TIME Congress

Real Time: Ted Cruz Rallies the Right at CPAC

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) fired up the conservative base during his speech Thursday, the first day of CPAC 2015.

Watch #RealTime to see what you missed.


See Behind the Scenes at CPAC

Part political rally, part marketing bonanza and part youth bacchanal, CPAC is one of few events in which the far-flung factions of the Republican party come together for a three-day blitz of speeches, panels and policy sessions. Go behind the scenes of the event through the lens of photographer Mark Peterson

TIME 2016 Election

Ted Cruz Stresses Conservative Cred At CPAC

Cruz doled out the red meat to a supportive crowd on Thursday

Sen. Ted Cruz was in his element at the Conservative Political Action Conference Thursday, throwing out tweet-sized red meat to a crowd of grassroots activists.

As he prepares for a possible run for the Republican presidential nomination, the Texas Republican stressed his conservative bona fides, arguing that primary voters should look at actions, not words.

“We all know that in a campaign every, candidate comes out and tells you, ‘I’m the most conservative guy that’s ever lived,'” Cruz said. “If you’re really a conservative you will have been in the trenches and you will bear the scars.”

“I demand action, not talk,” Cruz said.

Cruz has made a name for himself as a hardline opponent of the Obama White House, helping prompt a government shutdown in 2013 in an unsuccessful bid to defund the Affordable Care Act. His pugnacity has drawn ire from Republicans like Sens. Lindsey Graham and John McCain, who has called Cruz “wacko bird” and “crazy.” But Cruz stood by his record during his speech on Thursday, drawing applause from an audience.

“If a candidate tells you they oppose Obamacare, fantastic,” said Cruz in a reference to his 21-hour speech against the law. “But when have you stood up and fought against it?”

Cruz also is seeking to establish an ideological distance between his likely campaign and Washington DC, which he impugned for its “mendacity.”

“We need to run a populist campaign, standing for hardworking men and women,” Cruz said “We need to take the power out of Washington and bring it back to the people.”

Cruz took some pointed shots at the presumptive Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, saying that she “embodies the corruption of Washington.” Cruz was asked in a question-and-answer session with Fox News commentator Sean Hannity after his speech to describe Bill Clinton. The Texas senator answered “youth outreach” to snickers from the crowd—a less-than-subtle reference to the Monica Lewinsky scandal during his presidency.

“What I’m trying to do more than anything else is bring a disruptive app to politics,” Cruz said.

TIME 2016 Election

Christian Group Invites Republican Leaders to Iowa Candidate Event

The gathering is titled "Rediscovering God in America"

A Christian group with has invited Republican Party leaders to Iowa to hear from two conservative presidential candidates next month, just weeks after taking a group of Republicans on a trip to Israel.

David Lane’s American Renewal Project sent the invitation Thursday to the 168 members of the Republican National Committee, inviting them to attend an “Iowa Renewal Project’s Pastors and Pews” event in Des Moines on March 9-10. The gathering, titled “Rediscovering God in America.” will feature Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, along with Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, according to the invitation.

“Meals and lodging are complimentary and will be provided by the Iowa Renewal Project,” the invitation says.

Lane’s group, which is an affiliate of the American Family Foundation, organized the Israel trip in January, which drew more than 60 RNC members. That trip became mired in controversy over the AFA’s long history of controversial statements and ties to Bryan Fischer, who has a record of inflammatory rhetoric about homosexuality and various religions. MSNBC host Rachel Maddow highlighted the affiliation on her show last month and AFA cut ties with Fisher, but allowed him to keep his radio show. The trip was later condemned by the Anti-Defamation League and some Republicans.

In a separate newsletter sent earlier Thursday, Lane wrote that “Jesus Christ is America’s Greatest Export,” and criticized the Supreme Court for its role in striking down abortion and same-sex marriage bans. “We have allowed a holocaust in America and the government defiling God’s design for our sexuality,” he wrote.

Lane has long been a powerbroker for the GOP’s bloc of evangelical pastors and voters, organizing Israel trips for other 2016 contenders vying for the social conservative vote, like former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Sen. Kentucky Rand Paul. Lane also hosted a recent prayer rally with Jindal in Louisiana, as well as a similar event in 2011 with former Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

TIME 2016 Election

Jeb Bush Hopes to Win the General Election by Losing the Weight

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush Keynote
David Paul Morris—Bloomberg/Getty Images Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida, speaks during a keynote session at the National Automobile Dealer Association conference in San Francisco, Calif. on Jan. 23, 2015.

Jeb Bush’s campaign to slim down the federal government appears to begin with himself.

