Huffpost Politics

OfftheBus: The Huffington Post's Home For Citizen Journalism

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Myles Boisen

Throughout the 2012 election cycle, The Huffington Post will be enlisting the help of readers who want to be more involved in how these elections are reported. You can get involved by reporting at campaign events; sending us photos, campaign mailers or tips; or participating in ongoing investigations. Submit your reports via email to or by tagging a Tumblr blog post with "offthebus".

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Off The Bus received these images of campaign literature being distributed in Wisconsin from a citizen journalist on the ground.

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-John Celock

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Gena Madow from sent in this photo of an aerial protest the progressive group is doing over the Mitt Romney fundraiser in Boston Thursday evening.

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Staeppan Snyder sends in this report from California.

On both my home phone and mobile phone I agreed to answer a few questions about politics in exchange for a two day cruise to Bermuda. I think there were five questions:

1. What caused financial crisis 2. What should be main priority of politicians 3. What's your main source of political news 4. What you thought of the presidents job performance

5. If election were today would your presidential vote go to Obama or Romney

Most of the answer choices seemed to be what I'd call Republican talking points.

After answering the last question I was connected to a "travel specialist" who congratulated me on my prize and immediately wanted by full name, address, email. On both occasions when I refused to provide any personal information until provided with a full explanation of what exactly I had won so I could decide if I wanted to proceed I was told "just a moment" then they hung up, call was ended. On second call after third request for my name I very clearly said I would not provide any personal information until they fully explained what I had won then click, they hung up.

I was left with the impression, based on answer choices, that someone was trying to identify people with conservative political attitudes, get their name and contact information so they could be a source of money for conservative causes. I strongly suspect the travel award was so meager and with so many restrictions that would make it of little or no value to most people.

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Nathan Witty sent in this report from New York City.

Here, mid -Manhattan, I think the Obama campaign and local Democratic office holders have done well to reach voters. i've received mailed pitches from all and have responded positively except when information I feel intrusive is asked of me and I think the neighborhood is strongly for the president and our congressional office holders.

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Barbara Guetti from Portland, Ore. sends in this report on a recent robo-call she received.

I got a robo-call a few days ago, Friday May 12 or Saturday May 13, asking me to choose the most important issues in the 2012 elections. The choices were all republican choices (I, of course am a Democrat).

They were easily recognizable as republican obsessions from the news, but I can't remember exactly what they were. There were three of those and then after a pause, at the very end, there was a fourth issue: Reforming Health Care.

I chose that four times, and each time they (that is, the robo-call) just went back again to the first three. Finally, on the fourth try, the call ended.

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Eric McManus reports from North Carolina and shares these photos he took of today's protests in front of Bank of America headquarters in Charlotte.

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Dale Silenok from Westchester County, N.Y. sent this in.

My husband is a registered Republican so we get calls occasionally for polling and donation purposes. I took a call last week that started with a recorded greeting from Mike Huckabee, stating that everything wrong with our country today (including the price of gas) is Barack Obama's fault. I listened to his drivel and he said press 1 to talk to a party member (which I did). A woman got on the phone and said basically the same stuff and asked me if I thought things were better today then they were 3 years ago. I said, yes, a little bit better, and added "but he's a Muslim and I don't think a Muslim should be allowed to run our country; what do you think?" Her answer - "I agree with you on that!" Then she asked for one or two hundred dollars (me: "No").

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Lea Bullard sends in this report from Wilmington, N.C.

Attached is a picture of the sign voters arriving at one local polling place in Wilmington, NC are being greeted with this morning. I'm guessing it's legal, but it's not appropriate for any polling place to advertise any political stance on an issue being decided in that day's polls. North Carolina is voting on Amendment One today, which includes language about marriage only applying to man-woman unions.

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Richard C. Green from West Haven, Conn. sent in this report about Tuesday's presidential primary in Connecticut.

I'm a registered Republican in Connecticut and I voted in the primary today. Turn-out in the afternoon was rather sparse, but the monitors seemed to expect a very big rush at dinner time.

The New Haven area is very much a Democratic stronghold but Romney should do extremely well in the Wall Street bedroom towns of Greenwich, Darien, Westport and Fairfield. Republicans well outnumber Democrats in the eastern coastal towns, like East Haven, Branford, Guilford and Madison.

