Tag Archives: Presidential Election

One on One Interview: Libertarian Presidential Candidate Adam Kokesh

In this episode of Truth In Media with Ben Swann, Libertarian Presidential candidate Adam Kokesh breaks down his campaign and explains his policies in detail, including peaceful dissolution of the United States Federal Government.

This episode also discusses the high volume of independent and third-party voters who lean toward leadership outside the stronghold of the two-party system, yet powerful political figures continually aim to control the narrative by delegitimizing these candidates who rebuke establishment policies.

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Bill Weld Sues to End Winner-Take-All in Massachusetts Presidential Elections

Former Republican Massachusetts Governor and Libertarian Party vice presidential candidate Bill Weld filed a suit Wednesday in Boston federal court challenging the constitutionality of Massachusetts’ winner-take-all election system. He says the system disenfranchises third and minority party voters.

Under winner-take-all rules, which exist in 48 U.S. states, the presidential candidate that obtains the most votes in a state then receives all of the state’s electoral votes. In Maine and Alaska, electoral votes are attributed to the winners of each congressional district, allowing supporters of candidates who lost the state to get a degree of proportional representation in the Electoral College.

“The winner-take-all system under the Electoral College is at the heart of the unhealthy duopoly that plagues our national politics. It causes candidates and campaigns to ignore all but the ‘battleground’ states. It discards millions of votes for president every four years. Getting rid of the winner-take-all system will help Americans enjoy a broader range of choices for president than the narrow ‘either/or’ choice with which they’ve suffered for too long,” said Weld according to The Dallas Observer.

Weld’s Massachusetts lawsuit claims, “The predominant method in America for counting votes in presidential elections violates the United States Constitution; it also distorts presidential campaigns, facilitates targeted outside interference in our elections, and ensures that a substantial number of citizen voters are disenfranchised when their votes are tallied in early November, only to be discarded when it really counts in mid-December.”

According to The Republican, Weld’s suit comes as a part of a nationwide movement to end winner-take-all, with suits also filed in California, Texas, and South Carolina. The California version of the lawsuit includes Republican actor Paul Rodriguez as a plaintiff. The Texas suit names the League of United Latin American Citizens as a plaintiff, who argue that Texas electoral votes have not gone to a candidate supported widely by Latino and African American voters, who make up around 40 percent of the state’s population, since 1976.

The Boston Herald notes that in Massachusetts 9.6 million citizens have cast votes for non-Democratic candidates in the past 8 presidential elections, but all of the state’s electoral votes have gone to Democrats.

The plaintiffs of the lawsuits in four states have indicated that they do not intend to overturn the entire Electoral College system, just individual states’ winner-take-all methods of allocating electoral votes.

Weld’s suit claims that winner-take-all causes general election presidential candidates to avoid campaign stops in highly-partisan states such as Massachusetts. “As a result [of winner-take-all], candidates from major political parties rarely hold campaign events in Massachusetts once they are selected by their parties in the primary,” it reads. “This results in a reduced opportunity for all Massachusetts voters to interface with and petition the candidates for major political parties in person, and ‘to express their ideas, hopes, and concerns to their government and their elected representatives’ as is also protected by the Petition Clause of the First Amendment.”

DONEGAN: Debunking the Lesser-of-Two-Evils Voting Theory

Anyone who has ever supported a third-party presidential candidate in an election has likely had to defend their decision from partisans who endorse the lesser-of-two-evils voter theory. By the logic offered by proponents of the theory, anyone who votes for an independent candidate is at best wasting their vote, and at worst handing the election over to their least-favorite major-party candidate.

With as many as four potential Supreme Court replacements looming during the next presidency, partisans will doubtlessly wield the argument with ferocious intensity during the run-up to the 2016 presidential general election.

[RELATED: DONEGAN: If GOP Debate Stage Can Fit 11, Let Third Parties In General Election Debates]

However, for the vast majority of Americans in the overwhelming majority of states, this cannot possibly be the case. In presidential elections where Electoral College votes are allocated primarily in a winner-take-all fashion and in which there are very few competitive swing states, most Americans’ electoral votes in a particular election are already predetermined before anyone even heads to the polls.

Anecdotally-speaking, as a libertarian-leaning Tennessean who identifies as Republican, I knew going into the voting booth in 2012 that all of my Electoral College votes were going to go to Mitt Romney. However, I was warned in advance that if I pulled the lever for a third-party candidate, it would swing the election to Barack Obama. Republican activists scolded me that I would then be responsible for Obama’s radical Supreme Court nominees and all sorts of other fearful outcomes that I needed to vote for Romney to prevent.

Ultimately, Romney did not end up choosing positions that would earn my vote, and I was forced to pull the lever for a third-party candidate. All 11 of hard-red Tennessee’s winner-take-all Electoral College votes went predictably to Romney. Though Obama did end up winning the election, my vote did not in any way assist him in achieving that victory. All of my state’s votes went to Romney.

Did I waste my vote? I could have traveled all the way to the voting booth just to give Mitt Romney an even larger victory in Tennessee by a single vote that would have had no impact on his chances against Obama.

Voting third party on the other hand has some tangible effects. In some states, third parties gain legal status and ballot access when they obtain certain percentages in state-wide races such as presidential elections, thus expanding competition among political parties. Also, major party candidates tend to look at any unusually-high percentages earned by third-party candidates in elections as signals that it is time to take on some of the key issues that are gaining traction among independents in that party.

