On the campaign trail, March 2012

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

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

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

Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Might the GOP VP nominee come from Puerto Rico?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Democratic Party strips delegates

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

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

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

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

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

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

Party removes presidential nominee

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

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

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

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

Related articles

Sources

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