Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton's logo is not newsworthy

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at a fundraiser for Democratic congressional candidates hosted by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at the Fairmont Hotel, Monday, Oct. 20, 2014, in San Francisco. Eric Risberg | AP Photo
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at a fundraiser for Democratic congressional candidates hosted by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at the Fairmont Hotel, Monday, Oct. 20, 2014, in San Francisco. Eric Risberg | AP Photo

On Sunday, without surprising much of anyone, Hillary Clinton announced her intention to seek the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. Clinton, as former First Lady, US Senator and Secretary of State, is one of the most experienced and famous people to run for the high office in recent memory. She, of course, came very close to receiving the Democratic nomination in 2008, losing to Barack Obama, who then obviously became president.  

However, amid Clinton's announcements, few are talking about her decades of experience and fewer still are talking about her policy prescriptions, which have been numerous in recent days. Instead, all the attention from the press and the public has seemingly focused on Clinton's logo, a blue uppercase "H" with a red arrow — pointing to the right — overlaid on top of it

The logo has been the topic of both praise and derision, namely the latter from Clinton's ostensible ideological compatriots. The New Yorker's editorial cartoon on April 13th, long a bastion of liberal, skewered the logo as ironic, given the arrow's color and direction. Closer to home, many found the logo disappointing and reminiscent of former state Sen. Wendy Davis', D-Fort Worth, first logo, which fittingly looked like a sinking ship.

In one respect, the fact that Clinton doing something as inconsequential as unveiling a silly little logo has garnered so much nonstop media attention speaks to her huge notoriety as a powerful person in the public image. In another respect, it serves to demonstrate just how broken American politics is, with the press groveling before the lowest common denominator, just using buzz words to describe a picture as pretty or ugly, in lieu of — for example — substantial policy discussions. Evidently, world of 140 characters has sadly made those debates passé.

Hillary Clinton announces presidential bid

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at a fundraiser for Democratic congressional candidates hosted by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at the Fairmont Hotel, Monday, Oct. 20, 2014, in San Francisco. Eric Risberg | AP Photo
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at a fundraiser for Democratic congressional candidates hosted by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at the Fairmont Hotel, Monday, Oct. 20, 2014, in San Francisco. Eric Risberg | AP Photo

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced her 2016 presidential campaign today via email to her donors and supporters, and through a video posted on her new campaign website, hillaryclinton.com.

"Everyday Americans need a champion. I want to be that champion," Clinton said in her campaign video.

Clinton, who stepped down from her role in President Barack Obama's cabinet in 2013, is the first Democrat to formally announce their candidacy.

Her support from the Democratic Party far outnumbers any potential opponent's, a CBS news poll from February showed. Eighty-one percent of respondents said they would put her as a potential vote.

Clinton graduated from Wellesley College with a political science degree and earned her J.D. from Yale Law School. She practiced law during her husband’s time as governor of Arkansas.

Clinton’s political experience also includes her time as a U.S. senator for New York and her presidential run in 2008, when she was defeated by Obama in the Democratic primaries. She also was first lady of the U.S. and Arkansas when her husband, Bill Clinton, served as president and governor, respectively.

Clinton is the third declared 2016 presidential candidate; Texas Sen. Ted Cruz announced March 23, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul declared April 7.

On March 3, news broke of unconfirmed 2016 presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton’s exclusive use of private email over her four years as Secretary of State. Both Americans and the media are stuck between Clinton’s insistence her actions were empty of impropriety and conservative conspiracy theories about her decision’s implications. What I now regard as a non-issue is still fuel for Republican fodder weeks later.  

I cannot deny that there was substance to the initial outrage over Clinton’s decision to opt out of using a State Department email address. As critics have pointed out, the location of Clinton’s private server in Chappaqua, New York, did not put it under the protection of Clinton’s security detail or her direct control. It was also against State Department policy: A 2005 order instructed employees not to use their personal emails even for “normal day-to-day operations,” and a 2011 cable from Clinton’s office reiterated the prohibition on using personal emails for any official state business. Finally, government officials were terminated for not complying with those orders during Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, lending her slip the stench of hypocrisy. In her March 10 press conference, Clinton offered mere convenience as her only excuse. 

Yet Clinton rectified her fault when she submitted over 55,000 documents  to the State Department in an effort to clear her name. Later, when the U.S. House Select Committee on Benghazi subpoenaed Clinton and several members of her office, it was all but guaranteed that the Republican-led committee would unearth any hint of misconduct. Clinton appeared free from further suspicion. 