For partisans, voting third-party can push a favorite major party closer to that person’s views. Meanwhile, there is nothing stopping such a voter from continuing to support major-party candidates in state and local races down the ballot and continuing to support the party in general without being forced to vote for an unacceptable presidential candidate.

According to Politico, “In the current Electoral College battlefield, 40 of 50 states have voted for the same [party’s] candidate in all four elections since 2000. And, of the 10 exceptions, three [North Carolina, New Mexico, and Indiana] were fluky… That leaves just seven super-swingy states: Colorado, Florida, Nevada, Ohio, and Virginia, all of which backed Bush and Obama twice each, and Iowa and New Hampshire, which have voted Democratic in three of the last four elections.

For voters in those 7-10 states, a close race days out from the election might lend a bit of credence to the lesser-of-two-evils theory. Also, in Nebraska and Maine, the only two states that do not allocate Electoral College votes in a winner-take-all manner and instead do so proportionally, the argument gains a bit more traction. That said, Maine only has 4 electoral votes and while it is possible that two candidates might split electoral votes in those states, according to the Office of the Federal Register, “It has not actually happened.

[RELATED: DONEGAN: RNC Loyalty Oath Goes Too Far By Asking Candidates to Endorse Unknown Nominee]

Partisans will point to obscure potentialities like a state radically politically shifting suddenly as a potential outcome justifying a lesser-of-two-evils vote, but the odds of that happening solely on the basis of a third-party candidate surging are slim at best in any particular instance. Besides, if that were going to happen, voters would be aware of media-reported evidence of the political shift prior to election day and could make adjustments accordingly if they so desired.

Too often it is said that a third-party candidate has spoiled an election when popular vote election returns appear to show that candidate getting a number of votes that, if given to a major party candidate, would have changed the outcome. This assumes wrongly that 100 percent of that candidate’s voters were available to the major party candidate in the first place. As it pertains to the U.S. presidential race, such an argument also oversimplifies the complexities of the Electoral College system.

Ultimately, the lesser-of-two-evils voter theory wrests on a backwards principle — that voters should vote against their least-favorite candidate rather than voting for their favorite candidate. It is not the voter’s job to win the election for a political party or candidate. Candidates and political parties must earn the support of voters by choosing positions that will convince them to travel to a polling location and pull the lever in the voting booth.

In July of 2015, the Truth in Media Project released a Consider This video highlighting the fact that independent voters now outnumber Republicans and Democrats. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.


Rand Paul Declines to Endorse Any Candidate in GOP Primary Race

After dropping out of the 2016 presidential race Wednesday, Rand Paul’s campaign declared that he will endorse the chosen GOP nominee, but he will not endorse any of his former rivals while they are still in the running.

During a conference call with reporters following Paul’s announcement, his top campaign strategist Doug Stafford said that the Senator from Kentucky made the decision to drop out in part because he was likely to be excluded from the next GOP debate Saturday night.

In the Iowa Caucus on Monday, Paul came in fifth place with one delegate, behind Texas Sen. Ted Cruz with eight delegates, Donald Trump with seven, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio also with seven, and Ben Carson with three.

Stafford said Paul has no plans to endorse any of his former competitors before one is chosen to be the GOP nominee. While former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee made a similar decision when he ended his presidential campaign following Monday’s caucus, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum announced that he was endorsing Rubio when he ended his campaign Wednesday evening.

Paul announced Wednesday morning that he intends to focus on running for re-election as a Senator in Kentucky. “Although, today I will suspend my campaign for President, the fight is far from over,” he said. “I will continue to carry the torch for Liberty in the United States Senate and I look forward to earning the privilege to represent the people of Kentucky for another term.”

While Paul had initially counted on receiving the support of those who backed his father Ron Paul in the 2008 and 2012 elections, Stafford said that the “Ron Paul movement” still exists, but that “voters shift from time and what’s most important to them is hard to capture.” 

Stafford also noted that having Trump in the race changed the dynamic because it “took all the oxygen out of the room,” and made it “very difficult to have what you believe is a stronger message and a stronger candidate but you can’t break through because celebrity became the largest thing.”

For more election coverage, click here.

Joshua Cook Interviews Libertarian Presidential Candidate Austin Petersen

In an interview with Truth in Media’s Joshua Cook, Libertarian presidential candidate Austin Petersen discussed his 2016 campaign.

Petersen told Cook about his philosophical differences with his opponent, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, stating that he would love to debate Johnson and discuss issues that Americans care most about. Petersen also discussed the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

Petersen told Cook that he didn’t believe that the ‘liberty’ movement was dead and that young people are still interested in less government and more freedom.

Petersen said that he believes that he can grow the Libertarian Party in 2016.

Listen to the interview above to learn more about Petersen and his campaign.

Former House Majority Leader Claims FBI is ‘Ready to Indict’ Hillary Clinton

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has been under investigation by the FBI for several months, and former U.S. House Majority leader Tom DeLay said Monday that the FBI is “ready to indict” her for using a private email server to conduct government business.

During an interview on “The Steve Malzberg Show,” DeLay, a Republican from Texas, said he has friends in the FBI who tell him they’re ready to indict” the former Secretary of State.

