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September 6, 2012

On the campaign trail, August 2012

On the campaign trail, August 2012 – Wikinews, the free news source

On the campaign trail, August 2012

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

The following is the tenth in a monthly series chronicling the U.S. 2012 presidential election. It features original material compiled throughout the previous month after a brief mention of some of the month’s biggest stories.

In this month’s edition on the campaign trail: Wikinews interviews the Peace and Freedom Party vice presidential nominee, analysts react to the Republican choice for vice president, and Wikinews updates readers on the candidates who challenged President Barack Obama in the Democratic primaries.

Summary

August began with the Obama re-election campaign’s continued attacks on presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s decision to not release his tax records from previous years. Democratic Senator Harry Reid alleged that an unnamed investor from Romney’s former business Bain Capital advised him Romney had not paid any taxes in the undisclosed years. The Romney campaign rejected the validity of Reid’s comments, and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham accused Reid of lying. Thereafter, the Obama campaign began airing a new advertisement that referred to Romney’s tax plan as “Robin Hood in reverse” or “Romney Hood”. The Romney campaign countered that it was actually Obama, and not Romney, who wished to increase taxes. Further controversy spawned from the Obama-allied Priorities USA Action Political Action Committee, which ran ads connecting Romney to the cancer death of the wife of a Union leader at GST Steel. The leader said he lost healthcare coverage after Bain, which had operated the plant for a short period, shut it down. The Romney campaign claimed the shutdown occurred while Romney was running the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, and asked the Obama campaign to disavow the ad; however, an Obama spokesman claimed no involvement and refused to denounce the ad. In response, Romney debuted an ad that attacked Obama as someone “who will say or do anything to stay in power”, arguing he had “squandered…one of his key attributes…[as] a different kind of politician who was going to take us to a better place.” The Obama campaign offered to end the ads attacking Romney for his tax records if he released his records from the previous five years; Romney declined. His spokesman argued, “It is clear that President Obama wants nothing more than to talk about Governor Romney’s tax returns instead of the issues that matter to voters”. A Huffington Post report from early August suggested Obama’s ads were negatively affecting Romney’s likability rating and his position in the polls. Nevertheless, analysis of the previous month’s receipts showed that despite the attacks, for the third straight month, the Romney campaign raised more money than Obama.

Paul Ryan prepares to deliver his acceptance speech after Mitt Romney introduces him as his running mate.
Image: Tony Atler.

On August 11 during an event in front of the USS Wisconsin in Norfolk, Virginia, Romney named Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate. After an introduction, Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee and author of the budget proposal The Path to Prosperity, argued the ticket “won’t duck the tough issues — we will lead.” In response to the selection, Obama staffers remarked it “makes clear that Romney would be a rubber stamp for the congressional GOP” and the choice provides the Obama campaign with “clear advantages”. Shortly thereafter, Obama’s running mate, Vice President Joe Biden, himself made headlines after commenting to a partly African American audience in Virginia, “in the first 100 days, [Romney’s] going to let the big banks write their own rules — unchain Wall Street. They’re going to put y’all back in chains.” Romney cited this as an example of the Obama presidency’s “angry and desperate” state and called on Obama to “take your campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago”. Biden’s were not the only controversial remarks connected with the August campaign. Discussing conception as a result of rape, Republican Senate candidate and Congressman Todd Akin of Missouri told a local St. Louis radio program, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” The comment drew condemnation from Republicans including Romney, who labeled it “inexcusable” and asked that Akin step down from the race. Obama described the remarks as “offensive” and his campaign attempted to use it to revive the “war on women” rhetoric; Democratic National Committee chairwoman Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz argued, “Akin’s choice of words isn’t the real issue here. The real issue is a Republican Party — led by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan — whose policies on women and their health are dangerously wrong.”

Prior to the Republican National Convention, then-Tropical Storm Isaac was projected to make landfall near the event in Tampa, Florida. Though it eventually made landfall as a Hurricane near New Orleans, the first day of the convention was largely cancelled and Louisiana’s Governor Bobby Jindal decided not to attend. Nevertheless, the convention was held. On the first regular day: the Romney-Ryan ticket was officially nominated; though it attracted controversy as most of the Maine delegation walked out of the proceedings as ten of the state’s twenty delegates were given to Romney instead of Congressman Ron Paul. Paul had held an event before 10,000 spectators at the University of South Florida‘s Sun Dome a day prior to the scheduled start of the convention, where he proclaimed that his Revolution continued. After the nomination, nominee’s wife Ann Romney and New Jersey governor Chris Christie addressed the convention in prime time speeches. The next day, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and New Mexico governor Susanna Martinez spoke to the delegates before Paul Ryan officially accepted the vice presidential nomination in a speech that notably included the line, “College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life.” On the final day of the convention, actor and former Carmel-by-the-Sea, California Mayor Clint Eastwood made a surprise appearance and delivered an impromptu speech, which included an interview of a chair representing Obama, emphasizing his unmet promises as president. After addressing attendees, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida introduced Romney, who took the stage and formally accepted the Republican Party presidential nomination. In his speech, Romney discussed his family, recalled some personal anecdotes, and criticized Obama, arguing the “centerpiece of the president’s entire re-election campaign is attacking success.” Addressing Obama supporters, Romney agreed “hope and change had a powerful appeal” but asked, “If you felt that excitement when you voted for Barack Obama, shouldn’t you feel that way now that he’s President Obama? You know there’s something wrong with the kind of job he’s done as president when the best feeling you had was the day you voted for him.” In response to the convention, Obama remarked, “what they offered over those three days was more often than not an agenda better suited for the last century. … We might as well have watched it on a black-and-white TV.” Early polling analysis showed the convention improved Romney’s likability ratings, and in the national RealClearPolitics average for August 31, Romney edged closer with 45.9 percent support, behind Obama’s 46.4 percent.

Peace and Freedom Party VP nominee speaks to Wikinews

Cindy Sheehan in 2007.
Image: dbking.

In August, comedienne Roseanne Barr, star of the popular ’90s sitcom Roseanne, won the presidential nomination of the left-wing Peace and Freedom Party. She named peace activist Cindy Sheehan as her running mate. Wikinews reached out to Sheehan to discuss the campaign.

Sheehan is best known for her active opposition to the War in Iraq following the loss of her son Casey there in 2004. In protest of the war, she set up camp outside President George W. Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, demanding a pullout of U.S. troops and prosecution of Bush administration officials for war crimes. According to her website, Sheehan also advocates Revolutionary socialism, believing it to be key to loosening the “Imperialist/Capitalist two-party stranglehold” on U.S. and world politics.

This campaign is not Sheehan’s first foray into electoral politics. In 2008, she challenged then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for Congress as the nominee of the Green Party, finishing second in a field of seven candidates. During the campaign, she championed the reduction of U.S. troops abroad, and endorsed economic democracy, bank nationalization, single-payer health care, education subsidies, marijuana decriminalization, alternative fuels, and electoral reform.

Now, as the Peace and Freedom Party vice presidential nominee, Sheehan campaigns on a similar platform that promotes socialism, feminism, and environmentalism. Thus far, the party has attained ballot access in California, Colorado, and Florida.

With Wikinews, Sheehan reveals her reason for joining Roseanne, discusses her responsibilities as the vice presidential nominee, and details what she personally contributes to the ticket.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWhy did you agree to be the running mate of Roseanne Barr?

Cindy Sheehan: I have a long relationship with Roseanne Barr dating back to 2005 when we met in L.A. after my son was killed and we connected on the level of mothers. She supported me when I ran against Nancy Pelosi in 2008 by coming up and doing an event with me in SF and various other things. I think Roseanne has the ability to reach everyone with a message that I have been spreading since my campaign: that capitalism is the main problem in our country — everything for profit and nothing for the people — and the solution is socialism. I was honored to accept her invite.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWhat are your responsibilities in this position?

Cindy Sheehan: Campaign events to raise awareness to our issues and the Peace and Freedom Party and to spread the Party all over the country and increase registration here in California to keep us on the ballot. I will do interviews and represent the campaign whenever or wherever needed.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngHow do you complement Roseanne on the ticket?

Cindy Sheehan: I have been an avowed socialist and member of the Peace and Freedom Party for almost four years now and have written two books on socialist revolution called: Myth America: 20 Greatest Myths of the Robber Class and the Case for Revolution and Revolution, A Love Story. Except for the abstentions of the Freedom Socialist Party, my nomination was unanimous because I think I am slightly more grounded in socialist ideology and am a member in good standing of the party.
I also have experience running a pretty major campaign and being a candidate for federal office.

Analysts react to Republican VP selection

After Mitt Romney’s selection of Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate, Wikinews tracked down two political analysts who had previously offered their insights on possible Republican Party vice presidential picks.

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney stands with his running mate, Paul Ryan
Image: monkeyz uncle.

In March, Dan Judy of North Star Opinion Research discussed the possibility that Puerto Rico governor Luis Fortuño would receive the vice presidential nomination, and in June, examined the prospect of Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. Judy did not believe either had a realistic chance of winning the nomination, and with Romney’s pick, his expectation proved correct. Though both Paul and Fortuño delivered prime time speeches at the Republican National Convention, neither did so as the vice presidential nominee; that was reserved for Ryan.

Judy sees the selection of Ryan as a positive for the Romney campaign. He feels that as “one of the few serious policy thinkers in either party”, Ryan will shift the campaign into “a more serious, solutions-oriented campaign that will make President Obama’s campaign, which has focused almost solely on personal attacks against Mitt Romney, look petty and small.” Moreover, he believes Ryan can help Romney win in the swing state of Wisconsin, which no Republican presidential candidate has won since President Ronald Reagan was re-elected in 1984.

Kyle Kondik of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, who in June also rejected the idea of a Rand Paul ticket, differs from Judy somewhat in his assessment of the Ryan pick. He agrees that the selection will raise policy issues, particularly entitlement reform, but questions whether that will help or hurt Romney. He believes the announcement itself was poorly planned since it occurred on a Saturday morning in August during the Olympics, and that it initially did not lead to a poll boost for Romney. Nevertheless, Kondik argues, “the running mates for either candidate are not vitally important; this [election] is about Obama and Romney.”

Update on 2012 Democratic candidates

With the Democratic National Convention looming, Wikinews decided to update on some of the candidates who challenged President Barack Obama during the Democratic primaries earlier this year. Of the three candidates chronicled: one is actively continuing his presidential campaign, one is backing a third party ticket, and another recently encountered a major roadblock to his goal of preventing Obama’s unanimous nomination.

Time Warner Cable Center, the venue for the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
Image: Blueboy96.

