Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 30, 2014

Posts by Niels Lesniewski

93 Posts

September 29, 2014

Ad Highlights Mitch McConnell’s Role in Resolving Case (Video)

Ad Highlights Mitch McConnells Role in Resolving Case (Video)

McConnell's new ad highlights his role in resolving a parent child abduction. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign is highlighting his efforts to resolve an overseas parental child abduction case, with the child’s mother sharing with Kentucky voters the story she previously told at a Senate hearing.

The campaign has put the account of Noelle Hunter and her daughter Maayimuna “Muna” N’Diaye in a new TV ad, highlighting the Republican leader’s personal involvement in getting N’Diaye returned to the United States from Mali, where she was taken by her father. The father disregarded an order of a Kentucky judge regarding shared parental rights. N’Diaye returned to the United States in July.

The minute-long campaign spot featuring Hunter will air statewide, and the campaign told CQ Roll Call the ad buy is at least in the six-figure range. That suggests if it gets resonance, the ad could air even more frequently between now and November. Full story

September 26, 2014

McConnell, Grimes Split on Marijuana Legalization Debate

McConnell, Grimes Split on Marijuana Legalization Debate

Marijuana accessories are pictured in Terrapin Care Station, a marijuana dispensary, in Boulder, Colo. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The national discussion about legalizing marijuana has now surfaced in Kentucky’s Senate race.

A day after Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes encouraged a conversation about it, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell voiced his opposition to following Colorado’s lead and legalizing marijuana more broadly in an interview on a local radio station Friday.

“I’m against legalizing marijuana,” the Republican said. “Certainly it’s not in the same category as heroin, but I think to begin … to sort of send the message that we’re giving up, you know, that this is just the way it’s going to be, then one thing leads to another and pretty soon … you completely transform your society in a way that I think certainly most Kentuckians would not agree with.”

Full story

September 16, 2014

Mitch McConnell Rapid Response Ad Features Obama

Mitch McConnell Rapid Response Ad Features Obama

McConnell's campaign is using this official photo of Obama shooting clay targets (Pete Souza/White House)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s re-election campaign has taken rapid response to the airwaves.

The Kentucky Republican is out with a new TV ad Tuesday rebutting a spot Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes released Monday morning to CQ Roll Call.

The Grimes ad featured the Kentucky secretary of state skeet shooting and highlighting differences from President Barack Obama on several policy issues, including guns and the environment. The McConnell response, which the campaign says is backed by a significant six-figure buy, connects Grimes’ past support of the Democratic Party platform. Full story

September 15, 2014

Alison Lundergan Grimes Shoots Skeet in New Ad (Video) (Updated)

Alison Lundergan Grimes Shoots Skeet in New Ad (Video) (Updated)

McConnell, center, is the minority leader. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 12:57 p.m. | The latest television spot from Alison Lundergan Grimes shows her skeet shooting on a farm as part of the Senate nominee’s attempt to create distance with an unpopular president in the midterms.

The Kentucky Democrat will face Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in November. In the spot, after firing a few rounds at clay pigeons, Grimes looks at the camera and says “I’m not Barack Obama. I disagree with him on guns, coal and the EPA.”

Full story

September 10, 2014

John McCain’s Fall Campaign Schedule Includes Pat Roberts

 

John McCains Fall Campaign Schedule Includes Pat Roberts

McCain stumped for Virginia Senate candidate Ed Gillespie Sept. 3. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Arizona Sen. John McCain is planning a trip to Kansas to assist fellow Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, who is locked in a surprisingly competitive re-election battle.

In a brief interview with CQ Roll Call on Wednesday, McCain said he’ll stump for “an old Marine” — Roberts — at one of several stops the former presidential nominee will make across the Senate map over the final eight weeks of the cycle. He’s already been to New Hampshire and Virginia on behalf of Republican challengers, and that’s just the start.

“I’m going to Oregon. I’m going to North Carolina. I’m going to a couple other places,” McCain said. “You know how it is these last couple of months.” Full story

September 8, 2014

GOP Chicken Charges Dropped in New Hampshire

GOP Chicken Charges Dropped in New Hampshire

Shaheen is seeking re-election. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call Photo)

New Hampshire’s most famous Republican chicken is free.

Charges have been dropped against 23-year old Michael Zona, the Granite State’s Republican party said Monday. Zona was arrested for disorderly conduct at a parade in Londonderry, N.H., after allegedly harassing two prominent state Democrats, Gov. Maggie Hassan and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

In November, Shaheen will likely face former Sen. Scott P. Brown, R-Mass., who is expected to win his Tuesday primary.

