Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 19, 2014

September 4, 2012

Kennedy Tribute Sets Tone for DNC’s First Night

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — An emotional tribute to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) set the tone for the first night of the Democratic National Convention here, reminding delegates of the key facets of his legacy, from health care to his early support of President Barack Obama.

A seven-minute video was broadcast to delegates and a national audience, ending with a picture of Obama walking side-by-side with an ailing Kennedy, ambling with a cane in the waning days before he lost his battle with cancer.

Kennedy’s image served as both a hopeful reminder of the energy that surrounded Obama’s 2008 campaign and an eerie foil to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts who challenged Kennedy in 1994 for his long-held Senate seat. The video cut by the Democratic National Committee included footage of Kennedy attacking Romney in a now-infamous debate. Full story

Harry Reid Slams Mitt Romney on Taxes Again in Convention Speech

Harry Reid Slams Mitt Romney on Taxes Again in Convention Speech

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In one of the toughest speeches of the Democratic National Convention’s first night, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid criticized Republicans and again implied that their party’s nominee, Mitt Romney, skipped out on paying taxes.

The Nevada Democrat accused the GOP as a whole of being under the thumb of Rush Limbaugh and Grover Norquist and called the tea party a group of “extremists and ideologues.”

He went on to describe Romney as a “beneficiary” of a “rigged game.” Full story

Democrats Officially Kick Off Convention in Charlotte

Democrats Officially Kick Off Convention in Charlotte

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Debbie Wasserman Schultz gaveled the Democratic National Convention to order this evening, kicking off the event that will officially renominate Barack Obama as the Democratic nominee for president of the United States.

The chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee and Florida Congresswoman welcomed delegates and guests.

She said the convention was about more than just demonstrating why Obama should get a second term in the White House.

“It’s about Americans coming together to build one economy: not from the top down, but from the middle class out and the bottom up,” she said. Full story

Democrats Like Their Chances of Holding the Senate

Democrats Like Their Chances of Holding the Senate

Former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine is among the Senate candidates speaking at the Democratic National Convention this week. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee believes it is in a better position today than it was at the beginning of the cycle, when the lopsided number of Senate seats the party was tasked with defending in battleground states put its 53-47 majority in jeopardy.

“Relative to where we started the cycle in January of last year, we’ve made significant improvement in our chances of holding on to the Senate,” DSCC Executive Director Guy Cecil said today in an off-camera briefing with reporters at the Charlotte Convention Center. Full story

CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing: Vision Revision

CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing: Vision Revision

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, does her podium walk-through before speaking at the convention tonight. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

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

THE PODIUM: The Democratic National Convention will convene at 5, the gavel wielded by national party chairwoman and Florida House member Debbie Wasserman Schultz. (It’s the party’s 47th convention, but only the fifth in the South; Republicans have won the presidency each of the previous times Democrats met in the region — the last in 1988, when Michael Dukakis was nominated in Atlanta.) The party has underscored its “room for everyone” approach by sending 5,556 delegates, more than twice as many as went to Tampa for the GOP convention. Half are women, 27 percent are African-Americans and 5 percent are students — including Samuel Gray of Iowa, the youngest delegate, who won’t turn 18 until just before Election Day. (The oldest is 98-year-old Elzena Johnson of Mississippi.)

The opening night’s marquee attraction is Michelle Obama, whose approval rating of 66 percent is 20 points or so above her husband’s current “favorable” polling average. She’ll take the stage at 10:35 as Character Witness No. 1 and testify that her husband’s life experiences guarantee he understands the struggles of most Americans — in contrast, she will imply but might not say explicitly, to his opponent.

Full story

New York: Tim Bishop Fights ‘Criminal’ Tag

New York Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop recently launched an ad knocking his opponent for accusing him of being a crook.

Politico reported Aug. 16 that Bishop’s campaign asked for a donation from a constituent who was in the midst of being helped by the lawmaker’s Congressional office. Republican Randy Altschuler launched an attack on Bishop based on the story. Bishop denies any wrongdoing.

Full story

Gabrielle Giffords PAC Has Support of Mitch McConnell Ally Trey Grayson

Gabrielle Giffords PAC Has Support of Mitch McConnell Ally Trey Grayson

Former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson (center) will co-lead ex-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' new political action committee. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 6:43 p.m. | Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) formally launched a new political action committee Tuesday, with one of the co-chairmen likely to raise the ire of Republicans.

Former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson (R) will co-lead the PAC with Robert Reich, the Democrat who served as Labor secretary under President Bill Clinton.

Full story

Isaac Could Cause More Havoc for DNC Than RNC

Telecommunications officials in North Carolina are preparing for the possibility that the remnants of Hurricane Isaac could knock out access to cell towers near the Democratic National Convention.

Verizon Wireless said in a statement this afternoon that the company is working with convention officials to help ensure its customers in and around Charlotte maintain access to their iPhones, tablets and BlackBerrys in the event that high winds and heavy rains lead to power outages.

Jerry Fountain, president of the Carolinas/Tennessee region of Verizon Wireless, said that mobile cell towers and emergency generators could be brought in from adjoining states if bad weather materializes.

“Our team has been meeting regularly with DNC committee and city officials to discuss and prepare for possible flooding and high winds. We are confident we have resources and procedures in place to keep our network strong through the heavy rains being dumped in Charlotte,” Fountain said.

The National Weather Service is predicting heavy showers and thunderstorms in the Charlotte area from this afternoon through overnight.

Rain could fall at rates of as much as two inches per hour in the heaviest downpours associated with the storm, according to the NWS regional office in Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C.

“Any heavy rainfall today could quickly cause flooding of streams and creeks,” in the region, the office said.

Larry Kissell and Mike McIntyre: A Tale of 2 N.C. Democrats at Party’s Convention

Larry Kissell and Mike McIntyre: A Tale of 2 N.C. Democrats at Partys Convention

(Bill Clark CQ/Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Mike McIntyre joined several House Democratic colleagues speaking to the North Carolina delegates in Charlotte today. Missing was embattled Rep. Larry Kissell, who was only a few miles away.

Redistricting in North Carolina made both Kissell’s 8th district and McIntyre’s 7th significantly more Republican. But while Kissell is keeping his distance from the Democrats gathering in Charlotte — particularly President Barack Obama — McIntyre is speaking out.

At the delegation breakfast, McIntyre touted his seniority in the House and took some digs at his Republican opponent’s plans to cut education spending and overhaul Medicare.

McIntyre said state Senator David Rouzer wants to turn Medicare into “a voucher system” and “give seniors a check and say: good luck.” Full story

Elizabeth Warren Invokes Edward Kennedy; Tom Menino Mum on Senate Race

Elizabeth Warren Invokes Edward Kennedy; Tom Menino Mum on Senate Race

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren invoked the memory of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (Mass.) in remarks to the Bay State’s Democratic delegation here, a day before she is set to take the stage at the Democratic National Convention.

Warren, hoping to unseat Republican Sen. Scott Brown, recalled a long meeting she had with Kennedy in the mid 1990s about bankruptcy and its effect on working families. She talked about Kennedy’s decade of work against a bankruptcy reform bill that she said wasn’t in the interest of working people.

“Ted Kennedy changed my life,” Warren said. “He changed how I understood what it is that a public servant does. And I think of him in this race every single day. And I come to this convention and I think of him every single hour.” Full story

September 3, 2012

CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing: No Introduction Needed

CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing: No Introduction Needed

First lady Michelle Obama gets some pointers form a stage manager at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

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

THE PODIUM: The hall is the exclusive province of the TV anchors and the curious until tomorrow afternoon. The Democratic Party decided months ago that — because it’s Labor Day and because their convention fundraising was well short of aspirations —  there would only be three nights of speechmaking.

There is some party business going on — caucus meetings for many of the party’s disparate delegate factions: African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, American Indians, other ethnic groups, young people, veterans, the disabled and the religious left. Several thousand delegates spent the day instead at a sprawling street fair staged by the party along Tryon Street, the central business district’s main thoroughfare. But heavy rains drove the crowds indoors before the final headliner acts: James Taylor, West End Mambo, Chairmen of the Board and actor-turned-country-crooner Jeff Bridges (who sounded decent at his sound check this morning).
Full story

Nancy Pelosi Rallies California Delegates for House Race Push

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and a number of other Democratic leaders packed an expansive hotel ballroom this morning to rally the California delegation, highlighting the state’s importance in winning back the House.

Along with numerous mentions of President Barack Obama, the breakfast program focused largely on House races. Guest speakers include Reps. Jared Polis (Colo.) and Donna Edwards (Md.), who co-chair the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Red to Blue program that helps candidates running for GOP-held seats.

“California is essential to it all,” Pelosi said. Full story

September 2, 2012

CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing: The Other Ones

CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing: The Other Ones

Police get set for the protesters at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. (Douglas Graham/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: One of the opening rituals for every modern national political convention, an intense Secret Service sweep into every corner and crevice of the arena, has started after a morning flurry of lighting adjustments, sound checks and wire-laying in the Time Warner Cable Arena. (The proceedings don’t start until Tuesday afternoon, and organizers plan to unveil the final logistical tweaks in the morning. The headline will be whether they’ve decided, once and for all, to risk the 40 percent chance of storms now forecast for Thursday and have Obama follow through with plans to give his speech at the Carolina Panthers stadium.)

THE TICKET: “They are exhausted of ideas,” Obama said of the Republicans this afternoon at the University of Colorado campus in Boulder. He’s flying now to Toledo, where he’ll speak at a lunchtime Labor Day rally before heading to Louisiana to view Isaac cleanup efforts. (Romney swung through on the day after his convention speech). Full story

Turns Out, Isaac Is a Bipartisan Storm

It looks as if Hurricane Isaac was not content to only muddle convention planning for Republicans in Tampa, Fla. Now, Democrats have to contend with what remains of the storm as the residual moisture moves eastward over the next few days.

Hopefully, journalists and others partaking in both party conventions are keeping the raincoats and galoshes they brought to Tampa handy, just in case they encounter more wet conditions in Charlotte, N.C. Any rain and thunder could also remind convention-goers and the television audience of the ongoing recovery efforts in the communities hit hardest by Isaac along the Gulf Coast.

The weather forecast in North Carolina calls for humid days and the chance of scattered thunderstorms throughout the week. That’s nothing like the conditions faced by those in the path of Isaac as the storm passed on its way to making landfall in Louisiana.

GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney had one advantage for his acceptance speech, however, that President Barack Obama does not: a roof. Full story

August 31, 2012

Mitt Romney’s Louisiana Trip Provides Fodder for Democrats

Mitt Romneys Louisiana Trip Provides Fodder for Democrats

Sen. Charles Schumer called on Mitt Romney to specify whether he supported the funding mechanism for disaster aid that had been proposed by his running mate, Paul Ryan. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As Mitt Romney arrived in Louisiana today to survey storm damage from Hurricane Isaac, Democrats were quick to use the opportunity to criticize past Republican efforts to trim disaster aid.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) issued a biting statement calling on the GOP nominee to specify whether he supported the funding mechanism for disaster aid that had been proposed by the House-adopted budget resolution authored by Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan (D-Wis.).

“Mitt Romney needs to say whether or not he supports his running mate’s plan to keep emergency disaster aid out of the federal budget. If House Republicans like Paul Ryan had had their way, the Gulf Coast might not have federal funds available to respond to Hurricane Isaac right away,” Schumer said. “It is an affront for Mitt Romney to go to Louisiana given what the Ryan budget would have meant for our emergency preparedness.”

Full story

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