TIME 2016 Election

Donald Trump Lawyer Sorry for Saying ‘You Can’t Rape Your Spouse’

Presidential campaign disavows aide's comments amid controversy

Donald Trump’s lawyer and top aide apologized Tuesday after he ensnared the candidate in fresh controversy by responding to years-old rape allegations against Trump—since retracted—by saying that sexual intercourse with a spouse can never legally be considered rape.

“As an attorney, husband and father there are many injustices that offend me but nothing more than charges of rape or racism,” Michael Cohen told CNN. “They hit me at my core. Rarely am I surprised by the press, but the gall of this particular reporter to make such a reprehensible and false allegation against Mr. Trump truly stunned me. In my moment of shock and anger, I made an inarticulate comment—which I do not believe—and which I apologize for entirely.”

Cohen had responded angrily earlier to questions about a 1989 incident, and his comments quickly sparked an uproar.

“You’re talking about the frontrunner for the GOP, presidential candidate, as well as a private individual who never raped anybody,” Michael Cohen, Trump’s special counsel and a longtime aide, reportedly told The Daily Beast in response to its reporting on allegations in the early 1990s that Trump raped his then-wife Ivana Trump.“And, of course, understand that by the very definition, you can’t rape your spouse.”

“It is true,” Cohen added. “You cannot rape your spouse. And there’s very clear case law.”

Prohibitions against spousal rape were actually enacted in the 1970s, and it was illegal in all 50 states by the early 1990s. It became illegal in New York state in 1984. Ivana Trump originally made the comments in a deposition surrounding their divorce, she told CNN in a statement Tuesday, saying at the time that she felt “violated” by a 1989 incident between the couple. But Ivana Trump disavowed the accusation Tuesday in response to The Daily Beast report.

“I have recently read some comments attributed to me from nearly 30 years ago at a time of very high tension during my divorce from Donald,” she told CNN. “The story is totally without merit. Donald and I are the best of friends and together have raised three children that we love and are very proud of. I have nothing but fondness for Donald and wish him the best of luck on his campaign. Incidentally, I think he would make an incredible president.”

The controversy over Cohen’s comments come as Trump has ridden incendiary rhetoric on immigration and other issues to the top of national polls for the Republican nomination. The latest batch of polls showed no sign of his momentum being halted, even as Republican leaders have condemned him in growing numbers after he said Arizona Sen. and Vietnam-era POW John McCain is “not a war hero.”

Ivana Trump’s original comments about feeling “violated,” according to The Beast, were originally published in the 1993 book Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump. But even before that book was published, she walked back the notion that what happened between them was “rape.”

“During a deposition given by me in connection with my matrimonial case, I stated that my husband had raped me,” she reportedly said at the time. “[O]n one occasion during 1989, Mr. Trump and I had marital relations in which he behaved very differently toward me than he had during our marriage. As a woman, I felt violated, as the love and tenderness, which he normally exhibited towards me, was absent. I referred to this as a ‘rape,’ but I do not want my words to be interpreted in a literal or criminal sense.”

Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told CNN that the candidate “didn’t know of [Cohen’s] comments but disagrees with them.”

Cohen, for his part, threatened The Daily Beast with legal action and financial ruin, the website reported.

“I will make sure that you and I meet one day while we’re in the courthouse,” Cohen was quoted as saying. “And I will take you for every penny you still don’t have. And I will come after your Daily Beast and everybody else that you possibly know. So I’m warning you, tread very f—ing lightly, because what I’m going to do to you is going to be f—ing disgusting. You understand me?”

 

TIME 2016 Election

Donald Trump Surges in Latest Republican Polls

The real estate mogul is beating his rivals despite criticism from his rivals

Donald Trump is leading the pack among candidates for the 2016 Republican Party nomination in the latest batch of polls.

A CNN Poll on Sunday showed Trump leading with 18% support among Republicans. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush was second at 15%; Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker rounded out the top three at 10%. Trump’s ratings in the poll have surged 6 points in the last month, while his rivals have remained relatively steady.

And while the poll is by no means a reflection of who will take the Republican Party nomination in 2016, it suggests Republicans are excited by a Trump candidacy. Fifty-two percent of Republicans want to see Trump continue his run and 42% of Republicans currently backing another candidate want Trump to remain in the field.

CNN’s survey is in line with an NBC poll of New Hampshire voters, also released Sunday, showed Trump holding 21% of Republican support, with Bush trailing at 14% and Walker at 12%.

In an NBC poll of Iowa Republican voters, Walker is leading the pack at 19%, with trump narrowly behind at 17%. Bush follows them at 12%, then Ben Carson at 8%, Mike Huckabee at 7%, and Rand Paul at 5%.

And yet another poll from YouGov goes further, showing Republican support for Trump at 28%.

Trump’s surge came after a week of strong, united Republican rebuke on the candidate’s controversial comments on Sen. John McCain’s service and suggesting the Vietnam War veteran was “not a war hero.”

“A number of my competitors for the Republican nomination have no business running for president,” Trump wrote in USA Today. “I do not need to be lectured by any of them.”

Read next: How Donald Trump Became Donald Trump

Download TIME’s mobile app for iOS to have your world explained wherever you go

TIME john kasich

John Kasich Enters Presidential Race As Compassionate Republican

The Ohio Governor is likely the last major Republican presidential contender to jump into the race

Ohio Governor John Kasich launched his campaign for the presidency on Tuesday, casting himself as a compassionate conservative with a proven record of success in one of the nation’s top battlegrounds.

“I have decided to run for President of the United States,” Kasich said in his announcement speech at his alma mater, the Ohio State University. “I’m here to humbly tell you that I believe I do have the skills, and I have the experience.”

Kasich is the sixteenth and likely the last major candidate to enter the GOP primary field. He faces an uphill climb to capture the nomination. The Ohioan’s late entry into the race kicks off a two-week scramble to boost his national poll numbers quickly enough to qualify for the first Republican debate on Aug. 6 in Cleveland. Kasich is expected to stake his campaign on a strong showing in New Hampshire, whose flinty voters often favor iconoclastic conservatives of his ilk.

