Democrats

I arrived in VIP-full Davos with one prediction in mind: 2014 will be the year the world returns to normality or at least the semblance of normality with the tapered exit from quantitative easing.

After three days at high altitude, the prediction is intact and I have five other takeaways. Read more

Rand Paul during the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 28, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. (Getty)

Rand Paul (Getty Images)

Rand Paul’s marathon filibuster last week – aimed at holding up the confirmation of John Brennan as head of the CIA – was much more than a parliamentary stunt. It has opened up interesting new debates and divisions on the future direction of US foreign policy.

Senator Paul’s highlighting of the Obama administration’s use of drones for “targeted killings” of terrorist suspects, has established an unlikely alliance between the libertarian right and the liberal left. Until Paul took up the drones issue, it was mainly the likes of the American Civil Liberties Union, who were making the running in criticising the drone strikes. But, as Paul illustrated, there is a good libertarian case for suspicion of the over-mighty covert state. Even more interestingly, Paul’s stand placed him directly at odds with the neoconservative wing of his own Republican Party.

The Wall Street Journal has denounced Paul for appealing to “impressionable libertarian kids” – a condemnation quoted with approval by John McCain, one of the party’s leading foreign-policy hawks.

Conveniently for President Obama, this argument between the two wings of the Republican Party places the president somewhere in the middle. He will never be as hawkish as the Republican neocons, many of whom are pressing for intervention in Syria, an assault on Iran and denouncing cuts in the Pentagon budget. On the other hand, the president’s expansion of the drone war and his unwillingness to rein in the burgeoning national-security apparatus makes him very far from being a “libertarian kid”. Read more

  • The daughter of Uzbekistan’s autocratic president, Gulnara Karimova, has for some time been the western-friendly face of the regime. She has released a duet with Gérard Depardieu, launched a fashion line and even has her own perfume. However, attention is turning to her other persona: “that of the ruthless businesswoman, ready to use her family position to crush business rivals.”
  • Bassem Youssef, Egypt’s equivalent of US chat show host Jon Stewart, has been the target of death threats and law suits, but he shrugs them off: “It is a guarantee that freedom of speech will not be oppressed if we continue to speak.”
  • Steven Cook at the Council on Foreign Relations argues that the Egyptian opposition’s feckless approach to politics underscores the need to replace wedge issues and anti-Muslim Brotherhood sentiment with real policies.
  • Why the White House shmooze-fest? The “president’s only route to a so-called grand bargain for deficit reduction is to go around the leaders to build a bipartisan consensus.”
  • As it is International Women’s Day, we thought we’d share with you this cheering article on the media’s double standards for women at the top.

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Welcome to our rolling coverage of Barack Obama’s inauguration for another four years as US president, complete with agenda-setting speech. By Tom Burgis, Lina Saigol and Ben Fenton with contributions from FT correspondents. All times are EST.

11.00 For ease of reading, we’re going to switch into a new post. Like the transition between two presidential terms, this is meant to happen seamlessly. Just click here to go on reading the latest updates from our colleagues in DC.

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Welcome back to the FT’s live coverage of the US Election 2012 as voters have re-elected Barack Obama over Mitt Romney. The Democrats will retain a majority in the Senate, while the Republicans will hold the house. Follow all the action with Shannon Bond, Arash Massoudi and Anjli Raval in New York (All times EST).

02.20: As the celebrations continue in Chicago, we leave you with these closing thoughts.

The President came into tonight’s election a damaged political figure with victory far from certain. He won with help of a unmatched grass-roots campaign and his direct appeal to a broad cross-section of America’s ever-changing demographics. He won’t enter his second-term in office with the same momentum in his sails but that’s not to say his challenges are any less daunting. Read more

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Welcome back to the FT’s live coverage of the US Election 2012 in which US voters will choose between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. As millions of Americans continue to head to polling sites around the country, some results will begin to trickle in shortly.

By Arash Massoudi and Anjli Raval in New York (All times EST)

19.00: Continue to follow our election live blog here.

18.55: How will markets react tomorrow? Michael Mackenzie, FT’s US markets editor, says bond traders believe Treasury yields are likely to fall if President Obama is re-elected as attention will focus on gridlock and the “fiscal cliff”.

“Traders think a Romney win would push the benchmark yield higher as the risk of a fiscal accident is reduced. For equities, the consensus view is that a relief rally beckons once the election result is finalised, with a Romney win pushing stocks even higher.”

