by Frederick H. Lowe
African-American voters played a key role in President Barack Obama’s re-election by voting in higher numbers than they did four years earlier, according to Dr. David Bositis, senior research associate for the Joint Center for Political and Education Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank for black elected officials.
“They were absolutely crucial to President Obama in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida and Virginia,” Bositis said on Wednesday at a discussion in Washington, D.C.
In Michigan, black voters comprised 16 percent of the total number of voters, which was up from a 12 percent share in 2008, when President Obama first ran for the White House. In Ohio, black voters comprised 15 percent of all of the state’s voters, up from 11 percent in 2008.
“Black voters provided Obama with the margin of victory in Ohio,” Bositis said. “Ninety-seven percent of black voters voted for Obama. It was impressive.”
In Virginia, African Americans comprised 20 percent of state’s vote, and 93 percent of blacks voted for the president, Bositis said.
In North Carolina and Florida, the turnout among black voters was the same as in 2008, which was 23 percent and 13 percent respectively. But the overall voter turnout in both states was higher in 2012 than it was in 2008, Bositis explained.
“I would remind you that we witnessed a large increase in the overall turnout, and the only way blacks’ share of the vote stayed the same was to increase their turnout,” he said.
President Obama won all of the swing states, capturing 306 Electoral College votes to Republican Mitt Romney’s 206 Electoral College votes.
Bositis noted that the 2012 presidential election will be the last campaign in which a major political party will be elected by appealing only to the non-Hispanic white vote.
“2012 was a clear showing that this is multi-racial, multi-ethnic country and that for a political party or a political movement to become successful, they are going to have to appeal to a much broader swath than non-Hispanic whites,” Bositis said.
President Obama lost the overall white vote to Romney, 59 percent to 39 percent.
“If this would have occurred years ago, it would have been catastrophic,” said Bositis, adding that President Obama still won the popular vote by 2 percentage points.
Bositis added that the non-Hispanic white vote declined from 2004 to 2012, while the African American, Hispanic and Asian vote increased.
At the same time, non-Hispanic whites are older on average than other racial/ethnic groups. The median age for non-Hispanic whites is 42 years, compared with a median age of 33 for African Americans and 25 for Hispanics.
Although President Obama lost the overall white vote, he won the majority of the white vote in all six New England states. The president also defeated Romney in Massachusetts, where he lives. Besides Massachusetts, the New England States are: Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.
“He won the white vote in Vermont and Maine. He didn’t win Vermont and Maine with a majority of the black vote,” said Bositis, pointing out that the two states have very small black populations. Although President Obama won the majority white vote in eight states this year, he won a majority white vote in 16 states in 2008.
In Alabama and Mississippi, the president received a very small share of the white vote: 15 percent in Alabama and 10 percent in Mississippi.
“There are places where race is much more of a problem,” Bositis said.
St. Petersburg, Florida (AP) — President Barack Obama was declared the winner of Florida’s 29 electoral votes Saturday, ending a four-day count with a razor-thin margin that narrowly avoided an automatic recount that would have brought back memories of the 2000 election.
No matter the outcome, Obama had already clinched re-election and now has 332 electoral votes to Republican challenger Mitt Romney’s 206.
The Florida Secretary of State’s Office said that with almost 100 percent of the vote counted, Obama led Romney 50 percent to 49.1 percent, a difference of about 74,000 votes. That was over the half-percent margin where a computer recount would have been automatically ordered unless Romney had waived it.
There is a Nov. 16 deadline for overseas and military ballots, but under Florida law, recounts are based on Saturday’s results. Only a handful of overseas and military ballots are believed to remain outstanding.
It’s normal for election supervisors in Florida and other states to spend days after any election counting absentee, provisional, military and overseas ballots. Usually, though, the election has already been called on election night or soon after because the winner’s margin is beyond reach.
“Florida has spoken loudly in support of moving our nation forward,” Ashley Walker, the Obama campaign’s director for Florida, said in a news release. She added that the win was a testament to the campaign’s volunteers and staff.
When reached by phone Saturday, Mitt Romney’s communications director Gail Gitcho said the campaign had no comment.
