Courtesy: NBC Learn
Each video installment brings to your classroom a front row seat to the candidates, the issues, and the entire election process. Video summaries and discussion prompts help to guide your class as America prepares to elect our next President of the United States.
For more information on how you can view the entire Decision 2012 series go to www.nbclearn.com
Select a video by clicking on a topic below
While speaking at a prayer vigil for victims of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, President Barack Obama said he would use the power of his office to take steps to "avoid more tragedies like these."
Class discussion: Did the president talk about gun control in this year's election? Why have many state lawmakers voted to remove gun restrictions, including bans on carrying guns in schools, bars and stadiums? How politically powerful is the National Rifle Association? Why?
Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican House Speaker John Boehner held a private meeting at the White House trying to strike a deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff.
Class discussion: What tax increases and spending cuts are being discussed? Which group is most likely to be affected by higher tax rates? Which group is most likely to be affected by spending cuts? Would the proposals affect anyone in your family?
President Barack Obama and his defeated opponent Mitt Romney had lunch at the White house in a public show of bipartisanship after hard-fought, divisive campaign.
Class discussion: Will the meeting actually improve relations between Republicans and Democrats? What was the result of the President's meeting with his first opponent, Sen. John McCain? Romney said he is leaving politics. What have other presidential candidates done after their defeats?
In the face of a "fiscal cliff" that threatens another recession, some Republicans in Congress are offering to break a no-tax-hike pledge and raise revenues if Democrats agree to cuts in Social Security and Medicare.
Class discussion: Why do politicians fear the automatic tax increases and spending cuts of the "fiscal cliff" which would also drastically cut the U.S. deficit? What have similar austerity measures done to Europe's economy? Is the deficit our biggest problem?
In a conference call with big donors, Republican Mitt Romney blamed his defeat on President Barack Obama's "big gifts" to groups which supported him, including African-Americans, young voters and Hispanics.
Class discussion: What "gifts" did Romney mention? Did Romney offer any "gifts" during his campaign? How did other Republican leaders react to Romney's statements? What are different Republican factions blaming for the defeat?
President Barack Obama said in a press conference that voters support his call to end tax breaks on the richest Americans.
Class discussion: Does the president's re-election show that voters support higher taxes on the wealthy? Was tax policy a major issue in the election? Can you find opinion polls measuring support for ending tax cuts for the rich?
"Math nerd" and New York Times blogger Nate Silver analyzed hundreds of polls to correctly predict how every state would vote in this year's presidential election.
Class discussion: How did the political pundits' predictions compare with Silver's performance? Did Silver's mathematical analysis perform better than individual polls? What is the danger when a political campaign ignores negative polling results?
President Barack Obama's victory speech and Mitt Romney's concession speech on Election Night signaled the end of long tough campaigning.
Class discussion: Both men called for Democrats and Republicans to work together. How have the parties gotten along over the past few years? How could the president's reelection affect the relations between the parties? How did the president's victory speech compare with his speeches during the campaign? How did it compare to his victory speech four years ago?
The voters have made it the year of the woman. The new Senate will have 20 women a record, including five chosen on Election Day.
Class discussion: While the number of women in office is increasing, it is still far less than their share of the population. How does the U.S. compare with other nations on electing women? Which nations have the most or fewest? What factors help or hinder women's political participation here and elsewhere?
After completing a near sweep of the battleground states, President Barack Obama is re-elected president of the United States. In his acceptance speech to an electrified crowd in Chicago, the president promises to "work with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges" Americans face.
Class discussion: How much closer was the 2012 election than the 2008 vote? What were the popular vote totals and the electoral vote count? Which party controls the House? The Senate? Do you think party loyalists can forget the negative campaign and cooperate? What happens if they fail to compromise?
With the election less than two weeks away, President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney are picking up the pace of their campaigns -- particularly in the swing states that will determine the outcome of a close race.
Class discussion: Which states are the key to the victory in the race? What makes them so important? Commentators have said Romney has "moved to the center." What does that mean? How have candidates' positions on the issues changed? Why the change?
President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney met in their third and final debate Monday, and some observers saw a reversal of roles from the first debate. Romney appeared more passive while Obama was more aggressive, commentators said.
Class discussion: How did the polls score the candidates' performance in each debate? Is it important who wins or loses a debate? The candidates agreed on many policies in this debate. What are the major differences between their all of their positions?
The second debate between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney was far more confrontational than the first. The president dropped the laid-back style that most believed lost him the first debate, and he actively challenged Romney's statements and positions as the Republican returned fire.
