Tag Archives: Mitt Romney

Gli Stati Uniti Tra Antiche Sfide E Nuovi Dilemmi Geopolitici

Barack Obama dovrà decidere con attenzione il ruolo da assegnare agli Stati Uniti nei prossimi quattro anni, dato che attualmente Cina, Europa, e le altre potenze regionali non sembrano disponibili ad un maggior coinvolgimento nella gestione delle aree più critiche del pianeta.

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L’ elezione di Barack Obama, come 45esimo Presidente degli Stati Uniti, merita una riflessione approfondita sull’impatto che la nuova amministrazione avrà sulla politica internazionale. I prossimi quattro anni, in effetti, preannunciano su questa linea una molteplicità di sfide e veri e propri rompicapi, i cui epiloghi potrebbero condurre ad uno scenario globale completamente stravolto rispetto agli adagi tradizionali. Il complesso rapporto con l’Europa, la difficile situazione mediorientale, l’incognita cinese e le nuove attenzioni rivolte al Pacifico rappresentano le più urgenti questioni che la nuova amministrazione dovrà affrontare.

Una comprensione più approfondita delle relazioni transatlantiche nel corso dell’ultimo anno, rivela come il vecchio continente sia quanto mai centrale nelle valutazioni strategiche di Obama. Infatti, contrariamente alle opinioni di alcuni osservatori continentali, il presidente americano ha già dimostrato nel mese di giugno, quando la crisi economica spingeva l’unione monetaria europea e la Grecia verso un inevitabile tracollo, di temere la destabilizzazione della fragile e lenta ripresa americana.

La reazione di disappunto, maturata a livello europeo, ha posto in discussione la partnership privilegiata che lo stesso Obama aveva ridefinito come essenziale all’indomani della sua elezione nel 2008. Come preconizzato a maggio dall’ex Presidente del Consiglio italiano Giuliano Amato, l’Europa e le sue scelte di politica economica sarebbero diventate decisive nella corsa alla Casa Bianca. Allo stesso modo, seppur da prospettive differenti, l’argomento “Unione Europea” non è stato trascurato neanche da Mitt Romney nel corso della campagna elettorale. Hanno colpito, infatti, le parole dello sfidante repubblicano, secondo cui gli Stati Uniti avrebbero rischiato di precipitare nella disastrosa situazione economica di Italia e Spagna qualora Obama avesse ottenuto un nuovo mandato. Nel bene o nel male, la questione europea è stata centrale per la rielezione del candidato democratico, come ha dimostrato il successo ottenuto da quest’ultimo in Ohio, teatro del piano di salvataggio statale di Chrysler e della partnership con FIAT. Anche per queste ragioni è lecito pensare che il rieletto Presidente porrà maggiore attenzione alla stabilità della moneta unica, quale pilastro fondamentale per l’interdipendenza economica e finanziaria. In ogni caso, è fuori discussione che tali attenzioni si riflettano in un rapporto euro-atlantico basato sulle stesse stringenti logiche di cooperazione risalenti alla guerra fredda.

Per quanto riguarda la situazione mediorientale, la posizione diplomatica della Casa Bianca rimane ancora incerta e non definita. Considerato un consequentialist da Ryan Lizza, in virtù di un approccio a cavallo tra il realismo di John Quincy Adams e l’idealismo di George W. Bush, Obama ha suscitato le reazioni piccate di Israele a causa della gestione della primavera araba. Infatti, pur adottando una politica di dialogo con Iran ed Egitto, il presidente americano ha comunque anteposto gli interessi di sicurezza americani a quelli di altri paesi. Questo atteggiamento ha creato confusione a livello diplomatico e tensione con Gerusalemme, soprattutto in seguito alle posizioni di apertura di Obama verso il presidente egiziano Mosri, e a quelle mostrate con Teheran riguardo ai negoziati sul nucleare. In un articolo di Helene Cooper sul New York Times, è stato rilevato come i rapporti Washington-Teheran siano stati caratterizzati da un inedito accordo sullo sfruttamento dell’energia nucleare. Per questo motivo, anche a Teheran si fremeva per la rielezione di Obama, considerato un interlocutore affidabile e comprensivo delle esigenze nazionali.

Infine, l’ascesa della Cina a protagonista della scena internazionale. Durante la campagna elettorale, il candidato democratico ha mantenuto una posizione piuttosto ambigua, improntata al dialogo con un interlocutore globale da un lato, e di risolutezza verso le scelte economiche di Pechino dall’altro. Risalta, pertanto, il richiamo effettuato a marzo dal presidente americano, che invitava Pechino ad adottare un comportamento più rispettoso delle regole del commercio internazionale. La futura strategia americana verso la Cina, pertanto, appare caratterizzata da un approccio attendista e di neutralità rispetto a questioni interne che stanno pian piano turbando la tranquillità politica del gigante asiatico. Infatti, l’economia cinese, sta subendo un lieve ma inevitabile rallentamento, cui si associano l’irrisolta questione tibetana, i casi di corruzione all’interno del Partito comunista cinese e la richiesta sempre più pressante di diritti civili e sociali.

L’atteggiamento del rieletto Presidente, dettato da un maggiore interesse alle questioni interne, sembra condurre ad uno scenario geopolitico fortemente balcanizzato con gli Stati Uniti sempre meno coinvolti nei contesti regionali dove sono stati presenti per larga parte del Novecento. Come prospettato da Ian Bremmer, si sta determinando uno “G-Zero World” in cui nessuna potenza mondiale (Stati Uniti e Cina) o gruppi di paesi (UE o BRICS) sono in grado di dettare una chiara agenda politica internazionale, soprattutto per ragioni di ordine economico e politico interno.

Pertanto, il comportamento dell’inquilino della Casa Bianca, incoerente a prima vista, cela una chiara scelta politica di disimpegno, che nell’immediato ha provocato una crisi nei rapporti con Israele, una risposta insufficiente agli interrogativi delle rivoluzioni del mondo arabo, e a un atteggiamento ambiguo e discontinuo nei confronti di Europa e Cina. Nei prossimi mesi sarà particolarmente interessante analizzare l’evoluzione delle relazioni tra Pechino e Washington, da cui dipenderanno i futuri assetti geopolitici. A livello teorico, vi sarebbero almeno quattro possibili scenari: la creazione di un G-2 informale, improntato ad un pacifico rapporto tra le due maggiori potenze; un concerto globale caratterizzato dai differenti interessi economico-politici delle potenze emergenti; la possibilità di una Guerra Fredda 2.0 dettata dalla competizione economica tra le due potenze principali; infine, un contesto internazionale frammentato con scarsa cooperazione multilaterale.

