Tag Archives: campaign

childbirth

Arizona Community Foundation awards $25K to AFHP

The Arizona Community Foundation has awarded the Arizona Family Health Partnership (AFHP) a $25,000 grant to implement a statewide public awareness and education campaign for young women about the importance of taking B vitamin folic acid before and during pregnancy to prevent birth defects.

Research consistently shows that the highest rate of unintended pregnancies is among women 18 to 24, a population with the lowest awareness of the benefits of folic acid and its role in preventing birth defects.  Folic acid has been proven highly effective preventing birth defects known as neural tube defects (NTDs), which affect the brain and spine.

AFHP will use the funds to activate the Project B Aware campaign, first piloted in 2010 in Phoenix-area high schools by the March of Dimes Arizona Chapter and the Arizona Department of Health Services through a one-time federal grant.

The result of the pilot program was a 50 percent increase in knowledge about folic acid among participating high school students.

“Young women, particularly those who are low-income, are at high risk of unplanned pregnancies and at higher risk of having a baby born with an NTD due to their lack of knowledge about folic acid,” said AFHP CEO Brenda “Bré” Thomas.  “Despite being described as an ‘astounding public health silver bullet’ by a 2008 Gallup poll, only 39 percent of women ages 18 to 45 take folic acid daily.”

Research shows that lack of awareness and lack of advice in recommending foliate supplements before and during pregnancies is the primary reason young women don’t take folic acid.

“This important funding from the Arizona Community Foundation will enable us to use the previously created March of Dimes Folic Acid 400 curriculum to reach a much broader statewide audience with this critical health information,” Thomas said.
AFHP will use the March of Dimes-developed curriculum that has been adapted for teens.
The Project B Aware program includes a folic acid pre-test administered to all students and teachers, a PowerPoint presentation about folic acid with interactive student participation, a post-test, a list of foliate-rich foods and information about the importance of taking folic acid daily, and a survey to assess the presentation.

AFHP will recruit and train folic acid educators, identify and coordinate program presentations at specific high schools and administer the pre-and-post tests.  The program ends in April 2014.  AFHP will partner with Kappa Delta Chi sorority to provide the folic acid education.

AFHP expects to complete presentations to approximately 1,400 students.
For more information about the Arizona Family Health Partnership and Project B Aware, visit www.arizonafamilyhealth.org or call (602) 258-5777 in Maricopa County and (888) 272-5652 outside Maricopa County.

104867437

Lavidge Launches National Campaign with Dole

The Lavidge Company (TLC), a full-service advertising, public relations, communications, consulting and interactive marketing agency, and Dole® Food Company have partnered in developing the summer “Peel the Love” campaign.

TLC edged out national agencies with its Peel the Love campaign idea and was selected to lead the concept, design and messaging standards of the year-long Dole campaign. The Peel the Love theme focuses on the fun, versatility and universally loved aspects of the iconic yellow fruit, which Dole grows more of globally than anyone else. The campaign is playful and modern, utilizing vibrant, summer colors, that invites people to Peel like a kid again. Dole. Peel the love.

TLC’s team created the overall campaign concept, developed the messaging and visual direction, and worked on in-store promotional materials including posters and special recipe cards. Additionally, the agency oversaw the production of the campaign standards guide, working in collaboration with Dole’s public relations and interactive agencies that extended the campaign through additional channels.

A feature of the Peel the Love campaign is the Peel the Love Summer Food Truck tour that will be visiting banana-loving cities across the country. The brightly colored Peel the Love food truck, featuring TLC designs, is staffed by healthy-eating advocates and will stop at supermarkets, parks and other venues to dispense samples and recipes that use DOLE Bananas in fun ways. The truck will be making several stops in Phoenix, Arizona and surrounding areas from June 27 through July 6. Dates, times and truck stop locations can be found at www.dole.com/peelthelove.

“We’re extremely proud to have worked with Dole on this campaign,” says Bob Case, chief creative officer of TLC. “The work was strategically driven, smart, and incredibly fun to do – we thank Dole for the opportunity and look forward to continuing our work with them.”

