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October 25, 2014

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February 13, 2013

Romney’s Pollster Warns GOP Members Not to Count on Six-Year Itch

House Republicans got a refresher course in why they lost the White House this morning and a warning to beware of President Barack Obama’s bully pulpit this election cycle.

At their first political conference meeting of the 113th Congress, held at Republican National Committee headquarters a stone’s throw from the Capitol, National Republican Congressional Committee Vice Chairman Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia and top GOP pollster Neil Newhouse told members to be on guard for Obama’s campaign machine.

Westmoreland warned that just because the Obama for America campaign has relaunched as Organizing for Action and Obama is not eligible for re-election does not mean he will not be present on the political scene.

“His attention has gone from getting himself elected to keeping the majority in the Senate and winning the majority in the House,” Westmoreland said in an interview, paraphrasing his remarks. “They need to be prepared for him being involved, because he made it quite clear at their retreat that he wanted his last two years to be like his first two years and that means, of course, having Pelosi as the speaker.”

Westmoreland’s prediction is already ringing true. Organizing for America is planning its first official day of action to back up Obama’s call for gun control measures. Full story

February 12, 2013

Live Blog: Obama’s 2013 State of the Union Address

11:15 p.m.: Thus concludes the State of the Union live blog. Obama delivered a rather energetic speech, with some added policy flairs, such as a proposed minimum wage increase, to his usual government-centered approach. Democrats are likely to be very happy with what they heard, and Republicans not so much, leaving as still unknown the prospects for bipartisan cooperation on looming fiscal issues such as the budget and the debt ceiling.

Rubio’s rebuttal, meanwhile, will initially be remembered for that reach for a gulp of water in the middle of his speech — at least on social media. But for the difficult task that the rebuttal is, Rubio performed capably and probably helped his career because of it.

Good night from Roll Call in Washington.

10:16 p.m.: Obama concludes. Next up, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida with the Republican rebuttal.

10:10 p.m.: The president is closing his State of the Union address with an emotional appeal for Congress to take up Democratic gun control legislation that he is pushing. While some proposals have bipartisan support, many of them do not. “They deserve a vote,” is a phrase the president is repeating over and over. “Gabby Giffords deserves a vote,” he says. “The families of Newtown deserve a vote.” — “The families of Aurora deserve a vote.” — The families of Oak Creek, and Tucson, and Blacksburg …”

This portion of the #SOTU is likely to stick the most with Democrats, at least. Easily the emotional portion of Obama’s address.

10:08 p.m.: “It has been two months since Newtown,” Obama says.

10 p.m.: Obama calls for the federal government to address threats to U.S. cybersecurity, as part of the latter sections of the State of the Union that declared victory over the “core” elements of al-Qaida in Afghanistan and vowed to prevent Iran from acquiring or developing nuclear weapons capability. The Iran comment drew the most bipartisan applause. Less noted by the members but sure to generate much opposition from Republicans: the president’s proposal for the U.S. to unilaterally reduce its nuclear weapons stockpile to set an example.

9:45 p.m.: Immigration makes an appearance, and for the first time it appears that most in the chamber, Democrat and Republican, stand and applaud, with some cheering to boot. Interestingly enough, Obama does not call specifically for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants though he suggests that legalization should involve “going to the back of the line” behind those trying emigrate legally.

9:40 p.m.: Speech is full of the usual Obama flourishes — “reasonable” this, “common sense” that — expressions of incredulity that certain issues engender partisanship. But unusual for any president’s State of the Union, far fewer applause interruptions than normally occur. Meanwhile, Biden exhibits his usual earnestness as he looks on. Boehner actually looks less grumpy than in the past.

Full story

February 8, 2013

Bill Clinton Offers Dose of Reality, Warning to House Dems

Bill Clinton Offers Dose of Reality, Warning to House Dems

(Pool Win McNamee/Getty Images)

LEESBURG, Va. — At a retreat here that has been notable for the improbable exuberance of an energized House Democratic Caucus, President Bill Clinton offered doubt.

Drawing on lessons from his own presidency, Clinton said 2014 poses a more difficult challenge than 2012 and urged lawmakers to tread carefully on the issues of health care, gun control and the economy.

“I can’t tell you how many nights — countless nights in the White House. Every single night before I went to bed for months and months and months after the 1994 election, I thought about the people who were defeated because they voted for the economic plan, I thought about the people who were defeated because they voted for the assault weapons ban. I knew exactly what had happened. And I thought a lot about those who survived and why they did,” Clinton told lawmakers, referring to the 1994 midterm elections that were a GOP landslide.

“I think it’s important to take some action now that it is possible on the issue of gun violence, but it’s important to do it right,” he added. Full story

Obama to Help House Democrats Recruit Candidates

Obama to Help House Democrats Recruit Candidates

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 2:30 p.m. | LEESBURG, Va. — President Barack Obama has agreed to do more than just raise money for House Democrats’ effort to win back the majority in 2014: He is also going to help with candidate recruitment.

Obama will headline eight fundraising events in 2013 for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and more fundraisers are planned for 2014. But Obama’s agreement to help DCCC Chairman Steve Israel of New York make the sell to would-be candidates in targeted districts is also significant.

