On the campaign trail, April 2012

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Saturday, May 5, 2012

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

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

Summary

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

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

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

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

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

Presidential candidate drops bid; announces congressional run

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

Congressional candidate RJ Harris.
Image: RJ Harris.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Constitution Party presidential and vice presidential picks react to nomination

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top Americans Elect candidate announces '23' potential running mates

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

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

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



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Sources

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