Articles by: Rodrigo Praino

  • Op-Eds

    The Clinton Touch

    While the media keep talking about Hillary Clinton’s motion to “suspend the rules of the Convention” and nominate Sen. Obama by acclamation, and countless private citizens are thrilled by “how selfless she was”, and “how united the party actually is”, aren’t we missing the main point of this Democratic Convention? So far, this wasn’t indeed Barack’s Convention, it was the Clintons’.

    Changing the complicated and colorful rules of the Convention in order to create a more exciting show is more common than most would think, especially since party Conventions became a TV prime-time live show. The most common changes happened with state delegations refusing to vote, in order to make bigger states vote first and lock the nomination much faster, or when the home state of the nominee was allowed to cast the decisive vote. This year the change has been selecting Obama by acclamation in order to avoid dissidents in Hillary’s camp to show up. But this made her the real hero of the Democratic party: she spared Obama and the party the embarassement of a divided convention, and the choreography of the gesture – broadcast live on TV – will linger for quite a long time.

    But the big thing this year wasn’t indeed the change of the rules, it was the fact that over and over again the Clintons placed themselves in the spotlight. After Hillary made possible Obama’s dramatized selecion by acclamation, Bill gave a wonderful speech which was however about his presidency more than anything else, with the major addition of comparing Obama to himself. And so he stole Joe Biden’s stage, who spoke shortly after him.

    It almost looks as if the Clintons were there in the quality of “owners” of the Democratic party, some sort of gatekeepers giving their bless to the young newcomer.

    All we can do now is wait and see what happens next. In the case of a Republican victory, Hillary will probably be back on track right away and stronger than ever. In case of an Obama administration, will she chose “for the sake of the party and of the country” to play some active role, maybe related to healthcare reform?



  • Facts & Stories

    Who Else Wants to Be a Bull Moose?

    I want to be a Bull Moose,
    And with the Bull Moose stand
    With Antlers on my forehead
    And a Big Stick in my hand.

    These words were written on the banner in front of the California delegation at the Progressive party’s national convention in 1912. The symbol of the Progressive party was the bull moose. This year, while the “big stick” part of Theodore Roosevelt’s policy seems to have been forgotten, it looks like all major candidates are trying to somehow emulate the great progressive leader.


    Last year during the CNN/YouTube presidential debate for the 2008 primary season, somebody asked Hillary Clinton if she defined herself as a “liberal”. Her answer was as smart as it gets. She said that she didn’t think of herself as a “liberal”, but would rather use the word “progressive”.


    Recently, in a New York Times interview, the Republican soon-to-be presidential nominee John McCain declared that his model for a “conservative” politician is Theodore Roosevelt. No need to say that Teddy Roosevelt is not really a conservative model, given his progressive tendencies culminated in a third-party candidacy with the Progressive party in 1912.


    Many have come to see the Democratic presumptive nominee Barack Obama as the new Theodore Roosevelt for a number of reasons, including his proclivity for speaking about change and a “better country” for everyone.


    But why is everybody so keen on Teddy Roosevelt and his progressive ideas? The Progressive Era is a period in U.S. history around the beginning of the 20th century during which a number of political leaders across party lines fought for change. Their main goal was the true democratization of the American political system. Their proposals were very variegated and ranged from civil rights issues to effective political representation and environment-related stances. The so-called “progressive movement” gathered supporters from both major parties. The influence of progressive ideas can be observed in a strong and direct at least until Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency, as far into the 1930s. The most renowned political leader of the progressive movement is President Theodore Roosevelt.


    Teddy Roosevelt is a rather controversial historical figure. He was famous for being an honest and incorruptible public officer in a world where corruption was rampant. As Governor of New York Roosevelt campaigned so hard against the political machines working within the state that New York political boss Thomas Platt teamed up with Pennsylvania boss Matt Quay to make of Roosevelt the vice-presidential nominee on the McKinley ticket in 1901. For the machine bosses, this was the best way to get rid of a Governor with whom it was impossible to “deal”. It seems that on that occasion Mark Hanna, President McKinley’s campaign manager and top adviser stated: “Don’t any of you realize that there’s only one life between that madman and the Presidency? Platt and Quay are no better than idiots!” A few months later, Hanna’s words proved to be prophetic: McKinley was assassinated and Roosevelt rose to the Presidency.


    During his Presidency Teddy Roosevelt fought for some progressive reforms, but his most interesting legacy on the progressive side is the platform of his third-party campaign in 1912. The Progressive party’s “Covenant with the People” called for federal regulation against trusts, the direct election of Senators, women’s suffrage, conservation of natural resources, better working conditions in factories, and even the creation of something that some historians believe to be very similar to what we now define as a “universal healthcare system”. Roosevelt lost that election to Woodrow Wilson, a Democratic leader with some progressive tendencies, but ultimately part of the 1912’s Progressive political platform was implemented. The rest of it is still, to this day, at the center of political debates.


    On the Republican side, Teddy Roosevelt could be considered the traitor that led the party to a political defeat in 1912. However, the tremendous popularity of this political leader, his modern vision of politics and democracy, his heroic life and his clean and successful political career makes him one of the most popular presidents of all times. The Republican Party is proud to define him a Republican President, notwithstanding his last presidential bid with the Progressive Party. For John McCain, getting inspiration from Roosevelt means to stress his own bipartisan inclination, his openness towards the enhancement of democracy across party lines and his reputation as a “clean” politician that does not bow to big business and corporate interests.


    On the Democratic side, the connection to Roosevelt is a little bit more complicated. Indeed it is always easier to find models within your own party, even if a loved and well-remembered historical figure such as Teddy Roosevelt can prove to be useful. It is even more useful given the “progressive” label. The use of this word today is extremely smart, appropriate and tactical. First of all, lately the word “liberal” has come to acquire a negative connotation in some circles. Second, the use made of this word in the United States is basically wrong. In the past it was in fact connected – as it still is today in Europe – to the “liberal” economic school of Adam Smith and David Ricardo, which was based on limited government and laissez-faire. The new, all-American use of this word in connection to strong governmental intervention in the economy and understanding of different types of social issues took place during the 20th century.


    Strangely enough, for convenience of deep conviction seems like progressive ideas are coming back at the American political arena in a weird cross-partisan manner. Now that candidates managed to give themselves this nice new label, the only thing that is missing is a solid theoretical elaboration of what 21st century progressivism might be!


