Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 24, 2014

September 7, 2012

Steve Israel Says House Remains in Play

Steve Israel Says House Remains in Play

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel delivers his speech to the Democratic National Convention. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) said Thursday that control of the House remains within his party’s reach.

“It’s absolutely in play and more so at the beginning of September than at the beginning of August,” he told Roll Call in an interview here a few hours before President Barack Obama accepted the Democratic re-nomination for president.

Israel said Democrats left Washington, D.C., early last month “in a fairly static and neutral environment.” But, he argued, their prospects improved last month for several reasons.

“I think we got our mojo back in August,” he said. Full story

September 6, 2012

John Kerry, Jennifer Granholm Give Surprisingly Strong Speeches at DNC

John Kerry, Jennifer Granholm Give Surprisingly Strong Speeches at DNC

Sen. John Kerry (above) criticized Mitt Romney's foreign policy stance in his speech tonight at the Democratic National Convention. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) assailed the Republican presidential nominee from his home state for his lack of foreign policy tonight, giving one of the most energetic and blistering critiques of Mitt Romney so far.

“Ask Osama bin Laden if he is better off now that he was four years ago,” Kerry called out to a cheering crowd.

It was as if these words were on the tip of the collective crowd’s tongue: Where was this guy in 2004?

Kerry’s spirited speech embodied the kind of gusto Democrats yearned to see in his own presidential bid eight years ago. He delivered zinger after zinger, such as Romney “talks like he’s only seen Russia by watching Rocky IV.” Full story

Massachusetts: Joe Kennedy III Wins Primary

Massachusetts: Joe Kennedy III Wins Primary

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Attorney Joe Kennedy III tonight won the Democratic primary in Massachusetts’ 4th district. He easily dispatched his two opponents and is very likely to become the next Congressman representing the comfortably Democratic seat now held by retiring Rep. Barney Frank (D).

Full story

John Lewis Attacks Republicans on Voting Rights

John Lewis Attacks Republicans on Voting Rights

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Rep. John Lewis (Ga.) delivered a blistering critique of new GOP-backed voter identification laws, weaving in his personal civil rights story to emphasize to a packed convention crowd, “we have come too far together to ever turn back.”

On the final night of the Democratic National Convention, Lewis called it “unbelievable that there are Republican officials still trying to stop some people from voting.”

“They are changing the rules, cutting polling hours and imposing requirements intended to suppress the votes,” Lewis said. “I’ve seen this before. I’ve lived this before. Too many people struggled, suffered and died to make it possible for every American to exercise their right to vote.” Full story

Gabrielle Giffords’ Pledge Provides Touching Moment Amid Partisan Jabs

Gabrielle Giffords Pledge Provides Touching Moment Amid Partisan Jabs

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) recited the Pledge of Allegiance tonight at the Democratic National Convention, igniting a crowd chanting, “Gabby! Gabby!”

Delegates continued to cheer Giffords as her friend Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.) guided her onto the blue stage. Giffords recited the pledge perfectly, calling out at the end, “Liberty and justice, for all!”

As Giffords walked off the stage, she blew the audience a kiss. Her appearance — and the audience’s excitement — marked one of the most sincere moments of the back-to-back party conventions.

Giffords’ touching words came halfway through a star-studded lineup on the final night of the convention, culminating with President Barack Obama accepting his party’s nomination for re-election. Roll Call first broke the news Giffords would deliver the pledge. Full story

Barack Obama Will Ask for More Time, Outline Agenda in Speech

Barack Obama Will Ask for More Time, Outline Agenda in Speech

North Carolina delegates get fired up ahead of President Barack Obama's speech tonight at the Democratic National Convention. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

President Barack Obama will ask voters for patience in dealing with the economy and argue that this election will be the “clearest choice of any time in a generation” as he makes his case for a second term in his acceptance speech tonight at the Democratic National Convention.

Obama will point to the difficulty of the task of fixing the economy, according to excerpts released ahead of his prime-time speech.

