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November 5, 2012

On the campaign trail, October 2012

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

On the campaign trail, October 2012

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Monday, November 5, 2012

The following is the twelfth and final edition of 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 fan of Wikinews asks a critical question at the Second presidential debate; Gary Johnson discusses Syria and foreign intervention with Wikinews, and three candidates give the their final plea to voters ahead of the November 6 election.

Summary

October opened with President Barack Obama comfortably leading Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in most polls. This changed following the first presidential debate, which opinion polls and commentators declared as a Romney victory. Around 67 million Americans watched the Jim Lehrer-moderated debate, which focused on economic matters. CBS News analysis described the debate as possibly the best night of the Romney campaign, finding him in control of the discourse and appearing “reasonable, pragmatic and respectful.” On the other hand, the analysis characterized Obama as cautious, lacking energy, and exercising poor body language, particularly in his propensity to look down at his podium while Romney spoke. One memorable exchange occurred when Romney argued that he would cut federal funding to Lehrer’s network PBS, prefacing that he actually liked Lehrer, the network, and its Sesame Street character Big Bird, but argued that he would not continue “to borrow money from China to pay for it.” Afterwards, Romney experienced a bounce in the national polls, surpassing Obama for the lead in several. Shortly after the debate, September’s economic report was released, revealing a fall in unemployment to 7.8 percent, the lowest rate since the beginning of the Obama presidency. However, the Obama campaign hit a potential stumbling block as State Department officials reported details on the September 11 embassy attack in Benghazi, Libya that led to the deaths of four Americans including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. The administration had earlier claimed the attacks resulted from Innocence of Muslims protests, but it emerged the attacks were planned. The report raised questions of what the administration knew and why better protection was not provided to the consulate. The story broke just shy of the one and only Vice Presidential Debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Republican Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan, held in Danville, Kentucky. Though analysts drew contrasting conclusions on who won the debate with many believing Biden had won it on substance, much post-debate discussion focused on Biden’s aggression, use of the word “malarkey”, incessant smiling and laughing, and interruptions of both Ryan and the moderator Martha Raddatz of ABC News.

Third party candidates Jill Stein, Rocky Anderson, Virgil Goode, and Gary Johnson participate in the 2012 Free and Equal presidential debate.
Image: Connie Ma.

Shortly thereafter, the second presidential debate commenced in Hempstead, New York, moderated by CNN‘s Candy Crowley. The debate’s town hall format allowed the candidates to walk around the stage as they answered pre-selected questions from audience members. In contrast to the first debate, Obama appeared energetic and aggressive, as did Romney. CBS News described the debate as “contentious” with Obama and Romney attacking each other often and appearing to almost “come to blows” on one exchange. One such exchange occurred when Romney and Obama went back-and-forth about oil leases on federal lands. Obama claimed oil production increased during his administration; Romney agreed but countered that the increase was due only to private production, and that oil leases and production on federal lands actually decreased. The Benghazi attack presented another contentious topic at the debate with Obama claiming that he labeled the incident as a terrorist attack on the day after it happened, which Crowley confirmed, though she also noted the administration later claimed the incident was a reaction to the Innocence of Muslims. Before the next debate, the candidates appeared jointly at a less serious event, each taking part in the traditional Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner hosted by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, where they joked about the election, their opponent, and themselves. The final debate held at Florida’s Lynn University and hosted by CBS News’ Bob Schieffer focused on foreign affairs, which the candidates often appeared to agree on. Notably, Romney avoided criticism of the president for his handling of the September 11 Benghazi attack. One disagreement between the candidates concerned the issue of military strength. Romney accused Obama of proposing budget cuts for the military and criticized him for maintaining a Navy with the fewest battleships since 1917. Obama countered that “we also have fewer horses and bayonets. Because the nature of the military has changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.”

The next day, four third party candidates excluded from the national debates for not meeting the Commission on Presidential Debates‘ polling threshold, but who satisfied the commission’s ballot access requirements, took part in a debate of their own sponsored by the Free and Equal Elections Foundation and broadcast on C-SPAN with Larry King as the moderator. Those taking part in the debate included former New Mexico governor and Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson, former congressman and Constitution Party nominee Virgil Goode, former Salt Lake City Mayor and Justice Party nominee Rocky Anderson, and physician Jill Stein, presidential nominee of the Green Party. The two candidates that received the highest number of votes following the event, Johnson and Stein, were then invited to a one-on-one-debate scheduled for the next week. The event was postponed due to the Superstorm Hurricane Sandy. Sandy hit the northeast coast on the final week of campaigning, causing damages largely in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. The destruction and lack of electricity in certain areas raised questions of how the election could take place on November 6 amid such chaos. Furthermore, analysts questioned whether Obama’s response to the crisis would help him win the race. As Election Day neared, Obama secured critical endorsements from former Secretary of State Colin Powell and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Nevertheless, in the RealClearPolitics average for October 31, Romney and Obama remained in a statistical tie. Polling also indicated that the most critical swing states were Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado, New Hampshire, Florida, Virginia, Michigan, Nevada, and North Carolina.

Wikinews fan sparks controversy at second presidential debate

Kerry Ladka, a senior sales associate at Global Telecom Supply and self-professed fan of Wikinews, was one of the individuals picked to address President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney at the October 16 presidential debate in Hempstead, New York. His question, which involved the September 11 attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, sparked one of the debate’s most contentious and controversial moments.

According to Ladka, the Gallup organization randomly selected him to ask a question, which he devised without their assistance. In fact, prior to asking, Ladka explained to viewers that his question arose during a discussion with his friends at work.

Kerry Ladka asks President Obama a question during the second presidential debate.
Image: The New York Times.

Speaking directly to President Obama, Ladka mentioned the reports that the U.S. State Department denied additional security forces to the Libyan embassy before it was breached. He then asked, “Who was it that denied enhanced security and why?”

Obama responded that upon hearing of the breach, he gave three instructions to his national security advisers: (1) increase security at the Libyan embassy and other U.S. embassies throughout the region; (2) investigate the matter; and (3) find and prosecute the culprits of the attack. He then criticized Romney’s reaction to the event as “trying to make political points.” Romney responded that it took the administration too long to label the break-in as a terrorist act while casting blame on a YouTube trailer. Obama countered that he actually did refer to the attack as a terrorist act at the Rose Garden on the subsequent day and expressed outrage that Romney would suggest “anybody on my team would play politics or mislead when we’ve lost four of our own”. This remark led to a war of words between Romney, Obama, and moderator Candy Crowley.

Romney repeatedly asked Obama whether he actually said the attack was a terrorist act and not a “spontaneous demonstration.” Obama twice responded, “please proceed” before citing the transcript of his remarks from the Rose Garden. After the moderator confirmed the president’s statement, Obama asked her to do so “a little louder”. With Crowley doing so, Romney then argued that the administration instead had maintained the act was a reaction against a video, which Crowley also confirmed. Romney next attempted to question why the Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice “went on the Sunday television shows and spoke about how this was a spontaneous reaction”, but Crowley decided to move on to other questions.

Ladka told The Washington Post he did not believe Obama adequately answered the question during the debate, but noted that afterwards, Obama approached him and explained that he had wanted, in the days following the attack, to ensure the intelligence he received on the matter was correct, and that to avoid endangerment he did not want to explicitly name any individual in the State Department responsible for denying security.

To the Post, Ladka remained undecided on whom he would give his vote. But now after time for further deliberation, he tells Wikinews he has come to a decision. Though he felt Romney was “very impressive” at the debate, he believes President Obama was the winner and has decided to cast his ballot for the President on Election Day.

Gary Johnson speaks to Wikinews on Syria and foreign intervention

Though the fallout from the break-in at Benghazi was the main foreign policy focus in October, there was also some discussion, especially during the final two-party debate, about the unrest in Syria and actions of the Bashar al-Assad government, which led to the killings of roughly 30,000 people and displacement of 300,000.

Gary Johnson.
Image: Gary Johnson.

During the third and final debate between Obama and Romney, both seemed to agree that the United States should help the anti-government forces in Syria. Gary Johnson, in contrast, has a completely different viewpoint on both Syria and the question of foreign intervention.

