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October 31, 2015

Nine arrested for human trafficking in southeastern United States

Nine arrested for human trafficking in southeastern United States

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Saturday, October 31, 2015

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Nine people were arrested on Thursday at cities in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi and have been charged as part of a 32-court federal indictment in an interstate human trafficking case. According to William Thornton from AL.com “the indictment was announced by Christopher P. Canova, Acting United States Attorney from the Northern District of Florida.”

According to the indictment, between July 2015 and August of this year, the defendants transported, housed and marketed women for prostitution in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. They took the proceeds and wired them out of the country.

“Jose Juan Ruiz Prudencio, 40, and Emerson Corvera, 30, both of Montgomery, were arrested along with defendants in Florida, Mississippi and Georgia,” William Thornton reported.

The nine arrested were also charged with three counts of enticing individuals to travel to engage in prostitution, seven counts of transporting people to engage in prostitution, four counts of money laundering, six counts of harbouring an alien for the purpose of prostitution and illegal entry by a deported alien.

This case resulted from a 15-month investigation into human trafficking activities in the Northern District of Florida by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) – Panama City Resident Agent in Charge.

According to Kelsey Davis from Montgomery Advertiser, “The indictment also says at least 26 women were involved, who were sold for $30 per session. The price was later raised to $40 because the defendants allegedly stated they weren’t making enough of a profit at the former price.”

According to the FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation, the defendants are:

  • Edegardo Osorno Rodriguez, 37, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida;
  • Antonio Flores-Esparza, 31, Pensacola, Florida;
  • Jose Juan Ruiz Prudencio, 40, Montgomery, Alabama;
  • Jose Alvaro Trujillo-Santiz, 45, Panama City Beach, Florida;
  • Rosa Mirtha Cruz Vidal, 34, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida;
  • Mauro Gonzalez-Lira, 24, McComb, Mississippi;
  • Romon Tobon, 45, Starkville, Mississippi;
  • Lazaro Juarez-Juarez, 33, Atlanta, Georgia; and
  • Emerson Corvera, 30, Montgomery, Alabama.



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December 20, 2013

Public health officials advise on rising flu levels in Texas 2013/2014 season

Public health officials advise on rising flu levels in Texas 2013/2014 season

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Friday, December 20, 2013

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With current flu levels classified as “high” around the state, public health officials in Texas are encouraging citizens to seek vaccination. While many officials anticipated the flu season to peak in January, it has seemingly arrived much earlier in many parts of the state.

Health officials are urging citizens to seek care with their primary doctors, instead of their local hospital emergency rooms. They also recommend that everyone over age six months receive a flu vaccination. Thus far in December, over 450 cases of influenza have been reported in just a small portion of central Texas. Four recent deaths are being blamed on a flu-like illness. Other citizens are also showing signs of the same unknown condition, health officials said.

A nurse for a Texas school system noted during a media interview, “The number one prevention for the flu and cold is hand washing, [from] little kids [up to] big kids.” People suffering from the symptoms report fever, and coughing along with headaches and fatigue. One Texas man told Wikinews, “I had the flu just a few weeks ago. It was awful. I was miserable.”



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August 27, 2012

Tropical Storm Isaac creates worries across US gulf states

Tropical Storm Isaac creates worries across US gulf states

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Monday, August 27, 2012

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Satellite file photo of Hurricane Katrina from 2005.

Tropical Storm Isaac is creating a swathe of concerns across many gulf states in the US, as it sweeps into the Florida Keys.

As of 5:00pm EDT, Miami area winds were measuring at 60 miles per hour. Authorities indicated 5,180 homes across Broward county are without electricity. According to media sources, the governor of Louisiana anticipates giving evacuation orders as early as Monday morning.

Hurricane warnings have been issued in the Florida Panhandle, sweeping as far west as Louisiana. Sunday afternoon, Louisiana’s Governor Jindal issued a state of emergency for the state. Over 450 flights at Miami International Airport were canceled this weekend, in light of the storm’s arrival.

Ultimately, the storm’s winds could reach as high as 110 mph, according to sources. The mayor of New Orleans told media that many residents there are nervous. The last time a hurricane struck the Gulf coast was in 2008.



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August 26, 2012

Hurricane Isaac creates worries across US gulf states

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

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Satellite file photo of Hurricane Katrina from 2005.