“I won’t pretend the path I’m offering is quick or easy. I never have. You didn’t elect me to tell you what you wanted to hear. You elected me to tell you the truth. And the truth is, it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades.” Full story

James Clyburn: Bill Clinton’s Speech ‘Second Best of Convention’

James Clyburn: Bill Clintons Speech Second Best of Convention

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — House Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn (D-S.C.) weighed in on former President Bill Clinton’s widely praised nominating speech for President Barack Obama, calling it the “second best of the convention” so far.

“I thought it was a great speech,” he said in a brief interview on the floor of the Democratic National Convention tonight. “I gotta give No. 1 to Mrs. Obama, but I thought it was a great speech.”

Although the 2008 Democratic primary between then-Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton took a nasty tone in his home state of South Carolina, Clyburn brushed off any ongoing enmity between the Obama and Clinton camps.

Full story

Massachusetts: Super PAC Launches Blistering Attack on John Tierney

A Republican super PAC on Friday will launch a sharp television assault on embattled Massachusetts Rep. John Tierney (D).

The ad from the YG Action Fund asks what “the truth” is about the eight-term Congressman and tells viewers about the gambling ring of Tierney’s wife’s family.

“What’s the truth about John Tierney?” a female narrator asks, backed by ominous music. “This much we know: His family ran an illegal gambling operation for years. His wife, Patrice, went to jail as Tierney sat silent in court. His own brother-in-law says Tierney knew everything and is a liar.” Full story

CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing: Dais Today, Data Tomorrow

CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing: Dais Today, Data Tomorrow

Massachusetts delegates who arrived at Time Warner Cable Arena early rest before the final night of the Democratic National Convention. (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: A two-week run of great American political theater comes to an end tonight. The final act starts at 10:10, when Barack Obama takes the stage for his soliloquy. It’s the most-watched and unfiltered opportunity he’ll have in the precisely two months before Election Day to explain why he deserves to become only the third Democratic president in eight decades to win a second term.

Biden gets his half an hour in the spotlight at 9:30 — the decidedly secondary role assigned to make room for Bill Clinton’s captivating if undisciplined “third way” master class. (Biden was the Wednesday night main event four years ago, as were John Edwards, Joe Lieberman and Al Gore before him.) NBC, which is making up for skipping last night’s coverage in favor of the Cowboys-Giants game, will be the only broadcast network carrying the speech.

Full story

Dick Durbin, Barack Obama Get Prime-Time Speaking Slots, But Not Joseph Biden

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) will introduce President Barack Obama during prime time this evening at the final night of the Democratic National Convention.

Vice President Joseph Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, will address delegates at the Time Warner Cable Arena during the 9 p.m. hour, convention organizers announced. And no one is more disappointed about Biden’s speaking slot than Republicans, who have taken to Twitter to campaign for the gaffe-prone vice president to speak during the nationally televised 10 p.m. hour instead.

Full story

Obama Holds Pep Call for Disappointed Volunteers

Obama Holds Pep Call for Disappointed Volunteers

President Barack Obama's speech tonight has been moved indoors after bad weather threatened Charlotte, N.C. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — President Barack Obama gave a campaign pep talk today to the tens of thousands of volunteers who were shut out of his nomination acceptance speech after Democratic convention organizers moved the event from Bank of America Stadium to Time Warner Cable Arena.

 

In a conference call, Obama said he couldn’t risk their safety if a severe thunderstorm hit Charlotte in middle of his speech or the others scheduled for this evening, including Vice President Joseph Biden’s nomination acceptance speech. But the president said he understood that many of them had worked hard to get tickets and had traveled to North Carolina at their own expense.

 

“I know it’s disappointing,” he said. “My main message is we can’t let a little thunder and lightning get us down, we’re going to have to roll with it.”

 

Obama told them that he hoped they would still join speech watching parties tonight and said he is eager to share his vision when he takes the stage. So far, Obama said, the convention has been “unbelievable,” highlighting first lady Michelle Obama’s Tuesday speech and President Bill Clinton’s speech on Wednesday night.

