The Daily Rundown | March 26, 2012
>>> monday, march 26th , 2012 . a beautiful day . why not spend it inside listening to organize arguments. first read of the morning. in just over an hour, signature accomplishment of the obama administration goes on trial. in six hours of oral arguments spread over the next three days, the nine justices will hear the most important supreme court case perhaps since bush v. gore . 26 states and a national business group are challenging the health care laws central requirement that all americans get health insurance . the political stakes could not be higher for the president, the 2012 race for basic questions about the role of government. "the wall street journal " called today's arguments "an issue that not only can sway this fall's elections but also could help define for generations what congress is and isn't entitled to do. "the washington post " the justices will take the extraordinary step of striking down for the first time since the new deal a monumental domestic program proposed by the president and passed by congress.
>> most of this law doesn't begin to take next until 2014 . there are important parts that are happening right now. you have 2.5 million kids between 18 and 26 who now are on health care on the parents' plan only because of this law. you have 5 million seniors saving over $600 a year in prescription drugs. you have free preventive care on mom og raffy and cancer screenings. we'll be glad that republicans called this obama care.
>> the message that the country has battle fatigue on health care and is ready to stop fighting about it.
>> what people don't want to do, they don't want to refight this political battle. polls say that people don't want to start over. they don't want to refight this political battle.
>> where the american people are right now is they don't want to refight this battle again.
>> the polls they are citing is republic democratic polls. this is lindsey graham .
>> this is probably the centerpiece of the debate and the proper role of government. the vice president whispered to the president when he signed the built t bill two years ago, it's a big fing deal and now it's a big fing mess for the party as a whole.
>> stakes are high for the president. they aren't small for mitt romney either who vowed friday he'll repeal the law.
>> this presidency has been a failure. at the centerpiece of this failure is this piece of legislation back here. obama care.
>> most americans want to get rid of it and we're among those americans . i want to get rid of it too.
>> this is not the conversation romney wants to have. he's trying to shut down the republican primary . an opportunity for political opponents to remind republicans of clips like this one from 2008 .
>> you backed away from mandates on a national basis.
>> i like mandates. the mandates work.
>> beg your pardon? i didn't know you would admit that. you like mandates.
>> let me tell you what kind of mandates i like.
>> the ones you come up with.
>> mitt romney is trying to shut down the republican primary eight days until wisconsin primary . rick santorum is all there for you. talk about a do or die chance for you in wisconsin . subject matter couldn't be better for you. we'll see how he takes advantage of it. members of the public have been camped out here outside of the court since friday hoping to score one of the 60 seats available to the general public for each day of argument. nbc news justice correspondent pete williams will be heading inside in just a few minutes. mr. williams, good morning.
>> reporter: good morning to you, chuck. this is really unprecedenteded in modern supreme court history. the entire week of courtroom arguments devoted to one single act of congress , the health care law . the court cut it up into four separate pieces. today the first question which is under a 150-year-old law can the court even hear this case now or do they have to wait until 2014 when the individual mandate kicks in? the reason for that is there's a long standing federal law that says you cannot challenge a federal tax before it goes into effect. if you don't get insurance under the individual mandate, you have to pay a penalty on your tax form collected by the irs. is it a tax? then tomorrow the big day . the individual mandate. does congress have the power to require all americans to buy something? then on wednesday two questions. first in the morning if the individual mandate is found to be unconstitutional, can the rest of the health care law nonetheless survive and then in the afternoon, a challenge brought by the states to the expanded requirements in the health care law to cover more people and provide more benefits under the medicaid law. a total of six hours of argument. we expect a decision sometime in late june.
>> two questions for you, pete. considering what today's argument is about, why wait until -- what if they decide you can't hear the law? does that make tuesday and wednesday obsolete?
>> reporter: first of all, they won't make a decision on that until much later. they'll actually vote sometime this week but they'll hear all of the arguments before they vote so they can't stop after monday because they won't decide that issue until they decide it all at once. it's all of a piece.
>> and the second question, who are the lead actors here making the arguments for each side?
>> reporter: the lead actor for the government is a veteran supreme court advocate at a private law firm in washington before he went to the obama white house counsel office and became the top justice in court. and on the other side, a former solicitor general in the bush administration will argue on behalf of the states. they are the main combatants that we'll hear from. there are others lawyers involved. lawyers for federation of independent business and lawyers for other parts of this.
>> all right. pete williams , we know you have to get inside. thanks very much. just so you know, a quick programming note. at 2:00 each day, these oral arguments audio will be released. we'll have a special at 3:00, i'll anchor right back here and we'll break down oral arguments and play them out for you and bring in experts. that's coming up this afternoon. same deal for tomorrow afternoon. back to my first read. rick santorum celebrated a big win in louisiana saturday but that victory is already being overshadowed by what the romney campaign is trying to call a meltdown last night in wisconsin . santorum easily won louisiana 49% of the vote. coming in more than double digits ahead of mitt romney who won just 27%. but santorum ended the night with a five delegate edge over romney thanks to louisiana 's delegate rules. santorum picked up ten. romney five. another five were unallocated bringing the count to 490 for romney , santorum 203, gingrich, 137 and ron paul , 34. santorum said he can still pull out a win in wisconsin .
>> i can't outspend him in wisconsin . you can help outwork him. the race isn't over until the people of wisconsin sing. we need you to sing a week from tuesday.
>> santorum 's effort to soften his image in the badger state by stopping to bowl both saturday and sunday --
>> three strikes in a row. that's a turkey. that tells you that you have someone who can relate to the voters in wisconsin .
>> maybe so but that plan may have been derailed when he became frustrated with reporters asking him to clarify this remark.
>> mitt romney agreed with barack obama on every single thing that he did because he put it in place in massachusetts. it's the blueprint for obama care. don't believe me. ask obama . why would we put one up who is uniquely -- pick any other republican in the country. he's the worst republican in the country to put up against barack obama .
>> well, on the rope line after the event he lashed out at "the new york times" reporter for asking clarification.
>> you said that mitt romney is the worst republican in the country. is that true?
>> what speech did you listen to?
>> right here.
>> stop lying. i said he was the worst republican to run on the issue of obama care. would you guys quit distorting what i'm saying. to run against barack obama on the issue of health care . he fashioned the blueprint. i've said it at every speech. quit distorting my words. if i see it, it's bull [ bleep ]. come on, man. what are you doing?
>> the romney campaign is trying to take advantage of what they call a meltdown moment saying in a statement rick santorum is becoming more desperate and angry and unhinged every day. that's right they used the word unhinged. they are tweeting with the hash tag "tantorum." newt gingrich may have had his own version of one on friday when trying to see what outrageous thing would get him attention. he said this on a radio show .
>> what the president said is disgraceful. it's not a question of who that young man looked like. any young american of any ethnic background should be safe. period. and trying to turn it into a racial issue is fundamentally wrong. i find it appalling.
>> of course that was speaker gingrich talking about trayvon martin and the president's response to it. this is what white house senior adviser david plouffe said yesterday.
>> those two comments are really irresponsible. i would consider them reprehensible. the president spoke movingly as a father and made it clear there's investigations going on. i think those comments were really hard to stomach really.
>> finally today with eight days to wrap up the nomination before the wisconsin primary , romney raises money in california. he'll pick up the endorsement of tea party backed senator utah senator mike lee as heavyweights get closer to saying romney 's nomination are a done deal.
>> it will be romney . the elephant hasn't sung yet but she's warming up.
>> unless romney steps on land mine , he looks like he'll be the nominee.
>> i guess we should start calling them presumptive. let's see