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Gov. Mitt Romney spoke on February 24, 2012 at Detroit's Ford Field. At a similar stage in 2008 election, Sen. Barack Obama spoke on February 12, 2008 at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wisconsin.
As he battled to claim his due in Michigan, the state of his birth and state in which his father served as Governor, Romney's economic message missed its target in a nearly empty stadium. The stands are empty and seats are still available in the fourth row. Romney had written a New York Times editorial "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt", so protesters outside Ford Field carried banners reading "Let Romney Go Bankrupt". Meanwhile, a standing room only crowd enthusiastically greeted Obama's message of change, and Obama had to apologize to his supporters outside the stadium who were turned away for lack of space.
Which candidate connects better with his base?
Does Romney really think he is the Republican candidate with the best chance of beating President Obama?
They were all killed simply because they were Jews, yet they have been subjected to further indignation recently as Mormons have conducted "posthumous baptisms" in their name converting them from the Jewish faith to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This practice violates the agreement which the Church signed in 1995.
They all died for being Jews, but they are not allowed to rest in peace as Jews.
To them we say, we appreciate your good intentions but rest assured that Danny's soul was redeemed through the life that he lived and the values that he upheld. He lived as a proud Jew, died as a proud Jew and is currently facing his creator as a Jew, blessed, accepted and redeemed. For the record, let it be clear: Danny did not choose to be baptized, nor did his family consent to this uncalled-for ritual.
Pearl's widow Marianne called on Gov. Mitt Romney to apologize on behalf of his church.
Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) speaks to Bedford Industrial Foundation, October 16, 2002
I am big believer in getting money where the money is. The money is in Washington....
I want to go after every grant, every project, every department in Washington to assure that we are taking advantage of economic development opportunities....
I have learned from my Olympic experience that if you have people who really understand how Washington works and have personal associations there you can get money to help build economic development opportunities....
The whole winter games was a combination of the federal, state and local governments along with private enterprise. We actually received over $410 million from the federal government for the Olympic games. That is a huge increase over anything ever done before and we did that by going after every agency of government....
She [my colleague] said, 'Why don't I get the Department of Education to buy tickets to the Paralympics so that high school and grade school kids can go to the Paralympics?' She literally got, I believe the number was over $1 million from the Department of Education, funding to buy tickets for kids. This way we got kids there and we also got additional revenues that we wouldn't have had. That kind of creativity I want to bring to everything we do.
According to the Detroit Free Press, the Michigan Republican Party will award both at-large delegates to Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) "despite the party's rules that the two at-large delegates are supposed to be awarded on a proportional basis based on the statewide popular vote. The rest of the state's delegates will be split evenly between Romney and Santorum because each won seven congressional districts across the state. As a result, Romney gets 16 delegates and Santorum 14."
For those keeping score, this makes Michigan the 3rd state unclear on how to run an election. First, "Mitt Romney was declared the winner in Iowa until several days later miscounted votes were found which put Rick Santorum ahead. Romney was named the victor in Maine without all caucus votes counted because they were lost in someone's email. Now, the Michigan delegate count was changed two days after the primary either due to sloppiness, ambiguity in the rules or a backroom power play." (Taegan Goddard)
And it came to pass in the third year of the reign of the tall, swarthy king from the distant islands of the great Western Sea, that a multitude of foes sought to depose him, saying, "By my life and the lives of my ancestors, he shall not reign for another four years." And the king, who was not descended from the Angles and the Saxons, but bore a name that resembled the language of the Israelites, a middle name from the language of the Ishmaelites, and a family name from the language of the Hamites (some would say, from the language of the Celts), accepted the challenge and did struggle valiantly to retain his throne. Among the multitude of foes were two bounders named Rick, one from the northern province of Pennsylvania in the district called Alabama. This Rick was renowned for his misconception (pun intended) of the workings of the female body. The other Rick sought to separate his great southern realm from the vast expanse of territory extending from the great Western Sea to the great Eastern Sea, to the frozen northwest and to the islands whence arose King Barack who had replaced King Dubya.
Mourdock said 'when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen." That is magical thinking. If I (or anyone) put sperm and eggs together enough times in a test tube, a conception results, that was my will, not God's. A matter of intention, and compatibility of pH and DNA, sperm motility and many other clearly identifiable factors. Mourdock's infantile thinking (pardon the pun) demeans God, and as a woman I find his statement to be a form of religious terrorism.
In our article The State of the Home States, we pointed out that if Romney had won the election, he certainly would have had to do so without his homestate of Massachusetts and that James K Polk was the only President to have been elected without carrying his homestate. Polk, lost his home state (North Carolina) by 4.78% (3,945 votes) and his state of residence (Tennessee) by 0.1% (123 votes).
In fact Romney's defeat in his home state was greater than Polk's. According to Smart Politics,
With just 37.5% of the vote to his name, Romney barely moved the needle on John McCain's performance in the state in 2008. The Arizona U.S. Senator won 36.0% of the vote in Massachusetts four years ago — losing by 25.8% to Obama.