“They’re ready to recommend an indictment and they also say that if the attorney general does not indict, they’re going public,” DeLay said.

[RELATED: FBI Refuses to Release Information in Hillary Clinton Email Investigation]

Clinton’s use of personal email on a private server during her tenure as Secretary of State was revealed in March 2015, and while she has maintained that she never sent or received any classified information on the server, her claims have been contradicted by the Intelligence Community.

Intelligence Community Inspector General I. Charles McCullough III sent a letter to Congress on Jan. 14, revealing that not only did “several dozen” of Clinton’s emails contain classified information, but some of the information was classified as SAP or “special access programs,” which is beyond top secret.

“To date, I have received two sworn declarations from one [intelligence community] element,” McCullough wrote. “These declarations cover several dozen emails containing classified information determined by the IC element to be at the confidential, secret, and top secret/sap levels. According to the declarant, these documents contain information derived from classified IC element sources.” 

[RELATED: Report: Dozens of Hillary Clinton Emails were Classified from The Beginning]

DeLay said he believes Clinton is “going to have to face these charges” eventually, whether it’s through an FBI indictment or through the “public eye.”

“One way or another either she’s going to be indicted and that process begins, or we try her in the public eye with her campaign,” DeLay said. “One way or another she’s going to have to face these charges.”

Ben Carson Threatens to Leave GOP if Leaders Engage in ‘Back Room Deals’

GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson repeated his threat to leave the GOP on Sunday, claiming that he was “out of here” if Republican leaders were going to engage in “back room deals.”

More than 20 Republican officials reportedly met last week at a dinner held by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus to discuss the possibility of “a brokered convention” if billionaire mogul Donald Trump emerges as the GOP nominee, according to a report from the Washington Post.

A brokered convention, where delegates would select the GOP nominee for 2016 through a vote on the convention floor in Cleveland, would only occur if the leading GOP candidate “failed to win a simple majority of 2,472 delegates by the time the final state primary contests complete in June of next year.”

Carson responded on Friday, claiming that “if the leaders of the Republican Party want to destroy the party, they should continue to hold meetings like the one described” in the report.

[pull_quote_center]These are the kinds of things that have resulted in the very corrupt system that has no integrity. And it’s why people don’t trust government anymore. We need to get away from that.[/pull_quote_center]

Carson went on to suggest that he would consider leaving the GOP if the report proved to be true, due to the fact that he believes such meetings are “the beginning of a plan to subvert the will of the voters.”

“If this was the beginning of a plan to subvert the will of the voters and replace it with the will of the political elite, I assure you Donald Trump will not be the only one leaving the party,” Carson said. “I pray that the report in The Post this morning was incorrect. If it is correct, every voter who is standing for change must know they are being betrayed. I won’t stand for it.”

[RELATED: Reality Check: Is Ben Carson the Latest Victim of Flawed Media Investigations?]

During an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Week, Carson was asked if he was “prepared to make good on that threat.”

“Well, one of the reasons that I got into this is because I heard the frustration in the people who are so tired of back room deals, of subterfuge, of dishonesty,” Carson replied. “And, you know, if that is the case, then you know I’m out of here.”

Carson claimed that he has “subsequently spoken to Reince Priebus,” who assured him that the kind of meeting described was a routine meeting, and that “the last thing they would do is engage in back room dealing.”

“But, you know, the jury is out,” Carson concluded. “We’ll certainly be keeping a close eye on things.”

On Friday, Carson said he has no intention of running as an independent candidate if he is to drop out of the GOP race. “I have no intention of running as an Independent,” he said. “But I certainly don’t want to be part of the corruption.”

For more election coverage, click here.

Trump’s Proposal to Ban Muslim Immigration Draws Criticism From Political Figures

GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump’s immigration policies drew criticism on Monday after he released his proposal to prevent Muslim immigration to the United States.

Trump released a statement on Monday calling for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

Highlighting a poll from the Center for Security Policy, the statement claimed that “25% of those polled agreed that violence against Americans here in the United States is justified as a part of the global jihad.”

“Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension,” Trump said. “Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine. Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life.”

The Intercept described the Center for Security Policy as a think tank “led by Frank Gaffney, a far-right activist who theorized that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the U.S. government,” and pointed that the poll cited by Trump has “no statistical validity” because it was a “non-probability based, opt-in online survey.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan criticized Trump’s proposal on Tuesday, saying that although he usually does not comment on the Republican presidential race, he was making an exception.

“Freedom of religion is a fundamental constitutional principle. It’s a founding principle of this country,” Ryan said. “This is not conservatism. What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for. And more importantly, it’s not what this country stands for.”

Trump’s proposal received criticism from GOP rivals such as former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who called the proposal “the kind of thing people say when they have no experience and don’t know what they’re talking about.”

“What we need to do is increase our intelligence capabilities activity both around the world and in the homeland,” Christie said. “We need to back up our law enforcement officers, who are out fighting this fight everyday, give them the tools they need.”

When asked by The Hill if Trump’s proposal would go as far as to exclude Muslim-American citizens who are currently out of the country, Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks said, “Mr. Trump says, ‘everyone.’ ”

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush criticized Trump on Twitter, describing Trump as “unhinged.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC.), who has made questionable remarks in the past such as reportedly saying that “Everything that starts with ‘Al’ in the Middle East is bad news,” took to Twitter to criticize Trump.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) referred to Trump’s proposal as another one of his “offensive and outlandish” statements.