TLC is a Phoenix based full-service advertising, public relations, and interactive marketing agency offering best-in-class traditional and leading-edge marketing services all in-house. Since 1982, The Lavidge Company has specialized in developing brand positioning for products and services. Lavidge serves prominent national, regional and local brands including Dole, United Rentals, Phoenix International Raceway, Republic Services, Discount Tire, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Massage Envy, Phiten USA, Banner Health, McDonald’s and many more. The agency has helped companies increase sales, raise brand awareness and grow their businesses.

Banner MD Anderson Lantern Of Hope

$2M Grant from Piper Supports Fight Against Cancer

With a generous $2 million grant from Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, the Cancer Has Met Its Match campaign benefitting Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center is near its $20 million goal. The grant from Piper Trust, in support of the campaign, provides funding for capital, programs and services that will impact patients, their families and the community.

Launched in January 2011, the Cancer Has Met Its Match campaign has attracted support from more than 1,000 individual, corporate and foundation donors that share an interest in fighting cancer. The campaign has been on a path to success since its inception thanks to the involvement of dozens of dedicated community and business leaders who comprise the campaign cabinet.

In particular, Richard Adkerson, president and CEO of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold, has been invaluable as the chair of the campaign, while Arizona Cardinals’ star receiver Larry Fitzgerald has taken an active role as honorary chair. Additional outstanding leadership has been provided by co-chairs Steve Rizley, senior vice president of Cox Communication and Kari Yatkowski, founder of Corporate Citizen.

Located in Gilbert, Ariz., the Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, part of the Phoenix-based nonprofit Banner Health system, relies on philanthropic support to fund education and outreach activities, patient support programs, the latest technology and more. Another significant gift received in Fall 2012 from the James M. Cox Foundation will fund the creation of the Center for Cancer Prevention and Integrative Oncology, which will incorporate traditional cancer treatments with evidence-based integrative therapies, such as acupuncture, yoga or meditation, to aid pain and stress management.

The Cancer Has Met Its Match campaign seeks to raise the remaining $311,000 by June 30, 2013. A second fundraising effort will follow to secure support for additional capital and programmatic efforts associated with the ongoing expansion of Banner MD Anderson. Work is currently underway on a 130,000-square-foot expansion project at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center which will double the total clinic exam rooms to 60, add three linear accelerators used in radiation treatment and include 13 additional infusion bays. It will also expand the Laboratory Intake Center and Welcome Center, as well as the Cox Center for Integrative Oncology and Cancer Prevention.

Nonexempt Vs. Exempt Employees

Arizona employers face an onslaught of wage and hour claims

For Shayna Balch, business is booming.

Since the start of 2012, the labor attorney at Fisher & Phillips in Phoenix is seeing — on average — one to three wage and hour cases filed each day. This is compared with one or two a month in previous years. Nationally, the number of new Fair Labor Standards Act suits lodged in federal courts between 2010 and 2011 jumped more than 15 percent, according to Federal Judicial Caseload Statistics.

Historically, Balch says wage and hour cases have not been an issue in Arizona. Because of that, employers are not prepared for the trend and she worries that this a ticking time bomb waiting to explode.

“There are multiple causes (for the increase)” says John Thompson, who handles wage-hour cases at Fisher & Phillips and is the editor of the firm’s Wage Hour Laws Blog.

“They include a greater familiarity of plaintiff’s lawyers with wage-hour laws and with the many areas in which non-compliance can occur; workers’ increasing awareness of wage-hour requirements — including via the Internet and the media; the growing number and complexity of the laws themselves;  and the stepped-up enforcement efforts of government officials.”

As the economy suffered and employers looked for ways to reduce labor costs, many of the cost-cutting measures conflicted with employment laws, according to Phoenix attorney John Doran of Sherman & Howard, and that has led to an avalanche of wage and hour claims. The number of collective actions has increased by more than 400 percent nationally in the last decade. In Arizona, the increase has been even more dramatic.

“In Arizona, there has been a sudden and dramatic increase in wage and hour collective and class actions,” Doran says. “This should be a source of serious concern for Arizona employers.”

It’s particularly stressful for employers desperately trying to recover from the recession.

“Employers have looked for every possible angle to reduce labor costs including overtime, and many of those angles simply do not jive with the wage and hour laws,” Doran says. “This has been especially true with employers trying to convert their employees into independent contractors, which is an extremely difficult, and often mishandled strategy that has the attention of the Department of Labor and the I.R.S.”

