Blog Posts by Chris Moody

  • Rick Santorum’s spring break: A week of beer, bowling, brats and bocce ball

    Rick Santorum changes into bowling shoes in La Crosse, Wis. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

    MILWAUKEE -- Rick Santorum, wearing red-and-blue bowling shoes and his gray sweater vest, leans forward and focuses his gaze on the last remaining pin at the end of the lane. As the speakers overhead blast Jessie J's "Domino" -- I'm feelin' sexy and free! Like glitter's raining down on me! -- Santorum takes three wide steps toward the line, swings his arm back and thrusts the heavy ball forward. It knocks the pin down with a whack.

    "That was Romney!" Jim Bob Duggar shouts over the music, pointing to the defeated pin.

    "Spare!" the text on a television screen above his head blares, before flashing a silhouette of two well-shaped girls in tight jeans gyrating their hips in celebration of the bowler's achievement.

    It's Friday at Dale's Weston Lanes in central Wisconsin, and most of the crowd that attended a speech he gave earlier that night has left. Santorum is with his wife, Karen, two of their teenage children, and his traveling aides. The campaign has rented two lanes at the alley,

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  • Santorum draws the line in Wisconsin: No cheesehead

    Click image to see more photos.

    APPLETON, Wisc. -- He'll eat their cheese. He'll drink their beer. He'll even visit Lambeau Field. And though he's vying for the love of Wisconsinites this week, you won't find Rick Santorum wearing a yellow polyurethane triangle on his head.

    Santorum declined an offer to don the official cap of the Green Bay Packers here Monday, citing his lifelong allegiance to one of the team's main rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Santorum, who represented Pennsylvania in Congress from 1991-2007, stopped for lunch at Simon's Specialty Cheese shop, where he was surrounded by hundreds of cheesehead hats for sale.

    While he and his wife nibbled on grilled cheese sandwiches and squeaky cheese curds, a shop employee brought over a couple of the iconic hats for him to autograph.

    "I am not going to put this on," Santorum said. "I am a Steelers fan."

    "It's like asking a Packers fan to wave a Terrible Towel," he said after recalling the story at a campaign stop later that day. "You can't do that."

    Santorum's allegiance didn't stop the reality show family the Duggars, who are traveling with the candidate, from sporting their own cheesy headgear.

    The Duggars--with a few friends--in Appleton, Wisconsin. (Chris Moody/Yahoo News)

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  • Santorum: A convention fight would be good for the party

    Click image to see more photos. (Reuters/Darren Hauck) Click image to see more photos. (Reuters/Darren Hauck)

    APPLETON, Wis.—Rick Santorum pushed back against Republicans urging an end to the primary Monday, repeating his call for a drawn-out fight, even all the way to the Republican convention in August.

    Speaking to reporters before sampling grilled cheese sandwiches at a Wisconsin cheese shop here, Santorum argued that a prolonged battle would give Republicans the best chance to beat President Barack Obama in November.

    "I think it would be a fascinating display of open democracy, and I think it would be an energizing thing for our party to have a candidate emerge who's awho isn't the blessed candidate of the Republican establishment," Santorum said. "I think that's a good thing, it's a good narrative for us. It makes this election a short election; the shorter this election in the fall, the better off we are, not the worse."

    He pointed to the Democratic primary election between now-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Obama, which lasted until June and led to a Democratic victory.

    "Did that hurt them? No, it didn't hurt them at all," he said. "It kept the Democratic Party engaged, and I think in this primary, the longer it goes the better it is for the party, and people even say going to the convention would be dangerousno. "

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  • Santorum pens USA Today op-ed attempting to link Romney with federal health care law

    GREEN BAY, Wis.—The day before Republican primaries in Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia, Rick Santorum published an op-ed in USA Today excoriating Mitt Romney for the connection between the Massachusetts health care law passed during his tenure and the federal health care law under review by the Supreme Court.

    From the op-ed:

    "ObamaCare — based on RomneyCare, the plan Massachusetts adopted when Mitt Romney was governor — tells insurance companies which benefits their policies must offer and what range of prices they could charge. It requires that individuals buy conforming policies, and cuts $500 billion from Medicare. The Independent Payment Advisory Board will limit what treatments doctors can prescribe."

