TIME Supreme Court

New Strategy Against Gay Marriage Divides GOP 2016 Field

US Supreme Court Declines To Hear Appeals On Same-Sex Marriage Cases
Alex Wong—Getty Images People come out from the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 6, 2014 in Washington, DC.

Activists want to take on the Supreme Court

MOUNT PLEASANT, Iowa—The U.S. Supreme Court’s expected decision this spring that gay couples have a constitutional right to marry will, for most, mark the end of a decades-long culture war.

But a small circle of Christian activists aren’t giving up yet — and they are already winning over some Republican presidential candidates to their last-ditch effort. Resting their hopes on an effort to redefine the role of the federal judiciary, the activists’ argument takes on a central tenet of modern American politics: that the Supreme Court has the final say on what is the law of the land.

“There are three branches of government,” Andrew Schlafly, a lawyer and conservative activist, told TIME in an interview. “If the Supreme Court overreaches on an issue, the other two branches are there to check and balance it. The Supreme Court can make that decision, but it can’t enforce its own orders in a state. That’s up to the Legislative and Executive branches.”

It’s an argument with a long history in American politics, Schlafly says. He cites the Supreme Court’s 1857 decision in the infamous Dred Scott case, which found that freed slaves were not American citizens and therefore had no standing to sue in court. “The Republican Party said no, we’re not going to go along with that,” Schlafly said. “And the next President was Abraham Lincoln and he did not enforce it.”

Most mainstream constitutional scholars find that argument confounding at best, with criticism from both liberal groups and the conservative Federalist Society.

“It was established a long, long time ago that the federal judiciary has the power to interpret our Constitution and to determine what government actions are constitutional and what are unconstitutional,” said Jeremy Leaming of the progressive American Constitution Society for Law and Policy. “This is pretty basic law-school type of stuff.”

If the Supreme Court decides that same-sex-marriage bans violate the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, then that’s the end of the story, he added. “States can’t choose and pick which parts of the Constitution to uphold and which not to.”

But regardless of how the argument is received in legal circles, it’s already having a significant effect on the Republican presidential primary, where a number of candidates are working overtime to earn the support of social conservatives who are opposed to same-sex marriage.

Last week in Iowa, where evangelical voters hold particular sway, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee emphatically argued that the high court’s ruling would not be the end of the debate.

“There is no such thing as judicial supremacy,” he said at an event organized by the conservative Family Leader group. He added that “unelected black-robed judges” can overturn laws, but even when they do, “then it goes to the legislature and the Executive Branch.”

After a speech at the same summit, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum told TIME that he agrees with Huckabee. “The idea that the courts can just wave their magic wands and not only invalidate laws but pass new ones is a novel concept in the concept of judicial review,” he said. “The courts in my opinion have far exceeded their Article III authority and they need to be pushed back upon by both the Executive and the Congress.”

Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who has argued nine times before the Supreme Court, stopped short of saying that as President he would refuse to enforce a high court decision that found same-sex-marriage bans unconstitutional, but he wrote in a paper provided to the Conservative Republicans of Texas that he would denounce such a ruling “for what it is. Lawless activism, subverting the Constitution.” He also called on conservatives to support a constitutional amendment defining marriage as “limited to one man and one woman” and to consider removing any Supreme Court justice that had “disrespected marriage.”

Florida Senator Marco Rubio has walked a similar tightrope. “Of course, court rulings must be respected, but it is the duty of the President to defend the Constitution, even when the courts won’t,” he wrote in a statement to Iowa conservative radio host Steve Deace.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul did not say that he would ignore a Supreme Court decision but called for term limits on “out of control, unelected federal judges.”

Other Republican presidential candidates have chosen to take a different route, noting their disagreement with state and federal courts’ pro-gay-marriage decisions without actively trying to undermine them.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said gay marriage was a “settled issue” in his state, while Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said court rulings must be respected. Both dropped appeals in their home states after losing same-sex-marriage cases. “For us, it’s over in Wisconsin,” Walker told reporters last fall. “The federal courts have ruled that this decision by this court of appeals decision is the law of the land, and we will be upholding it.”

After a Florida court declared same-sex marriage legal, former governor Jeb Bush said, “We live in a democracy, and regardless of our disagreements, we have to respect the rule of law.” All three governors have faced tough questions from some evangelical voters after conceding the fight.