The Department of Labor has increased its strength thanks to a significant bump in funding under the Obama Administration, increasing both its enforcement and public awareness campaigns. More than 250 new investigators have been hired and the revitalized Wage & Hour Division launched its “We Can Help” campaign in 2010 to increase visibility and accessibility to workers.

“The DOL has also been more aggressive in pursuing employers, by expanding the scope of wage and hour investigations, issuing more administrative subpoenas, and imposing more penalties on employers,” says Phoenix attorney Tracy A. Miller, shareholder. Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

And the DOL is making it even easier for employees to build cases against their employers. Last year, the DOL developed a smartphone application that allowed employees to keep track of their own time and monitor employer compliance with certain wage and hour requirements. The DOL also created hard copy “exhibits” for employees to track their time. In taking these steps, the DOL has stated that employees must be paid for any work they do, regardless of where they do it.

Empowered with DOL-provided tools, “We are seeing more individuals who file suit on their own behalf,” says Stephanie Quincy, a partner in the labor and employment practice group for Steptoe & Johnson. “In Arizona, if wages are not paid when they are due or the wages are withheld without a good faith reason, the employee is entitled to three times the amount, as a punishment for the employer. We are seeing employees filing these suits themselves, without an attorney.”

So where are employers most susceptible?

“The biggest increase has been in lawsuits and investigations involving workers who claim to be misclassified as independent contractors,” Miller says. “Failing to pay workers for pre-shift and post-shift activities, such as computer boot-up and power-down, is also still a hot issue. Another common mistake that the DOL and private litigants are focusing on is the failure to include bonuses and commissions when calculating overtime. Wage payments during temporary company shut downs and furloughs has been a hot issue, although usually these issues are resolved without a lawsuit.  Cases involving the misuse of the tip credit or tip pools have also been on the rise.  Finally, we continue to see off-the-clock cases from employees who work remotely and/or routinely use smartphones.”

All of this is a conundrum for employers, considering the changing face of the economy and the workplace. The DOL is encouraging employers to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act, which was enacted in 1938 when people worked at work. Now, thanks to technology, many of us can work anywhere and anytime.

To protect themselves, employers of all sizes should engage in serious introspection, Doran advises.

“An internal wage and hour audit, if not a must, is still the most valuable tool employers have to fend off such claims,” Doran says, “Annual or bi-annual audits would include analyzing job descriptions and comparing them with what is actually happening in the workplace day to day; examining timekeeper practices; ensuring that supervisors and managers are adequately and accurately carrying out otherwise compliant pay practices; and much, much more. These audits are best conducted through outside legal counsel in order to cloak them in attorney-client privilege.”

Quincy says employers should examine each employee and determine if the employee — not the position — is doing the type of work that is considered “exempt” or “non-exempt.” Non-exempt employees must be paid overtime. Employers should also carefully examine deductions from pay and time, including automatic deductions such as rest and meal breaks. Employers must train supervisors that any changes to hours worked must be explained to the employee and the employee must sign off on them.  The employer should hold supervisors accountable for encouraging — or pressuring — employees to work off the clock or not to accurately record their hours.

“Often businesses feel as though they must be in compliance because they have been paying workers in the same way for years without any problems,” Miller says. “Very few businesses are completely in compliance with the wage and hour laws, however, and an investigation or a lawsuit is an expensive way to learn about violations.  Businesses that proactively audit their pay practices end up saving a lot of money in the long run.”

78456333

Campaign issue: Energy

Americans depend on energy for everything from driving their cars to powering factories, homes and offices — and of course our smartphones, laptops and tablets. How that energy is produced and where it comes from affect jobs, the economy and the environment.

Where they stand:

President Barack Obama proposes an “all of the above” strategy that embraces traditional energy sources such as oil and coal, along with natural gas, nuclear power and renewable sources such as wind, solar and hydropower. Obama has spent billions to promote “green energy” and backs a tax credit for the wind industry that his Republican rival Mitt Romney opposes. While production of renewable energy has soared, critics point to several high-profile failures, including Solyndra, a California solar company that went bankrupt, costing taxpayers more than $500 million.

