TIME 2016 Election

Chris Christie Battered By His GOP Rivals on Governors’ Circuit

Republican Governors
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, South Carolina Gov. Nikki R. Haley and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie listen as Indiana Gov. Mike Pence speaks during a press conference at the Republican Governors Association's quarterly meeting on Wednesday May 21, 2014 in New York. Bebeto Matthews—AP

On paper, New Jersey's Chris Christie leads the nation's Republican governors. In practice, he is becoming a favored target of his peers.

Forget, for the moment, about the cornfields and the straw polls, the live-free-or-die gun shops of Manchester and the sticky-sweet BBQ pits of South Carolina. There is a point in the 2016 presidential campaign, when the action that matters most is more likely to happen under gilded ceilings of Manhattan’s toniest restaurants than where voters actually live. Which is why New Jersey Governor Chris Christie found himself supping at Cipriani on May 18, seated between the billionaire who might fund his way to the White House and a rival governor who wants the job himself. It was a test meal, in its way, and Christie fumbled it.

Organizers had told the press to attend to hear Christie give a muscular address on his foreign policy vision. But the real audience was his table-mate, Sheldon Adelson, the casino mogul who dumped more than $100 million to elect Republicans in 2012 and was promising even more. Just weeks earlier, Christie had flown to Vegas with three other current and former Republican governors to meet with Adelson at his Venetian casino under the banner of the Republican Jewish Coalition. There Christie had botched his message, speaking of Israel’s “occupied territories,” a term that the Zionist Adelson does not favor. Christie later apologized during his few private minutes with the GOP kingmaker. Now he was back for what organizers called a “Major Speech on Israel and the Middle East.” And something went wrong again. He didn’t mention Israel once in his 18-minute address. In the midst of a political rehabilitation tour, his tablemate Texas Gov. Rick Perry saw a clear opportunity. When he rose to speak minutes later, Perry shoehorned three references to Israel within 90 seconds.

As the head of the Republican Governors Association, Christie is the charismatic captain of a club composed of formal partners but tacit rivals. And that rivalry has only gotten stronger in recent months. Despite surface-level niceties and some degree of symbiotic friendship, many want to see him and his presidential ambitions go up in flames. On Thursday, the tensions broke into view as Republican state leaders broke with Christie, who has refused to publicly appear with Rob Astorino, a long-shot candidates hoping to replace Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “Glad to be with my buddy @RobAstorino in Aspen,” tweeted Perry, a few days after Christie told reporters he did not believe that the Republican Astorino had a chance of winning. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker have all since expressed support for Astorino.

This follows several other thinly veiled slights in recent months. Just last week Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal implicitly criticized Christie’s habit of picking and choosing issues to engage on, saying the GOP must offer ideas not style. “The next big elections can’t be ones about personalities or just about slogans,” he told TIME, after a question about Christie. After Christie became ensnared in a scandal over lane closures on the George Washington Bridge, Jindal had told reporters, “No one governor’s more important than the other.” In February, Scott Walker used Christie’s scandal to sidestep questions about an investigation into improper political activities by his former aides. “He addressed it early on, but obviously he’s not out of the woods yet,” Walker told TIME, saying unlike his, Christie’s troubles were “just beginning.” And when Christie was nearly down-for-the-count in the immediate aftermath of the bridge scandal, Perry fanned the flames. “Is a conservative in New Jersey a conservative in the rest of the country?” Perry asked in February on ABC’s This Week.

As the Republican Party looks to its governors for leadership after years of chaos and infighting in Washington, Christie is no longer a cut above the rest, even as he travels the country as the official leader of Republican governors. Christie is routinely on the road meeting donors and reporters, and by the nature of the job working to defend the 20 Republican-held governorships up for re-election this year. Christie allies said the group was close, despite occasional disagreements. “First and foremost, they’re friends, so they want to be able to help each other,” says RGA Executive Director Phil Cox. Like any club, behind the pretense there are tense personal relationships, but the stakes are unusually high. Perry, Walker, and Jindal are just some of the governors competing in 2016’s proto-primary alongside John Kasich of Ohio, and Mike Pence of Indiana.