The state capitol city, Hartford, is almost entirely Democratic and still mired deep in recession. We have no Republican congressmen at all, having lost one of our six in the last census. Now we have five and they are all Obama supporters.

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Kathy Frazier from Arizona has this report on the race to succeed Gabby Giffords in Congress. Republican Jesse Kelly won Tuesday's primary to face Democrat Ron Barber in the June special election.

I live in Gabby Gifford's district. I am not registered with any political party. Here in Arizona you must be registered with a political party to vote in the primary. And yet...I have received multiple mailings and robocalls from the Arizona Republican Party in the weeks leading up to the special primary election. Every single mailing and robocall says absolutely nothing about either the GOP candidates or what ideas the party has. They are totally geared towards painting the sole Democrat candidate as bad for Arizona.

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Joel Levin from Arizona sent in this report on the race to succeed former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

I live in former Representative Gabby Giffords's district, where a special election is soon to be held to fill her seat for the rest of this term. I believe that her former staff member Ron Barber is now alone on the Democratic side, while four conservative (or very conservative) republicans are competing in the Republican primary.

Yesterday I received a robocall which claimed to be sponsored by the Arizona Republican Party. I have no reason to doubt it. The content contained Republican beliefs about Obamacare, which it says Ron Barber supported (no doubt true since he was a member of Gabby's staff and she supported it). So the Republicans haven't even picked a candidate yet, but the state party is attempting to rake the Democratic candidate over the coals already.

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Wisconsin Watch sent over these photos taken at the Occupy Madison Camp. The current Occupy site in Wisconsin's capitol city is due to move at the end of April from it's current location due to new development at the site.

A Note About The Photographer

Lukas Keapproth is a visual journalist intern at the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. The nonpartisan, nonprofit Center collaborates with news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

To share your own first-hand stories, photos or videos from Occupy or election events for publication through OfftheBus, email

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On March 24, protestors dressed to impersonate corporate executives descended on the grounds of the United Nations headquarters in New York City, promoting their “solutions” to the climate crisis. The satirical protest represented corporate types attempting to capitalize on the “occupy” brand by erecting an “illegal occupation” of their own, complete with pop-up tents bearing such labels as Exxon, Mobil, Bank of America, Chase, and BP. Naturally, they did not fool the NYPD, who evicted the the so-called “corporate polluters” from international domain. While the “corporate polluters” were led away in handcuffs and their tents were taken down, some onlookers cheered the eviction of the symbolic 1% from their global occupation. Five people were arrested on the charge of criminal trespass, and were released after six hours in jail.

The action, dubbed “Disrupt Dirty Power” by its organizers, sought to protest the involvement of fossil fuel companies and financial entities like Bank of America in the upcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio + 20, to be held in Brazil this summer to mark the 20th anniversary of the groundbreaking “Earth Summit” held there in 1992.

You can watch a video of the protest here.

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Pamela Mays McDonald shares this story of one California man's fight for health care in the context of the current debate over the Affordable Care Act.

A former Senior Planner in the city of Compton, California, with over a decade's experience as a Transportation Planner for the firm Parsons Brinckerhoff, he decided to continue his education and broaden his horizons. As an adult graduate student in the City and Regional Planning Department, College of Environmental Design at the University of California, Berkeley, he has worked with Professor Paul Waddell's research team at the Institute of Urban and Regional Development to "develop transit indicators to enhance the UrbanSim model." That work sounds complicated, mysterious and futuristic to most of us. In both his personal and professional lives, Kenya has always been keenly focused on planning for our eventual tomorrows.

But plans for his own tomorrow changed when he was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive brain cancer last fall, at the beginning of the 2011 academic year. Suddenly he was thrust into the middle of a political debate that has been the source of intense ideological divisions and is now the reason for the current Supreme Court deliberations on whether to overturn a two-year-old, existing law. Once active as a political organizer, suddenly Kenya was actively organizing his life around the politics of the healthcare system--just to stay alive.

While undergoing brain surgery and multiple rounds of chemotherapy, he continues his research at Cal, despite sporadic low white blood cell count, relying when necessary on technology to remain active. When he can't go out, he keeps in touch via cell phone, Facebook and Twitter, while his partner Ruby Reid maintains a blog to document the week-by-week progress of his disease and treatment.