In an exclusive interview with Wikinews, Johnson asserts that assistance for the Syrian rebels for humanitarian purposes may simply lead to the rise of a faction worse than the regime in power. Broadly speaking, he finds that “we intervene in the name of humanity, and the result is…more times than not, a situation that is worse, not better.”

Nevertheless, Johnson does not hold an absolutist view against foreign intervention. When questioned about the need to intervene in the case of a genocide, he responded “I don’t think any of us want to stand by and watch that happen.” However, for any kind of military intervention, Johnson favors congressional approval.

But for what actually constitutes a genocide requiring intervention, Johnson holds, “let me borrow from a Supreme Court justice that was asked his definition of pornography. [He said] You know, I can’t give you a definition of pornography but I’d like to think that when I see it I recognize it.”

The complete interview with Governor Johnson on these and other issues can be read here.

The final pleas…

With Gary Johnson and Jill Stein making their case to voters at the final Free and Equal debate, Wikinews provided the opportunity to the three other third party presidential candidates with enough ballot access and write-in certification to theoretically win the election.

Those making their final pleas include: former congressman Virgil Goode, nominee of the Constitution Party; America’s Party nominee Tom Hoefling; and former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, nominee of the Justice Party.

Ballot access maps for each of the three candidates appear below their respective statements.

Virgil Goode: Virgil Goode is the only candidate who will stop illegal immigration and block automatic citizenship for children born in the US of illegal aliens. He is also the only candidate who will protect jobs for US citizens by stopping so many green card holders from entering the United States. Lastly, he will work to stop the domination by Big Money PACs of federal elections. Save America and Vote for Virgil Goode.

Goode answers questions after the first Free and Equal debate.
Image: Connie Ma.
Ballot access (violet), write-in certification (light violet), no access (gray)
Image: Ariostos.


Tom Hoefling: Without faith there can be no justice. The two things are inextricably linked.

What is justice? To put it most simply, it is right-doing. In terms of the law and self-government, it is doing right to all persons equally and equitably.

But how can we possibly perfect justice in this country, as the framers of our Constitution purposed to do, if we pay no mind to the laws of nature and of nature’s God? It is not possible.

Is there a desire in your heart to help save this country and restore America’s greatness? Then trust God, seek His will, and do right. Join together with your fellow citizens who are of the same mind and heart, and retake the reins of your own self-government. If enough Americans will do this, without compromise, and do it in time, there is hope for this country and for our posterity. We can, if we choose to follow God and do right, once again be a shining city on a hill.

But if we refuse, and choose instead to be faithless and unjust by continuing to kill the babies and destroy God’s institution of marriage and the natural family, our children and grandchildren, those who survive our brutal savagery, will curse us. They will rightfully convict us of squandering their precious heritage, one that was dearly bought with blood, sweat, and tears by our just and faithful forebears.

Our generation is a link in the chain between the past and the future. Please, my fellow Americans, I beg you, don’t let it be broken. Strengthen the things that remain, before it is too late.

Tom Hoefling.
Image: Tom Hoefling.
Ballot access (cyan), write-in certification (light cyan), no access (gray)
Image: Ariostos.


Rocky Anderson: I propose an alternative to the corrupt two-party system that has created a militarist and corporatist government for sale to the highest bidders. My Justice Party campaign calls for people to demand a government that is genuinely of, by, and for the people.

Peace and prosperity require: (1) aggressive action on climate change; (2) creating a vibrant economy with living wage jobs through a WPA-like initiative, and returning outsourced jobs to the U.S.; (3) a significant reduction in military spending; (4) equal rights, regardless of race, religion, and sexual orientation; (5) a Medicare-for-all system providing better outcomes with lower costs; (6) prosecution of financial crimes, enforcement of financial regulations, including reinstatement of Glass-Steagall; (7) a restorative criminal justice system and an end to the disastrous “war on drugs”; (8) tax fairness; (9) Social Security and Medicare not be plundered; and (10) dismantlement of the imperial presidency and restoration of the U.S. Constitution.

My foreign policy will promote peace and respect for human rights, not the empire-building wars of aggression supported by both major parties. I will promote long-term U.S. security and build better relationships with other nations by ending the immoral drone killings that have already killed hundreds of innocent civilians and created more hatred and hostility toward the U.S.

Anderson poses with a supporter after the first Free and Equal debate.
Image: Connie Ma.
Ballot access (blue), write-in certification (light blue), no access (gray)
Image: Ariostos.




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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.

August 6, 2012

Sitcom star Roseanne Barr chosen as the presidential nominee of the Peace and Freedom Party

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
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Monday, August 6, 2012

2012 United States Presidential Election
Wikinews Election 2012.svg
2012 U.S. Presidential Election stories

Roseanne Barr, star of the popular ’90s sitcom Roseanne, won the presidential nomination of the California-based Peace and Freedom Party on Saturday, guaranteeing her ballot access in California, the most populous U.S. state. Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan of California was selected as her running mate.

Barr first announced her intentions to run for president during an August 2011 appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. On the show, Barr told Leno she would run under the banner of the “Green Tea Party”, a political entity she created that combined elements of the Green and Tea Party movements. She named the American taxpayer as her running mate, and said her first act as president would be the legalization of marijuana. Several months later, Barr announced that she would instead seek the Green Party’s presidential nomination. After losing at the Green National Convention last month to physician Jill Stein, Barr searched for other ways to continue her campaign and settled on seeking the Peace and Freedom Party nomination.

Roseanne Barr
Image: Monterey Media.
Cindy Sheehan
Image: dbking.

At the convention, Socialist Party USA presidential nominee Stewart Alexander and Freedom Socialist Party presidential nominee Stephen Durham were the only opponents for Barr. Justice Party presidential nominee Rocky Anderson, who won the California Peace and Freedom Party presidential primary in June, withdrew from the race several days prior to avoid what Uncovered Politics called an “embarrassingly lopsided defeat”; Party for Socialism and Liberation presidential nominee Peta Lindsay dropped out before the convention vote to endorse Barr.

In the initial vote, Barr failed to win an outright majority. She received the support of 29 delegates, while 18 went for Durham, 12 supported Alexander, and four abstained from voting. Per party rules requiring majority support, a second vote was held in which Barr did receive a majority with 37 delegates versus 16 for Durham, six for Alexander, and five abstaining.

For the vice presidential nomination, Sheehan, who had said she would accept if Barr was nominated, won on the first ballot with 50 votes against 14 abstaining. Sheehan is best known for her active opposition to the War in Iraq after her son Casey died there in 2004. Notably, in 2005, she set up camp outside President George W. Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas to protest the war. In 2008, she challenged then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for Congress as the nominee of the Green Party.

The Peace and Freedom Party was founded in 1967 and promotes socialism, feminism, and environmentalism. In 2008, consumer advocate Ralph Nader won the party’s presidential nomination and appeared with the party on both the California and Iowa ballots. The party will now attempt to qualify the ticket for ballot access in Florida.



Related news

  • Green Party of the United States nominates Jill Stein for president” — Wikinews, July 15, 2012
  • “On the campaign trail, February 2012” — Wikinews, March 3, 2012
  • On the campaign trail, November 2011” — Wikinews, December 2, 2012
  • “Sitcom star Roseanne Barr announces run for U.S. president” — Wikinews, August 6, 2011
  • “Nader chosen as the presidential nominee of the Peace and Freedom Party” — Wikinews, August 8, 2008
  • “San Francisco’s Green Party endorses Cindy Sheehan in bid against Speaker Pelosi” — Wikinews, June 19, 2008
  • “U.S. anti-war mom calls it quits” — Wikinews, May 29, 2007

Sources

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.

Sitcom star Roseanne Barr chosen as presidential nominee of Peace and Freedom Party

Sitcom star Roseanne Barr chosen as presidential nominee of Peace and Freedom Party

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

Monday, August 6, 2012

Roseanne Barr, star of the popular ’90s sitcom Roseanne, won the presidential nomination of the California-based Peace and Freedom Party on Saturday, guaranteeing her ballot access in California, the most populous U.S. state. Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan of California was selected as her running mate.

