On the campaign trail in the USA, June 2020

Saturday, July 25, 2020

The following is the second edition of a monthly series chronicling the 2020 United States presidential election. It features original material compiled throughout the previous month after an overview of the month's biggest stories.

This month's spotlight on the campaign trail includes interviews with the vice presidential nominees of the Prohibition Party, Reform Party, and the Life and Liberty Party.

Summary

 
President Trump holds a Bible in front of St. John's Episcopal Church
Image: White House.

As the campaign entered June, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who mathematically secured the nomination of his party with victories in the June 2 primaries, led President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, 49.0 percent to 42.2 percent in the RealClearPolitics average.

Protests and riots related to the death of George Floyd continued across the nation. During a riot in Washington, D.C. near the White House, rioters reportedly partly set fire to St. John’s Episcopal Church at Lafayette Square, which suffered damage. The next day, with protests ongoing, President Trump delivered a speech declaring himself the "president of law and order." Afterwards he walked to the church. Before doing so, law enforcement cleared reportedly peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square using tear gas. Trump walked and upon reaching the Church held up a Bible for a photo-op. He received criticism for the move. Protests escalated later in June with the police killing of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta. Charges were promptly filed against the officers involved. Atlanta's Democratic mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms's handling of the incident raised her vice presidential prospects. With the issue of race at the forefront of the campaign, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota withdrew her name from consideration to be Biden's running mate. She endorsed the selection of a "woman of color." At the time, Bottoms, former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, Congresswoman Val Demings,  New Mexico governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, and Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren were said to be finalists for the Democratic vice presidential nomination.

Also as a result of the protests, the slogan "Defund the Police" became popular among supporters of Black Lives Matter. The Minneapolis city council voted to disband its police force. And in some cities, most notably in Seattle, protesters set up police-free autonomous zones. CHAZ (Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone) or CHOP (Capitol Hill Occupied Protests) as it was later known, formed in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood. The Trump campaign connected the "defund" slogan and lawlessness to Biden. In addition, rioters started to tear down and vandalize public statues. They vandalized, toppled, and/or destroyed statues of figures associated with the Confederate States of America, and statues of Christopher Columbus, US presidents George Washington and Ulysses S. Grant, and abolitionist Matthias Baldwin. Law enforcement halted attempts to take down an equestrial statue of US President Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square. Ahead of a planned attempt to take down the Emancipation Memorial featuring US President Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln Park, Trump vowed to issue an executive order regarding those caught desecrating federal statues. Trump railed against the rioters during his first campaign rally since the coronavirus pandemic fully engaged the United States, on June 20 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The rally did not require face masks, which led to criticism over concerns about spreading coronavirus. Attendance was underwhelming with empty seats visible. Trump created controversy during the rally with a statement about coronavirus testing resulting in an uptick in the number of infections counted. Although the rate of deaths from coronavirus decreased, infections increased in certain states, resulting in a slowdown in reopening. Due to the pandemic, the planned Republican National Convention moved from Charlotte to Jacksonville. The Democratic Party planned to hold its convention largely online.

 
Rocky De La Fuente
Image: Angiej dj.

On June 23, Trump's former National Security Adviser John Bolton released a book, The Room Where It Happened, critical of Trump. The administration sued to stop publication, claiming the book had not yet been fully checked for classified information. A judge agreed the book may have contained classified materials but ruled that "the damage is done" with advanced copies made available to the media. Notably, in the book, Bolton claims Trump asked Chinese paramount leader Xi Jinping for help in the 2020 election, which Trump denied. Trump said Bolton broke the law and "likes dropping bombs on people, and killing them." Democrats expressed dissatisfaction with Bolton over his unwillingness to testify at the Trump impeachment proceedings. In interviews promoting the book, Bolton said he would not vote for Trump or Biden but planned to write-in an alternate candidate instead. In alternate party news, businessman Rocky De La Fuente, already the presidential nominee of the Alliance Party, was named the presidential nominee of both the Reform Party and the Natural Law Party of Michigan. The parties nominated his running mate, historian Darcy Richardson, for vice president. The newly created Life and Liberty Party, a libertarian-leaning anti-abortion party, held its first national convention and nominated a ticket of activist J. R. Myers for president and professor Tiara Lusk for vice president.In the Green Party, union leader and party co-founder Howie Hawkins attained the number of delegates required to secure the Green Party presidential nomination ahead of the party's national convention in July.

