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July 31, 2014

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August 31, 2012

RPR: Opposition Trackers Follow Candidates to Tampa, Charlotte

RPR: Opposition Trackers Follow Candidates to Tampa, Charlotte

Rep. Connie Mack and his wife, Rep. Mary Bono Mack, were among the Members who attended the GOP Convention. The Congressman had a speaking role Thursday night. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

This story originally appeared in the Rothenberg Political Report.

TAMPA, Fla. — In the modern era of campaigns, candidates in competitive races can’t go anywhere without someone from the other party following them with a video camera — and the party conventions are no different.

Fewer GOP House and Senate candidates made the trek to the Republican National Convention here in Florida, and few Democratic candidates in competitive races are expected to attend the Democratic National Convention next week either. While some of them want to avoid the headache of being tied to the unpopular national parties, there is a new excuse emerging — the proliferation of trackers.

Democratic trackers are following GOP candidates here in Tampa and, according to GOP strategists, there will be GOP trackers following Democrats in Charlotte next week. Full story

August 30, 2012

Marco Rubio Overcomes Awkward Lead-In With Soaring Speech

Marco Rubio Overcomes Awkward Lead In With Soaring Speech

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

TAMPA, Fla. — This can’t be how the Romney campaign or rising Republican rock star Marco Rubio imagined it.

Moments before the freshman Senator from Florida took the stage to deliver the speech of his life — one that touched on a moving life story, conservative values and the American dream — 82-year-old actor Clint Eastwood was on stage here at the Tampa Bay Times Forum talking to an imaginary President Barack Obama and a real-life empty chair.

Despite a palpable discomfort in the arena, Rubio took the stage in a speech that many anticipated to be comparable to the keynote address delivered by a then-state Sen. Obama in 2004 that catapulted him to the presidency four years later. Full story

Jeb Bush Issues Surprise Defense of Brother George W. Bush

TAMPA, Fla. — In comments not included in his prepared text, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) defended his brother, President George W. Bush, saying it was time President Barack Obama stop blaming the bad economy on his predecessor.

“My brother, well, I love my brother. He is a man of integrity, courage and honor. And during incredibly challenging times, he kept us safe,” Bush said to a cheering Tampa Bay Times Forum.

“Mr. President, it is time to stop blaming your predecessor for your failed economic policies,” Bush continued. “You were dealt a tough hand, but your policies have not worked. In the fourth year of your presidency, a real leader would accept responsibility for his actions, and you haven’t done it.”

“I just had to get that off my chest,” Bush concluded, before moving on with a speech focused on education reform.

George W. Bush has been a favorite target of Democrats and generally ignored by the GOP since he left office in 2009, although the former president has purposely shied away from politics. Only one Bush administration official — former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice — spoke to the convention here in Tampa. Neither George W. Bush nor former Vice President Dick Cheney traveled to Tampa.

CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing: Bounce-ology

CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing: Bounce ology

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing is being published from the GOP Convention in Tampa, Fla., this week. For more information on signing up to receive this free email, click here.

THE PODIUM: The convention’s final meeting opens at 7; the climax starts at about 10:20, when Romney will take the stage (using a set altered just for him, and appearing on every broadcast and cable station with any interest in governance) to deliver the most important speech of his long and varied career.

The first hour’s headliners will be Newt and Callista Gingrich, who will share the stage. There will be the customary video tribute to Ronald Reagan. Decent-shot host-state Senate aspirant Connie Mack has been awarded a few minutes in the national spotlight, but the Floridian who’ll get more coverage is Jeb Bush. His speech is the second-hour highlight. The 9 o’clock hour will be devoted to in-person and on-tape nominee testimonials — from Staples co-founder (and Bain Capital beneficiary) Tom Stemberg; Romney’s lieutenant governor and top economic development official in Massachusetts, Kerry Healey and Jane Edmonds; and Olympians Michael Eruzione, Derek Parra and Kim Rhode.

There’s overwhelming gossip about the identity of a “mystery guest” (Clint Eastwood, almost certainly) to kick off the prime time hour. But the only other scheduled speaker is Marco Rubio, who’s been allotted a full 15 minutes to remind people why he’s a rising GOP star — and to introduce Romney. His speech is supposed to be done in time for the balloon drop to begin right at the start of the 11 o’clock news. Full story

Virginia: Front Row to Convention and Elections

Virginia: Front Row to Convention and Elections

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

TAMPA, Fla. — Look no further than the Virginia delegation’s placement on the floor of the Republican National Convention to understand how important the state is to the GOP’s hopes of winning the White House.

This week, the Old Dominion delegation has enjoyed a front-row view of the proceedings. And when former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney formally accepts his party’s presidential nomination this evening, just to his left will be Virginia, the state that could ultimately decide whether he defeats President Barack Obama on Nov. 6. Full story

Paul Ryan Does Job He Was Hired to Do

Paul Ryan Does Job He Was Hired to Do

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

TAMPA, Fla. — Four years ago, a previously unknown Alaska governor surprised and electrified a Republican convention that was yearning for something to get excited about as a historic November defeat loomed.

