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Santorum Visits Shelby County

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

 

An enthusiastic crowd of over 180 supporters filled the Pelham Civic Center Complex Thursday to see former Senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum, as his campaign traveled the length of Alabama with tour stops in Huntsville and Mobile in addition to Pelham.   ‘The Alabama Political Reporter’ caught up with the Presidential Candidate in Pelham.

Senator Rick Santorum told the crowd, that he was the candidate for them, “If you are looking for a conservative candidate that can go up against Barack Obama in the fall.” Santorum said that he was the Republican candidate best equipped to go “out and make the case against Barack Obama.”  “The most important issue in this race is liberty.  The president is systematically taking away your liberty. The federal government is going to limit what loans you can get.”  Sen. Santorum said that the government wanted ‘to dictate to people of faith’ what kind of services their health insurance provide and that the government was taking over their health care.  It is about control.  “Its not just about telling you what kind of light bulbs you have to use.”  “Liberty is the biggest issue in this race.”  “Unlike President Obama, I believe in you.”

Sen. Santorum was harshly critical of President Barack H. Obama saying that he was “A president who is on the verge of extinguishing the fundamental liberties we have in the nation.”  Sen. Santorum blasted President Obama’s “apology tours around the world.”

Presidential Candidate Santorum said the Republican Party needed to nominate, “A person who can paint a positive vision.” “A President who has an understanding of the threat that we face from radical Islam.“ Sen. Santorum said that the Republican Party needed the candidate, who can go out and deliver a positive message about energy.” Santorum said,” I do not own any oil leases but my grandfather was a coal miner.”

“Liberty is at the core of this election.  A quintessential threat to liberty is Obamacare.”  “The singular issue that will define this race is Obamacare.  I am the one candidate who can go directly at Obama on this issue.”  Sen. Santorum said that he was elected to the House of Representatives in 1992 when Pres. Bill Clinton was elected promising “healthcare for everybody.  I was a freshman member of the House in 1992.  A lot of Republicans then were just cheap democrats.  They wanted to do the same things the Democrats wanted to they just didn’t want to pay for it.”  “Me and John Kasich (R from Ohio) met with a lot of different people” and proposed medical savings accounts.  “I introduced the first bill on health savings accounts 20 years ago.”  “Instead of the government or the insurance company managing your healthcare we put you in charge.”  Sen. Santorum supports a system where citizens buy high deductible insurance policies and put the rest of the money into interest bearing Health Savings Accounts they manage themselves.  “Once the economy is growing again we will have interest again.”

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Sen. Santorum said that he then ran against an incumbent Democratic Party Senator.  That Senator’s campaign manager was James Carville.  “I faced the very best they had.”  The Democratic incumbent was the author of Hillary-care (Pres. Bill Clinton’s healthcare reform bill that failed to pass).  “I talked about free market health care and won.”

Presidential Candidate Santorum said, “The other people in this race don’t have clean records.”  He said that Speaker Gingrich supported federally mandated insurance for 20 years.  “Romney just supported state mandate insurance on the people.”  “You are either for bottom up or you are for top down.”  “Obama said he used Romney-care as his model.  In 2009 Romney advocated requiring people being made to buy health insurance.  Romney now denies he did that.”  Romney says that everybody in Massachusetts likes his healthcare plan.  Santorum said that we took exit polls and the majority of conservatives in Massachusetts do not like it.

Sen. Santorum said, “Why would a strong conservative, why would this area of the country elect somebody who gives away the strongest issue in this election?”  “People oppose government mandated insurance.”  “Why would the Republican party nominate somebody who gives away the issue of government mandated health insurance?”

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Republican Candidate Santorum said that he understands “How the standard of living is tied directly to the cost and availability of energy.”  He said that he “Will increase jobs and opportunities in the deep ocean, on federal lands, and by building the Keystone Pipeline.”

Sen. Santorum said that one of his opponents had proposed 59 changes to the tax code, now it was 70 changes.  Santorum said that he would get rid of the tax code.  He would have just two tax brackets on personal income: 10% and 28%.  There would be just five deductions: education, charitable giving, housing, healthcare, and children.  “35% is the highest corporate tax rate in the world.”  Sen. Santorum said that he would half that to 17.5%.