On paper, Kasich has the credentials of a top-tier contender. He’s a popular two-term governor who cut taxes in a critical swing state. He spent nearly 20 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, winning a reputation as a national security and fiscal hawk who pushed for a balanced-budget amendment. The union-busting legislation he signed in Ohio was even more aggressive than the Wisconsin bill that forms the cornerstone of Scott Walker’s campaign. (So much so that it was ultimately repealed by referendum.)

Kasich balances conservative policies with a folksy style and compassionate streak—expanding Medicaid, strengthening the safety net for the poor—that has helped him win over independent voters. In an announcement speech that was by turns poignant and rambling, Kasich made empathy for struggling Americans a centerpiece of his pitch. “If we’re not born to serve others,” he said, “what are we born to do?”

But the same policies that make Kasich intriguing in a general election will be perilous in a primary. The decision to expand Medicaid coverage under Obamacare is just one of his sins against conservative dogma. Kasich supports Common Core education standards. He favors earned legal status for undocumented immigrants, and has not ruled out a path to citizenship. His cranky demeanor has ruffled feathers among the GOP donor class.

Kasich’s taste for tweaking the hardliners in his own party evokes comparisons former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, whose base-bucking campaign for the Republican nomination flamed out spectacularly in 2012. Several of the architects of Huntsman’s bid, including senior strategists John Weaver and Matt David and adman Fred Davis, have formed the core of Kasich’s effort. Kasich is more conservative than Huntsman, but it’s an open question whether he can cobble together enough support to compete in early primary states dominated by the party’s grassroots activists.

Kasich ran for president once before, launching a short-lived campaign in 1999 before dropping out when it became clear that the Republican Party had coalesced behind George W. Bush. Another Bush stands in Kasich’s way this time, and he and Jeb Bush have some attributes in common: both are two-term governors of major states who went on to work with Lehman Brothers, and who have anchored their campaigns in themes of fiscal discipline and boosting struggling Americans. In his announcement speech, Kasich even borrowed the “right to rise” mantra that Bush uses. As in his brother’s 2000 campaign, Bush has also consolidated much of the party’s institutional and financial support.

Kasich’s path to the nomination is narrow, but he has the credibility to contend if he can find traction in a crowded field.

TIME ted cruz

Ted Cruz Picks a Winning Book Fight With New York Times

Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas and 2016 presidential candidate, speaks during the Faith and Freedom Coalition's "Road to Majority" legislative luncheon in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, June 18, 2015.
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas and 2016 presidential candidate, speaks during the Faith and Freedom Coalition's "Road to Majority" legislative luncheon in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, June 18, 2015.

Better than making the bestseller list

One of the hoariest cliches in conservative politics is to claim you don’t read the New York Times. Ted Cruz has picked a fight with the Times after the paper claimed that people aren’t reading him.

The spat between Cruz and the Gray Lady began last week, when the newspaper said it would omit the Texas Republican’s new memoir, A Time for Truth, from its bestsellers’ list. The book has sold 12,000 copies since its release on June 30, according to Nielsen Bookscan data provided to TIME. That’s enough to rank the volume among the top few nonfiction hardcovers.

But the paper determined the book’s stats were goosed by “strategic bulk purchases” in a bid to game the system and make the list. The Times has stood by its decision as Amazon, an impartial retailer, and publisher HarperCollins have said they found no evidence of attempts to manipulate sales statistics.

Cruz’s team wanted to make the bestsellers list, which would have conferred a stamp of credibility on his literary debut. But a public battle with the paper of record was an even better result. For a conservative presidential candidate, the New York Times—an emblem of liberal elitism, right up there alongside arugula, the Toyota Prius and San Francisco—is a perfect foil.

And the Cruz campaign has done its best to fan the flames, blasting out a series of statements decrying partisan bias. The kerfuffle is “a chance to get yet more attention and drive readers to Senator Cruz’s book,” Keith Urbahn, the book’s literary agent, told Politico. “This controversy is already helping sales.”

MORE: Here’s Which 2016 Candidate’s Book Sold the Most Copies

As it happens, A Time for Truth is a good read—especially by the dismal standards of the genre. A candidate memoir has two overriding goals: first, to make money for the author; and then, to do no harm to the writer’s future prospects. When boring is the best-case scenario, the result is almost always a pudding of platitudes. (A typical line from Hillary Clinton’s Hard Choices, selected by opening the book at random: “Hard men present hard choices—none more so than Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia.”) Even worse, such books reveal little about the author, other than he or she is ambitious or long-winded enough to write an entire book without saying anything controversial.

Cruz’s book is different. First, he is both a fluid writer and a talented storyteller. He knows how to bait the hook to lure in readers. A section about clerking at the U.S. Supreme Court, for example, opens with an anecdote about watching hard-core pornography with Justices William Rehnquist and Sandra Day O’Connor.

But the book has merits beyond the prose. One of them is the revealing glimpse it offers into Cruz’s family background. The senator has gotten a lot of mileage out of the remarkable life of his father, a Cuban revolutionary who came to Texas with $100 sewn into his underwear, learned English from the movies, launched an oil company and now travels the country as a Tea Party icon. But Rafael Cruz isn’t the only member of the family with an fascinating story.

Cruz recounts how his mother, Eleanor Darragh, defied her own father to become the first in her family to attend college, emerged from Rice with a math degree, then dodged clerical duties and became a computer programmer at Shell after refusing to learn to type. He talks about his half-sister’s struggles with drug and alcohol addiction, and his aunt’s battles with Castro.

But beyond biography, the book has enough dishy material to sustain the attention of non-political obsessives. It’s filled with interesting nuggets on everything from Justice David Souter’s dietary habits to the Bush campaign’s legal machinations during the 2000 recount to a shouting match inside a Republican Senate luncheon. You don’t need to have a strong opinion of Cruz one way or the other to appreciate the glimpse it offers into campaigns, the Capitol or the country’s top courtrooms.

