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Election 2016: Weekly Rundown

June 29, 2015

By Audrey Bowler ‘16 – EI Campus Communications Team

As the modern world of politics and government evolves, campaigning has become a permanent fixture in social and political culture. As potential candidates prepare for the 2016 presidential election, here’s what made headlines this past week:

1. Trump Takes the Plunge

Real estate mogul and reality TV icon Donald Trump announced his presidential campaign on Tuesday after two decades of repeatedly hinting that he would run.

“I am officially running for president of the United States, and we are going to make our country great again,” Trump said during a 45-minute speech covering economic issues from currency manipulation from China to job creation, while criticizing the president and his fellow GOP candidates.

“Sadly, the American dream is dead,” Trump said at the end of his speech. “But if I get elected president I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before.”

Trump’s announcement, held at the Trump Tower complex on New York’s Fifth Avenue, came four years after the billionaire came just steps away from launching a campaign to combat President Obama’s chances at reelection.

After 14 seasons of his reality TV series, “The Apprentice,” Trump is primarily seen as a television celebrity, and his multiple flirtations with a run for national office (in 1987, 1999, 2004, 2008, and 2011) had left many doubting that Trump’s latest declarations would result in anything concrete.

Trump has declared that he is “the most successful person ever to run for the presidency, by far,” and said that his successful career in business will help him to be “the greatest jobs president that God ever created.”

Trump has said that he plans to self-fund his presidential campaign, eliminating the influence of some powerful outside donors. Self-funding would give Trump more time in his schedule to travel and campaign instead of focusing on fundraising, which can take up almost half of a candidate’s time on the campaign trail.

2. Clinton’s Close Finish

In a Wisconsin straw poll held this weekend, Hillary Clinton took the lead among the field of Democratic contenders for the presidential nomination – but not by the margin she was hoping for.

Clinton earned the support of less than half of the 511 Wisconsin Democrats chosen to represent their party at the Wisconsin Democratic Party convention. With 252 votes, Clinton had 49% of the delegates’ support, while Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders came in a close second with 41%. Vice President Joe Biden and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (who launched his bid last month), each took 3% support.

Sanders’ campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, says that the poll is strong evidence that the Senator’s message is resonating with voters – and not just in Wisconsin. “The Wisconsin straw poll and huge turnouts at town meetings in New Hampshire and Iowa are sending a message that people care about real issues like income inequality and the collapse of the American middle class,” Weaver said in a statement.

Clinton’s slim win over Sanders is a surprising finish for the former Secretary of State, whose sizable leads in national polls have seemed to indicate that she will be the Democratic frontrunner.

But since the launch of Clinton’s campaign in April, both her policy record and personal finances have been examined and criticized on the national stage. A close win in an informal straw poll – while still a win – may be a sign that the buzz surrounding the presumed favorite of the Democratic Party may be fading.

3. Clinton-Trump Confrontation

During a radio interview on Thursday, Hillary Clinton criticized Donald Trump for comments made during his campaign launch speech, saying that his comments were offensive to Mexicans and “emblematic” of the hateful rhetoric that should be unacceptable in the wake of the Charleston church shootings.

“We have to have a candid national conversation about race and about discrimination, prejudice, hatred,” said Clinton. “But unfortunately the public discourse is sometimes hotter and more negative than it should be, which can, in my opinion, trigger people who are less than stable… Everybody should stand up and say that’s not acceptable. You don’t talk like that on talk radio. You don’t talk like that on the kind of political campaigns.” The former Secretary of State refused to mention Trump by name, but she referenced remarks from his recent announcement speech that criticized Mexican immigrants.

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” Trump told his audience. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists, and some, I assume, are good people.”

While Clinton refused to name Trump, despite being urged to by radio hosts, she added, “I think he is emblematic. I want people to understand it’s not about him, it’s about everybody.”

4. Jindal Jumpstarts

Current Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal announced his candidacy for the GOP nomination on Wednesday, making him the 13th Republican to enter the crowded field. Jindal, who considered a run for the presidency in 2012, announced his bid over Twitter and Facebook before hosting a kickoff rally.