  • Op-Eds

    The Populist Moment: Why Everyone Loves Barack

    A few weeks ago on my way to Paris, I received a phone call at JFK airport in New York just a minute before catching my 7 o’clock flight: “Al Gore endorsed Barack Obama.” While flying over the Atlantic I could not get any details, but I decided to write down something anyway. Ultimately, there were no significant details, but my thoughts during that flight reflected something much more complicated.


    Al Gore’s endorsement represents the end of a dream. Deep inside, millions of Americans have been hoping for a messy Democratic convention where Al Gore will magically emerge as the Democratic nominee or an Independent candidate. While his endorsement does not rule out this remote possibility, it certainly feels like you’ve been woken up from a sweet dream with a glass of cold water being poured over your head.


    The grass-roots movement that has been supporting Sen. Obama in this election is simply amazing. The number of people gathered at any of his public appearances is unbelievable. Even his small contribution-based financial campaign is striking to any pundit. The dedication of his volunteers and the passion of his followers are second only to the ardor of a European hooligan. His speeches and proposals are vague and unclear, just like the pure dream of a child longing for a better place to live. He has a catchy slogan, one that is nice enough to be liked by everyone and vague enough to suit everyone’s needs. While looking at such a peculiar relationship between leaders and their followers, any political scientist would be temped to speak about Populism.


    However, instead of writing about Barack Obama’s presumptive Populism, I’d rather write about the chances that a Populist might have in the United States today. Writing about the presumptive Populism of a presumptive nominee is too presumptuous and would have no empirical or scientific basis at this early stage. On the contrary, writing about the country’s potential openness to the rise of a Populist leader does not raise unsubstantiated accusations and could shed some light on why people seem so open to a charismatic leader, seemingly able to make a dream come true.


    In a recent article published by The Journal of Politics, Jennifer L. Merolla, Jennifer M. Ramos, and Elizabeth J. Zechmeist attempt to outline traces of Populism in the 2004 U.S. presidential elections. They focus on George W. Bush and how the incumbent president was perceived by the electorate, but the very basis of their study is quite interesting and lends itself to broader generalization. Their work is based on the assumption that during periods of crisis, charismatic leaders tend to rise to power. This direct relation between a strong, charismatic leader and a loosely defined “moment of crisis” is fascinating not only in well-known cases like those of Hitler in Germany, Perón in Argentina, Fujimoro in Peru, Chaves in Venezuela, or Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in Bangladesh. Indeed, explaining an American political phenomenon using the Republic of Weimar’s collapse or Fujimoro’s rise to power as examples is quite useless and far too complicated. On the contrary, it is much more useful to learn a few lessons from American history.


    If it is true that Populist leaders tend to rise during periods of crisis, it is hard to imagine a better moment than the decade from 1929 to 1939 to look at the rise of such a political figure in the United States. The Great Depression and the Second World War were the biggest disasters of the 20th century and they unfolded within a single, terrible decade. This period saw the rise to power of a wonderful political leader: Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Dictators are famous for staying in power for a long time. Adolf Hitler is the most famous dictator of all time. Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933 and died in 1945 while still in power. Franklin Delano Roosevelt began his first term as president of the United States in 1933 and died in 1945 while still in office. It would be a tremendous historical mistake to ever imply that FDR was a dictator, but in his policies there was a slight leaning towards the kind of Populist political behavior seen only during critical historical moments and that could also lead to a not-so-democratic brand of leadership. In his magnificent book Diplomacy, Henry Kissinger – whether or not you like his politics, his work as a scholar is amazing and this is one of the best history books ever written – extensively explains how “no contemporary president could resort to Roosevelt’s methods and remain in office.”


    Starting with the Great Depression, it is clear that, as President Herbert Hoover stated in the third volume of his Memoirs, “neither the American people nor the Congress would have approved such unprecedented measures before these ill winds began to strike our shores.” The measures proposed by Roosevelt and approved by the U.S. Congress were indeed unprecedented. The level of federal interference with economic-related issues was much higher than any state would have allowed under normal circumstances. Strikingly enough, even the Southern states – and the conservative Southern population – approved FDR’s political proposals to remedy the Great Depression, notwithstanding their diffused sympathy for states’ rights. FDR became more than a politician or a political leader for many families around the country. He was the president – the man who saved the people from hunger and suffering, the charismatic leader who knew how to lead the people of the United States. That moment of crisis created a great leader, one who was able to manage the crisis within the boundaries provided by the democratic constitution. At times, however, President Roosevelt tried to go beyond these rigid democratic boundaries. When the Supreme Court started to dismantle his public agencies’ crisis-management network, for example, he came up with an idea that critics dubbed as the “Court-packing plan,” a proposal that would simply strip all power from the Supreme Court and create a new court majority favorable to his administration.


    A few years later, yet another moment of crisis allowed President Roosevelt to break with tradition. Following what is known in the American political tradition as George Washington’s Will, no president of the Unites States had ever tried to seek a third term in office. Roosevelt won four elections and died shortly after his fourth inauguration.


    FDR’s entire management of the escalation of war in Europe shows that he was paying little attention to rules, boundaries, and constitutional checks and balances – elements that are of fundamental importance in a democratic regime. While the war was escalating in Europe and European powers were trying to appease Hitler with the full cooperation of Mussolini, the U.S. Congress enacted a series of Neutrality Acts to avoid American entanglement in European affairs. President Roosevelt, however, was deeply convinced that America’s duty was to stand by the other democratic powers and help the United Kingdom through any means possible. American neutrality laws prohibited any arms export to belligerent powers, so technically the president had his hands tied. At that point, Roosevelt came up with the idea of disassembling U.S. aircrafts and legally exporting them piece by piece to Canada, where they were re-assembled and sent to Europe. Although no laws were violated, it is clear that this was a way to exploit a legal loophole in order to implement the kind of foreign policy that Congress was trying to avoid. A few months later, Roosevelt convinced Congress and the American people that the right thing to do was to help the Allied forces in their struggle against Nazi and Fascist forces:


    «Suppose my neighbor's home catches fire, and I have a length of garden hose four or five hundred feet away. If he can take my garden hose and connect it up with his hydrant, I may help him to put out his fire. Now, what do I do? I don't say to him before that operation, "Neighbor, my garden hose cost me $15; you have to pay me $15 for it." What is the transaction that goes on? I don't want $15--I want my garden hose back after the fire is over. All right. If it goes through the fire all right, intact, without any damage to it, he gives it back to me and thanks me very much for the use of it. But suppose it gets smashed up--holes in it--during the fire; we don't have to have too much formality about it, but I say to him, "I was glad to lend you that hose; I see I can't use it any more, it's all smashed up." He says, "How many feet of it were there?" I tell him, "There were 150 feet of it." He says, "All right, I will replace it." Now, if I get a nice garden hose back, I am in pretty good shape.» (FDR press conference, December 17, 1940.)


