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On the road with the 2012 US election.

California: Where is the campaign love?

As Republican and Democratic candidates woo the Midwest, left-coasters are feeling ignored.
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US President Barack Obama speaks with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at a bill signing ceremony July 6, 2012 at the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC. President Obama signed HR 4348, the transportation and student loans bill, into law during the ceremony. (Alex Wong/AFP/Getty Images)
SUNNYVALE — “We’re tired of being the ATM for this campaign,” grumbled Melinda Hamilton, 41, former mayor of this shiny-new community in the heart of Silicon Valley. “Obama comes here for fundraisers and leaves. We just don’t like being taken for granted.”

Campaign 2012: The Republican Veepstakes

Who will Mitt Romney's VP pick be? What does it mean? Does anybody really care?
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Stumped: Senator Rob Portman, of Ohio, seen speaking to Representative Xavier Becerra, is one of several names being floated as possible picks for the Republican Party's vice presidential candidacy. (Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
Seldom has so much been written by so many about so little. Mitt Romney’s possible choices for vice president have been dangled in front of the electorate for so long that it might create the illusion that it actually matters whether Ohio Senator Rob Portman, or Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, or Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan is on the other side of the ticket. If nothing else, the speculation about names and timing helps to distract from the distasteful schoolyard brawl that surrounds Romney’s tax returns. When have we ever had high party officials call the Senate majority leader “a dirty liar” on national television?

Campaign 2012: In an Oregonian state of mind

Portland, with its pot and naked cyclists, could be the Northwest's 'coolest' city when it comes to politics too.
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The 2012 "Flashback Cruz" car show in Bend, Oregon featured over 5,000 vintage automobiles. (Jean MacKenzie/GlobalPost)
PORTLAND — Self-consciously quirky, outrageously liberal, Portland feels a bit like a hippie museum. On a recent, glorious Sunday, in the hipster Hawthorne neighborhood, white-bearded bikers in bandannas straddled their hogs in the sunshine, crowds of middle-aged, Birkenstocked customers strolled in and out of what could only be termed “head shops,” while others flipped through racks of vintage clothing — everything from old Simpsons T-shirts to velvet blazers to flowered hats from the '50s.

Happy Birthday, Mr. President

There are 51 candles on Obama’s cake today, as he fights for his political life.
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President Barack Obama (R) walks on stage at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago, Illinios, Aug. 3, 2011, as Herbie Hancock (L), members of the band OkGo (C), Jennifer Hudson (3rd R) and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (2nd R) sing "happy birthday" to him. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)
Today Barack Obama turns 51, amid one of the ugliest election campaigns in recent memory. He is fighting for his political life, locked in a dead heat with his Republican challenger, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

What’s the matter with Idaho?

Red politics in a blue-collar state.
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Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign rally at Skyline High School on March 1, 2012 in Idaho Falls, Idaho. (Justin Sullivan/AFP/Getty Images)
“I hope Obama gets in again,” said Katherine Sterling, a writer and educator who moved to Idaho from Montana years ago. “But I would like to see a real leader in power. I don’t think we have that now.”

Mitt Romney in Israel: Oops! He did it again

Romney remarks cause a stir in Israel.
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U.S. Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, delivers a speech outside the Old City in Jerusalem, Israel on July 29, 2012. He is in Israel as part of a three-nation foreign diplomatic tour which also includes visits to Poland and Great Britain. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
On what aides had labeled a “listen and learn” foreign tour, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been doing an awful lot of talking. Not only did he inflame Palestinian sentiment by suggesting that their culture was responsible for their economic distress, he gave tacit encouragement for an Israeli strike on Iran and recognized Jerusalem as the country’s capital, despite a careful US policy of maintaining its major presence in Tel Aviv. Not bad for two days.

"Mitt the Twit": A ‘disconcerting’ trip to London

The Republican candidate battles with foot-in-mouth disease on his first major overseas trip.
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Mitt Romney proved himself to be anything but a natural diplomat on his gaffe-strewn visit to Britain. (Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images)
The Obama campaign is wasting hundreds of millions of dollars on attack ads targeting Republican challenger Mitt Romney. Save your money, folks: the former Massachusetts governor needs little help in savaging his own reputation and prestige.

Campaign 2012: Status quo you can believe in

In the Northwest, the American Dream is alive and well — and available from
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Seattle, Washington is the largest city in the Pacific Northwest, and home to corporations such as Boeing, Starbucks, Microsoft and Amazon. It was a recent stop on Barack Obama's 2012 campaign trail. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)
SEATTLE — Space needles and coffee, salty mist off the Puget Sound, great wealth in a laid-back setting: Seattle is unlike almost anyplace else. This is reflected in the attitude of the hip young professionals who flock to Seattle to staff companies like Microsoft, Boeing and Amazon that have made the city into a bubble of prosperity in the midst of the economic downturn. Most of Seattle’s voters will likely do their best to give President Barack Obama another term in office, although, judging from their discussions, their hearts are not exactly in it.

Obama’s stealth visit to Seattle

The president comes to woo the wealthy, leaves the hoi polloi alone.
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Mount Rainier is seen from Air Force One with US President Barack Obama aboard as he travels from Portland, Oregon to Seattle, Washington. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, Wash. — Traveling from east to west in Washington State is as much a revolution of mind as of geography. Just as apparent are the shifts in the political landscape. Seattle is home to Microsoft, Amazon, Boeing and Starbucks, spawning a wealthy and largely liberal population that has little in common with the conservative farmers of the eastern territories.

Americans struggle with the aftermath of the Aurora shooting

US voters want to talk about gun control in the wake of yet another senseless mass shooting.
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An American tragedy: the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado, has US voters talking about gun control, again. But will it prove anything more than talk? (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
BENTON CITY — The senseless deaths of at least 12 people in Aurora, Colorado, have put the thorny question of gun control front and center ahead of the US presidential election.