Like all political documents, this one is self-aggrandizing, meant to explain the origins of Cruz’s brand of conservatism as well as underscore his commitment to principle in the face of adversity. But it’s also sprinkled with enough self-deprecating stories and personal insights to humanize a politician who is often reduced to caricature by both fans and opponents.

If the fight with the Times makes it likelier that ordinary readers will pick up the book, then the paper has done Cruz a favor. And those who end up buying the book because of the spat won’t be any worse off, either.

TIME ted cruz

Cruz Tries to Prove a Conservative Can Win

Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas and 2016 presidential candidate, right, greets an attendee after speaking at the Faith and Freedom Coalition's "Road to Majority" legislative luncheon in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, June 18, 2015.
Bloomberg via Getty Images Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas and 2016 presidential candidate, right, greets an attendee after speaking at the Faith and Freedom Coalition's "Road to Majority" legislative luncheon in Washington, D.C., on June 18, 2015

The Texan pitches himself as a true believer with the money to win

Friday night in rural northwest Iowa is as picturesque as American politics gets. Half the town of Pierson is sprawled across the outfield grass of a Little League ballpark, eating pork sandwiches and cupcakes as a country band plays atop a flatbed crowded with hay bales. As the sun begins to dip into the surrounding cornfields, Ted Cruz climbs onto the stage to make his pitch for the presidency.

The centerpiece of Cruz’s stump speech these days is a denunciation of what the Texas Republican calls the “Washington cartel.” This is the Senator’s term for the alliance of powerful interests and pliable politicians who, he says, conspire to control the country at the expense of the people. K Street lobbyists are a big part of Cruz’s cartel. So are big corporations, career politicians, the liberal media and the leaders of both parties. The newest members are the apostates on the Supreme Court, whose back-to-back rulings on Obamacare and same-sex marriage Cruz condemned at each stop on his most recent two-day swing through Iowa.

Cruz is known as a bomb thrower, and his most trip to Iowa illustrated why. He ripped rivals for the 2016 nomination for feigning outrage while privately “popping champagne” at the court’s ruling. “They stand for nothing!” he spat. He whacked party leaders for supporting illegal “amnesty.” He called for a constitutional amendment that would force Supreme Court Justices to stand in elections. He even slammed Chief Justice John Roberts, a longtime friend from conservative legal circles.

“You’re not calling balls and strikes,” Cruz tells TIME, invoking the umpire metaphor that Roberts deployed at his confirmation hearings to describe the role of a Justice. “You’ve joined a team.”

The important thing to understand about Cruz is that nothing he says is by accident. For all his florid rhetoric, he is as disciplined a speaker as any in the presidential field. His stump speech — delivered without notes or teleprompters — is carefully honed, with the same canned jokes at each stop, the same pauses for emphasis, the same cadences and delivery. The conservative crowds in this heavily evangelical swath of Iowa eagerly gobbled the red meat Cruz tossed, including jabs at “liberal intolerance” and warnings of the coming “vicious assault on religious liberty.”

But in some ways the crucial part of the routine is a more subtle argument, one aimed at voters around the country who remain skeptical that a candidate like Cruz has a real shot at winning the presidency. This, he explains, is a lie perpetrated by the cartel.

“The game of the Washington cartel,” Cruz tells crowds, “is to convince conservatives you can’t win.”

To prove otherwise, Cruz points to money. “We launched the campaign on March 23,” Cruz tells about 60 people in a drab community center in Sheldon, Iowa, on Friday. “We set a goal of raising $1 million in a week. Frankly, I thought that was a pretty audacious goal.” He paused for emphasis. “We raised $1m in one day.”

By the end of the week, Cruz adds, his campaign had raked in more than $4 million — “more money than any Republican [campaign] has raised in the opening week in modern history.” Including Establishment types like Mitt Romney and John McCain.

Candidates rarely get into granular fundraising details on the stump. But these stats are not just a point of pride (or a product of insecurity). They are central to Cruz’s case that a true conservative can harness grassroots energy to beat the cartel. The cartel is supposed to control the party’s purse strings, Cruz says — and yet here he is, a Tea Partyer despised by the GOP establishment, raking in serious dollars.

Cruz has collected more than $40 million since announcing his campaign, with most of that coming from a constellation of super PACs backing his bid. That’s far less than a “cartel” candidate like Jeb Bush, who is soon expected to report raising in the neighborhood of $100 million so far. But it’s enough to put him snugly in the next tier, along with candidates like Scott Walker and Marco Rubio, on upcoming fundraising reports.

More importantly, the tally underlines Cruz’s ability to compete financially, which most movement conservatives cannot. “We’ve not seen a grassroots conservative with serious fundraising ability since 1980,” Cruz told a small group of voters in the Dutch Bakery in Orange City, whose specialty almond patties retail for $1.50. Cruz’s stump speech builds to this argument: that he is the rare true believer with the fundraising firepower to withstand a long and grueling primary. The campaign’s actions bear out this strategy. Cruz has trekked to places like Massachusetts and staffed up in states like Michigan, Nevada and North Carolina. He is trying to build a national infrastructure that can capitalize on early momentum.

An early consequence of this long view is that Cruz has spent less time in Iowa so far than expected. He has just a skeleton staff here, led by conservative activist and former pastor Bryan English. Cruz is actually polling lower by some measures in the first-in-the-nation Hawkeye State, an evangelical stronghold well suited to his style, than he is nationwide.

Cruz promises crowds that he’ll be spending “a lot of time in the great state of Iowa.” In Orange City on Friday, he gamely submitted to the retail ritual the caucuses require. He toured a store filled with Dutch-style wooden shoes, glad-handed retirees and knelt to take photos with children. “He stands up and fights,” says retiree Patricia Boonstra, after taking a picture with Cruz on her iPad. On Saturday, the candidate delivered a sermon-style speech, titled “Believe Again,” on the campus of Drake University in Des Moines.