“I’m running for President of the United States of America. Join me,” Jindal tweeted, with a link to his website’s announcement page.

At Wednesday’s rally, Gov. Jindal promoted his reputation for bold leadership, while being somebody who both “talked the talk and walked the walk” as governor of Louisiana.

“The big government crowd – they hate what I have done,” said Jindal. “I am guilty as charged, and our state is better off for it today. We have had enough of talkers, it’s time for doers. I’m not running for president to be somebody, I’m running for president to do something.”

Jindal will have to work hard to combat low polling numbers – both as a national candidate and in his own state. He’s currently polling at the bottom of the field, registering at 1% in the latest CNN/ORC poll.

His own reputation as governor has suffered significantly over the past few years – recent polls estimate his approval at 32% – in part due to state budget troubles and deep cuts in government spending to programs like healthcare and education. Jindal faces an upward battle if he wants to keep his campaign on track.

Fashion: The Next Election Frontier

June 26, 2015

By Maja Thomas ’17

Campaign television advertisements first emerged in the 1952 presidential election with Eisenhower’s Ike for President ad. Over the following six decades the medium has been expanded and constitutes a major recruiting and advertising opportunity for candidates. Now it seems another medium for recruiting voters has found its way into the political medium: apparel. Apparel has certainly been sold in past elections, and the wide array of campaign-related merchandise was made exceedingly popular in during the 2008 presidential election. However, in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, there has been a significant expansion of merchandise stores and their incorporation directly into candidate’s websites.

The stores show marketing preference towards key demographics the candidates hope to attain. Hillary Clinton’s store is composed of stylish apparel marketed specifically towards younger voters, a demographic she failed to attract during the 2008 primary while running against President Obama. She shows her support for the LGBTQ community as well as women voters, including a “pride” section of her store and a throw pillow stitched with “a woman’s place is in the White House.” Bernie Sanders also vends pride-themed bumper stickers, though has less expansive and sophisticated apparel than his opponent. Marco Rubio’s store features a selection of “Marco Polos,” a quirky pun on his name that seems to be marketed towards the higher-income individuals that constitute a key component of the demographic make-up of the Tea Party, which helped him gain his seat in the Senate. Ted Cruz, another Tea Party favorite, also has various polo shirts, coffee mugs, and a sleek new logo. Rand Paul has an entire section of anti-Hillary gear in his shop, as well as a “Don’t Drone me, Bro!” shirt, marketed towards younger voters (a strategy shared by his possible Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton). Paul has other “fun” apparel, including an oversized birthday card, a beer stein, and a corn hole game. Huckabee’s store is filled with “I Like Mike” gear, a nod to Eisenhower’s branding despite their ideological differences. The store of Rick Perry includes select merchandise, mainly baseball caps and a single t-shirt, with a logo reminiscent of an all-American baseball team.

However, not all candidates have immediately jumped on board. Rick Santorum does not currently have his store available, though he had one initially and has said it will reopen shortly. Scott Walker’s is currently under construction, although he has yet to make his candidacy official. Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Donald Trump, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, Carly Fiorina, Martin O’Malley, and Lincoln Chafee do not currently have stores associated directly with their campaign webpages. However, merchandise for all presidential hopefuls can be found on various other sites, including Café Press.

Not only does having a store allow supporters to become walking advertisements for their candidate, due to FEC regulations it also allows candidates to extract valuable data. Purchases are treated as donations since candidates are not allowed to make personal profits off of their campaigns. Because individuals are now making donations instead of purchases, the FEC requires additional information including the submission of an employer and occupation. In addition, those that make more than one purchase are alerted to a campaign as a potential volunteer. Furthermore, the choice of retail informs candidates of who their main supporters are. At this point, any intelligence campaigns can obtain is valuable. The more elaborate and sophisticated the selection of merchandise, the more that can be extrapolated from the sales data. Stores owned by Sanders and Perry have limited options besides the traditional stickers and t-shirts, which will not lend itself as particularly helpful in tracking demographics. If the efforts thus far are any indication, it seems that this election cycle will see an increase of products sold, especially as other candidates realize the value in opening their own stores.

