Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 27, 2015

Posts in "On the Trail"

October 20, 2015

Biden Touts Resume, but Doesn’t Tip His Hand


Biden appeared at a forum examining Mondale’s tenure as vice president. (Photo by Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Vice President Joseph R. Biden uttered nary a word about seeking the Democratic nomination for president during a Tuesday morning forum, but he trumpeted several key parts of his resume that could set him apart from the field.

Biden was on stage for about an hour at George Washington University, less than one mile from the Oval Office. A capacity crowd filled a GWU auditorium in anticipation for what one audience member was heard describing as “the big announcement.” Full story

September 4, 2015

Crowded Presidential Field Pushes Congressional Races Out of Limelight

Ayotte speaks with local media outlets as she arrives for a tour of Mikrolar Inc., a robotics company in Hampton, N.H. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Ayotte speaks with local media outlets as she arrives for a tour of Mikrolar Inc., a robotics company in Hampton, N.H. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Members of Congress running for re-election in early presidential states are learning a lesson: It’s hard to get attention when the circus is in town.

Over the five-week August recess, an opportunity for members to spend time at home to connect with constituents, members like GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte have had the unique challenge of fighting for voters’ attention as 17 Republican and five Democratic candidates traipsed through her turf.

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August 31, 2015

Hassan Waits to Choose Her Adventure in New Hampshire

Hassan is Democrats' top pick to run for Senate in New Hampshire in 2016, but the governor is keeping her plans close to her chest. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Hassan is Democrats’ top pick to run for Senate in New Hampshire in 2016, but the governor is keeping her plans close to her chest. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

DOVER, N.H. — Gov. Maggie Hassan stands in front of a green screen. To her left, a stick-on motif on the wall prompts her to “Choose Your Adventure Here.”

While Hassan is merely exploring one of the exhibits at the New Hampshire Children’s Museum during a state Executive Council breakfast in Dover on Aug. 26, it is a timely coincidence as the clocks ticks down for her to decide which statewide office to seek next year.

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August 26, 2015

In New Hampshire, Frank Guinta Soldiers On Amid Controversy

UNITED STATES - AUGUST 25: Rep. Frank Guinta, R-N.H., left, speaks during a business roundtable discussion on cyber security at Jenaly Technology in Portsmouth, N.H., on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Guinta speaks during a business roundtable discussion on cyber security at Jenaly Technology in Portsmouth, N.H. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — Embattled GOP Rep. Frank C. Guinta may be one of the most vulnerable congressional incumbents in the country, but you wouldn’t know it if you spent time with the Republican congressman in his district.

Instead of hiding out, Guinta’s had an active August recess, hosting town halls and visiting businesses in his southeastern New Hampshire-based 1st District as if the controversy swirling around him over campaign violations did not exist.

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August 10, 2015

Ted Cruz Opens His Playbook for the ‘SEC Primary’

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)


Roll Call on the Road logo

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Sen. Ted Cruz said the turnout and raucous reception he received Sunday at a pair of campaign rallies in Alabama reminded him of the Iron Bowl.

With Alabama and Auburn yet again predicted to be the cream of the crop in the Southeastern Conference, the Texas Republican’s 2016 presidential campaign might want to plan now for a tailgate at the college football classic.

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August 8, 2015

Rand Paul Makes His Pitch, Brushes Off Indictments

Paul speaks to supporters at the Pints for Liberty event. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Paul speaks to supporters at a “Pints for Liberty” event. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)


COLUMBIA, S.C. — Sen. Rand Paul’s target audience is unique among the presidential contenders. It skews younger and more libertarian.

That may make the Kentucky Republican the ideal candidate to attend a “Pints for Liberty” event, as he did Friday, but Paul says he also thinks that appeal suits him for a long campaign slog. Full story

July 3, 2015

Academics Say Higher Education Prepared Them for Higher Office


Economics professor Brat said his 20-minute stump speeches played well with voters because they recognized his genuine concern. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

When sociology professor John Trammell ran for Congress in 2014, he was “amazed” by how well prepared he was to be a politician.

