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August 11, 2016

On the campaign trail in the USA, July 2016

On the campaign trail in the USA, July 2016

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

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

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


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

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

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

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


Trump with Pence
Image: VOA.

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

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

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

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

View from the floor of the Convention
Image: VOA.

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

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

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


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

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

View of the floor of the DNC
Image: JefParker.

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

Clinton accepts the Democratic presidential nomination
Image: VOA.

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

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

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

Khizr and Ghazala Khan
Image: VOA.

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

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

Reform Party race features two Wikinews interviewees[]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Darcy Richardson in 2010
Image: Darcy Richardson.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Former Congressman responds to Cruz RNC speech[]

Congressman Tancredo
Image: United States Congress.

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

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

Ted Cruz delivering his convention speech
Image: VOA.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wikinews interviews history-making DNC speaker[]

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

Sarah McBride
Image: Human Rights Campaign.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related articles[]


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

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

June 13, 2016

On the campaign trail in the USA, May 2016

On the campaign trail in the USA, May 2016

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

Monday, June 13, 2016

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

In this month’s edition on the campaign trail: a former Republican congressman briefly joins the Libertarian Party and runs for vice president; the Democratic Party names its National Convention Platform Drafting Committee amid controversy; and Wikinews interviews a candidate who had a surprisingly strong performance in the West Virginia Democratic presidential primary.


On the campaign trail in early May, the Republican Party primary race grew more contentious as it reached its final stages. On the same day as the May 3 Indiana primary, Republican front-runner Donald Trump, who held a sizable delegate lead over his two remaining primary challengers, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Ohio Governor John Kasich, cited the National Enquirer to accuse Cruz’s father of involvement in the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Cruz, whom Trump branded as “Lyin’ Ted,” attacked Trump as a “pathological liar” and “serial philanderer.” Trump won Indiana by a large margin, prompting the second place Cruz to end his campaign. Thereafter, both the media and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus christened Trump as the presumptive nominee, even though he had yet to secure the requisite number of National Convention delegates. The next day, Kasich finally suspended his candidacy. As Trump pivoted into general election mode, he faced a vocal Stop Trump movement within the party and a significant polling deficit against the Democrats. A national CNN/ORC poll showed Trump trailing Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton by double digits. Nevertheless, unlike the GOP, the outcome of the Democratic primary race remained undecided. Although Clinton maintained a significant delegate lead, a CNN poll showed her ahead of sole rival, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, by only eight points. In fact, Sanders won the Indiana Democratic primary, making nine victories out of the latest fourteen contests to that point.

Donald Trump with a taco bowl on Cinco de Mayo.
Image: Donald J. Trump on Twitter.

Commencing his general election campaign, Trump announced he would participate in fundraising after self-funding his primary campaign. He named former presidential rival, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson to head a group to search for a running mate. And, in a show of pro-Hispanic sentiment, he tweeted a photo of himself with a taco bowl on Cinco de Mayo. Still, the Republican Party remained divided. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said he would not commit to endorsing Trump. He called for Trump “to set aside bullying, […] belittlement, and appeal to higher aspirations.” Ryan’s comments drew criticism from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former 2016 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, among others. However, former candidates Lindsey Graham and Jeb Bush, as well as former Presidents George W. Bush and George H. W. Bush, all said they could not support Trump’s candidacy. 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol both called for an independent presidential candidate to run as an alternative to Trump. Ryan called this “a disaster,” and sought unity by inviting Trump to a Republican congressional leadership meeting and offering to step down as chair of the GOP National Convention if Trump so desired. Despite the internal strife, Trump continued his focus on the general election, branding Clinton as “crooked Hillary,” and attacking her for “want[ing] to abolish the Second Amendment.” He also pivoted on policies, advocating for a rise in the federal minimum wage and taxes on the wealthy. The campaign announced that five or six names were on the vice presidential shortlist including former presidential candidate Chris Christie. Quinnipiac polls showed Trump leading or close behind Clinton in head-to-head match ups in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida. Clinton won the caucus in Guam and the campaign shifted to West Virginia and Nebraska. On the eve of the May 10 primaries, Cruz, still on the ballot in Nebraska, announced he might restart his campaign if he won the state. Instead, Trump won Nebraska by a wide margin and won West Virginia by an even wider margin. On the Democratic side, Sanders won West Virginia as voters turned on Clinton after she expressed unencouraging views about the coal industry. ABC News exit polling there revealed nearly half of Sanders supporters said they would vote for Trump if Clinton won the nomination.

Vice President Joe Biden, who had been expected to mount a 2016 campaign until he ruled it out in late 2015, admitted in an interview with ABC that he had planned to run for president in 2016 but the plans derailed upon the death of his son Beau. He revealed Senator Elizabeth Warren as his preferred running mate and endorsed her for the Democratic vice presidential nomination. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada cautioned Democrats against nominating a sitting Senator like Warren to avoid decreasing the number of Democrats in the Senate. Trump launched an assault on Warren, referring to her as “goofy” and Pocahontas for a previous claim of Amerindian ancestry. On May 12, Trump had his much anticipated meeting with Ryan. Afterwards, the two issued a joint statement calling the meeting “a very positive step toward unification.” Ryan still withheld his endorsement though Trump asked Ryan to remain as chair of the National Convention. Polls from mid-May showed Trump edging closer to Clinton in national head-to-head match ups, as Trump faced a barrage of controversies. Both Clinton and Romney called on Trump to release his tax records. He said he might release them, but maintained it was “none of [the public’s] business.” Media reports also scrutinized Trump for allegedly acting as his own publicist in the early 1990’s. He denied the allegations outright. Next, The New York Times published an exposé about Trump’s treatment of women throughout the years. The validity of the story came into question when the lead interviewee claimed The Times had taken her account out of context. On May 17, Trump easily won the Oregon primary. The next day, for the first time in months, a Fox News poll showed him with a national lead over Clinton. That same day, he released a list of eleven judges whom he would consider nominating to the U.S. Supreme Court. He later received an endorsement from the National Rifle Association. In the Democratic race, Sanders won the Oregon primary and narrowly lost to Clinton in Kentucky. He was also able to add five of his supporters to the Democratic National Convention platform drafting committee, ensuring greater influence over the party platform. Clinton rejected a debate with him and announced there would be no further primary debates. Trump offered to debate Sanders, which Sanders accepted, though Trump later backed out. Clinton went on the offensive against Trump for his past business bankruptcies, saying he “could bankrupt America like he’s bankrupted his companies.” She won the Washington primary on May 24. However, the next day, an Inspector General report said she did not comply with State Department policy when she sent official e-mails on a private server while Secretary of State.