Barr first announced her intentions to run for president during an August 2011 appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. On the show, Barr told Leno she would run under the banner of the “Green Tea Party”, a political entity she created that combined elements of the Green and Tea Party movements. She named the American taxpayer as her running mate, and said her first act as president would be the legalization of marijuana. Several months later, Barr announced that she would instead seek the Green Party’s presidential nomination. After losing at the Green National Convention last month to physician Jill Stein, Barr searched for other ways to continue her campaign and settled on seeking the Peace and Freedom Party nomination.

Roseanne Barr
Image: Monterey Media.
Cindy Sheehan
Image: dbking.

At the convention, Socialist Party USA presidential nominee Stewart Alexander and Freedom Socialist Party presidential nominee Stephen Durham were the only opponents for Barr. Justice Party presidential nominee Rocky Anderson, who won the California Peace and Freedom Party presidential primary in June, withdrew from the race several days prior to avoid what Uncovered Politics called an “embarrassingly lopsided defeat”; Party for Socialism and Liberation presidential nominee Peta Lindsay dropped out before the convention vote to endorse Barr.

In the initial vote, Barr failed to win an outright majority. She received the support of 29 delegates, while 18 went for Durham, 12 supported Alexander, and four abstained from voting. Per party rules requiring majority support, a second vote was held in which Barr did receive a majority with 37 delegates versus 16 for Durham, six for Alexander, and five abstaining.

For the vice presidential nomination, Sheehan, who had said she would accept if Barr was nominated, won on the first ballot with 50 votes against 14 abstaining. Sheehan is best known for her active opposition to the War in Iraq after her son Casey died there in 2004. Notably, in 2005, she set up camp outside President George W. Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas to protest the war. In 2008, she challenged then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for Congress as the nominee of the Green Party.

The Peace and Freedom Party was founded in 1967 and promotes socialism, feminism, and environmentalism. In 2008, consumer advocate Ralph Nader won the party’s presidential nomination and appeared with the party on both the California and Iowa ballots. The party will now attempt to qualify the ticket for ballot access in Florida.



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Sources

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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.

August 5, 2012

On the campaign trail, July 2012

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

On the campaign trail, July 2012

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

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The following is the ninth 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 rules of third party candidate polling are examined, a third party activist causes four other parties to lose their place on the Illinois presidential ballot, and the new vice presidential nominee of the Justice Party speaks with Wikinews.

Summary

Like June, July began with poor economic news as the monthly Jobs Report showed slow economic growth with unemployment remaining above eight percent, precipitating a fall in the Dow Jones Industrial Average and President Barack Obama’s re-election chances on Intrade. In response to the report, Obama proclaimed “It’s still tough out there”. Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney responded that Obama’s “policies have not worked” and said it’s “time for Americans to choose whether they want more of the same.” Romney also reacted to June’s National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius Supreme Court ruling that upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. He explicitly referred to the individual mandate as a tax, mirroring the decision, despite comments from campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom, who deemed the individual mandate as a penalty, sharing the view of the Obama administration. Media mogul Rupert Murdoch criticized the Romney campaign, tweeting that it needed to hire political professionals and said it was doubtful Romney could win the election. After meeting with Romney early in July, Murdoch expressed dissatisfaction with the campaign’s message and its lack of attacks on the “incompetent” Obama administration.

Romney speaks at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City for which he served as Organizing Committee CEO.
Image: Uncleweed.

Additionally, speculation about Romney’s vice presidential selection intensified earlier in July as Romney’s wife Ann revealed that her husband was considering choosing a woman for the ticket. This came out before Romney appeared at a Fourth of July parade with Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, who had been mentioned as a potential pick. Other women discussed as possibilities included South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, New Mexico governor Susanna Martinez, and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who took herself out of contention last month. Others receiving speculation in July included Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, and Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal. Also in early July, Romney spoke at an NAACP convention. Despite the fact that most African Americans supported Obama in 2008, Romney said, as president he “hope[s] to represent all Americans, of every race, creed or sexual orientation, from the poorest to the richest and everyone in between.” During the address, after he mentioned his plan to repeal Obamacare, Romney was met with a chorus of boos. Nevertheless, he continued the speech and proclaimed that if elected, conditions would improve for African Americans. He received applause after arguing in favor of traditional marriage. The next day, vice president Joe Biden addressed the convention, and alluded to voter ID laws, asking the audience, “Did you think we’d be fighting these battles again?” President Obama was unable to attend the convention, but sent a taped message instead. Also, in mid-July, physician Jill Stein, who previously challenged Romney for governor of Massachusetts, won the presidential nomination of the left-wing Green Party. She selected homelessness activist Cheri Honkala as her running mate.

Obama meets with a victim of the 2012 Aurora shooting
Image: Pete Souza.

Throughout the month, Obama continued his attacks on Romney for allegedly outsourcing jobs while at Bain Capital, releasing a new advertisement referring to Romney as an ‘outsourcing pioneer.’ However, the Romney campaign disputed the attacks as misleading. and Romney himself said that the alleged outsourcing took place during an absence from the company while focusing on the operation of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Obama heightened attacks on Romney’s refusal to release all of his tax records, with one surrogate calling Romney’s actions possibly “felonious.” Romney described the comment as “beneath the dignity of the president” and asked Obama for an apology. Obama refused, suggesting, “Mr. Romney claims he’s Mr. Fix-It for the economy because of his business experience, so I think voters entirely, legitimately want to know what is exactly his business experience.” Furthermore, Obama argued that entrepreneurs like Romney should not take all the credit for their successes since others chipped in: “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the internet so then all the companies could make money off the internet.” Romney highlighted the comments to go on the offensive against Obama; he referred to them as “insulting to every entrepreneur, every innovator in America”. Later, citing 100 Obama fundraisers versus zero meetings with his jobs council in the last six months, Romney delivered a fiery speech in the swing state of Ohio in which he suggested that Obama’s “priority is not creating jobs for you [but]…trying to keep his own job. And that’s why he’s going to lose it.”

Following the July 20 Aurora shooting, both Obama and Romney suspended campaign rhetoric out of respect to the victims. The next week, foreign policy came to the forefront as Romney embarked on an international tour to meet with foreign leaders. While in London, ahead of the 2012 Summer Olympics, Romney suggested the city was not ready for the event, which prompted British Prime Minister David Cameron to argue that London is “one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world” and that, as with Romney’s 2002 Salt Lake City games, “it is easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere.” After this, Romney visited Israel, where he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, and voiced his support for Israeli actions against Iran to prevent nuclear proliferation in that nation. Romney received some criticism after a meeting in Israel in which he argued that cultural differences impacted the economic disparity between Israel and its neighbors. He completed his trip in Poland, where he received a warm reception, and endorsed a missile defense system in the nation that President Obama scrapped in 2009. In response to the trip, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs argued that Romney “both offended our closest ally and triggered a troubling reaction in the most sensitive region of the world…He certainly didn’t prove to anyone that he passed the commander-in-chief test.” The Obama campaign announced at the end of the month that former President Bill Clinton would be given a prime-time slot at September’s Democratic National Convention, while San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro was slated to deliver the keynote address. On July 31, Obama led Romney in the national RealClearPolitics average, 47.0 percent to 45.0 percent.

Polling rules restrict and fuel third party campaigns

Third party presidential candidates are often excluded from most presidential preference polls. However, because of the criteria of the Commission on Presidential Debates, strong showings in polls are critical for third party candidates to effectively communicate their message to voters. In addition to the constitutional requirements to be president and the attainment of enough ballot access to potentially win the election, the Commission requires a 15 percent average in five nationwide polls to participate in October’s three presidential debates. Since these rules were adopted in 2000, no third party candidate has been invited to the debates due to the inability to meet the polling standard.

Gary Johnson speaks at the “Conservatives Against Unconstitutional Wars” rally in July.
Image: Gary Johnson campaign.

In early July, for the first time in this election cycle, Gallup released a national poll that included the three third party presidential nominees with the most ballot access. In addition to Romney and Obama, who registered 40 and 47 percent, respectively, the poll gauged three percent support for the Libertarian Party presidential nominee, former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson; one percent for Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein; and less than half a percentage point for the Constitution Party presidential nominee, former Congressman Virgil Goode. According to Communication Specialist Alyssa Brown, the Gallup organization uses “editorial judgment…including assessments of news coverage of third party and independent candidates” to determine whether or not to include certain candidates. Brown says her firm also measures inclusion through the interpretation of “responses to open-ended vote preference questions…[and] name identification of third party candidates.”

