TIME

Democrats Praise Party Chair After Critical Report

Debbie Wasserman Schultz Democrat
Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chair, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democrat of Florida, speaks at the DNC's Leadership Forum Issues Conference in Washington on Sept. 19, 2014. Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images

A day after a brutal story questioned her competence, Democrats from Obama to Hillary celebrated Debbie Wasserman Schultz

President Barack Obama praised Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz on Friday, at a time her leadership of the party is being sharply questioned.

“I want to thank Debbie for the great work that she is doing to keep our party strong,” Obama said on the stage of the Democratic Women’s Leadership Forum in Washington. “Nobody anywhere works harder than Debbie Wasserman Schultz. I want to thank her for her incredible efforts.”

Kind words. But according to a 4,000-word Politico story this week, Obama rarely includes the DNC chair in his political meetings and thinks little of the job she’s doing—so little that his Administration actively looked to replace her in 2012, but decided it would ultimately be more hassle than it’d be worth.

Obama wasn’t the only one with effusive praise for Wasserman Schultz. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton complimented Wasserman Schultz earlier in the day. “Debbie wears so many hats so well: DNC chair, trusted friend, congresswoman, mom,” she said.

But according to the Politico article, Clinton will never forgive Wasserman Schultz, who co-chaired her 2008 presidential bid, for secretly calling the Obama campaign late in the primary slugfest and secretly pledging her support.

Also effusive of Wasserman Schultz was Vice President Joe Biden. “I’ve never seen anyone work as hard and as tirelessly as Debbie does,” Biden said. “She’s like my little sister.”

Which is perhaps why Wasserman Schultz was over the top on her praise of Biden—perhaps the only prominent Democrat named in the Politico story whose aides didn’t trash her—and hinted at supporting him for President in 2016 against presumed frontrunner Clinton. “Joe Biden is a national treasure… There’s a reason I wore a Joe Biden button [when he ran for President] in 1988 even after someone else won the nomination,” she told the crowd. “Of course, I’m neutral as DNC chair, but I thought you should know that.”

TIME 2016 Election

Hillary Clinton Pledges to Campaign for Female Democratic Candidates

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addresses the Democratic National Committee's Women's Leadership Forum annual Issues Conference in Washington on Sept. 19, 2014.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addresses the Democratic National Committee's Women's Leadership Forum annual Issues Conference in Washington on Sept. 19, 2014. Jim Bourg—Reuters

Calling out Senate and gubernatorial candidates by name, Clinton pledges to help get every woman on the ballot elected

Hillary Clinton plunged back into the political waters Friday by pledging to work to get all the female Democratic candidates on the ballot elected in November.

“I can’t think of a better way to make the House work again than electing every woman on the ballot,” Clinton told the Democratic Women’s Leadership Forum, a group she helped start more than 20 years ago with former Second Lady Tipper Gore. “There are 10 women running for the Senate, six women running for governor and I wish I could vote for all of them.”

Clinton called out several candidates by name: Senate challengers Michelle Nunn in Georgia, Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky and West Virginia’s Natalie Tennant, incumbent Sens. Kay Hagan in North Carolina and Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire, and House candidate Staci Appel in Iowa.

The former Secretary of State particularly tout former Trek Bicycle executive Mary Burke, who is challenging Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. “Burke she is offering a choice between more angry gridlock,” Clinton said, “and… smart progressive policies.”

Clinton said she wanted to see a movement of women rise up to take back the government. “We’re in the home stretch and it all comes down on who shows up to vote,” she told the crowd of female Democratic organizers, many of whom will be relied on to turn out female voters in November. “This country will maintain a level playing field so whether you’re the grandchild of a president, or the grandchild of a janitor, whether you were born in a city or a small rural village, no matter who you are you have the right to inherit the American dream.”

TIME 2016 Election

Hillary Clinton’s Decision Time

Hillary Clinton gives a speech at the 37th Harkin Steak Fry in Indianola, Iowa on Sept. 14, 2014. ; Mitt Romney speaks to supporters at an election-night rally on April 3, 2012 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Hillary Clinton gives a speech at the 37th Harkin Steak Fry in Indianola, Iowa on Sept. 14, 2014. ; Mitt Romney speaks to supporters at an election-night rally on April 3, 2012 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Jim Young—Reuters/Corbis; Scott Olson—Getty Images

Presumptive 2016 Democratic frontrunner faces a question of timing

Hillary Clinton is widely expected to run for president again in 2016, letting political observers move on from the usual will-she-or-won’t-she to another, more nuanced parlor game: When will she announce her candidacy?

