Monday, February 27, 2012

Training Workers with the Skills Employers Need

The Community College to Career Tour at Davidson County Community College
Vice President Joe Biden, Dr. Jill Biden, and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis make remarks at Davidson County Community College, in Thomasville, North Carolina, February 24, 2012. The Vice President Joined Dr. Biden and Secretary Solis for the last stop of their community college tour to announce the availability of $500 million to fund partnerships between community colleges and businesses to train workers with skills employers need. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)
Last Friday, Vice President Biden joined Dr. Jill Biden and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis at Davidson County Community College in Thomasville, North Carolina to discuss the importance of training workers with the skills employers need right now. This visit was the final leg of a five-state, three-day Community College to Career Bus Tour that Dr. Biden and Secretary Solis took to highlight the $8 billion Community College to Career Fund recently proposed as part of the President’s FY 2013 Budget.
Speaking to over 300 faculty, students, and other members of the Davidson community, the Vice President argued that America’s skilled workforce is one of our greatest economic assets.  But now that many American manufacturers and other businesses are growing again, too many are having trouble finding workers with the exact skills they need.  That’s why it’s so important to forge partnerships between community colleges and businesses to train workers with the skills that employers need for jobs that are open right now.  On Friday, the Vice President announced that the Administration is taking further steps to do exactly that by making available another $500 million to create and expand these partnerships as part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Community College and Career Training grant program.
The Administration’s efforts to create and expand these training partnerships are already showing results at places like Davidson County Community College (DCCC).  Thanks to a grant they received in the first round of this program, DCCC has been able to expand their partnerships with local companies to train workers with the skills they need—companies like Ingersoll Rand, which is working with DCCC to train workers with computer numerically controlled manufacturing skills, or Unilin Flooring, which is training workers in electronics engineering.  And these programs are working—in fact, every single graduate of the electronics engineering program at Davidson County Community College has been able to secure a job, many of them at companies like Unilin. 
“You’re part of the reason why I’m so absolutely convinced that we can accommodate the good, middle-class jobs that are coming back to the United States,” Vice President Biden said, discussing the ways that job training partnerships like this one are contributing to the Administration’s efforts to bring manufacturing jobs back from overseas. “This is a direct channel.  We’re not wasting money or time here.  We’re training individuals for jobs that are needed and are in short supply…This is about nuts and bolts, basic dollars and cents.”

Vice President Biden greets Dr. Jill Biden and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis for the final stop of their Community College Tour

 Dr. Jill Biden signs a poster for employees at the UPS Hub in Lexington, KY.

During the CC2C Tour, a participant of the "Kentucky Workforce Development Roundtable" shakes hands with Dr. Biden.

 Women from the DG Medical staff greet Dr. Biden and Secretary Solis.

Dr. Jill Biden and Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis start their Community College to Career (CC2C) Tour in Ohio.

Learn more about the CC2C Tour here:
Tobin Marcus is Deputy Economic Policy Advisor to the Vice President

Romney, Santorum court Michigan's key blue-collar vote

John Makely /
Penny Phelan places a Rick Santorum sign near a busy intersection in Macomb County near Detroit on Sunday afternoon two days before the primary.

MACOMB COUNTY, MI – This suburban Detroit county, hard hit by auto industry troubles and the economic downturn throughout Michigan, may well chart the path to victory for either Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum in Tuesday’s primary.
Macomb County is the famed epicenter of “Reagan Democrats” in America -- the mostly white, blue-collar, Catholic voters known not only for their conservative sympathies, but dogged independence and a tendency of swinging from party to party.
The idea behind the label was always conceptual, but more and more, these voters find themselves more at home with the GOP. And thanks to Michigan's semi-open primary, which allows same-day party registration, their voices will be heard Tuesday.
Macomb is a county where voters are maybe the most attentive to the Republican candidates’ message on jobs right now.
“Our area, we’re a manufacturing county -- pretty much middle class. It’s a blue-collar county and it’s been about jobs,” said Republican state Rep. Ken Goike, who represents a portion of the county in the Michigan state legislature. “You can just feel the devastation.”
This county is known as a bellwether in national elections. Ronald Reagan won it twice by large margins, as did George H. W. Bush in 1988 and 1992. Bill Clinton carried the county in his re-election bid, and Al Gore narrowly bested George W. Bush here in 2000, though Bush eked out a victory over John Kerry in 2004. Barack Obama beat Arizona Sen. John McCain by 8 percentage points in the 2008 election.
Penny Phelan, of Harrison Township, was driving around with her husband, James, on Sunday afternoon to place yard signs in support of Rick Santorum at busy intersections.  The couple lost their home and has been living in an apartment after Penny lost her job as a kitchen and bath designer. James, an ex-Marine, works as a machinist.
A former Democrat who switched parties in the early 1980s, Penny said she felt that Democrats “have moved away from core values that are very important in families.” They’re backing Santorum not primarily because of his stance on moral issues, but because of his manufacturing agenda, and a sense that he’s more in touch with the people of Macomb than Romney, the native son of Detroit who left to start Bain Capital, later becoming governor of Massachusetts.

John Makely /
Michigan Republican primary voter Jared Maynard is backing Mitt Romney on Feb. 28.
“I feel like Santorum is for the basic guy. He has that connection, and understands the average worker in manufacturing and things like that have value,” she said of the former Pennsylvania senator, adding of Romney: “I just don’t think he’s lived it. And that makes a big difference, when you have people in your life who are suffering, and it’s close to you.”
But Romney has undeniable strength in the area. Many older voters can recall the days when his father, George, served as governor. And Romney has taken every stride possible to remind voters of his roots in the area, in stump speeches and frequent TV advertisements.
Jared Maynard, a former chairman of the Macomb County Republican Party who is backing Romney, said that the former governor’s jobs-oriented message should play well on Tuesday.
“The governor just needs to keep doing what he’s doing now, just talking to people about jobs,” Maynard said at a table at Crews Inn, overlooking the water in Anchor Bay. “And whether you’re the pauper on the street or the man in the mansion or you’re someone in between -- when you talk about jobs, you’re speaking everybody’s language.”
Both candidates have courted these Regan Democrats in their own ways. And they’ve both succeeded and failed, to some extent.
Santorum’s speeches are winding and sometimes disorganized, evinced by his Friday evening address in Lincoln Park. The speech was billed as a major address to outline a 10-point plan for his first 100 days as president, but these points became garbled, leaving some searching for crux of his message.

Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney are making the rounds with Michigan voters on Monday, trying to overcome self-inflicted slip-ups and win a state that could throw this Republican primary into a tailspin.
And Romney has reminded these middle class voters of his immense wealth by noting that his wife owns two Cadillacs during  a Friday economic speech at Ford Field, the home of the Detroit Lions. And during a trip Sunday to the Daytona 500, meant to emphasize his love for cars, Romney said he has “great friends who are NASCAR team owners."
The county has changed in a number of ways since Regan was president. Its population has grown, but the average age of the population has also risen. It’s a much more diverse place, too, driven in part by Detroiters leaving the city.
But Macomb’s most defining characteristic remains its economy. The unemployment rate stood at 9.6 percent at the end of 2011, but that actually marked a decline from the recent height of a startling 17.3 percent jobless rate in June of 2009, at the height of the troubles in the auto industry. The struggles of automakers have contributed in part to a decline in household incomes over the last decade.
“When I did move over here, it was an interesting culture of people who were very attached to the auto industry -- a well-established middle class,” said Kathy Vosburg, the first Republican chairwoman of the Macomb County Board of Commissioners. “Many times they had different views and more independent thinking. And I think a lot of that has to do with Macomb County being a bellwether.”

