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December 10, 2014

Senate publish report on CIA torture and misinformation

Senate publish report on CIA torture and misinformation

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The US Senate Report on CIA Detention Interrogation Program that details the use of torture during CIA detention and interrogation.

A report released by the US Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday concluded that the CIA misinformed the White House and Congress about its imprisonment and interrogation of suspected terrorists during the years after the September 11 attacks.

The committee released an executive summary yesterday ahead of its full 6,000-page report. The summary documented instances where detainees were kept awake for as long as a week and suggested that the agency had waterboarded more suspects than it previously disclosed.

The report also revealed that officials in the Bush administration were often told about these practices long after the fact. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell were not told of the CIA’s operations until a year after they had begun. President Bush was briefed in 2006, four years after the CIA commenced its “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques” program.

The released documents refutes the effectiveness of the program and the accuracy of the information gathered. Previously, the Bush administration had defended its use, claiming that the intelligence garnered helped stop terrorist plots and capture al-Qaeda leadership, including Osama bin Laden. The executive summary examines case studies from the CIA’s internal records which the committee says disputes those defenses.

CIA Director John O. Brennan acknowledged many of the failures outlined by the committee, but also rebuked it for what he called an “incomplete and selective picture of what occurred.” Republican Senators have been critical of the report with Richard Burr calling it “a fiction”, and Marco Rubio stating that Senate Democrats published the report out of “partisan joy” with the intention of “trying to embarrass people in the Bush administration.”



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September 6, 2012

On the campaign trail, August 2012

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

On the campaign trail, August 2012

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

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

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

Summary

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

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

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

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

Peace and Freedom Party VP nominee speaks to Wikinews

Cindy Sheehan in 2007.
Image: dbking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Analysts react to Republican VP selection

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

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

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

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

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

Update on 2012 Democratic candidates

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

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

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

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

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

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



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August 5, 2012

On the campaign trail, July 2012

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

On the campaign trail, July 2012

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

Sunday, August 5, 2012

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

In this month’s edition on the campaign trail: the rules of third party candidate polling are examined, a third party activist causes four other parties to lose their place on the Illinois presidential ballot, and the new vice presidential nominee of the Justice Party speaks with Wikinews.

Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

Polling rules restrict and fuel third party campaigns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ballot access denied in Illinois

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wikinews interviews newly-selected Justice Party VP nominee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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July 5, 2012

On the campaign trail, June 2012

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

On the campaign trail, June 2012

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
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Thursday, July 5, 2012

The following is the eighth 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 Green Party presidential candidate who announced his 2012 plans to Wikinews four years ago speaks to Wikinews once again, the candidate leading the California American Independent Party presidential primary discusses his campaign, and Wikinews explores whether Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky will be selected as the Republican Party vice presidential nominee.

Summary

In June, California held presidential primary elections for both the Democratic and Republican parties. President Barack Obama was uncontested on the Democratic ballot, and easily won; as did presumptive nominee Mitt Romney on the Republican side. Other presidential primaries in California involved the American Independent, Peace and Freedom, Green, and Libertarian third parties, though not all of these were binding. In the binding Green primary, physician Jill Stein edged comedienne Roseanne Barr to secure enough delegates to become the party’s presumptive presidential nominee. As for other primaries in June, the Republican Party held its final contest in Utah late in the month with Romney easily claiming victory. Afterwards, Fred Karger, the first openly gay presidential candidate for a major party’s nomination, officially ended his campaign.

Starting off, the Obama campaign had a few difficulties in June: a jobs report for the previous month showed a spike in the unemployment rate; Democrats failed to win a recall against the Republican governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin, bolstering Romney’s prospects in the state; Romney called Obama “out of touch” for his remark that “The private sector is doing just fine”; and despite Obama’s position against extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, former Democratic president Bill Clinton suggested during a CNBC interview that in current circumstances, extending the Bush tax cuts would be “probably the best thing to do right now.” Clinton’s spokesman later clarified that Clinton backed the president’s position. However, consumer advocate and frequent presidential candidate Ralph Nader speculated that Clinton was “undermining Obama…to appear with Hillary as very friendly to business” in order to lay the groundwork for a 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential run.

Former president Bill Clinton campaigns in Wisconsin in June 2012.
Image: marctasman.