At the end of the month, Biden held his first press conference since the pandemic was just starting in the United States. At the event, he broached the New York Times report that Russians were paying bounties to the Taliban to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan.Trump described the story as possibly a hoax and the White House claimed it did not brief Trump on the matter. Biden, during his conference, also countered claims about his mental acuity, declaring that he "can hardly wait to compare my cognitive capability to the cognitive capability of the man I'm running against." Nevertheless, with more gaffes in June including the misstatement that 120 million people had died from coronavirus, opposition questions about Biden's alleged mental decline continued. A Zogby International poll showed 55 percent of respondents believed Biden to be in the early stages of dementia. Still, he remained well ahead of Trump in opinion polls as the month came to a close. In the RealClearPolitics average at the end of June, Biden led Trump 50.0 percent to 40.4 percent.

Spotlight

Billy Joe Parker (Prohibition Party)

 
Billy Joe Parker
Image: Prohibitionists.org.

In June, Prohibition Party presidential nominee Phil Collins and vice presidential nominee Billy Joe Parker unsuccessfully sought the nomination of the Reform Party, thereby denying ballot access for the ticket in Florida. However, the Prohibition Party has access in Mississippi and Arkansas and is attempting to appear on the ballot in Vermont, Colorado, and Tennessee. In addition, Collins won the American Independent Party's California Primary in March. Their victory does not guarantee Collins/Parker the party's nomination and a place on the California ballot. The Prohibition Party has not attained ballot access in five or more states since 1984.  In 2016, the party's ticket of James Hedges for President and Bill Bayes for Vice President appeared on the ballot in three states and received 5,617 votes.

Collins/Parker was not the Prohibition Party's original 2020 presidential ticket. In November 2018, the party nominated a ticket of Bayes for President and C.L. Gammon for Vice President. Bayes withdrew in March 2019. The next month, the party nominated a new ticket of Gammon for President and Collins for Vice President. Gammon withdrew due to health reasons around the beginning of August 2019. The party finally settled on the Collins/Parker ticket later that month. Parker is a former Marine who worked in manufacturing and warehousing jobs until retiring in 2002. Since then he has been active in the anti-alcohol movement.

Parker spoke with Wikinews about the campaign. He discussed why he ultimately decided to join the Prohibition Party, what he sees as his duties and responsibilities as the vice presidential nominee, and why voters should consider voting for the Collins/Parker ticket.

 ((WSS )) When did you join the Prohibition Party and what attracted you to it?

Parker: I first discovered the Prohibition Party about AD 2000. I donated to it until about AD 2005 when I was asked to join and represent Georgia in the party. The Prohibition Party appealed to me because of the high caliber men in leadership and I was impressed by their willingness to set the highest standards possible for the American people and their children. The Prohibition Party has a higher dimension than either the Republican and Democrat parties. The party pursues the edification of the American people financially, economically, spiritually, and morally. Its higher dimension is that it includes the lives and welfare of American children that the Democrat and Republican parties exclude from their protection and they will surrender the children to be destroyed in order to appease interstate groups for power to gain rule over the nation. The Prohibition Party obeys the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution and the duty they set to give life to each American.

 ((WSS )) What duties and responsibilities come with your role as the vice presidential nominee of the Prohibition Party?

Parker: I feel my duty and responsibility as the Prohibition Party vice-presidential nominee is to aid and support the election of our candidate for president — Phil Collins — whom I feel is far superior to the Democrat candidates for president and of a much higher virtue. I would recommend to the members of the Democrat Party and Republican Party to leave their parties and join the Prohibition Party in order to make their children safer.

 ((WSS )) Why should voters consider voting for the Collins/Parker ticket over others on the ballot?