When asked for their opinions on Trump’s proposal to ban Muslim immigration, both Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx.) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) did not criticize their rival, and instead presented their own proposals for how they would deal with refugees.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called Trump’s proposal “reprehensible, prejudiced and divisive,” and insisted that it would make the U.S. less safe.

Trump’s proposal also received criticism from GOP officials in the first three states to vote in the primary process states, who usually stay neutral when it comes to presidential primary contests.

Jeff Kaufmann, chair of the Iowa GOP, said on Twitter that “our founding principles are stronger than political cynicism,” and that while the GOP believes Obama has failed on ISIS, it also believes “we don’t make ourselves safer by betraying bedrock Constitutional values.”

Jennifer Horn, the chair of the New Hampshire GOP, said “There should never be a day in the United States of America when people are excluded based solely on their race or religion,” and said to do so, “It is un-Republican. It is unconstitutional. And it is un-American.”

Matt Moore, the chair of the South Carolina GOP, called Trump’s proposal a “bad idea” and said it sent a shiver down his spine.


 For more election coverage, click here.

Democratic Debate: Candidates Clash on Foreign Policy, Fighting ISIS

In the wake of a series of terror attacks in Paris on Friday that left over 100 people dead and 99 in critical condition, CBS announced that it would shift the focus of Saturday’s Democratic presidential debate to include discussion of the attacks, which led to an array of commentary from the three candidates.

Steve Capus, the executive editor of CBS News and the executive producer of CBS Evening News, said that when the news team learned about the attack during rehearsals on Friday, they “immediately shifted gears and reformulated questions to make them more directly related to the attacks” for Saturday night’s debate.

“American leadership is put to the test,” Capus said. “The entire world is looking to the White House. These people are vying to take over this office.”

Ben Carson: U.S. Dollar ‘Not Based on Anything. Why Would We Be Continuing to Do That?’

During an interview on economics last week, 2016 GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson raised questions about U.S. monetary policy and said that as president he would not authorize any government spending increases.

Outlining his government spending policy, Carson told Marketplace:

[pull_quote_center]If we simply refuse to extend the budget by one penny for three to four years, you got a balanced budget. Just like that. So this is not pie in the sky, very difficult thing to accomplish. Having said that, one of the bugaboos that has kept us from reducing government in the past is sacred cows. What I would do is first of all, allow the government to shrink by attrition. Don’t replace the people who are retiring, thousands of them each year. And No. 2: Take every departmental head, or sub-department head and tell them, ‘I want a 3 to 4 percent reduction.’ Now anybody who tells me there’s not 3 to 4 percent fat in virtually everything that we do is fibbing to themselves.[/pull_quote_center]

When Carson was asked by Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal whether he would support now-routine increases to the U.S. debt limit, he replied, “Let me put it this way: if I were the president, I would not sign an increased budget. Absolutely would not do it. They would have to find a place to cut… I would provide the kind of leadership that says, ‘Get on the stick guys, and stop messing around, and cut where you need to cut, because we’re not raising any spending limits, period.’

[RELATED: Ben Carson Says He Would Secure U.S.-Mexico Border with Drone Strikes]

He added, “I mean if we continue along this, where does it stop? It never stops. You’re always gonna ask the same question every year. And we’re just gonna keep going down that pathway. That’s one of the things I think that the people are tired of.

Carson then raised questions about America’s fiat monetary system and said that it enables out-of-control spending:

[pull_quote_center]Now the only reason that we can sustain that kind of debt is because of our artificial ability to print money, to create what we think is wealth, but it is not wealth, because it’s based upon our faith and credit. You know, we decoupled it from the domestic gold standard in 1933, and from the international gold standard in 1971, and since that time, it’s not based on anything. Why would we be continuing to do that?[/pull_quote_center]

Responding to a question asking him to pinpoint the gravest issue facing the U.S. economy, Carson said, “I think our debt is horrendous. You know, one of the things that happens with this level of debt is that it’s very difficult for the Fed to raise interest rates. And why is that such a problem? Well it used to be that Joe the Butcher would take 5 percent of his earnings every week and put it into a savings account. And he would watch that grow over two, or three, or four decades. And by the time he was ready to retire, he was in good shape. Now, poor people and middle-class people really don’t have a mechanism to grow their money. The only people who can grow their money are people who have a certain risk tolerance. And those tend to be upper-income people who can utilize the stock market.

Noticing what appeared to be Carson’s anti-Federal Reserve rhetoric, Ryssdal asked him to comment specifically on the Federal Reserve and its chair Janet Yellen. Carson balked at the chance to criticize either directly and said, “Well, you know, I’ve known Janet Yellen for a long time. We’ve served on boards together, and she’s a very intelligent individual, very responsible, and obviously is trying to do what she thinks is right. But she’s caught between a rock and a hard place, and I understand that. And that’s why I would tend to really put the emphasis on driving down our debt, because that’s how we begin to correct the problem. You know, unless we correct the fundamental problems, all the other stuff we’re doing isn’t going to matter that much.

