Blog Posts by Chris Moody

  • In Ronald Reagan’s hometown, Rick Santorum compares Mitt Romney to Gerald Ford

    Rick Santorum in Dixon, Illinois. (Charlie Riedel/AP)DIXON, Ill.—The day before the Illinois primary, Rick Santorum visited the boyhood home of former President Ronald Reagan to pitch Republican voters.

    Reagan moved to Dixon when he was 9 years old with his family, and his old house now sits on Reagan Way, just off the Ronald Reagan Memorial Tollway, which is not far from Reagan Trail.

    On Monday afternoon, in front of a statue of young Reagan astride a horse, Santorum tried to stake his claim as the True Gipper of 2012. The former Pennsylvania senator compared his current battle against Mitt Romney to Reagan's contest against then-President Gerald Ford in 1976, cautioning the crowd that the GOP needs to avoid a repeat of the type of fight Reagan faced.

    "He fought an insurgent campaign against, no less, a sitting incumbent Republican. Now we don't have a sitting Republican incumbent running for office this time, but we have someone that is certainly the choice of the establishment Republican, someone who's 'turn it was.' We see that so often in Republican politics for president," Santorum told a few hundred supporters who gathered along the banks of the Rock River, where Reagan served as a summer lifeguard. "Reagan ran that insurgent campaign in 1976, and people said, 'Why don't you get out of the race? You don't have a chance of winning.' And he fought."

    Santorum mentioned that Reagan won 11 states in his first run for the party nomination in 1976, and that Illinois, coincidentally, would be Santorum's 11th victory this cycle. He told the crowd that Republicans called Reagan "too conservative" in 1976 and he reminded them about what happened when the party nominated Ford instead: four years of Jimmy Carter.

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  • Romney pulls ahead in Illinois, Santorum to spend primary night in Pennsylvania

    Santorum (Seth Perlman/AP)

    ROCKFORD, Ill.—Rick Santorum is doing a one-day campaign and media blitz Monday in Illinois, but he plans to high-tail it out of the state before Tuesday's primary night, which could be a positive sign for chief rival Mitt Romney.

    The former Pennsylvania senator will appear on 15 radio and television programs Monday, with four rallies planned throughout the state. On Tuesday, instead of visiting polling precincts and hosting a party in the state, he will retreat to friendlier territory in Gettysburg, Pa. Santorum spent much of the weekend rallying support in Louisiana, where his future looks brighter than in Illinois, and he hopped down to Puerto Rico last week (though he ended up being trounced in the primary on the island Sunday). Louisiana holds its primary on Saturday.

    Illinois appeared to be a close race just a few weeks ago, but Romney has pulled far ahead in recent polling. A Public Policy Polling survey released Sunday showed the former Massachusetts governor ahead of Santorum by 15 percentage points.

    "Mitt Romney is headed for a blowout victory in Illinois on Tuesday," said PPP Director Tom Jensen.

    But Santorum has consistently out-performed polls: He won Alabama and Mississippi last week, despite polls suggesting otherwise. He also decided not to hold his primary-night rally in either state, so his strategy of looking ahead to future contests while voters hit the polls could be a winning one.

    Romney, on the other hand, is focusing intensely on Illinois. He spent the weekend campaigning in the state with his wife, Ann, and they made it clear that they are looking to Illinois to solidify the perception that Romney will be the Republican nominee.

    [Related: Wall St. pays handsomely for inside D.C. dope]

    "We need to send a message," Ann Romney told a crowd in Chicago's northern suburbs Sunday night, "that it's time to coalesce, it's time to come together, it's time for us to get behind one candidate and get the job done so we can move on to the next round, which will get us one step closer to defeating Barack Obama."

    A solid victory in Illinois would certainly help push that narrative, but a narrow one—or a loss—would be a major setback for the campaign as Romney battles to lock down the nomination through what has become a long, difficult march to the convention.


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  • Santorum renews promise to root out obscene pornography

    Santrorum (Charlie Riedel/AP)Rick Santorum doubled down Sunday on a campaign promise to crack down on the distribution of explicit pornography if elected president, saying exposure to the content "can be very damaging."

    A position paper on Santorum's campaign website argues that current obscenity laws already prohibit the distribution of "hardcore (obscene) pornography," and that the Obama administration has failed to enforce these restrictions. As president, Santorum says, he would instruct his attorney general to prosecute those who distribute content his administration deems "obscene."

    "We would, of course, as president enforce those laws, because obviously Congress in its wisdom understood that hardcore pornography is very damaging, particularly to young people, and that exposure on the Internet can be very damaging," Santorum said during an interview on ABC's "This Week." "There are laws against purveying hard-core pornography. And that—we have attorney generals in the country, at least under the Bush administration, who did prosecute that. And this administration isn't. And I simply said I would follow the law, which I know in the case of Barack Obama can be somewhat of a hefty challenge for him, but we're going to do it as president."

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  • Federal government typo of the day

    New training manuals from the Senate Office of Education and Training

    The Senate Office of Education and Training dropped off new manuals around Capitol Hill Friday, and aides quickly noticed that something was a bit off.

