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News and Commentary from Around the World

    In January of this year, President Obama formed a special task force to ...
    The US Supreme Court issued two major rulings today involving public sector unions ...
    The fight to repeal the Affordable Care Act has finally reached the Supreme ...
    The strong start to the holiday shopping season continued on Monday. As ...
    Austal is already one of the biggest employers in Mobile, but the shipbuilder ...
    Last year, Google closed a deal to acquire Motorola Mobility. The once ...
    The spots where Food World and K-Mart used to reside on Highway 43 ...
    The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has decided to maintain current ...
    Attorney General Eric Holder is set to make sweeping changes to the sentences ...
    Several people were shot at the University Heights apartment complex in Auburn last ...

Newt Gingrich Dropping Out of Republican Primary

Posted by David Merrell On April - 26 - 2012 Comments Off on Newt Gingrich Dropping Out of Republican Primary

    Long after pundits have called the primary for Mitt Romney, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has decided to withdraw his bid for the Republican nomination. The Speaker is expected to formally withdraw on May 1st and back Romney. He will make his final campaign appearance this Tuesday in Washington D.C.

    The run for president has been up and down for Gingrich. He got off to a poor start and lost most of his staffers last year before the primary season had even begun. He was polling in single digits for most of the fall. Romney’s inability to seal the deal as the GOP front runner led to a carousel of candidates momentarily taking the reigns atop the leader board, and Gingrich got his turn in the early winter.

    Gingrich’s time as the front runner was short lived, and Rick Santorum won the Iowa Caucuses. Romney would win the New Hampshire Primary. Gingrich once again rose from the dead and won the South Carolina primary. He was contending in Florida before being buried in an advertising onslaught by Romney and his Super PAC.

    After his wipe out in Florida, Gingrich was essentially done. He would go on to win his home state of Georgia, but that was it. The battle for the Republican nomination came down to Santorum and Romney, with the former Massachusetts governor eventually pulling away. Though he currently lacks the delegates to seal up the nomination, Romney is now the presumptive nominee. Only Ron Paul remains in the race.

    It is interesting to see Gingrich back Romney so quickly after pulling out of the race. Most insiders believed he only stayed in the race to take shots at Romney after getting hammered in Florida. Once again the old saying about Republicans falling into line is proven true as most of those who dropped out have now endorsed Mitt Romney. The establishment is now solidly behind him. The challenge is going to be getting conservative voters to get on board, and thus far Romney has failed to do so.


Rick Santorum Dropping out of Republican Primary Race

Posted by David Merrell On April - 10 - 2012 Comments Off on Rick Santorum Dropping out of Republican Primary Race

    Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum has decided to drop out of the race to be the Republican nominee for president. Santorum had recently taken a break from the campaign trail to be with his ailing daughter, Bella. Recent poll numbers show him trailing in the Pennsylvania primary which is coming up shortly. He called Mitt Romney to let him know the news earlier in the day. Santorum is expected to make the official announcement at speech in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

    With Santorum out, Mitt Romney will now certainly be the Republican nominee. His win in Wisconsin sealed it with most pundits, but now there is no one left standing who can truly challenge him. Newt Gingrich’s campaign is facing a huge debt. Ron Paul has failed to win a single state. The battle between Mitt Romney and President Obama can now begin in earnest.

    Santorum came out of nowhere to emerge as the top challenger to Romney. The former senator polled in single digits for most of 2011. A grassroots campaign in Iowa led to him winning the opening caucuses of the primary season. From there he battled Newt Gingrich for the “Anti-Romney” vote. He failed to gain enough traction to topple Romney mostly because Gingrich refused to leave the race and ended up splitting the conservative vote.

    We are left with a general election campaign that will boast two moderate candidates. Despite their opponents claiming that each are extremely partisan, both Romney and Obama have governed in the middle. During campaign season they have moved slightly off center to win over base voters, but both are expected to return to the middle for the general election. Obama is likely to peg Romney as an out of touch elitist, while Romney is likely to condemn Obama’s stewardship of the economy.

    Due to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision of 2010, this election is expected to be the most expensive in history. The costs of elections have been scaling up for years, but this year’s election figures to jump exponentially in price. Conservatives hatred of President Obama figures to make this one ugly election as well. The latest polling shows President Obama with a lead over Romney right now, but this race figures to tighten in the coming weeks and is expected to be very close.

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Romney Closing In On Republican Nomination

Posted by David Merrell On April - 2 - 2012 Comments Off on Romney Closing In On Republican Nomination

    This Tuesday the state of Wisconsin will hold its Republican Primary. The state is seen as the last hope for former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santroum. If he falls in Wisconsin it will be the third straight mid-western swing state he will have lost following Michigan and Ohio. At that point he would offer little resistance to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Romney is leading in the latest Rasmussen poll by ten points, 44%-34%. Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul are far behind at 7% a piece.

