UPDATED: Ngige Withdraws From Presidential Race

A file photo of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige.
A file photo of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige.

 

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige has withdrawn from the race to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.

He announced his withdrawal from the contest in a statement on Friday in Abuja.

Ngige’s announcement followed a valedictory session held at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa in the nation’s capital, in honour of ministers seeking elective offices in the 2023 general elections.

He had declared his intention to run for President in the forthcoming polls while addressing a crowd of supporters on April 19 at his hometown in Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State.

Three weeks later, President Muhammadu Buhari directed all appointed members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) running for elective offices to resign on or before May 16 – a directive which affected Ngige.

READ ALSO: Buhari Orders FEC Members With Political Ambitions To Resign

While the President went further to organise a valedictory session for the affected persons to appreciate them for their service, the labour minister decided to keep his ministerial job than continue with his presidential bid.

Stressing that he had yet to fill and submit the N100 million worth expression of interest and nomination forms of the All Progressives Congress (APC) bought for him, he explained that dropping his presidential ambition was in the interest of the nation.

Other reasons, according to Ngige, include family-related and to enable him to concentrate on his ministerial job and assist the present administration, especially in what he describes as the difficult last lap

He stated that he has since communicated his decision to President Buhari and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha.

Read the full statement by the labour minister below:

WITHDRAWAL OF MY PRESIDENTIAL ASPIRATION

On Tuesday, 19th April 2022, I publicly declared my interest to contest for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, following the constitutional provision that precludes our amiable incumbent President, Muhammad Buhari from seeking re-election to the office, as he would have completed his two terms in office by 29th May 2023.

The declaration was made in my hometown, Alor, Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State.

My declaration was sequel to pressure on me from my constituents, political associates, friends, and other well-meaning Nigerians, who felt I possess the necessary qualifications and experience for the job.

Some of these supporters even taxed themselves to procure the Expression of Interest/ Nomination Forms of our Party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) for me. The forms, however, are yet to be filled and submitted.

Today, 13th May 2022, I had an audience with President Muhammadu Buhari as a follow up to the one I earlier had with him on May 11th, 2022.

Having also consulted widely with my family, constituents, supporters, and well-wishers, it is my pleasure to announce the withdrawal of my interest and earlier decision to contest the office of the President in the 2023 general elections.

As a result of this, I will NOT be participating in any of the internal party processes of the said election, starting with the primary.

I took this momentous decision firstly in the overall interest of the nation, in order to enable me to concentrate on my job, and assist the President and the Government, to weather the difficult last lap, in the life of the administration and secondly for other family reasons.

I have since communicated this decision to the President and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

My constituents, political associates and well-wishers across the country are by this statement informed of this latest decision, which also has the blessing and support of the overwhelming majority, hence supersedes any other interest, personal or otherwise.

Thanks and God’s blessings.

Senator (Dr.) Chris/ Nwabueze Ngige, MD, OON

Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment

Abinader Claims Victory In Dominican Republic Presidential Race

Handout photo released by Dominican opposition presidential candidate for the Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM) Luis Abinader’s Press Office of him (R) giving the thumb up during a campaign rally in Santo Domingo on July 1, 2020. – General Elections will take place on July 5 in Dominican Republic. Juan VALENZUELA / Luis Abinader Press Office / AFP.

 

Opposition candidate Luis Abinader has claimed victory in the Dominican Republic’s presidential race after voters on Sunday braved a worsening coronavirus outbreak to cast their ballots for a new leader and legislature.

Abinader’s rivals and the outgoing president also recognized his win, which ends 16 years of unbroken rule by the Caribbean nation’s center-left Dominican Liberation Party (PLD).

“We won, today we win, but we will never forget who we owe this victory to,” the 52-year-old businessman said from a platform before dozens of followers at his campaign headquarters in the capital Santo Domingo.

“We owe it to you, the Dominican people. That is why tonight we all won.”

According to data from the central electoral board after around 60 percent of ballots had been counted, Abinader gained around 1.2 million votes — around 53 percent.

The PLD’s candidate Gonzalo Castillo came second in a six-man field, with 838,000 votes — or 37 percent — according to the incomplete figures.

