Ted Cruz would spend his first 100 days as president doing whatever it takes to stop Iran, undoing Barack Obama’s executive orders and spending his political capital on getting a flatter tax code. The Texas senator gave a wide-ranging interview Tuesday to The Daily 202, a newsletter for the influential that is debuting this morning as part of PowerPost, a fresh web site within The Washington Post focusing on the intersection of politics and policy. We’re really excited to have you here with us on the ground floor. Here are some highlights from our conversation with Cruz about how he’d govern if he actually won; we’ll excerpt interviews with other leading presidential candidates over the coming days on the same subject.

He’d roll back way more than just the Obama executive action on immigration: “If you live by the pen, you die by the pen,” Cruz told us, stressing the tenuousness of some of the president’s biggest accomplishments. “Everything put in place by executive order can be undone by executive order…So it would be my intention in the weeks leading up to being sworn into office to engage in a careful, systematic review of each executive action and to rescind every one of them that exceeds the Constitutional and legal authority of the president.”


Cruz calls Iran “the single greatest national security threat” to the United States: “On day one, I would expect to convene the national security team for a serious, careful, sober assessment of where Iran stands – how close they are to acquiring nuclear weapons – and to review every tool at our disposable to assure that under no circumstances does Iran acquire nuclear weapons.”

He’s running “to get a mandate from the electorate” to eliminate the Internal Revenue Service by simplifying the tax code: “I intend to do everything possible to make 2016 a referendum on repealing Obamacare and adopting a flat tax.” Read more about what Cruz had to say on King vs. Burwell, Common Core and who he might put in his Cabinet here

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Traveling in Europe, Jeb Bush downplayed the significance of his campaign shakeup. Outside his hotel in Berlin, the former Florida governor told reporters that he picked Danny Diaz to be manager because he’s “a grinder” and that he wants David Kochel, who was supposed to be in charge, to focus instead on strategy. He insisted that the change is not based on his anemic, slipping performance in early polling. Per Karen Tumulty, who filed her dispatch at 3:33 a.m. Eastern, the governor called it “nothing other than just the magnitude of the journey…It’s a pretty overwhelming challenge, and so, I decided to kind of split up the duties.”


“Grinder” is the key word in Bush’s comments. Diaz is a relentless attack dog, “a grinder” in Jeb parlance. It’s increasingly clear that Bush’s path to the nomination would require him not just to outshine his rivals, but to destroy them. This could translate into a particularly nasty primary battle, with repercussions for the general.


REMATCH: In 2013, Diaz was a senior consultant to Republican Ken Cuccinelli in the Virginia governor’s race, squaring off against Robby Mook, Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s manager. Mook, who won that battle, is now managing Hillary Clinton’s campaign in a much higher-stakes war. Reflecting a generational shift in the operative world, Mook is 35 and Diaz is 39.

Obama is leaning toward putting more boots on the ground in Iraq: In what seemed to be a trial balloon of sorts, unnamed U.S. officials told multiple media outlets that the president is strongly considering — but has not firmly decided — to send around 500 more U.S. troops into Iraq to advise security forces in their battle against ISIS. “Under the plan, American military personnel could set up at a new base in embattled Anbar province or deploy to four bases across Iraq where trainees are taught about tactical organization, logistics and intelligence to boost their ability to counter Islamic State fighters,” the Los Angeles Times reports. There are already about 3,100 U.S. military personnel in country.


“Four-term Alexandria Mayor William Euille lost in the Democratic primary to Vice-Mayor Allison Silberberg, a stinging defeat that illustrates voter concern over a wave of development sweeping the historic riverfront city,” Patricia Sullivan reports, a major story inside the Beltway.



1. Jeb Bush is unlikely to raise $100 million for his super PAC by the end of June. “The exact size of the war chest is closely held, but two individuals familiar with internal discussions believe the total that the Right to Rise super PAC will report in mid-July could be substantially lower than the nine figures that senior Republicans have anticipated,” Matea Gold and Tom Hamburger report. Unnamed aides told the New York Times on Monday that Bush would get to $100 million.

2. John Kasich has signed John Weaver and Fred Davis. Dan Balz reported a little after 10 p.m. that the Ohio governor has signed the two John McCain alumni for his increasingly-certain 2016 bid: “The Texas-based Weaver will oversee the general strategic direction of the Kasich campaign … Davis, a California-based ad maker, will assume the duties as lead media consultant for Kasich’s super PAC.” Both men helped former Utah governor Jon Huntsman Jr. during his 2012 campaign.