Steve King, the conservative congressman who represents northwest Iowa, tells TIME that Cruz has the chops to win the caucuses. “He’s a natural-born, full-spectrum conservative,” King says. “The voters are starting to follow him.”

Cruz has an uphill climb to win the nomination. He’s polling around 6% nationally over the past month, behind not only Bush, Walker and Rubio but also former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, the winner of the 2008 Iowa caucuses, and fellow freshman Senator Rand Paul, who is hoping to build on his father’s robust network in Iowa and elsewhere. It’s not only the Washington cartel that dislikes Cruz. Many of the party’s moderate voters are put off by his slashing style.

But the Texan draws optimism from the success of two candidates who were also written off in the early going. One is Barack Obama, who toppled Hillary Clinton in 2008 with a guerrilla campaign Cruz speaks of with awe. (Cruz admired Obama’s battle plan so much he bought staffers a copy of the now President’s campaign manager David Plouffe’s memoir.) The other is Ronald Reagan. “I think 2016,” he says, “is going to be an election like 1980.”

TIME john kasich

John Kasich Tells TIME: The Republican Party Is My Vehicle, Not My Master

GOP 2016 New Hampshire
Jim Cole—AP Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, speaks at the Republican Leadership Summit in Nashua, N.H. on April 18, 2015.

Yet another entrant in the presidential race tells TIME that he plans to run as his own man

Ohio Governor John Kasich turned heads in political circles earlier this month when he announced the hiring of a pair of GOP operatives with checkered histories to run his presidential campaign.

John Weaver and Fred Davis were the strategists behind former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman’s ill-fated 2012 campaign for the presidency. Before that, they worked for Sen. John McCain. But to those who know Kasich, their hiring made perfect sense—he’s planning to run a similarly unconventional campaign for the White House. “Here’s the thing you have to realize, the Republican Party is my vehicle, and not my master,” he tells TIME.

Casting himself as a “change agent,” Kasich has overseen an economic revival in Ohio, and won re-election in the swing state by a 31% margin over a weak Democratic opponent. It was a sharp reversal from 2011—his first year in office—when Kasich’s poll numbers plummeted amid a failed effort to curtail the power of state public sector unions in an effort to control the state budget.

Kasich unsuccessfully ran for the White House in 2000, where he was edged out by another Bush’s well-funded campaign. “The issue was money-M-O-N-E-Y,” he told the New York Observer in 2001. Kasich now says he was too young that time around, pointing to support he is receiving from those who backed Bush over him in 2000.

He endorsed George W. Bush, calling him “a soul brother” for his support of compassionate conservatism, a theme at the center of Kasich’s campaigns. “I think that it’s important for the GOP, must most important for me to be able to talk about the kindness of conservatism,” Kasich says.

To that end, he defends expanding Medicaid under Obamacare, despite vigorous opposition from Republicans. “I’ve never thought anything about it. It was the right thing to do,” he says. “We’re helping the drug addicted, the working poor, the mentally ill. I didn’t see it as standing up to my party really, I just saw it as carrying out something that I thought was important for my state.”

A former investment banker, he has no regrets about his time at Lehman Brothers, but says he supports capital requirements for large banks. Kasich tells TIME he opposes increasing taxes, but that he will not sign any pledges to that effect.

TIME caught up last week with Kasich in Utah, where he was attending the E2 Summit organized by former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Here is a transcript of the interview.

TIME: You’re having fun out there.

Kasich: Most of the time, it’s fun. I get tired once in a while, and that’s not ever fun to be tired, but you know, I’m enjoying it.

TIME: You did this in 2000 running against another Bush.

Kasich: It was a different time. I was just a young man, and you know, people said, look we like you and come back another day.

TIME: But you also lamented at the time running against Bush money. You’re set to do that again against Jeb’s $100 million.

Kasich: Our goal, if I become a candidate it’s going to be because we have enough resources where we think we can at least compete in the early states. We’re not going to get anywhere close to that, but could we have enough to put gas in the plane so it could take off the ground, and that’s an assessment that we’re in the process of making.

TIME: If you had to put odds on it?

Kasich: We don’t know yet. We’re getting close. We’re going to have to decide things relatively soon. And how do I feel about it, I feel pretty good. I feel like we’re making progress.

TIME: Was this meeting helpful in that regard?

Kasich: Not yet, we’ll see. We have lots more meetings. I came here because Mitt invited me, I didn’t come to some of the other ones. I thought it was important to get out here and let people—a lot of people said we know of him, but we don’t really know him. In that regard this was helpful. I hope. I don’t know what the people were saying. I don’t know.

TIME: You talked about your approval rating taking a hit your first year as governor. What did you learn from that?

Kasich: Got crushed! The one thing that I really learned from that is, you really want to unite. And if you have to fight and you divide, that’s okay, but just don’t do it all the time. Look, we were $8 billion in a hole, we had many things we had to do to climb out of that. And once we started climbing out, we were in a better position. I’m also a change agent. And when you’re a change agent, it shakes people up. Why do you think when people hear me talk they get like, what is this guy, who is this guy. Why doesn’t he say what we expect him to say. That kind of message, it rattles people. And then peoples started to get used to me. I wouldn’t be surprised if my poll numbers went down again. That’s just the way it is. You can’t worry about it.

TIME: What’s the better metric?

Kasich: Results. Harry Truman did not run for re-election because people thought he would not win. He didn’t think he was going to win. It turns out he was one of our great presidents. It’s results. It’s not polls, and popularity. They ran Winston Churchill out of politics for a while, but look at what he ultimately did. It’s results that matter, nothing other than that.

TIME: You got your results. You left Washington. You went to Lehman. You were there during the financial collapse. What did you learn from that, in terms of how banks and financial institutions should be regulated.

