Racial undercurrent of 'birther' debate

THE TICKET - During the 2008 campaign, questions about John McCain's birth in the Panama Canal Zone on a U.S. military base prompted some to ask whether McCain was eligible to be president, since the Constitution stipulates that anyone not born in the United States is not eligible to be president.
Amid a flurry of news reports, McCain's own campaign announced in February 2008 that it was conducting an investigation. When a bipartisan pair of lawyers announced the following month that McCain was indeed eligible, the issue virtually died--apart from a Senate resolution that pretty much laid the question to rest by attesting to the facts surrounding McCain's birth and citizenship.
But the winner of the 2008 election, Barack Obama, has faced a relentless campaign questioning his U.S. citizenship--and thereby the legitimacy of his presidency--that has disregarded the facts.
Questions regarding Obama's birth certificate have persisted for more than two years, as the president noted Wednesday at a press conference announcing the release of his long-form birth certificate. A vast array of evidence attests to Obama's citizenship--including a certificate of live birth, signed affidavits from people who viewed Obama's long-form birth certificate, confirmation by Hawaiian officials, and independent investigations by news outlets. Nevertheless, "this thing just keeps going" as Obama said this morning. Even after the White House released the long-form certificate of Obama's birth, birther leader Orly Taitz—who has filed unsuccessful lawsuits seeking to obtain access to Obama's birth certificate—sought to cast doubt on the document's authenticity, suggesting that in 1961, Hawaiian officials would have classified Obama as "Negro" rather than using designation "African," which suggests, in her view, a more contemporary concern for "political correctness."
So what's fueling the dogged questioning of Obama's origins? Many critics of the birther movement say its core tenets--and its stubborn resistance to evidence disproving those beliefs--can be traced to racial hostilities. The fundamental birtherist conviction, these critics say, is that an African-American can't have legitimately won the presidency--and that his elevation to power therefore has to be the result of an elaborate subterfuge.
"There is a real deep-seated and vicious racism at work here in terms of trying to de-legitimate the president," Peniel Joseph, a professor of history at Tufts University, told The Ticket.
"This is more than just a conspiracy," Peniel added. "I think this is fundamentally connected to white supremacism in this country."
Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. in early April called for the connection to be publicly drawn between birthers and racism: "So it is time to call this birther nonsense what it is--not just claptrap, but profoundly racist claptrap."
And columnist Michael Tomasky wrote for The Guardian Wednesday that the birther conspiracy "had to be the only explanation for how this black man got to the White House." He added: "And if you think race isn't what this is about at its core, ask yourself if there would even be a birther conspiracy if Barack Obama were white and named Bart Oberstar. If you think there would be, you are delusional."
In a similar vein, Rev. Jesse Jackson told Politico yesterday that Donald Trump's campaign to get Obama to release his birth certificate is deeply rooted in race.
"Any discussion of [Obama's] birthplace is a code word," Jackson said. "It calls upon ancient racial fears." Jackson later added that, in his view, Trump "is now tapping into code-word fears that go far beyond a rational discourse."
Birthers emphatically deny such criticism. But it's difficult to apprehend the ongoing resistance to proof of Obama's citizenship without crediting racial fear as a significant factor. At first, after all, many adherents of birtherism argued that the administration fueled speculation by failing to release the long-form version of Obama's birth certificate, but now that this version has been released to the public, the call continues to go out for other kinds of information about Obama's past to be released--a level of scrutiny that neither McCain nor Obama's 43 predecessors in the Oval Office were expected to face.
Trump, who has railed against Obama as he floats himself as a presidential contender, on Wednesday at a press conference in New Hampshire called for Obama to release his academic transcripts:
The word is, according to what I've read, that he was a terrible student when he went to Occidental. He then gets to Columbia. He then gets to Harvard. I heard at Columbia he wasn't a very good student. He then gets to Harvard. How do you get into Harvard if you're not a good student. Maybe that's right or maybe that's wrong. But I don't know why he doesn't release his records. Why doesn't he release his Occidental records?
Trump and others have accused Obama of not authoring his memoir, while many Obama detractors continue to argue he is secretly Muslim. Both Jackson and Peniel noted that never before has a sitting president's nationality been questioned.
Meanwhile, an eye-opening recent study from the University of Delaware appears to confirm that race-minded detractors of Obama view him as "less American"--as Dan Vergano writes for USA Today.
The study, which surveyed blacks and whites on their opinions of Obama compared to Vice President Joe Biden, found that whites classified as "higher prejudice-predicted Whites" viewed Obama as "less American"--a view that, in turn, resulted in lower evaluations of the president's performance.
"Finally, many in the media have speculated that current criticisms of Obama are a result of his race, rather than his agenda. We believe that the current results are an empirical demonstration that this is sadly the case," the study concluded in its analysis. "As the United States approaches important decisions regarding issues such as economic reform, health care, and overseas military interventions, the intrusion of racial attitudes in the evaluation of political leaders' performance is ironically inconsistent with what many believe to be 'American.' "
Two separate national polls conducted this spring found that about half of Republicans don't believe Obama was born in the United States.
But Democrats and Republicans alike say that "birther" talk will be a political liability for whoever propagates the discussion.
"I don't think it's an issue that moves voters," Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus told reporters Tuesday. "It's an issue in my opinion that I don't personally get too excited about, because I think the more important question is what's going on in this country in regards to jobs, to debt, and the deficit and spending. Those are the things that people are worried about. People aren't worried about these other issues."