The only presidential candidate to suffer a larger home state loss than Romney was the first-ever Republican nominee, John Frémont of California in 1856.
Frémont only captured 18.78% of the vote (20,704 votes) while James Buchanan carried the State of California and its 4 electoral votes. In the next election, the Republican party fared better; its nominee Abraham Lincoln carried his home state and won the election of 1860.
One silver lining in the election for the Republicans was the Jewish Vote. Romney was supported by 30% of American Jews in this election, compared to 69% for Obama. Traditionally, Jewish voters lean Democratic and the last Republican to do this well was George Herbert Walker Bush in 1988 with 35% of the vote.
Three Organizations, Three Polls, Similar Results
The Associated Press's National Exit poll this year was based on a survey of 26,565 voters including 4,408 who voted early or absentee. Only 2% of these voters were Jewish, so the sampling error on the Jewish vote is plus or minus 4.3%.
J-Street which describes itself as "the political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans fighting for the future of Israel as the democratic homeland of the Jewish people" did their own surveys.
JStreet notes that "President Obama's 70% share of Jewish voters lines up exactly with the historic trend of support that Democratic Presidential candidates have received in the last 10 elections."
The Republican Jewish Coalition's survey shows similar results:
The survey, a national sample of 1000 Jewish voters, as well as a 600-person sample of Jewish voters in Ohio and a 600-person sample of Florida Jewish voters, shows Jewish support for the President dropped from 78% in 2008 to 69% last night.
The Republican share of the Jewish voted jumped nationally from 22 percent to 32 percent -- an increase of almost 50 percent -- and is part of a trend in which Republicans have gained market share among Jewish voters in five of the last six national elections. The ten-point gain is the largest gain since 1972.
"The RJC is encouraged by the gains we made in 2012 and by the continuing movement in the Jewish community toward the GOP. Despite the discouraging election results, we're pleased by the gains we have made in the Jewish community," said Matt Brooks.
It could have been worse
According to JStreet, "Tens of millions of dollars spent by Sheldon Adelson, the RJC, and others attacking President Obama on Israel backfired - 27% of Florida Jews said the ads made them more likely to vote for the President, and 63% said the attacks made no difference whatsoever."
This newly-released information shows the dramatic improvement in Obama's Jewish vote performance in Florida between late September (then 61% for Obama, 33% for Romney) and Election Day (currently 68% for Obama in Florida, according to GBA Strategies; 66% for Obama in Florida, according to the AP exit poll). The shift during that 5-7 week period amounted to a shift in favor of the President's Jewish vote margin of as much as 117,000 votes — a tremendous victory for NJDC's targeted, strategic voter contact effort in Florida, and a mass rejection of the smear campaign waged by Republican Jewish groups.
In other words, Obama gained ground even as the RJC spent over eight million dollars on their "Buyers Remorse" advertising campaign.
National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) President and CEO David A. Harris commented:
Knowing what we know of the state of the Jewish vote in late September, we are tremendously proud of what NJDC and our friends were able to do to put facts into the hands of so many Jewish Florida voters to make sure they were not taken in by this multi-million dollar effort of lies and smears against our President. We now know that over six weeks, a shift in the Jewish margin from Democrats to Republicans of up to 117,000 Jewish Floridians was stopped with the facts — plain and simple. NJDC mailed almost 400,000 pieces of fact-based mail into Florida in the final weeks of this campaign, and we called almost 70,000 Jewish households in Florida — all strategically, efficiently targeted at those persuadable Jews who could possibly fall victim to the smears circulated against the President. During that same time we ran print ads in Florida, and online banner ads, sponsored emails, and more -- most only visible to residents in Florida, some only visible to carefully targeted, potentially undecided Jewish households. Through social media efforts and newly-unveiled websites and crucial web videos as well in the final days before Election Day, we powerfully targeted these undecided Florida Jews.
These were just some of the pieces in our strategic arsenal. But seeing the data today from GBA Strategies and the AP exit polls, and looking back at the data we were privy to 5-7 weeks ago from The Mellman Group, we can now say authoritatively that our work made a tremendous difference; we helped Florida's Jews have the facts they needed to reject the lies and distortions being peddled by Republican Jews. The same can be said in Ohio, Colorado, Nevada, Virginia and Wisconsin -- the other battleground states where NJDC waged a carefully-targeted campaign. Following our efficient, strategic effort, we're thrilled with the results: an overwhelming majority of American Jews have once again supported President Obama, and they have overwhelmingly rejected the campaign of smears and lies from the right.
New Hampshire is the first state to have an all female delegation: Senator Kelly Ayotte (R, not pictured), Governor Elect Maggie Hassan D), Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D), Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (D) and Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D).
Maggie Hassan will be the country's only Democratic woman governor.
(TPM) Voters Tuesday elected a record number of women to Congress, thanks largely to gains on the Democratic side of the aisle.
In the Senate, where every incumbent Democrat won re-election, there will be a record 20 women Senators come January - a net gain of three. Women will also set a new record in the House of Representatives with 78 women elected - a number that could rise as a final handful of races are called.
