TIME Newsmaker Interview

President of Honduras Expects Mass Deportations of Minors From U.S.

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández
Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, Tegucigalpa, Honduras, July 17, 2014. Ross McDonnell for TIME

The problem of violence driving Central American migration has its roots in U.S. drug consumption, President Juan Orlando Hernández says in an exclusive interview with TIME

(TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras) — Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández has been warned by U.S. officials to expect a enormous wave of deportations from the United States, he told TIME in an interview at the presidential palace in the Honduran capital on July 17. “They have said they want to send them on a massive scale,” he said.

Before another planned visit to the United States beginning Thursday, Hernández said his country is preparing to receive the returnees but the United States needs to support him in building security in this Central American nation. He took power in January to confront what may be the biggest migration crisis in his country’s history, with tens of thousands of unaccompanied Central American children captured on the border in the United States.

Honduras has suffered with the world’s worst murder rate in any country outside a war zone, as street gangs known as maras have become increasingly linked to drug traffickers moving cocaine from the Andes region to the Unites States. Hernández said his government has worked hard to reduce this murder rate in his first months in office, but said violence is still a major problem driving the youth migration.

To combat the criminals, Hernández calls for a security plan with U.S. support, akin to Plan Colombia in which U.S. aid helped the South American nation battle drug traffickers and cocaine-funded guerrillas. The United States has a responsibility to help Honduras, Hernández says, because U.S. drug consumption is driving the violence.

The following exchange has been edited for brevity.

The wave of migration has generated a strong debate in the United States. How do explain this rapid rise in child migrants?

I believe there is a combination of factors. One is the lack of opportunities in Central America and we have to build opportunities here more quickly. Two is the issue of violence, because if you look, you will see that in the case of Honduras, the highest level of migration is in the places with the most conflict, particularly in the neighborhoods where the street gangs have become the armed wing of drug traffickers and kill each other for territorial control. . . . But the other factor, that we shouldn’t forget, is the lack of clarity of U.S. immigration policy. When the immigration debate goes on, disgracefully, the coyotes [the human smugglers] come and say, “Now is when you can bring your child from Central America.” . . . So my call to the United States is that it defines these rules with clarity.

The violence in Honduras is complex. What drives it more, drug cartels or street gangs?

What is happening in Honduras is that drug traffickers partnered with the street gangs so that the gangs did the violent work of extortion and kidnapping. What happened? When the huge packages of drugs arrived at the coast or landed in a plane, the drug traffickers said to Hondurans, “Move these drugs to Guatemala or Mexico, but I am going to pay you with drugs and you finance the operation.” So the street gangs carried out extortion and sold the drugs, contaminating society.

For this reason, I call for the principle of shared responsibility between those who produce [drugs] and those who consume them in the North. In the United States, many officials see the drug problem as basically one of health, as how much it costs to treat an addict and stop them getting involved. But for us it is life and death. That is the difference. . . .

I want to remind the North American people what happened before Mayor Giuliani in New York, how drugs, among other factors, combined to make a very difficult security situation. This happened in Los Angeles when the street gangs also moved drugs; it happened in Miami. But the fight against it was successful. [Americans] have suffered violence in their territory from drug trafficking. Well, now it is happening to us, but in much higher rates. Never in Central America, particularly in the northern triangle and in Honduras has there been so much loss of life as in this decade. Never. Never in history. And look, disgracefully, this is a not an issue that originates in Honduras.

If in the United States, there is a move to change the law to deport a minor without a court hearing would you oppose it?

I would like to ask congressmen and senators and those who make political decisions in the United States that they think first in the interest of the child, because the child as well being a human being, is more vulnerable than the adult. But also they [children] go with the very human, very natural desire to be with their parents. . . .

On the other side, if there is a child without a family member in the United States, and the law says they have to return, we are working with this. Like never before in Honduras, we are investing resources to warmly receive our countrymen, with psychologists, doctors, giving them different options that we have for job opportunities, or farming financing. We are also guiding them spiritually, because they are families that are destroyed inside. They sold everything before leaving, and they arrive frustrated. We have to reintegrate them. We are making this effort.

What has the U.S. government said to you about the issue of migration? Have they told you they are going to deport many more people?

Yes, they have said they want to send them on a massive scale. We told them that number one, we have to respect the principle of giving priority to the child. Two, in the case that a family has children that don’t have relatives in the United States, that they don’t deport them along with adults that have committed crimes there. We don’t want them to be mixed. They [U.S. officials] have understood that part, and we, knowing there are large quantities, more than usual, have had to prepare ourselves to receive our countrymen.

Are you optimistic this is the start of something better, or will it be a long, dark difficult time ahead?

It is a difficult situation. It is a humanitarian crisis that the world needs to see. How long will it last? Will it get more complicated? This depends on support from countries such as the United States and Mexico. In Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras we are working hard.

If they help us, because this is a problem they generate, I repeat, because of the connection between the drugs they consume in enormous quantities in the United States that are produced in the south and pass through Central America, generating violence, generating this migratory flow—if they help us I am sure we will be on the route to resolves this in a short time.


Jim DeMint: Bank Reveals Washington’s ‘Rot and Corruption’

Jim DeMint
Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference annual meeting in National Harbor, Md. on March 8, 2014. Cliff Owen—AP

The conservative leader talks to TIME about the relevancy of the Tea Party and why conservatives hate the Export-Import bank

Jim DeMint, the former South Carolina senator and influential conservative leader, has made a risky bet.

While he was once focused on the President’s well-known and unpopular health care law, DeMint, who today leads the Heritage Foundation, a Washington think thank, has now picked a far more obscure target: the 80-year-old Export-Import bank, a little known financial institution that Congressional conservatives would like to see shut down when it is up for reauthorization in September.

Last year, the bank financed the purchase of more than $37 billion of American exports. DeMint would like the bank, which he calls “socialist,” to become a top target for Republicans this fall.

“Certainly there are issues of more long-term fiscal importance, but [there are] few issues that reveal the rot and corruption of Washington more clearly than this,” DeMint says.

Conservative leaders, including the leaders of the anti-tax Club for Growth, Tea Party-supporting FreedomWorks and Heritage’s political arm Heritage Action, have all called for the expiration of the bank’s charter at the end of September. This would block the bank from backing new loans. Earlier this year at the Heritage Foundation, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, a potential candidate for the next House Speaker, called the reauthorization of the bank a “defining issue” for the GOP.

