Politics

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It's taken as a given that American voters in 2012 aren't as concerned about foreign policy as they are the domestic economy.

It's also accepted as true that on matters of foreign policy, President Obama has an advantage over his Republican challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who lacks significant firsthand foreign policy experience.

But Romney has made it a point lately to show that he's not ceding foreign policy and national security to Obama.

It's not so much what Mitt Romney said about whether the government should guarantee people health care in his interview on CBS's 60 Minutes Sunday that has health care policy types buzzing. It's how that compares to what he has said before.

To back up a bit, Scott Pelley asked the former Massachusetts governor if he thinks "the government has a responsibility to provide health care to the 50 million Americans who don't have it today?"

Saying that foreign aid must play a role in bringing peace to the Middle East, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney made the case today for what he calls "prosperity pacts" that would aim U.S. assistance packages at nations that develop "the institutions of liberty, the rule of law, and property rights."

Romney was addressing the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, a forum that will host President Obama later today.

If he's elected in November, Romney said (per his prepared remarks):

Is it possible to tell whether you are a liberal or a conservative by the jokes you think are funny?

Maybe so. "Like smell or taste, humor is a sense and different people are going to think different things are funny," says Alison Dagnes, author of the just-published book A Conservative Walks Into a Bar: The Politics of Political Humor. "When you throw politics into the mix, our opinions and our biases will affect the way the jokes land."

SALEM, Ore. – This November, voters in Oregon and Washington will decide whether to legalize marijuana. The Washington effort is backed by some deep-pocketed national donors. But Oregon's campaign is struggling to raise even a bare minimum of cash.

Washington’s Initiative 502 would allow adults to buy marijuana at state-licensed stores. Oregon's Measure 80 would do that too, and would allow people to grow their own pot. The Washington backers have rung up more than $3 million in donations, allowing them to hit the TV airwaves.

Methodology: Counting Hispanic Surnames

Sep 24, 2012

So you may be wondering how we reached the conclusion that just 2 percent of the elected officials in the Northwest are Hispanic. Here's how we did it.

First, we collected the names of every elected state official ... every county commissioner, city councilor, mayor and school board member. We added in members of Congress for good measure. We came up with 8, 244 names.

Latinos barely represented on NW elected bodies

Sep 24, 2012

WOODBURN, Ore. - Across the Northwest, Latinos make up nearly 12 percent of the population. Yet our research estimates only two percent of the region’s elected officials are Hispanic. It’s a disparity that voters like Jose Ramirez want to change.

“If someone can vote and doesn’t, well, that doesn’t do any good," he says. "You’re allowing others to vote in your place, to make different laws than you might like.”

(Note, if you're easily offended by juvenile humor, this post and video might not be for you.)

The video's been going around since Friday, but it's too funny not to pass along just because it's a few days old. And we bet many folks missed it over the weekend.

Every election season, political signs sprout like dandelions from lawns across America. They also pop up at more than a few businesses. For some, expressing political preferences is a calculated move to attract customers. But it can just as easily turn clients away.

Jeff Reiter, who owns the Blue Plate Lunch Counter & Soda Fountain in Portland, Ore., proudly displays a 2008 Obama campaign sign inside his restaurant and says he has "never tried to hide" his support for the president.

The mural in downtown Corvallis, Ore., is big: 10 feet high and 100 feet long. One side shows a peaceful countryside setting in rural Taiwan. The other shows police beating protesters in Tibet and a Buddhist monk setting himself ablaze in protest.

Mitt Romney's comments regarding the 47 percent of Americans who pay no income tax is getting lots of attention today. Our colleague Mark Memmott explains the context.

Here's a closer look at the numbers.

VANCOUVER, Wash. — Clark County supporters of President Barack Obama and Democrats have been getting tomatoes thrown at them.

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney told supporters that "there are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what" because they are "dependent upon government ... believe that they are victims ... believe the government has a responsibility to care for them ... these are people who pay no income tax."

Who was he talking about?

OLYMPIA, Wash. – One of the Northwest’s leading solar power advocates likely used his state position to help a company he was working for get an unfair tax designation. That’s the conclusion of a state Ethics Board investigation released Friday.