In addition to the 12 Democratic women already in the Senate, Democrats will welcome newcomers Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts, Tammy Baldwin from Wisconsin, Heidi Heitkamp from North Dakota and Mazie Hirono from Hawaii. While two Republican women retired — Texas's Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Maine's Sen. Olympia Snowe — Republican Deb Fischer won in Nebraska.
The gains, of course, could have been even higher if not for a few losses. Democrat Shelley Berkley lost an uphill challenge to incumbent Sen. Dean Heller in Nevada. In Utah, Republicans had hoped Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love would become the first black, Republican woman elected to Congress. Love fell short in her challenge to incumbent Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson. In addition, both parties a few female incumbents in the House.
— by Sari Stevens and Audrey Ann Ross
HARRISBURG, PA - President Obama's reelection is a historic victory for women's health, driven by a substantial gender gap, Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates and PAC said Wednesday morning.
"This is a resounding victory for women. More than ever before, women's health was a decisive issue in this election. Americans on Tuesday voted to ensure that women will have access to affordable health care and be able to make their own medical decisions," said executive director Sari Stevens.
"This election sends a powerful and unmistakable message to members of Congress and the Pennsylvania legislature that the American people do not want politicians to meddle in our personal medical decisions, and that politicians demean and dismiss women at their own peril."
Women's health issues played a defining role in the presidential election, with preliminary data showing candidates and advocates nationwide aired broadcast ads 46,141 times highlighting the issues — a 350% increase in spending from 2008. Throughout the campaign, these issues have presented one of the starkest contrasts between President Obama and Mitt Romney. Obama vowed to fully implement the Affordable Care Act and ensure that millions of women get preventive care at no cost, require insurance companies to cover birth control, protect funding for Planned Parenthood and federal family planning programs, and protect access to safe and legal abortion. Romney took the opposite position on all of these issues, and then tried unsuccessfully to cast himself as more of a moderate on women's health in the final weeks of the campaign.
Pennsylvania teens too young to vote are voicing their opinions Nearly 100 Jewish teens go to Ohio to participate in the Election
— by Carly Lundy Schacknies
They can't yet cast a ballot, but that isn't stopping Claire Akers, Jessica Cohen, Rachel Ellis, Hannah Frank, Kassidy Garcia, Emily Gorby, Micah Rabin, Danielle Salisbury, and Jeremy Witchel from Pittsburgh, Jack Mangurten from New Kensington, Marissa Snyder from Upper Saint Clair, Ellie Sullum from Clark Summit, and Johanna Ure from Wyomissing and the nearly 100 Jewish teen leaders from across the country from getting involved in the political process on November 5 - 7, 2012. They are attending BBYO, Inc's program, Voice Your Vote: An Issue Summit on the 2012 Election and Civic Responsibility, in Cleveland, Ohio.
On Election Day, the teens will choose their preferred candidate and will hit the campaign trail to advocate. BBYO has worked with the Romney Ryan and Obama Biden campaigns to assign the teens to some of Cleveland's busiest polling locations.
Tomorrow the election will be over but the sniping will go on and on and on.
Whether Obama is reelected or Romney is elected it will result in the losing side predicting that the end of civilization is at hand. Part of the reason for that predictable doomsday reaction can be attributed to the media's persistent mantra which warns in the most foreboding tones, "This is the most important election in American history".
If I were cynical I might suspect that the media's hyperbolic declaration is just another device used to bump up their Nielsen Ratings to gain, more sponsors, a larger share of the market, and thus increase their bottom line. On the other hand consider this: every generation prides itself on its own importance and the impact it has on the future generations and the fate of our country. The hubris of each generation is second to none other.
Soon the cheers of the victors and the moans of the vanquished will fade and in the not too distant future we will hear the drumbeat of the faithful as they embark upon their inexorable march to the 2016 Presidential Election.
Romney caught a lot of flak for his first commercial endorsing a Republican Senate candidate. The recipient of Romney's largess Richard Mourdock made controversial comments the following day about rape, conception and God's will.
Now, Romney has repeated his performance by cutting a commercial for North Dakota Senate candidate Rick Berg. Rick Berg is famous for supporting "a bill that would have made getting an abortion a class AA felony" in North Dakota, with no exceptions. In other words, rape and incest victims getting an abortion would be liable to life in prison!
Romney has not recorded an advertisement for Todd Akin who claimed that women cannot get pregnant during a "legitimate rape". However, the National Republican Senate Campaign Committee apparently has. While the NRSC earlier disavowed Akin, an anonymous group is financing Akin's latest ad campaign, and the NRSC is refusing to comment on its involvement. Meanwhile, the conservative National Journal reported this weekend that:
Missouri Republican Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin was arrested at least eight times in the 1980s at anti-abortion protests, according to newly obtained records....
Akin was arrested on October 26, 1985, April 19, 1986 and February 28, 1987 for trespassing. A December, 27 1986 arrest was for "trespassing and peace disturbance." The arrests reported by the Post-Dispatch came in the same period, between March 1985 and May 1987, but occurred at other clinics. Three were in St. Louis and one in Granite City, Illinois. The paper said protesters tried to block access to the clinics and refused to leave. In one case, Akin was carried out by police. The last known arrest came shortly before Akin's 1988 election to the Missouri State House, where he served for 12 years before he joined the House.