Obama’s win came in part from heavy support from black, Hispanic and younger voters. Exit polls conducted for The Associated Press showed Obama was favored by more than 9 of 10 black voters and 3 of 5 Hispanic voters in Florida. The president also was the choice of two-thirds of voters under age 30.
Republican challenger Mitt Romney led among both white and older voters.
In the end, the facts of who voted for which candidate in Florida faded into memory as voting issues emerged election night.
On election night this year, it was difficult for officials — and the media — to call the presidential race here, in part because the margin was so close and the voting stretched into the evening.
In Miami-Dade, for instance, so many people were in line at 7 p.m. in certain precincts that some people didn’t vote until after midnight.
The hours-long wait at the polls in some areas, a lengthy ballot and the fact that Gov. Rick Scott refused to extend early voting hours has led some to criticize Florida’s voting process. Some officials have vowed to investigate why there were problems at the polls and how that led to a lengthy vote count.
If there had been a recount, it would not have been as difficult as the lengthy one in 2000. The state no longer uses punch-card ballots, which became known for their hanging chads. All 67 counties now use optical scan ballots where voters mark their selections manually.
Republican George W. Bush won the 2000 contest after the Supreme Court declared him the winner over Democrat Al Gore by a scant 537 votes.
The win gave Obama victories in eight of the nine swing states, losing only North Carolina. In addition to Florida, he won Ohio, Iowa, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Virginia, Colorado and Nevada.
U.S. presidents are not elected by national popular vote, but in state-by-state contests that allocate electoral votes. Each state gets one electoral vote for each of its representatives in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Washington, D.C., gets three votes. All told, there are 538 votes in the Electoral College. A candidate must have at least 270 to win. Except for Maine and Nebraska, states award all their electoral votes to the candidate who wins the state. In Maine and Nebraska, votes are apportioned by congressional districts.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.
After some tried to take away our right to vote, we stood in line for hours and fought back in the name of justice. After many said we were too uninvolved, we got our loved ones to register to vote, we had poll drives, and we VOTED.
Showing the power of our place in this democracy, we re-elected President Barack Obama and drove progress forward. This week, victory was ours.
Elections are about choices about whom we want to govern us. Well on Tuesday, we sent a clear signal to all. Black folks were counted out, as if we were unmotivated or didn’t care to vote in 2012. As the results show, nothing could be further from the truth. Beginning with tremendous early voting in many areas, Black voters made sure they did not lose their constitutional rights to have their voices heard.
And when many states instituted new restrictive voter ID laws, cut back or ended early voting days, as well as used other tactics of voter suppression, we pushed back — even in courtrooms in some states.
The fundamental lesson from this historic election for us is that we cannot deny the power of our vote. When people tried to shake our vote, we proved what we will do when our backs are up against the wall. We would not allow and never will allow anyone to take away our civil rights. We fought far too long and sacrificed too much to ever allow that to happen.
In vital swing cities like Cleveland and Cincinnati, President Obama’s success was due in large part to the Black vote. Latinos also came out in droves for this President, as did Asian Americans. And these things don’t just happen. The losers in this election will try to say that it had to do with the President’s race, but that’s just an insult to our intelligence. We saw this President deal with people in a humanistic and relatable way. We saw him fighting for the middle-class for the last four years even when some tried to block his every move. We saw him pass historic health care reform. We saw him save the auto industry. We saw the economy making progress after the mess made by Bush. We saw him pass legislation that would assist young immigrants who were brought here illegally through no fault of their own. We saw him passing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. We saw him support marriage equality. We saw him speaking to us.
And we saw Mitt Romney hating 47 percent of us.
While we’re still awaiting the final tally from the state of Florida, we know that President Obama has so far already won the popular vote as well the electoral college. When they tried to tell us no, we came out powerfully and participated in the process because we understood that the stakes were just too high. We know that we cannot depend on widespread fairness from the private sector, and we know that we want a government that cares about things like education, jobs and the future for all of us. Oh, and we need a government that can quickly and fairly respond with disaster strikes.
Now that we’ve once again shown the power of our vote, let’s continue to carry it though in other important races.