Read the full story on the Off the Bus Page

OfftheBus is seeking campaign materials from the 2012 races. If you happen to have copies of any mailers, recorded fundraising calls or commercials, or photos of campaign signs/events from the 2012 races, email them to

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Romy Thompson of New Orleans files this observation about the state primary:

The 2012 Louisiana Republican Primary came and went over the weekend. Now, I realize that in today’s world, reporting on a primary that happened on Saturday on Monday is a little late. I can explain.

For the last two mornings, I have woken up thinking it was all a bad dream.

“Rick Santorum is projected to win Louisiana.”

No, that can’t be right.

“Santorum wins 49% with 91,305 votes.”

What? No, no, no. Not Santorum. I want it all to be a bad dream. I don’t want to think that anyone with all the information could possibly vote for Rick Santorum.

Around the state, many say Santorum is 'our guy.' Louisianans are certain he is the guy for the job in the White House. Well, at least those who are registered Republican and actually voted in the primary on Saturday.

How about Romney and Gingrich? Well, Mitt Romney came in a very distant second with 49,749 votes or 26.7% and Newt Gingrich waddled, er, trailed in third place with 29,655 votes or 15.9%.

I say this because earlier in the week I spotted his very large, luxurious tour campaign bus parked at a local eatery, which is known for very large platters of fried seafood. I know, because I’ve eaten there. Honestly, I couldn’t make this up if I tried.

Moving right along, the Little Ron Paul Who Could received 11,460 votes or 6.1%.

In 'Other' news: they received 4,208 votes or 2.3%.

There is some very strong suspicion that Ron Paul and Other only garnered votes from those within the boundaries of the little blue dot. New Orleans is often described as the little blue dot in a very red state. I’m certain of it. In fact, I’d bet on it.

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Citizen journalist Mike Lapointe of Orlando, Florida, is in Sanford today to observe rallies in reaction to the killing of Trayvon Martin. He reports via cellphone at 4 p.m. EST:

Marches have started in downtown Sanford. There is a large, peaceful but very vocal crowd, and heavy police presence, three helicopters and a fleet of 10 police motorcycles, etc. People are expecting the rally to be as big as last Thursday's (estimated at 30,000). There is already a huge crowd outside the Civic Center, with buses still rolling in from Miami, Georgia and Alabama. The vibe is positive; for the most part everyone I've talked to regrets the negative media coverage. It is still early in the event.

Pictures and more to come.

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Michael Coniaris caught these photos of the Million Hoodie march in New York last night, as well as the continuing effort to re-occupy Zuccotti Park:

Activists take take over 14th Street in Lower Manhattan during the "Million Hoodie March", which protested the killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida. The NYPD struggled to keep agitated protesters on the sidewalks as they marched on Broadway and Sixth Avenue, March 21, 2012.

A tender moment of reconciliation takes place in Union Square after the "Million Hoodie March", which took place in Lower Manhattan in New York City, on MArch 21, 2012. Activists had marched through Broadway and Sixth Avenue, blocking vehicular traffic in protest of the killing of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager, in Florida.

A member of Occupy Wall Street meditates moments before the New York Police Department evacuates Union Square in Lower Manhattan of New York City. OWS has been attempting to establish an occupation in the park since the evening of March 17th, with the city responding with about 100 arrests over two days.

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Olivia N. Castañeda, who filed a story on journalist-turned-state legislative candidate Silvana Tabares, sent in this update:

"On March 20, as early spring temperatures in Chicago soared to 83 degrees, Silvana Tabares won the Democratic primary race, tallying 3,761 votes, or 52.2%. Tabares explained that with no Republican filing for a Republican primary, "unless the Republican Party appoints somebody for the general election, this race will decide the next state representative for the 21st District."

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Teddy Varndell in Chicago sent in these photos of the campaign signs popping up around Chicago in advance of Tuesday's primary election. The primary will focus on races from the White House to local party committee seats.

OfftheBus is seeking campaign materials from the 2012 races. If you happen to have copies of any mailers, recorded fundraising calls or commercials, or photos of campaign signs/events from the 2012 races, email them to

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Michaela Davis sent in this photo of President Obama's trip Saturday to the Washington, D.C. pub, The Dubliner, where he celebrated St. Patrick's Day. Obama was mobbed by a crowd on his way out of the Washington hot spot.