3. Paul Ryan wants to write the tax reform plan that the eventual GOP nominee runs on. Kelsey Snell writes for PowerPost’s debut that the ex-Veep nominee, who passed on the 2016 race, still wants to influence the GOP race from his powerful perch as House Ways and Means Committee chairman. “Our nominee will arrive in May or June of 2016,” Ryan said in an interview. “If we wait until then when its fever pitch presidential politics, and I’m familiar with that, to tell the people who we are and what we believe in, it will be too late.” Ryan declined to offer specifics of what will be in his plan.

4. Watch for a lot of Senate filibustering this summer. Chuck Schumer, the next leader of Senate Democrats, went all-in on obstructionism during a sit-down with PowerPost’s Kelsey Snell and WaPo congressional reporter Paul Kane. Schumer said that Democrats are uniting to force Republicans to the negotiating table on everything from domestic and defense spending to highway funding and international tax reform. Their goal is to block movement on appropriations bills until they are happy with overall funding levels — and the White House, he says, is behind the strategy. “There is pretty close to unanimity in our caucus that we are not going to just vote on individual appropriations bills until we have a plan as to how much overall money we’re going to spend and where that money is going to be allocated,” said Schumer. Dems plan to start with blocking the defense appropriations bill headed to the floor next week.

5. Robert Gibbs is going to work for McDonald’s. Obama’s first White House press secretary is going to work for McDonald’s the fast-food chain. “Michelle Obama is certainly not going to be lovin’ it,” quips Colby Itkowitz.



“Let down by Obama, some black voters ask: Is it even worth backing Clinton?” by Robert Samuels in Florida: “On Jacksonville’s north side and in other struggling urban neighborhoods across the country, where Obama mobilized large numbers of new African American voters who were inspired partly by the emotional draw of his biography, high hopes have turned to frustration: Even a black president was unable to heal places still gripped by violence, drugs and joblessness … While supporting Obama became a cause for many here rather than a typical campaign, Clinton faces a higher bar in making a case that she, too, can be a transformative figure.”

“Hastert pleads not guilty to 2 counts of fraud charges in hush-money scandal,” by Mike DeBonis in Chicago: “Hastert’s arraignment, his first public appearance since his indictment, lasted less than 20 minutes. He barely spoke, and did so softly when he was questioned about the charges against him. He did not even say ‘not guilty’ — those words were uttered by Hastert’s attorney.” The former speaker has hired Thomas Green from Sidley Austin in Washington to represent him, per PowerPost’s Catherine Ho.


SCOTUS WATCH — The Post’s Supreme Court beat reporter previews the final decisions of the term: Robert Barnes, a Washington Post reporter and editor since 1987 who has covered the high court for nearly a decade, answered questions from The Daily 202 about what to watch for the next few days. You can read the whole exchange here. One highlight:

Q: Anthony Kennedy is widely seen as the swing vote on the gay marriage case. If the court recognizes a Constitutional right to same-sex marriage, what are the chances that the majority would be greater than 5-4?

A: It would seem from the dissents conservatives wrote two years ago in the Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act cases that only John Roberts could be in play. Although Roberts would have upheld DOMA, he made a point of noting that the court was not deciding whether state laws restricting marriage only to a man and a woman are unconstitutional. At oral argument, he raised an intriguing question about whether bans on same-sex marriage might violate protections against sex discrimination. He also seemed to be the only justice very interested in the second question in the case: whether states that do not offer same-sex marriage must recognize those unions performed in states that do.



–ANNOUNCING A PARTNERSHIP WITH ZIGNAL LABSHillary had, by far, the buzziest rollout; Cruz is tops among Republicans: Through a Washington Post partnership with Zignal Labs, we’ll bring you real-time insights into the 2016 social media conversation each morning. We’ll use special algorithms from the San Francisco-based, cross-media analytics platform to either bolster or debunk conventional wisdom. We’ll also provide cool, exclusive visualizations of that data in this space.

Today, we start by ranking the candidates in terms of who got the most mentions in the five days after they announced across traditional and social media – with a look at what percentage of the overall 2016 conversation they dominated and how much of it was positive.

The ranking: 1) Hillary Clinton; 2) Ted Cruz; 3) Rand Paul; 4) Marco Rubio; 5) Rick Perry; 6) Bernie Sanders; 7) Ben Carson; 8) Mike Huckabee; 9) Lindsey Graham; 10) Martin O’Malley; 11) Rick Santorum; 12) Lincoln Chafee; 13) George Pataki; 14) Carly Fiorina.