Romney pledges to make the U.S. independent of energy sources outside of North America by 2020, through more aggressive exploitation of domestic oil, gas, coal and other resources and quick approval of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas. Obama blocked the pipeline because of environmental concerns but supports approval of a segment of it.

Why it matters:

Every president since Richard Nixon has promised energy independence — a goal that remains elusive. In 2011, the U.S. relied on net imports for about 45 percent of the petroleum it used, much from Canada, Mexico and Saudi Arabia. Still, U.S. dependence on imported oil has declined in recent years, in part because of the economic downturn, improved efficiency and changes in consumer behavior. At the same time, domestic production of all types of energy has increased, spurred by improved drilling techniques and discoveries of vast oil supplies in North Dakota and natural gas in states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and West Virginia. Production also is booming in traditional energy states such as Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana.

The natural gas boom has led to increased production, jobs and profits — and a drop in natural gas prices for consumers. Natural gas, a cleaner alternative to coal, has generally been embraced by politicians from both parties.

Still, there are concerns. Critics worry that popular drilling techniques, such as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, which allow drillers to reach previously inaccessible wells, could harm air, water and health. Hydraulic fracturing, also called fracking, involves blasting mixtures of water, sand and chemicals deep underground to stimulate the release of gas. Environmental groups and some public health advocates say the chemicals have polluted drinking water supplies, but the industry says there is no proof.

Similarly, the Keystone XL pipeline could help make the nation more energy secure — or pollute the environment in the event of a spill. Developer TransCanada says the 1,700-mile pipeline from western Canada to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast would pipe more than 1 million barrels of oil per day, more than 5 percent of the nation’s current oil consumption.

Opponents say the pipeline would bring “dirty oil” that would be hard to clean up after a spill.

Wind and solar power have grown, thanks in part to support from Obama, but their success is tenuous. Besides Solyndra, several solar companies have declared bankruptcy in part because of Chinese competition. Wind companies are laying off workers while Congress dithers on a tax credit crucial to the industry.

The changes aren’t likely to have an immediate effect on the cost of the energy source Americans are most familiar with: gasoline. Gas prices are dependent on crude oil prices, which are set on the global market.

IMG_4738

Libertarian Presidential Candidate Campaigns at ASU

A crowd of nearly 100 amassed Wednesday afternoon to support Libertarian Presidential Candidate Gary Johnson, who spoke during a campaign rally at Arizona State University’s Tempe campus.

Johnson, a former two term New Mexico governor, presents himself as a socially liberal and fiscally conservative candidate. Among his positions are legalizing gay marriage and marijuana, giving immigrants easy access to a workers permit, withdrawing overseas military troops, reducing federal spending by 43 percent and abolishing the IRS and the Federal Reserve by instituting the Fair Tax proposal.

Johnson, dressed in jeans, a tee-shirt with a peace symbol and a sport coat, looked more like a college professor than a typical presidential candidate. During his 20 minute speech, he drew many different distinctions between himself and his opponents, President Barack Obama and Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

He warned that neither President Obama’s nor Mitt Romney’s budgets could balance the country’s deficit; saying not doing so dooms the country.

“If we don’t balance the federal budget now we are going to find ourselves in the midst of a monetary collapse,” he says. “A monetary collapse, very simply, is when the dollars we have in our pocket don’t buy a thing because of the accompanying inflation that goes along with borrowing and printing money to the tune of 43 cents out of every dollar that we are spending.”

Nicknamed “Governor Veto,” Johnson drew distinctions between himself and fiscal policies of democrats and republicans by promoting his record of 750 vetoed legislative bills while in office. He says these actions saved New Mexico billions of dollars.

Johnson and his running mate, former Calif. judge Jim Grey, are currently touring 40 college campuses nationwide. Johnson says they’re targeting the youth because “young people are getting screwed.”

“I’m going to retire, I’m going to have healthcare, but you all will never be able to retire, you’re not going to have healthcare,” he says. “This is just not acceptable.”

He discussed the economic woes of the youth resulting from student loans, the Affordable Healthcare Act and a poor job market.

“Right now young people are graduating college with a home mortgage, but without a home,” he says.

