Entries in 2012 Presidential Election (7)


Kenyan Village Cheers Obama Victory as ‘More Meaningful’ Than the First

TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images(KOGELO, Kenya) – Toward the end of an all-night election dance party in this rural village that claims President Barack Obama as a “son of the land,” an exhausted crowd sat shivering under shawls and blankets on plastic lawn chairs, watching the first results come in from America.  There was an unusual hush as early returns showed Mitt Romney ahead, but soon the count changed and the tension broke.  When a television news anchor projected President Obama would be re-elected, a new wave of energy swept over the crowd.

Residents of Kogelo leapt to their feet, singing a traditional Swahili gospel song and waving branches.  They danced over to the home of the president’s late father to celebrate with his 90-year-old step-grandmother.  “Mama Sarah,” as she is known here, beamed proudly at an impromptu press conference for the crush of reporters who have once again descended on the town for reaction from the U.S. president’s Kenyan relatives.

“The first reason why he won is because he is blessed by God. The second one is that he worked hard for his people,” Sarah Obama said through an interpreter.  “This election is more meaningful because it was not just euphoria but the decision of Americans who have seen his work.”

Residents of this typically sleepy village in rural western Kenya are not just celebrating the president’s re-election victory because of a sense of kinship; they said they have high hopes a second term will directly affect their lives.

“He has brought honor and glory to this community.  He has placed this community on the map,” said Sayid Obama, who called himself the president’s uncle.

Kogelo’s connection to the U.S. president has brought it more attention from the Kenyan government and some charity groups.  The village now has a paved road, electricity, new wells, and two new hotels and restaurants serving foreign tourists.

“Many guests have come around. Everyone has benefited. Shopkeepers have been selling small things,” said Nicholas Rajula, who says he was inspired by President Obama to try to find his own success as a businessman.

Rajula recently built the Kogelo Village Resort hotel and says he hopes international interest in the area will increase the pace of development.  Others say they are celebrating a victory for all people of the world — what they believe is evidence of a changing attitude toward race far beyond their village.

“Blacks and whites are the same,” said local teacher Alice Babu.  “It should be a lesson for everyone that we should not underrate people. We are all equal. It is only that given opportunity, then it can be seen.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


WikiLeaks Founder Urges Americans to Vote for Site on Election Day

BERTIL ERICSON/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange posted a fundraising pitch on Wednesday that claims the group "has decided to intervene in the U.S. election campaign" and urges Americans not to vote in November.

"This election day, do not vote for the Republican or Democratic parties.  Instead, cast the only vote that matters.  Vote with your wallet -- vote for WikiLeaks," the message reads.

WikiLeaks goes on to claim responsibility for the American withdrawal from Iraq, the Arab Spring and hospital reform in the United States.


Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gingrich to Afghanistan: 'Live Your Own Miserable Life'

Richard Ellis/Getty Images(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said Monday that the unrest the United States was seeing in Afghanistan was just “the tip of the iceberg.”

“We’re not going to fix Afghanistan. It’s not possible. These are people who have spent several thousand years hating foreigners,” Gingrich said. “And what we’ve done by staying is become the new foreigners. And this is a real problem.”

Gingrich said that in his judgment, the problems the U.S. face in the Middle East are too big and complicated for military solutions.

“There’s some problems where what you have to do is say, ‘You know, you’re going to have to figure out how to live your own miserable life because I’m not here — you clearly don’t want to hear from me how to be unmiserable,’” Gingrich said.

Gingrich was critical of President Obama last week for apologizing to Afghanistan after the burning of copies of the Koran sparked mass protests. Gingrich said the president should not have apologized since two Americans were killed.

On Monday, Gingrich also took a swipe at Afghan president Hamid Zarzai. “My prediction is, the Karzai government is playing us for fools,” Gingrich said. “So my view is that we need to be, we need to have a president who is prepared to tell the truth about who is trying to kill us.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Ron Paul: Iran Does Not Threaten Our National Security

ABC News(SIOUX CITY, IOWA) -- Ron Paul told Iowa voters on Friday that he would not launch a preemptive strike on Iran because “they don’t threaten our national security.”

“If some other country thought they had to go to war with them, that is their business,” he said, adding there is no proof Iran is building a nuclear weapon.

A recent IAEA report said that Iran’s pursuit of nuclear technology over several years could be consistent with the building of a bomb. And Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta gave Iran “about a year, perhaps a little less” before it could have a nuclear weapon.

Paul’s position on Iran is one that has drawn criticism from his GOP rivals.

On Friday, Paul was responding to a question from an Iowa voter who asked the Texas Congressman whether he could conceive of a situation where he would preemptively declare war on a country.

Paul admitted that the president does need the consent of Congress to declare war, but did say, “If battleships are off our shore, an imminent attack, the president has an obligation to respond.”

But in the case of Iran, Paul provoked his rivals and exclaimed, “they can’t even produce enough gasoline for their automobiles.”

With his bump in the polls, Paul’s GOP opponents, who see national defense as his weakness, have hit hard this week.

“Ron Paul thinks it would be fine if the Iranians obtained nuclear weapons,” Michele Bachmann said.

“You don’t have to vote for a candidate who will allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon to wipe Israel off the face of the earth,” echoed Rick Perry.

“One of the people running for president thinks it’s O.K. for Iran to have a nuclear weapon. I don’t,” said Mitt Romney.

Paul admitted on Friday that the criticism “baffles me a whole lot,” adding what is dangerous is endless wars and expanding government.