“Timing is everything in politics,” said Donna Brazile, who managed Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign. A candidate as established as Clinton has “the luxury of timing,” Brazile said. “But in politics that luxury can slip away if you don’t understand how to seize the moment.”

The former Secretary of State has given some mixed messages about when she’ll decide. She said in June that she’d be “on the way” to making a decision by the end of the year, and this month she said she’d make a decision “probably after the first of the year.” Those are some pretty ambiguous tea leaves for political watchers to try to read—not to mention the fact that she can “make a decision” and still not actually announce her candidacy for months.

But a survey of top political strategists and a look back through presidential campaign history offers one clear clue: As her party’s undisputed frontrunner, Clinton is likely to wait as long as possible to pull the trigger.

“The second you announce, the dynamics change completely,” said Phil Singer, a Democratic strategist who worked on Clinton’s 2008 campaign. “You really fall under the microscope in a way you don’t when you’re still contemplating whether to run.”

So while Clinton announced her 2008 candidacy in January 2007—a full 22 months before the general election—most aren’t expecting a Hillary Clinton campaign bus to be rolling over snow early next year. That might not sit well with some Democrats, who increasingly want Clinton to send a clear signal soon—especially if it turns out she’s not running. “A ‘no’ has to come earlier than a ‘yes,’” one Democratic strategist told NBC News in August. “If it’s a no, I suspect she won’t let it drag on.”

But despite Democratic jitters, strategists from both parties interviewed by TIME agreed it’s in her best interest to wait. As the close attention paid to inartful comments she made about her wealth during her book tour demonstrated, her every word is being scrutinized—a dynamic that will only intensify when she’s formally a presidential candidate. Her first visit to Iowa since the 2008 campaign last weekend drew close to 200 members of the media.

“The general public’s not paying attention that early, but an important subsection of the public are,” said Steve Schmidt, a top strategist on John McCain’s 2008 campaign. “The announcement is the first of many system checks that takes place.”

In the 2012 campaign, GOP frontrunner (and eventual nominee) Mitt Romney waited until June 2011 to declare his candidacy. At that point five Republicans had already participated in their party’s first primary debate. In 1991, Bill Clinton, then the governor of Arkansas, announced 13 months before the general election. In 1979, Ronald Reagan announced his candidacy just 12 months before the polls opened. In 1960, John F. Kennedy, announced his candidacy just 10 months before the November election.

Election cycles have gotten longer and campaigns more permanent over the years, with presidential candidates announcing earlier and earlier. But given Clinton’s singular place in the party today, her timing could be more like those of candidates in the more distant past. With the outside super PAC Ready for Hillary already laying the groundwork for her campaign and the Clinton name more than potent enough in Democratic politics to make up fundraising ground even with a late start, Clinton has more to lose than to gain by starting too early, strategists said. Ready for Hillary raised $4 million in 2013, and an array of Clinton allies have jumped into the fold this year, including Correct the Record, a Democratic research group aimed at pushing back against Republican critics of her record, and Priorities USA Action, the former pro-Obama super PAC now backing Clinton.

“She’s got the ability to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in a window where her competitors could raise tens of millions of dollars at best,” said Rick Wilson, a Florida-based Republican strategist who worked on Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Gore formally launched his campaign in June of 1999, enjoying a similar advantage to Clinton’s now. “We had the luxury of name recognition and a lot of organization,” Brazile said.

Whatever announcement Clinton does make will of course be closely watched, not just for its timing but its substance. In 2007, Barack Obama, then a Senator from Illinois, chose the “arctic cold” of early February in Springfield, Ill., to announce his candidacy before a crowd of approximately 16,000 people.

“The Obama event was like seeing the Rolling Stones,” Singer said.

“I think Obama did a very good job in 2008,” said Chris Lehane, a Democratic strategist who worked on Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign. “I think in part by being able to combine the fundraising aspect of it with the announcement, sort of creating the impression that there was this huge grassroots network that was excited for his candidacy.”