Following a victory in the Washington Republican primary, Trump traveled to New Mexico, where the sitting Republican governor Susana Martinez snubbed his event. Trump attacked Martinez during the rally, later asking, “If I have a Republican that’s not on my side, why should I be particularly nice to that person?” Shortly thereafter, during a speech in California, he renewed attacks against Romney, Cruz, Kristol, and Jeb Bush. Former rival Marco Rubio announced he would release the delegates he won during the primary to support Trump and said he would be willing to go on the campaign trail for Trump, if asked. Rubio also apologized to Trump for derogatory comments he made earlier in the campaign. Trump mathematically secured the Republican nomination, when an uncommitted slate of delegates in North Dakota committed to supporting him. Meanwhile, the Libertarian Party commenced its National Convention and nominated for president, on the second ballot, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, the party’s 2012 presidential nominee. Also on the second ballot, for vice president, the party nominated Johnson’s pre-selected running mate, former Massachusetts Governor William Weld, who had just left the Republican Party to become a Libertarian. Trump called Johnson a “fringe candidate.” Johnson was not the last such candidate introduced in late May. Seemingly ending his search for an alternative to Trump, Kristol tweeted that he had found an “impressive” independent candidate. Bloomberg reported the candidate was little-known writer David A. French of the National Review. On the final day of May, Trump held a press conference in which he revealed the veterans charities he donated to after raising $5.6 million during a fundraiser he held in January in lieu of attending a debate. Trump excoriated the national press for its coverage of his campaign and referred to one reporter as “sleaze.” With the June 7 California primary ahead, Clinton received the endorsement of California Governor Jerry Brown. The latest polls showed her with a two point advantage over Sanders in the state. In the Real Clear Politics average, she led Trump in the general election nationally by 1.5%.

Ex GOP congressman joins LP, seeks VP, then leaves

As soon as Donald Trump secured the Republican presidential nomination, Libertarian Party (LP) membership applications doubled. Longtime Republican consultant Mary Matalin, former Massachusetts governor William Weld, and former Congressman Kerry Bentivolio of Michigan, were among those who left the GOP in May to find a new home in the LP. While Matalin enthusiastically backed Libertarian presidential runner-up Austin Petersen, and Weld won the party’s vice presidential nomination; Bentivolio, who had endorsed Dr. Ben Carson for president before joining the party, had a much different experience.

Congressman Bentivolio
Image: United States Congress.

“It was suggested by a few supporters I run [for vice president] as a libertarian,” says Bentivolio, a teacher and veteran of the Vietnam and Iraq wars, who earned the moniker “the accidental Congressman” after his surprising 2012 election, “I briefly entertained the idea of running and spent time investigating the party.”

Bentivolio, 64, unexpectedly won the Republican nomination to represent Michigan’s 11th Congressional District in 2012, after the sitting Congressman, Thaddeus McCotter, a 2012 presidential candidate, was unable to run for re-election after his petitions to qualify for the primary ballot were deemed fraudulent. Upon his victory in the general election, Bentivolio went to Washington, joining the House Committee on Small Business and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. He took an active role in introducing and sponsoring successful legislation, becoming, according to an historian of the House, one of the most effective freshmen Congressmen of recent times. GovTrack listed him as the most transparent Republican freshman in the 113th United States Congress. Nevertheless, during his single term, he frequently bucked the party leadership, voting against a resolution to the 2013 government shutdown, calling for the impeachment of President Barack Obama, and agreeing to seek congressional hearings over chemtrails. In 2014, Bentivolio lost his seat to attorney Dave Trott, a primary opponent with a fundraising edge and the backing of the Republican establishment. After leaving Congress, Bentivolio suffered financial difficulties and had to file for bankruptcy in 2015, partly the result of his expensive primary campaign against Trott.

When Bentivolio joined the LP in May, he filed a Form 2 with the Federal Election Commission to run for vice president. Libertarian national chairman Nicholas Sarwark encouraged Bentivolio to run for his old congressional seat in addition to vice president. This was not well received by the local Libertarian Party, which feared such a run would violate Michigan’s sore-loser law; the same law that prevented Gary Johnson from appearing on the ballot in 2012. As a consequence, the local party nominated another candidate to run for the seat.

“The district delegates [five in total] voted for another as the House candidate”, recounts Bentivolio, “[the candidate’s] wife was the deciding vote.”

Afterwards, Bentivolio expressed doubt about the party platform, saying it amounted to “judicial supremacy,” which he rejects, referencing the 1857 Dred Scott case, which affirmed the rights of slaveholders. He added, “I am 100% pro-life and an abolitionist and many in the Libertarian Party are pro-choice and support slavery in their immigration policy.” He cited these as his reasons for ending his vice presidential campaign.

After Gary Johnson and William Weld won the party’s presidential and vice presidential nominations at the 2016 Libertarian National Convention, Bentivolio offered his perspective on Johnson and Weld. Though he considered Johnson, “a nice guy and honest,” he felt Johnson “thinks government has all the answers.” In contrast, Bentivolio said he personally believes “government is the problem” and only supports “a government within the strict limitations clearly expressed in the Constitution.” He described Weld, a Council on Foreign Relations member who proposed strict gun control measures as governor, as someone who “supports big government.”

Bentivolio has left the LP and now is an independent. He remains undecided on whether to support Donald Trump for president. To help him decide, he is currently researching claims of a woman named “Katie Johnson” who filed a lawsuit accusing Trump of rape. Trump’s attorneys dismiss the suit as a hoax.

DNC aims for unity with Platform Drafting Committee picks; controversy ensues

Every four years, the Democratic Party holds its National Convention, nominating a presidential ticket and conducting official business. One important item is the drafting of a party platform to express the party’s principles and vision for the future. A special committee is formed to draft the document. In May, fifteen individuals were named to the committee. Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz selected four of the members while the two presidential candidates picked the remaining eleven in proportion to the votes each candidate received in the primaries. Hillary Clinton, the party’s presidential front-runner, selected six. Bernie Sanders chose five, though the DNC rejected one of his original picks, a union leader, leading to charges of anti-union bias in the DNC. Still, upon the release of the names, The Nation magazine argued Sanders’ input provided the committee with a “progressive majority.” Wikinews was able to reach out to one of Sanders’ picks to see what he planned for the platform.

McKibben in 2008.
Image: Hotshot977.

For the committee, Wasserman Schultz tapped Congressman Elijah Cummings, who is to serve as the head; Congresswoman Barbara Lee, the only returning member from 2012; former Congressman Howard Berman; and Bonnie Schaefer, former Chief Executive Officer of Claire’s. Clinton selected Ambassador Wendy Sherman; Neera Tanden, head of the Center for American Progress; Ohio Representative Alicia Reece; Carol Browner, former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Congressman Luis Gutiérrez; and union leader Paul Booth. Sanders picked Dr. Cornel West; Congressman Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the US Congress; James Zogby, head of the Arab American Institute; Deborah Parker, a Native American activist; and Bill McKibben, a renowned environmentalist.

Sanders speaks at a May 18 rally in Vallejo, California.
Image: Shelly Prevost.

