Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
January 31, 2015

August 27, 2012

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

Reince Priebus: No Further Changes to Convention Schedule Being Discussed

TAMPA, Fla. — Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said today he has not had any talks about further changes to GOP convention plans for this week due to Tropical Storm Isaac.

“Right now, I can tell you that I haven’t had any conversations about changing the plans that we have at the convention on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday,” Priebus told a small group of reporters on the floor of the Tampa convention center.

Priebus shot down reports that Republicans might add an extra day Friday to compensate for the cancellation of today’s activities or that leaders had discussed condensing the convention into one or two days if Isaac strengthens significantly and unleashes on cities such as New Orleans, now in the storm’s path.

“I’m telling you, nothing like that was ever discussed,” Priebus said. “We’re mindful of the impacts that this hurricane could have. We have to be nimble, which we will be, but right now, we see us moving forward as planned.”

The GOP chairman said convention organizers will “wait and see what happens with this storm first” before discussing any further potential schedule shifts.

Paul Ryan Pick Has Energized Mitt Romney, John Boehner Says

TAMPA, Fla. — Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said today that the GOP presidential nominee has been energized by his selection of running mate Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.).

Speaking to a group of reporters at a Christian Science Monitor lunch, Boehner turned a question about his opinions on Ryan to a verdict on Mitt Romney’s willingness to take risks.

Full story

Convention Gavels In and Out Quickly

Convention Gavels In and Out Quickly

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus gavels in the brief opening day of the GOP convention. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

TAMPA, Fla. — The 2012 Republican National Convention is officially open for business — despite a first-day program shrunk to less than 10 minutes and the certainty that the GOP will compete with hurricane coverage as Isaac veers away from Tampa and toward New Orleans.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus opened the convention with brief remarks, taking special aim at the fiscal “recklessness” of President Barack Obama by unveiling not one but two debt clocks. One shows the nearly $16 trillion national debt, and the other shows the debt increase merely since the start of the convention. Full story

Todd Akin Remains in the Background in Tampa

Todd Akin Remains in the Background in Tampa

Former Rep. Mike Castle (right) said Missouri Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin should "give serious thought whether he should continue forward." (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

TAMPA, Fla. — Even as the talk in Tampa revolves around Mitt Romney and Tropical Storm Isaac, the Senate candidacy of Missouri Rep. Todd Akin (R) remains on the minds of prominent Republicans.

Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who also served as Republican National Committee chairman in the 1990s, conceded that the controversy surrounding Akin is a distraction for the Republicans, while former Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) reflected on how his 2010 Senate bid — and an easy GOP pickup — was derailed by a conservative primary challenger who never had a chance in the general election.

“I believe that obviously his comments were wrong, I think he has made apologies,” Castle said today in an interview with Roll Call, referring to Akin’s comments about rape. “But he’s also damaged his candidacy a great deal and perhaps affected Republicans across the country.”

“I think he needs to give serious thought whether he should continue forward,” Castle added. “Is the race winnable or it’s not? Is it better to substitute another candidate and does it impact negatively on other races, which I think is a concern of the Romney campaign and some others?”

Full story

John Boehner: Era of Political Conventions May Be Ending

John Boehner: Era of Political Conventions May Be Ending

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

TAMPA, Fla. — Speaker John Boehner (Ohio), the Republican National Convention’s permanent chairman, said today he doesn’t believe the current four-day convention framework makes sense in a modern media environment.

The length of the once-every-four-years party fete has come into question as a natural disaster threatens to cut yet another convention down, with today’s formal festivities being canceled and other events later in the week in doubt with Tropical Storm Isaac barreling through the Gulf Coast region. Republicans cut short their 2008 affair in Minneapolis because of Hurricane Gustav.

Full story

Charlie Crist to Speak at Democratic Convention

Charlie Crist to Speak at Democratic Convention

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

TAMPA, Fla. — Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican turned Independent, will speak at the Democratic National Convention, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Crist penned a Sunday op-ed column in that paper endorsing Barack Obama for re-election.

“As America prepares to pick our president for the next four years — and as Florida prepares once again to play a decisive role — I’m confident that President Barack Obama is the right leader for our state and the nation,” he wrote. “I applaud and share his vision of a future built by a strong and confident middle class in an economy that gives us the opportunity to reap prosperity through hard work and personal responsibility. It is a vision of the future proven right by our history.”

The executive director of Sen. Jim DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund wrote a scathing letter to the group’s supporters about Crist’s endorsement of the president.

Full story

NRCC Punches Back on Medicare in North Carolina’s 7th

NRCC Punches Back on Medicare in North Carolinas 7th

A new NRCC ad pushes back against Rep. Mike McIntyre. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 1:10 p.m. | The National Republican Congressional Committee launched a counterpunch ad in North Carolina’s 7th district knocking incumbent Rep. Mike McIntyre (D) for his vote against the controversial budget of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan (R), providing a window into how Republicans will fight back against Democratic attacks that GOP candidates want to “essentially end Medicare.”

The new NRCC television ad begins with a short clip of a recent DCCC ad in a TV box in which the narrator said, “David Rouzer’s budget would essentially end Medicare.”

