TIME 2016 Election

Jon Bon Jovi Happy for Chris Christie to Use Songs in Campaign Launch

"My friendships are apolitical," the Democrat rocker says.

Though Governor Chris Christie has been a lifelong Bruce Springsteen fan, the presidential hopeful used the music of another New Jersey native Tuesday when he announced his bid for the Republican ticket: Jon Bon Jovi.

Christie likely opted not use a Springsteen song fearing that the lifelong Democrat and critic of the Bridgegate scandal might disavow him as Neil Young did to Donald Trump earlier in June. But Bon Jovi is also an avowed Democrat; his wife even hosted a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton on Monday night, during which the rocker sang his biggest hit, “Livin’ on a Prayer.”

However, despite their political differences, Bon Jovi gave Christie his blessing to use songs like “We Weren’t Born to Follow” for his campaign, Mother Jones reports. The two met while Bon Jovi was helping with Hurricane Sandy relief. “My friendships are apolitical. And, yes, I absolutely gave him permission to use my songs,” he said.

[Mother Jones]

TIME politics

Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Launch Site Once Held the Worst Prison in the World

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Keith Sherwood—Getty Images/Flickr RF Aerial view of Roosevelt Island and Four Freedoms Park

Roosevelt Island has a long and complicated history

On Saturday, Hillary Clinton will celebrate the official launch of her presidential campaign in a part of New York City that may be unfamiliar to many non-residents: Roosevelt Island. The narrow stretch of land in the East River between Manhattan and Queens is named after President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Clinton’s staff has noted that the candidate has long been inspired by FDR and his wife Eleanor.

But the island wasn’t always a political homage. Early names included Minnahanonck, Hog Island, Blackwell’s Island and, as of 1921, Welfare Island. And Welfare Island was, as TIME noted in 1934, “not a nice place to visit and nobody would want to live there.” It was home to the New York County Penitentiary, which the state’s Commissioner of Correction had just proclaimed the worst prison in the world, and a “vicious circle of depravity that is almost beyond the ability of the imagination to grasp.”

By the 1960s, the island was seen as a waste of valuable land. In 1961, as TIME reported, real-estate developers came up with a plan to cover the two-mile-long strip of “nurses’ homes, hospitals for the aged and poor, and homes for wayward girls” with a concrete platform that could hold enough housing for 70,000 New Yorkers. It was envisioned as a residential paradise, with postcard views and no cars allowed. And a new name, of course.

On Sept. 24, 1973, New York City’s mayor, John Lindsay, proclaimed Franklin D. Roosevelt Island Day in the city and officially re-dedicated the island in his honor. “This act signifies recognition for a man whose capacity for moral leadership gave much to our City, our State and our Nation,” Lindsay said in his proclamation. “It also heralds the transformation of an island that has too long been forsaken. It is altogether appropriate that Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose vision and vivacity re-invigorates and inspires this nation, should have named for him an island which is at last being reclaimed by and for the people of the City of New York.”

Clinton surely hopes to find that her “vision and vivacity” inspire the nation too—and launching her campaign on the island that bears FDR’s name is one way to start.

Read about the 1976 opening of the Roosevelt Island tram, here in the TIME Vault: The Little Apple

TIME politics

Rick Santorum’s Role in the Republican Renewal

rick santorum pennsylvania iowa republican
Charlie Neibergall—AP Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks during the Iowa Republican Party's Lincoln Dinner, on May 16, 2015, in Des Moines.

The 2016 contender came into the public eye during one of his party's most pivotal moments

Rick Santorum, in announcing on Wednesday that he would try for the Republican nomination for the 2016 presidential race, joins a crowded field of political contenders.

But it won’t be the first time that the former Pennsylvania Senator and 2012 also-ran has made a splash as part of a large group.