Two other polling firms have included just Johnson in their nationwide polls for a three-way race: an April Public Policy Polling survey showed him with six percent support, and a July JZ Analytics poll found a five percent backing. JZ Analytics Senior Analyst John Zogby says that third party candidates are included in polls usually to see how they affect the race between the two main candidates. His firm added Johnson because “libertarianism appears to be growing in support among young people…[and] we wonder if he can be a factor.” Zogby says that additional candidates will likely be included as the election draws nearer. When asked why JZ Analytics does not simply include all ballot-qualified candidates on a state-by-state basis, he gave three reasons: expense from the time taken to read all the names; questions on how to deal with candidates that appear multiple times on the ballot; and the lack of any significant support for certain candidates, which provide no useful data when applying the view that “the value of a poll is not to predict but to create accurate results that can be interpreted.” Wikinews attempted unsuccessfully to contact other firms about their inclusion criteria for third party candidates.

Gary Johnson supporters picket outside CNN headquarters in July to protest the lack of campaign coverage.
Image: Gary Johnson campaign.

Despite his inclusion in some polls, Johnson does not believe it is enough. He feels that because “only three polling organizations out of 18 are including my name,” debate participation looks to be a nearly insurmountable task. However, he clings to the hope that if he can qualify for the debates, he can possibly win the election. Another kind of poll may assist that goal.

Statewide polls, which measure voter support in individual states, do not count toward the average for the presidential debate qualification; but polling high enough in them could significantly improve a third party candidate’s chances. Russ Verney, who worked on the 1992 presidential campaign of the last third party candidate to appear at the presidential debates, industrialist Ross Perot, and who later served as the campaign manager for 2008 Libertarian Party presidential nominee Bob Barr, says the Barr campaign’s ideal strategy was to utilize local media in western states that were already “predisposed to Libertarian viewpoints” to work to improve statewide polling above 20 percent. Though this was never implemented due to low campaign funds, Verney believes it could have created a national news story that would have boosted the campaign’s national profile and exposure, perhaps improving the showings in national polls, and like Perot, leading to debate inclusion.

Though third party inclusion in statewide polls remains infrequent, such polls often reflect broader support. For example, in his homestate of Virginia, Virgil Goode has nine percent support in a July Public Policy Polling survey, substantially more than his national average. Jill Stein tripled her national standing with three percent in her homestate of Massachusetts in a late June Public Policy Polling poll. Nevertheless, no other third party candidate is faring as well as Johnson in multiple states: a July poll from Public Policy Polling showed him with 13 percent in his homestate of New Mexico (down from 23 percent in December); he stood at nine percent in Arizona in May; and had an eight percent backing in Montana during the same month. These showings in western states are significantly better than Johnson’s national showings. Since his campaign, unlike the 2008 Barr campaign, has access to federal funding, Johnson could possibly employ the Verney strategy, and improve his chances.

Ballot access denied in Illinois

The state of Illinois, which accounts for 20 Electoral College votes, automatically grants ballot access to any presidential candidate that files a petition on time. However, if a petition is challenged and does not list 25,000 valid signatures, ballot access is denied. In 2008, an individual named John Joseph Polachek took advantage of this law and submitted a petition with no signatures. No one challenged this and so Polachek appeared on the ballot.

In this election cycle, Constitution Party nominee Virgil Goode; Justice Party nominee, former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson; Socialist Party USA nominee Stewart Alexander; and candidate Michael W. Hawkins all submitted petitions with less than 25,000 signatures in hopes that they would not be contested. However, on July 2, Cook County Green Party chairman Rob Sherman filed a challenge to the four petitions, arguing the candidates did not put in the same amount of effort as the Green Party petitioners, who, along with the Libertarian Party, collected more than 25,000 signatures. He also reasoned that additional candidates would divert potential votes from the Green Party.

Virgil Goode collects signatures for his petition to appear on the Virginia ballot.
Image: Brian D. Hill.

Several third party activists and even some members of the Green Party condemned the actions, and asked that Sherman withdraw his challenges. He initially remained unwavering, but attempted to withdraw the challenges just ahead of the final court decision. The court would not allow Sherman to voice his change of heart, and proceeded to remove the four candidates from the ballot.

According to Sherman, Illinois Green Party counsel Andy Finko requested that he be the main objector. He further claims that before this, Finko contacted then-presumptive presidential nominee Jill Stein’s campaign chairman Ben Manski, who purportedly labeled the challenge as a “decision for the Illinois Green Party and not one for the Stein campaign.” However, Sherman says that both Manski and Stein personally contacted him a few days later, and asked that he withdraw the challenges. Sherman argued to them that he “had staked [his] national reputation on it” and that a withdrawal would hurt the Green Party ticket. He did not decide to withdraw the challenges until he felt the Stein campaign had completely deliberated over his arguments, which eventually came a couple of weeks later. Wikinews was unable to contact Manski or Stein to confirm that these conversations actually took place.

Virgil Goode offers a different perspective on the challenges. He says that Sherman, a self-identified atheist, offered to drop the Constitution Party petition challenge if Goode gave his support for the removal of “In God We Trust” from U.S. currency and “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. To this, Goode replied “no deal”, explaining that he co-sponsored “legislation in the House to put ‘In God We Trust’ back on the face of the Presidential dollars so that it could be readily seen by the public.” It is not known if the other candidates were given this same opportunity, but Rocky Anderson says that he personally was not. Sherman did not respond to inquiries concerning such a deal.

For Goode, the decision may have affected his ability to participate in the presidential debates. Without Illinois’ 20 electoral votes, he may fall short of the Commission on Presidential Debates ballot access requirements. Goode currently has access in 18 states for a total of 169 electoral votes, over 100 less than the required 270. Nevertheless, the campaign is still working to get on the ballot in additional states. Furthermore, the removal may affect Green Party ballot access elsewhere. According to ballot access expert Richard Winger, the party is currently a co-plaintiff with the Constitution Party in five states in cases where ballot access laws are being challenged. He says that “state attorneys…attack the plaintiff parties …[using] the number of states in which each of the parties is on the ballot nationwide” as evidence of strength or lack thereof.

“It’s tough enough to get on state ballots without other third parties undermining the efforts” says Anderson, whose Justice Party has thus far attained ballot access in Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Mississippi, New Mexico, and New Jersey, Anderson does not fault the entire Green Party for Sherman’s “unfortunate behavior”, but the events do affirm one thing for him: “In my view, third parties should all hang together in promoting ballot access.”

August 1, 2012 LP, GP, CP Ballot access.png

Wikinews interviews newly-selected Justice Party VP nominee

Justice Party Vice presidential nominee Luis Rodriguez.
Image: Rocky Anderson campaign.

On July 17, Rocky Anderson announced his selection of Chicano writer and community activist Luis J. Rodriguez of California as his running mate on the Justice Party presidential ticket. Rodriguez is a published poet, columnist, and author of such books as the 1993 bestseller Always Running, which documents his youth and involvement in the street gangs of East Los Angeles.

As an advocate for urban social change, Rodriguez hosts readings and workshops, and frequently speaks at schools, prisons, churches, homeless shelters, and migrant camps. For his activism, he has received numerous awards including KCET-TV‘s “Local Hero of Community”, and the “Unsung Heroes of Compassion” from the Dalai Lama.

Anderson described the vice presidential selection process as “arduous”, but held that Rodriguez exceeded his personal expectations. He proclaimed that his running mate “brings with him a wealth of knowledge and real-life experience, inspirational personal growth, and proven commitment to social, economic, and environmental justice.”

With Wikinews, Rodriguez discusses his initial reaction and reason for accepting the nomination, his responsibilities as the vice presidential nominee, and how he hopes to complement Anderson on the Justice Party ticket.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWhy did you accept the Justice Party’s vice presidential nomination, and how exactly did that nomination come about?

