Tag Archives: Republicans

Fiscal Cliff Averted, But What’s Next?

The Fiscal Cliff has been averted. Due to savvy political maneuvering and the dedication of senior lawmakers, the self-created asteroid of austerity set to strike at the heart of American economic recovery has been disintegrated by the atmosphere of bipartisanship and compromise… well… sort of. While the President has managed to get enough Republicans in line with his vision on taxes, the issue of spending has still not been addressed. Through the legislation, the automatic across-the-board cuts (know as the sequester) have been put off for two months.

So technically the cliff hasn’t been avoided, it’s been cut into two less scary hills or, maybe, two moderately imposing sets of stairs, one of which still looms ahead. Ridiculous metaphors aside, this means the discussion on spending will happen at the same time as the debate about raising the debt ceiling. On the latter point the President articulated in last night’s briefing that:

‘I will not have another debate with this Congress about whether they should pay the bills that they’ve already racked up.’

This is a firm position to take and is indeed an attempt by the White House to capitalize on its recent victory and set the tone for the upcoming debt ceiling discussion by saying it’s not up for discussion at all. Whether this is wishful thinking remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure, the discussions surrounding the other major issue, spending, will be ugly.

The GOP, in the House particularly, just sacrificed on some pretty fundamental points of their economic ideology, namely that if you tax rich people less they’re inclined to invest more that this creates jobs. The most substantive gain that the GOP got was raising the income threshold for tax hikes from $250,000 to $450,000. A number they could have had at $1 million had they taken up Speaker Boehner’s Plan B. Simply put, they come out of this discussion looking like the losers and will be fighting hard for a win on spending.

While the President can walk tall after his recent victory, in the upcoming spending discussions he has less to negotiate on. The tax issue has been put to bed so options for compromise are limited. However he does hold one card that the GOP lacks, the President doesn’t need to run for re-election.

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Photo Credit: United States Government

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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A Ragged US Flag

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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

Ohio’s Last Hurrah? Obama’s Electoral Strategy

Who will win the US election? Coming into the final day of the campaign, the lifeblood of political junkies – polling numbers – continues to defy easy categorisation.

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If any nationwide trend could be discerned from the mass of information across all 50 states of the Republic, it might be said that Romney edged out in front at one point, but no longer. (As I write this article, the latest news suggests that Obama is now reclaiming the lead).

Even if a majority of Americans decide to vote against him, Obama has maintained the lead in enough of the vaunted “battleground states” to secure victory in the electoral college. This is causing all manner of confusion among poll-watchers. Many of the more respected politicos have reluctantly weighed into the debate with wildly divergent views of the American electorate: do we trust the state numbers which predict an Obama victory, or go with the deadlocked national polls? Conservatives crow about the fall off in early voting among registered Democrats, suggesting that momentum isn’t being conveyed in local surveys. Liberals point to the relatively static nature of Obama’s lead over the last year, and argue that the volatile numbers don’t reflect his underlying advantages.

If Obama is the favourite, it’s due to outlying regions bucking national trends which are weighing him down elsewhere. Curiously, this phenomenon doesn’t simply break down according to past voting habits; rather, it appears to be strikingly unpredictable. Given that Obama won Ohio by just over 2 points and Colorado by more than 6, why has the former remained firmly in his column, whereas the latter is more hostile territory?

To start with, like never before in American politics, voting preferences align with identity – whether it be race, age, or gender – and the most glaring discrepancy lies among minority voters, who favour Obama by an average of nearly three to one. The most decisive shift has come from ethnic Latinos, a movement which will doom the long-term prospects of the Republican party unless it is corrected. But already, in the multiethnic America of 2012, this one-sided nature of non-white support means that while the President might govern over a divided polity, he campaigns from a position of strength. In Ohio, Obama enjoys something approaching 97 per-cent support among African Americans: if this had been replicated in 2004, John Kerry would have seen his 118,000 voting deficit in Ohio turn into a 92,000 surplus. For this reason, despite its long-standing conservatism, North Carolina remains competitive, and Nevada can be wholly written off as a swing state; its lopsided demography puts Obama ahead without much difficulty.