Clinton’s decision to operate exclusively from a private email on a personal server was irresponsible. It was also without precedent: Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice said they both had private emails, but only conducted state business over state-protected servers. Perhaps Clinton’s decision was also arrogant; the chief diplomat of the United States excusing themselves from department-wide rules seems indicative of some measure of frayed everyday workplace ethics, in addition to an obvious lapse in common sense. 

But Clinton is not the menace to national security conservative circles have suggested. In an official statement on his congressional office’s website, Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), a member of the House’s Select Committee on Benghazi, compared the Clinton emails to Nixon’s self-edited responses in the Watergate proceedings, which was an act of treason. 

In the House Republicans’ Weekly Republican Address on March 14, Rep. Susan Brooks, R-IN, ludicrously suggested Clinton’s emails lay the blame for the Benghazi attack at Clinton’s feet, shamelessly rewriting history after Clinton confirmed she received no soluble security requests prior to the Benghazi attack when she testified before Congress on Jan. 23, 2013; in any case, such requests likely would have been denied because Republicans slashed $300 million from the State Department’s Worldwide Security Protection program. Finally, though Rand Paul may insist otherwise, I am not of the belief that the communication of Clinton’s yoga schedule specifically over a private server was, in and of itself, a threat to national security. 

Though it took Clinton a full week to get in front of the would-be scandal’s message with a press conference, a CNN/ORC poll released Wednesday reported untouchable gains over other potential Democratic nominees. Clinton towers nearly 50 points ahead of her nearest competitor, Vice President Joe Biden. 

Scandal and all, Clinton should be preparing for a primary coronation in 2016. And the right knows it. The would-be scandal remains in the media because of conservative doggedness and partisan pettiness, not because of voter concerns. 

It is all too easy to forget that bipartisanship can serve as a system of checks and balances to hold the opposing party accountable. But we as a people, and the right wing as a party, do not have the privilege of rewriting the history of a leading Democrat’s decades of public service because a convenient opportunity arose. Capitalizing on Clinton’s mistake for partisan gains would be a grave mistake: It would be a dismissal of a governmental malaise at best and an exploitation of a system-wide failure at worst, instead of the correction of it. Much must change, and Clinton is only part of the problem.

It is almost a given that Clinton will ride out this storm. She has not only been a devoted public servant but a bulldog in the advocacy of herself and countless others. Clinton is a survivor. Though Clinton made herself an exception to one of our country’s highest office’s rules, I argue that we can face this as an opportunity to re-examine government-wide lapses in accountability. I choose to remember this is as an issue of insisting that officials live by the rules meant to safeguard us all — in literally any case, a nobler alternative to partisan opportunism.

Smith is a is a history and humanities junior from Austin. Follow Smith on Twitter @clairesysmith.

With the 2016 campaign for president already underway, you’re likely to hear people say, “ I do not want a third Bush presidency.” In fact, I have heard this argument made many times now, but it is naive to judge a person by his or her last name. Each individual is his or her own person, with a past and ideas that are uniquely his or her own. It would be ignorant to refuse to even consider the idea of supporting Jeb Bush based on the actions of his brother and father. 

Many of the same people who criticize the Bushes do not know a thing about Jeb Bush besides the fact that he’s the son and brother of former U.S. presidents. Many UT students may not know that Jeb Bush actually graduated Phi Beta Kappa from UT with a B.A. in Latin American Studies in just two-and-a-half years. If elected president, he would be the first UT alumnus to become president.

Even though Jeb Bush served as governor of Florida, he has substantial ties to Texas, from being born in Midland to growing up in Houston and attending UT. While some may argue that he cannot win the Republican primary, I would argue he is actually the front-runner.

Generally, at least in recent years, the establishment Republican candidate has won the primary (i.e. Romney in 2012, McCain in 2008 and George W. Bush in 2000). I believe there are two main reasons for this.

First, there are simply more mainstream (establishment-supporting) Republicans than tea party or tea party-type Republicans. Polls have shown that the tea party is the minority in the Republican Party — only two in 10 Republicans self-identify as very conservative, according to Gallup.

Second, the establishment candidate will be able to raise the necessary sum to win in the primary and general election. A Republican candidate will likely need at least $150 million to win the primary, Ed Rollins, a former Mike Huckabee adviser,  told the Washington Post, and then the general election can cost upward of $1 billion.

Bush can and would likely defeat Hillary Clinton, as long as we realize that Clinton is not invincible, as evidenced by her 2008 primary loss to Barack Obama. Not to mention in the last six open-seat presidential races, where a sitting president was not running, the party that held the presidency has only won once.

Interestingly enough, that one lucky man was George H. W. Bush when he succeeded Ronald Reagan. American voters get tired of a single party holding the presidency for a long time, and eight years is a long time for most people.

