(Bloomberg Politics) — If there’s any question a presidential candidate should be ready for, it’s: What’s the first thing you would do if you were president?
In an interview with the Washington Post published Wednesday, Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, said he would work on repealing any executive orders from President Barack Obama that exceed the legal authority of the office. Given that Cruz has made a name for himself in part by railing against what he perceives to be Obama’s “lawlessness,” it’s a fitting answer.
A president’s first 100 days is shorthand stemming from the Franklin D. Roosevelt era for what can a leader accomplish during their honeymoon period with the American public. A look at what other presidential hopefuls have said, then, is a stand-in for the one goal they’re most willing to spend their political capital on. Below, we’ve collected what 10 official and unofficial candidates have said about the early days of their hypothetical presidencies.
The White House is well aware of the potential for a Republican president to dismantle Obama’s legacy. “Our first 100 days we spent a lot of time signing executive orders undoing what [President George W.] Bush did,” Dan Pfeiffer, a former senior aide to Obama, told the Wall Street Journal last year. “I would like not to be sitting on a beach somewhere reading about President Cruz doing that to us, so it’s very important to us” that the actions stand, Pfeiffer said.
Cruz says he would do just that. “If you live by the pen, you die by the pen,” he told the Post. “Everything put in place by executive order can be undone by executive order.” He added that he would use his first 100 days “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.”
On his first day, he said, he would also convene his national security team to conduct a “serious, careful, sober” analysis of Iran’s nuclear capabilities.
Since launching his presidential campaign on April 7, the Kentucky Sen. has focused on the National Security Agency’s spying program, and he says ending it would be his first order of business.
On day one of the Fiorina presidency, the former HP CEO says she would make three calls. “First is to the prime minister of Israel because how we treat our friends is reassuring to our other friends,” she said during an interview in May after her campaign announcement.
Her second call would be to “the head of Iran” to say the U.S. is imposing more sanctions, she said, and her third call would be to the Democratic Party. “I would tell them, ‘We have work to do and I look forward to working with both Republicans and Democrats to get work done.’”
In his announcement speech last week, the former Texas governor laid out a vision for a very busy first day in the Oval Office.
“On my first day in office, I will issue an immediate freeze on all pending regulations from the Obama administration,” Perry said. “That same day, I will send to Congress a comprehensive reform and rollback of job-killing mandates created by Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, and other Obama-era policies.” He’d also sign an executive order approving construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, he said.
The former Florida governor, who is expected to announce his campaign on Monday, said in May that during his first 100 days in office he would try to change the regulatory environment and “focus on the things the executive branch, the presidency, the president can do without a whole lot of interaction with Congress.”