Republicans are divided over the bank’s future, but there is enough Republican support in both chambers of Congress to reauthorize the bank’s charter, according to a TIME analysis. The pro-buisness Chamber of Commerce has heralded the bank for supporting 200,000 jobs while reducing the deficit without raising taxes (it charges fees for its services). While DeMint, Hensarling and other conservatives call the bank a prime example of crony capitalism and corporate welfare, the Chamber notes that small- and medium-sized businesses account for more than 85% of Ex-Im’s transactions.

In an interview with TIME, DeMint described why conservative groups like his own are making such a great deal over a little-known bank.

Is there any issue greater than Ex-Im on the minds of conservatives today?

Certainly there are issues of more long-term fiscal importance, but [there are] few issues that reveal the rot and corruption of Washington more clearly than this. Ex-Im issues taxpayer-subsidized loans for the politically connected that are rife with cases of fraud and waste. It’s symptomatic of so much that is wrong with Washington. It’s not necessary. It’s expensive. It puts taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars. It threatens American jobs, and it should be ended.

Conservatives believe in opportunity for all and favoritism to none. Ex-Im exists to provide subsidies to some of America’s biggest corporations. It has led to allegations of kickbacks and bribes, with over 70 documented cases of corruption in recent years. Allowing the bank’s charter to expire could build momentum for even greater reforms.

We can safely assume the Democratic-controlled Senate will include Ex-Im funding in their end of the year spending package. Would you prefer House Republicans shut down the government or pass the bill with the Ex-Im funding?

I don’t assume anything about what Congress will do on Ex-Im, but what is clear is that this is terrible economic policy that should end. Economists across the political spectrum acknowledge that subsidies, in general, and Ex-Im, in particular, do more harm than good. The vast majority of U.S. exports—98 percent—do not receive any assistance from Ex-Im, and America does not need to adopt socialist policies to compete with Europe or any other countries.

Would you support House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy if he allows a vote and Ex-Im passes, even if McCarthy himself opposes the bill?

If leaders in both parties put more focus on taxpayer concerns than special interest lobbyists, it’s an easy call to end this corporate welfare. It was refreshing to hear a newly appointed leader like Mr. McCarthy join with Americans opposed to wasteful government programs. Our focus is on better policy, not politics. Allowing the Ex-Im charter to expire and ending the unnecessary subsidies to major corporations is sound policy.

If you were still in the Senate and you saw Republicans take back the chamber in the midterm elections, would you vote for Senator Mitch McConnell as Majority Leader?

That’s a decision for politicians. At Heritage we’re focused on developing policies that improve the lives of all Americans regardless of party.

Would you prefer to see Rep. Jeb Hensarling or Rep. John Boehner as Speaker of the House?

These are decisions for members of Congress. Jeb is a strong conservative who should be applauded for leading on so many issues that put the interests of taxpayers ahead of special interests.

Do you believe the President should be impeached, as former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has advocated? Do you agree with the House Republicans’ choice to sue the Obama Administration over delaying the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate?

We’ve not called for impeachment, but Congress and the public are right to be deeply troubled by President Obama’s blatant disregard of the law. Time and time again, he has simply ignored laws he doesn’t like. Any suit by the House of Representatives relating to this misconduct would certainly face procedural hurdles, but there’s a strong case to be made if a judge were to reach the merits of a challenge.

Why is the GOP establishment winning in most of the primary races this year? Has the influence of the Tea Party peaked?

Heritage is not involved in elections and doesn’t endorse candidates. Conservatives want sound policies, and a vibrant debate helps to lead us there. The grassroots push to make Washington listen to the needs of Main Street instead of Wall Street have been a very helpful part of that debate. Tea Party groups have certainly given a voice to concerns shared by a majority of Americans about Washington’s wasteful spending and debt, and they’ve had an enormously positive impact since 2010.

Will there be a conservative backlash to the Highway Trust Fund agreement reached by House Republicans and the President?

The highway program taxes drivers in all states and then diverts a huge amount of the revenue to boutique projects, like mass transit, in a few favored states. It should instead be focused on maintaining actual highway infrastructure—roads and bridges—throughout the country. The most efficient and effective means of doing just that is to keep gas tax revenues in the states, and allow states to decide spending priorities. Instead of bailing out mismanaged and wasteful Washington programs, we should be moving more dollars and decisions to the states where there’s more accountability.

TIME Newsmaker Interview

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal Explains His Vision for a Path to Victory in 2016

Bobby Jindal
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal delivers the keynote address during Faith and Freedom Coalition's Road to Majority event in Washington on June 21, 2014. Molly Riley—AP

Says GOP must put forward ideas to "earn the right to be the majority party."

Just days after Mitt Romney’s rout in 2012, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal declared that it was time for the GOP to “stop being the stupid party.” Twenty months later, Jindal is hard at work trying to make that the case.

The boyish-looking 43-year-old Republican is closing in on a decision whether to run for the White House in 2016, but first he is criss-crossing the country fundraising for GOP candidates and for his policy organization, America Next. The group has already outlined his proposals to repeal and replace Obamacare, with future plans on education reform and energy policy coming in the coming months.

In a Republican Party divided over tactics and policy, Jindal is trying to carve out a niche as the wonkiest candidate. On the stump at a fundraiser for Tennessee State Sen. Jack Johnson Sunday, Jindal reiterated his calls for the GOP to offer up policy alternatives, not just objections, delivering a thinly-veiled critique of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Dressed casually in jeans and a button down shirt, with an oversized New Orleans Saints belt buckle, Jindal appears unassuming sitting on a sofa backstage before the event. But then he starts talking. And fast. 180-words-per-minute fast, his much-maligned 2009 response to Obama’s first speech to a joint session of Congress notwithstanding. He touches on policy areas like education and immigration, healthcare and the Middle East.

He jokes that his father, an immigrant from India had an accent. “This is not an accent by the way,” he says in his thick Cajun drawl, drawing a laugh from the 500 or so attendees at the ‘Boots & Jeans, BBQ & Beans’ event. “This is how regular people talk.”