First Amendment Qualms: Government Speech and Moral Society

June 17, 2015

By Maja Thomas ’17

Last August, the California state government decided to institute a ban on the Confederate flag in the state. The bill, Assembly Bill No. 2444, was passed with a 71-1 vote. Tim Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks) was the only Assembly member to vote against the bill, citing being a “strict Constitutionalist” and believing the “bill is antithetical to the First Amendment, which was designed to protect controversial forms of speech.”

However, the bill solely applies to state actions and dictates that, “the state of California may not sell or display the Battle Flag of the Confederacy, also referred to as the Stars and Bars, or any similar image, or tangible personal property, inscribed with such an image.” The law does include an exemption for books, digital media, or state museums that serve an educational or historical purpose. Since the law pertains solely to government speech, it cannot be ruled unconstitutional. Personal free speech remains fully intact. The law does not limit persons from purchasing Confederate flags or Confederate flag-inscribed materials and displaying them. It also does not apply to people protesting or entering government property. Still, the bill has received significant backlash from some members of the public, who believe that any restrictions on government speech would eventually influence restrictions on personal speech.

Isadore Hall, the primary sponsor of the bill, commended that it would “send a strong message that California and its taxpayers will not be in the business of promoting racism, exclusion, oppression, or violence towards others.” The flag, which proponents argue serves as an important symbol of “states’ rights” or Southern heritage, is also reflective of modern-day discrimination (the flag is widely used by white supremacist groups) and injustices stemming from a proposed nation, the Confederate States of America, which fought to retain slavery as an economic institution.

Through various Supreme Court rulings, it has been made clear that free speech protections do not pertain to government actions. Nevertheless, it is not always clear what is public (government) speech versus private (personal) speech. Such is the disagreement stemming in the ongoing case, Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc. The non-profit aiming to “preserve the history and legacy” of Confederate soldiers applied for a novelty license plate design and was refused by the state of Texas. The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles Board voted unanimously to reject the license plate because of the common association between the flag and “organizations advocating expressions of hate directed toward people or groups that is demeaning to those people or groups.” The Board believed that because a license plate is government issued, it had the right to restrict speech under the government-speech doctrine “if the design might be offensive to any member of the public.” However, the respondents questioned whether the messages on state-issued vanity plates qualify as government speech. Furthermore, they questioned whether the state engaged in ‘viewpoint discrimination’ when rejecting the Sons of Confederate Veterans plate.

The type of speech that constitutes specialty plates certainly sits within a grey area between public and private. It is the private choice of individuals to purchase vanity plates and the display them on their cars, which would lend it to be part of the driver’s First Amendment rights. However, the State of Texas funds the construction of specialty plates, with the proceeds of the additional cost usually going to the specified organization. Thus, if the State is funding the creation of these plates, it can also be seen as the government speaking for itself in the same light as California’s vending of Confederate flag-inscribed materials. Therefore, using the same logic, it would be up to the discretion of the Board to approve or reject designs. If it is indeed public speech, the state is able to disassociate with ideals, messages, or images it does not wish to promote.

Regardless of whether the plates are considered public or private speech, Texas did seem to engage in viewpoint discrimination when it chose to reject the Sons of Confederate Veterans’ plate. It is worth noting that government speech does not require viewpoint neutrality, thus if it is found to be public speech viewpoint discrimination would not apply. Nevertheless, as noted above, the Board bases its decisions to reject a specialty design if it may offend a member of the public. The decision of whether a plate is possibly offensive is up to the Board and remains potentially biased. How does the Board decide what could be offensive? The Board has approved potentially contentious plates, such as “Choose Life,” “Boy Scouts of America,” or “God Bless Texas.” Could those plates be considered offensive to someone who has had an abortion, who was barred or discriminated against from the Boy Scouts due to sexuality or gender identity, or who was atheist? Certainly the image of the Confederate flag carries more controversy and weight than these plates, but how would you designate a line between what someone could find offensive? If the plates are seen as government speech and their content could be considered a State promotion, some member of the public might find each plate offensive. The decision of what could constitute offensive, if going by their criteria of “any member,” is too broad to be effective. Texas needs to further define a coherent criterion of what might be considered offensive.