Castillo said the official count “shows that there is an irreversible trend and that from now on we have a president-elect… Our congratulations to Mr. Luis Abinader.”

Outgoing President Danilo Medina also accepted the businessman’s victory, tweeting his “congratulations to the new president-elect @LuisAbinader.”

Abinader’s win was is yet to be formally announced by the electoral board.

Gunfire outside a polling station in the capital left one person dead after an argument among opposing party activists turned violent, police said.

But elsewhere, voting appeared to progress smoothly, with few disruptions despite the extra virus precautions.

“It’s pretty fluid and very well organized. The truth is I didn’t expect it,” said Maribel Roman, a 47-year-old business consultant, as she waited for her turn to vote.

The election, which was pushed back from May 17, was held despite the epidemic’s explosive spread, with the number of new COVID-19 cases hitting a record high Sunday for a third consecutive day.

Medina, who could not seek another term under the country’s constitution, was forced to impose a national lockdown, easing it only last week as parties made a final drive for votes.

– ‘Change is coming’ –

Abinader had to suspend his campaign after testing positive for the coronavirus, but recovered sufficiently to lead a rally on Wednesday.

An observer team from the Organization of American States (OAS) monitored the vote, but its leader, former Chilean president Eduardo Frei, was unable to be present because of travel restrictions.

Some 7.5 million Dominicans were eligible to cast ballots in the election.

Also up for grabs are 32 senate seats, 190 seats in the lower house and 20 representatives to the Central American parliament.

– Corruption an issue –

“Change is coming and the PLD is going,” Abinader, who is considered a centrist, promised hundreds of his supporters at a closing rally Wednesday.

Corruption has been a key issue after protests in recent years over the involvement of local officials in the Latin America-wide Odebrecht graft scandal.

The Brazilian construction giant has admitted to doling out $92 million in bribes in the Dominican Republic in exchange for winning public works contracts.

The country, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, ranks 137th out of 180 countries on Transparency International’s corruption index.
– Virus fears –

Despite health protocols at polling stations, Health Minister Rafael Sanchez Cardenas said it would be “practically impossible” not to have fresh outbreaks of COVID-19.

The pandemic has already hit polling by the Republic’s 600,000 overseas voters — representing almost eight percent of the electoral roll.

Most live in the United States, Spain and Puerto Rico, where polling has been taking place. However, expatriates in Italy and Panama have not been authorized to vote because of coronavirus restrictions there.

The Dominican Republic is one of the strongest economies in the region, recording on average 6.3 percent growth a year between 2013 and 2018, according to the World Bank.

However, the Bank has warned that it is at risk of being pushed back into poverty because of the pandemic.

AFP

Polish Populists Tested As Country Votes

Polish voters take part in Poland’s Presidental election at a polling station in Warsaw, Poland on June 28, 2020. – From a former trainee friar to a rabble-rousing eurosceptic to a gay rights trailblazer, the 11 candidates in Poland’s presidential election on June 28, 2020 are a varied bunch. President Andrzej Duda, who is backed by the right-wing government, faces his main challenge in the form of liberal opposition contender Rafal Trzaskowski. Wojtek RADWANSKI / AFP.

 

The future of Poland’s populist right-wing government hung in the balance Sunday as Poles voted in round one of a tight presidential race that was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The frontrunner is incumbent Andrzej Duda, 48, who is seen as a key European ally by US President Donald Trump but whose policies have raised hackles in the European Union.

“This is a decisive time. A lot will really depend on this decision,” anti-communist icon Lech Walesa said as he cast his vote in the northern port of Gdansk.

Walesa, who was elected Poland’s first democratic president after communism’s demise three decades ago, has been a trenchant critic of the current government.

– Record turnout –

Polls indicate that Duda, backed by the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party, will fall short of a majority and there will need to be a run-off on July 12.

Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, a liberal from the Civic Platform (PO) opposition party who has promised to heal ties with Brussels, is predicted to be his rival in the second round.

Turnout was at a record high by 12:00 pm with 24.08 percent having voted compared to 14.61 percent by the same time in the last presidential election in 2015, the national election commission said.