Anti-abortion activist Randall Terry of West Virginia, who received 22,734 votes in the Democratic primaries overall and who, after a strong second-place showing in the Oklahoma primary, qualified for delegates that the state party later denied, has been waging an independent campaign in several states to appear on the November ballot. According to Terry, he has ballot access in West Virginia, and has attained official write-in status in Colorado. Currently, he is petitioning to appear on the Kentucky and Nebraska ballots, and is hoping to be certified as a write-in candidate in Virginia, Iowa, Indiana, and Pennsylvania.

Historian Darcy Richardson of Florida, who garnered 41,730 votes in the primaries, decided afterwards to seek the nomination of the Reform Party of the United States, but dropped his bid late in July due to the party’s lack of ballot access. Fitness model Andre Barnett ultimately won the Reform Party nomination in August. Richardson says that he is now supporting the Peace and Freedom Party presidential ticket of Roseanne Barr and Cindy Sheehan, and is helping to organize the party’s chapter in Florida, where it recently gained ballot access.

Attorney John Wolfe, Jr. of Tennessee, who won 117,033 votes, more than any other challenger, and who qualified for delegates in Louisiana and Arkansas, which the state parties refused to recognized, has pursued lawsuits against the parties, hoping to have his delegates seated at the Democratic National Convention to prevent the unanimous renomination of President Obama. However, on August 30, a federal district court threw out his suit against the Arkansas party, arguing that the stripping of delegates, for failing to properly file for the delegates, did not violate Wolfe’s constitutional rights. Nevertheless, Wolfe argued that the refusal to grant delegates to him amounted to a disfranchisement of the 42 percent of Arkansas Democrats that voted for him in the primary.

When asked if he planned to attend the Democratic National Convention, Wolfe did not immediately respond. The convention is to be held September 4–6 in Charlotte, North Carolina.



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June 5, 2012

On the campaign trail, May 2012

On the campaign trail, May 2012 – Wikinews, the free news source

On the campaign trail, May 2012

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The following is the seventh in a monthly series chronicling the U.S. 2012 presidential election. It features original material compiled throughout the previous month after a brief mention of some of the month’s biggest stories.

In this month’s edition on the campaign trail, the leading candidates for the Americans Elect presidential nomination respond to a major announcement from that organization’s board of directors, two presidential candidates in favor of same-sex marriage react to President Barack Obama’s announcement of support for the practice, and Wikinews interviews the newly-selected Libertarian Party vice presidential nominee.

Summary

May began with the expected withdrawal of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who felt the continuation of his campaign to be fruitless. He endorsed former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, whom the press had already designated as the presumptive Republican Party presidential nominee. Shortly thereafter, former candidate Rick Santorum also threw his support to Romney. Another former Republican candidate, former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, took a different path. He won the presidential nomination of the Libertarian Party to continue his campaign into the general election. Congressman Ron Paul remained a candidate in the Republican race, but scaled back his campaign, announcing the suspension of active campaigning while still competing in state conventions to amass delegates.

Heavily circulated publicity photo of prison inmate Keith Russell Judd from March 15, 2008.
Image: Keith Russell Judd.

Romney swept the Republican primaries in West Virginia, North Carolina, and Indiana, but President Obama had some difficulty in the Democratic primaries in the first two states. 41 percent of Democrats in West Virginia favored prison inmate Keith Russell Judd over the president and 21 percent in North Carolina voted uncommitted over Obama. North Carolina voters also passed an amendment defining marriage as an institution between a man and woman despite vice president Joe Biden’s vocal support for same-sex marriage prior to the vote. Biden’s statement and the North Carolina result prompted Obama to make an announcement. During an ABC News interview with Robin Roberts, Obama explained that his views had “evolved” and that he now supports same-sex marriage. Romney countered, responding that “marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman.”

Obama’s primary difficulties continued later in May, as attorney John Wolfe, Jr. of Tennessee won 42 percent against him in the Arkansas primary, and as a similar margin of voters supported uncommitted over the president in Kentucky. Romney easily won the two states’ Republican contests, but later faced potential troubles of his own. The Washington Post published a lengthy article alleging that Romney bullied a student while in high school. Romney said he did not remember the episode and apologized for the “dumb things” he did in school. Subsequently, the alleged victim’s family disputed the story. Next, the Obama campaign attempted to make an issue of Romney’s venture capital activities as CEO of Bain Capital. Cory Booker, the Democratic Mayor of Newark, criticized this attempt, arguing on Meet the Press that advertisements against the firm left him “uncomfortable.” Booker later clarified that he supported and still intended to help re-elect Obama as president. In what Real Clear Politics described as an attempt to counter the attacks on Bain and highlight high unemployment as an issue, Romney predicted that if elected, unemployment would fall to six percent at the end of his first term. The Obama campaign and supporters said the announcement was nothing new since it simply mirrored the Congressional Budget Office‘s projections for 2016, regardless of who wins the election.

In late May, Romney won the endorsements of former President George W. Bush and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Rice’s immediate predecessor, General Colin Powell, who endorsed Obama in 2008, withheld an official endorsement, but like Obama, announced his support for same-sex marriage. In the final primary of the month, both Obama and Romney each handily won their respective party’s contest in Texas. As a result, Romney surpassed the required number of delegates to secure the Republican nomination and Obama faced his last contested primary on the Democratic side. However, the question of whether Obama’s nomination would be unanimous remained unanswered as lawsuits from Judd and Wolfe disputed the party’s decision to not award them delegates for which they qualified in the aforementioned West Virginia and Arkansas primaries.

Americans Elect makes major decision; leading candidates respond

Americans Elect, the non-profit organization that spent an estimated $35 million to attain ballot access in 29 states with hopes of nominating a bipartisan 2012 presidential ticket, decided in May to forego the 2012 presidential race. Via press release, the organization’s board announced that none of its candidates had met the minimum threshold, which required the accumulation of 10,000 pledged supporters for “experienced” candidates, and 50,000 supporters for other candidates, prior to the May 15 deadline. Though this decision drew criticism, the board claimed its actions were to maintain the integrity of the organization’s rules.

Americans Elect logo.
Image: Americans Elect.

As a result, candidates that actively sought the organization’s nomination including former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer, former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, activist Michealene Risley, and economics professor Laurence Kotlikoff were forced to reassess how to continue their campaigns.

Roemer, who led all candidates with 6,293 supporters, called the decision disappointing and commented that “Americans Elect’s procedure was ripe with difficulty related to access, validation and security.” Though he simultaneously sought the Reform Party’s nomination, Roemer ultimately decided that the party’s ballot access in four states was not enough, and suspended his campaign at the end of May.

Anderson, who finished second in supporters with 3,390, referred to the Americans Elect process as “discriminatory”, and announced his support for a movement within the organization, headed by delegate Andrew Evans, attempting to overturn the board’s decision. Meanwhile, Anderson removed all references to Americans Elect from the front page of his campaign website, and has focused his energies on the Justice Party, which he founded last year. It currently has ballot access in Mississippi and Utah. Anderson is also a candidate for the Peace and Freedom Party, which will appear on the California ballot.

Risley, who came in third with 2,351 supporters, argued that “people feel really used and manipulated” by Americans Elect. In a letter to the board, she wrote that the organization “will be stigmatized as the latest example of third party failure”, “Instead of being the prototype for high tech democracy”. Like Anderson, she supports the actions of Evans, and has even opened a petition for it on change.org. Since Risley is not competing for another party’s presidential nomination, this is now the crux of her campaign.

Kotlikoff, who finished fourth with 2,027 supporters, told Wikinews that he felt the Americans Elect board was more interested in attracting “big names” than focusing on the issues. He cited this as “the most disappointing aspect” of the decision, adding that “big names don’t necessarily equate to big ideas or good ideas for moving the country ahead. And all big names start small.” Like Roemer, Kotlikoff had decided to also seek the Reform Party nomination, and following the decision, choose to end his Reform Party bid and his presidential campaign as a whole. He opted instead to promote his “Purple Plan”, which combines elements of Republican and Democratic solutions to resolve political issues.


Two candidates react to President Obama’s same-sex marriage backing

After President Obama announced his personal support of same-sex marriage while maintaining it should be decided on a state-by-state basis, two candidates already supporting marriage equality reacted in two very different ways.

Republican Fred Karger, the first openly gay person to seek a major political party’s presidential nomination, sent an e-mail to supporters praising Obama for the announcement, saying that “he will be a great advocate as we do battle [against marriage definition propositions] in four states this November.” He added, “It’s nice to have another presidential candidate on board for full equality.”

Gary Johnson in December 2011.
Image: Gary Johnson.

Fred Karger in August 2011.
Image: Gage Skidmore.

Former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party presidential nominee, had an opposite interpretation of Obama’s announcement. He commented, “while I commend [Obama] for supporting the concept of gay marriage equality, I am profoundly disappointed in the President.” “Instead of insisting on equality as a U.S. Constitutional guarantee, the President has thrown this question back to the states.” Johnson speculated that Obama cared more about not alienating voters in the swing states of Ohio, Colorado, North Carolina, and Virginia, than supporting change on a federal level.

When approached with this view, Karger argued, “sure, [I] would rather [Obama] came out for a federal marriage solution…[but]” “just his coming out for marriage equality is the key.” Karger maintained that the issue would ultimately be decided in the courts rather than in Congress.

Karger is currently campaigning as an alternative to Mitt Romney in California ahead of that state’s June 5 GOP primary, while Johnson, whom Karger has described as a friend, is hoping to achieve ballot access in all 50 states to challenge President Obama and the Republican nominee in the general election.

The Libertarian Party’s newly-christened VP nominee discusses his role

After the Libertarian Party nominated former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson for president at May’s Libertarian National Convention, upon Johnson’s request, the party selected Judge Jim Gray of California for Vice President to complete the ticket.

Gray has worked as a judge since 1983 when Governor George Deukmejian appointed him to the Santa Ana Municipal Court in Orange County, California. Six years later he was appointed to the Superior Court of Orange County. His work in court earned him two “Judge of the Year” awards: first in 1992 from the Business Litigation Section of the Orange County Bar Association, and then in 1995 from the Orange County Constitutional Rights Foundation.

Judge Jim Gray.
Image: Jim Gray.

In addition to his work as a jurist, Gray has been involved in Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and has advocated against the federal government’s prosecution of the War on Drugs. Moreover, Gray’s vice presidential campaign is not his first experience in politics. He ran for U.S. Congress as a Republican in 1998, and was the Libertarian Party’s 2004 nominee for U.S. Senate in California.

