Sign up for the Essential California newsletter to get great stories delivered to your inbox
Politics Now Political, campaign and national news
Republican Marco Rubio hints he'll announce presidential run soon

Sen. Marco Rubio made it almost official Monday.

The Florida Republican, who is expected to run for president, said he will have "something to announce" on April 13.

The first-term senator delivered his pre-announcement teaser during an evening segment on Fox's "The Five" and appeared hardly able to conceal what would be coming next month. His Senate term expires in 2016, and he cannot seek both elected offices at once.

"I will announce on April 13 what I'm going to do next -- in terms of running for president or the U.S. Senate," he said smiling. "I'll announce something."

Rubio has trailed in the polls. Firebrand Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas last week became the first candidate to officially announce his campaign for president.

Another conservative favorite, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), the libertarian stalwart, is expected to announce his candidacy April 7.

Rubio has been quietly working behind the scenes to amass a campaign staff and draft a policy portfolio that many strategists...

Read more
Prospective White House candidates tussle over Indiana religious law

The controversy over Indiana’s religious freedom law has opened a new — and predictable — divide in the 2016 presidential race, as Republicans rise to its defense and Democrats condemn the legislation as discriminatory against gays and lesbians.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is viewed with suspicion by many social conservatives for, among other things, supporting the national Common Core education standards, on Monday issued a full-throated defense of the law and the governor who signed it, fellow Republican Mike Pence.

"This is simply allowing people of faith space to be able to express their beliefs. To be able to be people of conscience," Bush said in an interview with conservative radio show host Hugh Hewitt, noting that his home state has a similar law. "I think once the facts are established, people aren’t going to see this as discriminatory at all."

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, another all-but-declared GOP candidate for president, echoed Bush’s support, saying the Indiana law...

Read more
Once against a White House run for Jeb, Barbara Bush is all in

When Barbara Bush was asked two years ago about a potential presidential run by her son Jeb, she was direct in her response. 

“I think it's a great country. There are a lot of great families, and it's not just four families or whatever. There are other people out there that are very qualified and we've had enough Bushes,” she said, alluding to her husband, George H.W. Bush, and son George W. Bush, who are the last two Republicans to serve in the White House. 

Almost a year later, in January 2014, her response to a similar question, was less emphatic, saying simply that she hoped the former Florida governor would not run.

But in politics, a week can be a lifetime and a year, well, that brings us to Sunday.

The former first lady called on supporters to dole out cash to Bush's super PAC, Right Rise, ahead of his expected run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

And the end-of-quarter fundraising plea wasn't her first call to supporters.

Earlier this month, the former first...

Read more
Huckabee calls for term limits on U.S. Supreme Court justices

Prospective presidential candidate Mike Huckabee called Saturday for the imposition of term limits on U.S. Supreme Court justices, saying that the nation’s founders never intended to create lifetime, irrevocable posts.

"Nobody should be in an unelected position for life," the former Arkansas governor said in an interview, expanding upon remarks he made during an hourlong speech at the Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda.

"If the president who appoints them can only serve eight years, the person they appoint should never serve 40. That has never made sense to me; it defies that sense of public service," he said. 

Such a move would require a constitutional amendment. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, two other potential 2016 candidates for the Republican nomination, have also backed court term limits.

Huckabee said the Federalist Papers, written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay, supported his view that the nation's founders came close to...

Read more
With Schumer endorsement, Democrats hope to avoid leadership fight

Retiring Sen. Harry Reid’s quick endorsement of New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer as the next Democratic leader in the chamber could be an early signal he hopes to avoid what could be a contentious battle for a rare opening in party leadership.

While Reid's endorsement – and that of the current No. 2 Democrat, Illinois Sen. Richard J. Durbin -- is important, it by no means guarantees Schumer will glide into the post.

There hasn’t been an active campaign for the top Democratic leadership position in either the House or Senate since Reid won his current post in 2005. And beyond the pent-up desire of ambitious Democrats to climb the ladder, the kind of intra-party ideological battle that has dogged Republicans in recent years could now manifest itself between liberal and more centrist Democrats.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Reid said the job is Schumer’s to claim, “if he plays his cards right.” The two spoke in person Thursday night to discuss Reid’s plan to step down.


Read more
Nevada after Sen. Harry Reid: Will Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval run?

In a relatively small state, Harry Reid loomed terrifically large, so his decision to exit the U.S. Senate after 2016 opens a massive void that left members of both parties scrambling.

The description of Nevada’s senior lawmaker was heard so often that it became a cliche, but one thoroughly grounded in truth: The wily Democrat was never beloved by Nevada voters, who sent him to Washington repeatedly over the decades, but he was greatly respected — even feared, at least by some he faced in political battle.

“If he couldn’t convince you with a handshake, he’d try it with a left jab,” Michael Green, a state historian and professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said of the onetime amateur boxer. “He was a street fighter for what he believed in and wanted.”

Reid, first elected to the Senate in 1986, almost single-handedly stopped federal plans to truck the nation’s nuclear waste to a dump at Yucca Mountain, in the desert 100 miles outside Las Vegas. He was indispensable in helping...

Read more