    Republicans have begun to rally around Romney. He picked up the official endorsements of former President George H. W. Bush and Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan this week. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the chances were overwhelming that Romney would be the nominee on CNN’s State of the Union. Romney has not had a problem getting establishment figures, though. His problem has been wrangling conservative voters, and that issue is still dogging him.

    Democrats have begun to step up their attacks on the former governor. Vice President Joe Biden accused Romney of being “out of touch” on CBS’ Face the Nation. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton attacked Romney on his foreign policy credentials. He has mentioned that Russia is the country’s number one geopolitical foe, a statement Clinton called “dated” on CNN.

    The Republican Primary has hurt Romney politically. Going into the primary season he had good polling numbers with independent voters. Those numbers have plummeted over the past few months. A majority of independents now disapprove of the former governor. This is not a good sign for him, as independents will play a large role in selecting the next president.

    Another big issue for the Republicans is the improving economy. President Obama’s approval ratings were close to dropping below 40% late last year due to a lagging economy. Three straight months of 200,000+ jobs being created have greatly improved his numbers as they now hover near 50%. Unemployment has fallen to 8.3% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average has climbed to 13,000 after falling below 7,000 during the height of the recession. America seems to be on the mend, and that is bad news politically for the Republicans.

    If Romney does wrap up the nomination soon, the most expensive and potentially ugly presidential campaigns in history will begin. The recent Citizens United Supreme Court decision has opened up PACs to unlimited donations. This has led to the creation of Super PACs. More money will be spent on this election than any other election in history. Romney has proven quite effective at smearing his foes, and he has been honing his attacks on the president for months. President Obama has a campaign machine of his own, and he may raise $1 billion this year to run that campaign. It is not going to be pretty.

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Political Leaders React to Trayvon Martin Case

Posted by David Merrell On March - 23 - 2012 Comments Off on Political Leaders React to Trayvon Martin Case

    The murder of Trayvon Martin has rocked the nation, and now political leaders are weighing in on the case. President Obama commented on the controversy during a press conference to announce the new head of the World Bank. He called the incident a tragedy. President Obama also said that if he had a son, he would have looked like Martin.

    The Republican presidential nominees also weighted in on the controversy. In a written statement on Friday, Mitt Romney called for a thorough investigation of the matter. He believes an investigation will reassure the public. Rick Santorum called it a horrible case, and said the “Stand Your Ground” law should not apply here.

    Newt Gingrich echoed Santorum’s stance in an interview with Piers Morgan. He claims that “Stand Your Ground” does not apply as the shooter, George Zimmerman, was following Martin and not the other way around. Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell called the event a tragedy, but declined to comment on the “Stand Your Ground” controversy. Senate Majority leader Harry Reid said there were unanswered questions about Martin’s death, and he is glad Attorney General Eric Holder is looking into the matter.

    Florida Governor Rick Scott said there would be a review of the “Stand Your Ground” by a state task force to recommend changes to avoid problems like this in the future. In the latest development involving the case, local state attorney Norman Wolfinger has recused himself from the case in the hopes that the rhetoric will be tuned down. He is the second official to step away from the case, following Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee.

    Opinion on this case has been fairly one sided. Nearly everyone believes George Zimmerman should have been arrested. The details that have already been made public appear to be enough to at least bring the case to trial. The fact that this has not happened yet is a bit disturbing, especially given the amount of attention being paid to this case. The Sanford Police Department is in need of a serious review for dragging its feet on this matter.

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Romney Wins Illinois Primary

Posted by David Merrell On March - 20 - 2012 Comments Off on Romney Wins Illinois Primary

    Mitt Romney has been projected to win the Illinois primary by Fox News. With 74% of the vote counted, Romney had 47.5% of the vote. Rick Santorum was running second with 34.5%, and Ron Paul had 9.2% of the vote. Newt Gingrich was coming in last with 7.8% of the vote.

    The next state up is Louisiana. Santorum has a big lead over Romney in the pelican state. According to a Magellan Strategies BR poll, Santorum is supported by 37% of likely Republican voters. Romney comes in a distant second with 24%. Gingrich follows him at 21%. If Gingrich were to exit the race Santorum would likely win by an even larger margin.

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    Tonight’s win for Romney was expected and doesn’t change the race much. Santorum is likely to win Louisiana on Saturday, and the parade will go on. If Santorum is able to continue winning the rural states he may prove to be an effective road block preventing Romney from reaching the required delegates to win the nomination. At that point we would have a brokered convention in Tampa at the end of August. What happens there is anybody’s guess.