When Santorum first made national news, it was in 1994, as an upstart Congressman going to bat for Senator Harris Wofford’s seat. In covering the race, TIME cast Santorum as a barometer of the nation’s stance toward issues that stretched far beyond the state’s borders:

A party that opposes the President unyieldingly, he reasons, gets a nice, sharp profile. It could work, for instance, on health-care reform, one battle most Americans tell pollsters they are are no longer sure they want the President to win. That the issue, once a sure plus for Democrats, is now a more complicated blessing is evident in Pennsylania, where Democratic Senator Harris Wofford is in a tricky race against Rick Santorum, a Republican Congressman who promises to protect voters from government interference in their health-care decisions. It was Wofford’s surprise victory three years ago over Dick Thornburgh, after a campaign that made health-care reform an issue, that first alerted politicians to its potential. But while Wofford is far ahead of Santorum in fund raising this year, their contest is a toss-up. ”Health care is a significant factor that has energized a lot of people who are nonpolitical,” says Santorum, with the clear implication that this time the newcomers are his.

As we now know, of course, Santorum was right.

That was the year of Newt Gingrich’s ascension, and when election time rolled around, the Republican Party’s midterm gains were immense. As TIME put it, “voters angrily revoked the Democrats’ 40-year lease on the Congress,” as the G.O.P. picked up seats in both houses of Congress and in gubernatorial seats across the country. Representative Toby Roth of Wisconsin put it even more strongly: “[This] was more than an election. It was a revolution.”

Santorum’s conservative appeal to voters carried the day in Pennsylvania, just as his colleagues found success in other states. The political sea change of 1994 continues to reverberate throughout the political world—and Santorum’s latest try for the presidency is only one way of many.

Read the full cover story, here in the TIME Vault: G.O.P. Stampede

TIME 2016 presidential election

Carly Fiorina Says She Would ‘Roll Back’ Net Neutrality Rules

Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina speaks at TechCrunchÕs Disrupt conference on May 5, 2015 in New York City.
Andrew Burton—Getty Images Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina speaks at TechCrunchÕs Disrupt conference on May 5, 2015 in New York City.

And she wants the government to use technology to "re-engage" people

Carly Fiorina said Tuesday in her first public appearance since announcing her candidacy for the GOP nomination that she would “roll back” the new rules on net neutrality.

The former Hewlett-Packard CEO, arguably the presidential candidate with the most experience in the tech industry, came out swinging against the regulations in a talk at TechCrunch’s Disrupt event in New York City. “You don’t manage innovation, you let innovation flourish,” she said. “Regulation over innovation is a really bad role for government.”

Other Republican hopefuls have also come out in recent months against net neutrality—or the idea that all web content is treated equally—perhaps in opposition to Obama or in order to protect campaign donations, despite the fact that 85% of Republican voters say they oppose the creation of Internet “fast lanes.”

MORE: Why 2016 Republicans Oppose Net Neutrality

At other points during the talk, Fiorina pointed to her experience in the tech industry as a qualification for the Oval Office. “It is important to have someone in the White House who has a fundamental understanding of technology, and a fundamental vision of how technology could be used,” she said, adding that she hopes to use technology to “re-engage” people in politics.

Fiorina also addressed the industry’s inequalities for women, noting that they are “caricatured differently, criticized differently, scrutinized differently, because we’re still different.” To that end, she noted that she was pleased Hillary Clinton is also running for the Democratic nomination. “Obviously I’m running to beat Hillary Clinton, but I think It’s great there there are women on both sides of the aisle running for the highest office in the land.”

When the interviewer, a female journalist, asked Fiorina if she would consider a Vice Presidential slot, she bristled and replied: “Would you ever ask a man that question?”

In the past, male presidential candidates like former North Carolina Senator John Edwards and former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson have been asked whether they’re running for VP, and the idea has also been posed for former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, a presumed Democratic candidate. After the journalist responded that she would, the candidate said, “I’m not running for something else, I’m running because I want this job, and I think I can do this job.”

Read next: Carly Fiorina Calls Foul on Vice President Quesion

TIME 2016 Election

Bill Clinton Says Nothing ‘Knowingly Inappropriate’ in Foundation’s Foreign Money

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton speaks at Georgetown University in Washington on April 21, 2015.
Win McNamee—Getty Images Former U.S. President Bill Clinton speaks at Georgetown University in Washington on April 21, 2015.

The former president has no regrets about taking foreign cash

The Clinton family’s charity has never done anything “knowingly inappropriate,” former President Bill Clinton said in a new interview, as the controversy surrounding foreign donations rattles Hillary Clinton’s weeks-old presidential bid.

