Archive for ‘Presidential campaign’

May 31, 2011

Barack Obama president’s re-election campaign might hinge on re-registration of voters that moved …

Obama prospects might hinge on voter registration
May 30, 2011, 8:23 a.m. EDT
Associated Press

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

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WASHINGTON (AP) — In 2008, Barack Obama tapped into a record of nearly 15 million voters who cast ballots for the first time, a surge in registration that may be difficult to replicate next year.

Recent voter registration data show that Democrats have lost ground in key states that Obama carried in 2008, an early warning siren for the president’s re-election campaign. While Republican numbers have also dipped in some states, the drop in the Democrats’ ranks highlights the importance of the Obama campaign‘s volunteer base and the challenge they could have of registering new voters.

“When you look back at 2008 there has to be a recognition that it was a historic election, a historic candidate, a historic moment in time and potentially some type of a ceiling — I’m not sure there is ever a hard ceiling — in terms of voter registration,” said Democratic strategist Chris Lehane. He said the political map in 2012 will likely look more like it did going into the close contests of 2000 and 2004, which hinged on swing states like Florida and Ohio, respectively, than in 2008, when Obama won traditionally Republican states like Indiana and North Carolina.

Obama will have to re-ignite the passions of some Democrats who had high hopes going into his presidency and may be ambivalent about him now. Several states with Republican governors have tried to reduce the number of early voting days and required photo IDs, a move that Democrats say will disenfranchise poor and minority voters. Polls have shown some political independents drifting away from Obama since 2008, meaning Democrats need to register and turn out more Hispanic and black voters, college students and women.

While Democratic registrations ballooned prior to the 2008 election, the numbers have declined in several important states, including:

— Florida: Democrats added more than 600,000 registered voters between 2006 and 2008, giving Obama about 4.8 million registered Democrats to help his cause. Registered Democrats now number 4.6 million in the Sunshine State. Republican registrations have slipped from 4.1 million in 2008 to about 4.05 million in mid-March, the most recent data available. Nearly 2.6 million voters in Florida are unaffiliated.

— Pennsylvania: Democrats maintain a 1.5 million voter advantage in registrations over Republicans, but their numbers have dwindled since Obama’s election. There were 4.15 million registered Democrats through mid-May, compared with about 4.48 million in 2008. Democrats added about a half-million voters to their rolls in the two years prior to the 2008 election. Republicans currently have more than 3 million registered voters, compared with 3.2 million in 2008. About 500,000 Pennsylvania voters are unaffiliated.

— Iowa: Republicans have gained ground in the state that launched Obama’s presidential bid. GOP registrations increased from about 625,000 voters in 2008 to nearly 640,000 in early May. Democrats, meanwhile, have fallen from about 736,000 voters in 2008 to about 687,000 in May. Nonpartisan voters remain the largest bloc in the Hawkeye State, representing more than 762,000 voters.

Democrats’ numbers have also fallen in North Carolina, where Obama became the first Democratic nominee to carry the state since 1976, and Nevada, a high-growth state that has been battered by the recession.

Several Democratic-friendly cities have not been immune, either. Philadelphia had 880,000 registered Democrats in 2008; that number has fallen below 800,000. Denver, where Democrats held their 2008 convention, had about 200,000 registered Democrats in November 2008 — that’s now down to about 120,000. In Mecklenburg County, N.C., whose county seat, Charlotte, is the site of the 2012 Democratic National Convention, Democrats’ numbers have fallen after major gains leading up to the 2008 election.

Obama officials said voter registration will be a top priority. Obama adviser David Axelrod said the campaign would “mount a major effort and it’s not just about registering new voters but it’s also re-registering people who have moved because there is a high degree of transiency among young people and often among minority voters. We want to make sure that not only new voters but people who have moved are registered again.”

Ben LaBolt, an Obama campaign spokesman, said the president “has demonstrated a consistent ability to reach new voters and voters who don’t identify as Democrats, so party affiliation isn’t the only factor to evaluate. The campaign’s efforts to expand the electorate to new voters and voters with less consistent voting histories was one reason why the president was elected in 2008, and as we continue our organizing efforts it’s certainly something we’ll take into consideration.”