“You know we can get rid of debt, we can get rid of those taxes, those regulations, and the incompetence with a new majority and a new administration in DC,” he continues. “But the thing that worries me the most is this president’s relentless attempts to redefine the American dream.”

TIME caught up with Jindal in Franklin, Tenn. Sunday afternoon, where he was attending the fundraiser and meeting with donors for America Next to discuss his tenure and future aspirations.

The following exchange has been edited and condensed.

Vice President Joe Biden told the nation’s governors on Friday that the nation is looking to them to lead the country out of the current era of hyper-partisanship. What was your reaction to that?

I think there’s deep, deep frustration with D.C., and not just in the Republican party but across the country in the Democratic party as well. I think there’s a sense that the real divide is not Democrats versus Republicans, but it’s between D.C. and the rest of the country. I think ironically president Obama tapped into that in 2008. When he was running, when he talked about changing the culture in D.C. He talked about bridging the partisan divides. And I think there were a lot of voters who voted for him thinking he was being less ideological, he was being more competent, he wasn’t going to be hyperpartisan, and they are deeply disappointed.

Do you think that Republicans who say the party needs to stop trying to repeal Obamacare are leading the GOP astray?

Look, I personally think we have got to repeal it. I think we’ve got to replace it. I think we have to rip it out at the roots. And I think it is awful in terms of the effects you’re seeing. It was passed because of a bunch of lies. . . . I think as Republicans, yes we need to be consistent on repeal, but have to be very specific about what we are replacing it with. And I do think we do ourselves a disservice is all we say is we’re repealing it and not saying this is what comes next. The more people experience it, the less they like it. But they want to know what’s the alternative, they want to know, all right I know this isn’t working but what are you going to do. And that’s why we put our plans, our ideas forward. And I think it’s incumbent upon Republicans to do the same.

Eighteen months ago you warned the GOP against remaining the “stupid party.” Where does that stand now?

Three things: One I think we’ve made progress, but there is more work to be done. Second, I think it’s important we continue to be specific about our policy proposals. My third point is this: My big concern for our party is that in 2014 the temptation’s going to be—listen, I think Republicans are going to have a big year this year. All the trends seem to suggest that. And I think that we can take away the wrong lesson. My worry is that there are a lot of consultants in DC who are running around saying just run against Obamacare. It’s very unpopular, be against a president whose poll numbers are falling, and don’t give them anything to shoot at. That may or may not work in the short term, but there are two problems with that. One, that’s no way to govern. We have to earn the right to be the majority party for the long term. And second, if as conservatives we really think these are dangerous times for our country, if we really believe that, we need to be in the business of persuading people, trying to change the direction of government, getting the country back on track. And you can’t do that unless you are willing to put out specific ideas.

You’ve made education reform a signature issue in Louisiana, as have other Republicans on the national level. Do you think the issue is a political opportunity for the GOP?

I think it’s a huge issue for conservatives. And I say this seriously. I don’t think this should be a partisan issue. I think it’s an American issue. . . . The left has abandoned a lot of these kids and their families and they really don’t have much to say to them. You can’t tell them to just wait, because their kids only grow up once. Incremental progress isn’t enough. And what you’re seeing is you’re seeing amazing progress in a really short period of time. So for example in charter schools in New Orleans, in five years they have doubled the percentage of kids who are reading at grade level. This isn’t just theory—you can show dramatic progress quickly for folks. So I think it is the right issue substantively, so that’s the reason I think pursuing it shouldn’t just be a partisan issue. But secondly, certainly there are political benefits to Republicans, sure, and I think it’s a great example of how we can be consistent with our principles and speak to every voter.

What do you make of the surge of unaccompanied minors crossing the southern border?

I think the president has played a role in helping to create the crisis we see on the southern border. It’s time for him to secure the border. I know he keeps looking for people to blame. He has to look in the mirror. The reality of it is this, we don’t need 1,000-page bills, right now we need to secure the border. As conservatives we talk a lot about this being the most ideological, the most liberal president. But I think the public’s also seeing an incompetent administration as well. We’ve seen that with the VA, we’ve seen that, I believe, with the release of the five prisoners from Gitmo. I think you see that with the border situation. I think you’ve seen that with the IRS. You’ve seen that example in case after case.

It’s time for him to secure the border, but I think this is also telling in that it goes to the competence of the administration. And I think that’s something that we’ve seen in Louisiana for a while. We saw it especially during the oil spill, the explosion in 2010. We saw the incompetence there. I think the rest of the country is seeing what we saw back then.

What’s the latest on your 2016 thinking?

We’ve said it’s something we’re thinking about, praying about. It’s something we’re considering. But we won’t make a decision until certainly after November.

TIME Newsmaker Interview

Lawrence Lessig on His Super PAC to End Super PACs

18th Annual Webby Awards - Arrivals
Lawrence Lessig attends 18th Annual Webby Awards on May 19, 2014 in New York, United States. Brad Barket—Getty Images

The election reformer talks about getting jilted by Comedy Central and why he’s probably not coming after Mitch McConnell. Yet

Law professor Lawrence Lessig’s plan to reform campaign finance in America by blowing the system up from the inside has always been such a longshot that even he is astonished by its fundraising success so far.

The Mayday PAC project launched in May with an initial fundraising goal of $1 million, followed by a $ 5 million goal, all raised through Kickstarter-like pledges. The PAC would then use the money to support five candidates in 2014 committed to serious campaign finance reform—a Super PAC to destroy Super PACs.

The goal was still distant as the July 4 deadline approached, but in its final hours supporters rallied: More than 50,000 people have donated $7.6 million to date. And unlike most Kickstarter campaigns, that’s without offering any swag.

“We attracted this money without offering any t-shirts or any buttons or any anything,” Lessig told TIME.

A matching donation of $5 million still to come should push Mayday PAC’s unexpectedly brimming war chest over $12 million, giving it more than $2 million to spend apiece on five elections.

Lessig spoke with TIME about the PAC’s unlikely success, the challenges it still faces and how it’s choosing which candidates to support.

TIME: That was an ambitious fundraising goal—how are you feeling?

Lawrence Lessig: It was an insane fundraising goal and I’m incredibly surprised and happy that people rallied the way they did. It was really extraordinary.

Were you worried toward the end?