“There is no doubt in my mind that we have never done anything knowingly inappropriate in terms of taking money to influence any kind of American government policy,” he told NBC. “That just hasn’t happened.”

Clinton denied allegations that his family’s foundation took money from donors who sought to influence U.S. foreign policy during his wife’s tenure as Secretary of State. In a new book, conservative author Peter Schweizer claims that Hillary Clinton’s State Department gave special treatment to foundation donors.

Bill Clinton said he still has no regrets about accepting millions in foreign donations—despite recently changing his foundation’s rules again to accept only contributions from six Western governments.

“It’s an acknowledgement that we’re going to come as close as we can during her presidential campaign to following the rules we followed when she became Secretary of State,” Clinton told NBC, referring to the foundation’s agreement during Hillary’s tenure at the state department to disclose all foreign contributions. (Foreign governments, however, had continued to give anonymously to a Foundation branch in Canada, where law guarantees privacy to donors.)

Bill Clinton said he is “proud” of the foundation’s work. “There has never been anything like the Clinton Global Initiative,” Clinton told NBC, “where you’ve raised over $100 billion worth of stuff that helped 43 million people in 180 countries.”

[NBC]

TIME

Cruz Walks a Careful Line on Immigration Reform

Ted Cruz
Cliff Owen—AP Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas gestures while he talks at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC), on April 29, 2015, at the National Press Club in Washington.

The GOP presidential hopeful opposes a path to citizenship, but casts himself as a supporter of legal immigration

Texas Senator and Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz cast himself as a supporter of immigration reform on Wednesday, while criticizing Democrats for killing prospects of a bipartisan deal by insisting on a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

“I consider myself a proponent of immigration reform,” Cruz said during a question-and-answer session in Washington hosted by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “There is no stronger advocate of legal immigration in the U.S. Senate than I am.”

Cruz was an outspoken detractor of the bipartisan rewrite of U.S. immigration laws that passed the Senate in 2013, which in the eyes of many Republicans would have shored up the party’s moribund support among Hispanic voters. His comments offer a telling glimpse of how he will attempt to find a delicate balance on a pivotal issue during his campaign.

The GOP presidential hopeful opposes citizenship for undocumented immigrants, but he stressed Wednesday the need to celebrate and encourage legal immigration. And he noted his support for dramatically increasing the available number of high-tech visas. His remarks drew an implicit contrast with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a likely rival for the GOP nomination, who recently took a protectionist stance on legal immigration levels.

Cruz declined to directly answer a question from TIME about whether he would support a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S., indicating a legislative fix should first focus on shoring up border security.

The freshman Senator said he believed there was significant bipartisan agreement around securing the borders and streamlining the legal immigration system. He criticized Democrats for crippling the recent reform plan in Congress by insisting on the “poison pill” of citizenship.

“They are treating immigration as a political cudgel,” Cruz said, “where they want to use it to scare the Hispanic community. And their objective is to have the Hispanic community vote monolithically Democrat.”

Many Republicans argued Mitt Romney’s hardline position on immigration was largely to blame for his dismal performance with Latino voters in the 2012 presidential race. But Cruz said his view—born out by his Senate campaign’s internal polling—was that Romney had alienated Hispanics with a message that appeared to denigrate middle-class Americans while venerating the wealthy.

Cruz argued that Republicans could win over Hispanics with a message of economic opportunity, saying Republicans “should be the party of the 47%.”

TIME millenials

Poll: Millennials Distrust Justice System, Soften on Democrats

Youth still favor Democrats, Clinton, but margins tighten

Nearly half of young American voters do not have confidence in the justice system, according to a new Harvard survey of millennials.

The poll of 18-29 year olds released Wednesday by Harvard’s Institute of Politics (IOP) found an even 49%-49% split among the age group on the question of the system’s “ability to fairly judge people without bias for race and ethnicity.” The nationwide #BlackLivesMatter movement finds broad support among millennials, but less so among white 18-29 year olds, of whom only 37% support the demonstrations. Less than a majority believe the protests will result in effective change to policing practices.

Millennial voters overwhelmingly support efforts to require police officers to wear body cameras to record interactions with their communities, while 60% support policies to require police departments to demographically reflect the neighborhoods they serve. But the age group is split 49%-49% on whether eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses would make the system fairer.