The Jindal-Christie relationship is the most fraught, stemming from a bitter leadership battle for the high-profile helm of the RGA in 2012. Christie won out, securing enough votes to force Jindal to accept the number two spot. And with Perry, Christie’s conversations frequently could not be described as civil, people familiar with the exchanges said. With Christie’s fortunes soured, his opponents hurriedly planned trips to New York to meet with the donor class he once seemed to have a lock on. Jindal and Perry have been there as much as twice a month since the beginning of the year, while Walker has made at least four trips as he raises money for his own re-election. Meanwhile, top donors are once again clamoring for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to enter the race.

“It’s like your fiancé cheated on you,” said a person close to one of the ambitious governors, explaining why no other governor has yet emerged as a new favorite. “You don’t propose to the next girl you meet. You take your time to have some fun and meet everyone else.” Meanwhile many of the governors Christie is working to re-elect have tried to place some distance between themselves and Christie, with fewer joint events open to reporters. The calls from New York financiers for Christie to run have become less frequent as they take stock of the field. Christie’s core argument to his party and Wall Street has been his electability, and he is still struggling to show he can win despite the setbacks. More importantly to donors, the question is whether he has learned from the experience. “He’s still surrounded by the same guys,” said one top Republican bundler who was previously committed to Christie. “Where’s the growth? I’m not seeing it yet.”

But it is Christie’s economic record that is emerging as a concrete boot to his likely campaign. His state’s finances are in shambles, with Christie forced to rollback a signature effort to begin paying down the state’s skyrocketing unfunded pension liabilities after overestimating state revenues by nearly $1 billion for each of the next two years. Christie’s state lags most of his GOP colleagues on annual rankings of the best state to do business, while its unemployment rate puts New Jersey in the bottom third of states. Where Christie talks up the successes of all GOP governors, Perry and Jindal travel the country referring to the governors as “competitors” for jobs, not-so-subtly highlighting their states’ relative successes.

The bridge scandal has also revealed the insularity of Christie’s team, centered around strategist Mike DuHaime and former law partner and political fixer Bill Palatucci. The former Giuliani for President campaign manager and Republican National Committee member, are the hard-charging pair behind the harder-charging would-be-candidate. Todd Christie, the governor’s brother, rounds out the inner circle that once included Bill Stepien, his former campaign manager who was poised to take on a role with the RGA and was forced to resign in the wake of his involvement in the bridge scandal.

Where Jindal, Perry and Walker all maintain national and grassroots donor lists thanks to political action committees, Christie’s political network is largely confined to New Jersey outside of his appeal to large donors. “He’ll start out at a disadvantage,” said on GOP digital operative familiar with the potential candidates’ operations.

At the Law Vegas gathering of Republican Jewish donors in March, Scott Walker tried to steal some of Chris Christie’s thunder. He sonorously told of lighting a “menorah candle” around Hanukah and that his son Matthew’s name is derived from the Hebrew for ‘Gift from God.’ Walker sidestepped his lack of foreign policy experience by telling of Ronald Reagan’s showdown with air traffic controllers that “sent a message around the world,” and highlighted his ability to win over Latino voters around Milwaukee. Each of these anecdotes were staples of Christie’s now-familiar pitch to donors and party activists.

Thankfully for Christie, he’s still the more dynamic speaker. Following 45 minutes after Walker, Christie told the same stories—but this time, the crowd was brought to their feet for applause.

Correction: The story has been changed to properly describe the people who had characterized the New York event as a “Major Speech on Israel and the Middle East.” They were event organizers.

TIME Republican Party

Ron Paul Says U.S. May Share Responsibility for Malaysia Airlines Plane Crash

Ron Paul
Former U.S. Rep. and presidential candidate Ron Paul waves to supporters before speaking at a campaign rally for U.S. Senate candidate Chris McDaniel, Saturday, June 14, 2014, at Gander Mountain in Hattiesburg, Miss. Kelly Price—AP/The Hattiesburg American

He raises the possibility that the U.S. may be using the crash to start a war against Putin.

Former Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul claimed Sunday that the U.S. and European Union may share responsibility for the downing of a Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine last week.

“While western media outlets rush to repeat government propaganda on the event, there are a few things they will not report,” Paul, a former Republican congressman from Texas, wrote on his website. “They will not report that the crisis in Ukraine started late last year, when the EU and U.S. overthrew the elected Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych. Without U.S.-sponsored ‘regime change,’ it is unlikely that hundreds would have been killed in the unrest that followed. Nor would the Malaysian Airlines crash have happened.”

