TIME 2016 Election

Why Democrats Changed Their Minds on Cuba

It used to be that national politicians of both parties would diligently travel to Florida during every election cycle and compete, in speeches and town hall meetings, over who could be more in favor of the embargo on Cuba.

It was, after all, common political sense: Cuban-Americans were, for decades, a fairly monolithic voting bloc and their feelings toward the embargo were unequivocal. They were for it. No ifs, ands, or maybes.

But in the last decade, all that has changed. The reason is shifting demographics—the same trend that rocketed President Obama to the White House in 2008 and 2012 and that will do more to influence the outcome of 2016 than perhaps anything else.

Younger Cuban-Americans are less into the embargo than their parents’ generation, and much more in favor of relaxing laws to make it easier to travel and trade with the island.

This shifting dynamic is going to play out in 2016, too. In fact, it already has. Jeb Bush, who announced yesterday that he is considering a run for the White House, takes the old-school hardline position. He’s in favor of the embargo, full stop.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton’s position has evolved over the years. In 2000, when she was running for Senate, and in 2008, when she was running for the Democratic nomination, she too took the old-school stance. In December 2007, she said rather clearly that the embargo was the law of the land, and it wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

“Until there is some recognition on the part of whoever is in charge of the Cuban government that they have to move toward democracy and freedom for the Cuban people, it will be very difficult for us to change our policy,” she said.

But then, as Secretary of State, her position began to crack, and then soften, and then flip entirely. She called on Obama to take a second look at the embargo, which she argued was actually helping Fidel and Raul Castro, not Americans. “It is my personal belief that the Castros do not want to see an end to the embargo and do not want to see normalization with the United States, because they would lose all of their excuses for what hasn’t happened in Cuba in the last 50 years,” she said in a 2010 speech in Kentucky.

And in her 2014 book, Hard Choices, she backs up that view: “I recommended to President Obama that he take another look at our embargo. It wasn’t achieving its goals, and it was holding back our broader agenda across Latin America.” In July this year, in an interview, she came right out and called the embargo “a failure.”

Jeb Bush’s hardline position and Hillary Clinton’s evolving one is a reflection of the larger demographic shifts happening the U.S. today.

Bush, if he runs, will no doubt lock down the older, more conservative Cuban-American vote, while Clinton, if she runs, will be in a position to lock down the younger, hipper, more liberal Cuban-American contingent.

So who wins? Right now, it’s a toss up. According to a 2014 poll by the Cuban Research Institute, 53 percent of Cuban-American registered voters said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who backed the normalization of diplomatic relations. But if you bore down a bit on the issues, it seems to lean heavily toward the Democrats: 90% of young Cuban-Americans are in favor of reestablishing diplomatic ties with Cuba; 68% of older Cuban-Americans share that view too.

But it doesn’t have to be a huge majority for it to make sense to Democrats to change positions. It just has to be more competitive than it used to be, and it now is.

TIME Foreign Policy

Here’s What Hillary Clinton Said About Alan Gross, U.S.-Cuba Relations in Hard Choices

Hillary
Hillary Rodham Clinton listens before delivering remarks at an event in New York City on Nov. 21, 2014. Bebeto Matthews—AP

Former Secretary of State Clinton considers the U.S.'s failure to bring Alan Gross home one of her "regrets"

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote in her recent autobiography one of her biggest regrets of her tenure was that she was not able to bring home an American who was held as a prisoner in Cuba. Today, President Obama will announce that Alan Gross, a USAID contractor who was arrested in 2009 for bringing satellite equipment to Cuba, will return to the U.S.

In Hard Choices, Clinton calls the Cuban government’s refusal to release Gross unless the U.S. released five convicted Cuban spies a “double tragedy,” saying in part:

It is possible that hard liners within the regime exploited the Gross case as an opportunity to put the brakes on any possible rapprochement with the United States and the domestic reforms that would require. If so, it is a double tragedy, cosigning millions of Cubans to a kind of continued imprisonment as well.

On the embargo, she had this to say:

Near the end of my tenure I recommended to President Obama that he take another look at our embargo. It wasn’t achieving its goals and it was holding back our broader agenda across Latin America. After twenty years of observing and dealing with the U.S.-Cuba relationship, I thought we should shift the onus onto the Castros to explain why they remained undemocratic and abusive.