To be sure, white voters constitute a decisive share of the electorate in other states, and they are poised to offset much of Obama’s strength. Indeed, Romney manages to stay competitive in the national polls by chipping away at what are referred to as “aspirational voters”: self-identified moderates increasingly sympathetic to the Democratic party over the last two decades, who nevertheless remain somewhat suspicious of labour unions and redistributive taxation. These voters typically work in newer, start-up industries, and were relatively satisfied with the expansion of credit and rising property prices during the Bush years. The squabbling in Washington over the debt crisis has turned them off politics, and the poor economic outlook confirmed their defection. This explains why Obama is struggling to hold onto 2008 gains like Virginia or Colorado.

But while it might be expected that a lagging economic recovery would depress Obama’s white vote across the rest of the country, his lead is resilient in those industrial pockets which benefited from some of his administration’s more heavy-handed interventionism. In particular, the goodwill over his rescue of the American auto industry has filtered down through the chain of suppliers in Ohio’s industrial sector; he may have lost the high-technology suburbs with his talk of stagnating middle class and the need for higher taxation, but the manufacturing heartland in Ohio and Iowa is representative of a mid-western strain in American politics which responds well to issues like job security. Throughout the budget battles of 2011, Obama held back from hammering away at the Republicans over the worsening level of income inequality in American society, in large part because he feared losing upscale supporters from his coalition. But his electoral map can take the hit, and since the beginning of the year, the Obama campaign team has waged its side of the ad war on the basis of Romney’s work at Bain Capital, cutting jobs in local businesses, as well as his opposition to the auto rescue.

It now appears that Romney was mortally wounded from this onslaught, hence his desperate attempt to claiming that American car manufacturers are haemorrhaging jobs to China. Despite this, he has proven unable to reverse that first, damaging impression; some wavering white voters were reassured after his superior performance in the first debate, but the rot has well and truly set in throughout the mid-west. Obama saved many of their jobs, and they will reward him for it.

If Obama wins, it will be in large part because his strong numbers in the face of strong disillusionment among ordinary white voters. But this suggests that any coalition of his will not last beyond the moment; the remnants of the industrial belt and such a high degree of minority voters are unlikely to be united behind any Democratic Party candidate ever again. Moreover, the political agenda in Washington will inevitably turn after the economy begins to grow at a rate that is self-sustaining; once it does, “aspirational” voters will again be up for grabs.

As a result, the future of American politics should be found in the more affluent suburbs of Colorado, Arizona and Virginia. That was what Obama aimed for in 2008, and he’ll likely shift his agenda in that direction over the course of his second term. So, here’s a tip: if the Democrats are pinning their hopes on Ohio in another four years, they’re on track to lose. But this time, they might just get away with it.

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Photo credit: DonkeyHotey

 

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.

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

Foreign Policy Knows No Party

If citizens want to have an opinion on how American foreign policy should be conducted, they may sadly be forced to think for themselves for the foreseeable future.

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Democrats and Republicans

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My European friends typically portray Republican foreign policy as monolithic. Which is to say, nasty. This is baffling, as there is little consensus on foreign policy in either party beyond razing any Olympic uniforms made in China, and wholly and unquestionably doing whatever AIPAC wants.

There are perhaps one or two blurry foreign policy differences between the major parties. The Democrats are arguably less hawkish, with the notable exception of when it comes to doing things like voting on whether or not to bomb other countries. In these rare instances (invading Iraq, for instance) they’re surprisingly gung-ho.

To their credit, Democratic lawmakers did not vote in favor of the Libyan military intervention of 2011. However this is largely because President Obama neglected to ask Congress’s permission to do so.

While the Republican Party still sports an alarming amount of Neocons eager to engage in nation building (usually by bombing the nations they intend to build), it’s unfair to describe the GOP as the party of war. In truth the GOP has only one commonality: a fear of commitment. Isolationist, Neoconservative, Realist and whatever exactly Governor Romney is, Republicans are the party hesitant to confirm “relationship status” with other countries on Facebook.

Let’s look at three recent prominent contenders for the Republican presidential nomination:

First, Rick Santorum, whose hypothetical White House policy briefings would involve several men (note: men) sitting around in sweater vests discussing “Operation Glass Parking Lot.” Santorum appeared to be in such a hurry to catapult projectiles at Tehran that, endowed with the presidency, he would probably order NASA to build a time machine through which to dispatch F16’s to carpet bomb the Ayatollah last month. After leveling the Parchin, Bidganeh and Qom military complexes, they would circle back to the 1950’s to refuel their sweatervest reserves and return to now.

