Turnstyle on Wednesday, Aug. 29th
A version of this story is also airing on NPR’s All Things Considered.
Youth Radio reporter Robyn Gee is in Tampa along with the YR and TurnstyleNews election team.
Paul Ryan was officially nominated yesterday as Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate. There’s a lot of excitement about the choice, some of it because of the hope that Ryan’s youthfulness can benefit the party’s image.
When you talk to young conservatives at the Republican National Convention in Tampa about their vice presidential candidate, they’re nothing short of dreamy-eyed. Ryan is about as close to a bona fide celebrity as the party’s got. What congressman wouldn’t welcome the comparisons we heard — to stars like Paul Rudd, Ryan Gosling, and Carson Daly?
Read the full version as part of Youth Radio’s Convention 2012 special coverage.
Read the rest
We had a two part interview with NationBuilder CEO Jim Gilliam (Part I, Part II) months ago, and this week the organizational website provider has proven that politics makes strange bedfellows indeed. Keeping to their non-partisan guns, NationBuilder will become a key part of a Republican online effort, as Politico reports:
NationBuilder, a 15-month-old startup founded by a former John Kerry campaign aide, will announce this week a deal to be the official, exclusive software provider for the Republican State Leadership Committee. NationBuilder GOPro will enable the Los Angeles-based company to outfit GOP candidates for state-level offices with campaign tech for as little as $25 a month.
Side note: it sure does seem like the GOP groks online better than Democrats to, Obama notwithstanding.
Read the rest
Stephanie Jo Chapa on Friday, Jan. 20th
By Stephanie Jo Chapa
Reporting from Charleston, South Carolina — Stephen Colbert, the satirical newsman and Charleston, South Carolina native, along with former Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain, held the much publicized ”THE ROCK ME LIKE A HERMAN CAIN: SOUTH CAIN-OLINA PRIMARY RALLY” at the College of Charleston today at the central Cistern Yard in downtown Charleston, SC. Crowds reached slightly more than the 3,000 occupant limit and it didn’t stop students (and even a group of university administrators) from leaning out of windows, porches, and climbing atop the surrounding iron gates to listen to this spectacle visiting Charleston.
The lines started forming hours before Colbert’s arrival, with people curious to see what the next installment of Americans For A Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow would bring. “I don’t even think Lindsay Lohan could draw a line as quickly as the one at The Cistern did,” tweeted @chsgirlprobs.
Colbert, all smiles and exuding a presidential aura, strutted out of Herman Cain’s bus to LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” that could be heard thumping in the surrounding city blocks. The crowd danced along, and cheers went up as Colbert approached the stage. Colbert opened with a rendition of “This Little Light of Mine,” with a gospel choir backing him up on stage.
Colbert uses satire as a vehicle to spread his message, and it clearly worked today. Charleston Resident Alexandra Haynes believes comedy is an effective tool to educate, saying “I learned I was able to vote in the Primary, even as a registered Democrat,” referring to previous Colbert statements he made on his show explaining the South Carolina primary process. Colbert reeled in the crowd with his serious-turned-sarcastic speech, “Every generation is called to expand the definition of ‘person’,” and “I am the Martin Luther King of corporate civil rights.”
The scene was raucous and overwhelmingly pro-Colbert. As a humored and vibrant Cain took to the stage, he proclaimed that, “Mr. Colbert could not get on a ballot, and I could not get off the ballot, so that’s how this came about.” He was emphatic when declaring that “Washington is broken,” and “America is broken.” While onlookers half-cheered, Cain challenged the mainly college-aged crowd to stay informed, involved, and inspired, and that they must change Washington from the outside, inspiring one to wonder if this was the sincere portion of the show. (Really, we’ll probably never know.)
One student claimed she would “probably not” vote in the Republican primary tomorrow and mentioned that her group wasn’t in the know about Super PACs. But Colbert was there to explain that, until recently, corporations were subject to campaign finance limits, so that after 2010 deregulation, corporate-funded “Super PACs were born unto us.” In June of last year, ABC reported that the FEC voted to allow Stephen Colbert the right to create a super PAC, which he called Americans For A Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow.
As the event came to an end, the question remained: what’s the impact of Colbert’s attempts to run for president and shed light on super PACs?
“If they are calling being allowed to form a super PAC and [collect] unlimited and untraceable amounts of money from individuals and unions and corporations and spend that money on political ads and for personal enrichment and surrender that super PAC to one of my closest friends while I explore a run for office—if that is a joke, then they are saying our entire campaign finance system is a joke.”
Your thoughts, America?