Finding new voters has been a longstanding goal of Obama, who ran a successful voter registration drive in Chicago when Bill Clinton sought the White House in 1992. Sixteen years later, Obama’s campaign was fueled by a massive grassroots campaign and advocacy groups who registered millions of new voters and then turned them out in record numbers.

In a strategy video released in April, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina noted that Democrats registered about two-thirds of the new voters in 2007 and 2008 in states that allow for party registration. Obama, in turn, won nearly 70 percent of the nearly 15 million first-time voters in 2008.

“That made real differences in very close states across this country. We’ve got to do that again in 2012,” Messina said.

Both political parties maintain private voter databases that allow them to closely monitor registration changes, but public data is more difficult to ascertain. Nationally, more than half the states allow registered voters to indicate a party preference when registering while many states in the South and Midwest don’t provide for a party preference.

Voter registration and turnout were critical to the last president running for re-election — George W. Bush in 2004. Bush’s operation registered an estimated 3 million new voters, helping it drive up vote totals in the areas straddling key suburban regions in Florida and Ohio.

Blaise Hazelwood, who ran the Republican National Committee’s voter registration effort in 2004, said campaign officials pored over Excel charts tracking new registrations on a daily basis and used the mail, door knocking and supermarket stands to find voters in places more inclined to support Bush. She said it would be difficult for Obama’s operation to replicate 2008.

“There’s no way they can get all those voters back,” Hazelwood said.

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Associated Press writer Jim Kuhnhenn contributed to this report.

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Ken Thomas can be reached at http://twitter.com/AP_Ken_Thomas

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May 27, 2011

Sarah Palin will embark this weekend on a campaign-style bus tour along the East Coast, sending a jolt through …

Palin to embark on East Coast bus tour
May 27, 2011, 2:03 a.m. EDT
Associated PressJournal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

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JUNEAU, Alaska (AP)Sarah Palin will embark this weekend on a campaign-style bus tour along the East Coast, sending a jolt through the now-sleepy Republican presidential contest and thrusting a telegenic but divisive politician back into the nation’s spotlight.

Palin’s tour announcement is the strongest signal yet that she is considering a presidential bid, despite her failure to take traditional steps such as organizing a campaign team in early primary states.

The former Alaska governor’s approval ratings have fallen across the board — including among Republicans — in recent months. But many conservatives adore her, and she has enough name recognition and charisma to shake up a GOP contest that at this point seems to be focusing on three male former governors.

Beginning Sunday, Palin plans to meet with veterans and visit historic sites that her political action committee calls key to the country’s formation, survival and growth. The tour follows reports that Palin has bought a house in Arizona and the disclosure that she’s authorized a feature-length film about her career, which could serve as a campaign centerpiece. She recently said she has “that fire in the belly” for a presidential bid.

Palin said on the website for SarahPAC that the nation is at a “critical turning point,” and that her bus tour will serve as a reminder of “who we are and what Americans stand for.”

Many Republican Party insiders say that Palin, the 2008 vice presidential nominee, has engaged in too many political spats and soap-opera dramas to win the nomination and challenge President Barack Obama 18 months from now.

“I think that pathway is closed,” said GOP pollster Wes Anderson, who is not working for any presidential candidate. Still, Anderson said, it’s not surprising that Palin would look at the current field “and say, ‘Why not me?'”

A Gallup poll of Republicans, taken before Palin announced the bus tour, showed former Massachusetts Mitt Romney favored by 17 percent. Palin followed closely at 15 percent. Ron Paul had 10 percent, Newt Gingrich 9 percent, Herman Cain 8 percent, Tim Pawlenty 6 percent, and Michele Bachmann and Jon Huntsman 5 percent each.