Schlafly predicted that those candidates would lose support from the conservative Christian base in a Republican primary.

“I think voters are going to be extremely interested in whether a candidate is willing to stand up against overreach by the federal courts on marriage,” he said. “I think it will be a big issue — I think it will be the biggest issue.”

The Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage promises to have particular salience in the first caucus state of Iowa, where a powerful evangelical bloc has long pushed back against the idea of judges defining marriage laws. After the state supreme court ruled in favor of gay marriage in 2009, conservative activists led a successful campaign to deny three justices another term on the bench.

Some conservatives in Iowa are now hoping for a similar backlash against a federal decision. “It’s the Congress that makes the law, it’s the President that executes the law, it’s the people that can amend the Constitution,” said Iowa conservative activist Bob Vander Plaats, who hosted Huckabee, Jindal, Santorum and Texas Governor Rick Perry. “The courts don’t get to do any of those.”

Last month, Deace, the Iowa radio host, asked a slice of the broad field of potential Republican candidates — Cruz, Huckabee, Walker, Perry, Paul, Rubio, Santorum, Ben Carson, Bobby Jindal and Donald Trump — to respond to an essay by John C. Eastman, a conservative professor of law, in which he made the case for ignoring a Supreme Court decision that found same-sex-marriage bans unconstitutional.

Perry, Trump and Jindal did not respond to Deace’s query. Jindal told TIME that he would wait for the court’s decision before weighing in on potential next steps.

Constitutional lawyers on both sides of the ideological divide have pushed back against these arguments. “It’s just fantastical to point to Dred Scott and the Civil War in reference to these cases,” said Leaming of the American Constitution Society. “It’s fantastical and it’s also quite frankly irresponsible.” But for some, at least, it may be good politics.

Read next: Transcript: Read Full Text of Sen. Marco Rubio’s Campaign Launch

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TIME Chris Christie

Sights Set On New Hampshire, Chris Christie Looks For 2016 Reboot At Home

New Jersey Governor Christie speaks while being interviewed onstage at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor in Maryland
Kevin Lamarque—Reuters New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks while being interviewed onstage at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Feb. 26, 2015.

The New Jersey governor is down, but not out

BOCA RATON, Fla.—New Jersey Governor Chris Christie built his political brand around telling the tough truths—be they about teacher-­pension overruns, budget deficits or rebuilding hurricane-battered towns. And he is banking on that reputation to vault him from the statehouse to the White House. “We want folks as our nominee who are going to tell the truth,” he told a March gathering of top Republican Party donors at a waterside Boca Raton resort.

Yet just days after making his case in Florida, Christie was back at home dealing with a tough truth of his own. With his national poll numbers in the single digits, Christie’s presidential prospects have nearly collapsed, damaged by his staff’s role in the politically motivated closure of approach lanes to the George Washington Bridge, humbled by fiscal shortfalls in New Jersey and rattled by the rise of Jeb Bush’s campaign.

Instead of courting primary voters in Iowa diners or New Hampshire living rooms, Christie has spent much of the past months in New Jersey, working boroughs and townships like Kenilworth and Whippany to persuade state lawmakers to make another round of painful pension and benefit reforms. To make matters worse, indictments are still expected for a pair of former aides implicated in the bridge closures. Privately, Christie has confided in donors that running for President is harder than he thought, and he has pushed back an announcement until as late as June.

Christie’s competition, meanwhile, is racing ahead. After Texas Senator Ted Cruz tossed in his hat, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is gearing up for an April 7 announcement in Louisville, with Florida Senator Marco Rubio set to follow on April 13 in Miami. The field will get even more crowded later in the spring.

But advisers say Christie’s time on the sidelines is more strategy than surrender. The only change is the scale of the campaign he will run. When New York financiers begged him to challenge Mitt Romney in 2012, Christie thought his support would come from the moneymen who flocked to Bush. Now allies think the path to victory lies in an outsider campaign, heavy on spontaneity and town halls. “When he gets out on the stump, what people will find is that he relates to the average person better than anyone else in this field. He communicates better than anyone else,” says Mike DuHaime, Christie’s top political strategist.