A prescindere dalle suddette ipotesi teoriche, Barack Obama dovrà decidere con attenzione il ruolo da assegnare agli Stati Uniti, dato che attualmente Cina, Europa, e le altre potenze regionali non sembrano disponibili ad un maggior coinvolgimento nella gestione delle aree più critiche del pianeta. Oltre ad una grande attenzione a tutti problemi passati, presenti e futuri, il 45esimo Presidente degli Stati Uniti necessita anche di una buona dose di fortuna nei quattro anni che lo vedranno nuovamente al comando.

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Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

 

US Presidential Election Roundup 3/11 – 10/11

US President Barack Obama was re-elected for a second term in office on Tuesday after a close race against Governor Mitt Romney.

Polls in the final days before Election Day suggested ties in the crucial states of Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Colorado with both President Obama and Mitt Romney making final appeals to voters on Monday. President Obama spoke to 20,000 supporters in Iowa, saying, ‘This is where our movement for change began. Right here’, while Mitt Romney rallied with 12,000 voters in New Hampshire, saying that, ‘This is a special moment for Ann and for me because this is where our campaign began. You got this campaign started a year and a half ago at the Scammon Farm.’

Talking to reporters Romney revealed that he had not written a concession speech, saying, ‘I just finished writing a victory speech. It’s about 1,118 words. And, uh, I’m sure it will change before I’m finished, because I haven’t passed it around to my family and friends and advisers to get their reaction, but I’ve only written one speech at this point.’

As exit poll results emerged, both Obama and Romney remained tied for some time in Florida and Virginia, while Obama was said to have a 3% lead in Ohio.

NBC became the first network to call the election for President Obama, with Rachel Maddow confirming that, ‘We have just learned that in the state of Ohio, NBC News has projected that President Obama has won the state of Ohio. President Obama has been re-elected for a second term.’

Despite campaign staff preparing to challenge the result in states they deemed too close to call Romney eventually decided to concede, thanking his wife Ann, his running mate Paul Ryan and his campaign staff in a short concession speech in Boston and stating that, ‘The nation, as you know, is at a critical point. At a time like this we can’t risk partisan bickering and political posturing. Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people’s work, and we citizens also have to rise to occasion.’ He added that, ‘I so wish that I had been able to fulfil your hopes to lead the country in a different direction, but the nation chose another leader, and so Ann and I join with you to earnestly pray for him and for this great nation.’

Advisers later describes the atmosphere in the Romney campaign as the result became clearer,  while Conservative commentators such as Bill O’Reilly were quick to analyse the Republican failure as it emerged. On Fox News, O’Reilly commented that, ‘The white establishment is now the minority,’ adding that, ‘And the voters, many of them, feel that the economic system is stacked against them and they want stuff. You are going to see a tremendous Hispanic vote for President Obama. Overwhelming black vote for President Obama. And women will probably break President Obama’s way. People feel that they are entitled to things and which candidate, between the two, is going to give them things?

President Obama delivered his victory remarks in Chicago, saying, ‘I want to thank every American who participated in this election, whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time. By the way, we have to fix that. Whether you pounded the pavement or picked up the phone, whether you held an Obama sign or a Romney sign, you made your voice heard and you made a difference.’ The President also thanked Vice-President Joe Biden, and also said that, ‘I wouldn’t be the man I am today without the woman who agreed to marry me 20 years ago. Let me say this publicly: Michelle, I have never loved you more. I have never been prouder to watch the rest of America fall in love with you, too, as our nation’s first lady.’ The President went on to praise his campaign staff, stating, ‘To the best campaign team and volunteers in the history of politics. The best. The best ever. Some of you were new this time around, and some of you have been at my side since the very beginning. But all of you are family. No matter what you do or where you go from here, you will carry the memory of the history we made together and you will have the lifelong appreciation of a grateful President.’

Meanwhile, in the Congressional elections, Republicans retained control of the House of Representatives, while the Democrats increased their majority in the Senate. In addition, equal marriage propositions were successful in Washington state, Maine and Maryland, leading to speculation as to the implications for the Supreme Court, while recreation marijuana was legalised in Washington state and Colorado.

Following the presidential election results, footage emerged of the newly re-elected President Obama wiping tears from his face as he thanked his campaign staff. The media also picked up on the accidentally published Mitt Romney ‘Victory’ splash page and transition website.

Since the results, ABC News has drawn up a list of economic issues that President Obama will have to deal with in his second term, including the situation in Europe, payroll taxes and unemployment benefits, while Global Post has reported the international reactions to his re-election. The National Journal has scrutinised the accuracy of polling during this year’s election cycle  while the New York Times has investigated shifts in voting patterns, and the Washington Post has looked at what exit polls reflect about the concerns of voters. In addition, the Huffington Post has speculated about the President’s plans for the Supreme Court, suggesting that his re-election may allow him ‘to deepen his liberal imprint’ on the Court’. Meanwhile, the New York Times has also explored Mitt Romney’s post-election plans.

This week, The Risky Shift’s Anastasia Kyriacou wrote a piece questioning the power of the US presidency, David Schaefer explored the ambiguity of recent polling data, and Peter Kelly has analysed the difficulties President Obama may face in his second term.

The End of American Exceptionalism

The “Greatest Generation” won the Second World War, helped rebuild Europe, stood up to communism and put a man on the moon. The present day United States of America could do none of those things. American exceptionalism is ending. 

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[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his week’s election results showed us something deeper about the United States than  simply the willingness to re-elect a president with a record that can be considered mediocre at best. It showed us that American exceptionalism is dead.

America is still a great country that has the capacity to do great things for themselves and the rest of the world, but the fact of the matter is that their political system is badly broken and Americans now face the prospect of at least 2, if not 4 years of divided government and gridlock in Washington. As of 12:01 AM on November 7th, 2012 the race to the 2014 midterm elections began and some are looking beyond that to 2016 where polling is already available.

However, the margin of victory and the results of some down ticket races have yet to be determined. Speaker of the House John Boehner is already stating that President re-elect Obama has no mandate for a tax increase . By immediately digging in and establishing his line in the sand for the upcoming budget fight over the impending “fiscal cliff”, the Republican party is preparing to risk driving America and potentially the world back into recession to appease a constituency that no longer has the capability to win them the presidency.

This constituency is, of course, white men. President Obama carried states like Virginia, New Mexico, Colorado and possibly Florida (at time of writing the state had not been called but President Obama did maintain a slim lead) on the backs of minority vote. He scored approximately 39% of the white vote nationally yet carried 93% of the black vote, 71% of Latinos and 70% of Asians (some preliminary data). The Republican Party is standing on the brink of an electoral abyss and unless they are willing to abandon the principles that have endeared them to their most vocal supporters– white men–they face a potentially bleak future.

It is in these divided election results where American exceptionalism ends. Billions of dollars were spent by both sides in this election and what resulted was a return to the status quo and potentially years of gridlock. Tom Brokaw (former NBC Nightly News Anchor) wrote a book called “Greatest Generation” in which he describes a generation of Americans that was both united in common cause and common values. This was a generation and an America that won the Second World War, helped rebuild Europe, stood up to communism and put a man on the moon.

