Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal says he’s ending his run for president

Welcome to Trail Guide, your host through the wilds of the 2016 presidential campaign. It's Tuesday, Nov. 17, and this is what we're watching:

  • Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal says he's ending his campaign for president
  • Ohio Gov. John Kasich , a favorite among establishment Republicans as he seeks the GOP nomination, said a  solid screening system  must be in place before U.S. accepts Syrian refugees 
  • Fomer Florida Gov. Jeb Bush  says the U.S. has a " noble tradition " of accepting refugees
  • Hillary Rodham Clinton racks up another key endorsement from labor
  • President Obama  says in a new interview that Donald Trump would have been fun to campaign against
  • Once you get past the rhetoric, Republicans' plans to fight Islamic State are  similar  to  Obama's

Wife of Justice Clarence Thomas endorses Ted Cruz for president

Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, has endorsed Ted Cruz for president, calling him a “principled and experienced conservative.”

She released a video Tuesday to announce she had made up her mind and was “proudly endorsing” the Texas senator. “We don’t have an on-the-job training problem with Ted Cruz,” she said.

Thomas has been an outspoken conservative during the years her husband has served on the high court. In 2010, she led a group called Liberty Central, which had argued President Obama’s healthcare law was unconstitutional at a time when conservative lawyers were trying to bring that issue before the Supreme Court. Two years later, the law was upheld in a 5-4 decision, but Justice Thomas was among the four dissenters.

Cruz also has ties to the Supreme Court. He was a law clerk for Chief Justice William Rehnquist and later represented the state of Texas in several cases before the court.

Bobby Jindal ends his presidential campaign

 (Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

(Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal ended his run for the Republican presidential nomination on Tuesday, suspending his campaign less than three months before voters begin to cast ballots in nominating contests for the 2016 election.

Jindal staked out far-right territory but never gained traction during a primary that’s been dominated by outsiders with similar or more conservative views, particularly Donald Trump and Ben Carson.

"We cannot settle for the left’s view of envy and division,” Jindal said in a statement from his campaign. “We have to be the party that says everyone in this country – no matter the circumstances of their birth or who their parents are – can succeed in America.”

Jindal consistently drew support in the low single digits in polls and never made it to the main stage in any of the Republican debates. His exit from the crowded GOP field comes after Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry also departed the race.

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Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal says he's ending his campaign

John Kasich on Syrian refugees: 'We have to have a system to determine who these people are'

 (Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)

(Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)

More must be done to screen Syrian refugees before they’re allowed into the U.S., Ohio Gov. John Kasich said Tuesday -- a shift, after the Paris terrorist attacks, from his past support of bringing such refugees to the U.S.

After speaking at the National Press Club, Kasich faced several questions about his new position.

“We have to have a system to determine who these people are,” Kasich said, acknowledging that governors do not have the authority to block refugees, only to voice concerns to the president. “We have to be careful for our country and our families.”

Kasich pointed to comments in September by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, who said at the time that it was a “huge concern” that Islamic State could try to infiltrate the refugees. That same month, President Obama ordered his administration to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees into the country next year -- an effort lauded by Kasich prior to the Paris attacks.

Kasich, who while in Congress served on the House Armed Services Committee, said Tuesday that his daughter recently asked why his position changed.

“I do have a big heart … but I said to my daughter, ‘We understand these people are in trouble but think about us putting people on our street that want to do us harm,’” he said.

When asked about the thousands of refugees from Syria who have arrived in the United States since the 9/11 attacks and who have not committed any acts of terrorism, Kasich said the world has changed.

“There have been a lot of changes, a lot has happened. At this point we have to be able to properly screen,” he stressed. The complex screening process, which includes medical checks and interviews with Homeland Security Department agents, takes between 18 and 24 months.

Kasich said he is sympathetic to the estimated 9 million people who have fled Syria’s civil war. Since the war began in March 2011, the United States has accepted nearly 2,000 refugees.

“We ought to be in the position to provide humanitarian relief to house these folks,” he said, noting that he doesn't “condemn Muslims,” but only radicals.

In a crowded Republican presidential field, in which many candidates are seeking to appeal to the party’s conservative base, Kasich has established himself as a moderate. He’s among a small group of Republican governors to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, and his rhetoric on issues such as same sex-marriage – though he opposes it – has been compassionate.

