It's been a long hot summer since Northwestern students left Evanston, and the American political climate the last few months has been just as fiery. Now that students have returned and Election Day is a few weeks away, NBN is looking back on some of the highlights of American politics during the summer of 2012.
June 28: SCOTUS rules Obamacare constitutional
In a groundbreaking and somewhat surprising ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court found the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) to be within the limits of the Constitution by a vote of 5-4. While many political analysts predicted Justice Anthony Kennedy would be the deciding vote, it was conservative Chief Justice John Roberts who made the majority, arguing that the individual mandate was allowed by Congress’ power to tax American citizens.
July 13: Obama: "You didn't build that"During a campaign speech in Roanoke, Va., President Barack Obama's poor choice of words when describing the importance of government infrastructure to business quickly became a rallying cry for Republican politicians, including Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Using the quote out of context, Romney and the GOP have since attempted to paint Obama as an enemy of small business and supporter of greater government intervention in the private sector.
July 26-31: Romney goes abroad, offends London and Palestine
During a trip to Europe and the Middle East, Romney criticized London's readiness to host the 2012 Olympic games. British Prime Minister David Cameron and London mayor Boris Johnson both called out Romney, who saved the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City from financial and logistical disaster, insisting that the city was in fact ready for the games.
Romney also compared Israel's economic development to Palestine's and attributed the lack of congruity to Palestinian culture, which was met with harsh rebuke from Palestinian leaders.
Aug. 11: Paul Ryan announced as Romney's running mate
Romney officially announced his selection of Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate on Aug. 11 in Norfolk, Va. Though a number of potential running mates attracted attention prior to the announcement, Ryan excited the Republican base, especially fiscal conservatives.
Ryan, who has represented Wisconsin’s 1st district since 1999, has focused his political career on drastically shrinking government spending and entitlement programs
While Ryan has been able to rally more Republican support for Romney, more and more Republicans have been calling on the Romney campaign to "unleash" him, instead of forcing him to acquiesce to its demands. His nomination has also failed to attract the interest of many independents.
Aug. 19: Todd Akin makes controversial remarks about rape, abortion
In an interview with St. Louis’ KTVI-TV, Missouri Republican senatorial candidate Todd Akin asserted his belief in a universal ban on abortion, arguing that if a woman is a victim of “legitimate rape,” her body has a biological method of preventing pregnancy. Akin's comments immediately ignited a firestorm of criticism from both parties. Democrats, including Akin's opponent Senator Claire McCaskill, expectedly jumped on the opportunity to demonize him; meanwhile, Republicans - including Romney and Ryan - distanced themselves from his comments and insisted he end his senatorial campaign. The Republican Senatorial Committee also withdrew all funding from Akin, who refused to drop out of the race by the necessary deadline.
However, with the recent struggles of the Romney campaign as well as other Republicans running for reelection, Republicans are beginning to come back to Akin's side and fund his campaign.
Aug. 27-30: Republican National Convention
In Tampa, Fla., the Republican National Committee convened to officially nominate Romney and Ryan as its presidential and vice presidential nominees. The convention, which was overshadowed at first by Hurricane Isaac, featured speeches from Utah congressional candidate Mia Love, a rousing keynote address from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Romney’s wife, Ann Romney, spoke about her husband’s kindness, passion and faith in an effort to humanize a candidate portrayed as robotic by some pundits. Ryan slammed the Obama administration in his speech, which was picked apart by fact-checkers who disputed the truthfulness of his remarks. While Romney's speech was successful enough, it may have been overshadowed by a bizarre appearance by Clint Eastwood, in which he berated an empty chair occupied by an invisible Obama.
Sept. 4-6: Democratic National Convention
The Democratic Convention was held in Charlotte, N.C., where Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were officially chosen as the party’s nominees. Not unlike his Republican counterpart, Obama may have been overshadowed by speakers before him, including his wife, Michelle, and former president Bill Clinton. While Michelle spoke about her husband's conviction and readiness to take on the challenges that are still facing the nation, Clinton delivered a 48-minute speech in which he described Obama’s successes and the failures of Congressional Republicans, something the Obama administration has not done so well the past four years.
Sept. 11: Protests in Middle East turn violent: U.S. Ambassador to Libya and three others killed in Benghazi
Protests ignited by the inflammatory video "The Innocence of Muslims" began across the Middle East on Sept. 11. The first protest began at the American Embassy in Cairo, Egypt. Further protests in Benghazi, Libya turned deadly, as J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, and three other U.S. consulate officials were killed in the attacks. However, it later became apparent that the Benghazi attack may have been premeditated.
While the Obama administration and Romney campaign exchanged blows over the handling of the matter and the timing and content of comments made on both sides, the attack brought foreign policy and international security into focus on the campaign trail and in the media.
Sept. 17: Romney and the 47 percentA secretly recorded video from a May fundraiser was leaked in which Romney described the 47 percent of Americans who do not pay income tax as "dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it."
He later said that he would never be able to convince these people to “take responsibility and care for their lives,” ceding that they would vote for President Obama no matter what.
The video, which was leaked by former president Jimmy Carter's grandson, garnered more criticism for Romney from the Democrats while Republican senatorial and congressional candidates in less-conservative states distances themselves from the remarks. Romney and Ryan defended the sentiment if not the wording, while the Obama campaign team used the video as their own "you didn't build that."
Sept. 27: Obama years become net-positive in job growth with Bureau of Labor Statistics revisions
While the string of job reports this summer show that the economy is still not growing at the rate as the population, the Bureau of Labor statistics reported Thursday that from April 2011-March 2012, 386,000 more jobs were created than originally thought. This means that in comparison to the 4.3 million jobs lost during the beginning of Obama’s first term, 4.4 million jobs were created.
Even though the true force of this adjustment isn’t necessarily apparent to the average American, it has huge rhetorical implications for both candidates on the campaign trail. The "Are you better off now than four years ago?" slogan that Republicans have championed becomes a little less potent with this development. However, unemployment remains above 8 percent, which could aid Romney as the election approaches.