Distinguishing himself in the Iranian conflict, Johnson gestured back towards President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, and  said Iran is not a military threat, but should they become one military force needs to have congressional approval.

“If we bomb Iran we’re going to find ourselves with another 100 million enemies to this country that we otherwise wouldn’t have,” Johnson says to the cheering crowd.

Johnson also attacked President Obama over inconsistent promises regarding the drug war, and marijuana prosecutions.

Citing a proposed Colo. bill that would legalize and regulate marijuana similar to alcohol, he says “I think it’s going to pass, and be the first of 50 state dominos that will fall in line and bring rational drug policy to this country.”

Michael Silvia was one of dozens who attended the rally brandishing pro-Johnson signs.
“I definitely can’t support the two party system we currently have,” Silvia says. “They’re broken and don’t provide any solutions, only argue about semantics and superficial issues.”

Silvia says he was drawn to Johnson’s approach to finding solutions, and his pursuit of personal liberties.

Johnson is currently on 47 state ballots and the District of Columbia for the Nov. 6, election, and says he anticipates being on all 50.

Last week Johnson filed suit against the Presidential Debates Commission in order to be included in the October debates, citing the current restrictions as unfair against national progress.

According to a Reason-Rupe report, Johnson is currently polling at six percent nationally.

Republican Presidential Debate at Mesa Arts Center

The Republican Presidential Debate Viewing Party

On Wednesday, February 22, the Republican party held their primary debate here in Arizona. I ventured out into deep Mesa to cover the debate, but since I couldn’t actually get into the building, I decided to walk around outside the Mesa Arts Center, where a large, outdoor viewing party was being held. There were plenty of journalists there reporting on the debate, so instead of writing a conventional news story, I decided to record a running diary of my time at the event. Pics are at the end of the post.

5:02 pm – Paul supporters out in full force today.

5:12 pm – Political events have the best people watching.

5:16 pm – About 50 percent of the crowd is vocal Ron Paul supporters. So far I have only seen a small number of people #SpreadingSantorum or showing support for the other two candidates.

5:21 pm – There is a large number of protesters here to support the DREAM Act, a legislative proposal that would provide amnesty for illegal immigrants. For the rest of this piece, I will refer to these protestors as “the DREAM Actors.”

5:25 pm – The city of Mesa hired a band to perform on stage before the debate starts. They’re trying really hard, but no one is listening.

5:40 pm –The DREAM Actors are now marching, while chanting “Sí se puede” and “We’re not afraid.” I have a feeling that immigration is going to be a hot topic at tonight’s debate.

5:45 pm – I just came across some demonstrators imploring the candidates to, “Please free Syria.” Sorry bros, maybe if you guys had more oil …

5:41 pm – There are also a small number of people here to support the #Occupy movement. I wonder if they know that Warner Brothers (a major corporation, man!) gets a cut from every single Guy Fawkes mask they buy.

5:50 pm – Governor Jan Brewer is now on stage getting the folks fired up! #ScorpionsForBreakfast

5:51 pm – “Tonight we will get clear and concise answers from the candidates…” HAHAHA! Good one, J.Brew!

5:53 pm – Arizona Republican Party Chairman Tom Morrissey comes up on stage to ask us if we love our country, and then to lead us through the Pledge of Allegiance.  But before we begin, he reminds us that there is no pause between the words “one nation” and “under God.” Thanks for the tip, Tom!

5:55 pm – The MC for the outside crowd instructs us to cheer wildly whenever they point the camera at us. “Get up, cheer, jump around, send gang signs… I mean, no, HAHA, don’t do that!” Are you sure you don’t want to see my gang sings, CNN outside party MC? I want to represent my crew. #westside

6:00 pm – “This is CNN.” LET’S DO THIS.

6:01 pm – THIS DEBATE COULD CHANGE EVERYTHING!!!! At least that’s what CNN says could happen.  CNN gives all the candidates a pro-wrestling style intro. Ron Paul’s is by far the lamest.

6:01 pm – During the introductions, Newt gets some polite applause; Romney and Santorum get a few cheers from the crowd outside. Paul has the loudest supporters.