Carson also said that early wealthy American industrialists built the foundation for America’s economic engine. “You know, the Europeans, they looked over here and they saw the Rockefellers, and the Vanderbilts, and the Fords, and the Kelloggs, and the Carnegies, and the Mellons, and they said you can’t run a country like that. You’ve gotta have an overarching government that receives all the funding and equity that redistributes it, so we actually inspired socialism.”

“But all of those people that I just mentioned,” Carson continued, “they didn’t just hoard money and pass it down from generation to generation, they built the infrastructure of our country. They build the transcontinental railroads and seaports and textile mills and factories that enabled the development of the most powerful and dynamic middle class the world has ever seen, which rapidly propelled us to the pinnacle,” he said.

Commenting on Carson’s questioning of America’s fiat currency system, Washington Post writer Matt O’Brien implied that the retired neurosurgeon is not a “candidate of serious policy,” criticized the concept of a gold dollar standard, and defended the Federal Reserve’s manipulation of interest rates.

Mises Institute’s Ryan McMaken then challenged O’Brien’s critique of Carson on the issue. “Without a hint of irony, O’Brien suggests that interest rates guided by the market simply lack the wisdom of our current PhD Standard,” said McMaken.

For more election coverage, click here.

Pollsters Criticize Use of Polling Minimums to Exclude Candidates from Debates

Amid widespread dispute over the usefulness of polling in determining who should be allowed to appear in presidential debates, a survey of top pollsters suggests that some leading professionals in the polling industry believe that their product is not an effective tool for that purpose.

The issue of minimum polling requirements being used as a qualifier for debates is currently causing significant controversy in both major political parties’ primaries, as both of them now use ever-changing polling minimums to narrow down the number of candidates throughout the election cycle, and in the general election, in which the Republican and Democrat controlled Commission on Presidential Debates requires independent candidates to meet a nigh-impossible 15 percent minimum threshold of support in national polls.

Politico conducted a survey of the opinions of top pollsters and found that many of them believe that public opinion polls lack the precision to measure the small-scale changes in support that determine the rankings between candidates.

Rutgers University professor and former president of the American Association for Public Opinion Research said, “Polls are being used to do a job that they’re really not intended for — and they’re not as qualified for as they used to be. It’s like asking a scale that can only tell pounds to measure ounces. They’re just not that finely calibrated. … I think polls can do a good job talking about tiers of candidates in name recognition. That’s all that polls can do. But they can’t tell the difference between Bobby Jindal, who’s not in the [Republican primary] debate, and Chris Christie, who is.

Pew Research Center associate director Jocelyn Kiley cautioned, “These numbers all have a margin of error around them. We try very hard, as do most of our colleagues in the field, to make clear when there are significant differences and when there aren’t.

In a packed Republican primary, the differences between the amounts of support obtained by, for example, a fourth place candidate and a sixth place candidate often fall within the survey’s margin of error.

[RELATED: DONEGAN: If GOP Debate Stage Can Fit 11, Let Third Parties In General Election Debates]

Worse still, some otherwise-eligible candidates are not included in nationwide polls in the first place. Presidential Debate News notes that Democratic presidential candidate and Harvard Law School professor Larry Lessig is on pace to be excluded from CNN’s October 13 Democratic presidential debate due to the fact that he has not obtained at least 1 percent support in a specific set of polls that do not include him as a response. Lessig did garner 1 percent support in a September Public Policy Polling survey that is not included in the Democratic National Committee’s list of qualified polls.

Politico’s Steven Shepard pointed out the fact that Senator Rand Paul’s ability to qualify for CNBC’s upcoming October 28 Republican presidential debate hangs in the balance over a statistically-insignificant “0.25 percent — essentially, a matter of two respondents in all the [qualified] polls put together.

[RELATED: Petition: A Joint Town Hall with Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders]

Marist College Institute for Public Opinion director Lee Miringoff suspended GOP polling in advance of Fox News’ first Republican presidential debate of the season in protest as he objected to excluding candidates on the basis of early polls. “It’s a problem when it’s shaping who gets to sit at the table,” Miringoff told Politico.

The issue is particularly alienating for independent voters, who are forced through taxation to fund the primaries of the Democratic and Republican parties. The top two parties’ nominees automatically qualify for general election presidential debates. However, independent candidates must obtain 15 percent support in nationwide polls to qualify for participation in presidential debates, fifteen times the level of support required for entry-level qualifications for many Democratic and Republican party presidential primary contests. That minimum 15 percent requirement effectively blocks independents, like Green and Libertarian Party candidates who lack the wealth to promote themselves to celebrity status but who sometimes qualify for nationwide ballot access, from appearing in even one presidential debate, preventing them from having an opportunity to share their platforms with voters.

For context, the Truth in Media Project released a Consider This video earlier this year highlighting the fact that independent voters now outnumber Republicans and Democrats. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.


Rand Paul Surpasses Trump and Fiorina, Wins Michigan Straw Poll

GOP Presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) won the straw poll at the Mackinac Island Republican Leadership Conference in Michigan on Saturday, surpassing current GOP frontrunners in the polls such as Carly Fiorina and Donald Trump.

Paul received 22 percent in the poll, and he was followed by former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina with 15 percent, Ohio Gov. John Kasich with 13.8 percent, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx.) with 13 percent, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush with 9.7 percent, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) with 8 percent, and billionaire mogul Donald Trump with 6 percent.