It is also worth noting Texas seems to have contradictory stances on the use of the Confederate flag. Unlike California, the state has not proposed a ban on the flag, and continues to sell them in gift shops and celebrate Confederate Heroes Day. If Texas wishes to ban the Sons of Confederate Veterans’ plate, they need to keep a consistent viewpoint and decide if they want to eliminate the flag from government promotions entirely or allow it to be present. Texas’ inconsistent stance on whether to allow the display of the Confederate flag has significantly weakened its case. A final ruling is expected later this month.

There still exists significant debate between the preservation of free speech and the promotion of unjust or offensive materials. The deep history of the Civil War and aspirations of the former Confederate States remain contentious even in contemporary society. Certainly displays of the Confederacy and the Confederate flag are unpopular speech, but differing views are exactly what the free speech clause intends to safeguard. While private speech is protected to allow a free society in which members can express their views, public speech is designed to be restricted. Yet it is not always clear where the line between the two is drawn. As we continue to determine what is public versus private, it will be interesting to see where this border is defined.

Election 2016: Weekly Rundown

June 3, 2015

Audrey Bowler ‘16 – EI Campus Communications Team

As the modern world of politics and government evolves, campaigning has become a permanent fixture in social and political culture. As potential candidates prepare for the 2016 presidential election, here’s what made headlines this week:

4. Jindal Jumps In

This week, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal announced that he would form a presidential exploratory committee in preparation for the 2016 Republican primary.

This step, as well as Jindal’s recent stops in several swing states, indicate that he is taking major steps toward a run for the nomination. According to the governor, he will not announce a final decision until after  June 11, when the state’s legislative session ends.

“For some time now, my wife Supriya and I have been thinking and praying about whether to run for the presidency of our great nation,” said Jindal. “If I run, my candidacy will be based on the idea that the American people are ready to try a dramatically different direction. Not a course correction, but a dramatically different path.”

Jindal, a staunch social conservative, has faced low approval numbers in his home state, and would face plenty of competition for the GOP bid in a field already crowded with icons of social conservatism – including former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Perry, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and tea party darling Ted Cruz.

The governor has taken a particularly strong stance on the issue of gay marriage, stating his support for a proposed constitutional amendment that would prevent the Supreme Court from eliminating state bans. Jindal has been openly critical of the Obama administration, even signing on to the controversial letter sent by Republican senators to Iranian leadership discouraging the makings of a nuclear deal with the U.S.

While Jindal will have to fight not to be overshadowed by those already in the race, the governor is working to set himself apart from his fellow Republican presidential hopefuls.

“While other Republican leaders are talking about change,” Jindal said, “I’ve published detailed plans to repeal and replace Obamacare, rebuild America’s defenses, make America energy independent, and reform education for our nation’s children.”

Jindal’s exploratory committee launched their website on Monday to enlist volunteers and donations.

3.  Plans in Motion for Graham

On Monday, Senator Lindsey Graham said that he would announce his plans for 2016 in his home state on June 1. While Graham has not yet made a formal declaration, it’s no secret that he plans to run for the GOP nomination.

“You’re all invited to come — spend money when you do — and I will tell you what I’m going to do about running for president,” said Graham, hinted at the June 1 announcement on CBS’s “This Morning.”

The South Carolina Senator has made little effort to conceal his interest in running for the 2016 nomination, and has spent time in several early primary states during the last few months, hoping to gauge interest among voters.

In response to a question on the amount of foreign policy experience possessed by the rest of the Republican field, Graham seemed to have his mind made up.

“I’m running,” he said, “because I think the world is falling apart. I’ve been more right than wrong on foreign policy.”

While the pool of GOP candidates seems to be ever-expanding, Graham pointed to his last reelection during which he he fought off six challengers in the primary. As for accusations from other Republicans that he “works with Democrats too much,” the Senator said that he would continue to pursue bipartisanship if elected.

“In my view, Democrats and Republicans work together too little, and I would try to change that if I got to be president.”

Graham’s announcement will be held in South Carolina on June 1.