Read the rest
Meriah Doty on Thursday, Jan. 12th
An attack video on Republican candidate frontrunner Mitt Romney has been making the rounds (the short version embeded above). And the “super PAC” supporting rival presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has come under fire for creating it.
The 28-minute video depicts Romney as a greed-driven “corporate raider” making money at the expense of American workers. Romney and other members of the GOP have fired back, calling it an attack campaign better suited to have originated from the Democrats. But from Newt? A fellow Republican?
Given the amount of press this piece is getting, coupled with the fact that Romney may ultimately win the Republican nomination, Gingrich’s campaign could ultimately work against the GOP ticket altogether.
I wonder if the President is thanking Newt right now…
Read the rest
SAM EVANS-BROWN, DAN GORENSTEIN, AMY QUINTON, JOSH ROGERS AND JON GREENBERG/NHPR on Monday, Jan. 9th
Mitt Romney spent his Monday focusing vote-rich southern New Hampshire. He started at a chamber of commerce breakfast Nashua, where a comment he made about choice in health care,
“I like being able to fire people who provide services to me,”
became a late-breaking flashpoint. Democrats and republicans rivals Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman all piled on. So much so that at Romney’s next stop in Hudson he called a press conference, his first since the Iowa caucuses, to defuse the matter.
“I know free enterprise is on trial and we have a president who really doesn’t believe in the rights of people to do that but I believe in the rights of people to get rid of an insurance company that they don’t want.”
Romney also clarified another comment that’s become an unwelcome headache as he looks to mobilize the vote he’s been working years to build, that during a business career that made him a millions he himself feared being fired.
“I think people imagine that I came in at the top of Bain and company the consulting firm or the Boston consulting group I started at the bottom, and like anybody who starts at the bottom, you wonder if you don’t do so well, whether you are going to be able to hang on to your job, you know, will you be one of those who is laid off?”
The question now is will Mitt Romney hang on to what every polls suggests remains a commanding lead in the state where he’s never been anything but the clear frontrunner.
Read the rest of the post and see full photo gallery at New Hampshire Public Radio
Read the rest
Jon Greenberg/NHPR on Monday, Jan. 9th
This post was republished as an excerpt with permission from New Hampshire Public Radio
In the closing hours of the primary, the campaigns are turning to the airwaves to make one last push for votes. About a third of the electorate say they have yet to make up their mind. Some 60 television ads a day might help them decide. That might sound like a lot but the real story of advertising in this primary is, there’s so little of it.
Two candidates have dominated the New Hampshire television market for several months. Texas congressman Ron Paul, often cast as a firebrand, is now running an ad aimed at burnishing his image as a reliable leader.
“Consistent. Incorruptible. Guided by faith and principle. Ron Paul. The one we’ve been looking for.”
From the Mitt Romney camp, commercials like this might lead you to think the primary was a foregone conclusion.
“It’s time for this pessimistic president to step aside and let American optimism that built the greatest nation on earth build a greater future for our children.”
In these final days, combined, the two campaigns and their super PAC supporters account for more than half of all the political ads on WMUR at a cost of about a third of a million dollars. That’s small potatoes in the world of presidential politics.
“There has been very, very little spending, much to the chagrin of the New Hampshire media.”
Pat Griffin is a New Hampshire media consultant who worked with the Bush campaign in 2000. The contrast with the last primary is stunning. It is barely a tenth as much. The peculiar dynamic of this race sidelined television. Mainly, that dynamic is the enduring dominance of Mitt Romney.
Griffin says while on paper, Romney had many competitors, on television, he set the pace and Romney calculated that he would do best by holding fire. Another Republican media strategist, Brad Todd who has worked with the Republican National Committee, says to go head to head with Romney, a challenger would need to buy time on the Boston stations and that’s very expensive.
Listen to the audio, and read the rest of the post, at New Hampshire Public Radio.
Read the rest
In Iowa, the Occupy movement may be the 1 percent.
The state’s Democratic Party reports that while President Obama received nearly 99 percent of votes in Tuesday’s caucuses, about one percent of registered Democrats voted “uncommitted” — enough votes that there will be dozens of non-Obama delegates sent in March to the party’s county conventions. And many of those delegates identify with the various Occupy movements around Iowa.
“We put an alternative to the people” said Brandon Long, a student at the University of Norther Iowa and an organizer of Occupy Cedar Valley. In mid-December, Long started a “Caucus for UNCOMMITTED” campaign via the website Occupy Iowa Caucus. “You shouldn’t be trapped between two parties,” he told me, hours before Caucus Night. “It’s not a law of nature or something.”
