On the campaign trail, June 2012

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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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Sources

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