Yeah, I was of course worried at the end. Our plan was we would do the first round and that would attract the attention of somebody like Comedy Central, which would get us the exposure we needed to win on the second round. Because what we knew is if we got before enough people’s eyeballs we would get the support we needed. But as time wore on it was clear Comedy Central was not going to jump into the breach, so we needed to rely on just plain old peer-to-peer, Internet activism. And that in the end seemed to work.

In reforming campaign finance you face not just the institutional impediment of Congress but precedent set by the Supreme Court. What’s the plan?

I actually don’t think there’s any constitutional impediments to the first step reforms that we’ve talked about. We want to change the way campaigns are funded and the Supreme Court has been quite clear that Congress has the power to change the way campaigns are funded through voluntary public funding. Now, what we support is not the traditional public funding—where the government writes a check to fund your campaigns—but bottom up public funding, where it’s matching funds like John Sarbanes Government By the People Act, or a voucher program. Either way this is a public funding program that would help people by creating small dollar systems that they could fund winning campaigns with. That’s completely constitutional and would create the first step toward building a Congress that might address any constitutional problems.

In picking candidates will there be a litmus test beyond a commitment to substantial campaign finance reform.

No. There’s no litmus test for them beyond substantial reform, fundamental reform and the reform we’ve been talking about: changing the way campaigns are funded.

Now, in picking the first five though. that’s a necessary condition but not sufficient. We need to pick races that are exciting enough, difficult enough, challenging, so that when we win people will say it’s amazing they won and that they won on this issue. So, for example, Mitch McConnell’s race would be fun to win but it wouldn’t be clear why anybody won because there are a thousand reasons why Mitch McConnell might be defeated. So that wouldn’t be an interesting race for us but we’re looking for races where when we win people will say it’s extraordinary that they won on the basis of this issue in that district.

You’d support a viable candidate of any political stripe, assuming they’re not too far off the mainstream?

I’m not so concerned about mainstream. I’m concerned about viability and commitment to fundamental reform. Those two elements are the driving factors initially. Next cycle, assuming we’re successful and we create excitement around this issue and can begin to recruit the kind of support we need to win in 2016, it’s about winning in every district we need to get a majority in Congress, but this time it’s about picking those victories in a way that is generative for this more ambitious task in 2016.

TIME Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton Revises Financial Status from ‘Dead Broke’ to ‘Obviously Blessed’

ABC News - 2014
Hillary Clinton talks with ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer for her first television interview in conjunction with the release of her new book on Monday, June 9. Martin H. Simon—ABC / Getty Images

Clinton walked back her statement on Monday that her family suffered financially after leaving the White House. "We’ve been blessed in the last 14 years," she said

Hillary Clinton offered a notable revision to her family’s financial history on Tuesday, walking back her Monday statement that her family left the White House “dead broke” and adding that they were “obviously blessed.”

Clinton was asked to address a critical backlash to her comments about working through a financial “struggle” by accepting lucrative book deals and speaking fees. The comments struck some critics as out of touch with ordinary Americans.

“Let me just clarify that I fully appreciate how hard life is for so many Americans today,” Clinton said in an interview with Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts. “Bill and I were obviously blessed. We worked hard for everything we got in our lives and we continue to work hard, and we’ve been blessed in the last 14 years.”

Asked about her description of financial distress, Clinton did not repeat the words “dead broke.”

“As I recall we were something like $12 million in debt,” Clinton said, before adding, “We have a life experience that is clearly different in very dramatic ways from many Americans, but we also have gone through some of the same challenges as many people have. I worry a lot about people I know personally and people in this country who don’t have the same opportunities that we’ve been given.”

TIME Newsmaker Interview

Brian Schweitzer Isn’t Holding Much Back as 2016 Approaches

Former Democratic Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer at the Montana AFL-CIO annual convention in Billings, Mont. on May 10, 2013
Former Democratic Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer at the Montana AFL-CIO annual convention in Billings, Mont. on May 10, 2013 Matt Brown—AP

Would he be a better president than Hillary Clinton? He thinks so

To get rid of the trash, former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer either has to drive it away in a pickup from his remote lake house or burn it in a rusty oil barrel. But with the cellular signal from a nearby tower, he is able to broadcast live high-definition video of himself from his wine cellar to MSNBC viewers all over the country.

That same technology has also allowed him emerge in the last several months as a notable force in Democratic politics, as he has begun to explore publicly the possibility of a 2016 presidential bid and offer criticisms of President Obama and his heir apparent, Hillary Clinton. In this week’s TIME magazine, I have a story about Schweitzer on the range, his views of the party, and his thoughts on how to win in 2016. (The story is free to read online for subscribers. Everyone else click here to subscribe.) Suffice it to say, he is not just another Democratic candidate.

The story was reported over two days in May in and around his home, taking walks, riding horses, traveling the countryside in a six-wheel Polaris ATV and crossing the local roads in his pickup truck. He talked pretty much the whole time. Not all of the newsworthy things he said made it into print.

Here is a selection of his views on everything from Obama to Clinton to Republican resistance to comprehensive immigration reform. More, of course, can be found in the magazine.

On the Barack Obama presidency

I was very hopeful. I was like everyone else. I’m an idealist. And when Obama was elected, all of these things were going to happen. We were going to get out of these foreign entanglements. We were going to show the world that we were a country of laws, and we were going to close Guantanamo Bay. We were going to have a healthcare system that actually worked, that challenged expenses. But one by one, all that stuff was dashed.

Some of it is because they didn’t move fast enough, and some of it was dashed because you get to Washington, D.C., and it turns out that the Republicans are mostly owned by corporate America and the Democrats are partially owned by corporate America. The same insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies, the same military industrial complex that fills the coffers for Republican reelections, they filled the coffers of Democrats for reelection. So that things don’t get done shouldn’t surprise you because it’s safe not to get things done. The status quo works.

On Hillary Clinton

You can’t be the candidate that shakes down more money on Wall Street than anybody since, I don’t know, Woodrow Wilson, and be the populist. You can’t be the one to say we’re going to focus on rebuilding America if you voted to go to the Iraq war. There were 30 some Democrats who voted against that.