Johnson described him as “not only a highly-respected jurist, but he is also a proven leader on issues of concern to Americans – from drug policy to civil liberties to ethics. I am proud he is joining me to offer America a real choice in this election, and excited that his forceful and extremely credible voice will be a vital part of our campaign. Judge Gray is a reformer with the track record and credentials to prove it”.

Gray reserved some time to speak with Wikinews about his role as the Libertarian Party vice presidential nominee, what he adds to the Johnson ticket, and what Johnson-Gray can do to better than the 0.4 percent former Congressman Bob Barr and businessman Wayne Allyn Root won as the 2008 representatives of the Libertarian Party.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWhat are your responsibilities as the Libertarian Party vice presidential nominee?

Judge Gray: As the Vice Presidential nominee of the Libertarian Party, I am a team member under the leadership of our Presidential nominee, Governor Gary Johnson, as we campaign to restore Prosperity, Equal Opportunity and Liberty to the United States of America.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngHow do you complement Gary Johnson on the ticket?

Judge Gray: It is amazing. In 2010 I wrote a book entitled A Voter’s Handbook: Effective Solutions to America’s Problems (The Forum Press, 2010), which I never considered using in a political campaign. However, in looking at my documented views of our problems and solutions, they are almost completely consistent with those of Governor Johnson. But my background as a federal prosecutor, Navy JAG attorney, trial court judge and former Peace Corps Volunteer is quite different from Governor Johnson’s. Therefore I bring a balance and perspective to the ticket that no other vice presidential candidate will likely have.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngHow do you plan to achieve more electoral success than the 2008 Barr-Root campaign?

Judge Gray: Candidly, our strategy is to be polling at 15 percent or above at the end of this coming September. This will qualify us to be in the national presidential and vice presidential debates. If that occurs, all of the common wisdom will change. And during the convention … in Nevada Governor Johnson was polling at 7 percent. Now he is polling at 8 percent. I deeply believe that when the American people see and understand what Governor Johnson and I not only stand for, but what he has actually done while a sitting two-term governor for eight years, they will rally in droves to our campaign, because they will see the truth that the Republican and the Democratic candidates are almost parallel in the important issues which have led us into financial ruin and despair, and Governor Johnson stands out in front for positive change.



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May 20, 2012

Wikinews interviews John Wolfe, Democratic Party presidential challenger to Barack Obama

Wikinews interviews John Wolfe, Democratic Party presidential challenger to Barack Obama

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

U.S. Democratic Party presidential candidate John Wolfe, Jr. of Tennessee took some time to answer a few questions from Wikinews reporter William S. Saturn.

John Wolfe.
Image: Marc Nozell.

Wolfe, an attorney based out of Chattanooga, announced his intentions last year to challenge President Barack Obama in the Democratic Party presidential primaries. So far, he has appeared on the primary ballots in New Hampshire, Missouri, and Louisiana. In Louisiana, he had his strongest showing, winning 12 percent overall with over 15 percent in some congressional districts, qualifying him for Democratic National Convention delegates. However, because certain paperwork had not been filed, the party stripped Wolfe of the delegates. Wolfe says he will sue the party to receive them.

Wolfe will compete for additional delegates at the May 22 Arkansas primary and the May 29 Texas primary. He is the only challenger to Obama in Arkansas, where a May 10 Hendrix College poll of Democrats shows him with 38 percent support, just short of the 45 percent for Obama. Such an outing would top the margin of Texas prison inmate Keith Russell Judd, who finished 18 percent behind Obama with 41 percent in the West Virginia Democratic primary; the strongest showing yet against the incumbent president. Despite these prospects, the Democratic Party of Arkansas has already announced that if Wolfe wins any delegates in their primary, again, due to paperwork, the delegates will not be awarded. Wolfe will appear on the Texas ballot alongside Obama, activist Bob Ely, and historian Darcy Richardson, who ended his campaign last month.

Wolfe has previously run for U.S. Congress as the Democratic Party’s nominee. On his campaign website, he cites the influence “of the Pentagon, Wall Street, and corporations” on the Obama administration as a reason for his challenge, believing these negatively affect “loyal Americans, taxpayers and small businesses.” Wolfe calls for the usage of anti-trust laws to break up large banks, higher taxes on Wall Street, the creation of an “alternative federal reserve” to assist community banks, and the implementation of a single-payer health care system.

With Wikinews, Wolfe discusses his campaign, the presidency of Barack Obama, corporations, energy, the federal budget, immigration, and the nuclear situation in Iran among other issues.

Campaign

Wikinews waves Left.pngWilliam S. SaturnWikinews waves Right.pngWhat is the status of your lawsuit concerning Louisiana delegates?

John Wolfe: Yeah. We’re still going to file it. I mean the convention is not until September. Now it’s May. So we got what, four months until the convention starts? And all we’re going to ask for relief is to get awarded the delegates.
So yeah we’re getting it ready. We have other campaigning to do. And I’m a lawyer so I’ll be able to do the suit right. But it does take time and energy. It will be filed. I hope to file it Monday [May 14].

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWhat court will it be filed in?

Wolfe: It’s going to be filed in Baton Rouge federal court. That’s where the jurisdiction is.

Louisiana Democratic primary by parish. President Obama won the parishes in black while Wolfe won the parishes in red.
Image: William S. Saturn.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngIf you qualify for delegates in Arkansas and Texas, in light of what happened in Louisiana, what will you do to avoid having those delegates stripped?

Wolfe: Well, I don’t think we’ll have the same problems in those states. The Louisiana people basically are perpetrating a fraud on the vote. The Democratic Party put me up there. It was a primary. They didn’t have to have a primary. There was a new law saying the Democratic primary was mandatory. It’s a party function. They put me on their ballot. They accepted my money. And then, after that, what they did was have an election, and 17 percent of the people, and this was the Democratic Primary, this wasn’t an open primary, this was just among registered Democratic voters, and I still got 11 or 12 percent. The other guys, there were two other people, together got ten percent: Mr. Ely and Mr. Richardson.
And then despite all that, despite Obama only taking three quarters, the Democratic Party decided to avert, quite flagrantly, the will of the people and assign all the delegates to Mr. Obama, even though their bylaws, the rules themselves say that the results of the primary are binding. Preferential presidential primary results are binding. They forsook their own law in order to make it look like there was unanimous support for Obama. They want a coronation for him instead of just a nomination. They’re treating him again like a king. Who does he think he is? I mean this is ridiculous.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngYou mentioned open primaries, and Texas and Arkansas have open primaries.

Wolfe: Yeah pretty much open primaries. Arkansas definitely and Texas is unless you’re part of the GOP leadership, then you can’t vote in a Democratic primary. But it’s pretty much open and I think that we’ll do fine in both states.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngSo how do you feel about Republican voters that have no interest in their own primary and so vote for you in the Democratic primary to embarrass Obama?

Wolfe: Well there’s been no proof yet that that’s happened. People say it will happen. But I mean, Republicans have their own races. And so if they were to vote in the Democratic primary, they would forego the right to vote for local and not only just federal candidates that are Republican, but also local people, because your local primaries in Arkansas are held the same time as the congressional. So they would have to basically decide to not vote for anyone they know or like and switch over, just for the purpose of voting against Obama. Now whether that’s going to happen or not, I don’t know. We can talk about that after the primary to see if it did happen.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWell that might have happened in West Virginia, where there was more voters that participated in the Democratic primary than the Republican primary. So what is your reaction to the showing of prison inmate Keith Russell Judd in that primary?

Cquote1.svg [The American people] may not be able to articulate it the way I just did but they know in their heart what’s true and what isn’t. And they know for sure that [President Obama’s] not on their side. And they’re right. Cquote2.svg
Wolfe: Well it shows that Obama’s left a void. His lack of leadership has left a void and people are upset. He should be out there with the people. He should be in those coal mines. He should be in those towns, where those factories have left, and he ought to be out there with the homeowners who’ve been foreclosed on by his campaign contributors. People know this man is nothing but a Wall Street creature. They know that his advisers in the White House are all failed executives of failed banks that have been bailed out: people like Emil [Michael], people like [Jacob] Lew, [William] Daley, they’re all from the big six: the big corporations we had to bail out. Yes. What did they get for their failures? Promoted to the White House. People know that. Most of the guys who are raising his campaign money. They’re sick of it. And that’s why people in West Virginia, and lot of the blue collar people don’t like Obama. It’s his own fault because he is not of the people. He is of Wall Street. People are finally starting to see that.
John Wolfe isn’t [of Wall Street]. John Wolfe worked his way up through. I’ve worked in factories. I’ve worked in grocery stores. I almost cut my thumb off doing agricultural work. When I went to college, I didn’t have any transportation. I had to hitchhike up and down I75 to get an education. So I know what it’s like to work in the real world. I know what it’s like to have to strive hard to get ahead. But Obama doesn’t relate to those people. He’s too professorial. He’s too detached. He is of Wall Street. Those are the people he pals around with: Bob Wolf that Swiss banker is his favorite guy. The guy that loves speculation on Wall Street. He gets paid billions and billions of dollars for failed banks to get back up. Him and Obama are like twins. I mean you see Bob Wolf, you see Obama. I mean, this is the sort of thing people sense. They may not be able to articulate it the way I just did but they know in their heart what’s true and what isn’t. And they know for sure that he’s not on their side. And they’re right.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngHow do you feel about the support you received from the conservative publication, The Weekly Standard?

Wolfe: Well, Mr. Kristol can publish whatever he wants to. It sure surprised me. But Mr. Kristol is a very keen observer. I don’t always agree with him on what he writes, but he is one of the most articulate spokesmen in American politics.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngIn the interview you had with The Weekly Standard, you said that you are the only Democratic challenger to Obama that is actively campaigning. What kind of activities do you take part in for the campaign?

Wolfe: Well, what we do is we call people. We make sure we get our message out. We’re on the radio every now and then and we haven’t bought any TV or radio ads yet; they’re a little bit too expensive, but we’re going to try to, here toward the end, to get on the radio to get our message out in a more conventional way. And we have recently bought some inserts, things like that, for the newspaper. And gotten our message out to some of the people in Arkansas. It’s a very expensive thing.
This campaign has been something I’ve wanted to do, but I’ve had to make a lot of personal sacrifices to do it.

Challenging the incumbent

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngI mentioned that interview you had with The Weekly Standard. During that interview, you said that you opposed same-sex marriage even though you backed the repeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell”. Might this hurt you with Democrats looking for a progressive alternative to Barack Obama?