The morning after the caucuses, Long said he had fought a drawn-out, but ultimately successful battle in his precinct caucus for a single delegate. All told, his county, Black Hawk County, got eight uncommitted delegates. He heard from Occupy supporters in Cerro Gordo and Bremer counties that they won a few as well.
But those counties pale in comparison to Johnson County, home Iowa City, where I observed extraordinary support for the Occupy movement’s “uncommitted” strategy.
Here’s that story, told as an audio slideshow.
Read the rest
Presidential debates can be dreadfully boring to watch. Unless you’re the kind of person who likes to hang on every word, looking for the slightest hints of personality from the candidates underneath super-structured spin training.
The GOP primary debates have been good for some strange moments, and have managed to showcase some of the edgier positions supported by the more fervent members of the Republican base. Par for the course for those who follow the cycle — it’s never surprising to hear outlandish ideas and statements in debates at this stage of the game. What has been strange is how rabid the coverage has been. We’re over a year out from the 2012 Presidential election and you’d think we were only a month out from the polls.
The Obama campaign has taken notice, and is taking tonight’s GOP primary debate in Las Vegas — the gaming capital of the world — to roll out a game of their own. Just like any Vegas game, the house is guaranteed to win. The White House, that is. GOP Debate Watch is structured like a classic drinking game: every time one of the Republican hopefuls uses one of a set of keywords, you (the participant) have the option to take a shot drop a donation in the Obama campaign coffers.
Simple, elegant, and dare we hope, fun (you can still play without making a donation), it’s one of those obvious ideas once you see it. Of course, it’s also the kind of thing only made possible on a mass scale thanks to the Internet.
If they manage to raise enough, it will make a nice little sidebar in tomorrow’s election coverage… and will probably wind up being copied over and over as we set course for Super Tuesday, the Conventions, Silly Season, the obligatory October Surprise, and on towards Election Night.
Read the rest
Chris McCoy and Robyn Gee on Tuesday, Aug. 23rd
Turnstyle is taking a look at the top four GOP candidates in the 2012 election. We put them side by side to see what they have to say about five issues that will be high priority for voters this fall.
In March, 2010, Congress passed the Affordable Care Act (termed “Obamacare”), which brought about many changes to national health care, such as expanding the coverage for children and young adults, and preventing insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
Mitt Romney: “If I am elected president, I will issue on my first day in office an executive order paving the way for waivers from ObamaCare for all 50 states. Subsequently, I will call on Congress to fully repeal ObamaCare.”
(Source: USA Today) May, 2011
Michele Bachmann: “I was the very first member of Congress to introduce the full-scale repeal of Obamacare. And I want to make a promise to everyone watching tonight: As president of the US, I will not rest until I repeal Obamacare.”
(Source: On The Issues) June, 2011
Ron Paul: “As President, I plan to defund Obamacare and all federal programs that use tax money taken from the American people to promote abortion. … I pledge also to veto any bill with funding for Planned Parenthood or any other international family planning regimes.”
(Source: The State Column) August, 2011
Rick Perry: “I sincerely hope our principled senators, regardless of party, will toss out that trainwreck of a plan or its mandates will cripple our health care system and its price tag will bust our budget. … Instead of oppressive mandates, we need solutions like block grants and the freedom to improve health care delivery with innovation, flexibility and local input. You and I believe, and at least two federal courts have confirmed that it’s unconstitutional and wrong for the government to force someone to buy health insurance.”
(Source: On The Issues) February, 2011
LGBT Issues [Same-Sex Marriage / Don't Ask, Don't Tell]
In June, 2011 New York became the sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage. As of September 20, 2011, service members will no longer be bound by the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that prohibited openly gay people from serving in the military.
Romney: “When I first heard (“don’t ask, don’t tell), I thought it sounded silly and I just dismissed it and said, well, that can’t possibly work. Well, I sure was wrong. It has worked.”
(Source: SF Gate) March, 2007
Bachmann: “The ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy has worked very well… I would be in consultation with our commanders, but yes, I probably will” [reinstate the ban].
(Source: Wisconsin Gazette) August, 2011
Paul: “I have received several calls and visits from constituents who, in spite of the heavy investment in their training, have been forced out of the military simply because they were discovered to be homosexual. … To me, this seems like an awful waste. Personal behavior that is disruptive should be subject to military discipline regardless of whether the individual is heterosexual or homosexual. But to discharge an otherwise well-trained, professional, and highly skilled member of the military for these reasons is unfortunate and makes no financial sense.”