Hurricane Isaac is creating a swathe of concerns across many gulf states in the US, as it sweeps into Florida. As of 5:00pm EDT, Miami area winds were measuring at 60 miles per hour. Authorities indicated 5,180 homes across Broward county are without electricity. According to media sources, the governor of Louisiana anticipates giving evacuation orders as early as Monday morning.

Hurricane warnings have been issued in Florida, sweeping as far west as Louisiana. Louisiana’s Governor Jindal issued a state of emergency for the state on Sunday afternoon. 450 flights at Miami International Airport were canceled this weekend, in light of the storm’s arrival.

Ultimately, the storm could bring winds reaching as high as 110 mph, according to sources. The mayor of New Orleans told media that many residents there are nervous. The Gulf coast has not been struck by a hurricane since 2008.



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June 16, 2012

FanFiction.Net adult content purge felt across fandom two weeks on

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

FanFiction.Net’s purge removed stories from Harry Potter, Naruto, Twilight, Hetalia – Axis Powers.
Image: alixe75 on ffdotnetrants.

Two weeks ago, FanFiction.Net purged the site of much of the adult content, surprising many fan fiction readers and writers; leaving several archives on the Internet unprepared for a deluge of new users, problems continuing to this day. FanFiction.Net removed around 62,000 stories after a change allowing writers under the age of eighteen to register.

FanFiction.Net spelled out the reasons for their purge on the front page of the site:

Please note we would like to clarify the content policy we have in place since 2002. FanFiction.Net follows the Fiction Rating system ranging from Fiction K to Fiction M. Although Fiction Ratings goes up to Fiction MA, FanFiction.Net since 2002 has not allowed Fiction MA rated content which can contain adult/explicit content on the site. FanFiction.Net only accepts content in the Fiction K through Fiction M range. Fiction M can contain adult language, themes and suggestions. Detailed descriptions of physical interaction of sexual or violent nature is considered Fiction MA and has not been allowed on the site since 2002.
 
— FanFiction.Net

According to alixe75 on LiveJournal’s ffdotnetrants, FanFiction.Net deleted 2,002 Naruto stories, 1,497 Twilight stories, 1,256 Harry Potter stories, 670 Glee stories, 364 Inuyasha stories, 364 Hetalia – Axis Powers stories, 282 Kingdom Hearts, 213 Pokemon stories, 143 Yu-Gi-Oh stories, 127 Dragon Ball Z stories and 47 Doctor Who stories amongst others. rahirah on Dreamwidth provided another statistic, “Approximately 11% of all BtVS [Buffy the Vampire Slayer] stories were zapped. That may not sound like much, but FFnet is big – that comes to thousands of stories.” feckless-muse on Dreamwidth reported the purge included banning users. Despite the purge, Alexa reports no drop in traffic to FanFiction.Net.

Contents

Critics United

 
Note — June 20, 2012
 
Critics United is a subcommunity of FanFiction.Net users; this was not clearly explained in the article.
 

Some in the fan community blamed Critics United for the purge, and a few Tumblr users created a group to fight them. The group earned a mention on the Huffington Post.

According to feckless-muse, “people reporting these so called site violations are literally ganging up on the writers and leaving comments like the ones below en masse. The poor writers are spending hours (and in some cases months and years for ongoing fics) on their works only to be abused, bullied and then having their work deleted without notice.” With these sentiments being echoed on LiveJournal, jessioriginal reported threats from the group at the same time the purge took place.

It’s been suggested that part of the reason behind the purge were the mass-reports coming from a trollish community on FanFiction that felt they have the right to judge which stories do and do not belong on the site. Unfortunately, they are not alone. My Fatal Fanfiction story—a Fatal Frame parody revolving around the recent purge—was targeted by them. Apparently the short prologue with references to the characters, story, and setting of the game was enough for them to declare my story an original work. They have since demanded I change it or remove it, threatened me, they’ve reported my story, and they keep leaving those kind of reviews.
 

Two months ago, David Anderson, of Dudley, Massachusetts, created a petition condemning Critics United which drew increased interest in light of the purge. By earlier today, 224 people signed it including Danny Kleemann of Peoria, Illinois, Brian George O’Connor of Chatham, New York, Tegan Chin of Arlington, Texas, Holly Reichert of Euclid, Ohio, Claire Owen of Houston, Texas, Joanna Zhang of Charlotte, North Carolina, Amber Keystone of Monroe, Louisiana, Lily Hamilton of Charlotte, North Carolina, Allison Law of Charlotte, North Carolina and Erica Winchester of Clinton, Massachusetts who all signed today. Earlier this week, Timothy Hall signed, saying “The profiles are being deleted due to either content violations or inactivity, including the stories in connection with the profiles. Most of profile and story deletions are because of depicted content about adult or violent themes being detailed beyond its ‘suggestion’ even in the slightest manner.”