6:04 pm – In the first answer of the debate, Rick Santorum says that he would cut Medicaid and food stamps, but not military spending. But hey, don’t criticize him. Rick is a good Christian man, and I’m pretty sure he’s just following what it says to do in the Gospel.

6:11 pm – Right now, Santorum is getting hammered on his voting record. It must be hard to get elected president after spending many years in Congress. Even the smallest and most routine votes can come back to haunt you.

6:12 pm – People outside keep applauding the comments like the candidates can hear them.  Inside the Mesa Arts Center, Newt Gingrich has just informed the crowd that today is the 280th birthday of President George Washington. #historian #knowledgeBombs

6:14 pm – Gingrich’s big stumping point for this debate seems to be energy and gas prices; he has already mentioned it a few times. Also, there is a large man in a chicken suit standing right behind me. I don’t know what he wants.

6:16 pm – The chicken man is standing so close I can feel his breath on the back of my neck. #veryuncomfortable

6:17 pm – Ron Paul continues to get the loudest cheers. He tells the audience that we need to stop all foreign aid because it is a waste of money and it helps our enemies. But what about programs like the Peace Corps, or emergency food/medical services? That might make a good follow-up question, John King.

6:21 pm– Romney is bragging about deporting illegal immigrants while he was Governor of Massachusetts. The DREAM Actors protesting outside do not like this. Also, I have to wonder why the moderators allow the crowd inside the Mesa Arts Center to cheer/applaud during the debate. This has happened at every single Republican debate. It makes the candidates to pander to the crowd and it wastes time.

6:37 pm – Wow, a good follow-up question about the managed bankruptcies and the auto industry by John King. See I knew you had it in you! Still, I’m pretty disappointed with the types of questions I’ve been hearing throughout the Republican Primary. <rant> It seems like the reporters/journalists are covering the campaign like it’s a horse race; they’re not concerned with the actual issues. The news media is only searching for buzz-worthy, marketable, thirty-second soundbites; they let the presidential candidates spout of the same talking points, over and over again, unchallenged. No one ever asks the candidates about how that will actually make their plans happen, or speculates about the possible ramifications if the Republicans succeed </rant>.

6:42 pm – We’re still on the topic of the auto bailouts. Ron Paul is insisting that politicians shouldn’t meddle in corporate bankruptcies, because they can’t figure that kind of stuff out. Are politicians stupid? Does that mean we should start electing smarter people?

6:50 pm – All the Republican challengers seem to agree that President Obama has launched a vicious attack on religious freedoms in America (via contraception). Is Obama the next Maximilien Robespierre? #reignofterror

7:03 pm – Santorum and Romney keep blaming each other for causing Obamacare. Santorum says that Obamacare was based on Romney’s state healthcare plan in Massachusetts, while Mitt claims that Obama’s bill never would have passed through Congress if Santorum hadn’t indorsed Senator Arlen Spector (who voted for the bill after he was re-elected). Which Republican presidential candidate do you think deserves the credit for overhauling the American healthcare system?

7:04 pm – The crowd outside lustily boos Maricopa County Sherriff Joe Arpaio when he is introduced during the debate. They must have had a bad experience at tent city or something.

7:13 pm – Newt Gingrich loves Ronald Reagan. He loves Ronald Reagan more than you ever could. He wants you to know that.

7:14 pm – During commercial breaks, the CNN crew keeps asking us to cheer when they put us up on the big screen. Why do they need our cheers so badly? Are they terribly insecure, to the point where they need constant reassurance that they are doing a good job?

7:20 pm –The DREAM Actors and Ron Paul supporters have crowded around the CNN cameras. Their signs are partially obscuring the big screen, which is angering other people in the crowd.

7:26 pm – We are now on the topic of Iran and nuclear weapons. If you listen, you can hear the drums of war beginning to beat. This is getting the Ron Paul supporters and traditional Republicans fired up, but for very different reasons.

7:31 pm – You can tell people are into the debate when they loudly muttering their own personal commentary. It isn’t the least bit annoying. #sarcasm

7:47 pm – During the last commercial break, two men start chanting Romney’s name. No one else joins in and they quickly stop.

7:52 pm – Gingrich and Romney refuse to answer John King’s final question. They instead use the time for a closing argument about why they should be president. When John King tries to protest, Romney slaps him back down #WHO’SYOURDADDY

7:55 pm – It’s over. Time to get out of here.

