Blog Posts by Chris Moody

  • Mitt Romney effectively rules out Rick Santorum as running mate

    Santorum and Romney (Ross D. Franklin/AP)

    If Mitt Romney wins the Republican presidential nomination, he'll have many options for a running mate. His current rival, Rick Santorum, probably won't be one of them.

    Romney said as much Monday when Neil Cavuto asked him on Fox Business if he would choose a candidate to his right in order to win the election.

    "Well that would preclude, of course, Rick Santorum," Romney said. "Because, I mean, look at his record. I find it interesting that he continues to describe himself as the real conservative. This is the guy who voted against the right to work, this is the guy who voted to fund Planned Parenthood, this is the person who voted to raise the debt ceiling five times. ... It's my way of saying that Rick Santorum is not a person who is an economic conservative, to my right. I'm saying I'm a conservative, I give him credit for being a conservative, but not a fiscal conservative. His record does not suggest he's got the fiscal conservative chops that I have."

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  • Pro-Santorum super PAC targets Obama and oil in Louisiana ad

    The Red, White and Blue Fund, a super PAC supporting Rick Santorum, plans to spend $260,000 on an ad buy in Louisiana targeting President Barack Obama's energy policy.

    The 30-second spot claims that "foreign oil" is "funding radicals with bad intentions" and shows an image of Muslim men burning an American flag in front of a shop with Arabic writing on the sign. The commercial opens with a shot of Obama and then transitions to Santorum's energy plan, in which he promises to "open drilling and build pipelines to lower cost."

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  • Newt Gingrich has dispatched campaign surrogate Chuck Norris to robocall Republican voters in Alabama and Mississippi and urge them to vote for him in Tuesday's primary elections.

    "Hello, this is Chuck Norris," Norris says on the call. "As my wife Gina and I watched the GOP debate and went to their website we were trying to decide which of the candidates would be best to do head to head combat with President Obama. Now, I didn't say hand to hand combat, even though I think they would win there too. Gina and I decided that Newt Gingrich would be the best man to beat President Obama."

    Listen to the whole thing here:

    Norris officially endorsed Gingrich in January.

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  • IRS faces lawsuit before Tax Day

    (Seth Perlman/AP)

    Tax filing season is upon us, but this spring, one Washington-based group is sending the Internal Revenue Service more than just completed W-2 forms. The Institute for Justice (IJ), a public interest law firm, is suing the IRS on behalf of three professional tax preparers over a rule mandating that they obtain a license to file tax forms for compensation.

    The rule, first implemented in 2011, imposes $64 in new fees and mandates a $100 examination charge on top of an obligation to take a 15-hour course. Certified public accountants, attorneys and certain IRS-approved "enrolled agents," however, are exempt from the requirements.

    The rule has the support of large tax-filing firms like H&R Block, and critics argue that the fees could raise the price of tax services or dissuade independent tax filers from offering them, thereby sending more business to the larger companies.

    "These licensing requirements impose a substantial burden on small tax preparation businesses and independent tax return preparers, many of whom prepare taxes on a part-time or seasonal basis," IJ's attorneys argued in a statement. "Many of these independent preparers and small businesses will have to either stop preparing taxes or raise their prices, making it more difficult for them to compete on price with the larger tax preparation firms, which can more easily absorb these costs, and CPA firms and law firms, which are generally exempt from these licensing regulations and thus won't have to pay the licensing costs."

    The firm argues that the IRS does not have the authority to implement such a rule without the consent of Congress. A spokeswoman from the IRS declined to comment on the pending lawsuit, but the IRS has defended the requirement as a means to protect consumers.

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  • More than half of Mississippi GOP voters say Obama is a Muslim, new poll suggests

    More than half of likely Republican voters in Mississippi say they think President Barack Obama is a Muslim, according to a survey conducted by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic polling firm.

    Fifty-two percent said that Obama practiced Islam, while just 12 percent said he was a Christian. Thirty-six percent said they were not sure.

    Obama, whose father and stepfather both came from Muslim backgrounds, is a practicing Christian and was a member of Trinity United Church in Chicago before he was president.