But his new stance on Syrian refugees is in harmony with other GOP presidential hopefuls, including far-right candidates such as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Asked questions Tuesday about whether his executive experience makes him more fit to lead on a global stage -- more so than GOP presidential front-runners Donald Trump and Ben Carson -- Kasich demurred. In debates, though, Kasich has used his time as Ohio's chief executive as a leverage point, citing his ability to work across the aisle with lawmakers to, among other things, balance the state budget. He has also touted his time in Congress, where he served as chairman of the House Budget Committee for six years.

“These are very serious times. We have to be careful to not use this as an opportunity to advance candidates,” said Kasich, who is polling toward the bottom of the crowded field of Republicans. “This is serious business. Our lives are under attack.”

Hillary Clinton nets another big union endorsement

 (Alex Wong / Getty Images)

(Alex Wong / Getty Images)

Organized labor took a major step in coalescing around Hillary Rodham Clinton on Tuesday, as one of its heavyweights voted to endorse her despite loud objections from backers of her rival and longtime labor stalwart Bernie Sanders.

The Service Employees International Union, which represents 2 million workers in service industries such as healthcare and child care, made the endorsement following a lengthy debate at a meeting of its executive board here.

“We feel very confident about Hillary Clinton’s capacity to fight, win and deliver for working people,” SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry said in an interview immediately following the endorsement vote. Henry said the 77-member board overwhelmingly approved the move in a voice vote. “We looked at the analytics and believe that this is the woman who can win in a general election,” Henry said.

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Bush says U.S. should not end 'noble tradition' of supporting refugees

 (Jim Cole / Associated Press)

(Jim Cole / Associated Press)

Presidential candidate Jeb Bush broke with many of his fellow Republicans when he said Tuesday that the United States should not bar Syrian refugees from entering the United States.

“I don't think we should eliminate our support for refugees,” Bush said in an interview with Bloomberg Politics. “It's been a noble tradition in our country for many years.”

But Bush said the U.S. should not admit refugees “if there's any kind of concern.”

As millions of Syrians have resettled in Europe because of the civil war in their country, concerns have been repeatedly raised that terrorists could slip into Western nations among the hordes of refugees. Those worries took on greater urgency after the terrorist attacks in Paris, which left at least 129 dead and hundreds more wounded.

In the days since, GOP presidential hopefuls have lashed out against President Obama’s plan to accept 10,000 refugees from Syria in the coming months.

Dr. Ben Carson called on the president to halt the plan and on the House to stop any federal funding devoted to settling Syrian refugees.

“It would require a suspension of our intellect to think that ISIS will not work to infiltrate terrorists into the United States disguised as refugees or migrants,” Carson wrote to supporters, using an acronym for Islamic State.

At least two dozen governors – all but one Republican -- vowed to oppose refugees being settled in their states. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is also running for president, ordered all state agencies to take “all available steps” to stop any refugees from being settled there.

Some, such as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, have called for Christian refugees to be treated differently than Muslim refugees. Cruz, who is also running for president, called Obama’s plan “lunacy.”

On Sunday, Bush called for the U.S. to focus on Christian refugees who faced persecution. "There are a lot of Christians in Syria that have no place now. They'll be either executed or imprisoned, either by Assad or by ISIS,” Bush said on CNN. “We should focus our efforts as it relates to the refugees for the Christians that are being slaughtered."

On Tuesday, Bush said he wasn't calling for discrimination.

“There's no discrimination to simply say that you want to protect religious minorities that are being exterminated,” he said.

Marco Rubio accuses Ted Cruz of trying to weaken U.S. surveillance


(Associated Press)

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is pushing to the right of Texas' Ted Cruz on national security, openly criticizing his Republican rival for voting to “weaken” surveillance programs.

The Paris terrorist attacks have become a potentially pivotal moment in shaping the race for the White House, and Rubio’s attack on Cruz deepens the spat between the two senators that began last week as they try to gain leverage on a potentially powerful issue.

Rubio said the nation’s intelligence programs are “so important” in the rooting out terrorists and “a distinctive issue of debate in the presidential race.”

“At least two of my colleagues in the Senate aspiring to the presidency, Sen. Cruz in particular, have voted to weaken the U.S. intelligence programs just in the last month and a half,” Rubio said at an event hosted by the Wall Street Journal. “And the weakening of our intelligence-gathering capabilities leaves America vulnerable.”