Sen. Santorum said that one sector of our economy that needed extra help was manufacturing.  To increase manufacturing jobs in this country and because manufacturing has unfair competition from China and other nations he would have a corporate tax rate on manufacturers and processors of just 0%.  Sen. Santorum said “We have also got to do something about the regulatory environment.”  President Obama has passed 2 and half times as many high cost regulations as any other president.  His new clean air regulations alone resulted in six coal fired power plants being shuttered and 500 people being out of work.  “I will repeal every one of those high cost regulations on my first day as President.”

Sen. Santorum said that businessmen and entrepreneurs were “suffering under a yoke of high taxation and the fear of what this President will do them to next.  The reason the economy is struggling is because Americans don’t like losing their liberty being taken away and they don’t like being yoked by their government.”  Britain raised tax rates last year on the very rich and revenues did not go up they found out that “rich people don’t have to work if they don’t want to” and they can take the money they do have and put it offshore.  Now the British Government is running to make up for their budget shortfall.

Sen. Santorum said that the demands of a Presidential campaign are difficult.  He is missing time with his Children including his daughter Bella who is afflicted with Trisomy 18 (a rare genetic condition where she has a third copy of her 18th Chromosome).  His family is living off of their savings, but he believes that, “Our country is at a tipping point and needs someone out there with a record and a message that clearly contrasts with this President.”  “Liberty is at the core.”  “This election is about a choice in the direction we have for this country.”  “I am not moderate.”  “Moderates don’t win.  Every time we nominated a moderate over the last 40 years we lost.   Now you know why the media is for him (Romney).  They don’t want him to win.  They want Barack Obama to win.”

Sen. Santorum said, “The torch of liberty is flickering and fading.”  If Barack Obama is reelected, “Government will control your very lives and health.”  Sen. Santorum said that the American people should not “trade in that torch of liberty for an iv. line of public support.

Candidate for President Santorum said, “If you elect me here in Alabama a conservative will be nominated and if a conservative is nominated we will win the general election.”

Before Senator Santorum spoke, his daughter, Elizabeth Santorum addressed the audience: “It is great to be here in Alabama.”  “Its been an incredible journey.”  “The food and the people here are great.”  “I am just here to share a little bit of my Dad’s heart.”  “This is something I have seen all my life.”  “It is honesty trust conviction and courage shown all this life not just through words but through actions.”

“I believe with all my heart and soul that he will be the best President we ever had.”

Shelby County Republican Party Chairman Freddy Ard and Pelham Mayor Don Murphy welcomed Sen. Santorum and all of us to Shelby County.  Republican National Committee woman Bettye Fine Collins was in attendance as was Republican National Committee man Paul Reynolds, Shelby County Sheriff Chris Curry, Alabama Supreme Court Justice Glenn Murdock, Alabama State Senator Paul Bussman, former Alabama State Senator Hank Irwin, Candidate for Congress for the 6th District Al Mickle, Candidate for Congress for the 7th District Don Chamberlain, and Indian Springs Mayor Steve Zerkis.

Santorum is currently second in delegate count to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney; but Romney has won more delegates than Sen. Santorum, Speaker Gingrich, and Rep. Paul combined.

Rick Santorum will be in Alabama again on Monday in the City of Birmingham at the historic Alabama Theater for the Alabama Republican Party Presidential forum.  Newt Gingrich has also confirmed that he will be at that event.  The other two candidates have been invited as well.

The Alabama Republican Primary is on Tuesday March 13th

For more information about the Santorum Campaign go to his campaign web site:

http://www.ricksantorum.com/index.php

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with eight and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.

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Health

Alabama’s COVID-19 hospitalizations, cases continue rise

Average daily hospitalizations continue an ongoing increase as cases nationwide surge.

Eddie Burkhalter

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Alabama hit 863 on Wednesday, the highest daily count since Sept 4, as average daily hospitalizations continue a steady increase and cases nationwide surge.

UAB Hospital in Birmingham on Wednesday was caring for 72 COVID-19 inpatients — the highest number the hospital has cared for since Aug. 21. 

In the last two weeks, Alabama has reported an increase of 15,089 new COVID-19 cases, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health and APR‘s calculations.