Parker: Americans, if you want the very best for your children — prosperity, education, health, good leadership, and a better security that they shall live in happiness to a ripe old age, then you should vote for the Collins/Parker ticket. Under the Republican and Democrat parties, millions of children and adults have died from the wrongs of men, women, and society that have been imposed on them because of a lack of love for them. The Prohibition Party will obey the promise of life to each person made by the nation through the Declaration of Independence. Happily we will meet you at the polls in November. We wish you the very best in whatever choice you make. If you choose against us, it will not diminish or end our love for you. Be sure we will defend you and your children in or out of power as we would defend ourselves.
May God bless you forever. I remain your obedient servant.

Darcy Richardson (Reform Party)

 
Darcy Richardson
Image: Darcy Richardson.

At the virtual 2020 Reform National Convention on June 20, the Reform Party nominated the De La Fuente/Richardson presidential ticket, granting it ballot access in Florida. Three days later, the ballot- qualified Natural Law Party of Michigan gave its nomination to the duo. De La Fuente/Richardson has already secured the nomination of the Alliance Party, giving it ballot access in Delaware, South Carolina, and possibly Connecticut. Wikinews reached out to Richardson to discuss the campaign.

Richardson is a political activist and historian who has authored many books on past political campaigns. He owns the political website Uncovered Politics. In the 1988 presidential election, Richardson served as campaign manager for the late US Senator Eugene McCarthy. Richardson himself entered presidential politics when he challenged President Barack Obama for the Democratic Party's 2012 presidential nomination. He sought the Reform Party's 2016 presidential nomination but lost to his 2020 running mate De La Fuente. In 2018, Richardson ran for governor of Florida as the Reform Party nominee and finished in third place.

With Wikinews, Richardson discussed his role as the running mate of De La Fuente, the complexity of being the vice presidential nominee for so many parties simultaneously, and for what the De La Fuente/Richardson ticket stands.

 ((WSS )) What are your duties and responsibilities as the running mate of Rocky De La Fuente?

Richardson: Well, I can certainly understand why Daniel Webster, in turning down the vice presidency in 1840, quipped that he didn't intend to be buried until he was dead and while I think there was plenty of wisdom in the late Eugene McCarthy's seemingly offhanded suggestion that the office should probably be abolished, I thought it was important to run for vice president not only to help promote Rocky's candidacy — he's a genuine humanitarian and has a lot to offer the country, especially in a dire moment like this — but also to help introduce a new approach to politics in an era of extreme hyper-partisanship and polarization under the auspices of the nascent Alliance Party, a profoundly and refreshingly principled party.
The level of partisanship in this country is almost sickening. The American people are hurting, and they're hurting badly, and most of them — if they were really honest with themselves — know the two major parties have failed them, and have failed them badly.
As Rocky's running mate, I will do anything I'm asked. Unless the pandemic makes travel impossible this autumn, I'm planning to personally stump in the old "Rust Belt" — places like Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin where we'll likely be on the ballot and where the presidency is probably going to be decided. I'm willing to spend as much time in those battleground states as necessary. In addition to campaigning in Tennessee and South Carolina, I plan to press our case pretty hard here in Florida, too. Of course, due to the badly-botched response to COVID-19 by Gov. DeSantis, who spent too much time listening to the megalomaniac in the White House and too little time listening to health experts, the Sunshine State will probably be the epicenter of the pandemic long before then. Campaigning, of course, could be hazardous.

 ((WSS )) De La Fuente/Richardson is the ticket of the Alliance, Reform, Natural Law, and American Delta parties. What can the De La Fuente campaign do to grow these parties? Is the campaign focused more on growing one party over the others?

Richardson: This isn't about parties or any particular party. We're doing this to give the American people a pragmatic, centrist-oriented alternative to the two sorry choices being offered by the Republicans and Democrats, one that is hellbent on renominating an incumbent who probably knew less than any President since Zachary Taylor upon assuming the nation's highest office, and the other which intends to nominate a guy who once possessed quite a bit of knowledge but is now, sadly, beyond his prime. I think it's pretty safe to say at this stage of his life that Joe Biden has forgotten more than Trump ever knew.  
We don't intend to favor any party over any of the other parties which are supporting us, but we hope that all of them will share in pulling off the greatest upset in U.S. political history when we defeat the failed and corrupt duopoly on Nov. 3rd. With twin crises plaguing the country and the world — a deadly global pandemic and a looming economic depression on the immediate horizon — these are unprecedented times and anything is possible.

