Blog Posts by Chris Moody, Yahoo News

  • When will Romney choose a vice presidential candidate?

    Using recent history as an indicator, there's plenty of time left to speculate about who Mitt Romney will choose as his running mate.

    A trend analysis by Geoffrey Skelley of the University of Virginia Center for Politics shows that in modern politics, nominees almost always wait until the final days before the party convention to release the name of their vice presidential picks.

    "Since 1992—if one discounts the 2004 outlier, when John Kerry selected John Edwards 20 days before the start of the Democratic convention—candidates have chosen their running mates, on average, just four days before their party's convention," Skelley wrote in his analysis. "Prior to 1992, VP choices were sometimes still selected at the actual convention."

    Courtesy of the University of Virginia Center for Politics

    Assuming Romney follows the trend, that would put his announcement sometime after Aug. 20, since the Republican convention, held in Tampa, Fla., is scheduled to begin on Aug. 27.

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  • Romney campaigns in Virginia; veep speculation shifts to McDonnell

    Bob McDonnell with Mitt Romney. (David Goldman/AP)

    Mitt Romney is campaigning in Virginia this week with the state's governor, Bob McDonnell, in a presumed tryout to become the future Republican nominee's running mate.

    McDonnell, who has served as chairman of the Republican Governors Association since 2011, is restricted from running for a second term as governor under Virginia state law, so he just might be open for a new job before his term concludes in 2013. He said in an interview in August that he would be "very interested" in running as vice president.

    But these days, McDonnell almost always shrugs off the suggestion that he's vying for the slot—he loves to invoke the founding fathers with the line, "I got the job held by Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry. Governor of Virginia. Doesn't get any better than that." Still, there are signs that suggest he's vying for the post.

    McDonnell puzzled longtime observers last week when his political action committee paid to air what appears to be a campaign ad for the governor. A governor, that is, who isn't running for another term. When pressed about possible ulterior motives behind the ad, which aims to boost McDonnell's economic record, the governor and his allies claimed innocence.

    "We are always looking for new ways to tell the great story about all the positive things happening in Virginia," McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

    Beyond the speculation game, McDonnell could serve as an important asset on a Romney ticket, possibly increasing Republicans' chances of taking back Virginia, a state that went blue for Obama in 2008. (A Public Policy Polling survey released this week, however, suggested that for now, McDonnell would struggle to deliver his home state, showing President Barack Obama still defeating a Romney-McDonnell ticket in Virginia.)

    Regarding his fiscal record, McDonnell would bring a list of accomplishments to the ticket, including presiding over a state with a relatively low unemployment rate that boasted a budget surplus of more than half a billion dollars last year. He could also appeal to social conservatives, having overseen the passage of a bill that requires women to have an ultrasound before undergoing an abortion. The new law, which became the topic of a national debate earlier this year, could also sway more liberal independents to the Democratic ticket, which is something Romney will surely weigh when making his decision.

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  • ‘Newt Judges You’ and @GingrichIdeas to shut down after Gingrich suspends campaign

    Newt Gingrich has officially suspended his presidential campaign, and, alas, his hilarious fake online alter-egos will dutifully follow him into the abyss.

    The blog "Newt Judges You," which features scores of pictures of Gingrich condescendingly glaring down the world around him, will stop posting new photos, Yahoo News has learned. Each shot included pitch-perfect tag lines that let readers into Gingrich's head during his finest moments of judgement. Meanwhile, the Twitter account @GingrichIdeas announced Wednesday it would send out the final tweets of its life in the aftermath of Gingrich's campaign. (Some of the best included, "Fake my own death and move into the National Zoo Panda House," "Lecture Cuba to freedom" and "Stick a bunch of computer screens all over the walls to make things look more futuristic.")

    While the sites will remain online as a monument of satire to Gingrich's presidential ambitions, the stream of brilliance will cease.