So great was one person’s anger, they created a page about Critics United on Encyclopedia Dramatica several months ago. People mentioned this and praised people trolling Critics United on Tumblr and LiveJournal as recently as yesterday.

 
Correction — Jun 18, 2012
 
the Critics United page on Encyclopedia Dramatica was created on June 6, after the purge.
 

Fan response

A scene from Mary West’s mature rated Harry Potter fan fiction “Time for a Change”
Image: SSHGGillian.

Twelve days ago, a FanFiction.Net contributor named Charlotte Weatherly created a petition on Change.org requesting FanFiction.Net stop its own destruction by purging stories. Earlier today, the count of signatories stood at over 30,000, many offering their perspectives on why the site acted in error. Kara Bularzik’s comment, liked over 270 times, said: “… I cannot believe so much valuable work is being trashed because it doesn’t fit parameters that have not been strictly enforced since they were put into action. […] What is the point of a ratings system if anything disagreeable is automatically purged? […] I am truly disheartened, and I hope either a different course of action is taken or I wish ff.net and its future users (all within the PG reading range) the best as I sadly look for a site where one can truly ‘unleash their imagination’.” Zaynab Quadri’s comment, liked 88 times, expressed a similar sentiment: “Writers give warnings when they write explicit content, so if anyone’s reading anything they shouldn’t be, that’s their own fault. Let the writers have freedom of speech.” Lex Black’s comment, liked by 30 people, said: “Some of the best stories are being threatened by this. This rule hasn’t been inforced[sic] for ten years and limiting creativity now is ridicules.[sic] If it upsets you, then be MATURE enough to not read it.”

People continue to support the petition, with Maria Adams of San Diego, California, Matthew Sandrock of Santa Maria, California, Jessie Brown of Clinton, Mississippi, Cynthia Mora of Renton, Washington, Anis Rosdi of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, James Clarke of Cedar Point, North Carolina, Blair Ritchie of Ashland, Oregon, Rianna McMahan of Auburn, Washington, Hannah Johnson of Tuolumne, California and C.J. Concepcion of Goodyear, Arizona signing today. Discussion of the petition on a FanFiction.Net message board generated over 3,000 messages, and is still active.

On Dreamwidth, members urged FanFiction.Net users to back up their work lest it be deleted. Users auronlu, vieralynn and others encouraged people to spread the word of possible deletion.

The purge story was picked up by Hannah Ellison at the Huffington Post two days ago, who compared the FanFiction.Net purge to a book burning. Ellison went on to say, “[t]hese unpaid authors are at the mercy of the sites willing to house their work and as such must adhere to the lines drawn in the very murky sand of copyright law. Some of these authors spent months writing and editing novel length works to then have them deleted entirely, as if they were something with no artistic or cultural worth; artefacts that either follow the rules or don’t.” Ellison’s post earned 1,900+ Facebook likes, with 50 comments on the article.

Ellison’s story appeared on several Tumblr posts. xmarisolx posted her response on Tumblr a day ago, claiming FanFiction.Net was shooting itself in the foot, driving traffic to other archives such as An Archive of Our Own (AO3). candycanine, quoting Heinrich Heine, supported Ellison’s book burning reference.

Talking to Wikinews, former fan fiction writer and current professional writer Angelia Sparrow indicated a lack of surprise over FanFiction.Net’s actions saying, “Ten years ago they purged all the NC-17 stuff. Sounds like they just did a cleanup again. We’re getting more puritanical everywhere, you know? All Romance Ebooks is strongly limiting what romances can contain.”

Long time Thunderbirds fan fiction writer Tikatu told Wikinews, “The content purge hasn’t bothered me at all, really, though I’ve been lurking around on ff.net’s Critics United. They’ve been blamed for all the deleted stories — never mind that they don’t have enough people to have reported that many fics.”

Anime fan fiction writer and artist Hurricane Islandheart defended FanFiction.Net’s actions, saying “All FF.net was doing was catching up on their site maintenance and reports – people just freaked because they’d finally been caught breaking the rules.” She reinforced this idea on her LiveJournal.

