TIME rick perry

Rick Perry Takes a Swing at Three Senator Rivals

Rick Perry
Mark Humphrey—AP Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry runs off the stage after speaking at the National Rifle Association convention, Friday, April 10, 2015, in Nashville.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Thursday he doesn’t think American voters “want to take a chance” on electing another Senator to the White House, delivering a sharp blow to the three declared Republican presidential candidates.

Speaking to reporters after a lunch with New Hampshire business leaders in Nashua, the second-time candidate, who has yet to publicly announce his presidential campaign, said that after electing first-term Sen. Barack Obama in 2008, voters don’t want to take the same risk again. Perry declined to say whether he believes Sens. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul are qualified to be president.

“These are really bright, capable individuals,” Perry said. “But my point is, do you want to take a chance on someone who doesn’t have a track record of being an executive. When you walk off the Senate floor, you walk off the Senate floor. You don’t walk away from things when you are Governor, you have to deal with things.”

In his roundtable with the business leaders, the longest-serving governor in Texas history said he understood why people gravitated to Obama, but argued that his lack of experience let the country down. “I think he was talented, he was a unique individual,” Perry said, “but he had no executive experience, and I think the country is seeing the cost of that.”

Perry compared electing a well-spoken Senator to flying on a plane from Boston to London with a charming pilot who can explain the theory of aerodynamics, but has only 150 hours of flight time. “Or do you want to be with that grizzled old 20,000-hour captain who has taken that airplane back and forth thousands of times safely,” Perry asked.

“That’s the juxtaposition of a young inexperienced United States Senator versus a skilled, experienced executive,” he continued. “I just think the American people are going to want an executive after eight years of Barack Obama — I’m thinking they’re going to want to have somebody who has got a real track record: don’t tell me, show me.”

Perry, 65, addressed concerns that he is among the older generation of Republican candidates, quipping to reporters, “I’m just filling out my Medicare card, so I hope they don’t hold my age against me.”

TIME Supreme Court

New Strategy Against Gay Marriage Divides GOP 2016 Field

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

Activists want to take on the Supreme Court

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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TIME Hillary Clinton

2016 Rivals Respond to Clinton Announcement

"We're ready for Hillary"

Rivals were chomping at the bit even before former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton formally announced her presidential bid Sunday afternoon, releasing statements and videos and hawking swag attacking the Democratic front-runner.

“We’re ready for Hillary,” said Republican hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz in a video. “Hillary Clinton represents the failed policies of the past.”

On Sunday morning, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush released a video saying the nation “must to do better than the Obama-Clinton foreign policy.”

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, the only other woman eyeing the White House, said in a video statement that Clinton “doesn’t have a track record of leadership or trustworthiness. She’s not the woman for the White House.”

MORE Hillary Clinton’s Main Obstacle: Her Own Inevitability

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker tweeted that Americans want leaders from outside Washington, and tied Clinton to President Obama’s foreign policy, while former Texas Gov. Rick Perry tweeted that “America can’t afford another [four] years of the Obama-Clinton agenda.”

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, one of the GOP’s most intense Clinton critics, devoted a section of his presidential campaign web store to items mocking Clinton, including a Clinton hard drive—a reference to her deleted emails from her time at the State Department.

“I know Hillary Clinton. I served with Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton does not have the right vision to lead America,” said former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum in a statement.

MORE Liberal Groups Respond to Hillary Clinton Campaign Launch

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham also had harsh words. “The middle class is getting screwed by the administration’s domestic agenda & I believe it would be more of the same with Clinton,” he tweeted.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is expected to launch a Democratic challenge to Clinton from the left next month, addressed Clinton’s impending announcement Friday before an event in Iowa.

“Democrats expect a robust conversation about the issues we face as a nation and the challenges we face and the solutions to our problems,” he told reporters. “And they believe that that conversation needs to take place in something as important as a presidential primary. It would be an extreme poverty indeed if there were only one person willing to compete for our party’s nomination.”

Read next: Clinton Takes Road Trip to Iowa for First Campaign Event

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TIME 2016 Election

Republican Candidates Didn’t Just Talk Guns at NRA Event

Sen. Marco Rubio speaks during the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum at the 2015 NRA Annual Meeting in Nashville on Apr. 10, 2015.
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Sen. Marco Rubio speaks during the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum at the 2015 NRA Annual Meeting in Nashville on Apr. 10, 2015.

Most of the candidates talked about Iran, ISIS and religious freedom

Republican presidential hopefuls talked about a lot of things other than guns at a National Rifle Association conference Friday.

Almost the entire GOP field of likely candidates spoke at the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action leadership forum: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal were all on the docket, among others.

And while each of them touched on gun rights and the Second Amendment, they all broadened the theme of freedom to speak about other issues that have cropped up in their stump speeches.