    With this colorful anecdote the president got his “lease and lend” proposal approved, according to which American arms were sent for free to the Allied forces fighting in Europe.

    Roosevelt made the right decisions during hard and dangerous times. He was in power longer than other great American leaders, but he ruled in a completely democratic fashion. At times his decisions and attitude hovered on the limits of the law, but ultimately he did the right thing.
    Plato hypothesized that democracies are never perfect. According to the Greek philosopher, the ideal way to govern would be to give power to someone who is, as defined by Voltaire many centuries later, an “enlightened sovereign.” Indeed, who could govern better than a just and fair person with absolute power? The only problem with “enlightened sovereigns” is that they almost always run into the shadows and lose all of their pleasant enlightenment. The best historical example that comes to mind is Pope Pious IX. During the time when popes were not simply spiritual leaders but absolute monarchs governing a large state, Pious IX was at first considered a liberal reformer. He was later the author of the infamous encyclical Quanta Cura in 1864 which contained an outline of the errors of the modern world.
    In the end, it is clear that we are living in a period of crisis. The economy is not well, there are two major, never-ending wars being fought in distant lands, and oil prices are at unsustainably high levels. In moments such as these people tend to look for strong political leadership. This cannot be considered as an absolute good or bad; it depends on the historical zeitgeist and on the leaders who receive this heightened sense of trust from voters. The United States has proved that it is happily protected against such degenerations of democracy. The American presidents who have had the opportunity to lean toward Populism are today remembered, both in the U.S. and all over the world, as some of the greatest democratic leaders of all time. We can only hope that this continues to remain true.
    (Edited by Giulia Prestia)

  • Facts & Stories

    Unforgettable Moments Forgotten: Italy Meets JFK

    In connection with George W.Bush’s trip to Italy, we continue to look back at past Presidential visits to the Bel Paese. It was in 1963, in the very first days of July, that President John F. Kennedy went to Rome and Naples.


    Kennedy’s trip to Italy is often forgotten and snubbed. It was simply the last stop in a larger and extremely famous tour of Europe that took the President to several Irish locations – producing the triumphal popular acclamation, “their Irish President” – and to West Berlin, where on June 26 he pronounced at the Rudolph Wilde Platz the oft-heard, often referenced “ich bin ein Berliner” speech. Well, let’s get two things straight about this speech before moving on to the neglected stop in Italy. First of all, there seems to be a sort of Italian influence in this famous speech. In fact, the catchy “ich bin ein Berliner” sentence is nothing more than President Kennedy’s modern version of the proud Ancient Roman boast “civis Romanus sum”. Second, setting aside the slogan, the best part of that speech was when the President said that “freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect, but we have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in, to prevent them from leaving us”. Too often, just like the trip to Italy, this wonderful passage is forgotten.


    Kennedy arrived in Italy on June 30. He privately stopped by Lake Como to avoid arriving in Rome during the coronation of Pope Paul VI. The following day he travelled to the Italian capital. No particular arrangements were made to greet President Kennedy. A small number of enthusiastic well-wishers gathered upon his arrival, but there were no noteworthy manifestations of support registered in Rome. A respectable number of people waited for the President’s passage in Via dei Fori Imperiali in front of the Colosseum, but nothing even close to the shows of spontaneous joy registered at the beginning of the century for Teddy Roosevelt or Woodrow Wilson. Kennedy’s main mission in Italy was to garner support for the deployment of a nuclear-armed fleet staffed by people from many nations in the European seas. With regard to this initiative, he Italian government was rather cold and sceptical.


    The President met with Italian Prime Minister Giovanni Leone and with Italian President Antonio Segni. He also had the opportunity to chat with several other important political leaders, including Amintore Fanfani, Aldo Moro and a twenty-minute talk with Socialist leader Pietro Nenni. There was a high-tension moment when, during a reception, Kennedy met Palmiro Togliatti, leader of the Italian Communist Party. The President’s only words to Togliatti were “it’s nice to be in your country”. Speaking of tension, some of the closest members of the President’s staff felt the full brunt of the Italian government’s tepid reception. McGeorge Bundy and Theodore Sorensen were blocked and shoved by Italian police officers at the entrance of the Quirinal Palace, raising a minor quarrel between the Italian and the American protocol officers.


    On June 2 the first and only Catholic President of the United States met with the freshly-crowned Pope Paul VI. The meeting was private and cordial. The same day he went to Naples to visit the AFSOUTH NATO Headquarters. Kennedy’s reception in the paese d’o Sole was completely different from the one in Rome. There people were really excited about the President’s presence. According to an article by Tom Wicker, published by the New York Times on July 3, 1963, the President’s appearance in Naples was “a smashing success. This hot and humid Mediterranean city gave the president one of the wildest receptions of his tour and provided a fitting climax to it”. That same day, another Times article attributed this warm and wonderful welcome to a theory that “most of the Neapolitans who cheered the President have relatives in the United States”.


    President Kennedy’s visit in Naples left an indelible and significant mark, yet one more thing is often forgotten. His visit created the basis for a cooperation between the National Library of Naples, the United States Consulate General in Naples and the United States Information Service (USIS) that established a complete and extensive library about American history, politics and culture. For many years the U.S. government financed this vital cultural resource, today known as the “John F. Kennedy American Section” of the National Library of Naples. It is the only organic and organized resource in Southern Italy about many aspects of American culture, one of the very few places of its kind in Italy.


    Getting back to our official Presidential scoreboard, it is clear that when it comes to the support of the Italian people, the Italian political elite and the Vatican, President Kennedy got 2 out of 3. Nevertheless he deserves an extra point for leaving behind a permanent cultural landmark, right in front of Mount Vesuvius.