The Romney campaign faced a few challenges of its own: reports surfaced that Romney impersonated police officers in his youth; Obama attacked him for his investments’ alleged outsourcing of jobs; and vice president Joe Biden discussed his Swiss bank account, portraying him as an elitist at odds with the middle class. Nevertheless, a large amount of Romney coverage in June focused on his search for a running mate. After ABC News reported that Senator Marco Rubio of Florida was not being vetted as a possible vice presidential candidate, Romney disputed the report and claimed that in fact Rubio was being vetting for the nomination. Additionally, two prospects, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, both took their names out of consideration for the spot, though Rice reportedly ‘stole the show’ at a Romney retreat. At the end of June, Senator Rob Portman of Ohio received increased mention as a potential nominee after Senator John McCain jokingly told a group of Portman interns, “now you can say you interned for Vice President Portman.”

In mid-June, Obama injected the issue of immigration into the campaign when he announced by decree that illegal immigrants at most 30 years old who entered the United States before the age of 16 and remain in good standing in their communities, would no longer be deported. During the announcement, Daily Caller reporter Neil Munro interrupted the president to ask how the move would affect American workers. A frustrated Obama acknowledged the interruption, and responded, “It’s not time for questions, sir…Not while I’m speaking.” The interruption threatened to overshadow Obama’s announcement, which analysts suggested was aimed to solidify support among Hispanics. Romney did not explicitly respond to the announcement, but said during an interview with Face the Nation that he instead would implement “a long-term solution”. About two weeks after the announcement, Washington Post analyst Aaron Blake of Chris Cillizza‘s The Fix examined polls from Quinnipiac University and reported that though many voters in the swing states of Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio favored the new policy, those concerned about the issue were much more likely to oppose it. Blake concluded that the new policy would likely help Obama in the Latino-heavy swing states of Colorado and Nevada, but might possibly hurt him in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Other political events shaped the campaign as June came to a close. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as a tax. Though deemed a political victory for President Obama, Romney proclaimed that the ruling brought a “greater urgency” to the election, explaining to his base that repealing the health care bill now required Obama to be voted out of office. In the first three hours after the ruling, the Romney campaign raised one million dollars, a spokesman reported. On the same day as the decision, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for refusing to hand over documents related to Operation Fast and Furious. President Obama claimed the documents fell under executive privilege. Many congressional Democrats walked out during the vote and accused Republicans of playing politics. Pollsters said Holder was the most unpopular member of the Obama administration but predicted groups outside the Romney campaign would focus on the issue, in order to not divert Romney from his message on the economy. The Romney campaign ran ads at the end of June that used footage of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, polled as the most popular member of the Obama administration, criticizing Obama during the 2008 primaries for “perpetuating falsehoods”, concluding with “Shame on you, Barack Obama.” On June 30, Obama led Romney in the national RealClearPolitics average, 47.5 percent to 43.8 percent.

Wikinews interviews Green Party candidate

Kent Mesplay at an Earth Day event in 2008.
Image: Kent Mesplay.

In addition to Jill Stein and Roseanne Barr, Kent Mesplay, an air quality inspector from San Diego, participated in June’s California Green Party presidential primary. He finished the contest in third place with 10.8 percent behind Stein’s nomination-clinching showing of 49.3 percent and Barr’s second place 39.9 percent. In the aftermath of the primary and ahead of the July 12–15 Green National Convention, Wikinews reached out to Mesplay.

Mesplay, who serves as a delegate to the Green National Committee, had previously sought the Green presidential nomination in 2004 and 2008, falling short both times. Wikinews first interviewed Mesplay during his second presidential campaign in June 2008, when he announced his intentions to seek the Green Party’s 2012 presidential nomination. During his 2012 bid, Mesplay has campaigned on his support for sustainability, indigenous rights, campaign finance reform, and reductions in military spending. He has received the endorsements of party co-founder John Rensenbrink, 2004 Green Party vice presidential nominee Pat LaMarche, and Green activist Kat Swift.

With Wikinews, Mesplay discusses his thoughts on Stein and Barr, Green policies in general, and his future political plans.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.png With the outcome of the California primary, physician Jill Stein has secured enough delegates to be the Green Party presumptive presidential nominee. What are your thoughts on Stein and her policy proposals? How do they compare to your own and have you discussed the vice presidential nomination with her?