    "Look what came across my desk with a glaring error! Bet they'll reprint 'em!" tweeted Sen. Rand Paul spokeswoman Moira Bagley, who took the photo above.

    The booklet is a training directory for staffers on Capitol Hill.

    "Ooh! They've got an editing and proofreading class!" she said in a later tweet.

    Terrance Gainer, the U.S. Senate Sergeant at Arms, who oversees the Office of Education and Training, said they are fixing the problem.

    "Not much I can say about the mistake you discovered other than follow a very sound theory: 'mess up, fess up and clean up,'" Gainer told Yahoo News. "The error is being corrected."

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  • Porn titans not worried about Rick Santorum banning their business

    Larry Flynt (AP), Michael Lucas and Steven Hirsch (Glenn Francis)

    Rick Santorum has made a campaign promise to bar "hardcore pornography" from American websites, magazines and television, but industry giants who produce much of the nation's porn aren't worried that the crusading candidate will stop the multibillion dollar industry from churning out the next "Deep Throat."

    "I don't see a danger," Michael Lucas, New York's largest producer of gay adult films, told Yahoo News. "There's no danger that he will be the Republican Party nominee."

    Santorum's campaign posted a position paper on its website in February that vowed to "vigorously" enforce obscenity laws and restrict the distribution of hardcore pornography, which it says has reached "pandemic" levels. The former Pennsylvania senator said he will "prohibit distribution of hardcore (obscene) pornography on the Internet, on cable/satellite TV, on hotel/motel TV, in retail shops and through the mail or by common carrier." A spokesman for Santorum's presidential campaign did not return a request for comment.

    [Related: Could you really get rid of porn on the Internet?]

    Lucas, who grew up in the former Soviet Union and immigrated to the United States in 1997 after working in Europe as a male prostitute, founded Lucas Entertainment in 1998, which flourished into a mega-enterprise that produces some of the most lavish gay porn films in the industry. His side company, Lucas Raunch, boasts a repertoire of hardcore fetish videos that are so explicit that Canadian officials banned copies from the country in 2009.

    "This is not what Ronald Reagan envisioned," Lucas said after reviewing Santorum's plan. "This is not what the Founding Fathers envisioned. This is what Rick Santorum envisions. And I think the guy is crazy."

    Lucas, by the way, considers himself a conservative, votes Republican and donates generously to several libertarian and right-wing causes. And when he casts a ballot in the November election, he hopes it will be for Mitt Romney.

    "I would support Romney of course," the director of "Men in Stockings" and "Hunt & Plunge" told Yahoo News. "There is nobody else to support."

    "I am not in love with him, but I like him," he added of Romney. "I don't see any danger coming from Romney when it comes to porn. It's just not there. And I think he will be much better than President Obama. Not that it will be difficult to be better than President Obama."

    On the West Coast, Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt, who has spent decades battling obscenity laws and politicians who have tried to shut him down, said he's confident that Santorum won't get in his way either.

    "Whether it's Newt offering $2 gasoline or Santorum wanting to ban pornography or whatever else he's doing, they're making these promises and these threats, and they're really empty and meaningless," Flynt told Yahoo News. "I don't think he will be much of a contender if he gets the nomination, but at the same time I don't think he will."

    [Related: Rick Santorum's 'winning' war on porn]

    Flynt said that, of the Republican nominees this cycle, he preferred former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman because he "wasn't going off the deep end with the rest," but he plans to vote for Obama in November, calling him "the lesser of two evils."

    "Everybody wants to make promises and wants to keep our minds pure when they can't even keep the streets clean," Flynt said. "I don't listen to them anymore when they talk. It's just a lot of empty rhetoric."

    Steven Hirsch, the founder and co-chairman of Vivid Entertainment, an adult film company that boasts millions of viewers every month, had a more blunt message for Santorum: Bring it.

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  • Romney vs. Santorum air war escalates in Illinois

    The super PAC supporting Rick Santorum is spending $305,000 on a media buy in Illinois, with a new ad that hits Mitt Romney for his support of the Wall Street bailouts and the health care law he championed while governor of Massachusetts.

    The commercial will begin running tonight, and the group is looking to increase the buy over the weekend. "Illinois is an important state to continue our momentum," said Stuart Roy, a spokesman for the Red, White and Blue Fund.

    The pro-Santorum money spent in Illinois, however, is peanuts compared with Mitt Romney's ad buy there, which has topped $3 million.

    The primary is on March 20.


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  • Romney, Santorum look to Illinois, where polls are close

    Santorum (Dusty Compton/AP)Coming off victories in Alabama and Mississippi Tuesday, Rick Santorum now faces a more formidable challenge against Mitt Romney in Illinois' Republican primary next week.

    With 54 delegates at stake, the contest is an opportunity for Mitt Romney to make significant gains in increasing his delegate count. For Santorum, it is a chance to once again shake up the race with an upset.