    "Newt Judges You will respect the decision to suspend the real world campaign, and so it too will suspend activity til such time as it is once again needed on the field of battle, in this galaxy or the next," Ben Domenech, editor of "Newt Judges You" told Yahoo News after the real Gingrich ended to his campaign Wednesday. "He judges everything and everyone he meets, and it was a joy to decipher his internal monologue during such a ridiculous primary cycle, and through so many fun zoo trips. He does love those animals so very much, and he hates stupid people even more."

    Domenech, who used the blog to turn Gingrich into a mythlike character, started by posting pictures from the many Gingrich books he owned. When the blog's popularity caught on and he ran out of book photos, Domenech hit the Web, which provided a treasure trove of material from Newt's decades in public life.

    No one was safe from Gingrich's wrath: He judged fellow politicians, voters, journalists (including this one—twice), and even zoo animals. One time, when Domenech posted a picture of Gingrich judging a newsman, the mother of the reporter's girlfriend wrote to him worried it was real.

    At one point, even the Gingrich campaign aides got into the act. Staffers would send Domenech their favorite Gingrich photos and offer ideas for captions. Near the end of the campaign, they showed Gingrich the site, and as the story goes, he nearly died laughing. The staffers took a picture of Gingrich reading the site, which Domenech promptly posted.

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  • With tepid endorsement of Romney, Gingrich formally ends 2012 presidential campaign: A moon shot comes to earth at last

    At an event that was long past his campaign's expiration date, Newt Gingrich ended his presidential campaign at a press conference Wednesday afternoon in Virginia.

    "Today I am suspending the campaign, but suspending the campaign does not mean suspending citizenship," Gingrich said. He thanked Rick Perry, Herman Cain and casino mogul and super PAC donor Sheldon Adelson, among others.

    Gingrich said of South Carolina, where he won the Republican presidential primary, that he had "broken their tradition of always picking the nominee" and will always feel "slightly guilty" when traveling there.

    At the end of his remarks, he tepidly endorsed the presidential candidacy of Mitt Romney. "I'm asked sometimes, Is Mitt Romney conservative?" Gingrich said. "And my answer is simple: Compared to Barack Obama? This is not a choice between Mitt Romney and Ronald Reagan. This is a choice between Mitt Romney and the most radical leftist president in history."

    Although Romney has not yet reached the number of delegates needed to officially clinch the Republican presidential nomination, he became the presumptive nominee weeks ago, when former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum announced an end to his candidacy. Gingrich, however, stayed on course, while his campaign drowned in debt and his chances for the nomination dropped to near zero.

    From when he first announced his intention to run in May 2011 through his triumphant win in the South Carolina primary,  Gingrich insisted that his mastery of conservative issues and his vast legislative experience was enough to beat President Barack Obama, but he failed to capture the support of the Republican primary electorate.

    While Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann of Minnesota rode high in the summer of 2011, Gingrich was written off as a pretender. When Texas Gov. Rick Perry branded himself as the conservative alternative to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Gingrich trudged on.

    "There are lots of bunny rabbits who run through," Gingrich would later say. "I am the tortoise. I just take one step at a time."

    Gingrich began his presidential journey with some confusing reversals on major issues: In March 2011 it appeared the nation was about to engage in military action in Libya; Gingrich urged President Obama to get involved. But when the United States sent air support to Libya, Gingrich criticized the president, saying he would not have engaged.

    In May of last year, Gingrich was a vocal opponent of Republican House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's Medicare reform proposal, calling it "right wing social engineering." When he subsequently apologized, he said anyone who quoted his comments was acting dishonestly.

    Gingrich was also criticized for his personal life in the campaign's early days: Politico reported that Gingrich at one time personally owed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the jewelry store Tiffany & Co (financial disclosure forms showed the debt had been paid in full.) He also briefly put the campaign on hiatus so he could take a luxury cruise in Greece with his third wife, Callista.

    Gingrich repeatedly stressed that he would ultimately be the nominee. His stump speeches focused not on the other candidates in the race, but on his own ideas for changing Washington, rather than, as he put it, "managing the decay." At the 2011 debates, where Gingrich shined, he refused to attack fellow Republicans when given the opportunity, channeling his vitriol toward Obama, or even the debate moderator.