Class discussion: Did Obama's aggressive style succeed? Who do you think "won" the debate? How much impact will the debates have on the election? Republicans criticized the debate moderator for telling Romney that he was mistaken about an Obama statement on Libya. Is it wrong for a moderator to state such a fact during a debate? Should moderators challenge candidates? Why or why not?
As President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney prepared for their second debate, Republicans have been focusing their criticism on the administration's handling of the attack on the Benghazi consulate, a heated topic during the vice presidential debate.
Class discussion: What happened in the Benghazi attack? Who were the attackers? How did the administration respond to the attack? Could anything have been done to prevent the attack? Are Republicans using the attack to score political points?
Vice President Joseph Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan tangled over the economy and foreign policy in a lively debate Thursday night. It was the only vice presidential debate scheduled in this election.
Class discussion: Republicans criticized Biden for being too aggressive and "disrespectful" toward his opponent. Are appearances more important than what candidates say in televised debates? Do you care how a candidate looks on television? Why or why not?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced last week that the unemployment rate in September was 7.8 percent, the first time the rate fell below 8 percent since Barack Obama became president. The president heralded the news, but opponent Mitt Romney dismissed it.
Class discussion: How important is the unemployment rate in presidential elections? Find news reports on polls of how Americans feel about the economy. Are they optimistic or pessimistic? Does positive employment news tend to boost the economy? How or how not?
Most political observers said Republican challenger Mitt Romney was the clear winner in his first debate with President Barack Obama. Romney was seen as more aggressive, while the president was called too laid back.
Class discussion: The president has been leading in the polls, will the debate change that? How many voters are still undecided? How will the debate influence financial contributors? Did the candidates' show any change in their positions during the debate?
President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney have been practicing in mock debates as they prepare for the first of three meetings in this year's election campaign. The president is leading in the polls, but Romney says he's still confident of victory.
Class discussion: How important are presidential debates? Can a big mistake sink a candidate? Can a memorable performance propel him to victory? Find examples of debates' impact on past elections. Do debates draw fewer viewers than in the past? Will the debate get higher ratings than "Honey Boo Boo?"
President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney are battling for voters in the key swing state of Ohio, and it appears the president is pulling ahead in the polls.
Class discussion: What are swing states? What other states are still in play in the election? What are electoral votes and why do we have them? Who was the last person to lose the popular vote but win the presidency with electoral votes?
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney released his 2011 income tax return, which showed he paid 14.1 percent in taxes on income of $13.7 million. It also showed he limited deductions which could have lowered his tax rate to less than 10 percent.
Class discussion: Why did Romney pay more taxes than he needed? How many years of income tax returns has Romney released? How many years has President Barack Obama released? Is it important for candidates to reveal their financial information? Why or why not?
While it's true that approximately 47 percent of Americans do not pay federal income taxes as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said, they are not all living off of the 53 percent who do pay income taxes. Most of the 47 percent have jobs.
Class discussion: Why don't many people pay federal income tax? What other taxes do they pay? Who is included in the 47 percent? How many millionaires didn't pay income taxes? Romney also called the 47 percent "dependent upon government." Who gets most federal "entitlement" money?
As Pennsylvania Supreme Court considered whether to uphold the new law that requires a picture ID to vote, protesters outside claim the law is a Republican tactic to make voting harder for minorities, the poor and students -- groups that tend to support Democrats.
Class discussion: How many cases of voter fraud have been found in recent years? Do any of them involve voter impersonation fraud which photo IDs would prevent? Why might some people lack photo IDs? Do the new restrictions appear to be aimed at selected groups, or do the rules appear to be fair?
Republican candidate Mitt Romney assailed President Barack Obama over a statement by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo condemning both protesters' attacks against diplomats and an anti-Muslim video that inflamed religious passions.
Class discussion: Check news reports about events at U.S. diplomatic missions in Egypt, Libya and Yemen. Who are the people attacking diplomats? Who made and promoted the anti-Muslim video? Find examples of how religious passions have affected violence and politics around the world.
In spite of a tough jobs report, President Barack Obama appears to have lead over Republican challenger Mitt Romney in the wake of the party conventions.
Class discussion: Why is it difficult to defeat an incumbent in an election? What advantages do incumbents have? In the past 50 years, how many presidents failed to win reelection bids? What circumstances led to their defeats?
Observers called President Barack Obama's acceptance speech at the Democratic convention as good but not one of his most memorable or poetic addresses. Other convention speeches received more acclaim from the media, including one conservative pundit saying former President Bill Clinton's speech was good enough to win Obama's reelection.