READ ALSO: Civilians Among Over 100 Victims Of Libya Mines – UN

The campaign has been dominated by concerns over democracy and bread and butter economic issues as Poland faces its first recession since the end of communism because of the pandemic fallout.

– ‘I only see Duda as president’ –

Voters in masks were seen waiting in long socially distanced queues at polling stations across the country.

“I voted for Trzaskowski of course! Why? For democracy, the judiciary and respect for minorities,” said Joanna Ugniewska, 66, after casting her ballot at a polling station in a school in Warsaw city centre.

But in Tarnow in southern Poland, a stronghold for the PiS, Andrzej Guzik said he would be voting for Duda because of his consistency.

“Personally I only see Duda as president,” said Guzik, 52, an employee at the PGNIG state gas company.

Poland’s government has implemented popular social welfare payments in recent years but has also endorsed polarising legislation, especially judicial reforms.

While the PiS insists the changes are needed to weed out judicial corruption, critics and the EU sees them as eroding judicial independence and democracy just three decades after Poland shed communism.

Trump has instead given Duda his blessing this week, inviting him to the White House on Wednesday as the first foreign leader to visit since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Originally scheduled for May, the ballot was postponed due to the pandemic and a new hybrid system of postal and conventional voting was in place on Sunday in a bid to stop the election from causing a spike in infections.

Official figures show more than 33,000 cases and more than 1,400 deaths in this EU country of 38 million people, although the real number is believed to be much higher.

– Anti-gay rhetoric –

Duda has promised to defend the governing party’s raft of social benefits — a key factor behind the populists winning a second term in October’s parliamentary election.

Duda has also echoed PiS attacks on LGBT+ rights and Western values.

Trzaskowski has instead supported gay rights and says he is open to the idea of same-sex civil partnerships.

Campaigning with the slogan “Enough is Enough”, Trzaskowski has promised a different Poland, although many see his PO party as weak and ineffectual.

A central part of his campaign has been his vow to use the experience and contacts he gathered as a former European affairs minister to “fight hard” for a fair slice of the EU’s 2021-27 budget.

– ‘Budapest model’? –

Since winning power in 2015, both Duda and the PiS have in many ways upended Polish politics by stoking tensions with the EU and wielding influence through state-owned companies and public broadcasters.

According to Warsaw University political scientist Anna Materska-Sosowska, a win for Duda could lead to “a drift to the Budapest model (of Hungary’s Viktor Orban) –- that’s the danger”.

Polling stations opened at 7:00 am (0500 GMT) and will close at 9:00 pm (1900 GMT), with an exit poll expected as soon as voting ends.

AFP

Ex-Vice President Biden Joins US Presidential Race

Former US Vice President Joe Biden on April 25, 2019, announces his bid for the presidency in the 2020 elections. HO / Joe Biden 2020 Presidential Campaign / AFP

 

Former US vice president and Democratic elder statesman Joe Biden launched his third White House bid Thursday, becoming the frontrunner in a crowded field and painting incumbent Donald Trump as a “threat” to America.

The 76-year-old is the most experienced and best recognized Democrat in the running, a veteran campaigner who has dominated early polls following months — even years — of planning.

In a three-and-a-half minute launch video, Biden he couldn’t stand by and watch Trump “fundamentally alter the character of this nation” during a second four-year term.

READ ALSO: Macron Pledges To ‘Significantly’ Cut Income Taxes

Biden criticized the president’s response to a deadly 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, recalling that Trump infamously described “very fine people” on both sides of the clashes.

“And at that moment I knew the threat to this nation was unlike any I had ever seen in my lifetime,” Biden said.

The Democratic stalwart, for eight years Barack Obama’s deputy, added that he couldn’t remain idle while Trump stood to gut America’s core values and “everything that made America America.”

Trump’s response was swift: he insulted Biden on Twitter, his favourite forum for smacking down rivals, casting doubt on his opponent’s mental capacity.

 ‘Sleepy Joe’ 

“Welcome to the race, Sleepy Joe. I only hope you have the intelligence, long in doubt, to wage a successful primary campaign,” Trump tweeted.