This time around, the GOP knew what it was getting in Paul Ryan, the party’s 2012 vice presidential nominee — and it was already excited about him. But the unanswered question was whether this relatively young, 42-year-old Wisconsinite making his debut on the national stage would project the aura of a president and instill the kind of confidence among independents, undecided swing voters and soft partisans to boost Mitt Romney’s case against President Barack Obama.

The main event for Romney (and the most important speech of his political career, so far) is still tonight, when he will formally accept the Republican presidential nomination. But Wednesday evening was important for the former Massachusetts governor nonetheless, as Ryan’s performance would either validate or cast doubt on his first major presidential decision.

The House Budget chairman didn’t deliver the stem-winder that Sarah Palin served up to convention delegates in St. Paul, Minn., in 2008. But in the professorial, plain-language tone that has been the hallmark of his speeches on the House floor and at think tanks across Washington, D.C., for years as he pushed his sometimes-controversial fiscal reforms, he dissected Obama’s record with humor and precision — and in a way that might appeal to the geographic and demographic voting blocs Romney needs to beat Obama.

Full story

August 29, 2012

Paul Ryan Revs Up Home State Crowd at Brats and Beer Event

Paul Ryan Revs Up Home State Crowd at Brats and Beer Event

Rep. Paul Ryan and his wife, Janna, wave to the crowd at a Wisconsin event at the Republican National Convention. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

TAMPA, Fla. — Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican vice presidential nominee, dropped by a Wisconsin delegation party today, just a few hours before he will formally accept his nomination and address the national GOP convention.

Ryan stepped on stage, which is already set up for a Kid Rock concert tonight, and surprised the home state crowd that was munching on brats, sipping beer and swaying to the tunes of the Swinging Bavarians.

Standing alongside his wife, Janna, the native of Janesville thanked the delegation for making the trip down and pumped up the crowd with brief remarks. Full story

CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing: Where Is the Wow?

CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing: Where Is the Wow?

Mitt Romney's running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, prepares for his speech tonight at the 2012 Republican National Convention. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

The CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing is being published from the GOP Convention in Tampa, Fla., this week. For more information on signing up to receive this free email, click here.

THE PODIUM: The convention convenes for its second day at 7 — but the broadcast networks won’t start showing anything until 10, half an hour before Paul Ryan appears to deliver his acceptance speech and introduce himself to the nation.

The proceedings open with Ayla Brown singing the national anthem (while her dad’s back in Massachusetts working to save his Senate seat). The first hour’s most prominent speakers are Mitch McConnell and his Kentucky colleague Rand Paul — who’s been having a tough time this week balancing his filial loyalty to the convention’s No. 1 killjoy with his desire to be a player in the Senate and the mainstream national GOP. (Romney’s most nettlesome rival, denied his own turn on stage, is leaving town before his son speaks but will be given a video tribute.) The 8 o’clock hour’s top appearances will be by John McCain, John Thune and Rob Portman; beyond personifying the party’s generational shift, all three senators will tout their roles in shaping defense and foreign policy as part of the day’s “We change it” theme.

Full story

Nevada’s Brian Sandoval Embraces Hispanic Outreach Role

Nevadas Brian Sandoval Embraces Hispanic Outreach Role

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

TAMPA, Fla. — Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval on Tuesday addressed Republican convention delegates in what turned out to be a forgettable speech that was panned by the pundits for its stiff delivery.

But Sandoval, a Hispanic, is a high-ranking soldier in the Republican Party’s effort to woo minority voters. In an interview with Roll Call before his speech, the governor discussed his role in helping GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney close the gap with a voting bloc that could be key to his prospects in Nevada and other states. In fact, Sandoval, who was elected in 2010, appears to be embracing this role.

“I’m reaching out to the Hispanic community and letting them know that if they work hard, there is great opportunity in this country,” Sandoval said. “I hope that I can inspire Hispanics to know that anything is possible.”

Full story

August 28, 2012

Focus on Economy or Broaden the Message? GOP Poll Has Clues

TAMPA, Fla. — After a few days here talking to GOP insiders, it’s clear that there are quite a few of what I would call nervously optimistic Republicans.

A mix of party professionals and movement-oriented conservatives, these Republicans believe wholeheartedly that Mitt Romney can beat President Barack Obama on Nov. 6, but are worried he won’t do what’s necessary to win. And they tend to have divergent opinions about what “necessary” is. The two most common arguments?  That Romney should go big and broaden his argument beyond simply a focus on the economy and jobs and that he should focus only on the economy and jobs.

A new poll conducted by GOP pollster David Winston for the Republican super PAC American Action Network indicates that both arguments have merit, but that a winning campaign for Romney will include both lines of attack.

The survey’s findings suggest that relentlessly focusing on the economy and jobs gives the Republican presidential ticket its best opportunity to capture independent voters and deflect the central attack being leveled by Obama. However, selecting House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan as his running mate and going on the attack on Medicare has also proved valuable for the GOP, according to a comparison of political messages tested by Winston in this poll.