  • Facts & Stories

    A War President Who Wasn't a Loser and His Trip to Italy

    In time with President Bush’s visit to Italy, let’s continue to glimpse at how past Presidents were received in the Bel Paese. After Teddy Roosevelt’s tour of the country, taken in somewhat incidental fashion, we’ll explore what happened during the first official state visit of a U.S. President to Italy. The first sitting President to travel to Italy was Woodrow Wilson shortly after the First World War in 1919. On his way to the Paris Peace Conference, the President had wanted to stop through the United Kingdom and Italy. The following is a brief summary of how Italy welcomed a “war President”.


    Between January 1 and January 6, 1919, President Wilson, Mrs. Wilson and their daughter visited Rome, Genoa, Turin and Milan. There were rumors of a possible visit to Naples, but as it happened the presidential party made no such last-minute fugue to Southern Italy. Wilson was first greeted at the Franco-Italian border by the Duke of Lante, an envoy for the King of Italy, and traveled to Rome via a special royal train, stopping briefly in Turin and Genoa. Wherever he passed, crowds gathered to salute the President, shouting “Viva l’America!”. Be it in mountain towns, large cities or hamlets in the plains, people waved the Italian tricolore together with the stars and stripes to greet a leader they admired.


    The Wilsons were hosted by the King and Queen of Italy at the Quirinal. Upon their arrival in Rome, Via Nazionale, the street that leads from the train station to the royal residence –today the residence of the Italian President, was festooned with flags. Soldiers had to be deployed along its entire length in order to contain the rapturous people, intent on celebrating someone they looked upon as a modern hero. The masses wanted to get close enough to see him, greet him, and even kiss his hand or clothing.


    The first record of an Italian position on President Wilson was written by Dr. Vincenzo de Santo, an Italian member of the Faculty of the University of Pennsylvania, and published by the Roman newspaper Idea Nazionale on April 12, 1917. Dr. De Santo spoke about President’s Wilson obstinacy, asserting that this character trait “when founded on justice and on a perfect knowledge of one’s duty, as is the case of Mr. Wilson, instead of being a defect may be one of the rarest virtues a great leader can possess”. During his speech to Italian Parliament Wilson had stated that “the only use to an obstacle is to be overcome”. That kind of approach to life and the future was precisely what a population tried by years of bitter, brutal war needed to hear.


    King Victor Emmanuel III welcomed President Wilson and his family with every conceivable honor. The President also held a number of fruitful meetings with Prime Minister Vittorio Emanuele Orlando in preparation for the Paris Peace Conference. The laundry list of gifts, honorary citizenships, praises and honors he received during his trip, from the City of Rome to the Accademia dei Lincei, is so long that it becomes almost boring to recount them all.


    In compliance with Vatican protocol, President Wilson left from Ambassador Page’s residence accompanied by the Rector of the American College to see Pope Benedict XV. On his way to Vatican City, the President was trailed once more by an adoring crowd who threw him flowers as he passed. The Pope received Wilson with all due honors and presented him with a precious mosaic. Later Wilson also met with members of Rome’s Methodist community—following the Fairbanks incident and Teddy Roosevelt’s dismissal of the Pope a few years earlier, this time all conditions set by the Vatican were quietly observed.


    President Wilson’s visit to Italy was, in a larger sense, also a tribute to the Italian/American community. During the state dinner arranged by Victor Emmanuel at the Quirinal palace, the monarch proposed a toast to his distinguished guests. Naturally required to respond, Mr. Wilson said: “it has been a matter of pride with us that so many Italians, (…) were in our own armies and associated with their brethren in Italy itself in the great enterprise of freedom. (…) The Italians in the United States have excited a particular degree of admiration. They, I believe, are the only people of a given nationality who have been careful to organize themselves to see that their compatriots coming to America were from month to month and year to year guided to places in industries most suitable to their previous habits. No other nationality has taken such pains as that, and in serving their fellow countrymen they have served the United States because these people have found places where they would be most useful, and would most immediately earn their own living and add to the prosperity of the country itself.”


    On his way back to France the President visited Milan and made it a point return to Genoa and Turin. Despite a grisly thunderstorm, Wilson wanted to spend three hours in Genoa to pay tribute to two well-known heroes: Giuseppe Mazzini and Christopher Columbus. Wilson was a life-long admirer of Mazzini’s life and ideas, and as he stood before his tomb, declared he was delighted to be able to take “some part in accomplishing the realization of the ideals to which [Mazzini’s] life and thought were devoted”. The President then proceeded to visit Columbus’ house, where he recognized the everlasting link between the city of Genoa, Italy and the United States.


    President Wilson’s tour of Italy was a message of hope and a tribute to all Italians in Italy and in the United States. The first real American “war President” left the Bel Paese with shouts of “viva Wilson, god of peace!”


    If one were to, again, rate the Presidential visit in terms of how warmly he was welcomed by the Italian people, the Italian political elite and the Vatican, it really seems that Woodrow Wilson got 3 out of 3—even if relations with the Pope were a little cold. The real “god of peace” in 1919 was President Wilson and not the Holy Father, as Benedict XV, who had made a peace proposal a few months earlier, had hoped would be the case.


  • Facts & Stories

    Once Upon a Time, the President Rode into Italy on a Sea of Love

    On Monday, June 9, President George W. Bush will cross the Atlantic Ocean once again to embark on what critics have already dubbed as his “Farewell Tour of Europe”. The trip is planned to coincide with the annual U.S.-European Union summit to be held in Slovenia. Bush will visit Germany, Italy, the Vatican City, France and the United Kingdom. According to White House Press Secretary Dana Perino, the President will be meeting  “some new friends and some old friends of our country” to discuss matters related to war, terrorism and trade.


    President Bush will be in Italy on June 12 and13 where he will meet with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and Premier Silvio Berlusconi. Before heading to France he will also pay a visit to the Pope at Vatican City. While no exultant crowds are expected to greet the U.S. President – rather, protesters may very well gather to contest him and his administration – we thought it would be interesting to take a look at how American Presidents have been received in the Bel Paese in the past, with special attention to how they have been treated by the Italian people, the Italian political elite and the Vatican.


    The first sitting American President to travel outside the United States was Theodore Roosevelt, when he decided to go to Panama with the First Lady in 1906 to inspect the construction of the Panama Canal. Teddy Roosevelt didn’t go to Italy on official business, but shortly after leaving office – and before his comeback third-party campaign in 1912 – he left the United States for a year-long tour of the world focused on the African continent, where he could best exercise his famous passion for hunting. On his way to Africa and on his way back home, the ex-President stopped in several Italian locations.