As Netflix profit soars, CEO, CFO warn of higher costs, slower growth

SILICON VALLEY - Netflix (NFLX) reports growth in profit, revenue and subscribers, but warns of increased costs. Plus: Yahoo (YHOO), Nintendo, Facebook. And: New-home sales, Silicon Valley tech stocks.

Netflix earnings

Netflix -- the Los Gatos online DVD rental pioneer turned Internet viewing destination -- this afternoon reported a $60 million profit for its most recent quarter, up 88 percent from a year earlier. Revenue jumped 46 percent to $719 million.

During the quarter, Netflix added nearly 3.6 million subscribers.

"We are delighted to report another strong quarter of growth in subscribers, now at 23.6 million globally, revenue and earnings," Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and Chief Financial Officer David Wells wrote in a letter to shareholders posted on the company's site. "This growth underscores the value of our increased spending on an ever-broader selection of TV shows and movies, our constantly improving personalization technology, and the Netflix brand."

Netflix's earnings came in at $1.11 a share -- beating Wall Street forecasts, according to Thomson.

However, the company warned that future subscriber growth may slow as the costs of securing programming for its online viewing service increases. It expects 24 million to 24.8 million customers at the end of the current quarter. It also expects profit of $50 million to $62 million -- or 93 cents to $1.15 a share -- on revenue of $762 million to $778 million. By contrast, analysts on average had been expecting earnings of $1.19 a share on $763 million in revenue.

Netflix released results just after the stock markets closed this afternoon. Earlier, the shares finished regular trading at $251.67, down 55 cents, or 0.2 percent, from last week's closing price. The stock was dropping sharply in after-hours trading.

