On the forefront of US election news, Republican candidate Rick Perry has withdrawn from the GOP race and Rick Santorum has been declared the final winner of the Iowa caucuses after votes were re-tallied. This leaves four republicans contesting for the Republican Party’s nomination to take on President Obama for the presidential spot this November. On the sidelines, Mr. Obama is launching a new initiative to encourage tourism to the states.
Rick Perry withdraws from Republican primaries; endorses Newt Gingrich
Texas governor Rick Perry’s sudden decision to quit the presidential race was announced this Thursday, although it came as little surprise to many in view of his relatively poor performance on the campaign trail. In a statement, Mr. Perry said that he had “come to the conclusion that there is no viable path to victory for [his] candidacy”, and endorsed Newt Gingrich as “a conservative visionary who can transform [America]”. Mr. Gingrich welcomed the endorsements only moments after Mr. Perry’s speech, and expressed hope that the people who supported Mr. Perry will transfer their votes to his side of the camp.
Political analysts have been forthcoming in their views of Mr. Perry’s fall from grace. Following a series of blunders, Mr. Perry may very well be better off out of the elections. One of the most memorable, and perhaps most damaging, mistakes which he made was his failure to remember the third of three federal agencies that he vowed to eliminate – to which he apologized with an “oops”. Gloria Borger, CNN’s chief political analyst, commented that “once Rick Perry said ‘oops’, it was very difficult for him to regain his footing.” In another incident, Mr. Perry gave a speech in which he wrongly assumed that the country’s voting age was 21 instead of 18, and that the date of the presidential elections is November 12 instead of November 6. These slips have been detrimental to his political campaign, and were evident in the results when he finished last in both Iowa and New Hampshire. His promise to win South Carolina also fell short; Polls showed that Mr. Perry only had 6 percent support among voters.
With Mr. Perry out of the race, there remain four contestants to compete in the primary election in South Carolina this Saturday. Mr. Gingrich has been gaining ground on front-runner Mitt Romney, and is expected to do well in the upcoming elections, despite publicity surrounding a recent scandal involving his ex-wife.
Report: Rick Perry Drops Out of Race, Endorses Gingrich (Chicago Tribune, 19 January 2012)
Report: What Doomed Rick Perry’s Campaign (CNN, 19 January 2012)
Report: Perry Bows Out of GOP Race, Seeing ‘No Viable Path to Victory (AP Sources, 19 January 2012)
Report: Rick Perry Announces End to His Presidential Bid (TIME, 19 January 2012)
Error in Iowa GOP results – Santorum, not Romney, is winner
In other news, Iowa Republicans declared Mitt Romney as the winner on January 3, with eight votes to his advantage. Today, 16 days after the last vote of cast, the state Republican Party has admitted that it made an error in tallying the votes, mostly because the final count in eight precincts were never certified. It announced Rick Santorum as the actual winner of the Iowa caucuses, with 34 votes ahead of Mitt Romney.
However, Mr. Santorum’s win has largely been overshadowed by Rick Perry’s withdrawal from the race. Its impacts on Mr. Santorum’s campaign is unclear, but campaign aides insist they have already seen an increase in fundraising as a result of this development. To Mr. Romney, the result from the Iowa caucus night only reveals “a virtual tie”. Others are more concerned with the inefficiency and incompetence of the Iowa GOP’s vote-counting system.
Report: Iowa GOP Won’t Declare a Winner of State Caucuses (Associated Press, 19 January 2012)
Report: Santorum finished 34 votes ahead of Romney in new Iowa tally; votes from 8 precincts missing (Washington Post, 19 January 2012)
Obama touts tourism to boost jobs
While the Republicans have been busy with the elections, President Obama has released a statement regarding tourism in the US. He hopes to boost the economy by making it easier for foreign tourists to obtain a visa to travel to the US. In particular, this new initiative aims to boost China’s and Brazil’s visa processing capacity by 40 percent this year. In a White House press release, President Obama said, “the more folks who visit America, the more Americans we get back to work.” He is in currently in Florida to promote tourism, as well as to gain support for his democratic campaign.
The initiative will also see more countries added to the Visa Waiver Program, which will allow participating nationals to travel to the US for stays of 90 days or less without a visa. In addition, a new group of chief executives will be appointed to the US Travel and Tourism Advisory Board. Bill Talbert, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau has applauded President Obama’s actions and called it a “fantastic” move. Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, also agreed and believes the strategy will have a positive impact on tourism in both Florida and the United States in general.
Report: Obama, in Florida, unveils plans to boost tourism (The Wall Street Journal, 19 January 2012)
Report: Chinese tourists to get US visa easier (China Daily, 20 January 2012)