Wolfe: Yeah my record on so much of the issue, on gay rights, I mean I have a good record on it. In 1979 in Memphis when I was part of the student government, I was the adviser and also the so-called attorney general, I mean, there were issues that came up on the campus where they wanted to ban gay meetings. This was back in ’79. I stood up there in 1979 and told the people they were wrong for doing it. In 2010, before the most conservative audience ever in Cleveland, Tennessee, this is on video tape, I said, no, let’s get rid of don’t ask, don’t tell, it’s not right. If someone wants to serve their country, they should. You only want heterosexuals to spill blood for the country? Don’t you think the sacrifice ought to be equally borne? I came out against don’t ask, don’t tell before anybody else around this section of the country. I don’t think it was right then, and I don’t think it’s right now.

Wolfe speaks at a Congressional candidates forum in 2010.
Image: millermz.

I am for equality. I just have a little bit of a hard time with accepting gay marriage. I got to look into it a little bit more and see what the ramifications of it are. But I think that the idea of hate crimes and longer sentences for hate crimes is a good idea because people do commit those. They don’t just commit it against the individual. They will tend to be recidivist because they don’t just hate an individual, they hate the whole group. And when they do that, of course you have longer sentences because that means their rate of doing it again is going to be higher than somebody that just commits an individual crime against an individual. They’re going against the whole race. The same thing would be true for somebody that wanted to beat up Jewish people, or they wanted to assault Catholics, or whoever. Sure there should be more time. There should be a special classification for hate crimes. I think the idea of no discrimination by the federal government in hiring based on sexual orientation is the right kind of law to make. I think there should be equality.
If you look at what Obama said, it wasn’t even progressive. All he said was this is my personal statement. He didn’t say that North Carolina was wrong [for passing a ban on same-sex marriage]. You have to read the tealeaves when this guy talks. All the guy said was I think that gay marriage is fine with me personally. He didn’t say that we’re going to make a federal law that makes it incumbent upon the states not to outlaw it. He didn’t do that. He’s fine with those kind of laws. He’s not going to go out there and do any more than say what he said. So he didn’t give us an agenda like: are you going to go ahead and have it where you’re going to have a situation, are you going to allow homosexual or same-sex couples to go ahead and have tax deductions? Are you going to allow them to have the same kind of income tax return as a traditional family? He didn’t go through all that. He just made a general statement. Now he’s off the floor as some kind of Caesar; someone vindicating the rights of gay people. His statement was very vague. It’s just very Obama-like. He didn’t really commit to anything. He just said that was his personal opinion.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWell, personally, do you believe it is a federal or state issue?

Wolfe: I think it’s a state issue. But I think it’s something that I need to study more because I’m a person really that tries to get beyond identity politics. I’m interested mostly in three things. My interests are: number one, the economy. You get people back to work, then we can quite fighting each other on these social issues. Some of these social issues are accented because there’s a lot of unrest with the economy. We need to worry about three things I think: getting the economy back right, getting out of these commitments like Afghanistan and dictators abroad, we need to get out of that, then we need to protect our civil liberties at home. Those are the three main things that John Wolfe has on his agenda. So I think those are the most important.
The economy is the most important. And I think the economy can’t be reformed until you reform the bank. You noticed yesterday [May 11], JP Morgan lost two billion dollars because they’re pouring billions of dollars into all this speculation, and some of the credit default swaps and derivatives. Well guess what? We’re underwriting that. That’s casino capitalism. I’ve been talking about this all last year and all this year about how bad that’s getting. Now, the chickens are coming home to roost. That’s just JP Morgan. We don’t know what the next bank is going to report. We got to underwrite all that. See, Obama’s never made an effort really to separate that out because he’s so ensconced in Wall Street money, and so persuaded by Wall Street advisers right there in the oval office. He won’t even go back to traditional banking to make these people separate casino capitalism from traditional banking. He hasn’t done it. As long as he doesn’t, we’re going to have to underwrite these things. We’re going to have to keep bailing them out, bailing them out, bailing them out. We shouldn’t have to do that. Obama ought to do something about that. People want that done, but he can’t do. He’s handcuffed because he’s afraid of Wall Street.
I would go in there and do just the opposite. I would make sure that was separated. People set their own index. Make it open. Right now these things are traded secretly. Put it out there just like any other stock exchange, and make sure that when people bet money that they got the resources to cover it one way or the other. I mean, you don’t let people go to Las Vegas with two dollars and make a ten dollar bet. We shouldn’t let these people do it either, especially when where we’re guaranteeing it. But Obama is and the man is weakening for Wall Street.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngDo you believe Obama has done any good things as president?

Cquote1.svg If [Obama] would just educate the people like I could, he would get people on his side and he would win an election based on a populist economic view Cquote2.svg
Wolfe: Well, I think it was good doing away with don’t ask, don’t tell. I think the stimulus was a good start but it wasn’t very effective because it wasn’t enough. He’s been too cautious about a lot of things. He tried to increase the taxes on the very well-to-do. The top one fifth own 94 percent of financial wealth in this country. They were saved by the bailouts. They made money when the stock market went down to six thousand so they could invest low… People like that who were saved and benefited by these trillion dollar bailouts should be the ones paying higher tax rates now, but Obama hasn’t emphasized that point. He has not instructed people. He isn’t going out there and telling people the stuff I’m telling you. If he would just educate the people like I could, he would get people on his side and he would win an election based on a populist economic view. People get back to work and people make money and people are empowered then businesses make more money too.
It’s not like we want to nationalize resources and take away private capital. We just want to work with feet. The end of the economy is the betterment of the people and not just the accumulation of capital and casino capitalism. It’s not that. You know it’s the betterment of people. Capitalism is a means to an end. It’s not the ends itself. Human needs are not cyclical. Economic cycles of the economy can be cyclical, but that’s why you have to have fair taxes, an interventionist government to make sure that society works for the people and Obama’s not doing that. The man has failed.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWill you support him during the November election or somebody else?

Wolfe: Well, if he says he’ll support me if I win, then I might reciprocate. I think we’ll just have to look at it and see how far and wide he appeals. But I certainly would expect to. I certainly would like to. Sure.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngBut if it was a choice between him and [Mitt] Romney, who would you favor?

Wolfe: Well if it came down to those two, I would just have to see where they are. I expect to support the president, but to me, there’s not a lot of difference between him and Romney on the economy and there’s not that much difference between him and Romney on foreign affairs. There’s not that much difference between him and Romney on civil liberties. The differences are a lot narrower than people think and they mostly arise in areas again of identity politics. It seems to me like Romney is wanting to repeal abortion rights. He even wants to cut back on birth control. It seems to me that he wants us to get involved in even more wars. He wants to actually to increase military spending by 20 percent. His foreign policy advisers are interventionists. They’re neo-cons. They’re dangerous people, who don’t even see Iraq as a mistake, who would like to get us involved even more deeply in areas like Syria and North Korea, places like that. Romney alarms me a lot more than Obama does in that area. I think Romney would probably give too many tax cuts to the well-to-do, the ones that are already very wealthy. I think that Obama would at least put an end to that. I don’t think he pushed quite that hard for a tax increase, but I don’t think he’d even fight for tax reductions either.

Corporate taxes as a proportion of GDP has decreased since the 1950s.
Image: Guest2625.

Corporations and things are very powerful. The one message Obama has failed to get out is that the corporate tax rate in this country may be 35 percent on paper, see the effective tax rate that these corporations pay, if you just look at the average of what the Fortune 500 pay it’s only 16 percent. So that’s the way it really works because you got lobbyists in Washington that write the accounting rules, that write the tax rules and everything, so the 35 percent thing is just a mirage. All it’s done is whip up … to make people think we’re non-competitive because we have a higher rater on paper than people like Japan or Germany or maybe some like Mexico or some third world country. Right now if you look at the corporate tax collective, they make up the lowest percentage of GDP than ever. I think we’ve paid $200 billion on a $15 trillion economy. So you’re talking about maybe one and a half percent. Under [President Dwight] Eisenhower, the federal tax was collected and corporations made up about 25 percent of the budget receipts. Now they make up maybe nine percent, and corporations now are 15 times as big and powerful as they were under Eisenhower. So the corporation is … they want to make people look like they’re victims. I mean it’s just pathetic.
And the misinformation gets out there. It gets out there because of Fox News, but it also gets out there because Obama doesn’t educate the people and if people knew that, he could change public opinion if he would just educate them to that. But he doesn’t do it because he’s too timid. His whole life has been one where he reaches consensus until he gets along. He goes along and gets along. He’s never had to take a hard stance or anything like that. And that may be why he got elected. It could be that the American people would have rejected him if he’d been an assertive African American man who took hard stances on hard issues, and was very dogmatic. And I think that’s unfortunate because some of a lot America might react that way.

Policy

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngLet’s get into policy a little more. How can high energy costs be reduced?

Wolfe: Well, the only way to do that is you’re going to have to try to find alternate sources of energy. You’ve got to make cars that are more fuel efficient. You have to have homes that heat better, that are better insulated. You have to get people to do the things that [President] Jimmy Carter told us to do 35 years ago. If people started doing that more, it would be a lot better. Now we’ve already cut down on some of our energy consumption, but we definitely need to do it more. I think that it’s a shame that gasoline costs as much as it does and it’s a shame that the oil companies have as much power as they do. It’s a shame that Exxon made like 10 billion dollars in one quarter. That’s just really pathetic, and they have all the power, all the tax breaks, all the lobbyists, all the political pull. They’re growing bigger and bigger at our expense.

President Jimmy Carter, pictured in 1980, remarked during a 1977 speech on energy policy that “we must prepare quickly for…strict conservation and to the use of coal and permanent renewable energy sources, like solar power.” He listed ten principles for a “national energy plan”.
Image: Marion S. Trikosko.