Mesplay: The focus of Stein’s campaign has been a “Green New Deal,” which is a federal public jobs program funded by anticipated military cuts and by updated taxes. I support the stated goals of the program, although I question the practicality of relying upon such anticipated funding sources. Our campaigns agree on the severity of the crises to be responsibly addressed: climate change, economic melt-down, crumbling infrastructure, torn social safety-nets. We need to transform toward being a sustainability-driven culture, rather than one that liquidates our natural resources to our collective peril, and green jobs play a central role in this. I introduced the Green New Deal in campaign flyers in 2008; the idea has been floating around Green circles for a decade or so.
Rather than emphasize an apparently centralized, federal, “top-down” approach to improving our governance, my role in the 2012 Green Party presidential campaign season has been to emphasize a “ground-up” approach, making the case for volunteerism, local currency and scrip, and direct, immediate citizen involvement with local solutions to “fund” the transformation. More than just a complementary approach, direct citizen action is practical in that one does not need to wait for a Green President or Congress. At the federal policy level, we would see more success and less resistance by, say, gradually transforming the military to lead the fight in climate-change through re-training. However we go about it, we should be growing food wherever we can, and we should be better prepared and able to quickly meet the health and safety basic needs of masses of people. My “stamp” is an argument for sustainability as security-enhancing emergency preparation. I am also an outspoken advocate for Native Americans, having this as part of my ancestry and upbringing.
I have not directly discussed the vice presidential nomination with Jill Stein, although I have expressed such interest when Skyping in to a recent Michigan Green Party state meeting. I will support Jill Stein as the Green Party nominee in whatever way I can.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.png Comedienne Roseanne Barr, who finished second in California, seems to be hinting that she may continue her campaign as an Independent after the National Convention. What is your reaction to Roseanne and her campaign? Has she had a positive influence on the Green Party?

Mesplay: Roseanne is an entertainer. Jill and I privately conferred right after Roseanne entered the race, “for real,” knowing that Roseanne’s behavior could draw the party unwanted negative publicity. We were aware of Roseanne’s self-appointed title of (virtual) Prime Minister of Israel in an online parliamentary project and were concerned about her antics. In getting to know her, I now consider her a friend. She is intelligent, thoughtful, well educated and genuinely concerned about societal and environmental problems, and has been a strong advocate for Native people. When helping to shape the effect of Roseanne’s entry into the race, I said, “Roseanne needs to get serious and we [Jill and I] need to have more fun [with our deathly-serious issues].” Over-all, Roseanne has brought positive attention to the Green Party, has helped register voters and has increased our exposure to the media. She entered the race too late to be a serious threat to Jill’s campaign, and early enough to make it more interesting. And (watch out), she is making a movie about her run for president. She says it’s funny.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.png When we last interviewed in June 2008, it was under similar circumstances: you were seeking the Green Party presidential nomination; the National Convention was just a few weeks away; and like Stein, Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney had already secured enough delegates to be the party’s presumptive nominee. At the time, you mentioned that you were “taking the steps to begin running for the 2012 presidential race.” Now, at this point in the 2012 race, do you have similar plans to run for president in 2016?

Mesplay: I was the first declared Green candidate in 2012. My challenge is to raise enough money that I can take time off work to actually run, full-time. To date, I have not been able to actively participate in a more visible, effective, competitive manner. I am undecided as to whether I will run, again.

American Independent Party primary results

AIP primary results by county: Noonan (blue violet), Roth (red), Riekse (green), No votes (black)
Image: William S. Saturn.

The American Independent Party (AIP), a paleoconservative group formerly affiliated with the Constitution Party that has guaranteed ballot access in California, listed three presidential candidates on its ballot for June’s California primary: the party’s former chairman Edward C. Noonan; radio talk show host Laurie Roth; and former United States Army Lieutenant Colonel “Mad” Max Riekse.

In the tally last updated on June 26, Noonan led Roth 16,625 votes (38.8 percent) to 16,044 (37.4 percent) with Riekse polling 10,227 votes (23.8 percent) for third place. Wikinews tried to contact the leading two candidates, but only successfully connected with Noonan.

Noonan, who ran for both Governor of California in 2006 and U.S. Senate in 2010 as the AIP nominee, told Wikinews that the “only purpose” for his run was to “have standing” in a lawsuit against President Barack Obama. Noonan, who refers to Obama as “Mr. Soetero”, said his most recent suit questioning Obama’s citizenship was dismissed in court. He believes Obama’s birth certificate “is forged and a fraudulent document” due to “multiple layers of different typewriter font sizes”, signatures in “multi-colored [ink] and sliced into the document in different patches.” Furthermore, he says that without a legitimate birth certificate, Obama “cannot prove that he is an American citizen [because his]…birth father was a foreign national from Kenya”. Noonan says that this disqualifies Obama from being president.