Party insiders argue that Pawlenty, a former Minnesota governor, and Huntsman, a former Utah governor, have the best chances to compete with Romney over the long haul. But a Palin candidacy could affect the contest in unpredictable ways.

In Iowa, Palin could appeal to thousands of religious conservatives who participate heavily in the nation’s first presidential caucus. But she lacks, for now at least, the ground organization considered essential to getting supporters to the caucus meetings, held every four years on a winter night. Palin fans are laying the groundwork for such an organization on their own in hopes that she will run.

If she does, she might challenge orthodoxy by using her star power and fame, not ground troops, to compete in Iowa.

Palin appears regularly on Fox News. She has hosted a reality TV show, and her oldest daughter has a TV show of her own. Palin has written a best-selling book, and draws large crowds when she appears at book stores, rallies and other events.

Limited details of Palin’s “One Nation” tour were released on the website of SarahPAC. The tour is to start in Washington and move up the East Coast into New England, perhaps even to the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire.

SarahPAC’s treasurer didn’t immediately return messages Thursday seeking details.

“It’s imperative that we connect with our founders, our patriots, our challenges and victories to clearly see our way forward,” Palin said on the website. “A good way to do this is to appreciate the significance of our nation’s historic sites, patriotic events and diverse cultures, which we’ll do in the coming weeks on our ‘One Nation’ tour.”

Palin said the country doesn’t need fundamental transformation but a “restoration of all that is good and strong and free in America.”

As Sen. John McCain‘s running mate in 2008, Palin electrified the Republican nominating convention audience, and brought energy and vigor to a struggling campaign. But she stumbled in news interviews and sometimes seemed out of her depth on national and international issues.

Since then, Palin has often depicted herself as the victim of mean-spirited enemies, including some news organizations. Critics said she showed a lack of compassion and political savvy when she delivered a sharp-tongued commentary days after an Arizona congressman was gravely injured in a shooting.

Fox News said Thursday it was not changing Palin’s status as a paid commentator, a sign that network officials do not consider a presidential run imminent.

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Babington reported from Washington. Associated Press Television Writer David Bauder in New York contributed to this report.

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May 23, 2011

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Republican Tim Pawlenty is betting it all on Iowa.

Republican Pawlenty betting it all on Iowa
May 23, 2011, 6:28 a.m. EDT
Associated Press

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Republican Tim Pawlenty is betting it all on Iowa.

The former Minnesota governor will make his first campaign appearance Monday since announcing his candidacy for president in an Internet video. The setting for his visit — one block away from the Iowa State Capitol — underscores how important the state’s leadoff presidential caucuses are to his political future.

“My first campaign stop will be in Iowa, and that’s where I’m going to begin a campaign that tells the American people the truth,” Pawlenty said in the two-minute video released Sunday night. He challenged President Barack Obama to level with the American people about the depth of the nation’s challenges and to confront them.

The little-known Midwesterner hopes an Iowa victory will give him a boost into next-up New Hampshire and beyond, a strategy that carries potential benefits and risks.

If he wins Iowa, as he says he must, Pawlenty could emerge as the chief rival to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who lost the GOP nomination in 2008 and ranks higher in polls this year.

If Pawlenty falls short, however, he’ll have to reevaluate the viability of his bid for the Republican nomination, despite the two years’ groundwork he’s laid in his neighboring state.

“In Iowa, he is all in. All his cards are right out on the table,” said Bob Haus, a veteran Iowa GOP strategist who managed Fred Thompson’s 2008 caucus campaign and is uncommitted for 2012. “Pawlenty is trying to set himself as the main challenger to Mitt Romney.”

Pawlenty’s visit Monday will be his 14th to Iowa since the 2008 election, more than any candidate except former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

Pawlenty has used his visits to appeal to many of the sometimes fractious segments of Iowa’s GOP base. He has spoken to chambers of commerce, Christian conservative forums and tea party rallies with equal comfort, although some GOP strategists in Iowa say he doesn’t have an advantage with any of them.