    The poll, conducted by telephone of 656 likely Republican voters in Mississippi on March 10 and 11, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

    In Alabama, the same poll found that 45 percent of likely Republican voters believed Obama to be a Muslim and 14 percent said they considered him a Christian.

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  • Afghanistan massacre has some Republicans questioning the war effort

    The killing of 16 Afghans by a U.S. soldier near a base in southern Afghanistan Sunday, combined with the recent outcry and violence over the accidental burning of Qurans on an American military base has some leading Republicans questioning whether the war is still worth the effort.

    In the past 24 hours, two Republican presidential candidates—former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum—have suggested that in light of the incident, the United States may need to change course and re-examine its role in Afghanistan.

    [RELATED: Obama calls shooting rampage in Afghanistan ‘tragic and shocking’]

    "There's something profoundly wrong with the way we're approaching the whole region, and I think it's going to get substantially worse, not better," Gingrich said this weekend on "Fox News Sunday." "And I think that we're risking the lives of young men and women in a mission that may frankly not be doable."

    "Any time you have such a shocking development, I think it's important to take a look and see what the situation is and whether it's possible to continue on," Santorum said. "Given all of these additional problems, we have to either make the decision to make a full commitment, which this president has not done, or we have to decide to get out and probably get out sooner, given the president's decision to get out in 2014."

    Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has said repeatedly that he wants to see American troops brought back from Afghanistan "as soon as we possibly can," but he has criticized President Barack Obama for publicly declaring the details of an exit strategy.

    "Why in the world do you go to the people that you're fighting with and tell them the date you're pulling out your troops?" Romney said in Nevada last month. "It makes absolutely no sense." He later added that Obama's "naivete is putting in jeopardy the mission of the United States of America and our commitments to freedom."

    A spokesman from Romney's campaign did not immediately return a request for comment about whether the weekend rampage in Afghanistan changed his view on American efforts there.

    The comments made by the GOP candidates and others highlight a departure from past orthodoxy in the party that pushed for completing the mission of stabilizing Afghanistan. As late as June 2010, when then-Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele questioned the wisdom of the war effort, fellow Republicans called for his ouster. Steele was caught on tape during an event suggesting that the United States military would fail, comments that sparked outrage among some conservatives within the party.

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  • Santorum super PAC goes big in the South

    Rick Santorum campaigns in Mississippi. (Rogelio V. Solis/AP)

    The super PAC supporting Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum plans to spend "well over half a million" dollars on television airtime in Alabama and Mississippi before the primaries there next week.

    The ad, which the pro-Santorum "Red, White and Blue Fund" first released in February, targets Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, hitting the former house speaker for supporting a government mandate to purchase health care in the 1990s and the former Massachusetts governor for championing a state health plan that included an individual mandate.

     "How can Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich beat Barack Obama?" the ad asks, pointing to their support for the type of mandate that was included in the federal health care overhaul passed in 2010.

     "On the heels of our call for Newt Gingrich to unite conservatives by exiting the race, now we are investing heavily in the next two primary states to ensure that happens with a Santorum victory," Stuart Roy, a spokesman for the Red, White and Blue Fund said. "Then voters will be able to have a choice between an authentic conservative in Santorum and a calculated conservative in Mitt Romney."

    The ad buy comes amid an effort by Santorum and his allies to focus on the South and pressure Gingrich out of the race. Roy on Wednesday said it was time Gingrich dropped his bid for the White House, and the Santorum campaign is calling on conservatives to rally behind the former Pennsylvania senator. Gingrich, not surprisingly, rejected calls for him to bow out.

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  • Up next for Santorum: Get Gingrich out, barnstorm the South

    Rick Santorum (Eric Gay/AP)

    With 23 state elections now behind the Republican presidential candidates, Rick Santorum lags behind Mitt Romney by nearly 130 committed delegates, and according to his campaign's top strategists, the fastest road to narrowing that gap cuts straight through Dixie.

    Romney has yet to win a Southern contest this cycle--unless you count Florida, a state where the farther south you go, the more Northern it gets--and Santorum is looking to the region as his greatest hope of bringing down the front-runner.