Clinton chose a lower profile setting for her announcement: a video posted to her website. “After six years of George Bush, it is time to renew the promise of America,” Clinton said at the time. “I grew up in a middle-class family in the middle of America, and we believed in that promise.”

The only reasons for Clinton to announce earlier, strategists said, might be to freeze other candidates from getting into the race and to be more free to respond directly to attacks from her Republican opponents.

“I think there will be far fewer Democratic announcements if she announces,” said veteran Democratic strategist Bob Shrum, who worked on John Kerry’s 2004 campaign. “And I believe she will. I think she is running.”

Lehane predicted that other Democrats will start to throw their hats in the ring the moment the midterm elections are over: “12:01 a.m. the first Tuesday of November.”

TIME 2016 Election

Hillary Clinton Goes to Iowa

Hillary Clinton
Former U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, reacts during a conference at the Seminar "Mexico Siglo XXI" (Mexico XXI Century) organized by Telmex foundation, in Mexico City on Sept. 5, 2014. Edgard Garrido—Reuters

This will be Clinton’s first visit to Iowa since she lost the caucuses in 2008

Sunday afternoon in Indianola, Iowa, is bound to be a spectacle. Former President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary will be the keynote speakers at retiring Sen. Tom Harkin’s 37th and last steak fry. Some 5,000 people—a third of the town’s population of 15,000—are expected to attend, including more than 200 journalists from around the world.

The former first lady’s every handshake and utterance will surely be parsed for signs of whether she’ll run for President again in 2016. This will be Clinton’s first trip back to Iowa since her humiliating third-place loss in the caucuses in 2008, a setback that ultimately cost her the nomination. Just in case she’s forgotten this painful fact, the Republican National Committee made a highlight reel of Clinton’s past failures in Iowa to remind her.

The event will surely look like a campaign. Ready for Hillary, her shadow grassroots campaign will be on hand to greet the former New York senator and Secretary of State. They have been encouraging Iowans to register for the event for months, and they’ll have the “Ready for Hillary” bus there.

As she was when she last attended this event seven years ago, Clinton is heavily favored to win the caucuses. If the caucuses were held today she’d garner 53% of the vote, according to a CNN/ORC poll of registered Iowa voters out Friday. That blows away the field: Vice President Joe Biden comes in a distant second with 15%, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has said repeatedly she won’t run, gets 7%, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has 5%, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo 3%, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley 2% and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick 1%.

And one of the biggest differences between 2007 and now is that at that Steak Fry, which is an annual fundraiser, then Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards were eagerly anticipated guests in attendance. Ultimately, Obama would win the caucuses and Edwards would come in second. This time, there’s no rival in sight. Well, Sanders may show up (he’s holding an event in Des Moines that night), but few believe he’s a threat to Clinton the way Obama and Edwards were.

That said, many Iowans view Clinton’s candidacy with a grain of salt, and some will come to the Steak Fry to see how she behaves. She ran a decidedly non-retail campaign in 2008, visiting less than 60 of the 99 counties. Bill Clinton didn’t contest Iowa in 1992 as his host, Harkin, was on the ballot and an easy shoo-in. And he didn’t bother much with it during his reelection. Which means that Iowans feel like they don’t truly know the Clintons they way they know other politicians who’ve come to pay homage to the fickle first voters. And they’ll expect—or at least hope for—some signs of courtship from the Clintons.

Officially, Clinton isn’t running for President. She said last week that she’d make up her mind after Jan. 1 if she’ll enter the race. But that won’t stop speculation from running rampant. Let the pseudo-shadow-non-campaigning begin.

TIME politics

No, Hillary Clinton Isn’t The Frontrunner Because She’s a Woman

Secretary Of State Kerry Joined By Former Secretaries Break Ground On US Diplomacy Center
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers remarks during the ceremonial groundbreaking of the future U.S. Diplomacy Center at the State Department's Harry S. Truman Building September 3, 2014 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images

Sorry, Chuck Todd—you're wrong about Hillary

During an interview with Charlie Rose this week, Meet the Press host Chuck Todd said, “If [Hillary Clinton] were running to be the second woman president, I think she would not even be considered a frontrunner.”