What may add the younger Bush to that list is that he can appeal to Hispanic voters since he is fluent in Spanish, and his wife Columba is a first-generation immigrant from Mexico.

George W. Bush won 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004, while Romney won just 27 percent in 2012. Republicans will need to do a lot better with Hispanic voters to win in 2016, and Jeb Bush is in a very good position to do just that.

What also helps Jeb Bush is that he has a message, and you will know exactly what he stands for. He will likely run as a “reform conservative” focusing on making sure everyone has the right to succeed.

Clinton supporters, on the other hand, can’t say quite as much. To win the general election, there has to be a compelling message, such as Obama’s hope and change or George W. Bush’s compassionate conservatism. Clinton does not have anything like that.

Plus, while Clinton may be sitting pretty out of office, as soon as she comes into the spotlight, the Republican Party’s full attention will be on her. Once the Republicans begin to attack, her favorability ratings will decrease as will her chance of winning the presidency (a repeat of 2008).

All these factors will make it exceedingly difficult for Clinton to win 2016 and will give Jeb Bush the upper hand.

Hung is a first-year law student from Brownsville.

Castro's new job has political drawbacks

Housing and Urban Development Secretary nominee, San Antonio, Texas Mayor Julian Castro testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 17, 2014. The Senate has easily confirmed Castro to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Wednesday's 71- 26 vote making Castro one of the highest-ranking Hispanics in government. 

 
Housing and Urban Development Secretary nominee, San Antonio, Texas Mayor Julian Castro testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 17, 2014. The Senate has easily confirmed Castro to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Wednesday's 71- 26 vote making Castro one of the highest-ranking Hispanics in government.   

Last Wednesday, Julian Castro —the Mayor of San Antonio— was overwhelmingly confirmed by the US Senate as the next Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. The position will give the 39 year-old Democrat some serious Washington clout as he continues climbing up the rungs of the political ladder. Castro has openly expressed interest in higher office, and many are speculating that he could be Hillary Clinton's running mate in 2016 if the former First Lady and Secretary and State indeed decides to run for President.

What everyone else apparently has neglected to mention is that, by accepting this position to serve in President Barack Obama's cabinet for the remaining two and a half years of his term, Castro has totally and unequivocally disenfranchised himself from holding Statewide political office in this State.

Republicans love to link Democrats to the unpopular President, even if no such connection exists. Are you the five-term incumbent County Commissioner in Madisonville? Doesn't matter, your Republican opponent will plaster the airwaves and billboards with slogans blasting you as "Obama's best friend," even if you've never met —or voted for— the man. When it comes to someone like Castro, who will legitimately be indelibly linked, Republicans are figuratively frothing at the mouth thinking of the possibilities.

Furthermore, even when the day comes that Texas turns blue, Obama will not likely be a popular figure. Even in cycles where Democrats prevail Statewide, I cannot imagine a former Cabinet secretary of the Obama administration doing very well. This precludes Castro from running for Governor in 2018, which I had formerly assumed his plan had been all along.

I like Castro, and I would love to vote for him if he were to run for some high office. But unless Clinton has promised him the Vice-Presidency, I cannot imagine my vote going to a successful candidate in the near future.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks about her new book "Hard Choices" on Friday, June 20, 2014, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

On Friday, Hillary Clinton addressed the people of Austin at the Long Center as part of a promotional series for her newly-released memoir, “Hard Choices.” The former secretary of state and US Senator signed books, answered questions and opened up to Austinites about everything from Indonesian talk shows to the future of public diplomacy.

Although this tour was not likely made without a political agenda (Clinton is the top presidential choice for Texas Democratic candidates, with a whopping 65 percent party approval rate in recent polls), Clinton was careful to create an air that was incorporative, bipartisan and highlighted the importance of public service regardless of party identification. The night was equal parts reflective and inspiring as Clinton Hillary offered lessons from her job as Secretary as well as a vision for our nation’s future.

Clinton spoke on both triumphs and regrets during her time at the State Department, as well as the struggle to maintain a “big picture” perspective for international affairs. According to Clinton, this perspective means placing a premium on how the U.S. is perceived by other countries and understanding the lengthy cause-and-effect that can spur from such relationships.

“[I think people need to realize] events in Paris, France… can affect us in Paris, Texas. What is happening far from our borders really does hit home,” Clinton said.

Although Clinton had initial reservations about coming to Texas, her speech seemed to be received very well by UT students.

“As a woman…. Clinton makes me feel empowered”, said biology senior Chanel Zadeh. “She brings a rare offering to politics, a combination of using her head and her heart. I think that’s what translates really well to people.”

