Monday marks the one-month anniversary of the inception of Occupy Wall Street and the movement has only accelerated. Protesters in New York surged into Time Square this weekend and similar "Occupy" demonstrations have sprouted in cities across the United States and worldwide. In addition to increasing its man power, Occupy Wall Street has raised a reported $300,000, much of it collected by passing a milk jug around Zuccotti Park. It has also established more political clout: a potential showdown between street cleaners and the demonstrators camped out there was averted when park owners Brookfield Properties agreed to postpone a cleaning last Friday.
If the Occupy movement continues to grow in the coming months, it will play a role in the 2012 election. GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain has been one of the most outspoken critics of the movement, saying, "Don't blame Wall Street, don't blame the big banks, if you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself. It is not someone's fault if they succeeded; it is someone's fault if they failed.” He also told the Wall Street Journal he thought Obama administration had “orchestrated” the movement. Other GOP candidates including former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney have also dismissed the protests, arguing that President Obama, not Wall Street, was to blame for current economic problems.
Obama himself has only discussed the movement vaguely, saying at a press conference that it reflects “broad-based frustration about how our financial system works," and then defending the legislation he has enacted to regulate Wall Street. Pollster John Zogby told Washington Whispers he thought Obama should keep his distance from Occupy Wall Street and that he “should realize it is in part a repudiation of him, and that he can't count on these angry voters' support a year from now.” However, when asked about Occupy Wall Street, senior Obama adviser David Axelrod told This Week on Sunday, "Obviously I don't think any American is impressed when they see Governor Romney and all the Republican candidates say the first thing they'd do is roll back Wall Street reforms, and go back to where we were before the crisis, and let Wall Street write its own rules," thus pitting Obama’s rivals against the protesters.
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