Luis Rodriguez: I was quite surprised by the invitation to be Rocky Anderson’s running mate, and honored. I’m convinced that we need to have a strong voice in the political arena for justice in all its forms–in our social and civil relationships, in the environment, and in the economy. I see this ticket as an opportunity to express new ideas and new ways of organizing for concerns of mine such as urban peace, the arts, labor rights, and immigrant rights as well as those espoused by the Justice Party, which I agree with. As far as how my name came up, I’m sure it was from within Rocky’s team, somebody who knew my work around the country and the many talks I do to open up a new vision for America. I’m convinced the two-party system we have today has pushed out too many voices and concerns of vital importance from the conversation and from actual policies.

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

Luis Rodriguez: Being that the election is only a few months away, I see my main role as speaking out as articulately and rationally as I can on these very issues… in the mass media, the Internet, social media, and blogs. I’m also a published writer/essayist and speaker and will try to get our views as a ticket out in as many forms as possible.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngHow will you complement Rocky Anderson on the ticket?

Luis Rodriguez: America is a very diverse and vibrant country. This ticket is in the direction of encompassing how this country is actually made up while finding the unity-in-diversity necessary to move everyone forward toward true justice in all areas of our civic and political life. I think Rocky Anderson is brave and insightful to select someone like myself, not for celebrity or to cater to any “winnable” ticket, but one that is real, addresses what really matters, and actively works to bring in those constituencies often forgotten. Rocky as a former mayor of Salt Lake City will be complemented by someone who has never held political office yet has spent more than forty years in grassroots organizing and community building.



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June 5, 2012

On the campaign trail, May 2012

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

On the campaign trail, May 2012

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

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

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

Summary

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

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

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

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

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

Americans Elect makes major decision; leading candidates respond

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

Americans Elect logo.
Image: Americans Elect.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Gary Johnson in December 2011.
Image: Gary Johnson.

Fred Karger in August 2011.
Image: Gage Skidmore.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Judge Jim Gray.
Image: Jim Gray.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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March 15, 2012

Rocky Anderson announces he will seek Americans Elect nomination

Rocky Anderson announces he will seek Americans Elect nomination

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Rocky Anderson in 2009
Image: Don LaVange.

Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson announced yesterday that he will seek the U.S. presidential nomination of Americans Elect, an independent organization hoping to field a nonpartisan presidential ticket. Anderson is already the nominee of the Justice Party, which he founded late last year.

Anderson served as mayor of Salt Lake City from 2000 to 2008 as a Democrat. During his time in office, he enacted proposals to reduce the city’s carbon emissions and reformed its criminal justice system. After leaving office, he grew critical of President Barack Obama, and left the Democratic Party. He later established the Justice Party, which promotes “social justice, environmental justice, and economic justice” as well as campaign finance reform. The party has qualified for the ballot in Utah and Mississippi.

Americans Elect has already attained ballot access in eighteen states, and is petitioning to appear in all fifty. It hopes to nominate a ticket “responsive to the vast majority of citizens while remaining independent of special interests and the partisan interests of either major political party.” Former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer and economist Laurence Kotlikoff have both announced their intentions to seek the party’s nomination. Additionally, former Utah governor and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, Jr. has received recent speculation that he will make a run for the nomination with former Democratic Senator Evan Bayh as his running mate.

In a press release, Anderson explained, “The Democrats and Republicans no longer respect nor represent the public interest. They both feed from the same trough of, and depend upon, special interest money”, but Americans Elect “gives the American people the ability to select their choice for President without worrying about the corporate investors backing their campaign.”



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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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December 21, 2011

Wikinews interviews former Salt Lake City mayor and 2012 presidential candidate Rocky Anderson

Wikinews interviews former Salt Lake City mayor and 2012 presidential candidate Rocky Anderson

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Rocky Anderson in 2009
Image: Don LaVange.

Former Salt Lake City mayor and human rights activist Rocky Anderson took some time to discuss his 2012 U.S. presidential campaign and the newly-created Justice Party with Wikinews reporter William S. Saturn.

Anderson served as mayor of Salt Lake City for eight years (2000–2008) as a member of the Democratic Party. During his tenure, he enacted proposals to reduce the city’s carbon emissions, reformed its criminal justice system, and positioned it as a leading sanctuary for refugees. After leaving office, Anderson grew critical of the Democratic Party’s failure to push for impeachment against President George W. Bush, and for not reversing policies on torture, taxes, and defense spending. He left the party earlier this year and announced that he would form a Third party.

Anderson officially established the Justice Party last week during a press conference in Washington D.C.. He proclaimed “We the people are powerful enough to end the perverse government-to-the-highest-bidder system sustained by the two dominant parties…We are here today for the sake of justice — social justice, environmental justice and economic justice.” The party promotes campaign finance reform and is attempting to appeal to the Occupy Wall Street movement. It is currently working on ballot access efforts, and will hold a Founding Convention in February 2012 in Salt Lake City.

Among other issues, Anderson discussed climate change, health care, education, and civil liberties. He detailed his successes as mayor of Salt Lake City, stressed the importance of executive experience, and expressed his views on President Barack Obama and some of the Republican Party presidential candidates. He spoke in depth about former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, with whom he worked during the 2002 Winter Olympics, and fellow Utahan, former governor and U.S. ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, Jr..

Background

Wikinews waves Left.pngWilliam S. SaturnWikinews waves Right.pngCould you list some of your accomplishments as mayor of Salt Lake City?

Rocky Anderson: I served for eight years and during that time, Salt Lake City became known as the model city for providing leadership on climate change solutions. Just before the 2002 Winter Olympic games, I declared that we would meet at least the Kyoto Protocol goals, and we far exceeded those in a very short period of time with 31 percent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions during the course of three years.

Downtown Salt Lake City during the 2002 Winter Olympic games.
Image: debaird.

I was a vigorous advocate for mass transit and was able to resurrect a light rail system that was voted down by our city council within days after my election. I was able to turn around the public opposition and not only received a unanimous vote from the city council but also obtained federal funding.
I put in place a comprehensive restorative justice program that became a nationwide model. We were one of three finalists for the World Leadership Award by the World Leadership Forum in London for our restorative justice program, which focuses on solutions rather than simply punishment and retribution.
I worked to provide real and effective drug prevention and education programs filling the completely ineffective D.A.R.E. program and getting proven effective programs in our schools and providing much better public education on substance abuse issues. We focused not only on the abuse of illicit drugs but also the abuse of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, which is an enormous problem in Utah and throughout the country.
We fought against sprawl development incorporating principles of smart urban growth development with transit orientation development projects and opposition to sprawl-inducing new highways and increased dependence on the automobile.
I started a city-wide youth afterschool and summer program called YouthCity, and always pursued public policy with the understanding that upfront investments in making things better including opportunities for young people was far better for all in our community and far less expensive than ignoring those upfront needs and having to deal with the disasters down the road. We know that if we keep our young people engaged and teach them skills including social skills, we have a lot better shot of building safer healthier and sustainable communities, and at the same time keeping these young people out of trouble.

Anderson at the 2007 Salt Lake City Marathon.
Image: Jen Wakefield-Dillier.

I helped change, well, I led for the change in the culture of our police department where there was much more community-oriented policing where police were held accountable for not only excessive force against our residents and visitors but also even for rude behavior. I instituted a crisis intervention team program where officers were trained in recognizing and dealing with people with mental illnesses. Before I was mayor, I noticed that police were getting in confrontations with people with mental illnesses and escalate situations to the point of, in some cases even shooting and killing mentally ill people. We see that happen in communities all over the country and it’s so important that our police be trained to recognize the root causes of some violent behavior and understand when to back off and resolve the situation without further violence.
Our prosecutor’s office and police department were very supportive of our restorative justice program, which took a solution based approach to a wide variety of situations including public sex, drug abuse, prostitution, dealing with both prostitutes and johns. We had a homeless court, we had a mental illness court so that if homelessness or mental illness was at the root of illegal conduct, we could deal with those issues in a constructive way rather than simply running people through the criminal justice revolving door, which is very expensive and in the end destructive to everybody’s interests.
I was a big proponent and testified before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee regarding the proposal to transport and store high level nuclear waste, first, on a supposedly temporary basis at the Goshute Reservation in Utah and ultimately at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngHow critical is it for a presidential candidate to have executive experience?