I think that’s what finally killed me about fandom. That bullshit merited coverage by the Huffington Post, and all that happened was FF.net finally decided to deal with some reports and enforce their rules for a little while again. They’ve done this before. We did it at MediaMiner, when that site was actively moderated – reports would pile up in slack time, when all the mods were busy, and when we’d finally get a chance to look at them, some would take it as a “sudden attack” on their fics. No, it’s not a “sudden attack” – you got away with breaking the rules for a while, but now, between some mods who have time on their hands and a group targeting shitty fics, they finally got caught. (For the record – my fics flagrantly disregarded the rules at FF.net, and for the last few years I had a notice up on my profile in boldface that said as much and that I was aware of it. I was never, ever, reported; I never, ever had CU comment on any of my fics; I never, ever had FF.net staff remove them. I finally got sick of the site and took them down myself a few days ago, since I’ve decided to make my move to AO3 permanent.)
 

Fan fiction archives

In response to the purge, users flocked to other sites and archives. Recommendations for sites included DreamWidth, LiveJournal, YourFanFiction.Com and An Archive of Our Own (AO3).

AO3 experienced down time as the site’s servers could not handle the additional load from FanFiction.Net users, generating a number of 50 errors at the height of the problem. The site’s parent organization, Organization for Transformative Works, not mentioning server problems on their Dreamwidth account, updated their website six days ago to discuss the situation.

This sudden and dramatic expansion has come about largely as a result of changes on Fanfiction.net, who have recently introduced more stringent enforcement of their policies relating to explicit fanworks which have resulted in some fans no longer being able to host their works there. One of the primary reasons the AO3 was created was in order to provide a home for fanworks which were at risk of deletion elsewhere, so we’re very keen to welcome these new users, but in the short term this does present us with some challenges!
 

The traffic increase came on the back of Quantcast-reported increase earlier in the year, 57,201 visitors at the end of April, up from 40,560 at the end of March. Alexa reported a big drop in traffic for the archive the day of the purge and traffic has subsequently remained at above average before FanFiction.Net purge levels. This matches other organizationally reported increase. AO3 took measures to reduce server load such as disabling tag filtering, improving statistics caching, turning off alphabetical listing of users, suspending the ability for people to request invitations to and from the site. Even before FanFiction.Net’s adult content purge, AO3’s invitation code queue exceeded 17,000. Before the site closed registration, Tumblr user alien-rz requested a code and received a confirmation e-mail saying “You’ve been added to our queue! Yay! We estimate that you’ll receive an invitation around 2012-12-13.”

FanFiction.Net users like fujiwara-nanaho registered for Dreamwidth in case FanFiction.Net removed their content.

No problems were reported by Hurricane Islandheart on MediaMiner.Org, an anime-centric fan fiction site popular in the mid-’00s that is largely absent of moderators at the moment. The site saw an increase in traffic earlier this year, going from 24,156 at end-December, according to Quantcast, to 58,558 visitors at the end of March this year.

According to Tikatu, a member of FanFiction.net Writers Unite, an eFiction software based site, YourFanFiction.com went down under the additional traffic strain. According to Tumblr users, having been created in response to the purge, the site swelled to over a thousand users including a number of Tumblr users like bluelilacflame, konata-the-espeon and getwhatyouwantorjustgetold.



Sources

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

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June 12, 2012

Louisiana State University loses spot in college world series

Louisiana State University loses spot in college world series

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

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Louisiana State University‘s (LSU’s) baseball team lost against the Stony Brook Seawolves on Sunday in game 3 of the Baton Rouge Super Regional. The final score was 7–2. This loss closed out LSU’s chances to compete in the US College World Series, but will send the Seawolves to compete in that major event.

Game 1 of the series included a 19-hour rain delay, but ultimately, LSU won that game 5–4. The game was a loss for Stony Brook pitcher Frankie Vanderka. Game 3, however, gave Vanderka an opportunity to redeem himself. Game 2 resulted in a loss for LSU, by two runs.

Stony Brook showed its strong hitting capabilities early in game 3 by scoring the first run in the top of the first inning. Even with strong hitter Mason Katz, LSU was unable to stage a notable come back. In the 6th inning of game 3, Stony Brook pitcher Frankie Vanderka quickly dispatched three of the LSU Tigers, helping to maintain Stony Brook’s position. LSU scored its second and final run for the game in the seventh inning.