Locally, in my city of New York, we have a mayoral race coming up soon. In cities and towns across the country, there are important local and state races that will be taking place shortly. Before you know it, the mid-term elections will be here. The time for sitting back and relaxing isn’t now. President Obama is staying in office; now we must do our part to ensure that the policies include our issues and benefit the success of our people.
Victory is ours. Let’s keep it that way!
MILWAUKEE, WI – This holiday season, TOPS Club, Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), the nonprofit weight-loss support organization, encourages people to change the way they think about eating during family gatherings to avoid seasonal weight gain. Being prepared, having a game plan, and staying positive are all keys to mindful eating during celebrations, allowing you to enjoy time with loved ones without worrying about your food choices.
TOPS offers several tips to help you enjoy Thanksgiving and other upcoming holiday get-togethers without regret:
• Eat before – Eat something light before you attend a holiday meal or buffet. Vegetables with low-calorie dip, salad, a handful of walnuts, or light yogurt curb your appetite and make it easier to control your intake.
• Bring a dish – If you know the hostess, offer to bring a healthy “dish to pass” that you won’t feel guilty about enjoying, like simple sweet potatoes or a low-fat green bean casserole.
• Modify recipes – Exchange sugar and fat in recipes with healthier alternatives, such as honey, olive oil, and applesauce. Include “high-impact” flavors from spices, seasonal fruits and vegetables, and fresh herbs.
• Limit alcohol – Alcohol is an appetite stimulant. Sip slowly or have a nonalcoholic drink instead. A calorie-free beverage allows you to use those calories for food.
• Choose carefully – Some “best bets” at the buffet include fresh fruit, whole-grain crackers with hummus or reduced fat cheese, shrimp cocktail, crab, pretzels, turkey breast, and lean ham.
• Think simple – Choose foods cooked without butter and sauce. As a general rule, fried foods or foods covered with sauces add 10 grams of fat, or 90 calories, per serving.
• Trick yourself – Use salad plates and slender glasses. Smaller dishes cause you to take less, while giving the illusion that you are actually eating more.
• Don’t feel guilty – If you “overdid it” at the meal or party, don’t give up. Just eat carefully for the next day or two and add extra activity to avoid gaining extra pounds.
• Don’t keep leftovers – If you are hosting Thanksgiving or other holiday meals, be sure to send leftovers home with your guests to avoid temptations. Put leftovers away immediately to avoid unnecessary snacking.
• Consider a nap alternative – Make an after-meal walk, game of touch football, or trip to an ice-skating rink part of your holiday tradition. Sign up and train for a “turkey trot” 5K race in your area, commonly held the morning of Thanksgiving. Or spend the afternoon volunteering at a local soup kitchen or shelter.
• Exercise – Increase your normal exercise routine the day before and after the holiday. This should help to compensate for possible overeating and lack of physical activity while visiting with friends and family.
TOPS Club Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) is the original weight-loss support and wellness education organization. Founded more than 64 years ago, TOPS is the only nonprofit, noncommercial weight-loss organization of its kind. TOPS promotes successful weight management with a “Real People. Real Weight Loss.SM” philosophy that combines support from others at weekly chapter meetings, healthy eating, regular exercise, and wellness information. TOPS has about 170,000 members – male and female, age seven and older – in nearly 10,000 chapters throughout the United States and Canada.
Article courtesy of Reuters
The average U.S. price for a gallon of regular gasoline took its biggest drop since 2008 in the past two weeks, due to lower crude oil prices, a big price drop in pump prices in California and Hurricane Sandy, according to a widely followed survey released on Sunday.
Gasoline prices averaged $3.54 per gallon on November 2, down 20.75 cents from October 19 when drivers were paying $3.75 at the pump, Lundberg said.
The decline was the biggest two-week price drop since the survey recorded a 21.9 cents price decline December 5, 2008 due to a crash in petroleum demand during the global recession.
Even though many people had to line up for gasoline for hours after Sandy devastated much of the Northeast coast, the storm played a part in the price decline as many would-be consumers were not able to travel as a result, according Trilby Lundberg, editor of the Lundberg Survey.
Lundberg also cited the seasonal dip in demand that typically comes after August.
While demand appeared to be very high for gasoline in New York and New Jersey after the storm, Lundberg said that purchases were down because many people could not get to fuel.