Always the eloquent speaker, Clinton navigated controversial waters with ease — even when it came to some of the heavily polarizing issues, such as the Arab Spring protests of 2011 or the terrorist attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya in 2012.

“The [attack in Benghazi] was my biggest regret,” Clinton stated remorsefully, adding that tragedies of this nature “should not be used for partisan political purposes.”

She quieted criticism of Obama’s decision to send additional military advisers to Iraq, noting that possibility for statewide democracy is “too soon to tell.” Her answers, while lacking no degree of Hillary-sized ambition, were both poised and non-partisan — traits that seemed to go over well with the Austin audience. “Texas is a tough crowd for any Democrat, but she did well,” Zadeh said. “I was impressed.”

Clinton spoke openly and candidly about an overarching commitment to public service and the importance of using our voices not to silence each other but rather to communicate to today’s world.

“We are all part of an [indispensable nation],” Clinton writes in “Hard Choices.” “And we are Americans, all with a personal stake in our country.”

Even critics of Clinton appreciated the candor and frankness of the night.

“I’ll be honest. I’m a Republican so I was a little hesitant to come tonight. But Hillary was really great”, said one anonymous student. “[The night] felt less like a political agenda being forced down our throats and more like an actual honest conversation. It was good.”

It is this less-radical-legislation, more relationship-setting approach to politics that has cast a new light on Clinton as a team player—and perhaps she is a more respected politician for it. Her “smart power” approaches to foreign policy were nuanced and largely without controversy. Aside from the Benghazi attack and the Egyptian protests of 2011, involvement in polarizing foreign policy crises has been kept to a minimum. Her tenure was more calm than controversy, more intricacy than immediacy.

It is not just Clinton’s work as a former First Lady or secretary of state that has earned her a unique and somewhat starry-eyed fan base. Rather, the most resonant of Clinton’s actions seem to be those taken on behalf of human rights. Clinton’s ongoing commitment to gay rights in Geneva, Islamic religious liberation and international women’s and children’s freedoms have made her a celebrated figure in many circles. One of her greatest achievements, she noted during the question-and-answer portion of the evening, was paying careful attention “not only to the headlines, but to the trend lines.”

But what about a future as Madam President?

“I could see it,” said government junior Julie Forrister. “Clinton has vision, perspective and the impressive political track record to support it… She’d have my vote.”

It is people, not policy. It is relations, not legislation. Though this passive and passionate side to Clinton may simply be another cog in her political agenda-setting machine — it seems that this wiser, softer Clinton might just see her day in the Oval Office, after all.

Deppisch is a government senior from League City.

On his first night in the White House, just a week after President Nixon’s unprecedented resignation from office, Steven Ford, Gerald Ford’s then 18-year-old son, sneaked his stereo onto the roof of the White House so that he could blast Led Zeppelin. Former first lady Laura Bush would have made a different selection. Her daughter, Barbara Bush, said the 43rd president’s wife is more of a Bob Marley fan.

Jenna Bush Hager, Barbara Bush’s twin sister and daughter of President George W. Bush and Laura Bush, said her mother’s musical preferences serve as just one of the many sides to her personality the media rarely portrayed.

“I think people thought of our mom as kind of a cookie-cutter mother, because it’s much easier to see people as one-dimensional,” Hager said. “She’s a very strong lady. She just happens not to shout.”

Candid revelations about musical preferences were just a few of the personal anecdotes that surfaced at “The Enduring Legacies of America’s First Ladies,” an event hosted Friday by the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library. The event featured three generations of women in the Bush family as well as Steven Ford, Lynda Johnson Robb, President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s daughter and several former White House staffers.

Speakers examined the role of the first lady, a position that former Clinton press secretary Dee Dee Myers said changes with each new administration.

Ford said a major component of his mother’s legacy was the way she brought her personal struggles with breast cancer and alcoholism to public attention.

“The moment she raised her hand and said, ‘My name is Betty, and I’m an alcoholic,’ she changed the stereotypes about the nature of the disease,” Ford said.
  

Barbara Bush described one of her mother’s roles as “comforter-in-chief” in the days following 9/11.

Laura Bush said this role as comforter was instinctive.

“I myself wanted the comfort of my mother’s voice,” Laura Bush said. “I knew kids everywhere would want that.”

Although both Barbara Bush and Ford highlighted events specific to their mother’s personal lives and events that occurred during their husband’s administrations, certain aspects of the first lady position remain constant. Lisa Caputo, Hillary Clinton’s former press secretary, said Clinton took a very public role in working with her husband on his health care initiatives and welfare reform, but she was not the first first lady to work with policy issues.