The present day United States of America could do none of those things. Collective good will and willingness to share the burden has been removed from American culture. America is now defined by the 47%, or the 99% vs. the 1%, or any number of divisive and exclusive titles elevated by the talking heads of political punditry in an attempt to pander to the same groups that produced a divided election result. If you believe that the re-election of President Obama will erase these divisions, you are in the same level of denial as some Republicans and Fox News were when Ohio was called for the President and not Mitt Romney.

If this division and dysfunction only affected the United States then it wouldn’t be a problem; unfortunately it affects us all. Without the common purpose of the past generations of Americans, the ability for the United States to effectively lead on the international stage comes into question. Leadership on issues such as climate change, halting nuclear proliferation and taking action on the Syrian Civil War to name a few challenges is badly needed.

The election of November 6, 2012 showed us that the United States has refused to answer the world’s call for leadership. All that can be done now is to hope for change. Unfortunately, hope is a precious commodity these days.

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Photo Credit: Beverly & Pack

US Presidential Election Roundup 28/10 – 3/11

This week’s roundup of the US presidential elections…

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Obama leads in Virginia [Washington Post] A new poll has given President Obama a small lead over Mitt Romney in the state of Virginia.

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New York Times endorses Obama [New York Times] The New York Times has published an endorsement of President Obama for re-election.

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Obama campaign halts amid storm [The Hill] The Obama campaign has cancelled events in order to respond to Hurricane Sandy.

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Romney focuses on storm relief [USA Today] The Romney campaign has focused on storm relief in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

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Sandy political implications considered [Politico] Politico explores the potential effects of Hurricane Sandy on the presidential election.

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Susan Eisenhower endorses Obama [MSNBC] Susan Eisenhower, the granddaughter of President Eisenhower, has endorsed President Obama for re-election.

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Early voting continues despite storm [Washington Post] Hurricane Sandy has not affected early voting in Ohio, the Washington Post reports.

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Republicans optimistic about Iowa [CBS News] Romney campaign staff have expressed optimism over Mitt Romney’s chances of winning the state of Iowa.

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Obama ahead in Pennsylvania [Talking Points Memo] A new poll places President Obama ahead of Mitt Romney by 4 points in the state of Pennsylvania.

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Obama campaign optimistic [The Hill] Jim Messina, campaign manager to the Obama campaign, has appeared in a new ad arguing that President Obama is in the ‘dominant position’ in the presidential race.

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Super-PAC targets new states [The Hill] A pro-Romney super-PAC has focused ad campaigns in Minnesota and New Mexico.

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Obama surveys Sandy damage [MSNBC] President Obama has visited New Jersey to survey the damage done to the area by Hurricane Sandy.

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Ohio swings to ‘tossup’ [Washington Post] The Washington Post reports that Ohio has moved from leaning towards President Obama to being a ‘tossup’ according to its ratings.

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New ads attack Obama [CNN] Groups opposed to President Obama have released new ads in Michigan and Pennsylvania.

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Economist endorses Obama [The Economist] The Economist has published an endorsement of President Obama for re-election.

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Romney focuses on CEO endorsements [Wall Street Journal] Mitt Romney has sought to demonstrate the support expressed for his campaign among business executives.

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Romney ad focuses on Obama endorsements [CNN] A new ad from the Romney campaign has attempted to associate President Obama with Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro.

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Obama to conclude campaign in Iowa [CNN] The Obama campaign has said that the President will conclude campaigning at a rally in Des Moines, Iowa on Monday.

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Romney leads in Ohio poll [The Hill] A poll commissioned by the Republican group Citizens United has Romney up by three points in Ohio.

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Obama business proposal criticised [CBS News] Mitt Romney has criticised President Obama’s proposal to introduced a Secretary of Business to the government.

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Romney criticised over auto bailout [Huffington Post] A number of groups will file an ethics complaint against Mitt Romney over his alleged failure to state auto bailout profits, the Huffington Post reports.

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‘I can smell success right now’ [CNN] Republican Vice-President candidate Paul Ryan has said that he believes the Republican ticket can win Wisconsin and Iowa.

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‘Closing arguments’ [Washington Post] President Obama and Mitt Romney have spoken at rallies, offering their closing arguments to Americans in Ohio and Wisconsin.

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Compiled by Patrick McGhee

US Presidential Election Roundup 21/10 – 27/10

This week’s roundup of the US presidential elections…

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Romney ad focuses on executive role [CNN] A new ad from the Romney campaign has focused on the executive roles of Mitt Romney and President Obama.

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Super PAC breaks fund record [Huffington Post] A super PAC that supports Mitt Romney raised nearly $15 million in September, meaning that it has now raised over $100 million overall during the election.

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Romney insists on TV show reference [Huffington Post] Mitt Romney has continued to make reference to the US television programme Friday Night Lights after being asked by the show’s creator to stop.

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‘Romnesia’ causes campaign criticism [The Hill] Members of both the Romney and the Obama campaign have spoken about President Obama’s suggestion that his opponent’s policy shifts are symptoms of ‘Romnesia’.

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Ryan campaigns in Iowa [ABC News] Paul Ryan has spoken at a campaign event in Iowa on the Republican ticket’s chance of victory.

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Poll suggests tie [NBC] A new poll suggests that the presidential election is tied at 47%.

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Obama campaign targets environmental issues [The Hill] An email sent to environmentalists has sought to demonstrate President Obama’s stance on green issues.

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Ohio polls suggest close result [CNN] A new series of polls suggests a close race in the battleground state of Ohio.

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Campaign finances compared [Huffington Post] The Huffington Post contrasts the way in which each campaign has handled its campaign finances.

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Third presidential debate takes place [New York Times] The third presidential debate took place this week with a focus on foreign policy issues.

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Polls suggest Obama debate win [National Journal] Poll results following the third presidential debate favoured President Obama.

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Debate viewing figures released [The Hill] Nielsen Ratings reports that the third presidential debate was watched by around 59.2 million people, fewer than the previous debates.

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Obama comments on close race [NBC] President Obama has said that he is not surprised at the closeness of the presidential race.

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Campaigns tied among women [The Hill] Mitt Romney has a national lead and is tied with President Obama among women, a new poll suggests.

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Ryan reveals Halloween plans [CNN] Republican candidate for Vice-President has shared his plans for Halloween.

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Cheny and George HW Bush campaign for Romney [CNN] CNN reports that former Vice-President Cheney and Former President George HW Bush will attend Romney campaign fundraisers.

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Romney speaks on ‘change’ [The Hill] Mitt Romney has said that if elected, he and Paul Ryan will ‘bring big changes’ and described President Obama’s approach as ‘status-quo’.

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Campaigns confident in early voting [NBC] Both campaigns have expressed confidence over the impact of early voting in Ohio.