This summer, Rubio and Cruz split over passage of the USA Freedom Act, the most significant rollback of the federal government’s surveillance power since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Another presidential hopeful, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), was trying to stop the surveillance program completely, but the reform measure gained support as a compromise following federal contractor Edward Snowden’s disclosure of the government’s secret domestic phone data collection program.

Rubio, though, joined hawks in the GOP who opposed the reforms as going too far to clip intelligence-gathering. Cruz voted for the bill as he distanced himself from Paul’s libertarian streak, and sided with leaders in both parties.

Cruz and Rubio began sparring last week over immigration issues, and remain on the attack as they try to muscle into the top tier of a field of GOP candidates dominated by Donald Trump and Ben Carson.

Off the early-state route, Clinton arrives in Texas

Cruz won't accept Syrian Muslim refugees

Syrian Muslim refugees need to find shelter in other Islamic countries, not the U.S., Sen. Ted Cruz said in a CNN interview that aired Tuesday. Cruz, a GOP presidential candidate, has said he would consider offering Syrian Christians entry into the country, but not persecuted Muslims.

"There is no doubt we would need to vet anyone coming in, but there is no indication that we have Muslims pretending to be Christians in the coming refugee wave," Cruz said. "If that develops to be a problem, then our first obligation should be protecting our national security."

Christian refugees do not pose a “meaningful risk” to U.S. national security, he said. He supports the governors of more than half the states who all indicated after the attacks on Paris that they would not allow in Syrians seeking refuge in the U.S., or, in some cases, any of the roughly 10,000 refugees President Obama has ordered be let in to the country in the coming months.

Cruz wants to propose legislation this week that would stop any federal funds for refugees. The GOP candidates will face a test on religion and politics in the current debate on how to confront Islamic State, which has claimed responsibility for the attacks in Paris.

But the senator met opposition to his position from both Obama and protesters. Obama slammed Cruz’s call for a “religious test" for refugees , and the protesters echoed his criticism.

"We don't want a president who discriminates against Muslims!" students at the College of Charleston shouted to Cruz. "You can't let only Christians into the U.S."

Obama says he'd 'enjoy' campaigning against Trump

President Obama said he’d enjoy campaigning against Donald Trump if he had the chance, leaving us all to wonder what, exactly, would transpire if the native-born president and most prominent promoter of the birther conspiracy were to meet on a debate stage.

Interviewer Bill Simmons: "If you were campaigning against Trump, would you even bother? Would it be like LaBradford Smith talking trash to Jordan or something?"

Obama: "I would’ve enjoyed campaigning against Trump. That would’ve been fun."

Obama talked about the perks of the presidency and challenges both foreign and domestic in his last seven years in a GQ interview with Grantland founder Simmons published Tuesday.

Toward the end of the interview, Simmons tried to squeeze out an answer on whether Obama supports a Joe Biden or Hillary Rodham Clinton vision in the next presidency. But Obama just laughed and brushed off the comment.

Simmons never made clear exactly when the interview was conducted beyond recently, so it's likely he was asking amid the feverish speculation over whether Biden would run, which the vice president put to rest last month by saying he wasn't planning to seek the presidency in the 2016 contest.

Obama, though, said his wife, Michelle, and daughters Sasha and Malia are ready to leave the White House as the new elections ramp up.

And when asked what he learned during his campaign and in the first few years, he offered a bit of insight into what today’s presidential candidates will face.

“One thing I learned through some tough election cycles: You can’t separate good policy from the need to bring the American people along and make sure that they know why you’re doing what you’re doing,” Obama said. “And that’s particularly true now in this new communications era.”

What happens when Caitlyn Jenner tries to get into a presidential debate hall at the last minute

The audience for the Democratic debate in Iowa may have been a small fraction of what Republicans have drawn this campaign season, but the debate hall was nonetheless too small for everyone who wanted to get in.

Caitlyn Jenner, the reality TV star (and a Republican) who was in Des Moines with her producers, asked for a ticket to the debate being held on the campus of Drake University, where as Bruce Jenner she was a champion in 1976 at the famed Drake Relays.

Her request made it all the way to CBS News President David Rhodes, The Times' Stephen Battaglio reports, but was turned down because there were simply no tickets left.

It was just one of several moving parts in CBS' last-minute scramble to reorganize its debate plan to focus on national security after the Paris attacks. Battaglio takes you behind the scenes with host John Dickerson and the rest of the CBS crew as they tore up their playbook:

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Bernie Sanders, welcome to 2015