(Source: Washington Post) May, 2010
Perry On SSM: “We must draw a line in the sand: People have the right to decide for themselves what they will believe in the core of their being, and how they will live. … For those who want to throw stones at homosexuals in the name of calling out sin, may they be just as loud about adultery among heterosexuals and pornography among their own churchgoing friends.”
(Source: Christian Science Monitor)
Immigration / DREAM Act
By the end of this year, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) expects to have deported 400,000 people due to lack of citizenship. Senate Bill 1070 in Arizona set legal precedent for states like Alabama and Georgia to develop and enact strict citizenship laws. Yet, President Obama recently stated that DREAM-Act eligible students, and others with long-standing ties to the country, will be “low-priority” for deportation.
Romney: “As Governor, I authorized the State Police to enforce immigration laws. I opposed driver’s licenses and in-state tuition for illegal aliens. … As president, I’ll oppose amnesty, cut funding for sanctuary cities and secure our borders.”
(Source: Fact Check.org) November, 2007
Bachmann: “How do you solve it? You build a barrier, a fence, a wall — whatever you want to call it. You build it. … As president of the United States, every mile, every yard, every foot, every inch will be covered on that southern border.”
(Source: AliPac) August, 2011
Paul: “We shouldn’t give them easy citizenship. We should think about protecting our borders rather than the borders between Iraq and Afghanistan.”
(Source: Immigration Attorneys.org) June, 2011
Perry: “We must say to every Texas child learning in a Texas classroom, `We don’t care where you come from, but where you are going, and we are going to do everything we can to help you get there. … And that vision must include the children of undocumented workers. That’s why Texas took the national lead in allowing such deserving young minds to attend a Texas college at a resident rate. Those young minds are a part of a new generation of leaders; the doors of higher education must be open to them. The message is simple: Educacion es el futuro, y si se puede.”
(Source: The Atlantic) 2001
Creationism / Evolution
Creationism in schools is a hot topic as our country debates education reform.
Romney: “In my opinion, the science class is where to teach evolution, or if there are other scientific thoughts that need to be discussed. … If we’re going to talk about more philosophical matters, like why it was created, and was there an intelligent designer behind it, that’s for the religion class or philosophy class or social studies class.”
(Source: Physics Today) January, 2008
Bachmann: “I don’t think it’s a good idea for government to come down on one side of scientific issue or another, when there is reasonable doubt on both sides. … I believe the federal government should not be involved in local education to the most minimal possible process.”
(Source: Huffington Post) June, 2011
Paul: ” The idea that if you don’t believe in evolution means that you don’t believe in a creator is total nonsense. So I think this once again is overly played and we spend too much time on it. And besides, if you’re in politics it shouldn’t be a bother. … When you have government schools it becomes important.”
(Source: Ron Paul.com) September, 2009
Perry on Evolution: “It’s a theory that’s out there. … It’s got some gaps in it, but in Texas we teach both creationism and evolution in our public schools, because I figure you’re smart enough to figure out which one is right.”
(Source: Huffington Post) August, 2011
The national unemployment rate hovers around 9.1 percent as of July, 2011. However, certain groups fare much worse: African Americans face an unemployment rate of 15.9 percent.
Romney: “The indisputable fact is that unemployment benefits, despite a web of regulations, actually serve to discourage some individuals from taking jobs, especially when the benefits extend across years.”
(Source: The Hill) December, 2010
Bachmann: “The President promised if we passed the massive stimulus package that unemployment wouldn’t go above 8 percent, we are now at 9.2 percent. Unfortunately, millions of Americans are suffering today as a result of the president’s broken promise and his policy of attempting to create jobs through massive government spending that has added over 35 percent to our national debt.”
(Source: Politico) July, 2011
Paul: “There’s a lot of deception, and people sense this. I think they’d rather hear accurate information than to try to be bamboozled into believing things are just hunky dory, when they know there’s a lot of inflation out there… We had too much debt and too much mal-investment and we haven’t dealt with that. When you get too much of that you have to liquidate it. When you get in over your head and you can’t pay the bills, you either have to declare bankruptcy, or work hard, or take a new job. We can see this as an individual or a company, but evidently, our economic theory now, is that governments are exempt from those kind of economic rules.”
(Source: Info Wars) July, 2010
Perry: “The fact is, government doesn’t create jobs, otherwise the last 21 / 2 years of stimulus would have worked. … Government can only create the environment that allows the private sector to create jobs. The single most important contributor to our jobs-friendly climate here in Texas is our low tax burden, because we know dollars do far more to create jobs and prosperity in the people’s hands than they do in the government’s.”