Here are three of the more interesting takeaways—

Fiorina, getting good grassroots response on the ground in Iowa, generated the least online buzz among the candidates from her rollout – even less than George Pataki, the former governor of New York who is running a much less serious campaign.

Sanders got almost no pop online immediately after his official kickoff, which took place outside the Capitol and was almost comically low-key, BUT the Vermont senator saw a big boost after two viral appearances on the Sunday shows.

Cruz was smart to announce first: 69 percent of all the conversation about the presidential campaign during the full week after he announced at Liberty was about him. He filled a vacuum and established himself as a top-tier contender. Hillary Clinton had 1.8 million mentions during the week after she announced with a video on Facebook (compared to 1.1 million for Cruz) and took the Scooby van to Iowa, but she had to share those news cycles with Rubio, who announced the next day. Read a fuller analysis here.

–Pictures of the day:

A photo posted to Instagram by a spokesman for Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi raised questions: is President Obama smoking again? (The Fix’s Philip Bump: Let President Obama have a cigarette, already)

“On my 82nd birthday, Anne has given me the best gift anyone could ask for – her hand in marriage.” — Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) celebrated his wedding Tuesday at the Capitol and on Twitter

–Tweets of the day:

Secretary John Kerry takes a phone call while recovering from a broken leg, the result of a recent cycling crash. “Feeling good a week after surgery,” Kerry tweeted from Massachusetts General Hospital. “The work continues!”

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) might be turning 85 this week, but his office is no stranger to the latest in social media. Fans of the eccentric congressman can watch him celebrate Thursday on Periscope, according to Twitter. (@cbrangel)

“Spotted on Instagram: The first #Hillary2016 Pride stickers are arriving!” (@HillaryClinton)

–Instagrams of the day:

An undated Instagram photo showed Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and his father, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), ready to play ball.  (Rand Paul)

“Great night for a ball game.” (Bobby Jindal)

–Facebook posts of the day:

“Just wrapped up a great first day in Europe. Chancellor Merkel was a great host to @ColumbaBush and me. Off to Poland in the morning!” (Jeb Bush)


Ben Carson, whose campaign has been rocked by internal turmoil, keeps posting pictures of dogs with campaign stickers. “Meet Peanut everyone. We need smaller bumper stickers.” (Ben Carson)


— New York Times, “Michelle Obama Urges Chicago Graduates to Transcend a Tragedy,” by Peter Baker: “They left an empty chair for Hadiya Pendleton draped in purple, her favorite color, with flowers sitting on top. They presented her family with a cap and gown and a class ring. And even as they mourned her absence, they celebrated her spirit and their own resilience in overcoming her loss. Two years after the shooting death of Hadiya, a 15-year-old honor student who had just marched in President Obama’s inaugural parade, her graduating class at King College Prep High School marked its own passage with the help of Michelle Obama, who grew up not far (away) on the South Side of Chicago. In a commencement address on Tuesday night, Mrs. Obama urged Hadiya’s classmates to transform tragedy into resolve and rewrite the story of a community challenged by random violence and economic hardship.”

— Wall Street Journal, “Obama Administration Readies Big Push on Climate Change,” by Amy Harder: “The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to announce as soon as Wednesday plans to regulate carbon emissions from airlines, and soon after that, draft rules to cut carbon emissions from big trucks, according to people familiar with the proposals. In the coming weeks, the EPA is also expected to unveil rules aimed at reducing emissions of methane—a potent greenhouse gas—from oil and natural-gas operations. And in August, the agency will complete a suite of three regulations lowering carbon from the nation’s power plants.”, “New Jersey Supreme Court sides with Christie in billion dollar pension dispute”: “The state Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that Gov. Chris Christie had the legal right to slash $1.57 billion in contributions to New Jersey’s troubled public employee pension system, averting a fiscal crisis just weeks before the end of the budget year. The ruling, which reversed a lower court decision, was the culmination of an intense fight for pension funding and dealt a major blow to the state’s labor unions, who challenged Christie’s cuts. By having the court rule in his favor by a vote of 5-2, the governor succeeded in dismantling the landmark pension law that he had helped craft in 2011.”  