“[Clinton] was the first first lady to have an office in the West Wing,” Caputo said. “We were very up front about the fact that she was going to play a policy role and be an advisor to her husband, but in reality, we look throughout history and practically all first ladies have had a role in influencing policy. It just wasn’t at the forefront.”

Printed on Friday, November 16, 2012 as: Presidents' families share insights on first lady's public, personal role 

Blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng shown in a 2007 YouTube video.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

BEIJING — The surprising escape of a blind legal activist from house arrest to the presumed custody of U.S. diplomats is buoying China’s embattled dissident community even as the government lashes out, detaining those who helped him and squelching mention of his name on the Internet.

The flight of Chen Guangcheng, a campaigner for disabled rights and against coercive family planning, is a challenge for China’s authoritarian government and, if it’s confirmed he is in U.S. custody, for Washington too. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell began a hurried mission to Beijing on Sunday to smooth the way for annual talks involving his boss, Hillary Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and scores of officials.

Though Chen — a self-taught legal activist described by friends and supporters as calm and charismatic — hardly seems a threat, security forces and officials have reacted angrily, detaining several of his supporters and a nephew who fought with officials after the escape was discovered is on the run.

Police showed up at the home of veteran activists Zeng Jinyan and Hu Jia, who met with Chen last week while he was hiding in Beijing. Police took Hu away Saturday for 24 hours. They questioned Zeng for about a half-hour at home, sounding, she said, “very unhappy” about Chen’s flight.

“They were really irritated,” Zeng said. “It was a big shock for them.”

Ai Xiaoming, a documentary film maker based in southern Guangzhou city, said Chen’s escape has had the biggest emotional impact on Chinese rights advocates since jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo won the Nobel Peace Prize two years ago.

“There are many people now drinking toasts to him for the way he broke through his captivity, his difficulties, and pursued freedom,” said Ai. “It’s what we all want for ourselves in our hearts. Chen Guangcheng is an example to us. If a blind person can break out of the darkness to freedom, then everyone can.”

China’s state-controlled media have so far ignored the story despite its gripping narrative and the serious implications it could have on Sino-U.S. relations. Anything vaguely related to Chen has been blocked on Chinese social media sites.

The media blackout and online controls haven’t prevented China’s Internet savvy activist community from learning about or celebrating Chen’s escape. After state television aired a rerun Saturday of the American prison break film “Shawshank Redemption,” some gleefully tweeted that it was an indirect nod to Chen. “Shawshank Redemption” became a banned search term.

Chen’s whereabouts have yet to be confirmed. Activists in China and overseas have said Chen is either under U.S. protection or in the U.S. Embassy.

Chen’s escape comes as the Chinese leadership is already reeling, trying to heal divisions over the ousting of a powerful politician, Bo Xilai, and complete a once-a-decade transition to a new generation of leaders. As in Chen’s case, the U.S. is implicated: Bo’s ouster was precipitated by the sudden flight of an aide to the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu.

While the aide, Wang Lijun, gave himself up to Chinese authorities — and though Republicans have criticized President Barack Obama for letting a valuable intelligence asset go — the incident and Chen’s escape reaffirm long-held suspicions by Beijing that the U.S. wants to undermine the communist government. Late last week, the White House, in a reversal, said it was considering selling new warplanes to Taiwan — the democratic island China claims as a breakaway territory.

It’s not known what Chen’s intentions are: some say he wants to stay in China. But negotiating any exit from U.S. custody is likely to be difficult for the Obama administration. Beijing is likely to be wary of any concessions, fearing they might embolden other activists.

Without confirming if Chen is in U.S. hands, Obama’s counterterrorism adviser John Brennan said the president would work to further human rights while preserving ties with Beijing.

“I think in all instances the president tries to balance our commitment to human rights, making sure that the people throughout the world have the ability to express themselves freely and openly, but also that we can continue to carry out our relationships with key countries overseas,” Brennan said on the U.S. television news show “Fox News Sunday”.

Complicating any negotiations over Chen is the treatment of his family. While Chen escaped a week ago from Dongshigu village and made it 600 kilometers (370 miles) northwest to Beijing, his wife and 6-year-old daughter were left behind. The whereabouts of several other relatives, including Chen’s mother and brother, are unknown.

Seven lawyers have volunteered to defend Chen’s nephew, Chen Kegui, who allegedly confronted and stabbed local officials who stormed his house in the middle of the night on Thursday in apparent retribution for the activist’s escape.