Paul is the father of Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who is ahead in polls of likely candidates running for the GOP nomination for president in 2016. The younger Paul has come under attack in recent weeks from Republicans such as former Vice President Dick Cheney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a potential rival, for being too isolationist on his foreign policy.

Ron Paul, who ran for president in 2008 and 2012, and his son Rand both hail from the libertarian wing of the Republican Party, which advocates less intervention abroad, though Rand Paul has in recent months tried to distance his himself from his father. Rand Paul’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on his father’s editorial.

In the post Sunday, Ron Paul goes on to write that Ukraine separatists would have everything to lose if they shot down the plane, and nothing to gain, suggesting Ukrainian culpability. “They will not report that the Ukrainian government has much to gain by pinning the attack on Russia, and that the Ukrainian prime minister has already expressed his pleasure that Russia is being blamed for the attack,” Paul said. “They will not report that the missile that apparently shot down the plane was from a sophisticated surface-to-air missile system that requires a good deal of training that the separatists do not have.”

President Obama suggested Friday that blame for the crash lay with Russian-backed separatists, and Ukraine has released audio-recordings allegedly documenting conversations about the missile strike among separatists. “Evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile that was launched from an area that is controlled by Russian-backed separatists inside of Ukraine,” he said.

Ron Paul compared the incident to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons against his own people last summer. “Assad was also gaining the upper hand in his struggle with U.S.-backed rebels and the U.S. claimed that the attack came from Syrian government positions,” Paul said. “Then, US claims led us to the brink of another war in the Middle East.”

At the end of the post, Ron Paul says it is entirely possible that Russia is responsible for the crash, just as the Obama administration has suggested. “Of course it is entirely possible that the Obama administration and the US media has it right this time, and Russia or the separatists in eastern Ukraine either purposely or inadvertently shot down this aircraft,” he writes. “The real point is, it’s very difficult to get accurate information so everybody engages in propaganda.”

TIME Immigration

Governors Divided on How to Handle Border Crisis

Scott Walker
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaks during a meeting on jobs and education at the National Governors Association convention, July 12, 2014, in Nashville. Mark Humphrey—AP

As Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell briefed governors on the situation at the National Governors Association meeting Sunday morning

The nation’s governors appeared united that Washington needs to act to deal with the surge of unaccompanied minors crossing the southern border illegally at a gathering of state chief executives over the weekend, but showed little consensus over what Washington should actually do to mitigate the situation.

The border crisis was front-and-center at the National Governors Association (NGA) meeting in Nashville, where Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell briefed governors on the situation Sunday morning, especially for those governors from states that have been asked to house the children in temporary shelters.

Throughout the weekend the governors expressed frustration over a lack of communication from Washington, worried about both the humanitarian situation and the potential costs to their states.

“It almost brings me to tears thinking about these children,” said Wisconsin’s Republican Governor Scott Walker. “You think of the trauma these kids are going through to get here, and you think of the trauma before that. I put them on my own personal prayer list.”

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, said Friday, “I can only imagine, as a father of four, the heartbreak that those parents must have felt in sending their children across a desert where they can be muled and trafficked or used or killed or tortured.”

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, a Republican, raised public-health and security concerns, asking about the risk to American citizens, saying there have been cases of chicken pox, scabies and lice at Fort Sill, the army post where over 1,100 unaccompanied minors are being housed in her state.

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, a Republican, praised Burwell after the closed-press meeting. “We don’t know what the cost to the states are going to be,” he said. “The bottom line for me was for there to be an open line of communication with the secretary on that issue. And she’s assured me and all the governors that she will ensure that we’re very well aware of what is going on with respect to states.”

Multiple governors described the meeting as “frank,” with Burwell challenged on the Administration’s handling of the issue. Sandoval said it was too early to say whether governors are buying in to the Administration’s proposed response.

But the evidence on display elsewhere at the NGA meeting suggested the governors are as deeply divided over the solution as policymakers in the nation’s capital. “I think Congress needs to act, and I think the President needs to go down there and see it for himself like I did,” Fallon said.

“Go down there,” echoed Utah Governor Gary Herbert, also a Republican. “Grab both sides of the issue and say we will solve this. We need to me more leadership out of the White House and we need to see more collaboration in Congress.”