Biden, whose working-class appeal remains intact despite nearly half a century in Washington politics, is seen as a comforting, known quantity for American voters who will be vetting 20 Democrats now officially in the race.

Hours after his announcement, the gregarious Biden was in his element, pressing the flesh and taking photographs with customers and employees at a Wilmington, Delaware pizza parlour, and greeting old acquaintances.

“Who’s the best person to lead the country? That’s what this is going to be all about and it’s going to be for the voters to decide that,” he told reporters.

Even before his official launch, Biden led most surveys of Democratic voters. But recent controversy over his tactile style, particularly with women, could dampen his rollout.

The RealClearPolitics poll aggregate puts him a favourite with 29.3 per cent support, followed by independent Senator Bernie Sanders, who votes with the Democrats, at 23 per cent.

Both white men in their mid to late 70s, the pair are unlikely to be seen as the ideal shop window for a party seeking to win over young and minority voters.

Biden finds himself in a field of unprecedented diversity — six contenders are women and three are black — as he makes his third presidential run, following unsuccessful attempts in 1988 and 2008.

After the death of his son Beau from cancer, Biden opted out of a presidential campaign in 2016.

As he let the suspense over his plans drag out for months, the spotlight turned to younger faces including moderate South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who at 37 is less than half Biden’s age.

 Top of the polls 

Complicating matters, the last weeks have been clouded by accusations from multiple women who say Biden touched them inappropriately or made them feel uncomfortable with his shows of affection.

Biden, an old-school politico who acknowledges he is quick to offer hugs and shoulder rubs, has not outright apologized but pledged to be “more mindful” about society’s changing boundaries.

Obama, through a source close to his thinking, praised Biden but pointedly avoided endorsing, preferring to “let the candidates make their cases directly to the voters.”

Biden concurred, saying he had discouraged his former boss from any public blessing because “whoever wins this nomination should win it on its own merits.”

Several establishment Democrats did offer swift backing, including half a dozen lawmakers and a former Democratic Party boss.

Biden, who maintains a broad political network, is expected to mount a robust ground game.

But entering the race months after several rivals, he trails in a key benchmark: fundraising. He was headed Thursday to Philadelphia, reportedly to attend a high-dollar fundraiser hosted by a telecoms executive.

On Monday he travels to Pittsburgh, another city in must-win Pennsylvania, for his first major campaign event, a labour union address.

But resistance there was early dissent among progressives, including the Justice Democrats group, which criticized the party’s “old guard” for failing to stop Trump at the ballot box.

“The party needs new leadership with a bold vision capable of energizing voters in the Democratic base who stayed home in 2016,” the group said in a statement.

AFP

Bernie Sanders Joins US Presidential Race

Then Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders speaking during a rally at Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California on June 7, 2016.  JONATHAN ALCORN / AFP

 

Once dismissed by many as a fringe candidate with wacky socialist ideas, Bernie Sanders campaigned to the brink of the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 and has now set his sights on the White House once again.

Sanders, a 77-year-old US Senator from Vermont, announced on Tuesday that he will join an already crowded field of candidates seeking to challenge President Donald Trump in 2020.

“I wanted to let the people of the state of Vermont know about this first,” Sanders said on Vermont Public Radio.

He called Trump a national embarrassment and a pathological liar.

“I also think he is a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, a xenophobe, somebody who is gaining cheap political points by trying to pick on minorities, often undocumented immigrants,” Sanders said.

Like Trump, Sanders was an outsider when the 2016 presidential primaries began, little known to the public at large and initially not given much of a chance against the Hillary Clinton machine.

But he came close to pulling off the upset and ended up winning 23 primaries or caucuses against the better-funded Clinton.

READ ALSO: Court Jails Husband For 25 Years Over Sex Abuse

Sanders galvanized a broad coalition with his anti-Wall Street rhetoric and talk of a “political revolution.”

Though the oldest candidate in the field, Sanders garnered passionate support among young liberals with his calls for universal health care, a $15 minimum wage and free public university education.

