Harwood: A third Texas president, L.B.J., created Medicare in the mid-’60s. Your hero Ronald Reagan campaigned vigorously against that, saying it would lead to socialized medicine, would end liberty in the United States. Who was right: L.B.J. or Reagan?
Cruz: It’s not worth tilting at windmills. I don’t know. I wasn’t alive then. What I do know is that today, we have got to preserve and reform Medicare. There is a broad, universal consensus that Medicare is a fundamental bulwark of our society. Look, it’s one thing to have asked 50 years ago should we have created it. It’s another thing when you have a generation of seniors who paid into it 30, 40, 50 years who have been made promises. We need to honor those promises.
Harwood: You announced your campaign at Liberty University. You’re appealing to Libertarians. The Libertarian Party platform in 2012 calls for Social Security to be phased out. Are they wrong as a matter of philosophy?
Cruz: Oh, I understand why they call for that. But I don’t agree with them. What I would like to see is several things. Number one, for those on Social Security or near retirement, no changes whatsoever. Honor the commitments. But for younger people, people in my generation, we should gradually increase the retirement age. Secondly we need to change the rate of growth of Social Security benefits so they match inflation rather than exceed inflation. Those two reforms on their own take Social Security from bankruptcy into solvency. But the third piece, and it’s what Bush fought for, is personal accounts.

Cruz could only muster an “I wasn’t alive then” when asked whether creating Medicare was a good idea. Bold! But he did seem to graze the “third rail of American politics” (Social Security cuts) there.

* Nate Cohn has hit on a way to sort the 2016 GOP presidential candidates into categories that will help us understand what does and doesn’t matter in the twists and turns to come. Bottom line: It’s highly unlikely that anyone will prevent either Jeb Bush or Scott Walker from being nominated.

* The debate over religious freedom has a lot of conservatives lamenting “government coercion.” Ryan Cooper does a nice job unpacking the many problems with their overall argument, and exposing its real, and unintended, implications in the context of the battle over gay rights.

* NBC’s First Read crew looks at some interesting new polling that shows that Democrats have an overwhelming advantage in party ID among Latinos, even though a lot of Latinos self-identify as conservative. Conclusion:

There are PLENTY of conservative Latinos. They’re just not willing to identify themselves as Republicans…Bottom line: This is a brand problem for Republicans. This is why so many Republicans believe that the minute you get immigration out of the way, the GOP might be able to win over more Latinos. The problem: Immigration isn’t going away.

It is really hard to fathom the political thinking of Republican leaders on immigration.

* Jonathan Bernstein has a good takedown of an idea making the rounds: A campaign by GOP state legislators and friendly lobbyists for a Constitutional convention to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment. And he asks: When will we hear from the folks who carry the Constitution around in their pockets on this?

* Elizabeth Warren, who represents the state where the attack occurred, comes out against the death penalty for the bomber.

* And behold the Chafee-mentum!!!!! Lincoln Chafee announced today he may run for president. His angle:

Chafee, a Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat former governor and senator of Rhode Island, is looking to position himself as a primary alternative to Clinton, the race’s overwhelming frontrunner. In a phone conversation, Chafee cast himself as a staunch environmentalist who wants to protect civil liberties, avoid foreign entanglements and focus on growing the middle class.

It is likely too late for a real Democratic primary, unfortunately. This tweet from Boston Globe writer James Pindell aptly sums up what this will probably be about:

If @LincolnChafee stays willing to hit @HillaryClinton on any topic under sun, he is gonna be a media fav

Pretty much.