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May 20, 2012

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

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

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

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

John Wolfe.
Image: Marc Nozell.

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

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

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

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

Campaign

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Challenging the incumbent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Policy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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May 5, 2012

On the campaign trail, April 2012

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

On the campaign trail, April 2012

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Saturday, May 5, 2012

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

In this month’s edition on the campaign trail, a candidate that ended his presidential campaign speaks to Wikinews about what he learned from the experience and his new plan to run for U.S. Congress, Wikinews gets the reaction of the new presidential and vice presidential nominees of the Constitution Party, and the campaign manager for the top Americans Elect presidential candidate provides insight on the campaign’s list of potential running mates.

Summary

At the beginning of April, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney won primaries in Wisconsin, Washington, D.C., and Maryland, pushing him further ahead of his rivals. A week later, former Senator Rick Santorum, the candidate with the second highest number of delegates, ended his campaign, avoiding a loss to Romney in his home state of Pennsylvania. With the withdrawal, the press began to identify Romney as the presumptive Republican Party nominee, though he had yet to secure enough delegates to clinch the nomination. Thereafter, Romney appointed adviser Beth Meyers to begin the search for a running mate.

These developments set the stage for an election contest between Romney and President Barack Obama, who had secured the nomination of the Democratic Party with victories in Maryland and Washington, D.C. The Washington Post proclaimed the “Buffett Rule” as the “opening act in Obama-Romney election battle” as Obama pushed for the Senate to pass a tax increase on wealthy Americans, named for billionaire Warren Buffett, who argued it was unfair that because of loopholes, his secretary had to pay a higher effective tax rate than him. The Romney campaign attacked the proposed tax increase as a “politically motivated” and “gussied-up” increase on capital gains taxes.

President Obama’s dog, Bo walks on the White House lawn in April 2012.
Image: Glyn Lowe.

Other stories in April distracted from the discussion of political issues. First, Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen described Romney’s wife, Ann Romney, as having “never worked a day in her life.” Ann Romney responded that “I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work.” Next, The Obama campaign renewed the story that Romney transported his dog Seamus in a kennel on top of his vehicle in 1983, with campaign strategist David Axelrod posting a Twitter photo of Obama in a vehicle with his dog Bo, with the caption, “How loving owners transport their dogs.” The Romney campaign countered that Obama had eaten dog meat while living in Indonesia as discussed in his autobiography Dreams from My Father. Romney strategist Eric Fehrstrom retweeted Axelrod’s original photo with the caption, “In hindsight, a chilling photo.” Then, Rock musician and Romney supporter Ted Nugent said at a National Rifle Association event that he would be “dead or in jail” if Obama won re-election, earning him a visit from the Secret Service. The Secret Service itself was embroiled in controversy in April after it was revealed that agents had retained the services of prostitutes while protecting the President during his trip to Colombia.

Despite the portrayal of Romney as the presumptive nominee, delegate contests continued. Romney won additional races in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New York, after which former House Speaker Newt Gingrich announced he planned to end his campaign. Texas governor Rick Perry, who supported Gingrich, formally endorsed Romney. However, Congressman Ron Paul of Texas continued his campaign. He won the majority of the Minnesota delegates up for grabs at conventions across the state and did the same in Louisiana, pushing his delegate count to 80. Romney has secured 847, which is just short of the required 1,144. 962 delegates remain available.

Presidential candidate drops bid; announces congressional run

In April, former air traffic controller RJ Harris ended his campaign for the 2012 presidential nomination of the Libertarian Party (LP), citing fundraising difficulties. He announced that instead, he would run an independent campaign to represent Oklahoma’s 4th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives against incumbent Congressman Tom Cole. Harris previously challenged Cole for the seat in 2010, but lost in the Republican Party primary.

Congressional candidate RJ Harris.
Image: RJ Harris.

Harris opened his presidential candidacy last year, and was the first LP candidate to speak with Wikinews. His exit leaves activist R. Lee Wrights and former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson as the two main contenders for the LP nomination at the party’s May 5 National Convention.

Since exiting, Harris spoke to Wikinews once again, discussing what he learned from his presidential campaign, what he wishes to happen at the LP National Convention, and how his new congressional campaign will differ from his 2010 run.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWhat did you learn from the experience of running for president?