McKibben, a Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College who co-founded the climate change awareness organization, tells Wikinews that his Vermont roots may explain why Sanders selected him for the committee. However, McKibben has worked with Sanders previously on climate and energy issues, and The Boston Globe has described him as “probably the nation’s leading environmentalist.”

“I’d like to see [the platform] reflect the fact that since the last election the planet’s climate has deteriorated dramatically, with record temperatures, melting ice, and dying coral”, says McKibben, “So that means we need to move more aggressively, both to cut our reliance on fossil fuels and to boost renewable energy.”

McKibben is not the only member who prioritizes environmental issues. Browner, who headed the EPA during the entire presidency of Bill Clinton, has worked under President Obama as the director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy. While the environment is given a strong emphasis, Sanders has raised the point that labor representation on the committee is lacking.

In 2012, union leaders Donna Harris-Aikens of the National Education Association and Thea Lee of the AFL-CIO were on the committee. This year, the only union leader is Booth of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Sanders attempted to include National Nurses United executive director RoseAnn DeMoro, but Wasserman Schultz vetoed the pick. Sanders, in a press conference, accused the DNC of “not want[ing] representatives of labor unions on the platform drafting committee.” The DNC rejected the charge.

“We worked carefully with both campaigns to ensure overall balance and representation,” says DNC spokeswoman April Mellody, “[we] have 100% confidence that the views of our allies in the Labor community will be well represented in our Party’s platform as they have always been.”

Amid the division, McKibben expresses hope that though the platform is often “forgotten not long after it’s written,” perhaps the 2016 platform “will play a role in uniting the party.”

The committee is set to convene at the 2016 Democratic National Convention July 25–28 in Philadelphia.

DNC Platform Drafting Committee

Interview with overachieving West Virginia Democratic protest candidate

In the May 10 West Virginia Democratic primary, Bernie Sanders defeated Hillary Clinton 51.4 percent to 35.8 percent. Of the remaining 13 percent, nearly nine went to little-known protest candidate Paul T. Farrell Jr., a Huntington, West Virginia attorney who entered the race to challenge President Obama’s energy policies. Wikinews reached out to Farrell to ask a few questions about the campaign.

Results by county for Paul T. Farrell Jr.

██  5%

██ 5–10%

██ 10–15%

██ 15–20%

██  20%

Image: MB298.

During the campaign, Farrell did not hold any fundraisers and his only spending was the $2,500 filing fee to appear on the ballot. He believes Obama’s policies, which Clinton supports, have hurt the coal industry, a major sector of West Virginia’s economy. Many West Virginians, even Democrats, share this view. While mining still makes up 17 percent of West Virginia’s gross domestic product (compared to 3 percent nationally), since 2009, coal production has declined around 45 percent in the south part of the state. 332 mines have closed and almost 10,000 jobs or 35 percent of those in the industry, have been lost. West Virginia’s unemployment is the worst in the nation. According to ABC News exit polls from the primary, only 26 percent of West Virginia Democrats want to continue Obama’s policies.

Although registered Democrats outnumber Republicans roughly 577,000 to 378,000 in West Virginia, Republican presidential candidates have won the state in every election since 2000. ABC exit polls indicate a third of Democrats plan to vote in November for Trump, who has campaigned in favor of the coal industry. Trump is popular in West Virginia, having won 77 percent in the state’s GOP primary. He holds a 27 point lead over Clinton in the latest Public Policy Polling head-to-head match up.

West Virginia Democrats have a history of going against the national party establishment. Notably, prison inmate Keith Russell Judd won 41 percent in the 2012 primary against Obama, who was seeking re-election. Judd was on the ballot again in 2016, but received only 1.8 percent of the vote. Judd’s 2012 performance was one of the reasons Farrell cited for entered the race. In addition, he told the Charleston Gazette–Mail back in January that the candidates running did not share “West Virginia values.” He had hoped to secure some national convention delegates but just fell short. He was able to come in second place in the coal-rich Mingo County, where he outpaced Clinton 23.7 percent to 21.4 percent.

With Wikinews, Farrell discusses, his specific problem with Obama’s energy policy, what he is looking for in a presidential candidate, and his views on Trump.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.png How were you able to get over 8% of the vote in the West Virginia Democratic Primary?

Farrell: The 2016 Democratic nominees for President of the United States support President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan executive order which we disparagingly refer to as the “war on coal.” West Virginia voters take exception to abruptly bankrupting our economy without a comprehensive plan to rebuild our infrastructure. The presumptive nominee, Hillary Clinton, lost all 55 counties in West Virginia. Voters did not cast a ballot for me; they cast a ballot for the candidate with “WV” listed after his name in protest to Mrs. Clinton’s energy policy.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.png Do you plan on supporting the Democratic presidential nominee come November?

Farrell: No. I will support the candidate that adopts a platform that rebuilds our economy which President Obama dismantled and pledges to pass legislation during his/her first “100 days.”

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.png What are your thoughts on presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump?

Farrell: Mrs. Clinton made the campaign promise to put “coal miners and coal companies out of business.” Mr. Trump says he will fight for West Virginia. Even if Mr. Trump is full of shit, I choose to fight rather than surrender. Most of the southern coal fields of West Virginia stand with me.

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

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

December 9, 2015

Petition calls for Trump UK ban

Petition calls for Trump UK ban – Wikinews, the free news source

Petition calls for Trump UK ban

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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

2016 United States presidential election
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A petition reached over 300,000 signatures today urging Donald Trump, considered the front runner to become the Republican Party‘s candidate for President of the United States, be banned from entering the United Kingdom. This follows Mr Trump’s comments that Muslims should be blocked from entering the US.

Donald Trump defended his policy on Tuesday of banning Muslims from the US
Image: Gage Skidmore.

Also, Scotland‘s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, removed Trump from his role as business ambassador for Scotland.

On Monday, Mr Trump said he wants a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the US” until the country can understand “what the hell is going on” with regard to terrorism. He said in a statement that a large number of Muslims show “great hatred towards Americans”.

Trump’s comments on Monday came days after a shooting in San Bernardino, California by Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik, in which fourteen people were killed. US President Barack Obama said in an address from the Oval Office on Sunday the attack was an act of terrorism.

Donald Trump’s statement has been widely criticised, including by members of his own political party. Republican Matt Moore said the policy is a “bad idea” and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said “this is not Conservatism”.

Democrat candidate for President Hillary Clinton described Trump’s comments as “shameful”. Secretary of State John Kerry argued Trump’s statement would not help in the ongoing fight against Islamic State (IS), saying his remarks were “not constructive”.

Trump argued that his policy idea is “no different” to that of former President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s policy which saw large-scale confinement of Japanese US citizens in internment camps following Japan’s attacks on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Mr Trump also said the policy should not be implemented on Muslims currently living within the US.

