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August 11, 2016

On the campaign trail in the USA, July 2016

On the campaign trail in the USA, July 2016

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

2016 United States presidential election
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The following is the third edition of a monthly series chronicling the U.S. 2016 presidential election. It features original material compiled throughout the previous month after an overview of the month’s biggest stories.

In this month’s edition on the campaign trail: two individuals previously interviewed by Wikinews announce their candidacies for the Reform Party presidential nomination; a former Republican Congressman comments on the Republican National Convention; and Wikinews interviews an historic Democratic National Convention speaker.

Summary[]

As July started, presumptive Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton met with the FBI to discuss the private e-mail server she used as Secretary of State. A few days later, FBI Director James Comey held a press conference where he announced that charges would not be appropriate against Clinton. He noted, however, that Clinton had acted carelessly in installing a private e-mail server for State business and had risked compromising State secrets. Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump tweeted that the lack of charges in the case showed “the system is totally rigged!” Polls from the early part of the month gave Clinton a slight lead in the race. She led the July 4 Real Clear Politics average 44.9% to 40.3%. At this time, media interest in the running-mate selections of Trump and Clinton intensified. The Washington Post speculated that New Jersey governor Chris Christie and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich were the leading contenders to be Trump’s running mate. However, other reports pointed to Indiana governor Mike Pence, who confirmed he would accept the position if asked. Trump commented that ten names were on the shortlist including some not mentioned in the media. In later days, General Michael Flynn was floated as a possibility in reports. Gingrich, Flynn, and Pence were apparently finalists for the position, with Pence believed to be the favorite. For the Democrats, Senator Cory Booker, Congressman Xavier Becerra and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro received mention as potential running mates for Clinton, but the shortlist reportedly included Senators Elizabeth Warren, Tim Kaine, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Trump speaks at a July Iowa rally with Mike Pence’s name affixed to his logo
Image: Max Goldberg (flickr).

On July 7, Trump arrived in Washington D.C. and met with Republican members from the House of Representatives and Senate. During the meeting, Trump reportedly told the attendees if they did not support his candidacy, they were, in effect, supporting Clinton. Trump agreed to allow his former rival, Senator Ted Cruz, to speak at the convention, but he did not secure an endorsement from Cruz. The next day, both Trump and Clinton canceled campaign events as an African American shooter in Dallas killed five police officers. Trump’s state chairman in Virginia blamed the shooting on Clinton and others “who label police as racists.” In the aftermath, Trump proclaimed himself the “law and order candidate.” Ahead of its convention, the GOP platform committee approved a socially conservative platform that opposed same-sex marriage and identified pornography as a “public health crisis.” The convention’s host, Ohio governor John Kasich, a former presidential rival of Trump, would not endorse Trump and claimed through a spokesman that Trump had asked Kasich join the presidential ticket in May, but Kasich had declined. Trump’s spokesman denied the claim. Another former rival, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, said he might vote for Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson instead of Trump. On the other side, Hillary Clinton’s principle rival, Senator Bernie Sanders, dropped his campaign and officially endorsed Clinton. Clinton also seemingly received support from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who called Trump “a faker” and wondered why he has “gotten away” with not releasing his tax returns. Democratic Senator Chris Murphy questioned whether the country was “well served” with a Supreme Court justice openly discussing her political views. Trump referred to Ginsburg’s comments as “highly inappropriate.” Ginsburg later apologized.

Trump announced he would officially name his running mate on July 15. Though Pence was the favorite to receive the nod, Trump met with Senator Jeff Sessions, and had additional meetings with Christie and Gingrich. According to multiple news reports, Trump’s daughter Ivanka, her husband Jared Kushner, and financier Sheldon Adelson all tried to convince Trump to select Gingrich, while campaign manager Paul Manafort favored Pence, and pollster Tony Fabrizio wanted Flynn. CNN reported Trump had offered the position to Pence, who accepted. According to NBC, the purported leak of the news had left Trump “seething.” Due to the July 14 attack in Nice, France, Trump postponed the planned announcement. Both CNN and NBC reported Trump was looking for ways to get out of the selection of Pence. The campaign denied the report. The New York Times alleged the Pence selection was revisited because Christie had begged the campaign to reconsider its decision and replace Pence with himself. On July 15, Trump officially announced via Twitter that he had selected Pence. Through the selection, Trump said he hoped to unify the party. Manafort said the ticket would appeal to former supporters of Sanders. As the GOP convention approached, Manafort declared the #NeverTrump movement “gone,” as the GOP rules committee voted not to unbind delegates. Clinton announced she would reveal her vice presidential selection after the GOP convention. The Washington Post tapped Vilsack as the favorite.

RNC[]

Trump with Pence
Image: VOA.

As the GOP convention began in Cleveland, Ohio, Trump trailed Clinton in the July 18 Real Clear Politics average 40.6% to 43.8%. Although Ohio was hosting the convention, the state’s delegates were not placed in the front as is tradition. This was believed to be punishment for Governor Kasich’s refusal to endorse Trump or attend the convention. Manafort called Kasich’s absence a “big mistake” and “embarrassing [to] his state.” With the release of the lineup of speakers showing many members of Trump’s family, former RNC chairman Michael Steele called the convention “a [Trump] family affair.”

On the opening day, on the floor of the convention at Quicken Loans Arena, anti-Trump delegates unsuccessfully attempted to force a roll call vote on the convention rules. Protests outside were relatively minor with only 24 arrests throughout the entire convention. During the convention speeches, delegates frequently chanted “Lock her up!” in reference to Hillary Clinton. Patricia Smith, mother of diplomat Sean Smith who died in the 2012 Benghazi attack, blamed Clinton for her son’s death and exclaimed, “Hillary belongs in prison. She deserves to be in stripes.” In his speech, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani commented Clinton “would go to jail” if he were allowed to prosecute her. In the prime-time opening-night speech, Trump’s wife Melania delivered a speech that initially received acclaim. However, this changed once the media pointed out some lines were nearly identical to those from the speech of First Lady Michelle Obama at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

Quicken Loans Arena ahead of the 2016 Republican National Convention.
Image: Erik Drost.