2. Hesitancy for Hillary

Although Hillary Clinton officially entered the 2016 presidential race on April 12, her formal campaign debut has been indefinitely postponed. While the unveiling of a YouTube video and a series of roundtable meetings with voters in Iowa have cemented Clinton’s place in the race, the traditional inspirational speech and kickoff rally promised by Clinton’s aides hasn’t yet been announced.

Originally planned for May, the campaign’s official roll-out has been pushed back, with a large-scale event tentatively scheduled for June. The reason? Give Clinton more time to fundraise and settle on policy positions.

“If they had their druthers, they would basically get off the front pages, let the Republicans eat themselves alive, and let her do what she needs to do: raise the money and not have to be part of the debate right now,” said one Clinton donor who’s familiar with the inner workings of the campaign. “She has 100 percent name recognition and is in a good place vis-a-vis the primary. Why put your foot on the accelerator?”

For now, the former Secretary of State is taking a whirlwind tour of the early primary states – she’ll spend this week in New Hampshire and Iowa, and will stop by South Carolina next week. As a finale, Clinton will head to Florida for a series of fundraisers.

Clinton’s campaign operatives have compared the candidate’s early events as a kind of “exploratory phase,” and seem to be comfortable experimenting with low-stakes voter outreach events.

Money appears to be the main factor driving the delay. Concern over the strength of Clinton’s fundraising strategy emerged in the face of Jeb Bush’s powerful campaign entrance. Clinton’s team hopes that taking additional time to target donors and attend fundraising events will benefit the campaign in the long-term.

The slower pace of the campaign hasn’t necessarily damaged voters’ impressions of Clinton, Iowa activists said. “This has been a very slow emergence … but I have not felt that we, as Iowans, don’t know who this person is,” said Kurt Meyer, chair of the Iowa Tri-County Democrats. “We have a full file folder on Hillary Clinton. This is not like we walk into class, and there’s a blank whiteboard.”

1. Positive GOP Perceptions

New polling shows that Republicans are more positive about the variety of GOP candidates vying for the presidential nomination than they were at the same time two years ago.

The poll, conducted by the Pew Research Center, revealed that 57% of Republican-leaning voters reported that they have a “good” or “excellent” perception of their party’s potential nominees.

In 2007, only 50% of Republican voters viewed the range of GOP contenders in a positive light. Voter approval from the same group fell to 44% in 2011.

In contrast, Democrats aren’t as pleased – data shows that they’re less positive about their potential presidential candidates than they were in 2007.

The difference may be due to diversity. While Democrats currently have only two announced candidates to choose between – Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – nearly a dozen Republicans have declared or are expected to declare that they will run in 2016.

According to the poll, Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Mike Huckabee are the potential candidates viewed most favorably by Republicans. Scott Walker and Ted Cruz follow with an approval rating of just over 45%.

The Question of Big Brother

June 2, 2015

By Spencer Bradley ’16

During the past few weeks, the Senate has been debating the House-approved bill: The USA Freedom Act. The bill is a reaction to the actions of the Obama administration and a revision to the much maligned USA Patriot Act, extending some provisions of the Patriot Act while limiting the power of the NSA to gather bulk-data. What does it mean to gather bulk data? This unpopular practice is the mass collection of communication, searches and any data on citizens without a warrant. While not used on every citizen, it essentially means that Americans have a “file” of sorts being collected en masse. The USA Freedom Act seeks to end the mass collection of data by the government, turning the task over to the phone companies and requiring actual evidence as to whether or not the suspect in question has probable cause as to necessitate government seizure of the data. In short, it requires a glorified warrant. In doing so, it forces the intelligence community to become more transparent about its methodology and its scope in collecting data.