The number of unaccompanied child migrants attempting to cross the border has surged in recent months, mainly from Central America. U.S. Customs and Border Protection says the number detained has risen by 92% from July last year. Last week, President Barack Obama requested $3.7 billion to ease the humanitarian crisis and increase border security, as the federal government is looking to move thousands of unaccompanied minors to temporary detention facilities in states away from the border.

On Sunday, Texas Governor Rick Perry, who was not at the governors’ conference, said he does not support the President’s request. “As I look at that piece of legislation, it is a very large amount of money, and as you analyze it, very little of it is for border security,” the Republican said on Fox News Sunday.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, who famously clashed with Obama at the Phoenix airport over immigration policy in 2012, said the children must be sent back. “They should be sent home,” she said. “They are illegal. We have borders for a reason. And I’ll say it again, you know, a country without borders is like a house without walls — it collapses. We are a nation of laws. We believe in the rule of law.”

“People — our citizens already feel burdened by all kinds of challenges,” said Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat. “They don’t want to see another burden coming into their state. So however we deal with the humanitarian aspects of this, we’ve got to do it in the most cost-effective way possible.”

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy called on the federal government to do more to solve the instability in Central America that is causing the influx of migrant children. But the Democrat emphasized the importance of increasing border security, saying that Washington must act “in the most human way possible, but respecting our laws.”

“There’s a paucity of suggestions on how to deal with this from Republicans, other than to point fingers,” he added.

O’Malley, who is preparing to run for President in 2016, broke publicly with Obama on Saturday, saying the children should be allowed to stay.

“It is contrary to everything we stand for to try to summarily send children back to death,” the Democratic lawmaker told reporters. He also criticized the “kennels” in which those who have been detained are being kept and called for the children to be placed in “the least restrictive” locations, including foster homes or with family members in the U.S.

Walker, who is similarly mulling a presidential bid on the GOP side, said the federal government needs to be careful where it releases the children. “If they go with people without legal status, our concern is that these children will just suddenly be gone and we’re not going to see them and that’ll just encourage more kids to come,” he said.

TIME Immigration

Homeland Chief Will Make Case for Obama’s $3.7 Billion Border Request

Jeh Johnson
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 24, 2014. Charles Dharapak—AP

Johnson's scheduled appearance Thursday before the Senate Appropriations Committee comes a day after Obama met with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a staunch critic of the president's handling of what Obama has called an "urgent humanitarian situation" at the border.

(WASHINGTON) — In what figures to be a tough sell, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is going to Capitol Hill to make the case for President Barack Obama’s request for $3.7 billion to help deal with a flood of unaccompanied child immigrants that has overwhelmed the Border Patrol in South Texas.

Johnson’s scheduled appearance Thursday before the Senate Appropriations Committee comes a day after Obama met with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a staunch critic of the president’s handling of what Obama has called an “urgent humanitarian situation” at the border.

During his fundraising trip to Texas, Obama also met with faith leaders and other Texas officials to discuss the wave or more than 57,000 children, mostly from Central America, who have been caught crossing the border without their parents since Oct. 1. At the same time, immigration officials have arrested more than 39,000 immigrants, mostly mothers and children, traveling as family groups.

In a preview of what Johnson may hear Thursday from senators, some Republicans made it clear Wednesday that Obama’s budget request would be a hard sell.

“I cannot vote for a provision which will then just perpetuate an unacceptable humanitarian crisis that’s taking place on our southern border,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said on the Senate floor, where he was joined by fellow Arizonan Jeff Flake and Texas Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz. They took take turns blaming Obama’s policies for causing the border crisis.

In the House, Speaker John Boehner was noncommittal about bringing the spending measure to a vote.

“If we don’t secure the border, nothing’s going to change,” Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters. “And if you look at the president’s request, it’s all more about continuing to deal with the problem.”

Republicans blamed the president’s decision to relax some deportation rules for fueling rumors circulating in Central America that once here, migrant kids would be allowed to stay.

“We’re trying to stop human trafficking. Are we actually increasing it?” Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., asked several Obama administration officials during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Louisiana Democrat who chairs the Senate Appropriations homeland security subcommittee, said she wanted to be careful about approving the president’s emergency spending request.

“What I’m going to be focused on is accountability, who’s in charge, what the plan is, who’s going to be held responsible before we spend, you know, $3.7 billion,” Landrieu said. “So we’ve got a lot more questions to be answered before I think we run too far ahead.”