Source: Silicon Valley Mercury News


ElBaradei suggests war crimes probe of Bush team

NEW YORK – Former chief U.N. nuclear inspector Mohamed ElBaradei suggests in a new memoir that Bush administration officials should face international criminal investigation for the "shame of a needless war" in Iraq.
Freer to speak now than he was as an international civil servant, the Nobel-winning Egyptian accuses U.S. leaders of "grotesque distortion" in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq invasion, when then-President George W. Bush and his lieutenants claimed Iraq possessed doomsday weapons despite contrary evidence collected by ElBaradei's and other arms inspectors inside the country.
The Iraq war taught him that "deliberate deception was not limited to small countries ruled by ruthless dictators," ElBaradei writes in "The Age of Deception," being published Tuesday by Henry Holt and Company.
The 68-year-old legal scholar, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from 1997 to 2009 and recently a rallying figure in Egypt's revolution, concludes his 321-page account of two decades of "tedious, wrenching" nuclear diplomacy with a plea for more of it, particularly in the efforts to rein in North Korean and Iranian nuclear ambitions.
"All parties must come to the negotiating table," writes ElBaradei, who won the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with the IAEA in 2005. He repeatedly chides Washington for reluctant or hardline approaches to negotiations with Tehran and Pyongyang.
He is harshest in addressing the Bush administration's 2002-2003 drive for war with Iraq, when ElBaradei and Hans Blix led teams of U.N. inspectors looking for signs Saddam Hussein's government had revived nuclear, chemical or biological weapons programs.
He tells of an October 2002 meeting he and Blix had with Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and others, at which the Americans sought to convert the U.N. mission into a "cover for what would be, in essence, a United States-directed inspection process."
The U.N. officials resisted, and their teams went on to conduct some 700 inspections of scores of potential weapons sites in Iraq, finding no evidence to support the U.S. claims of weapons of mass destruction.
In his own memoir, published last November, Bush still insisted it was right to invade to remove a "homicidal dictator pursuing WMD." But the ex-president also wrote of a "sickening feeling" when no arms turned up after the invasion, and blamed an "intelligence failure" for the baseless claim, a reference to a 2002 U.S. intelligence assessment contending WMD were being built.
But that assessment itself offered no concrete evidence, and Bush and his aides have never explained why the U.S. position was not changed as on-the-ground U.N. findings came in before the invasion.
ElBaradei cites examples, including the conclusion by his inspectors inside Iraq that certain aluminum tubes were designed for artillery rockets, not for uranium enrichment equipment to build nuclear bombs, as Washington asserted.
The IAEA chief reported this conclusion to the U.N. Security Council on Jan. 27, 2003, and yet on the next day Bush — in a "remarkable" response — delivered a State of the Union address in which he repeated the unfounded claim about aluminum tubes, ElBaradei notes.
Similar contradictions of expert findings occurred with the claim, based on a forgery, that Iraq had sought uranium from Niger, and an Iraqi exile's fabrication that "mobile labs" were producing biological weapons.
"I was aghast at what I was witnessing," ElBaradei writes of the official U.S. attitude before the March 2003 invasion, which he calls "aggression where there was no imminent threat," a war in which he accepts estimates that hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians were killed.
In such a case, he suggests, the World Court should be asked to rule on whether the war was illegal. And, if so, "should not the International Criminal Court investigate whether this constitutes a `war crime' and determine who is accountable?"
Formidable political and legal barriers would seem to rule out such an investigation. But ElBaradei, citing the war-crimes prosecution of Serbia's Slobodan Milosevic, sees double standards that should end.
"Do we, as a community of nations, have the wisdom and courage to take the corrective measures needed, to ensure that such a tragedy will never happen again?" he asks.

Source: AP News


Cleaner election boost's Nigeria legitimacy – and regional clout

A new regional hegemony may have been born this week – Nigeria's.

Africa's most extravagant oil producer has long had the money, minerals, and raw demographics to dominate its region like a bull in what might otherwise be France's backyard or the People's Republic of China's shop.

The nation's 154 million people account for more than half of West Africa's population, and one-seventh of Africa's total head count. Its gross domestic product is growing as fast as any world economy left of China.

"Nigeria should be in a position to be a part of the G20," US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters in 2009, referring to the influential group of the world's 20 largest economies.

The only thing Africa's sleeping giant has lacked – or, at least, the main thing – is credibility. When, for example, President Obama made his first trip to Africa as president, he publicly snubbed Nigeria to visit famously democratic Ghana, a fellow ex-British colony with a tenth of Nigeria's population and an even smaller fraction of its oil.

Yet Nigeria's battered international reputation appears on the mend following Saturday's presidential election – Nigeria's only free and fair election since it moved away from military rule 12 years ago.

International observers judged the poll reasonably fair, a marked improvement on the 2007 vote that was universally denounced as an descent into election theater.

"This is such an important moment," said Alex Vines, Africa analyst for the London-based watchgroup Chatham House. "Nigeria now has the legitimacy behind it of an election that met minimal international standards. It's very promising. It will allow Nigeria to speak more authoritatively when there are significant governance challenges in place like Guinea-Bissau."

The country is already there.

Nigeria's now duly elected president, Goodluck Jonathan, has been vocal in support of Guinea-Bissau's military reform program. Leaders of the former Portuguese colony are trying to retool their military to pave roads and dig irrigation canals, instead of smuggle Colombian cocaine toward Europe.

More audaciously, Nigeria stuck its boot in the middle of what may have been Africa's most divisive conflict since the fall of apartheid: Ivory Coast.

When the former French West African colony's defeated incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo refused to concede last November's elections, South African dignitaries flew thousands of miles over French-speaking terrain they rarely visit to offer Gbagbo a Zimbabwe-style powersharing deal that repulsed West African leaders.

Nigeria responded by co-sponsoring a declaration of war on Laurent Gbagbo, dramatically staged at the United Nation Security Council – all in the middle of Nigeria's own election season, no less.