Earlier this week, Senator Rand Paul, the Republican/Libertarian senator of Kentucky, engaged in a filibuster against the bill and its renewal of numerous Patriot Act provisions, such as roving wire-taps and the ability to monitor “lone wolf” terrorists. Paul advocated an expiration of the Patriot Act and an ending to all data monitoring by the government, including any data monitoring permitted by the Freedom Act. While Paul’s position currently enjoys 27% approval over the position of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a fellow Republican who advocates for retaining the original model of the Patriot Act (a position that polls at a mere 12% support), Paul’s position is the minority. An overwhelming amount of Americans support modifying surveillance, but many also support extending surveillance. As Wilson reports, “Forty-two percent of registered voters said they favor extending the programs with some modifications, including 50 percent of self-identified Republican men, 41 percent of Tea Party backers and 40 percent of those between18-29”. This indicates that there may be a divide between Republicans and their libertarian counterparts. Regardless, Senator Paul’s filibuster allowed Patriot Act provisions to expire, effectively killing the current bill, forcing it to be reworked and voted on again.

However, what has the White House said to all of this? President Obama has voiced his support for the Patriot Act, citing bi-partisan support, the opinions of national security experts and his own war on terror to legitimize the bill. He has criticized Senator Paul’s filibustering in a not-so-subtle barb, calling out “certain senators.”

Neglecting debate over whether the Freedom Act is superior to the now defunct Patriot Act, and discussion of whether new amendments to the bill will be passed, realpolitik tells us it will be passed in some shape or form. Whether or not the Freedom Act becomes as strong as the Patriot Act, and whether or not the amendments will influence this, are irrelevant topics so long as data collection remains on the table at all. Despite claims from the FBI and other sources, there is not evidence that the mass harvesting of data has benefitted citizens at all. Ergo, the question remains: Why is data collection vital to the United States intelligence service and national security?

The Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and requires any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause. Probable cause here is the important distinction, as it requires a reason for intrusion. There is no reason for this intrustion. While the White House offers the FBI’s testimony as support, one must question whether this support is objective, considering the FBI’s use of these tools gives incentive to keeping them whether or not they pass ethical stress tests or political condemnation. While the White House further speaks of Al-Qaeda and ISIL as reasons for intrustion, one must question how many terrorists are caught and how much damage is prevented by the mass collection of communication.

Thoughout world history, it has been shown that unchecked surveillance usually leads to abuses of power. This abuse of power, rather than limiting and damaging the efforts of actual “threats,” limit and damage the livelihood of everyday people. Why did we condemn and reject McCarthy era surveillance, yet we accept this? The old adage of having nothing to hide is not sufficient here. Having nothing to hide, is the same as condemning freedom of speech as one has nothing to say. Further, presidential candidate Lindsay Graham has stated, “If I’m president of the United States and you’re thinking about joining Al Qaeda or ISIL, I’m not going to call a judge. I’m going to call a drone, and we will kill you.” Hilariously inane; yet, it becomes perfectly plausible if data collection is normalized and encouraged. Stalinist politics wherein the citizen is considered a threat for thinking outside of the dogma is inherently undemocratic and dangerous to a pluralistic society.

Senator Paul may be wrong about many things, but the reailty that government maintains access to every aspect of its citizens’ private lives – even if it merely outsources the data to corporations – is not a policy change.

Election 2016: Weekly Rundown

May 3, 2015

Audrey Bowler ‘16 – EI Campus Communications Team

As the modern world of politics and government evolves, campaigning has become a permanent fixture in social and political culture. As potential candidates prepare for the 2016 presidential election, here’s what made headlines this week:

5.) Christie Not Going Down Without a Fight

After surviving a year haunted by Bridgegate, his state’s poor financial performance, and declining poll numbers, Chris Christie is barreling ahead with plans for a 2016 presidential run. Last week, Christie spent several days in New Hampshire, hoping that a stellar performance in the swing state will give him a chance to get back in the game.

The New Jersey governor faced daunting odds – he has been trailing behind seven other GOP candidates in New Hampshire-focused polls.

“If there is anyone on the primary ballot for whom New Hampshire means everything, it’s Chris Christie,” said Jamie Burnett, a Republican strategist who worked on Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign. “It’s too early and the race is too fluid to write anyone off this early, but Chris Christie has his work cut out for him. He’s no longer in the position he was in a year ago where everyone thought he’d be the heavyweight in the race.”

Last Wednesday, Christie held two town halls in New Hampshire – the first of many, according to his staff. The governor plans to host similar events in the state on a monthly basis.