Kassem Allie from the Islamic Center of America, accused Trump of evoking fear “reminiscent of Nazi Germany and Stalin“. The Pentagon expressed concern Trump’s demands could be counterproductive in the fight against IS, saying it “bolsters Isil’s narrative”.

Mr Trump also said on Tuesday that police in London are “afraid for their lives” in some areas because of radicalisation in the city. These comments were rebuffed by the United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron who said Trump was “simply wrong” and Mayor of London Boris Johnson said the claim was “ridiculous”.


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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.


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

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

Wikinews interviews former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, presidential nominee of the Libertarian Party

Wikinews interviews former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, presidential nominee of the Libertarian Party

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Monday, November 5, 2012

With the U.S. presidential election looming, former New Mexico governor and current Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson spoke with Wikinews reporter William S. Saturn on an assortment of economic, foreign, and social issues. In the interview, Johnson makes his final plea to voters before they cast their ballots on Election Day, November 6.

Gary Johnson.
Image: Gary Johnson.

Though a member of the Libertarian Party in the early 1990s, Johnson was elected and re-elected governor of New Mexico in 1994 and 1998 as a Republican. During his governorship, he vetoed over 750 bills, more than all other then-governors combined, and left the state with a $1 billion budget surplus. He briefly ran for president as a Republican in 2011 before rejoining the Libertarian Party to seek its 2012 presidential nomination.

After winning the nomination this past May, Johnson has campaigned throughout the nation espousing the Fair Tax, spending cuts across the board, a repeal of Obamacare, an audit of the Federal Reserve, a non-interventionist foreign policy, an end to the Drug War, and legalization of same-sex marriage. He and his running mate, Judge Jim Gray of California, have attained ballot access in all U.S. states except Michigan, where he is a write-in candidate, and Oklahoma. Nationally, he has received four percent registered-voter support in the past two CNN/Opinion Research Polls that included him with President Barack Obama, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and Green Party nominee Jill Stein. It is the campaign’s goal to reach five percent on Election Day, which will enable the party to receive ballot access and federal funding on par with the two major parties.

With Wikinews, Johnson discusses the federal budget, education, entitlements, the Syrian uprising, Mexican Drug War, same-sex marriage, the Libertarian Party, and his political future.

Economic matters

Wikinews waves Left.pngWilliam S. SaturnWikinews waves Right.png:You say that as president, you would propose a balanced budget “not five or ten years down the road” but in 2013. Realistically can that budget pass, especially with a Congress hostile to your proposed spending cuts and tax plan?

Gary Johnson: I would suggest that if I’m elected president promising to submit a balanced budget to Congress in the year 2013, and also promising to veto any legislation where expenses exceed revenue, even though they would override my veto, I’m going to suggest to you that spending will be lower with those two promises kept than any other scenario you could possibly come up with.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngYou also propose decreasing federal education spending including decreases in Pell Grants and loans for college students. Is that correct?

Johnson: Well the reason being is that because of guaranteed government student loans that is the reason why college tuition is so high. It’s an artificial market. It’s not a market made up of supply and demand. And it’s a market where kids are going to school because they’re guaranteed a government student loan and because of that, the vast institutions of higher learning, colleges and universities are immune from pricing much much dramatically lower than they would have to price themselves at if government student loans did not exist. And of course you wouldn’t cut students off that are currently receiving student loans. And that isn’t to say that government student loans would go away. It’s just that you wouldn’t make government the guarantor of those student loans.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngSo it wouldn’t be an immediate cut?

Johnson: Well it would be immediate…You know it’s not really a cut because student loans are student loans. You can’t escape a student loan even under bankruptcy. So these loans are going to get paid back but the argument is is that student loans, government-guaranteed student loans are a direct cause of tuition being as high as it is.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngOkay. I have a question here about entitlements: During the Tea Party Republican Party Debate on September 12, 2011, one of which you were not invited to, Wolf Blitzer [the debate’s moderator], he provided the following scenario to Ron Paul, this is what he said, he said:

“A healthy thirty-year-old young man has a good job, makes a good living, but decides, you know what? I’m not going to spend $200 or $300 a month for health insurance because I’m healthy, I don’t need it. But something terrible happens, all of a sudden he needs it. Who’s going to pay if he goes into a coma?”

Now Ron Paul answered that question. If you were at that debate, how would you have responded to that?

Johnson: Well, first of all, I think there are those who are truly in need. So you’re talking about a thirty-year-old who doesn’t have health insurance; there conceivably could be government step in and it would be state government, not federal government. I really believe that we have to slash Medicare and Medicaid spending; that Medicare is a program that you and I put $30,000 into in our lifetimes and we receive $100,000 plus benefits and by that whatever we contribute in we get back three times, more than three times what we contribute in. So it’s not sustainable. Federally funded healthcare is not sustainable. So with that said, I would leave it to the states to draw new lines of eligibility and when it comes to this hypothetical kid that you’re talking about that falls into a coma, I’m believing that state governments will come up with a program to address that kind of individual.

Foreign affairs

Wikinews waves Left.pngWilliam S. SaturnWikinews waves Right.pngLet’s shift to foreign affairs. On your website, you say “America simply cannot afford to be engaged in foreign policy programs that are not clearly protecting U.S. interests.” In the case of a humanitarian crisis as in Syria right now, does the U.S. ever have a moral obligation to intervene militarily even if it is not clearly in the U.S. interest?

Gary Johnson: No. To intervene in Syria…Look, we end up supporting a new dictatorship that takes over from the old dictatorship. The results are no better or even worse than the old. So we intervene in the name of humanity, and the result is like I say, more times than not, a situation that is worse, not better.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngLet’s say it’s like Hitler‘s Germany, would intervention be necessary then?

Johnson: Well yeah. The notion of…Well first of all, let me borrow from a Supreme Court Justice that was asked his definition of pornography. [He said] You know what, I can’t give you a definition of pornography but I’d like to think that when I see it I recognize it. And so when you talk about humanitarian, when you talk about atrocities, when you talk about genocide, when you talk about the Holocaust, I don’t think any of us want to stand by and watch something like that happen. How do you define that? Well as the commander-in-chief, I’d like to think I’d be the first one that would recognize it if it actually was occurring. And of course, as the leader of the United States, I would have to be articulate in that and make my case for intervention. If we were to intervene, first and foremost would be Congress vetting that and actually approving that, but look, I just think that we militarily intervene as a result of our military intervention, but I think we have hundreds of millions of enemies to this country that look for our military intervention that otherwise would not exist. We kill tens of thousands of innocent civilians in the countries where we militarily intervene. Our men and service women end up dying. Our men and service women come back with their limbs blown off.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngYou were the governor of a border state. As president, what would you do to prevent the violence in Mexico from spilling over into the United States?