    After a disappointing fourth place finish one has to wonder if Newt Gingrich will finally drop out of the race. Finishing behind Ron Paul should be the final eye opener he needs to come back to reality. There is no longer any path to victory for the former Speaker of the House. By staying in he is only helping Mitt Romney, who most believe he despises after the barrage of negative ads Romney’s super PAC dropped on him in Florida. Oddly enough, he has become Romney’s best weapon against Santorum by splitting the conservative vote.

    The Huffington Post had an interesting piece of polling data gathered from the exit polls. About 48% of the people who voted “strongly favored” the person they voted for. That is a pretty good number. However, 39% of the voters said they had reservations about who they voted for. That is a very dangerous number. That could effect voter intensity come the general election, and even worse for the GOP, voter turnout. If to many Republicans are not excited about their candidate and skip voting, Obama will coast to re-election.

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Mitt Romney Wins Puerto Rico Primary

Posted by David Merrell On March - 18 - 2012 Comments Off on Mitt Romney Wins Puerto Rico Primary

    Mitt Romney won the Puerto Rico primary on Sunday evening. Romney took home all of Puerto Rico’s 20 delegates as he won more than 50% of the vote. Romney now stands at 501 delegates won. He needs 1,144 to win the nomination.

    Both candidates had already left the Carribean island after short campaign stops. This Tuesday there is a primary in Illinois, and it figures to be hotly contested. Later in the week Louisiana will hold its primary. Romney is now almost half way to the total number of delegates he needs to win the nomination.

    Rick Santorum has no plans of exiting the race anytime soon. After sweeping a pair of southern states last week, the former Pennsylvania Senator has now won 10 states. His delegate count stands at 253, about half of Romney’s. Santorum has done well in rural states due to his evangelical background, and he figures to win a few more states. He plans on staying in the race because he feels Romney is a weak front runner.

    Newt Gingrich has yet to drop out of the race. His campaign began floating ideas about teaming up with Rick Santorum to topple Romney after he lost both the Mississippi and Alabama primaries last week. Most feel Gingrich is essentially finished now, and his presence will only split the conservative vote allowing Romney to win states he might otherwise lose.

    The campaign does not look like it will end anytime soon. No candidate is close to the number of delegates required to take the nomination. If no candidate gets the required 1,144 then we will have a brokered convention when the Republicans meet in August in Tampa. A fight to the finish would probably greatly weaken the GOP’s chances of defeating President Obama in the November election.

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Rick Santorum Sweeps Southern Primaries

Posted by David Merrell On March - 14 - 2012 Comments Off on Rick Santorum Sweeps Southern Primaries

    Rick Santorum once again haulted front runner Mitt Romney’s momentum dead in its tracks yesterday. The former Pennsylvania Senator picked up wins in the Alabama and Mississippi primaries. Santorum won 35% of the vote in Alabama, and 33% of the vote in Mississippi. This marks the third straight southern primary Santorum has won following his victory in Tennessee on Super Tuesday.

    The victories were achieved more in the perception department than anything else. Romney picked up victories in American Samoa and Hawaii later in the evening, and both southern states handed out their delegates proportionally. Santorum’s delegate gain was minimal. What the wins did show was that Romney is still struggling to get conservative voters, and that is very much a concern for the former Massachusetts governor.

    The spotlight will now turn momentarily towards Newt Gingrich. The pressure to step down and allow Santorum to challenge Mitt Romney one on one is about to be turned up to eleven. There is essentially no path towards victory for Newt at this point. Santorum still has an outside chance of challenging Romney. Oddly enough, most analysts believe Newt is remaining in the race because of his hatred for Romney after the wave of attack ads thrown at him in Florida. The irony is that his continued presence in the race is going to help Romney get the nomination.

    A lot of interesting information came from the exit polls from both Mississippi and Alabama yesterday. The ability to defeat President Obama was listed as the most important quality for a candidate. Given the GOP’s hatred of the president this is not surprising. The economy was listed as the top issue worrying voters. Most voters were unhappy with the way the federal government has been run.

    A pair of Alabama Representatives fended off primary challenges on Tuesday. Jo Bonner defeated three other Republican candidates in convincing fashion. Spencer Bachus also took home a primary victory. Both representatives had to fend off attacks from the Campaign for Primary Accountability, a super PAC from Texas looking to unseat incumbents.

    For the first time in a long time Alabama mattered in presidential politics. Candidates and media figures alike descended on our neck of the woods and the state was given a lot of exposure. Through the entire process, Alabama was revealed little by little to the whole country over the past week. It was refreshing to see the candidates campaign in a state that is normally just glanced over because its primary comes later in the season. Given the new rules in the Republican nominating process, this could be the new normal.