    Roosevelt left from New York on board the S.S. Hamburg on March 23, 1909. Waiting for him on the pier at 23rd St. and 6th Ave. was a teeming crowd of Italian/Americans, accompanied by an entire band playing “My Country ‘Tis of Thee”. The President was presented with a bronze tablet from the Italian Chamber of Commerce and was warmly saluted by the cheering throng. It was their way of showing gratitude to a man and a country that had helped the populations of Calabria and Sicily, stricken by a terrible earthquake not long before. After crossing the ocean, the Presidential party had to change ships in Naples before reaching Mombasa. Roosevelt stayed in the Southern Italian city only a few hours, but the locals were so thrilled at his arrival they had wanted to greet him with mirthful affirmations of friendship. A number of boats, yachts and warships converged in the Gulf of Naples ahead of his approach, and the newspapers at the time reported that Roosevelt was “astonished” by the enthusiasm of well-wishers, who had filled the streets. The few hours he spent in Naples were only enough to meet with some local notables and institutional figures at his hotel, and then to pay a visit to the Duke and Duchess of Aosta at their magnificent castle, Capodimonte.


    After Naples the next stop was Messina, where Roosevelt could inspect the ruins of the recent earthquake and the efforts – also by workers sent by the U.S. government and coordinated by the U.S. Navy – to rebuild the destroyed city. Meanwhile, the King of Italy Victor Emmanuel III sailed from Rome to the Sicilian coast to “casually” meet with Mr. Roosevelt on board his battleship Re Umberto. The King had said he was glad to meet with “the man who had earned the esteem of the whole American people and had rendered valuable service to Italian emigrants”. The city of Messina welcomed Teddy Roosevelt crying “long live our President!”


    The following year, after his hunting tour of the African continent, and before going back to the United States, the former President decided to return to Italy. Roosevelt met his wife there and wanted to relive with her the golden moments of his Italian honeymoon – yes, Teddy and Edith Roosevelt’s honeymoon had taken place in Italy! After another brief stay in Naples he moved to Rome, accepting an invitation made by King Victor Emmanuel the year before. He was welcomed at the Quirinal like a head of state and saluted by the people of Rome like a hero. Ernesto Nathan, the mayor of Rome, compared Roosevelt to the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, the warrior-philosopher famous for his imposing equestrian statue. A few days later in Liguria, while visiting the city of Porto Maurizio – which today is part of the city of Imperia – Roosevelt was proclaimed an honorary citizen and had a street, Corso Teodoro Roosevelt, named after him.


    The Italian people, public officials and institutional figures were greeting Roosevelt as a national hero. The New York Times wrote on April 3, 1910 that “the great hunter is now a more popular man in Italy than any other foreigner has ever been, and can be compared only with some of the great heroes of the National epoch”. That praise notwithstanding, there had been at least one problematic relationship during his Italian tour: Mr. Roosevelt could not pay a visit to the Pope at Vatican City. Relations between the Vatican and the Italian government at the time were strained. Until 1929, the Catholic Church refused to recognize a unified Italy and the Pope had since been confined within the Vatican walls. There was a very strict protocol to follow for official visits to the Pope: a foreign leader could not move from “Italian territory” directly into the presence of the Holy Father, but first had to go to his own country’s Embassy – hence leaving from foreign land – and only then could go to the Vatican without riding any transportation provided by the excommunicated government of Italy. While all protocol questions were easy to resolve, President Roosevelt did not accept the Pope’s request that he not contact any other religious groups in Rome before their meeting. This was a clear reference to a papal audience conceded, and later cancelled, to ex-Vice President Charles Warren Fairbanks who had had a meeting with Roman Methodists. Roosevelt refused to comply with the Pope’s requests on a completely theoretical basis – he had no intention to meet with religious groups – stating that he must refuse to submit to any conditions that might limit his “freedom of conduct”.


    It seems that in terms of conquering the favor, sympathy and admiration of the Italian people, and that of the Italian political elite and the Vatican, Teddy Roosevelt just got 2 out of 3.


  • Facts & Stories

    The Inexistent Problem: Shedding Some Light on Why the Primaries Are So Darn Complicated

    Primary elections are complicated. To be more accurate with terminology, the Presidential candidates’ nomination process is complicated. This year, as everyone knows by now, the whole process has gotten even more confusing – at least on the indecisive Democratic side. Last Saturday came the latest piece to this nebulous, incomprehensible puzzle: the decision by Democratic party officials to seat delegates from Michigan and Florida with half a vote each during the 2008 National Convention. What exactly does this mean? Why is the party so angry at Michigan and Florida? Is there an anti-Hillary plot within the party? Let’s try to create order from the chaos and give some much-needed answers...

    Until 2008 the most researched and talked-about problem concerning primary elections was the so-called “front-loading problem”. “Front-loading” is a technical term unknown to the general public and of very little diffusion among political scientists. It is nevertheless largely known among those who study, analyse or were interested in the Presidential nominating process before 2008. An impressive number of scholarly works were written about this problem and it was probably the most interesting subject of research within the literature on Presidential primaries. It concerns the distribution of Presidential primary elections during the months of the so-called “primary season”. The whole point is that more and more states choose early dates to dispute their primary elections, making the Presidential nominating process a “front-loaded” process.


    The first state that undertook to move up its primaries was New Hampshire in 1916. The decision as to when to hold the primary elections was made during “Town Meeting Day”, probably to save some public money. In 1920, for the first time, the New Hampshire primaries opened the primary season. Very soon the great majority of citizens and politicians from New Hampshire understood that opening the primary season was a great privilege that put their state in the national spotlight and allowed it to play a prominent role in Presidential politics. Their primary at the time was held during the second Tuesday of March of a Presidential-election year. In 1971 Florida moved its primary elections to the second Tuesday of March. In response, New Hampshire anticipated its contests to the first Tuesday of March. Four years later other New England states tried to organize a “regional primary” in a bid to align their primaries with those of the Granite state. Even before this proposal became a concrete idea, New Hampshire approved a law according to which the state is required to hold its primaries at least a week before any other primary in the country. At this point no state could challenge New Hampshire’s “first-in-the-nation” primary election – although Delaware tried again in 1996, voting only 4 days after the New Hampshire primaries – but more and more states started to move their contest to early dates to maximize their influence within a process that almost always allowed candidates to lock the nomination within one or two months after the first ballot had been cast. Starting in 1968, most contests started to be disputed between the first and second months of the primary season.