Final Take: During the debate, new frontrunner Rick Santorum boxed himself in by pointing out that he voted for large bills and packages that he didn’t believe in, such as Title X, which is not popular among the Republican electorate. He portrays himself as a principled Washington outsider, but by admitting and trying to defend the fact that he played the political game, Santorum lost a lot of his credibility. Honesty gets you nowhere in these debates. I expect Mitt Romney will get a boost over the next several days.

[slickr-flickr tag="debate-party" items="30" type="slideshow" id="77243671@N03"]

McCain, America's Next Leader - AZ Business Magazine Oct. 2008

America’s Next Leader

The last time an Arizona politician stood at the threshold of the White House was 44 years ago, when Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater introduced a new form of conservative politics to America before falling under the wheels of President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s campaign juggernaut.

american-next-leader 2008

Now, another Arizonan, also the Republican nominee, has the White House within his grasp.
Within weeks, Sen. John McCain will either make history or repeat it in one of the most closely watched presidential elections in modern history as he squares off against Sen. Barack Obama, the first African-American presidential nominee of either major party.

“I don’t seek the office out of a sense of entitlement. I owe America more than she has ever owed me,” McCain says. “Thirty-five

years ago, I came home from an extended leave abroad. While I was away, I fell in love with my country. I have been an imperfect servant of my country ever since, in uniform and in office, in war and peace.”

That he has made it this far is remarkable considering his campaign seemed on the verge of collapsing in the months before the Iowa caucus.

McCain had trouble getting his primary campaign off the ground. Then, after securing the Republican nomination, McCain’s campaign began to drift, says Larry Sabato, a nationally recognized political science professor at the University of Virginia.

“He was the nominee for the Republican Party long before Obama had the Democratic bid, but he didn’t seem to use that time wisely,” Sabato says.

However, Sabato believes McCain’s campaign has since tightened up considerably.

“They are making decisions quickly and rolling the dice as needed,” he says.

Deeply involved in politics since leaving the U.S. Navy in 1981, McCain was first elected into the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982. He was elected into the U.S. Senate in 1986. When he was reelected for his third Senate term in 2004, McCain won by an overwhelming percentage of the vote.

In between, McCain ran for president for the first time in 2000, hoping to ride his Straight Talk Express campaign bus all the way to the White House. An underdog, he surprised supposed frontrunner Texas Gov. George W. Bush by winning the New Hampshire GOP primary. That’s when the campaign turned ugly, and in the South Carolina primary, very personal. Bush, of course, eventually won the Republican nomination and the general election.

Over the past eight years, McCain has clashed with Bush on numerous issues, but he has remained unwaveringly behind Bush on the Iraq War, telling radio talk show host Mike Gallagher earlier this year, “No one has supported President Bush on Iraq more than I have.”

McCain went on to add, “… there are many national security issues that I have strongly supported the president (on) and steadfastly so.”

Bush in turn has expressed his support for McCain’s 2008 presidential bid, giving his endorsement earlier this year and saying that McCain has the “character, courage and perseverance” to lead the country, according to an article on CNNPolitics.com.

Even Paul Johnson, the former Phoenix mayor who at one time expressed concern about McCain’s famous temper, believes the senator is maintaining a solid campaign.

“I am proud of the way he is running his campaign and the issues he’s bringing to the forefront,” Johnson says.

Besides taking flak for his temper, McCain has also been taken to task for breaking from the Republican Party on some high-profile votes, and even for his age; at 72, he would be the oldest president in U.S. history, if elected. But countering that is the fact McCain is also a respected war hero.

McCain spent five and a half years as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War in the infamous camp dubbed the “Hanoi Hilton,” where he was forced into solitary confinement, denied medical treatment and beaten by the North Vietnamese. But he maintains he is not bitter — rather he is humble.

“There is no higher honor than sacrificing for a cause greater than my own self-interest,” he says.

He also believes this experience, as well as his leadership in the Senate Armed Services Committee, makes him the most-qualified candidate to be commander in chief.

McCain’s domestic platform for his potential presidency begins with a goal to present greater opportunity and prosperity for workers and their families.