Today, the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) released a microsite, The Jewish Voter Test, asking Jewish voters if they agree or disagree with basic questions underlying some of the most pressing domestic and foreign policy issues of our time.
"Every Jewish voter faces a clear choice between two candidates with almost polar opposite stances on so many issues that are vitally important to our community," said David A. Harris, President and CEO of NJDC. "This new website will offer American Jews a fun, easy and factual test to see where they really stand on the political spectrum."
The quiz leads participants through the following "yes" and "no" questions:
TPM: American Bridge, the Democratic super PAC, is targeting Mitt Romney online with one of the harshest 'war on women'-themed spots of the cycle."
— by Democratic National Committee Chair Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)
Mitt Romney has staked out an aggressively anti-choice stance from the beginning of his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination. To this day his website says that 'he believes that the right next step is for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade,' pledges to end federal funding for organizations such as Planned Parenthood, and to reinstate the Mexico City Policy, a burdensome policy that undermines the efforts of international organizations to promote safe and effective family planning programs.
He has also gone further, proposing a fiscal plan that would completely eliminate Title X - the only federal program dedicated exclusively to family planning - taking a harder line stance than many other pro-life advocates.
But that's not Romney's only extremist position when it comes to a woman's right to make medical decisions about her own body. Last year, when Mitt Romney was asked by Mike Huckabee on FOX News whether, while governor of Massachusetts, he would have 'supported a constitutional amendment that would have established the definition of life as conception' Romney replied, 'absolutely.' And it's hard to forget earlier this year, when he referred to morning-after pills as 'abortive pills' and referred to the president's health care provision providing free contraception as a 'violation of conscience' at a rally in Colorado.
Perhaps Gov. Romney's most egregious attempt to appeal to anti-choice voters was his selection of Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate.
Congressman Ryan proudly cosponsored the 'No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act' which only made exceptions for federally funded abortions in the case of "forcible rape," excluding victims of 'non-forcible rape' such as those who are victims of statutory rape, those who are raped while drugged, or those who have a limited mental capacity. Rape is rape, there are no valid distinctions. Congressman Ryan also cosponsored the 'Sanctity of Human Life Act' - also known as a 'Personhood Amendment' - which would define life as beginning at the moment of fertilization, effectively outlawing abortion, many types of birth control, and procedures like IVF that help couples trying to conceive.
When it comes to a woman's right to choose, the Romney-Ryan ticket is about as extreme as it gets....
According to the 2012 Jewish Values Survey by the non-partisan Public Religion Research Institute, 95 percent of Jewish Democrats support abortion rights in all or most cases, along with 77 percent of Jewish Republicans. We need a leader who we know we can trust to protect a woman's right to make her own decision, not Mitt Romney, who would take that right away....
Abortion is a sensitive topic to discuss and one on which not everyone agrees. Nonetheless, the Jewish community seems to speak in virtually one voice on the issue of choice - it is a fundamental and important right that must not be taken away.... For this pro-choice Jewish mother of three, the choice is clear - President Barack Obama will stand up for the rights of women of my generation, and that of my daughters.
CNN Moderator John King: What else, Governor Romney? You've been a chief executive of a state. I was just in Joplin, Missouri. I've been in Mississippi and Louisiana and Tennessee and other communities dealing with whether it's the tornadoes, the flooding, and worse. FEMA is about to run out of money, and there are some people who say do it on a case-by-case basis and some people who say, you know, maybe we're learning a lesson here that the states should take on more of this role. How do you deal with something like that?
Governor Mitt Romney: Absolutely. Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that's the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that's even better.
Instead of thinking in the federal budget, what we should cut — we should ask ourselves the opposite question. What should we keep? We should take all of what we're doing at the federal level and say, what are the things we're doing that we don't have to do? And those things we've got to stop doing, because we're borrowing $1.6 trillion more this year than we're taking in. We cannot...
King: Including disaster relief, though?
Romney: We cannot — we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we'll all be dead and gone before it's paid off. It makes no sense at all.
TV pool asked Romney at least five times whether he would eliminate FEMA as president/what he would do with FEMA. He ignored the q[uestions]s but they are audible on cam[era]. The music stopped at points and the q[uestions]s would have been audible to him.
Today, the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) released a microsite, titled Mitt Romney and Iran, showing the troublesome economic ties Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has to Iran. While Romney tries to talk tough on Iran, he allowed his personal investments and Massachusetts's pension fund to directly benefit from business with Iran.
Jewish voters deserve to know the numerous financial ties Mitt Romney has with Iran. Governor Romney often talks a good game when speaking about preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, but when he had the opportunity to act-both as governor and with his personal investment-he came up far short. Former Congressman Mel Levine summed it up best:
If Romney has seemingly gotten away with this ... in the name of gaining even more personal wealth, imagine what he would do as president when he actually has the responsibility to make tough decisions to stop Iran.