John Makely /
Penny and James Phelan drive through Macomb county placing several Rick Santorum signs near busy intersections before the Michigan primary election on tuesday.
That was true in the Republican primary of 2008, when Romney won 45 percent of the vote in Macomb on the strength of a message focused on his roots in the area, and a plea for assistance from the federal government. McCain won 25 percent of the county, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee took 13 percent of the primary vote.
No polling has been conducted specifically of Macomb leading into Tuesday’s primary, though an EPIC/MRA survey last week found that Romney led in the three combined counties of Macomb, Oakland (a more liberal suburb) and Wayne (which encompasses Detroit).
Given Romney’s built-in advantages, the former Massachusetts governor’s campaign should be alarmed if they start seeing signs of Santorum inroads during returns tomorrow night.
“If you see Santorum coming in Macomb or Oakland getting above 30 percent, that should be something to worry the Romney folks,” said Bernie Porn, the president of EPIC/MRA.
“What would surprise me is if anyone wins by more than 5 or 6 percent,” said state Rep. Pete Lund, Republicans’ majority whip in the state House who represents part of Macomb.

Presidential candidate Rick Santorum touts his "positive message of hope" on jobs and the economy in the upcoming Michigan primary.
Republican State Sen. Jack Brandenburg , who voted for Santorum but has not publicly endorsed in the race, said things look good for the former Pennsylvania senator.
“In the Republican primary, between Romney and Santorum, it’s going to go down to what faction gets their people out to vote. In Macomb County, I think the conservative element will come out strong -- and that bodes well for Rick Santorum,” he said, cautioning, “Romney has a lot of dough and a tremendous amount of resources.”
Both Santorum and Romney are stumping throughout the state of Michigan in the closing hours of the campaign to make their closing argument. Romney, speaking Monday morning in Rockford, challenged Santorum to speak more directly about the economy. That follows a weekend in which Santorum hit Romney for not focusing enough on industry in the state.
And come Tuesday’s GOP primary, whichever candidate can best speak to voters on that issue may end up carrying Macomb – and, with it, the rest of the state.
“That’s what Michigan is. It’s manufacturing,” said James Phelan.

President Obama Challenges Governors to Invest in Education

President Obama meets with NGA (February 27, 2012)
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with the National Governors Association in the State Dining Room of the White House, Feb. 27, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Today, President Obama challenged state governors to make sure all students in their schools today get the education and skills they need to compete for the jobs of tomorrow.
A majority of states will spend less on elementary and secondary schools in 2012 than they did last year, and more than 40 states cut higher education spending in 2011 — cuts that lead to higher tuition prices in our public colleges and universities.
But when our economy is struggling, the last place to make cuts is in education. Making sure that every student in our country graduates from high school prepared for college and a successful career is central to rebuilding our economy and securing a brighter future. And when students go on to pursue higher education, we should make sure they are able to pay for it.
“Nothing more clearly signals what you value as a state as the decisions you make about where to invest,” President Obama told governors. “Budgets are about choices, so today I’m calling on you to choose to invest more in teachers, invest more in education, and invest more in our children and their future.”
The President’s education blueprint for an economy built to last outlines a series of proposals to support our students and future workers, including:
Investing in K-12 education: Continue funding successful programs like Race to the Top, which makes funds available on a competitive basis to states that implement reforms to improve student success; and Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge, which helps expand access to high-quality early education programs. Offer more states flexibility to implement reforms without being hampered by No Child Left Behind mandates (11 states have already applied for and received this flexibility).
Training workers for jobs in industries looking to hire: Establish training programs at community colleges that equip workers for skilled positions in high-growth industries, thereby making sure businesses have the workers they need here in the United States instead of outsourcing those jobs overseas
Helping students and their families pay for college: Prevent student loan rates from doubling, make permanent the tax credit that provides up to $10,000 to help families cover the cost of college, and double the number of work study jobs over the next five years to help students who are working their way through school.

Read more:

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary

Remarks by the President at National Governors Association Meeting

State Dining Room
11:30 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Please, everybody have a seat.  Have a seat.

Thank you, Joe, for the outstanding work you’re doing on behalf of the American people every day.  I want to thank all the members of my Cabinet and administration who are here today.  I want to thank Dave Heineman and Jack Markell for the outstanding leadership that they’ve shown as they’ve chaired and co-chaired the NGA.

I’m glad to see that everybody has recovered from the wild time we had last night.  (Laughter.)  It was wonderful to have all of you here.

And I always look forward to this event because governors are at the front line of America’s recovery. You see up close what’s working, what’s not working, and where we can take it.  And the thing that connects all of us -- and no matter what part of the country we’re from and certainly no matter what party we belong to -- is that we know what it means to govern, what it means to make tough choices during tough times, and hopefully to forge some common ground.  We’ve all felt the weight of big decisions and the impact that those decisions have on the people that we represent.

I first addressed this group three years ago and it was the moment, as Joe mentioned, when the economy was in a free fall.  Some of you were just coming into office at that time as well.  Hundreds of thousands of Americans were losing their jobs or their homes every month.  Businesses were closing their doors at a heartbreaking pace.  Our entire auto industry was on the verge of collapse and, all told, the prospects of us going into a full-blown depression were very real.

Today there's no doubt that enormous challenges remain.  But the fact of the matter is that over the last two years American businesses have created 3.7 million new jobs.  Manufacturers are hiring for the first time since the 1990s.  The auto industry is back.  Our recovery is gaining speed and the economy is getting strong.  And we’ve got to do everything we can to make sure that we sustain this progress.

That means we’ve got to strengthen American manufacturing so that more and more good jobs and products are made here in America.  It means that we’ve got to develop new sources of American energy so that we’re less dependent on foreign oil and yearly spikes in gas prices.  And it means that we’ve got to make sure that every American is equipped with the skills, with the education that they need to compete for the jobs of tomorrow as well as the jobs of today.  And that’s what I want to talk to these governors a little bit about.

No issue will have a bigger impact on the future performance of our economy than education.  In the long run it’s going to depend -- determine whether businesses stay here.  It will determine whether businesses are created here, whether businesses are hiring here.  And it will determine whether there's going to be an abundance of good middle-class jobs in America.

Today, the unemployment rate for Americans with at least a college degree is about half the national average.  Their incomes are about twice as high as those who only have a high school diploma.  So this is what we should be focused on as a nation.  This is what we should be talking about and debating.  The countries who out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow.  That’s a simple fact.  And if we want America to continue to be number one and stay number one, we’ve got some work to do.

Now, in the last three years, the good news is we’ve made some important progress, working together.

 We’ve broken through the traditional stalemate between left and right by launching a national competition to improve our schools.  And I think Arne has done an outstanding job of saying we've got to get past the old dogmas -- whether it's the dogmas on the liberal side or the conservative side -- and figure out what works.  We've invested, but we've invested in reform.  And for less than one percent of what our nation spends on education each year, almost all of you have agreed to raise standards for teaching and learning.  And that's the first time that’s happened in a generation.

We’ve also worked with all of you –- Democrats and Republicans –- to try to fix No Child Left Behind.  We said that if you’re willing to set higher, more honest standards then we will give you more flexibility to meet those standards.  Earlier this month I announced the first 11 states to get a waiver from No Child Left Behind, and I hope that we are going to be adding more states soon.

I believe education is an issue that is best addressed at the state level.  And governors are in the best position to have the biggest impact.  I realize that everybody is dealing with limited resources.  Trust me, I know something about trying to deal with tight budgets.  We’ve all faced some stark choices over the past several years.  But that is no excuse to lose sight of what matters most.  And the fact is that too many states are making cuts to education that I believe are simply too big.

Nothing more clearly signals what you value as a state than the decisions you make about where to invest.  Budgets are about choices.  So today I’m calling on all of you:  Invest more in education.  Invest more in our children and in our future.  That does not mean you’ve got to invest in things that aren’t working.  That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t make sense to break some china and move aggressively on reform.  But the fact of the matter is we don’t have to choose between resources and reform; we need resources and reform.

Now, there are two areas in education that demand our immediate focus.  First, we’ve just got to get more teachers into our classrooms.  Over the past four years, school districts across America have lost over 250,000 educators -- 250,000 teachers, educators have been lost.  Think about that.  A quarter-million educators, responsible for millions of our students, all laid off when America has never needed them more.