On whether he would be a better president than Hillary Clinton

Well, I think so, of course. I think I have a background and a resume that isn’t just in government. But the time I was in government, I was a chief executive. And as I said to you before, you can go around Montana and ask people what they think of me and they will say, “Well I didn’t always agree with him, but I always knew where he stood and he was good with money.” That’s what they will say to a person. And I think there is one thing we all can agree on: they are not good with money in Washington, D.C.

On the 2002 vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq

I watched [Former West Virginia Sen.] Robert Byrd stand up and beg this country not to go to war in Iraq. And I would have been standing right beside him. A young guy, not an old guy, and I would have been saying, “I lived there [in the Middle East]. Are you f—ing crazy. Iraq is fighting the war against Iran. We are creating a vacuum, and we will have to fill it, or the Iranians will.”

On the hazards of working in Washington, D.C.

I do know this. If someone has been entrenched in Washington, D.C., for 8, 10, 12, 20 years, they are bought and paid for by the special interests. Not because they wanted to, not because they consider themselves corrupt, but because first there is a deal, and then another deal, and then they look the other way on big banks, and then you look the other way on regulation, and then you allow outsourcing of taxes, and then you allow the military industrial complex to talk you into voting for another war, and pretty soon you look at yourself in the mirror and you go, “My God, I’m all of those things that I hated when I came here.”

On the questions Democrats should ask themselves in deciding the 2016 nominee

Are we going to choose more leadership that is going to roll over and get scratched on the belly by corporations like a fat dog? Are we going to be able to reform this healthcare system so it is one that doesn’t hand your taxpayer dollars to private insurance companies? Are we going to force the pharmaceutical companies to sell medicine in the United States for the same price as they do to the rest of the world?

On immigration reform

Let me tell you who is rethinking their position on immigration. Not the Republican party. The Cheyenne, the Gravant, the Salish, the Crow. You know, they’d like to have that decision back. All the rest of us, what kind of royalty was your family when they got here? I know my family wasn’t royalty. They came here with just the clothes on their back and faith in God and high hopes and for the most part no place to go.

On the Democratic big tent

We are a big and diverse country and for the Democratic Party to be successful we have to be a big and diverse party. It has to be that same party that not only respects gay and lesbian rights and transgender rights in San Francisco, but respects that blue collar guy who takes a shower at the end of the day and not in the morning.

On the difference between big state and small state governors

Almost without fail, politicians that come from New York and Texas and California and Florida and Illinois, their personal game, their ability to connect one-on-one, their ability to walk into a room and light it up, is nothing like the folks that come from the Dakotas and Nebraska and Arkansas. Because in a place like Montana you don’t win an election by those TV ads. They know you — “Yeah I met him, I know his sister, I knew his parents.” And almost without fail if you walk in and take a look at the governors, you can pick out the ones from the big states.

On his strategy if he decides to get in the race

Look, if you wanted to make a big machine that matches the machine that is likely to be built around Hillary then you would have to have started eight years ago. But if the outcome is always known with a superior slow moving army then we would still be part of England and we would still have a king. And Hillary would be president, or whatever you have under a king, but certainly it would not have been Obama.


TIME Newsmaker Interview

Va. State Senator Tells Parents of Troubled Kids: You’re Not Alone

VA State Senator Creigh Deeds Discusses Mental Health Care Reform
Virginia State Senator Creigh Deeds speaks about mental health reform at The National Press Club, March 31, 2014 in Washington. Drew Angerer—Getty Images

Creigh Deeds, whose son attacked him and then committed suicide last November, talks to TIME about what the parents of mentally ill children can learn from his experience and that of recent mass killings like the Santa Barbara shooting rampage

Creigh Deeds, a 56 year-old Virginia state senator, can sympathize better than most with the father of Elliot Rodger, the 22-year old who killed six students in Santa Barbara last month before shooting himself. Last November, Creigh’s son, Gus, who had been suffering from mental illness, stabbed his father before committing suicide.

There are similarities in the deadly situations: the parents, divorced, worked together to help their troubled son. The public safety net meant to deal with such situations failed to prevent the tragedies. A month before Rodger’s rampage, the police visited Rodger, 22, after his mother alerted mental health authorities, but left after concluding that Rodger was not a threat. Thirteen hours before his death, Gus, 24, sought psychiatric treatment but was turned away at a local facility that said it didn’t have any available beds. Both families were wracked by their son’s death and have said it is now their responsibility to prevent similar tragedies in the future.

Deeds led the effort to successfully pass a mental health bill in Virginia earlier this year, and he told TIME in a short email exchange Monday that America’s privacy laws make it “exceedingly difficult” for parents of adult children to advocate for their children. He also had a message to parents: “be open to the unthinkable,” “stay involved” in your children’s lives and lobby elected officials on how to fix flaws in the system. He also tells parents of children struggling with mental illness, “you are not alone.”

Please find below TIME’s conversation with Creigh Deeds.

What was your reaction when you heard the news about the Santa Barbara shooting?

My reaction was probably similar to that of just about everybody else. I was shocked and saddened. The sadness deepened after I saw the snippet of YouTube video and learned of Elliot Rodger’s extensive history with mental health professionals and law enforcement.

The parents of the shooter had expressed concern about their son to the local police, and the police had three previous encounters with Elliot Rodger, but that did not prevent what happened. What can be done to make sure mass shootings don’t happen again?

I wish it were that easy. In a free society, I am afraid that we cannot completely eliminate the chance that a mass shooting, or any other crime, will occur. But I do not think we should ever be satisfied thinking that they are inevitable.

While an individual with mental illness is more likely to be a victim of a violent crime than a perpetrator, the recent high profile mass shootings shine a spotlight on mental health. We have to work hard to remove the stigma associated with mental health. We have to talk about mental health issues. We have to hold uncomfortable discussions with loved ones, roommates, or coworkers in need and seek treatment for those we care about. We have to understand that we are our brother’s keeper. We have to constantly be thinking about the needs of other people. As parents, we need to stay involved in our children’s lives and be open to the unthinkable, that our children may need help. And, when that important step is taken, the services must be there to meet the need.

What is your advice to other parents who are struggling with potentially dangerous children struggling with mental health problems? Who should they turn to?