Let me make myself clear: President Obama will win Pennsylvania, and Mitt Romney's attempt to make a play for this state is more of a sign of desperation on his part than anything else. This is part of the old Republican playbook. They tried a last ditch attempt to expand the electoral base in 2008 when they were losing Ohio, Iowa, Florida and other traditional battleground states. Mitt Romney ignored Pennsylvania over the course of the last two years, and didn't ask Pennsylvanians for their vote. A week of advertising won't change that.
Something is not right about a candidate for President of the United States ignoring a request from Elie Wiesel.
It's now been more than eight months since Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel asked Mitt Romney to "speak to his own church and say they should stop" performing posthumous proxy baptisms on Jews, including Jews who perished in the Holocaust.
The Huffington Post reported on February 14, 2012 that Wiesel, who has devoted his life to fighting intolerance, said that the posthumous baptisms were "not only objectionable" but "scandalous." Said Wiesel:
"I wonder if as a candidate for the presidency Mitt Romney is aware of what his church is doing. I hope that if he hears about this that he will speak up."
During his address to the Clinton Global Initiative, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney proposed dramatic changes to the foreign aid budget-something which the pro-Israel community has repeatedly opposed because of the potential curbs on U.S. soft power and because of the potential negative long-term effects on U.S. aid to Israel. According to Foreign Policy:
Mitt Romney pledged Tuesday to shift foreign aid toward the private sector and deprioritize humanitarian aid in favor of promoting free enterprise and business development around the world.
In remarks at the Clinton Global Initiative, Romney laid out his most detailed proposals on foreign aid thus far, including his plan to move foreign aid to rely more on public-private partnerships that enlist American corporations to the cause of helping the developing world....
Romney then said he would lower the priority of foreign aid as a means to address humanitarian needs, such as health, as well as foreign aid as a means to promote U.S. strategic interests. (emphasis added) He said the foreign aid goal that will receive 'more attention and a much higher priority' if he is elected would be 'aid that elevates people and brings about lasting change in communities and in nations.'
During the primary season, Romney joined with other Republican presidential candidates in recklessly calling for alterations to the foreign aid budget. As we wrote then, support for robust foreign aid packages has long been a key component of support for Israel. Perhaps Romney's latest proposal to alter foreign aid is part of his pledge to "do the opposite" on Israel?
Cutting foreign aid will not right our struggling economy, but will ultimately cost us more in U.S. lives and taxpayer dollars. It will surely cause direct and substantial harm to America's national security.
Further, the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition-a foreign policy organization that includes the American Israel Public Affairs Committee-strongly opposes cuts to America's foreign assistance programs because of their potential to negatively impact American interests abroad.
"And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."— Richard Mourdock, U.S. Senate candidate from Indiana
For Jewish voters still thinking about their vote for President of the United States, these comments should sound a loud warning bell: Not because we disagree with Richard Mourdock's views, or his right to express them — but because he wants to write his own theology into law, imposing his own opinion of God's will over those who believe differently.
Disturbingly, Richard Murdock has company at the top of the Republican Party. Vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan explained that he also wants to outlaw women's ability to make their own decisions - even in such tragic cases as rape or incest. Ryan said,
"I'm very proud of my pro-life record. I've always adopted the idea that the method of conception doesn't change the definition of life."
And presidential nominee Mitt Romney, while announcing that he disagrees with Richard Murdock, has also said that he would be "delighted" to sign legislation that would ban all abortions and strip women of their right to control their bodies.
Question 10: Do you support federal money being allocated to religious institutions for provision of social services or to parochial schools? What restrictions, if any, would you put on these funds, whether provided by grants or vouchers? Do you support legislation to strengthen the obligation of employers to provide a reasonable accommodation of an employee's religious practice?
Response from President Obama
The separation of church and state in this country is essential and has led our democracy and religious practices to thrive. Religion has flourished within our borders precisely because Americans have the right to worship as they choose.
With respect to education, while I have the deepest respect for the life-changing work of so many parochial schools, school vouchers have been tried and studied for decades, and we know that they do not raise student achievement. I am also concerned that vouchers can drain resources that are needed in public schools where the vast majority of students will always be. For this reason I do not support vouchers.
Still, religious institutions have an important role to play in the provision of public services. I expanded the federal government's faith-based initiative because it is important for government to partner with faith-based organizations. I have affirmed repeatedly the important role these organizations play in delivering social services. I am working closely with my cabinet and each of the thirteen agency offices for faith-based and neighborhood partnerships and my administration has made it a top priority for community groups to be an integral part of our country's success. Through my Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, we have partnered with faith-based and non-profit organizations on many issues of critical importance: fighting hunger at home and abroad; promoting responsible fatherhood; encouraging mentoring; facilitating interfaith service; and fighting unemployment, among many other issues. All of this work is accomplished in a way that upholds the Constitution-by ensuring that both existing programs and new proposals are consistent with American laws and values.
Response from Governor Mitt Romney
Where it does not conflict with state laws, the policies that I will put forth would allow Title I and IDEA funds to follow students to parochial schools.