That number is the largest increase over a 14-day period since the two weeks ending Sept. 9. On average, the state has reported 1,078 new cases per day over the last two weeks, the highest 14-day average since Sept. 9.

The state reported 1,390 new confirmed and probable cases Thursday. Over the last week, the state has reported 7,902 cases, the most in a seven-day period since the week ending Sept. 5. That’s an average of 1,129 cases per day over the last seven days.

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Alabama’s positivity rate, based on 14-day case and test increases, was nearly 16 percent Thursday, the highest that rate has been since mid-September.

Public health experts say the positivity rate, which measures the number of positive cases as a percentage of total tests, needs to be at or below 5 percent. Any higher, and experts say there’s not enough testing and cases are likely to be going undetected. 

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“I really won’t feel comfortable until we’re down to about 3 percent,” said Dr. Karen Landers, the state’s assistant health officer, speaking to APR last week

While new daily cases are beginning an upward trajectory, the number of tests administered statewide is not, contributing to the increasing positivity rate. The 14-day average of tests per day on Thursday was 6,856 — a nearly 10 percent decrease from two weeks prior. 

Over the last two weeks, ADPH reported 206 new COVID-19 deaths statewide, amounting to an average of 15 deaths per day over the last 14 days.

So far during the month of October, ADPH has reported 303 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. In September, the total was 373. Since March, at least 2,843 people have died from the coronavirus.

The number of new cases nationwide appear to be headed toward a new high, according to data gathered by the COVID Tracking Project. The United States is now reporting nearly 60,000 cases per day based on a seven-day average. At least 213,672 Americans have died, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

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Courts

U.S. Supreme Court rules Alabama can ban curbside voting

“The District Court’s modest injunction is a reasonable accommodation, given the short time before the election,” the three dissenting justices wrote. 

Eddie Burkhalter

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The Supreme Court, in a 5-3 decision, allowed Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill to ban curbside voting, staying a district court injunction that had allowed some counties to offer curbside voting in the Nov. 3 election amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Supreme Court’s majority in its order declined to write an opinion, but Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonya Sotomayor’s five-page dissent is included.

The lawsuit — filed by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Southern Poverty Law Center, American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Alabama and Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program — was brought on behalf of several older Alabamians with underlying medical conditions.

“The District Court’s modest injunction is a reasonable accommodation, given the short time before the election,” the three dissenting justices wrote. 

Sotomayor, who wrote the dissent, closed using the words of one of the plaintiffs in the case. 

“Plaintiff Howard Porter Jr., a Black man in his seventies with asthma and Parkinson’s disease, told the District Court, ‘[So] many of my [ancestors] even died to vote. And while I don’t mind dying to vote, I think we’re past that – We’re past that time,’” Sotomayor wrote. 

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill on Wednesday applauded the Supreme Court’s decision. 

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“I am proud to report the U.S. Supreme Court has now blocked a lower court’s order allowing the fraudulent practice of curbside voting in the State of Alabama,” Merrill said in a statement. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have worked diligently with local election officials in all 67 counties to offer safe and secure voting methods – including through the in-person and mail-in processes. I am glad the Supreme Court has recognized our actions to expand absentee voting, while also maintaining the safeguards put into place by the state Legislature.”

“The fact that we have already shattered voter participation records with the election still being 13 days away is proof that our current voting options are easy, efficient, and accessible for all of Alabama’s voters,” Merrill continued. “Tonight’s ruling in favor of election integrity and security is once again a win for the people of Alabama.”

Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, expressed frustration after the ruling in a tweet.

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“Another devastating loss for voters and a blow for our team fighting to ensure safe voting for Black and disabled voters in Alabama. With no explanation, the SCOTUS allows Alabama to continue making it as hard as possible for COVID-vulnerable voters,” Ifill wrote.

Curbside voting is not explicitly banned by state law in Alabama, but Merrill has argued that because the practice is not addressed in the law, he believes it to be illegal. 

A panel of federal appeals court judges on Oct. 13 reversed parts of U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon’s Sept. 30 order ruling regarding absentee voting in the upcoming Nov. 3 elections, but the judges let the previous ruling allowing curbside voting to stand. 