The Detroit News, which released the results of the poll, noted that in addition to winning the 2015 straw poll consisting of 785 ballots, Paul also won the conference’s straw poll in 2013.

The Detroit Free Press noted that while some officials with other campaigns “complained the Paul campaign made a concerted effort to bring people to the island to register for the conference so they could vote in the straw poll,” Paul’s national political director, John Yob, insisted that’s “what organizational contests are all about,” and predicted that “Rand Paul is going to over-perform in organizational contests around the country.”

“This is an organization test that indicates that Paul will over-perform in other organizational contests such as Iowa, Nevada, Minnesota and other caucus states that come before the March 8 Michigan primary,” Yob said.

[RELATED: First Official Poll Shows Rand Paul Lost Debate By Landslide]

Paul’s victory in the poll comes days after a defeat in polls following the second GOP debate on Wednesday. According to the first official poll released after the debate, 2 percent viewed Paul as the debate winner, putting him far behind Trump, who received 21 percent support, and Fiorina, who won with 33 percent.

According to the results from the Michigan straw poll, Paul surpassed both Trump, who has consistently been the GOP frontrunner since he announced he was running in June, and Fiorina, whose poll numbers rose drastically after her performance in the recent debate.

For more election coverage, click here.


Donald Trump Says He Hopes to Run for President Against Kanye West

At Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards, Kanye West announced that he intends to run for president of the United States in 2020.

Though the start of the 2020 election cycle remains in the distant future, The Washington Post notes that 24-year-old Maryland Republican activist Eugene Craig, whose Facebook page lists him as a former member of Youth for Ron Paul 2012, has already started a serious super PAC called “Ready for Kanye” dedicated to promoting the rapper, songwriter, and producer’s candidacy. Craig, a fan of West’s music, said that he would support West if he runs as a Republican and if there is no Republican incumbent in 2020.

Following West’s announcement, Rolling Stone asked Donald Trump, whose presidential candidacy has been compared to West’s, to comment on it. Said Trump, “I was actually watching. I saw him do it, and I said, ‘That’s very interesting. I wonder who gave him that idea?‘”

He added, “[Kanye’s] actually a different kind of person than people think. He’s a nice guy. I hope to run against him someday.

Trump’s affinity for West appears to stem from a personal relationship between the two. “Well, he’s said very nice things about me in the past, and he knows my daughter a little bit — Ivanka. And, he’s said very good things about me — very very, extremely positive things,” said Trump.

[RELATED: Ben Carson Now Tied With Donald Trump For Iowa Top Spot]

The market research firm Echelon Insights has already conducted a 500-person poll via Google Consumer Surveys to test West’s theoretical candidacy against Donald Trump and found that Trump led West “38-21 with 41 percent undecided.

During the interview with Rolling Stone, Trump joked that he had already lost his first supporter to West. “Miley Cyrus said, ‘Oh, I was going to vote for Trump but now I’m voting for [Kanye].’ So it sounds like she was all made up for me, and he took her away.

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CNN Amends Criteria For GOP Debate Lineup

The next GOP presidential debate, which will be hosted by CNN and is scheduled for Sept. 16, has a new set of rules that will recognize both past and recent polling numbers, and could allow more than 10 candidates on the stage. The move follows a change in polling numbers for some Republican candidates.

CNN released a statement on Tuesday, which said that although the network initially planned on using “the average of approved national polls from July 16 through September 10 to determine the makeup of the debates,” the number of national polls conducted was much lower than expected.

While in 2007 and 2011, there were around 15 approved national polls, CNN noted that by Sept. 10, there will only be five. “As a result, we now believe we should adjust the criteria to ensure the next debate best reflects the most current state of the national race,” said the network, noting that the Republican National Committee is “fully supportive” of the changes.

[pull_quote_center]In the event that any candidate is polling in the top 10 in an average of approved national polls released between August 7 and September 10, we will add those candidates to our top tier debate, even if those candidates did not poll in the top 10 in an average of approved national polls between July 16 and September 10.[/pull_quote_center]

The new rules could open up a spot for candidates such as Carly Fiorina, a GOP contender who was excluded from the first debate’s main stage and participated in a separate debate instead, but whose performance at the forum has greatly increased her polling numbers.

Fiorina’s deputy campaign manager, Sarah Isgur Flores, released a statement last week noting that after the first GOP debate on Aug. 6, Florina ranked in the top ten in every state that was polled.

“Despite being solidly in the top 10 by every measure, the political establishment is still rigging the game to keep Carly off the main debate stage next month,” Flores wrote.

Florina addressed the change in rules during an interview on the Hugh Hewitt Show on Tuesday evening, and said that she is looking forward to debating with frontrunner Donald Trump.

“I think they made the right decision based on the data which clearly has shifted – in my case – dramatically, from prior to August 6 to post-August 6,” Fiorina said.

In a statement from Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, he said, “I applaud CNN for recognizing the historic nature of this debate and fully support the network’s decision to amend their criteria.

[RELATED: Reality Check: Can The Republican Party Kick Donald Trump Out Of The Debates?]

