Blog Posts by Chris Moody

  • Insider poll: Legal experts now expect Supreme Court to strike down individual mandate

    (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

    The Supreme Court will soon announce its ruling on the constitutionality of President Barack Obama's health care law passed in 2010, and for many legal observers who have worked in the court and argued cases before the justices, the federal government's defense of the measure in March did not inspire confidence.

    A new insider survey of 58 legal experts conducted after the oral arguments concluded found that most predict that the court will strike down the so-called individual mandate, a central provision within the law requiring that every American purchase a government-approved form of health insurance. The same expert survey was conducted before the hearings began, which found the opposite: Most thought the law would be upheld.

    The survey was paid for the American Action Forum, a right-leaning organization and Center Forward, a centrist group, both based in Washington, D.C. It was conducted by Purple Insights, a bipartisan consulting firm. The pollsters received input from former clerks who have worked for justices on both sides of the ideological spectrum: Eleven clerked for traditionally liberal Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, 18 clerked for justices on the right, Samuel Alito, John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, and Clarance Thomas and nine worked for Anthony Kennedy.

    Using a scale from 0 to 100, the pollsters asked the 38 former clerks of current Supreme Court justices and 18 attorneys who have argued before the court to rate the probability that the individual mandate provision would be declared unconstitutional.  The insiders provided an average rating of 57 percent, a significant jump from the pre-hearing survey, when the average was just 35 percent.

    "This is a fascinating snapshot of how true experts believe the Supreme Court will act on the future of American healthcare," said American Action Forum President Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who served as Director of the Congressional Budget Office under President George W. Bush. "Experts believe the oral arguments revealed significant insights into the court's thinking."

    The notion that the entire law would be struck down if the individual mandate is declared unconstitutional received an average rating of 31 percent in the new poll, an increase of four percentage points from the pre-hearing survey. The average prediction that the law would remain even if the individual mandate is removed dropped to 21 percent from 36 percent in the new survey.

    "I feel like a dope," one of the experts said in the comments section of the survey, "because I was one of those who predicted that the court would uphold the statute by a lopsided majority--maybe even 8-1. Although you never know, it now appears pretty likely that this prediction was way off."

    Read More »from Insider poll: Legal experts now expect Supreme Court to strike down individual mandate
  • Rob Portman, the ninja policymaker

    Rob Portman is sworn into the Senate (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

    Rob Portman has been around. Over the course of his career in public service, he has been appointed to positions in two presidential administrations. He has negotiated massive trade deals around the world and overseen the the process of crafting the president's multitrillion-dollar budget plan. He was a member of the House of Representatives for 12 years, is now a U.S. senator, and he just might become the next vice president of the United States. But hardly anyone knows his name.

    In fact, a sizeable 62 percent of the population have "never heard of" Rob Portman and 15 percent have no opinion of him, leaving his nationwide approval rating at just 12 percent, according to a Gallup survey released Tuesday. The numbers reflect data from an ABC News-Washington Post poll conducted earlier this month where just over half of those surveyed said they had "no opinion" of Portman.

    Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, also rumored to be a possible future running mate for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, has twice the name recognition, according to the Gallup poll, which surveyed 1,012 adults May 10-13 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

    Even in his home state of Ohio, Portman's name is a relative wild card. In fact, 59 percent of Ohio voters said they had not heard enough about Portman to have an opinion on him, according to a poll released last month by Quinnipiac University.

    This is not to say that Portman is any different from VP contenders in past election cycles, many of whom were largely unheard of before their national profiles skyrocketed once they joined the ticket. Case in point: Sarah Palin was unknown to 71 percent of the country in August 2008, according to Gallup's numbers.

    Which is to say, despite a long career of quiet service, Portman would finally become a household name if Mitt Romney taps him as his running mate.

    Read More »from Rob Portman, the ninja policymaker
  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to reporter: ‘That’s a clown question, bro’

    Harry Reid. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

    Ever since 19-year-old Washington Nationals center fielder Bryce Harper brushed off a reporter's query in Toronto about whether he would drink alcohol during his stay in Canada with the quip, "That's a clown question, bro," Beltway political reporters have eagerly waited to see which Washington policymaker would be the first to mimic the great D.C. rookie.

    The wait is over. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat with 53 years on Harper, dropped the bro bomb Tuesday on Roll Call reporter Steven Dennis.

    "I don't want to answer that question," Reid told Dennis, who asked a question about immigration. "That's a clown question, bro."

    While few expected the venerable Reid to be the one to borrow the saying, the scenario makes sense: Harper, a hometown hero from Las Vegas, is a constituent of Reid's. The Nationals star attended the College of Southern Nevada before joining the big leagues, and both he and Reid are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    Listen to the audio of Reid's response, courtesy of Todd Zwillich.