Anderson: I think it’s extremely important for someone to be able to demonstrate in an executive capacity, he or she can handle the pressure, know how to deal with differing interests, and come to the best solutions. I know some people get in an executive position and they become very dictatorial and dogmatic about what they’re doing. I’ve always held the view both as a practicing lawyer, as president of my law firm and of course as mayor and then later as executive director of High Road for Human Rights, that you’re going to do a much better job if you learn as much as you can about any topic before you form your views and then still bring in those who have opposing views to hear them out and to learn, try to learn.

Public transit with the skyline of Salt Lake City in the background.
Image: CountyLemonade.

Cquote1.svg I think in terms of executive experience, knowing how to bring those opposing forces together, solve problems, being respectful, and always having in mind that just because you’re in that position doesn’t make you any smarter or wiser than you were before. That shared wisdom can mean everything in terms of one’s success. Cquote2.svg
That’s how we were able to get the light rail project completed right in the beginning of my term. There was a group called Citizens Against Light Rail that formed and they even had their own letterhead and logo, and the leaders of that group will tell you that the first thing I did was brought the opponents all together at my home, went through what caused them to oppose light rail, and we figured out through a really constructive problem solving exercise during the course of several intense weeks, how to resolve most of those issues, and those opponents to light rail were very much in favor of it and are real champions of the community-based problem-solving process that we’ve put into place. That’s also become the national model. We put together a community team of people that was comprised of businesses and residents all along the construction route that would determine whether the contractors would receive bonus payments, and then we set very clear guidelines for those contractors in terms of dust control, noise control, hours of construction, keeping one lane of traffic open at all times so businesses could continue to have access. This system had the contractor very very sensitive to the concerns of those along the construction route and ways we certainly didn’t see during the construction of light rail down Main Street under my predecessor. And contractors ended up received either 96 or 97 percent of possible bonus payments because of that increased sensitivity, and members of the community felt like they had real power, which of course they did. That’s how it ought to be.
I think in terms of executive experience, knowing how to bring those opposing forces together, solve problems, being respectful, and always having in mind that just because you’re in that position doesn’t make you any smarter or wiser than you were before. That shared wisdom can mean everything in terms of one’s success.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngAccording to an article in The Nation publication from 2006, a supporter asked you to run for president, but you told them that a run would require money and the backing of the state machine, which would be virtually impossible in conservative Utah. You added, “If I thought I could win, I would [run].” How is the atmosphere in 2012 better for you than it was in 2008?

Anderson: Well first of all, as reflected by the Occupy Movement, people in this country across the board understand how diseased and corrupt our system is, both our electoral system and the system of governance. We know now that there have been repeated failures in public policy that are a direct result of the corrupting influence of money. We’d have a universal health care system like the rest of the industrialized world were it not for the corrupting influence of medical insurance money. We wouldn’t be wasting billions, upon billions of dollars for unnecessary weapons programs, where the stranglehold and the corrupting influence of money from the military-industrial complex; we were warned about that by President Eisenhower during his last speech.

President Dwight Eisenhower warned, “we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.”

The deregulation of the financial institutions that led toward this nation’s and the world’s economic disaster from which we’re all still suffering, would never have come about were it not for the corrupting influence of money in the system. President Obama for instance, received more money from Wall Street than any other candidate in our nation’s history, and so they got a really good return on their investment because the Obama administration has not brought one person to justice for the massive financial fraud that took place that helped lead to this economic cataclysm.
The failure of our nation to provide international leadership on climate change and to develop a policy that would result in energy independence is a direct result of the corrupting influence of money from the coal, oil, and gas industries. I don’t think President Obama woke up one day and decided it would be a really good public policy to veto the EPA’s position of more strict limits on ozone in our communities. Ozone creates so many illnesses and even death. Rather, his decision was just another example of his kowtowing to polluting industries. Likewise, he could have put an end to any possibility of the Keystone Pipeline, yet he’s just put it off, delayed it until after the election, and by all other signs from how he’s conducted himself as president, it is pretty apparent that he will end up approving that pipeline if he is reelected.
So, the American people understand that. They want to see people in elective office that for a change are not going to be sustaining and sustained by the corrupting influence of money in our government. They want to see that the public interest is promoted for a change. So, we have that elevated awareness about what’s going on in our government, about which people are very unhappy as reflected in 9 percent approval rating for congress and a low 40s percent approval rating for our president.
And at the same time, and this is what’s different than even just a few years ago: we have the democratizing impact on communications from social media. We’ve seen revolutions now in different parts of the world, the overthrow of dictators through a combination of courageous, tenacious people working at grassroots organizing and utilizing the tools now provided through social media. That’s why we’re going to be able to run this campaign limiting campaign contributions to $100 per person for the election cycle and maximizing in every way we can, the use of social media. This will be a people’s movement that is already gaining unbelievable traction after just one week since we announced.

The Justice Party and opposition

Wikinews waves Left.pngWilliam S. SaturnWikinews waves Right.pngLet me ask about the Justice Party. What is it? How large is it? And how can people join?

Rocky Anderson: People can join in a number of different ways. There’s a website: justicepartyusa.org. There have been hundreds, probably thousands of inquires from people from dozens of states about getting on board, helping out as they can. There’s a steering committee, and we’re building on that steering committee as we speak. These are some great passionate, engaged, brilliant people, who’ve been working on this. But to see this happen in the sense, quite organically over time starting with discussions with people who have been contemplated doing this kind of work, coming together, building coalitions; I see the possibility of alliances or coalitions being built with different organizations around the country. The head of the Libertarian Party in one state came to us and said that he was publicly going to support what we’re doing. I’ve had Republicans contact me, telling us that they’ve had it with the craziness in that party; this extreme right wing approach that that party is now taking since the Tea Party’s had such enormous impact. We’re hearing from people who have been lifetime independents, members of the Green Party. We’ve got members of the Progressive Democrats that are being threatened to have their charter jerked by the Democratic Party because of their support for what we’re doing. In fact, one gentleman from the Progressive Democrats of America out of Chicago, is now on our steering committee. So this is an amazingly, cross-partisan representation of people who agree about the fundamentals and that is we need to change, not just the candidates that are playing within the system, but we need to change the system.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngYou mentioned Republicans and Libertarians, what about those that believe, ideologically that the government should not be involved in regulating carbon emissions or providing health care?

Anderson discusses Global Warming during a 2008 speech.
Image: NikiSublime.