Many of them spoke about the Middle East: the threat from ISIS, President Obama’s foreign policy and the recent framework for a nuclear deal with Iran.

“We’ve got a president who calls … Iran a place we can do business with,” said Walker. “I want a Commander-in-Chief who will look the American people in the eye and say that radical Islamic terrorism is a threat and we’re going to do something about it.”

Perry struck a similar tone. “Terrorist regimes must be defeated by strength, not words,” he said. “This agreement with Iran doesn’t limit Iranian nuclear ambitions, it legitimizes it.”

Rubio echoed that argument: “Our president refuses to look the threat of radical Islam in its eye and call it by its name.”

And Bush added, “In the face of rising danger from Russia, Iran and ISIS, among others, our President is indecisive and weak.”

Carson, on the other hand, wove together the Second Amendment, ISIS and border security: “We think about people from Honduras and Mexico and places like that coming in, but there are people who are watching us they’re all over this world. They’re called radical extremist Islamic terrorists, and they’re going to get in here any way that they can. And when they get there we need to be able to fight them, particularly if we have an administration that won’t fight them we need to be able to fight them ourselves.”

Most of the presumptive candidates also hit on a hot domestic topic — religious freedom, and the controversy over the recent religious freedom law in Indiana.

Jindal didn’t even mention gun rights until almost midway through his speech, beginning instead with harsh words for liberal criticism of the the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. “It was an attack on the fundamental right to speech and association and the free exercise of religion,” he said, before tying it back to guns: “If these large forces can conspire to crush the First Amendment, it won’t be long before they come after the Second Amendment.”

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum added, “Freedom is under assault not by the gay and lesbian community, but by the Left in America … What is under assault today is the freedom to exercise your faith.”

TIME 2016 Election

Religious Liberty Becomes the Byword Among Iowa’s Social Conservatives

Arkansas Reacts To Gov. Asa Hutchinson's Addresses Of Controversial Religious Freedom Bill
Andrea Morales—Getty Images Demonstrators protest during a press conference by the Human Rights Campaign on the steps of the Arkansas State Capital in Little Rock, Ark. on April 1, 2015.

Conservative activist Bob Vander Plaats had just one question for the four presidential hopefuls gathered in the chapel at Iowa Wesleyan University: How would they preserve religious liberty?

It’s an idea as old as the country, but for the 600 people in the audience and social conservatives elsewhere in Iowa, religious liberty is fast becoming a new litmus test for Republican presidential candidates, thanks to a recent uproar over religious freedom legislation in Indiana and Arkansas.

Hosted by Vander Plaats’ Family Leader organization, the event Thursday was designed to make Iowa ground zero on the issue. For their part, the candidates’ responses showed broad agreement that religious freedom in general and Christianity in particular are under assault from the federal government.

“It is wrong for our government to discriminate against Christians,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal told the crowd at Iowa Wesleyan, listing off a litany of alleged sins, from requirements that employer healthcare plans include contraceptive coverage to anti-discrimination laws that don’t allow businesses to reject work on same-sex weddings. “It is wrong for our government to force these businesses to choose between going out of business or violating our sincere beliefs.”

The event, which also featured former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, capped a day of GOP candidates scurrying to drive up their support with evangelical voters. Earlier in the day they—along with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz—attended a homeschooler conference hosted by the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators in the state capital.

“The last few weeks have been heartbreaking with what we’ve seen in Indiana and Arkansas,” Cruz told the roomful of about 1,000 homeschooling parents and children. “We’ve seen religious liberty under assault.”

Religious liberty, Vander Plaats said, “will be the key issue of the 2016 campaign” in Iowa.

The gatherings drew little in the way of disagreement. “I look at them not as opponents, but as colleagues,” Huckabee said of his fellow contenders at the evening summit. Perry opened his speech at the Family Leader praising Santorum as a national leader of the pro-life movement and Jindal for his efforts on job promotion at home.

But beneath the agreement was the hard reality that all five hopefuls are depending on the same united social conservative bloc to bring them over the finish line, and right now it is split between all of them as well as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

The discussion comes as conservatives are basing their candidacies on the notion that Republicans have lost the White House because they have been insufficiently pure. Cruz argued that millions of evangelicals stayed home in the 2012 election out of frustration with more moderate candidates. “Our problem in previous elections wasn’t that we were too conservative, it was that we weren’t sincerely conservative,” Jindal said.

That political backdrop left the candidates jostling to prove their credentials fighting on issues important to evangelical caucus-goers and social conservatives nationally, from opposition to abortion to religious freedom laws like the one passed in Indiana. They touted their support for accreditation of Bible colleges.

“It’s part of a broader assault on people of faith,” Cruz said. “It’s part of a broader assault on Christians. It’s part of a broader assault trying to drive faith out of the public sphere. And in my view, in 2016, religious liberty should be front-and-center in this next election.”