The Trump campaign spent most of the second day of the convention explaining away the plagiarism flap as speechwriter Meredith McIver took the blame for the passages and offered to quit. Trump requested she remain. Trump officially received the presidential nomination on the second day of the convention and Pence received the vice-presidential nomination. Christie delivered a speech in which he held a mock trial prosecuting Clinton in absentia before the delegates. He was followed with prime-time speeches by Trump’s children Tiffany and Donald Jr.

View from the floor of the Convention
Image: VOA.

On the third day, The New York Times released a transcript of an interview with Trump in which he criticized NATO and questioned whether the US should honor the treaty if member nations do not contribute their share of funds. Several Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, said they disagreed with Trump’s comments. Disagreements seeped into the convention as well when Cruz gave a speech in which he did not endorse Trump. When his refusal became evident, a chorus of boos erupted from the delegates, continuing until he left the stage. The speech overshadowed that of Pence who accepted the vice-presidential nomination later that night. Cruz received almost universal condemnation from prominent Republicans. However, Gingrich, who spoke after Trump’s son Eric, who followed Cruz, commented he did not take the speech to show a lack of support for Trump. Manafort and Donald Trump Jr. claimed it had helped Republicans unite behind Trump.

On the last day of the convention, after a formal introduction from Ivanka, Trump accepted the GOP nomination and delivered, CNN noted, the longest nominee acceptance speech in 40 years. In the speech, Trump emphasized “law and order”, and referenced his proposals of building a wall along the southern border and banning immigration from nations with a history of terrorism. Trump described the legacy of his opponent Clinton as one of “death, destruction, terrorism, and weakness.” President Barack Obama criticized the speech, accusing Trump of basing it on fear and inaccurately painting a bleak portrait of the nation. Nevertheless, a CNN/ORC instant poll showed 57% of respondents who watched the speech received it favorably and 56% were more likely to vote for Trump. According to pundit Joe Trippi, the speech and overall convention provided the GOP with about a 5.9% bounce in the polls, one point higher than the average. Most polls at this time showed Trump leading Clinton.

A day after the convention, Clinton announced her vice-presidential selection. The New York Times had reported that Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, wanted Clinton to pick Senator Tim Kaine. Indeed, she named Kaine, a centrist from Virginia, as her running mate. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus called Clinton-Kaine a “failed Democrat status quo” ticket.

DNC[]

Pro-Bernie Sanders protests of the DNC
Image: Becker1999.

Ahead of the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Wikileaks released nearly 20 thousand hacked Democratic National Committee (DNC) e-mails. The e-mails showed favoritism of Clinton within the DNC and revealed plans to diminish the Sanders campaign. DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned her position as a result. Initially, she was to gavel-in the convention, but after a highly negative reception from her home state Florida delegation before the convention, she was replaced with DNC Secretary Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Media reports and the Clinton campaign itself blamed Russia for the hacking and leaking of e-mails. The DNC issued an apology to Sanders. Sanders urged his supporters not to protest on the floor of the convention. He was booed upon reiterating his support for Clinton before a group of delegates. Presumptive Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein invited Sanders to meet with her, but Sanders declined. Via Twitter, Trump said Sanders had “sold out.”

View of the floor of the DNC
Image: JefParker.

On the first day of the convention, the first speakers received boos upon mentioning Clinton with the crowd erupting into chants of “Bernie! Bernie!” and “Count our votes!” As the convention continued, the protests died down inside Wells Fargo Center, but continued outside. Overall, a total of 103 citations were issued in lieu of arrests, while the Secret Service arrested eleven. As the convention moved along, commentators oddly noted a common theme of “American exceptionalism” in speeches and more religious references than at the RNC. On the first night, Michelle Obama addressed the convention in a well received speech. She did not mention Trump by name, but referenced his slogan in proclaiming, “don’t let anyone ever tell you that this country isn’t great, that somehow we need to make it great again. Because this right now is the greatest country on earth!” She heaped praise upon Clinton, whom she called a leader “guided every day by the love and hope and impossibly big dreams that we all have for our children.” She was followed by the keynote speaker Elizabeth Warren, who opened a blistering attack on Trump, accusing him of defrauding people. Sanders spoke. He expressed disappointment in the outcome of the primaries but heralded the “historical accomplishments” of his movement and urged his followers to get behind Clinton.

Clinton accepts the Democratic presidential nomination
Image: VOA.

In a historic moment on the second day, Clinton officially received the Democratic presidential nomination, making her the first woman to be nominated by a major party. That night, her husband, former President Bill Clinton, addressed the convention, discussing his relationship with his wife and highlighting her accomplishments. Before the convention convened on the third day, Trump held a press conference. Referencing the DNC hack leak, he remarked, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.” The Clinton campaign attacked Trump for “actively encourag[ing] a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent,” though Trump claimed he was merely joking. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange commented in an interview that he timed the release of the hacked e-mails to hurt Clinton in the election.

On the third day, after a speech from Vice President Joe Biden, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent, addressed the convention. He formally endorsed Clinton and referred to Trump as a “con,” arguing, “[t]he richest thing about Trump is his hypocrisy.” Later, Kaine officially accepted the vice-presidential nomination. President Obama followed with a speech to wrap up the third day. He argued that no one, himself included, was “more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president of the United States of America.” He accused Trump of offering “no serious solutions to pressing problems — just the fanning of resentment, and blame, and anger, and hate.”

On the final day, Chelsea Clinton spoke and introduced her mother, Hillary Clinton, who accepted the Democratic nomination. During her speech, Clinton laid out policy proposals and attacked Trump for making some of his products overseas. In addition, she argued that Trump cannot be trusted with nuclear weapons. Clinton’s speech was deemed a success. A CNN instant poll revealed 71% of viewers had a favorable opinion of the speech with 60% more likely to vote for her after watching. Although Trump’s speech received higher television ratings, Clinton overtook Trump in post-convention polls.