As a candidate, Noonan has sent out press releases and made numerous attempts to spread his message through the internet; however, he has received very little media attention. He argues that people are indifferent to politics and that the “corrupt news media” ignores third party candidates such as himself. Additionally, he sees the two major parties as corrupt and refers to them as “two heads from the same beast.” He describes his opponent Roth as “a Republican traitor” and feels the AIP made a mistake by listing such a non-member on the primary ballot.

Roth, who says she feels God has called her to seek the presidency, unsuccessfully sought the Constitution Party presidential nomination earlier this year. On her website, she calls for the institution of a two percent consumption tax, the eventual repeal of all other taxes, and the elimination of the national debt in four to five years. Ahead of the primary, she received the endorsement of notable birther activist Orly Taitz. Wikinews has made numerous attempts to contact Roth, but has thus far received no response.

Former congressman Virgil Goode, the Constitution Party’s presidential nominee, and Tom Hoefling, the America’s Party presidential nominee, are both also reportedly seeking the AIP nomination despite not being listed on the primary ballot. The nominating convention is scheduled to take place August 11.

Might Rand Paul be the GOP VP nominee?

After Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky endorsed presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in June, speculation spread that Romney might select Paul as his running mate. However, according to two political analysts, the scenario is unlikely and may not be strategically wise for Republicans.

Paul, who holds libertarian views similar to those of his father, Congressman and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul of Texas, announced his endorsement of Romney on Hannity. He cited Romney’s support for a Federal Reserve audit, a repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act as rationale for the move. However, Paul did not mention his policy disagreements with Romney on such issues as the War on Drugs, the USA PATRIOT Act, and the foreign policy of the United States.

Paul speaks at a Tea Party Express event.
Image: Gage Skidmore.

Some libertarians and supporters of Ron Paul reacted angrily to the decision. The Libertarian Party released a statement saying “no true libertarian, no true friend of liberty, and no true blue Tea Partier could possibly even consider, much less actually endorse or approve of, the Father of Obamacare, Big Government tax and spender, Republican Mitt Romney.”

Nevertheless, some saw it as an attempt for Paul to position himself as a potential vice presidential candidate. Paul said it would be “a great honor” for Romney to consider him as a running mate. Proponents of this idea, such as Daniel McCarthy of The American Conservative, say Paul would help steer Republicans and the possible Romney administration away from statist and interventionist policies. Others do not view this as sound campaign strategy.

According to North Star Opinion Research strategist Dan Judy, the endorsement was simply Paul’s “way of supporting the Republican team and hoping to curry some favor with the Romney folks in hopes of getting his dad a speaking slot at the convention“. Though Judy held that the pick would help Romney with those concerned about Romney’s conservatism such as the “hard core Tea Party base”, he sees Paul’s political inexperience, questionable appeal to political independents and moderates, and the lack of any geographic advantage for the ticket as reasons that the scenario has “virtually no shot”.

Political analyst Kyle Kondik of Sabato’s Crystal Ball largely agrees, stating that the selection would be a “real surprise” and that though “supporters of Ron and Rand Paul are a vocal part of the Republican Party, they are but one small constituency, and their views, particularly on matters of war and peace, are too different from Romney and the Republican mainstream to imagine Rand (or Ron) in the No. 2 slot on the ticket.”



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April 4, 2012

On the campaign trail, March 2012

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

On the campaign trail, March 2012

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

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

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

Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Might the GOP VP nominee come from Puerto Rico?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Democratic Party strips delegates

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

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

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

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

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

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


Party removes presidential nominee

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

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

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

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


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March 30, 2012

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio endorses Mitt Romney for president

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio endorses Mitt Romney for president

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Friday, March 30, 2012

Official portrait of Senator Marco Rubio.
Image: US Senate.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida endorsed former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney for president during the Wednesday night broadcast of the Fox News program Hannity. As justification for his decision, Rubio argued that Romney will be the Republican Party presidential nominee and offers “a stark contrast to …[President Barack Obama’s record.”

Rubio, who is Cuban American, took office in 2011 after defeating former Florida governor Charlie Crist. He often receives mention as a potential running mate for the still-undecided 2012 Republican Party presidential nominee.