Despite growing up in an age of two wars, 57% of 18-29 year olds would support deploying ground troops to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS). The poll also found a significant bump in favor of American interventionism among the age group, though a majority still believe that the UN and other countries should take the lead in handling international crises.

Young Americans remain a solidly Democratic constituency, but by smaller margins than previous cycles. The poll found that 55% of the age group would prefer a Democrat to win the White House next year, with 40% supporting a Republican for the post. The gap between the parties is significantly smaller than President Barack Obama’s 2012 margin with the same cohort of 60% to 37%.

In the primaries, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton holds an overwhelming lead with the age group, while millennials are widely split on the Republican side, with Ben Carson leading with 10%, followed by Sen. Rand Paul, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Obama’s approval rating among the age group jumped 7 points from October, to his highest approval rating since 2013.

While trust in government institutions has declined since 2010, millennial trust of the military, the Supreme Court, the president, the UN, the federal government, and Congress all increased from 2014 by a significant margin—with the military the only entity with a rating above 50%.

The web-based poll of 3,034 18-29 year olds was conducted by the IOP and KnowledgePanel from March 18 through April 1 and has a margin of error of ±2.4 percentage points.

TIME Scott Walker

Why Scott Walker’s Immigration Flip-Flop Could Hurt

Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks during a meeting with area Republicans on April 19, 2015, in Derry, N.H.
Jim Cole—AP Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks during a meeting with area Republicans on April 19, 2015, in Derry, N.H.

It sets him apart from primary rivals and party elites

In the early stages of a presidential campaign, the controversy du jour is often less important than it may seem. This is the season of listening tours and message testing, when the real drama is offstage and a trip to Chipotle can command the national news cycle.

But the brewing kerfuffle over Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s new immigration position is a case where there’s more to the matter than meets the eye. His shift on the issue this week could alter the GOP primary, both by setting him apart from key rivals on a critical issue and by reinforcing questions about whether the Wisconsin governor has a habit of revising his policy positions for political gain.

“The next president and the next Congress need to make decisions about a legal immigration system that’s based on, first and foremost, protecting American workers and American wages,” Walker said Monday during an interview with Glenn Beck. “It is a fundamentally lost issue by many in elected positions today—what is this doing, not only to American workers looking for jobs, but what is it doing to the wages, and we need to have that be at the forefront of our discussion going forward.”

Walker’s remarks — which also name-checked GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions, an outspoken opponent of immigration reform — were a departure from many of his past comments on the issue. By raising questions about legal immigration levels, he appeared to espouse a protectionist approach that positions him to the right of much of the GOP primary field.

“Sad to see the full, Olympics-quality flip-flop by a former boss today,” tweeted Liz Mair, who quit her job as a political aide to Walker amid a controversy over her prior criticism of Iowa’s prominent role in the presidential nominating contest.

The shift in policy separates the Badger State Republican from top primary opponents on one of the party’s most dramatic fault lines. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio have supported an overhaul of U.S. immigration law. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has decried the idea of mass deportations and supported work visas and a legal status for the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S.

“Governor Walker supports American workers’ wages and the U.S. economy and thinks both should be considered when crafting a policy for legal immigration,” said AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Our American Revival, an organization formed to support Walker’s presidential bid. “He strongly supports legal immigration, and like many Americans, believes that our economic situation should be considered instead of arbitrary caps on the amount of immigrants that can enter.”

Walker’s position hasn’t gone over well with some of the party’s top strategists, who believe a more inclusive approach to immigration is both sound policy and smart politics. Nor does it wash with some of the GOP’s most influential donors and thinkers, a group that can alter the trajectory of the presidential primary.

A vast cross-section of business organizations, special-interest groups and Republican bigwigs favor immigration reform — from industrialists who need cheap farm labor to Silicon Valley tech firms that are lobbying to loosen restrictions on H1B visas. Walker’s stance could inhibit his ability to attract the big money he needs behind his campaign. The billionaire Koch brothers, for example, have seeded an organization, known as the Libre Initiative, whose goal is to pitch conservative principles to the Latino voters who overwhelmingly backed Barack Obama over Mitt Romney. “Any call, by anyone, to further restrict legal immigration is not a viable, nor an acceptable policy remedy,” Daniel Garza, the executive director of the Libre Initiative, said Tuesday.