Johnson: That violence is a prohibition phenomenon. If you legalize marijuana, arguably 75 percent of that border violence with Mexico goes away. These are disputes that are being played out with guns rather than the courts. Forty thousand deaths south of the border over the last four years. These are disputes that are being played out with guns rather than the courts.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngBut as president, would you increase border security or would you keep it the same?

Johnson: No. I would not build a fence. I think there would be less of a need for border security if we had a moving line for immigrants that would want to come into this country and work to get a work visa. So my pledge is I’m going to create a moving line for immigrants that want to come into this country and work to get a work visa. That would entail a background check and a Social Security card so that applicable taxes would get paid. I am espousing eliminating income tax, corporate tax, abolishing the IRS and replacing it all with one federal consumption tax: the fair tax. If we adopt the fair tax, taxes will not be an issue. Whether you’re illegal, legal, a visitor to the U.S., or a U.S. citizen, nobody is going to avoid paying one federal consumption tax.

Social issues

Wikinews waves Left.pngWilliam S. SaturnWikinews waves Right.pngLet’s get into social issues now. You criticized President Obama for his stance that same-sex marriage be left to the states. With the Tenth Amendment in mind, why should same-sex marriage be a federal issue and why should the federal government mandate that states allow same sex marriage?

Gary Johnson: Well I think that first and foremost that as president of the United States you take an oath to govern under strict adherence to the U.S. Constitution. I would espouse…I would suggest that marriage equality is a constitutionally guaranteed right of Equal Protection Clause that is on par with Civil Rights of the sixties. It’s not a states issue, that it’s a federal issue and that the federal government should be involved. If you say it’s a state issue where 42 states have said that marriage is between a man and a woman. Effectively what you’re saying is that ‘I’m not going to do anything when it comes to marriage equality’, and I take the position that marriage equality is a constitutionally guaranteed right so goes the federal involvement.

Libertarian Party and political future

Wikinews waves Left.pngWilliam S. SaturnWikinews waves Right.pngOkay I’m getting to my final questions here. I want to talk about the Libertarian Party. The first nominee of the Party was John Hospers, who died last year, and he was a supporter of Republican President George W. Bush. The next nominee Roger MacBride also left the party and went to the Republican Party. The 1988 nominee Ron Paul, as we all know, serves in the House of Representatives as a member of the Republican Party, and his son [Rand Paul] serves in the Senate as a member of the Republican Party. Both the 2008 presidential and vice-presidential nominees of the Libertarian Party: Bob Barr and Wayne Allyn Root have recently rejoined the Republican Party and have both endorsed Mitt Romney for president. In fact, until the end of last year, you too were a member of the Republican Party. So why does it seem Libertarians flock to the Republican Party?

Gary Johnson: I’m not so certain…I think that the tie-in is [libertarian] Republicans are fiscally conservative and socially accepting. That’s the, I think, the heading under which most Americans are. I will just tell you that last night, although it did not happen, apparently the Democrats were going to come and protest my speaking at the University of Colorado at Boulder. I guess it was all those anti-gay, anti-immigration, pro-Drug War, pro-military interventionists that were going to show up and protest me.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngBut you admit that there are some Liberty Republicans and that Republicans make up a large portion of libertarians. Is that correct?

Johnson: Well, I think libertarians are libertarians. I mean, the largest political affiliation in the country right now is Independent and I think if you took the pulse of Independents, I think you’d find that majority of Independents are libertarians. I think libertarian-leaning, if you go to that category, if you include Democrats, Independents, and Republicans, I think the majority of Americans in some way, shape, or form describe themselves as libertarian-leaning.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWell let’s say someone is a libertarian-leaning Republican like Rand Paul in the Senate. Should such libertarian Republicans support you and guaranteeing their vote will go to you rather than voting Republican…Let me rephrase this question… Let’s say that a Rand Paul Republican was considering who to vote for and they could choose between guaranteeing their vote would not go to the Republican, which they see as the small-government alternative in the duopoly, rather than voting Republican and ensuring their vote will go to someone who they believe is the small government alternative, should they still support you?

Johnson: Well yeah, because really Republicans aren’t small government. I mean, if you go back to the [Vice presidential] debate the other night between [Republican vice presidential nominee Paul] Ryan and [Vice president Joe] Biden, Ryan says toward the end of the debate, he goes, hey, look we’re going to increase spending by three percent, they’re going to increase spending by four and a half percent, what’s the big deal? I would echo that. What’s the big deal? There’s not a big deal between either one of them and if libertarian-leaning Republicans want to send a message to elected Republican leaders then vote for me that’s how you’re going to send a message. You’re not going to send a message by voting in the status quo. The status quo being much to do about nothing.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngThis is my final question here. The OC Weekly website reported last week that your running mate, Judge Jim Gray remarked during an appearance at Tulane University that you two plan to run again in 2016. Can you confirm whether that is correct?

Johnson: Well, we’ve created statewide organizations. There’s a tremendous amount of interest. What is that going equates when it comes to votes? You know what, I don’t know what that’s going to equate to votes on Election Day, but I’ll just say from my standpoint, William, there’s just a whole lot of enthusiasm and I do think that this is the future of politics so I’m staying around here, I think the last thing anyone wants to hear is that I’m going to run again when, you know, this is an election that hasn’t even taken place, and I mean the one on Tuesday. [There’s] lots of time to be looking at those kind of options.

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

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

October 25, 2012

Obama, Romney battle over foreign policy in final U.S. presidential debate

Obama, Romney battle over foreign policy in final U.S. presidential debate

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

2012 US presidential election candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney took part Monday in their third and final presidential debate at Lynn University in Florida. The topic of the debate was foreign policy and the candidates discussed the Arab Spring, Iran, and Mali, among other issues.

Barack Obama
Image: US Senate.

Mitt Romney
Image: Gage skidmore.

Mr. Obama criticised Mr. Romney’s foreign policy positions as “all over the map”. “Every time you have offered an opinion you have been wrong.” “You said we should have gone into Iraq, despite the fact there were no weapons of mass destruction. You said we should still have troops in Iraq to this day. You said we shouldn’t be passing nuclear treaties with Russia.” Mr. Romney countered saying Mr. Obama had failed to take proper advantage of the Arab Spring: “I congratulate him on taking out Osama bin Laden and going after the leadership of al-Qaeda, but we can’t kill our way out of this mess”.

Mr. Romney said Mr. Obama was proposing military budget cuts. He said “the highest responsibility of the President of the United states … is to maintain the safety of the American people, and I will not cut our military budget by a trillion dollars… That in my view is making our future less certain and less secure”. Mr. Obama accused Mr. Romney of not properly understanding modern defense priorities. “You mention the navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well Governor, 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“.