    To face the rising trend of “front-loading”, political parties – especially the Democratic party – began to adopt internal regulations concerning the seating of delegates. The history of National Conventions is full of outrageous episodes concerning the recognition and seating of delegates from state parties. The lowest point was reached right at the beginning of the Convention’s history, in 1835, when the Democratic party of Maryland decided to send 188 delegates that could cast only 10 votes, while a private citizen from Tennessee that was visiting the city of Baltimore during the Convention ended up casting his state’s 15 votes. Nothing that ridiculous has happened since then, but delegations have been challenged, recognized and sent away on a regular basis throughout the years. This year the recognition and seating problems started early, due to the way Florida and Michigan acted.

    Both states, inspired by years of primary seasons during which contests were decided early, chose to move their primary elections to the very beginning of the season. On the other hand, the Democratic party, informed by years of scholarly research into the “front-loading problem”, approved a rule according to which no state is supposed to hold primary elections before February 5th. The party’s rule did not apply to New Hampshire, of course, that by now has the divine right to hold its primary before everybody else, but also to Nevada and South Carolina, who were granted special permission to hold their primaries before February 5th for political reasons. Michigan and Florida wanted to challenge what they perceived as the Democratic party’s tyranny and held their contests before the “legal” date. To punish their insurrection, the party threatened not to seat delegates from these two states. It was then decided last Saturday that delegates will be seated, but will be casting only half a vote each.

    Now that the whole issue should be more clear, we can focus on the irony of the story: Michigan and Florida ended up losing at least half of their influence in this year’s Democratic Presidential nomination to vote before others, in a contest that will end without a clear decision, where states voting late got more attention from candidates and the media than states voting early. Meanwhile, the Democratic party continues to tear itself apart and sacrifice its unity to implement a rule that is thought to fight “front-loading”, a problem that this year is THE inexistent problem.


  • Op-Eds

    What Happens When You've Got Two Terrific Candidates, But Just Can't Make Up Your Mind?


    When the Democratic National Convention met under an extremely hot sun, nothing was decided yet. There were two potential candidates for the Presidency of the United States. The first one represented change: he would be the first person of his background to run for President. He was young and clever, had a spotless record of hardworking and public commitment, and delivered inspiring speeches that made crowds cheer with joy. His supporters were thrilled at the idea of such a formidable, novel Presidential candidate, and he was getting endorsements from the youngest, most prominent and promising members of his party. He represented a dream, a wonderful dream that just had to come true! The other candidate was a little bit older, but had a lot of experience in Federal Government. After a brief career as a lawyer, he honed his political skills at the White House. For several years he had had a significant role in a popular administration and extremely close, familiar ties to one of the most popular Presidents of all time. Moreover, this second politician could count on a life and career that embraced different areas of the country, from the Deep South to New York City. Experience and previous successes—including the successful Presidency of a family-member—were the solid pillars on which his candidacy relied. The delegates at the Democratic Convention simply could not come to a decision, and the Convention arrived at a terrible deadlock between the two candidates. Mountains of hot dogs and thousands of sodas were consumed, while prominent members of the party were shuffling up and down the podium talking about party unity and important decisions that had to be made as soon as possible for the sake of the country.


    No, I don’t have a crystal ball! And more importantly, I have no idea what’s going to happen this summer at the Democratic National Convention. And that’s because the candidates I was referring to are not Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, and the Convention was—quite obviously, I might add!—not the 2008 Democratic National Convention. The “first candidate” in question was Alfred E. Smith, an Irish-American Catholic, while the second was William G. McAdoo, and the Convention was the infamous 1924 Democratic National Convention. History is full of interesting events, and most things that sound new and unique actually aren’t. As anyone can deduct from the previous lines, American voters in 1924 had to make a decision that, in a way, is very close to what we are living right now. But what happened after that deadlock back in 1924? After nine days the Democratic Convention still hadn’t chosen the party’s Presidential nominee. Delegates were sweating to death in Madison Square Garden—the Convention met in New York City that year—no thanks to a heat wave in late June, but ballot after ballot they couldn’t pick a nominee. After a while, famous comedian Will Rodgers felt the need to explain that the City of New York had invited the delegates to visit the city, not to live there! On the ninth day of stalemate Smith and McAdoo released their delegates, and on the 103rd ballot the Convention nominated John W. Davis. With two highly desirable candidates, the only solution was to appoint a third, but only after destroying the party’s reputation. Davis lost the general election to Calvin Coolidge in November.


    What if something similar to this old and forgotten tale were to happen this summer? It’s clear by now that neither Clinton nor Obama will be able to lock the nomination before the Convention gathers. This is dangerous for the party, and ultimately could result in a weird form of political suicide. What’s more, this time around there’s a not-so-unpopular, “dark horse” candidate lurking in the shadows. The big guy sitting on the sidelines, the one that simply refuses to run, is incredibly well-liked and has risen to superstar status. He’s an Academy Award Winner who also happens to boast a Nobel Peace Prize and an impressive political record that spans Capitol Hill, two terms as Vice-President and a Presidential campaign in which, the loss of the Presidency notwithstanding, he secured a majority of the popular vote. Nobody actually knows or understands why this admittedly cool guy (he launched the beard trend) has chosen to stay at home to play with his iPhone and organize global concerts headlining international celebrities. When you say the name “Al Gore” to a Democrat or a non-Republican American, the answer you get is “that’s exactly what we needed!”, and even some Republicans agree. So why isn’t he in the race instead of the two candidates we have now, both wonderful people, but not quite as wonderful as Mr. Gore?


    Yes, the Democratic National Convention can still nominate Al Gore, even if he is not officially running. Yes, the man that got the highest number of votes in 2000 and wasn’t elected President can become the Democratic Party’s Presidential candidate without receiving any votes and without taking part in any Primary election. And, even better, yes, he probably would win the general election in November against John McCain.


    What is the Democratic Party waiting for? Maybe it's waiting for the 103rd ballot...

  • Facts & Stories

    The Democratic Presidential Primaries: a Fratricidal Race

     American voters are tired of the 2008 Presidential campaign. This national sense of fatigue is an ordinary occurrence that repeats itself every four years, usually around the end of October. The extraordinary fact here is that, this time, we are barely in the month of May.