He made the fight against income inequality, which he has called the greatest moral, economic and political issue of our times, the centerpiece of his insurgent campaign.

Four years later, Sanders’ policies remain the same but much has changed on the political landscape.

Trump won the election and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a young congresswoman from New York, is a rising Democratic star, embracing many of the positions held by Sanders.

“We have had more success in ideologically changing the party than I would have dreamed possible,” Sanders said in an interview with GQ magazine. “The world has changed.”

 From Brooklyn to Senate 

Bernard Sanders was born on September 8, 1941, in Brooklyn, New York, into a family of Jewish immigrants from Poland.

He attended Brooklyn College and later the University of Chicago, where he was active in the civil rights movement, attending the 1963 “March on Washington” where Martin Luther King Jr delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

After graduating, Sanders worked on an Israeli kibbutz and moved to Vermont, where he worked as a carpenter and filmmaker.

In 1981, he was elected mayor of Burlington, the state’s largest city, by a mere 10-vote margin and went on to win another three terms.

He served as mayor until 1989, winning election as an independent to the US House of Representatives in 1990.

Sanders served in the House until 2006, when he was elected to the US Senate. He was re-elected in 2012 and 2018.

While Sanders remains popular among many Democrats, some in the party are questioning whether their champion this time around should be a septuagenarian white man.

Multiple women have already joined the race, including Kamala Harris, an African-American senator from California, seen as the early front-runner.

Some #MeToo movement activists have also come out against a Sanders candidacy after several employees on his 2016 campaign complained of sexual harassment by staffers.

Sanders has issued an apology “to the women on my 2016 campaign who were harassed or mistreated.”

“We can’t just talk about ending sexism and discrimination,” he said. “It must be a reality in our daily lives.”

Famously short-tempered and irascible, Sanders also still displays the energy of a much younger man — he campaigned tirelessly for Democratic candidates in the 2018 mid-terms.

Sanders claims that he does not have a burning desire to occupy the White House and that the priority is defeating Trump.

“If there’s somebody else who appears who can, for whatever reason, do a better job than me, I’ll work my ass off to elect him or her,” he told New York magazine.

Sanders lives in Burlington with his second wife, Jane. Together, they have four children and seven grandchildren.

AFP

Presidential Election: Major Reason For My Withdrawal – Ezekwesili

 

Former presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili, has given more insight into why she withdrew from the race.

In a statement signed by her on Friday, she explained that one of the key reasons that triggered her withdrawal from the presidential race as well as her exit from the ACPN, was the divergence of values and visions within the party.

According to her, the ACPN’s vision was contrary to her’s which was focused on mobilising citizens to disrupt the old order of politics of the APC/PDP.

She, therefore, stated that upon realising this, she decided to discontinue her membership of the party.

“The values and vision divergence with the party was a key factor that triggered my withdrawal from the presidential race on their ticket prompting me to dissociate immediately in order to help build a coalition for Good Governance.

“It is why I was instant in sacrificing my candidacy to uphold my values by withdrawing,” she said.


RELATED

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Ezekwesili: It’s Too Late For Presidential Candidates To Withdraw — INEC

I Am Ready For A Coalition With Sowore, Moghalu – Durotoye


 

In reaction, the ACPN criticized Ezekwesili, saying that her presidential aspiration was not real in the first instance.

According to the party, she only wanted to use the platform to negotiate to become Finance Minister.

“The reason for calling this press conference is to let the world know about the presidential aspiration of Dr Oby Ezekwesili which in actual fact, is not the truth.

“She only wanted to use the platform of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) to negotiate to be Nigeria’s finance minister,” National Chairman, Mr Gani Galadima said.

Consequently, he said the party had withdrawn its support for her and thereafter, endorsed the second term bid of President Muhammadu Buhari, who they believe would take the nation to the next level.

Ezekwesili, who is currently outside the country, denied all the allegations, saying there was no iota of truth in them.

She added that when she returns, she would hold a World Press Conference to give details of the actions she would take going forward.

Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that it is too late for her to withdraw as the presidential candidate of the ACPN.