One volunteer lawyer, Liu Weiguo, said he spoke with Kegui briefly Sunday afternoon via mobile phone. Kegui told the lawyer he was by a highway about 120 kilometers (75 miles) from his home village, penniless and hoping to find a local police station where he could turn himself in.

“Since he escaped, they haven’t punished his persecutors in Shandong” province, said Zeng, the Beijing activist. “Instead it’s the activists and supporters who have been detained or disappeared. It’s very clear that Chen’s supporters and family members are very vulnerable right now.”

Among the activists still in custody are He Peirong, a Nanjing activist and Chen supporter who drove the blind lawyer’s getaway car out of his home province of Shandong, and Guo Yushan, a Beijing scholar and rights advocate who aided Chen in the capital.

For a rural activist, Chen had gathered a wide following, a testament to what supporters describe as his generous spirit and determination to fight injustice. His exposure of forced abortions and sterilizations in his community so angered officials, they persecuted him, sending him to jail for four years and then upon his release confining him to his home, where he was isolated and occasionally beaten.

Civil rights lawyers, journalists, diplomats and even British actor Christian Bale have tried to penetrate the heavy security that has surrounded Chen for the last 20 months. Each time, hired guards drove them back, sometimes pelting outsiders with rocks and chasing them with cars.

For China’s human rights defenders, Chen’s dash to freedom was a bright spot after nearly two years of mounting harassment. Ai, the documentary filmmaker, said Chen’s hardships have been unique but his aspirations for a more open society with greater legal protections are shared by many.

“We have jails inside ourselves that make us worry that we will be punished if we speak our minds because this society doesn’t respect the rule of law and doesn’t fully protect freedom of speech,” she said. “Chen Guangcheng is a model, and he has shown us that we can break away from those fears.”

Printed on Monday, April 30, 2012 as: Blind activist in China escaped into US custody

MILWAUKEE (AP) — President Barack Obama’s administration launched a multi-pronged assault on Mitt Romney’s values and foreign policy credentials Sunday, while a fresh set of prominent Republicans rallied behind the GOP front-runner as the odds-on nominee, further signs the general election is overtaking the primary season.

A defiant Rick Santorum outlined plans to leave Wisconsin the day before the state’s contest Tuesday, an indication that the conservative favorite may be in retreat, his chances to stop Romney rapidly dwindling.

“I think the chances are overwhelming that (Romney) will be our nominee,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” ‘’It seems to me we’re in the final phases of wrapping up this nomination. And most of the members of the Senate Republican conference are either supporting him, or they have the view that I do, that it’s time to turn our attention to the fall campaign and begin to make the case against the president of the United States.”

Both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden went after Romney Sunday, underscoring the belief inside Obama’s Chicago re-election headquarters that Romney will — sooner than later — secure the right to face Obama this fall. Their involvement comes as both sides sharpen their general election strategy, perhaps weeks before the GOP contest formally comes to an end.

“I think Gov. Romney’s a little out of touch,” Biden told CBS’ “Face the Nation” in an interview broadcast Sunday. “I can’t remember a presidential candidate in the recent past who seems not to understand, by what he says, what ordinary middle-class people are thinking about and are concerned about.”

The line of attack is likely to play prominently in the Obama campaign’s general election narrative. While Obama is a millionaire, Romney would be among the nation’s wealthiest presidents ever elected. And he’s opened himself to criticism through a series of missteps.

Romney casually bet a rival $10,000 during a presidential debate, noted that his wife drives a “couple of Cadillacs,” and lists owners of professional sports teams among his friends. His personal tax records show investments in the Cayman Islands and a Swiss bank account.

Obama’s team on Sunday also seized on Romney’s foreign policy inexperience.

Biden said Obama was “stating the obvious” when he told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he would have more latitude on missile defense after the November general election. The two presidents did not realize the exchange, during a meeting in Seoul, South Korea, last weekend, was being picked up by a microphone.

Romney called it “alarming” and part of a pattern of “breathtaking weakness” with America’s foes. He asked what else Obama would be flexible on if he were to win a second term.

“Speaking of flexible, Gov. Romney’s a pretty flexible guy on his positions,” Biden said. Romney’s GOP opponents have accused the former Massachusetts governor of “flip-flopping” on issues such as health care and abortion.

Clinton seized on Romney’s comment that Russia is America’s “No. 1 geopolitical foe,” calling the statement “dated” and suggesting there were more pressing matters of concern in global affairs.

“I think it’s somewhat dated to be looking backwards instead of being realistic about where we agree, where we don’t agree,” Clinton told CNN Sunday.

“He just seems to be uninformed or stuck in a Cold War mentality,” Biden added. “It exposes how little the governor knows about foreign policy.”