Associated Press/Carolyn Kaster – President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks at the election night party at McCormick Place, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
by Nancy Benac, Associated Press
Washington (AP) — His lease renewed in trying economic times, President Barack Obama claimed a second term from an incredibly divided electorate and immediately braced for daunting challenges and progress that comes only in fits and starts.
“We have fought our way back and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America, the best is yet to come,” Obama said.
The same voters who gave Obama another four years also elected a divided Congress, re-upping the dynamic that has made it so hard for the president to advance his agenda. Democrats retained control of the Senate; Republicans renewed their majority in the House.
It was a sweet victory for Obama, but nothing like the jubilant celebration of four years earlier, when his hope-and-change election as the nation’s first black president captivated the world. This time, Obama ground out his win with a stay-the-course pitch that essentially boiled down to a plea for more time to make things right and a hope that Congress will be more accommodating than in the past.
The vanquished Republican, Mitt Romney, tried to set a more conciliatory tone on the way off the stage.
“At a time like this, we can’t risk partisan bickering,” Romney said after a campaign filled with it. “Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people’s work.”
House Speaker John Boehner spoke of a dual mandate, saying, “If there is a mandate, it is a mandate for both parties to find common ground and take steps together to help our economy grow and create jobs.”
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell had a more harsh assessment.
“The voters have not endorsed the failures or excesses of the president’s first term,” McConnell said. “They have simply given him more time to finish the job they asked him to do together” with a balanced Congress.
Obama claimed a commanding electoral mandate — at least 303 electoral votes to 206 for Romney — and had a near-sweep of the nine most hotly contested battleground states.
But the close breakdown in the popular vote showed Americans’ differences over how best to meet the nation’s challenges. With more than 90 percent of precincts reporting, the popular vote went 50 percent for Obama to 48.4 percent for Romney, the businessman-turned-politician who had argued that Obama had failed to turn around the economy and said it was time for a new approach keyed to lower taxes and a less intrusive government.
Obama’s re-election assured certainty on some fronts: His signature health-care overhaul will endure, as will the Wall Street reforms enacted after the economic meltdown. The drawdown of troops in Afghanistan will continue apace. And with an aging Supreme Court, the president is likely to have at least one more nomination to the high court.
The challenges immediately ahead for the 44th president are all too familiar: an economy still baby-stepping its way toward full health, 23 million Americans still out of work or in search of better jobs, civil war in Syria, an ominous standoff over Iran’s nuclear program, and more.
Sharp differences with Republicans in Congress on taxes, spending, deficit reduction, immigration and more await.
And even before Obama gets to his second inaugural on Jan. 20, he must grapple with the threatened “fiscal cliff” — a combination of automatic tax increases and steep across-the-board spending cuts that are set to take effect in January if Washington doesn’t quickly come up with a workaround budget deal. Economists have warned the economy could tip back into recession absent a deal.
Despite long lines at polls in many places, turnout overall looked to be down from four years ago as the president pieced together a winning coalition of women, young people, minorities and lower-income voters that reflected the country’s changing demographics. Obama’s superior ground organization in the battleground states was key to his success.
The president’s victory speech — he’d written a concession, too, just in case — reflected the realities of the rough road ahead.
“By itself the recognition that we have common hopes and dreams won’t end all the gridlock, or solve all our problems or substitute for the painstaking work of building consensus and making the difficult compromises needed to move this country forward,” Obama said.
“But that common bond is where we must begin. Our economy is recovering. A decade of war is ending. A long campaign is now over, and whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you, I have learned from you and you have made me a better president.”
The president said he hoped to meet with Romney and discuss how they can work together. They may have battled fiercely, he said, “but it’s only because we love this country deeply.”
Romney’s short concession — with misplaced confidence, he’d only prepared an acceptance speech — was a gracious end note after a grueling campaign.
He wished the president’s family well and told subdued supporters in Boston, “I so wish that I had been able to fulfill your hopes to lead the country in a different direction, but the nation chose another leader and so Ann and I join with you to earnestly pray for him and for this great nation.”
