Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 31, 2014

September 4, 2012

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

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

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