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Kasich’s Foreign Policy Positions: Boots on the Ground vs. ISIS, Arm Syrian Rebels

Following his breakout performance in Fox News’ first Republican presidential debate of the 2016 campaign season, Ohio Governor John Kasich is surging in New Hampshire, but, as a lesser-known candidate to voters outside of Ohio, many politicos are unaware of his specific positions on the issues.

During his time as a congressman, Kasich served for 18 years on the House Armed Services Committee. As a candidate for president, Kasich is positioning himself in the Republican Party’s more hawkish wing on foreign policy.

A CNN op-ed by Kasich, published on Monday, painted a frightful picture of U.S. national security under President Obama. “Terrorism is increasingly striking here at home. Regional powers are challenging the postwar security order. Nuclear weapons are proliferating. Cyberspace has become a battlefield. The U.S. has neglected both our military and our alliances and has apparently decided, instead, to try to lead from behind,” wrote Kasich.

Though his op-ed fell short of outlining specific foreign policy positions, in May, Kasich told Jonathan Karl on ABC’s This Week, “I said months ago that we ought to have a coalition of our Western partners and our — any of our allies in the Middle East to form a coalition to knock ISIS out. And if that includes American boots on the ground, so be it.

Look, three big problems: One, we disbanded the Iraqi army and we have nothing but chaos since we started. Two, we failed to arm the opposition in Syria to push Assad out, which would have been strategic because of the support for Iran and Russia in regard to [Syrian President Bashar] Assad. Then we had a red line and we ignored that. And now we find out that over in Syria, they’re dropping barrel chlorine bombs on people. So, you know, it’s been a feckless foreign policy,” Kasich continued, criticizing President Obama.

In February of this year, Ben Swann released a Truth in Media episode, seen below, exposing the fact that the federal government actually did covertly fund and train Syrian rebels to fight Assad and, in so doing, led to the rise of ISIS in Iraq.


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Jeb Bush: Hillary Clinton Shares The Blame For The Rise Of ISIS

GOP presidential candidate and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has begun attacking Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in several areas, including her involvement in the United States’ relations with Iraq during her tenure as Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013.

During a speech on Tuesday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., Bush blamed both Clinton and President Obama, claiming that they let the U.S. retreat from Iraq which gave way to  the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

“ISIS grew while the United States disengaged from the Middle East and ignored the threat and where was Secretary of State Clinton in all of this?” Bush said. “Like the President himself, she had opposed the surge, then joined in claiming credit for its success, then stood by as that hard-won victory by American and Ally forces was thrown away.”

While many would point towards Bush’s father, former President George Bush, who ordered the nation’s first invasion of Iraq in 1990, or to his brother, former President George W. Bush, who began the Iraq war in 2003 and called for additional forces in 2006, Jeb Bush insisted that Obama’s “minimalist approach of incremental escalation,” along with Clinton standing by, was to blame for the rise of ISIS.

[RELATED: College Student Tells Jeb Bush ‘Your Brother Created ISIS’]

“Right now, we have around 3,500 soldiers and marines in Iraq, and more may well be needed,” said Bush, who went on to explain that he would also send U.S. forces to Iraq as “spotters” looking for enemy targets and that he would provide more support to Iraqi Kurds fighting ISIS.

In response, Jake Sullivan, Clinton’s senior policy advisor and former aide at the State Department, told the New York Times that he sees Bush’s comments as “a pretty bold attempt to rewrite history and reassign responsibility.”

Bush claimed that “in all of her record-setting travels” as Secretary of State, Clinton “stopped by Iraq only once.”

Sullivan insisted that the key issue was not “how many times does the plane touch down at the airport,” rather it was “how intensive and effective is the engagement that leads to progress.”

ISIS was also the topic of one of the questions at last week’s GOP debate. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul was asked about the United States’ involvement with ISIS, and he noted that while the U.S. did not create ISIS directly, it is responsible for the group obtaining at least a billion dollars in Humvees deserted by the United States.

[RELATED: GOP Debate: Rand Paul Notes U.S. Involvement In Arming ISIS]

Investigative journalist Ben Swann reported on the origin of ISIS in March, and he noted that the group grew drastically after it seized Humvees, tanks and weaponry left behind by the U.S. and that even when the U.S. government “became aware that ISIS fighters were capturing U.S. equipment, it did nothing.” 


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Poll: Bernie Sanders Leads Hillary Clinton In New Hampshire

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has surpassed longtime frontrunner and former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton for the first time in the polls in New Hampshire.

According to a recent poll conducted by Franklin Pierce University and the Boston Herald, Sanders is polling at 44 percent, and Clinton is trailing at 37 percent among Democratic primary voters.

Vice President Joe Biden, who has yet to announce whether he is running for President in the 2016 election, received nine percent in the poll. Other Democratic contenders who have jumped into the race including former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee and former Virginia Gov. Jim Webb, received less than one percent in the poll.

[RELATED: New Poll Shows Sanders Leading Trump, Walker In Head-to-Head General Election Matchups]

The poll, which was held from Aug. 7-10, surveyed 442 New Hampshire Democrats over the phone and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.7 percentage points.

Although the poll results indicated that only 11 percent of voters thought Sanders would win the Democratic nomination for the 2016 election, it did find that more than half of those surveyed viewed Sanders’ campaign as “very favorable” and his polling numbers have risen drastically in the state where he was polling at eight percent compared to Clinton’s 44 percent in March.

