TIME

Meet America’s Most Successful Political Families

It's that time of year again: Bushes and Clintons galore are on the campaign trail supporting candidates who are up for election. Here's a look at America's most successful political dynasties

TIME Internet

Monica Lewinsky Just Joined Twitter

Here she goes

Updated Oct. 20, 10:30 a.m. EST.

Monica Lewinsky joined the flock on Monday morning, and here’s what she had to say:

Vanity Fair, which featured her tell-all story earlier this year, was the first to confirm her new account. It quickly received a Verified checkmark.

Is it just that she’s excited to join Twitter? Or is Monica getting ready to tweet her way through the 2016 election?

TIME 2014 Election

Vulnerable Democrats Run Away From Obama

Democratic Challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes And Senate Minority Leader McConnell Locked In Tight Race
Kentucky's Democratic U.S. Senate nominee, and Kentucky Secretary of State, Alison Lundergan Grimes speaks at the Fancy Farm picnic in Fancy Farm, Ky. on Aug. 2, 2014. Win McNamee—Getty Images

There's a reason the President isn't often seen on the campaign trail

In Monday night’s one and only debate for the Kentucky Senate race, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Democratic challenger refused to say whether she voted for President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.

“I have my disagreements with the President,” Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said. “The President is not on the ballot this year.” She added that it was her “constitutional right for privacy at the ballot box” to decline to name for whom she’d voted.

Though she did so clumsily and has been widely criticized for it, Grimes isn’t the only Democrat seeking a Grand Canyon of distance from Obama this campaign cycle. The President’s approval rating is at 42.6% and his disapproval rating is 10-percentage points higher at 52.3%, according to an average of national polls by Real Clear Politics. And he’s even more unpopular in states where Democrats are locked in tight races for control of the Senate like Kentucky, which he lost in 2012 by 23 points; Alaska, where he lost by 14 points; and Arkansas, which he lost by 24 points.

Democrats are hoping this election won’t be a referendum on the president, as midterm elections so often are. With just days left in the campaign, each race has become a smaller-scale war of parochial issues—most of them on which candidates can easily distance themselves from Obama.

As early as a year ago, Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, who is warding off a strong challenge in Arkansas, highlighted how he opposed the President’s gun control legislation in his first television ad of the cycle. “No one from New York or Washington tells me what to do,” Pryor said in the ad. “I listen to Arkansas.”

On energy, Democratic Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Mark Begich of Alaska both ran ads distancing themselves from Obama’s positions. “[T]he Administration’s policies are simply wrong on oil and gas production in this nation,” Landrieu said in her spot. Begich bragged that he “took on Obama” to fight for oil drilling in the Arctic and voted against the president’s “trillion-dollar tax increase.”

Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado said in his first debate with Republican Rep. Cory Gardner that he is the “last person” the Obama Administration wants to see visiting the White House.

And while endangered Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan met Obama on the tarmac in North Carolina in August, going so far as kissing him on the cheek—footage that ended up in campaign commercials against her—she made clear ahead of his trip that she believes his Administration “has not yet done enough to earn the lasting trust of our veterans.” (Obama was there to deliver a speech on veterans issues.)

Even Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who isn’t up for reelection this cycle, has taken the President out to the woodshed in recent days for not doing enough to protect Americans in the wake of the financial crisis. “They protected Wall Street,” she told Salon in an interview. “Not families who were losing their homes. Not people who lost their jobs. And it happened over and over and over.”

Meanwhile, Warren, like former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is proving to be a powerful and popular surrogate these midterms, welcome in places like Kentucky and West Virginia where Obama dare not set foot.

All of which is why Obama’s spending his weekends during the final sprint to the election day golfing, rather than on the campaign trail. He’s done a huge amount of fundraising, but so far only two campaign events for incumbent governors in Illinois and Connecticut. There are a handful of other solid blue states where Obama can help—in his native Hawaii, for example—but First Lady Michelle Obama is much more in demand than he is. Michelle—who has an approval rating of 69%, higher than both Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton at the same point in their husband’s presidencies—has campaigned for Senate hopefuls in Michigan and Iowa and a gubernatorial candidate in Maine, Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. And she’s scheduled to stump for gubernatorial hopeful Charlie Crist in Florida on Friday, not to mention a bevy of voter registration events in other states.