The Associated Press estimates that Romney currently leads his opponents for the nomination, Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia, with 568 of the 1,144 delegates necessary to win. 1,258 delegates remain in play.

Gingrich and Santorum are continuing their presidential runs in the hope of forcing a brokered convention to deny Romney the nomination. Rubio warned of such a scenario in the Hannity interview, commenting that it would “be a recipe for disaster” and would help re-elect the Democrat, Obama.

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush offered a similar justification in his endorsement of Romney earlier this month, calling on the party to “unite behind Governor Romney”.

Other potential vice-presidential nominees such as New Jersey governor Chris Christie and Virginia governor Bob McDonnell have already thrown their support to Romney.

Rubio claims to have not spoken with Romney about the vice-presidential nomination, and has previously denied any interest in it.



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May 25, 2010

Washington politician Dino Rossi to announce US Senate bid

Washington politician Dino Rossi to announce US Senate bid

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Former Washington Republican state legislator Dino Rossi is to announce on Wednesday that he is running for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Democratic Senator Patty Murray. The story broke Tuesday morning with reports that Rossi had begun hiring senior campaign staffers including Pat Shortidge, who most recently worked on Marco Rubio’s Senate campaign in Florida.

While Rossi failed twice at winning the Washington State governor’s office in 2004 and 2008, a poll by the University of Washington in early May 2010 showed that a Senate race between Patty Murray and Dino Rossi would be close. Meanwhile, several other Republicans in Washington State have already declared their intentions to run against Murray. A Rossi announcement this Wednesday could cause some turmoil within the Washington State Republican party, as other candidates have already gathered key endorsements and are moving forward with their campaigns.

On August 17, 2010 Washington State will have a primary election where the two candidates who get the most votes will advance to the general election in November.



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Musician David Byrne sues Florida governor over campaign song

Musician David Byrne sues Florida governor over campaign song

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

David Byrne performing in concert in 2009.
Image: livepict.com.

David Byrne, the former lead singer of 1980s art punk band Talking Heads, is suing Florida governor Charlie Crist over the latter’s use of the Talking Heads song “Road to Nowhere” in an election commercial. Byrne alleges that Crist made use of the song in a campaign commercial without the artist’s permission, and that if permission had been asked Byrne would have declined it.

Byrne told the BBC that the lawsuit, in which the musician is claiming $1 million in damages, is “not about politics, it’s about copyright”. In his personal blog, though, Byrne commented: “Besides being theft, use of the song and my voice in a campaign ad implies that I, as writer and singer of the song, might have granted Crist permission to use it, and that I therefore endorse him and/or the Republican Party, of which he was a member until very, very recently.” Governor Crist is running for election to the United States Senate as an independent.

The lawsuit was filed early Monday afternoon in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida in Tampa and has been assigned Case Number 8:10-CV1187-T26 (MAP). Byrne is represented by Lawrence Iser, the attorney who represented Jackson Browne when Browne successfully sued John McCain in a similar lawsuit in 2008.

The advertisement, which premiered on January 12, 2010 and has since been withdrawn from use, attacked politician Marco Rubio over reversals in Rubio’s public positions. The video has been blocked on video hosting site YouTube “due to a copyright claim by Warner Music Group.”

Governor Crist’s campaign had no comment on the lawsuit.



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June 21, 2009

Wikinews interviews former Republican U.S. Senator Bob Smith on his latest run for office

Wikinews interviews former Republican U.S. Senator Bob Smith on his latest run for office

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

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Earlier this month, former Republican U.S. Senator Bob Smith announced his candidacy for Florida’s open Senate seat in the 2010 midterm election. Smith, who was one of New Hampshire’s senators for two terms — which amounts to twelve years — said he is running for office in his recently adopted home state due to his disapproval of the direction in which America is headed. He is very optimistic about the conservative change he can potentially bring to Congress which is currently controlled by liberal-minded members of the Democratic Party.

Smith has, however, some major hurdles to overcome in the Republican primary. He is facing two well known politicians who have been elected to statewide office numerous times. The chief of these is current Governor Charlie Crist, a moderate-to-liberal who is currently leading in the polls. The second is former Speaker of the Florida House Marco Rubio, a center-right 38-year-old who has been criticizing Crist for months on the support he has shown for President Barack Obama’s controversial economic stimulus package.