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Obama campaign comments on interview [Yahoo News] The Obama campaign has sought to explain remarks apparently made by the President in a soon-to-be published Rolling Stone interview in which he suggests Mitt Romney is ‘a bullshitter’.

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Ann Romney discusses food shopping [ABC News] Ann Romney has appeared on the Rachel Ray Show, where she discussed groceries.

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Obama votes early [The Guardian] President Obama has become the first president to cast his vote early, in an effort to encourage others to do so.

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Washington Post endorses Obama [Washington Post] The Washington Post has publically endorsed President Obama.

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Powell criticised for Obama support [Huffington Post] Senator John McCain has criticised Colin Powell for declaring his support for President Obama.

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Obama leads in Iowa and Wisconsin [Public Policy Polling] New polls suggest President Obama leads in Iowa and Wisconsin.

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Poll suggests close race in Nevada and Colorado [The Hill] A poll has found that President Obama has a three-point lead in Nevada and is tied with Mitt Romney in Colorado.

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Obama campaign reports finances [CNN] The Obama campaign has revealed that it raised around $90.5 million in the first part of October.

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Obama discusses Trump [Huffington Post] President Obama has joked about Donald Trump on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.

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Obama leads early voting [Reuters] Reuters report on the percentage of votes cast early, as polls suggest President Obama leads early voting.

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Compiled by Patrick McGhee.

(Decided) Citizens United Against Super PACs

In an election in which national debt, the federal deficit, the Great Recession, and unemployment rates are playing a central role, it seems inappropriate that we have so much money to spend.

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This year, all campaign contributions made to candidates in local, state, and federal elections have amounted to (following the final debate of the 2012 Presidential Campaign) more than $77 billion. The presidential campaigns alone have spent nearly $500 million on campaign ads, and don’t seem likely to run out of money yet, pulling in a combined $140 million in the month of September.  The 2008 presidential election set records for the costliest in U.S. history, and ended up setting each of the candidates back $5.4 billion. Projections for the current presidential election will cost near $6 billion, which is (very) roughly a 10% increase and, in case anyone is interested, an increase that is just about the GDP of our own little American protectorate, American Samoa, who, of course, cannot vote for the President of the United States.

Conventional wisdom (or general logic) would suggest that money spent on campaigns would be intended to entice American voters who have not yet decided how their blessed franchise will be spent on November 6, 2012. Anyone who pays attention to American politics might be able to understand that this money, then, is being well spent. Liberals in the United States have felt betrayed by Barack Obama since he took office in 2009, and before landing on Mitt Romney as their candidate, Republicans flirted with much more exciting, if also more ridiculous conservative ideologues. Nobody seems particularly excited about their party’s representation at the upcoming election, so it stands to reason that campaigns might be trying to court those voters who feel abandoned or unenthused. Polling would suggest that the undecided pool of voters makes up only 6% of the electorate, and that 6% are among the least likely to vote. Just days before the 2008 presidential elections, 6.4% of voters were undecided.

This exposition of the absurd amount of cash that is poured into becoming an elected official in this country is not meant to criticize the recently upheld notion that political contributions constitute expressions of free speech, as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the US Constitution. What the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United did made it easier for corporations and individuals to donate massive sums of money to Political Action Committees, who are free to put whatever they like on the airwaves, so long as they are not officially affiliated with a particular candidates campaign. The issue, of course, is that these PACs are inherently, if not explicitly, oriented one way or the other. The result, therefore, is a deluge of toxic campaign rhetoric and regurgitation of stump speeches from either side of the aisle that, as noted above, is targeted towards an increasingly smaller portion of the population. More money is being put into political advertisements than ever, but fewer potential voters are deciding on their preferred candidates.  If campaigns are not trying to pull voters towards their candidates, they are trying to mobilize their base, to ensure they make it to the polls.

American politics have become a practice in partisanship – very little in terms of legislation can make it through Congressional Houses because of the uncooperative atmosphere, which have led to Congressional approval ratings so low that it’s difficult to grasp how they were elected in the first place. (Comically, the above-cited study shows that approval ratings of telemarketers higher than those elected officials. If you live in the United States, those telemarketers are currently competing for airtime on your voicemail with volunteers from Congressional election campaigns). Each Presidential candidate has made it a central point to explain how they are the candidate most likely to work across the aisle; Obama citing bipartisan commissions on deficit reduction, Romney citing his ability to work with a mostly Democratic legislature while serving as Governor of Massachusetts. Supporters of both the President and the former Governor refute the other side’s claims. Whether it is coming out of an official campaign or a PAC, billions of dollars are being spent accusing the other campaign of an inability to work with the other side, which in effect, is accusing both men of being suited only for a titular role as Commander-in-Chief, but being unable to assume that role in any functional capacity.

Confused? I’ll summarize. More money is being spent to convince less people that both Presidential candidates are ill-suited for the job. It may be within the constitutional rights of individuals, corporations, and foreign entities to pour millions of dollars into campaign war chests, but the candidates, their campaigns, and PACs who support them need to consider the bad taste left in the voters’ mouth when their preferred candidate either wins or loses. 6 billion dollars is an absurd amount of money to be spent winning over an extremely small portion of the electorate. I also do understand that I’m understating the strategy that goes into winning 270 electoral votes. But in an election in which national debt, the federal deficit, the Great Recession, and unemployment rates are playing a central role, it seems inappropriate that we have so much money to spend.

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Photo Credit: army.arch

US Presidential Election Roundup 7/10 – 13/10

This week’s roundup of the US presidential election…

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Obama campaign reveals fundraising figure [The Guardian] The Obama campaign has tweeted that it raised $181m in September.

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Obama campaign enjoys Latino support [Politico] The Obama campaign has strong support from Latino voters.

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Obama campaign clarifies following debate [Huffington Post] The Obama campaign has clarified the President’s debate remark about Mitt Romney’s social security stance.

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Campaigns spar over tax proposals [CBS News] The Romney campaign has released a new ad in response to criticisms from President Obama over the Republican nominee’s tax proposals.

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Romney expresses foreign policy views [The Guardian] Mitt Romney has spoken about arming the Syrian rebels and has criticised President Obama’s approach to the conflict.

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‘Chest-pounding rhetoric’ [Washington Post] The Obama campaign has criticised Mitt Romney’s recent foreign policy speech.

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Romney shifts staff focus to Ohio [CBS News] Staff members have been moved to Ohio from Pennsylvania to focus on early voting.

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Obama ad addresses Big Bird issue [Politico] A spokesperson for the Obama campaign has spoken about a recent ad criticising Mitt Romney for his comments about Big Bird from Sesame Street.

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Romney criticised by DNC chair [The Hill] DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has attacked Mitt Romney over his healthcare stance.

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Ann Romney comments on debate [Washington Post] Ann Romney has been interviewed about her husband’s debate performance.

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Ohio early voting enters last day [New York Times] President Obama has campaigned in Ohio on the last day of early voting in the state.