Cquote1.svg Well governor, 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”. Cquote2.svg

—Barack Obama

Mr. Romney criticized his opponent for visiting the Middle East on an “apology tour”, and said he would be tougher with Iran. “I think from the very beginning, one of the challenges we’ve had with Iran is that they have looked at this administration and felt that the administration was not as strong as it needed to be. We’re four years closer to a nuclear Iran and we should not have wasted these four years.” Mr. Obama said he would stand with Israel against Iranian threats but added that the main national security concern was terrorist networks. He said his administration had focused on “those who actually killed us on 9/11” and said that under his leadership, “al-Qaeda’s core leadership has been decimated”. Mr. Romney said northern Mali had been taken over by “al-Qaeda-type individuals” .

Mr. Romney criticized China for “holding down artificially the value of their currency”. He added “on day one, I will label them a currency manipulator, which allows us to apply tariffs where they’re taking jobs.” Mr. Obama countered saying under Mr. Romney’s policy America would be “buying cars from China instead of selling cars to China”.

A poll, taken by CBS straight after the debate, indicated 53% of voters thought Mr. Obama had done better, while only 23% thought Mr. Romney had done better.

Both candidates now have plans for continued campaigning ahead of the election on November 6. Mr. Obama is to travel through Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Iowa, Colorado, and Nevada as well as appearing on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in a two-day “America Forward Tour”. Mr. Romney is to hold two joint rallies with his vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan in Nevada and Colorado before going on to campaign in Iowa and Ohio. Mr. Romney’s advisers said he would also consider making a speech on government spending and debt in the next few days.



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.

October 9, 2012

On the campaign trail, September 2012

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

On the campaign trail, September 2012

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Wikimedia-logo.svg This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

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

In this month’s edition on the campaign trail: Wikinews chronicles three of the lesser-known speakers at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, a controversial pastor and write-in candidate talks to Wikinews about the unrest in the Middle East, and the ballot-qualified American Third Position Party (A3P) presidential nominee travels to Iran to meet President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.


September opened with the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. On the convention’s first night, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro delivered the keynote address, the first Hispanic-American to do so. He discussed the communitarian spirit of the United States and reflected on how his mother “fought hard for civil rights so that instead of a mop, I could hold this microphone.” The speech was compared to Barack Obama’s keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and garnered speculation that he would seek higher political office. First Lady Michelle Obama also spoke that night, discussing her husband on a personal level. On the second day, a ruckus ensued as Democrats moved to re-include “God” and support of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital in the party’s official platform after removal of the items drew criticism leading up to the convention. That night, women’s health advocate Sandra Fluke and Massachusetts U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren each spoke before former President Bill Clinton took the stage to deliver a lengthy, policy-filled speech. In it, Clinton defended Obama’s economic policies, arguing that no previous president, including himself, could have fostered complete recovery this soon in the same economic climate. He concluded that the election was ultimately a choice between the “winner-take-all, you’re-on-your-own society” of the Republicans and the “we’re-all-in-this-together society” of Obama. On the final night, Vice president Joe Biden spoke before President Obama addressed the convention to officially accept the party’s nomination. In his acceptance speech, Obama asked voters to allow his administration to “finish what we started”, arguing “it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades” and Republicans offer only policies that have previously failed.

Castro delivers the keynote address at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
Image: DemConvention2012.

Foreign policy emerged as a major campaign issue after the U.S. embassies in Egypt and Libya came under attack on September 11, resulting in the deaths of four Americans including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens. Allegedly, the attacks were the result of protests against a YouTube video trailer for the anti-Islamic film Innocence of Muslims, which the Obama administration condemned in the aftermath of the attacks. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney criticized President Obama for the response, arguing he “was wrong to stand by a statement sympathizing with those who had breached our embassy in Egypt, instead of condemning their actions.” An Obama spokesman expressed “shock” at Romney’s response, accusing him of “launch[ing] a political attack”. Shortly thereafter, Romney also criticized Obama for being unable to find time to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Obama then had an hour-long phone conversation with Netanyahu. Later in the month, Netanyahu appeared before the United Nations General Assembly with a cartoon of a bomb, voiced his concerns that Iran would attain enough enriched uranium to make a bomb by the summer of 2013, and called on the world to act. Obama and Romney each spoke with Netanyahu. Each candidate expressed similar sentiment in favor of further sanctions against Iran.

In mid-September, Romney received negative publicity after the magazine Mother Jones released a video of a fundraiser at which Romney alleged, “there are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what … [because they] are dependent upon government”. He then said his “job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan distanced himself from the remarks, which he labeled as “inelegant”. Obama remarked in response, “We don’t want an inside job in Washington, we want change in Washington…It can’t happen if you write off half the nation before you even took office.” The Romney campaign hoped to shift focus from the video to newly-emerged 1998 footage of Obama in which he advocates redistribution of wealth. Additionally, Romney released his 2011 tax returns, as promised earlier in the year. The returns showed he paid $1.95 million out of the $13.7 million he earned on investments. However, less positive news continued for the campaign as September came to a close. Paul Ryan received boos while discussing the proposed repeal of Obamacare during a speech before an AARP forum, which President Obama also addressed. Plus, Obama increased his lead in the polls with Gallup showing a six point Obama advantage, 50 percent to 44 percent in a September 26 poll, up from the 46 percent to 46 percent tie prior to the publication of the Romney video.

Nevertheless, Obama was not the only candidate rising in the polls at the end of September. Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico, rose to six percent support in a late September Reason-Rupe poll, up from the 4.3 percent showing earlier in a JZ Analytics poll. The Johnson campaign also increased activity. With the presidential debates looming, the campaign filed suit against the Commission for Presidential Debates, alleging anti-trust practices for denying access to third party candidates. With many polls still excluding Johnson at the end of September, Obama led Romney 48.7 to 44.6 in the September 30 RealClearPolitics polling average.

Lesser-known DNC speakers discuss their experience

While San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, women’s health advocate Sandra Fluke, and Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Warren all formally introduced themselves to the national audience at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, they were not the only figures to do so. Small business owner Bill Butcher, firefighter Doug Stern, and mother Stacey Lihn were among the “everyday people” the party invited to address the convention and the nation. Wikinews reached out to these three to learn more about their DNC experience and the process of the convention.

Port City Brewing Company owner Bill Butcher.
Image: Bill Butcher.

Butcher, owner of Port City Brewing in Alexandria, Virginia, says he received the invitation after the Democratic Party found him online while searching for someone who had started a small business during the administration and benefited from its policies. Butcher was able to establish Port City Brewing after obtaining a loan through the SBA loan program, part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (The Stimulus).

In preparation for his speech, Butcher worked with Obama speechwriters and rehearsed the morning before. Though he admits to being nervous, he discovered that fellow speakers backstage felt similarly. To break the ice, Butcher opened his speech with a joke, apologizing to the audience for not handing out free beer. He then turned to policy, defending Obama as “a president who’s on my side … [who has] kept middle class taxes low…[and] has fought for small-business owners”. According to Butcher, the speech was received positively, even among his Republican friends, who felt it “cool” that their buddy had addressed the DNC.