OfftheBus is seeking campaign materials from the 2012 races. If you happen to have copies of any mailers, recorded fundraising calls or commercials, or photos of campaign signs/events from the 2012 races, email them to

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Liam McNeill from Massachusetts provides this report from Mitt Romney rallies he's been to in New Hampshire and Massachusetts during this cycle.

I live in Massachusetts and have been shocked with how many young people (college age and in their 20s) I've seen at Romney campaign events. The conventional wisdom is that young people are liberal, but being on the ground in the last months in MA and NH, that wisdom seems to be wrong. They're young, and they're passionate about politics. Eye-opening stuff.

I've been to four Romney events in MA and NH. I'd say (unscientifically, of course) that about two-thirds of the volunteers were in the 18-30 age demographic, of which the events were comprised in some cases of hundreds of people. It seemed that young women tended to be the ones organizing the events and in positions of leadership, and young men tended to make up a majority of the regular attendees.

And to put it another way: I'm 28 and felt like at these events I was very much on the older end of things, based on the faces I saw.

OfftheBus is seeking campaign materials from the 2012 races. If you happen to have copies of any mailers, recorded fundraising calls or commercials, or photos of campaign signs/events from the 2012 races, email them to

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Malina Lobel-Karimi contributed this from a Saturday rally in Rancho Mirage, Cal. in favor of women's health.

"Today marks the tenth anniversary of Dr. David Gunn, an abortion provider who was killed after posters of him were put up by Operation Rescue," Carolyn Krauss, a member of Occupy Coachella Valley and an organizer for told me on Saturday. "That and the current 'War on Women' (as a huge banner attached to two posts read) is why we're here," she continued. About twenty five men and women, members and non-members of Occupy Coachella Valley were spurred to stage this rally near a Planned Parenthood location in Rancho Mirage on this afternoon. "Didn't we settle this debate about forty years ago?" A soft spoken Tracy Mark Turner, a man in his fifties asked to no one in particular. Earlier that morning, they held their usual rally in Palm Springs (about eight miles west). Immediately following that, was their GA meeting where they proceeded to raise 0.00 as a donation to Planned Parenthood in the name of the Occupy movement.

Their enthusiasm ran high as car after car honked their approval. The protestors responded appropriately with whoops and hollers.

To share your own first-hand stories, photos or videos from Occupy or election events for publication through OfftheBus, email

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As occurred in Washington State last week, Off the Bus got a number of responses from the state of Ohio on Super Tuesday expressing frustration with the number of Romney ads reaching households both Republican and Democrat: Ohioan Alexandra Herrera-Perram said:

“The robo-calls have come fast and furious over the past couple weeks, but nothing that is strongly convincing either way.”

Daniel Woodard wrote:
I ended up getting more than 20 robocalls from Romney here in the Clayton (Dayton area) in just two days!

The funniest started out like this "I'm here at the gas station...." and then went on to say how worried he (Romney )was about the price of gasoline. Ha!.

Vicki Sell wrote that she was:

So tired of all the annoying phone calls from Romney. He is really upsetting a lot of my friends too with all the calls, 3-4 a day, TV ads, radio announcements, etc. It's too much -- he can't buy my vote and hopefully not the state of Ohio.

Sandra and Ed Buckles wrote from Northeastern Ohio:

We have received nine robo calls in the last two days for Mitt Romney: [from] Romney himself, a Christian college, Romney’s wife, and a PAC. We are registered Democrats, have never voted Republican, and volunteer and contribute to our County Democratic Party. So why are they calling us?

Christa Ayers of Cleveland reported:

Lots of calls, more from Romney than anybody else. Lots of political fliers. My mind has been made up for a long time [re.] who I vote for and it’s Democratic all the way.

Eve Dibble of Columbus, Ohio wrote:

Every commercial during the local nightly news is a Rommney or Santorum commercial.

From Theresa Brennan:

There are ads against Romney in my area, not from Santorum...but union ads about the autos. Lordstown General Motors is the biggest employer here... we have parts plants here too, and local steel makes the steel for the Cruze manufactured in Lordstown, so the auto ad is being talked about.