Other countries are doubling down on education and their investment in teachers -- and we should, too.  And each of us is here only because at some point in our lives a teacher changed our life trajectory.  The impact is often much bigger than even we realize.  One study found that a good teacher can increase the lifetime income of a classroom by over $250,000.  One teacher, one classroom.  And a great teacher offers potentially an escape for a child who is dreaming beyond his circumstances.  The point is, teachers matter, and all of us have to recognize that, and we’ve got to put our money behind that.

Now, we want to help you everyplace that we can.  At the federal level, we’ve already provided billions of dollars in funding to help keep hundreds of thousands of teachers in the classroom.  And a cornerstone of the jobs plan that I put forward in September -- a chunk of which has gotten done, but a chunk of which remains undone -- was to provide even more funding, so that you could prevent further layoffs and rehire teachers that had lost their jobs.  And I’d like to thank those of you in this room who voiced support for that effort.

Congress still is in a position to do the right thing.  They can keep more teachers in the classroom, but you’ve got to keep the pressure up on them to get this done.

The second area where we have to bring greater focus is higher education.  The jobs of the future are increasingly going to those with more than a high school degree.  And I have to make a point here.  When I speak about higher education we’re not just talking about a four-year degree.  We’re talking about somebody going to a community college and getting trained for that manufacturing job that now is requiring somebody walking through the door, handling a million-dollar piece of equipment.  And they can’t go in there unless they’ve got some basic training beyond what they received in high school.

We all want Americans getting those jobs of the future.  So we’re going to have to make sure that they’re getting the education that they need.  It starts, by the way, with just what kinds of expectation and ground rules we’re setting for kids in high school.  Right now, 21 states require students to stay in high school until they graduate or turn 18 -- 21 states.  That means 29 don’t.   I believe that’s the right thing to do, for us to make sure to send a message to our young people -- you graduate from high school, at a minimum.  And I urge others to follow suit of those 21 states.

Now, for students that are ready for college, we've got to make sure that college is affordable.  Today, graduates who take out loans leave college owing an average of $25,000.  That’s a staggering amount for young people.  Americans now owe more in student loan debt than they do in credit card debt.  There's so many Americans out there with so much to offer who are saddled with debt before they even start out in life.  And the very idea of owing that much money puts college out of reach for far too many families.

So this is a major problem that must be fixed.  I addressed it at the State of the Union.  We have a role to play here.  My grandfather got a chance to go to college because Americans and Congress decided that every returning veteran from World War II should be able to afford it.  My mother was able to raise two kids by herself while still going to college and getting an advanced degree because she was able to get grants and work-study while she was in school.  Michelle and I are only here today because of scholarships and student loans that gave us a good shot at a great education.  And it wasn't easy to pay off these loans, but it sure wasn't as hard as it is for a lot of kids today.

So my administration has tried to do our part by making sure that the student loan program puts students before banks, by increasing aid like the Pell grants for millions of students and their families, and by allowing students to cap their monthly loan payments at 10 percent of their income, which means that their repayment schedule is manageable.

Congress still needs to do its part by, first of all, keeping student interest rates low.  Right now, they are scheduled to double at the end of July if Congress does not act.  And that would be a real tragedy for an awful lot of families around the country.  They also need to extend the tuition tax credit for the middle class, protect Pell grants, and expand work-study programs.

But it's not enough to just focus on student aid.  We can't just keep on, at the federal level, subsidizing skyrocketing tuition.  If tuition is going up faster than inflation -- faster, actually, than healthcare costs -- then no matter how much we subsidize it, sooner or later we are going to run out of money.  So everybody else is going to have to do their part as well.  This is not just a matter of the federal government coming up with more and more money.

That means colleges and universities are going to have to help to make their tuition more affordable.  And I’ve put them on notice -- if they are not taking some concrete steps to prevent tuition from going up, then federal funding from taxpayers is going to go down.  We’ve got to incentivize better practices in terms of keeping costs under control.  And all of you have a role to play by making higher education a higher priority in your budgets.

Over two-thirds of students attend public colleges and universities where, traditionally, tuition has been affordable because of state investments.  And that’s something that every state takes pride in.  That’s the crown jewel, in fact, of our economic system -- is, by far, we’ve got the best network of colleges, universities and community colleges in the world.

But more than 40 states have cut funding for higher education over the past year.  And this is just the peak of what has been a long-term trend in reduced state support for higher education.  And state budget cuts have been among the largest factor in tuition hikes at public colleges over the past decade.

So my administration can do more, Congress can do more, colleges have to do more.  But unless all of you also do more, this problem will not get solved.  It can be done, though.

Jack O’Malley -- where’s Jack -- Martin.  Where’s Martin?  Sorry.  I was --

GOVERNOR O'MALLEY:  I thought my son was right here.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Right, right, right.

Martin in Maryland is doing some outstanding work on this front.  He worked with the legislature to keep tuition down by controlling costs and cutting spending on college campuses, and you’re seeing a real impact -- from the flagship University of Maryland all the way down.  And a lot of you are starting to experiment with this as well.

We can’t allow higher education to be a luxury in this country.  It’s an economic imperative that every family in America has to be able to afford.  And frankly, I don’t think any of this should be a partisan issue.  All of us should be about giving every American who wants a chance to succeed that chance.  (Applause.)

So let me wrap up by saying a few weeks ago I held, right here in this room and in the adjoining room, one of my favorite events and that is the White House Science Fair.  We invited students from a lot of your states and they showcased projects that covered the full range of scientific discovery.

We had a group of kids from Texas, young Latino women, who came from the poorest section of Texas and yet were winning rocket competitions.  And they were so good because they could only afford one rocket, so they couldn’t test them and they had to get it just right.  (Laughter.)  And their parents ran bake sales just so they could travel to these events.

You had a young woman who was from Long Island, had been studying mussels and wanted to be an oceanographer, and won the Intel Science Award while she was homeless.  Her family had lost their home and she was living out of a car and out of her family’s -- on her family’s couch, and yet still was able to stay focused and achieve what was just remarkable.

There was a kid -- the kid who actually got the most attention was a young man named Joey Hudy of Arizona.  That’s because Joey let me fire off a extreme marshmallow canon.  (Laughter.)  We did it right here in this room.  We shot it from here.  We pumped it up -- it almost hit that light.  (Laughter.)  I thought it was a lot of fun.  (Laughter.)  And while the canon was impressive, Joey left a bigger impression because he had already printed out his own business cards -- he was 14-years-old.  And he was handing them out to everybody, including me.  (Laughter.)  He’s on our short list for a Cabinet post.  (Laughter.)

Under his name on each card was a simple motto:  “Don’t be bored, do something.”  Don’t be bored, do something.  Don’t be bored, make something.

All across this country there are kids like Joey who are dreaming big, and are doing things and making things.  And we want them to reach those heights.  They're willing to work hard.  They are willing to dig deep to achieve.  And we’ve got a responsibility to give them a fair shot.  If we do, then I’m absolutely convinced that our future is going to be as bright as all of us want.

So this is going to be something that I want to collaborate with all of you on.  If you’ve got ideas about how we can make our education system work better, I want to hear them today, and Arne Duncan is going to want to hear them for the rest of the time that he’s Education Secretary and the rest of the time I’m President.

Thank you very much, everybody.  (Applause.)