Running away from an unpopular second-term President is practically becoming a tradition in American politics. Before the 1998 midterm elections, Bill Clinton was plagued by the Monica Lewinsky scandal—though Republican overreach helped his party actually gain seats. And thanks to Iraq and Afghanistan, George W. Bush wasn’t very popular with his party in 2006, even before the financial crisis. Republicans lost both chambers of Congress that year.

“It’s a common phenomenon, running against a lame duck president,” says Prof. James Thurber, director of American University’s Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies. “In the last two years of his Administration, Presidents have tended to be very unpopular, having used up their political capital.”

Still, Obama bears the distinction of being so polarizing that running against him has proven successful for Democrats almost from the moment he was elected. In 2010, West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin ran an ad that showed him shooting climate change legislation endorsed by Obama with a gun. That same year Indiana Democrat Joe Donnelly ran ads distancing himself from the President. Both men bucked an anti-Democratic wave to get elected to the Senate.

Democrats this year are hoping to repeat their strategy. Grimes ran an ad in September that showed her shooting skeet while declaring: “I’m not Barack Obama.”

Read next: Hey, Mitt Romney Cracked a Good Joke

TIME 2016 Election

Hillary Clinton’s Burden of History

Hillary Clinton
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at a forum sponsored by the Center for American Progress in Washington, Sept. 18, 2014. Molly Riley—AP

Everything old is new again for the Clintons, as documents reveal White House secrets.

Buried in the 10,000 pages of documents released by the Clinton Presidential Library Friday is one bearing the customized stamp “Document Produced To Independent Counsel.”

Created to help track the untold number of documents produced for independent counsel Ken Starr’s investigations of the Clintons, the stamp is a totem of the problem that has dogged Hillary Clinton since she ran for the U.S. Senate in 2000: her history.

The Library made the documents available Friday, completing the release of 30,000 pages of previously restricted White House records on everything from the failed HillaryCare push to the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Those controversies generated internal debates and gotcha-moments now bearing out 14 years after the former First Lady and her husband vacated the White House, complicating her bid to be a repeat occupant.

Deliberations over Supreme Court appointments, controversial pardons, and meetings with foreign leaders are bared for the world to see. Even personal feuds, like that between the former president and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, are on display in the margins of official documents and notes to staff. To read the document trove is to reenter a White House at the center of political and personal maelstroms.

The stamped memo captures the mid-1990s Clinton White House at a peak of high drama. Written by Deputy White House Counsel Bruce Lindsay to prepare President Bill Clinton for an interview on the Whitewater scandals, it strikes a familiar chord for those who view the former president as deceptive and those who view him as unfairly besieged by enemies. “NOTE: Of course, it is strongly recommended that you not answer specific factual questions about Whitewater, using the appointment of a special counsel as a legitimate way to deflect questions.”

Other documents reveal Hillary Clinton’s distaste for the press, her staff’s attempts to crack down on internal leaks, and the influence of donors in the White House. Ultimately, the documents, with an audience of Washington politicos, appear neither good nor bad for Clinton as she moves towards a run for the White House in 2016. Many simply reveal another perspective of issues well-covered twenty years ago. As much as anything else does, they simply define who she is and where she’s come from, even as she contemplates a new chapter in her life.

Conventional wisdom holds that longtime Senators with equally long voting records have a harder time running for the White House than governors do, a problem that Clinton has on steroids. Unending media interest in her and her husband, a sped-up news cycle, and the country’s increasingly short attention span have made even old news of interest as Clinton looks to 2016. Republicans will try to use these documents to revive the “Clinton Fatigue” that plagued the couple’s last years in office and cast a tall shadow over her failed 2008 presidential bid.