But the administration’s comments may have been overshadowed Sunday by Romney’s ballooning Republican support.

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., spent the weekend at Romney’s side campaigning across Wisconsin, one of three states to host Republican primaries Tuesday. First-term Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., followed Ryan’s lead Sunday morning.

“I’m coming out urging the voters of Wisconsin: ‘Let’s lead. Let’s show that this is the time to bring this process to an end so we can focus our attention on retiring President Obama,’” Johnson said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

He later appeared at a pancake brunch with Romney and offered a message to “every conservative”: “I’ve spoken with Mitt, I totally believe he is committed to saving America.”

The senator joins a growing chorus of prominent Republicans calling for the party to coalesce behind Romney’s candidacy. Romney also scored former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and his father, President George H.W. Bush, in recent days.

Ryan’s endorsement was particularly painful for Santorum, who had been aggressively praising the congressman — a fiscal conservative hero in Wisconsin and across the country — for much of the past week. That praise ended Saturday, when Santorum referred to Ryan as “some other Wisconsinite.”

Santorum’s senior staff outlined an increasingly unlikely path to victory that depends upon hypothetical success more than a month away.

“May is going to be a good month for us,” Santorum campaign manager Mike Biundo said. “The race goes on.”

Biundo confirmed that Santorum is aggressively working the phones to sway delegates in states like Washington, Iowa, Minnesota and Missouri that have already voted. But he’s having mixed success.

“We have some (delegates) that have committed. I think most people seem to right now still be kind of waiting it out. There seems to be a lot of that that’s going on,” Biundo said.

Santorum was publicly defiant Sunday.

“Look, this race isn’t even at halftime yet,” he told “Fox News Sunday.” He said Romney “hasn’t been able to close the deal with conservatives, much less anybody else in this party. And that’s not going to be an effective tool for us to win this election.”

But with losses piling up for in other industrial states like Ohio, Michigan and Illinois, Santorum acknowledged the results in Wisconsin Tuesday will send a “strong signal” about the direction of the Republican contest.

And he appears to in retreat.

Having devoted more than a week to campaigning across Wisconsin, Santorum is scheduled to return to his home state, Pennsylvania, the day before the Wisconsin contest. Pennsylvania’s primary is more than three weeks away.

Biundo noted that Santorum moved out of Louisiana — where he won — before that state’s election day. But Santorum’s team has demonstrated far less confidence in recent days about Wisconsin than Romney, who has predicted victory here.

Trying to be upbeat, Santorum dismissed Romney’s growing support as “panic” in the Republican establishment and said seeing “everybody sort of coming out of the woodwork to say the things they’re saying today makes me feel like we’re actually doing pretty well here in Wisconsin.”

Meanwhile, Romney hopes to score a knockout blow in Pennsylvania, which hosts its primary April 24. He already has an office in Harrisburg and four paid staffers in the state, and plans to shift additional resources there after Tuesday.

With about half of the GOP nominating contests complete, Romney has won 54 percent of the delegates at stake, putting him on track to reach the threshold 1,144 national convention delegates in June. Santorum, who has won 27 percent of the delegates at stake, would need to win 74 percent of the remaining delegates to clinch the nomination.

MILWAUKEE (AP) — President Barack Obama’s administration launched a multi-pronged assault on Mitt Romney’s values and foreign policy credentials Sunday, while a fresh set of prominent Republicans rallied behind the GOP front-runner as the odds-on nominee, further signs the general election is overtaking the primary season.

A defiant Rick Santorum outlined plans to leave Wisconsin the day before the state’s contest Tuesday, an indication that the conservative favorite may be in retreat, his chances to stop Romney rapidly dwindling.

“I think the chances are overwhelming that (Romney) will be our nominee,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” ‘’It seems to me we’re in the final phases of wrapping up this nomination. And most of the members of the Senate Republican conference are either supporting him, or they have the view that I do, that it’s time to turn our attention to the fall campaign and begin to make the case against the president of the United States.”

Both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden went after Romney Sunday, underscoring the belief inside Obama’s Chicago re-election headquarters that Romney will — sooner than later — secure the right to face Obama this fall. Their involvement comes as both sides sharpen their general election strategy, perhaps weeks before the GOP contest formally comes to an end.

“I think Gov. Romney’s a little out of touch,” Biden told CBS’ “Face the Nation” in an interview broadcast Sunday. “I can’t remember a presidential candidate in the recent past who seems not to understand, by what he says, what ordinary middle-class people are thinking about and are concerned about.”