Class discussion: What makes a political speech good? Are specific facts and proposals more important than soaring rhetoric? How much impact do political speeches have on elections? Are speeches more important than raising millions of dollars for 30-second ads? Are the speeches better at energizing supporters or at winning undecided voters?
First lady Michelle Obama told the Democratic convention that her husband remains anchored by the same values he brought to the White House nearly four years ago, on a night devoted as much to tearing down Republican nominee Mitt Romney, as building up President Barack Obama and his record.
Class discussion: Both conventions have featured the candidates' wives talking about their family lives. How is this strategy designed to help the candidates? Is it effective? After hearing the speeches, do you feel any "closer" to the candidates? Is that important in selecting a president?
Assuming what has become a traditional "attack dog" role for presidential running mates, Congressman Paul Ryan accepted the Republican nomination for vice president with a convention speech accusing President Barack Obama of failing to lead the country.
Class discussion: Why do vice presidential candidates lead the attacks on the opposition? Does it really help their running mates appear more "presidential" and above the fray? When did vice presidential candidates start assuming their aggressive role in campaigns?
The Republican convention in Tampa is the stage for Mitt Romney's so-called "speech of a lifetime" where he must overcome perceptions that he is out of touch with the middle class or an extremist. His biggest challenge could be winning support of women.
Class discussion: What GOP policy positions and statements have alienated many women voters? Why is Romney perceived as out of touch? Can Romney make himself "likable?" Can you find examples of both campaigns trying to portray opponents as extremists?
Speaking to a college audience in Ohio, President Barack Obama accused opponent Mitt Romney of supporting proposals to slash education spending. With only 3 to 5 percent of voters still undecided, Obama and Romney are trying to rally their supporters, and young voters are vital to the president.
Class discussion: What are the campaigns doing to energize their supporters to vote? What are they doing to keep opposing voters away from the polls? Who would benefit more from a big voter turnout?
GOP Congressman Todd Akin is defying Republican leaders who are calling for him to drop out of the Missouri Senate race after he said women rarely get pregnant in cases of what he called "legitimate" rape. Akin apologized for using the word "legitimate," but later said women lie about being raped to get abortions. Republican leaders have gone as far as calling Akin an "idiot" and worry his statements and candidacy will hurt them this Fall.
Class discussion: Check news reports to discover the Republican Party's position on abortion and presidential candidate Mitt Romney's stand on the issue. Does the party, like Akin, call for a total ban on abortion without exception? What does Romney say? What has his running mate Paul Ryan said on the issue? Why are some Republicans worried about bringing up the abortion issue in the campaign? See what you can find about the so-called "gender gap" between the parties.
Spending on 2012 presidential radio and TV ads has surpassed the half-billion-dollar mark, according to an analysis by the NBC News Political Unit. According to NBC, $500 million could feed 9.2 million malnourished children for 50 days or immunize 29 million children for life or provide clean water for 500 million children for 40 days. The real general election campaign hasn't started, but ad spending already equals what was spent on all of the last presidential election.
Class discussion: Does the flood of advertising inform voters about the candidates? Do they tell you what the candidates actually plan to do, or are the statements general and vague about the details? Do you know who is paying for the advertising and what they expect to gain from a candidate if he wins? What do news reports, analysis and editorials say about the role of money in elections? Do the ads influence your opinions of the candidates? How do the ads influence people you know?
Republican candidate Mitt Romney's selection of Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan as his running mate has made Ryan's proposals to overhaul Medicare a top issue in the presidential campaign. Some campaign watchers say the issue could hurt the GOP ticket -- particularly in the key swing state of Florida which has a large percentage of older voters who rely on Medicare.
Class discussion: Check news reports to see what Ryan proposes to do with Medicare. Why does he want to change the program? What do his opponents say about his plan? How much of the federal budget goes to Medicare? How much of Medicare money is spent on patient care compared to private health insurance premiums? Ask someone receiving Medicare what they think of Ryan's plan to change the program.
Jobs are a key issue in the presidential campaign, and the latest U.S. jobs report could be interpreted two different ways. On the upside, 163,000 new jobs were created in July, which was double the number created in June and much better than economists had predicted. On the downside, the unemployment rate edged up to 8.3 percent from 8.2 percent in June. And, the report also showed that temporary jobs continued to rise, up nearly 45 percent since the recession ended in 2009.
Class discussion: Check news reports to see how the jobs report is likely to affect the presidential campaign. Are the campaigns expected to change strategies? How many jobs were lost in the wake of the recession, the banking crisis and collapse of the housing bubble? How many of those jobs have been recovered? What do the candidates propose to do to create more jobs? Given the stalemate between Republicans and Democrats in Washington, could either side do much to improve the economy?
