On the campaign trail, January 2012

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Friday, February 3, 2012

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

In this month's edition on the campaign trail, the challengers to President Barack Obama react to the results of the New Hampshire Democratic Party primary, two new political parties choose their first presidential nominees, and an economist who announced his intentions to seek the nomination of Americans Elect answers a few questions for Wikinews.

Summary

Mitt Romney on the eve of the Iowa Caucus.
Image: Iowa Politics.

Initially, it was reported that former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney won the Iowa Caucus by eight votes over former Senator Rick Santorum, who surged in the polls just days ahead of it. Several weeks later it was revealed that Santorum actually won. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann dropped out of the race as the result of her sixth place finish. Romney went on to win the New Hampshire Primary the next week, with Ron Paul placing second. Jon Huntsman, Jr., who finished third, dropped out and endorsed Romney.

Ahead of the South Carolina primary, Texas governor Rick Perry ended his run and endorsed Gingrich. Gingrich received praise for his debate performances in South Carolina, and won the primary by a large margin over Romney despite a highly publicized interview with his ex-wife just before. By this point, the campaign had turned negative with Gingrich attacking Romney for his business past, and with Romney referring to Gingrich as a "failed leader".

President Barack Obama delivered the State of the Union address on January 24. It was widely viewed as his "campaign kickoff" for re-election, and included a populist message that labeled the nation's tax code as "rigged for the super wealthy". Following the address, Obama traveled to five campaign battleground states.

Just ahead of the Florida primary, Gingrich won the endorsement of former candidate Herman Cain. Nevertheless, Romney held a five-to-one spending advantage and was able to win the state and all fifty of its delegates. He solidified his position as frontrunner for the Republican nomination.

New Hampshire Democratic Party primary results

Though the Republican Party's first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary received the bulk of media attention earlier in January, the Democratic Party held a primary in the state as well.

Second place finishers by town.
Cowan (blue), Supreme (red), Terry (yellow), Haywood (purple), Freis (yellow orange), Ely (brown), O'Connor (light grey), Richardson (pink), Wolfe (grey), O'Donnell (orange), Greene (green), Jordan (red violet), Tyler (peach), none (white), greater than two (black).

President Barack Obama was challenged by thirteen Democratic Party presidential candidates including performance artist Vermin Supreme, anti-abortion activist Randall Terry, and historian Darcy Richardson. In the end, Obama easily won the primary with 81 percent, which amounted to 49,080 votes. Though the percentage was in the range won by incumbent presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush during their respective parties' primaries in 1996 and 2004, the vote total was about 5,000 less than Bush received in 2004, and almost 30,000 fewer than Clinton in 1996.

New Hampshire primary runner-up Ed Cowan.
Image: Marc Nozell.

Out of the candidates on the ballot, Ed Cowan of Vermont finished second behind Obama with 975 votes or 1.56 percent. Cowan's percentage was greater than that achieved by the Republican Party's 2004 New Hampshire primary runner-up Richard Bosa who finished with 1.2 percent, and greater even than comedian Pat Paulsen's 1.1 percent second place finish in 1996.

The result surprised even Cowan, who said "More people voted for me than I actually met... I passed out about 500 copies of my stump speech, 550 at the most. Officially (based on my receipts) I spent $580, but it might have been as much as $650 tops. That resulted in 1.5 votes per dollar spent". Cowan hopes to enter additional primaries, and hints that he may be thinking about an independent run; "The only vote that matters in the long run is the one on 11/7/12 [U.S. Election Day], and I hope to be on most if not all ballots."

Vermin Supreme of Massachusetts came in third with 833 votes or 1.37 percent. In response to the results, Supreme exclaimed, "I WON !!!!!" In fact, Supreme has received notice: a recent Gregory Brothers video for the popular YouTube show "Songify the News" included a clip of his glitter bomb of fellow candidate Randall Terry. It has received over one million views.

Terry finished fourth with 442 votes. He told Wikinews, "we did what we set out to do: we injected the plight of unborn babies into this primary; hundreds of thousands of people in New Hampshire, Maine, and Boston saw the victims of Obama's policies: dead babies."

John Haywood was close behind with 423 votes. When asked for his reaction to the results, he stated: "when you're beaten by a ratio of 115 to 1, you don't exactly go whoopee, do you? I am, nevertheless, tremendously proud of my platform at haywoodforpresident.com."

Darcy Richardson, who was interviewed by Wikinews last November, finished with 264 votes. He hypothesized that his ballot position and the fact that he did not travel to New Hampshire contributed to the low vote total. He remarked:

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Normally I would feel rather despondent about the results, but then I'm reminded that Eugene McCarthy garnered only 211 votes in New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary when he revisited the state in 1992, and State Sen. Stewart Greenleaf of Pennsylvania, who has more experience in elected office than anybody running in either party and who personally spent several days campaigning in the state late last week, polled only 24 votes in yesterday's Republican primary. Despite our non-presence, we actually made a comparable showing to that of Louisiana's Buddy Roemer and received a higher percentage of the vote than gay activist Fred Karger, both of whom virtually lived in the state for the past four or five months.

We'll do much better in future primaries, beginning with Missouri on February 7th.