The president’s emergency budget request includes funding for the Justice Department to hire 40 new immigration judge teams and about $1 billion for immigration enforcement efforts within the Homeland Security Department to help speed removal of immigrant families traveling with children, in addition to about $295 million to support repatriation, reintegration and border security efforts in Central America.

The Justice Department also announced Wednesday that deportation cases involving families and unaccompanied children would be moved to the top of court dockets. That means lower-priority cases will take even longer to wend through a system where there’s a backlog of more than 360,000 deportation cases.

Emerging from the highly anticipated meeting with Perry, Obama said he was open to suggestions from the Texas governor and others that he dispatch National Guard troops to the border but warned that such a solution would only work temporarily. He urged Republicans to grant his emergency spending request so the government will have the resources to put a variety of ideas into action.

“The problem here is not major disagreement,” Obama said in Dallas. “If they’re interested in solving the problem, then this can be solved. If the preference is for politics, then it won’t be solved.”

TIME Immigration

Obama Urges Congress to Approve $4 Billion in Funds for Immigration Crisis

The President declined Governor Perry's request that he visit the border while in Texas: "I'm not interested in photo ops. I'm interested in solving a problem"

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Updated 6:29 p.m. ET on July 10

President Barack Obama called on Congress to swiftly approve nearly $4 billion in supplemental funding to deal with the influx of unaccompanied minors at the Southwest border Wednesday, saying lawmakers need to set aside politics to solve the problem.

“Are we more interested in politics, or are we more interested in solving the problem,” Obama said in statement late in the day after a meeting with Texas Governor Rick Perry and local faith leaders in Dallas to deal with the months-long crisis.

“What I emphasized to the governor is the problem here is not a major disagreement around the actions that could be helpful in dealing with the problem,” Obama said. “The challenge is: Is Congress prepared to act to put the resources in place to get this done?”

Obama described the meeting with Perry, which came about after days of partisan wrangling, as “constructive,” saying “there’s nothing that the governor indicated he’d like to see that I have a philosophical objection to.”

The President said he encouraged Perry to pressure the Texas delegation to support the supplementary request. “If the Texas delegation is prepared to move, we can get this thing done next week,” he said.

House Republicans have called on Obama to use his executive authority to take steps to deal with the surge of illegal immigrants but have not yet indicated whether they will bring the President’s request up for a vote.

Perry, meanwhile, called on Obama to immediately deploy 1,000 National Guard troops to help deal with the crisis and to personally visit the border.

“Five hundred miles south of here in the Rio Grande Valley there is a humanitarian crisis unfolding that has been created by bad public policy, in particular the failure to secure the border,” Perry said in a statement. “Securing the border is attainable, and the President needs to commit the resources necessary to get this done.”

Obama left open the possibility of sending the National Guard if it would help Republicans move on the funding request, but added that the supplemental request is a longer-term solution that should be amenable to both parties, saying the GOP needs to “rediscover the concept of negotiation and compromise.”

The President also offered his most forceful public comments of warning to parents in Central American countries ravaged by poverty and violence who might send their migrant children on the dangerous journey to the U.S.

“Their parents need to know that this is an incredibly dangerous situation and it is unlikely that their children will be able to stay,” Obama said, noting he has sent top Administration officials to Central America over the past several weeks. Vice President Joe Biden spoke Wednesday with the Presidents of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to review efforts to dissuade parents from sending their children to the U.S.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said on Thursday that up to 90,000 unaccompanied child immigrants could cross the border before September, burdening immigration agencies who badly need new funding to handle the influx. Johnson cited the highest calculation of immigrant children yet when he appeared before the Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday afternoon. “We are preparing for a scenario in which the number of unaccompanied children apprehended at the border could reach up to 90,000 by the end of fiscal 2014,” Johnson’s testimony reads.

Obama meanwhile defended his decision not to visit the border, saying he’s not “interested in photo ops.”

“There is nothing that is taking place down there that I am not intimately aware of and briefed on,” he said. “This is not theater. This is a problem. I’m not interested in photo ops. I’m interested in solving a problem.”