Anderson: Those who believe the government shouldn’t have any involvement in providing essential health care for our citizens are not only on the margins in our country but throughout the industrialized world. The United States is the only country that allows reliance that in fact fosters reliance on for-profit insurance companies for the provision of essential health care for our citizens. It’s simply wrong that people are dying by the tens of thousands throughout this country every year because of inadequate health care services being available to them and you know we oftentimes hear from people like former President George W. Bush that people can go to emergency rooms, well that’s just simply not true. For a lot of the early diagnoses, early diagnostic work that can save lives, there’s not an option for that if you don’t have health care coverage. A lot of people can’t afford those diagnostic tests, and as a result they’re dying because by the time they’re properly diagnosed, the opportunity for saving their lives is gone, and yet the care that then has to be provided to them until they die is going to be extremely expensive. It’s so cost ineffective what we’re doing. We pay in this country more than double per capita health care than the average among the industrialized world, and part of our so-called health care dollars is going toward the profits for the for-profit insurance companies, dividends for their shareholders, huge bonuses, all the marketing for those companies. We are the most inefficient of nations in the industrialized world in terms of how we pay for health care. Our medical results are mediocre by comparison with other health care systems. And people are paying more money for mediocre results and we still don’t cover all of our citizens. So we come out looking very very badly by comparison with the rest of the industrialized world. If we were running a corporation here, and shareholders were determining how that corporation was doing in comparison to its competitors: higher costs, far less coverage, and mediocre results? I think we’d be replacing our board of directors and the officers and demanding that we catch up with our competitors.
The same thing is happening with education in this country. Our students are not equipped to compete with students from so many other countries. Ivy League schools are now putting quotas on the number of Asian students that they can accept because if they accept all of them on the basis of their merits, there would be relatively few Caucasian Americans being admitted to those Ivy League Schools. Why is Singapore doing so much better? Why are their students doing so much better on their testing than our students? It’s an utter failure of our educational system and it’s going to have an enormous impact in terms of the future. We’re not making the investments in education and innovation and in our nation’s infrastructure, all at the same time we’re wasting trillions of dollars on wars of aggression and continuing tactics in these countries that are creating so much hatred that leads to far less security in the long term for our nation.
And at the same time, we’re creating conditions for absolute catastrophe. Hundreds of names of environmental refugees, utter devastation in so many communities, loss of water resources, drought, starvation because of our failure to do what is required to reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses. If there’s any role for government, it’s to provide for, not only for the short term, but long term health, safety, and national security of our people and our approach on climate change has been absolutely counter to that. Pentagon studies discuss how oncoming the imminent consequences from climate change are going to create such major national security problems, and that’s going to be the case all over the world. It’s absolutely irresponsible to not be looking out for the future, and doing what’s necessary to prevent the most catastrophic consequences of climate change. And the science is as robust as one could ever expect from science. Every nation’s science academy, every major scientific organization in the United States feels the climate issues are all in agreement: the world is heating up, generally, at a much faster rate than previously predicted. We’re already seeing massive consequences including the melting of the tundra, the melting of the arctic ice cap, melting of glaciers from which communities for centuries have depended for their water supplies. All of these consequences are happening faster than people believed they would just a few years ago and the future consequences are going to be horrendous. And we know that it’s all because of human’s conduct, either the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse emissions, particularly from the burning of coal, oil, and gas, and from deforestation and the failure to reforest.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngIn 2008, you said that you voted for Barack Obama as the “lesser of two evils”, but Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney were also on the ballot in Utah. Looking back now as a third party leader, do you regret not voting for a third party candidate in ’08?

Anderson: In ’08…I actually…I think it was in ’08 but I…or was it ’04? Sorry. In one of those years, I swapped my vote with a Nader supporter elsewhere so that Nader would still get a net of one vote, but in a battleground state, it wouldn’t take away from the Democrat; it wouldn’t help the Republican get elected. But with the Electoral College, the sad fact is my vote doesn’t count in Utah because it’s always so overwhelmingly Republican. The Electoral College is an immensely anti-Democratic part of our electoral system, it needs to be changed, we need to get to the point where we’re all electing the president based on the principle of one person, one vote.
Cquote1.svg [Obama] has greater contempt for the rule of law…than George W. Bush Cquote2.svg

Anderson speaks at an anti-war rally in 2008.
Image: Jeremiah Roth.

And the reason that I said that I felt President Obama should be supported over McCain was that he was the lesser of two evils, but I recognized that President Obama had already shown his true colors. Then, I think in the pocket of the nuclear power industry when he was in the Illinois state house. He had never really stood up on any major issue. I asked his supporters, they fell for the whole hope and change hype during his campaign, and I was always asking people, so point to one thing that he stood for, where he’s shown any courage in standing up for principle. The entire time he was in the United States Senate, he voted for full funding for the occupation of Iraq. He never stood up against torture or the other human rights abuses that were occurring during that time. He promised us before he received the Democratic nomination that he would join the filibuster in opposition to Congress providing retroactive immunity for the telecom companies for their illegal participation in the Bush surveillance program. And by the way, not all the telecom companies participated in that, they recognized that it was illegal so it wasn’t a matter of people were fooled about whether it was legal or not. But for those telecom companies that did violate the law, they should have been held accountable. But in the classic American way, the corrupt way that has developed in our system of government, three telecom companies spend some twelve million dollars on lobbyists during the course of three months they put on the press, Congress passed legislation providing for the retroactive immunity and among those voting for the immunity, now after he received the Democratic nomination was then-Senator Obama, completely betraying those that he had promised to join the filibuster. But it was just a sign of things to come, they always talked about the rule of law, he has greater contempt for the rule of law, I think, than George W. Bush. He comes into office, says, “oh, we’re going to look forward, not backwards” in terms of holding accountable war criminals? And those were criminals not only under international law, the Geneva Convention, the Convention Against Torture, but under our own laws passed by Congress: War Crimes Act of 1996 and the federal torture statute. Clearly, an illegal act, and he says, “let’s just look forward, not backwards”. But he’s done the same thing for the people who committed such massive financial fraud on Wall Street without holding any one of them accountable.
He has reinforced this notion that there’s this narrow special aristocracy in this country, who are the most wealthy and the most powerful, and the contributors to his campaign, by the way, who aren’t going to be held accountable to the law while the rest of us oftentimes suffer just the most extreme consequences from the application of the laws, especially in the area of drugs, where tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, people have in our prisons because of violations of our drug laws.

The GOP race

Wikinews waves Left.pngWilliam S. SaturnWikinews waves Right.png What is your take on the GOP field, particularly Jon Huntsman, Jr., and Mitt Romney, both of whom you’ve endorsed in past elections?

Rocky Anderson: They both have been good friends of mine. The Mitt Romney I knew is a very different Mitt Romney than the one who’s been running for president. The Mitt Romney I knew believed in Roe v. Wade, that it came to the right result and with that ought to be established law and that we should just move on with it. This Mitt Romney, who, the last time he ran said we shouldn’t politicize Guantanamo, he doesn’t seem to have any regard for human rights, he’s gone back and forth and back and forth…Well, he did it as governor before the time he announced that he was going to run for president. But he’s even done it while he’s been running for president, this time, in terms of climate change. Out of one side of his mouth, he’s talking about how climate change is a problem, we need to deal with it. By the way, George W. Bush even said that. And then later on, he says, well we don’t really know the causes of climate change. But, he knows very well the causes of climate change. He knows how the scientific community feels on that issue. But he’s doing whatever he can to win the election.

Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. Anderson referred to Huntsman as “a bright, good man.”
Image: United States Department of State.

Anderson addresses the GLBT community of Utah in 2005.
Image: Jere Keys.

I think Jon Huntsman is on the whole very different than that. He stood by his views. He was governor of the state of Utah, advocating domestic partnerships, that is equal treatment under the law for members of the GLBT community. And I say equal, wasn’t quite equal because he still hasn’t reached a point where he embraces the idea of marriage equality as I have for decades. And actually had marriage equality when I ran for Congress in 1996, it became a core part of the opposition against me and probably led to my defeat in 1996. But he’s stood up on these issues, he’s stood up on the issue of climate change when he was governor. I think it was fantastic when he stood up during a debate and talked about how the Republican Party should no longer be the anti-science party. What an amazing thing. I mean one would think the bar is set that low that it would be amazing, but in this environment right now, for him to say that to the Republican Party while he’s running for their nomination. And then of course he was one of only two people who had the moral courage and sense to say “we should never be torturing”, and that is so counter to our nation’s heritage from the very beginning George Washington prohibited torture of British soldiers, and that’s been not only the law, but the ethic of our country from the very beginning. It’s only changed during this last decade and that’s part of a very dangerous trend toward an imperial presidency and the disregard for human rights, and it’s really so undermined our standing and not only undermined our standing, but created so much hatred toward the United States in many parts of the world.
So, Jon Huntsman is a bright, good man. We differ on a lot of things: I differ with him on offshore drilling, I differ with him on the keystone pipeline, on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. But I think Jon, especially having served as U.S. ambassador to China understands all the amazing progress China has made in the area of green technology. China is just beating us in every possible way when it comes to green technology. They’re producing more than half of world’s solar panels, they’re producing more than half of the world’s wind turbines. Now, they’re incorporating these green technologies in their buildings and they’re insisting every mayor find ways to cut down on the use of energy in their communities. They know how to get the job done, and in this country, I mean, we look at our country and say well that they’re totalitarian, and yeah they have people who can say this is what we have to do, this is our goal, and now you have to go get it done or you’re not going to hold your job anymore. In this country, we have the pretense of democracy, but we know that it’s with corporations that are benefiting so much from these disasters in public policy that are calling the shots. And we’re not moving toward what would serve the public’s interest, and that’s clearly shown in the area of climate change and energy policy as it is when we see the work that we’re paying a lot more for drugs than other countries because of the corrupting influence of the pharmaceutical industry and the way that we’ve been sold out by those in Congress, both Republicans and Democrats who are feeding at the same special interest trough of corrupting money.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngDid you watch last night’s [December 15] GOP debate?