Negative campaign ads are taking a toll on how voters view President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. The President is viewed negatively by 43 percent of voters in a new NBC-Wall Street Journal poll, his second worst rating since taking office. Romney's negative rating, 40 percent, is the worst the survey has recorded for him yet. But, Obama is still leading as the choice for president of 49 percent those polled compared with 43 percent for Romney. The negative ads seem to be taking a greater toll on Romney, with 46 percent of voters saying they didn't like him personally. That compares to just 31 percent who dislike the President.
Class discussion: Do negative ads really alienate voters? Or, are the attack ads effective? Find news reports on how negative advertising has worked in this and past elections. Find out about the "Daisy Girl" ad in the 1964 presidential race between Lyndon B. Johnson and Barry Goldwater. Also, take a look at the "Willie Horton" ads in the 1988 race between George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis. Were these ads effective? Were these ads fair? The NBC-Wall Street Journal poll also shows a "likability gap" between Obama and Romney. How important is "likability" to American voters? Are issues or "likability" more likely to sway most voters? Look for examples in past elections
Described by the Secretary of State as her second daughter, Huma Abedin is Hillary Clinton's dear friend and closest senior aide. But, former presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann and four other Republican house members sent an official request to the Department of State alleging serious security concerns, claiming that "Abedin has three family members - her late father, her mother and her brother - connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives." But another Republican, Sen. John McCain took to the Senate floor to say, "These attacks have no logic, no basis and no merit . . . nothing less than an unwarranted and unfounded attack on an honorable citizen, a dedicated American, and a loyal public servant."
Class discussion: Check news reports on Bachmann's claims and the reaction to her statements. What is the Muslim Brotherhood? How is it different than a religious party in Israel or another country? Who else has Bachmann attacked on the subject? Is it fair to question the loyalties of public officials because of their religion? When should the activities of a public official's family be examined? Should we check out the income and political ideas of spouses, children, parents and siblings of every official? How about cousins or grandparents? What is "guilt by association?" Bachmann is not the first to question or criticize public officials because of their family members. Find other examples.
Republican Mitt Romney has demanded an apology from President Barack Obama over allegations in an escalating battle over whether Romney's business record included outsourcing American jobs. But, the president said he wouldn't apologize for his campaign ads attacking Romney's time at Bain Capital. "I think most Americans figure if you are the chairman, C.E.O. and president of a company that you are responsible for what that company does," Obama said. Romney also has resisted demands that he release more of his income tax returns.
Class discussion: Find news reports on the dispute over Bain Capital. What do Obama's campaign ads say about Romney and Bain Capital? What does Romney say about the issue? How much information has Romney released about his finances and tax returns? How does that compare with other presidential candidates? How does it compare with the information Romney's father released when he ran for president? Are a candidate's business history and finances appropriate campaign issues?
President Barack Obama has proposed a one-year extension in the Bush-era tax cuts for people earning under $250,000 while allowing tax cuts for wealthier Americans to expire. Obama campaign advisor Robert Gibbs said ending the tax cuts for the wealthy would save almost $1 trillion and help reduce the nation's budget deficit. Many economists have said raising taxes or cutting government spending could slow down a struggling economy.
Class discussion: Find news reports on tax and spending proposals by President Obama and his Republican opponent Mitt Romney. How do they differ? Who would each plan help or hurt the most? What would each plan cost? What do economists say about the plans? Find out how "austerity" budgets have impacted European nations. Have U.S. politicians pushed for austerity budgets? Is it a good idea? What happened to the U.S. budget after the Bush tax cuts were enacted?
GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney promised to address the sensitive topic of immigration as he tried to gain some ground with Hispanic voters. But he offered few specifics how he would handle the more than 11 million undocumented immigrations living in the United States, again sidestepping whether he would overturn the President Barack Obama's executive action stopping the deportation of some undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children. The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows Hispanics favor the president by 34 points.
Class discussion: Check news reports about immigration and the role Hispanic voters are expected to play in this year's elections. Who was covered by Obama's executive order on immigration? What does his order do? What was the Dream Act and what happened to it? Was the president's order timed to gain support among Latinos? What has Romney said about Obama's executive order? What has he said about immigration? Is Romney changing his message from the primaries? How fast are Hispanics gaining political clout? In which states will they have the greatest impact?
The collapse of the housing market has sent the net worth of the American family into a tailspin. The net worth for the very middle, or the median, fell from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010, a 39 percent drop. Incomes took a big hit, too, with the median earnings sinking nearly 8 percent to $45,800. Though incomes fell for those at the very top and the very bottom, it was nothing like what happened to the middle class which lost two decades of economic progress in just three years.