 

TIME Immigraiton

Obama’s Texas Trip Sets Stage for Immigration Alamo

Governor Perry, who has been sharply critical of the administration response to a wave of child migrants on the border, declined to meet the president on arrival

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President Barack Obama travels to Texas Wednesday to raise money for Democratic campaigns in Dallas and Austin, speak about the economy, and meet with community leaders for a discussion about the wave of migrants, many of them children, flooding the U.S.-Mexico border in recent months.

Texas Governor Rick Perry will meet with the President during his visit, but declined an offer to welcome Obama to Texas by meeting him at the airport.

“I appreciate the offer to greet you at Austin-Bergstrom Airport,” Perry wrote in a letter seen by the Austin-American Statesman, “but a quick handshake on the tarmac will not allow for a thoughtful discussion regarding the humanitarian and national security crises enveloping the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. I would instead offer to meet with you at any time during your visit to Texas for a substantive meeting to discuss this critical issue. With the appropriate notice, I am willing to change my schedule to facilitate this request.”

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Tuesday that the President will meet with border officials on his visit to Texas but not tour the border itself, something Governor Perry has repeatedly invited him to do.

TIME 2016 Election

Rick Perry Getting Ready for a 2016 Presidential Campaign

Texas Governor Rick Perry Speaks At The Commonwealth Club
Rick Perry, governor of Texas, speaks at the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco on June 11, 2014. David Paul Morris—Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Texas Governor has not yet committed to run, but he is boasting about getting his ducks in a row.

Two-and-a-half years after his first campaign for the White House flopped, Texas Governor Rick Perry sounds ready for another run at the presidency. “I’m glad I ran in 2012, as frustrating, as painful and as humbling as that experience was,” Perry told a group of national reporters at a Thursday lunch hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

“Preparation is the single most important lesson that I learned out of that process,” he said. “Over the last 18 months, I’ve focused on being substantially better prepared. Please don’t take that as an indication that I’ve made a decision that I’m going to run or not—but if I do make that decision, I will be prepared.”

As his third term in the statehouse winds to a close, the swaggering Republican has refreshed his message, retooled his workout routine and retrained his sights toward the national stage. Perry is crisscrossing the country these days, dropping in on ice cream shops in Iowa, hot-dog fundraisers in South Carolina and donor confabs in California.

The overriding message? Perry is a national player, and he is not going to disappear when he steps down from his last term as governor. When he barreled into the race in the summer of 2011, Perry was touted as a major player in a moribund primary field. Handsome and folksy, with conservative credentials, a deep donor network and a record of poaching jobs from other states, Perry immediately vaulted to the top of pundits’ pecking order.

But the reality didn’t match the hype. Perry never connected with GOP voters. He ran a slipshod operation marred by unforced errors, including an indelible mental blank at a nationally televised debate. If he runs again, Perry would be betting that voters’ willingness to grant second chances will outweigh a sour first impression.

“I’m a competitor,” he told reporters Thursday. “I’m not going to ride off into the sunset.”

He has learned from the mishaps of the last campaign. Perry’s new message mixes conservative tribalism, such as skepticism toward climate change and a dose of Obama bashing, with a record of economic achievement designed to appeal to a national audience. Texas, he likes to say, has created 37% of the new private-sector private sector jobs in the U.S. over the past few years.

He has also changed his tune on immigration, a controversial issue that helped sink his last bid for the presidency. Audiences fixated on “oops,” but Perry’s advocacy of in-state tuition for the children of illegal immigrants (and his claim that those opposing the measure lacked a heart) had already sent his poll numbers plummeting among the GOP’s activist base.

This time around, he is speaking the Tea Party’s language on immigration. He resists immigration reform until the federal government secures the border, slammed the Immigration and Naturalization Agency and has directed the Texas Department of Public Safety to execute a “surge operation” to shore up the state’s southern border.

As the libertarian wing of the party grows, Perry has embraced efforts to be “smarter” about crime, embracing decriminalization of marijuana in Texas and touting the state’s success in adopting drug and prostitution courts that give judges sentencing flexibility with non-violent first-time offenders.

Perry is still stronger before conservative groups than he is with a national audience. “It’s time for a little rebellion on the battlefield of ideas,” he declared in a rousing March speech that sent activists at the Conservative Political Action Conference to the feet. In other settings, he has a tendency to goof: such as when he likened homosexuality to alcoholism at a recent speech in San Francisco. “I stepped right in it,” he told reporters Thursday, suggesting that social issues were a distraction from his core message of economic growth.