There could be no greater contrast than Ron Paul, a staunch non-interventionist who would ideally like America to transition from the world’s only remaining super power to a sort of 320-million person Switzerland. Defend the shores, deliver the mail. Stop.

The only commonality between Rick Santorum and Ron Paul is that both find the notion of any treaty compelling America to legally bind itself to the consensus of other nations utterly distasteful. Differences notwithstanding, monks and playboys are nonetheless bachelors.

As it stands, the Republican contender for the presidency is Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney’s foreign policy plan is more or less identical to President Obama’s, only with more aggressive adverbs.

It’s possible he’ll start a trade war with China by labeling them as currency manipulators. In his book No Apology, he was of the opinion that “protectionism stifles productivity,” which indicates a reluctance to start a trade war. More than likely, he would carry on the same Free Trade policies enacted by Obama, many of which started during the Bush administration.

The only discernible difference between the diplomatic and economic measures which President Obama has employed to halt the Iranian nuclear program and Romney’s counter plan is his more liberal use of exclamation marks. He would also support covertly support dissidents and increase the US Naval presence in the Straight of Hormuz. Primarily, however, he would rely upon economic sanctions and diplomacy, reserving military intervention in the event that soft power fails. Just like Obama.

What are we to make of all this? The first is that Americans don’t particularly care about foreign policy. If they did, Jon Hunstman would be orchestrating it right now.

The second lesson is that, while Republicans and Democrats might neatly organize themselves into tug-of-war teams on issues like abortion, healthcare and firearm regulation, there is no actual partisan American foreign policy agenda.

If citizens want to have an opinion on how America should conduct itself abroad, they may sadly be forced to think for themselves for the foreseeable future.

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: 12/8 – 18/8

This week’s roundup of the US presidential elections…

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Ryan gives first speech [Huffington Post] Congressman Paul Ryan has given his first speech after being picked to be Mitt Romney’s running-mate.

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Polls suggest Ryan ‘unknown’ [Huffington Post] Polls have shown that most Americans have either ‘never heard’ of or are ‘unsure’ about Paul Ryan.

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Romney camp saves the surprise [The Guardian] The Guardian details how the Romney campaign kept their choice of Vice-Presidential running-mate a secret.

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Ryan choice boosts donations [The Guardian] The Romney campaign has revealed that it has received $3.5 million in donations after the selection of Paul Ryan.

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Obama criticises Ryan policies [National Journal] President Obama has attacked Paul Ryan’s economic proposals at a Chicago fundraiser.

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Ryan’s legislative history scrutinised [Huffington Post] It has been reported that Paul Ryan only passed two bills during his 13-year period as a Congressman.

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Ryan comments on taxes [The Hill] Paul Ryan has said that he will release two years of tax returns.

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Palin absent from convention [Reuters] Sarah Palin has confirmed in a statement that she will not be speaking at the Republican Convention later in August.

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Does Mitt Romney Want A Third World War? [The Risky Shift] Purav Patel argues that Mitt Romney lacks ‘pragmatism and the ability to negotiate’ on the issue of the Middle East

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Adviser compares Ryan to Palin [National Journal] David Axelrod has commented on Paul Ryan’s energising of his party’s base, saying, ‘I saw that excitement four years ago when John McCain appointed Sarah Palin as well.’

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Ryan rumour ‘debunked’ [Talking Points Memo] Talking Points Memo reports that a rumour suggesting Paul Ryan may have benefitted financially from insider trading ‘doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.’

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Rubio to introduce Romney [CNN] Marco Rubio is expected speak at the Republican National Convention and will introduce Mitt Romney.

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‘Back in Chains’ [New York Times] Vice-President Joe Biden has said that Republican economic proposals would ‘put you all back in chains’ during a speech at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research.

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Obama ‘waging war on coal’ says Romney [CNN] Mitt Romney has accused President Obama of failing to support coal during his presidency.

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Romney attacks Obama in Medicare ad [CBS] The Romney campaign has accused President Obama of cutting $716 billion from Medicare ‘to pay for Obamacare’ in a new ad.

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‘Get real, Mitt’ says college aid ad [ABC] The Obama campaign has released an ad criticising Mitt Romney’s college aid plans.

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Obama leads in Ohio [Talking Points Memo] A new poll suggests that President Obama leads Mitt Romney by 3 points in Ohio.