Why the Keystone pipeline would boost pump prices

Rising gasoline prices have helped proponents of a controversial pipeline proposal press their case that the project would help ease supply bottlenecks and lower prices for consumers.
They’re half right.
The proposed pipeline would relieve a glut of crude oil backing up in the Midwest and redirect those barrels to Gulf of Mexico ports. From there they could be shipped to world markets and repriced at higher global prices.
But that likely would mean higher prices for drivers in the nation's midsection, who currently are enjoying an unusual discount stemming from a lack of pipeline capacity.
On Monday, TransCanada Corp., the company that wants to build the pipeline, said it would start construction of a southern leg while it tries to satisfy environmental concerns raised by the Obama administration that have blocked the longer northern leg.
Oil prices around the world have been rising steadily since October largely because of tightening sanctions on Iran being imposed by the U.S. and European countries over its suspected development of nuclear weapons.
"Basically, we're locked into what appears to be an end game with Iran in some form or another,” sad Dan Yergin, chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates. “The sanctions really start to kick in over the next several months, and the whole aim is to choke off Iran's oil revenues and that means choke off its exports."
The result is that pump prices have jumped 20 cents a gallon in the past month alone, according to data from the Energy Information Administration, and Republicans are beginning to use the energy inflation as a political talking point.
But the pain has been inflicted unevenly across the country, with consumers on the coasts paying much higher prices than those in the Midwest and Rocky Mountain regions, where supplies of oil are plentiful.
One reason crude is so plentiful in the Midwest is that new production technologies have boosted production in oilfields that were once thought to be exhausted or too costly to develop. After two decades of steady decline, total U.S. oil production began rising again in 2009, according to the EIA. Increased production from Canadian tar sands fields also has boosted Midwest supplies.
But as domestic and Canadian production have risen, pipeline bottlenecks have cropped up – especially over the 500 miles from Cushing, Okla., to Houston, the nation’s largest oil shipping port and home to about half its refining capacity.
“We lack infrastructure to catch up with the fact that there's been this big change in oil production,” said Yergin. “Eight years ago, North Dakota was not the fourth-largest oil producing state in the country. So we need new pipelines, and the lack of those pipelines -- the lack of catching up -- is reflected in the disparity (in prices).”
Until last year, the benchmark price of U.S. crude based on Cushing delivery, known as West Texas Intermediate, closely tracked the global benchmark, called Brent North Sea.
But in the past year, as rising supplies of captive Midwest supplies depressed prices, the gap widened to once-unimaginable levels. By last fall, the discount for West Texas Intermediate had widened to as much as $30 a barrel before shrinking back to about half as much.

CNBC's Eamon Javers reports on the high cost of oil and whether speculation is driving prices higher. Also, how to play oil's rise, with Dan Dicker, MercBloc president. 
All of which has helped oil refiners in the Midwest keep pump prices lower than on the coasts, where refiners pay the higher Brent price, regardless of where the oil came from.
The regional difference in pump prices has been substantial. At the end of last month, the average price for a gallon of gasoline in the Rockies was 41 cents below the U.S. average -- the biggest gap since the Energy Department began tracking regional prices in 1992.
That’s where the Keystone pipeline comes in.  Proponents of the pipeline have argued it will help wean the U.S. off foreign imports and lower pump prices. But rather than pushing Gulf Coast prices lower, it will let oil producers charge more for their crude.
TransCanada Corp. estimates the pipeline would boost sales of Canadian-produced crude by $2 billion to $4 billion a year, according to an assessment submitted to Canada's National Energy Board.
“The prices for those crudes in North Dakota and Canada will fetch closer to Gulf Coast prices, which are tied into the higher international market price,” said Tim Hess, an Energy Department analyst.
The reason is fairly simple. Even at maximum capacity, the Keystone line will move some 400,000 barrels per day of crude from Canada and the Midwest to global oil market. With the transportation discount removed, those barrels likely will be repriced to the higher global benchmark.
And with or without the Keystone pipeline, the “Midwest discount” that consumers now enjoy may go away later this year.
To help alleviate the Cushing bottleneck, the owner of a pipeline that now flows north from Houston plans to reverse the flow in June.
In a recent research report, analysts at Goldman Sachs predict the reversal of Enterprise Products' Seaway pipeline will help cut the spread between the price of U.S. and Brent crude to $5 a barrel in six months.

CNBC's Phil LeBeau and Jane Wells report where drivers are likely to pay the most for gasoline.

Third student dies in shooting; gunman said to have fired randomly(updated)

Law Enforcement and school officials speak in Chardon, Ohio,  where one student was killed and four others were injured in a shooting incident at a high school.
Updated 1:46 p.m. ET: CHARDON, Ohio - A teen gunman opened fire inside a high school cafeteria at the start of the classes on Monday, killing one student and wounding four others, police said.
The suspect was taken into custody near his car a half-mile from the suburban Cleveland school after a teacher chased him from the building, according to FBI officials. The suspect is a juvenile who was not immediately charged. His name was not released.
FBI agent Scott Wilson would not comment on a possible motive for the attack.
The injured students were rushed to area hospitals where a boy identified as Daniel Parmentor, 17, died at MetroHealth System in Cleveland. Parmentor, a high school junior, went to a nearby vocational school where he studied computer science, and was waiting in the cafeteria for a bus when the gunman opened fire."We are shocked by this senseless tragedy," said a statement from Parmentor's family, provided by MetroHealth. "Danny was a bright young boy who had a bright future ahead of him. The family is torn by this loss. We ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time."

Ohio officials hold a news conference on the shooting at Chardon High School that left one person dead and four injured.
Two of the wounded were listed in critical condition, and another was in serious condition.
Police Chief Tim McKenna said authorities "have a lot of homework to do yet" in their investigation.
The Ohio shooting is the worst at a U.S. high school in 11 months and the worst in Ohio since late 2007, according to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Suspect in custody following Ohio school shooting

‘In shock’

Panicked students screamed and ran through the halls when gunfire broke out around 7:30 a.m. at the 1,100-student Chardon school, about an hour’s drive east of downtown Cleveland.
Freshman Danny Komertz, 15, said he saw one student who authorities say was killed trying to get under a table to protect himself and shield his face.

Video from WKYC-TV in Cleveland, Ohio, shows the suspect in the Chardon High School shooting being taken into custody.
Komertz described the shooter as an outcast who had apparently been bullied.
Komertz says that there were at least 100 students in the cafeteria at the time and that most fled immediately as shots were fired.
None of the wounded students or the teacher who chased down the suspect has been identified.
Three of the male students shot were believed to be from Auburn Career Academy, a vocational school with 700 juniors and seniors, taken from 11 surrounding school districts including Chardon High School, Superintendent Maggie Lynch said.  Two of the boys are 17, and a third is 16, she said.
Nate Mueller, a student who said he was sitting in the cafeteria at a table with three of the victims, told that his ear was grazed by one of the bullets as he turned away from the gunman.
“He didn’t say anything the entire time. He took one shot, and then that’s when we looked to see what was happening because it sounded like a firecracker almost, and at that point I looked back, I saw him shoot -- which hit one of my other friends that was sitting at the table with us. And then, as I was turning around ... that’s when he hit me.”
Mueller said the shooting didn't seem real. "It all feels like a movie. ... I am sure tomorrow I’ll be devastated."

Sketchy reports emerge on alleged high school gunman

The gunman, who used a revolver, had been a friend of Mueller's until the end of junior high school. Mueller said at that point the gunman had entered a "gothic" phase.“He still had friends. He was still a nice kid … we didn’t think he would hurt anybody,” he said.
“He was not like a jock, a popular kid," student Evan Erasmus told Channel 5. “He has friends, but he would be considered the outcast type."
Erasmus told Channel 5 that a student tweeted he was going to bring a gun to school but no one took him seriously. Other reports said it was a text.
Jonathan Sylak, a senior at the high school, said he never saw a text or tweet but had heard about it.

A student at Chardon High School in Ohio, who was grazed by a bullet when a fellow student opened fire in the school cafeteria, tells WKYC-TV he used to be friends with the shooter until he got into a "gothic phase."
 “It is a nice, safe community, and from what we have observed, very little crime... But you never know what is going on in other people’s minds,” Sylak told MSNBC TV.
"I am still in shock,” Sylak said.
 Asked about the connection of the alleged shooter and the victims, Sylak said, “I don’t think it was random.”
“They were definitely targeted, I think,” he said.


