By Luiza Ch. Savage - Tuesday, December 4, 2012 - 0 Comments
A humbled President pledges to be in ‘a constant conversation’ with the people during his second term
It was an unusually emotional Barack Obama who, two days after his hard-fought re-election, thanked his staffers and his young campaign volunteers.
“What you guys have done will go down in the annals of history and people will read about it,” said the President, wiping away a few tears.
It was such a rare glimpse behind the cool exterior that the video quickly went viral.
Obama had averted a potential Great Depression and auto-industry collapse, taken out Osama bin Laden and delivered the Democratic holy grail: health insurance for all Americans. Then, in a gruelling campaign, he beat back the Tea Party, Republican super PACs and rival Mitt Romney. Continue…
By John Parisella - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 5:20 PM - 0 Comments
Losing an election you were certain to win is never easy. Up against a…
Losing an election you were certain to win is never easy. Up against a President who had a sustained high level of unemployment for all his term in office, Republicans had an opportunity to make this a one-term administration. They also believed they would make gains in the Senate, if not win it outright. None of this happened, and Republicans have offered divergent views about what went wrong, and what needs to be done.
In the aftermath of an electoral setback, the priority must be directed to finding the reasons for the defeat before embarking on the quest to victory in 2016. Here, the GOP has had a range of conflicting explanations, from outright denial (Karl Rove, Rush Limbaugh) to acceptance that the GOP went wayward (David Frum, Bobby Jindal, Newt Gingrich ). And Mitt Romney’s post-election conference call to a group of large donors, in which he explained his loss by alluding to Obama “gifts” to specific voting blocs has only added to the confusion—and to a further divergence of views—among leading Republicans.
The prevailing short-term interpretation for the Republican loss on November 6 fails to admit that the party had moved so far to the extreme that moderate Republicans failed to apply for the 2012 nomination, with the exception of former ambassador Jon Hunstman. Romney, originally a moderate Massachusetts Republican governor and son of a moderate Republican governor, strayed so far out of his ideological comfort zone in order to gain the nomination that he came across as disconnected, insincere, and unprincipled. Bill Clinton referred to him as a Cirque Du Soleil contortionist. He will soon become a footnote in the history books—as most losing presidential candidates do—or maybe he’ll be held up as an example of what not to do to: flip flop on your core convictions and pander to an extremist party base.
The fiscal cliff debate will be the first test not only for the reelected Obama, but also for the Republican Party. Here, the GOP congressional leadership of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell have the upper hand—an opportunity to steer the direction of their party. Should they strike a workable deal with the Obama administration, hope will begin to surface that maybe, just maybe, the Republicans are paying attention to the expectations of the political mainstream, and not just the far-out lunatic fringe led by Rush Limbaugh and no-new-taxes guru, Grover Norquist.
The next test would be immigration reform, an issue President Obama will want to deal with before the mid terms in 2014. The Republicans, especially potential 2016 aspirants, are expected to be open to reform, so as to remove the issue from the next presidential campaign. If the Republicans were to participate in bipartisan immigration reform it would make the Latino vote more competitive down the road.
The Republican Party base, however, remains susceptible to ideological movement conservatives or interest groups such as Grover Norquist, the Libertarians, religious right conservatives, the Tea Party, and the re-emerging neo-conservatives—all of whom are responsible for forcing the GOP outside the mainstream. This being said, if there is a deal on the fiscal cliff and immigration reform in the short to medium term, the lure of the presidency in 2016 may finally lead Republican candidates to emerge with an agenda that brings the party base closer to the political center and gives them a better shot at the White House. The alternative is a repeat of this year’s results—and no Republican wants that.
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Friday, November 16, 2012 at 10:20 AM - 0 Comments
In conversation with Canada’s ambassador to the U.S.
Gary Doer, the former premier of Manitoba, has been Canada’s ambassador to the United States since 2009. He has been at the forefront of pushing Ottawa’s agenda in Washington, including the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would bring bitumen from the oil sands to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast. Another proposed project—a new bridge between Detroit and Windsor—got a boost on Election Day when Michigan voters rejected a ballot initiative that would have hamstrung the project. And, on Jan. 1, Washington is facing the so-called “fiscal cliff”—half a trillion dollars of expiring tax breaks and scheduled budget cuts which, if allowed to take effect between 2013 and 2021, could tip the U.S. economy into another recession.
Q: During the election campaign, were you reaching out to Mitt Romney to lay the groundwork for continuity on issues of interest to Canada? How does that work?