We also see ads against Santorum by Romney painting Santorum as a big spender and Washington insider...who gave felons right to vote. And we have seen the ‘two Mitts ad,’ ...don't know who this is from.

And in Virginia, several people wrote in to describe the dearth of campaign efforts by any candidate in their state, for example: "Zilch. No calls. No campaigns. No ads on TV today. Shocking to me... Drove by the voting place and it looked closed."

Joyce Small reported:

I live in Northern Virginia and if this ennui is an example of a Super Tuesday primary I say forget about it. There only two candidates on our ballot -- Romney and Paul -- and no political phone calls or ads either. Is this what the power brokers had in mind when they signed up Virginia for a Super Tuesday primary? I liked it better back in 2008 when we were part of the Potomac Primary -- that was just Virginia, DC and Maryland.

No calls -- with one exception. Paul Lee in Central Virginia wrote:

I have gotten six calls in nine days from Virginia Right to Life, and the implied message was to write in Rick Santorum, as he is not on our primary ballot. I have also received requests for donations from both Ron Paul's campaign and Rick Santorum.

Finally, in Oklahoma, Oklahoma City resident and public interest lawyer Gary A. Taylor described “a primary today with four names on the ballot, including the President's.” He also reported that

Randall Terry, the anti-abortion activist, registered in Oklahoma as a Democrat, with the avowed purpose of embarrassing the President by attempting to pull off Democratic primary voters who might have strong feelings about abortion. It won't matter in the long run, as no one expects much of Oklahoma anyway. But is has prompted Okie Democrats to get out the word to vote.

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Jeannine Kraft sent in this pro-Santorum flyer that she received in her suburban Ohio neighborhood.

Text of the flyer:

"Had Rick Santorum been in the Oval Office, there never would have been the headline 'Gay doctor stabbed his partner over 100 times and cut the throat of their two year-old son because he was upset about break-up' (google this quote for details). This male murdering may evolve into a matriarchy (women-governed society). Not appealing? Well then, vote Santorum's bunbuns into the Oval Office. He's the brightest shining star. To the Cambridge, MA male cop who referred to this ad as "gay bashing to a gay man"" May Jesus permit you the freedom to express that viewpoint on your judgment day."

OfftheBus is seeking campaign materials from the 2012 races. If you happen to have copies of any mailers, recorded fundraising calls or commercials, or photos of campaign signs/events from the 2012 races, email them to

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"J.P" of Dayton, Ohio, sends this information, of potential interest to the voters of Ohio:

Here is a partial list of major donors to the Restore Our Future, the super PAC set up to support Mitt Romney's campaign for the presidential nomination of his party. The entire list can be seen at You might want to look through it to see if there are any names you recognize.

Numerous private equity funds (like Bain Capital) are very heavily represented throughout the list.

KKR should be of special interest to Ohioans. That company is the corporate raider that attempted a leveraged buyout (hostile takeover) of Kroger in the 1980s. They openly said that they planned to dismantle the company and selloff the parts. (It's like a thief stealing a perfectly good car and taking it to a chop shop. KKR tried to do that to The Kroger Company!) Kroger fought them off by borrowing over 0 million from the banks in Cincinnati so they could buy back a bunch of their own stock.

Alexander Navab (Partner, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., New York, NY) - 0,000

Lewis Eisenberg - Senior Advisor, KKR - New York, NY - ,000

Notice how well represented Goldman Sachs is -- the same Goldman Sachs that made out like a bandit in the financial turmoil of 2008. The same Goldman Sachs that has a revolving door of executives between it and the Obama White House:

Muneer Satter - Investment Banker, Goldman Sachs - Chicago, IL - 0,000

James Donavan - Investment banker, Goldman Sachs - Upperville, VA - ,000

Gene Sykes - Investment Banker, Goldman Sachs - Los Angeles, CA - ,000

Richard Friedman - Investment Banking, Goldman Sachs - New York, NY - ,000

Edward C Forst - Finance, Goldman Sachs - Bronxville, NY - ,000

Mitt Romney says he opposes cheaters like China, but he gets money from the Walton family (of Wal Mart, the biggest importer from China.) Murphy Oil has all the filling stations located at Wal Mart stores:

Alice Walton - Ranching, n/a - Bentonville, AR - 0,000

Wade Murphy - Businessman, Murphy Oil Corporation - El Dorado, AR - ,000

Then there is Meg Whitman, who ran for Governor of California. She was widely considered to be a RINO (Republican In Name Only), and had a close relationship with Goldman Sachs.