Heather Ziska, 17, said she was in the cafeteria when she heard popping noises in the hall. She said she recognized the male student as he came into the cafeteria and started shooting.
She said she and several others immediately ran outside, while other friends ran into a middle school and others locked themselves in a teachers' lounge.
"Everybody just started running," said 17-year-old Megan Hennessy, who was in class when she heard loud noises. "Everyone was running and screaming down the hallway."
Three victims were transported to MetroHealth Medical Center and two to Hillcrest Hospital, according to the News-Herald.
"I'm just distraught," Victoria, a Chardon student, told Fox 8. She said the cafeteria wasn't crowded at the time of the shooting, adding that she knew the shooter, who is a junior.  Victoria said she saw him shoot another student in the back before she and a friend fled the area.
Schools in the area were locked down.
The school system in Chardon has received an excellent rating from the Ohio Department of Education for 10 consecutive years and draws students from a number of surrounding communities.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

Sunday Mornings on NBC Meet the Press

This Sunday: Feb 26, 2012

Meet the Press

Jan Brewer endorses Mitt Romney

  The Arizona governor formally announces her support to the former Massachusetts governor in the GOP race.
Meet the Press

Delegates at stake on Super Tuesday

  Kathleen Parker, Chuck Todd, Steve Schmidt and Harold Ford Jr. discuss the prediction that Mitt Romney will win more delegates than Rick Santorum on Super Tuesday.

Meet the Press
‘Game Change’ film’s Oscar potential
  Steve Schmidt talks about 
Woody Harrelson’s portrayal 
of his role in Sarah Palin’s
 vice presidential campaign.
Meet the Press
Scrutinizing Romney’s voting record
  Rick Santorum defends his voting record, criticizes Mitt Romney’s and explains his stance on bailouts and unemployment benefits.

Marvin E. Quasniki - Campaign Ad

Uploaded by on Jan 6, 2012
The Quasniki campaign is proud to unveil its first official ad.

Republican Party presidential debates, 2012(updated

The 2012 United States Republican Party presidential debates are a series of political debates being held, prior to and during the 2012 Republican primaries, among candidates for the Republican presidential nomination in the national election of 2012. The first debate occurred on May 5, 2011 in Greenville, South Carolina, and was hosted by Fox News.


The following table includes more prominent venues involving several Republican presidential candidates. (Note: Clicking link at enumeration redirects to summary of debate below.)
Debates among candidates for the 2012 Republican Party U.S. presidential nomination
 P  Participant.     I  Invitee (to a future debate).     N  Non-invitee.     A  Absent invitee.     O  Out of race (exploring or suspended).BachmannCain Gingrich HuntsmanJohnson Paul PawlentyPerry Romney  Santorum 
1May 5, 2011Greenville,
Fox News /
South Carolina Republican Party
2June 13, 2011Manchester,
Union Leader Saint Anselm College
3August 11, 2011Ames,
Fox News / Washington Examiner /
Iowa Republican Party
4September 7, 2011Simi Valley,
MSNBC / Politico /
Reagan Library
5September 12, 2011Tampa,
CNN / 
Tea Party Express
6September 22, 2011Orlando,
Fox News / Google / 
Florida Republican Party
7October 11, 2011Hanover,
Bloomberg / WBIN-TV /
Washington Post
8October 18, 2011Las Vegas,
CNN / 
Western Republican Leadership Conf.
9November 9, 2011Rochester,
Michigan Republican Party
10November 12, 2011Spartanburg,
CBS / National Journal / 
South Carolina Republican Party
11November 22, 2011Washington,
CNN / Heritage Foundation /
American Enterprise Institute
12December 10, 2011Des Moines,
ABC News / WOI-DT / Des Moines Register /Iowa Republican PartyPOPNNPOPPP
13December 15, 2011
Sioux City,
FOX News /
Iowa Republican Party
14January 7, 2012Manchester,
ABC News /
WMUR-TV Saint Anselm College
15January 8, 2012
NBC News /
16January 16, 2012Myrtle Beach,
Fox News /
South Carolina Republican Party
17January 19, 2012
CNN / 
Southern Republican Leadership Conf.
18January 23, 2012Tampa,
MSNBC / NBC News / National Journal /
Tampa Bay Times / Florida Council of 100
19January 26, 2012
Republican Party of Florida
NVMECOMN cau/MO pri: Feb. 4–11
February 22, 2012[1]
Arizona Republican Party
March 19, 2012Portland,
OPB / Washington Times /
Oregon Republican Party

*^ Participating in at least one debate listed above:   Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota  • Businessman Herman Cain of Georgia  • Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich of Georgia  • Former Gov. Jon Huntsman of Utah  • Former Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico  • Rep. Ron Paul of Texas  • Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota  • Gov. Rick Perry of Texas  • Former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts  • Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania
^ Not invited to any debate listed above:   Jack Fellure • Buddy Roemer • Fred Karger • Andy Martin • Thaddeus McCotter • Jimmy McMillan • Jonathon Sharkey


Candidates at a 2012 Republican presidential debate in August 2011

May 5, 2011 – Greenville, South Carolina

The first Republican debate was at the Peace Center in Greenville, South Carolina. It was broadcast live for 90 minutes on Fox News,, and Fox News Radio. Most of the candidates who had announced their runs at that time participated in the debate, being Herman Cain, Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, and Rick Santorum.[2]
Criteria for inclusion in the debate did not allow several other candidates, or potential candidates, to participate in the debate, including Buddy Roemer and Fred Karger, who did not meet the polling criterion of at least 1% in 5 national polls. Mitt Romney met the debate criteria, but rejected the invitation to appear in the debate. Newt Gingrich originally had planned to attend the debate, but did not meet additional criteria of forming an exploratory committee.[2]
The debate was moderated by Fox News anchor Bret Baier of Special Report with Bret Baier and several other Fox News contributors, including Juan Williams, Shannon Bream, and Chris Wallace.[3]
At the end of the debate, Fox News's online votes showed Ron Paul standing out from the other candidates,[4] but businessman Herman Cain was the overwhelming choice of the Fox News focus group moderated by Frank Luntz.[5]

June 13, 2011 – Manchester, New Hampshire

The second Republican debate was held at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. It was broadcast live for 120 minutes on CNN, WMUR-TV, and Candidates making their first debate -- Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney -- joined Herman Cain, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum.[6]
Criteria for inclusion in the debate did not allow several other candidates, or potential candidates, to participate in the debate, including Buddy Roemer, Gary Johnson, and Fred Karger, who did not meet the polling criterion of at least 1% in 5 national polls.[6] Several other then-potential candidates, including Jon Huntsman, Rudy Giuliani, and Sarah Palin declined to participate in the debate.[6]
The debate was moderated by CNN anchor John King of John King, USA and featured several other CNN contributors.[7]
Following the debate, attention was drawn to Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who announced she had filed with the FEC to run for President during the debate.[8]

August 11, 2011 – Ames, Iowa

The third Republican debate was held at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, sponsored by the Republican Party of Iowa, Fox News Channel, and The Washington Examiner. It was moderated by Bret Baier with questions from Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace and the Washington Examiner's Byron York and Susan Ferrechio. Baier and Wallace were praised for their moderation of the debate.[9]
It was broadcast live for two hours on Fox News and Candidates participating in the debate included Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman Jr., who was making his first debate appearance. Criteria for inclusion in the debate did not allow several other candidates, or potential candidates, to participate in the debate, including Buddy Roemer, Gary Johnson, Thaddeus McCotter and Fred Karger, who did not meet the polling criterion of at least 1% in 5 national polls.
The debate was noted for the sparring between Bachmann and Pawlenty; Pawlenty criticized Bachmann for what he said was a lack of leadership, while Bachmann fired back that Pawlenty's support for cap and trade legislation and the individual mandate while governor of Minnesota made his record look like President Obama's.[10] Gingrich criticized Wallace by saying he was asking "gotcha questions" instead of legitimate questions.[10]
Romney responded to criticisms that "Romneycare" (Massachusetts health care reform) was like "Obamacare" (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) by using a states' rights argument.[10] Santorum said same-sex marriage is not a state issue because the 10th Amendment "does not give states the right to trample over moral law."[11] Romney agreed that it is a federal issue, reasoning that people move to different states and that marriage is a status, not an activity that takes place within the walls of a state.[11] Huntsman and Paul reiterated their support for civil unions.[11]

September 7, 2011 – Simi Valley, California

The fourth Republican debate was held at Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, sponsored by NBC News and Politico (but broadcast by MSNBC). It was moderated by Brian Williams, and was notable for being the first to include Texas Governor Rick Perry, who attracted attention for stating his belief that "Social Security is a Ponzi scheme"; he was applauded by the audience for his record of having executed 234 death row inmates.