Public speaking, prolific writing, research, the internal politics of higher education and the experience of being critiqued through peer review — all were skills applicable both in the ivory tower and in politics.

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June 18, 2015

Cruz, Paul and Rubio Make Their Case to the Faithful

Cruz greets guests at the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority conference. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Cruz greets guests at the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority conference. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Of the three presidential candidates who spoke at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority Conference in Washington, D.C., Thursday, there was no question whom the audience was waiting for.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz walked on and offstage to raucous applause. The 300 or so lunching faithful erupted into cheers even before his introduction was complete.

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March 24, 2015

Coats Retirement Sparks Hoosier State Free-for-All

Coats chats with Sen. Lamar Alexander not long after announcing his retirement plans. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

An open Senate seat in Indiana could lead to a GOP free-for-all in 2016, with nearly every Republican member of the Hoosier State’s congressional delegation showing interest.

Of the seven Republicans in the House delegation, five are at least giving a bid consideration.

GOP Sen. Dan Coats’ Tuesday retirement announcement sparked a behind-the-scenes frenzy, as Reps. Jackie Walorski, Marlin Stutzman, Todd Young, Todd Rokita and Susan W. Brooks all contemplated jumping in the race to succeed him. Eric Holcomb, Coats’ chief of staff in the state, and state Speaker Brian Bosma also are weighing runs, according to Indiana GOP operatives.

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October 27, 2014

Donna Edwards Motivates Volunteers for Virginia Democrat

john foust

Edwards, right, motivates campaign volunteers for Foust, left, in Manassas. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

MANASSAS, Va. — Democrat John Foust’s campaign boasts it has made 960,000 phone calls, knocked on 120,000 doors and registered 1,500 new voters in the quest for Virginia’s open 10th District.

But on a crisp Saturday afternoon in Manassass, just 10 days before Election Day, Foust asked his volunteers for a few more hours of help — and he brought in Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., for some last-minute motivation.

“John has done everything right,” Edwards told the crowd of about 40 volunteers packed into a Democratic Party of Virginia’s campaign office, which was covered in signs for Foust and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., who is also on the Nov. 4 ballot.

“He has raised the money, he has got the message and right now he’s got the momentum because you’re knocking on doors, and so I just want to thank you,” added Edwards, who made the short trip to Foust’s district with her arm in a sling after dislocating her shoulder the day before.

Foust, a tall, mustachioed and soft-spoken supervisor in Fairfax County, needs the last-minute help.

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October 17, 2014

Iowa Senate Race Becomes Headache for House Democrats

Ernst, right, is running for Senate as a Republican in Iowa. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A competitive Senate contest in the Hawkeye State is creating a ripple effect down ballot, causing headaches for national Democrats as Election Day nears.

Recent polls show state Sen. Joni Ernst, a Republican, with a small lead over Rep. Bruce Braley, a Democrat. But the Republican’s advantage has percolated to three of Iowa’s four House contests, keeping one competitive district in contention for Republicans, plus putting two Democratic seats in play.

In particular, Ernst’s performance is buoying former Capitol Hill aide David Young, the Republican nominee in the competitive 3rd District, which is currently rated a Tossup by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call. Privately, Iowa Republican operatives said Young is running a lackluster campaign against former state Sen. Staci Appel, a Democrat.

In the end, Ernst might be the one to pull him over the edge.

“I do think it looks to be like a pretty good year for Republicans in Iowa,” said John Stineman, an Iowa Republican operative. “It’s kind of a nail biter, but both Young and Ernst should be able to pull this out if we keep the momentum.”

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Pat Roberts Finds No Place Like Home

pat roberts

Roberts speaks to a reporter in Topeka. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

FORT SCOTT, Kan. — Dozens of cows trumpeted in the pens out back as Sen. Pat Roberts made his pitch to attendees at a livestock market.