— Dallas Morning News, “McKinney police officer’s resignation leaves critics relieved, supporters disappointed”“The police officer whose aggressive response to an unruly teenage pool party ignited a national controversy resigned Tuesday … McKinney police Cpl. David Eric Casebolt, a 10-year veteran of the department, voluntarily stepped down amid an internal police investigation and surging public pressure, including death threats. The officer’s two-word resignation did not include an apology or acknowledgment of wrongdoing.”


— Politico, “GOP aiming for Friday trade vote, but snags remain,”  by Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan: “House leaders, confident but not yet certain they have the support to pass sweeping trade legislation, are aiming to bring the package to a floor vote by the end of this week — even as they rush to resolve a last-minute hangup over how to pay for aid to displaced workers. The vote to grant President Barack Obama fast-track authority to negotiate a massive Pacific Rim trade deal will be extremely tight by all accounts. Senior aides and lawmakers in GOP leadership are intent on scheduling the vote at the moment they believe they have the votes locked up — ideally by Friday, to spare supportive lawmakers the possibility of another weekend of attacks by trade foes back in their districts.”

— National Journal, “Mitch McConnell to Pair Cybersecurity Measure With Defense Bill,” by Dustin Volz: The Senate Majority Leader invoked “the recent hacks of federal employee data at the Office of Personnel Management and a breach that took down the Army’s website” to announce he will try “to tack on a proposal that would increase the sharing of so-called ‘cyber-threat’ data between the private sector and government to the National Defense Authorization Act … A McConnell aide confirmed the cybersecurity legislation would be in the form of an amendment but that there was no schedule yet for when it would be debated.”

— The Associated Press, “House GOP measure would cut Amtrak funding by $242M,” by Andrew Taylor: “The GOP-controlled House passed legislation Tuesday to cut Amtrak’s budget by $242 million, though lawmakers added new funding for video cameras inside locomotive cabs to record engineers and help investigators get to the bottom of crashes such as last month’s deadly derailment in Philadelphia.”


Franklin Graham seeks bank that does not “promote homosexuality.” From Talking Points Memo: “Rev. Franklin Graham announced last week that he would pull his accounts from Wells Fargo after the bank aired an ad featuring a gay couple, but the evangelist preacher did not have the best of luck finding a new bank that does not ‘promote homosexuality.'”


Puerto Rican columnist hits back at the New York Times piece on Rubios’ traffic tickets. From the Boston Herald: “Jeanette Rubio’s real crime isn’t really bad driving — it’s “driving while Latina.” (You know, like Sofia Vergara’s character on “Modern Family.”) Yes, folks, here she is: the crazy Latina who is not to be trusted with the keys to the car — let alone with the keys to the White House! Are you beginning to sense an ethnic stereotype?”


–Happening today on the campaign trail: Jeb Bush is heading to Warsaw, Poland from Berlin as part of his European tour. Ben Carson is in Iowa for four events, while Carly Fiorina has two appearances scheduled in New Hampshire. Chris Christie will be in Washington, D.C. to speak at the Latino Coalition’s Small Business Summit. Hillary Clinton is scheduled to attend fundraisers in the Boston area and East Greenwich, Rhode Island. Marco Rubio is fundraising in California.

–On the Hill: The House will vote on a bill to repeal country-of-origin labeling requirements for sellers of beef, pork and chicken and will take up the defense authorization bill. The Senate Homeland Security Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for TSA administrator nominee Peter Neffenger. The Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on rail safety in the wake of the deadly May 12 Amtrak crash. The House Ways and Means Committee will hear testimony from HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell on the implementation of the 2010 health care law. The Senate will resume consideration of its defense authorization bill.

–At the White House: President Obama will meet with Defense Secretary Ash Carter at 4 p.m. Press Secretary Josh Earnest will hold a briefing at 12:30 p.m.


“I’ve got a lot of friends. We’ll have a rotating first lady.” — Republican presidential candidate Lindsey Graham on being a bachelor in the White House. He told the Daily Mail that his sister “could play that role if necessary.”


— The Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Golden State Warriors 96-91 in Game 3 of the NBA Finals to take a 2-1 lead in the series. LeBron James scored 40 points.

 The Yankees beat the Nationals 6-1 in New York, meaning that Washington has lost six of its last seven games.

The State Department cafeteria has been battling a rat infestation problem, Al Kamen reports on In The Loop.

Today will be a stellar weather day in D.C. “Skies are mostly clear and highs surge into the mid to upper 80s again, but dewpoints in the 50s will mean comfortably low humidity,” per the Capital Weather Gang.

–Video of the day:

 Marco Rubio chatted with Fox’s Outnumbered panel about Tupac.