But Clinton will benefit some, too. The documents are proof of her intimate involvement in nearly every aspect of professional Washington for more than two decades. They show the Clintons and their aides tangling with complicated policy challenges, and reveal them slowly developing skills to manage the national media amid scandal.

Ultimately, the greatest challenge Clinton faces in the documents may not be answering for past political maneuvers or the snide remarks of aides, but finding a way to simply leave the past behind.

TIME 2014 Election

Bill Clinton Makes Homecoming Trip a Rescue Mission

Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton speaks during the closing plenary session of the 2014 Clinton Global Initiative in New York City on Sept. 24, 2014. GSA/Demotix/Corbis

The former President is playing big in several races in his home state

Correction appended, Oct. 7.

Three months into his bid to represent Arkansas’s Fourth District in Congress, James Lee Witt got a call from former President Bill Clinton. Witt was outside a town called Magnolia, and Clinton proceeded to rattle off like baseball stats how much he’d won Magnolia by and who would be good to connect with there.

“He then told me every county he’d won and every county he’d lost and all the percentages,” recalls Witt, who served as head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency for all eight years of Clinton’s presidency. “He still remembers the people who supported him and those that didn’t. But if you supported him, you have no truer friend.”

Witt should know. He’s banking on Clinton’s help to win in November. Clinton’s calls to Witt happened every few months in the beginning of the campaign. Now that the election is just a month away, the calls are more frequent, as are the former President’s visits.

And Witt, who spoke to TIME last spring, isn’t the only candidate Clinton has a personal tie to running in Arkansas these days. His former driver during his 1982 gubernatorial campaign, Rep. Mike Ross, is running for governor. Sen. Mark Pryor, whose father was a mentor to Clinton, is in the reelection battle of his career. And Patrick Henry Hays, who was an Arkansas traveler for Clinton’s 1992 presidential bid, is running for Congress in Arkansas’ Second District. All of which is why Clinton is kicking off his midterm sprint in his home state Monday and Tuesday with five events across Arkansas.

For embattled Democrats, Clinton is worth his weight in political gold. “When he was elected President, he never left,” Vince Insalaco, chair of the Arkansas Democratic Party, told TIME in May. “He’s got some wonderful coattails in Arkansas. He’s a giant energizer of the base and he’s able to bring a lot of money out.”

His four candidates will need it in an election trending away from Democrats and President Barack Obama, who is deeply unpopular in Arkansas. The state, largely due to Clinton’s efforts, hasn’t tacked as far in the GOP’s direction as the rest of the south.

Still, Clinton might be Sisyphus this cycle with the races leaning decidedly Republican in recent weeks. Witt’s coveted seat is rated “likely Republican” and the seat Hays is seeking is ranked “lean Republican” by Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election forecaster. The same group ranks Arkansas’ gubernatorial and Senate races “toss ups,” but GOP Rep. Tom cotton leads Pryor by 3.7 percentage points and former Rep. Asa Hutchinson leads Ross by 5.6 percentage points, according to averages of Arkansas polls by Real Clear Politics.

Republicans downplayed the importance of Clinton’s influence in Arkansas. “I’m not worried about Bill Clinton’s support for Mark Pryor,” Cotton told ABC News on Sunday. “I’m worried about Mark Pryor’s support for Barack Obama.” And banker French Hill, who is running against Hays, told Roll Call this summer that, “President Clinton has a lot of friends in Arkansas. … But I don’t believe it will have a major impact in this race because I believe the electorate is looking for somebody who’s got a business background, that’s a conservative person to help represent the district.”

For Clinton, this isn’t just about politics. Not only is he personally invested in the four Democrats, but Hutchinson served as one of the Republican floor managers of Clinton’s 1998 impeachment trial in the House. Which is why his involvement goes beyond rallies and fundraisers: He calls all four candidates on a regular basis to strategize with them on how to win in a state he prides himself on still knowing intimately. After all, the airport, his Presidential library and a fair number of roads across the state are named for Arkansas’ only son to be elected to the nation’s highest office. “He’s a terrific campaigner, excellent fundraiser and premier strategist,” says Skip Rutherford, dean of the University of Arkansas’s School of Public Affairs. “He is very valuable to Democrats, their biggest and best asset on the trail.”