"If that's what Nigeria is doing when it's distracted by elections and inward-looking, it does show the country's potential for leadership," Mr. Vines said.

Source: The Christian Science Monitor


Samuel L. Jackson debuts on Broadway

Samuel L. Jackson will make his Broadway debut this autumn as the Rev Martin Luther King Jr.
Producers of The Mountaintop said the Academy Award-nominated actor will star in the play that reimagines the night before the civil rights leader's assassination.
The play, by Katori Hall, made its debut in London in 2009.
It had been rumoured that Halle Berry would join Jackson but producers said "child custody issues" ruled her out.
Performances on Broadway will begin on September 22 at the Bernard B Jacobs Theatre on 45th Street. The official opening is set for October 13.
Jackson, known for films such as Pulp Fiction and Snakes on a Plane, originated roles in two of August Wilson's plays at Yale Repertory Theatre and appeared at the New York Shakespeare Festival.

Goodluck Jonathan in landslide victory in Nigerian Presidential elections

Complete results breakdown by States of the Federation (below):


Source: ... nts/89845/

PDP = 24 States including FCT
CPC = 12 States
ACN = 1 State
ANPP = 0 State.

Congratulations to President-elect Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.

"War criminal" Blaise Compaore faces revolt in Burkina Faso

Editor's Monday Morning Brew

There is no conflict in West Africa and indeed Africa, that Blaise Compaore has no knowledge of. Having murdered his best friend and comrade-in-arms, Thomas Sankara in a bloody coup in 1987, he (Blaise Compaore) and Charles Taylor, with the support of their godfather in Libya, Muammar Gaddafi unleashed a reign of terror on the African continent.

One must also not forget Compaore's support of the late Jonas Savimbi (a "good friend" of the Heritage Foundation) in the brutal Angolan civil war.

Now, Blaise Compaore, a honorary member of the Raoul Wallenberg foundation (go figure) is under siege as the same guns he has unleashed on the people of West Africa (Ivory Coast recently through the French puppet Alassane Quattara), are now set to be turned against him.

It is impossible to see how Blaise Compaore will eventually survive, although he may try to hold on as much as possible, much like his godfather in the art of butchery, Muammar Gaddafi.

Here (below) are video footage, courtesy of France 24, on the mutiny in the Burkinabe military and the resulting violence as Blaise Compaore (who should be on trial along with Charles Taylor at the Hague) scrambles to hold on to power.


Thomas Sankara: The French, the West and the future of Africa

Thomas Sankara was the revolutionary leader of Burkina Faso who was murdered in cold blood (in 1987) by his friend and "trusted" colleague, Blaise Compaore, with the acquiescence of France and Ivory Coast.

Sankara, a charismatic army captain, came to power in Burkina Faso, in 1983, in a popularly supported coup. He immediately launched the most ambitious program for social and economic change ever attempted on the African continent.

To symbolize this rebirth, he even renamed his country from the French colonial Upper Volta to Burkina Faso, "Land of Upright Men."

As soon as he took office, he reduced the salaries of all public servants, including his own, and forbade the use of chauffeur-driven Mercedes and 1st class airline tickets.

In less than four years Thomas Sankara accomplished the following:

a) Burkina Faso attained complete self-sufficiency in food production and even began to export food to other parts of Africa. He accomplished this by redistributing land from the feudal landlords and giving it directly to the peasants. Wheat production alone, rose in just three years from 1700 kg per hectare to 3800 kg per hectare.

b) He promoted local cotton production and even required public servants to wear a traditional tunic, woven from Burkinabe cotton and sewn by Burkinabe craftsmen.

c) He advocated for gender rights and facilitated the removal of the feudal system.

d) He was the first African leader to appoint women to major cabinet positions and to recruit them actively for the military.

e) He outlawed forced marriages and encouraged women to work outside the home and stay in school even if pregnant.

f) He launched a nation-wide public health campaign vaccinating over 2½ million people in a week, a world record.

g) He was "Mr. Green" before it was ever "fashionable" in the West, as he oversaw the planting of over 10 million trees to retain soil and halt the growing desertification of the Sahel.

h) He started an ambitious road and rail building program to tie the nation together, eschewing any foreign aid by relying on his country’s greatest resource, the energy and commitment of its own people.