Question 9: The Constitution protects religious freedom by mandating that the government shall make no law establishing religion, or abridging the free exercise thereof. How should the government protect this fundamental liberty? Is it either constitutionally permissible or socially desirable for religious institutions to seek to impel the state to implement policies that are motivated by an understanding of scriptures? Should a president's religious beliefs play a role in presidential decision-making? Should religious institutions - or individuals, generally - be exempted from laws of general application based on religious objections? In the context of the current controversy over inclusion of contraception in mandated health insurance coverage, how would you reconcile the need to safeguard women's rights and women's health with the need to protect the religious liberty of religiously affiliated hospitals?
Response from President Obama
My own Christian faith is important to me, and my first job in Chicago was working with Catholic parishes in poor neighborhoods, funded by a grant from an arm of the Catholic Church. I saw that local churches often did more good for a community than a government program ever could, so I understand and applaud the important of the work of faith-based organizations. I've set up the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships to create and expand partnerships with faith-based and secular nonprofits on a range of issues, from hunger to housing to job training, and I'm proud that this Office has done just that.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, most health insurance plans will cover recommended preventive services, including contraception, without charging a co-pay or deductible beginning in August 2012. I also know that some religious institutions have a religious objection to directly providing insurance that covers contraceptive services for their employees. That is why, from the beginning of this process, we worked with institutions like religiously affiliated hospitals and universities to find an equitable solution that protects religious liberty and ensures that women have access to the care that they need, no matter where they work. This new law will save money for millions of Americans and ensure that Americans nationwide get the high-quality care they need to stay healthy. Today, nearly 99 percent of all women have used contraception at some point in their lives, but more than half of all women between the ages of 18-34 have struggled to afford it. Under my administration's policy, women will have access to free preventive care that includes contraceptive services no matter where they work.
This policy also fully respects religious liberty. It ensures that if a woman works for a religious employer with objections to providing contraceptive services as part of its health plan, the religious employer will not be required to provide, pay for or refer for contraception coverage. Instead, her insurance company will be required to directly offer her contraceptive care free of charge. The new policy ensures that women can get contraception without paying a co-pay while also holding paramount the core constitutional principle of religious liberty.
Response from Governor Mitt Romney
Religious liberty is the first freedom in our Constitution.
Too many people, it seems, misunderstand what religious liberty means. The founders proscribed the establishment of a state religion, and went to great lengths to make sure that we would not choose government representatives based upon their religion. As president, I would never allow authorities of my church, or of any other church, to ever exert influence on my presidential decisions. As Governor, I did not confuse the particular teachings of my church with the obligations of the office and of the Constitution, and I would not do so as president. I will put no doctrine of any church above the plain duties of the office and the sovereign authority of the law.
The founders, however, did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square. We are a nation where there is a plurality of faiths, and where we not only tolerate many faiths, but respect them. After all, American values such as the equality of human kind, the obligation to serve one another, and a steadfast commitment to liberty are not unique to any one denomination. They belong to the great moral inheritance we hold in common.
A fundamental tenet of religious liberty is that the government should not compel any religious institution to subsidize a practice or product that violates its religious tenets. The Obama Administration, unfortunately, does not seem to understand this. Women, of course, have the right to contraception. Government does not, however, have the right to force people-who have religious objections to contraception-to pay for it. We have ample means of affording health care to poorer women, including Medicaid and private charities that do not have religious objections to contraception. There is no need to violate individuals' religious liberties to provide for these women.
Mitt Romney (Oct. 16, 2002):
"I have learned from my Olympic experience that if you have people who really understand how Washington works and have personal associations there you can get money to help build economic development opportunities."
Question 7: How would you address the presence of roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States? What changes would you support to U.S. immigration policy on the whole? What safeguards would you take to ensure that those fleeing persecution will continue to be granted safe haven within our nation's borders? What border security and enforcement measures do you support?
Response from President Obama
Our immigration system has been broken for too long. I believe that comprehensive reform that strengthens our economy and reflects our values as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. I support legislation-that until recently had bipartisan support-that would invest in border security, hold employers accountable, demand responsibility from undocumented immigrants in return for a path to legal status, and reform the legal immigration system to attract the best and brightest and keep families together. And until Congress acts, my administration is taking important steps to secure our borders and make our immigration laws more fair, efficient, and just. Today, by many measures, the Southwest border is more secure than at any time in the past 20 years. Illegal border crossing are at a 40-year low and the Border Patrol is better staffed than at any time in its 87-year history. For the first time, immigration authorities are prioritizing the deportation of criminals, rather than children who came here through no fault of their own and are pursuing an education.
Response from Governor Mitt Romney
America is a nation of immigrants. Welcoming newcomers who share our ideals and work hard to secure a better life for themselves and their families is part of our heritage. A strong legal immigration system is an integral component of what makes America exceptional. But today, our immigration system is broken. As president, I will propose a national immigration strategy that grows the U.S. economy, secures our borders and discourages illegal immigration, addresses the problem of 11 million illegal immigrants living in America in a civil and resolute manner, and carries on America's tradition as a nation of legal immigrants.