    Despite Romney "losing" two southern states on Tuesday, he received the most votes in caucuses in Hawaii and American Samoa, netting more delegates than Santorum or Newt Gingrich, who finished just ahead of Romney in both Mississippi and Alabama. He now leads Santorum, his closest rival, by nearly 250 delegates, according to the Wall Street Journal.

    The latest primary polls in Illinois show a close race: A Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV poll of registered voters last week showed Romney leading with 35 percentage points, ahead of Santorum with 31, which is within the poll's margin of error.

    In the days before the primary, Illinois airwaves will be flooded with ads supporting Romney, who is expected to spend $3 million on air time when you include spending by the campaign and the pro-Romney super PAC, Restore Our Future. Compare that to Santorum, who has no air cover in the state as of this writing. Instead, Santorum is focusing his resources on the upcoming primaries in Puerto Rico and Louisiana.

    This is not to say that big spending on ad buys automatically equates to victory. Santorum squeezed out victories in Mississippi and Alabama, where Romney outspent Santorum five to one and three to one, respectively.

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  • Obama to British P.M. Cameron: Here’s a grill and some beanbag chairs

    The Engelbrecht 1000 Series Original Braten GrillTo celebrate British Prime Minister David Cameron's visit to the United States, President Barack Obama presented him and his family with a cooking grill and bean bag chairs Wednesday.

    From the White House pool report:

    On the occasion of the Official Visit, The President and Mrs. Obama gave the Prime Minister and Mrs. Cameron a one-of-a-kind Braten 1000 Series Grill hand made by Engelbrecht Grills and Cookers of Paxton, Illinois. Symbolizing the personal friendship between the President and Mrs. Obama and Prime Minister and Mrs. Cameron, the gift commemorates their May 2011 visit to 10 Downing Street where together they grilled and served food to American and British Armed Service Members.

    An American classic, the wood and charcoal burning grill is customized with American and British friendship flags engraved into the utility shelf and a personalized plaque mounted on the exterior lid. The grill and all its component parts are made in the United States and Engelbrecht Grills and Cookers has been praised for its environmentally friendly practices. The gift also includes two White House chef jackets each featuring American and British flags, and the Great Seal. Prime Minister and Mrs. Cameron's names are embroidered onto the front of their individual jacket.


    Each of Prime Minister and Mrs. Cameron's children received personalized American made bean bag chairs, each featuring the Presidential Seal and the child's name embroidered.

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  • Poll: Obama leads all GOP candidates in head-to-head contests

    President Barack Obama is leading all of the Republican presidential candidates in head-to-head match-ups, according to a poll released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.

    A national survey taken March 7-11 showed Obama leading Romney by 12 percentage points (54-42) and even further ahead of Santorum with 57 percent of support to Santorum's 29 percent. Those numbers are likely to shift as Republicans rally around a single candidate in the coming months, but as a snapshot, the data suggest a brighter scenario for Obama than in previous polls.

    Here are more nuggets from the wide-ranging study:

    Obama's approval rating rises to 50 percent

    For the first time since shortly after Osama bin Laden was killed, half of all Americans (50 percent) say they approve of Barack Obama's job performance, while just 41 percent disapprove.

    Romney's national lead widening among Republican primary voters

    Mitt Romney has regained the lead in the support for his party's presidential nomination, as conservative backing for Rick Santorum has declined. Romney currently holds a 33-24 lead over Santorum among registered Republican and Republican-leaning independent voters, with 20 percent backing Newt Gingrich and 14 percent favoring Ron Paul. The poll was conducted before Santorum's twin victories in Alabama and Mississippi Tuesday night.

    Americans think Obama will win a second term

    By a 59-32 margin, most Americans think Barack Obama will win the election if Mitt Romney is the Republican nominee. That margin is far wider if Rick Santorum is the GOP nominee: 68 percent think Obama would win, while just 24 percent predict a Santorum presidency.

    A majority of Americans have an unfavorable view of the Republican candidates after a long primary

    Confirming fears among Republicans that the protracted primary is weakening all the candidates, the survey found that the contentious Republican primary has taken a toll on the image of the leading GOP candidates. In the current survey, just 29 percent of Americans say they have a favorable view of Romney, while 51 percent say they have an unfavorable impression.

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  • Santorum sweeps South: wins Alabama and Mississippi

    Rick Santorum at his primary night watch party in Lafayette, La. (Gerald Herbert/AP)

    With most precincts reporting, Rick Santorum is the projected winner of the Republican presidential primaries in Alabama and Mississippi. Newt Gingrich appears to have placed second in both contests with narrow leads over Mitt Romney.

    Both states allocate their delegates proportionally, so Mitt Romney will retain his wide lead in the race toward the 1,144 delegates needed to secure the party's nomination. But Santorum's victories are a huge blow to Romney's campaign, which was hoping to put a stop to the narrative that the former governor cannot win in the traditional South. The sweep will likely provide Santorum with a major boost of enthusiasm and financial support.

    "I want to say first to the people of Alabama, you made a great difference," Santorum said from Lafayette, La. before the results of Mississippi were clear. "I don't think there was a single poll showing me anywhere close to winning Mississippi. Not one," he added--a true statement, though only a small handful of polls were conducted.

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