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.


Related news

Sources

Wikinews
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