Khizr and Ghazala Khan
Image: VOA.

Press coverage of Clinton’s speech was overshadowed by an earlier speech from Khizr and Ghazala Khan, a Muslim couple whose son died in Iraq in 2004. The speech set off a back-and-forth between Trump and Khan that lasted several days. With his wife at his side on the convention stage, Khizr Khan delivered a stinging attack on Trump for his earlier proposal to ban Muslim immigration and wondered whether Trump had ever read the U.S. Constitution. Trump responded, attacking Khizr for his comments and questioning whether Khizr’s wife remained silent during the speech because she was not allowed to speak. Trump’s comments were condemned by Democrats and Republicans alike. Khizr labeled Trump “void of decency” and accused him of having a “dark heart.” Ghazala responded with an op-ed in The Washington Post in which she attributed her silence at the convention to grief.

As July came to a close, Trump had additional setbacks. First, he mistakenly asserted that no Russian troops were currently in Ukraine. Second, he made an unsupported claim that the NFL had complained to him about the presidential debate schedule coinciding with NFL games. Nevertheless, Trump received some positive news with the announcement that Julian Assange had “extremely interesting” information on Clinton that had yet to be released through Wikileaks. In the July 31 Real Clear Politics average, Clinton, who had just received the endorsement of billionaire Mark Cuban, held a 1.1% lead over Trump .

Reform Party race features two Wikinews interviewees[]

Two candidates who each previously spoke with Wikinews have both announced their candidacies for the 2016 presidential nomination of the Reform Party of the United States. Historian Darcy Richardson and businessman Rocky De La Fuente each decided to seek the nomination in July. Both have previously run for president as Democrats.

Logo for the Reform Party of the United States of America.
Image: Reform Party National Committee.

[T]here was and is a party that was opposed to NAFTA, CAFTA, the WTO and other unfair trade agreements and which is still deeply committed to the Hamiltonian idea of protecting U.S. jobs and industry as we proceed into the 21st Century
Darcy Richardson on the Reform Party

Richardson, a veteran of third-party politics, sought the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2012 and briefly vied for the Reform Party presidential nomination that same year. He is the author of “The Others” anthology, covering third-party candidates, and has written books on such political topics as the 1968 presidential election and the presidential candidacies of Eugene McCarthy, George McGovern, and recently, Bernie Sanders. He served as campaign manager during McCarthy’s 1988 presidential bid. In addition, he ran for Pennsylvania Auditor General in 1980, and was the Consumer Party’s 1988 nominee for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania. In 2010, he ran for Lieutenant Governor of Florida as the running mate of gubernatorial candidate Farid Khavari.

Richardson has a history within the Reform Party beyond his 2012 run. He participated in the party’s 1996 and 2000 mail-in primaries, was part of the 2004 nominating conference calls, donated to candidates nominated by the party, and contributed to the Reform National Committee. Richardson says Reform Party Secretary Nicholas Hensley encouraged him to enter the 2016 race. As the nominee, he plans to spread the party message through television, radio, and speaking engagements.

“In short, my candidacy is designed to remind older folks about the Reform Party’s important role in American politics”, says Richardson, “and to inform younger millennials — those facing a low-paying, if not jobless, future — that there was and is a party that was opposed to NAFTA, CAFTA, the WTO and other unfair trade agreements and which is still deeply committed to the Hamiltonian idea of protecting U.S. jobs and industry as we proceed into the 21st Century.”

De La Fuente, a San Diego businessman with properties throughout the world, got his start in the automobile industry and has since branched into the banking and real estate markets. Before his 2016 Democratic Party campaign for president, he had not sought political office, but did serve as the first-ever Hispanic superdelegate, at the 1992 Democratic National Convention. During his 2016 presidential campaign, which he began largely as a reaction to the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, De La Fuente qualified for the ballot in 48 Democratic primary contests. In addition to seeking the Reform Party nomination, he is current attempting to qualify for the general election ballot in several states as an independent or as the nominee of the new “American Delta Party,” which he founded. De La Fuente is currently running in the Democratic Party primary for U.S. Senate in Florida as well. According to Hensley, in remarks to Wikinews’, ballot access expert Richard Winger encouraged De La Fuente to seek the Reform Party nomination.

Rocky De La Fuente in January 2016.
Image: Marc Nozell.

Darcy Richardson in 2010
Image: Darcy Richardson.

According to Richardson, De La Fuente entered the race a mere 24 hours after he did. Moreover, Richardson distinguishes himself from De La Fuente, arguing that while those within the Reform party encouraged him to run, De La Fuente ran at the insistence of “a partisan Libertarian [Winger] […] who personally has little interest in the Reform Party’s current fortunes or its future”, and who sees the Reform Party as “just an available ballot line”.

Richardson’s preferred running mate, activist Thomas Knapp, founder of the now-defunct Boston Tea Party, draws an even greater contrast between Richardson and De La Fuente.

“[There were] five states that both Mr. [De La] Fuente [in 2016] and Mr. Richardson [in 2012] appeared on a Democratic primary ballot [in different election cycles] […],” explains Knapp, comparing De La Fuente and Richardson’s Democratic Party candidacies, “Richardson outpolled [De La] Fuente and did so on a budget two full orders of magnitude smaller, even though Richardson was running against a popular incumbent president [Barack Obama] and [De La] Fuente was running against one of the most hated politicians in America [Hillary Clinton].”

“In his presidential campaign so far [De La Fuente] has spent $6.4 million to get 67,000 votes”, Knapp continues. “That’s $95.50 per vote.”

De La Fuente was asked to respond to these statements and to comment on this report, but he has yet to do so.

