just still building momentum, we were only a few votes shy of being able to overcome the filibuster. We had the majority of the Senate. We had a bipartisan wide-ranging majority of the Senate. To have both Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid and senators with view points as disparate as Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Bernie Sanders and Barbara Boxer, it’s extremely meaningful. We need to just keep working, keep developing the evidence and making sure that people understand what it really is like serving in the military if you’ve been raped and how difficult it is to report because of the breach of trust with the chain of command. And as far as I’m concerned, I feel like we’re just getting started.

Q. What are the next steps?

My goal this year is to continue to speak with senators who did not side with us by introducing more evidence to them, more information and continue to try and get their support. I will work with our House colleagues to see if they can get a vote because they were not allowed a vote when we did the [National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA]. But we have another NDAA coming up in just another few months, and that’s going to be the next opportunity for both my bill and the bill in the House.

Q. Obama tacitly worked against you here. Is he to blame?

He is still looking at the issue and what he said is he wants to eradicate sexual assault in the military but he wanted it to have a year of study. That year of study is nearly expired by the end of this year so I will be asking for president Obama for his support for this legislation as we begin to show this is not a problem that can be fixed easily and it needs real reform. It needs transformative reform and we need to listen to the victims. At the end of the day, the issue that the victims bring up over and over and over again is they don’t report these crimes because they don’t trust the chain of command. Until you address that fundamental breach, I don’t think that you have hope that we’re going to fix the problem.

Q. You’ve said you won’t run in 2016 if Hillary Clinton runs. If she doesn’t run, would you consider a bid?

No. I feel so privileged that I get to serve in the Senate.

Q. So you wouldn’t consider it at all?


Q. Ever?

No, I don’t think so.

Q. Not ever ever?


I will consider it someday, I’m sure, but not any time in the near future.

Q. Do you think the country is ready for the first woman President?

I do and I think Hillary Clinton will be our first woman president. I think she will run in 2016. I think she will win in 2016. I will help her. I will campaign for her. I will make sure that we get the vote out for her. I just think that there’s no one better poised than her to lead this country. With all of her breadth of experience I think there’s no better candidate to be president.

Q. You’ve worked with both Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, what do you make of the Republican field in 2016?

Our candidate’s better! [Laughter]

Q. Anything else that you’re working on?

We’re also going to start delving into sexual assault on college campuses… I’ve been hearing very troubling reports that we need a deep dive, in the same way we did into sexual assaults in the military. I’d like to introduce legislation this year… I suspect that this will be very bipartisan.

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