    Read More »from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to reporter: ‘That’s a clown question, bro’
  • Sen. Rob Portman’s haunted hotel

    Reporting from Lebanon, Ohio, where Sen. Rob Portman's family owns the oldest continually running hotel in the state, called the Golden Lamb, NBC News' Andrew Rafferty noticed something peculiar about the place: It's haunted.

    According to local lore, the spooky vibes have being coming out of a small room on the fourth floor for years.

    Rafferty, an intrepid reporter who dared to enter the haunted floor, reports:

    Through a glass encasing in the room, there is a plastic doll lying on a child-size bed surrounded by toys from the late 19th Century. It is here, where, "The restless spirit of a young girl materializes in this small room," at least according to a letter posted outside the door.


    The ghoulish girl, who some believe walks the halls of The Golden Lamb, is Sarah Stubbs, who, despite passing away in 1957, "cannot find peace in the world beyond," according the information outside the room. The story of Sarah's haunting is rather mundane compared to that of other ghost stories. She lived to be 79, and those familiar with the story acknowledge she lived a happy and stable life. However, her father passed away when she was a young girl and did not enjoy her time living at the hotel.

    The Golden Lamb attempts to put to rest any confusion: "Investigators into the realm of the supernatural believe in the 'Imprint Theory,' which holds that traumatic experiences, such as the loss of her dear father and the move to new surroundings left an imprint on the youthful Sarah's spirit, so that she returns as a little girl, even though she died as an old woman many years later."

    The burning question: Will Portman have to disclose his dealings with the supernatural on his vetting documents if Mitt Romney picks him for vice president?

    Read More »from Sen. Rob Portman’s haunted hotel
  • Mitt Romney moves to dispel rumors about who is and isn’t being vetted for VP

    Responding to a question about an ABC News report in which unnamed sources said Mitt Romney's presidential campaign is not vetting Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for the VP slot, Romney tried to dispel speculation about who he is or isn't considering for the job.

    "I get a kick out of some of the speculation that goes on," Romney told conservative commentator Sean Hannity in an interview that will air Tuesday night on Fox News Channel. "I am not going to comment on the process of course, but I can tell you this: Only Beth Myers and I know who is being vetted."

    Myers is Romney's longtime aide who is heading up the search for his running mate.

    Of course, if the vetting process has begun and the campaign has reached out to some of the candidates for information, then they—and possibly some members of their staff—would have knowledge about the process.

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  • Before Marco Rubio became senator: 15 stories from his younger days

    Marco Rubio (Phil Coale/AP)

    The new autobiography by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, "An American Son," hit stores on Tuesday. The memoir includes tales about Rubio's family, which left Cuba shortly before Fidel Castro took control of the government, his childhood growing up in Nevada and Florida, and his rise from local Sunshine State politician to United States senator. Throughout the book, Rubio discusses the mistakes he made in his political career, the influence of faith in his life and his passion for reforming the nation's immigration system.

    But it isn't all heavy-handed political diatribe. There's also a bit of fun sprinkled throughout the story.

    Here are 15 details you might not know about Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, as told in his book:

    1. As a teenager, Marco Rubio used to sneak onto the Biltmore Hotel golf course to drink beer, the same hotel where he held his Senate victory party.

    Rubio describes election night 2010: "We were at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. I had grown up less than two miles from the Mediterranean-style landmark nestled between large banyan trees and lush golf courses. ... My high school friends and I had snuck onto the resort's golf course at night; its gazebos offered the perfect hiding spot for underage beer drinking."

    2. Down in the polls and way behind on fundraising, Rubio heavily considered quitting his Senate race against Charlie Crist.

    "I had all but convinced myself to quit. I had discussed getting out with several people whose discretion I trusted. I was badly trailing Governor Crist in popular support and fund-raising. Even if I were to get a little traction eventually and start to close the gap in the polls, he would have raised more than enough money to bury me in negative advertising, and I wouldn't have anywhere near enough to respond. I feared he would so tarnish my reputation that I would have a hard time finding a job after the primary and would never hold another elective office."

    3. Rubio was so concerned about the Senate race that he didn't even write a victory speech.

    "In the final days of the campaign, I couldn't bring myself to write a victory speech. I worried I was getting ahead of myself, and might still lose the election. If that happened, I would have wasted valuable campaign time laboring over a speech I would never give. I also felt that, were I to win, my supporters would be so happy with the victory that my speech wouldn't matter. If I lost, no one would be watching."

    4. In past interviews, Rubio has said his mother spent nine months trying to convince Cuban authorities to let her return to the U.S. during a 1961 trip back to Cuba. It was actually a few days.