If he runs again, Perry would recalibrate his strategy. His late entrance into the 2012 primary put him at a structural disadvantage, which was exacerbated by a slow recovery from back surgery. “I figured surely I can heal up in six weeks and go back in the game. Not necessarily the case,” Perry joked, alluding to the condition that sapped his strength. This time, he has ditched his running routine and his cowboy boots in an effort to prepare physically.

He is also taking steps to broaden his donor base. Americans for Economic Freedom, a 501(c)4 formed with $200,00 left over from the super PAC backing his first presidential bid, has allowed Perry to grow his influence outside Texas. An aide says the group, which does not report its finances, has the backing of a wide swath of the Republican donor class. It is bankrolling his trips to meet with donors and give speeches, as well as to run television ads designed to highlight the Lone Star State’s economic boom. And it is funding his visits to Democratic states to poach businesses with promises of lower taxes.

The group has also run web ads highlighting early-state governors’ commitment to those economic principles, including Iowa’s Terry Branstad and South Carolina’s Nikki Haley. “This is his core message,” said a Perry strategist who declined to be named discussing future plans.

“The governor has been very clear that he’s keeping the options open,” the strategist continued. “The main focus is the 2014 election. If we do a good job there, it’s going to be easier in 2016.”

“We both have some tread left on our tires,” Perry’s wife, Anita, told attendees at the Texas Republican Convention. Her husband’s speech there this month had all the markings of an announcement speech. “This America we love faces some hard decisions. And it requires better leaders,” Perry said. “Let’s get to work.”

TIME Immigration

Rick Perry Tells Texas State Police to Boost Border Security

Texas Governor Rick Perry
Rick Perry, governor of Texas, speaks at the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, June 11, 2014. David Paul Morris—Bloomberg via Getty Images

“Texas can’t afford to wait for Washington to act on this crisis and we will not sit idly by while the safety and security of our citizens are threatened"

Texas Gov. Rick Perry and other state leaders called Wednesday evening for a “surge” in law enforcement along the border, announcing plans to inject $1.3 million more into the effort every week in response to a recent influx of illegal crossings.

“Texas can’t afford to wait for Washington to act on this crisis and we will not sit idly by while the safety and security of our citizens are threatened,” Republican Gov. Rick Perry said in a statement.

The intensified security operations will be in effect at least through the end of the year, and will replicate a program last fall targeting human and drug trafficking. Perry and fellow Republicans Lt. Gov. David Dewhust and Texas State House Speaker Joe Straus called for the enhanced security measures in an open letter to the head of the Texas Dept. of Public Safety.

The governor’s statement cited federal numbers detailing a spike in border crossings and blamed the federal government for not doing enough to secure the border.

“Until the federal government fulfills its duty, it falls on the State of Texas to address those obligations,” the state leaders said in the joint letter to the director of the Texas DPS.

TIME republicans

Here’s a Video Mashup of Rick Perry Talking About Gays

The Texas governor’s comparison of homosexuality with alcoholism was far from his first controversial comment about gays. Not even close.

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The outgoing Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, drew a “murmur of disbelief” Wednesday when at an event in San Francisco he compared homosexuality to alcoholism, but those were far from his first controversial statements about gays.

In fact, he has been comparing homosexuality to alcoholism for years, including in his 2008 book, On My Honor. “Even if an alcoholic is powerless over alcohol once it enters his body, he still makes a choice to drink,” the former presidential candidate wrote. “And even if someone is attracted to a person of the same sex, he or she still makes a choice to engage in sexual activity with someone of the same gender.”

Perry’s most famous anti-gay volley was probably the 2011 campaign ad for his last presidential run that denounced the fact that “gays can serve openly in the military.” He also has compared his opposition to gays belonging to the Boy Scouts with former Texas Governor Sam Houston brave stance against slavery. He has also called the Obama administration’s use of American foreign aid to promote human rights for gays and lesbians abroad a “silly idea.”

“Just when you thought Barack Obama couldn’t get any more out of touch with America’s values, AP reports his administration wants to make foreign aid decisions based on gay rights. This administration’s war on traditional American values must stop,” Perry said in a statement.

In his 2010 book Fed Up!, Perry condemned the “oligarchs in robes” of the Supreme Court for the 2003 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down anti-sodomy laws in America, which had long been used to target gay couples.