The line of attack is likely to play prominently in the Obama campaign’s general election narrative. While Obama is a millionaire, Romney would be among the nation’s wealthiest presidents ever elected. And he’s opened himself to criticism through a series of missteps.

Romney casually bet a rival $10,000 during a presidential debate, noted that his wife drives a “couple of Cadillacs,” and lists owners of professional sports teams among his friends. His personal tax records show investments in the Cayman Islands and a Swiss bank account.

Obama’s team on Sunday also seized on Romney’s foreign policy inexperience.

Biden said Obama was “stating the obvious” when he told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he would have more latitude on missile defense after the November general election. The two presidents did not realize the exchange, during a meeting in Seoul, South Korea, last weekend, was being picked up by a microphone.

Romney called it “alarming” and part of a pattern of “breathtaking weakness” with America’s foes. He asked what else Obama would be flexible on if he were to win a second term.

“Speaking of flexible, Gov. Romney’s a pretty flexible guy on his positions,” Biden said. Romney’s GOP opponents have accused the former Massachusetts governor of “flip-flopping” on issues such as health care and abortion.

Clinton seized on Romney’s comment that Russia is America’s “No. 1 geopolitical foe,” calling the statement “dated” and suggesting there were more pressing matters of concern in global affairs.

“I think it’s somewhat dated to be looking backwards instead of being realistic about where we agree, where we don’t agree,” Clinton told CNN Sunday.

“He just seems to be uninformed or stuck in a Cold War mentality,” Biden added. “It exposes how little the governor knows about foreign policy.”

But the administration’s comments may have been overshadowed Sunday by Romney’s ballooning Republican support.

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., spent the weekend at Romney’s side campaigning across Wisconsin, one of three states to host Republican primaries Tuesday. First-term Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., followed Ryan’s lead Sunday morning.

“I’m coming out urging the voters of Wisconsin: ‘Let’s lead. Let’s show that this is the time to bring this process to an end so we can focus our attention on retiring President Obama,’” Johnson said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

He later appeared at a pancake brunch with Romney and offered a message to “every conservative”: “I’ve spoken with Mitt, I totally believe he is committed to saving America.”

The senator joins a growing chorus of prominent Republicans calling for the party to coalesce behind Romney’s candidacy. Romney also scored former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and his father, President George H.W. Bush, in recent days.

Ryan’s endorsement was particularly painful for Santorum, who had been aggressively praising the congressman — a fiscal conservative hero in Wisconsin and across the country — for much of the past week. That praise ended Saturday, when Santorum referred to Ryan as “some other Wisconsinite.”

Santorum’s senior staff outlined an increasingly unlikely path to victory that depends upon hypothetical success more than a month away.

“May is going to be a good month for us,” Santorum campaign manager Mike Biundo said. “The race goes on.”

Biundo confirmed that Santorum is aggressively working the phones to sway delegates in states like Washington, Iowa, Minnesota and Missouri that have already voted. But he’s having mixed success.

“We have some (delegates) that have committed. I think most people seem to right now still be kind of waiting it out. There seems to be a lot of that that’s going on,” Biundo said.

Santorum was publicly defiant Sunday.

“Look, this race isn’t even at halftime yet,” he told “Fox News Sunday.” He said Romney “hasn’t been able to close the deal with conservatives, much less anybody else in this party. And that’s not going to be an effective tool for us to win this election.”

But with losses piling up for in other industrial states like Ohio, Michigan and Illinois, Santorum acknowledged the results in Wisconsin Tuesday will send a “strong signal” about the direction of the Republican contest.

And he appears to in retreat.

Having devoted more than a week to campaigning across Wisconsin, Santorum is scheduled to return to his home state, Pennsylvania, the day before the Wisconsin contest. Pennsylvania’s primary is more than three weeks away.

Biundo noted that Santorum moved out of Louisiana — where he won — before that state’s election day. But Santorum’s team has demonstrated far less confidence in recent days about Wisconsin than Romney, who has predicted victory here.

Trying to be upbeat, Santorum dismissed Romney’s growing support as “panic” in the Republican establishment and said seeing “everybody sort of coming out of the woodwork to say the things they’re saying today makes me feel like we’re actually doing pretty well here in Wisconsin.”

Meanwhile, Romney hopes to score a knockout blow in Pennsylvania, which hosts its primary April 24. He already has an office in Harrisburg and four paid staffers in the state, and plans to shift additional resources there after Tuesday.

With about half of the GOP nominating contests complete, Romney has won 54 percent of the delegates at stake, putting him on track to reach the threshold 1,144 national convention delegates in June. Santorum, who has won 27 percent of the delegates at stake, would need to win 74 percent of the remaining delegates to clinch the nomination.