The unstated model is Arizona Senator John McCain’s successful 2008 bid, and the path will head straight through New Hampshire. After a July 2007 implosion, McCain jettisoned staff and baggage as donors fled. But his New Hampshire–centric effort, complete with 100 town halls, won him the nomination. On Thursday, Christie hired his second full-time staffer in the Granite State, Matt Moroney, the statewide field director for Walt Havenstein’s 2014 campaign for governor, and he plans at least two visits in April.

Christie aides highlight exit polling from the past three competitive New Hampshire primaries, in which about half of GOP voters said they had made up their minds in the final week. “This thing is a roller coaster,” says Phil Cox, who is running the pro-Christie ­super PAC America Leads, part of an effort to raise $30 million. “Every candidate will have their ups and downs, and you need to peak at the right time.”

There is reason for hope on that front. Christie is still drawing support from Bush and Scott Walker donors—just in smaller amounts. Michael Epstein, a Walker backer from Rockville, Md., says Christie impressed him at the Boca retreat. “He acquitted himself well,” Epstein told TIME. “But he needs to prove he can go the distance.”

At his 132nd town hall, in Whippany in March, Christie sounded like a man eager to break free of the trappings of his office. “You go to the dry cleaner’s or you go to the deli, like I go with two black Suburbans and three state troopers,” Christie quipped. “It’s so subtle.” To make his comeback, he won’t have a choice but to leave that bubble behind.

TIME 2016 Election

GOP Donors Buoyant About 2016 Prospects at Retreat

Jeb Bush speaks at CPAC in National Harbor, Md. on Feb. 27, 2015.
Mark Peterson—Redux for TIME Jeb Bush speaks at CPAC in National Harbor, Md. on Feb. 27, 2015.

Good news for the GOP, bad news for Hillary Clinton

Republican donors gathered at an exclusive retreat this weekend to compare notes on the 2016 presidential field and hear the candidates’ pitches directly.

The celebratory mood was palpable, buoyed by another strong fundraising month for the party, the impending launch of the primary contest and a spate of negative stories about Hillary Clinton.

Donors in custom pins designed by the party backslapped their way through the pinkish walls of the Waldorf Astoria Resort and Club, as many of the candidates they elected in 2014, and the ones they are hoping to elect in 2016 preened for their support. Sean Spicer, the RNC’s chief strategist and communications director, said it was the “largest pre-nomination retreat in terms of both donor attendance and speakers.”

Throughout the weekend, the presidential contenders held private meetings with the assembled donors, broken into classes like “Eagles” ($15,000+), “Regents” ($60,000+), and “Team 100” ($100,000+). New this year, thanks to congressional action dramatically increasing donation limits to national parties, were the members of the “RNC Trust,” who have pledged to give the more than $330,000 legal limit annually.

The lavish resort is nestled between a golf course and a marina and across a sound from the beach, though the 36-hour conference was jammed with sessions on party data and messaging. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus sought to leverage the celebrity and celebration to plug the more mundane mechanics, as party staffers held briefings on technology and field program advances in the GOP since 2012. Pollster Frank Luntz held court in a session and Republican senators held a closed-door panel where they laid into the emerging nuclear deal with Iran.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio delivered well-regarded remarks Friday evening, highlighting their domestic themes of growing the party and criticizing President Obama’s foreign policy. Each, attendees said, was interrupted by multiple rounds of applause. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker focused his remarks on the economy, delivering, like the others, a modified version of his stump speech for the well-heeled audience.

On Saturday evening, New Jersey Gov. Christie called on the party to avoid flip-floppers in a pre-dinner reception before joining the Team 100 dinner, along with a coterie of Republican members of Congress. Texas Gov. Rick Perry rotated among the class dinners, while Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal addressed the post-dinner dessert. Former Sen. Rick Santorum and former New York Gov. George Pataki attended the weekend gathering, as well as businessman Donald Trump, who spoke Friday evening and, according to multiple attendees, spent much of his speech trying to show off his connections to the assembled donors.

Among the members of Congress in attendance for the weekend were Sens. Cory Gardner, Pat Roberts, Mike Rounds, Thom Tillis, David Perdue and Deb Fischer and Reps. Marsha Blackburn and Renee Elmers.

A large number of benefactors remain on the fence, according to party and campaign sources, using the meetings to grill candidates on the issues important to them. In the hallways, donors shared notes from their private meetings, gossiping about Walker’s flip-flop on immigration reform, the burdens of Bush’s family name and Christie’s narrowing path to the nomination.