Ron Paul placed second in support among Iowa voters in the latest NBC News-Marist University polls; he came in at 21%, with Romney at 23%.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Newt Gingrich ‘Ignorant,’ ‘Racist’ Say Palestinians

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Republican Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich has been slammed by Palestinians for telling a Jewish television channel that they are an “invented” people.

“These are extremely trivial, demeaning and ridiculous remarks,” Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said, according to the Ma’an News Agency . “Even the most extremist settlers of Israel wouldn’t talk in such a ridiculous way.”

“Ignorant” and “despicable” were also used by top Palestinian officials to describe Gingrich’s comments.

“This is the lowest point of thinking anyone can reach,” said lead negotiator Saeb Erekat. The comments only “increase the cycle of violence.”

Gingrich told the Jewish Channel that Palestinians are “invented” because there has been no state of Palestine.

“I think that we’ve had an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs, and who were historically part of the Arab community,” said Gingrich. “And they had a chance to go many places, and for a variety of political reasons we have sustained this war against Israel now since the 1940s, and it’s tragic.”

The land of Israel and the Palestinian territories was part of the Ottoman Empire before being taken over by Great Britain. Mandated Palestine, as it was known, was then partitioned by the United Nations in 1947.

Gingrich went on to call the Israeli-Palestinian peace process “delusional” and that President Barack Obama’s treatment of Palestinians is “favoring the terrorists.”

Gingrich’s argument is regularly made and far from new.

In 1969, former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir said “There is no such thing as a Palestinian people… It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They didn’t exist.”

“This proves that in the hysterical atmosphere of American elections, people lose all touch with reality and make not just irresponsible and dangerous statements, but also very racist comments that betray not just their own ignorance but an unforgivable bias,” said top Palestinian Liberation Organization official Hanan Ashrawi.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama's Israel Policy Takes Hits But Unlikely to Alter Jewish Vote

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Republican presidential candidates slammed President Obama’s Israel policy in successive speeches before the Jewish Republican Coalition on Wednesday, using a slew of recent off-the-cuff comments on Israel by administration officials as ammunition for their attacks.

Rep. Michele Bachmann accused Defense Secretary Leon Panetta for showing “disdain” toward Israel when he demanded last week that they “get to the damn table” to restart peace talks, and she blasted U.S. Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman of “justifying anti-Semitism” in a speech before the European Jewish Union, according to excerpts of her remarks.

Mitt Romney charged Obama with “chastising” Israel, raising the controversy over Obama’s 1967 borders speech in May, and “insulting” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in private comments to French President Nicolas Sarkozy caught by an open mic last month.

“These actions have emboldened Palestinian hardliners who now are poised to form a unity government with terrorist Hamas and feel they can bypass Israel at the bargaining table,” Romney said.  “President Obama has immeasurably set back the prospect of peace in the Middle East.”

Rick Santorum even predicted the situation has given Republicans an edge, with ”Jews all across this country now understanding that the values of the Republican Party are in concert with theirs, and we’ve seen a dramatic growth in Jewish involvement in the Republican Party.”

But while the Republicans’ politically charged claims might help rally conservative primary voters, including Jews, there are few signs their comments on Israel will alter the longstanding Democratic allegiance of the Jewish voting bloc headed into 2012.

Polls show Obama, who won 78 percent of the Jewish vote in 2008, according to exit polls, retains strong support among American Jews, even if his standing has slipped compared to where it was four years ago.

Among Jews in Israel, Obama’s favorability has even been on the rise, according to a Saban Center for Middle East Policy poll released last week.  Fifty-four percent of Israeli Jews have a favorable view of Obama, up from 41 percent last year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama’s British Bundler: London Woman Taps Expat Cash for Campaign

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- President Obama is tapping into a pool of campaign cash from wealthy Americans abroad with help from a single foreign-based bundler who lives in London.

Diana Shaw Clark, who records show is a self-employed writer, raised at least $50,000 for Obama and the Democratic National Committee during the second quarter, according to a report of the top volunteer fundraisers provided by the Obama campaign.  

Two hundred forty-four bundlers together raked in at least $35 million for the Obama Victory Fund in April, May and June. Clark is the only one living overseas.

“If you live in London and are part of the large expat community, you can hit up your friends who are U.S. citizens just as you could in New York or Los Angeles,” said Michael Beckel of the Center for Responsive Politics.  

“Candidates are going to reach out to whomever they can, wherever they can, even if that means reaching out to communities of U.S. citizens in other countries,” he said.

During the 2008 campaign, Obama flew to London for a star-studded fundraiser at the Notting Hill home of Elisabeth Murdoch, the daughter of News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch, where he reportedly collected more than $400,000 from expat supporters.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney recently made a trip across the pond to raise cash, appealing to supporters at the Dartmouth House in central London.

While federal law forbids candidates from accepting campaign contributions from foreign citizens, governments or corporations, the estimated 300,000 Americans living in the United Kingdom can give freely -- and vote.

Clark, who has played a key role in mobilizing expat Democrats, is the only one of three foreign-based bundlers for Obama from 2008 who has returned to help with fundraising for 2012.  

UK Warner Bros. executive Josh Berger, who bundled between $200,000 and $500,000, and Switzerland-based lawyer Charles Adams, who netted between $50,000 and $100,000, are not on the 2011 list.

Clark bundled between $50,000 and $100,000 in 2008, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

British news reports describe Clark as Obama’s principal “emissary” in London and UK coordinator of the group Americans Abroad for Obama.

“The challenge for me is that I am representing the most articulate candidate we have had in generations,” she said in an interview with The Independent in February 2008. “It is hard to do that adequately.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio