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UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

Topic: President Obama

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May 8, 2012 at 9:30 AM

Live blogging from Indiana GOP primary election: Tea Party victory biggest Senate upset in decades

Look of a winner

Richard E. Mourdock finally steps out of an SUV with the glow of a winner at 8:44pm Tuesday at the Tea Party victory rally in Indianapolis. (Photo by Thor Tolo/UW Election Eye)

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock is poised to unseat six-term incumbent Dick Lugar. Indiana has carried the 80-year-old U.S. Senator to victory with no less than 67% of the popular vote every election since 1982. UWEE’s Thor Tolo is traveling around the Hoosier state  providing continuous updates throughout the day. Times are PST.

Update: In making longtime U.S. Senator Dick Lugar of Indiana the first-ever six-term senator to lose his or her seat at the polls Tuesday, Richard Mourdock has rocked this country’s political core and made it be known that the Tea Party – whatever one thinks of it – is not dead. His margin of victory is a staggering 20 points – 60% to 40%. Presidents would salivate at such numbers, including the one who once called Lugar his “favorite Republican.”

Those words from Barack Obama – more than anything – may have been the fire the Tea Party desperately needed lighted to rally necessary support to overthrow the only other genuinely moderate Senator in Washington, D.C. besides Susan Collins of Maine. On his way out of “media lane” in that same community center, Mourdock turned to a top aide and said simply, “Wow, can you believe this?”

Update: 6:53pm. The next Senator from the great state of Indiana strolls out of the community center along North High School road and steps back into the waiting SUV.

New Indiana Senator signs on man's chest

Senator-elect Richard Mourdock signs a man's shirt just a few minutes following his emotional victory speech Tuesday night in west Indianapolis. (Photo by Thor Tolo/UW Election Eye)

Update: 6:31pm. Mourdock conducts his final one-on-one media interview of the evening, moves to his left, and begins signing autographs at a remarkable variety of places on people’s bodies – all keeping with his traditional, old-fashioned roots, of course.

Update: 5:46pm. Mourdock is asked what he might say during his victory speech. He hesitates, reaches for coat pocket, and says he “forgot script on his desk.” He isn’t joking.

Update: 5:44pm. Senator-elect Mourdock and Marilyn arrive in the back seat of a SUV – campaign “advance” staff all around them.

Update:  5:28pm. Indianapolis Police Officer tells me Mourdock and his wife, Marilyn, have left their Indianapolis home for the rally. (No formal ETA.)

Counting the minutes to Mourdock's arrival

When your own campaign staff is wondering what's up with the delay, you figure there must be a good reason. Read more Wednesday for why Mourdock arrived to his own victory party so late. (Photo by Thor Tolo/UW Election Eye)

Update: 5:26pm. “This anticipation is killing me,” said volunteer Bridget Eaker.

Update: 5:23 pm. Mourdock aide, laughing: “He’s killing networks’ opportunity to carry him prime time.” A good point.

Update: 5:04 pm. Mourdock now 13 minutes late. “But fashionably so,” said an aide. “Usually more prompt as down-homer.”

Update: 4:34 pm. MSNBC calls the race for Mourdock with only 17% of votes counted.

Update: 1:33 pm. Literally empty voting booths for 46 minutes mid-afternoon today at the Indianapolis Seniors’ Center. Generally speaking, six-term incumbent U.S. Senator Dick Lugar will surely benefit from lower turnout. However, on way into this parking lot early this afternoon, two drivers said they were taking an alley as a shortcut to make sure they would beat the rush were there one.

Obama Democrat voting Mourdock

Opal Steirling works out in Indianapolis Senior Center before casting her vote for Richard Mourdock on May 8, 2012. (Photo by Thor Tolo/UW Election Eye)

“I don’t know any of my Republican friends who are checking the box next to Mourdock’s name. But I do know a few who’ll be ripping the lever off for him,” joked Tomas Bachtell, a resident of east central Indianapolis.

As for 72-year-old Opal Steirling, the lifelong liberal Democrat said she will take advantage of Indiana’s “open” primary right after her workout to cast a vote for Mourdock.

“At this point,” she said. “I don’t care how crazy it sounds. It’s time for Lugar to go.”


Comments | More in National | Topics: Dick Lugar, GOP primary, Howey/Depauw

May 6, 2012 at 7:55 AM

Tea Party poised for tectonic upset in Indiana Senate race

PAC rally for Mourdock

Ginni Schneider grabbed new GOP primary frontrunner Richard Mourdock for a hug at Tea Party rally in downtown Indianapolis on May 5, 2012. (Photo by Thor Tolo/UW Election Eye)

Richard Mourdock has surged past six-term incumbent U.S. Senator Dick Lugar in the latest poll ahead of Indiana’s GOP primary on Tuesday. UWEE caught up with the Indiana Tea Party favorite on his Saturday afternoon stroll of Indiana’s Veterans Memorial Plaza in Indianapolis.

INDIANAPOLIS –  All signs suggest legendary Sen. Dick Lugar is going to lose Tuesday in a nationally watched Republican Party primary. That’s why I came to Indiana this weekend.

What I found was his likely conqueror, Richard Mourdock, walking around kissing babies and shaking hands with adults on Saturday at a Tea Party event. It was American retail politics at its best and most surreal.

Mourdock was prevented by Federal Election Commission (FEC) rules from appearing on stage at an event sponsored by the Political Action Committee (PAC) Freedom Works, but the FEC could not prevent Mourdock, the Indiana State Treasurer, from working the crowd at a Hoosier Conservatives Rally.