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Voters wait outside a makeshift polling station on Sandy-ravaged Staten Island, New York. (AP)

Welcome to the FT’s live coverage of a momentous election in which US voters will choose between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to lead them through a future of economic and political uncertainty. Here is our moment-by-moment reporting as months of bitter campaigning and rancorous rhetoric end, and voters finally have their say. By Anjli Raval and Arash Massoudi in New York and John Aglionby and Ben Fenton in London. (All times EST)

16.52 We’re going to take a short break before the polls start to close. Stay tuned for more live coverage on FT.com, which can be found here.

16.49: Lionel Barber, Financial Times editor, writes a piece from Washington saying that America’s real test comes after the polls: Read more

The final stretch: Barack Obama presses the flesh at a rally in Cincinnati, Ohio on Sunday (AP)

Welcome to the penultimate summary of media coverage of the 2012 US election campaign on a day when geography means nothing and psephology everything as the candidates make their final push for the few, surely very few, remaining undecided voters.

The polls on this last day of campaigning suggest President Barack Obama has a slight edge in the states he needs to hold – Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nevada – to keep the White House, but his opponent Mitt Romney is easily close enough for polls to be wrong and an upset to be possible.

RealClearPolitics.com shows “Obama (D)” ahead of “Romney (R)” by a sliver – half of a percentage point. Five national polls on Sunday gave the following margins: Obama +3; Obama +1; Obama +1; Tie; Tie. The possibility, last seen in 2000, of the victor losing the popular vote but winning in the electoral college, remains open. Read more

Welcome to a summary of US election coverage of a day when President Barack Obama had the luxury of dominating television screens without having to pay an extra cent in advertising, while his opponent Mitt Romney was forced into an uncomfortable position in the wings of a great drama.

 

In the Financial Times, Alan Rappeport reports from Atlantic City that Mr Obama’s position as incumbent gave him the opportunity not only to be pictured coming to the aid of a storm-battered New Jersey, but also inspecting damage alongside the state’s governor, Chris Christie, who has been one of Mr Romney’s main surrogates in attacking the president. Read more

Welcome to a summary of US election coverage on a day when the advantages of incumbency will surely continue to work on behalf of President Barack Obama.

His role in supervising the clear-up of damage caused by the biggest storm to hit the eastern US in 75 years puts the president in centre shot of news footage that for at least the next 24 hours will be broadcast into every home of the US, airtime that could not be bought.

Latest polls show the presidential race is still being fought on the thinnest margins in states that have either been dealt glancing blows by Sandy – Ohio, Virginia, New Hampshire, – or know only too well what it is like to be mangled by the forces of nature – hurricanes in Florida, tornadoes in Iowa. Read more

It may be a contest to become the most powerful human on the planet, but even the US presidential race has to bow to the might of nature sometimes. As Hurricane Sandy summoned up her powers to hammer the east coast of the US, organisers of the two campaigns hurriedly changed their plans and moved inland.

The weather is likely to have two effects, according to the US press, with practical concerns about travel and safety affecting both. But the campaign of President Barack Obama will be worse hit by a second factor, as the Wall Street Journal explains:

Today is the last day for in-person and mail-in voter registration in deadlocked New Hampshire, where the weather threatens to scuttle campaign stops planned by both camps next week. First lady Michelle Obama has canceled a Tuesday trip to the University of New Hampshire campus, which will be closed Monday and Tuesday in preparation for Sandy.

Mr. Obama’s campaign team is relying on banking votes during the early voting period in many states. Campaign aides are privately nervous about a potential disruption in early voting in Florida, North Carolina and Virginia.

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Welcome to a round-up of presidential election news and the quadrennial process of the “last dash for votes” stories has begun early this time around. Concepts like “momentum”, “campaign groundwork” and “heavyweight endorsements” are here to stay for the next 10 turbulent days.

Having voted in his home state of Illinois, President Barack Obama’s idea of momentum appears to consist of sitting in the Oval Office recording media interviews, while his challenger Mitt Romney has a slightly less hectic schedule than in the immediate post-debate days, with only two states, Iowa and Ohio, on his agenda on Friday. Read more

Welcome to a round up of media coverage of the presidential election as the campaign reaches the stage where the air miles really begin to stack up for those following the candidates on their jet-powered whistlestop tours.

Today, President Barack Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney criss-cross the country in search of support in critical states. The president begins the day in Florida before flying up the east coast to Virginia, then home to Chicago to cast his own (early) vote before hopping to Ohio, two states to the east, for an evening rally.