Oregon State Sen. Frank Morse To Resign

Sep 17, 2012

Long-time Oregon state Senator Frank Morse says will resign his seat. In an emotional speech on the floor of the state Senate Friday, Morse said he no longer has the energy for what he called a “marathon with no finish line.” Morse urged his colleagues to stabilize funding for Oregon schools and social services.

“Friends, solve this fiscal instability problem. It’s destroying our state. It’s destroying our schools.”

Morse turns 69 this month. He’s a moderate Republican known his support for higher education funding. Morse has represented Corvallis and Albany since 2002.

SALEM, Ore. – The group that's asking Oregon voters to ban the use of gillnets along the Columbia River says it's ending its ballot measure campaign. The sponsors of the measure say they're instead backing a separate effort by Oregon’s governor to do essentially the same thing.

Measure 81 would ban the use of gillnets in commercial, non-tribal fishing on the Oregon side of the Columbia River. The measure will still appear on the November ballot. But the group that spent $500,000 getting the initiative in front of voters now says it won't campaign in favor of it.

This past weekend was an odd one on the campaign trail. First, as NPR's Don Gonyea reported on Morning Edition, a muscled pizza man was so excited to see President Obama, he hugged him and picked him up a full foot off the ground.

Then there's Vice President Joe Biden who, um, canoodled with a biker lady at a Seaman, Ohio, diner.

The picture captured by Carolyn Kaster of The Associated Press is priceless:

Early in his acceptance speech last night, President Obama laid out the voters' task in these words:

"On every issue, the choice you face won't be just between two candidates or two parties. It will be a choice ... between two fundamentally different visions for the future."

Framing the coming election as a choice between fundamentally different visions, President Obama offered himself to the country Thursday as a fire-tested leader ready to finish the job he started.

"Our problems can be solved," Obama said. "Our challenges can be met."

It was an older, battle-scarred nominee who faced his party in Charlotte, N.C. This message of hope was tempered and longer-view — a good distance if not a full turn from the vision he offered four years ago when he accepted the nomination in a thundering Denver stadium.

If you missed the last night of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., we live blogged it here.

But if you want a quick review, we've compiled five things that struck us about the night:

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Democratic candidate for state auditor was once accused in court files of stealing artwork from the offices of a company where he worked.

President Obama still has a case to make for a second term, and specific people to whom he needs to make it.

But while it's two months too early to call former President Bill Clinton Obama's closer, he came about as close as it gets Wednesday night at the Democratic convention with a bravura defense of the current White House occupant.

"We are here to nominate a president," Clinton said after strolling onto the stage to tumultuous applause, "and I've got one in mind."

Investigators are working to determine the legitimacy of a claim that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's tax records have been stolen from an accounting firm's records.

Naming a million-dollar price, an anonymous ransom note was sent to accounting firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers. The letter, which was also posted online, gets right to the point: "Using your Office... we were able to gain access to your network file servers and copy over the tax documents for one Willard M Romney and Ann D Romney."

The note's author signs off with a perky "Cheers!"

A government transparency group is urging an investigation into Federal Aviation Administration managers who allegedly urged workers in Seattle to vote Democrat in the upcoming elections.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Republican Governors Association has started airing its first television ad against Democrat Jay Inslee in Washington state, where the former U.S. representative is running for governor against Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna.

There was one undeniably sweet moment, last night: As San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro got to the part of his speech where he mentioned his wife and his 3-year-old daughter, the camera panned over to Carina.

It seemed like she noticed herself on the big screens at the arena, because suddenly she stuck out our her tongue and flipped her hair.

As Democrats gather in North Carolina for their convention, there’s new research from the Northwest on the power of partisan rhetoric. Turns out, your core political beliefs can trump your education level when it comes to understanding the basic facts of a high contentious issue.

The Affordable Care Act. ObamaCare. Whatever you call it, it’s provided countless hours of fodder to the cable television networks.

From Glen Beck on Fox News:

“You don’t play ball with them now. If you don’t get into their government health care there will be jail time.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The group seeking to overturn Washington's gay marriage law has changed its website instructions to churches that want to raise money for the effort, but state campaign finance officials say that the language is still not in compliance with state law.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Two former members of the state Legislature say it is time for lawmakers to eliminate campaign surplus accounts.

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