At a fundraiser in Florida today, the former Florida governor admitted that he’s on the paleo diet, a new diet based on the idea that you should eat like early humans did before the invention of farming and animal husbandry. That means avoiding refined sugar, breads and beans and focusing more on eating meat and non-starchy vegetables.

“I’m really appreciative of the support that you’ve given me and I hope that you pray for my family, pray for me,” Bush joked. “Continue to pray that I stick on this paleo diet where my pants fall down. Perpetually starving to death apparently is the source of losing weight.”

Bush has joined a long line of recent presidential candidates who’ve lost weight while hoping to win a campaign.

• Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee took up running and weightlifting and began eating less before the 2008 Republican primary, then later wrote a book, “Quit Digging Your Grave With a Knife and Fork.”

• New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whose struggle with weight led some helpful voters to send him 77 diet books, underwent gastric-band surgery in 2013 to help shed some pounds.

• Texas Sen. Ted Cruz hasn’t spoken publicly about any weight-loss regimens (other than a joke about Obama), but the Beltway publication Politico noted that he’s “looking trim these days.”

• Even 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who was hardly overweight, was known to pull the skin off his fried chicken when eating out on the campaign trail.

The candidates aren’t just being vain. Running for president is a physically grueling experience and being in better shape can help. But no one put it better than former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who considered a run in 2012.

“If you see me losing 40 pounds, that means I’m either running or have cancer,” he said.

By that measure, Jeb Bush just officially declared his candidacy.

TIME 2016 Election

Watch 5 Elevator Pitches from 2016 GOP Contenders

Cruz, Paul, Christie, Walker and Fiorina make their best argument in less than a minute

The Republican politicians who hope to be the party’s presidential nominee in 2016 have some very different theories about why they would be best.

Not all of them have perfected the message they’ll take to next year’s primaries. But some of them have given a good preview of their best elevator pitch and they have very different arguments on what it takes to win.

Below are five one-minute excerpts of speeches by contenders for the GOP presidential nomination.

Sen. Ted Cruz

The setting: The 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual event for grassroots organizers

What he said: “When you don’t stand for principle, Democrats celebrate.”

The argument: The Texas Senator argued that Republicans lost recent elections when their candidates “stood for nothing” and that the party should pick a strongly conservative candidate to draw a contrast with Democrats.

Sen. Rand Paul

The setting: The 2014 CPAC convention

What he said: “It isn’t good enough to pick the lesser of two evils. We must elect men and women of principle.”

The argument: The Kentucky Senator made a similar argument to Cruz, but the difference is that he is pitching a libertarian strand of thought to draw a contrast with politicians of both parties.

Gov. Chris Christie

The setting: The 2012 Republican National Convention

What he said: “It’s possible to work together, achieve principled compromise and get results. The people have no patience for any other way.”

The argument: Though he was talking about then-nominee Mitt Romney, the New Jersey Governor’s argument that voters are looking for politicians who can cross the aisle also fits his own potential candidacy.

Gov. Scott Walker

The setting: The Iowa Freedom Summit, a gathering of grassroots conservatives

What he said: “”If you’re not afraid to go big and go bold, you can actually get results. And if you get the job done, the voters will actually stand up with you.”

The argument: The Wisconsin Governor’s message is a blend of Cruz and Christie. He calling for politicians to stand on principle, but also making the case that results matter.

Carly Fiorina

The setting: The Iowa Freedom Summit

What she said: “Our founders actually never envisioned a professional political class. They envisioned that … leaders would emerge from agriculture or commerce and would serve their nation.”

The argument: The former Hewlett-Packard CEO argued that voters weren’t seeking politicians who compromise or don’t, but rather the clean break that an outsider would bring.

TIME 2016 Election

Lindsey Graham Forces Foreign Policy On 2016 GOP Field

Senator Lindsey Graham
Samuel Corum—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images Senator Lindsey Graham speaks at a press conference in Washington on January 13, 2015.

The talk on the trail these days is focused on Main Street. But that could change.

At the moment his staff hit publish on a new pre-presidential campaign website, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham had distinguished himself from the rest of the already unwieldy Republican 2016 field. “Security Through Strength,” was the name of his new group, with a military-style combat unit shield as its logo.

Foreign policy would be Graham’s focus, and his tack would be unmistakable: He would be the candidate who could update Ronald Reagan’s Cold War vision of “Peace Through Strength” for the ongoing battle against radical Islam. Visitors had to read a couple hundred words of filler before any mention of domestic policy appeared. “Graham is also a leader in cutting spending,” the copy reads. Also, as if it were an afterthought.