(Source: Washington Post) August, 2011
Images are from Flickr sources: Gage Skidmore and World Affairs Council of Philadelphia.
Chris McCoy and Robyn Gee contributed to article.
Read the rest
Chris McCoy on Wednesday, Jun. 29th
Americans are gearing up for a rough and tumble campaign season as Republican candidates emerge from different swaths of the country to take on Democratic President Barack Obama in 2012. A big question many are asking as debates take place and ads hit the airwaves in an unruly political climate is: Will religion be playing a key role in this campaign season with contentious issues including gay marriage, abortion, and creationism emerging as hot topics?
If you are a Republican, you may begin to notice a clear religious divide between evangelical Christians and Mormons among your choices for president. Two main contenders, Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann, are both public servants from Minnesota who share a Christian evangelical ideology more widely held in the Republican electorate.
Last week, Jon Huntsman, a Mormon from Utah and former ambassador to China, announced his candidacy to join front-runner Mitt Romney of Massachusetts as a major Mormon candidate in the presidential race. Both are former governors of their states. Both were Mormon missionaries as young adults. However, Jon Huntsman, the more moderate of the two, has distanced himself from his Mormon faith, as he did in an interview with Fortune magazine last year. “I can’t say I’m overly religious,” Huntsman said. “I get satisfaction from many different types of religions and philosophies.”
According to a nationwide poll recently released by Quinnipiac University, 36 percent of Americans are uncomfortable with the Mormon religion. “I think the biggest challenge will be whether [Huntsman] fits the Republican litmus test, their viewpoint or not,” says Reiss Potterveld, President of the Pacific School of Religion. “He does not wear his Mormon ideas so much on his sleeve than Romney has over the past years.”
Mitt Romney has stated that he will continue to live by Mormonism despite any political disadvantages it attracts. Romney is also expected to raise more funds than Huntsman in the state of Utah, the hub of Mormons in the U.S. “I believe in my Mormon faith and I endeavor to live by it,” Mitt Romney said in a December 2007 speech on faith. “My faith is the faith of my fathers. I will be true to them and to my beliefs. Some believe that such a confession of my faith will sink my candidacy. If they’re right, so be it.”
In the speech, Mitt Romney attempted to allude to the challenges that John Kennedy faced during his 1960 campaign. Detractors then argued that, as the first Catholic president, Kennedy would be receiving orders from the pope.
Will religion serve as an obstacle to the two Mormon candidates in their bid for their party’s nomination? Juan Williams of Fox News, the conservative political analyst formerly of NPR, suggests that it will. “That certainly was the case last time around, and if you look at the polls, they indicate that the evangelical community has difficulty with Mormonism,” Juan Williams said. NBC News Polls from December 2006 indicate 53 percent of voters responded that they were very uncomfortable with a Mormon becoming president.
In light of this, an evangelical Republican candidate such as congresswoman Michele Bachmann may strike a chord with the religious right. According to a recent Rolling Stones article by Matt Taibbi, “she was educated in an extremist Christian tradition that rejects the entire notion of a separate, secular legal authority and views earthly law as an instrument for interpreting biblical values.”
The clash between evangelicals and Mormons is not new. Mike Huckabee, a Christian evangelical minister and FOX TV host who decided not to run for president, asked about Mormons in a New York Times magazine article, saying, “Aren’t those the people who think the Devil is Jesus’ brother?” “From what I can see, they’re uncomfortable with the faith-they don’t think Mormons are really Christian,” Williams suggests.
But Americans, in general, may be more accepting. Potterveld notes that Mormons have been gradually moving from the fringes to the mainstream of American religious life. “What’s happened with Mormonism, is you’ve had a very high conversion rate. You have more members, you have more people participating, you move out of Salt Lake, and now it’s more international. All of those things draw a certain degree of acceptance from the larger society because of the mass of people involved,” he said.
Although religion will always be an indicator of a public servant’s moral leanings and predicator of possible political persuasions, the role of religious voters comes down to numbers. According to a Pew Forum poll in 2008, 54 percent of the American electorate was composed of Protestants, and 23 percent included evangelical Christians. So, if the religious right dominates the voting booths in the Republican primary, a candidate favored by evangelicals will prevail.
“If you have a very large turnout in the primaries and the final election, that tends to, to some extent, to mute the voice of particular factions. But if it is a low turnout, the election doesn’t attract a lot of participation from the broad stream of Americans, than groups who have a narrower perspective tend to do better, have more influence,” Potterveld said.
Read the rest