Harris: I learned that I am Libertarian to the core by having to research each and every position on the issues and realizing that I almost never saw the answers in any other light than that cast by the Philosophy of Liberty or the Constitution of the United States. Certainly I will run again when I have built a bigger base and I look forwards to once again being able to fight for Liberty with the courage of informed conviction. I also learned that no party, even the smaller ones, are immune from party politics and I will spend the rest of my political life attempting to live the admonition of Washington and Jefferson against them and the evils they create.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWho would you now like to see win the Libertarian Party presidential nomination?

Harris: I have already stated publicly that I think both Lee Wrights and Gov. Gary Johnson are great men who would serve the Libertarian Party very well. I would like to see a ticket with them both included on it. I refrain from making a direct endorsement of either as that smacks of the very party politics I have come to loathe. Let them articulate their messages to the delegates and the delegates decide without the interference of one of the failed candidates, or the party machine, who should be their standard bearer.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngHow will your 2012 congressional campaign differ from your 2010 run?

Harris: My 2012 Congressional Campaign will not end until November this time rather than in July. This should give us the time we need to attract wider support from the Liberty movement than we had last time since it is very difficult to get folks fired up so far in advance of the actual election. I will also be spending much more effort in district with various civic organizations, not political parties, and focusing on the registered voters who vote most often. Certainly I will highlight my opponents atrocious voting record which includes voting for the bailouts, the stimulus, raising the debt ceiling, the president’s budget, the Patriot Act and the NDAA. Aside from that though what is most important is that we get the message of Liberty out to the constituents of Oklahoma’s 4th District so that they have something positive to consider up against the incumbent.

Constitution Party presidential and vice presidential picks react to nomination

Virgil Goode of Virginia and Jim Clymer of Pennsylvania, the new presidential and vice presidential nominees of the Constitution Party (CP), each responded to Wikinews inquiries requesting their thoughts on their respective nominations.

Official photo of Goode during the 109th United States Congress.
Image: United States Congress.

Goode, who served in Congress for over a decade before joining the CP in 2010, announced his presidential candidacy this past February. At the 2012 National Convention in April, he won the party’s presidential nomination on the first ballot over former Savannah State football coach Robby Wells and 2008 vice presidential nominee Darrell Castle.

Afterwards, Goode echoed his reaction to Wikinews: “I am honored to be the nominee of the Constitution Party for the 2012 election. I offer a real difference from Romney and Obama.” He differentiated himself from Romney and Obama, calling for a balanced federal budget, border security, the elimination of illegal immigration, the decrease of legal immigration, support for the Alabama and Arizona immigration laws, and the reduction of money in politics. He proclaimed, “I am not taking any PAC donations, and am also limiting individual donations to $200 per person…I favor the many over the special few.”

At the convention, Goode selected outgoing CP chairman Jim Clymer as his running mate. Clymer, an attorney from Lancaster, announced earlier this year that he would step down as chairman of the CP. During his chairmanship, Clymer welcomed Goode into the CP in 2010, and encouraged him to run for president. This is not Clymer’s first campaign for public office, having run for Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania in both 1994 and 1998.

Concerning the CP vice presidential nomination, Clymer told Wikinews, “I wasn’t seeking it, but how can one say no to a request like that, especially after I had been urging him [Goode] to step forward to make the sacrifice of being our presidential candidate. It’s a case of duty calling and I intend to do all I can to answer that call!”

A Public Policy Polling survey conducted at the end of April shows the CP ticket with 5 percent support in Goode’s home state of Virginia, behind Mitt Romney with 38 percent and President Barack Obama with 50 percent. In 2008, the ticket of pastor Chuck Baldwin and Darrell Castle appeared on 37 state ballots, and received 199,314 votes or 0.15 percent of the total popular vote.

Top Americans Elect candidate announces ’23’ potential running mates

Former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer, the current leader in supporters for the Americans Elect presidential nomination, announced on MSNBC‘s Morning Joe in April that he has compiled a list of “23” potential running mates for his campaign. He says the list will remain a secret until the conclusion of the first round of voting on the Americans Elect website. The vote was scheduled to happen on May 8, but has been postponed to May 15. According to Americans Elect rules, Roemer must select a running mate that is a political Independent or from the Democratic Party since Roemer has been associated with the Republican Party for most of his career. He recently changed his affiliation to the Reform Party of the United States in order to seek that party’s presidential nomination.