Obama’s re-election was a remarkable achievement given that Americans are anything but enthusiastic about the state they’re in: Only about 4 in 10 voters thought the economy is getting better, just one quarter thought they’re better off financially than four years ago and a little more than half think the country is on the wrong track, exit polls showed.
But even now, four years after George W. Bush left office, voters were more likely to blame Bush than Obama for the fix they’re in.
It wasn’t just the president and Congress who were on the ballot. Voters around the country considered ballot measures on a number of divisive social issues, with Maine and Maryland becoming the first states to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote while Washington state and Colorado legalized recreational use of marijuana.
From the beginning, Obama had an easier path than Romney to the 270 electoral votes needed for victory. The most expensive campaign in history was narrowly targeted at people in nine battleground states that held the key to victory, and the two sides drenched voters there with more than a million ads, the overwhelming share of them negative.
Obama claimed at least seven of the battleground states, most notably Ohio, the Ground Zero of campaign 2012. He also got Iowa, New Hampshire, Colorado, Nevada, Virginia and Wisconsin, and he was ahead in Florida. Romney got North Carolina.
Overall, Obama won 25 states and the District of Columbia and was leading in too-close-to-call Florida. Romney won 24 states.
It was a more measured victory than four years ago, when Obama claimed 365 electoral votes to McCain’s 173, winning with 53 percent of the popular vote.
Obama was judged by 53 percent of voters to be more in touch with people like them. More good news for him: Six in 10 voters said that taxes should be increased. And nearly half of voters said taxes should be increased on income over $250,000, as Obama has called for.
Obama’s list of promises to keep includes many holdovers he was unable to deliver on in his first term: rolling back tax cuts for upper-income people, immigration reform, reducing federal deficits, and more.
A second term is sure to produce turnover in his Cabinet: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has made it clear he wants to leave at the end of Obama’s first term but is expected to remain in the post until a successor is confirmed. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Obama’s rival for the presidency four years ago, is ready to leave too. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta isn’t expected to stay on.
To the end, the presidential race was a nail-biter. About 1 in 10 voters said they’d only settled on their presidential choice within the last few days or even on Election Day, and they were closely divided between Obama and Romney. Nearly 1 percent of voters went for Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, who was on the ballot in 48 states.
In an election offering sharply different views on the role of government, voters ultimately narrowly tilted toward Obama’s approach.
“We have seen growth in the economy,” said 25-year-old Matt Wieczorek, a registered Republican from Cincinnati who backed the president. “Maybe not as fast as we want it to be, but Obama has made a difference and I don’t want to see that growth come to an end.”
Notwithstanding his victory, Obama will lead a nation with plenty of people who were ready for a change.
“The last four years have been crap,” said 73-year-old Marvin Cleveland, a Romney supporter in Roseville, Minn. “Let’s try something else.”
A 99-year-old, Obama-loving Fort Myers, Fla., woman voted for the first time in her life after skipping 24 presidential elections, NBC 2 reports.
Lewis credits Obama’s presidency for her encouraging her to vote. “I said I’m going to vote if the Lord spares my life this time,” said Lewis. “I made it up to my mind to vote.”
Gerri Ware, Lewis’ close friend, helped the 99-year-old first-time voter to register and turned in her ballot after it was filled out. Ware feels Lewis’ commitment to vote should be an example to people of how important it is to vote.
“Ms. Rosie should be an inspiration to all of our young people and old people,” Ware said. “You never get too old to exercise your right.”
Lines were long in Point Pleasant, N.J., where residents from the Jersey Shore communities of Point Pleasant Beach and Mantoloking had to cast their ballots due to damage in their hometowns.
Many there still have no power eight days after Sandy pummeled the shore.
“Oh my God, I have been so anxious about being able to vote,” said Annette DeBona of Point Pleasant Beach. “It’s such a relief to be able to do it. This is the happiest vote I ever cast in my life.”
The 73-year-old restaurant worker was so worried about not being able to vote that she called the police department several days in advance, as well as her church, to make absolutely sure she knew where to go and when. She was one of the first to cast a ballot in her neighboring town, choosing Mitt Romney.
“I truly believe Romney is an honest, caring man,” she said. “He will lift us out of our spiritual and mental depression and help us believe again.”