While I’ve always had deep respect for Chuck’s reporting and analysis, to imply that Hillary Clinton is the Democratic frontrunner only because she’s a woman is not just offensive, it is flat-out wrong.

Writing off Hillary Clinton’s accomplishments and credentials as merely a result of her gender undermines the progress we’ve made toward equality in this country and is indicative of just how far we have to go. Nearly a century after women earned the right to vote, there still seems to be an underlying presumption that we aren’t as capable as our male counterparts. Even though women make up 60% of our college graduates and 70% of our high school valedictorians, they hold just 18.5% of the seats in Congress, 4.8% of Fortune 500 CEO positions, and earn just 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. The numbers get even more disappointing for women of color.

This systemic inequity is felt throughout our society, but especially in the media and especially with regard to Hillary Clinton.

While I do believe the country would benefit from having a female president, being a woman does not guarantee anyone frontrunner status. If that were the case, Michele Bachmann would have been the Republican frontrunner in 2012, but she didn’t even come close.

Why is that? Because the American people are smarter than that. The American people don’t vote on gender alone. They vote for the person they believe is the most qualified to lead our nation – gender, race and religion aside. The media needs to start giving Americans a little more credit for their decisions.

Americans know that Hillary Clinton is ready to be the next President of the United States. The enthusiasm behind Hillary Clinton is a result of her years of hard, incredible work serving this country and her fellow Americans. The fact that she’s a woman is just icing on the cake.

Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez represents California’s 46th Congressional District.

TIME 2014 Election

‘War on Women’ Motivates Voters for Midterm Election, Poll Finds

Pro-Choice Emily's List
Pro-choice demonstrators rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington on Jan. 22, 2014. Susan Walsh—AP

Democrats are betting they can turn out women and minorities to the polls

The “War on Women” seems to be working.

Voters such as women and minorities, who often turn out in smaller numbers during off-year elections, are more motivated to vote when they feel women’s access to birth control and abortion are threatened, and if women and families’ economic security is imperiled, according to a new poll given exclusively to TIME.

“In 2014, women voters have made it clear that they won’t stand for attacks on their economic security or their reproductive healthcare,” said Stephanie Schriock, president EMILY’s List, a group that elects pro-choice women and one of the poll’s sponsors. “The Republican Party’s relentless assault on women’s rights and freedoms is backfiring, and as long as they continue to ignore the real needs of working families, the gulf between them and women voters will only continue to grow.”

Democrats have pegged their hopes this fall to turning out women and minority voters, who tend to drop off during non-presidential election years. To that end, they have introduced and campaigned on a women’s economic agenda that includes raising the minimum wage, which disproportionately affects women, expanding paid medical leave and access to childcare. In 2010, Democrats lost women for the first time in decades, and subsequently lost the House and six Senate seats. Democrats are determined not to repeat that mistake in 2014.

The poll of these drop-off voters in 18 swing states, co-sponsored by EMILY’s List, Planned Parenthood Action Fund and American Women, found that 23% of the drop-off voters surveyed ranked their enthusiasm for voting at less than half, but that number plummeted to 12% after hearing motivational messages about women’s health and economic security. Nearly three-quarters, or 74%, called the idea that failing to vote would be sending a message that they endorse the status quo a “very motivating” factor to vote. The same number said “helping working families get ahead” was a “very motivating” factor to vote.

Democrats have been pounding Republicans for their “War on Women,” not just on the economic front—for refusing to vote to increase the minimum wage and for Equal Pay, for example—but on the reproductive front. This strategy was highly effective in 2012, when two GOP Senate candidates made inartful statements about rape and abortion that turned off women voters nationally. The survey found that 70% of drop-off voters said they found reproductive rights and the chance to vote against a pro-life politician a “very motivating” factor to go to the polls in November. And 70% of those polled said allowing an employer to dictate what healthcare coverage a woman gets was a “very motivating” reason to vote.

“This poll confirms what we’re hearing from voters as our supporters knock doors and make phone calls in key states: issues like access to birth control and abortion will get voters to the polls this November,” said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president, Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Republicans, recognizing the problem, have introduced their own Equal Pay legislation and flexible work bills in both chambers, though the bills have yet to see votes. They’ve also made efforts to recruit more women to run for office, a campaign which has seen some progress in the Senate but has fallen short in the House. A recent poll commissioned by two GOP groups, including one backed by Karl Rove, found that female voters view the party as “intolerant,” “lacking in compassion” and “stuck in the past.”