Class discussion: Find news reports on the plummeting wealth and income of the middle class and the housing crash. When did the housing bubble burst? What caused the boom and bust in housing prices? Over the last 30 years, how has the income of the middle class changed compared with incomes at the top and the bottom? How has family wealth changed at the top, middle and bottom over the same three decades? What do the Republican and Democratic candidates propose to help middle class families? What would you do?
President Barack Obama's White House has gone into damage control after a very bad political week which brought calls for an investigation of leaks of classified information about cyber attacks on Iran and drone strikes on suspected terrorists. Obama also came under attack as being out of touch for saying the "private sector is doing fine." Later, opponent Mitt Romney was assailed for saying the government shouldn't be spending to hire teachers and firefighters.
Class discussion: Find news reports about the leaks. Do the leaks appear to be intended to make the president look good? What did the leaks reveal? Where did information about cyberwarfare, drone attacks and the raid on Osama Bin Laden originate? Like George Bush before him, the Obama has aggressively pursued people who released embarrassing secrets. Yet, both Democrats and Republicans regularly leak favorable information. Do politicians manipulate the media with leaks? Does the government keep too many secrets?
The economy and jobs are taking center stage in the race between President Barack Obama and challenger George Romney. The unemployment rate rose to 8.2 percent from 8.1 percent in May, the first increase since last June. And, the Romney campaign jumped on the report to attack the president. The Obama campaign responded by attacking Romney's record as Massachusetts governor.
Class discussion: Find news reports on the U.S. and world economy. Is growth slowing in the United States? How about Europe and Asia? How is Europe's economic crisis hitting U.S. companies? How is it affecting key developing countries, such as China, India and Brazil? Is the world still suffering the effects of the housing bust and banking crisis of 2008? What do you think Obama or Romney could do to fix the economy?
Former Massachusetts Governor George Romney clinched the Republican presidential nomination by winning the Texas primary. But, his victory was overshadowed by Donald Trump's "birther" rhetoric as the reality television star hosted a fundraiser for Romney while claiming again that President Barack Obama is foreign-born. Romney has said he believes Obama was born in America, but he has not condemned Trump's conspiracy theory comments.
Class discussion: Find news reports about the birthers' conspiracy theory. What do birthers say? Do they have evidence to support their claims? Why won't they accept Obama's Hawaiian birth certificate? Why do you think they are willing to believe Obama is foreign-born? Should Romney condemn birther conspiracy theory comments by Trump and other Republicans? Why do you think he hasn't prominently criticized birther comments?
On Memorial Day, both President Barack Obama and his rival Mitt Romney honored Americans who gave everything for their country. But with the election just five months away, politics was close to the surface. Romney criticized Obama's foreign policy, saying the world is not a safe place. The president pushed again for tax breaks for companies that hire veterans, saying those who fought for their country shouldn't have to fight for a job.
Class discussion: Find news reports about issues that are important to veterans. What is likely to influence their votes? How important is their support in the election? This will be the first election since World War II in which neither candidate is a veteran. Is military experience an important qualification for the presidency? Why or why not? Several U.S. presidents led the nation through major wars despite having no or almost no military experience. Did the lack of a military background seriously hinder them?
A new poll by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal shows the race between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney growing closer with Obama favored by 47 percent of voters and Romney favored by 43 percent. The president rates higher on foreign policy than the economy. The poll found that 63 percent of voters were not confident that their children's generation would be better off than they are.
Class discussion: Find news reports and analysis on the impact of the economy on elections. How have economic worries helped or hurt past presidential candidates? Is it the most important issue in most presidential campaigns? Check past polls. How long have Americans been worried that their children face a bleaker economic future? Do you believe you will be better or worse off than your parents? Why?
Mitt Romney criticized and tried to distance himself from a conservative billionaire's super PAC's proposal for an explosive $10 million ad campaign designed to renew attention on President Barack Obama's ties to his controversial former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright. A spokesman for stock-trading billionaire Joe Rickets said his super PAC would not go ahead with the proposal that also said Obama has misled the nation by presenting himself as a "metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln" and lamented that voters "still aren't ready to hate this president."
Class discussion: "Joe Ricketts is prepared to spend significant resources in the 2012 election in both the presidential race and Congressional races," said Brian Baker, head of the super PAC. Find news reports about the influence unlimited private spending is having on political campaigns. How is the spending likely to impact the presidential race? Can the ads sometimes hurt candidates they are trying to help? Courts have ruled that money is equivalent to speech. Does this give a few wealthy individuals inordinate influence over elections and the government?