Despite trailing both in recent polls, Smith believes that the polls themselves are irrelevant as the primary is over one year away. He is devoting the remainder of this summer to building up grassroots and financial support for his campaign.

Wikinews reporter Joseph Ford had the opportunity to speak with him about his run this past weekend.

“We must deliver a message that appeals to all members of the Republican Party, and that will appeal to Floridians in the general election,” Smith proclaimed. “I am in this race because I want to make my experience as a U.S. Senator available to my fellow Floridians.”

Interview

Wikinews waves Left.pngJoseph FordWikinews waves Right.pngWhy are you running for the U.S. Senate? What motivated you to do this?

Wikinews waves Left.pngSenator SmithWikinews waves Right.png:Like many other Floridians, I have been watching with dismay as the cascade of economic crises
has unfolded over the last couple of years. The bursting real estate bubble, the credit crunch, the transformation of Wall Street and the failure of American industry have shaken America to its core. We as a nation are still struggling
to understand the causes of these events and judge whether the hasty actions that our government has undertaken in response to these events will do more harm than good.
In addition, we now face a nuclear threat from North Korea and, soon, Iran. The Taliban is threatening both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Terrorism continues to plague the free world.
As our country confronts this period of economic and international turmoil, the Republican Party seems to have lost its way. Many Republicans feel disenfranchised by the spending orgy and big government approach of the Bush administration. Republicans are uneasy with the current administration’s approach to these economic and international issues, yet appear to lack the leadership to provide solutions.
We are in the midst of a violent storm. I can help lead Florida and the nation through this tempest.

Wikinews waves Left.pngJ.F.Wikinews waves Right.pngFor many years, you lived in New Hampshire and represented it in the Senate. Seeing as you moved to Florida relatively recently, many are wondering if you know the state well enough to run for office in it. Do you feel that you are familiar enough with the issues many Floridians are facing such as skyrocketing unemployment, rising taxes and the foreclosure crisis?

Wikinews waves Left.pngSmithWikinews waves Right.png:I am no stranger to Florida. My family and I have been enjoying Florida’s beautiful beaches and natural treasures for the last 40 years. My wife and I have lived in Sarasota for over six years.
Since we made Florida our home, I have worked in the real estate business and served as a founding director of a community bank. In addition, I spent three years as President of The Everglades Foundation, a non-profit organization headquartered in Miami, whose mission is restore and preserve the Everglades through community awareness and public-private partnerships.
I have enjoyed being a leader on issues affecting Floridians during much of my career. When I was the Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, I worked with Governor Jeb Bush to restore the Everglades. I sponsored legislation funding Everglades restoration and guided the bill to passage by the Senate and the House. In addition, I am a proven advocate for issues about which Floridians feel strongly, including:
  • fiscal prudence,
  • protecting veterans and strengthening the military,
  • recognizing the importance of the space industry to the future and security of the country,
  • healthcare reform, and
  • protecting our state’s and our nation’s borders.
I have faced the issues of unemployment, taxes and foreclosures in Congress throughout my career in Congress. When I was elected to the House of Representatives in 1984, the country was just starting to recover from the recession of the early 1980’s. I participated in the response to the Savings and Loan crisis, which was similar to the current crisis in cause, if not in scope. When I became a U.S. Senator in 1990, it was not long before the country was in the midst of another recession and housing crunch. Though it proved to be the prelude to a much worse crisis, I also was involved with the actions taken by Congress to respond to the bursting of the technology stock bubble earlier this decade.
It is hard for me to sit on the sidelines during these troubling times. Republican Floridians need a seat at the table while the President and Congress are making decisions that will affect the future of our nation. As a senior senator, I can provide that seat at the table.

Wikinews waves Left.pngJ.F.Wikinews waves Right.pngYour opponents in the Republican primary are current Governor Charlie Crist and former Speaker of the Florida House Marco Rubio. Why do feel that you are a better candidate than either of them?

Wikinews waves Left.pngSmithWikinews waves Right.png:I have great respect both for Governor Crist and Speaker Rubio. They have served the state well. My entrance into this race is a unique opportunity for Florida to elect a non-incumbent that has the knowledge and experience provided by two terms in the Senate.
I started my career in the U.S. Congress in 1984. I fought alongside President Reagan on cutting taxes and strengthening the military. My service on the Armed Services Committee for 12 years, where I was the Chairman of the Strategic Forces and Acquisition and Technology Subcommittees, provided me with critical knowledge in the areas of missile defense, intelligence and other national security issues.
With all due respect, Governor Crist and Speaker Rubio do not have the experience to provide leadership on the national and international issues that Florida and America face.