 ((WSS )) What does the De La Fuente/Richardson ticket stand for? What unique issues or ideas should a voter associate with the campaign?

Richardson: We've embraced the Alliance Party's Manifesto and, as such, want to return the United States to its rightful place as the world's "Gold Medal Nation," the global leader in creating an economy that works for everyone, not just the "investor class," and leading the way in terms of environmental stewardship by investing in 100 percent clean and renewable energy. It's later than we think. Much later.
We also want to be the envy of the world when it comes to providing affordable health care for all of our citizens, How tragic it is that the United States has only four percent of the world's population yet has suffered more than 25 percent of the Coronavirus deaths.
Finally, a De La Fuente−Richardson administration will also strive to make the U.S. second-to-none when it comes to educational opportunities and outcomes.

Tiara Lusk (Life and Liberty Party)

 
Tiara Lusk
Image: Tiara Lusk Twitter.

On June 27, via Zoom, the Life and Liberty Party (L&L) held its first national convention. It nominated conservative activist J. R. Myers of Alaska for president. For vice president, three candidates sought the party's nomination. With 71 percent of the vote, Tiara Lusk of Idaho was victorious. Wikinews contacted Lusk about her designation as the first vice presidential nominee of the Life and Liberty Party.

Lusk teaches business management as an adjunct professor at Western Nevada College. She served as a delegate at the Republican Party of Idaho's 2018 convention and as a delegate at the Constitution Party's 2020 national convention. In addition, she chaired region six of the Constitution Party of Idaho.

The Life and Liberty Party formed from former members of the Constitution Party. It has attained ballot access in Arkansas and is currently petitioning in several other states. As of late June, several state Constitution parties were considering severing their ties with the national Constitution Party, which nominated Don Blankenship for president in May. According to Politics1.com, some of these states may attempt to give their nomination and ballot access to the Myers/Lusk ticket.

With Wikinews, Lusk discussed why she joined the Life and Liberty Party, what her role as vice presidential nominee entails, and why voters should choose the Myers/Lusk ticket over other conservative tickets.

 ((WSS )) What is the Life and Liberty Party? How is it different from the Constitution Party? And why did you decide to seek its vice presidential nomination?

Lusk: One major difference is that L&L is a Party that is open to diverse religious groups and belief systems. The Constitution Party tends to be more narrowly focused on a certain branch of Christianity. I believe that most cultures throughout the world are founded primarily on conservative values and our party wants to welcome diverse groups that support our party platform. I'd say I'm a spiritual person but I take a scientific approach to learning about eternal truths. Additionally, L&L is the only party that advocates for a debt jubilee. These two platform stances were the main reasons I was attracted to the L&L party. I was also really impressed with JR in his debates and I wanted to be part of his team.

 ((WSS )) What are your duties and responsibilities as the vice presidential nominee of the Life and Liberty Party?

Lusk: My duties consist of speaking to the public about the issues that are important to JR. I'm also responsible for some marketing aspects of the campaign and getting signatures for ballot access.

 ((WSS )) Why should right wing or conservative voters choose Myers/Lusk over President Trump or the Constitution Party's Blankenship/Mohr ticket?

Lusk: The public should vote for us because we are focused on bringing healing, unity, and order to our country by centering our platform on the foundations that have made our country great. We focus on real solutions that address the core root of the problems in our society, instead of bandaid solutions to address symptoms. The other parties tend to be focused on surface level solutions. Additionally, Trump and Blankenship seem very much driven by a personal grudge. Their statements are often inflammatory, which causes even further hatred and division in our society. The most effective leaders are able to inspire hope in their followers. Rather than incite further tension, JR and I are focused on bringing healing and unity to our country.


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Sources

This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.