One donor, who has pledged five-figure sums to groups affiliated with at least three GOP candidates, said he and many of his peers believe it’s still a wide-open field.

“You want to get in on the ground floor,” said the donor, who didn’t want his name used to avoid attracting more suitors, “and so many of these guys can go all the way.”

TIME 2016 Election

Exclusive: Chris Christie Warns GOP Against Flip-Floppers

New Jersey Governor Christie speaks while being interviewed onstage at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor in Maryland
Kevin Lamarque—Reuters New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks while being interviewed onstage at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Feb. 26, 2015.

The New Jersey governor reasserts himself in Republican presidential race after a slow start with a veiled criticism of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

BOCA RATON, FLA. — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie warned the Republican Party’s top donors Saturday against backing a candidate who flip-flops on important issues.

Addressing a harbor-side reception Saturday at an exclusive retreat for donors to the Republican National Committee, the Garden State governor appeared to criticize Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, without mentioning him by name, for adjusting his positions to curry favor with early state voters.

“We need to make sure that we make our party bigger and broader than it’s been before,” Christie told a sunset gathering of about 250 donors who have given more than $15,000—and as much as $330,000—to the GOP. “And that’s not about pandering, it’s not about flip-flopping on issues.” Walker stood a few dozen feet away mingling with the well-heeled crowd. “People want folks who they believe believe in what they say and don’t change depending on what state they’re in,” Christie continued.

Walker, who has surged in the early polls at the expense of Christie, has come under fire for changing his position on immigration reform, as well as other issues, in a bid to appeal to voters in Iowa and New Hampshire. Last week, Walker denied being a flip-flopper on immigration, saying he was simply listening to the will of the people. Both Christie and Walker have backed away from their previous support of the Common Core education standards.

Christie, who is seeking to reassert his influence within the presidential field, said voters instead want politicians who will tell them the truth. “The fact is you don’t have to change your positions,” he continued. “I’m proudly pro-life and I’ve run twice as a pro-life candidate for governor in one of the bluest states in the country.” During his 2014 re-election campaign, Walker ran an ad announcing that despite his own pro-life beliefs he supported a an ultrasound bill that “leaves the final decision” of an abortion “to the woman and her doctor.”

Christie took another veiled shot at Walker, who has boasted in recent months that he succeeded as a Republican in a state that has voted for Democratic presidential candidates since 1984. Christie pointed out that the state of New Jersey also had deep Democratic roots. “There will be other states who will try to compete with us,” Christie said, “but I’ll just give you one statistic, we have not elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate in 42 years. It is the longest streak of any state in the country.”

Also in attendance at the reception were former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former New York Gov. George Pataki, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, and a host of members of Congress who won election in 2014.

Christie opened with a critique of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, saying French concerns about the emerging nuclear agreement with Iran highlight Obama’s failures. “America is less respected, less feared, and less effective than we’ve been at any time in recent history,” Christie said. “We know that that’s all the result of the fact that the President of the United States doesn’t know how to lead, has never understood how to lead, never understood strength.”

Referencing the RNC’s focus on data in the run-up to the presidential election, Christie said no amount of data could correct for a bad candidate. “The fact is our focus needs to be who is going to connect with the American people and all the American people, not just the one’s we’re used to connecting with,” he said.

Noting his efforts to reach out to Hispanic and Black communities in New Jersey during his re-election, Christie called on Republicans to make a more concerted effort to listen to those who traditionally vote for Democrats. “We need to start listening and showing respect to those constituencies that we want to have part of our team,” he told donors.

Christie also called on the party to show its humorous side, saying the party needs to show voters a path toward bettering their pursuit of happiness, and not just life and liberty. “We should have some fun too,” he said.

TIME 2016 Election

Netanyahu Speech Becomes Applause Line for 2016 Republicans

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Travels To United States
Amos Ben Gershom—GPO/Getty Images In this handout photo provided by the Israeli Government Press Office, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sarah leave Tel Aviv on their way to Washington DC, on March 1, 2015.

Republican presidential candidates are using Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress as a cudgel against the White House.

The presidential candidates who are in Congress are all attending the speech, unlike Vice President Joe Biden and some Democratic lawmakers. Those who aren’t in Congress aren’t changing up their schedules to attend as private citizens but say they will watch it on television.