One way to do it too would be to cut down. I think there needs to be some sort of, on the energy futures and things like that, they need to really be careful that people aren’t allowed to run up the price of oil through speculation like they did during 2008. There just wasn’t that much going on in the economy at that time. We were sort of having the onset of a recession and the energy demand worldwide was falling in 2008, yet the price of a barrel of oil went in March of 2008 to $48.00 to about $147.00 at the end of July. So that sort of thing needs to be investigated and any sort of speculative activities that gives rise to that needs to be regulated. I mean, there was no reason for it to triple like that.
And I think also what we need to do is is that we need to ask the oil companies why it is that they’re always a little bit short. It could be that they don’t refine things like they should. They always make it to where the demand is a little bit more than supply just to keep that extra pressure on oil. That needs to be investigated too. That needs to be more tightly regulated because energy is like money. The banks are the same way, energy’s no different. One’s the veins of the economy and one’s the arteries of the economy. And both those things need more federal oversight. They make plenty of profit, no one’s talking about taking them over. But they need to be regulated. And these artificial shortages and things shouldn’t be allowed to happen. You can’t do that. What they got is basically a monopoly. All this would be doing is just like regulating phone companies. There can only be a few people who do it. There’s not going to be that much competition. We know that. So they actually, when a sector of the economy basically is in oligopolistic or monopolistic hands, that the government’s got a right to step in and regulate on behalf of the people, because the more money that goes into energy unnecessarily, just like interest at the bank and things like that, then that hurts other parts of the economy. That means people have less money to spend at Wal-Mart. They have less money to buy furniture. They have less money to buy other goods.
Same with healthcare, that’s why you have to regulate that. It’s somewhat of a monopoly as well considering that the health care industry, the insurance companies don’t have to compete. By law, they’ve been exempt from competition for about 50 or 60 years, which really hasn’t worked out too well. I mean what we have to pay equals six or eight percent of GDP, which is twice what they have to pay in Germany in relation to their GDP. You know Germany out-exports the United States, a country of 70 million, because they don’t have to factor all these health care costs for their products. Health care should be something that is individual and not related to the work. It should be paid for through the taxes. People should be afforded so much health care costs, so many health care costs, like take for instance in Germany, exports go up, prices on exports get more competitive, trade deficit narrows and people have more work because you have more exports.
The United States is hurt. We’re the only one of our competitors that doesn’t have some form of a single payer that controls costs and gives people a choice of doctors. As a result, that has to be built in to the cost of the product and that makes us less competitive, makes the trade balance larger. Germany, again, a nation of 70 million, actual gross dollars, not per capita, gross dollars or Euros, out-exports the United States of America, which has four and a half times the people of Germany, and that’s pathetic.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngOn your campaign website, you propose a reinstatement of the Glass–Steagall Act and creation of an alternative Federal Reserve. These require cooperation with Congress. How can a president work with a hostile congress to accomplish these goals?

Wolfe: Well, we still have money left. The president has a lot of authority. He has an army and things like that. He has the federal reserve and things like he’s been giving to European banks, distributed to other countries. We were told. We didn’t find out about until I guess six or seven months ago just how broad the money was and the way the Federal Reserve chose to prioritize and things like that. So, why not give some of that to the community? If you’re gonna give Bank of America that uses this money to speculate an interest rate of one third of one percent, then why aren’t these community banks down here working with people to do real things, why aren’t they getting money instead? They should be.
Cquote1.svg I could sit here with a chart, put all this information up in probably 30 or 40 minutes in a national press conference and I guarantee you 70 percent of the people would approve of what I said, and we’d have a whole new discourse in this country Cquote2.svg
And that’s why I’m talking about there needs to be an alternative, when I say alternative federal reserve, a better way of putting would be the federal reserve needs to reform. That’s the alternative that I would push for. Because we have a lot of people here that don’t work. These small towns have really been hurt by NAFTA. A lot of factories have closed. A lot of people don’t have anything to do. A lot of people have turned to drugs. I mean you got a lot of crystal meth problems in the school. I’m for enforcing the law and everything and the individual responsibility, however, we didn’t have those sorts of problems at the scale we have now, when we had people in factories where people could work, and we had employment opportunities for those with just a high school education. Now we don’t have so much of that anymore. The economy basically has changed. It’s now financial. Forty percent of the profits in this country now are made by the financial sector. It used to be different. Factories used to make more. Service industries used to make more of the national profits. But now it’s the finance. The finance doesn’t require so many people to do it. That’s why the finance is basically based on computer trade, automated means, so human beings are superfluous. Especially because its machines in factories and things that are so efficient. So a lot of things are run by robots.
So we need to have work for people and to do that we have to keep capital in the community and we can’t do that if we’re going to continue to underwrite the speculation. If we’re going to use what capital we have to underwrite the speculation right at big banks. I’m talking about JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs. I’m talking about Bank of America, Citibank, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley. Everyone of those require billions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts, maybe even more. They got some bailouts from Federal Reserve money … and what do they do, they hurt the economy. To cover their own losses and stupidity, they take that money at one third of one percent, and turn around and sponsor credit cards, usually with 16 to 24 percent interest rates. I mean, that’s backed up by the government, we’re actually paying the banks to give us. I mean it’s crazy and I don’t understand why we’re doing that. And we need a president, again this is not Rocket Science, you can spell this out with a chart. I mean, I could sit here with a chart, put all this information up in probably 30 or 40 minutes in a national press conference and I guarantee you 70 percent of the people would approve of what I said, and we’d have a whole new discourse in this country. We’d have a whole new atmosphere. And that’s what I’d do if elected. I’d make people see what’s going on, open their eyes a little bit. The president doesn’t lead people. Without presidential leadership, the people will flounder.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngAt this point, do you believe that the federal budget can be balanced?

Wolfe: No I don’t think it can right now. I think that if you cut spending marginally right now, all you’d do is send the economy into a recession. You eventually got to work toward a balance, but that has to be based on economic growth and not just taking away people’s entitlements. People have paid for their Social Security. People have paid for their Medicare. That’s not welfare. It’s not even an entitlement. What it is is a repayment. People who’ve paid into Social Security, their money goes and they buy bonds, just like foreign creditors buying treasury bonds. They get paid back on principle and interest over time the government guarantees it. It’s no different for Social Security recipients. So they’re just like any other debtor or any other creditor. They’re paid money that they’re dued. We bought our Social Security, it’s not welfare, it’s not even an entitlement, it’s a repayment.

Wolfe sifts through his papers during the December 2011 Lesser-known candidates forum.
Image: Marc Nozell.

So people that try to classify that as some sort of welfare that’s exploding the budget is just disingenuous, especially when you figure the fact that Social Security surplus is just on book. It’s on budget, so therefore, the surplus works to actually reduce the deficit and therefore brings borrowing costs for the government down. So, Social Security has had a very good impact all the way around, and it’s something that’s actually worked to keep people out of poverty. Now, I mean ten percent of the people are in poverty, if we didn’t have social security, 40 percent of the older people would be in poverty. But the Republicans want to undo what works well. Not just the Republicans necessarily, but Blue Dog Democrats and the business class, the elite want to undo what works well for the people, which is Social Security, and they want to keep a failed healthcare system that’s uncompetitive in the world economy. I mean it’s amazing the upside perspective these people have.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWhat are your views on immigration?

Wolfe: Well I think we need a guest worker program and let’s do it. I mean right now we got crops ripening in the field and in Alabama and Georgia, people not there to harvest. Let the Mexicans come in, or the people from down below, the southern, Latin American folks who want to come to the United States. Let them come in and work under a guest worker program just like [former] President [George W.] Bush, [Senator John] McCain, and Obama always wanted to do. Then when the harvest is over they can go back home with their money and help their families. That’s the way it should work.
We do need agricultural workers, and I think we need workers in the domestic area, and there’s other places where the illegal immigrants are needed as well in restaurant work, hotel work, and some type of domestic work, because they’ve done a lot of the work that Americans wouldn’t do. But we do have to keep tabs on it and the guest worker program is the best way to do it. And I think if you are worried about the factories, and the construction jobs that may be going to illegals, then the easiest way to remedy that and the parties won’t do it because they’re both too deep in the Chamber of Commerce money, but all you have to do is to give the businesses that play by the rules the right to sue the ones that don’t under the series of unfair uncompetitive practices under the FTC rules. If you would just give the affected businesses, standing to sue, which I don’t think they have right now, then the whole thing would end. But they won’t do that. It would be the surest way to solve the problem.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngI have one final question. It’s on foreign policy. How can the president deal with the nuclear situation in Iran?

Wolfe: Well, the best thing to do is not to panic. We have a lot of nuclear superiority. Iran is at a stage right now where I think they’ve only enriched up to the level of 20. There’s no proof that they have a nuclear weapon. There’s no proof even according to our generals that they have a nuclear weapons program right now or the intent to build one. You just listen to what people say, the generals and stuff, and even the Israeli generals, the ones that have retired from the Israeli intelligence, some of their retired military persons don’t think a strike would be good. I don’t think it would be either. I mean you’d just radicalize a country of 70 million people. We should have diplomatic relations with Iran. We need to restore those. We need to have an ambassador in Tehran. They need to have an ambassador here.
We need to open a dialogue with Iran. We did that with Russia. We did it with China. When Russia was a nuclear power, the Soviet Union, we had a hotline between [U.S. President John] Kennedy and [Soviet Premier Nikita] Khrushchev and then between every American president and Soviet premier after that. No reason we shouldn’t do it here with Iran. They have 79 million people. We need to have an ambassador in Tehran. They need to have their ambassador in Washington. We need to keep the lines of communication open. Just talking doesn’t calibrate anyone’s philosophy but it does us give an opportunity to see what’s going on. It opens things up a little bit and maybe we can learn more by having a channel than just turning the whole CV on them.
Cquote1.svg A lot of people are dying in Iran, and the more they know about America, the better it’s gonna be for us too. Cquote2.svg
There’s a lot of things about Iran I don’t like. Some of the rantings and things about the Holocaust, that it didn’t happen and that sort of thing, if that’s actually what he said, we don’t know if the translations are always right. But anybody that would have a conference to deny that, you know, that’s not good. I don’t like that. But we have to deal with them as they are and not necessarily what they might be with some of these ridiculous historical interpretations they might make. Despite all that, they’re still a power that has to be reckoned with. They represent a lot of people. Iran has 79 million people. No reason we can’t talk to them.
A lot of people are dying in Iran, and the more they know about America, the better it’s gonna be for us too. Now I don’t think that they’re much of a threat at this time. I mean Israel’s got a lot more power. We have sea power all around Iran. We have one submarine that can annihilate the whole country probably in about 20 minutes. You know, submarines are outposts. Israel’s got 300 nuclear weapons, maybe more. Some of Israel’s weapons are neutron bombs. Mordechai Vanunu, the fellow who spent some time in Israeli prison, a Christian who spent time in Israeli prison on account of the fact he told the world the truth about Israel’s nuclear weapons program.
What we need basically is a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. We can’t expect the Arab countries to denuclearize if Israel doesn’t. Israel has our protection now. Israel shouldn’t unconditionally denuclearize, but if we give, we don’t have a defense treaty with Israel, we need a formal defense treaty, then we should expect them to denuclearize. We never have signed that and we should.