Parents need to love their children, and sometimes that means protecting them from themselves. As soon as problems are identified, professional help should be sought. If you notice an escalation in behavior, do not hesitate to contact law enforcement or initiate proceedings to have your child evaluated. Educate yourself on mental illness and become involved in an advocacy organization. You are not alone. And if you encounter flaws in the system, a lack of services, or a problem, share you story with your elected officials.

Based on the volume of calls, emails, and letters I have received from throughout the United States since last fall, I know there are significant lapses in services and people have limited places to turn for help in many areas of this country. Moreover, our laws to protect patient privacy make it exceedingly difficult for parents of adult children to advocate for their children. Despite those barriers, parents must never give up.

Is there anything you learned as a parent or lawmaker after your son’s death that you wish you had known before?

There are many things I wish I had known, but none of them will bring my son back. The key lesson in all of this is that as parents, we have to develop strong relationships with our children and stay involved in their lives, especially if there are signs that the child, no longer a child, is in trouble.

Does the issue of handling mentally ill youth need a greater national focus?

Yes. The issue of handling mentally ill youth does need a greater national focus. Many mental illnesses, particularly schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder, do not become apparent until people are in their late teens or early twenties. Part of the national discussion needs to be a greater understanding that mental illness affects one in four Americans, nearly every family, and people need to be better equipped to identify problems before they manifest themselves into dangerous illnesses. Moreover, there are some necessary changes, HIPPA [privacy rule] reform for example, that can only take place at the federal level.

TIME Newsmaker Interview

Idaho’s GOP Biker Candidate on Life as a Viral Sensation

Harley Brown and Lisa Marie Courtesy of Lisa Marie

Harley Brown elaborates on his gay-marriage views and future plans, among other topics

Harley Brown says he’s been a candidate for office eight times before in his life, but the former Navy engineer and the current president of the Bombers Motorcycle Club has never gotten the kind of attention he’s received since he participated in Idaho’s GOP gubernatorial debate on May 14.

The debate headliners, sitting governor Butch Otter and Tea Party challenger Russ Fulcher, traded barbs, but the leather-clad Brown’s performance — combined with that of the ancient-looking Bible-thumper and father of 16, Walt Bayes — stole the show. With trademark Brown lines like, “I’m about as politically correct as your proverbial turd in a punch bowl,” video of the event went viral. Since then, Brown has been fielding media appearances and teamed up with a PR consultant and fellow long-shot candidate who identified herself as Lisa Marie. She’s running for Congress in Idaho right now and will soon launch a run for the presidency in 2016, she says, with Brown as her campaign manager.

Before results in Idaho’s gubernatorial GOP primary came in Tuesday night, TIME caught up with Brown by phone on the campaign trail to talk about his prime-time moment, his views on gay marriage and his plans for the future.

Harley Brown: Hello, Denver.

TIME: Hello, Harley. How you doing today?

You know us politicians, man. We like publicity like alcoholics like the next drink, man.

How did the debate go last week?

Well, I was surprised it went viral. I never expected that. The way my style is, I tell it from my heart with the bark on. You know, I’m not politically correct. I tell the truth and don’t varnish what I say. Lisa Marie is on me for using some adjectives that would make a sailor blush, so I got to clean up my act that way.

Are you happy with your debate performance?

I am. That was me. That was the unvarnished me, except the gal — you should have seen that little girl — not little girl, but the young lady who was the moderator. Right before it started, man, she read us the riot act like a drill sergeant — looking at all of us but it was directed at me. Then she came on, the sweet little girl with the glasses when the cameras came on. It was funny.

How has your campaign been affected?

Oh, man. You know, I figured that the debate was the Super Bowl of the campaign season, and I afterwards went out on my motorcycle for a nice little ride. Well, I had my cell phone in my breast pocket of my shirt. That thing kept buzzing and buzzing and ringing and ringing and ringing, and I must have had 14 voicemails. Of course, I couldn’t answer it when I’m on the bike. Thank God for Lisa Marie here to help organize all this for me. I’d get a mental hernia trying to figure it all out. Local radio stations. Interstate stuff. New York; Washington, D.C.; Texas; Washington State; L.A.; Hollywood. You name it, man, they’ve all been calling me.

Raised any campaign funds?

No, I’m not here for the money. God pays for his plans. Where God guides, he provides. And this is something from what God told me long ago, and I’m letting him foot the bill because when I do become President of the United States it’s gonna give tremendous glory to God. I’m a military man. The norms of military service are duty, honor and country. But can you tell me the three R’s of politics? Raises, Revenge and Re-election. Give me the Marine Corps any day.

You differ from the Republican orthodoxy on some significant issues, notably gay marriage.

As a person who has been discriminated against, as a motorcycle guy, I’ve experienced firsthand tremendous discrimination by police forces. It seems like if you’re riding a Harley-Davidson and you’re wearing black leathers, they automatically got you pegged as a bad guy.

And I can empathize with the tremendous, I say again, the tremendous discrimination against gays. Those poor people have been walked on by society, they’ve been called sinners by these self-righteously religiously correct. And I say to those people, the Ten Commandments, and there’s all kinds of stuff in the Bible that God said is a sin. Why do you pick on the gays?

As a taxi driver for 20 years, I’ve picked up my fair share of gay people, and the Bible says “love covereth a multitude of sins.” Those people are just like anybody else; they go out for a good time, they take a taxi home, they pay their fare. In my opinion with them — and I’ve had more exposure to gays than most straight people, I think, with my taxi-driving profession — I don’t want to see ’em discriminated against, and I’m flying my colors and saying leave them alone, and if they want to get married, let them have liberty and justice for all and equal protection under the law. They’re just as American as a Medal of Honor winner.

Any predictions on the upcoming primary results?

I don’t have a clue. Naturally, I’d like to win, but again that’s up to God and the Idaho voters. I’m getting more attention in this election than I’ve ever gotten before, and I’m getting a lot of positive feedback. They recognize me. I pull up at a gas station to fill up my bike and people come up asking for my autograph and photograph with them. I feel like I’m the most famous guy in Idaho right now.

Do you feel like it’s good attention though? Do you sometimes wonder if you’re being laughed at rather than laughed with?

Not anymore.

This interview has been edited for space and clarity.