Netanyahu’s address to a joint session of Congress just two weeks before the Israeli election has caused a partisan rift, with the Republicans lawmakers who invited Netanyahu on one side, and the White House and many allied Democrats on the other. Netanyahu, a vocal critic of the ongoing P5+1 Iran nuclear talks, is expected to warn against the emerging agreement.

Meanwhile neither President Obama nor Secretary of State John Kerry will meet with the Israeli leader on his visit to the U.S., as National Security Advisor Susan Rice condemned the visit as “destructive.”

At the Conservative Political Action Conference outside of Washington last week, speaker after speaker criticized the White House approach to Netanyahu.

“We need a leader who understands that when the Prime Minister and leader of our longtime ally asks to come to Congress to share his concerns about Iran, we should show him and his country our respect,” Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said. On Monday, Walker penned an op-ed accused Obama of making the visit a “political football.”

Last month, in a foreign policy address in Chicago, Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush endorsed the Netanyahu address, earning a thank-you tweet from Netanyahu. In an interview with an Israeli newspaper last week, he called Obama’s behavior toward Israel “completely inappropriate.”

And over the weekend, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called Netanyahu’s treatment a “national disgrace.”

Aides to Walker, Bush, Christie, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum said their bosses have out-of-town commitments and cannot attend the address, but will watch Netanyahu’s remarks on television. Aides to other candidates not currently serving in Congress did not respond to a request for comment about their bosses’ plans.

“I will be there in the front row,” South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Sunday. Sens. Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, who are also likely running for president, will also attend.

Attendance at the speech became a partisan lightning rod as Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is set to receive an award from EMILY’s List Tuesday night in Washington, came under attack this weekend in an ad from the conservative Emergency Committee For Israel questioning her commitment to the American ally.

“Does she support the boycotters, or is she too afraid to stand up to them?” the ad states, asking whether she will attend. Clinton’s plan for the speech are not yet clear.

TIME

Here’s How Much the Home of the Next President Is Worth

We don’t know who will replace Barack Obama in the White House, but we do know what kind of home he or she will be leaving behind. We’ve charted them below, using data from real estate sales tracker Zillow. Not surprisingly, the only former Fortune 500 executive on the list, Carly Fiorina, tops it with her $6.7 million mansion in Virginia.

Next up is the presumptive candidate from Chappaqua, N.Y., Hillary Clinton, with her $5.6 million Washington, D.C. home —a long way from Hope but just a hair above the former Arkansas governor turned commentator Mike Huckabee, whose Santa Rosa Beach house in Florida is valued at $5.5 million. Scott Walker, the Wisconsin governor, lives in the least expensive home among those whose information is available on Zillow.

To compare the homesteads of presidential timber, click a column header in the chart below to sort by category. Scroll right to see them all.

 

The median home of the more than a dozen likeliest presidential candidates is worth $1.5 million. That’s more than eight times the value of the median American home, worth $178,500 today, according to Zillow. (The average candidate home is worth $2.3 million.) But it’s still a long way off from the address many have their eye on: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Zillow estimates the White House would be worth $385 million were it to ever go on the market.

Candidates’ homes have a way of becoming campaign fodder during presidential campaigns. John McCain was lampooned for being unable to say how many homes he owned in 2008. In 2012, Mitt Romney was mocked for building a car elevator in his La Jolla, Calif., residence. And this past June, Hillary Clinton drew guffaws when she said she and President Bill Clinton left the White House in 2000 “dead broke” and had to increase their earnings to “pay off the debts and get us houses.” As the 2016 campaign heats up, you’ll likely be hearing more about one or two of these homes.

This article has been updated to include Clinton’s residence in Washington, D.C.

Methodology

The listings above reflect only the candidates’ residences available in public records. Some own multiple homes. All estimated home values are from Zillow.

TIME #RealTime

Real TIME: Rand Paul Wins CPAC Straw Poll

Rand Paul won the straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference for the third year in a row on Saturday.

The Senator from Kentucky won with 26% of the vote. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker followed closely behind with 21%, and Jeb Bush and Chris Christie finished fifth and 10th, respectively.

Watch #RealTIME for more on the final day of CPAC, and read more here.