    “Presidential primary elections” are something most U.S. citizens take for granted. What many don’t know, or don’t quite fully understand, is that the Presidential candidate is not selected by parties through primary elections. There is a long and complicated process that experts call the “Presidential nominating process”. Primary elections play a key role within this process but they are only part of it. The complex system currently in use is the result of a slow and progressive historical development, culminating in a number of reforms implemented in 1972. These reforms were more than necessary after the bloody riots that broke out in Chicago right after the 1968 Democratic National Convention nominated Vice-President Hubert Humphrey as the Democratic Presidential candidate. Humphrey was the choice of the party’s élite, while Gene McCarthy, the late Bobby Kennedy and George McGovern were the “popular” choices, according to the not-too-may – but nonetheless extremely important – Presidential primaries that took place at the time. The actions of the Democratic party in that instance were perceived as anti-democratic and unacceptable. A violent riot broke out in the city of Chicago, where the Convention was taking place. This explosive mix of mistrust and reaction after the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, opposition to the War in Vietnam, and the suspicion that a political party was ignoring popular will put the Presidential nominating process into the national spotlight, and the country started to demand reform. The result of the demands made in 1968 is the system still in place today.


    From its inception in 1972, this system has been functioning quite well. There has been no major malfunctioning and the debate about possible reform and the core problems of the nominating process are mostly academic quarrels between scholars, experts and pundits. Most of the general public has never heard about the “front-loading” problem, the National Association of Secretaries of State Plan, the Time Zone Primaries or the Delaware Plan. Bottom line is that no matter how complicated it looks on the whole, the nominating system worked for more than 30 years as it should: people vote, the party nominates the most voted person and this person runs for President. Delegates, alternates, super-delegates and things like that didn’t matter all that much!


    This year, for the first time, the “primary” race is so close on the Democratic side of the political spectrum that there will not be a Presidential candidate until the Democratic Convention meets. If the party still remembers the consequences of the 1968 Convention, it is all but certain that whoever gets the highest number of delegates will also get the unconditional support of most super-delegates and obtain the nomination. In that case all of the worries and speculations we see today will finally become what they are bound to be: theoretical argumentations and media-buzz. However, what’s at stake is the radicalization of U.S. politics and the concrete chances of the Democratic party in the general election.


    Let’s start with the first problem, the radicalization of politics. In 2005 Political Scientist Morris P. Fiorina, with the help of Samuel J. Abrams and Jeremy C. Pope, explained in a book called Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America that the American voters are not as polarized as the newspapers would make them out to be. They proved that even in Dixieland extremely conservative positions are taken by a minority of voters, let alone the rest of the country. As much as their theory stands out as all but incontrovertible empirical evidence, the truth is that pragmatically it doesn’t matter that much. However center-leaning the majority of American voters are, they must invariably choose among a fixed number of candidates. They must, in other words, slightly – or even not-so-slightly – modify their own views and positions and accept those of the candidate that they believe better suits their political needs. Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton are both to the left of their party and of the majority of American voters in a number of important issues: it is not a coincidence if, for example, when it comes to a National Healthcare System the debate between the two major candidates is no longer weather the U.S. should have one, but how to implement it. Independently of one’s view on this matter, there is no doubt that both major candidates are alienating the Conservative Democrats’ constituency, or making them vote against their position on the healthcare issue in order to support their party at the Presidential level. The main question in this case is: what is more important? The party or the issues?


    The second question is a bit more complex. Can a party survive such a long and degrading fratricidal war? The answer is probably not. During the short history of the current Presidential nominating process, every time a political party presented itself as fragmented during the primary season, while the opponent’s field was defining itself and narrowing down a candidate, it lost the general election. It was the case of George McGovern in 1972, Gerald Ford in 1976, Jimy Carter in 1980, Walter Mondale in 1984, Michael Dukakis in 1988, George H. W. Bush in 1992, Bob Dole in 1996, and to a certain degree also of Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004. All these “Presidential losers”, faced hard opposition within their own party, or at least faced more opposition than their counterpart. Those with a good memory can recall the names George Wallace and Edmund Muskie in 1972, Ronald Reagan in 1976, Ted Kennedy in 1980, Gary Hart in 1984, Jesse Jackson, Al Gore, Dick Gephardt and the “Regional Primary” in 1988, Pat Buchanan in 1992 and in 1996, Bill Bradley in 2000 and Howard Dean and John Edwards in 2004. The main point is that primary elections within this complex nominating process are the only real way to build a true national political party in the United States that is able to support one single candidate for the Presidency.


    Pundits and some scholars, especially in Europe, tend to define the American political parties as “weak”, and the organization of primary elections is a symptom of rather weak parties according to mainstream Political Science literature. However, in the case of the United States, ridiculously large parties, covering a vast territory and putting together an incredibly large number of opinions and positions can only gather around one single candidate if there is a popular mandate to cut the race of all other positions at once. This is by all means the most important feature of Presidential primary elections in the U.S., and can only be fully accomplished if a candidate emerges quickly enough to be able to unify the party and run against the real enemy: the opposing party.


    This Clinton/Obama struggle has been going on for too long now, it shows no sign of subsiding, and Sen. Clinton’s only hope seems to be those super-delegates that could overturn the popular vote and trigger something similar to what happened in Chicago in 1968. Even if her plan succeeds, the most probable outcome, given all precedents since 1972, is the destruction of the Democratic party and a terrible debacle at the general election. Is that what we want for U.S. politics in the 21st century?

  • Una "Bicamerale" bipartisan per gli italiani all'estero. Intervista a Gino Bucchino, eletto nel Nordamerica

    L’On. Gino Bucchino, deputato uscente dell’Unione è stato appena rieletto alla Camera dei Deputati con il Partito Democratico, nella ripartizione America Settentrionale e Centrale, con 14.762 voti.

    Abbiamo chiesto a lui un breve commento sui risultati e alcune considerazioni sullo svolgimento della sua campagna elettorale.

    On. Bucchino, un commento?

    “E’ stato un risultato personale fantastico, i 14.762 voti rappresentano successo eccezionale.”

    Visto il risultato generale delle elezioni politiche e questa chiara maggioranza del centro-destra, lei crede che sarà più difficile lavorare?

    “No, sarà più facile, primo perché non abbiamo timori da parte del governo nei confronti degli italiani all'estero. Sanno che non possiamo influire in nessun modo sulle loro maggioranze.