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April 4, 2012

On the campaign trail, March 2012

On the campaign trail, March 2012 – Wikinews, the free news source

On the campaign trail, March 2012

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The following is the fifth in a monthly series chronicling the U.S. 2012 presidential election. It features original material compiled throughout the previous month after a brief mention of some of the month’s biggest stories.

In this month’s edition on the campaign trail, a politician from outside the fifty states receives significant mention as a potential Republican Party vice presidential nominee, Wikinews gets the reaction of three Democratic Party candidates after the party strips delegates from two of their fellow challengers, and a minor third party removes its presidential nominee for fraud.

Summary

March 2012 opened with the unexpected death of citizen journalist Andrew Breitbart at the age of 43. Before he died, Breitbart had claimed to possess a video of President Barack Obama that would change the course of the election. The video, which was released shortly after Breitbart’s death, showed Obama as a law student at Harvard University speaking in favor of Derrick Bell, a controversial professor who had accused the American system of being racist. The video disappointed commentators such as Juan Williams, who expected a “smoking gun” from Breitbart.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney cemented his status as the Republican Party frontrunner with victories in Washington, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Wyoming, the US Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Illinois, and six of the ten Super Tuesday states including Alaska, Idaho, Massachusetts, Ohio, Vermont, and Virginia. He also won the endorsements of former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, and Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Despite the successes, the specter of a brokered convention remained as Romney failed to win enough delegates to secure the nomination.

President Barack Obama discusses alternative energy in March 2012.
Image: Daniel Borman.

Romney’s closest rival, former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, won Kansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and three of the Super Tuesday states including North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. However, he suffered some missteps that cost his campaign: he called for English to be adopted as the official language in Puerto Rico as a condition of statehood, and later remarked that if Romney won the nomination and moved to the political center, “we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk of what may be the Etch A Sketch candidate for the future.” Santorum was alluding to comments from a Romney adviser that compared the campaign to an Etch A Sketch in that “[we] shake it up and we start all over again” for the general election. However, Santorum’s comments were interpreted as a suggestion that voters should favor the Democrat Obama over Romney, which Santorum later denied.

Meanwhile, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Congressman Ron Paul continued their campaigns for the GOP nomination. Paul finished second in Washington, North Dakota, Vermont, and Virginia, and won the popular vote, but not the majority of delegates, in the Virgin Islands. Gingrich focused his energies on the southern states. He won his home state of Georgia on Super Tuesday, and came in second place in Alabama and Mississippi. Most notably during March, Gingrich proclaimed he could reduce gas prices in the United States to $2.50 a gallon through increased oil drilling. President Obama used this statement to attack the GOP, arguing that they were playing political games. On energy, Obama called for further development of alternative fuels. Polls showed that high energy prices were negatively affecting his popularity.

Additionally, the Obama campaign attacked the GOP for the February comments of radio personality Rush Limbaugh that referred to Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke as a “slut” and “prostitute” after she testified about contraceptive coverage before a congressional hearing. The campaign alleged that the GOP was waging a “war on women” for its opposition to the mandate that contraceptives be included on the insurance plans of organizations regardless of their religious views.

Foreign affairs and missile defense also became an election topic after an open-microphone during a forum in South Korea captured President Obama tell Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, “[O]n all these issues, but particularly missile defense… This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.” Medvedev replied that he would “transmit this information to Vladimir [Putin]“. Romney criticized the comments, arguing “I think it’s very alarming for the President of the United States to suggest to Russia that he has a different agenda that he’s going to work out with the Russians after the elections”. He then labeled Russia as “without question, our number one geopolitical foe.” In response, Medvedev referenced the Cold War and advised the Romney campaign “to check their watches from time to time: it is 2012, not the mid-1970s.”

Might the GOP VP nominee come from Puerto Rico?

As Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney campaigned in Puerto Rico ahead of that territory’s March 18 Republican presidential primary, at his side was Puerto Rican governor Luis Fortuño. Fortuño had endorsed Romney for president, and has received mention as a potential vice presidential nominee. Commentators argue his presence on a ticket could draw Hispanic support to the GOP.

Fortuño was elected in 2008 as the first Republican governor in the territory since 1969. As governor, he sought government cuts and low corporate and individual tax rates in an attempt to improve economic conditions. Newsmax referred to his governorship as the “Puerto Rico Miracle” and labeled Fortuño a “Reaganite” whose “example should be followed in the United States”. Political analyst Larry Sabato proclaimed Fortuño “a godsend to the GOP”.

Luis Fortuño at a Florida CPAC event in September 2011.
Image: Gage Skidmore.

Significant talk about Fortuño and the vice presidency started last year. A Wall Street Journal editorial labeled Fortuño a “fine choice for Vice President” and GOP operative Roger Stone also endorsed the idea, saying the selection of Fortuño would “bring charisma, star power and excitement to the campaign.”

Such speculation heightened as the 2012 presidential race shifted to Puerto Rico in March. Fortuño campaigned with Romney, leading both CNN and Real Clear Politics to label him as a potential running mate. Fortuño did not comment much on the speculation, but preferred to discuss Romney, saying he believed that as president, Romney would push for Puerto Rican statehood. With Fortuño’s assistance, Romney was able to win the Puerto Rican contest with 83 percent of the vote. In his victory speech, Romney commented, “I intend to become our nominee and I intend to get Latino voters to vote for a Republican.” According to Fortuño himself, one way to accomplish this would be to select an Hispanic as a running mate.

Political consultant Dan Judy of North Star Opinion Research agrees. He tells Wikinews, “I don’t think there’s any one silver bullet that will bring a majority Hispanic voters to the Republican side, but I think the selection of Governor Fortuno would help, particularly among Puerto Rican voters living on the mainland.” According to a Fox News poll from March, Romney receives only 14 percent of the Hispanic vote in a matchup with President Obama, and Judy says that Puerto Ricans vote Democratic at an even higher rate than other Hispanic nationalities. He explains, “a Puerto Rican on the ticket would at least cause them to take a closer look at the GOP candidate.”

However, Judy warns that Fortuño’s eligibility may be questioned since Puerto Rico is not a state. Because of this, he says more attention is given to other Hispanic GOP politicians such as Nevada governor Brian Sandoval, New Mexico governor Susana Martinez and Senator Marco Rubio. Nevertheless, Sandoval is pro-choice on abortion, Martinez may conjure memories of 2008 VP nominee Sarah Palin, and Rubio is Cuban American, a group that largely already supports the GOP.

Constitutional scholar Dr. Ronald Rotunda of Chapman University tells Wikinews that eligibility might not be a concern after all. “In 1917, Congress provided, by statute that people born in Puerto Rico are citizens of the United States” says Rotunda, “while we have no case directly on point, it is probable that a person born in Puerto Rico is eligible to become President or Vice President.”

Democratic Party strips delegates

In the Oklahoma presidential primary, President Obama won the counties above in black while Randall Terry won the counties in gold and Jim Rogers won the counties in red.
Image: William S. Saturn.

Anti-abortion activist Randall Terry qualified for delegates in Oklahoma after winning 18 percent of the vote in the state’s Democratic primary against President Obama on Super Tuesday. However, the Democratic Party has decided to remove the delegates from Terry because of his failure to file a delegate slate and for not being a bona fide Democratic presidential candidate. Former U.S. Senate nominee Jim Rogers, who also qualified for delegates in the primary after winning over 15 percent in some congressional districts, was similarly stripped for failing to file.

In a letter to Terry, the Oklahoma Democratic Party detailed its decision, describing a bona fide presidential candidate as a “Democrat whose record of public service, accomplishment, public writings and/or public statements affirmatively demonstrates that he or she is faithful to the interests, welfare, and success of the Democratic Party of the United States and will participate in the Convention in good faith.” It concludes that Terry did not fit this description because he was recently a member of the Republican Party.

At the March 24 Louisiana Primary, attorney John Wolfe, Jr. qualified for delegates after receiving over 15 percent in some congressional districts of the state. It is not known at this time whether these delegates will be seated at the Democratic National Convention in August, or if he will be subject to the same decision as Terry and Rogers.

Wikinews contacted Wolfe and fellow Democratic Party candidates Bob Ely and Darcy Richardson to ask whether they were concerned the Democratic Party leadership would strip delegates from them if they qualified, and award them to President Obama. All three candidates appeared on the Louisiana primary ballot and will appear with Obama on the Texas ballot in May. Only Ely and Richardson appeared with Obama, Terry, and Rogers on the Oklahoma ballot.

  • John Wolfe, Jr.: “The rules are the rules, and like it or not, the delegates are mine. I am an attorney well schooled in many Constitutional Law issues and will make sure that the right thing is done. But, I expect that they will do the right thing and let me have the delegates I have earned. I understand that the good folks at the top of the Louisiana party were surprised at the insurgency ( what with a number of Cajuns howlin’ for the Bayou Wolf), but even when there is an overwhelming incumbent in the Presidency, the duty of party officials is to remain neutral and enforce the wishes that the Democratic Primary voters have expressed through the ballot box. Anything else would be a travesty of justice, especially considering the incumbent’s huge advantage in every respect.”
  • Bob Ely: “The system is stacked against interlopers. For example, the only thing on which there is complete agreement amongst both parties is that there is no need for a serious third party. So, concerned? Yes. Surprised? Not at all. Indeed, I would be surprised if Randall Terry were surprised.”
  • Darcy Richardson: “I’m not too worried about it. In the unlikely event that I win any delegates in the remaining Democratic primaries, my campaign — unlike those of single-issue interloper Randall Terry and the grossly incompetent Jim Rogers of Oklahoma — would file the necessary qualifying paperwork for my delegates within the time prescribed by party rules or statute. There’s no reason either of them shouldn’t have submitted the appropriate district delegate paperwork by Oklahoma’s March 15th deadline. I have no reason to believe that I wouldn’t be treated fairly by the Democratic Party. Moreover, I wholeheartedly agree with the DNC’s contention that Randall Terry, a lifelong Republican, isn’t a “bona-fide” candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. He’s an embryo-obsessing publicity seeker and showboat who has publicly stated on more than one occasion that he intends to run as an independent candidate in several battleground states this autumn with the sole purpose of trying to siphon enough traditionally Democratic Catholic votes from President Obama to throw those states to whichever one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse happens to win the Republican nomination. From Mitt Romney, a pump-and-dump takeover financier to Ron Paul’s failed Austrian economics and his call for a trillion dollars in spending cuts in the first year of his administration, it’s a scary lot…each determined to impose draconian austerity measures on the 99% while securing even greater tax cuts for those at the top.”