Not all Perry’s statements about homosexuality have been anti-gay. Perry has said that gay marriage is ultimately a state’s rights issue and that it was “fine with [him]” for New York to allow gays to marry, though he later walked back that position. At a Dallas Baptist church last year he suggested a more accepting approach to other “lifestyles”—he never actually said “gay” though many afterward interpreted the sermon as an implicit pivot away from anti-gay rhetoric.

“We cannot condemn certain lifestyles while turning a blind eye to sins that in God’s eye are just as grievous,” he said. “We must love all, welcome all and be a model of Christ to all. “

TIME human behavior

Rick Perry Is Not a Neanderthal, Says Rick Perry

Pointing the way to crazytown
Pointing the way to crazytown Pool: Getty Images

The Governor of Texas and possible presidential aspirant compares homosexuality to alcoholism—and that was just the beginning of his scientific know-nothingism

Scoring a zero on any test is harder than it seems. Unless you leave the answers entirely blank, mere guesswork and randomness suggest you’re going to get enough things right to put a few points on the board. So kudos to Governor Rick Perry for managing an impressively perfect goose egg on a recent lightning round of science topics.

Perry’s latest amble through know-nothingism came at a Q&A in San Francisco on Wednesday, and the biggest headline from that fumble-fest was his comparison of homosexuality to alcoholism. Now, a prudent man might stop to reflect on whether, if you’re going to say something so colossally, head-spinningly wrong, San Francisco is really the venue you want to choose. But never mind. The moderator asked the governor whether he believed homosexuality is a disorder, and the governor swung at the pitch.

“Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not,” said the thrice-elected leader of a state of 26 million people, “you have the ability to decide not to do that. I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way.”

So where to begin? With the comparison of sexual orientation to what is often a fatal disease? With the airy reference to “genetic coding,” which whatever the governor thinks the term means, reveals almost no familiarity with the deep and smart research that’s been done in recent years on the biological roots of any one person’s sexual orientation? Or with the belief that it’s healthy or even possible for a gay man or woman simply to “desire not to do that.” You’re a heterosexual, governor. How would a lifetime of “not doing that” work for you?

Perry doubled down on dumb when it came to the topic of “reparative therapy,” the all-but-universally condemned practice of trying to convert people from homosexuality to heterosexuality. The draft platform of the Texas Republican party endorses the dangerous faux-treatment for “patients [sic] who are seeking to escape from the homosexual lifestyle.” When Perry was asked if the therapy works, he demurred, saying he doesn’t know. Fine, but you know who does know? The American Psychiatric Association. And you know what they have to say about it? This:

“The American Psychiatric Association opposes any psychiatric treatment, such as ‘reparative’ or ‘conversion’ therapy, which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder, or based upon a prior assumption that the patient should change his/her homosexual orientation.”

For the record, blood-letting, rattle-shaking and leeching won’t work either, so the Texas GOP probably wants to keep them out of the platform too.

Perry next pivoted—inevitably—to global warming. He began by stating his opposition to carbon caps or taxes, which he insists would “strangle” the economy — a powerful argument, if economists agreed with him (they don’t), and if cap and trade hadn’t worked extraordinarily well to control the sulfur dioxide that led to acid rain, which it did, during the boom times of the 1990s.

The larger problem, Perry suggested, might be the climate scientists themselves, who take the position that, “You either believe this all the way, or you’re a Neanderthal.” But here’s the thing—for the billionth time—the scientists never, ever speak in absolutes like that. There is no “all the way” when it comes to prescriptions for solving the climate crisis, no universality even about exactly how the problem will unfold over the next years and decades and centuries.

What is scientifically proven is that greenhouse gases lead to global warming and human beings are significant drivers of that problem. The “debate,” like it or not, is over on that score. But the rest? Scientists are the first to say there is lots of wiggle room in their models and their predictions—a lot more than the ideologues on the right who call the whole thing a hoax and stop talking there.

Perry’s time as governor is limited—he leaves office after this year—though his presidential aspirations are currently unknown. The damage he and others like him do, however, endures. There is only so long America can go on embracing scientific rubbish and the politicians who traffic in it—at least if we expect to continue be a leading nation in an increasingly sophisticated world. Perry, for his part, just flunked his leadership test.

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