In his Sept. 30 ruling, Kallon wrote that “the plaintiffs have proved that their fears are justified” and the voting provisions challenged in the lawsuit “unduly burden the fundamental Constitutional rights of Alabama’s most vulnerable voters and violate federal laws designed to protect America’s most marginalized citizens.”

Caren Short, SPLC’s senior staff attorney, in a statement said the Supreme Court’s decision has curtailed the voting rights of vulnerable Alabamians.

“Once again, the Supreme Court’s ‘shadow docket’ – where orders are issued without written explanation – has curtailed the voting rights of vulnerable citizens amidst a once-in-a-century public health crisis. After a two-week trial, a federal judge allowed counties in Alabama to implement curbside voting so that high-risk voters could avoid crowded polling locations,” Short said. “Tonight’s order prevents Alabama counties from even making that decision for themselves. Already common in states across the South and the country before 2020, curbside voting is a practice now encouraged by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It should be a no-brainer to implement everywhere during a pandemic; the Alabama Secretary of State unfortunately disagrees, as does the Supreme Court of the United States.”

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Education

SPLC files complaints in Pike County over suspension of two Black students

Both complaints, filed in Pike County Juvenile Court, ask the court to reverse suspensions of RaQuan Martin and Dakarai Pelton, both Black and former students at Goshen High School. 

Eddie Burkhalter

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The Southern Poverty Law Center on Wednesday filed two complaints with an Alabama juvenile court alleging the Pike County Board of Education arbitrarily suspended two students in violation of their due process rights under the U.S. Constitution. 

“Students across Alabama continue to be excluded from school without regard for their due process rights, leading to unwarranted and unlawful suspensions and expulsions,” said Michael Tafelski, senior supervising attorney for the SPLC’s children’s rights project, in a statement. 

“This is particularly troubling for Black students who are three times more likely to be excluded from school for minor and subjective infractions than their white peers. Education is an important aspect of a young person’s life and the decision to exclude them from school should not be taken lightly,” Tafelski continued. 

Both complaints, filed in Pike County Juvenile Court, ask the court to reverse suspensions of RaQuan Martin and Dakarai Pelton, both Black and former students at Goshen High School. 

The complaints state that on Nov. 22, 2019, both students were approached by the school’s principal “in connection with alleged rumors that a group of students had ‘smoked’ that same day in the parking lot at school.” The principal alleged he had video security footage of them doing so, but wouldn’t show the students the footage, according to the complaints. 

Both boys told the principal that they had not used marijuana, but had both accompanied another student to their car in the parking lot, and both left when the other student showed them what appeared to be drug paraphernalia.

“The students, both seniors at the time, denied the allegations and even took drug tests that showed they had no drugs in their system that day. But the school refused to consider this evidence,” the SPLC said in a press release. 

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The complaints state that the district failed to provide the students proper notice, including details about their charges, evidence of wrongdoing, a meaningful opportunity to be heard or to present evidence of their own and question witnesses during their hearings. 

“Only you know what did or didn’t happen in that vehicle … you dodged a bullet here because we didn’t have the proof that we need,” said one school board member to one of the students during his hearing, according to the complaint. 

“There was no proper investigation at all,” said Shatarra Pelton, Dakarai’s mother, in a statement. “It was unorganized and overblown. The school was unable to produce any evidence other than hearsay.” 

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After a brief hearing, both seniors were suspended for the rest of the school year, missing out on a chance to finish their high school athletics and potentially missing out on college football scholarships as a result, the complaints state. 

Prior to their suspensions, both students had no disciplinary referrals and were making good grades, according to the complaints. 

“On Jan. 13, the students appealed the Council’s decision to the Pike County Board of Education, and the board agreed to consider allowing the students to return to GHS if they participated in drug treatment classes, passed urine and hair follicle drug tests and maintained perfect attendance at the alternative school. After completing all the requirements, the students returned to school on Feb. 21 – three months after their removal,” the SPLC said in the release. 

“He had a rough senior year, to say the least,” said Tasha Martin, RaQuan’s mother, in a statement. “He missed senior night, he missed everything.” 