Kasich: On the biggest issue, they’re already imposing capital requirements now. But one of the things you don’t want to do is treat the big boys the same way you treat the regional boys, because you then start snuffing out opportunity. When you step on the air hose and people can’t loan money, that’s like the kiss of death for business. Business has to have capital. At the same time, I think Wall Street is a necessary ingredient of the global economy, but you know, you’ve just got to keep people realizing that helping clients is the most important thing, not helping yourself.

TIME: Any regrets from that period?

Kasich: It was fantastic. Are you kidding? Regrets? I thought it was a fantastic time. I traveled all over the country. I got an incredible education. I worked my tail off. It was great.

TIME: What did you learn?

Kasich: I worked with private equity. I worked with venture capital. I worked with many different times of companies. I learned about how America works, how free enterprise works, how business executives think, how decisions get made. It’s an incalculable thing that I learned.

TIME: Last time around, candidates were asked whether they would take a 10-1 deal on spending cuts to tax increases. Would you?

Kasich: Right now, I just don’t think that revenue is what we should be talking about. I think that, look, I ran the budget committee. I was one of the architects of the balanced budget. We actually cut taxes then. I had to remain President Obama that early in my tenure as governor. I think let’s focus on changing these programs and making them more efficient. I worry about spending more money, because you know what happens, every time you put more money into the system, they spend it and they don’t do what they’re supposed to do.

TIME: Would you sign something like the Americans for Tax Reform pledge?

Kasich: I’m not signing any pledges. I’m not signing any pledges. I’m just not going to sign any pledges. My record speaks for itself.

TIME: The debt ceiling will be hit this fall. What should Republicans in Congress do?

Kasich: They should be working with their colleagues, working with the administration to put something together that’s going to get us to balance over time.

TIME: Should that be a prerequisite to raising the debt ceiling?

Kasich: I’m never going to say what should be happening regardless. I’m not going to respond to that.

TIME: What did you learn from standing up to some in your own party on Medicaid expansion?

Kasich: I’ve never thought anything about it. It was the right thing to do. We’re helping the drug addicted, the working poor, the mentally ill. I didn’t see it as standing up to my party really, I just saw it as carrying out something that I thought was important for my state. Here’s the thing you have to realize, the Republican Party is my vehicle, and not my master. My job is to try to figure out how to fix things, and I’m going to fix things as best as I can. I’m going to get a team together to fix things. And I can’t sit around and worrying what the heck the chairman of the Republican Party thinks about what I’m doing. I have to do what has to be done to bring improvement. What would I do? Say, oh well, the Republicans don’t like this therefor I shouldn’t do it. What kind of a government would that be. We’re not a parliamentary system.

TIME: In 2011 you signed an executive order banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, putting you on the forefront of states controlled by Republican governors. What did you think of the RFRA debate in Indiana and elsewhere?

Kasich: We don’t have that issue in Ohio, and I just don’t think we should discriminate against anyone, plain and simple.

TIME: That executive order did not include protections based on gender identity. Is that something you would be open to?

Kasich: I put the executive order out and it covers who it covers. And if I saw a reason to investigate something else, I’d look at it.

TIME: On foreign policy, some in your party have taken a more isolationist approach, the Rand Paul model—

Kasich: No. I don’t think America should be the policeman of the world, but we have to be engaged and we have to be a leader, and that comes from strong economic growth, a strong military, good diplomatic efforts, and integrating our business community. I just think it’s a whole new paradigm. And Gen. Jim Jones has been proposing sort of—that our military commanders, combatant commanders, work closely with our diplomatic corps, and including the business community in all this. People would say we’re already doing it. I don’t believe it. I think there needs to be more of an integration, so that we look at these issues holistically.

TIME: Soft power?

Kasich: I would say some soft, and some really tough power. Let’s think about how we can bring economic development, let’s see if people could learn a little more of the rule of law, rather than the rule of man, which is kind of what you see in China now. And business people have a a good view of what’s happening internally in countries, and they can be a positive force. And so I think there needs to be a full integration of all of that. But you have to have a strong military and it needs to be rebuilt.

TIME: You spoke about the need to reform the military. How would you go about doing that?

Kasich: The whole thing needs to be looked at. We still have systems we don’t need, we have infrastructure we don’t need. Is there a way to preposition equipment. Are there technologies that can take the place of more expensive, traditional military equipment. Can we get our allies to become more robust. It’s a whole series of things that you need to do. But the building itself—I mean, why do you have over 900,000 bureaucrats working in one way or another in all these systems. It becomes complicated. It’s a lot of stuff that needs to be done.

TIME: Are there specific programs that you have in mind?

Kasich: Well, that’s a process we’re going through right now. And I’ll have more to say about that in the future.

TIME: There are a number of military bases in Ohio, you mentioned base closures, should they be—

Kasich: I think that bases should be closed on the basis or opened on the basis of what they contribute to our national security. I went through when I was a congressmen, one of my operations shutting down. Look, I was at Pease Air Force Base, it got shut down, and they turned lemons into lemonade. The Pentagon needs precious resources to build the strength of America, and we can’t say, ‘this is really important to this community, and it’s really not vital to the national security, but we ought to do it anyway.’ So, I think we have to have a discipline on this.

TIME: What is the greatest impediment for you, as you potentially go down this road? Money? Name-ID? Convincing voters you have the right vision?

Kasich: I don’t really see — I’m pretty optimistic about what I’m seeing. I know that the world would shudder, if I were able to clone me, but it would be great if there were more of me to go around so you could get to more places to talk to more people. I would say, I don’t kind of look at life that way. I’m not looking at impediments right now. I just look at opportunities. As Arnold Schwarzenegger told me one time, “Love the beatings.” [in accent] As Arnold told me one time, “Going down the slope, love the moguls.” I think that’s right, that’s a good attitude about life, and it’s a good attitude about politics.

TIME: You have something of a reputation for having some rough edges. Do you see that in yourself sometimes?

Kasich: I’m from Pittsburgh, we’re pretty direct from outside of Pittsburgh.