The Reform Party was founded in 1995 by industrialist Ross Perot. Perot ran as the party’s first presidential nominee in 1996, and won over eight percent of the popular vote, the highest percentage for a third-party candidate since. In 1998, professional wrestler Jesse Ventura ran on the Reform Party ticket and was elected Governor of Minnesota. The party fell in prominence during the lead-up to the 2000 presidential election when it was plagued by infighting between ideological factions. In 2000, Donald Trump briefly sought the party’s presidential nomination, but it was ultimately won by paleoconservative icon Pat Buchanan, who went on to receive only 0.4% of the popular vote in the general election. In 2004, the party opted to endorse consumer advocate Ralph Nader, but ended the year nearly bankrupt. Ted Weill won the party’s 2008 presidential nomination, but appeared on the ballot in only one state and won a total of 481 votes. In 2012, the party’s presidential nominee, fitness model Andre Barnett, on the ballot only in Florida with write-in status elsewhere, received a total of 952 votes. The party is currently on the ballot in New York and Florida, but, according to Ballot Access News, the New York affiliate is expected to nominate Trump.

The party held its 2016 convention the last weekend in July. It had planned to formally announce its presidential ticket on August 8. According to Knapp, Richardson and De La Fuente were the two leading contenders for the nomination. Others seeking the nomination included 2012 vice presidential nominee Kenneth Cross and psychologist Lynn Kahn.

“I was approached about entering the contest very recently”, says Richardson. “I plan to support whatever ticket the party nominates.”

Former Congressman responds to Cruz RNC speech[]

Congressman Tancredo
Image: United States Congress.

As Senator Ted Cruz delivered his much-discussed speech before the Republican National Convention, former Congressman Tom Tancredo, an early supporter of Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign, watched with disappointment. In an exclusive interview with Wikinews, Tancredo argued that Cruz’s refusal to endorse Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump during the speech, which prompted what was perhaps one of the most negative crowd reactions to a convention speech in recent memory, was a mistake.

“He needs to realize and appreciate the bigger picture”, said Tancredo about Cruz, “[y]ou can still hate Donald Trump for the things he says [but] he has to recognize what will happen to the country if the Supreme Court is under the control of Hillary Clinton.”

Ted Cruz delivering his convention speech
Image: VOA.

Tancredo, who represented Colorado’s 6th congressional district from 1999 to 2009, endorsed Cruz in January, writing an op-ed for Breitbart.com in which he touted Cruz as an outsider and “the real deal.” Tancredo himself ran for president in 2008 as an outsider Republican, focusing on securing the U.S.–Mexico border and enforcing laws against illegal immigration. Notably, during his campaign, Tancredo had a September 2007 interview with Wikinews.

Cruz’s speech affected more than just Tancredo’s opinion. Though some praised the speech as principled and politically astute — including Hillary Clinton, who tweeted “vote your conscience”, repeating what Cruz had said — many prominent Republicans offered rebukes. Former Congressman Joe Walsh called for a Texas Republican to “primary” Cruz in 2018, when his Senate seat goes up for re-election, as a consequence for not honoring the GOP endorsement pledge. Chris Christie described Cruz as “selfish” for refusing to endorse. Congressman Peter King called Cruz an “asshole”, a term which RNC spokesman Sean Spicer said was apt. Polls from before and after the speech showed Cruz’s approval rating among Republicans fall from 60% to 33%.

Addressing the backlash, Cruz defended his decision, arguing “I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father.” Moreover, he claimed the GOP endorsement pledge “was not a blanket commitment that, if you go and slander and attack Heidi [his wife], that I’m going to nonetheless come like a servile puppy dog and say thank you very much for maligning my wife and my father”.

The attacks Cruz refers to are Trump’s re-tweeting in March of a graphic comparing an unflattering photo of Cruz’s wife, Heidi, to a glamour shot of Melania Trump, as well as Trump’s mention last May of a National Enquirer report connecting Cruz’s father to Lee Harvey Oswald, assassin of President John F. Kennedy.

Tancredo said he believes the issues facing the nation are “more important than [Cruz’s] personal feelings about his wife or father.” He maintained that Cruz “could have avoided the problem and ‘lived with himself’ by passing on the invitation to speak. Apparently the few minutes still in the spotlight was too alluring”.

A new view on Cruz was not Tancredo’s only takeaway from July’s convention. He appreciated Trump’s acceptance speech as well, calling it the “[b]est I’ve heard from him”.

Wikinews interviews history-making DNC speaker[]

Before Hillary Clinton’s historic moment on the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention, as she became the first woman to accept the presidential nomination of a major US political party, another woman, much younger than Clinton, made history of her own. Sarah McBride, national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), became the first openly transgender person to address a major political party’s national convention when she spoke before the Democratic National Convention. Wikinews contacted McBride to find out more about her groundbreaking speech.

Sarah McBride
Image: Human Rights Campaign.

McBride, a native of Delaware in her mid-20s, came out as a transgender woman during her term at American University as student body president. Before HRC, an LGBT lobbying group, McBride was employed by the Center for American Progress, a progressive advocacy organization, and was the first openly transgender woman to intern at the White House. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the LGBT activist group Equality Delaware, through which she successfully lobbied the legislature of Delaware to expand the state’s anti-discrimination and hate-crimes acts to include gender identity and expression.

During her convention speech, McBride discussed her relationship with a transgender man, Andrew, who continued LGBT activism despite having terminal cancer. McBride married the man just a few days before his death. McBride’s speech received widespread coverage with feature stories from Time Magazine, The Washington Post, Daily Mail, CNN, ABC News, NBC News, Rolling Stone, New York, and others.

With Wikinews, McBride discusses the speech, her experience at the convention, and any future political plans.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.png How did you find out the DNC wanted you to speak at the convention? What were your initial thoughts?