In the poll, which Winston tells me had a plus-two, self-identified Democratic sample and a plus-three self-identified moderates over conservatives sample, 1,000 registered voters — particularly independent voters — responded more favorably to a jobs-oriented test message than to a message that focuses on saving Medicare in its current form.

Full story

CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing: Looking For a Tail Wind

CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing: Looking For a Tail Wind

Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso talks with Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer on the floor of the Republican National Convention today. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing is being published from the GOP Convention in Tampa, Fla., this week. For more information on signing up to receive this free email, click here.

THE PODIUM: The 2,286 delegates convened at 2 and are about to start the process of officially nominating Willard Mitt Romney as the Republican candidate for president and Paul Davis Ryan as the party’s candidate for vice president. It’s the convention’s official reason for being, and getting the formalities right out of the way will allow the ticket to start spending the tens of millions already raised specifically for the general election.

After that’s done, the convention will reconvene at 7, with Boehner delivering the opening speech (“Where are the jobs?” he’ll ask, as he always does on such occasions  — heralding the day’s “We built it” theme that Republican small-government is best for the economy.) Other speakers in the first hour include Rick Santorum, talking about welfare to fire up the socially conservative base; the top woman in the House GOP leadership, Cathy McMorris Rogers; and the party’s top African-American congressional recruit, Utah’s Mia Love.

Full story

Orrin Hatch: Republicans Hurt By Todd Akin, Still Have Shot at Majority

Orrin Hatch: Republicans Hurt By Todd Akin, Still Have Shot at Majority

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

TAMPA, Fla. — Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) conceded in an interview this morning that Rep. Todd Akin’s controversial remarks have endangered GOP prospects in the Missouri Senate race, along with the party’s chances of winning control of the Senate this fall.

“We’re going to take back the Senate, I believe, but it’s going to be very close,” Hatch said this morning. “It could go either way. I have to acknowledge that. The Akin race has hurt us to a degree.” Full story

Black Caucus Slams Artur Davis Ahead of Speech

Black Caucus Slams Artur Davis Ahead of Speech

Former Democratic Rep. Artur Davis is drawing criticism for his decision to speak at the Republican National Convention. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are accusing former Rep. Artur Davis of “transparent opportunism” ahead of his speech to the Republican National Convention, scheduled for this evening.

Coming four years after the African-American and former Democrat served as a co-chairman of President Barack Obama’s campaign, Davis’ conversion to the GOP has clearly stung his former colleagues, who sounded off in an open letter released to the media this morning. In 2008, Davis seconded Obama’s nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

The letter, signed by 14 CBC members, accuses Davis of distorting Obama’s record and flip-flopping on “core principles you once held dear.”

“We can only conclude that, rather than a true conversion, your actions are the result of a nakedly personal and political calculation or simmering anguish after failing to secure the Democratic nomination for governor of the State of Alabama in 2010,” the members wrote.

Full story

August 27, 2012

GOP Sees No More Schedule Changes

GOP Sees No More Schedule Changes

Palm trees blow in the wind and rain outside the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

Republicans say they don’t intend any additional changes to the convention schedule as Tropical Storm Isaac heads to landfall along the Gulf Coast.

Republican strategist Russ Schriefer told reporters in a conference call today that the GOP will soon release a minute-by-minute guide to the convention lineup.

He said there are no major changes to the GOP’s message this week, and he spotlighted the speeches of Ann Romney, Chris Christie and Rick Santorum on Tuesday night.

Schriefer said Santorum would talk about the fight to pass welfare reform in the 1990s. Welfare reform has become a key plank in the Romney campaign, keying off the Obama administration showing a willingness to grant flexibility to governors in meeting work requirements. Full story

CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing: The Big Left Turn

CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing: The Big Left Turn

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus officially starts the convention today. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

The CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing is being published from the GOP Convention in Tampa, Fla., this week. For more information on signing up to receive this free email, click here.

THE PODIUM: The 40th Republican National Convention officially opened at 2 and then recessed 5 minutes later (until 2 tomorrow), after RNC Chairman Reince Priebus conducted a single TV-worthy bit of ceremonial business — starting a “debt clock” (hanging off the club-level seats in the Tampa Bay Times Forum) that will measure the rising red ink for the rest of the week. The amount of federal borrowing when the clock was turned on was $15.986 trillion.

THE TICKET: Romney rehearsed his acceptance speech, and his wife practiced her remarks for tomorrow night, near their vacation house on Lake Winnipesaukee before heading to their home in the Boston suburbs. “Our thoughts are with the people that are in the storm’s path and hope that they’re spared any major destruction,” Romney told reporters as he left his New Hampshire retreat. But, when asked if he was considering curtailing the proceedings in Tampa, he replied: “We’ve got a great convention ahead.” (The campaign announced that Romney would preview his acceptance speech Wednesday at the American Legion convention in Indianapolis.) Full story

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