TIME: That’s like the Chris Christie response.

Kasich: I don’t know about that. But look, we build teams of people and we’ve had really great results. And we’re just going to build good teams o people. One of the great, most heartening things was, being in New Hampshire many years ago, many of the people that I touched back then are with me today. They want to help. Isn’t that a great thing?

TIME: John Sununu being one of them.

Kasich: John, but Bruce Burke, and there’s a host of them. There are people who said, hey, if he’s doing it again, I want to be involved, and that’s really, really cool.

TIME Scott Walker

Walker Defends Rape and Incest Position on Abortion Bill

Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks during a meeting with area Republicans on April 19, 2015, in Derry, N.H.
Jim Cole—AP Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks during a meeting with area Republicans on April 19, 2015, in Derry, N.H.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is under fire from Democrats for supporting legislation that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, including in cases of rape or incest.

The unannounced presidential candidate told reporters Monday that he would sign a 20-week abortion ban proposed by the Badger State legislature, regardless of whether it includes rape or incest exemptions.

“I think for most people who are concerned about that, it’s in the initial months when they are most concerned about it,” Walker said. “In this case, it’s an unborn life, it’s an unborn child, that’s why we feel strongly about it. I’m prepared to sign it either way they send it to us.”

A version of the bill passed by the Wisconsin House of Representatives does not include exceptions for rape or incest but does have a provision permitting abortions that would save the life of the mother. It would also allow the mother or father to seek civil damages against a doctor who carried out an abortion after 20 weeks.

The issue is a potentially perilous one for Walker. Polls show broad support among voters, including a majority of Republicans, for legal abortions in at least some instances, such as when the pregnancy is caused by rape or incest. The last three Republican presidential nominees—Mitt Romney, John McCain and George W. Bush—all backed such exemptions.

Walker’s political opponents painted his position as extreme. “Once again, Scott Walker has placed his own rigid, backward ideology ahead of the best interests of the people of his state,” said Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. “Already, this bill takes away a decision that should be between a woman and her doctor. Already, it doesn’t allow for any exceptions even for survivors of rape or incest. And now, shocking new details show that Scott Walker wants to go even further to take away a woman’s say in her own health. Rape survivors deserve more protections under the law, not less.”

Democrats have had political success in recent years skewering conservatives for ill-considered statements about women’s health. In 2012, Barack Obama earned the support of 56% of female voters, compared to 44% for Romney, after the Democrats made the GOP’s alleged “war on women” a centerpiece of campaigns up and down the ballot. Walker is not the only national Republican to face questions on the issue as the 2016 campaign gets underway. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul found himself in hot water shortly after announcing his presidential campaign two months ago when he wouldn’t say whether he would support exceptions to abortion bans.

AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Walker’s political committee, Our American Revival, defended the governor’s stance. “A majority of Americans agree with Governor Walker that life after five months should be protected,” she told TIME. “Governor Walker has been very clear that he will sign a bill passed by the legislature to ensure the state of Wisconsin protects life after five months.”

“What’s far outside the mainstream in this country is the Democrat Party’s disregard for babies capable of feeling pain,” Strong added. “It’s unfortunate that far-left extremists are eager to twist an issue that most Americans have consensus on.”

Walker’s position on the bill is not new. In a March letter to the conservative Susan B. Anthony List, the two-term governor said he would sign the 20-week abortion ban and advocate for it on the federal level.

Such a stance could be a boon to Walker’s hopes of capturing the Iowa caucuses, which are dominated by social conservative activists. But they could backfire on the all-but-certain presidential contender by leaving him vulnerable to partisan attacks, especially should he become the Republican nominee.

It’s an issue the GOP has hoped to avoid. Since the 2012 election, Republican strategists have sought to neutralize the “war on women” trope by embracing over-the-counter birth control, championing female candidates and largely avoiding rape-related gaffes.

“The Democrats were painting us as the caveman party,“ says Katie Packer Gage, a former top aide to Romney and founder of Burning Glass Consulting, a firm that has focused on helping male Republican candidates talk about issues important to women.

Packer Gage acknowledged Walker’s comments could hurt him. But she said the 20-week abortion ban, if properly handled, could be a winning issue for Republicans in the general election. “We have [Democrats] a bit backed into the corner because the public support is there, even among women,” she told TIME. “Many people believe that if you haven’t figured this out in 20 weeks, well, the decision has probably already been made and you should probably go forward.”

Liz Mair, a Republican strategist and former adviser to Walker, noted that many women who support the right to an abortion draw a distinction between late-term abortions and those performed during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. Mair, who supports a woman’s right to an abortion in the first trimester, argued it is extreme to support abortions during the final three months of a pregnancy if the mother’s life is not at risk.

TIME Lindsey Graham

Why Lindsey Graham Matters in the 2016 Race

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham announces he will seek the Republican Party nomination for president in Central, South Carolina, on June 1, 2015.
Bloomberg via Getty Images South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham announces he will seek the Republican Party nomination for president in Central, South Carolina, on June 1, 2015.

Even though he won't win

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham launched his campaign for the presidency Monday with an announcement speech that promised to restore a muscular foreign policy in a dangerous world.

“I want to be president to defeat the enemies trying to kill us, not just penalize them or criticize them or contain them, but defeat them,” Graham said, standing on the Central, S.C., street where he was raised in the back room of a pool hall and liquor store. “I have more experience with our national security than any other candidate in this race.”

Graham, 59, is the ninth Republican to enter the race, a field that may nearly double in size by the Iowa caucuses. And he is unlikely to emerge from the crowded primary pack.

Read More: The Full Text of Lindsey Graham’s Campaign Launch

A rounding error in the polls, Graham lacks a national profile or fundraising network and suffers from a sour relationship with the grassroots activists who dominate the GOP presidential primary. In an age of political combat, he is one of Capitol Hill’s few surviving dealmakers, willing to buck the base to partner with Democrats on issues like immigration and environmental legislation.