I am posting a series of videos that show how much Thomas Sankara was ahead of his time, but his ideas and beliefs remain the cornerstone of the fight to free Africa from the clutches of imperialism and neo-colonialism.

This is a must watch for those who really must know exactly what just happened in Ivory Coast, where another stooge of France and the West, was imposed upon the people of Ivory Coast.

Thomas Sankara was indeed a visionary and this will be a well spent 50 minutes watching this great son of Africa, in the mold of Nelson Mandela.


Jazz Hearted Fridays

The Sweetest Taboo

by Sade Adu

Cost surge under new Google CEO unsettles Wall Street

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Google Inc's stunning 54 percent spending surge in the first quarter spooked investors already worried its new CEO may take his eye off the bottom line to chase revenue growth.
Shares of Google slid more than 5 percent as investors zeroed in on the rise in expenses to $2.84 billion. This dwarfed a 29 percent jump in net revenue and reflected a record hiring spree, company-wide salary raises, and splurging on everything from marketing to technology.
Analysts expect co-founder and new Chief Executive Larry Page to keep spending on new products to spearhead an aggressive push into areas such as social networking and mobile businesses. Google executives said on Thursday the dramatically stepped-up spending was part of the company's plan to chase multibillion business opportunities.
Page, 38, a media-averse technology visionary who took over as CEO this month from decade-long veteran Eric Schmidt, came on a conference call with analysts for just a few minutes, disappointing some eager to hear his plans to jump-start growth and innovation.
Page expressed his optimism in his company's future, then departed, leaving a trail of questions that analysts directed at the other executives.
"My sincere hope is that over time he (Page) enunciates the strategy much more clearly," said Jim Tierney, chief investment officer of asset manager WP Stewart, which owns Google shares.
Page is expected to bolster innovation and cut bureaucracy as Google battles social networking leader Facebook and Apple Inc. But his brief remarks on Thursday's call did little to reassure Wall Street about the management change.
"You got expenses growing faster than revenue and some people were caught by surprise by the willingness of the company to spend," said BGC Partners analyst Colin Gillis.
"But Larry Page has signaled pretty clearly that he is going to be driving up expenses. If the expenses are targeted and result in future revenue streams, then good for Larry. If not, that results in an undisciplined spending approach."
Google plans to hire more than 6,000 people this year, after taking a record 2,000 on board in the quarter and raising salaries by about 10 percent across the board on January 1.
"The discipline of the company has not changed; we're just really bullish on our prospects," Chief Financial Officer Patrick Pichette told analysts. "I can tell you every element of the company (expenses from real estate to food) is scrubbed and scrutinized."
The focus on Google's spending overshadowed strong first quarter net revenue growth of 29 percent year-over-year to $6.54 billion, above the $6.32 billion expected by analysts.
For a company of Google's size "that's fairly magnificent," said WP Stewart's Tierney. "There are not a whole lot of companies in any segment that can do that."
Google said drivers of its topline growth included an 18 percent jump in the paid clicks on its search ads, bolstered by new types of retail ads featuring product images, as well as momentum in mobile ads and video ads on its YouTube website.
Shares of Google, which underperformed the market in 2010, are down roughly 9 percent since the company announced in January that Page would replace Schmidt. This week, Page moved swiftly to streamline decision-making at Google's upper ranks by reshuffling reporting lines.
The reorganization, which CFO Pichette said affected all "core pillars" of the company, raised the profile of Google's social networking group as it moves to catch up with Facebook.
Asked about Google's approach to social networking, Jeff Huber, senior vice president of Commerce & Local, said Google considered a websurfer's identity and relationships to be "key signals" among the 200 factors it uses to rank search results.
Google posted net income of $2.3 billion, or $7.04 a share, up from $1.96 billion, or $6.06 a share, in the year-ago first quarter. Excluding certain items, it earned $8.08 a share, below the average analyst expectation of $8.10 a share.
"There's tremendous improvements to be had in our core products and our core business," Page told investors Thursday.
High on investors' list of concerns are Page's attitude toward spending on strategic areas such as social networking and mobile, as well as initiatives such as self-driving cars, and the potential impact on Google's profit margins.
Google's stock fell 5.3 percent to $547.87 after hours.
"I don't think his focus is going to be on managing to margins. I think his focus is going to be on managing to topline growth and new business areas," said Oppenheimer & Co analyst Jason Helfstein.
"The key here is margins are weaker and as a result there's still a question about the company's long-term spending intentions."