In an interview with Fusion TV in July, Clinton repeated that the embargo has been a failure and said she would like to visit Cuba one day.

Read next: U.S. and Cuba Move to Thaw Relations After Prisoner Exchange

TIME 2016 Election

Here Are the 2016 Candidates Looking Very Presidential

Dress for the job you want

As potential 2016 candidates gear up for White House bids, it’s important for them to look the part. So here it is: a definitive gallery of presidential hopefuls looking their most presidential.

TIME People

9 of the Most Memorable Moments of 2014

Images of Pope Francis in a nativity scene, Hillary Clinton cuddling her grandchild , Malala Yousafzai reacting to her Nobel win and more

TIME 2016 Election

Most Millionaires Want Hillary Clinton for President, Survey Says

2014 Massachusetts Conference For Women
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks on stage at the 2014 Massachusetts Conference for Women on December 4, 2014, in Boston Lisa Lake—2014 Getty Images

Followed by Jeb Bush

Hillary Clinton garnered the most votes in a CNBC survey that asked 500 millionaires who they would choose for President. She came in a comfortable front runner at 31%.

Second was Jeb Bush with 18%, and the remaining votes were split between seven other politicians, including Chris Christie (14%) and Elizabeth Warren (8%).

Voters were divided roughly equally between Republicans, Democrats and the independent-minded. Each had investable assets of at least $1 million, putting them in the top 8% of American households.

Read more at CNBC

TIME 2016 Election

Here’s How Likely Presidential Candidates Badmouth the Job They Want

Gov. Chris Christie Marks Second Anniversary Of Hurricane Sandy
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks on Oct. 29, 2014 in Belmar, N.J. Kena Betancur—Getty Images

It’s that time in the election cycle when presidential hopefuls get coy about making a decision.

But that means it’s getting harder for a likely candidate to pretend that they’re not interested in being the leader of the free world. One way to do that? By arguing that being president isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Here’s how some potential 2016 candidates have been knocking the presidency.

Being President is Too Stressful

Ben Carson: “I’m not sure that anybody wants to put themselves in that kind of horrible and stressful situation, that has never been a goal of mine.” (POLITICO)

Hillary Clinton: “I’ve known a lot of presidents over the course of the last many decades … And it is such a hard job … It is such a challenging job … you can easily lose touch with what’s real, what’s authentic, who you were before you were sworn in to office.” (POLITICO)

My Family Won’t Like Living in the White House

Chris Christie: “Patrick goes to a great school that he really likes, and he kind of sat down and figured out that he’d be in the middle of high school if I ran for president and won. He said, ‘Well, I’d be able to keep going to my school, right?’ Like, well, no. I mean, we have to move…to the White House? In Washington. You’d pretty much have to come with us. And that pretty much put him off; he’s off the bandwagon now. [And] Sarah would be in the middle of college. Not so much in favor. You know, the whole idea of Secret Service agents living in your dorm?” (NJ.com)

Jeb Bush: “Can I do it where the sacrifice for my family is tolerable?… It’s a pretty ugly business right now. So I’m not saying, ‘Oh, woe is me.’ Don’t get me wrong. There’s a level under which I would never subjugate my family because that’s my organizing principle, that’s my life. I think people kind of appreciate that. So, I’m sorting that out.” (POLITICO)

Running for the White House Isn’t Fun

Paul Ryan: “I don’t feel the need to be out there, putting my toe in the water. I don’t see the point in it. It’s not fun, and I don’t think I need to.” (Washington Post)

It’ll Ruin My Looks

Scott Walker: “I say this only half-jokingly, that you have to be crazy to want to be president. Anyone who’s seen the pictures of this president or any of the former presidents can see the before and after, no matter how fit, no matter how young they are, they age pretty rapidly when you look at their hair and everything else involved with it.” (The Hill)

TIME Money

Warren Buffett’s Latest Investment: Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Rodham Clinton listens before delivering remarks at an event in New York City on Nov. 21, 2014. Bebeto Matthews—AP

The Berkshire Hathaway CEO donated $25,000 in the third quarter to a pro-Hillary Super PAC

Warren Buffett is putting his money where his mouth is when it comes to Hillary Clinton.