A: There is a fine line. You are obviously dealing with the elected government of the day. As for people on the other team, you follow their platforms and you go to the conventions to find out what their thinking is on issues that are important to Canada. For example, you could pick up at [the Republican National Convention in] Tampa fairly easily that there was a split among delegates on Afghanistan. That is important given Canada’s commitment to remain in Afghanistan until 2014. Continue…
By John Parisella - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 12:32 PM - 0 Comments
What can and will this second-term president accomplish?
Barack Obama becomes the fifth President (and only the second Democrat) to be reelected to a second term since the end of World War II. The post mortems have begun, but winning a second term usually ensures a place in history based on consolidating achievements. While, failure to obtain a second term often makes a one-term President appear as an accident of history.
While the popular vote numbers were close, Obama can claim to be the only Democrat since the war to win consecutive terms with over 50 per cent of the vote. His victories in the electoral college were also decisive, giving him a clear mandate to deal with the major issues facing his administration. On the other hand, the disappointed Republicans, and Mitt Romney, seemed to be taken by surprise with the result.
After that stellar first debate performance by Romney on October 3—against a lackluster President Obama—the polls did tighten dramatically. But the Republicans continued raising issues such as contraception, abortion, and rape—only to reduce their potential advantage on economic issues. In the end, those internal overly optimistic GOP polls lead conservative pundits like Karl Rove, Michael Barone, and Dick Morris to embarrassingly predict a decisive electoral college victory for Romney.
What the results did show was the superior quality of the Democratic organization under the leadership of Obama’s close circle of operatives, such as David Plouffe, David Axelrod, and Jim Messina. They fought a strong ground game, an effective and innovative Internet operation, and raised the art of micro-politics to a near science. The new winning coalition, which Obama’s team had been driving at for over two years, includes single women voters, minorities (Latino, Asian, and African Americans), and the youth.
Despite the initial Republican lack of introspection about the electoral loss, their continued justification of the no-tax mantra—and even lingering talk of the “fictional” Obama (the European socialist with the fake birth certificate!)—there is the possibility of bipartisan accommodation on the U.S.’s priority issues. The President must use the obvious momentum associated with winning a second term and begin using the bully pulpit as the instrument to build support and put pressure on the Republicans. Meanwhile, good sense Republicans like David Frum and Chris Christie, as well as NYT conservative columnist David Brooks, will hopefully be able to pull their party back from the more extreme elements.
We know that second-term Presidents soon become lame-duck occupants of the White House. Yet, Obama’s victory has ensured the safety of his first-term signature achievements—Obamacare, pay equity for women, student loan reform, financial reform, repealing DADT for gays in the military, and winding down the combat role of the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan. And, there are plenty of crucial issues to tackle over the next four years—these include dealing with the deficit and debt issue (the famous fiscal cliff is beyond the horizon), immigration reform, energy independence, climate change, and stopping Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. Once the Republicans digest this defeat, see its enormity and its ominous signs for the future of their party, its own leadership may soon conclude that it is in their interests to put country first and work with the reelected President.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 6, 2012 at 11:25 PM - 0 Comments
Thomas Mulcair’s statement on the re-election of U.S. President Barack Obama.
On behalf of Canada’s New Democrats I extend heartfelt congratulations to Barack Obama, for his re-election as President of the United States of America.
President Obama knows that a nation can achieve more when its citizens work together to lift each other up. He also recognizes that sustainable development is crucial to ensuring a brighter future for our children and grandchildren.
These are values that New Democrats are proud to share.
Our countries are true neighbours and our peoples are true friends. I look forward to working more closely with the President to build a fairer, greener and more prosperous World for all.
By The Canadian Press - Monday, November 5, 2012 at 9:45 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – After Tuesday’s presidential election, Americans on both sides of the political divide…
OTTAWA – After Tuesday’s presidential election, Americans on both sides of the political divide need to “get their act together” and co-operate on fixing their ailing economy, says the U.S. ambassador to Canada.
Envoy David Jacobson held that out Monday as the best hope for the U.S. to turn the corner economically — something that will have a major effect on Canada’s prosperity.
Jacobson reiterated his core message that the best thing that the U.S. can do for Canada is to get its fiscal house in order because the two countries are so closely linked economically.
And the only way that’s going to happen is if his country unites — if only for a short time — behind its president, whether it’s a re-elected Democrat Barack Obama or a new Mitt Romney Republican administration.
“There is a long history in the United States of deadlock … Our system was designed so that it only works when everybody kind of gets together,” Jacobson said in an interview Monday.
“My hope is that whoever wins that we are able to do that, we’re able to find one of those glorious periods in American history where people come together and we do stuff.”
Jacobson, a Democrat who was part of Obama’s historic 2008 election team, stressed he was speaking as the non-partisan diplomatic representative of all Americans.