McBride: I found out that I was speaking about a week before the convention started. The Congressional LGBT Caucus was granted six minutes on the main stage of the convention and they decided that they wanted to dedicate half of that time to having a transgender person speak, breaking that barrier of finally having an openly trans speaker at a major party convention. When I found out, I was excited, nervous, and honored. Throughout the week leading up to the convention and during the week of the convention, my main thought was that I wanted to do the trans community proud and do them justice.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.png How did you prepare for the speech and what did it feel like to deliver it before millions of people?

McBride: For the last few years, much of my advocacy has been about telling my personal story and weaving it in to the larger effort for LGBTQ equality. In writing my speech for the DNC, I took some of the themes, thoughts, and experiences that I’ve spoken about before and condensed them for the speech. During the week of the convention, I didn’t have much time to really focus on the upcoming speech. Instead, I went from interview to interview, talking with various outlets about this opportunity and the stakes of this election for LGBTQ people.
Standing on the stage and delivering my remarks was one of the most empowering and inspiring experiences of my life. While I was nervous beforehand, once I got on the stage and started speaking, I felt calm and determined to utilize those three minutes to effectively speak to the audience, both in and out of the arena. Throughout the speech and right afterward, I kept on thinking about a young transgender person in North Carolina who may be watching, who is wondering whether this country has a place for them too, and hoping that my speech could give that person, and anyone like them, just a little comfort and hope that things are changing, that they matter, and that their dreams and identity are not mutually exclusive.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.png What did you hope to achieve with the speech and what reaction have you received thus far?

McBride: I really hoped to drive two major points home. The first was that there is a lot of unfinished work for the LGBTQ equality movement and that Hillary Clinton is the champion and fighter we need to deliver the change so many of us still need. The second point was that I wanted to reinforce that behind this national conversation on transgender rights, are real people who hurt when we are mocked, who hurt when we are discriminated against, and who just want to be treated with dignity and fairness.
The energy in the arena was palpable as I stood on stage and I hope that the trans community could see and hear the love in that space. [The] response was and has been overwhelming and heartening. I hope that my speech helped open some hearts and change some minds, even if it was just one person.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.png Other than the speech, how was your experience at the convention?

McBride: This was the first convention I had ever attended and needless to say it was an incredible experience. Watching the first woman nominee of a major party stand up and accept the nomination of her party for President of the United States was a sight and experience I will never forget. I feel so lucky to have witnessed so much history in Philadelphia.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.png After participating in the convention, do you personally have any interest in pursuing political office?

McBride: I’ve always been interested in politics and government and I definitely plan on returning to my home state of Delaware at some point, but I don’t know if running for office is ever in my future. Right now, I’m incredibly focused on contributing whatever I can to push equality forward for LGBTQ people and if there is anything I’ve learned in the last few years, it’s that making long term plans is usually a pretty fruitless exercise.



Related articles[]

Sources[]

Wikinews
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.

This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

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

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

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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August 14, 2012

Reform Party of the United States nominates fitness model Andre Barnett for president

Reform Party of the United States nominates fitness model Andre Barnett for president

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Andre Barnett
Image: Andre Barnett 2012.

Fitness model Andre Barnett of Poughkeepsie, New York won the presidential nomination of the Reform Party of the United States at its national convention in Philadelphia last weekend. Consultant Kenneth Cross was selected as his running mate.

Barnett, who founded the company WiseDome, became a fitness model after suffering an injury in a 2000 helicopter incident while serving in the U.S. Army. He participated in last January’s Wikinews Reform Party USA presidential candidates forum, along with then-candidates former Savannah State football coach Robby Wells and Earth Intelligence Network CEO Robert David Steele.

Both Wells and Steele withdrew long before the convention as did others who later announced their candidacies, notably former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer and former Council of Economic Advisers Senior Economist Laurence Kotlikoff. As Wikinews reported in June, historian Darcy Richardson also sought the nomination, but he tells Wikinews that he did not attend the convention and withdrew from the race in July, “once it became clear the party wasn’t going to qualify for the ballot in Arkansas, New Jersey and a few of the other relatively easy states.”

Two other candidates — Cross, who later won the vice presidential nomination, and Dow Chemical worker Edward Chlapowski — attended the convention, where they debated Barnett before the delegate vote.

In his acceptance speech, Barnett referred to the Reform Party as “the microcosm of America”, and proclaimed that as the party’s nominee, he would not focus on social issues that “[belong] outside of politics”, but instead would center his campaign on the economy, defense, and education.

The Reform Party currently has ballot access in four states: Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Kansas; but in June, the disaffiliated Kansas Reform Party chose to nominate 2008 Constitution Party presidential nominee Chuck Baldwin.


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June 15, 2012

Darcy Richardson to seek Reform Party presidential nomination

Darcy Richardson to seek Reform Party presidential nomination

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Friday, June 15, 2012

Darcy Richardson, the historian who challenged U.S. President Barack Obama in several 2012 Democratic Party primary races, has notified Wikinews he will now “actively seek” the presidential nominations of the Reform Party of the United States of America and several third parties with single-state ballot access.

Reform Party presidential candidate Darcy Richardson.
Image: Darcy Richardson.

Richardson initially ran as a progressive alternative to Obama, concerned largely with the president’s economic policies. Discussing his qualms in detail during a November 2011 Wikinews interview, Richardson cited Obama’s extension of the Bush tax cuts, his inability to include a public option in his health care bill, his failure to renew the Glass-Steagall Act and pass cap-and-trade legislation, and his seeming reluctance to defend Social Security and Medicare. He also mentioned Obama’s continued use of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and prosecution of the War in Afghanistan.

As a Democrat, Richardson qualified for primary ballots in New Hampshire, Missouri, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Texas. His strongest showing proportionally came in Oklahoma, where he won 6.36 percent of the vote. Overall he received a total of 41,386 votes in the five states, 25,296 of which came during the May 29 Texas primary, after he had already suspended his campaign.