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Romney interviewed for Fortune [CNN Money] Mitt Romney has discussed his economic plans in an interview with Fortune Magazine.

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Obama ‘running just to hang on to power’ says Romney [Huffington Post] Mitt Romney has accused the Obama campaign of ‘enmity and jealousy and anger,’ adding that the President is ‘running just to hang onto power.’

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Ryan gives ground on Medicare [National Journal] Paul Ryan has dropped $716 billion in proposed cuts to Medicare.

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Republicans advise Obama on Biden [Politico] John McCain has joined Sarah Palin in advising President Obama to replace Vice-President Joe Biden on the Democratic presidential ticket.

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Univision to request presidential debate [Politico] Spanish network Univision has invited President Obama and Mitt Romney to debate.

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Congress breached social media regulations [The Hill] A report has suggested that members of Congress ‘may have broken the rules regulating official use of social media’ after reacting to the selection of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s running mate.

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Romney comments on taxes [Reuters] Mitt Romney has said that ‘over the last 10 years, I never paid less than 13 percent’ tax, adding, ‘I think the most recent year is 13.6 or something like that.’

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International economy poll supports Obama [Reuters] A new poll has found that more business executives favour President Obama than Mitt Romney over the issue of the global economy.

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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.

Obamacare & New Democrat Political Dilemmas

If the mainstay of the debate surrounding the forthcoming American presidential elections centres on Obamacare, the  President will not be staying in the White House for a second term.

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[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n what seemed to add insult to injury the Democrats trounced the Republicans, 18-5, in the 75th annual Congressional Baseball game in Washington last night. Chants of ‘We won healthcare!’ from the Democratic staffers and supporters at Nationals Park echoed through the stadium, referencing the largely favorable Supreme Court ruling on the Obamacare law earlier that day. For a moment, the energy felt like the massive electoral victories of 2006 or 2008. While supporters of the law and President should indeed celebrate the Court’s ruling, they should also be cautious and consider some unintended political consequences that could arise:

  • The win could be an energizing factor for the Republican base in November. Democrats will have to carefully balance how they frame the victory while on the campaign trail. The country is sharply divided over the ruling as shown in a recent Gallup poll and many independents could be pushed away if the law is a central talking point. Republicans can easily be critical of the law and demand a repeal. Democrats need to avoid making November an effective referendum on the law.
  • Governor Romney will attempt to make the election a referendum on Obamacare. In his response to the ruling the presumptive Republican nominee said ‘What the court did not do on its last day in session, I will do on my first day if elected president of the United States. And that is I will act to repeal Obamacare.’  The Romney narrative is that ‘Obamacare’ is a tax hiking, deficit increasing, job killing, personally invasive law. This rhetoric doesn’t need to be true in order for it to be effective. If every Obama campaign stop is a retort to Romney’s claims and the defense of a law that the President expended substantial political capital to pass two years ago, it will eat up valuable time and resources that could be spent talking about other issues (job creation, counter-terrorism success, and Wall Street reform to name a few).
  • Key Senate races have become a lot more interesting. While the House can pass a repeal now it will most certainly stop in the Senate. The Republicans will frame the Senate (and the Presidency) as operating against the will of the people (true or not) and claim that controlling the upper house as central to removing the law. With vulnerable open seats in ND, WI, and VA and Senators Tester (MT), McCaskill (MO), and Nelson (FL) on the chopping block there is a substantial risk of the body turning red. While the Republicans will not gain a supermajority in the Senate (enough to overcome a filibuster), forcing a potential Senate Democratic minority to resort to a procedural road block to defend the law will push tensions to an all time high and will be extremely unpopular politically. The worst-case scenario for supporters of the law is moderate Democrats voting for repeal out of political fear.

Democrats should indeed be happy with the Court’s ruling however one must ask the question whether a negative decision on Obamacare would have made things easier in November. Democrats in sensitive districts will need to defend the law while simultaneously downplaying their support for it. The President is unable to downplay his support for the law but will need to balance his response to Romney’s attacks with the discussion of policy successes in other realms.  If the debate is focused around Obamacare, the President will lose.

Extreme Anti-Abortionists: An Unwelcome Import

Anti-abortionist extremists are not backed by public opinion.