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Romney discusses debate performance [CNN] Mitt Romney has spoken about debating and the influence of his father.

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Romney clarifies abortion position [Huffington Post] After suggesting that he does not propose limiting abortion, Mitt Romney has said that he would remove funding to Planned Parenthood.

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Obama comments on debate performance [ABC] President Obama has said that he ‘had a bad night’ at the first presidential debate.

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Romney faces complaint over Navy SEAL [Huffington Post] Mitt Romney has been asked not to mention a meeting he had with a former Navy SEAL killed during violence in Libya in September.

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Romney comments on Libya attacks [Talking Points Memo] Mitt Romney has responded to accusations from the Obama campaign that he has politicised the killing of the US ambassador in Libya.

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Romney comments on health insurance [Huffington Post] Commenting on healthcare, Mitt Romney has said that, ‘We don’t have people that become ill, who die in their apartment because they don’t have insurance.’

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Poll suggests partisanship [Politico] A new poll has suggested that Barack Obama is among the most polarising Presidents in recent times.

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Biden and Ryan debate [The Hill] The Vice-Presidential debate took place this week between Vice-President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan.

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VP debate viewing figures revealed [Politico] Nielsen has said that around 51.4 million people watched the Vice-Presidential debate.

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Gunshot at Obama campaign office [Reuters] A single shot has been fired at the Obama campaign’s Denver offices.

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Poll favours Biden after debate [Reuters] A new poll has suggested a win for Vice-President Joe Biden following the Vice-Presidential debate.

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Compiled by Patrick McGhee

US Presidential Election Roundup 30/9 – 06/10

This week’s roundup of the US presidential elections…

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VP candidates campaign [Reuters] Vice-President Joe Biden and Republican challenger Paul Ryan have campaigned in battleground states while President Obama and Mitt Romney prepare for the first presidential debate.

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Impact of debating discussed [CNN] A political communication specialist has discussed the impact of presidential election debates on voters.

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Sponsor disassociates from debate [Politico] Philips Electronics has become the third sponsor of the presidential debates to withdraw its support.

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Romney criticises Obama foreign policy [Huffington Post] Mitt Romney has criticised the foreign policies of the Obama administration.

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Poll predicts close call [Washington Post] A poll by the Washington Post and ABC News has found that President Obama and Mitt Romney are tied across numerous political issues.

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Ryan comments on Medicare plans [The Hill] Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan has commented on the impact of Medicare plans in swing-states.

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Ryan criticises Afghanistan policy [Washington Post] Paul Ryan has accused President Obama of making decisions on Afghanistan based on election politics.

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Biden comment used by Romney [New York Times] The Romney campaign has used a comment by Vice-President Joe Biden on the middle class to criticise President Obama’s first term.

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First debate takes place [New York Times] The New York Times provides a full transcript of the first presidential debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney.

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Obama campaigns after debate [BBC News] President Obama has criticised Mitt Romney after the first presidential debate.

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Romney job proposals ad airs [CNN] The Romney campaign has aired a new ad focusing on the Republican ticket’s plans for job creation.

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Health care ad attacks Romney [The Hill] The Democratic National Committee has released an online ad in which it accuses Mitt Romney’s health care proposals of neglecting those with pre-existing conditions.

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‘Elmo, you better make a run for it’ [Huffington Post] President Obama has joked about Mitt Romney’s statements on cutting funding for PBS.

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Lehrer faces criticism [CNN] The chair of the first presidential debate Jim Lehrer has been criticised for his handling of the event.

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Romney responds to jobs report [ABC News] Mitt Romney has questioned a new jobs report that suggests a decrease in the unemployment rate.

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Compiled by Patrick McGhee

What Mitt Romney Can Learn From Ike

Mitt Romney can still formulate a strong and assertive foreign policy, but should build on the prudent success of the Eisenhower administration rather than the hubris of the Bush Jr. administration.

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We do not know much about the specifics of Mitt Romney’s foreign policy. All we know is that it is going to be tough. Really tough. Tougher than Obama’s. Romney has criticised the president for being soft on Iran, not standing up for Israel, hesitating in Syria, leaving Russia unchecked, not prioritising Chavez in Venezuela, and failing to show global American leadership and strength. It is clear that for Romney, carrying a big stick is not enough if you speak softly.

Strong rhetoric is common for opposition candidates, whether Democrat or Republican, and while Romney has yet to substantiate his specific policies and goals, his hawkish statements have led to a setback abroad with criticism from various government, including his conservative colleagues in Britain. Even if his tour was mainly concerned with the election at home, Romney’s first steps on the international scene have not helped his campaign. He would do well to look to one of his party’s most popular and well-respected former presidents for guidance on how to formulate a strong foreign policy successfully.

Dwight D. Eisenhower won the presidency on the back of an impressive military career as a five-star general in the US army, and as supreme commander of the Allied Forces in Europe. Having spent his entire career in the army, Ike had a keen understanding of the use of force, and drivers of foreign policy. While often mistakenly being criticised for being passive while in office, Ike demonstrated excellent foreign policy skills. He stood strong on his priorities and preserved US influence, while reducing defence spending significantly. In fact, he was the last president since Bill Clinton to leave the US budget in black figures. His presidency stands as an excellent example of how an assertive and strong foreign policy can succeed without grandiose speeches and belligerent rhetoric.

If Romney wins the presidency in November, he will have to look at cuts to reduce the US deficit. The bloated defence budget, which is already facing significant reductions, will probably have to be reduced further. With the mission in Afghanistan scheduled to end during the next presidency, there will be plenty of opportunities to save money on defence. Importantly, as Ike’s presidency demonstrated, reducing the defence budget does not necessarily result in a loss of influence. After winning armistice in Korea in 1953, Ike cut defence spending from 13 per cent to 9 per cent by the end of his office term. In his final address, he famously warned against the “military industrial complex”, by which he referred to the alliance between the military, the government, and its suppliers. He understood that vested interests close to the inner circles of government depended on exaggerating threats. Despite his military background, his very modest childhood in Kansas shaped his view of budgets and deficits. “One modern heavy bomber is this”, he said, “a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric plants, each serving a town of 60,000. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals”. During the last decade we saw clearly what Ike was warning against, with increased reliance on private contractors, uncontrollable defence budgets, and a soaring deficit. He did his best to counter this influence, and take every opportunity to reduce spending without jeopardising American security.

The end of the mission in Afghanistan will provide similar opportunities for a potential new Romney administration, which could use the opportunity to cut swollen budgets in other areas of defence. Even significant cuts in defence do not necessarily signal a loss of influence or leadership. Ike’s biggest strength was his personal confidence and understanding of the importance of restraint. In the uncertain and volatile environment of the early Cold War, defence reports often recommended aggressive and offensive foreign policies. Several advisors and bureaucracies repeatedly urged Ike to “do things the hard way” by launching a nuclear attack on China, to which he replied that “the hard way is to have the courage to be patient”. While Ike used the bomb to exert influence, he steadfastly refused to use it, because he understood the absurd consequences of such an action.