Still, that may prove more of a problem for Republicans in 2016, when Democrats may have a woman, Hillary Clinton, on the top of the ticket, than in 2014. Drop-off voters are notoriously difficult to motivate and Republicans have had fewer gaffes than they did in 2012 concerning rape and abortion. Much will depend on how Democrats effectively make their closing arguments in the final weeks of the election.

Anzalone Liszt Grove Research conducted the telephone poll of 1,000 drop-off voters in 18 battleground states. It included oversamples of 100 Hispanic drop-off voters and 400 likely 2014 swing voters. Interviews were conducted Aug. 4-13. The margin of error for the sample as a whole is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. The battleground states are: Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, and West Virginia.

TIME Newsmaker Interview

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Won’t Name Colleague Who Called Her ‘Porky’

Senators Discuss Legislation To Counter Sexual Assaults On Campus
Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) participates in a news conference about new legislation aimed at curbing sexual assults on college and university campuses at the U.S. Capitol. Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images

Her book is a call for women to run for office, though she says she has no current designs on the nation’s highest office

She still considers herself the “loud mouth” and “fog horn” her father teasingly called her as a child, but Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said Monday that she is not going to say which colleague called her “porky” after the birth of her second child, or which elderly senator told her not to slim down too much because he likes “my girls chubby.”

Those disclosures in her book, “Off the Sidelines,” which is due out Tuesday, made waves when they were printed in People Magazine last week. While taken aback by the clamor to disclose her critics’ names, Gillibrand says she knew that chapter—the one about her struggles with her weight—would be “the one every women’s magazine would excerpt,” she tells TIME. “I use these illustrations as an example of much larger point. It’s important to have a debate about how women are treated in the workplace. I’m not alone in having someone say something stupid. It’s less important who they are than what they said.”

The New York Democrat is using her book to promote her push to engage more women in politics. She holds her own life up as an example of finding a way to have it all: the big career, two young sons and loving marriage. “We need new and better policies that support women and allow all women to rise,” Gillibrand writes. “We need to end the cycle of women studying hard, starting careers, climbing through the ranks, taking time off to care for children, and never again finding a job as good as the one they left.”

Gillibrand is frank about the hardships: dispiriting credit or criticisms over her appearance, being unable even now to afford full time help and coming home from Congress to clean the bathroom when you have three men in the house (boys, apparently, don’t have great aim). But she also waxes poetic about the good she feels she has been able to accomplish: passing health care for the 9/11 first responders, tackling sexual assault in the military and on college campuses and repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

Gillibrand emphasizes that her flexible schedule in the Senate is what allows her to do it all. “These challenges that I face are common and not surprising, and I have it so much easier than working moms,” says Gillibrand, whose husband works in New York and lives up there for most of the week, leaving Gillibrand to care single-handedly for their two young sons in Washington. “I don’t have to be at work at a certain time.”

She writes about the importance of being unabashedly ambitious without the fear of seeming like, well, a bitch. “I was nicknamed Tracy Flick, the aggressive, comical, and somewhat unhinged blond high school student played by Reese Witherspoon in the movie Election,” Gillibrand writes. “It was a put down to me and other ambitious women, meant to keep us in our place. Yes, I’m competitive. I fight for what I believe in, and I drive hard toward my goals. Does that make me ruthless and crazed? No.”

Too many women, she argues, sit on the sidelines because they fear ambition. She says she timed the book to come out just before the midterm elections because she hopes to inspire more women to go out and vote, and to realize that political ambitions of their own are more achievable than they may think. But, when asked if she has further political ambitions in life, Gillibrand is clear about being happy where she is—and that her legislative plate is full with a reauthorization of the 9/11 First Responders bill and another pass at getting prosecution of cases of sexual assault in the military removed from the chain of command. Her bill fell six votes short of breaking a filibuster earlier this year.

She says she doesn’t want to run for governor and hasn’t the slightest intention of seeking the Democratic nomination for President in 2016 against presumed front-runner Hillary Clinton, her predecessor in the Senate and who wrote the glowing forward to Gillibrand’s book (“For Kirsten,” Clinton writes, “public service isn’t a job. It’s a calling.”).