Our immigration system is not optimized for today's economy. The United States is currently excluding too many workers who will start businesses, create jobs, foster innovation, and help grow our economy. For example, the United States is projected to face a shortage of 230,000 science and technology workers by 2018. At the same time, we have set the caps on high-skill visas so low that, for some countries, an entire year's quota has been filled in an hour. As president, I will ask Congress to raise the caps on visas for highly skilled immigrants, including country caps that are keeping some of the best and brightest out of America. Additionally, every foreign student who obtains an advanced degree in math, science, or engineering at a U.S. university should be granted permanent residency.
The current system for bringing in temporary agricultural workers and other seasonal workers is dysfunctional. Employers complain that too often, the harvest passes or tourist season ends before temporary workers are approved. I will eliminate unnecessary requirements and red tape that delay issuance of visas for temporary, seasonal workers. Additionally, I will work with Congress, states, and employers to properly set the cap on non-agricultural temporary worker visas. Many tourist-oriented businesses in the United States rely on these workers and would have to cut back or cease operations if there are not enough visas.
America must take steps to secure our borders and discourage illegal immigration. As president, I will ensure that we have a high-tech fence along our southwest border, I will place enough officers on the ground to secure our border, and I will work to develop an efficient, effective system of exit verification to ensure people do not overstay their visas. To discourage illegal immigration, my Administration will create an effective, mandatory employment verification system. If illegal immigrants know they cannot find jobs, fewer will cross the border and many that are here illegally will leave.
I will ensure that our asylum laws are administered fairly and effectively, so America can continue to serve as a haven for those facing persecution.
An estimated 11 million illegal immigrants live in the shadows in America. I will address this problem in a civil and resolute manner. My Administration will create a system whereby illegal immigrants in America can register, so we know who they are. Those who register will receive a transition period to wind down their affairs in the U.S., and they can get into line to enter the U.S. legally, like the people who have been waiting patiently to immigrate legally. Also, those young illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children should have the chance to become permanent residents, and eventually citizens, by serving honorably in the United States military.
...when I went to Israel as a candidate, I didn't take donors, I didn't attend fundraisers, I went to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum there, to remind myself the nature of evil and why our bond with Israel will be unbreakable." He continued, saying, "I went down to the border towns of Sderot ... I saw families there who showed me where missiles had come down near their children's bedrooms, and I was reminded of ... what that would mean if those were my kids, which is why, as president, we funded an Iron Dome program to stop those missiles.
Now, let me begin by saying that I know Romney visited Yad Vashem in 2007 and traveled to Sderot in 2011. But when the details of the two men's trips to Israel as presidential candidates are contrasted and evaluated for who was more "presidential," only one individual fits the bill.
President Obama visited Israel during his 2008 presidential campaign and met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, President Shimon Peres, then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, then-opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and - unlike Governor Mitt Romney - with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. He traveled to Sderot, where he talked with families who faced the daily fear of Palestinian rocket fire. He visited Yad Vashem, where he laid a wreath on a tomb that contains ashes from Nazi extermination camps. Obama's trip to Israel greatly affected his actions once in office, prompting him to provide record aid to Israel, restore the country's Qualitative Military Edge, fund the Iron Dome missile defense system, and more.
Governor Romney had quite a different trip as a candidate. He did meet with Peres, Netanyahu, and various other Israeli leaders — though he opted to cancel his meeting with the Labor Party's Shelly Yachimovich. He chose to only meet with Fayyad, selecting to return to Jerusalem on the eve of Tisha B'Av to focus on his speech as well as his $50,000-a-plate fundraiser. Standing in front of his supporters, Romney spoke broadly about his stances on the Middle East, all the while dishing out subtle jabs at the President and breaking the "politics stop at the water's edge" protocol. The next day, he managed to stretch U.S.-Palestinian relations even further when he chalked up the difference between Israeli and Palestinian economies to "culture." During Romney's August 2012 trip as a candidate, there was no trip to Sderot, no visit to Yad Vashem, and no conversations with average Israelis about their hopes for the future. Instead, his trip to Israel served a political purpose.
There is only one candidate in the 2012 race whose trip to Israel was presidential and whose actions afterward were presidential-President Barack Obama.
The American Jewish Committee has posted answers to President Obama's and Mitt Romney's responses to a questionnaire from the organization.
Six questions have been posted so far. Question 7 follows below. The remaining questions and the responses from the two candidates will be posted daily over the next few days. Stay tuned.
Question 7: As some of the world's largest oil exporters display hostility to American interests, as oil prices rise, and as many scientists continue to warn about climate change, the need for a solution to our nation's energy crisis becomes more pressing by the day. How would you address our dependence on foreign oil? What are viable, long-term solutions? What role should alternative energy and efficiency solutions play in this plan? What about exploration and development of domestic sources of energy, and importation of those resources from friendly neighbors?