Renee Kearney of Point Pleasant Beach said she felt additional responsibility to cast a ballot this Election Day.
“It feels extra important today because you have the opportunity to influence the state of things right now, which is a disaster,” the 41-year-old project manager for an information technology company said.
She had planned all along to vote for Obama, but said her resolve was strengthened by his response to Superstorm Sandy.
“I was extremely impressed by his response to the storm,” she said. “For people who were not so certain about him, I think this may have sealed the deal.”
Authorities in New York and New Jersey were set to drive some displaced voters to their polling sites and direct others to cast ballots elsewhere as residents insisted the devastation wrought by Superstorm Sandy wouldn’t stop them from participating in Tuesday’s election.
“Nothing is more important than voting. What is the connection between voting and this?” said Alex Shamis, a resident of hard-hit Staten Island, gesturing to his mud-filled home.
The efforts put a premium on creativity. At a public school in Staten Island’s Midland Beach, flares were set up at an entrance to provide light, and voting machines were retrieved from inside the school and moved into tents where voters braved 29-degree temperatures as they lined up.
Voters arriving at another Staten Island school found no official signage referring them to a new polling place, but those who arrived on foot were taken to the correct location by a shuttle bus, officials said. A hand-written sign eventually was placed at the school’s driveway.
Election officials in both states were guardedly optimistic that power would be restored and most polling places would be open in all but the worst-hit areas. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order Monday, allowing residents to cast a so-called affidavit, or provisional ballot, at any polling place in the state for president and statewide office holders, an opportunity New Jersey was extending to voters as well.
“Compared to what we have had to deal with in the past week, this will be a walk in the park when it comes to voting,” Cuomo said.
Provisional ballots are counted after elected officials confirm a voter’s eligibility.
Authorities were also sensitive to concerns about potential disenfranchisement and were taking steps to ensure voters were kept informed of continued problems or changes to their voting locations.
Ernie Landante, a spokesman for the New Jersey Division of Elections, said fewer than 100 polling places around the state were without power compared with 800 just days ago and said the state has abandoned its earlier plan to use military trucks as makeshift polling places. Most voters will be able to cast ballots at their regular polling sites, he said.
Landante also said the state had taken extra steps to make sure people displaced by Sandy’s destruction would be able to vote, like allowing “authorized messengers” to pick up as many mail-in ballots as they request for people in shelters or away from their homes.
“We are doing everything we can in this extraordinary situation not to disenfranchise voters displaced by Sandy. Their voices and their votes will be heard no differently than anyone else’s,” Landante said.
But authorities abruptly switched gears on an additional directive that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie‘s office announced allowing displaced New Jersey residents to vote through e-mail and fax.
The directive allowed voters to request and file a ballot electronically. But under pressure from voting rights advocates, officials said those voters would have to submit a paper ballot along with the electronic filing – a rule the state’s military personnel and residents living overseas are required to follow as well. Initially, the state was going to waive the paper ballot requirement.
Some regions most affected by Sandy were seeking creative ways to help residents cast their ballot.
In Ocean County along the New Jersey coast, officials hired a converted camper to bring mail-in ballots to shelters in Toms River, Pemberton, and Burlington Township. Some 75 people in Toms River alone took advantage of the service Monday, officials said.
“It’s great. This is one less thing I have to think about,” said Josephine DeFeis, who fled her home in storm-devastated Seaside Heights and cast her ballot in the camper Monday.
In New York City, authorities planned to run shuttle buses every 15 minutes Tuesday in storm-slammed areas to bring voters to the polls.
Just 60 of the city’s 1,350 polling sites were unusable and residents who vote in those places would be directed elsewhere, Polanco said. He said if a voter relocated to another polling site didn’t show up on the list of people eligible to vote, he or she would be given a provisional ballot.
Staten Island resident Paul Hoppe said he probably wouldn’t vote. His home, a block from the beach, was uninhabitable, his family was displaced and their possessions were ruined.
`’We’ve got too many concerns that go beyond the national scene,” Hoppe said.