As a political strategy, this was a bold move, given that most of his challengers have been focused their rhetorical fire on the cause du jour, the economic frustrations of the struggling American middle class. But then presidential campaigns rarely end where they begin, as Graham’s biggest backer, Arizona Sen. John McCain learned well in his 2008 race. That contest began squarely in McCain’s wheelhouse, as a foreign policy debate over the Iraq War. But it ended with an economic crises that McCain was not equipped to handle. “The issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should,” he was on record admitting in 2007.

There is a real potential for 2016 to follow the same pattern in reverse. Domestically, the economy remains stuck in neutral for most Americans, but gas prices are dropping, the labor market is firming, and the ground may be set for incomes begin to rise again. Overseas, however, the world is as tumultuous as it has been in a decade, with terrorist attacks in Europe, a virtual proxy war bubbling up between NATO and Russia in Ukraine, tense nuclear negotiations with Iran and Sunni radicals redrawing national boundaries in the Middle East.

In this environment, Graham stands relatively alone in clearly presenting a foreign policy vision. “I don’t think we’re anywhere close to the point where we need to be,” former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton told TIME. Bolton is contemplating a run for president to keep foreign policy in the national conversation. “Having two paragraphs in a stump speech should not be confused with having a foreign policy,” he said.

Some would-be candidates have talked about foreign policy more than others. On Sunday evening at a panel hosted by a group affiliated with the Koch brothers, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who sits on the Foreign Relations committee, had as much criticism for the governors as he had for ideological rival Sen. Rand Paul, who has presented a more modest vision of U.S. power abroad. “Taking a trip to some foreign city for two days does not make you Henry Kissinger,” Rubio said, in apparent reference to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who was at the Koch event and is planning a trip to the United Kingdom next month.

Similarly, Mitt Romney has made clear that foreign policy will be a central theme of his third run, should he choose to continue with the race. “The President’s dismissal of real global threats in his State of the Union address was naive at best and deceptive at worst,” Romney said Wednesday, in a speech before students in Mississippi.

But other Republicans, especially the deep bench of governors with White House ambitions, have yet to find their footing. Instead of offering a vision, they have been focused on schooling themselves in the arts of international trade craft.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been receiving briefings by a team including Bob Zoellick, the former president of the World Bank and U.S. Trade Representative, and Brian Hook, a former assistant secretary of state and Romney campaign advisor. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been soliciting briefings from foreign and domestic policy experts for more than a year to study up for a second campaign. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has co-authored a hawkish foreign policy white paper last year with former Sen. Jim Talent. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who launched his political organization this week, is expected to start receiving policy briefings in the next several weeks, with Marc Thiessen, the American Enterprise Institute scholar—and co-author of Walker’s book—expected to play a key role.

The former Florida Governor, Jeb Bush, supported his brother’s foreign policy while in office, but has rarely spoken out on more recent threats. Last month he called for strengthening, rather than weakening, the U.S. embargo on Cuba, for instance. It is not clear whether he has started formal briefings, but he has been reaching out to an array of experts in recent weeks, according to a person familiar with the calls.

Some Senate aides have pointed out that the state leaders could find themselves at a steep disadvantage in the general election. “We need someone who can credibly push back against Hillary Clinton’s failed record,” said an aide to one Senator eyeing the White House. “And the governors can’t do that.”

But governors may also have an advantage, not having their foreign policy so clearly defined before they run. Paul has been largely defined as an isolationist, while Rubio and Graham are affiliated with neo-conservatives, and Ted Cruz is has taken a hawkish line on many issues but favors budget cuts to defense programs.

“We don’t know very much of the foreign policy viewpoints of Jeb, Christie, and Walker,” said a veteran Republican policy aide to presidential candidates. “They have an opportunity to formulate and articulate the worldview that makes the most sense given time and space.”

That strategy works better if no one is forcing foreign policy questions into the debate at this early point in the cycle. In other words, a good day for Lindsey Graham, who enjoys easy access to the national press off the Senate floor, may be a bad one for many of his rivals in the months to come.

TIME 2016 Election

The Secret Meanings Behind the Names of Presidential Super PACs

Conservative Activists And Leaders Attend The Iowa Freedom Summit
Daniel Acker—Bloomberg/Getty Images Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, waves to the crowd during the Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines, Iowa on Jan. 24, 2015.

Long before the campaign buttons and bumper stickers, today’s presidential candidates must create an outside fundraising committee. And while they aren’t always in total control of these groups, the names can be secret decoder rings that explain the central themes of the campaigns they are preparing.

Here’s a look at the names of five groups backing 2016 candidates and what they might signal.