With just 11 days of campaigning left, the citizens of these states can expect to see the candidates plenty more times and hear an awful lot of speeches, but Thursday’s headlines feature remarks made by the president in what he thought was a private conversation. Read more

Welcome to the election news round-up on the morning before the third and final presidential debate, which will focus on foreign policy.

While investors may increasingly focus on the threat of the so-called fiscal cliff facing whoever wins on November 6, this potential catastrophe for the US economy will remain off the agenda as Washington DC remains obsessed with the minutiae of an incredibly tight race. Read more

Welcome to a round-up of media coverage of a presidential election now so close that the candidates, with less than three weeks of campaigning left, are paying visits to states with only four votes of the 270 needed to win the electoral college on November 6.

President Barack Obama was in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Thursday, a town accustomed to the paraphernalia and pageant of primary campaigning in December and January, but not so much to autumnal visits by the victors of those primaries.

The latest poll for the New England state shows Mr Obama tied with his Republican rival Mitt Romney.
One local paper, the Eagle Tribune, reports that an enthusiastic crowd of 6,000 saw an energised president repeating many of the attack lines he used against Mr Romney in Monday’s presidential debate. Read more

In his latest dispatch from the US, John McDermott tells of an unfortunate automobile accident – and a fortunate meeting. Read more

Welcome to the round-up of news coverage of the US presidential election. There is a noticeable spring in the step of election pundits in the wake of the first presidential debate.

Yes, while political rune-readers and campaign commentators had been showing a rather lacklustre performance in recent days, the surprisingly interesting Denver dialogue has invigorated not just the campaign of Republican candidate Mitt Romney, but his backers in the newspaper columns too.

With no major polls taken since the debate, we are still in the kingdom of analysis, where the likes of George Will hold court. In the Washington Post, Will ripped into President Barack Obama for failing to prepare properly:

His vanity — remember, he gave Queen Elizabeth an iPod whose menu included two of his speeches — perhaps blinds him to the need to prepare. And to the fact that it is not lese-majeste to require him to defend his campaign ads’ dubious assertions with explanations longer than the ads. And to the ample evidence, such as his futile advocacy for Democratic candidates and Obamacare, that his supposed rhetorical gifts are figments of acolytes’ imagination.

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Notes from the Heartland

A crunch of an onion ring breaks the silence of the Democratic debate night party at the Diamond Bowl in Independence, Missouri. On each of the four big television screens affixed above 10 battered pins, Mitt Romney explains how he will concomitantly cut taxes and the deficit. “Lies, lies, lies!” comes the response from the end of the alleys – one that served the 40 local activists well throughout the night.

Independence is one of the holiest sites in Democratic politics. It is the hometown of Harry Truman, whose childhood house is situated five minutes from the Bowl, near my inn for the night, proud and freshly painted in sky blue. Its name could not be more apt for the Democratic approach to the state.

In Missouri, which voted for every president but two from 1904 to 2008, centrist “Truman Democrats” are the norm. The Democratic governor Jay Nixon is fiscally conservative, gun-friendly and not shy of populism. Claire McCaskill, the incumbent junior senator running against Todd “legitimate rape” Akin, has TV ads that say she is the “50th senator”, a reference to her moderate voting record in Washington. Read more

After the conventions: the race for the White House

Did President Barack Obama’s Democratic convention speech convince the American electorate that he is worth another four years in the White House? Or has Mitt Romney begun to swing the race towards the Republicans? With the opinion polls at level pegging, Gideon Rachman is joined by John McDermott and Richard McGregor to discuss how the parties stand post convention.

If Twitter is any guide then Barack Obama may have extracted from Charlotte what Mitt Romney singularly failed to get last week from Tampa – momentum, or what George H. W. Bush once called “the big Mo”. Partly because of what the New York Times described as Michelle Obama’s “high definition” fashion power, the first night of the Democratic convention garnered 3m tweets against 4m for the entire three days in Tampa.

It went off the charts for Bill Clinton’s epic – some would say Fidel Castro-esque – 48-minute primetime address on Wednesday. If Tampa was “good enough” for Mr Romney, but nothing more, Charlotte looks likely to qualify as a boost for Mr Obama’s re-election chances.

But momentum, like many things in life, is not what it used to be. Even if Mr Obama does emerge from Charlotte with “small Mo”, the chances are that it will evaporate pretty quickly. His first hurdle comes on Friday morning with the publication of the jobs numbers for AugustRead more