“Pawlenty is competing for all parts of the party,” said Richard Schwarm, a confidant of Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and a former state GOP chairman who so far hasn’t chosen a candidate to back in the caucuses. “He fits with the social conservatives, has the background of a budget cutter, and he’s strong with national security conservatives. Plus, he’s a good guy, and he’s here, working it.”

Strategically, Pawlenty has lined up an all-star team of consultants deeply rooted in Iowa Republican campaigns, winning presidential campaigns or, in some cases, both.

They include Iowa natives Terry Nelson and Sara Fagen, former political aides to President George W. Bush, who began working in the 1990s on statewide and caucus campaigns. Also on Pawlenty’s team are state GOP operatives with strong ties to John McCain’s 2008 campaign, as well as some former aides to Romney’s 2008 caucus campaign.

Such heavy staffing early in the campaign has sparked warnings from some Republicans that Pawlenty risks repeating some of McCain’s 2008 mistakes. The Arizona senator had lined up a dream team of national and Iowa advisers only to let several of them go when the campaign went broke the summer before the nominating contests began.

“You would assume they would have taken some strong lessons, learned what not to do and be pretty confident about how to raise enough money to keep the operation going,” said Haus, the consultant.

Pawlenty also has hired staff in New Hampshire and courted the powerbrokers in the nation’s first primary state. But he has less riding there than he does in Iowa, where he has said he has a cultural kinship and where fewer candidates may compete aggressively.

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May 19, 2011

Newt Gingrich: says in Iowa, stop his campaign is fine …

Gingrich says in Iowa stop his campaign is fine
May 19, 2011, 5:28 p.m. EDT
Associated Press

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

Owner and Founder of: http://www.LedSomeBioMetrics.com

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WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Thursday he’ll use “cheerful persistence” to overcome the bumps that marked the first formal week of his campaign.

Gingrich said he isn’t surprised by the rough start to his campaign, ranging from Republican outrage at his description of a proposed House overhaul of Medicare as “right-wing social engineering” to being showered with glitter by a gay-rights activist in Minneapolis.

“My reaction is if you’re the candidate of very dramatic change, it you’re the candidate of really new ideas, you have to assume there’s a certain amount of clutter and confusion and it takes a while to sort it all out, because you are doing something different,” Gingrich told reporters after he opened an intense three-day campaign swing in Iowa.

Despite speculation that Gingrich might not be able to overcome his first week stumbles, especially the Medicare comment that ended in him apologizing to Rep. Paul Ryan — the force behind the plan — Gingrich told about 150 people in Waterloo that his campaign was fine.

“This campaign is very alive and very well with lots of grass-roots support,” Gingrich told the crowd. “It’s been a little bit of a challenging week.”

Few in the crowd seemed worried about the controversy, and they gave him a warm response with many lingering to have their photographs taken with him.

“We’ve had larger crowds everywhere,” said Gingrich, noting that Thursday’s event had to be moved to a bigger room because of the number of people who turned up. He said his brash talks and bold approach are the hallmarks of his appeal.

Part of his problem, Gingrich said, is the media is accustomed to politicians sticking to talking points and aren’t prepared for his wide-ranging views.

“If you give them the standard three points, they know how to write down the standard three points,” said Gingrich. “If you’re careful and really cautious and repeat robotically everything that you’ve memorized, then fine, but how do you get to real solutions?”

He said reporters covering his campaign must adjust their thinking.

“It’s going to take a while for the news media to realize that you’re covering something that happens once or twice in a century, a genuine grass-roots campaign of very big ideas,” said Gingrich. “I expect it to take a while for it to sink in.”

He said there’s some precedent for other candidates surviving early campaign problems.

Ronald Reagan’s opening week in the 1980 campaign was filled with bumps,” said Gingrich. “It happens if you’re the candidate of ideas.”

Many in the audience seemed willing to give Gingrich the benefit of the doubt and dismiss the Medicare controversy.

On Sunday, Gingrich told NBC’sMeet the Press” that Ryan’s plan to replace Medicare with a voucher system was a radical change that he opposed. On Tuesday, Gingrich called Ryan to apologize for his comments.