The results of the poll noted that while 80 percent of NH Democrats view Clinton favorably, only 38 percent said they have a “very favorable” impression of her, only 35 percent said they are “excited” about her campaign, and 51 percent said that while they could support her, they aren’t enthusiastic about her campaign.

[RELATED: Why The Secret Of The Trump Effect And Sanders’ Rise Isn’t Really A Secret]

Since announcing his presidential bid on April 30, Sanders, who is a self-described socialist, has drawn massive crowds ranging in the thousands at rallies in states such as Wisconsin, Maine, and in Washington where he was recently interrupted by Black Lives Matter protesters.

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Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal Use Donald Trump To Gain Media Coverage

After announcing that he was running for President in the 2016 election, billionaire mogul Donald Trump has garnered attention both in the polls and in the media, leading other candidates who aren’t polling as high to start using Trump to ensure media coverage of their own campaigns.

According to a poll conducted by NBC and Survey Monkey, Trump was polling at 23 percent among the 17 Republican contenders following the first GOP debate of the 2016 election on Thursday.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal received just one percent in the after-debate poll, and in an email to his supporters, he said that he was going to start a new campaign strategy: talking about Trump to ensure media coverage.

“I realize that the best way to make news is to mention Donald Trump. That’s the gold standard for making news,” Jindal wrote. “So, I’ve decided to randomly put his name into my remarks at various points, thereby ensuring that the news media will cover what I have to say.”

“But while the media is glued to everything Donald Trump says and hoping for Republican on Republican attacks, there is a soap opera happening on the Democrat side that needs more attention,” wrote Jindal, who went on to write that the Democratic frontrunner is currently “under investigation by the FBI.”

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who was at five percent in the poll, began calling out Trump for being a “fake conservative” following the first GOP debate.

In a statement obtained by The Courier-Journal, Paul said he was amazed that anyone in the Tea Party movement could “consider Clinton/Reid/Pelosi supporter Donald Trump for President.”

“This is a guy who said in 1999 that he was a strong supporter of the United Nations. He was for partial birth abortion before he was against it. He lavished praise on the bank bailouts,” Paul said. “He was for Obamacare before he was against it and has said he’s ‘liberal on health care.'”

“People have to wonder whether these newfound beliefs of Donald Trump are real or just part of his reality show,” said Paul, who called Trump a “bully” and claimed he was the only candidate on the debate stage to stand up to him.

On Monday, Paul held a conference call with reporters on the subject of Trump, where he criticized the current GOP frontrunner for running a campaign lacking substance and for making disparaging comments about women.

Trump took to his Twitter account to respond to Paul on Monday evening. Instead of responding to Paul’s accusations that he was a “fake conservative,” Trump called Paul a “spoiled brat without a properly functioning brain.”


Trump also praised rival Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s debate performance, saying it was “far better than Rand Paul.” Cruz recently told Politico that he believes it is “foolish” to criticize Trump, and dangerous for other GOP candidates to alienate Trump supporters.


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Ex-RNC Chair Michael Steele Calls Rand Paul 2016 GOP Presidential Frontrunner

The 2014 midterm elections are underway today, which means that the 2016 presidential contest unofficially begins tomorrow. While most political strategists say that the 2016 Democratic primary is Hillary Clinton’s to lose, the GOP side is competitive and packed with rising stars. One such star, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, was just named Time‘s most interesting person of 2014.

On the November 2, 2014 episode of NBC‘s Meet the Presshost Chuck Todd, NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell, former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele, former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough, and former Obama administration press secretary Robert Gibbs participated in a round-table discussion on the 2016 presidential race. In the above-embedded video clip from the show, Robert Gibbs said, “I will say, as a Democrat sitting here, you have to be impressed with what Rand Paul is saying, to have a positive talking point before the election I think is hugely important, and I think Jeb Bush is one to watch.”

When Chuck Todd asked Michael Steele for his pick for the 2016 Republican frontrunner, Steele said, “Rand Paul… Right there. Done. He’s got the organization on the ground right now. He’s in all 50 states. He’s got young folks gravitating towards him. He’s got African Americans taking a pause and looking at him. He’s got, as was just acknowledged, Democrats are starting, ‘OK, let’s listen and see.'”

Andrea Mitchell interjected, “But the party establishment is against him.”

Steele replied, “That’s a separate piece. I think in terms of ’14, he’s done the best to put it together.”

Joe Scarborough disagreed, saying, “Rand Paul is going to run a great race. He’s going to do better than his father. He’s not going to win, because mainstream Republicans win, and you’ve got two choices that we’ve talked about here, Jeb or Chris Christie. But no, who had the best 2014? Without a doubt, Mitt Romney.”

Senator Paul also appeared on last Sunday’s Meet the Press to discuss the 2014 midterms, criminal justice reform, and repairing the GOP’s brand. The Washington Post notes that the Senator is the “go-to Republican for 2014 candidates trying to rally a crowd, raise money and court the tea-party activists and young people drawn to his insurgent message.” Rand Paul has been aggressively campaigning in an effort to help Republicans maintain their House majority and flip the Senate.

The Senator has sent signals that, if he decides to run for president in 2016, he might declare his candidacy in early 2015. As it happens, Senator Paul recently announced an early 2015 release date for his third book.