In October, at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women summit, Buffett predicted that Hillary Clinton would be the next president of the United States. “Hillary Clinton is going to run, and she’s going to win,” Buffett said on stage.

Apparently, the prediction was more than just talk. According to Bloomberg, Buffett donated $25,000 in the third quarter to Ready for Hillary, a political organization that says it is laying the groundwork for a Clinton presidential run in 2016. That is the maximum the organization allows from a single donor. Overall, the group has raised $11 million.

Bloomberg says the donation was somewhat surprising because Buffett has criticized political action committees, like Ready for Hillary, in the past, and that he is known as a “political tightwad.” But Buffett has long been a supporter of Hillary Clinton. The Berkshire Hathaway CEO also backed Clinton’s 2008 election campaign and held fundraisers in her honor.

At Fortune’s Most Powerful Women’s conference, he added that he was willing to bet on a Hillary presidency. And now he has.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME 2016 Election

Hillary Clinton Backers Release Country Music Video

"She's a mother, a daughter, and through it all she's a loving wife."

A new, three-and-a-half minute country music video featuring cute cowboys in tight shirts, dusty tractors and Ken Burns-style shots of a young Hillary Clinton cooing over baby Chelsea was released on YouTube this morning.

While the video received mixed reviews at TIME’s D.C. office — a random sample of reactions included phrases like “croon-tastic,” “cute!” “cute?” and “oh, dear” — its mere existence underscores the reality that Hillary Clinton’s as-yet-unannounced campaign is going to happen whether or not she gets out in front of it.

The group behind the new country video is called Stand With Hillary, or SWH. It was formed in Southern California this fall by Miguel Orozco, Daniel Chavez and his daughter, Christina Chavez, “to create positive, social media stories” designed to “reach out to working class and Latino voters.”

Here are some of the lyrics the video features to do just that: “Thinking about one great lady, like the women in my life. She’s a mother, a daughter, and through it all she’s a loving wife. Oh, there’s something about her, this great lady, caring, hard-working, once a First Lady, she fights for country and the family and now it’s time for us to stand up with Hillary.”

Orozco and the Chavezes self-funded this video and the website, but in the future will be looking for small donations from supporters, Chavez told TIME this morning.

Chavez, who worked as a deputy director in the Department of Labor under Bill Clinton, said part of the motivation for starting SWH came from his wife and daughter, who were “deeply inspired by the Clinton family.” In the ’90s, a young Christina Chavez, who is now 32, had the opportunity to meet young Chelsea and Socks, the Clintons’ famous cat, during “take your daughter to work day,” Chavez explained. “She’s had a lifelong love of the Clintons ever since.”

TIME 2016 Election

Hillary’s 2016 Campaign is Ready, Hypothetically Speaking

Hillary Clinton
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to a crowd during a campaign stop to promote Democrats in re-election bids in the east Denver suburb of Aurora, Colo. on Oct. 21, 2014. David Zalubowski—AP

Would-be surrogates tried to make the case for Hillary without admitting she's running

Hillary Clinton is almost definitely, but not certainly, going to run for president and if she does, she’ll most likely be the strongest candidate, but she could totally still lose, so Democrats shouldn’t get cocky.

That was the awkward message from would-be Clinton surrogates who were among the several hundred politicos, fundraisers and activists who showed up for a “Ready For Hillary” convention in New York Friday.

At some moments, they seemed to fall over themselves insisting that the former Secretary of State’s ascendancy should not be considered “inevitable,” while at other moments they discussed in great detail the organizational structure, fundraising and messaging efforts that are already in place to buttress her 2016 campaign.

Former Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez said that ambivalence as a result of the pummeling Clinton’s campaign received six years ago, when many Democrats considered her a shoo-in as the Democratic nominee.

“In 2008, we got eviscerated by a better campaign on the ground,” he explained. “Lessons have been learned. So there has been extraordinary preparation and it’s a very, very different, far more sophisticated operation that’s there and it’s ready for her, should she decide to run.”