Meg Whitman - CEO, Hewlett-Packard Company - Atherton, CA - 0,000

The Carlyle Group is a company closely tied with George W. Bush and Dick Cheney:

Randal Quarles - Investor, The Carlyle Group - Salt Lake City, UT - ,500

And finally, I just think it's kind of funny that a Mormon (a teetotaling religion) would take money from Anheuser-Busch:

August Busch III - Retired - Saint Peters, MO - ,000

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Tucson resident Pamela Powers Hannley filmed visiting journalist John Nichols, who visited Arizona in support of popular struggles against proposed legislation that would drastically impact the rights and benefits of Arizona workers. She writes:

John Nichols, well-known writer for The Nation and author of Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest from Madison to Wall Street, spoke Feb. 27 at the IBEW Hall in Tucson.

Nichols comes to Arizona as our state faces its Wisconsin moment. With six anti-labor bills being considered in the Arizona Legislature and protests took place at the State Capitol in Phoenix on Thursday, March 1.

Although the Arizona AFL-CIO bussed union members from around the state to the capitol for the Day of Action, the bills in the Legislature go beyond union-busting. Four bills attack collective bargaining, union dues collection, and organizing. One bill -– promoted by Republican Governor Jan Brewer -– would strip civil service protections from non-union employees. The last bill would put a measure on the 2012 ballot to reduce pay for tip workers and people 20 years old and under.

What a fitting time in Arizona history to hear from someone who was on the ground in Wisconsin a year ago when workers rose up against union-busting and corporate control of government.

Watch Nichol's address, " target="_hplink">here:

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Pamela Powers-Hannley reports that four bus-loads of unionists left Tucson for the state capitol today to lobby legislators and demonstrate against proposed anti-labor bills. Additional bus-loads will be arriving from other Arizona cities for the AFL-CIO Day Of Action. She writes:

As they loaded the buses, one participant told me that two years ago, 30 unionists went to the Arizona Legislature on the Day of Action. Last year, there were two buses of unionists. This year with six anti-worker bills in the Arizona Legislature, there are four bus-loads just from Tucson going to the capitol.

Maybe today will be Arizona’s 'Wisconsin moment.'

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Nashua Patch reader Paul Shea submitted this video of President Obama arriving in Nashua , New Hampshire today, where he told supporters "It's too cold! It's too cold" as he emerged from Air Force one:

Read the full story at

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@ jayrosen_nyu : Wow. Australian newspaper climbs off the bus and goes with a "citizen agenda" approach instead. Via @mattwordsworth.

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A Michigan voter says his household received, among other Feb. 28 robo-calls, a call targeted at Democrats, pushing them to support Rick Santorum. Why? Read on:

“I live in Livonia, Michigan, a community that generally votes mostly Republican. I first received six robo-calls from Romney and none from Santorum. In addition, I received two calls asking me if I was going to vote in the primary. I said "no." I think all the Republican candidates are so awful that I couldn't vote for any of them -- even to cause mischief. However, I have a son who is going to vote for Santorum because he thinks Santorum will be easier for Obama to beat.

Later I received one robo-call asking me to vote for Santorum. The voice on the call said that it was from the Democratic Party. I did not catch the name of the PAC that was sponsoring the call. The reason they gave to vote for RS was partly in response to Governor Snyder's endorsement of Romney, but mainly because of Romney's opposition to the auto bailout and his saying, "Let Detroit die."

We have a friend who is obnoxiously right-wing. Four years ago the friend told us that he voted for Hillary Clinton in that Presidential Primary because she would be easier to beat than Obama. My son voted for Santorum because he said it was "payback time."

Because I'm politically active I get calls about elections. An acquaintance called asking if she could vote for Santorum in the primary and then vote for Obama in the General Election. I told her yes, but didn't ask her why she wanted to do that.

Therefore, I am aware of at least two Santorum votes that will go to Obama in November.


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