“I listen to the commentators, and a lot of what he says and how they interpret it was really wrong,” said Shari Folken, of Cedar Falls. “I’m comfortable with where he is on Medicare.”

Craig Gingrich of Cedar Falls, who isn’t related to the former House speaker, said people have mischaracterized the candidate’s comments.

“He is misinterpreted and spun continuously,” Craig Gingrich said. “Half the things are untrue that you see written about him.”

Jerry Hammer said every word that Gingrich utters is scrutinized.

“We all say things we shouldn’t at one time or another,” said Hammer.

Asked how he would handle the issue, Gingrich chuckled.

“Cheerful persistence. We learned that in the 1980s,” he said.

He said the reaction to his campaign speaks for itself

“This is going to be a campaign that constantly changes, that constantly evolves,” said Gingrich.

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May 17, 2011

Donald Trump said Monday he won’t run for president, choosing to …

Trump says no to presidential run
May 16, 2011, 3:26 p.m. EDT
Associated Press

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

Owner and Founder of: http://www.LedSomeBioMetrics.com

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NEW YORK (AP) — After months of flirting with politics, Donald Trump said Monday he won’t run for president, choosing to stick with hosting “The Celebrity Apprentice” over a bid for the Republican nomination.

The reality TV star and real estate mogul made his announcement at a Manhattan hotel as NBC, which airs his show, rolled out its fall lineup.

“I will not be running for president as much as I’d like to,” Trump said.

Trump’s office released a formal statement just as he was taking the stage. In it, a confident Trump said he felt he could win the Republican primary and beat President Barack Obama in the general election but had come to realize a presidential campaign could not be run half-heartedly.

“Ultimately, business is my greatest passion and I am not ready to leave the private sector,” Trump said.

Several Republicans are seeking the nomination in a race that lacks a clear front-runner. Among the top hopefuls are former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. The GOP is still waiting to hear whether Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin or Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann will get in the race.

Trump has floated the idea of a presidential candidacy in both 1988 and 2000 but claimed he was more serious than ever this time, citing the weak economy and the sense that the United States was in decline. Some public opinion polls showed him leading the slow-to-coalesce Republican field.

In the past few months, he delivered speeches to national GOP groups and traveled to early primary states like New Hampshire and Nevada. During that time, he reignited the so-called “birther” controversy by perpetuating falsehoods about Obama’s birth place, insisting that questions were unanswered about whether the president was born in Hawaii. He amassed admiration from many on the far right who have insisted Obama was born overseas and, thus, wasn’t eligible to serve as president.

Obama finally distributed his long-form birth certificate earlier this month, indirectly casting Trump as a carnival barker and the controversy as a sideshow. Trump took credit for the release even though it robbed his candidacy of its signature issue.

Obama retaliated days later in his monologue at the White House Correspondents Association dinner, where he poked fun at the birth certificate controversy and mocked Trump and his television show. A stone-faced Trump heard the barbs from both Obama and comedian Seth Meyers. A day later, NBC interrupted the airing of Trump’s show with word of an Obama announcement — within 45 minutes the president informed the nation and the world that al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden had been killed.

Whatever buzz over a Trump candidacy was left fully faded.

Trump would have brought to the race both celebrity and the no-holds-barred criticism of Obama that many Republicans are hungry for in a GOP nominee. But, as it has for months, Trump’s participation also could have made the GOP nomination fight a less serious affair, seeming small by comparison to Obama and his presidency.

Trump is the second Republican in a matter of days to say no to a bid for the GOP nomination. Mike Huckabee announced Saturday that he wouldn’t seek the presidency.

At the Hilton hotel in New York, NBC said that “The Celebrity Apprentice” would be coming back in midseason. But Bob Greenblatt, the head of NBC entertainment, said the only mystery would be whether Trump was host.

Trump said the show has made a lot of money for charity and that he wanted to continue as host.

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Calvin Ledsome Sr.,

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