Similarly, when the famous Gaither Report painted a worrying picture of Soviets catching up, and exceeding US nuclear capabilities, he refused to be dragged into unnecessary escalation. The report suggested vast defence budget increases, including a real consideration of how to fight a limited nuclear war. Adding to the pressure was the fact that the report was presented just after the Soviets had launched the Sputnik satellite, signalling a technological advantage. However, Ike rejected the conclusions of the report. It underestimated the ability of the US forces that he knew so well. Besides, he saw little point in using tactical nuclear weapons to fight a war, and even less of a point in preparing for a world afterwards. Despite facing sternly worded criticism from the military and his key advisors, time was to prove Ike right, and his restrained approach to defence spending and force deployment served the US well, as it left him with resources to stand fast on priorities like protecting Berlin, thereby bolstering American credibility.

Romney’s focus on resolve and credibility shares this priority, but his rhetoric is very different. Underlying his criticism of the Obama Administration is an assumption that should have been disproved by the last decade of conflict, namely that the US military power can shape and manage the world as it wishes. Concerning the situation in Syria, he told CNBC: “America should’ve come out very aggressively from the very beginning and said Assad must go”, before noting that America must “have the kind of resolve behind our application of soft and hard power [because] the world looks for American leadership and American strength”. Ike was a firm believer in using overwhelming force in battle, but would have cringed at the tone of Romney’s address. His entire presidency was devoted to a measured approach, which relied on steering clear of grandiose promises and proclamations. He understood the dangers of hubris, and the strategic and political setback caused by overstretching even the strong US military. He was notoriously tough and uncompromising on the foreign policy goals that he saw as important, and believed firmly in aggressive containment, but refused to let offensive temptations get the better of him. He wanted to avoid war at all cost, believing that the Cold War would best be settled in times of peace rather than on the battlefield. Times has once again proven him right. America did not win the Cold War on the battlefield, but by outperforming communism in factories, shops and plants.

Romney would do well to remember these lessons. A strong and assertive foreign policy may be best served by having realistic ambitions, picking your fights, and avoiding grandiose declarations and promises. American tax-payers and families have been paying the price for extravagant foreign policy adventures the last decade, without giving any administration much to show for it. Romney can still formulate a strong and assertive foreign policy, but should build on the prudent success of the Eisenhower administration rather than the hubris of the Bush Jr. administration, which his belligerent rhetoric is bound to prompt memories of.

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Photo credit: DonkeyHotey

US Presidential Election Roundup: 05/8 – 11/8

This week’s roundup of the US presidential elections…

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Romney attacks Obama over military voting [The Hill] Mitt Romney has criticised the Obama campaign for attempting to prevent a law that would extend the early voting period for military personnel.

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Obama policies under fire [Huffington Post] Mitt Romney has accused President Obama of ‘an extraordinary series of policy failures’ in the wake of a recent report on jobs.

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‘Apologies are in the air’ [Washington Post] The Washington Post rounds up a series of apologies from both the Obama and the Romney campaigns from the past two weeks.

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Romney supports Senate contender [CNN] Mitt Romney has campaigned in Indiana alongside Republican candidate for Senate Richard Mourdock.

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Obama ad attacks Romney on Planned Parenthood [Political Wire] A new campaign ad has criticised Mitt Romney’s stance on contraception and Planned Parenthood funding.

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Wealthy will ‘do just fine’ says Romney [CBS] Mitt Romney has said that the wealthiest Americans will ‘do just fine’ regardless of the outcome of the presidential election.

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Reid branded ‘liar’ by Republicans [The Guardian] The majority leader of the Senate Harry Reid has been accused of lying after claiming that Romney paid no taxes for ten years.

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Republican convention speakers announced [Huffington Post] The Republican National Committee has confirmed that Senator John McCain and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be among the speakers at the Republican National Convention.

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July sees Romney raise over $100 million [ABC] The Romney campaign raised $101 million in July, it was announced this week.

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Obama predicted to exceed fundraising record [Politico] Although behind his Republican opponent, President Obama is expected to surpass the $750 million raised by his first election campaign.

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Jewish organisation demands Romney apology [The Hill] Jewish Voice for Peace has called on Mitt Romney to apologise to the Palestinians after comments made by the Republican frontrunner in Jerusalem last week.

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More convention speakers revealed [Huffington Post] Rick Santorum and Ron Paul will be among those joining John McCain and Condoleezza Rice as speakers at the Republican National Convention.

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Romney challenges Reid over tax accusation [Fox News] Mitt Romney has requested that Senate leader Harry Reid reveals the source behind his claims about the Republican contender’s tax affairs.

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‘Obamaloney’ [CNN] President Obama’s criticism of Mitt Romney’s tax policies as being ‘Robin Hood in reverse’ has been described as ‘Obamaloney’ by the Republican presidential hopeful.

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Republicans label Obama ad ‘dishonest’ [Telegraph] Republicans have criticised a campaign ad from the Priorities USA Action Super PAC for suggesting that Mitt Romney and Bain Capital may have been responsible for the death of a former employee.

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Obama maintains Colorado lead [Politico] A new poll has found that President Obama’s lead over Mitt Romney in the battleground state of Colorado has remained at around 49% to 43%.

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Obama appeals to women in Colorado [Politico] President Obama has spoken about the benefits of his healthcare reforms for women during a campaign trip to Colorado.

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Spokesperson promotes Romney health law [CNN] The Romney campaign has spoken about the successes of the Massachusetts healthcare law passed by the Republican contender.

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Obama waging ‘war on religion’ says Romney ad [CBS] A new campaign ad from the Romney campaign has accused President Obama of threatening religious freedom.

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Polls show Obama lead [Political Wire] A poll for CNN shows that President Obama is seven points ahead of his Republican rival, while a Fox News poll gives Obama a nine point lead.

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Democratic National Convention to feature Republicans [Politico] Planning papers for the Democratic National Convention have revealed that the event will feature Republican speakers.

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Romney leading in Iowa poll [Politico] A Rasmussen poll gives Romney a two point lead over President Obama.

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Paul Ryan to be named VP [Reuters] Congressman Paul Ryan is expected to be announced as Mitt Romney’s running mate.

Compiled by Patrick McGhee.

US Presidential Election Roundup: 22/7 – 28/7

Right up until the 3rd November 2012, theriskyshift.com will be posting a weekly roundup of the happenings in the US presidential election campaigns of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

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Romney focuses on economy after shooting [Reuters] Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney spoke about the economy in the wake of the shooting in Colorado, saying that his remarks would ‘not be as partisan as normal.’

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Axelrod resumes negative tweeting [Politico] David Axelrod, an adviser to the Obama campaign, tweeted the first negative attack against Mitt Romney since the shooting in Colorado last week.