Response from President Obama
While there are no silver bullets to the problem of high oil and gas prices, my administration's all-of-the-above energy strategy is helping to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, helping families save at the pump and creating an economy that's built to last by out-innovating our competitors around the world. We can't just drill our way to lower energy prices and we won't solve this problem overnight. That's why I'm focused on an all-of-the-above energy strategy to developing all of America's natural resources - including domestic oil, gas, wind, solar, clean coal, and biofuels - and encouraging efficiency so that we can reduce our dependence on foreign oil over time.
In my convention speech, I laid out a real, achievable plan that will lead to new jobs and more opportunities for middle-class Americans, while rebuilding the economy on a stronger foundation. Two of the energy goals that I announced were to cut our oil imports in half by 2020 and support more than 600,000 new jobs in natural gas alone. Oil and gas development has increased every year of my administration and our dependence on foreign oil is now at a 20-year low. We've opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration in the last three years, and we'll open more. We are speeding up the leasing process and improving safety measures to prevent future spills. A revolution in natural gas production helped us become the world's leading producer of natural gas in 2009. I will continue to take every possible action to safely develop this abundant source of American energy: streamlining the oversight of natural gas permitting, improving access to natural gas fuels along heavily trafficked trucking routes, helping convert municipal bus and truck fleets to run on natural gas, and creating a new tax incentive for medium- and heavy-duty trucks that run on natural gas or other alternative fuels.
My administration has also made record gains in clean energy development. I have also proposed an ambitious clean energy standard for America to generate 80 percent of our electricity from a diverse set of clean energy sources by 2035 and we are making concrete progress.
We have tripled the government's investment in clean energy sectors such as the smart power grid, energy efficiency, and renewable power, which has supported 224,500 jobs and spurred development across the country. After thirty years of inaction, we raised fuel standards so that by the middle of the next decade, cars and trucks will go twice as far on a gallon of gas. That will help to save families more than $8,000 per vehicle at the pump and decrease our oil consumption by an estimated 2.2 million barrels a day. We've doubled our use of renewable energy like wind and solar, and thousands of Americans have jobs today building wind turbines and long-lasting batteries. We are spurring the nation's transition to a smarter, stronger, more efficient and reliable electricity system. And we are supporting public-private partnerships to make homes, appliances and everyday technologies more energy efficient and less expensive to use. We are boosting our use of cleaner fuels, including increasing the level of ethanol that can be blended into gasoline and implementing a new Renewable Fuel Standard that will save nearly 14 billion gallons of oil-based gasoline in 2022.
I believe in an all-out, all-of-the-above approach to expanding domestic energy production. It takes all of our domestic resources to increase our energy security. Now voters have a choice - between a strategy that reverses this progress, or one that builds on it. Unlike my opponent, I will not let oil companies write this country's energy plan, or endanger our coastlines, or collect another $4 billion in corporate welfare from our taxpayers. We're investing in a clean energy future that keep good paying jobs here at home and puts this country on a path to energy independence.
Response from Governor Mitt Romney
The United States is blessed with an abundance of energy resources. Developing them has been a pathway to prosperity for the nation in the past and offers similar promise for the future. As president, I will make every effort to promote policies that will make America an energy superpower.
We rightly think about energy as a national-security issue, and I believe that the imperatives of national security and economic policy work in tandem. If instead of sending hundreds of billions of dollars overseas, we reinvest them right here at home, the nation as a whole will experience the economic benefits that we currently see other countries enjoying at our expense. Lessening our dangerous dependence on unstable OPEC oil supplies by both increasing domestic production and accessing more energy from our North American neighbors would strengthen our national security and the economy in many other ways. At a time of record budget deficits, greater domestic supplies would generate hundreds of billions of dollars in revenues, improve America's trade balance and GDP and strengthen the dollar.
We need to take a rational and streamlined approach to regulation, to facilitate the rapid development of our domestic oil, natural gas and coal resources, and encourage investment in nuclear and alternative energies. This will require a 21st century regulatory framework - one that balances both our energy and environmental objectives, using the most innovative, cost-effective solutions available. I will propose measured reforms of the statutory framework to preserve our environmental gains without paralyzing industry and destroying jobs. I will ensure that the cost of new regulation is always considered and establish reasonable timelines for compliance.
Our ability to develop new technologies has always kept America in the lead and there is a government role to play in innovation in the energy industry. History shows that the United States has moved forward in astonishing ways thanks to national investment in basic research and advanced technology, but we should not be in the business of steering investment toward particular politically favored approaches. From the perspective of creating new jobs and strengthening our economy, the main line of policy should be directed toward technologies that will improve our nation's energy self-sufficiency.
The world needs energy, and the United States is in a position to produce it more cleanly and safely than any other nation. Getting our energy policy right is critical to our country's economic future. We have the natural resources to succeed, and more importantly, we have scientific and engineering talent that is unsurpassed the world over. What we've lacked is a clear recognition that tying up our resources and shackling our enterprises is costing us dearly in every important arena. The bad news is that self-defeating policies have left us less secure as a country and weakened our economy. The good news is: we can change. I intend to lead the way.
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