March 26th, 2012
FRANKSVILLE, Wis. -- What started as a good day for Rick Santorum took an abrupt turn on Sunday after the GOP presidential candidate grew frustrated with reporters asking him to clarify his remark that Mitt Romney is the worst Republican in the country to take on President Obama.
During his final campaign stop of the day here, Santorum said of Romney, “Pick any other Republican in the country, he is the worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama." The comments, Santorum would clarify, were in reference to the similarities between Romney's and the president on the issue of health care. It is a common critique he levels against his chief rival, but never has the former Pennsylvania senator called Romney the "worst Republican in the country" to go head-to-head with the president.
When pressed by reporters to clarify his statement, Santorum said, “On the issue of health care. That’s what I was talking about, and I was very clear about talking about that. OK? Come on guys, don’t do this. I mean you guys are incredible. I was talking about Obamacare, and he is the worst because he was the author of Romneycare.”
But the questions struck a chord with Santorum, and when he faced the same question again, he used a profane word and accused the media of "distorting" his speech.
However a press release sent out from the Santorum campaign shortly after the rally here seemed to double down on the candidate's comments. "Rick Santorum spoke plainly and clearly that of all the Republicans in the field, Mitt Romney is the worst possible candidate to take on Barack Obama, because Mitt Romney authored the blueprint for Obamacare and the issue of healthcare would be off the table," the release said.
Santorum has done a lot of clarifying lately, with recent comments suggesting Obama would be a better choice than Romney in a general election and saying the unemployment rate will not affect his campaign. In both cases, he accused the media and his opponents of taking his words out of context. But in both cases, the Romney campaign used his own words against him.
Sunday's remarks were no exception, with Romney spokesperson Ryan Williams telling reporters, “Rick Santorum is becoming more desperate and angry and unhinged every day...He’s panicking in the final stages of his campaign.”
Before his last event, Santorum had been all smiles on the trail the day after receiving nearly double the amount of support Romney did in the Louisiana primary. Along with two rallies today, the GOP hopeful also fit in brunch at the Machine Shed and, for the second time in as many days, a few frames of bowling. In an earlier rally in Fond du Lac, WI, Santorum drew an overflow crowd.
But by Sunday's end, Romney advisers were using the hash tag "Tantorum" to draw attention to past instances of the former senator losing his cool. The response blasted out by the Santorum campaign no mention of his use of a not so family friendly word.
Santorum heads to Washington, DC where he will spend Monday before returning to the Badger State later in the week.
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March 26th, 2012
The DOJ , Obama and pretty much every other Left-Wing Politico has become thoroughly interested in this particular case, having been largely oblivious to almost 4,000 others this year, and over 16,000 other murders last year.
Do you know why?
What about this one too?
March 26th, 2012
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. -- Sorry kids, but there will not be an Easter egg hunt in Old Colorado City this year.
The free Springtime event held at Bancroft Park attracts hundreds of families every year. Thousands of candy-filled plastic eggs are scattered across the park for kids to collect. But, thanks to greedy parents, the annual event has been cancelled.
"It's sort of got out of hand," Dave Van Ness, executive director for the Old Colorado City Associates, said.
Organizers of the hunt said parents are getting to be too aggressive when it comes to gathering eggs with their children.
"There were disgruntled people because there either weren't enough eggs to go around or some kids didn't get one," Van Ness said. "Parents would get aggressive."
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Van Ness said it is unfortunate that parents have seemingly taken the fun out of what was meant to be a fun-filled community event, but that they had no other choice but to cancel the yearly tradition.
"Rather than create ill will, let's just not do it," he said.
Chris Greene, a father of six, said he is disappointed by the parents' actions.
"What kind of role model are you as a parent if your actions are cancelling an event your child is going to remember for the rest of your life?" Greene said.
Not only is the cancellation disappointing to some parents, but owners of businesses located near Bancroft Park are upset, too.
"We're very disappointed that the exposure that we would normally have we're not going to get this year," Molly Smith, owner of Republic of Paws, said.
Van Ness said the egg hunt event was also designed to help attract customers to businesses in Old Colorado City but that hasn't really been the case.
"It's a catch 22," Maureen Bird, an employee of Nice 'N Naughty, said. "You get the people in Old Colorado City, but you also get people who are here for a family event and they're not shopping."
Whether or not the event creates revenue for nearby businesses, those that live and work in the area said they want to see parents act their age.