 

“Hopefully at the end of this convention, people will say we accomplished what we needed to and offered our vision for the country,” Obama said, “but this is still going to be a really close election.”

 

He said the Republicans would have “massive checks from wealthy donors” on their side. “The good thing is I’ve got you. … Nothing’s more powerful than the work you guys do.”

 

And he said that the campaign will work hard to get volunteers opportunities to see him at campaign events around the country. “Hopefully you’ll have even a closer front row seat,” he said.

House Democrats: Don’t Blame Us

House Democrats: Dont Blame Us

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi addresses the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday night. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

CHARLOTTE, N.C.— President Barack Obama has had harsh words for Congress, and no doubt there are more ahead as the campaign unfurls. So House Democrats have a simple message this week: Don’t blame us.

House Democratic leaders have been trumpeting their accomplishments in an effort to inoculate themselves from attacks on Congress and to set themselves apart from the dismal public perception of the institution as a whole.

In fact, Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Xavier Becerra (Calif.) said, there is a distinction to be made.

“I don’t think the president is running against Congress,” he said. “The president is running against a Republican do-nothing Congress that tried to stop and thwart everything that he tried to do.”

Full story

Obama Venue Change Means Different Backdrop, Little Else

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — President Barack Obama’s nomination acceptance speech has been moved from a football stadium to a basketball arena, disappointing Democratic convention delegates but likely causing minimal political fallout.

Democratic officials and strategists said it would have been preferable not to move today’s speech from Bank of America Stadium to Time Warner Cable Arena. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.) acknowledged that the television visual of a wide-open football venue packed with Obama supporters sent a powerful political message to voters in 2008, when Obama accepted the Democratic nomination at what was then known as Denver’s Invesco Field, while also serving as an important campaign organizing tool.

But given that weather forecasters are predicting the possibility of showers for a greater Charlotte area that has been pummeled with strong rain and thunderstorms off and on since Labor Day weekend, Van Hollen said that the Obama campaign and convention organizers made the right call in moving Obama’s big speech indoors, despite disrupting the travel plans of thousands who were planning to attend. Full story

Michigan: Kerry Bentivolio Wins GOP Nod for Special Election

Reindeer rancher Kerry Bentivolio will get a head start on Congress if he wins in November.

The Republican won the GOP nomination for the same-day special election for former Rep. Thaddeus McCotter’s (R) seat Wednesday night, defeating the same candidate he beat last month for his party’s nod in the general election.

McCotter’s resignation prompted a special election to replace him for the final few weeks in Congress later this year. Bentivolio remained the only Republican on the ballot in the August primary and defeated a write-in candidate, former state Sen. Nancy Cassis, for the GOP nod.

On Wednesday night, Bentivolio defeated Cassis again in the special election primary — this time with her name on the ballot — as well as three other candidates. He will face UAW official Dave Curson in the special election in November. On the same day he’ll face Democrat Syed Taj, a doctor and Canton Township trustee, for a seat in the 113th Congress.

Bill Clinton Delivers Strongest Argument Yet for Barack Obama’s Re-Election

Bill Clinton Delivers Strongest Argument Yet for Barack Obamas Re Election

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — President Bill Clinton delivered for the Democrats on Wednesday evening, throwing the packed Time Warner Cable Arena into a frenzy of cheers, laughter and applause as he gave the firmest argument yet for the re-election of President Barack Obama.

Clinton offered to the Democratic National Convention a confident endorsement of Obama’s policies amid an economic recovery that he said was now four years in the making, but that needed more time given the depths the economy had sunk to by the time the president took office in 2009. Clinton fact-checked Republican arguments against Obama and filled what had been a gaping hole in the president’s case to independent voters with substantive, concrete evidence for why the commander in chief deserves another four years.

And, Clinton might have been the only Democrat capable of making such a case.

“Now, are we where we want to be today? No,” Clinton said. “Is the president satisfied? Of course not. Are we better off than we were when he took office? … The answer is, yes.”

Full story

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