Mitt Romney apologized last week for incident that occurred 50 years ago when he was attending an elite private prep school. The Washington Post quoted his classmates about a incident where Romney found the long hair of a fellow student offensive. They said he led a group of students who tackled the student and held him down while Romney cut his hair. Romney said he didn't recall the incident, but he apologized saying, "I participated in a lot of high jinks and pranks during high school. And some may have gone too far."
Class discussion: Find editorials and columns about what is fair game in an election. Is it fair to bring up incidents that occurred in a candidate's youth? What would happen to students in your school if they pulled a "prank" like Romney and his classmates? Was it fair when some criticized President Barack Obama who wrote that he ate a dog meat dish when he was a child living in Indonesia? Should private lives be scrutinized like a candidate's public actions and statements?
President Barack Obama is the first American president to say he approves of same-sex marriage. He says his position has evolved, he now personally supports it, but he adds it's up to the states to decide. More states now outlaw same-sex marriage than those that allow it. Obama's rival Mitt Romney says he favors a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.
Class discussion: Find news reports on the president's announcement and opinion polls on same-sex marriage. Which age groups are likely to favor or oppose it? Which states oppose or favor same-sex marriage? Who did those states vote for in the last presidential election? Do you think Obama's position will help him or hurt him in November?
The economy and jobs are major issues in the presidential election, and the slow recovery from the recession could hurt President Barack Obama's chances for reelection. But, Vice-President Joe Biden argues that challenger Mitt Romney's proposals could make the situation worse.
Class discussion: Find news reports on unemployment. What is the present jobless rate? How many jobs have been created or lost since the start of the Obama administration? When were the jobs lost? When were jobs created? What kind of jobs have decreased? What kind of jobs have increased?
Four years ago, Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton fought a tough battle for the Democratic presidential nomination. Today, Clinton is Obama's secretary of state and the Obama campaign helped pay off her campaign debt. Former President Bill Clinton has turned from criticizing Barack Obama to becoming an increasingly vocal advocate for him in his race against Mitt Romney.
Class discussion: Find news reports about the primary battle between Obama and Clinton. What did the candidates say about each other? How rough was the battle? What did former President Clinton say during the primary campaign? Find other examples of primary rivals who later became allies. Is it uncommon? Is it just part of the political game?
The annual White House Correspondents Dinner brings reporters together with the politicians and celebrities they cover for an evening of entertainment and schmoozing. At this year's dinner, President Barack Obama took a few humorous jabs at rival Mitt Romney and others. And, the president got a few jabs in turn from comedian Jimmy Kimmel, who served as the master of ceremonies. The dinner may have been the last chance for a few laughs before the presidential campaign gets rougher.
Class discussion: Almost since its beginning in 1920, the dinner has been criticized as an example of a cozy relationship between press and the people they cover. Find columns and opinion articles about the dinner. Do the columnists find fault with reporters hob-knobbing and sharing inside jokes with government officials they are supposed to hold accountable? Or, do they see little harm with the affair? Is it uncommon or wrong for reporters to socialize with people they cover? Does developing good relationships with politicians lead to more information for the public or more manipulation of the press?
Now that Mitt Romney has all but wrapped up the race for the Republican presidential nomination, speculation is heating up over who he will pick as his running mate. Among the most mentioned vice-presidential contenders are Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman. Both men represent swing states that are vital to winning the general election in November.
Class discussion: Find news reports and analysis about the importance of selecting the right vice-presidential candidate. How did Republican John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin impact the last presidential election? How much can a running mate help or hurt a candidate? How many times in U.S. history have vice presidents replaced presidents? How many of those vice presidents were later elected to the presidency?
Thanks to large leads among women, Hispanics and independents, President Barack Obama leads challenger Mitt Romney 49 percent to 43 percent in the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. But a six-point advantage is not insurmountable, and Romney is in a strong position to make it a close election.
Class discussion: Take a look at news reports about polls. What is the "margin of error" in polling? How is it determined? Survey results also can vary greatly during a campaign. Can you find examples of dramatic polling shifts during the Republican primary campaign? How accurate were polls in the different primaries?
Worries over rising gasoline prices are fueling a demand for new, more fuel efficient vehicles. Nationwide March saw a 13 percent annual jump in new car sales, much better than expected. Along with the desire for better mileage, sales are being pushed by a pent-up demand from consumers who put off buying new cars during the recession. "We're seeing more people that are comfortable in their jobs, not as worried about losing their jobs, so they're more likely to spend," said one car salesman.
Class discussion: Take a look at news reports about how gasoline prices and people's economic outlook can affect the election. Which candidates get hurt by rising fuel prices? How do politicians try to boost economic pessimism or optimism to their own advantage? Do politicians routinely overstate improvements or declines in the economy? How is the bailout and recovery of the U.S. auto industry likely to impact the election?