Anderson: No. I didn’t.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWell, one candidate that was not invited to the debate was former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer, who like you, is limiting individual campaign contributions to $100. Did your idea to do this come from Roemer?

Anderson: No. No I didn’t, frankly, I didn’t realize that he was doing that. I heard Jeffrey Sachs talking about how these races could be won and the message to get across to people, and I said, absolutely that’s what we ought to do. Just set a $100 limit and let everybody know: they’re equal players, we’re all shareholders, we’re all shareholders in this, and no special interest is going to come along and have any special access or influence.

Public policy and the state of democracy

Wikinews waves Left.pngWilliam S. SaturnWikinews waves Right.pngWhat is the single most important issue facing Americans right now and how will you address this as president?

Rocky Anderson: The single most important issue facing our country is providing jobs, education, enhanced infrastructure, and encouraging innovation because we are falling so far behind the rest of the world. And part of that innovation and investment needs to be addressing climate change because in the long run, the impacts from climate change are going to be greater than…from any other shorter term issue right now.
Fiscal policy of course relates to all of that. We need to bring in adequate revenues so that we’re not passing off on to the next generation this enormous debt and interest burden, and we also need to get our spending under control, but still with an eye toward priming the pump during this recession and providing the kind of infrastructure, education, and innovation that’s going to serve this country not only for the present but far out into the future.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngThis is my last question. What necessary freedoms are currently lacking in American society?

Anderson:There has never been a time in our nation’s history when the executive branch has claimed so much power and abused that power and that runs the gamut. Our president has asked for the legal authority to point to anybody, even citizens of this country; have them taken away, essentially kidnapped, disappeared, detained without any limit; no legal representation, no charges, no trial. It is so absolutely contrary to what our constitution is based upon and what our system of government is based upon. It’s contrary to our nation’s heritage, to our most dearly held values. The Senate just passed this incredible bill, the Federal Military Authorization Act that would allow for that detention based on who-knows-what kind of information, no standard of proof, no public hearing. It’s not like these people are infallible.
Cquote1.svg The rule of law has been denigrated to the point never before experienced in this country. Cquote2.svg
The rule of law has been denigrated to the point never before experienced in this country. People can commit war crimes and if they’re rich and powerful enough, the United States says let’s just look forward and not backwards and let them off the hook. Not even an investigation. So we the American people have lost the freedom to even know what our government is doing and to know whether or not they’re going to be held accountable under the law.
All three branches of government have been part of this deterioration of the law. Courts through the very subversive state secrets doctrine will dismiss cases, not on the merits, but on the basis of the very perpetrator, the executive branch, coming to it and saying that the case cannot move forward because to do so would mean the disclosure of state secrets that would be contrary to national security, and so the courts throw the cases out. That is perhaps the most subversive thing that’s ever happened in this country because our system of government is based on the system of separation of powers and checks and balances. The courts are there in large part to protect against abuses of power including illegal conduct by the executive branch. If that check isn’t there, that spells tyranny. That means the executive branch can do whatever it wants, regardless of the law, even domestic laws and treaty obligations that have been passed by Congress.

Anderson (right) shakes hands with a peace activist and Iraq War veteran.
Image: Jeremiah Roth.

So there have been torture victims, and by the way, these torture victims it has been established, they have zero connection to terrorism. Torture victims have come to our courts with the claims and they’re proven claims by the way that they were kidnapped by the CIA, disappeared from their families and other loved ones, whisked off, one to an Afghanistan prison and another one to a Syrian prison. They were tortured. They were held for several months: one five months, the other one a year. One was a German citizen, the other a Canadian citizen. They come to our courts to challenge that illegal conduct, and by the way, the United States has assured the United Nations Committee Against Torture that we provide these kinds of remedies for victims of torture. So they come in, seek justice, seek a means of getting the truth out, and what is the response of the both the Bush and the Obama administration? They oppose the lawsuits even moving forward on the merits because, among other reasons, the state’s secret doctrine and the courts dismiss the cases. That is absolutely un-American.
Cquote1.svg [The state secrets doctrine] is perhaps the most subversive thing that’s ever happened in this country… Cquote2.svg
The Bush administration, contrary to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act approved over the course of years, numerous dictates, we don’t know how many because the truth hasn’t come out, but likely tens if not hundreds of thousands of instances of warrantless surveillance of communications by American citizens. Not just telephone calls, but e-mail communications and otherwise. President Bush promised us the warrants were being obtained in all those cases. He was lying to us. He later admitted “yeah I ordered the national security agency to go ahead and do that.” So there hasn’t been one person prosecuted when people have come into our courts to challenge that illegal surveillance and a 2 to 1 decision by one of our circuit courts, the determination was made that they don’t have standing to pursue the cases because they can’t prove that their individual communications were subjected to that illegal surveillance, and the reason they can’t determine if their communications were subject to that surveillance was because of the state’s secrets doctrine. The government was able to block them from getting that information once again asserting the state’s secrets doctrine.
So we have lost freedoms in very fundamental ways. We’re a country where no longer can even pretend to abide by the rule of law. Where congress will pass retroactive immunity legislation, letting corporations that can pump $12 million into their lobbyists in three months, letting them off the hook for their felonious misconduct. Where torturers are not held to account. Where there aren’t even investigations. At least, in the late 70’s, when there were abuses in the intelligence community, Congress had states’ people that would come together as under the Church Committee and investigate these matters and disclose to the American people, which led to legislation that would help deter these kinds of things from happening in the future. There’s none of that. There’s nothing to deter that kind of misconduct; the kind of absolutely subversive un-American activity within our executive branch. And Congress sits by let like the biggest bunch of patsies. Not asserting their constitutional prerogatives, not exercising their constitutional responsibilities to provide a check against those kinds of abuses.



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December 13, 2011

Former Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson announces presidential bid

Former Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson announces presidential bid

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Former Salt Lake City, Utah mayor and human rights activist Rocky Anderson announced yesterday at a press conference in Washington, D.C. that he is officially a candidate for the office of President of the United States. He also formally announced the creation of a new third party: the Justice Party, under which he will make his run.

Rocky Anderson in January 2009.
Image: Don LaVange.

Anderson, who is known as an outspoken advocate of campaign finance reform, immigration reform, and LGBT rights, served as Mayor of Salt Lake City for two terms from 2000 to 2008 as a member of the Democratic Party. During his tenure, he enacted proposals to reduce the city’s carbon emissions, reformed its criminal justice system, and positioned it as a leading sanctuary for refugees. Since leaving the office, Anderson has been critical of the Democratic Party and president Barack Obama. Earlier this year, he left the party, faulting it for failing to push impeachment against President George W. Bush, and for not reversing policies on torture, taxes, and defense spending.

Talk of an Anderson presidential run goes back at least five years. According to The Nation, in 2006, after delivering a speech on the steps of city hall, supporters asked Anderson to run for president. He responded “I’d be torn to pieces” as a candidate, but “if I thought I could win, I would [run]. This country certainly needs leadership.” Last October, Anderson announced that he wished to create a new political party, and last month, confirmed that he would run for president.

At yesterday’s press conference, which was attended by about 30 people, Anderson remarked, “We the people are powerful enough to end the perverse government-to-the-highest-bidder system sustained by the two dominant parties…We are here today for the sake of justice — social justice, environmental justice and economic justice.” The low turnout at the event was attributed to the lack of notice and sufficient planning.

Speaking of the low turnout, Anderson argued that “This is what grass roots looks like at the very beginning.” He says he will limit campaign contributions to $100. He is working to have the Justice Party appear on state ballots in time for the election next November, and hopes to draw support from the Occupy Wall Street movement.

According to The Salt Lake Tribune, the Justice Party’s three primary goals include: the removal of corporate money from politics through a Constitutional amendment, an abolition of the country’s two party political system, and the election of Anderson as president. A nominating convention is planned for February 2012.



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