Spotlight Exclusives

Presidential Candidates and P-Word Policies

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It۪s time to exhale. For those of any political persuasion who have been holding their breath and wondering whether the Presidential candidates would ever say something about policies to tackle poverty (the “p-word”) and provide opportunity, some new developments are encouraging.  <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />

First, national and local media are drawing attention to how poverty policy and solutions have largely been ignored by the campaigns and in the debate. Recent headlines include:


·         Poor go unheard in presidential race LA Times

·         Missing from the presidential race: The one in six Americans living in poverty Washington Post

·        Poverty is this election’s invisible issue USA Today

·         Poverty goes missing at Denver debateWashington Post

·         Mitt Romney, President Barack Obama ignoring nation’s poor during campaign Deseret News


There are multiple explanations for why the media is now beginning to focus on how poverty has been “unheard,” “missing,” and “invisible” in the campaign. One reason is that Governor Romney۪s 47 percent comment was followed by weeks of mainstream and blog coverage about who-pays-what- taxes and, more broadly, the role of the government in providing opportunity. Another contributing factor is the effort of numerous organizations through the #TalkPoverty hashtag on Twitter to get the issue inserted into the debates by calling upon the moderators to raise the topic. No fewer than 700,000 have engaged to date.


Second, and more importantly, the campaigns are beginning to go on record on poverty. Back in July, the Circle of Protection, a diverse group of Christian leaders, invited both candidates to produce short videos about how each would address hunger and poverty. Among the points made by the candidates in the videos released September 12 were:


·         “We can pay down our debt in a balanced and responsible way, but we cannot balance the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable. And certainly [we] can۪t ask the poor, the sick, or those with disabilities to sacrifice even more, or ask the middle-class to pay more, just so we can offer massive new tax cuts to those who۪ve been blessed with the most.”    President Obama


·         “If we۪re going to help lift our brothers and sisters out of poverty we must restore our economy and reduce the debt. ..My vision for recovery starts with jobs, a lot of jobs, and I have a five-part economic plan that will help create 12 million new jobs by the end of my first term in office. More jobs will mean more opportunities.”  Governor Romney


More recently, a group of six child advocates sent a letter asking the candidates to respond to a set of specific questions about policies around child poverty. Governor Romney۪s campaign invited a meeting to discuss the issue but declined to submit a formal, written response and President Obama sent his policy answers. 


For those interested in opportunity for all, let۪s hope that in the final weeks of the campaign we get to hear more from the candidates on this pressing issue. That just might take our breath away. 


OOTS readers can stay on top of campaign developments through postings on Spotlight۪s Presidential Candidates  and in our weekly newsletter.


Posted by Jodie

Here at Out of the Spotlight, we offer a behind-the-scenes look at the latest news and information essential to anyone working to fight poverty. From key political appointees to clashes over policy, we cover the news that doesn’t always make the evening news. Check out Out of the Spotlight for our take on the twists and turns of the latest political developments and their impact on poverty reduction. Topics and ideas are welcome! Just contact or

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