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Campaigns on the offensive over foreign policy [Washington Post] President Obama has questioned his rival’s foreign policy experience, while Mitt Romney has hit back over negative campaigning.

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Government supported ‘These Hands’ business [ABC] A business featured in a new Romney campaign ad that attacks President Obama over the role of the government in business has been found to have received millions of dollars in government support.

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Blame attributed in economy poll [The Hill] A poll this week has surveyed likely voters about what they think is responsible for the state of the US economy.

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Obama campaign defends lack of presidential Israel visits [Huffington Post] The Obama campaign has hit back at Mitt Romney’s campaign for criticising the President’s lack of visits to Israel in his first term.

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Romney sceptical over gun control [Reuters] Mitt Romney has expressed doubt over whether more stringent gun laws would ‘make a difference’ to US gun crime.

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Obama responds to business attacks [ABC] The Obama campaign has spoken out against Republican attacks over remarks made by the President about the role of government in supporting businesses.

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Attacks on Romney impact polls [Reuters] A Reuters poll suggests that over a third of registered voters now have a ‘less favorable impression’ of Mitt Romney in light of recent criticisms he has faced over his taxes and business affairs.

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Obama administration leaks criticised [New York Times] Mitt Romney has said that the leaking of security information by the White House constitutes a ‘national security crisis’.

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Romney advisers claims ‘Anglo-Saxon’ advantage [Telegraph] Advisers to the Romney campaign have suggested that their candidate would benefit the relationship between the US and Britain more than President Obama because of the Republican contender’s greater appreciation of ‘shared history’.

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Speculation over third party candidate [Fox News] The former governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson could influence the outcome of the presidential election.

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Romney adviser calls for entitlement cuts [National Journal] An adviser to the Romney campaign has said that budget cuts should focus on entitlement programmes father than defence spending.

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Debate dates revealed [MediaBistro] The details of the presidential debates have been announced by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

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Biden addresses fire-fighters in Philadelphia [CNN] Vice-President Joe Biden has spoken about Mitt Romney’s economic policies at the 51st convention of the International Association of Fire Fighters.

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Romney campaign distances itself from ‘heritage’ comments [ABC] The Romney campaign has attempted to distance itself from comments made by anonymous advisers about the Republican candidate’s ‘Anglo-Saxon heritage’.

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Obama calls for bi-partisan ‘consensus’ on guns [Guardian] President Obama has said that he will ‘continue to work with members of both parties and with religious groups and with civic organisations to arrive at a consensus around violence reduction.’

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Democrats take advantage of ‘Romneyshambles’ [Telegraph] The Democratic National Committee (DNC) have produced a video that draws attention Mitt Romney’s criticisms of London 2012.

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Romney to court Jewish voters [Wall Street Journal] Mitt Romney will make an attempt to appeal to Jewish voters in a trip to Israel.

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Compiled by Patrick McGhee.

US Presidential Election Roundup: 15/7 – 21/7

This week’s roundup of the US presidential elections…

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Obama campaign attacks Romney over outsourcing [The Hill] President Obama has increasingly criticised his opponent Mitt Romney over claims that the Republican contender for the presidency would out-source jobs as part of his employment plans.

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Republican Super PACs raise $6.6 million [Huffington Post] ‘Mega-donors’ have helped two super PACs with close Republican ties raise $6.6 million in the second quarter of this year.

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Romney’s VP announcement anticipated [Global Post] A Romney campaign adviser suggested that the Republican presidential contender could announce his running mate this week, but added that he had not yet made a decision.

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Race and religion election implications explored [National Journal] A poll conducted by ABC News and the Washington Post has investigated the implications of race and religion for President Obama and Mitt Romney.

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Bain Capital criticism sparks blog debate [Washington Post] Attacks on Mitt Romney’s tenure at the company Bain Capital has prompted debate over the extent to which the issue will affect his election fortunes.

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Obama’s Iowa lead declines [Talking Points Memo] President Obama’s lead over Mitt Romney in the state of Iowa has fallen to 5 points, down from 10 points in May, a new poll finds.

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Romney adviser hints at campaign ‘counterattacks’ [Political Wire] An adviser to the Romney campaign has said the Republican presidential contender ‘believes it’s time to vet the President’ in light of recent negative campaigning by the Obama campaign.

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Romney criticises Obama’s small business remarks [Talking Points Memo] Mitt Romney has attacked President Obama for a speech the President made last week during which he said that public spending helped to develop small businesses.

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Michelle Obama speaks about immigration [Huffington Post] The First Lady has spoken about President Obama’s immigration record and policies this week.

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Early transition talks underway [Washington Post] The Romney campaign and the Obama administration have engaged in talks to plan for the possible post-election transition of staff should Republicans retake the White House.

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‘I will not cut the military budget,’ says Romney [American Legion] In an interview for American Legion Magazine, Mitt Romney has said that he will not implement any cuts to the United States’ military, adding that he will ‘expand our essential weapons programs and our active-duty personnel.’

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Romney questions lack of Jobs Council meetings [Politico] Mitt Romney has criticised President Obama after it emerged that the President’s Jobs Council has not met in six months.

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Obama appeals to older voters in Florida [New York Times] President Obama has visited the battleground state of Florida, giving a speech in which he attacked Mitt Romney’s healthcare policies.

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Campaign ads suspended in Colorado [CNN] Both the Obama and Romney campaigns suspended election campaign ads in Colorado after a man killed 12 people and injured 59 others in a shooting there on Friday.

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Campaign financing expands [Reuters] Reuters analyses campaign spending by both Obama and Romney, comparing staff increases, salaries and supplies in June and discussing the limitations of both candidates.

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Compiled by Patrick McGhee.

US Presidential Election Roundup: 8/7 – 14/7

Right up until the 3rd November 2012, theriskyshift.com will be posting a weekly roundup of the happenings in the US presidential election campaigns of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

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Republicans launch ‘Super Saturday’ [Reuters] Volunteers for the Republicans have campaigned and canvassed in 12 battleground states in an attempt to generate enthusiasm after a poll for CNN found self-identifying Democrats to be more enthusiastic than Republicans last week.

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Romney faces finance questions [Politico] Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has faced further questions from Democrats and the Obama campaign over his tax affairs.

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Obama administration would veto wealthy tax cuts [Reuters] A spokesperson for the Obama administration has said that the President ‘would not support’ and ‘would not sign’ legislation that would cut the taxes of wealthier Americans.

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NAACP convention boos Romney [Guardian] Mitt Romney has been booed during an address to the NAACP as he criticised President Obama’s healthcare reforms.

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Biden addresses NAACP [Huffington Post] One day after Mitt Romney’s speech, Vice President Joe Biden addressed the convention, saying that ‘this election will come down to character, conviction and vision. And it will not surprise you – I don’t think it’s even a close call.’

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Romney accuses Obama of naivety over Chavez remarks [Telegraph] Mitt Romney has called President Obama ‘out of touch’ after he commented in a television interview that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’ actions have ‘not had a serious national security impact on us.’