Roemer’s campaign manager Carlos Sierra told Wikinews that he personally knows who makes up the 23 individuals on the list, but would not disclose any names. He added that “some of them [the potential candidates] are aware they are on the list.”

Americans Elect is attempting to appear on the Election Day ballot in all 50 states and has currently secured access in 26. Candidates on the website are rated by the number of supporters. Roemer currently leads with 4,632 followed by former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson with 2,824 supporters, activist Michealene Risley is third with 1,791, and economics professor Laurence Kotlikoff is close behind with 1,726. Ron Paul leads all draft candidates with 8,889, but there is no indication he will seek the nomination.



Related articles

  • “U.S. Constitution Party nominates former Congressman Virgil Goode for president” — Wikinews, April 22, 2012
  • “US Secret Service agents face investigation for Colombian sex scandal” — Wikinews, April 19, 2012
  • “Rick Santorum drops U.S. presidential bid” — Wikinews, April 11, 2012
  • Buddy Roemer ends Republican presidential bid to seek Reform Party nomination” — Wikinews, February 23, 2012
  • “U.S. presidential candidate Gary Johnson leaves GOP to vie for the LP nom” — Wikinews, December 29, 2011
  • “Wikinews interviews U.S. Libertarian Party potential presidential candidate R.J. Harris” — Wikinews, June 17, 2011

Sources

Wikinews
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
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April 4, 2012

On the campaign trail, March 2012

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

On the campaign trail, March 2012

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

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

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

Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Might the GOP VP nominee come from Puerto Rico?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Democratic Party strips delegates

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

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

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

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

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

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


Party removes presidential nominee

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

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

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

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


Related articles

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February 23, 2012

Buddy Roemer ends Republican presidential bid to seek Reform Party nomination

Buddy Roemer ends Republican presidential bid to seek Reform Party nomination

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Roemer speaks to the Reform Party of New Jersey in December 2011.
Image: Greenguy89.

Former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer ended his campaign for the Republican Party (GOP) presidential nomination yesterday to seek the backing of the Reform Party of the United States of America. He plans to make the official announcement at a press conference later today, and also reaffirms his quest for the Americans Elect nod.

Roemer, who limits campaign contributions to $100.00 and does not accept money from Political Action Committees, has made campaign finance reform a centerpiece of his run. He announced his candidacy last July, but was unable to make headway in presidential polls. As a result, he was not invited to any GOP debates.

Last December, Roemer announced that he would seek the nomination of Americans Elect, an independent organization hoping to field a nonpartisan presidential ticket. Later that month, he addressed the Reform Party of New Jersey, fueling speculation that he would seek the party’s nomination. However, after the meeting, campaign manager Carlos Sierra told Wikinews that Roemer “does not intend to seek their nomination”. He now says that Roemer changed his mind after “[n]ot getting into any of the GOP debates.”

Industrialist Ross Perot founded the Reform Party in 1995. As the party’s first presidential nominee in 1996, he received over eight percent of the popular vote, the highest percentage for a third party candidate since. After this, the party was plagued by infighting, and decreased in prominence. In 2008, Ted Weill was nominated for president, but appeared on the ballot in only Mississippi, receiving 481 votes. Since then, the party has revived somewhat, and has already attained ballot access in four states.

Wikinews held a forum in January for the candidates seeking the party’s presidential nomination. All three then-candidates participated, including former college football coach Robby Wells, Earth Intelligence Network CEO Robert David Steele, and small business owner Andre Barnett.

Since then, Steele ended his campaign, and Wells dropped out to seek the Constitution Party nomination. For now, Roemer will face Barnett, as well as economist Dick McCormick, who recently announced his candidacy.

Roemer plans to make his announcement today in Santa Monica, California. His campaign manager looks forward to the next stage, explaining, “we believe we can form a powerful coalition of Americans who are tired of the status quo.”



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  • Wikinews holds Reform Party USA presidential candidates forum” — Wikinews, January 3, 2012
  • “On the campaign trail, December 2011” — Wikinews, January 1, 2012
  • “Campaign manager: 100 percent chance Buddy Roemer will run for Americans Elect presidential nomination” — Wikinews, December 1, 2011
  • “Wikinews interviews Buddy Roemer, U.S. Republican Party presidential candidate” — Wikinews, October 30, 2011
  • “Former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer announces run for president” — Wikinews, July 22, 2011

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