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.”
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?
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.
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.
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.”
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 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.
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.
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.
GlobalPost correspondent Jean MacKenzie is taking to the road to reconnect with a country she left more than two decades before. In the run-up to the 2012 presidential election, MacKenzie aims to form a picture of the hopes and dreams, and the frustrations and fears, that will move her fellow countrymen to make what might well turn out to be one of the most important decisions of our lives.