Fire fighter Doug Stern.
Image: Doug Stern.

Like Butcher, Stern, a firefighter and member of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), also received bipartisan praise for his speech. As a union advocate for the repeal of Ohio SB 5, which limited the collective bargaining rights of Ohio‘s public employees, Stern feels the party selected him due to his visibility. Because he received word of the invitation just days before the event, Stern did not have much time to prepare. Rather, he viewed YouTube videos of Presidents Obama, Clinton, and Ronald Reagan to find the right style for delivery. Nevertheless, according to Stern, the best input came from his twelve-year-old son, who advised him that delivering a DNC speech was not such a big deal, since “you give speeches all the time.”

In the speech, Stern introduced himself as a former Republican, but held that as a member of the middle class and as a public employee, the “party left people like me.” He applauded the Obama administration for continuing federal grants to fire fighters, and characterized Obama as someone who “respects middle-class workers like me and my family.” Fellow fire fighters, including those of different political stripes, commended Stern on his remarks, and about a week after the speech, Stern met President Obama in Cincinnati, where he received congratulations. Despite the recognition from his peers and presidential praise, the reception of Stern’s son was paramount. While watching a line from the speech replayed on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the 12-year-old admitted to his father that despite his previous comments, speaking at the DNC was “pretty cool.”

Stacey Lihn with her daughter Zoe at the Democratic National Convention.
Image: Caleb Lihn.

Similarly, for Lihn, the night held a special significance due to her family. Lihn, a mother of two daughters one of whom, Zoe, suffers from a congenital heart defect, previously worked with the Obama campaign in March to produce a video documenting how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) had helped her family pay for her daughter’s medical expenses. Looking for someone to discuss health care reform at the convention, the video’s producer called Lihn and invited her to speak.

Like Butcher, she rehearsed her speech in the morning prior, finding this to be more emotional than the actual delivery itself. In the heartfelt speech delivered with her husband and daughter onstage, Lihn articulated her appreciation of Obamacare and the fear that the election of Mitt Romney and possible repeal of Obamacare would prevent needed care for her daughter. After the speech, Lihn embraced First Lady Michelle Obama in what she fondly recalls as “a genuine hug — mother to mother.” Others appreciated the speech as well. Ed Pilkington of The Guardian wrote that it was not only “one of the most moving moments of the Democratic national convention … [but] possibly of the entire 2012 presidential race”.

For Lihn, despite the acclaim, she was simply speaking as one of many: “Our story is but one of thousands and I knew that, standing up on stage speaking, that I was speaking for all of the parents who’ve walked in my shoes. I felt the strength of the many babies born with Zoe’s heart condition who weren’t as fortunate as she and passed away before the age of two. I support the ACA [Affordable Care Act] and will continue to do so for those whose voices cannot be heard.”

Wikinews interviews write-in candidate connected to Middle East turmoil

Pastor Terry Jones in March 2011.
Image: Mark Taylor.

Wikinews caught up with Dove World Outreach Center pastor Terry Jones of Gainesville, Florida. Jones, a write-in candidate for president, is best known for his anti-Islamic activism, which has sparked protests across the Muslim world.

Jones leads an anti-Islam march in Washington, DC.
Image: Mark Taylor.

Jones first gained notice in 2010, after threatening to burn a Koran at Ground Zero on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The announcement prompted protests in the Middle East, causing President Obama to request that Jones not partake in the activity. He obliged, but later burned a Koran in March 2011, leading to violent protests in Afghanistan including an attack on the United Nations Assistance Mission in Mazar-i-Sharif, which killed at least 30 people.

Recently, Jones has received mention for promoting the film Innocence of Muslims, whose trailer allegedly inflamed riots in Egypt and Libya on September 11 due to its portrayal of Muhammad. During the riots, the American embassies in the two nations were breached, leading to the deaths of four Americans in Libya, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Jones told The Daily Caller he had remained in contact with the film’s director Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who was jailed September 28 on charges of violating probation. Jones’s involvement with the film has led to warrants for his arrest in Egypt, where authorities want to try him for insults to Islam, spreading lies, and harming national unity. Death is a possible penalty for such offenses. Nevertheless, Jones holds that Egypt “would definitely be better advised to put Muhammad on trial.”

With Wikinews, Jones discusses ballot access, the Innocence of Muslims, and how he would handle the riots in Egypt and Libya as president.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngIn which states have you attempted to gain ballot access?

Pastor Jones: Indiana, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Alabama, Oregon, Iowa, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wyoming

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWhat are your thoughts on the film trailer for the movie Innocence of Muslims? Should the filmmaker bear any responsibility for the anti-American protests across the Muslim world?

Pastor Jones: According to many Islamic experts that I have talked to, and the studies that I have done myself, the trailer is very accurate. Muhammad led a very perverted life and a very violent life. On his deathbed in 632, he gave the command to his followers to cleanse the Arabian Peninsula of all unbelievers. That is what Islam has been doing for the last fourteen hundred years, killing, murdering and raping anyone that dares to have a different opinion or follow a different religion.
Absolutely not. In fact, what we have done is we have again demonstrated that Islam in its roots, in its foundation is a violent religion. The Koran is a very violent book. It promotes violence. As I said, Muhammad led a very violent life. In the last ten years of his life he had seventy-eight raids on other villages where he killed innocent people, civilians. It was not even an act of war. It was simply genocide. It was simply the killing of anyone who disagreed with him. It is the time that America and the world stands up and sees the dangers of Islam, the dangers of radical Islam.
As far as we are concerned, as far as our efforts are concerned, we are going to continue to press forward. We are going to continue to raise an awareness of the dangers of radical Islam. The western world must stop appeasing Islam or Islam will continue its acts of terror.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWhat is your response to President Obama’s reaction to the protests and attacks on the U.S. embassies? Was Governor Romney’s criticism of that reaction appropriate? If you were president, how would you respond to the events?

Pastor Jones: President Obama is an absolute disaster. As president, he bears some of the responsibility for what is going on right now in the Islamic world. President Obama has shown himself to be pro-Islam, pro-Muslim Brotherhood. Since the Muslim Brotherhood has taken over in Egypt, situations for minorities and Christians have gotten much, much worse. We know that President Obama favors Islam. He appeases Islam. He has welcomed CAIR into the White House. CAIR is nothing more than a suit-and-tie terrorist organization. President Obama and his appeasing of Islam has only given them a green light, opened up the door for them to feel as though they can attack our embassies and feel that absolutely nothing will be done. Even now as he has spent $70,000 of American taxpayers’ money to run ads in Pakistan appeasing the Islamic radical community, he definitely bears a responsibility.
Governor Romney, or anyone’s criticism, of President Obama’s presidency concerning Islam, his economic policies, and many of his policies whether it is immigration or same-sex marriage are indeed justified.
If I were president, my response would be much harsher to the Islamic community. I believe that we should close our embassies in Muslim and Koran controlled countries immediately. We should pull our people out of those countries. We in the west must realize that Islam is not compatible with western society. It is not compatible with western thinking because Islam is missing the basic elements of a free western society. Those elements are freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion. Islam has continued to prove over and over and over again that it does not tolerate any criticism of Muhammad, the Koran, or Sharia. It has absolutely no tolerance of any other religion. Because of its past history and the past fruits of the religion, Islam and western society cannot coexist. This is why we should close all embassies in Koran and Islam controlled and dominated countries.