Party removes presidential nominee

The membership of the Boston Tea Party (BTP) removed Tiffany Briscoe as the party’s presidential nominee after it was discovered that she misrepresented herself as a graduate and member of the Board of Trustees of Howard Community College. Briscoe is actually just a student at the school.

Following her nomination, Briscoe spoke with Wikinews and said she would “probably be able to appear on [the ballots of] 14 to 15 states throughout the country”. After the removal, she has not responded to inquiries about the future of her campaign. Wikinews was able to contact parliamentary activist and Libertarian Party (LP) presidential candidate James Ogle, who is listed as Briscoe’s running mate on her website. As reported last month, Ogle won a majority of the votes over uncommitted at the Missouri Libertarian presidential primary. He says he is in the process of securing a spot for himself and Briscoe as a write-in ticket on the Texas general election ballot. Ogle also plans to be the running mate for five other women candidates including comedienne Roseanne Barr of the Green Party.

As for the BTP, a new nominee is expected to be announced shortly. Chairman Darryl Perry says the party may be approaching “the brink of death” but he remains optimistic. Though he makes no firm predictions about ballot access, Perry expects “voters in more than a dozen States” to be able to vote for the BTP nominee, including through write-in eligibility. He argues that the BTP can move beyond the setback and become a major third party if members increase their activity and “the LP allows itself to be taken over by those who would redefine ‘libertarian’.”

The BTP was founded in 2006 as an alternative to the LP. According to its platform, it “supports reducing the size, scope and power of government at all levels and on all issues, and opposes increasing the size, scope and power of government at any level, for any purpose.” In 2008, the party nominated boxing manager Charles Jay, who appeared on three state ballots and won a total of 2,422 votes.


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February 3, 2012

On the campaign trail, January 2012

On the campaign trail, January 2012 – Wikinews, the free news source

On the campaign trail, January 2012

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
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Friday, February 3, 2012

The following is the third in a monthly series chronicling the U.S. 2012 presidential election. It features original material compiled throughout the previous month after a brief mention of some of the month’s biggest stories.

In this month’s edition on the campaign trail, the challengers to President Barack Obama react to the results of the New Hampshire Democratic Party primary, two new political parties choose their first presidential nominees, and an economist who announced his intentions to seek the nomination of Americans Elect answers a few questions for Wikinews.

Summary

Mitt Romney on the eve of the Iowa Caucus.
Image: Iowa Politics.

Initially, it was reported that former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney won the Iowa Caucus by eight votes over former Senator Rick Santorum, who surged in the polls just days ahead of it. Several weeks later it was revealed that Santorum actually won. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann dropped out of the race as the result of her sixth place finish. Romney went on to win the New Hampshire Primary the next week, with Ron Paul placing second. Jon Huntsman, Jr., who finished third, dropped out and endorsed Romney.

Ahead of the South Carolina primary, Texas governor Rick Perry ended his run and endorsed Gingrich. Gingrich received praise for his debate performances in South Carolina, and won the primary by a large margin over Romney despite a highly publicized interview with his ex-wife just before. By this point, the campaign had turned negative with Gingrich attacking Romney for his business past, and with Romney referring to Gingrich as a “failed leader”.

President Barack Obama delivered the State of the Union address on January 24. It was widely viewed as his “campaign kickoff” for re-election, and included a populist message that labeled the nation’s tax code as “rigged for the super wealthy”. Following the address, Obama traveled to five campaign battleground states.

Just ahead of the Florida primary, Gingrich won the endorsement of former candidate Herman Cain. Nevertheless, Romney held a five-to-one spending advantage and was able to win the state and all fifty of its delegates. He solidified his position as frontrunner for the Republican nomination.

New Hampshire Democratic Party primary results

Though the Republican Party’s first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary received the bulk of media attention earlier in January, the Democratic Party held a primary in the state as well.

Second place finishers by town.
Cowan (blue), Supreme (red), Terry (yellow), Haywood (purple), Freis (yellow orange), Ely (brown), O’Connor (light grey), Richardson (pink), Wolfe (grey), O’Donnell (orange), Greene (green), Jordan (red violet), Tyler (peach), none (white), greater than two (black).

President Barack Obama was challenged by thirteen Democratic Party presidential candidates including performance artist Vermin Supreme, anti-abortion activist Randall Terry, and historian Darcy Richardson. In the end, Obama easily won the primary with 81 percent, which amounted to 49,080 votes. Though the percentage was in the range won by incumbent presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush during their respective parties’ primaries in 1996 and 2004, the vote total was about 5,000 less than Bush received in 2004, and almost 30,000 fewer than Clinton in 1996.

New Hampshire primary runner-up Ed Cowan.
Image: Marc Nozell.

Out of the candidates on the ballot, Ed Cowan of Vermont finished second behind Obama with 975 votes or 1.56 percent. Cowan’s percentage was greater than that achieved by the Republican Party’s 2004 New Hampshire primary runner-up Richard Bosa who finished with 1.2 percent, and greater even than comedian Pat Paulsen‘s 1.1 percent second place finish in 1996.

The result surprised even Cowan, who said “More people voted for me than I actually met… I passed out about 500 copies of my stump speech, 550 at the most. Officially (based on my receipts) I spent $580, but it might have been as much as $650 tops. That resulted in 1.5 votes per dollar spent”. Cowan hopes to enter additional primaries, and hints that he may be thinking about an independent run; “The only vote that matters in the long run is the one on 11/7/12 [U.S. Election Day], and I hope to be on most if not all ballots.”

Vermin Supreme of Massachusetts came in third with 833 votes or 1.37 percent. In response to the results, Supreme exclaimed, “I WON !!!!!” In fact, Supreme has received notice: a recent Gregory Brothers video for the popular YouTube show “Songify the News” included a clip of his glitter bomb of fellow candidate Randall Terry. It has received over one million views.

Terry finished fourth with 442 votes. He told Wikinews, “we did what we set out to do: we injected the plight of unborn babies into this primary; hundreds of thousands of people in New Hampshire, Maine, and Boston saw the victims of Obama’s policies: dead babies.”

John Haywood was close behind with 423 votes. When asked for his reaction to the results, he stated: “when you’re beaten by a ratio of 115 to 1, you don’t exactly go whoopee, do you? I am, nevertheless, tremendously proud of my platform at haywoodforpresident.com.”

Darcy Richardson, who was interviewed by Wikinews last November, finished with 264 votes. He hypothesized that his ballot position and the fact that he did not travel to New Hampshire contributed to the low vote total. He remarked:

Cquote1.svg

Normally I would feel rather despondent about the results, but then I’m reminded that Eugene McCarthy garnered only 211 votes in New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary when he revisited the state in 1992, and State Sen. Stewart Greenleaf of Pennsylvania, who has more experience in elected office than anybody running in either party and who personally spent several days campaigning in the state late last week, polled only 24 votes in yesterday’s Republican primary. Despite our non-presence, we actually made a comparable showing to that of Louisiana’s Buddy Roemer and received a higher percentage of the vote than gay activist Fred Karger, both of whom virtually lived in the state for the past four or five months.

We’ll do much better in future primaries, beginning with Missouri on February 7th.

Cquote2.svg

Of the other candidates, Aldous Tyler received 106 votes, John Wolfe, Jr. received 245, Bob Ely received 287, Craig Freis received 400, Bob Greene 213, Robert Jordan 155, Cornelius O’Connor 266, and Ed O’Donnell 222. There were several thousand write-in votes including 2,289 or 3.77 percent of the total for Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul. Republican candidates Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, Jr. each also received over one thousand write-in votes.

New parties select presidential nominees

Anderson greets supporters.
Image: Jeremiah Roth.

Both the Justice Party and the American Third Position Party (A3P) selected their first presidential nominees in January.

On January 12, the A3P nominated Independent filmmaker Merlin Miller for president and selected retired professor Virginia Abernethy as his running mate. The party was founded in 2010, and promotes third position politics and white nationalism. According to Miller’s campaign manager Alex Carmichael, it is currently petitioning to appear on the Ohio ballot, and plans to do so in a dozen other states.

The next day, the Justice Party nominated former Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson, who had formed the party a few months before. It supports accountability through the removal of corporate money in politics, and is currently on the ballot in several states.

The party did not reach the deadline to file in California, and Anderson decided on January 9 that he would seek the nomination of the socialist Peace and Freedom Party, which has attained ballot access in the state. Others competing for the party’s nomination include Socialist Party USA nominee Stewart Alexander, Party for Socialism and Liberation nominee Peta Lindsay, and Stephen Durham of the Freedom Socialist Party.

Economist running for president

Boston University economics professor Laurence Kotlikoff announced in early January that he intends to seek the presidential nomination of Americans Elect, an independent organization hoping to nominate a bipartisan ticket for the 2012 presidential election. The group says it has already achieved ballot access in fifteen states, and hopes to appear on all the rest. Former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer has also expressed his interest in the nomination.

Kotlikoff, who filed with the FEC on January 12, has authored fifteen books and is a regular contributor at Bloomberg.com. As an economist, he has consulted for large corporations, central banks, national governments, and international bodies such as the International Monetary Fund. The policy basis of his run is the “Purple plan”, a tax proposal that he believes both Democrats and Republicans can support.

Kotlikoff took some time to discuss his campaign with Wikinews.

Laurence Kotlikoff in November 2011.
Image: Hung-Ho Vergil Yu.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngIf elected president, what specific policies would you promote, and how would you work with a likely Republican congress to implement them?

Kotlikoff: Many of my specific policies are posted at www.thepurpleplans.org. Others are laid out under Issues at www.kotlikoff2012.org.
I can talk to both sides of the isles. I have friends on both sides and can intermediate very well between the two parties. The two sides are often recommending much the same thing, but with different words. I can translate. If you read my Bloomberg columns about health care reform and tax reform, you’ll see this ability to connect the dots for both sides. Plus, if I were elected, it would be on the basis of my proposed policies, not my great looks or personality. The politicians would be on clear notice with respect to what policies the public wants implemented. If they didn’t implement them, they’d have me campaigning against them, regardless of which party they were in.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWhat are your views on the Stop Online Piracy Act? How would you address the issue of online piracy as president?

Kotlikoff: On SOPA, I’m concerned with its potential chilling effect of freedom of speech on the Internet. I’m also deeply concerned about online piracy. But we need to be careful not to do more harm with respect to our 1st Amendment rights than good in defending intellectual property rights. As President, I’d bring together the proponents and opponents of SOPA and ask them to listen to each other and respond to the other side’s concerns. If I became persuaded that we could better combat online piracy via new legislation as opposed to enforcing existing legislation, I would ask the two sides to put forward a jointly authored bill.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWhat are your thoughts on fellow AE presidential candidate and former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer? If he wins the AE nomination, would you consider running as an Independent?