Wikinews waves Left.pngJ.F.Wikinews waves Right.pngBoth Governor Crist and Speaker Rubio are currently raising funds and building up grassroots support for their respective campaigns. They also hold commanding leads over you in recent polls. Are you going to begin campaigning aggressively this summer? Do you believe that you will be able to substantially increase your standing in the polls anytime in the foreseeable future?

Wikinews waves Left.pngSmithWikinews waves Right.png:I formally announced my candidacy in the first week of June, and I have just begun to actively campaign and raise funds throughout the state. I admit that I will have to work hard to achieve name recognition among Floridians equivalent to Governor Crist and Speaker Rubio. The election is over a year away, and polls this far out are not relevant.

Wikinews waves Left.pngJ.F.Wikinews waves Right.pngIf you are able to win the primary, do you feel that you will be able to defeat U.S. Representative Kendrick Meek, the presumptive Democrat nominee, in the general election?

Wikinews waves Left.pngSmithWikinews waves Right.png:As a preliminary matter, it is up to the Democratic Party to select their nominee. I can defeat whomever the Democratic Party nominates. I believe I can unite the Republican Party in Florida, and united we will prevail.

Wikinews waves Left.pngJ.F.Wikinews waves Right.pngIf elected to the Senate, what will be your top priorities upon taking office?

Wikinews waves Left.pngSmithWikinews waves Right.png:In 2010, we must deliver a message that appeals to all members of the Republican Party, and that will appeal to Floridians in the general election. I believe this message encompasses:
  • fiscal prudence – not just tax breaks, but controlling the growth of government,
  • ensuring that our veterans are protected and that our military has the resources it needs to protect our country,
  • reestablishing the integrity of the financial system,
  • expediting the disposal of government ownership interests in American business,
  • working with healthcare providers and other experts to achieve the goal of affordable health insurance, while ensuring that the government is not in the business of providing healthcare and that patient choice comes first,
  • fixing Social Security so that it is self-funded, as it was originally intended, and
  • revising our immigration policies so that they actually work.
These are tough issues to face, and Florida needs judgment and understanding to accomplish these goals.

Wikinews waves Left.pngJ.F.Wikinews waves Right.pngFlorida, a state whose legislature and executive offices are dominated by Republicans, went for Democrat Barack Obama by a slight margin in the 2008 presidential election. Do you believe that your staunchly conservative views, which contrast the moderate-to-liberal ones of Governor Crist and the center-right ones of Speaker Rubio, will appeal to Florida’s largely centrist voting base?

Wikinews waves Left.pngSmithWikinews waves Right.png:Too often political pundits use labels ranging from “staunchly conservative” to “liberal” to inflame tensions within the party, cause division and divert our focus from the pressing issues that face the country. We need to put aside the political scales and come together to solve the tough problems facing the nation.
That being said, I proudly identify myself as a conservative. I have two decades of votes in the House and Senate to demonstrate my conservative leadership on economic, national security and social issues. In addition, I also have been a leader on many environmental issues, such as Everglades restoration, for which I have been nationally recognized.

Wikinews waves Left.pngJ.F.Wikinews waves Right.pngHave you received any notable endorsements so far in your campaign?

Wikinews waves Left.pngSmithWikinews waves Right.png:I have not sought nor received any endorsements. I stand on my record, rather than on recommendations of others.

Wikinews waves Left.pngJ.F.Wikinews waves Right.pngIf your standing in the polls is no more favorable than it is now by the end of this year, will you consider running for another office instead of U.S. senator, such as State senator or representative?

Wikinews waves Left.pngSmithWikinews waves Right.png:No. I am in this race because I want to make my experience as a U.S. Senator available to my fellow Floridians. If they decide I should stay retired from the Senate, then I will stay retired from public life entirely.

Wikinews waves Left.pngJ.F.Wikinews waves Right.pngIs there anything else you would like to say about you or your campaign to the thousands reading this right now?

Wikinews waves Left.pngSmithWikinews waves Right.png:I know many of you do not know me, and have not yet had a chance to meet me. I invite you to visit my website to read more about my campaign.



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This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.
Wikipedia
Wikipedia has more about this subject:
United States Senate election in Florida, 2010

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