Romney Moves Toward U.S. Presidential Run and criticizes Obama Policy

Bloomberg News - As Republican Mitt Romney (pictured left) took the first official steps toward a presidential bid yesterday, he attacked President Barack Obama’s economic policies even while questions linger over his commitment to conservative causes.
“It is time that we put America back on a course of greatness, with a growing economy, good jobs and fiscal discipline inWashington,” Romney, 64, said in a video posted on his websitein which he announced that he is forming a committee to explore a 2012 race for the White House.
Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, is the second Republican to establish a presidential exploratory group, following former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. Romney’s announcement came on the eve of the fifth anniversary of his signature on a health-care law in Massachusetts that some Republican activists have been urging him to disavow.
Romney has been planning a second run for the presidency since losing the Republican nomination in 2008 to Arizona Senator John McCain. National polls of likely Republican primary voters have shown him leading or one of the top contenders among a large group of potential candidates. Many Republicans view him as the “default candidate” for the nomination, said Jeffrey Berry, a professor of political science at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts.
Establishment of the Massachusetts-based exploratory committee allows Romney to raise money for a presidential campaign and requires him to file financial reports with the Federal Election Commission.
As Romney’s efforts progress, he must deal with the challenge of proving his conservative credentials to a wide swath of the Republican political base, Berry said.

Policy Reversals

In the 2008 campaign, he was criticized over his reversals on social issues such as abortion and gay rights, which he no longer supports. When running unsuccessfully against then- Democratic incumbent Edward M. Kennedy for a U.S. Senate seat from Massachusetts in 1994, Romney had backed legal abortion and advocated for gay rights.
As governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007, Romney supported a law similar to the national health-care overhaul despised by many fiscal and social conservatives.
“He has to convince people he has a backbone, and that backbone is conservative through and through,” Berry said.
Romney also struggled in his previous presidential campaign to alley skepticism about his Mormon faith, particularly from evangelical Christians who make up a significant portion of the Republican electorate. If he runs and is elected, he would be the first Mormon president.
Romney invested more than $40 million of his own fortune in his 2008 presidential bid.

Business Background

In the video recorded yesterday at the University of New Hampshire announcing his exploratory committee, he touted his private-sector experience as a co-founder of Boston-based private equity firm Bain Capital LLC and as CEO of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.
“From my vantage point in business and in government, I have become convinced that America has been put on a dangerous course by Washington politicians, and it has become even worse during the last two years,” Romney said. “But I am also convinced that with able leadership, America’s best days are still ahead.”
“Sometimes I was successful and helped create jobs, other times I was not,” he said. “I learned how America competes with companies in other countries, why jobs leave, and how jobs are created here at home,” he said.

Individual Mandate

Like the federal health-care law that Obama pushed through Congress last year and that Republicans are trying to overturn, the 2006 health-care measure in Massachusetts that Romney shepherded into law includes a mandate requiring individuals to purchase insurance.
Democrats are attempting to highlight his support for the state law by hosting mock birthday displays today in early primary states. In addition, Obama and White House officials have praised the Massachusetts law.
“I agree with Mitt Romney, who recently said he’s proud of what he accomplished on health care in Massachusetts and supports giving states the power to determine their own health- care solutions,” Obama said Feb. 28 in remarks to the country’s governors.
In a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll conducted March 31- April 4, 21 percent of Republican primary voters backed Romney, putting him ahead of nine other potential candidates.

Republican Rivals

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia on March 3 announced the start of a websiteto enable him to raise money and explore a presidential run. Other prospective 2012 Republican candidates include former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who won the Iowa caucuses in 2008; former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, the party’s 2008 vice presidential nominee; Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana, a former director of the Office of Management and Budget; and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, who is stepping down as ambassador to China this month.
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour has expressed interest in the race and has begun traveling to states that hold early primaries and caucuses, as have former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum ofPennsylvania and Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, a Tea Party favorite.
Businessman Donald Trump also is flirting with seeking the Republican nomination, saying he will announce in June whether he is a candidate.
Obama formally announced his re-election campaign on April 4, releasing a campaign video on his website and sending an e- mail to supporters that said the job of preparing for his campaign “must start today.” The headquarters for his re- election bid will be in Chicago, his adopted hometown.