September 12, 2011 – Tampa, Florida

The fifth Republican debate was held at Florida State Fair Grounds in Tampa, Florida, sponsored by CNN and Tea Party Express. It was moderated by Wolf Blitzer, and was notable for being the first Tea Party debate in history.[13] Rick Perry was booed by the audience for defending his use of an executive order to mandate young girls have the HPV vaccine. The debate also engendered controversy when Blitzer asked Ron Paul a hypothetical question about a young man who could afford health insurance but refused to purchase any and went into a coma. When Blitzer asked Paul “Congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die?”, a few audience members shouted "Yeah!"[14][15]

September 22, 2011 – Orlando, Florida

The sixth Republican debate was held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, and was sponsored by Fox News Channel and Google. It was moderated by Chris Wallace, Bret Baier, and Megyn Kelly. The debate was only the second of the 2012 cycle to feature former governor Gary Johnson of New Mexico; he was also in the May 5, 2011 debate.
The debate engendered controversy when a pre-recorded question fielded by Army service member Stephen Hill from Iraq via YouTube, concerning whether any one of the candidates would reinstate the recently-retired "Don't ask, don't tell" policy excluding openly-gay soldiers like himself from the US military, elicited vocal booing from a few audience members; Santorum, whose turn it was to answer a question, stated that "I would say any type of sexual activity has no place in the military" after the booing had subsided, and was applauded by the audience for his response. Rick Perry drew criticism from the other candidates over the Texas DREAM Act, which provides discounts for tuition prices for the children of illegal immigrants. Perry's response, that the other candidates didn't "have a heart" was poorly received by conservatives.[16][17]
Perry's overall performance was criticised. His speech was so garbled that Mark Hemingway of the Weekly Standard asked if he had suffered a stroke,[18] and Brit Hume of Fox News stated that Perry, "at a time when he needed to raise his game, I mean, he did worse, it seems to me, than he had done in previous debates."
Gary Johnson, who lagged in polls and media attention, made headlines and became the most-searched-for candidate on Google for several hours for a joke he made, saying, "My next-door neighbor's two dogs have created more shovel-ready jobs than this administration."[19]

October 11, 2011 – Hanover, New Hampshire

The seventh Republican debate was held at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, and was sponsored by Bloomberg and The Washington Post. It was moderated by Charlie Rose with Julianna Goldman and Karen Tumulty. As Rose described it: "This debate is different and distinctive. It is only about the economy. So we debate this evening about spending and taxes, deficit and debt, about the present and the future, about rich and poor, and about the role of government." Former Governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson, was excluded from the debate.

October 18, 2011 – Las Vegas, Nevada

The eighth Republican debate was held at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada and was sponsored by CNN and the Western Republican Leadership Conference. It was moderated by Anderson Cooper. Jon Huntsman boycotted the debate, citing a scheduling spat between the Nevada Republican Party and the New Hampshire Republican Party over whose primaries would be held first.[20] Gary Johnson was excluded from the debate because he did not meet CNN's eligibility requirements.
The debate was described as the most contentious thus far.[21] The debate started with all the candidates criticising Herman Cain's 9-9-9 tax reform plan.[22] Mitt Romney squared off separately with Rick Santorum and Rick Perry. Santorum attacked Romney over his health care reform initiative in Massachusetts, saying, "You just don't have credibility... your consultants helped Obama craft Obamacare." Romney replied "the Massachusetts plan... was something crafted for a state... if I'm president of the United States, I will repeal [Obamacare] for the American people".[22]
Perry, whose performance was seen as an improvement over past debates, attacked Romney because he hired a lawn service using illegal immigrants; Perry said, "The idea that you stand here before us and talk about that you're strong on immigration is on its face the height of hypocrisy." Romney replied that after they found out the company used illegal immigrants, they let them go, criticising Perry's tuition credit for the children of illegal immigrants, adding that "If there's someone who has a record as governor with regards to illegal immigration that doesn't stand up to muster, it's you, not me."[22]

November 9, 2011 – Rochester, Michigan

The ninth Republican debate was held at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan and was sponsored by CNBC and the Michigan Republican Party. It was moderated by Maria Bartiromo and John Harwood. It focused on the economy and was attended by Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Jr., Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.
The defining moment of the debate came when Rick Perry said that he would abolish three government departments. He named the departments of Commerce and Education, but could not remember the Department of Energy. After struggling to remember the name of the last department, Mitt Romney offered "EPA?", to which Perry agreed, before backing down when asked by moderator John Harwood if the EPA really was the department he was thinking of. When pressed as to what the third department was, Perry admitted that he couldn't remember, adding: "Sorry. Oops."[23] The gaffe came to be known as the "Oops moment"[24] and was called the "worst gaffe in US debate history",[25] the "end of his campaign"[26] and was widely mocked in the media.[27][28]

November 12, 2011 – Spartanburg, South Carolina

The tenth Republican debate was held at Wofford College[29] in Spartanburg, South Carolina, sponsored by CBS News, the National Journal, and the South Carolina Republican Party.[30] It was moderated by Major Garrett and Scott Pelley. It was attended by Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Jr., Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. The debate focused on foreign policy and was dubbed the "Commander-in-Chief debate".
Rick Perry, who was looking to recover following his disastrous debate performance in Rochester, Michigan, alluded to the previous debate: moderator Scott Pelley began to ask him about his plan to abolish the Department of Energy and Perry interrupted, "Glad you remembered it". Pelley replied "I've had some time to think about it" and Perry quipped, "So have I", drawing laughter from the audience.[31]
Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich both said they would consider military action to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, a stance Ron Paul and Herman Cain disagreed with. Cain, Gingrich, Perry, Romney and Rick Santorum all supported sanctions against Iran, with only Paul and Huntsman opposing them.[32] Cain and Bachmann supported the use of waterboarding whereas Paul and Huntsman opposed it, saying it was torture. Huntsman also called for American soldiers to be removed from Afghanistan, saying "this nation has achieved its key objectives."[33]
Perry stated that his foreign aid budget would start at $0 for all countries, including Israel. Bachmann and Santorum criticised him for suggesting that Pakistan should get no aid at all, with Santorum saying "we can't be indecisive about whether Pakistan is our friend. They must be our friend, and we must engage them as friends".[34] Bachmann drew raised eyebrows for her claim that China's economy was growing because of its lack of a social safety net, saying "If you look at China, they don't have food stamps. They don't have the modern welfare state, and China's growing... And so what I would do is look at the programs that LBJ gave us with the Great Society and they'd be gone."[35]
Romney and Huntsman clashed over China, with Romney saying that America was in the middle of a trade war with China, who must be taken to the World Trade Organization over currency manipulation. Huntsman replied that China can't be taken to the WTO and starting a trade war with them would be bad for the American economy.[36] The debate itself was criticised for not spending sufficient time on the Eurozone crisis, with only the very last question devoted to it, which only Huntsman was able to answer.[37]

November 22, 2011 – Washington, D.C.