During the town halls, Christie portrayed himself as a straight-talking, policy-savvy candidate who will not shy away from telling voters the truth.

“Strong, decisive, honest leadership matters for America,” Christie said. “I will not pander, I will not flip-flop, and I’ll tell you the truth whether you like it or not.”

4.) Graham Faces Conflicted Constituents

This week, South Carolina Senator addressed rumors that he’ll be entering the 2016 race, saying that he’s “91% sure” that he’ll run for president.

“I think I got a good message, I think I’ve been more right than wrong on foreign policy … I’ve been a problem-solver in Washington. And I think I’ve got something to offer the party and the nation,” said Graham on “Fox News Sunday” this weekend.

Only one question remains: Can he afford it?

“I’ll make that decision in May. If I can raise the money I’ll do it” Graham said on Fox. Lately, the senator has been traveling across the country meeting with supporters to  gauge interest in a possible presidential bid. Donors have already created a super PAC to back his bid. Graham has demonstrated fundraising might in the past – in 2014, he raised  $11.1 million for his reelection campaign.

The senator may face a steeper uphill battle than he anticipates. Several polls focusing on the South Carolina Republican primary race show Graham trailing his would-be challengers. One poll stated that 55% of respondents wouldn’t vote for him in the GOP primary.

Graham’s more moderate views on issues like immigration reform and climate change may be turning South Carolina conservatives towards more hard-line candidates. However, the senator remains confident that his home state will support his likely presidential bid.

3.) Carson on Cruise Control

Neurosurgeon Ben Carson will announce whether he will seek the Republican presidential nomination on May 4th. According to the communications director of Carson’s presidential exploratory committee, Carson will make the announcement in his hometown of Detroit.

While Carson may be a long-shot contender for the nomination, his team believes his personal story of overcoming childhood poverty and attaining an Ivy League education will resonate with many voters. However, Carson’s ultra-conservative views may seem out of touch in Detroit, which is primarily Democratic, as well as other liberal urban areas.

Carson’s exploratory committee has been at work for almost a month, and his final decision will remain under wraps until his contract with the Washington Speakers Bureau is over in May.

2.) Clinton Cashes In

According to materials released by her campaign team, Hillary Clinton will kick off a fundraising tour in New York and Washington this week after spending time courting voters in various swing states.

The fundraisers, scheduled for April 28 and 30, will target “Hillstarters,” a campaign term used to refer to donors who have found at least ten other contributors to give $2,700 to the Clinton campaign. Prospective donors were also invited to take part in a “behind the scenes” conference call with top Clinton donors, which will be held on a weekly basis.

The efforts to engage new donors aim to make them feel like they are directly involved in the campaign. Aides are hoping to harness the extensive list of donors and contacts that the Clinton family have amassed over the last three decades.

For now, the Clinton campaign is focusing on raising money for the Democratic primary, which the team hopes will show that they are expecting to face challenges from other candidates. For now, Clinton hopes to raise $100 million for the primary – but the actual results are likely to be much higher.

1.) Rubio Comes Out Swinging

New polls released by Quinnipiac reveal that Sen. Marco Rubio is leading all Republican presidential hopefuls just two weeks after he announced his presidential campaign.

Polling shows the Senator from Florida collecting support from 15% of the Republicans polled, giving him a narrow edge over former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Bush garnered 13% of the results.

Other recently conducted polls show Rubio performing more successfully than all other potential GOP candidates in hypothetical matchups against Hillary Clinton. In these polls, Rubio trails Clinton by only 2%.

Rubio’s supporters have taken these results as a sign that the Senator could make a strong run for the Republican nomination.

“This is the kind of survey that shoots adrenaline into a campaign,” said Tim Malloy, the assistant director of the poll. “Marco Rubio gets strong enough numbers and favorability ratings to look like a legit threat to Hillary Clinton.”