    Rubio describes his mother's trip to Cuba in 1961, when she tried to convince her father to return to the country: "Cuba had changed radically by then, and travel privileges were curtailed. When she attempted to board her return flight to Miami, she encountered the scare of her life. Because she had been born in the United States, my sister, only two at the time, could leave Cuba. But my brother and my mother would not be allowed to leave, she was told. She was ordered to leave the airport, and to consider Cuba her home from now on. Though frightened, she refused to accept the decree. She returned each day for several days, pleading that her husband was in Miami, and she couldn't remain in Cuba without him."

    5. In high school, Rubio was so disruptive that his teacher agreed to give him a C- so long as he wouldn't show up to class again.

    "I was a frequent disruptive force in the classroom. One teacher wanted me out of his class so badly, he promised to give me a C-minus if I didn't come to class, and threatened to give me an F if I showed up again. I finished my senior year with a 2.1 grade point average."

    6. Marco Rubio was a Ted Kennedy-supporting child Democrat.

    "My interest in politics began around the time we moved to Vegas, and by 1980 politics was a preoccupation second only to football. Two events had captured my attention that year: Senator Edward Kennedy's challenge to President Carter for the Democratic presidential nomination and the Iran hostage crisis. I was a Kennedy supporter. With rapt attention I watched the Democratic convention in New York, and was crushed by the outcome of what seemed an excruciatingly slow delegate count that gave the nomination to President Carter. I was inspired by Senator Kennedy's concession speech."

    7. He was also a young 'union activist' who was angry at his father for being a scab during a strike.

    Workers at the hotel where his father was a bartender went on strike, and young Rubio joined the protests.

    "I never grasped all the issues involved, but understood generally that the strikers were just asking to be treated fairly. They had worked hard to help make the hotels profitable, and were entitled to better compensation and benefits. I was excited to be part of the cause and join forces with striking workers from many hotels. ... I became a committed union activist. ... One day, a confrontation between strikers and returning workers turned violent, and my father stopped taking me to the camp. Not long after, he informed me he was going back to work. I accused him of selling out and called him a scab. It hurt him, and I'm ashamed of it. He had had no choice."

    8. But his grandfather, a major influence in his life, convinced him to later become a Ronald Reagan-supporting Republican.

    "Reagan's election and my grandfather's allegiance to him were defining influences on me politically. I've been a Republican ever since. ... I wrote a paper in the fifth grade praising President Reagan for restoring the U.S. military after it had been demoralized and allowed to decay in the years before his presidency."

    9. Rubio almost lost his future wife because he went to a South Beach "foam party" with his friends against her wishes.

    "One night, near the end of the South Beach season, my friends and I made plans to attend one of our favorite South Beach haunts for a 'foam party,' where oceans of white foam are dropped from the ceiling and you find yourself dancing in it up to your waist. Jeanette told me if I went out that night, there would be no turning back. We would be over forever. I went out anyway. She had brought this on herself, I told myself. If we got back together, it would be on my terms, not hers. That night, near midnight, I looked up and watched the foam descend from the ceiling. It was a sight to behold. Then my beeper buzzed. It was Jeanette's number. I knew she was calling to see if I had gone out. ... I waded out of the foam to find a quieter place to consider my options."

    (There's a happy ending; she took him back.)

    Read More »from Before Marco Rubio became senator: 15 stories from his younger days
  • Whether Mormon, Catholic or Protestant, faith a major theme in Rubio memoir

    (Lynne Sladky/AP)

    Over the course of his life, Marco Rubio has prayed in Mormon sanctuaries, Catholic cathedrals and Protestant worship centers. But through each denominational transition, faith has remained a driving force through much of the young Florida senator's life.

    From the opening pages of Rubio's new memoir, An American Son, to the final sentence, an ongoing theme of Christian faith runs throughout the volume.

    Rubio writes extensively in the book, which goes on sale Tuesday, about his devotion to faith, which he has experienced through a variety of traditions: A born Catholic who spent his childhood in Nevada attending services at the local Mormon Church, he convinced his family to return to the Catholic Church as an adolescent. After he married Jeanette Dousdebes, Rubio joined a Southern Baptist congregation and currently splits his time between the Protestant church and Catholic Mass.

    Rubio's fascination with religion began as a young child. When his father moved the family to Las Vegas when young Marco was in the third grade, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) offered programs and a sense of community that the Rubio's -- a family far from the Cuban exile community they left in Florida -- embraced.  According Rubio's book, which is the first time he has addressed his Mormon story at such great length, he dived headfirst into Mormon theology, and despite his age, was the faith leader in his family.