The eleventh Republican debate, focusing on national security, was held at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., sponsored by CNN, the Heritage Foundation, and the American Enterprise Institute, and aired nationally on CNN, CNN en Español, and worldwide on CNN International, CNN Radio and[38] It was moderated by Wolf Blitzer and was attended by Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Jr., Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.
Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman were given more opportunities to speak than in previous debates, with Paul clashing with Herman Cain and Rick Santorum over Iran and with Newt Gingrich over the PATRIOT Act.[39] Mitt Romney and Rick Perry united over their opposition to $1 trillion of defence cuts but Gingrich and Huntsman said nothing should be taken off the table.[40] Herman Cain was widely regarded to be a "loser",[41] with "nothing of interest or insight to add on national security, and it showed".[42] The debate itself was again criticised for there being no questions on the Eurozone and for China only being mentioned in passing.[42]

December 10, 2011 – Des Moines, Iowa

The twelfth Republican debate was held in Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa and was sponsored by ABC News, WOI-DT, The Des Moines Register and the Iowa Republican Party. It was moderated by Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos. Candidates in attendance were Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. Jon Huntsman, Jr. was not invited as he did not meet the criteria.[43]
Newt Gingrich was attacked by all the other candidates, squaring off in particular with Mitt Romney. Romney mocked Gingrich's plan to build a lunar colony to mine minerals from the moon, saying that the real difference between the two of them was their backgrounds, saying "I spent my life in the private sector. I know how the economy works." Gingrich replied, "Let's be candid. The only reason you didn't become a career politician is you lost to Teddy Kennedy in 1994", which drew boos and laughter from the audience.[44] Romney replied "If I'd have beaten Ted Kennedy I could have been a career politician, that's probably true. If I would've been able to get in the NFL like I hoped when I was a kid, I would have been a football star all my life too", which drew laughter and applause.
Perhaps the most notable moment of the debate was a "rare error" from Romney when discussing Massachusetts health care reform with Rick Perry.[45] After Perry repeated his assertion that Romney had deleted a line about individual mandates being a model for the nation from reprints of his book, Romney offered Perry a $10,000 bet that he had done no such thing, which Perry declined. Romney's offer was derided as being "out of touch"[46] and "elitist".[47] Other commentators came to his defence, however, calling it a "non-story",[48] remarking that "you have to say a large amount, because the point is that you know you're not going to lose it"[49] and "I am willing to bet $10,000 that ordinary viewers barely even noticed Romney's bet until the punditocracy decided to make it the defining moment of the debate."[50]

December 15, 2011 – Sioux City, Iowa

The thirteenth Republican debate was hosted by Fox News and held in Sioux City, Iowa. It was moderated by Bret Baier. Candidates in attendance were Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Jr., Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.
After facing criticism for his offer of a $10,000 bet to Rick Perry in the previous debate, Mitt Romney was considered by one commentator to be back "at his very best".[51] Once again, Newt Gingrich came in for criticism from all the other candidates, particularly from Michele Bachmann, with special focus given to his opinion of Government-sponsored enterprise and the $1.6 million he received from Freddie Mac.[52] Gingrich responded that Bachman's relationship to the facts was dubious.[53]
Ron Paul again clashed with Bachmann and Rick Santorum over foreign policy and Rick Perry expressed a desire to be "the Tim Tebow of the Iowa caucuses".[54] Bachmann claimed that after the previous debate, "came out and said that everything that I said was true",[55] which prompted the fact-checking website to label her claim as "pants on fire", saying "that’s simply not the case".[56]

January 7, 2012 – Manchester, New Hampshire

The fourteenth Republican debate was hosted by ABC News and WMUR-TV, and was held in at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. It was moderated by Diane Sawyer, George Stephanopoulos and Josh McElveen. Candidates in attendance were Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Jr., Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.
Rick Santorum, who was enjoying a surge in the polls following his narrow second-place finish in the Iowa Caucuses, clashed with Mitt Romney over comments he had made that the country didn't need a CEO or manager as President. Santorum said, "We need a leader... someone who, has the experience to go out and be the commander-in-chief... The commander-in-chief of this country isn't a CEO. It's someone who has to lead... being the president is not a CEO... You've got to lead and inspire." Romney responded, "I think people who spend their life in Washington don't understand what happens out in the real economy. They think that people who start businesses are just managers. The chance to lead in free enterprise is extraordinarily critical to also being able to lead a state, like I led in Massachusetts, and, by the way, lead the Olympics. My experience is in leadership."[57] Newt Gingrich then criticised Romney's record at Bain Capital, saying "I'm very much for free enterprise... I'm not nearly as enamored of a Wall Street model where you can flip companies, you can go in and have leveraged buyouts, you can basically take out all the money, leaving behind the workers." Romney replied, "I'm not surprised to have The New York Times try and put free enterprise on trial. I'm not surprised to have the Obama administration do that, either. It's a little surprising from my colleagues on this stage."[57]
Ron Paul then clashed with Santorum and Gingrich. He called Santorum a "big government, big spending individual", citing Santorum's votes to raise the debt ceiling, for the No Child Left Behind Act, for the Medicare Modernization Act and against Right-to-work. Santorum replied, "I'm a conservative. I'm not a libertarian. I believe in some government. I do believe that... as a senator from Pennsylvania that I had a responsibility to go out there and represent the interests of my state."[57] Moderator Josh McElveen asked Paul if he stood by comments that Gingrich was a "chicken hawk" for not serving in the military. When Paul said that he did, Gingrich said, " Dr. Paul has a long history of saying things that are inaccurate and false. The fact is, I never asked for deferment. I was married with a child. It was never a question." Paul replied, "When I was drafted, I was married and had two kids, and I went", which was greeted with applause.[57]
Romney got into a long discussion with moderator George Stephanopoulos over whether states have the right to ban contraception or whether that was trumped by a constitutional right to privacy. Romney said, "So you're asking, given the fact that there's no state that wants to do so, and I don't know of any candidate that wants to do so, you're asking could it constitutionally be done? We can ask our constitutionalist here," gesturing to Ron Paul, which drew laughter and applause from the audience.[58] The discussion continued until Romney grew frustrated at the repeated questioning and asserted, "States don't want to ban contraception. So why would we try and put it in the Constitution?... Contraception, it's working just fine, just leave it alone."[58] Stephanopoulos later joked on The Colbert Report that he had a bet with fellow moderator Diane Sawyer that he could get Romney to say "contraceptions are working just fine".[58] Jon Huntsman, in response to a question on civil unions, joked, "I'm a married man. I've been married for 28 years. I have seven kids. Glad we're off the contraception discussion."
Other memorable moments from the "lively"[59] debate came when Gingrich accused the media of bias for ignoring "anti-Christian bigotry";[57] Paul was asked whether he would rule out a third party bid for the White House and he responded that he wouldn't, saying "I don't like absolutes" but adding "I have no plans to do it. I don't intend to do it";[57] Rick Perry said that he would "send troops back into Iraq", adding "we're going to see Iran, in my opinion, move back in at literally the speed of light. They're going to move back in, and all of the work that we've done, every young man that has lost his life in that country will have been for nothing because we've got a president that does not understand what's going on in that region"[60] and Santorum said that "there are no classes in America."[59]

January 8, 2012 – Concord, New Hampshire

The fifteenth Republican debate was hosted by NBC News and Facebook and was held in Concord, New Hampshire. It was moderated by David Gregory. Candidates in attendance were Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Jr., Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.
Newt Gingrich attacked Mitt Romney on "pious baloney". He said that the only reason that Mitt Romney has not been a long time politician was because he always lost. Another stir up came from Jon Huntsman saying that Mitt Romney's attitude is one that is dividing this nation. Huntsman said that after he had been criticized by Romney for being Obama's ambassador to China. Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney also got into an argument about the Super PAC advertisements that each had been putting out.

January 16, 2012 – Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

The sixteenth Republican debate was hosted by Fox News and The Wall Street Journal, and was held in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It was moderated by Bret Baier. Juan Williams also asked questions of the candidates. The candidates in attendance were Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

January 19, 2012 – North Charleston, South Carolina

The seventeenth Republican debate was hosted by CNN and held in North Charleston, South Carolina at 8pm EST. It was moderated by John King. Candidates in attendance were Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

January 23, 2012 – Tampa, Florida

The eighteenth Republican debate was held in Tampa, Florida. Brian Williams of NBC moderated, assisted by political editor Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times and political correspondent Beth Reinhard of the National Journal. Candidates in attendance were Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

January 26, 2012 – Jacksonville, Florida

The nineteenth Republican debate was held in Jacksonville, Florida. It was characterized by pointed and continual sparring between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. Other candidates in attendance were Ron Paul and Rick Santorum. Ron Paul made points consistent with his views on reducing war, national debt and spending, and Rick Santorum criticized Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich for being part of big government.