    It wasn't until the end of 2011, when hopes for Herman Cain faded amid allegations of sexual harassment, that many Republicans began to give Gingrich a serious look. With Cain's popularity on the decline, Gingrich's poll numbers skyrocketed.

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  • Paul Ryan: Budget wonk, heartthrob Internet meme

    Paul Ryan featured in the Tumblr blog Hey Girl, It's Paul Ryan

    It all started with a fantasy about noodling for catfish with Paul Ryan.

    At her office in Chicago, Emily Zanotti, 30, a conservative political consultant, was reading Monday's New York Times profile of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan that mentioned his love of hunting catfish with his bare hands.

    The image of Paul Ryan "standing half naked in a river"—as she envisioned it—gave Zanotti an idea.

    Using, she pulled up three images of Ryan and put them behind the wonkiest, most inside-baseball political pickup lines that came to mind.

    "Hey girl," the white text flashed in front of Ryan's picture, as he gazed longingly into the camera. "I had a dream about you last night. We were cutting the budget. It got pretty intense."

    "Paul Ryan is sexy," Zanotti wrote above the pictures, which she posted on her blog, NakedDC. "Not in the regular way, of course, but in the, I might totally put a poster of him over my bed and kiss it goodnight once in a while as I ride to dreamland on sweet thoughts of economic freedom in a terrible haircut. Granted, I wouldn't want to marry him or something. But I would totally want Paul Ryan to live in my house and, like, do laundry or something and when commanded, lecture me on comparative economic policy."

    She then splashed the photos across her personal Facebook page, where Washington, D.C.-based consultant Lyndsey Fifield spotted them and proposed they start posting them on Tumblr. The duo enlisted fellow NakedDC writer Lindsey Dodge, and the website Hey Girl, It's Paul Ryan was born.

    With his light blue eyes, dark brown hair, and a body sculpted by a strict P90X exercise regimen in the congressional gym, Ryan has become quite the heartthrob among the conservative political junkie crowd. (In 2011, a female college journalism intern was so enamored with Ryan when she first met him that she broke down in tears after an interview in the Speaker's Lobby. True story.)

    For three days now, the women have posted a steady stream of nerdy content that, while not everyone in the country will fully understand, those who do will find hilarious.

    "Hey girl," reads one post, "Don't worry. IPAB might ration our healthcare. But it will never ration our love."

    "Girl you got the mind of Friedrich Hayek," another reads. "In the body of Salma Hayek."

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  • Rob Portman on politicians: ‘It’s not about sizzle for me’

    Rob Portman (Alex Brandon/AP)

    Lacking charisma could be a positive for a Republican presidential duo facing a "celebrity" president like Barack Obama, said Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, a man rumored to be on Mitt Romney's vice presidential shortlist and known more for his legislative prowess than for his ability to hype a crowd into a frenzy.

    In an interview with Fox News' Bret Baier, Portman downplayed the importance of—in his words—"sizzle" in a candidate.

    "I'd like to think I'm a serious legislator and trying to get things done," Portman said in the  interview that aired Tuesday night. "That's my goal in life, is to get things done. It's not about sizzle for me. I think it's fine. I mean, America made a decision in 2008 to go with a president who did have sizzle. And look, he was kind of a celebrity. He also had a very compelling message which was, remember this, I'm going to bring people together to solve problems. Didn't happen. And it didn't happen because he didn't have the experience, he didn't have the record, he didn't have the policies to do it."

    Watch the full video at

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  • Grover Norquist to endorse Mourdock after Lugar rejects no-tax pledge

    Grover Norquist (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
    Grover Norquist, the influential conservative activist who is the president of Americans for Tax Reform, will endorse Richard Mourdock over Dick Lugar before next week's Republican Senate primary in Indiana, Yahoo News has learned.