Correction: The original version of this story misidentified the chair of the Arkansas Democratic Party. He is Vince Insalaco. The original version of this story also incorrectly identified French Hill’s opponent. He is Patrick Henry Hays..

TIME White House

Meet the New Boss of the President’s Protectors

From routine business on Capitol Hill to planning President Barack Obama's surprise trip to Baghdad, go behind the scenes with Joe Clancy, the new interim director of the Secret Service

Joe Clancy, the newly appointed interim director of the U.S. Secret Service, has protected three Presidents in his career, but now faces his toughest challenge yet: restoring the public’s—and the commander in chief’s—trust in the agency responsible with his life.

Even before Secret Service Director Julia Pierson submitted her resignation Wednesday, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson had reached out to Clancy, 58, most recently the director of corporate security at telecom-giant Comcast, about taking the job. He retired from the Secret Service in 2011 as head of the Presidential Protective Division (PDD), the corps of presidential bodyguards responsible for the president’s security around the clock.

After several high-profile security incidents, Clancy will be under intense pressure to keep the agency out of the news, as multiple congressional and Department of Homeland Security probes examine where the agency went wrong and where it must go from here. Obama is not expected to select a permanent replacement for Pierson until those reviews are completed later this year.

Clancy will be a familiar face to President Barack Obama and his family, having led the presidential detail during his first years in office.

TIME Media

Let’s Give America’s Royal Baby a Time Out

Clinton Baby Chelsea Clinton Hillary Clinton Bill Clinton
Former President Bill Clinton, right, and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, second from right, wave to the media as Marc Mezvinsky and Chelsea Clinton pose for photographers with their newborn baby, Charlotte, after the family leaves Manhattan's Lenox Hill hospital in New York City on Sept. 29, 2014. William Regan—AP

Nick Gillespie is the editor in chief of Reason.com and Reason.tv.

Is there anything more distasteful than the obviously strategic use of babies by the rich and powerful to gild their images?

As the father of two, I can personally attest to the power of babies and toddlers to melt the coldest heart (mine) and coax a smile from the stoniest of faces (also mine). Well, my kids’ power, anyway. They were (and are) supernaturally, objectively, transcendently beautiful creatures. About yours, I couldn’t honestly say (though I kind of doubt it).

But really, is there anything more distasteful than the obviously strategic use of babies by the rich and powerful to gild their images—and the media’s feckless complicity in the spectacle? Whether it’s the British royal family constantly pushing the toddler Prince George toward the camera or breathless reports of Hillary Clinton’s newfound “grandmother glow,” can we just change its diaper, give it a pacifier, and put it to sleep already?

It’s easy to understand why Brits might take an interest in George and his parents. Not only will the 14-month-old one day rule over them, they’ve really got nothing better to do. Dr. Who is only on so many hours a day, after all. Watching the boy-king pad around on his hands and knees is a welcome diversion from contemplating a century-long slide from world domination, his father Prince William’s advancing baldness, and his grandfather Prince Charles’ continuing existence. And now that the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton has taken care not to flash the commoners anymore, watching George hold court at “low-key tea parties” is about as diverting as it’s going to get in old Blighty.

But why do Americans care about this kid (or, same thing, why does the press assume we care)? There’s nothing more genuinely antithetical to American values than the wealth, titles, and leisure of the British royal family. If memory serves, we even fought a war over it. Inherited privilege brings with it a empire-sized sense of entitlement, which is on brilliant display in William and Kate’s new legal action against photographers who they claim are “stalking” the very baby they trot out daily like an exotic monkey.

William and Kate, a royal spokesman explained to CNN, want their son to have “as normal a childhood as possible” and demand that the press not publish unauthorized shots of George. Please. If you want the kid to have anything approaching a normal childhood, put him up for adoption or have him work his way up from the royal stables (sort of like how the Duchess of Cornwall did). Even America’s raggedy version of royalty—that would be the Kardashians or maybe the Duggars—understand that unearned wealth comes at the cost of your privacy and control over your image.