    Ci lasceranno lavorare tranquillamente, ci permetteranno di fare una bicamerale, dove tutti noi parlamentari eletti all’estero ci uniremo - sia di destra che di sinistra. Quindi credo che, siccome le tematiche che porteremo avanti sono di interesse commune,  arriveremo in fondo. Non c'è pericolo, saremo separati ideologicamente sui grandi temi, sui diritti civili, sull'Europa, sull'immigrazione, ma per quanto riguarda l’emigrazione saremo tutti uniti.  Avremo grande capacità di lavoro, e poi oramai abbiamo già passato i  primi 2 anni, e sono certo che non rifaremo gli errori di gioventù. Ci riuniremo immediatamente!”

    Il Partito Democratico non è riuscito ad eleggere neanche un rappresentante negli Stati Uniti. C’è qualcosa che lei desidera dire agli elettori residenti in USA?

    “La nostra circoscrizione è divisa tra Stati. Il fatto di essere stato eletto in Canada non vuol dire che non ho niente a che vedere con il resto della circoscrizione. Come se un deputato eletto a Roma non avesse niente a che vedere con la Calabria! USA, Canada, Messico e gli altri 19 stati della circoscrizione sono da mettere sullo stesso piano. Gli Stati Uniti ed il Nord America hanno un rappresentante alla Camera, che si chiama Gino Bucchino.”

    Come ha organizzato la sua campagna elettorale in un territorio di riferimento così ampio? Si è avvalso di consulenti politici o "campaign manager"? Il suo partito in Italia le ha dato qualche tipo di sostegno?

    “La campagna è stata portata avanti molto in prima persona, cercando di viaggiare il più possibile, per lo meno lì nelle realtà dove ci sono  grosse concentrazioni di italiani e poi dove ci sono degli amici che fanno riferimento al nostro partito.”

    Ha puntato sulla tecnologia? Secondo lei Internet potrebbe essere l’unico mezzo per fare  politica in modo efficace in un collegio elettorale così grande...

    “Diciamo che Internet è uno dei metodi importanti del quale non possiamo fare a meno, soprattutto oggi. Questa volta è stato usato in modo molto diverso da due anni fa, infatti in questi due anni c'è stato un forte avanzamento della tecnologia ed una grande crescita di utenti.

    Non va dimenticato però che la stragrande maggioranza dei nostri cittadini all'estero sono ancora italiani di prima o seconda generazione e non fanno ancora riferimento alla Rete.

     E’ vero anche tuttavia che in casa c'è ormai sempre un computer con un collegamento Internet e ci sono dei figli che possono parlare, diffondere il messaggio.

    Se si continua con questo sistema elettorale, per quanto riguarda l'estero sarà nel tempo il sistema di riferimento.”

    Ha uno staff che la ha aiutato durante la campagna?

    “Ho il mio staff che mi ha aiutato non solo in campagna, ma anche durante il lavoro in parlamento. Ho due assistenti a tempo pieno in Italia, e una persona qui in Canada nella mia zona.”

    Ha qualcuno da ringraziare in particolare, per voti trovati, fondi raccolti o attività resa? A quanti incontri pubblici ha partecipato? Che ruolo ha giocato la RAI e la televisione?

    “Per fondi trovati assolutamente no, non c'è stato per quanto mi riguarda nessun tipo di fundraising o raccolta di fondi dal partito. C'è stata solo una persona che ha sostenuto la mia campagna con una donazione di 400 dollari.

    Personaggi che sono coinvolti nella comunità ed hanno fiducia nel lavoro che ho fatto del mio stesso schieramento partitico si sono mobilitati, ma non per raccogliere voti.  Raccogliere è un verbo che non mi piace: ma per diffondere il messaggio.

    RAI International può essere servita per quel poco che ha potuto fare. Abbiamo registrato delle trasmissioni in Italia, quindi il candidato ha dovuto viaggiare a proprie spese per partecipare alle trasmissioni. Direi che questa soluzione ha lasciato molto a desiderare,  nonostante gli sforzi dovuto agli scarsi fondi di RAI International.

    Direi che un grande ruolo nella mia campagna, hanno avuto i dibattiti che ho fatto in vari viaggi, il contatto diretto con la comunità ed il materiale che abbiamo spedito via Internet e via posta. “

    Come crede che la sua persona ed il suo programma elettorale siano stati accolti dalla comunità questa volta? Cosa ha fatto in particoalre per i suoi elettori durante la sua prima legislatura?

    “Sono il candidato uscente e mi conoscono per il lavoro che ho fatto.

    Il riconoscimento dell'ulteriore detrazione dell'ICI è qualcosa che ho ‘portato a casa’ attraverso  un emendamento alla finanziaria, Con una  lettera indirizzata direttamente a Padoa Schioppa sono riuscito ad ottenere questo risultato per gli italiani all'estero che hanno una casa in Italia non affittata.

    Poi laa detrazione per i carichi di famiglia ed il riconoscimento della quattordicesima sono altri risultati.

    La soddisfazione c'è, è tangibile, ma soprattutto la cosa più importante per tutti è essere visti come italiani all'estero considerati sullo stesso piano degli italiani in Patria.  Cosa che gli altri governi avevano tranquillamente dimenticato. “

    Ha puntato più su di sugli elettori della sua area o si è rivolto molto anche fuori dal suo territorio?

    “Questa volta mi sono rivolto molto al di la’ della mia zona di residenza di Toronto-Canada. Qui ho una posizione abbastanza consolidata, la gente mi conosce, mi vede, sa chi sono. Ho fatto una grande campagna negli Stati Uniti questa volta.”

    Quanto è stata importante il fatto che lei è nato in una regione come la Calabria con una grossa percentule di presenze nell’America del Nord?  i suoi corregionali le sono stati vicini?

    “Certamente so che il riferimento regionale è molto importante, i corregionali sono simpatizzanti per i loro corregionali al di la dello schieramento politico. Ho sicuramente ricevuto molto sostegno dai calabresi.”

    Lei ha qualche risentimento particolare legato a questa campagna elettorale?

    “L'eccessiva brevità dei tempi. Poi fare il giro in un vasto territorio così è insostenibile. Bisogna fare qualcosa, forse anche rivedere la distribuzione  dei collegi. E’ difficile fare campagna elettorale in queste condizioni.”