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Romney Bain Capital scrutiny intensifies [Guardian] Staff working on the Obama campaign have suggested that Mitt Romney may have lied about his involvement with Bain Capital after a report claims that he was in charge of the company years after he claims to have left it in 1999.

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Obama discusses ‘the mistake of my first term’ [CBS] In an interview for CBS News to be aired on Sunday, President Obama has said that his biggest mistake in office so far has been to put policy ahead of telling ‘a story to the American people.’

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Obama leads economy poll [Bloomberg] A Pew Research Center poll measuring public opinion on which candidate would be better at handling the US economy has found that current President Barack Obama leads by 7% among registered voters.

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Romney VP pick speculated [Wall Street Journal] Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been one of the figures rumoured to be under consideration to become Mitt Romney’s running mate on the Republican presidential election ticket.

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Obama campaign staffer dies [Chicago Sun-Times] Alex Okrent, a 29-year-old man, has died after collapsing at Barack Obama’s Chicago campaign headquarters.

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Compiled by Patrick McGhee.

Romneycare: Repeal & Replicate

Whilst the Republican’s 33rd health care repeal attempt may remind us of their relentless determination to be rid of Obamacare, their entire effort bares of nothing more than petty partisan politics.

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[dropcap]T[/dropcap]wo days ago, July 11 2012, was the 33rd time the Republican controlled House voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

My arrival to Washington DC coincided with the day Obamacare was historically upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court; a great day for many, one of great dismay for others – Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner was left particularly embarrassed having sent around a memo urging his members not to gloat upon it being struck down. It was certainly a successful day of non-gloating for the Republicans.

The awesome hypocrisy of the right-wing’s incessant opposition, is that the Affordable Care Act was originally a Republican ideology. Not only was it similarly entitled, ‘An Act Providing Access to Affordable, Quality, Accountable Health Care’ but it was none other than Mitt Romney himself as the governor of Massachusetts, who initially endorsed this healthcare mandate.

Six years later Mittromney.com boldly describes the health care act as a ‘government takeover’ – something largely ironic considering the government will not have control over insurance rates. This is due to the fact private insurance companies will uphold independent control, so although making health insurance a compulsory purchase will essentially subsidise the extortionate rates, ultimately the private nature of the insurance companies means the government has limited interference. Laying health insurance in the hands of private companies has Republican shaped ideology written across its elephant’s forehead – you would think. But no, the Republicans of today seem to be ever more misguided by a Sat Nav that only mandates right-turns; subsequently leading them to view their previous right wing ideas as socialist, of all things.

The most amusing stint nonetheless, occurred when Romney responded to the success of Obamacare with his ‘Repeal and Replace’ speech which portrayed a frighteningly familiar vision for the future of American healthcare. In an almost deja vu mannerism, he declared the so called replacement policies to be “making sure that people who want to keep their current insurance can do so” and “assuring that every American has access to affordable health care”. Perhaps the best way of learning more about these “replacement” policies would be to read through Obamacare.

So whilst the Republican’s 33rd health care repeal attempt may remind us of their relentless determination to be rid of Obamacare, their entire effort bares of nothing more than petty partisan politics, particularly considering Mitt seemingly plans to replicate rather than replace what is already in motion.

American Exceptionalism & The Shaping Of US Foreign Policy

The resort to the nationalist ideology of American Exceptionalism by both sides of the political spectrum is not just a temporary electoral trick, but a signal of a deeper state of uncertainty and concern rooted in the history of the American republic.

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[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he growing electoral debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney has been focusing on, among many other issues, the meaning of American Exceptionalism, after years of dismissal from the public arena. This comeback to an ideological lexicon, concurrent with an historical period marked by economic turmoil and political uncertainty about the predominant role of the United States in international relations, can be explained by digging into its own origin in order to get a better understanding of what is now at stake within the current debate over the American greatness.

The resurgence of American Exceptionalism should be framed into the historical evolution of the concept, in order to relate it to the relevant political backdrop. Indeed, although many commentators attribute the coining of the term to Joseph Stalin in 1929 – who’s condemnation of American Exceptionalism was based on capitalism being an exception to Marxism’s universal laws – the ideological roots are to be found in the famous puritan John Winthrop’s speech in 1630. Winthrop alluded to the Arabella’s passengers escaping England as the “city upon the hill” for future people: drawing upon Matthew 5:14–15, Winthrop articulated his vision of the forthcoming Puritan colony in New England as an example of a truly godly society to be admired and imitated by England and the world.

However, Thomas Paine made the greatest contribution to the definition of the American national ideology, when in his “Common Sense” pamphlet written in 1776 he described America as a the rampart of liberty for the world. In addition, the French intellectual Alexis de Tocqueville confirmed such a self-perception of political uniqueness in 1840.

What is interesting, and worth noting, is that the ideology of exceptionalism, coupled with a keen interest in commercial trade, marked the first years of American independence with a new kind of foreign policy approach characterized by the intertwined relationship between interests, values and self-representation, by working as the mobilizing domestic driver of the American role in the world. As a matter of fact, as the Italian historian Mario Del Pero puts it, unilateralist foreign policies have been implemented every time national interest and international inspiration overlapped, by reflecting on international level the nationalist rhetoric (as occurred in 1898, 1914, 1941 and recently along with the neo-conservative political resurgence), in order to give Americans order to their vision of the world and defining their place within it.

Despite some prominent scholars (such as Stephen Walt) having tried to debunk the myth of American Exceptionalism and to rule it out from the possible explanatory variables of US foreign policy, stressing that its conduct has been determined firstly by the relative power and the competitive nature of international politics, contemporary debate has refocused its attention on this issue. This resurgence has come about in no small part due to some surveys carried out by Gallup, according to which American nationalism is booming within the United States: 80% of its population believes in the unique character of their country because of its history and possession of a constitution that make it a different, and the greatest nation in the world.

Indeed, nationalism is quite a common means for uniting divided populations and can act on two different levels: domestic and international. As for the former, nationalism comes out as unifying and mobilizing factor when economic difficulties and political challenges arise. For instance, national reaction and popular refusal to the “Malaise Speech” by President Carter in 1979, gave a big thrust to the Reaganian propaganda on international level: as a matter of fact, the 40th President of the United States based his electoral campaign on the saving role of the American leadership against the Evil Empire led by the Soviet Union.

Currently, given the end of the unipolar moment, the beleaguered state of American economy combined with its military troubles (with its expenditure being cut and it being overstretched from East Asia to Western Europe), as well as an increasing dysfunctional governance and the decline of American legitimacy abroad, the United States is in a very uncomfortable position. The resort to the nationalist ideology of American Exceptionalism by both sides of the political spectrum is not just a temporary electoral trick, but a signal of a deeper state of uncertainty and concern rooted in the history of the American republic.