“The overwhelming majority of Americans, Democrats as well as Republicans, want the federal government to secure our borders,” says former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who has worked to drum up support for an immigration overhaul that make undocumented workers who meet various conditions eligible to apply for green cards. “That same majority understands that we need to increase the number of H1B visas, that there are essential jobs for which we need immigrants, particularly agriculture … we need guest workers in those essential jobs.”

But from a short-term perspective, Walker’s shift may be shrewd politics. He is tapping into a deep vein of populism that runs through the party, especially in early voting states like Iowa, where antipathy toward “amnesty” is an animating value. A January Gallup poll revealed that 60% of Americans are dissatisfied with current immigration levels, including 84% of Republicans.

One veteran GOP strategist said simply that Walker “has got to perform well in Iowa” and that he wouldn’t do so with the more centrist approach he’s taken in the past.

In 2006, when Walker served as Milwaukee County executive, he urged the Senate to pass a bipartisan immigration reform bill. In 2010, when controversial legislation in Arizona became a national flashpoint, Walker criticized the bill. (Just days later, he reversed his position after further researching the issue, according to his then-campaign manager.) In 2013, as Senate leaders worked to craft a bipartisan rewrite of U.S. immigration law, Walker supported a path to citizenship. Asked the same year if he could envision citizenship for immigrants after penalties, waiting periods and other conditions were put in place, Walker told the Wausau Daily Herald: “Sure. Yeah. I think it makes sense.”

And now? “My view has changed,” Walker told Fox News on March 1, opposing a path to citizenship in any form.

Every politician, like every constituent, has a right to change his or her mind. But a windblown approach to policy could shatter the steadfast image Walker earned in the Wisconsin union brawl, and which he hoped to leverage as a cornerstone of his all-but-certain presidential campaign. “It shreds your argument if you say you’re going to be the principled guy,” says the GOP strategist, “but here are all these examples of where he flipped.”

The examples are mounting. There was Walker’s reversal on ethanol subsides, another Iowa hot-button which he backed this spring after formerly opposing. There was his push to repeal Common Core when it became politically toxic in 2014, after previously supporting the standards. There was his decision to sign a right-to-work law after years of disavowing interest in pursuing such a policy.

Walker started well in the Republican nominating contest this year, riding a wave of momentum generated by a strong performance in an early Iowa cattle call. But he is a newcomer to the national stage. Many Republican voters have yet to form their first impression of the Wisconsin governor. Getting tagged with a flip-flopper label could prove an impassable obstacle.

“You do not want to be in a position where you build up a track record of moving around on issues,” says another veteran Republican consultant. “It’s absolutely fatal.”

With reporting by Zeke J. Miller

TIME 2016 Campaign

Man Repeller: Why We Care What Hillary Clinton Wears

Leandra Medine is the founder of Man Repeller, a humorous website for serious fashion, and the author of Man Repeller: Seeking Love, Finding Overalls. She almost always wears her suit lapels popped.

(It's not because she's a woman.)

The question on Sunday wasn’t whether Hillary Clinton would finally announce her 2016 Presidential bid — that has seemed a forgone conclusion, the worst-kept secret in politics. The question was what tone she would set for the next 19 months of campaigning. No matter the candidate, every detail in a campaign is carefully and strategically framed for our consumption. The devil is in them. From the specific language of talking points, to the color of one’s tie — or, Sunday, red blouse and blue blazer — these are deliberate choices made by the campaign. As a woman whose company is built on the ethos of dressing for one’s self and using fashion as an empowering medium for expression, I tend to notice things like tie pattern or the positioning of a blazer’s lapel (in Hillary’s case, tailored to pop). I marvel at such cues.

So I can sit here and wax poetic on the sort of garb I believe a Presidential candidate should wear as he or she stumps along over the next two years. (Secretary Clinton’s closet would be a medley of suits crafted by Carolina Herrera and the late Oscar de la Renta and, just to please her audience with the sartorial equivalent of the Pledge of Allegiance, a smattering of denim.) But who cares? Frankly, I do — but not because she’s a woman.

It seems inevitable, if unfair, that when a woman is vying for a prominent position in office, her outfit choices will be analyzed to a degree considerably higher than those of her male counterpart by simple existence of gender stereotypes. Name It. Change it. has found that any mention of a female candidate’s appearance — positive or negative — hurts her chances of being elected into office.