Controlling your image, of course, is something that Hillary Clinton knows a thing or two about. The former first lady, senator, defense secretary, and presumptive 2016 presidential candidate is a master of adaptation and continued success. Indeed, it’s tempting to say at this point that her husband is slowly being revealed as a bit player in her personal and professional epic, rather than vice versa.

During Bill Clinton’s presidential years, Hillary Clinton readily morphed from a feminist icon who would serve as co-president to a long-suffering, stand-by-your-man, cookie-baking spouse and back again. As a senator from New York, she earned high praise for pragmatism, coalition building, and bipartisan binge-drinking. Despite a patently disastrous term as secretary of state (exemplified by the violent death of the American ambassador to Libya and the failure to “reset” relations with Russia), she’s nimbly laid all the blame for U.S. foreign policy in President Obama’s lap and has emerged as an unreconstructed war hawk at a moment when Americans are calling for blood again.

If Clinton has had one blind spot in her image, it’s that she’s often perceived as less than fully human. If Bill felt our pain, Hillary either kind of enjoyed it or couldn’t be bothered to deal with it. Now that daughter Chelsea—whose undistinguished professional life is reminiscent of British royalty—has produced baby Charlotte, that’s all changing.

Hillary is missing no opportunity to publicly play at grandmother, a role that can only soften and round out her image as the presidential campaign season swings into high gear. “I highly recommend it,” she told CBS News about becoming a grandparent. At a recent speech to a group of women real estate agents, a member of the audience told Clinton that she looked “beautiful.” To which Clinton responded, “I think it’s a grandmother’s glow.”

Or maybe it’s the fire of political ambition lighting up her cheeks. As far back as June, she was systematically linking her grandchild to world events, telling People, “I’m about to become a grandmother… I want to live in the moment. At the same time I am concerned about what I see happening in the country and in the world.”

OK, we get it. The kid is a prop in a political play. The baby doesn’t just soften you up, Mrs. Clinton, it softens us up, too. Which may actually be excellent public relations but is also deeply disturbing.

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 Bizarre

Feel Good Friday: 16 Fun Photos to Start Your Weekend

From American flag kilts to octopus helmet covers, here's a handful of photos to get your weekend started right

TIME Family

Meet the Clinton Baby’s Other Grandparents

Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky attend 2012 Clinton Global Initiative Opening Session at the Sheraton Hote in New York on Sept. 23, 2012.
Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky attend 2012 Clinton Global Initiative Opening Session at the Sheraton Hote in New York on Sept. 23, 2012. Janet Mayer—Splash News/Corbis

Or, as they're called in Yiddish, the 'machatonim'

Even before Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky headed home from the hospital on Monday, we had seen the first photos of her with her “over the moon” new grandparents, Bill and Hillary Clinton. But where were the machatonim?

In case you’re wondering, machatonim is a Yiddish word that describes a relationship for which there is no equivalent word in English: the parents of your child’s spouse. And in the case of the Clintons, the machatonim are two longtime friends and allies: Marjorie Margolies and Edward Mezvinsky.

Marjorie is a women’s rights activist and former Congresswoman from Pennsylvania who served a momentous single term in 1993-95 after her deciding vote for the Clinton budget cost her her seat. She ran but lost in the Democratic primary this spring, despite vigorous support from both Clintons. Her former husband, Edward Mezvinsky, served two terms in Congress from Iowa — but also served fived years in prison after being convicted of fraud in 2001. They were divorced in 2007. So maybe their low profile is understandable.

“We are totally delighted,” Marjorie told TIME. What matters this week, anyway, is the relationship of the Clintons and the Margolies-Mezvinsky as machatonim — surely a more efficient way to put it than fumbling around awkwardly with phrases like “my daughter’s in-laws.” If Bill and Hillary are newcomers to their heightened status as grandparents, Marjorie and Ed are black-belt machatonim. Between their combined eleven children, they already have 18 grandchildren, thus presenting Charlotte with 18 cousins “who can’t wait to be part of Charlotte’s life,” Margolies says.