He said there will be little difference in the day-to-day management of Canada-U.S. relations — on trade, border issues, energy and the environment — regardless of who wins the White House.
But because Obama and Romney offer starkly different visions of how to fix their country’s economy, there’s much riding on the election for Canadians, he said.
“That will have a real impact on Canadians. This election really does mean a lot to Canadians,” Jacobson said.
“We’ve just got to get our act together.”
He pointed to last week’s praise that New Jersey’s Republican Gov. Chris Christie heaped on Obama for the federal government’s response to the devastation wrought by Superstorm Sandy as positive piece of bipartisan behaviour.
“It was a good example of how in difficult times, Americans come together. There are probably not a whole lot of people who have more differences than Gov. Christie and President Obama, but when the chips are down, they’re there together.”
Jacobson said the storm helped underscore a key difference between Obama and Romney — on the role of government in helping citizens in hard times.
“It may have reminded some folks of the importance of government. It’s easy for people to dump on government but every once in a while when they decide they really need it, they’re really glad that (it is) there.”
Jacobson held to his belief that Obama has enough of a lead in several key swing states, Ohio especially, to win the 270 electoral college votes necessary to claim a second term in the White House.
But he said Romney closed the gap in the last month, especially with his strong performance in the presidential debates, and has presented himself as a viable alternative to Obama.
A handful of new polls released Monday showed Obama clinging to a slim lead in the key battleground of Ohio — a state that all Republican candidates have historically had to carry to win the White House.
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Monday, October 29, 2012 at 12:53 PM - 0 Comments
Just when the presidential campaigns were hitting high gear, the candidates have had to cancel events in swing states like Florida, Virginia, and New Hampshire, where residents are hunkering down for Hurricane Sandy. The center of the storm is forecast to make landfall somewhere in New Jersey, a solidly Democratic state that has received scant attention from either candidate, but Sandy’s fierce winds and heavy rains are causing dangerous conditions across the eastern seaboard.
President Obama, who has been out relentlessly criss-crossing battleground states has returned to the White House to oversee disaster preparedness and receive regular briefings on the storm’s impacts. Clearly, the president can’t afford any mistakes in the federal government’s response—the botched federal response to Hurricane Katrina under then-President George W. Bush contributed to the Democratic wave in the 2006 midterm election—and neither campaign wanted to appear tone-deaf and petty against the backdrop of potentially catastrophic storm damage. In Washington, D.C., and surrounding areas, schools, businesses, federal government offices, and the subway system are closed, and residents have been warned to stay indoors due to flooding and the high likelihood of falling tree limbs and uprooted trees. Several states are bracing for the possibility of widespread and long-lasting power outages.
This morning Obama cancelled a planned campaign event in Orlando, Fla., to return to the White House in order to monitor the storm and the federal emergency response. After a slightly rocky landing at Andrews Air Force base this morning, the president took a motorcade rather than a helicopter to the White House to avoid the heavy winds. He was indoors shortly after 11 a.m., with the storm expected to pick up strength here this afternoon.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said he would hold a teleconference with senior officials in the Situation Room to stay on top of the federal response to the storm. Carney said it was too soon to address how the storm might impact Election Day. Meanwhile, Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said get-out-the-vote activities were continuing “where it is safe.”
Obama also cancelled an appearance at what was to be a major campaign event in the crucial state of Ohio: a rally with former President Bill Clinton this afternoon in Youngstown. Vice President Joe Biden will attend in Obama’s place. The President also cancelled a planned trip to campaign on Tuesday in Green Bay, Wisconsin, a state where he is clinging to a slim lead in the polls. Biden, meanwhile, cut short a swing through the battleground state of New Hampshire yesterday, stopping briefly to meet with campaign volunteers in Manchester, before heading to Ohio.
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan continued with a bus tour in Ohio yesterday but postponed events in Virginia and New Hampshire due to safety concerns. Romney was scheduled to appear in Wisconsin today and back to Ohio on Tuesday. Ryan was scheduled to campaign in Jacksonville, Fla., today and Colorado tomorrow. They also cancelled fundraising emails and began collecting disaster relief supplies through their campaign offices.
While Romney continues on the campaign trail, the Huffington Post reported during the Republican primary debates, Romney had argued in favour of shutting down the federal emergency management agency, FEMA, and shifting responsibility for disaster planning and response to the states. The Romney campaign pushed back against the claim today, saying Romney would not abolish the agency.
The big question is how severe and long-lasting the storm impacts could be. If millions of people are without power, restoring electricity could take many days—possibly even pushing outages out until Election Day next Tuesday. The theoretical impacts on voter turnout are hard to predict because they would depend in part on which specific counties of swing states such as Virginia or New Hampshire are affected.