    But there's just one problem, and it involves a cheerful Georgian named Newt.

    On Super Tuesday, Santorum won a majority of votes in Tennessee and Oklahoma, but Gingrich took Georgia and also won the South Carolina primary in January. In order for Santorum's strategy to work, he needs Gingrich off the trail and back at his job as a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute STAT.

    "It's time to get serious," Santorum's chief strategist John Brabender told reporters Tuesday night in Steubenville, Ohio. "If you're a conservative ... rally behind Rick Santorum, let's take on Mitt Romney. Let's make this mano to mano and see: Do we want a moderate representing us who the establishment wants or do we want an outsider conservative tea party candidate?" (By "outsider," Brebender was referring to a man who served 16 years in Congress and was for a time the chief message man for Senate Republicans, but who's keeping track?)

    Brabender suggested in so many words that Gingrich step aside, a proposal Gingrich has given no indication that he's even remotely interested in entertaining. Santorum is also licking his chops at the idea that he could take the state delegates committed to the former House speaker, which would narrow the gap even more.

    "There's a lot of states that are in already where they voted for somebody like Newt Gingrich," Brabender said. "Well those aren't necessarily binding delegates, and they can still vote for Rick Santorum. If conservatives and tea party supporters unite behind Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney will not be the nominee."

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  • Newt Gingrich to receive Secret Service protection

    Newt Gingrich is escorted by his security team in Nashua, N.H. in January. (Charles Krupa/AP))

    Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich will receive protection from the United States Secret Service beginning at midnight tonight, a source close to his campaign told Yahoo News.

    Gingrich, who is campaigning in Georgia and Alabama on Super Tuesday, is the third candidate still in the nomination race to receive a security unit from the government agency, after Romney and Santorum. The investment in the costly service suggests that the campaign plans to continue its efforts into the spring.

    In an interview with Yahoo News in November, Gingrich said he would hold off on a Secret Service detail as long as possible.

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  • In Ohio, Rick Santorum says ‘It’s gut-check time’

    Rick Santorum leaves the American Legion after speaking in Westerville, Ohio. (Eric Gay/AP)

    CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio--Rick Santorum, who has become a legitimate underdog challenger to longtime front-runner Mitt Romney for the Republican presidential nomination, made his final pitch to Ohio voters Monday, calling Romney "the weakest candidate" for championing a state mandate to buy health insurance while he was governor of Massachusetts.

    "He won't be able to ignore and avoid answering questions in the fall, and as a result, he will be the weakest candidate we could possibly put forward on the most important issue of the day," Santorum told supporters at his final rally here the night before Ohioans join Republicans in nine other states on Super Tuesday.

    "Why would we put someone up who is uniquely unqualified to take him on in this issue? You don't think it will be used against him? You don't think we will hear this? It will be a drumbeat," he told supporters earlier Monday afternoon in Columbus. "It will take an issue where we're on the offensive and turn it into a liability. I don't care how much money he has. Don't let that happen, Ohio."

    Romney's campaign spokesman, Ryan Williams, who has been trailing Santorum at events in Ohio for the past few days, responded to Santorum's latest line of attack, calling it a "desperate attempt by Senator Santorum to avoid a discussion about his flailing campaign and his loss in five straight states. Governor Romney has been consistent in opposing a federal mandate."

    For the past week, Santorum has increased the level of criticism aimed at Romney, taking his message through Ohio, Georgia, Tennessee and Oklahoma, where he has argued that Romney would fail to garner enough support from the party base to beat Obama if he becomes nominee.

    "Conservatives will not trust him, will not rally around him through this primary season," Santorum told reporters during a conference call Monday, seizing on recent news reports that as late as 2009, Romney appeared to uphold the Massachusetts government health care plan he signed into law as a model for a federal program.

    On the stump, Santorum has also started to make bold predictions about his chances for success, a shift from a candidate who traditionally has avoided asserting himself as an inevitable nominee. In the past, if reporters asked Santorum if he thought he would win an upcoming contest, he would often shrug and respond by saying, "We'll see," or "I'm not a pollster." But on the night before Super Tuesday, Santorum oozed with confidence.

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