Last April, Richardson ceased all campaign operations, and shifted focus to his news blog Uncovered Politics. At the time, he said he planned to support Americans Elect and Reform Party presidential candidate Buddy Roemer, in part due to his economic plans, such as the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall. Richardson described Roemer as a “straight-talking, anti-Wall Street former governor of Louisiana who is … head and shoulders above any other potential third-party candidate in his conception of the current economic crisis.”

After Roemer ended his presidential campaign as a whole following Americans Elect’s board decision to not nominate a 2012 ticket, Richardson was left to decide whether to support Obama’s re-election or reconsider his own campaign. He ultimately chose to relaunch his campaign, and like Roemer, run for Reform Party nomination. He concluded:

I can’t in good conscience support President Obama’s re-election. He’s a good man, but entirely out of his league in putting the country on a path to economic recovery. The American people are hurting, and they’re hurting badly. President Obama squandered the first two years of his presidency on a health care bill that nobody wanted while essentially ignoring the private sector in his $787 billion stimulus package in 2009 — legislation that did little other than preserve the bloated payrolls of public sector employees across the country. We need a President who understands what it will take to end this depression, somebody with extensive private sector experience. Unlike President Obama, I have spent my entire life in the business community.

Currently, six other individuals are seeking the Reform Party presidential nomination: Blake Ashby, who challenged President Bush in the 2004 Republican primaries; fitness model Andre Barnett, the only candidate remaining who participated in the January 2012 Wikinews Reform Party forum; Dow Chemical worker Edward Chlapowski; consultant Kenneth Cross; economic adviser Dick McCormick; and estimator Michael Edwin Whitley.

The Reform Party currently has ballot access in four states, but with the aim of achieving access in a dozen, Richardson will also compete for the nominations of ballot-qualified third parties with single-state access elsewhere.



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April 28, 2012

Darcy Richardson suspends Democratic Party presidential campaign

Darcy Richardson suspends Democratic Party presidential campaign

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Democratic Party presidential candidate Darcy Richardson.
Image: Darcy Richardson.

Historian Darcy Richardson of Florida tells Wikinews that he has suspended his campaign for the United States Democratic Party’s 2012 presidential nomination and has shut down his campaign website. However, he affirms that he will remain on the ballot for the Texas Democratic presidential primary on May 29, and is still eligible as a write-in candidate for the June 5 California primary.

Richardson, 55, decided last October to mount a primary challenge to U.S. President Barack Obama as a progressive, arguing that Obama’s reelection would amount to a “fourth term for [former President] George W. Bush.” He spoke with Wikinews shortly after his announcement, and detailed his association with the late Senator Eugene McCarthy, whose 1988 presidential campaign he had managed.

After winning only 264 votes (0.44 percent) in the New Hampshire primary in January, Richardson compared his performance to that of McCarthy, who won only 211 votes in the state in 1992. He told Wikinews that he would do “much better in future primaries.”

Indeed, his numbers improved: he won 1.22 percent in Missouri in February, 5.15 percent in Louisiana in March, and had his strongest showing last month in Oklahoma, receiving 6.36 percent of the vote.

Next month, he will appear on the Texas ballot with Obama, attorney John Wolfe, Jr., and Bob Ely.

Richardson’s former campaign website (www.darcy2012.com) now redirects to Uncovered Politics, a political website that he co-founded in 2010. Since suspending his campaign, he has increased his activity on the site and has recently published an interview with the new Constitution Party presidential nominee Virgil Goode.



Related news

  • “On the campaign trail, March 2012” — Wikinews, April 4, 2012
  • On the campaign trail, January 2012” — Wikinews, February 3, 2012
  • “Wikinews interviews Darcy Richardson, Democratic Party presidential challenger to Barack Obama” — Wikinews, November 25, 2012

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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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March 10, 2012

Super Tuesday 2012: President Obama loses a delegate to Randall Terry

Super Tuesday 2012: President Obama loses a delegate to Randall Terry

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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Randall Terry.
Image: Marc Nozell.

President Barack Obama.

U.S. President Barack Obama was not able to secure all the delegates available at the Oklahoma Democratic primary on Super Tuesday. Though Obama finished in first place with 57 percent, anti-abortion activist Randall Terry was able to capture 18 percent of the vote, entitling him to at least one delegate. As a result, Obama may not be unanimously nominated at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in September.

Terry said in February, he hoped to win five or six percent. He received a boost when conservative icon Ann Coulter agreed to speak at his Oklahoma fundraiser. Additionally, he was able to spread his message through the state with television advertisements depicting aborted fetuses.

“There are still Democrats who love innocent babies more than they love the party” said Terry to the Tulsa World; and to the The Wall Street Journal, “Everyone will know what it means to be pro-life when this election cycle’s over.” According to The Wall Street Journal, he will appear on six more primary ballots, starting with New Jersey.

Along with the delegate, Terry also won twelve of Oklahoma’s 77 counties. However, he was not the only challenger to win counties; the 2010 U.S. Senate nominee for the Democratic Party in Oklahoma, Jim Rogers, won three. He finished in third place overall with 14 percent, one percent short of the threshold required to qualify for delegates. Progressive activist Darcy Richardson was fourth with six percent.

The last time an incumbent president was unable to win all the delegates during the presidential primaries was in 1996, when Bill Clinton-challenger Lyndon LaRouche won delegates in Louisiana and Virginia. The Democratic Party took them away, citing LaRouche’s views as “explicitly racist and anti-Semitic, and otherwise utterly contrary to the fundamental beliefs…of the Democratic Party”. LaRouche later sued but was unsuccessful.

Trav Robertson, interim executive director of the Oklahoma Democratic Party remarked, “In every primary there is a fringe candidate that appears on the ballot and attempts to capture delegates from a sitting president.” He cited LaRouche in 1996 as well as Pat Buchanan, Howard Phillips, and Alan Keyes who challenged George H.W. Bush in 1992.

On whether Terry would keep the delegate, Robertson declared, “The party is reviewing the election results and will abide by previously established rules regarding the allotment of delegates. No matter what, we know President Obama will win the majority of delegates at this year’s convention.”