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[dropcap]J[/dropcap]ustin Bieber is the latest high profile figure in the US to voice his disapproval of abortion, even if a woman has been raped (“everything hapapens for a reason”, he told Rolling Stone). He follows hot on the heels of failed contender for the Republican nomination for President, Rick Santorum, who described conception from rape as a “gift”.

Of course Santorum is not alone in the Republican camp, within which candidates are often found to be jostling for position on social issues to satisfy their sizable socially conservative electoral base. The US also has a reputation as the country with the most extreme, sometimes violent, anti-abortionists, with 41 bombings and 173 arsons of abortion providers in the US and Canada since 1977. Eight people have been killed, and a further 17 people have had death threats.

The so-called ‘pro-life’ brigade – a tag that seems somewhat misplaced given their treatment of pregnant women and others, so let’s call them anti-abortionists – have demonstrated an extreme fervour. In the UK their activities have tended to be limited to periodic pickets and protests. Whilst there is no apparent threat of the sort of violence perpetrated in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, there are worrying indications that anti-abortionists are upping the ante in the UK.

For the 40 days of Lent, anti-abortionists protested to pregnant women outside the central London clinic of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), leaving women feeling humiliated, embarrassed, harassed, and even violated, reports attribute to BPAS. Similar protests have been taking place in Brighton. Pickets of abortion clinics by evangelicals are not new, but there appears to be a momentum behind the latest rash of protests, and when allied to other militant tactics aimed at women, paint a concerning picture.

BPAS came under attack from a hacker who stole the personal details of 10,000 women from the confidential BPAS database, and threatened to make those names public. The judge who sentenced the hacker to 32 months in prison warned of “terrible consequences” had that threat been carried out. The hacker defaced the BPAS website with anti-abortion slogans, claiming to be part of the hacking group Anonymous.

Undoubtedly there are personal implications for the women concerned. Targeting pregnant women with graphic images of foetuses and preying on vulnerability seems about the most anti-life thing you can do, barring violence. But beyond the militant protests, there are other signs that anti-abortionists are influencing public debate and policy in a way that has profoundly political, as well as personal, implications. The government has indicated that it will press ahead with plans to allow anti-abortionists to counsel pregnant women on the NHS, despite the collapse of the backbench proposal in the House of Commons, a move which has been denounced by the shadow public health minister. The decision to exclude some long-standing providers like BPAS from the government’s advisory group on sexual health and include anti-abortionists was seen as a significant departure from the status quo and created a furore last year.

Darinka Aleksic of Abortion Rights told me that the “moral equivalence made by the media in many cases between the pro and anti-choice side is very damaging: we’re seen as two opposing sides of the same coin with the truth somewhere in between,” which is misleading. Pro-choice advocates are interested in ensuring that whether a woman decides to continue with a pregnancy or not, she has the ability, information and services to allow her to make a free choice. Aleksic says “Pro-choice advocates aren’t found outside maternity hospitals asking women if they had considered termination as an alternative to giving birth, whereas anti-choice activists are increasingly willing to approach women outside abortion clinics.”

I have been in favour of a woman’s right to choose what to do with her own body for as long as I can remember. I am not alone in that view – between 70 and 83 per cent of the British public are reported to support a woman’s right to choose. The current British law allowing women the right to choose how to proceed with a pregnancy is well-supported by the weight of scientific evidence and by the medical establishment.

These anti-abortionist extremists are not backed by the public, experts or mainstream opinion for their reactionary and evangelic beliefs, much less for their bullying and intimidating tactics. Any politician tempted to pander to these obscure views should be very wary, and the media can avoid being their co-pilots in tacitly legitimising their views by leaving them in the “extremists” box where they belong.

Ladies & Gentlemen, The Next President of the United States Is… Ron Paul

Why the most important Republican nominee for the 2012 elections is the one you’ve probably never heard of.

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Let us begin with a test: how many 2012 Republican candidates can you name? The sure favourite Romney; Gaff prone Perry; Pizza king Cain; Tea Partier Bachman; the unfortunately named Santorum maybe? How about Texas Libertarian Ron Paul?

There is a famous dictum by Mahatma Gandhi saying “First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.” This dictum was famously used in Paul’s 2008 nomination campaign and again now, though if could you not name him in the quiz above, then it seems he’s still stuck on the first stage of Gandhi’s quote. It should come as no surprise that you may not have heard of him. If you speak to any follower of Paul, they will claim that the mainstream media is purposely ignoring the 76 year-old Texan.