“Religious liberty has been a passion of mine for over two decades,” Cruz added over the din of crying babies and gaggling toddlers. “I’ve been proud to have had the opportunity to fight and stand for religious liberty over and over and over again.”

Not to be outdone, Santorum, who won the caucuses in 2012, cast himself as ahead of the curve in fighting for religious liberty and against same-sex marriage when he was in the Senate a decade ago. “Karen and I homeschooled for 19 years—we were pioneers,” he added.

Perry drew applause for telling of his religious journey, describing himself as “lost” after leaving the military and returning to his parents’ home. “I was lost figuratively and literally about what I wanted to do in my life. God really wadded me up,” he said. “I told him I really wanted to live my life for him. So from 1977 on, God has given me an extraordinary second chance.”

Jindal scored the best-received performance Thursday evening with a biography-heavy stump speech punctuated by a strong condemnation of government interference in religious life. He criticized the “unholy alliance between Hollywood and big business” in Indiana opposing the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, calling it hypocritical that the same companies that do business in countries that discriminate against gays and lesbians and Christians were attacking the Indiana law.

Huckabee, who won the 2008 Iowa caucuses, used his time at the Family Leader conference to warn that conservatives were losing the fight to define marriage as only being between a man and a woman. He criticized President Obama for “using his precious time in the Oval Office to call people up to congratulate them for being gay.” He added, “[Navy SEAL Chris Kyle’s] widow didn’t get a phone call, but a football player who came out did.”

TIME 2016 Election

Presidential Hopefuls Condemn South Carolina Shooting

The 2016 presidential field uniformly condemned the shooting of Walter Scott by a police officer in South Carolina last weekend.

In statements and interviews, several GOP presidential hopefuls weighed in on the shooting which has riveted the nation, following the emergence of a video that apparently shows officer Michael T. Slager firing multiple times at Scott, who was unarmed, before appearing to drop a stun gun near his lifeless body.

In an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity Wednesday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker called the incident “just horrific.”

“For men and women who follow the law and use the training effectively, I’m always going to stand to defend them,” he said. “But that video just shook my very human being to think that someone would do that and I think anyone who’s been in law enforcement knows that’s not the way people are trained to act. And I send out my sympathy to the family involved there.”

His comments followed Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who on CNN said “it’s just a terrible tragedy and I hope justice does occur.”

“I think when you look at police across our country, 98 percent, 99 percent of them are doing their job on a day-to-day basis and aren’t doing things like this,” Paul continued.

Republicans have traditionally sided with law enforcement in other instances of police-on-civilian violence, making their condemnations all the more notable.

In a tweet Wednesday evening, former Secretary of State and likely Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton condemned the shooting.

“Praying for #WalterScott‘s family,” she wrote. “Heartbreaking & too familiar. We can do better – rebuild trust, reform justice system, respect all lives.”

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, a likely Democratic challenger to Clinton, tweeted” “This video is appalling but it shows why accountability & transparency are so important. It shouldn’t take a video to ensure justice.”

In a statement, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal praised authorities for swiftly bringing charges against the officer. “This is a horrific situation, and I think it is important that authorities moved quickly to bring charges. My heart goes out to the family of the victim.”

A spokesman for former Texas Gov. Rick Perry echoed those comments, saying, “This is a terrible tragedy and the governor’s prayers are with Mr. Scott’s family.”

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham called the video “very difficult to watch and deeply troubling on many fronts,” in a statement. He added, “I also know the actions of the officer in this situation do not accurately reflect on the many valuable contributions made by thousands of law enforcement officers in South Carolina and across our nation.”

TIME reached out to the other major presidential candidates for comment, but they did not offer their reactions.

TIME 2016 Election

GOP Donors Buoyant About 2016 Prospects at Retreat

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

Good news for the GOP, bad news for Hillary Clinton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TIME 2016 Election

Jindal, Perry Back Senate Letter to Iran

CPAC 2015
Bill Clark—CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La., speaks at CPAC in National Harbor, Md. on Feb. 26, 2015.

A pair of Republican governors eyeing the White House are supporting a controversial letter sent by Republican Senators to the Iranian government warning against an emerging nuclear deal.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal led the effort Tuesday, calling on all Republican presidential candidates to support the letter, organized by Sen. Tom Cotton, which has drawn the ire of the Obama administration.

Signed by 47 GOP Senators, including presidential contenders Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul, the Monday letter warned the Iranian government that the next president would not be bound by the agreement. He was followed shortly after by former Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

“Every single person thinking about running for President, on both sides, should sign on to this letter to make clear to Iran that they are negotiating with a lame duck President,” Jindal said in a statement released by his political group America Next. “Make no mistake – any Iran deal that President Obama makes is not binding on a future president.”