Adam Parkhomenko, who founded the organizational group Ready for Hillary, which has spent the last two years collecting a database of roughly 3 million supporters, echoed the sentiment.

“I wouldn’t have been doing this since January 2013 if I thought she was inevitable,” he said. “We learned in 2008 she’s not inevitable. No one’s inevitable.”

Stephanie Schriock, the head of EMILY’s List, who is expected to play a major role in a future Clinton campaign, said she looks forward to a “healthy primary.”

“As everyone goes through a presidential primary process, it’ll be the candidate who make the case,” she said, adding that Clinton, while clearly the front-runner, will not be immune to that process. “There’s nothing inevitable about 2016.”

Meanwhile, several Clinton backers, including Schriock, former Obama campaign organizer Mitch Stewart, Correct the Record’s David Brock, and political strategist Chris Lehane, spoke directly about what organizations would have to work together on the ground to make a 2016 Clinton campaign most effective, what issues Clinton would be most likely to emphasize, and what message the campaign would be built around. All agreed that a hypothetical Clinton campaign will likely to focus on working class voters, who are feeling increasingly marginalized in today’s economy.

Clinton must project a vision for “economic opportunity for American families,” said Schriock. That’s a phrase she used, with slight variations, twice more during a half-hour talk with reporters. The campaign will likely focus on connecting with working class voters, women, Hispanics and the African American community over issues like equal pay, minimum wage and leveling the playing field for the middle class, she said.

Nina Turner, an Ohio state senator, said that a Clinton campaign could easily motivate key voting blocs, like the African American community, by staking progressive positions on issues like prison reform or creating more economic opportunities for the working poor. But, she said, “This is not about a coronation for anybody.”

Stewart agreed that “a hypothetical Clinton campaign” would have to focus primarily economic issues. “We have to come up with an economic message that shows working class voters that we’re on their side,” said Stewart.

When asked what issues would put Clinton in the strongest position against other potential Democratic contenders, such Martin O’Malley, Bernie Sanders, or Jim Webb, who announced yesterday that he was exploring the possibility of running, Stewart demurred. “I’m not going to comment on any hypothetical candidate,” said Stewart, laughing. “Except my specific hypothetical candidate.”

TIME Immigration

Hillary Clinton Backs President Obama’s Immigration Announcement

Hillary Clinton departs St. Ignatius Loyola church following fashion designer de la Renta's memorial service in the Manhattan borough of New York
Former first lady Hillary Clinton departs St. Ignatius Loyola church following fashion designer Oscar de la Renta's memorial service in the Manhattan borough of New York November 3, 2014. © Carlo Allegri / Reuters—REUTERS

"I support the President’s decision to begin fixing our broken immigration system"

As Republicans fume at President Barack Obama’s immigration executive actions Thursday, his Democratic potential successor is applauding the decision.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed her support for Obama’s announcement in a tweet and a statement Thursday evening. Her statement leaves no distance between herself and the president on an issue that remains politically polarizing.

Clinton, like Obama, was the subject of protests from immigration activists in the run-up to November’s midterm elections.

Her full statement:

I support the President’s decision to begin fixing our broken immigration system and focus finite resources on deporting felons rather than families. I was hopeful that the bipartisan bill passed by the Senate in 2013 would spur the House of Representatives to act, but they refused even to advance an alternative. Their abdication of responsibility paved the way for this executive action, which follows established precedent from Presidents of both parties going back many decades. But, only Congress can finish the job by passing permanent bipartisan reform that keeps families together, treats everyone with dignity and compassion, upholds the rule of law, protects our borders and national security, and brings millions of hard-working people out of the shadows and into the formal economy so they can pay taxes and contribute to our nation’s prosperity. Our disagreements on this important issue may grow heated at times, but I am confident that people of good will and good faith can yet find common ground. We should never forget that we’re not discussing abstract statistics – we’re talking about real families with real experiences. We’re talking about parents lying awake at night afraid of a knock on the door that could tear their families apart, people who love this country, work hard, and want nothing more than a chance to contribute to the community and build better lives for themselves and their children.

President Barack Obama announced Thursday night that he was giving temporary legal status and work permits to almost five million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

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