TIME republicans

Real TIME: Chris Christie Jabs at the Media at CPAC

New Jersey Governor and likely presidential hopeful Chris Christie addressed his critics in the media and spoke out on his pro-life stance and passion for his job during his Q&A at the Conservative Political Action Conference near Washington at the weekend.

Watch #RealTIME to hear what he had to say.

TIME 2016 Election

What the Walk-Up Music for 2016 Candidates Tells Us

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker at the 42nd annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, MD on Feb. 26, 2015.
Mark Peterson—Redux for TIME Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker at CPAC in National Harbor, Md., on Feb. 26, 2015.

Like Major League Baseball players getting ready for their turn at bat, presidential candidates have their own walk-up music.

Most of the likely 2016 Republican contenders spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference this week near Washington, D.C., and while they didn’t choose the songs, the picks gave a hint of what people are thinking about their campaigns.

Here’s a look at the songs introducing the 2016ers.

Hillary Clinton

The Song: “I’m Every Woman,” by Chaka Khan

What it Means: Clinton’s campaign is reportedly going to play up the historic nature of being the first female president in 2016, much more than it did in 2008. So it makes sense that she took the stage at a recent event in San Francisco to Khan’s funk-inflected 1978 hit, which has become part of the feminist pop canon.

Bottom Line: She wants every woman’s vote.

Chris Christie

The Song: “Enter Sandman,” by Metallica

What it Means: After hitting a rough patch, Christie is attempting a comeback by emphasizing his outspoken nature and taking jabs at his opponents. He came on stage at CPAC to heavy metal band Metallica’s intense 1991 hit about children’s nightmares.

The Bottom Line: He wants to be Hillary’s worst nightmare.

Scott Walker

The Song: “Coming Home,” by Avenged Sevenfold

What it Means: After Walker took heat from the Dropkick Murphys for using their song at an earlier event, it was probably a good idea for Walker to come on stage to a more generic riff. It doesn’t hurt that Avenged Sevenfold, while not a Christian band, takes its name from Genesis 4:24.

The Bottom Line: It’s not going to be the Dropkick Murphys again.

Ted Cruz

The Song: “Wave on Wave,” by Pat Green

What it Means: At CPAC this year, Republicans mostly took the stage to either country or heavy metal. Cruz came on to the former, a song from a popular Texas musician that was also used by George W. Bush’s re-election campaign.

The Bottom Line: He’s the candidate from Texas.

Marco Rubio

The Song: “Cruise,” by Florida Georgia Line

What it Means: Like Cruz, Rubio came on stage to a local country act. One of the members grew up in Florida (the other in Georgia, hence the name) and the duo, who met at a campus worship group in college, are heavily influenced by Christian music.

The Bottom Line: He wants take his Florida act north.

Rick Perry

The Song: “Back in Black,” by AC/DC

What it Means: Perry’s 2012 campaign suffered because he didn’t get enough sleep. It’s no surprise that he’d take the stage at CPAC to heavy metal’s ultimate comeback anthem, written in honor of former singer Bon Scott, which even has the lyrics “back in black, I hit the sack.”

The Bottom Line: He’s tanned, rested and ready.

Bobby Jindal

The Song: “Country Must Be Country Wide,” by Brantley Gilbert

What it Means: Jindal is pitching himself as the ultimate political strategist for Republicans. At CPAC, he came on stage to a song about how there are country music fans all over the United States, or as the songwriter put it, “there are rednecks everywhere.”

The Bottom Line: He’s ready to serve country, er, his country.

Carly Fiorina

The Song: “Happy,” by Pharrell Williams

What it Means: The former Hewlett-Packard CEO is running at the back of the pack, but she hopes her ability to bring the heat to Clinton will help her break out. At CPAC, she came on stage to a song that went from being buried on the “Despicable Me 2” soundtrack to being the hit of the summer.

The Bottom Line: She’s planning on being a happy warrior.

Ben Carson

The Song: “Life is a Highway,” cover version by Rascal Flatts

What it Means: Carson made a name for himself among conservatives with fiercely partisan rhetoric, hitting President Obama hard on issues like religion and healthcare. But his speech at CPAC was more subdued, starting with the song he came on stage to, a mainstream country cover that was on the soundtrack to Pixar’s Cars.

The Bottom Line: He’s moving into the center lane.

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