The White House condemned the letter, with Vice President Joe Biden penning a harsh statement Monday evening, calling it an unprecedented encroachment on the president’s ability to conduct foreign policy. “This letter sends a highly misleading signal to friend and foe alike that that our Commander-in-Chief cannot deliver on America’s commitments—a message that is as false as it is dangerous,” he said.

Later Tuesday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said in a statement that any deal with Iran should be subject to congressional review, echoing the letter’s argument that the next president would “not be bound” by any agreement struck by President Obama. He did not directly address the letter, however.

Likewise, Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said in a statement to TIME that he understood the senators’ decision, but didn’t explicitly say if he supported it.

“The Senators are reacting to reports of a bad deal that will likely enable Iran to become a nuclear state over time,” he said in a statement. “They would not have been put in this position had the Administration consulted regularly with them rather than ignoring their input.”

A spokesperson for Chris Christie did not immediately comment on whether their likely-candidates would sign on.

TIME 2016 Election

Bill Clinton Addresses Charity’s Donor Controversy in Hillary’s Stead

<> on March 7, 2015 in Coral Gables, Florida.
Joe Raedle—2015 Getty Images Hillary Clinton speaks at the Clinton Global Initiative University meeting at the University of Miami on March 7, 2015.

The 42nd president answered questions about his family's charity, while Hillary introduced a new philanthropic initiative

Likely presidential candidate Hillary Clinton avoided any mention Saturday night of the political controversy sparked by donations to her family foundation from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and others with business before the State Department during her time in the Obama Administration. Instead, at a foundation event in the University of Miami, she left that work to her husband.

“We do get money from other countries, and some of them are in the Middle East,” former President Bill Clinton said, after being prompted on stage in a question and answer session. “The United Arab Emirates gave us money, do we agree with everything they do? No, but they’re helping us fight ISIS and they helped build a university with NYU. . . . My theory about all this is, disclose everything, and let people make their judgments.”

“I have a lot of people who help me but who never voted for me,” Clinton continued. “We ought to bring people together across great divides around things that they can agree on and find something to do to make peoples lives better.”

The Wall Street Journal reported last month that as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton lobbied for the interests abroad of corporations like Walmart and General Electric that also gave to her family’s charity. The Clinton foundation also has accepted donations from foreign governments. Unlike most charities, the Clinton Foundation publicly discloses a list of all its donors.

Hillary, meanwhile, devoted her joint discussion with her daughter, Chelsea, to the work the foundation is doing, instead of the questions surrounding it. She announced the “No Ceilings” project, an advocacy and data repository intended to encourage gender equality around the world.

“This is a global data project that measures the gains that women and girls have made around the world in the last 20 years, but also identify the gaps that remain,” said the former Secretary of State. “Whether it’s women’s rights or civil rights or LGBT rights, we’re counting on you to lead the way, and that’s what the No Ceilings initiative is really all about.”

The packed gathering of volunteer-minded students was a friendly audience, and they gave Hillary a standing ovation as she entered. All day a relentless loop of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” and Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” heralded speakers onstage.

It was the culmination of a three-day event hosted by the Clinton Foundation called the Clinton Global Initiative University, an incubator of sorts for student volunteers and activists who have committed to address jaundice in India and nutrition in West Philadelphia.

“We couldn’t think of a better audience to be the first to share this data with, because a lot of the changes that we need to make to build a future is the work of every one of you,” Hillary Clinton said, before turning the focus on continued problems in the United States.

“Even in wealthier countries like our own, it really makes a difference as to your economic status whether or not you are going to be able to participate fully, get the healthcare we need—although we’ve made a lot of progress on that—and get the education we need, though it needs to be more affordable,” she said. “We have seen progress everywhere, but we have also seen concerted efforts to stop that progress or even turn it back in too many places.”

The Clinton Foundation owes much of its success and its billions in funding to the Clinton name, and to Bill and Hillary’s deep web of political and business connections. For the Clintons, politics and philanthropy make temperamental bedfellows. In his remarks, Bill addressed the questions critics have posed of his wife.

“I believe we’ve done a lot more good than harm,” he said of his family’s charity. “So I’m going to tell you who gave us the money, and you can make your own decisions.”

TIME 2016 Election

What the Walk-Up Music for 2016 Candidates Tells Us

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

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

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

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

Hillary Clinton

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

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

Bottom Line: She wants every woman’s vote.

Chris Christie

The Song: “Enter Sandman,” by Metallica

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

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

Scott Walker

The Song: “Coming Home,” by Avenged Sevenfold

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

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

Ted Cruz

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

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

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

Marco Rubio

The Song: “Cruise,” by Florida Georgia Line

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

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

Rick Perry

The Song: “Back in Black,” by AC/DC

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

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

Bobby Jindal

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

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

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

Carly Fiorina

The Song: “Happy,” by Pharrell Williams

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

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

Ben Carson

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

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

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

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