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Breaking News: Rick Santorum Wins Alabama Primary

Posted by David Merrell On March - 13 - 2012 Comments Off on Breaking News: Rick Santorum Wins Alabama Primary

    NBC News has projected that Rick Santorum will win the Alabama Primary. The former Pennsylvania Senator has been locked in a tight battle with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich to win the Southern conservative vote. In the end it appears Santorum’s Evangelical background was the winning ingredient. Exit polls showed very high turnout for Evangelical Christian voters.

**Update** Fox News has now projected that Rick Santorum will win the Mississippi Primary. The two wins are huge for Santorum. The pressure on Newt Gingrich to throw in the towel is about to become immense. Gingrich was running what he called a southern strategy that involved taking most of the southern states. That strategy has now been blown to bits.

    By sweeping the southern primaries tonight Santorum may finally get his wish to go one on one with Romney. If Gingrich does drop out, most of his supporters will probably go to Santorum as they are similar candidates. That could give him the edge he needs to truly challenge Romney.

    This is a developing story and more information will be posted as the story breaks.

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Primary Day Has Arrived

Posted by David Merrell On March - 13 - 2012 Comments Off on Primary Day Has Arrived

    After a week of big media attention focused on both Alabama and Mississippi, the day of action has finally arrived. A highly competitive Republican presidential primary has brought candidates to states they never though they would have to actually contest. Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum were in Birmingham on Monday night speaking at the Alabama Theatre at an event sponsored by the Alabama GOP. Mitt Romney was also in Alabama today, campaigning at the Whistle Stop Cafe in Mobile on his 65th birthday.

    The race is still very tight. A poll released Monday by Public Policy Polling had Romney leading with 31% of the vote, Newt in second with 30%, and Santorum in third with 29%. Romney has also been leading in Mississippi. A win in either state by Romney will likely be the nail in the coffin for his opponents. If Gingrich fails to win either state he is expected to face a lot of pressure to exit the race.

    If Romney is able to finally cement his status as the inevitable nominee, it would come at the perfect time. Recent polls show President Obama’s approval rating taking a slight dip lately due to surging gas prices. As the economy continues to improve the president’s approval is sure to go up. The GOP needs a nominee who can begin to take on the president now if they hope to truly challenge him in November.

    Those who plan to vote tomorrow need to remember to bring some form of identification with them. Acceptable forms of ID include your driver’s license, social security card, college ID, work ID, passport, hunting license, fishing license, or a utility bill with your address on it. If you are unsure of where you need to go to vote, check out http://alabamavotes.gov/ to find your polling station. This site will tell you where you need to go to vote, all the forms of ID that are acceptable, and just about anything else you need to know about voting.

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Presidential Politics Come to Alabama

Posted by David Merrell On March - 8 - 2012 Comments Off on Presidential Politics Come to Alabama

    With Alabama’s Republican Primary coming up next Tuesday, the candidates have begun to show our state a little attention. Newt Gingrich was touring the state earlier this week. Rick Santorum will speak at the Mobile Convention Center tonight at 5:30 at an Alabama Policy Institute event. Both Santorum and Gingrich will attend a presidential candidate forum on Monday evening in Birmingham. Attempts are being made to bring Mitt Romney and Ron Paul to the event as well.

    Former Alabama Governor Bob Riley has endorsed former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. He cited Romney’s business experience as the determining factor. Riley believes that experience will come in handy given the shaky economic situation the country is currently in.

    There will be 47 delegates at stake when Alabamians go to the polls on March 13. Alabama has the ninth most delegates in the Republican primary season. Normally a primary race would have been decided by now, but changes to the rules now award proportional representation of delegates in most states. That means when a candidate wins a state’s primary, he does not get all the delegates, but a proportion based on his vote tally. This rule change has made it much more difficult to clinch the nomination.

    Added on to the rule changes is the fact that long time front runner Mitt Romney has had trouble connecting with the base of the Republican party. Romney had long been viewed a moderate Republican for his time as governor of Massachusetts. He has shifted to the right for this election, but the conservative base has yet to rally around him. Other candidates have risen to the national leader board, but all have lacked the staying power to hold on to the lead.

    Right now the conservative vote is split between Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. As long as both are in the race it is likely that Romney will pull out the nomination. If one of the candidates dropped out, the other could become the conservative alternative to Romney. Santorum is currently ahead of Gingrich in the national polls. At this point it doesn’t seem likely that Gingrich will be dropping out, especially after his victory in Georgia.

    The polls currently show a very tight race in Alabama. At this point any of the candidates could take the state’s delegates. Odds point to either Santorum or Gingrich taking the majority of delegates, but Romney could pull out a win if he puts big money into the state over the weekend. Romney will be in Pascagoula on Thursday as Mississippi also has their primary this coming Tuesday. It will be interesting to see if Governor Romney shows up and tries to battle for Alabama.

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