Left Foot Forward’s Tom rounds up the week’s news from the US Presidential race and stories you may have missed from around the world.
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US 2012: GOP
Mitt Romney’s narrow win in Iowa has been called into question after a voter who helped count the votes in Moulton claimed Romney had been credited with 20 more votes than he actually received. The Iowa results have yet to be certified, so it is entirely possible Romney actually lost to Rick Santorum by 12 votes.
However, Santorum is not looking to challenge the result, after suggesting GOP officials had informed him there may have been miscounts in his favour in other precints.
All focus now switches to New Hampshire, where every poll suggests Romney will be a runaway winner. The fight for second is where the real interest in next week’s primary lies and for Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Rick Perry represents the first real opportunity to prove their campaign has the legs to match Romney.
However, neither Paul nor Perry has put much effort into campaigning in New Hampshire. In the final few days, Paul scheduled only two events, both on Friday, leading to questions about his ability to cope with the demands of the campaign trail.
Perry looks to have all but abandoned New Hamphire to focus on South Carolina, but his continued presence in the race is a surprise in itself. In the immediate aftermath of the Iowa results, Perry looked set to suspend his campaign, but appears to have changed his mind after Michele Bachmann announced she was dropping out.
Gingrich is fast becoming the candidate with nothing to lose and despite pledges not to engage in negative campaigning, he has been attacking Romney at every possible opportunity and claiming that Obama will laugh at Romney in any head-to-head campaign between the two.
Rick Santorum is looking to build momentum after his rapid surge in Iowa and in recent polls, he has edged out Jon Huntsman and Gingrich in the fight for third place. Santorum told the New Hampshire Union Leader that third is “a damn good place to be” and that he still thought he had a chance of claiming second place in the state.
The surprise endorsment of Huntsman by the Boston Globe is further evidence that many in the GOP are still firmly in the ‘anyone but Romney’ mindset. Whether this endorsment will seriously boost Huntsman’s challenge is unclear, but the former Utah governer has put more hours into New Hampshire than anyone else and after the surprise surge of Santorum in Iowa, anything is possible.
Seen by many as the most moderate of the Republican candidates, Huntsman was praised by the Globe for his ability to do rather than just say, particularly when it comes to pursuing a bi-partisan agenda.
US 2012: Obama
With only a few months remaining in which he can fully focus on governing, President Obama has not wasted any time in 2012. He has made use of the recess to appoint Richard Cordray as director of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a new consumer watchdog.
Both the creation of the watchdog and Corday’s appointment have been fiercely opposed by Republicans who releases a statement criticising Obama for deliberately bypassing lawmakers.
A proposed new immigration rule would allow certain undocumented immigrants to remain in the country while their application is considered. The new regulation would prevent families being forcibly separated, often for long periods of time while green cards are considered – however, it is seen by many as an attempt by Obama to shore up his support amongst Latino voters.
This fighting start to the year has been backed by a shoring up of Obama’s approval ratings, with the latest Gallup poll putting his current rating at just -1.
Damning figures were released in Mexico, where it was announced 12,000 people have died in the last year as a result of the vicious civil war taking place between the state and the drug cartels that dominate Mexican life. The US-backed campaign is now entering its fifth year with no end game in sight and more than 50,000 people having lost their lives as a result of drug-related violence.
With a presidential election approaching, it is unclear whether Mexican president Felipe Calderón will continue to fight the cartels or if 2012 will see a softening of his policy towards them.
The lawyer tasked with bringing Hosni Mubarak to justice has demanded the deposed dictator is sentenced to death for his part in the massacre of hundreds of protesters. The trial, which is now into its sixth month, has not been short of controversy, with the prosecution complaining of a lack of co-operation from government officials.
Mr Khater, one of five prosecuters, also asked for the death penalty to be imposed on Mubarak’s security chief, Habib el-Adly, and six senior police officers. The trial has proved polarising in Egypt, with many suspecting it is being spun out indefinitely after five months of preliminary hearings.
An organisation dedicated to promoting file-sharing has been officially recognised as a religion by the Swedish state. The ‘Church of Kopimism’ had to apply for official recognition three times before it was formally granted. Despite the church’s new found holy status, file-sharing remains illegal if copyrighted materials are involved.
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• Barack Obama’s 2012 – Tom Rouse, January 4th 2012
• Who is the Democrats’ Republican candidate? – Alex Hern, January 4th 2012
• Santorum: The candidate the right loves because he hates gay people – Alex Hern, January 4th 2012
• After Iowa: Bloodied Romney on course for nomination as Obama smiles – Marcus Roberts, January 4th 2012
• Iowa 2012: Meet the candidates – Chris Tarquini, January 3rd 2012
• Republican elephants enter the room as rivals to Obama – Dominic Browne, May 26th 2011