Success from Defeat – Ellen Pao’s loss in court has not prevented her from furthering gender equality in Silicon Valley

April 27, 2015

Piper O’keefe ’17 – Women In Leadership

Even today in the United States, where a woman has just declared her intention to run for president in 2016 and is already considered a frontrunner, women continue to face inequality in many different ways. This is especially seen in Silicon Valley, which contains some of the largest high-tech corporations in the United States. Incredibly so, women only hold 15% of technical jobs and the number of women in computing has not increased in past fifty years. Furthermore, only 4% of senior partners in venture capitalist firms are women.[1] Ellen Pao, who has recently come to international attention, has experienced this inequality first hand and is working to defeat it. Pao, who earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Princeton University and degrees from both Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School, worked as a corporate attorney before transitioning to a venture capitalist position and becoming a junior partner for Kleiner Perkins from 2005-2012. Currently, she now is working as the interim CEO for Reddit. While Pao has shattered many “glass ceilings,” she is now working in a Silicon Valley primarily dominated by men, proving that gender inequality does not hold her back from achieving success. Kleiner has faced much discrimination because of her gender and has gone on to make an incredible impact in the fight for gender equality in the past three years. Pao has raised awareness for Silicon Valley’s discrimination by filing claims against Kleiner and has now moved on to make a momentous move to ensure pay equality as the CEO of Reddit.

This lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins revolved around her treatment while working at the company. While working there, Pao believes that she was not given the fair amount of opportunities that she was entitled to simply because of her gender. For example, there was a case in which she was not invited to a dinner with Al Gore because a certain partner felt that having a woman present would “kill the buzz.” She also faced sexual harassment, having to counter many inappropriate comments and advances from her colleagues. While working at Kleiner, she was eventually pressured into having an affair with a fellow employee of Kleiner Perkins but eventually chose to end the relationship. Because of this, the firm punished her by denying her a promotion and then eventually fired her. On this basis, she filed four claims against Kleiner Perkins after her termination in 2012, holding that Kleiner: did not give her a promotion, because she is a woman; then punished her for complaining; did not prevent discrimination against her for being a woman; and eventually punished her for complaining about this by firing her.[2] On March 27, 2015, the jury ruled against Pao on all four counts.

Despite the fact that the court upheld Pao’s claims, her case has had a drastic impact on women working in Silicon Valley and other firms in general. As AP reporter Sudhin Thanawala observes, Pao’s lawsuit has become “a flashpoint” in conversations about inequality women face at corporations and venture capital firms. It has made many other women think about the discrimination they are facing in the workplace, already prompting some to go to court themselves (such as two women formerly employed at Twitter and Facebook) and encouraging others to do the same in the future. The lawsuit has also made companies realize that they need to improve the working environment for women. While Pao’s case was ongoing, Freada Kapor Klein, who runs the Level Playing Field Institute, working to further minorities in STEM, was contacted by over a dozen companies interested in improving their work conditions for women. Similarly, Laura Bates of The Guardian argues that Pao’s case has both raised awareness for gender inequality in the workplace and shown how hard it is for sexism in the work place to be proven. The greatest lesson that can come out of Pao’s trial is that although women should be encouraged to take cases of discrimination to court, “it is deeply unrealistic to expect victims to be the ones to fix the problem.” Instead, companies should take the initiative to target inequality by increasing diversity and putting measures in place to discourage discrimination.

Interestingly, Pao herself has done just as Bates suggested. This past week, while acting as the interim CEO of Reddit, Pao proposed that salary negotiations be removed from the hiring process in order to prevent gender inequality in salary from the beginning. Studies have proven that while half of men negotiated for their salaries, only one-eighth of women did, because women who negotiate for their own salaries are more likely to be disliked by their interviewer, while men face little repercussions. That being said, men often receive a higher starting salary when they are initially hired. With this in mind, Pao feels that her proposal could serve to level the playing field women face in the work place. As Noreen Farrell of the Huffington Post goes on to say, there are numerous other alternatives to this proposal that could serve to increase gender wage equality, but what is truly important is that Pao is doing something. The inequality that Pao faced as a woman in Silicon Valley has driven her to go to court and, despite her eventual loss, allowed her to raise awareness about the issue, prompting other women and companies to realize the inequality women face and act. As her recent proposal for Reddit shows, Pao will continue to lead by example for gender equality efforts in the workplace.