    Lugar, who has represented Indiana in the U.S. Senate since 1977, has never signed Norquist's "Taxpayer Protection Pledge" never to raise taxes. A majority of Republican lawmakers—and some Democrats in conservative districts—have signed the Americans for Tax Reform pledge.

    Norquist will join a handful of high-profile conservatives and organizations—including Sarah Palin and the American Conservative Union—who have backed Mourdock, Indiana's state treasurer who is running to Lugar's right with the backing of national tea party groups.

    Members of Lugar's congressional staff met with Norquist at the Americans for Tax Reform headquarters in Washington earlier this year to discuss whether Lugar would sign the no-tax pledge, a source who attended the meeting told Yahoo News.

    Norquist never received a reply from Lugar's staff, the source said, so he contacted Lugar's office last week to give the Indiana senator one final chance to sign. Lugar refused, the source said.

    Lugar campaign spokesman Andy Fisher said the senator did not sign the pledge to avoid being "beholden to D.C. special interests."

    "Hoosiers don't want their senators beholden to D.C. special interests and that's why Richard Mourdock's hometown paper called on candidates of both political parties not to sign pledges," Fisher told Yahoo News. "Sen. Dick Lugar is proud to be endorsed by Indiana's leading job creators—a striking contrast to Mourdock's support from D.C. interest groups that bear zero responsibility for job creation or economic development in Indiana."

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  • Rep. McMorris Rodgers: A female running mate would ‘bring an important voice to the table’

    Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Evan Vucci/AP)

    Responding to veepstakes rumors, Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, vice chair of the House Republican Conference and a rising star on Capitol Hill, says she's open to being Mitt Romney's running mate and encourages him to tap a woman for the job.

    From National Review's Robert Costa:

    In an interview with National Review Online, the four-term Republican acknowledged that she's open to the idea, but took care to note that she is not "seeking" the nod. Romney, she says, should simply pick a conservative running mate—and if it's a woman, all the better.

    "Republican women bring an important voice to the table," McMorris-Rodgers says. "The big issues that face this country right now—the economy, jobs, the debt, and health care—are on the forefront of people's minds, and especially on women's minds."

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  • Sununu says Kelly Ayotte’s NH roots could be a ‘negative’ as a Romney VP pick

    Romney and Sununu (Jim Cole/AP)Mitt Romney campaigned with possible VP pick New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte Monday. But former New Hampshire Gov. John H. Sununu suggested during the trip that Ayotte's Northeast connections could be a "negative."

    Sununu has been one of Romney's most outspoken surrogates during the primary season.

    "Sen. Ayotte is a strong candidate on the list. She knows how to cut budgets. She knows that you cut spending instead of raising taxes to cut budgets. She's a hard campaigner," Sununu said, according to Politico's Ginger Gibson. "She's earned the respect of her colleagues on both sides of the aisle in Washington. Those are all the pluses. On the negative side, she is from the Northeast, and you've got to recognize that it may be a negative if both candidates are from the same region."

    Sununu went on to say that there were as many as "20 names" on Romney's list.

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  • Bob McDonnell to campaign with Mitt Romney in Virginia this week: Another VP tryout?

    Mitt Romney campaigns with Bob McDonnell in January. (David Goldman/AP)

    Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a potential running mate for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, will appear alongside Romney in Virginia on Thursday, Yahoo News has learned.

    McDonnell, who endorsed Romney in January and campaigned with him during the primaries, plans to meet with the candidate for a fundraiser Wednesday night in Arlington before joining him for an event in the state the following day. McDonnell will not join Romney for his event scheduled Wednesday morning due to budget meetings in Richmond, sources with knowledge of the governor's plans said.

    Ever since Romney all but secured the Republican nomination, he has appeared publicly with possible running mates, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and most recently, New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte.

    When asked about the prospects of becoming Romney's running mate during a radio interview last week, McDonnell called the mention "flattering," but denied that he was gunning for the job.

    "I'm not looking for it, asking for it, expecting it," he said.

    The Romney campaign will announce the time and location of the Thursday event featuring Romney and McDonnell on Tuesday.

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