“When we get a Republican majority, I’ll be chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and we are gonna put the livestock producer first,” Roberts told the crowd from a room behind the then-empty cow pen, where the auctioneer had briefly paused his chant to allow the state’s senior senator to address the crowd.

The lone man in a suit jacket in a crowd of denim, plaid, cowboy hats and baseball caps, Roberts kept it short — framing his election in the terms he used throughout his bus tour of the entire Sunflower State.

In the six campaign events Roll Call attended with Roberts last week, this was as close as he came to making the Senate race personal. Most of the time, Roberts’ pitch to voters was that the name on the ballot was all but irrelevant; it was the “R” next to it that mattered. Full story

October 10, 2014

Independents Could Control Power in Senate

Roberts, left, debates Orman during a luncheon. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The power in the Senate could increasingly flow not to Harry Reid or Mitch McConnell, but to a few independents who could hold the keys to the majority — and they know it.

The two unexpected GOP trouble spots in the Midwest feature independent candidates who are making noise about not joining either side in a divided Senate. In Kansas it’s Greg Orman, who is challenging long-time GOP incumbent Pat Roberts. Republicans are extremely dubious of Orman, pointing to campaign dollars he’s given to top Democrats, although Orman is fond of pointing to contributions to Republicans as well.

“I think what I’ve said and what I’ve been clear about since the beginning, is if one party or the other is in the majority I will seek to caucus with the party that is in the majority. But that if I get elected, and neither party is in the majority, then what I’m going to do is sit down with both sides, propose a pro-problem solving agenda and ask both sides, whether or not they’re willing to support that agenda. And we’re going to be likely to support the agenda, and the party that’s most likely to embrace a pro-problem-solving agenda,” Orman told reporters gathered after Wednesday’s debate. Full story

Pat Roberts Threatens Cruz-Style Filibuster Over Guantanamo

pat roberts

Cruz, left, campaigned for Roberts, right, in Wichita. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

TOPEKA, Kan. — Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., threatened Friday to hold a Ted Cruz-style filibuster on the Senate floor to prevent President Barack Obama from bringing the prisoners currently held at Guantanamo Bay into the United States.

Obama is reportedly considering shutting down Guantanamo Bay by executive order, which could potentially mean transferring the prisoners held there on terrorism charges to prisons in the continental U.S. Roberts, whose state is the home of the Leavenworth penitentiary, said he would not abide that.

“I stopped him once from trying to send a Gitmo terrorist to Leavenworth,” Roberts told supporters on a rainy morning at his campaign headquarters here. “I shall do it again. I shall do it again, and if he tries it, I will shut down the Senate.”

Speaking to reporters after, Roberts said he was proposing a potential filibuster in the model of Cruz’s 21-plus hours on the Senate floor last year protesting funding Obamacare. Full story

October 9, 2014

Ted Cruz Goes to Bat for Pat Roberts

ted cruz

Roberts, center, got some help Thursday from colleagues Cruz, left, and Coburn, right. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

WICHITA, Kan. — Pat Roberts has served Kansas in the Senate for nearly 18 years, but freshman Texas Sen. Ted Cruz had all the political clout at a Roberts campaign event Thursday.

Pat Roberts Had Three Big Points in Kansas Debate The conservative icon and potential presidential candidate’s support could be crucial for Roberts, who faces a challenge from independent candidate Greg Orman in a suddenly competitive race that has implications for the Senate majority.

Here to kick off his statewide bus tour, Roberts took the stage with Cruz, Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn and Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp — three allies on hand to provide support and additional enthusiasm. Roberts got solid applause, but the crowd erupted when Cruz, who had the final speaking slot, was introduced — yelling and cheering, longer and louder than for any other speaker.

“I’m here in Kansas because I know Pat. The two years I’ve served in the Senate, over and over again on fight after fight for conservative principles, Pat Roberts has shown up and reported for duty,” Cruz told the crowd. “A year ago last week, when I was standing on the Senate floor filibustering on Obamacare, Pat Roberts was one of a handful of senators who came down and stood by my side and said, ‘Obamacare is a disaster, and we’ve got to stop it.'”

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