On the one hand, the Obama campaign has been depending on a heavy push by door-to-door volunteers to turn out supporters to the polls. Canvassing is disrupted in areas where conditions are too dangerous today and likely tomorrow. For example, today in Virginia residents are being warned not to go outside due to the possibility of falling tree limbs and uprooted trees.
On the other hand, the Obama campaign has been pushing hard for early voting and has had a lead among voters who have already cast ballots. They have captured some votes already—but the storm will make it difficult to lock down more votes over the next few days. Meanwhile, many analysts point out that undecided voters often wait to the last minute to decide and tend to break against the incumbent. Hence, in theory, a reduction in turnout on Election Day could hurt Romney.
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 11:08 AM - 0 Comments
Let the ground war begin: Our Washington correspondent on what’s left of the battle.
If you tally the rhetorical blows, the punches and the insta-poll results, Barack Obama came out ahead in the ﬁnal two of three debates this month. Yet the overall debate math has worked out well for the Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, who has tied the President in national polls and narrowed the gap in what really matters this election: the crucial battleground states.
“This race is going to be incredibly close—razor-thin in some places—until the end,” Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Tuesday. “But we’re up or tied within the margin of error in every single swing state. That’s exactly where we thought it would be.”
It’s certainly not where things stood before the first debate, on Oct. 3. Romney was trailing Obama in the polls and had lost many supporters to some combination of verbal gaffes, nasty attack ads and a surge in Democratic enthusiasm following that party’s convention. But Romney’s focused, aggressive performance in Denver against a lacklustre, sedate Obama won the Republican the debate and brought his supporters back into the fold.
The next two debates—the town hall in Hempstead, N.Y., and Monday’s foreign policy debate in Boca Raton, Fla.—were better nights for Obama, who was sharper and landed more punches. But, it turns out, presidential debates are more like a figure-skating routine than a boxing match: technical points count, but so does style. And Romney’s routine had a very strategic choreography.
By John Parisella - Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 6:58 AM - 0 Comments
The polls have consistently shown a close contest between President Barack Obama and Republican…
The polls have consistently shown a close contest between President Barack Obama and Republican standard bearer Mitt Romney as we approach the summer convention season. Political conventions usually allow the presidential challenger to present himself and his vision, along with illustrating his decision-making capacity in his choice of his vice presidential running mate. It can be a defining moment. John McCain remembers it well.In recent weeks, Mitt Romney has avoided presenting specific policy initiatives only raising doubts about whether the state of the economy will be sufficient to beat Obama in November.
A recent poll shows the American voter sees little difference between Romney and Obama in dealing with economic issues and claim neither candidate will impact the economy if he wins. This is not good news for Romney who has made the economy his wedge issue. It is still early to dismiss the economy as the primary campaign factor, but it does illustrate that Romney must do more than just making it about “the economy, stupid.”
After his ill-fated campaign run in 2008, one would think Mitt Romney would have done more to introduce himself to the American voter in this campaign cycle. The Republican primary season did little to improve our knowledge of whom Romney really is. The GOP field was weak and extreme. Actually it added to the ambiguity and confusion about Romney. Having to veer farther to the right than in 2008 to win the nomination, Romney comes across as a hardline right winger on immigration issues, gay rights and women issues. Yet, his Massachussetts record would indicate a more moderate, mainstream candidate. Which is it-far right or moderate right? No one knows for sure.
Therein lies Romney’s problem. No one knows ‘the real Romney’ despite the recently published book with the same title. Some have argued that it matters little as he is within the margin of error in matchup polls and this election will ultimately be about the President. They add that revulsion against Obama policies and dissatisfaction about the state of the economy will be enough to close the deal.
When one matches Romney’s identity problem with the president’s , one finds that Obama holds a distinct advantage. As an incumbent, he is far better known. His meteoric campaign of 2008 also did much to foster his identity by the time he entered the White House. A compelling narrative coupled with a hard-fought primary battle against an outstanding opponent called Hillary Clinton made him one of the best-known candidates to challenge for the presidency and eventually win.
Recent polls illustrate that Obama has an added advantage — the likeability factor. The man remains well liked and is much more popular than both his policies and his party. The Romney people would do well to address this aspect of the campaign. Their insouciance about Romney’s identity should be pause for concern and will start to be felt as we near the closing run of the campaign from September to November.
Currently, Obama leads in many swing states giving him the edge in electoral vote count. In a close contest where no one issue favors one candidate over the other, it is better to enter the final stretch with a likeability factor than an identity problem. And here Obama is clearly in the lead.