TIME Newsmaker Interview

Former Obama Tech Czar: “Fast Lanes” Consistent with Net Neutrality

Barack Obama's former top technology advisor at the White House backs a proposal by the Federal Communications Commission to allow online "fast lanes," saying that they can be managed in a way that protects the open Internet for everyone else.

Aneesh Chopra, President Barack Obama’s former chief technology officer, says the Federal Communications Commission’s proposed rules on net neutrality are in line with what the White House supported in 2010.

The proposed rules, released last Thursday, have been highly controversial because they allow large, rich companies to pay Internet service providers to deliver their content more quickly and at a higher quality.

Open Internet advocates who support “net neutrality,” the idea that all content on the Internet should be treated equally, argue that such provisions, known as “managed services,” are akin to creating “fast lanes” and “slow lanes” on the Internet. They argue that if incumbent companies are allowed to pay for better delivery of their content, then small, shoestring start-ups that can’t afford to pay-up will be disadvantaged, when their content is delivered more slowly, at a lower quality, or made to buffer endlessly.

Chopra says that critique misunderstands the problem. The point of the net neutrality rules is not to ban companies from purchasing access to faster, better service, he said; the point of the rules is to ensure that managed service agreements happen above board.

“In my personal opinion, the provision of managed services is not inconsistent with the principles of an open Internet, provided there is a robust level of oversight ensuring that we are not degrading the Internet service offerings for the rest of us,” he said. “You can’t just say, ‘Go forth and build managed services, good luck.’ You’ve got to have a robust review cycle to make sure that they are living up to standards.”

Chopra, who served at the White House from 2009 to 2012, had a front row seat when the FCC passed net neutrality rules in 2010. The D.C. Circuit Court overturned those rules in January of this year.

In an interview with TIME last week, Chopra weighed in on the FCC’s most recent proposed rules on net neutrality, what sort of role the White House played in 2010, and what should happen next. This interview was edited for length and clarity.

TIME: From your perspective, how has the president approached net neutrality and how has the process has evolved since 2009?

ANEESH CHOPRA: I’ll start with the basic principle, which is that the president cares deeply about an open Internet and has stated so repeatedly… I’d then say that…it’s important to remember that the 2010 rules had some of the same features that seem to have caused some of the controversy [today]. The idea of managed services…is present in those rules, provided that they were not unduly harming the viability of a more robust Internet for everyone else. …[The idea of managed services] is not inconsistent with the idea of an open Internet.

How is allowing for managed services not the same as creating a fast lane? Or does it create a fast lane and that’s ok?

No, no. Let me be specific about a use case. Let’s take the work of telemedicine [where a patient can video chat their doctor]… There are higher order requirements for a telemedicine visit involving a patient and a doctor – quality of service, making sure there aren’t as many obstructions – because people’s lives and medical judgments are on the line. …Today there’s sort of an expensive, complicated private network approach to getting doctors and hospitals to communicate back with patients…and the question is, why not use the Internet? But if you want to built it on top of the Internet you want to have a slightly higher order service. And that should be accommodated provided you’re not cutting the capacity of the core Internet backbone in order to do that…

But how can you allow certain industries—whether it’s medicine, education, entertainment—to access better, faster Internet on a higher order tier, when it’s all the same tube? How does that not reduce the capacity for the rest of us?

I think the challenge here is really the idea that this is not a fixed pie. If I said to you, “There are four lanes and now I’m going to introduce these services I’m describing into one lane, and leave you only three lanes for everything else,” then that may not meet the open Internet standard because you’re degrading service for the rest of us in order to accommodate these other services… But if the healthcare industry understands and has the ability to deliver the services it needs to over the Internet versus the truly private network, that introduces hundreds of millions of dollars of new revenue a year into the system….

And that’s going to demand more investment—

Yeah… The core of the business model for these providers is they estimate the demand for their service. If the market grows, if there’s more revenue coming into the network, companies can reinvest more capital to expand and improve and invest… I just mentioned health care as one example…[but] how many industries in the U.S. economy have fully explored the Internet as a vehicle for a communication and engagement and development? There’s a heck of a lot more to do and it might be the case that the introduction of services of this sort might create a lot more capital to expand the Internet capacity and even build even more…

But since most ISPs enjoy regional monopolies, we have to take whatever speed they give us. What motivation do they have to invest in increasing the capacity of the Internet for the rest of us?

You’re preaching to the choir. That’s why we need to have these rules in place to protect the consumer. You’re making the case for me. That is why we need an open Internet rule…

But if your open Internet rule allows companies to pay ISPs to prioritize their service, then what interest do the ISP themselves have to expand the whole pie—to make sure those “other three lanes” don’t get more clogged?

Well, because FCC chairman [Tom Wheeler] has said that he will not allow the degradation of a robust Internet for all of us in order to accommodate that new service. Unless I misread his comments, I think Chairman Wheeler spoke almost exactly to that issue by suggesting that he will review on a case-by-case basis whether these managed services are achieving the principles of an open Internet for all of us. I think [we need] a robust rule that the chairman writes that allows for him to essentially govern or monitor or regulate these capabilities…

You’re raising a great question. And believe me, I’m a huge—the president was deep on this and i was doing my job to help advise him on these issues where we were allowed to advise. The FCC’s independent, so obviously they are a separate matter. But my personal outside of the government opinion is that…the provision of managed services is not inconsistent with the principles of an open internet provided there is a robust level of oversight on ensuring that we are not degrading the internet service offerings for the rest of us. So you can’t have one without the other. You can’t just sort of say, ‘Go forth and build managed services, good luck.’ You’ve got to have a robust review cycle to make sure that they are living up to the standards. Now, if my memory is right… I believe in the 2010 order it was a reasonableness standard.

“Commercially reasonable.”

Right. So the question is, “What’s the phrase that triggers the kind of review and oversight?” I don’t know the lawyerly answer to that, but I am confident they’ll have something that will give the chairman a role in ensuring that any of these services that I am describing are not at the detriment, are not at the expense of a robust Internet… I am extraordinarily bullish on the need for new open Internet rules. And I think what we’re talking about here are really mechanisms that preserve an open Internet while acknowledging that there are yet unknowns about the birth of new products and services that could leverage the Internet backbone to improve our lives.

Let’s rewind a couple of years to when you were at the White House. There are so many stakeholders in an issue like this, how does the White House institutionally hear them all out and try to develop its own recommendations? Who was meeting with whom? What was the process inside the White House in order to keep the president informed?