Republicans have used the chicken to criticize Shaheen for not holding open town hall meetings. But the arrest of the young man in the chicken costume served as a leading — and the most entertaining — local news story during a Roll Call on the Road visit to New Hampshire in August.

Full story

September 2, 2014

Ted Cruz to Rally for Marilinda Garcia in New Hampshire

Ted Cruz to Rally for Marilinda Garcia in New Hampshire

Garcia speaks with a supporter of former Sen. Bob Smith, R-N.H. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Ted Cruz is stumping for congressional hopeful Marilinda Garcia this weekend, just ahead of New Hampshire’s Republican primaries next week.

The Garcia campaign invited supporters to attend a rally with the Texas Republican and potential 2016 presidential candidate Sept. 7 at the Nashua City Hall.

Garcia, a state representative, is in a hotly contested nomination fight in the 2nd District, where Republicans are vying to take on Democratic Rep. Ann McLane Kuster. Garcia’s opponents include former state Sen. Gary Lambert, who has accused Garcia of supporting “amnesty” to undocumented immigrants.

Garcia has disputed that contention throughout the campaign, including in a recent interview with CQ Roll Call. The backing of Cruz, who has been leading the charge against potential executive action by President Barack Obama to expand deferred action on immigration, could well inoculate Garcia against that line of attack days before the Sept. 9 primary. Full story

August 29, 2014

Mitch McConnell’s Campaign Manager Resigns

Mitch McConnells Campaign Manager Resigns

McConnell is the Senate Minority Leader. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Jesse Benton, who had worked as the campaign manager for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s re-election bid, said Friday he would resign.

The veteran operative with close ties to the Paul family released a lengthy statement making the announcement. The Lexington Herald-Leader first reported Benton’s resignation, which is effective Saturday.

The move comes just two days after a former Iowa state senator admitted to accepting $73,000 in concealed payments from former Rep. Ron Paul’s presidential campaign. In exchange for the money, that individual, Kent Sorenson, switched endorsements from Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., to Paul, a Texas Republican.

Full story

August 28, 2014

Will New Hampshire GOP Voters Anoint a Rising Star?

Will New Hampshire GOP Voters Anoint a Rising Star?

Garcia speaks with audience members as she arrives for GOP debate at Franklin Pierce University. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

RINDGE, N.H. — The total Hispanic population in the sprawling 2nd District hovers just above 3 percent, making it one of the least diverse House districts in the country. But Granite State Republicans could nominate a young Latina with star potential who’s already earned plaudits from national conservatives.

At last week’s Monadnock Debate on the campus of Franklin Pierce University, former state Rep. Marilinda Garcia, 31, was attacked like the front-runner ahead of New Hampshire’s Sept. 9 primary.

Will New Hampshire GOP Voters Anoint a Rising Star?

Outside the auditorium, a flock of geese garnered more attention than any raucous sign-wavers for Garcia or anyone else on the stage — but the debate itself wasn’t without fireworks. Garcia’s opponents jumped on her relative inexperience, but they also attacked her on an issue that might surprise out-of-state voters.

Even in New Hampshire, thousands of miles away from the southern border, immigration has become a wedge in GOP primaries.

Gary Lambert, a Nashua attorney with 35-plus years of service in the Marine Corps who picked up the endorsement of a hometown newspaper on Monday, said immigration policy is an issue out on the campaign trail.

“I’m just telling you that out there in the 2nd District that issue is extremely important to the voters,” Lambert said. “It comes up at almost every single meeting. It’s one of the singular issues out there. Folks are very worried about the president and his executive amnesty plan.” Full story

August 25, 2014

In New Hampshire, Town Halls and an Arrested Chicken (Video)

In New Hampshire, Town Halls and an Arrested Chicken (Video)

Shaheen seems to prefer events outside of the town hall format. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

LOUDON, N.H. — Will the 2014 midterms prove the death-knell for the traditional New Hampshire town hall?

In New Hampshire, Town Halls and an Arrested Chicken (Video)Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott P. Brown and his backers have been relentless in pushing the case that the Democratic rival he’s trying to unseat, New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, has eschewed the traditional format in a way that dodges tough questions from ordinary Granite State voters about supporting President Barack Obama’s agenda.

But should Shaheen and several other Democrats on the ballot in New Hampshire prevail, even in an unfavorable national climate, it might be grounds to reconsider the town hall format even for national candidates like those aiming to win the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary.

Shaheen’s argument is that town halls have the propensity to be taken over by outside interest groups. She brushed off the Republican criticism last week, after an official Senate and Department of Agriculture event at a local farm.