Related articles

  • On the campaign trail, February 2012” — Wikinews, March 3, 2012
  • “Wikinews interviews Darcy Richardson, Democratic Party presidential challenger to Barack Obama” — Wikinews, November 25, 2011

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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

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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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November 25, 2011

Wikinews interviews Darcy Richardson, Democratic Party presidential challenger to Barack Obama

Wikinews interviews Darcy Richardson, Democratic Party presidential challenger to Barack Obama

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Friday, November 25, 2011

Democratic Party presidential candidate Darcy Richardson.
Image: Darcy Richardson.

U.S. Democratic Party presidential candidate Darcy Richardson of Florida took some time to answer a few questions from Wikinews reporter William S. Saturn.

Richardson, 55, is a political activist that helped form the New Democrats in 1989 and founded the progressive Battleground Blog earlier this year. He is also a political historian, and has authored six books covering third parties and presidential elections, including A Nation Divided: The 1968 Presidential Campaign (2002). His current work, The Spirit of ’76: Eugene McCarthy’s Struggle for Open Politics, chronicles the late Democratic Senator Eugene McCarthy‘s 1976 presidential campaign for which he volunteered. Richardson admires McCarthy, and served as manager for his 1988 presidential run. Recently, Richardson advised Brian Moore‘s Socialist Party USA presidential campaign in 2008.

In addition, Richardson himself has sought political office, albeit unsuccessfully. In 1980, he ran for Pennsylvania Auditor General, and in 1988, vied for one of Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate seats as a member of the Consumer Party. Last year, he ran for Lieutenant Governor of Florida as the running mate of gubernatorial candidate Farid Khavari.

Richardson has criticized President Barack Obama’s policies for being too similar to those of former President George W. Bush. He hoped to convince several prominent progressives to challenge Obama in the Democratic primaries, but none were available to do so. Last month, Richardson decided to begin a campaign himself and announced through his Battleground Blog that he would challenge Obama in the Democratic Party primaries as a progressive candidate. So far, he has qualified for the New Hampshire primary in January and the Missouri primary in February. In an interview with the Independent Political Report, Richardson proclaimed his campaign slogan as “no fourth term for George W. Bush.”

Background

Wikinews waves Left.pngWilliam S. SaturnWikinews waves Right.pngWhen did you first meet Senator Eugene McCarthy, and what attracted you to his campaign?

Senator Eugene McCarthy.
Image: United States Federal Government.

Darcy Richardson: I first met Senator McCarthy during his independent campaign for the presidency in 1976 when I was about 19 or 20 years old. I had been an admirer of the former Minnesota lawmaker dating back to his 1968 campaign when he courageously challenged LBJ for the Democratic presidential nomination, essentially risking his political career to end the unjust war in Vietnam. It was a candidacy of conscience. Similarly, I was strongly attracted to Gene’s 1976 effort, believing that he was far better qualified than either Jimmy Carter or Gerald Ford. McCarthy’s campaign that year — striking down burdensome and discriminatory ballot access laws in no fewer than twenty-four states — was an heroic effort to further the cause of open politics in this country. McCarthy’s legal team, headed by young lawyers John C. Armor and Philip L. Marcus, described it as “The Bloodless Revolution of 1976.” McCarthy’s candidacy that year had a lasting effect on my own politics. I knew Gene fairly well and visited him several times in later years in his book-filled home near the Blue Ridge Mountains, a rustic and comfortable dwelling lined with pictures of Yeats and Joyce. Gene was an original voice in American politics. He was also a pretty decent poet.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngIn 1980, to the surprise of many, Senator McCarthy endorsed Republican Ronald Reagan for president. Did you agree with this decision?

Richardson: No, I didn’t agree with that endorsement. In fact, I had campaigned for Ted Kennedy in the New Hampshire and Pennsylvania primaries earlier that spring and later ran for statewide office in Pennsylvania on a ticket headed by environmentalist Barry Commoner, the Citizens Party nominee for president. Some Democrats never forgave Gene for endorsing Reagan. I wasn’t one of them.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngYou are (or were at one time) a member of the Boston Tea Party, a minor third party whose platform 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.” Do you agree with this platform?

Richardson: My involvement with the Boston Tea Party — a freedom-oriented, limited government entity — was relatively short-lived. I assisted them a bit here in Florida because of Tom Knapp’s personal involvement. Tom, a self-styled anarchist and original thinker, had founded the party shortly after the Libertarian Party‘s mid-term convention in 2006. An edgy and contemplative guy, Tom is a libertarian writer and activist for whom I have tremendous respect. He’s one of the smartest people I know and is also probably one of the most talented writers that I’ve ever encountered.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWhich presidential candidates have you supported over the past twenty years?

Richardson: There are probably too many to mention here, but Eugene McCarthy, who sought the Democratic presidential nomination again in 1992, and U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio would be the two that I’ve been most enthusiastic about during the past twenty years. We need more Democrats like them.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngHow have your political views changed in the past twenty years?

Richardson: We all change, of course, but my political views have always remained consistently progressive.

Policy

Wikinews waves Left.pngWilliam S. SaturnWikinews waves Right.pngIf you had been elected president in 2008, what would you have done differently than Barack Obama?

Richardson.
Image: Darcy Richardson.