According to Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman Professor Mahmood Yakubu, the last day for withdrawal or replacement of candidates, was November 17, 2018.

Read Ezekwesili’s Full Statement Below.

 

NO AMOUNT OF LIES CAN STOP THE EMERGENCE OF A NEW POLITICAL MINDSET AND ORDER

Some hours ago, I arrived far flung Cabo in Mexico where our Albert Einstein’s Genius100 Visionaries meeting is holding. I was delighted to read reactions of real patriots to my announcement that I have decided to withdraw from the 2019 presidential race and end my membership of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN). I have also seen the reaction of ACPN leadership to my decision.

Fortunately, they have divinely helped me by making the Nigerian public now fully understand why I had to swiftly depart from their midst. How could I upon realising the divergence of values and vision with the leadership of the party continue to stand on such a political platform? My abiding vision has been to mobilise citizens to disrupt the old order politics of APCPDP.

Nigeria and Nigerians deserve a New Order of ethical, competent and capable leadership. I had earlier assumed the ACPN was aligned with me to offer that, until it proved otherwise. The values and vision divergence with the party was a key factor that triggered my withdrawal from the presidential race on their ticket prompting me to dissociate immediately in order to help build a coalition for Good Governance. It is why I was instant in sacrificing my candidacy to uphold my values by withdrawing.

The party’s decision to immediately today endorse the candidate of APC, which was announced by my erstwhile VP candidate who is also the Chairman of ACPN was their classic political entrepreneurship in full display for Nigerians to see. It is instructive.

The party leadership’s transactional approach to politics began to manifest in their attitude following after the convention that adopted me as their presidential candidate. All who know me can attest that I detest transactional mindset. I would have none of such and therefore extremely delighted to part ways after a tumultuous three months of hoping that the ACPN leadership would elevate to the new values of disruptive politics that one had desired for and preached within the party.

As for the defamatory statements made against my person by the ACPN leadership in their malicious statement, I want Nigerians to know that there is NO IOTA of truth in any of them. Everything ACPN wrote or said of the campaign donations is fabrication and outright lies. Our campaign was conducted with the highest level of transparency and accountability with impeccable evidence. I know and can guarantee that at all times because, these standards firmly underpin my commitment to lasting values and professionalism.

Only those who desperately wish to believe falsehoods would lend any credence to such puerile accusations by the leadership of ACPN. Only those who pretend ignorance of my legendary and uncompromising passion for accountability would give heed to such baseless statement.

I have declined any interviews until my return to Nigeria upon which I shall hold a World Press Conference to engage Nigerians on the actions I shall take even as we present full report of our three-month old campaign for the 2019 presidential election to the public.

I want to again thank all who supported us in the last three months with their talent, time and treasure to run a formidable campaign. Without your support we would never have attained the height #Hope2019 achieved. You gave our Disruptive Campaign real VALUE.

We shall at the World Press Conference also provide insights into the citizens movement that we are energised and committed to build. There is no end to our zeal to end the reign of Bad Politics in our country.

Finally, take it from me that WE shall definitely build the Coalition force that will terminate the poverty escalating governance of the two dominant parties in the 2019 election.

We are citizens of Nigeria.

And we are resolved.

Obiageli K. Ezekwesili.

January 25, 2019.

US Democrat Warren Joins 2020 Presidential Race Against Trump

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), addresses the media outside of her home after announcing she formed an exploratory committee for a 2020 Presidential run on December 31, 2018 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Scott Eisen/Getty Images/AFP

Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren — an outspoken critic of Wall Street and nemesis of Donald Trump — entered the 2020 race for the White House on Monday.

The 69-year-old progressive announced she was launching an exploratory committee for president, becoming the first major candidate in what is set to be an extraordinarily crowded Democratic primary, united by a singular focus on unseating the Republican Trump.

The move will help Warren raise funds and hire more staff early in the campaign cycle — an effort in which she already leads most other potential Democratic candidates.

Her announcement came 13 months before the Iowa caucuses that launch what is expected to be a boisterous primary season.

“America’s middle class is under attack,” said a video message from Warren, who has represented Massachusetts in the Senate since 2013, crafting a reputation as an economic populist.