Democratic political pundit Hilary Rosen touched off a firestorm when she said Ann Romney, wife of Republican candidate Mitt Romney, "has actually never worked a day in her life." President Barack Obama and other Democratic leaders quickly disowned Rosen's remarks while Republicans accused them of disrespecting stay-at-home mothers. Later, Rosen also apologized for her remark
Class discussion: To combat the fallout over Rosen's remark, Romney's opponents quickly unearthed video of him talking about outside work requirements for mothers receiving welfare. Find news reports about Romney's and Obama's positions on requiring mothers on welfare to work outside the home. Do they differ? How? Find statistics on mothers working outside the home. How have numbers changed over the years? How does family income affect whether mothers have outside jobs?
Rick Santorum has bowed out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination, clearing the way for Mitt Romney to start campaigning in earnest against President Barack Obama. Santorum won 11 states in primary elections but lagged far behind Romney in the delegate count.
Class discussion: Santorum's exit pleased many leaders in the Republican establishment who were wary of his campaigning for conservative social issues. Find news reports and analysis about how those social issues influence primary voters as opposed to general election voters. Can taking very conservative or very liberal stands in primaries become a liability in the general election? Or, do voters in the general election view candidates' stands in the primaries as just part of the "political game?"
President Barack Obama's weekend radio address prominently featured two important religious holidays - Passover and Easter. The president's past radio addresses on Easter weekends were very secular, largely about the economy. But in this election year, his speech was all about faith.
Class discussion: Nearly four in 10 Americans now say there's been too much expression of faith and prayer in politics, while 30 percent say there's been too little. Find news reports on the role of religion in this year's presidential campaign. How important is religion compared with other issues such as the economy or national security? Is religion unifying or divisive in politics? Candidate Rick Santorum said he was sickened by President John F. Kennedy's historic speech about his religion. What did Kennedy actually say? Why did he make the speech?
Mitt Romney won three Republican primaries Tuesday and appears well on his way to becoming the GOP presidential candidate. With the victories, Romney aimed his attack at President Barack Obama and Obama returned the favor by naming Romney in his criticism of Republican policies.
Class discussion: President Obama criticized Romney for his support of the Republican budget plan, calling it a "Trojan horse" and "social Darwinism." Find news reports on the GOP's and president's budget proposals. What spending or taxes would each cut? What spending or taxes would increase? Who would benefit or lose under the different plans? What is "social Darwinism?"
"Opposition research" has become a big part of modern political campaigns. Political organizations employ hundreds of researchers to comb through records, interviews, statements, audio and video of an opposing candidate to isolate anything that makes the opponent appear foolish, hypocritical or corrupt. The organizations use the embarrassing material in attack advertising and to feed to the media.
Class discussion: Do your own research on the workings of opposition researchers. Find examples of how the research has been used to change the outcome of elections. Does the research information present a true picture of a candidate? Does it help keep a candidate honest, or does it reward the careful candidate who sticks to a script and says the least? What is the difference between giving information to a late-night comedy show and "feeding" it to a news reporter? Should reporters take extra care to disclose the source of this type of information?
The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments over the constitutionality of requiring Americans to buy private health insurance as part of President Barack Obama's massive health care reform law. The requirement was included in the law as a way of spreading and controlling health care costs. The debate over the law has become a major issue in the presidential campaign.
Class discussion: All of the Republican presidential candidates oppose the health care reform law. Find news reports about why they oppose the law. Do they have any proposals to replace it? Or, do they say no changes in health care coverage are necessary? How is the president's plan different from the program Mitt Romney instituted as governor of Massachusetts? How has Romney's program worked out in Massachusetts? How has it influenced the Republican primary campaign?
President Barack Obama Tuesday was in Seoul , South Korea, for a summit on controlling the spread of nuclear arms around the world. The president said he believes the United States has a "moral obligation" to act and lead the world in reducing nuclear stockpiles.
Class discussion: At the summit, the president said United States and Russia could not realistically work out their dispute over an American missile defense system this year because politics during the presidential campaign would make it impossible to win support for any compromise. Find news reports on how campaign politics can impact foreign policy. What issues have already come up in the campaign? With ever-longer campaigning, how does election politics help or hinder efficient operations of government?
Mitt Romney easily won the Republican presidential primary in Illinois by gaining 47 percent of the vote compared to 35 percent for his nearest rival Rick Santorum. So far, Romney has 563 delegates, according to an Associated Press count. That's nearly half the 1,144 delegates required to clinch the GOP nomination.