Full story

August 18, 2014

John McCain Holds Court in ‘Second Favorite State’

John McCain Holds Court in Second Favorite State

Brown, left, and McCain, right, campaign in New Hampshire. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

DERRY, N.H. – Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has returned to New Hampshire to campaign — but this time, it’s for former Sen. Scott P. Brown.

“It is with great nostalgia I come back again to my second favorite state,” McCain told a Pinkerton Academy auditorium, where he stumped for Brown, a Massachusetts Republican waging an uphill battle to unseat Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Granite State Democrat.

John McCain Holds Court in Second Favorite StateIn predictable fashion, McCain joined Brown for what was billed as a foreign policy town hall meeting, at times taking charge as Monday’s star attraction. The event was part of a broader “New Hampshire Speaks” tour for Brown, but audience questions ran the gamut, even touching on impeachment.

“I’m a realist. That’s not going to happen,” Brown said of impeaching the president, instead pushing his stump speech about Shaheen’s record of voting with President Barack Obama and Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

“It would require 67 votes in the United States Senate for an impeachment,” McCain said. Full story

August 13, 2014

Back Home, Top Senate Democrats Upbeat About Holding Majority

Back Home, Top Senate Democrats Upbeat About Holding Majority

At an event in Springfield, Ill., Durbin was optimistic about the Senate majority. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill., — Back in their home states for the August recess, the Senate’s two top Democrats said Wednesday they are optimistic about the prospects of maintaining control of the chamber in November.

Back Home, Top Senate Democrats Upbeat About Holding MajoritySenate Majority Leader Harry Reid told a union audience in Nevada that he believed Democrats would keep the Senate if the elections were held today, while also pushing steelworkers to work to get out the vote. And in Springfield, Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin spoke to a gaggle of reporters outside the Crowne Plaza Hotel, where Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and other statewide elected officials spoke to mark Governor’s Day at the Illinois State Fair.

The Senate leaders discussed the state of play with each other as recently as Tuesday, Durbin said.

Democrats face a challenging map and are likely to lose at least three open seats, but they are optimistic about their most-endangered incumbents and not allowing Republicans to pick up an additional three.

“Right now we have 55 seats. We lose six and we lose the majority,” Durbin said. “There are two or three that are tough, tough states, but the rest of them we feel pretty good about.” Full story

August 7, 2014

Hurricane Iselle Could Cause Havoc for Hawaii Primary (Video)

Hurricane Iselle Could Cause Havoc for Hawaii Primary (Video)

(Courtesy Jeff Schmaltz/NASA)

The Hawaii primary is in a state of uncertainty, as Hurricane Iselle and a second storm barrel toward the islands and get-out-the-vote pushes are intermixed with information on where to find emergency assistance.

In preparation for their competitive Democratic Senate primary Saturday, Sen. Brian Schatz and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa have been forced to alter their plans and help their constituents prepare for what could be damaging storms. Hurricane Iselle was projected to hit the Big Island late Thursday, in what would be Hawaii’s first hurricane in 22 years.

“On the forecast track, the center of Iselle is expected to pass over the Big Island tonight, and pass just south of the smaller islands Friday,” the Central Pacific Hurricane Center said Thursday.

Full story

July 22, 2014

Democrats Tout Walsh Bill to Bring Back Jobs — Without Walsh

Democrats Tout Walsh Bill to Bring Back Jobs — Without Walsh

John Walsh was appointed to the Senate earlier this year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Politics is overtaking the Senate floor schedule again this week, with a vulnerable Democrat leading the charge on a bill to give tax breaks to employers who return jobs to the United States.

But Sen. John Walsh, the Democrat appointed to fill the term vacated by the departure of Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., to be ambassador to China, didn’t appear before an array of cameras Tuesday afternoon with Senate colleagues, automobile and steel workers to tout his legislation.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., a longtime leader on the issue, indicated Walsh had a schedule conflict.

Full story

July 1, 2014

Ted Cruz Doesn’t Disavow SCF Call to Defund NRSC

Ted Cruz Doesnt Disavow SCF Call to Defund NRSC

Ted Cruz is a Republican from Texas. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A conservative outside group whose efforts Sen. Ted Cruz backed has called for defunding the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Cruz, an NRSC vice chairman and Texas Republican, has not rebuked the effort.

This weekend, Senate Conservatives Fund launched a campaign calling on conservatives to pledge not to give any money to the NRSC in the aftermath of last week’s runoff in the Mississippi Senate race. As is typical, the NRSC backed Republican Sen. Thad Cochran, while the SCF and other outside groups backed his failed challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel.

“The Senate Republican establishment betrayed the grassroots and recruited Democrats in Mississippi to defeat Chris McDaniel,” the SCF petition said. ”Fight back by pledging not to donate to the National Republican Senatorial Committee.”

Full story

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