So first and foremost, there are very strict rules to follow with regards to how the White House and the executive branch can involve themselves in the FCC’s activities. We file ex parte filings, for example, if the administration has comments it would like to file. Typically we’d do so through the head of the [National Telecommunications and Information Administration]. So official comments on behalf of the executive branch to the FCC we publish through that mechanism.

Every visitor to the White House is publicly available on the visitor logs, so you can search who visited the president and who visits Aneesh Chopra and who visits others in the executive branch. My role was to provide as much advice and counsel to the president and to the ultimate process, which is NTIA and Larry Strickland, who would communicate our administration’s position to the FCC. So we were very careful not to directly engage the FCC on matters on which they have an active proceeding. That stuff is all done formally through channels that were communicated clearly to us by the general counsel.

How involved was the president just in terms of getting briefed on this—how big of an interest did he take in this subject?

I would say that it’s safe to characterize the president’s interest and passion on this issue as genuine and personal. He knows it. He’s talked about it. He talked about it not just domestically but internationally. He made a comment about it when he was in China. He knows the issue well. He is a firm believer in it. And my hope is that the policy that the FCC will carry forth will live up to the president’s vision of an open Internet. And I’m confident from what I’ve seen that the FCC is moving down a productive path.

Did you and the president disagree on these issues?

Generally speaking, we don’t comment on specific conversations with the president so I honor that.

Not specific conversations, but do you and the president see eye to eye on net neutrality?

I fully supported the president’s position wherever I could and did everything in my power to ensure that the policy activities that I worked on reflected the president’s commitments to these issues and to the best of my ability worked to see his vision come to life on a whole range of topics, including net neutrality.

TIME Newsmaker Interview

Steve Scalise Says Republicans ‘Can Walk And Chew Gum At The Same Time’

Rep. Steve Scalise
Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., speaks at the House Triangle during the Coal Caucus' news conference on the EPA's recently proposed greenhouse gas standards for new power plants on Sept. 26, 2013 in Washington. Bill Clark—CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

TIME talks with Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), the chairman of the influential conservative Republican Study Committee

Rep. Steve Scalise is little known outside the Capitol and his home state of Louisiana. But the chairman of the Republican Study Committee (RSC) is one of the most influential members of the House GOP. As leader of a conservative caucus that includes much of the wider House Republican conference, Scalise is also caught between two seemingly contradictory goals: moving Republicans to advance more conservative policies, and helping his party win votes in an election year.

Scalise, a three-term member from southern Louisiana, took the helm of the RSC in 2012. The group, which numbers about 175 members, has enjoyed rapid growth over the past two decades, swelling from 7% of the House GOP in 1995 to 73% in 2013, according to National Journal. Its weekly meetings draw 75 to 90 members. At the same time, its reputation as an incubator of conservative policy has been somewhat diluted by its growing membership, which now includes moderates.

In this role, Scalise—who some observers expect to seek a House leadership post whenever Speaker John Boehner retires—is forced to balance the needs of his district with his personal ambitions and those of his party. That challenge came to a head earlier this year, when Scalise supported a leadership-backed flood insurance bill instead of legislation written by former RSC chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.), whom some conservatives have touted as a potential successor to Boehner.

In a lengthy interview TIME Newsmaker interview in his Capitol Hill office on May 9, Scalise sat before a glass-topped table featuring 13 corks—one from each champagne bottle popped to celebrate a bill introduced. He talked about Obamacare, the future of the House GOP, and more. Here are excerpts:

Will the House actually pass an Obamacare alternative?

I think on health care we’ve got a real chance for a vote on the floor. We need to continue to fight for repealing the president’s health care law, but we also need to put a replacement on the table. Our conference was reluctant to do anything on that front. So I said let me put together some of our smartest members on health care.

Members were meeting together for weeks and went through all the complicated issues on health care policy and finally came up with a bill. And it was a bill that was less than 200 pages, and our focus was … putting patients back in charge and lowering the cost of health care, in a way that doesn’t have mandated new taxes. So it’s a very different approach than Obamacare. I think we’re at 129 [co-sponsors]. We’ve helped advance the cause of having an alternative to the point where our leadership is now open to it.

Has Majority Leader Eric Cantor said the House will move on your bill?

He hasn’t made a formal commitment, but he is now open. In fact there are a number of working groups the leader has set up that are looking at an alternative approach to the president’s health care law. That’s a positive step forward. We’re not where we want to be, because we don’t have a vote on the floor yet, but we’re a lot closer. And I think a lot of that is because the RSC took the initiative.

Will the new Benghazi Select Committee divert your attention from your focus on Obamacare and the economy?

We can walk and chew gum at the same time.

Should Rep. Jeb Hensarling be the next Speaker?

There’s all kind of speculation about who’s going to be speaker. I don’t play the speculation game. I know Jeb well. I haven’t heard him say he is running for Speaker.

Would you support him if he wanted to?

I’m focused on getting through the next few months and bringing some of the big issues forward. I think the RSC has been successful at helping move a more conservative policy through the House, and in fact some of the policies have gotten their way into law. And we’ve done it by picking smart fights and unifying Republicans—not just conservatives—around good conservative policy.

We have only two-and-a-half months before everyone goes back to their district to campaign. There is a lot of stuff that needs to be done, including bringing a health care bill to the floor, maybe a jobs bill to the floor, trying to get control over spending in the spending bills. You’ve got the appropriations bills that are going to be moving forward. Within RSC, we’ve been pushing to get those bills brought to the floor. We want a financial services bill on the floor where we can finally start putting limitations on the IRS in terms of what they are doing to attack citizens based on political views. And what they’re going to try to do to overreach on Obamacare. We only can do that if we bring those bills to the floor in the next two and a half months.

Do you think that Speaker Boehner is a conservative?

I think that our leadership is a lot more conservative than it was the last time we were in the majority. Going back to ’06, when we lost the majority, I do think that our conference has shifted further to the right in probably in a large way from those days. If you just look at the 2010 cycle, and then large class that we had, it was a class that mostly ran as conservatives. And so I think our conference has continued to become more conservative.

Would you like a more conservative leadership?

I want more conservative policy.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

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