Certainly the government watchdog commission could not stop Mourdock from hugging Ginni Schneider, a loyal volunteer since before Mourdock’s most recent election to a two-year term as treasurer. “I love this man,” Schneider said with a big grin. “He’s Christian, he’s conservative, and he’s Republican. What more could we ask of him?”

In a scenario ripe for a “Daily Show” comedy skit critical of the Tea Party and PAC loopholes, Fox News commentator Michelle Malkin seemed ready to explode on the main stage because she was not able to point out Mourdock only a few yards away posing for pictures and signing autographs.

Mourdock — pronounced like Rupert’s last name — was unfazed. A widely respected poll released late Friday showed Mourdock enjoying a 10-point lead over Lugar, and Rick Santorum, Sarah Palin and Michele Bachman, have all provided endorsements.

“I’m so incredibly humbled by this turnout – this intra-party rebellion fueled by all these people who believe in the Tea Party,” Mourdock told me between a high five and kiss on the cheek of a woman standing next to him.

“I’ve run nine marathons in my life and when you make it to those last two miles, you stay steady. If you speed up, you cramp up. If you slow down, you run out of gas.”

What better metaphor could an Indiana politician have, with all those fast cars about to roar into town next weekend for the start of Indy 500 time trials?


Comments | More in National | Topics: Christine O'Donnell, Dick Lugar, Federal Election Commission

May 4, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Hooking the youth vote: does being cool matter?

As presidential campaigns prepare for November, attracting young voters is a priority. Is being a “cool” candidate the key to attracting this stereotypically apathetic crowd?

SEATTLE — Last week, as Lindsey Meeks reported here on UW Election Eye, the Obama campaign made it clear that reaching young voters is playing as significant a role in the 2012 campaign as it was in 2008. During a two-day college campus tour, President Barack Obama appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to “slow jam” the news. The topic was the potential interest rate increase for federal student loans. On the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, along with Fallon and The Roots, President Obama made it clear that he disagreed with the increase when he said, “Now is not the time to make school more expensive.”

The video has made the rounds on social networks; on Late Night’s Facebook page alone, it has been shared 1,961 times with 5,787 “likes.” On the show’s YouTube channel, the slow jam has over 5 million views. The campaign’s own YouTube garners plenty of views as well, with one recent video (“The Road We’ve Traveled”) surpassing the 2 million point.


Comments | More in National | Topics: Barack Obama, Campaign 2012, Jimmy Fallon

May 1, 2012 at 11:30 AM

Penn State Muslim responds to bullying with a smile

I stepped out into the pouring rain on Penn State University’s campus, expecting to unnerve any challengers of what I believe as a conservative Christian. Two hours later, I left the gorgeous campus with a new friend, a new attitude, sharper perspective, and a softer approach.

STATE COLLEGE, Penn. — My first impression of the young woman seated in the sea of computers in Penn State’s Pattee-Paterno Library was the intensity in her eyes as she studied.

Noora Albraiki was bullied not far from Penn State University's Paterno Library where she studied on April 21, 2012. (Photo by Thor Tolo/UW Election Eye)

Noora Albraiki was bullied not far from Penn State University's Paterno Library where she studied on April 21, 2012. (Photo by Thor Tolo/UW Election Eye)

My second impression was her warm smile, as I approached her cubicle to ask if she had a few minutes to talk politics.

“Well I could use a break,” she said, “so let’s go over to the fountain.”

Noora Albraiki looked exhausted. Two days earlier the petite Muslim woman was strolling across campus when a young man passing out literature starting shouting in her direction. Albraiki said the fellow was a Christian missionary who began to bully her about her religion being “wrong.”

“It really made me sad,” she said, “but I wasn’t going to let his bullying make me feel intimidated. It upset me how he was totally making fun of what I believe [while] showing me how Jesus — how Christianity — is the only way. He wanted to show me his religion is right, but he kept teasing me and teasing me and wouldn’t let me speak.”

I understood what she was saying. I am an evangelical Christian, and I often struggle with how best to share what I believe. But my biggest frustration is usually with those who do believe as I do; not with those who don’t.


Comments | More in National | Topics: Dubai, Evangelical Christian, Muslim

April 26, 2012 at 9:19 PM

Buffalo rancher banks on President’s likeness for humor and profit

A Coos Bay, Oregon buffalo rancher and buddy are traveling throughout the West selling an unusual campaign trinket:  a coin bank in the shape of President Barack Obama’s head.

President Obama coin banks (Photo by Dan Thornton / UW Election Eye)

SEATTLE — Mike McGinnis and Jack Baggley made it just in time. The last Democratic voters at the April 15th Precinct Caucus at the Beacon Hill International School were just getting ready to put the chairs up on the tables when McGinnis and Baggley stormed into the room in a flurry of “how ya’ doins” and “hey theres.” The bemused Democrats remaining were each handed an object wrapped in plastic that looked suspiciously like it contained a head. When they unwrapped the unsolicited gift, that is exactly what they found. McGinnis and Baggley were giving away rubber coin banks in the shape of President Obama’s head. For free. As they handed each person a coin bank, they shook their hands or slapped them on the back with a hearty smile and the occasional “here ya’ go, Bank on Obama” or “glad we caught you all.” In all they probably handed out about a dozen of the coin banks to the generally amused and slightly befuddled recipients.


Comments | More in Local, National | Topics: campaign merchandise, Democratic Party, President Obama