But the book tour still means she gets asked questions about her future ambitions.

“Will you run for President?” I asked her on Monday.

“No,” she said.

“What if Hillary doesn’t run?”

“No.”

“Are you ruling it out?”

“Ask me in 10 years.”

“How about in 2020?”

“No.”

“2024?”

“No.”

“Which will come first, a third kid or running for President?”

“Oooh,” Gillibrand said, “That is such a hard question. I think they’re both off the table. Probably having a third—probably have a third would come first if I could convince my husband. I’d love having a third.”

TIME 2016 Election

The Ghosts of Ron Paul Haunt His Son

Rand Paul Ron Paul
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) (L) talks to his father Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) (R) during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 22, 2011. Alex Wong—Getty Images

Ron Paul is quickly going from being his son's greatest asset to his worst liability

Late last week, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign manager Jesse Benton quietly resigned. But the move won’t affect McConnell’s campaign so much as one that has yet to be launched: fellow Kentuckian Rand Paul’s anticipated bid for the White House in 2016.

McConnell had hired Benton, who worked for Ron Paul’s presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012, and for Paul’s son Rand’s insurgent 2010 senatorial bid, for his connections to the Tea Party and grassroots activists. Unfortunately for Benton, it is those connections in the early voting state of Iowa that have gotten him in trouble.

The scandal goes back to the 2012 presidential race, when Iowa State Senator Ken Sorensen dramatically left Michele Bachmann’s campaign just days before the caucuses and endorsed Ron Paul. After a 31-month federal investigation, Sorensen finally admitted to seeking a $75,000 payment for the jump from the Paul campaign. He named Benton as the person within the Paul campaign with whom he negotiated. Benton has denied the allegations as “untrue” and “false,” but resigned nonetheless to spare “unfairly undermining” McConnell’s tough reelection.

Allegations that Benton and former Ron Paul 2012 Iowa vice chair AJ Spiker may have been involved in the scandal throw a wrench into the younger Paul’s campaign structure, as he had hoped to inherit much of his father’s political network. But there may be another shoe yet to drop. The federal investigation into the pay-for-endorsement scheme continues, and may seek to target other former Paul staffers involved. Repeated requests for comment from Paul’s Iowa staffers went unanswered.

The incident is just one of many this summer where Rand Paul—who owes his Libertarian political identity to his father—has had to reconsider shared staff or distance himself from his father’s positions. The outspoken three-time presidential contender is quickly cementing himself as his son’s greatest political vulnerability—and he’s not going away anytime soon.

While Paul-the-younger has been working to reframe his foreign policy to be more palatable to the GOP’s hawkish wing, his father has been making that task increasingly difficult. Speaking on the Money and Markets podcast, Ron Paul defended 9/11 “truthers,” adding that the federal government did more harm to Americans’ liberties than Osama bin Laden. “It’s politically very risky to talk about it,” Paul said. Though Rand Paul has skated close to truthers in his career, he’s never endorsed the conspiracy theory.

The disconnect between father and son was further on stark display this weekend when the younger Paul said President Barack Obama’s admission that he has “no strategy” to tackle ISIS in Syria meant “Maybe it’s time for a new president.” In a follow-up comment to the Associated Press, Rand Paul added he would seek congressional authorization “to destroy ISIS militarily.”

The elder Paul, however, celebrated the president’s candid moment. “A lack of strategy is a glimmer of hope. Perhaps the president will finally stop listening to the neocons and interventionists whose recommendations have gotten us into this mess in the first place! Here’s a strategy: just come home.”

There are many places where the two agree. For example both wrote op-eds excoriating the militarization of the police after the riots in Ferguson, Mo. But more often than not, they don’t. Ron Paul has called for clemency for Edward Snowden while his son says Snowden deserves a light prison sentence. Rand Paul has called for strong sanctions against Russia, while his father has opposed such sanctions saying they might “sink the U.S. dollar.

And Rand Paul has yet to weigh in on his father’s comments last month that the U.S. had exaggerated the Ebola outbreak for profit, and that the disease should be treated with the banned pesticide DDT.