    "I immersed myself in LDS theology," Rubio writes, more than 30 years later. "I studied church literature and other sources of information to learn all I could about the church's teachings."

    While his parents indulged him, his father "never really embraced Mormonism." A bartender by trade, Mario Rubio had struggled with abiding by the prohibitions against alcohol, tobacco and caffeine.

    "[W]hile the church didn't object to one of its members working in that occupation, it considered liquor poison, which could have bothered my father with feelings of remorse for making a living by dispensing it," Rubio writes." It certainly bothered me, and I admonished him for trading in the sinful substance, urging him to find other work. He ignored my tactlessness."

    Rubio's grandfather was even more antagonistic. After attending a service, Papa, as Rubio affectionately called him, said "he would never go back because he hadn't seen a single African American in attendance." (Rubio said there was in fact a biracial family who attended the church.) But Papa kept his word, Rubio writes.

    Rubio's time as a Mormon, however, was short lived: In 1983, still before his teenage years, he urged his family to return to the Catholic Church. "We left the Mormon Church with nothing but admiration for the place that had been our first spiritual home in Las Vegas, and had been so generous to us," he writes. "I still feel that way."

    According to the book, Rubio put forth the same energy he directed to the LDS teachings to the traditions of the Catholic Church, and still considers himself a member of the Church to this day. As a young man, he attended services with his wife at Christ Fellowship Church in Miami, but never felt the same attachment that he did to the ancient church. After years worshiping in a Protestant congregation, Rubio says, a campaign supporter brought him back to Catholicism.

    Read More »from Whether Mormon, Catholic or Protestant, faith a major theme in Rubio memoir
  • Marco Rubio says he would come to the US illegally if he had to

    Marco Rubio. (Alan Diaz/AP)Hypothetically, if Sen. Marco Rubio were not an American citizen and could not provide food for his family, he says he would cross the border illegally to come to the United States.

    While discussing immigration policy in his new memoir, "An American Son," Rubio (R-Fla.) called for "common decency" in dealing with undocumented immigrants and said that if put in a similar position as those who are fleeing destitution, he would break the law, too.

    "Many people who come here illegally are doing exactly what we would do if we lived in a country where we couldn't feed our families," Rubio writes in his book, which went on sale Tuesday.  "If my kids went to sleep hungry every night and my country didn't give me an opportunity to feed them, there isn't a law, no matter how restrictive, that would prevent me from coming here."

    [Related: Rubio to Obama: Call me maybe?]

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  • Rubio to Obama: Call me maybe?

    Marco Rubio (Alan Diaz/AP)In an ABC News interview scheduled for broadcast Monday night, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio responds to President Barack Obama's recent announcement that his administration won't enforce certain deportation laws related to young illegal immigrants, accusing the president of delaying long-term solutions for immigration reform.

    Rubio is championing his own initiative that would provide non-immigrant visas to children of parents who came to the county illegally if they serve in the military or graduate from college, but his work on the measure was largely derailed by Obama's announcement.

    "I'm trying to find a solution here, not a talking point. I'm trying to find an answer here, not a bumper-sticker slogan," Rubio said in an interview with ABC News' David Muir. "The president's is a two-year solution that expires after two years and does not really solve this in a lasting way. It just gets him through the election. ... The White House never called us about this. No one reached out to us and told us this was on its way. And, I mean, if they were serious about a real solution to this problem and not politicizing it, then why don't you reach out to people?"

    The full interview, in which he discusses rumors that he will be tapped as Mitt Romney's running mate and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's media treatment in 2008, will premiere Monday on "World News with Diane Sawyer" at 6:35 p.m. ET.

    Read More »from Rubio to Obama: Call me maybe?
  • Haley Barbour (Chris Usher/AP)

    Haley Barbour is a free man.

    The veteran Republican politician's final term as Mississippi governor ended in January, and he is not running for president—or for any other office. Barbour is instead "volunteering" (as he puts it) for American Crossroads, the super PAC co-founded by GOP strategist Karl Rove; serving on the board of Resurgent Republic, a conservative polling firm founded by Mitt Romney adviser Ed Gillespie; and working as a tax lobbyist. In his new freelancer role, Barbour spends a lot more time in Washington, D.C., than when he was governor.

    On a trip to the nation's capital this week, Barbour had breakfast with reporters in the basement of the swanky St. Regis Hotel, where he opened up about why Romney is not as conservative as he claims, the sort of running mate Romney should choose and why the current campaign finance system should be dismantled.

    Romney the 'least conservative' candidate

    Barbour, who mulled his own run for president early in 2011, has never been a

    Read More »from Haley Barbour on Mitt Romney, the veepstakes and dismantling the campaign finance system


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