A3P nominee meets with the President of Iran

Filmmaker Merlin Miller, the presidential nominee of the American Third Position Party (A3P), attended a film festival in Tehran, Iran early in September, during which he spoke to an audience that included Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. After the speech, Ahmadinejad invited Miller to a private meeting, which lasted about twenty minutes. This was the first time a U.S. presidential candidate met with Ahmadinejad, a controversial figure who has called for the dissolution of Israel, questioned the validity of the Holocaust, and spurred Iran’s nuclear program, which the U.S. and Israel allege is not for peaceful purposes.

Merlin Miller shakes hands with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Image: Merlin Miller.

In contrast to such allegations, Miller tells Wikinews that his impression of Ahmadinejad was as “a humble man who deeply cares about promoting truths and the best for his people — including peace.” During the meeting, he gave Ahmadinejad a copy of his 2001 film Jericho and his book Our Vision for America. According to Miller, Ahmadinejad wanted it to be communicated to the American people that “Globalists and Zionists falsely portray Iran, as they seek conflict between nations” and that Iran actually desires peace. Miller says that though Ahmadinejad probably did not know much about the specific A3P presidential campaign and platform, he was “aware of the how Zionist interests control our two major political parties” and “was intrigued that alternative voices in America are starting to challenge the injustices of our current political system and the propaganda of our mainstream media.”

The A3P, which was founded in 2010, is among those “alternative voices”. Its program calls for a tougher approach to crime, economic nationalism, higher education standards, environmentalism, strengthening of the family unit, a non-interventionist foreign policy, opposition to “third world” immigration, border security, and preservation of “white identity”.

Critics such as the Southern Poverty Law Center accuse the A3P of being a white supremacist organization, a charge that Miller denies. Miller appeared on Iran’s Press TV, and discussed the use of the term on his Wikipedia profile, which he claimed to have unsuccessfully attempted to change. He argued that the label likely stemmed from his “criticism of Zionism, of Jewish control of [the U.S.] media, [and] of [the U.S.] foreign policy, which is Israel first”.

Miller and the A3P have attained ballot access in Tennessee, New Jersey, and Colorado, and have additionally qualified for write-in status in Maryland and West Virginia.


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

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

October 5, 2012

Obama, Romney spar in first 2012 U.S. presidential debate

Obama, Romney spar in first 2012 U.S. presidential debate

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Friday, October 5, 2012

U.S. President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney sparred Wednesday evening during the first of three presidential debates leading up to the 2012 election.

Barack Obama
Mitt Romney
Barack Obama (left) and Mitt Romney.
Image: U.S. Dept. of Defense and Gage Skidmore.

According to Nielson, approximately 67.2 million people tuned in to the 90-minute debate moderated by Jim Lehrer of PBS as President Obama, the Democratic nominee, and Romney, the Republican nominee, exchanged jabs on domestic policy and the U.S. economy. Viewership increased 28% from the first 2008 presidential debate, which had an audience of about 52.4 million people.

Mitt Romney, during the debate, mentioned children’s television show character Big Bird in discussing federal subsidies of public broadcasting, propelling the character to online popularity. Romney stated he would end subsidies to PBS, a U.S. public television network, saying, “I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too, Jim [Lehrer].” He continued, saying he would “not […] keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it.” Twitter, a social networking site, announced a maximum of 17,000 mentions of Big Bird per second. President Obama said on Thursday, “I just want to make sure I’ve got this straight: He’ll get rid of regulations on Wall Street, but he’s going to crack down on ‘Sesame Street.’ Thank goodness somebody’s finally cracking down on Big Bird! Who knew that he was responsible for all these deficits! Elmo‘s got to watch out!”

According to a poll conducted by CBS News, 46% of the 500 uncommitted respondents believed Romney won the debate; 22% of respondents believed President Obama won the debate and 32% believed it was a tie. In the same poll, 56% of respondents held a more favorable opinion of Romney following the debate, while 11% expressed a poorer opinion and 32% did not change their opinion of the Republican. Of the respondents, 13% viewed President Obama more favorably, while 17% viewed him less favorably and 69% indicated they did not change their opinion.

Wednesday evening’s debate was the first in a series of three presidential debates as part of the 2012 election. President Obama and Romney are to spar again in New York on October 16 and in Florida on October 22. One vice-presidential debate, between Republican Paul Ryan and Democrat Joe Biden, is to be held on October 11 in Kentucky.



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

September 6, 2012

On the campaign trail, August 2012

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

On the campaign trail, August 2012

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

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

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


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

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

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

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

Peace and Freedom Party VP nominee speaks to Wikinews

Cindy Sheehan in 2007.
Image: dbking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Analysts react to Republican VP selection

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

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

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

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

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

Update on 2012 Democratic candidates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 29, 2012

Mitt Romney officially nominated at Republican National Convention

Mitt Romney officially nominated at Republican National Convention

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mitt Romney, the former Governor of Massachusetts, was officially nominated yesterday evening by the Republican Party as its candidate for the President of the United States at the party’s National Convention in Tampa, Florida.

Mitt Romney
Paul Ryan
Mitt Romney (left) and Paul Ryan, 2012 Republican nominees for President and Vice President.
Image: Gage Skidmore.

Romney reached the required 1,144 vote threshold needed to win the Republican nomination at about 5:40 PM EDT yesterday evening when the New Jersey delegation cast its 50 votes in support. The official nomination of Romney is the conclusion of the Republican presidential nomination process, which began with the Iowa caucuses on January 3.

Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign is his second run for the presidency. Romney first ran for the Republican nomination in 2008, losing in the nominating process to John McCain, who was defeated in the presidential election by, the current President, Barack Obama.

U.S. Representative Paul Ryan, who was selected by Mitt Romney as the then-presumptive nominee’s running mate earlier this month, received the Republican vice-presidential nomination by acclamation, since there were no other candidates.

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, the now-official Republican ticket, will face the nominees of the Democratic Party, which will be selected at the Democratic National Convention next week. The presumptive Democratic nominees are incumbent President Barack Obama and incumbent Vice President Joe Biden.

Several delegate votes were also cast in favor of U.S. Representative Ron Paul of Texas, despite the fact that he had not won the popular vote in any of the Republican caucuses or primaries.

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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.
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