    The article, which outlines Santorum's plan to promote individual savings accounts and state-run high risk pools, is part of a renewed focus on hitting Romney over government regulation of the health insurance industry. At almost every stop along the campaign trail, Santorum has called Romney "uniquely unqualified" to debate President Barack Obama on the issue.

    Santorum also made a stop at the Supreme Court last week while the justices heard oral arguments challenging the federal law, which Santorum calls "ObamaRomneyCare." His campaign released an ad on health care Monday morning that shows Obama's face transforming into Romney's.

    In response, Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul called Santorum's efforts "desperate."

    "Rick Santorum is attacking pollsters, attacking reporters and attacking Mitt Romney. It is sad to see him completely lose his bearings and revert to patently false claims," Saul said. "Senator Santorum is at a point of desperation that he will say or do anything. It is pretty clear that he is lashing out at everyone around him in order to prop up his sinking campaign."

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  • Win or lose in Wisconsin, Santorum will press on

    Rick Santorum gives a thumb up while greeting supporters at the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

    GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If Rick Santorum loses the Wisconsin Republican primary to Mitt Romney Tuesday, whatever you do, do not ask him if he sees it as a signal to drop out of the race. Regardless of what happens, he's not going anywhere.

    Over the weekend, Santorum fielded dozens of questions about plans to depart from the primary contest--queries that probably gave the candidate déjà vu from Iowa, when every reporter within earshot of the former Pennsylvania senator tossed him the same question from Sioux City to Muscatine. Meanwhile, a growing chorus of Republicans are calling on him to step aside so the party can coalesce around Romney and begin serious preparations to challenge President Barack Obama.

    [Related: Romney predicts he’ll ‘probably’ be the GOP nominee]

    But aside from the obvious goal of winning the Republican nomination, Santorum sees his purpose in this fight as something larger. To him, the core values of the party are at stake, and right now, he's the only person in the position to save the GOP from itself.

    Speaking to a small crowd of supporters here Sunday night, Santorum said he was ignoring calls to end the primary, saying that "cutting it short and getting the wrong candidate is worse than making this a fight for the heart and soul of America, and the heart and soul of the Republican party."

    On the trail, he paints a picture of a long, drawn out battle ahead, comparing it to a basketball game in which the team down by a few points goes home in the middle of the game.

    "We're not even at halftime. Not even half the delegates have been selected," Santorum said.  "What does it say about a candidate, who all he does is instead of going out there an playing the game, he sends all those people out there to try and get me to end the game? ...Play the game!"

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  • Rick Santorum bowls at a bowling alley in La Crosse, Wis. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

    CHILTON, Wis.-- Rick Santorum has visited a different bowling alley every day during his weekend campaign swing through Wisconsin, but this time, he had some competition.

    Tyler Buechel, a high school bowling champion whose father owns the alley where Santorum played on Sunday, was on hand when the candidate arrived.

    Buechel joined Santorum on the hardwood, and while Santorum's not a bad amateur bowler, the kid schooled him.

    "I've been bowling for 13 years and I'm 15," Buechel, who lives with his family above the bowling alley, told Yahoo News. "I started when I was two and a half."

    As for Santorum's bowling skills, Buechel said he could use some more practice.

    "You can definitely tell he doesn't do it for competition," he said.

    He offered Santorum a few pointers on how to become a champion bowler, in case the presidential thing doesn't work out:

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  • Santorum: Establishment Republicans are in a ‘panic’

    Rick Santorum talks to reporters while campaigning in West Bend, Wisconsin. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

    WEST BEND, Wis. -- As more conservative leaders within the Republican Party show public support for Mitt Romney--most recently Rep. Paul Ryan and tea party favorites Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint--Rick Santorum insisted that the endorsements were a sign that the party establishment was in a "panic."

    "I think from what you see, there seems to be a panic among the Republican establishment of everybody sort of coming out of the woodwork to say the things they're saying today," Santorum told reporters here Sunday. "It makes me feel like we're actually doing pretty well here in Wisconsin."

    Earlier Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell stopped short of endorsing Romney during a CNN interview, but said it was time for the primary to draw to a close so the party could coalesce around Romney. "I think he's going to be an excellent candidate," McConnell said. "And I think the chances are overwhelming that he will be our nominee. It seems to me we're in the final phases of wrapping up this nomination.