"Just chill out a little bit," Jennifer Reid, a teacher in Old Colorado City, said. "Let these kids enjoy it!"
Van Ness said he is not sure if the Easter egg hunt will be back on next year.
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March 25th, 2012
By JIM KUHNHENN
WASHINGTON The Supreme Court's ruling on the constitutionality of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul is likely to shake the presidential election race in early summer. But the winners in the court will not necessarily be the winners in the political arena.
No doubt, a decision to throw out the entire law would be a defeat for Obama. His judgment and leadership, even his reputation as a former constitutional law professor, would be called into question for pushing through a contentious and partisan health insurance overhaul only to see it declared unconstitutional by the court.
But it would not spell certain doom for his re-election. In fact, it would end the GOP argument that a Republican president must be elected to guarantee repeal of the law. It also could re-energize liberals, shift the spotlight onto insurance companies and reignite a debate about how to best provide health care.
If the court upholds the law, Obama would be vindicated legally. Republican constitutional criticisms would be undercut because five of the nine justices were nominated by Republican presidents.
But opposition would intensify in the political world. Without legal recourse, Republicans would gain new energy to argue that the only path to kill the law would be to elect a Republican president and enough GOP candidates to control the House and Senate. They might be wary of promising overnight repeal because a filibuster-proof Senate majority seems beyond their reach in the November election.
Central to the dispute over the law is a provision that requires individuals to have health insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty. Polls show that this mandate is opposed by 3 of 5 Americans. Among Republicans, calls for its repeal are a surefire applause line.
Of the four federal appeals courts that have ruled, two upheld the law, one struck down only the insurance mandate and one punted, saying an obscure tax law makes it premature to decide the merits until the main coverage provisions take effect in 2014.
With the court hearing arguments Monday through Wednesday, operatives from both parties have been playing out the potential outcomes. It's a calculation complicated by the intensely polarized public attitudes toward the law, by the still unsettled race for the Republican nomination and, most important, by the range of potential decisions by the court.
"A lot of the arguments that are being made against it right now are that they violate basic constitutional rights and principles," said Tad Devine, a veteran consultant of Democratic presidential politics. "If the Supreme Court, controlled by Republicans, doesn't agree with that, I think it's going to be hard to make that argument."
"If they strike down the mandate," he added, "it takes away a lot of the attack against the president on that issue."
White House and Obama campaign officials would not publicly discuss the options ahead, worried they would be perceived as trying to influence the court. But the Obama campaign has begun to draw attention to the benefits of the law, hoping to counter the beating the law has taken from the GOP presidential candidates.
This past week, it posted a new health care app online where users can find out how the health care law affects them. It also launched a website that features testimonials about the law.
The campaign's Obama Twitter account drew attention Thursday to that "Faces of Change" website and to the law's second anniversary, a day after White House spokesman Jay Carney dismissed any observance of the bill's signing as something "that only those who toil inside the Beltway focus on."
On Friday, the White House released a report that promoted achievements such as coverage for young adults and omitted any mention of problems, including the little or no progress toward carrying out the law in many states. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement the law "gives hard working middle-class families the security they deserve."
Privately, many Democrats concede that repeal of the law would be represent a huge public relations problem for Obama, though one he could overcome if the court issues its opinion in June, as expected.
Republicans appear divided on the results.
Republican strategist Greg Mueller, who works on many conservative causes, said that if the law is upheld, the conservative base will be energized; if the law is declared unconstitutional, it will display Obama's overreach.
"I don't think there is a bad scenario for Republican candidates," he said.
Not all see it that way.
Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa said this past week an Obama victory would be more assured if the court strikes down the individual mandate, as King would like.
"I think then that there is more risk that President Obama will be re-elected because people will think they are protected from this egregious reach into our freedom," King said.
"If the Supreme Court finds it constitutional," he added, "then I believe Barack Obama will not be re-elected because they will understand that they have to vote him out of office to repeal it."
The public's broad respect for the Supreme Court as an institution is also a factor.
"I think a wide swath of the people will say 'if the court says it's kosher, then it's kosher.' I think in many ways that will be the final word," said John Feehery, a former top Republican House leadership aide. "That doesn't mean the controversy is going to go away because this law is so massive and has so many parts that haven't been implemented yet, including the individual mandate."
The court's decision could affect the Republican presidential contest, too.
A court opinion in June would come at the tail end of the GOP primaries and ahead of the Republican National Convention.
Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania has elevated the health care law to his top campaign issue. He argues he would be best equipped to carry the repeal banner. Front-runner, Mitt Romney, as governor of Massachusetts, signed into law a health overhaul similar to Obama's, with an insurance requirement as part of it.
Romney has said he would seek to repeal the federal health care law, but has stood behind Massachusetts'. He argues these decisions should be left to states.
"Well, that's pretty compelling," Santorum countered sarcastically Wednesday at a rally near the shores of Louisiana's Lake Pontchartrain.
"Why would conservatives, Republicans, take the biggest issue in this race - freedom, and its impact on the economy, on your life, on your economic well-being, on your religious liberty - why would we take that issue and turn it around and give it to Barack Obama instead of using it like a sledge hammer?" he asked.
It's a case that Santorum pledges to take all the way to the floor of the convention, if he somehow manages to accomplish his long-shot goal of denying Romney enough delegates to win the nomination outright.
March 25th, 2012
"I became convinced that it's a fraud," Park Romney told the BBC, explaining his reason for leaving the Mormon fold.
The two visions of Mormonism the Romney cousins present could not be more starkly opposed.
Park Romney, 56, is a former Mormon high priest, who turned against the church.
On the stump Mitt Romney, 65, has avoided mentioning Mormonism, instead talking generally about his faith, but he has been an active lifelong member of the church.
"If that is what they believe, it's probably a good thing they leave, because we're not a cult”~Jeffrey Holland Mormon Church Elder
He was a Mormon missionary to France in the 1960s, studied at the almost-exclusively Mormon Brigham Young university and rose to become first bishop, then "Stake President" (diocesan leader) in his home state of Massachusetts.
He led Sunday services, ran Bible classes for children and looked after a 4,000-strong congregation in Boston for five years in the 1980s.
Like all Mormons, he is expected to give 10% of his annual income - no-one knows how much he is worth, but it is estimated at anywhere from $150 million to $1 billion - to the Church and not drink tea, coffee or alcohol.
Committed Mormons wear special under-garments, and Romney is believed to follow this tenet of his faith too.
Park Romney's criticisms of the church are fundamental.
Along with other ex-Mormons, he questions founder Joseph Smith's prophecies - for example Smith's translation of an Egyptian scroll, part of the Mormon book of Abraham, which Egyptologists say is a fraud.
"There's compelling evidence that the Mormon Church leaders knowingly and wilfully misrepresent the historical truth of their origins and of the Church for the purpose of deceiving their members into a state of mind that renders them exploitable," says Park.
Such accusations are rarely heard in the US, a nation founded on the principle of freedom of religion.
"It's not something you're supposed to talk about," says Prof Robert Putnam of Harvard Kennedy School.
"Whenever the issue of Romney's Mormonism has come to the surface, there's been lots of condemnation across the political spectrum for raising the issue of his religion," says Putnam.
"I'm not saying it's not relevant, but it's not talked about in polite company."
Mitt Romney's biographer, Scott Helman, agrees.
Find out more
- The Mormon Candidate is part of the latest series of This World, broadcast on Tuesday 27 March at 19:00 BST on BBC Two
- Watch again on iPlayer (UK only) using the link above
"There are plenty of ways in which people try to cause alarm among some voters over it, but it's not something you're allowed to say explicitly," he says.
"But a certain function of reminding voters who might have some predisposed notion about Mormonism that maybe it is strange, maybe it's weird."
Ex-Mormons tend to be the church's most outspoken critics.
One thing that particularly agitates them is "shunning" - allegations that former church members are denied access to family members who remain in the church.
Park claims this has happened to him.
"I am alienated from my family," he told the BBC.
"Their doctrine, their protocol and their culture as enforced by bishops encourages the families to disassociate themselves from the apostate."
Mormon Church elder Jeffrey Holland denies shunning occurs.
"We don't use that word and we don't know that practice.
"If I had a son or a daughter who left the Church or was alienated or had a problem, I can tell you I would not cut that child out of family life," he states.
The Mormon Church maintains that it does a great deal of good. Its leaders say they have given more than $1bn in aid around the world since 1985.
The allegation that the Church is a cult, made by Park Romney and other ex-Mormons, is denied by Elder Holland.
"If that is what they believe, it's probably a good thing they leave, because we're not a cult.
"I have chosen this church because of the faith that I feel and the inspiration that comes, but if people want to call us a cult, you can call us a cult," Elder Holland says from behind his desk.
"But we are 14 million and growing."
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