Kotlikoff: On Governor Roemer, I agree with some statements on his website and differ with others. I believe we agree on much more than we disagree. What I don’t see is much depth or detail to what he proposes. It’s not enough to write a few sentences here and there about our problems. What we need is someone who really knows how to fix them in the simplest, cost-effective manner. The Purple Plans illustrate my ability to formulate real solutions to our pressing problems. The only plan that I saw of the Governor’s (in my admittedly quick look at his site) is his tax plan. I believe it would be less efficient, less conducive to growth, and far less progressive than www.thepurpletaxplan.org. His reference to sales taxes indicate a lack of knowledge on his part or that of his economic advisors of how consumption taxation works and what it really taxes.
I’m an independent now in terms of my political affiliation. If you are asking whether I would run as a write-in candidate for President, the answer is no. I expect to win the AE nomination. I looked a bit more at Governor Roemer’s site. One of the problems we face in the policy formation arena is getting close, but no cigar. The Governor has some good instincts in some areas, some bad ones in other areas, and no real specifics beyond the tax plan, which has, I believe, some very major flaws. In the end, he’s a politician and a banker, not an economist and I really think we need an economist at this point to get to the cigar when it comes to the very many severe economic problems we face. I’ll let you judge for yourself by comparing what’s on my website with his as well as those of other AE candidates who emerge. Knowing we have problems, knowing they aren’t being fixed, and knowing that the two parties are making the problems worse is all fine and good, but knowing precisely how to fix the problems is a different kettle of fish. I don’t suggest that designing economic policy is as tough as brain surgery, but spending decades studying economics makes a difference.



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January 1, 2012

On the campaign trail, December 2011

On the campaign trail, December 2011 – Wikinews, the free news source

On the campaign trail, December 2011

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The following is the second in a monthly series chronicling the U.S. 2012 presidential election. It features original material compiled throughout the previous month after a brief mention of some of the month’s biggest stories.

In this month’s edition on the campaign trail: the campaign manager for a candidate already seeking two presidential nominations discusses the likelihood his candidate will run for the Reform Party’s nomination; a lesser known candidates forum reveals an alternative fuel possibility and concludes in a dramatic fashion; and the newly nominated candidate for the Boston Tea Party talks with Wikinews.

Summary

Ron Paul speaks at an Iowa campaign event, December 28.
Image: Gage Skidmore.

In December 2011, businessman Herman Cain ended his campaign for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination amid allegations of sexual harassment and an extramarital affair. Hoping to appeal to social conservatives, Texas governor Rick Perry released a commercial in Iowa entitled “Strong”, in which he states, “there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.” While the video received 24,407 likes by the end of the month, it received 725,698 dislikes.

Frontrunner Newt Gingrich had trouble of his own after he suggested during an interview with The Jewish Channel that Palestinians were an “invented people”. He refused to retract the comments at the final GOP debate before the January 3 Iowa Caucus. Gingrich’s lead in the polls disappeared as Mitt Romney won big endorsements from South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, former Senator Bob Dole, and former president George H.W. Bush.

Meanwhile, Congressman Ron Paul rose in the polls as well, trailing Romney by two points in the final NBC/Marist poll of the year with Rick Santorum surging and Rick Perry close behind. However, Paul encountered his own troubles as the media reported on articles published in his newsletters from the 1980s and 1990s that included incendiary comments about blacks, gays, and Israel. Paul says he did not write the articles and has publicly disavowed them in the past. Additionally, Paul won the backing of Iowa State Senator Kent Sorenson, who previously served as the state chairman for Michele Bachmann, who continued to sag in the polls since winning the Ames Straw Poll in August.

Former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, another candidate who had been low in the Republican polls, announced a switch to the Libertarian Party to run for that party’s presidential nomination. Analysts have suggested that if Johnson wins the Libertarian nomination, he could possibly take votes away from the Republican nominee and help President Barack Obama win re-election.

Possible Reform Party candidate?

Roemer speaks to the Reform Party of New Jersey on December 10.
Image: Greenguy89.

Presidential candidate Buddy Roemer addressed members of the Reform Party of New Jersey on December 10 at a joint Reform Party-Tea Party event. The meeting raised speculation that Roemer, who is currently running for the presidential nominations of both the Republican Party and Americans Elect, would also seek the nomination of the Reform Party of the United States of America.

Dennis Mikolay, a member of the New Jersey party’s leadership, wrote on his blog that “there are efforts within the Reform Party to draft him [Roemer] as their candidate”. However, Roemer, who served as Governor of Louisiana as a Republican, does not seem interested in the nomination. According to campaign manager Carlos Sierra, the Reform Party has “reached out to us…but the Governor does not intend to seek their nomination. He is focused primarily on the GOP nomination. We think once his message gets a stage and an audience, that it will resonate with the Republican Party and Independents. The problem is he keeps getting shut out of the debates.”

Industrialist Ross Perot founded the Reform Party in 1995. He won the party’s presidential nomination the next year and received over eight percent of the popular vote, the highest percentage for a third party candidate since. After this, the party was plagued by infighting, and decreased in prominence. In 2008, Ted Weill was nominated for president, but appeared only on the ballot in Mississippi and received 481 votes.

For 2012, three candidates have announced their intentions to seek the party’s nomination: former college football coach Robby Wells, Earth Intelligence Network CEO Robert David Steele, and small business owner Andre Barnett.

Lesser-known candidates forum

On December 19, the New Hampshire Institute of Politics hosted a forum at St. Anselm College to present lesser-known candidates for the Republican and Democratic Party presidential nominations. Wikinews covered the Democratic Party forum that showcased candidates challenging President Barack Obama for that party’s presidential nomination, including anti-abortion activist Randall Terry and performance artist Vermin Supreme.

Vermin Supreme glitter bombs Randall Terry during the Democratic Party presidential candidates forum as John Wolfe looks on.
Image: Marc Nozell.

A high point of the forum occurred after Vermin Supreme delivered his final statement. He exclaimed, “Jesus told me to make Randall Terry gay” and proceeded to glitter bomb Terry while shouting, “he’s turning gay.” Terry had earlier affirmed his opposition to same-sex marriage, comparing it to slavery and abortion. Supreme later told Wikinews that Terry “took his glittering like a man, a gay man. I don’t know if the fairy dust turned him gay right away, but he took his medicine, and he seemed to enjoy it on some level.” Though Terry could not be reached for comment, he wrote on his blog that the glitter bombing “appeared to have no impact on me becoming homosexual.” Supreme claims he was threatened by a Terry supporter after the forum and is now “seeking Secret Service protection.” He has no plans to glitter bomb anyone else.

Supreme says that he had previously met Terry at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and “was given the distinct impression that he (Terry) wanted to perform fellatio on me.” He says that prior to the forum, he offered “to have ‘homosexual gay sex’ in the lavatory stall”, but Terry declined. During the forum, Supreme said that he planned to write-in Terry, but said afterwards that his support “depends how gay he [Terry] gets.”

Dr. Bob Greene, a physicist who also participated in the forum, commented that the glitter bombing “was inappropriate for the circumstances.” During the forum, Greene differentiated himself from his opponents by discussing the use of thorium as an alternative fuel, saying “we have enough thorium for all of our energy needs for well over a thousand years.” He elaborated further after the forum, explaining that thorium could be used by bombarding it with neutrons, after which it fissions. “The fuel”, he explained, “is a molten salt, really Thorium Fluoride with a couple of stable-izers.” Greene says that it is safer and produces less waste than conventional methods, but “the military favored the uranium cycle because you could get lots of plutonium out of it, which they wanted for bombs. Thorium – not so.”

Others that participated in the Democratic forum include writer Ed Cowan, lawyer John Haywood, activist Edward O’Donnell Jr., and lawyer John Wolfe.


Boston Tea Party presidential nomination

On December 23, the Boston Tea Party (BTP) nominated Howard Community College trustee Tiffany Briscoe of Maryland as its second presidential nominee. The BTP was formed in 2006 and “supports reducing the size, scope and power of government at all levels and on all issues, and opposes increasing the size, scope and power of government at any level, for any purpose.” In 2008, the party nominated boxing manager Charles Jay, who appeared on three state ballots and won a total of 2,422 votes.

Briscoe’s platform calls for the legalization of drugs, a repeal of the USA PATRIOT Act, and an end to subsidies and foreign aid. Former radio host Kimberly Johnson was selected as her running mate.

Briscoe took some time to speak with Wikinews about her campaign and the BTP.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngHow do you plan to gain ballot access for the BTP?

Briscoe: The BTP is a fairly new political party. Yet, it has great potential. Its message of individual freedom and free markets resonates with a great majority of the American people that do not seem to be content with the current Establishment. We need to campaign massively, which we are already doing, to collect enough petition signatures and get on as many ballots as possible. I will myself contribute financially to help get the party on the ballot in such states as Colorado and Louisiana. At the end of the day, we will probably be able to appear on 14 to 15 states throughout the country, and stay as a write-in candidate in virtually all the others.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngIdeologically, how are you different from Ron Paul or Gary Johnson?

Briscoe: Ron Paul and Gary Johnson are two great men that have helped the cause of liberty by working from the inside of the government. But they do not reflect the true nature of libertarianism. Paul has become a typical politician, taking pork barrel to his district to get reelected, wants to restrict immigration, and wants to plague the economy with an entire new series of tax credits and corporate loopholes for energy and health care reform. Gary Johnson, while he did veto more laws than any other governor in the 1990s, also encounters the same problem: he wants to keep Guantanamo Bay open with the so-called “enemy combatant” inside, he opposes the end of the Federal Reserve that is creating so much troubles with our economy, and even wants to establish a FairTax that would increase consumer prices in a way that will slow economic development. So while I do consider myself as an ideological ally of these two men, I don’t believe they’re doing the best they can when it comes to promoting the philosophy of freedom.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWhat do you hope to accomplish with this campaign, and what would constitute a success?

Briscoe: Of course, I am not running just to get my name or the party’s name out there, even though the latter is also a goal. I am running to show that there are actually some people outside of Washington that still care about the future of our country, to show that all these independent-minded folks are not alone in their daily fight against the federal government. But with 60% of the people wishing to see a third party play a more important role and with an even greater portion saying they would consider voting for a third party in 2012, we might have more chances to reach success than we may think. Of course, the ultimate success would be paving the way to the White House but at this point, I believe only taking away votes from the true “spoilers” that the Establishment represents in a way that would change the ultimate course of the election would already make us proud.



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