“They didn’t get to play not one game,” Martin said. “They had some coaches visit them while they were in alternative school but when the coaches found out that they couldn’t go back to school, they stopped coming. Our families were devastated; sometimes me and Ms. Pelton would be on the phone and just cry to each other. It has been really tough.”  

“I want schools to understand that it’s not just a moment you’re ruining, you’re ruining a lifetime,” Pelton said. “With no factual basis, only an unproven accusation, you have just completely deterred a student’s life. Most schools say that they are there for their students, but you are showing them the total opposite.”

Pike County Schools during the 2019-2020 school year referred 49 students to a disciplinary hearing, according to the SPLC. Of those, 48 students were either suspended or expelled, and although Black students made up less than 50 percent of the student population, Black students made up 80 percent of the referrals.  On average, Black students make up 77 percent of all students referred for disciplinary hearings in the district, according to the SPLC.

Both complaints can be read here and here.

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News

Biden urges Democrats to support Doug Jones

In the email, Biden asked voters to split a contribution between the Biden campaign and Jones’s campaign.

Brandon Moseley

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Former Vice President Joe Biden appears at a campaign rally in Birmingham with then-candidate Doug Jones in 2017. (CHIP BROWNLEE/APR)

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Wednesday asked Democratic donors to support the re-election of U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama.

“I wanted to reach out to you about an old friend of mine: Doug Jones,” Biden said. “You might not believe this, but I met Doug more than 40 years ago, when I was a newly-minted junior senator, and he was in his early 20s, just beginning what would become one of the most impressive and dedicated careers of public service I’ve had the privilege of watching.”

“Doug has devoted his entire career to fighting for justice,” Biden said. “He’s the man who would not rest until the Klansmen who killed four young Black girls in the 1963 Birmingham church bombing were finally brought to justice. Doug has shown us, even in our darkest moments, that hope for the American promise is never lost — and what we can do when we stand united.”

In the email, Biden asked voters to split a contribution between the Biden campaign and Jones’s campaign.

“I need Doug’s help in the Senate,” Biden said. “He’s running neck-and-neck in his race in Alabama right now, and he needs our help to win.”

Biden said this election is “a battle for the soul of our country” and “few places are those stakes as clear as in Alabama.”

“I remember in 2017 when everyone counted Doug out,” Biden said. “When they thought that a message of unity would lose in a state where a long history of division still runs deep. But when I visited Alabama to help Doug, I saw what he saw – Alabama was ready to come together.”

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Biden was an early endorser of Jones in the 2017 special election, when Jones defeated former Chief Justice Roy Moore in that election. Jones returned the favor in the 2020 Democratic primary, endorsing Biden when the former vice president was having difficulty raising money and was polling well behind Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont.

Jones campaigned hard with Biden in Selma and other campaign stops across Alabama prior to Super Tuesday on March 3.

“His win gave me hope,” Biden said. “I was both honored and proud to have escorted him onto the floor of the Senate and stood behind him when he was sworn in as a United States Senator. And his record has been extraordinary – passing 22 bipartisan bills helping farmers, military families, and those devastated by natural disasters. And in perhaps the most crucial fight of all – our health care – Doug has been there again and again standing up for all of us, especially those with pre-existing conditions. Every time we needed him to stand up for us, Doug Jones was there. I’m going to need Doug’s voice in the Senate. Alabama and America will need Doug’s voice in the Senate.”

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“Doug and I share a vision for a united country – one that puts faith over fear, fairness over privilege, and love over hate. And Doug, his campaign, and his career remind us that it’s a vision we can only realize if we come together,” Biden said.

In an Auburn University Montgomery poll, Biden trails Trump in Alabama by 17 points. Jones trailed former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville by 12 points. The Jones campaign claims that there has been a tightening of the race since then and it is a statistical tie. The Tuberville campaign disputes that claim.

Republican insider Perry Hooper Jr. said, “Whether it is the AUM poll, the Al.com poll, or internal polls by the (Tuberville) campaign, the margin is between 12 and 18 points in favor of Tuberville.”

The Jones campaign has been inundating the state airwaves with TV and radio ads due to the vast advantage that Jones has had fundraising. More than 82 percent of Jones’ money raised in the third quarter reporting cycle came from outside the state of Alabama.

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