But even if he won’t become President, Graham will be a player in the chase for the White House: as a hawk in a party with renewed focused on the threat of Islamic terrorism; as an agitator whose folksy style masks a taste for skewering his rivals; and as a potential kingmaker, whose base of support in the nation’s first southern primary state gives him the potential to tip a tight contest with an endorsement.

Graham previewed the themes of his campaign Monday with an announcement speech that focused heavily on national security. “We’ve made some dangerous mistakes in recent years. The Obama Administration, and some of my colleagues in Congress, substituted wishful thinking for sound national security strategy,” Graham said. “As President, I will make them small, poor and on the run.”

Just a year ago, such rhetoric would have set Graham apart in a party that has grown weary after more than a decade of continuous war. But the rise of the Islamic State, the spreading chaos in the Middle East and the prospect of a nuclear accord with Iran has helped the GOP rediscover its hawkish leanings. An election that once seemed destined to showcase the party’s surprising dovishness has transformed into a battle about who can be toughest on the terrorists.

Read More: How Lindsey Graham First Earned a Reputation for Bucking the GOP

The shift fits squarely in Graham’s wheelhouse. Recently retired after 33 years in the U.S. Air Force, he has the deepest military background of any 2016 GOP candidate. “Radical Islam is running wild,” he said Monday. “They have more safe havens, more money, more capability and more weapons to strike our homeland than anytime since 9/11. They are large, rich and entrenched.” But the party’s evolving foreign policy is a mixed blessing for Graham. Though no longer a lonely voice for foreign intervention, he may be a less influential voice now that he is no longer the only candidate promising to flex the nation’s muscles.

There is still no one in the Republican field who can match Graham’s gift for the crowd-rousing zinger—a talent that wins him a media profile bigger than his poll numbers. Graham often uses the spotlight to throw darts at his rivals. And most of the time, GOP Sen. Rand Paul is the target. “I think Sen. Paul’s record on [foreign policy] is frankly behind President Obama,” Graham told reporters recently. “If he’s the nominee of the party, I think we risk giving up the central issue of the 2016 campaign, which will be foreign policy.” If Paul’s campaign for the presidency picks up steam, Graham is poised to be the Kentuckian’s chief tormentor.

He’s also the only 2016 Republican who will contest a crucial primary on home turf. Last year Graham won a third term representing the Palmetto State, the first Southern state to hold elections in an increasingly Southern party. If his own campaign can’t gain traction by the time of the primary, he’ll be positioned to give someone else a critical boost.

Though few predict he’ll emerge victorious, Graham’s allies believe he has the potential to pull some surprises. He’s a canny operator from humble beginnings, with a proven ability to energize crowds and valuable ties to one of the party’s premier donors. And as a foreign policy candidate in what is shaping up as a foreign policy election, he’s likely to stay in the headlines for as long as he stays in the race.

“The world is exploding in terror and violence,” he told supporters in South Carolina Monday. It’s not sunny stuff. But these are the kinds of lines that could make Graham a factor in fearful times.

Read More: The Three Best Friends Who Ran for President

TIME Immigration

Republican Candidates Dodge Immigration Questions

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush speaks at the Republican Party of Iowa's Lincoln Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, United States, May 16, 2015.
Jim Young—Reuters Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush speaks at the Republican Party of Iowa's Lincoln Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, United States, May 16, 2015.

The GOP wanted to talk differently about immigration in 2016. Instead they're trying to avoid talking about it at all

Sitting in a hotel conference room of a Scottsdale, Ariz., resort, Mike Huckabee kibitzed with a few reporters Friday about issues ranging from the Iraq War to the suspension of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

But when the talk turned to whether undocumented immigrants should have a path to U.S. citizenship, the former Arkansas governor clammed up. “Until we have a secure border,” Huckabee demurred, “there isn’t any other discussion for us to be having.”

Huckabee isn’t the only Republican presidential candidate to dodge the topic lately. As the 2016 race ramps up, GOP candidates are increasingly skirting the specifics of immigration policy. It’s a trend that threatens the party’s hopes of reclaiming the White House.

Routed in the battle for Hispanic voters in 2012, the Republican Party promised to speak differently about immigration this time. But the need to repair its relationship with Latinos has collided with its candidates’ need to court the conservative activists who dominate the GOP nominating contest. As a result, many of the party’s presidential hopefuls don’t want to divulge the details of their positions on an issue with major political and policy ramifications.

To discern the differences between the candidates on immigration, TIME distributed a brief survey to declared and likely White House hopefuls. The questions focused on the fate of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S., a subject at the heart of the bipartisan debate over comprehensive immigration reform:

  1. Do you support an eventual pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently residing in the U.S., and if so, under what conditions?
  1. Do you support an eventual pathway to legal status short of citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently residing in the U.S., and if so, under what conditions?
  1. Do you support a separate process to give legal status or citizenship to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as minors?
  1. Do you support any government benefits, such as in-state college tuition, for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as minors?

Some likely GOP candidates offered clear and succinct answers. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum was a “no” on all four, according to his spokesman. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of the architects of the Senate’s bipartisan attempt to overhaul U.S. immigration laws in 2013, stuck by his support for a path to citizenship under detailed conditions. “Citizenship need not be mandatory, but it needs to be an option for those who are qualified,” said Graham spokeswoman Brittany Bramell. Graham also backed a process to give legal status or citizenship—along with government benefits like in-state tuition—to minors brought to the U.S. by their parents.

But the majority of the field offered muddier responses, or declined to answer at all. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal was one of several to argue the debate should be postponed until the southern border is secured.

“Any discussion about dealing with who is already here is counterproductive until the border is secure,” Jindal told TIME in a statement issued through his spokesman. “Any attempt to deal with the millions of people who are currently in this country illegally prior to securing the border is illogical, and is nothing more than amnesty.”