“Corruption is poisoning our democracy,” she said. “Politicians look the other way while big insurance companies deny patients life-saving coverage, while big banks rip off consumers and while big oil companies destroy this planet.”

That, she said, is why she is launching her exploratory committee.

Going on the ‘offense’ 

A former public-school teacher and then Harvard law professor, Warren has been a vocal advocate of consumer and workers’ rights. But Americans may know her best for her frequent sparring with Trump — which has had mixed results.

Warren’s searing criticisms of Trump’s trade policies, erosion of consumer protections, and openness to authoritarian regimes — not to mention her call in September for Congress to use a constitutional maneuver to remove him from office — have drawn his attention, and his disdain.

Reacting to her latest move, Trump said he was unsure whether Warren could replace him at the White House. “You’d have to ask her psychiatrist,” he quipped in an interview with Fox News.

“We’ll see how she does. I wish her well, I hope she does well, I’d love to run against her.”

At his election-style rallies, Trump took to mocking her claim to have some Native American heritage by dubbing her “Pocahontas,” a derisive reference to the 17th century Native American who lived in what is now Virginia.

When Trump offered to donate $1 million to Warren’s favorite charity if she took a test proving “you’re an Indian,” she eventually did so, hoping to put an end to his ridicule.

Instead, he seemed to relish the fact that the test showed her with only a sliver of Native American heritage.

‘Nevertheless, she persisted’ 

But another encounter with a powerful male politician gave Warren a place in political folklore.

After she clashed in 2017 on the Senate floor with top Republican Mitch McConnell over the nomination of Jeff Sessions as attorney general and refused to back down, his phrase “Nevertheless, she persisted” was quickly adopted by feminists — and turned into T-shirts and bumper stickers.

As talk of a possible presidential run grew, Warren has worked to build her foreign policy credentials, taking a seat on the Senate Armed Services Committee. She favors cuts in military spending and a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Her domestic policies are reliably liberal: She is staunchly pro-choice on abortion, supports gun control and has urged Democrats to go on “offense” to expand health care coverage for Americans.

But her bread-and-butter issue has been the defense of ordinary Americans against abuses by those with wealth and power. She sharply criticized Wall Street after the 2007 financial crisis and helped establish the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

“How did we get here? Billionaires and big corporations decided they wanted more of the pie, and they enlisted politicians to cut them a fatter slice,” she said in her video.

 Humble childhood 

With as many as three dozen Democrats weighing possible presidential bids, the road to the nomination will be arduous.

Among those who have already declared their intention to run are Julian Castro, a former housing secretary in Barack Obama’s administration, Maryland Representative John Delaney and Richard Ojeda, a former army paratrooper currently serving as a state senator in West Virginia.

Polls for now show Warren trailing veteran politicians like former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders, both in their 70s — as well as rising young star Beto O’Rourke, who is 46.

But analyst Nate Silver said on Twitter that Warren “probably has a better chance than Sanders of bridging the gap between the left and the party establishment.”

“She’s always raised a ton of money. Voters know what she stands for. Women did well in the 2018 primaries,” Silver added.

Warren has built the framework of a serious campaign, with a staff of more than 70 people, $12.5 million left over from her successful re-election effort, and a nationwide network of contacts and supporters.

As she seeks to raise her profile, Warren likes to tell how she grew up in the Central Plains state of Oklahoma, in a family she said lived “on the ragged edge of the middle class.”

After her father suffered a heart attack, she went to work at age 13 waiting tables in a restaurant — life experience she says gives her a visceral connection to ordinary Americans.

AFP

Presidential Race: Saraki, Makarfi At PDP Secretariat For Screening

Courtesy: Saraki’s Twitter handle

 

Presidential Aspirants, Bukola Saraki and Ahmed Makarfi are currently at the National Secretariat of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abuja for the screening exercise, ahead of the party’s primaries.

Saraki arrived at the office on Monday morning where other aspirants will be participating in the exercise.

The Senate President took to his Twitter handle to pledge his support for whoever emerges as the Presidential Candidate of the party.

Also at the screening is the Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal.