Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 1, 2014

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

Mitt Romney Looks to Beat Barack Obama to Storm-Ravaged Louisiana

Mitt Romney Looks to Beat Barack Obama to Storm Ravaged Louisiana

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

UPDATED 12:14 pm: Mitt Romney is traveling to Louisiana the morning after accepting the Republican nomination for president.

The move puts him in line to be on the ground viewing damage from Hurricane Isaac before President Barack Obama does the same. And it’s a move no doubt designed to help Romney look more presidential.

Romney is scheduled to fly to Louisiana after departing a send-off rally in Florida. Once he arrives, Romney is expected to tour storm-affected areas and meet with first responders in Lafitte, La., a community south of New Orleans that was ravaged by Isaac earlier this week.

Lafitte is in Jefferson Parish, outside the system of levees and other protective devices designed to guard New Orleans itself from flooding.  Local officials ordered a mandatory evacuation for residents of the area as the storm approached.

After Romney’s announcement, the White House issued a release saying Obama would tour the storm damage in Louisiana on Monday, Sept. 3 – the day before the start of his own party’s convention. The president may have avoided a Thursday visit in part to avoid the appearance of upstaging Romney on the day he gave his acceptance speech. Isaac’s insistence on hanging out over central Louisiana on Thursday also likely affected any White House decisions to stay away.

Today, Obama travels to Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said earlier this week that the trip is intended to highlight the end of the war in Iraq two years ago, when Obama last visited the Army base.

President George W. Bush was widely perceived as out-of-touch in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, history that both Romney and Obama would prefer to avoid repeating.

Obama has been in regular contact with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and local officials in the Gulf Coast states, including Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who skipped the GOP convention because of the storm, and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D), the brother of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.).

Jindal is expected to meet up with Romney in Louisiana.

Local leaders have pressed the federal government for additional assistance in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

For instance, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) asked the Army Corps of Engineers to assist Mississippi officials in dealing with a dam that could cause devastating flooding downstream in Tangipahoa Parish on the Louisiana-Mississippi border. The officials are using a controlled breach to relieve the water pressure and keep the dam from failing.

Jindal and others warned residents to get out before the water’s release.

“Even though we have the assets to do high-water rescues with boats and high-water vehicles, we think it would be much better for people and our first responders if people would self-evacuate,” he said.

Romney had been expected to travel to Richmond, Va., for a joint rally with his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), and with former Sen. George Allen, who is running to reclaim the seat he lost in 2006. Now Allen will have to settle for just Ryan.

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

New York: Democratic Poll Has Tim Bishop up by 14 Points

New York: Democratic Poll Has Tim Bishop up by 14 Points

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A new poll released by the campaign of New York Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop found the incumbent leading GOP challenger Randy Altschuler by 14 points among likely voters. In a horserace matchup, Bishop took 53 percent to Altschuler’s 39 percent.

Eight percent of those polled were undecided. Also, 54 percent of those polled had a favorable opinion of Bishop, while 36 percent had an unfavorable opinion of him. Forty-two percent had a favorable opinion of Altschuler, while 29 percent had an unfavorable opinion of him

The race in New York’s Long Island-based 1st district is a rematch of 2010, when Altschuler, a businessman, lost by a very narrow margin. While the district was adjusted during the redistricting process, the partisan makeup remained about the same, so the 14 point margin seems somewhat far-fetched.

Full story

In Tampa for Mitt Romney, Scott Brown Offers Nuanced Endorsement

In Tampa for Mitt Romney, Scott Brown Offers Nuanced Endorsement

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

TAMPA, Fla. — Republican Sen. Scott Brown, running for re-election in Democratic Massachusetts, came here today and offered a carefully framed endorsement of former Bay State Gov. Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential nominee.

“I’m here because it’s a special day for Massachusetts,” Brown said to a gaggle of reporters in a hotel meeting room not far from the Tampa Bay Times Forum where Romney will officially accept the Republican White House nod. “Whether they be Democrat or Republican, it’s good for Massachusetts when one of our own rises to this level.”

Brown said his presence was “important” because it showed “a pro-choice, moderate Republican” was a part of the GOP’s “big tent.”

“While I don’t agree with everything in the platform and/or with Gov. Romney, I have a lot of respect for him,” Brown said.

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

Arizona: Jeff Flake Talks Senate Race

Arizona: Jeff Flake Talks Senate Race

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

TAMPA, Fla. — On the first day of the general election campaign for Arizona’s open Senate seat, GOP nominee Rep. Jeff Flake popped up on the floor of the Republic National Convention, greeting well-wishers and discussing the state of his race.

Full story

California: John Garamendi Leads in 3rd District Democratic Poll

California: John Garamendi Leads in 3rd District Democratic Poll

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

California Rep. John Garamendi (D) led his Republican challenger by 15 points in a new poll conducted for a Democratic-aligned super PAC.

Garamendi led Colusa County Supervisor Kim Vann 54 percent to 39 percent. The two are running in the redrawn, Sacramento-area 3rd district, which became more competitive after redistricting.

The poll of 400 likely voters in the district was conducted August 26-27 by GBA Strategies on behalf of House Majority PAC. It had a margin of error of 4.9 points.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released an internal automated poll last month that showed Garamendi ahead by 15 points.

Roll Call rates the race as Leans Democratic.

August 29, 2012

Ron Paul Supporters Protest Delegate Swap

TAMPA, Fla. — Chanting “as goes Maine, so goes the nation,” scores of supporters of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) marched through the hallway surrounding the Tampa Bay Times Forum, angry that the RNC replaced some delegates supporting Paul with those supporting Romney.

Full story

Dick Durbin: Conventions Are On the Way Out

Dick Durbin: Conventions Are On the Way Out

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

TAMPA, Fla. — Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) arrived at the Republican National Convention to provide rapid Democratic response, but he also questioned whether the party nomination hoopla might soon be a thing of the past.

“I wonder about conventions as part of our political process,” Durbin said tonight in an interview with Roll Call in the media workspace at the RNC. “It’s a pretty expensive undertaking and time-consuming undertaking, and the day may come, in the world of social media, that there’s another way to do this.” Full story

Rick Santorum Rallies Like a Candidate

Rick Santorum Rallies Like a Candidate

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

TAMPA, Fla. — This week, it’s hard not to wonder whether former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) keeps thinking, “It should have been me.” Full story

Paul Ryan Speech Excerpts Released

Rep. Paul Ryan will accept the GOP’s nomination for vice president tonight with a call to deal with the tough problems the country faces, and he will draw a stark contrast with President Barack Obama.

“I accept the calling of my generation to give our children the America that was given to us, with opportunity for the young and security for the old — and I know that we are ready,” the Wisconsin Republican will say, according to excerpts released by his campaign. “Our nominee is sure ready. His whole life has prepared him for this moment — to meet serious challenges in a serious way, without excuses and idle words. After four years of getting the run-around, America needs a turnaround, and the man for the job is Gov. Mitt Romney.”

Ryan also will target Obama’s health care law.

“Obamacare comes to more than 2,000 pages of rules, mandates, taxes, fees and fines that have no place in a free country. The president has declared that the debate over government-controlled health care is over. That will come as news to the millions of Americans who will elect Mitt Romney so we can repeal Obamacare,” Ryan will say.

And Wisconsin lawmaker, who has made his name on his budget acumen and push for spending cuts, will say that he and Romney are going to solve the nation’s economic problems “before the math and the momentum overwhelm us all.”

“And I’m going to level with you: We don’t have that much time. But if we are serious, and smart, and we lead, we can do this. … We will not duck the tough issues — we will lead. We will not spend four years blaming others — we will take responsibility. We will not try to replace our founding principles, we will reapply our founding principles. The work ahead will be hard. These times demand the best of us — all of us, but we can do this. Together, we can do this.”

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