“That agenda will ensure those workers are employed by businesses that invest in innovative technologies, are not strangled by excessive regulation, are not burdened by high taxes, do not face rising health costs that squeeze wages, and sell more products and services in world markets,” he says.

On the foreign policy front, McCain has made no secret of his support of the war in Iraq, but he admits, “I do not want to keep our troops there a minute longer than necessary to secure our interests. And I believe we can achieve that goal, perhaps sooner than many imagine, and must give Gen. (David) Petraeus and our troops the necessary time to succeed in Iraq.”

He adds that if elected president, he will ensure “al-Qaeda has no safe haven anywhere in the world, including Afghanistan, where U.S. and NATO forces continue to root out and eliminate the threat of remnants of the Taliban and al-Qaeda.”

McCain promises that with him at the helm, American families will be secure from threats domestic and foreign. “I will take on our damaging dependence on imported oil and make sure that oil will never again be a weapon against us,” he says. “America’s workers will be secure in the fact that they have portable health insurance and pension benefits, allowing them to move from job-to-job, job-to-home, and job-to-retirement without fear of losing their financial safety net.

“They will be secure in the knowledge that if the economic foundation of their employer or industry shifts, they will be prepared to make the transition to a new job and have access to community college-based training programs that provide the skills to acquire and hold a better job for the 21st century.”

McCain does not deny that there are major economic challenges that must be confronted and he has plans to amend these crises. “Americans are suffering under high gasoline prices, rising food prices, a housing crisis, and tough credit conditions that threaten even the ability of our students to get their college loans,” he says.

As part of McCain’s approach to ease consumers’ current pain, he pushed for a summer gas tax holiday and to stop filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. He has also proposed his so-called HOME Plan to provide robust, timely and targeted help to those hurt by the housing crisis. In addition, he called for a Justice Department task force to investigate wrongdoing in the mortgage industry.

To ensure that college remains a reality, McCain has proposed a student loan continuity plan that will coordinate policies with the states to keep the credit crunch from hurting students.

McCain also promises to address the challenge of rising health care costs by “transforming the health care system to focus on quality, cost, and being responsive to the needs of American families.” He adds: “Furthermore, I will not leave difficult tasks like securing our border, entitlement reform, or fixing our schools for another generation of leaders to solve.”

McCain has lofty goals for the future and security of America and its people. But he has one major obstacle standing between himself and the White House. In the minds of many Americans, the sheer fact that McCain would be replacing another Republican — and a highly unpopular one at that — is a detriment to his campaign, according to Patrick Kenney, professor and chair of Arizona State University’s political science department.

“The Republicans have been in power since 2001 and ‘peace and prosperity’ is not going well,” Kenney says. “The economy is down, the war is not entirely supported and (McCain) is linked to Bush’s war and economic program.”

For his part, Obama is hoping the link to Bush will work in his favor. He released a television spot in late July titled “The Low Road,” in which, The Huffington Post reports, “the Illinois Democrat (is) playing his trump card: tying McCain to George W. Bush, both in politics and in policy.”

However, Arizona’s other senator, Jon Kyl, believes McCain’s connection to Bush and the war has a positive side. “He was instrumental in helping Bush with the surge strategy after he returned from Iraq and saw first-hand the things that weren’t being done properly to win the war,” Kyl says.
It is this military expertise and experience that Kyl believes will help McCain gain support from veterans.

“I think that all Americans appreciate his service and it will help prepare him to make decisions and winning strategies in the war,” Kyle says. “It helps identify him with leadership, experience, courage and independence.”

cover october 2008

Grant Woods, the former Arizona attorney general from 1991-1999, thinks it is that very independence that makes McCain the ideal man to lead the nation. “He will never be a scripted, always ‘on’ message candidate,” Woods says. “This is frustrating to the professionals, but makes him more attractive to real people because he is a real guy.

“We face great international challenges militarily and economically,” Woods continues. “I believe his lifetime of service gives him the judgment we need to lead the country at this time. He has the experience to make his own decisions.”

As Election Day draws near, Americans will be responsible for making their own decisions, as well. Regardless of the outcome, change is on the horizon — and that is exactly what the American people seem to want for the future.