February 22, 2012 – Mesa, Arizona

The twentieth Republican debate was held in Mesa, Arizona and broadcast on CNN. Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich were considered by most political analysts to have performed best during this debate.[citation needed] Rick Santorum, having won the the Colorado and Minnesota Republican caucuses as well the Missouri Republican primary two weeks earlier performed poorer than expected, while Mitt Romney, was widely praised for his performance.[citation needed]

Additional events

A list of less prominent multi-candidate events follows, including self-described candidate forums, two two-candidate "Lincoln–Douglas" style debates and a Twitter 'debate'.
Twitter debate
Held via Twitter on July 20, 2011 and was sponsored by It included six Presidential candidates, to wit: Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Gary Johnson, Thaddeus McCotter, Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich.
Palmetto Freedom Forum
American Principles Project, sponsor. Held September 5, 2011 at Palmetto Freedom Forum in Columbia, South Carolina, hosted by Senator Jim DeMint, Representative Steve King and Robert P. George, the founder of the American Principles Project. Five candidates spoke at the forum including Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich. Rick Perry was also invited but missed the Forum due to wildfires in his home state of Texas.
Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition Fall Presidential Forum
Held October 22, 2011, in Des Moines at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, with Republican candidates Bachmann, Cain, Gingrich, Paul, Perry, and Santorum in attendance.[61]
College Board Education Forum
Sponsored by College Board and News Corporation and held October 27, 2011, in New York City with candidates Cain, Gingrich and Santorum in attendance.[62]
Republican Presidential Forum On Manufacturing
Sponsored by Iowa Public Television and held in Pella, Iowa on November 1, 2011, with candidates Santorum, Paul, Bachmann, Gingrich and Perry participating.[63]
Texas Tea Party Patriots PAC Forum
Sponsored by the Texas Tea Party Patriots PAC and held November 5, 2011, in The Woodlands, Texas with candidates Cain and Gingrich as participants in a "Lincoln–Douglas" style debate.[64] At the time of event, Cain ranked first in many opinion polls of likely Republican primary voters; Gingrich, third.[65]
Granite State Patriots Liberty PAC Forum
Sponsored by Granite State Patriots Liberty PAC and held November 10, 2011 in Hampton, New Hampshire with candidates Gingrich, Santorum, Johnson and Roemer as participants.[66]
Thanksgiving Family Forum
Sponsored by The Family Leader and held November 19, 2011 in Des Moines, Iowa with candidates Bachmann, Cain, Gingrich, Paul, Perry and Santorum as participants.[67]
Republican Presidential Forum
Governor Mike Huckabee hosted "A Huckabee Special: Republican Presidential Forum" on Fox News channel, December 3, 2011 in New York City with candidates Bachmann, Gingrich, Paul, Perry, Romney and Santorum. The questioners were state attorneys general Pam Bondi of Florida, Ken Cuccinelli of Virginia, and Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma. The questions focused on health care, EPA regulation, labor, education, immigration and social issues.[68]
Gingrich–Huntsman Conversation
Saint Anselm College hosted a 90-minute Lincoln-Douglas style debate between presidential candidates Gingrich and Huntsman on December 12, 2011 in Manchester, New Hampshire. The debate was sponsored by the Saint Anselm College Republicans, and hosted by the New Hampshire Institute of Politics and Political Library.[69] The debate focused mainly on foreign policy and was described as "a debate that even the participants more or less admitted was boring enough to induce narcolepsy in a chronic insomniac" and "less a debate than a think-tank-style discussion of the issues and so dry that reporters fell asleep. But somehow Newt still emerged victorious."[70][71]
Wepolls 2012 GOP Presidential Forum
Wepolls hosted an alternative debate among the three candidates most often excluded from most of the other debates: Buddy Roemer, Gary Johnson and Fred Karger. It was held on December 15, 2011, at 11 pm EST.
Second Republican Presidential Forum
The second Fox News Republican Presidential Forum was hosted by Mike Huckabee (the first was aired on Fox News on 3 December 2011) on 14 January 2012 at 8 pm EST. Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum were present. Ron Paul was invited, but chose not to appear as he was campaigning in Nevada, in preparation for the Nevada Caucuses in February.
Univision Presidential forum, Destino 2012: Caro A Caro Con Los Candidatos
Co-sponsored by Miami Dade College and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Spanish-language television network Univision's news anchor Jorge Ramos hosted back-to-back interviews (including audience members' questions) of candidates Gingrich and Romney from the college's campus in Miami, Florida, on January 25, 2012.
Hannity Vegas Forum
Cablenews and talkradio host Sean Hannity featured on his February 2, 2012 Fox News television show separate interviews with candidates Gingrich, Romney, and Santorum, respectively.

Cancelled Ion Television/ Newsmax debate

Real estate developer and media personality Donald Trump was announced as moderator for a debate sponsored by Newsmax Media and broadcast on Ion Television, scheduled for December 27, 2011 in Des Moines, Iowa. The role of Trump, who very publicly considered running for president in the spring of 2011, as moderator attracted controversy as candidates and observers questioned the seriousness of Trump and whether he was doing it as a publicity stunt.
Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum were the only candidates to accept the invitation to participate. The campaigns of Jon Huntsman and Ron Paul both released statements declining the invitation. Ron Paul's campaign wrote, "Mr. Trump's participation will contribute to an unwanted circus-like atmosphere," while Jon Huntsman's campaign said in a statement, "We have declined to participate in the 'Presidential Apprentice' Debate with The Donald," alluding to the Celebrity Apprentice reality show for which Trump is host. Trump responded, "Few people take Ron Paul seriously and many of his views and presentation make him a clown-like candidate. I am glad he and Jon Huntsman, who has inconsequential poll numbers or a chance of winning, will not be attending the debate and wasting the time of the viewers who are trying very hard to make a very important decision."[72]
Mitt Romney announced on December 6 that he also would not be attending the debate.[73] On December 8, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann announced they would not be attending either.[74] Furthermore, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus said that a debate moderated by Trump would be problematic.[75]
Speaking about the host, Santorum said, "I’m not defending Newsmax’s decision to put Donald Trump in there. If you look at the [CNBC] debate where Jim Cramer is screaming at people – maybe Donald will surprise us both.”[76] Gingrich said, "I can’t imagine what it will be like, which is part of why–– This is very serious business, picking the president of the United States. We all have to be very serious but, every once and a while on the campaign trail, to have something that just breaks out, is good. I believe that having Donald Trump in that kind of environment will absolutely be amazing."[77] On December 13, Trump withdrew as moderator and the debate was canceled.[78]

Complaints of bias

Throughout the early debates, there have been a wide range of complaints about the various criteria hosting organizations have used to determine which candidates are allowed in the debates.[79]
The "Gary Johnson Rule" (originally called the "Anti-Gary Johnson Rule"[80][81]) refers to the deliberate construction of rules by 2012 presidential debate organizers to include eight specific, pre-determined candidates while excluding others. The phrase refers specifically to the various rules created to outline who will be allowed to participate in the 2012 GOP presidential debates. The rules covered by this phrase appear to have been created based on the progress of Governor Gary Johnson's 2012 presidential campaign. Variations of these rules have been used to exclude Johnson from all but two debates during the 2012 presidential cycle and to completely exclude other candidates.[82]
On November 15, Gary Johnson's campaign filed an official complaint with the FEC and FCC over exclusion from the November 12th CBS Debate, claiming that his exclusion shows media favoritism. According to the complaint, free publicity provided by a media outlet on public airwaves may be considered a political donation if not equally-distributed between candidates running for office.[83] On December 28, Gary Johnson announced that he was ending his quest for the Republican nomination and would instead seek the Libertarian nomination, citing his exclusion from the debates as one reason for doing so.
After the CBS/National Journal debate in Spartanburg South Carolina, both the Bachmann & Paul campaigns issued statements alleging bias from the debate.[84][85][86]

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External links