“It’s transformational,” Israel said in an interview, adding that House Democrats are “firing on all cylinders like I’ve never seen before.”

The president’s efforts to assist House Democrats politically are more than Israel initially even asked for.

Obama initially reached out to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Israel just after leaving the stage where he delivered his victory speech in Chicago on election night. Four years into his presidency, and after keeping the DCCC practically at arm’s length as he focused on his own re-election in the 2012 cycle, he was finally turning his gaze toward winning back the House. Full story

January 29, 2013

Shop Talk: NRSC Announces Senior Staff

Shop Talk: NRSC Announces Senior Staff

Dayspring, left, the new National Republican Senatorial Committee communications director, formerly worked for Cantor. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The National Republican Senatorial Committee announced its senior staff Tuesday, rounding out an overhaul of leadership for the new cycle as the party aims to win the majority in 2014.

Serving under NRSC Chairman Jerry Moran of Kansas and NRSC Executive Director Rob Collins, who was hired in December, are an array of operatives with both campaign and Capitol Hill experience.

Brad Dayspring, a former top aide to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., is taking over as communications director. Dayspring replaces Brian Walsh, who served at the NRSC during the past two cycles and has helped out during the transition. Walsh is in the process of opening his own consulting firm. Full story

January 22, 2013

DCCC Uses Inauguration to Tout Potential House Recruits

DCCC Uses Inauguration to Tout Potential House Recruits

Former Colorado Speaker Andrew Romanoff was one of the potential 2014 House candidates who was in town for the inauguration. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Thinking about running for Congress? For hopeful Democrats, there was no better place to be this weekend than hobnobbing with the party elite and donors at inaugural festivities.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee leveraged the weekend to tout a trio of potential recruits for House races in 2014. A Democratic source said the following three recruitment prospects attended the committee’s inaugural luncheon at the Italian Embassy on Jan. 21:

  • Former Colorado Speaker Andrew Romanoff. He’s already indicated that he’s interested in challenging Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., in the 6th District. Coffman tops the DCCC’s target list for 2014 after he won re-election by a 2-point margin in November.
  • Democratic National Committeewoman Erin Bilbray-Kohn. She has said she’s “seriously thinking” about challenging Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., in the 3rd District. The daughter of a former Nevada congressman, Bilbray-Kohn served as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s, D-Nev., top finance aide in 2010. Democrats view Heck as vulnerable after he won re-election with 50 percent of the vote, and the president won the district. Full story

January 17, 2013

NRCC’s Walden Says GOP Must Focus on Minority Outreach, Communication

NRCCs Walden Says GOP Must Focus on Minority Outreach, Communication

NRCC Chairman Greg Walden (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

UPDATED 5:00 p.m. | WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden said one of his priorities this cycle will be reaching out to minorities, something he said Republicans have not done well.

The Oregon representative said he plans to make inroads into minority communities and said the party needs to figure out better ways to communicate its message there.

“We recognize that Republicans have good answers; we just have bad communications in many cases,” Walden said at a panel discussion during House Republicans’ annual retreat. “We may not understand how what we say is interpreted by others. And we have to be sensitive and understand other issues that different communities face.” Full story

January 13, 2013

Harry Reid Disavows Report Linking Him to Bribery Case

Harry Reid Disavows Report Linking Him to Bribery Case

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid broke days of silence on Sunday evening to deny any knowledge or involvement in a Utah case in which a man claims to have funneled money to others in an attempt to get the Nevada Democrat to intervene in a Federal Trade Commission case.

“Senator Reid has no knowledge or involvement regarding Mr. Johnson’s case,” a statement from Reid’s office said. “These unsubstantiated allegations implying Senator Reid’s involvement are nothing more than innuendo and simply not true.”

A Utah man told federal investigators that he channeled money through the state’s new attorney general in a bid to convince Reid to intervene in stopping an FTC investigation against him.

“The truth is the worst thing I think I’ve done was I paid money knowing it was going to influence Harry Reid,” Jeremy Johnson told the Salt Lake Tribune. “So I’ve felt all along that I’ve committed bribery of some sort there.” Full story

December 28, 2012

Massachusetts: National Democrats Coalesce Behind Markey

National Democrats moved swiftly on Friday to close ranks behind Rep. Edward J. Markey as their candidate to run to succeed Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry upon his confirmation as the next secretary of State.

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Michael Bennet of Colorado released a statement endorsing Markey shortly after Kerry did the same on Friday afternoon.

“Ed Markey always remembers where he came from and will continue the hard work needed to turn our economy around,” Bennet said. “He is exactly the kind of leader Massachusetts needs in the U.S. Senate.” Full story

November 16, 2012

NRCC Took Out $12 Million Loan in October

House Republicans borrowed $12 million in the waning weeks before Election Day, according to a source with knowledge of the transaction.

The National Republican Congressional Committee secured the loan in late October to help fund the final push of TV ads and boost its candidates to victory.

It’s common for the campaign committees to go into debt in a campaign year. But the NRCC’s loan is significantly smaller than the $17 million the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee borrowed in October, according to reports.