Clearly, the 13-term Texas congressman isn’t slowing down in his retirement. But he may want to tone the rhetoric down for his son’s sake, in case the sins of the father—or, in this case, the conspiracy theories—come back to haunt his son.

TIME Immigration

Obama Weighs Risks and Rewards on Immigration Action

President Obama Delivers Remarks At The Department of Housing and Urban Development
U.S President Barack Obama Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg/Getty Images

The President is weighing whether to wait until after the midterms to move on immigration, after promising action at the end of the summer

President Barack Obama is weighing whether to postpone a self-imposed deadline to make unilateral changes to U.S. immigration laws as the midterm elections draw near.

The President is still expected to take executive action this year to provide temporary deportation protection and work authorization to potentially several million undocumented immigrants.

But with control of the Senate hanging in the balance, the uncertain ramifications of revamping U.S. immigration law have spurred the White House to reconsider the timing of its announcement. Here’s what we know—and what we don’t—about a decision that could reshape the political landscape in 2014 and beyond.

When might Obama’s decision come?

It was originally supposed to be by the end of summer. On June 30, almost exactly a year after the Senate passed a bipartisan overhaul of the U.S. immigration system, Obama announced he had instructed cabinet officials to prepare reports advising him what executive orders he could legally issue to mend a broken system on his own. “If Congress will not do their job, at least we can do ours,” Obama said. “I expect their recommendations before the end of summer and I intend to adopt those recommendations without further delay.”

But Obama has backtracked from his original timeline in recent days. It’s now an open question whether the move will come before the calendar officially turns to fall on Sept. 22. “There is the chance that it could be before the end of the summer. There is the chance that it could be after the summer,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Tuesday. Obama’s advisers have yet to present any policy recommendations, which will precede a presidential decision.

Immigration activists and Democratic aides who have pressed Obama to use his executive authority say they now fear the White House may wait until after the midterms to act. “It seems like we’re losing the argument,” says one immigration activist who met with Obama this summer. A Democratic Congressional aide told TIME the White House seemed to be “getting cold feet” about its original timeline.

Why the delay?

Blame election season. Democratic campaign strategists believe that a sweeping move to grant deportation relief before November would imperil the reelection bids of several vulnerable Senate incumbents, and have pressed the White House to hold off until at least mid-November. The White House doesn’t want an executive order on immigration to tip tight races to its opponents. And the unresolved child-migration crisis at the southwestern border has further muddied a decision already fraught with political risks. But no matter the timing, Obama still intends to unilaterally reshape U.S. immigration law in the absence of Congressional action. “The president is determined to act,” Earnest said Tuesday. “That has not changed and it will not change.”

What policy options is Obama considering?

Obama’s exact plans are unknown. But he is weighing using his executive authority to grant work permits and deportation relief for several million undocumented immigrants, perhaps through expanding a 2012 program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Obama may also decide to reform immigration enforcement priorities, as well as to offer special protections for specific groups of workers, as business groups have sought.

What might be the political benefits of waiting until after the midterms?

Democratic campaign strategists and some White House officials believe that taking executive action on immigration would jeopardize Democratic Senators who are fighting to stave off challengers in conservative states like Arkansas, Louisiana, Alaska and North Carolina. Control of the Senate may hinge on the outcome of those races. “It would have the unhelpful consequence of putting the issue in the news in a way that doesn’t help Democrats, while also not accomplishing anything,” says a national Democratic strategist.

Of the most competitive Senate races this year, Colorado—which is home to a burgeoning Hispanic population—is perhaps the only one in which aggressive executive orders would be highly likely to benefit the Democratic candidate, Sen. Mark Udall. Democratic campaign strategists argue the move would not only endanger the party’s grip on the upper chamber, but also eliminate the diminishing chance that Congress passes a comprehensive overhaul in the near future. If a move “swings the election,” says the Democratic strategist, “that will set back comprehensive immigration reform for years.”

What might be the political benefits of acting now?

Immigration-reform advocates say that a bold move to protect millions from deportation would cement Democrats’ bond with increasingly frustrated Hispanics, giving the party an edge with the nation’s fastest-growing demographic group for a generation or more. And while it would almost surely help Democrats in 2016—as the creation of DACA did in 2012—it’s not necessarily clear that it would hurt in November.