Right to Rise

What is it? A leadership PAC and a separate super PAC

Who does it benefit? Former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida

Where does the name come from? The “right to rise” was coined by a historian to describe President Lincoln’s views on economic opportunity. After Rep. Paul Ryan used the phrase, Bush wrote a guest editorial about it in the Wall Street Journal in 2011.

What’s it mean? The name is a sign that Bush intends to focus on pocketbook issues for the middle class, which has been stuck with stagnant wages for more than a decade. The fact he embraced the term was also a key tipoff that Ryan was not going to run.

Our American Revival

What is it? A tax-exempt 527 organization

Who does it benefit? Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin

Where does the name come from? Walker used the phrase “our American revival” in a recent statement critiquing President Obama’s State of the Union speech.

What’s it mean? The term “revival” has religious undertones that Walker, a preacher’s kid, surely recognizes. It’s also a sign he intends to run as a bold, populist counterpoint to Obama’s tenure in Washington.

Leadership Matters for America

What is it? A political action committee

Who does it benefit? Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey

Where does the name come from? Christie used the phrase “leadership matters” during his 2012 keynote speech at the Republican presidential convention for Mitt Romney.

What’s it mean? Christie is running on his own personality and leadership style. He intends to highlight his time as governor as well as his brash and sometimes confrontational style to contrast himself with Obama and his Republican opponents.

Stand for Principle

What is it? A super PAC

Who does it benefit? Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas

Where does the name come from? In a 2014 speech before the Conservative Political Action Conference, Cruz argued that Republicans need to “stand for principle” in order to win elections.

What’s it mean? Cruz intends to run as the conservative choice among the Republican field, with an orthodoxy at the center of his message that will contrast him against past nominees such as Mitt Romney and John McCain, not to mention current contenders like Christie and Bush.

Ready for Hillary

What is it? A super PAC

Who does it benefit? Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Where does the name come from? The super PAC was formed by Clinton supporters to build lists of grassroots supporters and recruit major donors before she announced a campaign.

What’s it mean? The name doesn’t portend much about Clinton’s campaign, since she didn’t choose it, at least not personally. But it does take on a central theme of the emerging Clinton juggernaut—the notion that America is now “ready” for a female president and that it’s Clinton’s turn after her 2008 primary loss.

TIME 2016 Election

GOP Hopefuls To Talk Economic Growth at Koch Brothers Event

Sen. Rand Paul Speaks To The Detroit Economic Club
Bill Pugliano—Getty Images Sen. Rand Paul speaks with the news media after delivering a speech at the Detroit Economic Club on Dec. 6, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan.

Three Republican presidential hopefuls will address a gathering affiliated with billionaire Republican mega-donors Charles and David Koch this weekend, as they look to shore up financial backing in advance of their White House bids.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio will attend the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural “American Recovery Policy Forum” on Sunday evening at the group’s annual winter meeting in Palm Springs. The closed-door event will bring together roughly 450 top donors and business leaders, the group said, and comes as it prepares to take on a more public role in the national political debate.

The trio will share the same stage for a discussion moderated by ABC News chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl, Freedom Partners said, with the discussion focusing on economic issues, energy, healthcare, and as well as improving the GOP’s brand and bringing its message to non-traditional audiences.

“Our members care deeply about the future of our nation and we’re honored to host some of today’s most influential and respected leaders in shaping public policy,” Freedom Partners spokesman James Davis said in a statement. “We hope that this panel will give each participant the opportunity to lay out their vision of free markets and the role of government. Our goal in 2015 is to help inform the national debate around key domestic economic issues, and this forum is the beginning of that conversation.”

POLITICO, which first broke news of the senators’ attendance last week, reported that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is also set to attend the gathering, but he will not appear at the forum.

The Koch-backed free market group released a Plan for Economic Growth last week which calls for balancing the federal budget and cutting back regulations.

TIME space

Senator Ted Cruz to Head Senate Subcommittee on Space

Conservatives Speak At Values Voters Summit In Washington
Andrew Burton—Getty Images Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), speaks at the 2013 Values Voter Summit, held by the Family Research Council, on October 11, 2013 in Washington, DC.

The appointment is part of a broader reshuffle

Texas Senator Ted Cruz was appointed the chair of the Senate subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness last week — which means he will be in charge of overseeing space agency NASA in Congress.

The Republican lawmaker’s appointment is part of a larger reshuffle following the GOP’s win in the 2014 Congressional election.

The Verge reports that Cruz has previously denied climate change exists and also unsuccessfully attempted to reduce NASA’s funding in July 2013.

But Cruz, whose role at the subcommittee’s helm will be confirmed later this month, has also previously said that it was “critical that the United States ensure its continued leadership in space.”

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