Class discussion: Romney won the support of three quarters of those Illinois Republicans who said their top goal is defeating President Barack Obama in the fall. Find articles and analysis about ''electability.'' What makes one candidate more electable than another? How do election strategies differ between party primaries and the general election? Do candidates change their messages to suit different groups of voters?
While four contenders continue the struggle for the Republican presidential nomination, President Barack Obama and his campaign team are pressing ahead in their bid for reelection in the fall. While the president hit back at Republicans over energy policy, Vice President Joe Biden attacked the GOP candidates for opposing the auto bailout which saved thousands of jobs.
Class discussion: Biden appears to be taking on a traditional campaign role of vice presidents in leading the attacks on the opposition. See if you can find articles about how vice presidents and candidates for vice president played their parts in past elections. Did they make the most negative comments in the campaigns? Do aggressive statements by vice presidential candidates ever taint the reputations of their running mates?
Rick Santorum won Tuesday's Republican presidential primaries in Alabama and Mississippi, finishing ahead of Newt Gingrich who had been counting on a strong showing in the South. Mitt Romney finished third, but he still has a big lead in the delegate count - and campaign money.
Class discussion: Despite his primary victories on Tuesday, it doesn't seem likely that Rick Santorum could collect the 1,144 delegates needed to win the Republican presidential nomination. But, could he stop front-runner Mitt Romney from getting enough delegates to wrap up the nomination before this summer's GOP convention? Check news reports, columns and news analysis to find out what political reporters think about the possibility of a "brokered convention."
President Barack Obama criticized Republican candidates for "popping off with loose talk of war" with Iran. Republicans have attacked the president for not being aggressive enough in stopping Iran from developing nuclear weapons and being hesitant to use military force. "If some of these folks think that it's time to launch a war, they should say so," Obama said. "And they should explain to the American people exactly why they would do that and what the consequences would be."
Class discussion: Politicians often try emphasize and sometimes exaggerate how they are different than their rivals. Find news reports on the positions on Iran taken by the president and GOP candidates. What have each actually said about sanctions against Iran, possible military options and ensuring Israel's security? Are there any basic differences? Do the candidates really want to take military action right now? What are the possible results of an armed conflict with Iran?
Mitt Romney won Ohio and five other states in the Super Tuesday Republican primaries, but his opponents hung on with their own victories. Rick Santorum won three states and Newt Gingrich won Georgia, the state he represented in Congress. While Romney is the clear leader in the delegate count, the GOP contest isn't over yet.
Class discussion: The Ohio primary was very close with Romney getting 38 percent of the vote and Santorum holding 37 percent. Find news reports on where each candidate was strongest in the state. According to the polls, which demographic groups tended to back Santorum? Which supported Romney? Why is Ohio considered such an important states in the presidential election?
Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney won the Arizona presidential primary by a decisive 20 percentage points over his chief rival Rick Santorum. But in his native state of Michigan, he slipped by with a margin of 3 percentage points. While Romney crowed about his wins, Santorum claimed a moral victory by making the race competitive. After the speeches, the GOP candidates immediately began campaigning hard for this week's "Super Tuesday" vote.
Class discussion: After last week's elections, a senior Romney campaign aide said his candidate won a "delegate landslide." Did he? Find news reports about how many Republican convention delegates each candidate won in Arizona and Michigan. How many total delegates does each candidate have? How many delegates does a candidate need to win the GOP presidential nomination? How many delegates are at stake in this week's "Super Tuesday" voting? What would happen if no single candidate won enough delegates before the Republican convention?
In the race for the Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney is focusing on the economy as he scrambles in a very tight primary race in his home state of Michigan. If he loses there next Tuesday to Rick Santorum, it could be a devastating blow to Romney's campaign.
Class discussion: Romney has been considered the clear favorite in the Republican presidential race. Find news reports on Santorum gaining ground on Romney. How did the race get so tight? Romney has collected much more money than his rivals, why is he having trouble winning over Republican voters? Who would be a stronger candidate in the general election? Why?
In what may be the last debate in Republican presidential race, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum traded shots in the battle for next Tuesday's key primary elections in Arizona and Michigan. And while Romney and Santorum were whipping each other, trailing candidates Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul took the opportunity to try to trip the frontrunners in their neck and neck race for Michigan.
Class discussion: Romney rapped Santorum in the debate for supporting earmarks when he was a U.S. senator, and Gingrich hit Romney for benefiting from earmarks. Find news reports about earmarks. What are they? How do they work? How much do they cost? The debate audience groaned over a question about birth control. Find recent reports on the topic. What are the issues? How might the controversy impact the election?
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