It’s often pointed out that the machatonim often become uncommonly close for two reasons: (1) their shared love for the same grandchildren, and (2) because they and the grandchildren are united by a common enemy: the parents.

So now begin the sensitive negotiations that are more than familiar to many grandparents. Which family will Charlotte (and, oh, her parents) visit for Thanksgiving? Or will they split the difference, Solomonically bolting after turkey dinner to commute to the Other Grandparents’ House for dessert? Who gives her the coolest presents? And, most terrifying, which grandparents does she says she loves the MOST? She will say she loves them all, of course. After all, at least genetically, all machatonim are created equal.

TIME 2016 Election

The Pros and Cons of ‘President Grandma’

Hillary Bill Chelsea Clinton Baby
Former President Bill Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, hold their granddaughter Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky after their daughter Chelsea Clinton gave birth in New York on Sept. 27, 2014. Jon Davidson—Reuters

The challenges and benefits of running for the land’s highest office as a grandmother

Hillary Clinton has had many titles: mother, First Lady of the United States, U.S. Senator, Secretary of State and, most recently, grandmother. In her last presidential campaign, it was her experience as a senator and, to a lesser extent, first lady, that were the selling points of her campaign. But if she runs again in 2016, she won’t just be touting her experience as top diplomat, she’ll also sports a different kind of distinction: the first viable presidential contender who also happens to be a grandmother.

There are pros and cons in politics to the title of grandma, some of them uniquely Clintonian. At a time when Clinton’s recent remarks about not driving a car since 1996 and struggling to make ends meet after Bill Clinton’s presidency made her seem out of touch with the populist times, being a grandmother makes her relatable.

“As we saw in 2008, she had a more difficult time relating to voters on a personal level,” said Jennifer Lawless, director of the Women & Politics Institute at American University. “Being about to tell stories about having a first grandchild might serve as one way to connect with the millions of Americans who watched Chelsea grow up and who are now grandparents’ themselves. Any benefit will surely be tiny, but it could drive up empathy a bit.”

If Clinton chooses to promote her grandmotherly status, it would be the opposite tack that she took in 2008 where she was so concerned about showing voters she wasn’t a weak woman that she buried the historic nature of her campaign. In that regard, Clinton is the opposite of most women running for office, who try to avoid mentioning their families because they don’t want to seem soft. Being perceived as tough “is particularly important for executive offices, where strength and toughness, and singular leadership, are valued most,” said Kelly Dittmar, a scholar at Rutgers University’s Center for American Women in Politics. “Of course, some of this will be very unique to Hillary Clinton, as she struggled in her last presidential campaign to empathize with voters and was often criticized for being too hard.”

Being a grandpa almost never hurt a male presidential candidate. Few remarked on Mitt Romney’s grandchildren except, perhaps, at the large number of them. Let’s face it: There will be a double standard for Clinton compared to any other male politician running for President. The image of a blue-haired granny is a tried-and-true American stereotype, and one that is antithetical to the image of the commander-in-chief with his finger on the button.

But again, Clinton’s previous campaign and life experience defies that contrast. “While it might be different for other candidates, particularly female candidates who are less known and still need to prove their competence, I think for Hillary Clinton it is a positive,” said Michele Swers, an associate professor in American Government at Georgetown University and author of “The Difference women Make.”

“Clinton spent years developing her persona of expertise and toughness,” Swers said.

But the biggest risk of being the grandma-candidate is that it does remind voters of Clinton’s age. On Election Day 2016, she’ll be 69, just months younger than the oldest U.S. President, Ronald Reagan, when he was elected in 1980. And it was Clinton’s husband Bill, who successfully painted the last President to be a grandparent in office, George H. W. Bush, as old and out of touch when he beat him in the 1992 election.

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