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Of the other candidates, Aldous Tyler received 106 votes, John Wolfe, Jr. received 245, Bob Ely received 287, Craig Freis received 400, Bob Greene 213, Robert Jordan 155, Cornelius O'Connor 266, and Ed O'Donnell 222. There were several thousand write-in votes including 2,289 or 3.77 percent of the total for Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul. Republican candidates Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, Jr. each also received over one thousand write-in votes.

New parties select presidential nominees

Anderson greets supporters.
Image: Jeremiah Roth.

Both the Justice Party and the American Third Position Party (A3P) selected their first presidential nominees in January.

On January 12, the A3P nominated Independent filmmaker Merlin Miller for president and selected retired professor Virginia Abernethy as his running mate. The party was founded in 2010, and promotes third position politics and white nationalism. According to Miller's campaign manager Alex Carmichael, it is currently petitioning to appear on the Ohio ballot, and plans to do so in a dozen other states.

The next day, the Justice Party nominated former Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson, who had formed the party a few months before. It supports accountability through the removal of corporate money in politics, and is currently on the ballot in several states.

The party did not reach the deadline to file in California, and Anderson decided on January 9 that he would seek the nomination of the socialist Peace and Freedom Party, which has attained ballot access in the state. Others competing for the party's nomination include Socialist Party USA nominee Stewart Alexander, Party for Socialism and Liberation nominee Peta Lindsay, and Stephen Durham of the Freedom Socialist Party.

Economist running for president

Boston University economics professor Laurence Kotlikoff announced in early January that he intends to seek the presidential nomination of Americans Elect, an independent organization hoping to nominate a bipartisan ticket for the 2012 presidential election. The group says it has already achieved ballot access in fifteen states, and hopes to appear on all the rest. Former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer has also expressed his interest in the nomination.

Kotlikoff, who filed with the FEC on January 12, has authored fifteen books and is a regular contributor at Bloomberg.com. As an economist, he has consulted for large corporations, central banks, national governments, and international bodies such as the International Monetary Fund. The policy basis of his run is the "Purple plan", a tax proposal that he believes both Democrats and Republicans can support.

Kotlikoff took some time to discuss his campaign with Wikinews.

Laurence Kotlikoff in November 2011.
Image: Hung-Ho Vergil Yu.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngIf elected president, what specific policies would you promote, and how would you work with a likely Republican congress to implement them?

Kotlikoff: Many of my specific policies are posted at www.thepurpleplans.org. Others are laid out under Issues at www.kotlikoff2012.org.
I can talk to both sides of the isles. I have friends on both sides and can intermediate very well between the two parties. The two sides are often recommending much the same thing, but with different words. I can translate. If you read my Bloomberg columns about health care reform and tax reform, you'll see this ability to connect the dots for both sides. Plus, if I were elected, it would be on the basis of my proposed policies, not my great looks or personality. The politicians would be on clear notice with respect to what policies the public wants implemented. If they didn't implement them, they'd have me campaigning against them, regardless of which party they were in.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWhat are your views on the Stop Online Piracy Act? How would you address the issue of online piracy as president?

Kotlikoff: On SOPA, I'm concerned with its potential chilling effect of freedom of speech on the Internet. I'm also deeply concerned about online piracy. But we need to be careful not to do more harm with respect to our 1st Amendment rights than good in defending intellectual property rights. As President, I'd bring together the proponents and opponents of SOPA and ask them to listen to each other and respond to the other side's concerns. If I became persuaded that we could better combat online piracy via new legislation as opposed to enforcing existing legislation, I would ask the two sides to put forward a jointly authored bill.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWhat are your thoughts on fellow AE presidential candidate and former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer? If he wins the AE nomination, would you consider running as an Independent?

Kotlikoff: On Governor Roemer, I agree with some statements on his website and differ with others. I believe we agree on much more than we disagree. What I don't see is much depth or detail to what he proposes. It's not enough to write a few sentences here and there about our problems. What we need is someone who really knows how to fix them in the simplest, cost-effective manner. The Purple Plans illustrate my ability to formulate real solutions to our pressing problems. The only plan that I saw of the Governor's (in my admittedly quick look at his site) is his tax plan. I believe it would be less efficient, less conducive to growth, and far less progressive than www.thepurpletaxplan.org. His reference to sales taxes indicate a lack of knowledge on his part or that of his economic advisors of how consumption taxation works and what it really taxes.
I'm an independent now in terms of my political affiliation. If you are asking whether I would run as a write-in candidate for President, the answer is no. I expect to win the AE nomination. I looked a bit more at Governor Roemer's site. One of the problems we face in the policy formation arena is getting close, but no cigar. The Governor has some good instincts in some areas, some bad ones in other areas, and no real specifics beyond the tax plan, which has, I believe, some very major flaws. In the end, he's a politician and a banker, not an economist and I really think we need an economist at this point to get to the cigar when it comes to the very many severe economic problems we face. I'll let you judge for yourself by comparing what's on my website with his as well as those of other AE candidates who emerge. Knowing we have problems, knowing they aren't being fixed, and knowing that the two parties are making the problems worse is all fine and good, but knowing precisely how to fix the problems is a different kettle of fish. I don't suggest that designing economic policy is as tough as brain surgery, but spending decades studying economics makes a difference.


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Sources

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