But this conversation is not about Clinton and the manifold shades of suit she has worn; it’s about the impact of fashion on society outside of its own industry. (For her part, Clinton joked about developing a television show called “Project Pantsuit” while presenting a lifetime achievement award to Oscar de la Renta at the annual Council of Fashion Designers of America ceremony in 2012.)

Fashion is used as a tool to convey a point about who we are or potentially want to be. Whether or not a civilian curates his or her own aesthetic is up that person, but it is an integral part of one’s public image. It can be used to reveal various aspects of yourself at various times, or even create something new all together. Maybe it’s feeling like a little “metallic blueberry on creamsicle” for a campaign event, rolling up shirt sleeves to suggest easy confidence, or an Air Force One “mulletting” a la Ronald Reagan, a presidential man repeller who effectively took the reputation of a hair style and turned it into a mode of dress.

Rosie Assoulin, a fashion designer who has dressed Oprah — a figure as prominently recognized as Clinton — recently asked me where the humanity is in fashion. “People use clothes as a tool, but often to lie to the world about themselves,” she said. And she’s right: fashion can be honest, it can be aspirational, and it can lie. Of course, everyone, presidential candidate or not, has the choice to engage using fashion. But that doesn’t quite detract from the voice of the clothes, which is what makes them interesting here — it’s politics.

Read next: Rand Paul Is the Most Interesting Man in Political Fashion

Leandra Medine is the founder of Man Repeller, a humorous website for serious fashion, and the author of Man Repeller: Seeking Love, Finding Overalls. She almost always wears her suit lapels popped.

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

TIME politics

How a Hug Jump-Started Marco Rubio’s Career

Marco Rubio
Joe Raedle—Getty Images Marco Rubio speaks about Cuba during a Cuban Independence Day Celebration at the InterContinental Hotel May 23, 2008, in Miami

The Florida Senator was helped along by a politically perilous PDA

Monday promises to be a big day for Marco Rubio: the Florida Senator has said that he’ll announce whether he plans to run in the next election, and for what.

It was only a little more than five years ago that Rubio took the big risk that brought him to the precipice of a potential presidential candidacy. He had spent nearly a decade in the Florida state legislature but, in mid-2009, was not in office. In mid 2009, Florida’s governor Charlie Crist seemed to have the race locked up to become Florida’s next Senator. Then, after Barack Obama won the White House, Crist appeared at an event with the new President and exchanged a hug.

Rubio, as TIME’s David von Drehle recounted in a 2010 cover story about the changing Republican party, saw his chance:

Another Florida Republican had a different idea. His name was Marco Rubio. He was the baby-faced former speaker of the Florida legislature. Well-wired Floridians knew that Rubio was thinking about challenging Crist for a seat in the U.S. Senate, and they also knew that this was quixotic because Crist had at least a 30-point lead in the polls, plus friends and money and endorsements from powerful Republicans around the country.

But Rubio saw an opportunity in that hug. If one possible Republican strategy was to embrace the Democratic spending agenda, surely there was a case to be made for opposing it. Rubio decided to “stand up to this Big Government agenda, not be co-opted by it,” and three months after The Hug, tossed his hat into the ring. The date was May 5, 2009.

Looking back, that was the day the 2010 election truly began–not just the campaign for a Senate seat from Florida but the broad national campaign for control of Congress and the direction of the country. Rubio’s decision to wage a philosophical battle for the soul of the Florida GOP was a catalyst for the surprising and outrageous events that followed. He became a darling of the nascent Tea Party movement and a point man in the movement’s purge of the GOP establishment. Rubio led the way for a dust-kicking herd of dark-horse candidates–some thoroughbreds, some nags. And most of all, Rubio symbolized the fact that this year’s midterms have become a referendum on such fundamental issues as the role of government and the size of the public debt.

Crist eventually dropped out of the Republican field to run as an Independent, but it was too late. Rubio won the Senate seat and was catapulted to the top rung of the Republican Party.

Read the 2010 cover story, here in the TIME archives: Party Crashers

Read next: Republican Candidates Didn’t Just Talk Guns at NRA Event

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