1. Ended the War in Iraq: Ordered all U.S. military forces out of the country. Last troops left on December 18, 2011.
2. Began Drawdown of War in Afghanistan: From a peak of 101,000 troops in June 2011, U.S. forces are now down to 91,000, with 23,000 slated to leave by the end of summer 2012. According to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, the combat mission there will be over by next year.
3. Eliminated Osama bin laden: In 2011, ordered special forces raid of secret compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in which the terrorist leader was killed and a trove of al-Qaeda documents was discovered.
4. Turned Around U.S. Auto Industry: In 2009, injected $62 billion in federal money (on top of $13.4 billion in loans from the Bush administration) into ailing GM and Chrysler in return for equity stakes and agreements for massive restructuring. Since bottoming out in 2009, the auto industry has added more than 100,000 jobs. In 2011, the Big Three automakers all gained market share for the first time in two decades. The government expects to lose $16 billion of its investment, less if the price of the GM stock it still owns increases.
5. Recapitalized Banks: In the midst of financial crisis, approved controversial Treasury Department plan to lure private capital into the country’s largest banks via “stress tests” of their balance sheets and a public-private fund to buy their “toxic” assets. Got banks back on their feet at essentially zero cost to the government.
6. Repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”: Ended 1990s-era restriction and formalized new policy allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military for the first time.
7. Toppled Moammar Gaddafi:In March 2011, joined a coalition of European and Arab governments in military action, including air power and naval blockade, against Gaddafi regime to defend Libyan civilians and support rebel troops. Gaddafi’s 42-year rule ended when the dictator was overthrown and killed by rebels on October 20, 2011. No American lives were lost.
8. Told Mubarak to Go: On February 1, 2011, publicly called on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to accept reform or step down, thus weakening the dictator’s position and putting America on the right side of the Arab Spring. Mubarak ended 30-year rule when overthrown on February 11.
9. Reversed Bush Torture Policies: Two days after taking office, nullified Bush-era rulings that had allowed detainees in U.S. custody to undergo certain “enhanced” interrogation techniques considered inhumane under the Geneva Conventions. Also released the secret Bush legal rulings supporting the use of these techniques.
10. Improved America’s Image Abroad: With new policies, diplomacy, and rhetoric, reversed a sharp decline in world opinion toward the U.S. (and the corresponding loss of “soft power”) during the Bush years. From 2008 to 2011, favorable opinion toward the United States rose in 10 of 15 countries surveyed by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, with an average increase of 26 percent.
11. Kicked Banks Out of Federal Student Loan Program, Expanded Pell Grant Spending: As part of the 2010 health care reform bill, signed measure ending the wasteful decades-old practice of subsidizing banks to provide college loans. Starting July 2010 all students began getting their federal student loans directly from the federal government. Treasury will save $67 billion over ten years, $36 billion of which will go to expanding Pell Grants to lower-income students.
12. Created Race to the Top: With funds from stimulus, started $4.35 billion program of competitive grants to encourage and reward states for education reform.
Article courtesy of the Daily Mail via The Rundown
While Barack Obama abandoned the campaign trail earlier this week and retreated to Washington to oversee the storm-relief effort (doubtless hoping to persuade wavering voters of his leadership qualities in the process), the man who could blow him out of office next Tuesday knew exactly where he needed to be.
For more than a month now, Mitt Romney has been virtually encamped in Ohio, the too-close-to-call ‘swing-state’ that history decrees he must win if he is to reach the White House. And it was there I found him – blue-check shirt open at the neck, sleeves rolled up ready for work – collecting donations for flood victims, in a high-school gym.
As part of his brilliantly calibrated autumn push that – together with Obama’s curiously disengaged and uninspiring performance on the stump – transformed the Republican challenger from no-hoper to narrow leader in the latest polls, Romney’s sense of place and timing was unerring.
In 2008, Obama won 43 percent of the white vote; this time just 37 percent support him, according to the latest polls, and pundits believe his re-election is in serious jeopardy unless he can increase that figure.
CNN political analyst L.Z. Granderson says: ‘What we’re beginning to see is that the Republicans are increasingly white, while the Democrats are losing the white people.’
Explaining this racial schism, Mark Anthony Neal, cultural and black studies professor at Duke University in North Carolina, says white voters have allowed Obama less time to turn the economy around than they would have given a white president.