    Santorum responded, saying it was clear that he was making Republicans "nervous."

    "A lot of people must be concerned we're going to do really well on Tuesday, so I'm encouraged by all this," he said. "It shows that the establishment is getting nervous."

    He added: "I'm confident we'll have a good day on Tuesday."

    Santorum had just finished eating lunch with his family at a small brewery along the Milwaukee River, where he washed down a plate of fried cheese curds with three sample sized beers, including a "Feelin' Lucky" Irish stout.

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  • Rick Santorum greets supporters at the Faith and Freedom Coalition Presidential Kick-Off (Jae C. Hong/AP)

    PEWAUKEE, Wis. -- On the first leg of his campaign trip to Wisconsin this week, Rick Santorum spoke approvingly and often of Rep. Paul Ryan, a favorite son among Badger State Republicans. But ever since Ryan endorsed Mitt Romney, the name doesn't come up nearly as much on Santorum's spring campaign tour.

    At a speech here Saturday to the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Santorum even found a way to highlight Ryan's success as House Budget Chairman without saying his name at all.

    "Take the tax code, simplify it," Santorum told the audience while describing his own tax plan. "We've got the simplest--it's two rates. Some other Wisconsinite also went with a two rate tax plan."

    That "other Wisconsinite," of course, is Ryan, who spoke at the same event earlier that morning, and whose budget blueprint passed the House this week.

    Santorum's reference to Ryan came after a week of invoking Ryan's name throughout the state. Santorum even made a stop in Jainesville--Ryan's hometown--where he spent the better part of a half hour praising the young congressman, calling him a "great Wisconsinite."

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  • Santorum’s Wisconsin primary gamble: A win could stretch campaign into spring

    HUDSON, Wis.—Rick Santorum kicked off a last minute push through the state of Wisconsin Friday in hopes of securing a much-needed April 3 win he says will help the campaign survive a three-week break in the primary schedule.

    Speaking to supporters at the Hudson Golf Club on Friday, Santorum told the crowd his campaign could hinge on their vote.

    "You have an opportunity here to make a huge difference in the country, not just in Wisconsin," Santorum told about 200 supporters. "You've got a great and very important race going on."

    It's not something Wisconsinites are accustomed to hearing from a presidential candidate in the spring, but this year, when every state primary and caucus is make-or-break for the insurgent Republicans challenging Mitt Romney, all eyes are on Wisconsin and its 42 delegates. A win here would signal to Santorum donors that they might still have a dog in the fight.

    "If Wisconsin comes through for us, we've got a three-week hiatus and we head to Pennsylvania," Santorum said. "And then the map looks really good for us in May. We have a great map of conservative states. States that already most polls have us leading. This race is a long way from over."

    To accomplish this, Santorum faces an uphill climb. He still trails Romney in public opinion polling in Wisconsin, but as in past contests where Santorum came from behind at the last minute, his numbers appear to be improving.

    [Related: New Wisconsin poll shows Romney up by 7 points] 

    "The polls that you've seen are tight," Santorum said. "We were down 13, and then down 8, then down 7, now we're down 5. I like that trend."

    To fill the gap, Santorum is implementing his Iowa strategy of visiting voters all over the state. The former Pennsylvania senator has eight stops scheduled in the state over the next few days, a journey that will span hundreds of miles.

    "We're out hustling," Santorum said. "I know Gov. Romney's doing an event today. First time. We're gonna go out and do four or five events today. We've been traveling all throughout the state. We're going to the north country, we're going north, south, east, west, whatever. Every hamlet, we're hitting. We're working hard."

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  • House approves Paul Ryan budget plan

    Paul Ryan holds up a copy of his budget plan entitled "The Path to Prosperity." (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

    The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday approved a $3.53 trillion budget proposal that would reduce spending by more than $5 trillion over 10 years compared to President Barack Obama's budget recommendations, would overhaul the federal Medicare program, and would reduce taxes and spending on certain programs.

    The House voted 228-191 to pass the bill with 10 Republicans opposing it. Democrats unanimously opposed the measure.

    [Related: GOP passes Paul Ryan's budget in a familiar fight]

    The bill, championed by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is destined for almost sure defeat in the Democrat-led Senate, but its passage in the House will be used by Republicans to contrast the spending priorities of each party.

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