Indeed, if you observe the major media outlets, one can perhaps concur with such an accusation. During most of the televised GOP debates it was hard to tell if Paul was even there with the little amount of attention he was given. For instance, at the latest two and a half hour long CBS News debate the Congressman was give just 89 seconds to answer his only question; and was not even allowed to finish at that. A study conducted by the Pew Research Centre Project for Excellence in Journalism shows that from May 2nd to October 9th of this year, Paul only appeared in two per-cent of all elections stories. The weekly publication The Economist, which champions itself in propagating a limited government agenda, has also ignored the campaign trail of the libertarian.

You may be wondering why this matters. After all, there are other candidates that are not given the same limelight as say Romney, Perry or Cain. True, but unlike his neo-conservative rivals, Paul is perhaps the most important candidate running. The reason why he is such an important candidate is because he is so far removed from his republican fellows. So much so that he makes tea partiers such as Bachman appear socialist. Indeed, Judge Napolitano, the presenter of Freedom Watch called Paul “the Thomas Jefferson of our day.”

In essence, he is an enemy of the state; Paul is a libertarian of the constitutionalist sort. He believes that government should be strictly restricted to the boundaries of the U.S. Constitution.  Though placing precedence of local government over lager government, Paul asserts that notion of personal freedom and individual responsibility. Taxes should be kept to an absolute minimum. Ultimately, the government has no legitimacy or authority over Americans unless, of course, there is a threat to freedom. Paul does have some congruence with the Republican Party, such as being anti-abortion (though for freedom rather than religious reasons) and taking a strong anti-monetary policy stance. But some of his proposals do touch a nerve with his party. He advocates free trade and the use of marijuana, and strongly holds a non-interventionist foreign policy. He is against all forms of torture, unlike his Republican rivals who see it as necessary to gain information on supposed terrorist attacks in Americans. Rather than having a heavy military presence both home and abroad (despite being an Air Force pilot during the Vietnam War), the Texan argues that diplomacy and free trade are far more effective and moral tactics. In fact, he believes that the cause of most hostilities towards America is because of its military presence.

Such a viewpoint has made him few friends. Those who have followed the debates will remember the infamous photo of Rick Perry apparently threatening Paul during an ad break. The Fox News host Bill O’Reilly called Paul’s foreign policy “dangerous stuff if you have power.” Nevertheless, whether the political elites like it or not, Paul has had a direct influence on American politics. In 2009 Paul wrote the bestseller End the Fed which heavily criticised the use of monetary policy in American and called for the Federal Reserve to be abolished. Prior to the book’s publication there was hardly any discussion about the Fed in either party. Now, with the worsening economic condition both globally and domestically, more questions are being asked about the usefulness of the central bank, with other Republican candidates now suggesting they would reform the Fed if they won the presidency.

In spite of the apparent media blacklist with Paul’s name on it, the congressman does possess a strong and resilient, though small, following. Since the start of the debates Paul has held a consistent approval rating in the mid-teens. Moreover, he as the biggest amount of support from veterans than any other candidate, possibly because of his strong stance against interventionism and war. Though perhaps his biggest support comes from fellow libertarians. Despite their numbers increasing, Libertarians and minarcists in America are still a rare breed. What is more, these fellow Libertarian groups mainly use alternatives form of media as their news source and for communication. Podcasts and radio shows such as No Agenda, Anarchast and theAlex Jones Show are notable examples. These alternative news sources are strong supporters of Paul’s campaign and constitute a substantial part of his campaign fund. But these small groups are also Paul’s weakness. Because of their political beliefs, many individuals reject the elections and will not vote, even for a fellow Libertarian. One caller on the Anarchast radio show said they hope Paul wins the nomination, but would not cast their vote because it meant they consented to having a government.

As much as some wish for Paul to win the nomination and become President, most accept that he will not win. This is because of both the media blackout and the fact that many hold his beliefs as extreme and radical. And being in his late seventies, it is unlikely Paul will run again in 2016. Nevertheless, it is the writer’s conjecture that Paul knows this, and the main reason why he is running is to get propagate his message of freedom. And despite the lack of mainstream attention, more and more people are becoming enlightened by his Libertarian viewpoint. In some ways, then, he has already won.