There’s some risk to taking out large sums because the committees must pay them back during the next cycle. It often takes parties months, sometimes even more than a year, to get rid of this debt. Full story

November 15, 2012

Tennessee: GOP Leaders Silent as Drip of DesJarlais Headlines Continues

Tennessee: GOP Leaders Silent as Drip of DesJarlais Headlines Continues

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republican leaders on Capitol Hill were largely silent as new revelations stemming from Rep. Scott DesJarlais’ messy decade-old divorce came to light Thursday.

The office of Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio declined to comment on a report in the Chattanooga Times Free Press that said the Tennessee lawmaker and doctor had “sexual relationships with at least two patients, three coworkers and a drug representative while he was chief of staff at Grandview Medical Center in Jasper, Tenn.” The paper also reported that records showed DesJarlais “supported his ex-wife’s decision to get two abortions before their marriage.”

The revelations came from DesJarlais’ 2001 sworn testimony from his divorce trial. A staunch social conservative, the freshman Congressman has run for office as an anti-abortion candidate.

At votes Thursday afternoon, DesJarlais was seen having an intense conversation with Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan on the House floor. Jordan is the outgoing chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee. Full story

November 14, 2012

Republicans Pick Walden as New NRCC Chairman

Republicans Pick Walden as New NRCC Chairman

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions is passing the baton to Rep. Greg Walden, his deputy. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans tapped Oregon Rep. Greg Walden as the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee for the 2014 cycle. Walden, who ran unopposed, succeeds Texas Rep. Pete Sessions, who oversaw two successful cycles, in which Republicans won and held the chamber.

Walden, Sessions’ longtime deputy, was magnanimous in his victory.

“Under Chairman Sessions’ leadership at the NRCC, House Republicans have won the two biggest majorities since World War II. I have big, Texas-sized boots to fill,” he said in a statement. “But as Pete’s deputy for the last four years, I’ve helped implement a shared vision for the NRCC and now seek to build on that foundation.” Full story

Kentucky: EMILY’s List President Hopeful About Judd Run

The head of EMILY’s List said Wednesday that she is encouraged that Ashley Judd hasn’t closed the door to a challenge to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., next year, but said she’s far from certain the actress will run.

“We’ve had some initial conversations with Ashley Judd,” EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock said in an interview. EMILY’s List is an advocacy group promoting female Democratic candidates who support abortion rights.

Schriock noted that Judd attended this year’s Democratic National Convention and spoke on a panel sponsored by EMILY’s List and Marie Claire.

“She was on our panel in Charlotte,” she said. “She did a fantastic job, a fantastic job. She wowed the crowd. The crowd literally started saying, ‘Run Ashley, run!’ in that meeting. She has such great desire for public service and she wants to find the best way to do that.”

When asked whether she thought Judd would ultimately run, Schriock said “I don’t know.”

Massachusetts: Another Bay State Special?

Massachusetts: Another Bay State Special?

Brown may get another chance to run for Senate if Obama appoints Kerry to his cabinet. (Tom Willaims/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry has long been floated as a potential pick for President Barack Obama’s second secretary of State. The Washington Post recently floated him as in the running for secretary of Defense as well.

Obama would, of course, risk losing one of Massachusetts’ Democratic-held Senate seats in a special election if Kerry joined his cabinet. Nonetheless, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Wednesday that he would support the nomination of Kerry to a cabinet post and that he was not too concerned about the risk of another special election in Massachusetts.

“I’ll do everything I can to help him if he’s chosen, and we feel very comfortable if in fact something does happen — we feel comfortable in Massachusetts. I think that I’ve already told you how I feel about Scott Brown,” Reid said, in reference to comments made earlier in the news conference about the outgoing GOP senator from Massachusetts.

Full story

Portman, Cruz to Serve as NRSC Vice Chairmen

Portman, Cruz to Serve as NRSC Vice Chairmen

Portman will be vice chairman of finance for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 3:37 p.m.| Senate Republicans named Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and Sen.-elect Ted Cruz of Texas to serve as vice chairmen of the National Republican Senatorial Committee on Wednesday.

The duo will support the NRSC’s newly elected chairman, Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas, who ran unopposed for the gig. Portman will be vice chairman of finance, and Cruz will be vice chairman for grass roots.

Senate Republicans also voted this morning to elevate Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) to be minority whip and re-elected Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) as minority leader. This is the fourth leadership election in which McConnell has been unopposed for the post.

Sen. Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida both spoke on McConnell’s behalf in the meeting before the election was held, according to their respective staffs. “Mitch unifies all of us, regardless of philosophy or what part of the country we come from. He’s the smartest political mind around and a great listener,” Rubio said in his speech. “Above all else, what Mitch cares about is whether we succeed as a conference and as a country, and that’s why I’m proud to nominate him for another term as leader.”

Sen. John Thune of South Dakota was re-elected as Republican Conference chairman. Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri was re-elected as Republican Conference vice chairman and Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming was re-elected as Republican policy committee chairman. None of the leadership posts was contested. Full story

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