In addition to thrilling Latinos, expansive executive action would incense conservative Republicans, and potentially incite the GOP’s anti-immigration wing to make damaging remarks that Democrats could wield as campaign cudgels. “It’s a winner coming and going,” says Frank Sharry, head of the pro-immigration reform group America’s Voice. “No matter what he does, the right wing is going to go bonkers,” Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO, told reporters last week. “If he goes mild, he’ll energize the right, but he won’t energize the center and the left.”

What about splitting the difference?

A third option under consideration, according to White House aides, is that Obama announces some modest executive orders before the election, but holds off until mid-November to announce more sweeping components. This seems unlikely, however, because it minimizes the political rewards but not the risks. Republicans would still assail the President. The issue would still take center stage in the midterms. But Hispanics might view the move as a half-measure from a President who came into office vowing to make immigration reform a priority, but has mostly disappointed them since.

“You cannot, on the one hand, receive a community warmly and embrace them, and say that you are for them and that you’re ready to protect them,” says Rep. Luis Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat, “and on the other one turn your back on them when you think it’s not in your political self-interest.” Gutierrez has long urged his Democratic counterparts to be patient and let the process of coaxing Republicans to the table play out. In an interview Tuesday, he said it was time for Democrats to stop bowing to political considerations, and for the White House to live up to its commitment to Hispanics.

“I have absolutely no doubt that [Obama] wants to make a broad, bold and generous action,” Gutierrez says. “I hope that Democrats get the hell out of the way and let the President be the President we elected.”

—Additional reporting by Alex Rogers and Zeke J. Miller

TIME 2016 Election

Pro-Clinton Group Touts Her Record on Women

Celebrity Sightings In New York City - July 30, 2014
Hillary Clinton is seen arriving at The Carlyle Hotel on July 30, 2014 in New York City. Alessio Botticelli—GC Images/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton’s shadow campaign emphasizes her empowerment of women

A group dedicated to defending and promoting Hillary Clinton’s record ahead of a possible 2016 presidential bid used Women’s Equality Day to tout her record of promoting women Tuesday.

The group Correct the Record released a two-page document entitled “Breaking Glass: Women’s Economic Empowerment.” The document, given exclusively to TIME, looks at Clinton’s work to promote women’s and girls’ issues as Secretary of State. The issue was Clinton’s top policy priority. The push came after her failed 2008 presidential bid, during which she didn’t highlight the historic nature of her candidacy until the end of the campaign, famously saying only in her concession speech that her bid to be the first female president represented “18 million cracks in the glass ceiling” for the 18 million votes she’d received in the primaries.

Many Clinton advisers who’d worked on the campaign have said in retrospect that they wished they’d emphasized the historic opportunity she had to be the first female president earlier. Clinton lost the women’s vote in 16 state and territorial primaries to Barack Obama. Already this time, Ready for Hillary, another arm of Clinton’s shadow campaign, has focused on outreach to female voters as a priority.

Correct the Record’s promotion of Clinton’s record also speaks to that push, highlighting the work that she’s done to further women and children globally. The group notes that Clinton created the office of Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues and raised women’s issues at all international economic forums. She launched the Equal Futures Partnership to advance women in politics and the private sector. Along with Asian Partners she pushed through the San Francisco Declaration, an agreement to realize women’s economic potential. With help from Middle Eastern countries she launched the Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society, which brought together and empowered activists in the region to work on women’s economic and political. In Latin America and the Caribbean she launched WEAmericas to help women grow small businesses. In Africa, she created the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program to help train women qualify for the African Growth and Opportunity Act, a trade agreement that gives privileged trade status to certain African countries and businesses. And she directed the Invest for the Future program in Southern and Eastern Europe and Eurasia to focus on women’s entrepreneurship.

“Hillary Clinton championed such unprecedented and impassioned work at the State Department to advance women’s entrepreneurship and empowerment that it would take an entire book to fully chronicle her efforts,” said Adrienne Watson, a spokeswoman for the group. “Correct The Record put together this ‘Breaking Glass’ record analysis to highlight Clinton’s many successes, including several multilateral partnerships and programs which raised the profile of women’s issues and resulted in greater economic engagement of women around the world.”

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