Asked about a pathway to legal status for undocumented workers who met certain conditions, Jindal dismissed it as “a hypothetical conversation.” As for legal status or citizenship for those brought to the U.S. as minors, Jindal turned the focus to Obama. “A serious discussion about those individuals is just not possible right now because of the reckless policies of this administration,” he said. “This President has done everything he can to encourage illegal immigration.”

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, whose path to the GOP nomination runs through the conservative grassroots, opposes a path to citizenship for the undocumented. But it’s unclear where Cruz, who casts himself as a proponent of immigration reform, stands on the matter of legal status. He did not directly answer questions from TIME at a recent question-and-answer session hosted by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

These evasions reflect the divisiveness of a topic that splits the party’s bigwigs and its base. The fate of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S. is such a freighted question among conservative activists in early voting states like Iowa that White House hopefuls are leery of sinking their campaigns with a single slip of the tongue.

Take former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is likely to launch his second campaign for the presidency next month. Many recall the brain freeze Perry suffered in the middle of a 2011 debate as the moment his first bid for the White House went awry. But the face plant capped a free fall set in motion at an earlier debate, when Perry excoriated critics of in-state tuition breaks for undocumented minors. “If you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they have been brought there by no fault of their own,” Perry argued then, “I don’t think you have a heart.”

Perry takes a different tack now. In response to TIME’s questions, a spokesman for the former Lone Star State governor compiled a summary of his tough record on illegal immigration, including a “border surge” to stem the tide of undocumented immigrants from Central America in 2014, an increase in border-security funding and a mandate for state agencies and contractors to use e-verify, an electronic system designed to prevent employers from hiring undocumented workers. “Under Gov. Rick Perry’s leadership, Texas did more to secure the southern border than any state in the nation,” said spokesman Travis Considine.

Perry isn’t the only Republican to recalibrate his approach. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has shifted on immigration more than any other GOP candidate. Once a supporter of a path to citizenship, Walker is now a firm no. “He believes citizenship should be reserved for those who follow the law from the beginning,” spokeswoman AshLee Strong told TIME. Asked if Walker supported an eventual pathway to legal status for those in the U.S. illegally or a separate process for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as minors, Strong replied: “He believes that following the President’s illegal executive action, the U.S.’s priorities must be repealing the executive action, securing the border, and enforcing the laws on the books while implementing a workable e-verify system.”

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who helped craft the 2013 Senate measure, has edged away from his support of a comprehensive reform bill; he now says he would support a path to citizenship only after tough border measures are imposed first. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a fluent Spanish speaker whose wife is from Mexico, is a supporter of immigration reform who has urged the party to rethink its approach on immigration. But while he once spoke favorably about a path to citizenship, he prefers a path to earned legal status.

“Governor Bush believes once immigrants who entered illegally as adults plead guilty and pay the applicable fines or perform community service, they should become eligible to start the process to earn legal status,” spokeswoman Allie Brandenburger told TIME. “Such earned legal status should entail paying taxes, learning English, committing no substantial crimes, and not receiving government benefits. Governor Bush believes this must be accompanied by measures to secure the border and reform America’s broken immigration system to make it economically driven.”

Candidates like Bush and Rubio are trying to navigate the tightrope on a tricky policy issue by taking a position that can win over moderate voters (including the center-right business community, which favors reform) without alienating the GOP base. Their position grew more precarious recently, when likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, vying to maintain the party’s grip on the nation’s fastest-growing demographic group, positioned herself as a greater advocate of undocumented workers than anyone in the field.

“We can’t wait any longer for a path to full and equal citizenship,” she said, claiming Republican candidate has consistently supported that policy. “When they talk about ‘legal status,’ that is code for second-class status.”

With reporting by Zeke J. Miller/Scottsdale, Ariz.

TIME religious freedom

Republican Party to Vote in Support of Religious-Freedom Laws

Protesters
Doug McSchooler—AP Thousands of opponents of Indiana Senate Bill 101, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, gather on the lawn of the Indiana state house to rally against that legislation on March 28, 2015

The GOP follows presidential candidates as issue takes hold on campaign trail

The Republican National Committee is expected to approve a resolution Thursday reaffirming support for so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, undeterred by controversy in Indiana and Arkansas over whether such measures sanction discrimination against gays and lesbians.

The Resolution Affirming Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRA) passed through the RNC’s resolutions committee Wednesday during the RNC’s spring meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz., and will be voted on by the full 168-member governing body Friday. The party traditionally votes on all resolutions as a package, and the RFRA resolution is expected to pass with little or no opposition.

“The Republican National Committee stands firm in upholding natural, human, constitutional, and, under the RFRA, statutory rights of religious freedom,” the resolution states.

A nationwide firestorm erupted after Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed a RFRA resolution into law that critics contended would allow business owners with religious objections to opt out of servicing same-sex weddings. Indiana’s resolution went further than the federal statute, which has been on the books since the Clinton administration. A similar controversy in Arkansas led to Governor Asa Hutchinson demanding changes to the law to bring it in line with the federal statute before signing it.

The cautiously worded RNC resolution encourages states to mirror the federal law, rather than the controversial Indiana version.

“The Republican National Committee supports and encourages States’ actions to enact laws that mirror the federal RFRA to protect citizens’ rights to lead all aspects of their lives according to their deeply held religious beliefs,” it states.

The resolution comes as the issue of religious freedom has become a significant conversation piece on the presidential campaign trail.

“The Republican Party will always stand for and defend religious freedom,” RNC press secretary Allison Moore tells TIME.

Separate RNC resolutions expected to pass Friday include one supporting Republican lawmakers in their criticism of the emerging nuclear agreement between the Obama Administration and Iran, and another calling for the replacement of the Administrative Procedure Act, a law that sets how executive agencies propose and enact regulations.

Yet another resolution reaffirms the party’s neutrality in the presidential nominating procedure, even as the RNC has seized control of the debate process. The party and television networks hosting the early debates this summer are struggling with how to include a field of more than a dozen candidates on stage.

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com