Darcy Richardson: The fact that President Obama initially appointed Larry Summers as chairman of his White House Economic Council shortly after taking office, should have given everybody pause. Summers is probably more responsible for the country’s current economic mess than any other individual.
As President Clinton’s Secretary of the Treasury from 1999 to January 2001, Summers shaped and pushed the financial deregulation that unleashed the near-collapse of Wall Street in the autumn of 2008, particularly when he pushed through the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 during the final years of the Clinton Administration — legislation, as you know, that had prohibited banks from doing both commercial and investment banking.
An architect-turned-enabler of this never-ending economic crisis, Summers later supported the Commodity Futures Modernization Act that, unbelievably as it might seem, mandated that financial derivatives — including the reckless credit default swaps at the heart of the financial crisis — could be traded between financial institutions without any government oversight whatsoever.
It’s little wonder that Rolling Stone writer William Greider, in a marvelously detailed article in late 2008, pointed out that Obama’s choice of Summers and other key economic advisers, including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, seemed designed to sustain the failed economic policies of the Bush presidency — an administration that never saw the financial crisis coming in the first place.
The Summers appointment told me that the President had no earthly clue how this devastating financial crisis happened or how to reverse it.
Things only got worse after that. President Obama failed to resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933. He failed to include a public option in health care. He failed to assert his constitutional responsibility during the recent debt limit crisis. Unbelievably, he’s failed to protect Social Security and Medicare. He extended the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. He failed to push for cap-and-trade. And he failed to close Gitmo. I could go on, but I think you get the point. If anybody deserves a serious intraparty challenge, it’s the current occupant of the White House.
In retrospect, it’s really incredible that a Democrat of national stature and credibility hasn’t entered this race — at least as of now.

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

Richardson: Nothing I could write a book about, unless it’s a work of fiction. He’s generally been disappointing, allowing the GOP to frame the debate on issue after issue. Who in their right mind wants the Republicans to dictate fiscal or economic policy in this country? The folks in the Occupy Wall Street movement have already figured that out. It’s just a matter of the rest of the country coming to the same conclusion…

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWhat necessary freedoms are currently lacking in American society?

Richardson: Since the beginning of the Bush Administration, most of our personal freedoms have been under constant attack — including freedom of assembly, as many in the Occupy movement can sadly testify.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngDo you disagree with any parts of the current U.S. Constitution?

Richardson: Not really, but I’m not particularly crazy about the second amendment.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWhat are some of your policy proposals, and if elected, how would you implement these?

Richardson: First and foremost, I’m advocating a capital levy on wealth, not unlike the proposal currently being debated in Germany and other European countries. Much of our current $15 trillion national debt should be recouped from the rich — the pampered and privileged class that hasn’t paid its fair share in recent years.
Though I’m still developing my platform, I also support a second stimulus package — roughly five or six times the size of Obama’s meager $447 billion “Son of Stimulus” — to jump-start the U.S. economy; a Medicare-for-All health care plan; and a moratorium on home foreclosures (for primary residences only), not unlike that initiated by Minnesota’s radical Farmer-Labor Party during the Great Depression. I also want an immediate end to the war in Afghanistan and am strongly opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline.
The American people are hurting, and they’re hurting badly.

Campaign

Wikinews waves Left.pngWilliam S. SaturnWikinews waves Right.pngYou wrote that you had wanted somebody like former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, economist Jeffrey Sachs, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), or former Representative Alan Grayson (D-FL) to challenge President Obama in the primaries. You mentioned that you had “encouraged several of them to run”. Which of these individuals did you contact and what were their reasons for declining?

Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich.
Image: Robert Reich.

Darcy Richardson: My personal preference was former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, whom I had urged to run several months ago. I never received a response. In my opinion, Reich’s talents are being virtually wasted in academia. He’s a brilliant man and has probably forgotten more than Obama ever knew. The country desperately needs him. I also personally encouraged Kucinich to enter the fray, but he was clearly focusing his attention on being re-elected to the U.S. House, a re-election contest complicated by redistricting. I received a nice reply from Kucinich’s congressional staff. I never got around to contacting Jeffrey Sachs, but the Columbia University professor, like Bob Reich, would have been an ideal candidate, too.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngOf the candidates currently running for the Republican Party nomination, which do you most admire?

Richardson: Well, I sort of miss Harold Stassen; he was a truly progressive Republican. But to answer your question it would probably be Buddy Roemer and gay activist Fred Karger. I also like former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson. Roemer, a former congressman and ex-governor, is probably the most principled candidate in the crowded Republican field, but the powers-that-be in both the GOP and the media have denied him a fair hearing. I wouldn’t be surprised if he runs as an independent. I also admire Congressman Ron Paul’s tenacity, but I find his politics a little too conservative for my blood. After all, government isn’t the enemy.
I’ve never completely agreed with McCarthy’s assessment that the Republican Party was like the lowest form of plant and animal life, but the rest of the GOP field — from Gingrich to Santorum and Cain — comes awfully darn close to matching that biting description.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWhat campaign activities have you taken part in and where do you base the campaign?

Richardson: I’ve mostly just done newspaper and television interviews up to this point. I enjoy doing them, but television interviews are probably the toughest. Can you imagine what would have happened to civilization if Aristotle and Plato had to speak in sound bites?
In any case, I do plan to campaign actively in New Hampshire shortly after Christmas and plan to make a major effort in Pennsylvania — my old stomping ground — next spring as part of a major effort of sorts in the tri-state area. We hope to petition our way onto the Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware primary ballots and to pay a filing fee in nearby West Virginia. I’m also willing to campaign in other primary and caucus states where we’re organized.
Believe it or not, we actually have a functioning campaign headquarters on St. Johns Bluff Rd. in Jacksonville, about twenty-three miles from my home. We share the office with a couple of local businesses.
Our low-key campaign is progressing nicely. We recently named Frances “Dolly” Simplot — a Hillary Clinton supporter and longtime Democratic activist from Bellingham, Washington — as my honorary campaign chairperson. Dolly is in her mid-seventies, but has more energy than somebody half her age. She’s amazing. Like millions of other lifelong Democrats, she’s deeply disappointed in the Obama Presidency. Then again, she is a Democrat.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngHave you or do you plan to file with the FEC?

Richardson: We’ve already raised a few thousand dollars and plan to file with the FEC shortly.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWould you consider running as a third party or Independent candidate?

Richardson: I have no plans to do so, but I’ve learned in life never to entirely rule out anything.



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This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

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