Then a male narrator’s deep voice says, “Hold it!” as those words appear over the TV. “The truth: David Rouzer will preserve, protect and strengthen Medicare. But career politician [Rep.] Mike McIntyre doesn’t want you to know: He voted against giving prescription drug benefits to millions of seniors,” the NRCC narrator says.

“And since Obama’s been president, McIntyre’s voted against every plan to save Medicare from going bankrupt. Isn’t it time Mike McIntyre put seniors before politics? You decide,” the narrator says.

Full story

August 26, 2012

Republicans Keep Headliners, Make Program Three Days

TAMPA, Fla. — Republican officials have condensed their national convention to three days by moving almost all of their Monday speakers and activities until later in the week.

“We’ve taken most of the Monday speakers and put them into the Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday schedule,” top Romney strategist Russ Schriefer told reporters on a Sunday conference call.

Scheduled Monday speakers including Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush have been moved to speaking slots throughout the week. Schriefer said they condensed the schedule by shortening speeches and moving the program start to 7 p.m. each night.

Full story

By Shira Toeplitz Posted at 6:51 p.m.
Conventions, RNC

CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing: Isaac Haze

CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing: Isaac Haze

Workers prepare for the start of the 2012 Republican National Convention by trashing a sign that spells "Change" because it was too small. It is being replaced with one that has bigger letters. (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: It’s cordoned off until tomorrow afternoon, when the Republican National Convention will be called to order — just for a few minutes, after which it will be recessed until sometime Tuesday, after Tropical Storm (probably Hurricane, by then) Isaac has done whatever damage it’s going to do to the city. Planners say that at 5:45 today they’ll unveil their alternative three-days-instead-of-four schedule.

THE TICKET: “It really is sad, isn’t it, with all the issues that America faces for the Obama campaign to continue to stoop to such a low level,” Romney told Fox when asked about efforts to link him to Todd Aiken’s statements about abortion and rape. In the taped interview, he also said the controversy created by the Missouri Senate candidate “hurts our party and I think is damaging to women.” Full story

August 25, 2012

Weather Delays Kickoff of GOP Convention

Weather Delays Kickoff of GOP Convention

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 7:07 | Because of an approaching storm, the GOP presidential convention will convene on Monday but will immediately recess until Tuesday afternoon, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said this evening in a statement.

The decision by the RNC effectively upends the first two days of the event that will officially nominate former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as the Republican candidate for president.

“Our first priority is ensuring the safety of delegates, alternates, guests, members of the media attending the Republican National Convention, and citizens of the Tampa Bay area,” Priebus said. “RNC Convention officials and the Romney campaign are working closely with state, local and federal officials, as well as the Secret Service, to monitor Tropical Storm Isaac and preserve Florida’s emergency management resources.” Full story

In Interview, GOP Chairman Dismisses Obama Ground Game

In Interview, GOP Chairman Dismisses Obama Ground Game

(Douglas Graham CQ/Roll Call File Photo)

TAMPA, Fla. — On the eve of the GOP presidential nominating convention, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus appears legitimately at ease.

Even as President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies move to overshadow the Gulf Coast gathering with a series of well-timed interviews, campaign stops and Tampa bracketing activities, Priebus in a Saturday interview with Roll Call was the opposite of cautiously optimistic about November and dismissed chatter that the convention is in danger of being overshadowed.

During a brief discussion as he hustled between media appearances and last-minute convention planning duties, I asked the Wisconsinite about this week’s four-day event, the battle for the White House, his home state and what it means to have House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan on the cusp of being nominated for vice president, as well as the Obama campaign’s vaunted voter turnout operation. The RNC chairman didn’t pull any punches.

“I find all of their ground-game talk to be garbage. They’ve got a decent ground game but they over-hype it so much,” said Priebus, who took the reigns of the Republican National Committee last year when it was more than $20 million in debt and being shunned by the wealthy GOP donor set he needed to get his operation presidential-campaign ready.

Full story

Democrats Plan Counterpunch at Republican Convention

The Democratic National Committee has planned a weeklong counterprogram to the Republican National Convention in Tampa and across the country that will continue despite the postponement of Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to Florida due to preparations for a possible hurricane.

The Democrats have opened a war room near the convention center and DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz will be on hand in her home state along with other Democratic officials.

For the kickoff event today, the DNC invitations read “Limited Cadillac Parking Available” and “Medicare Vouchers Not Accepted.”

Ellen Canale, the DNC’s regional press secretary, said Democrats will likely hold two press conferences a day and are bringing in people from Massachusetts and elsewhere who know presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to counter the convention’s narrative. Democrats also have a rolling billboard denouncing Romney that will drive around town touting the Democrats’ theme: “Romney Economics: Wrong for the Middle Class.”

The Democrats also released a new web video, “The Romney Bunch,” a takeoff on the Brady Bunch, launching snark at Romney’s running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.),  GOP governors and even former Rep. Artur Davis, who abandoned the Democratic Party four years after speaking at the Democratic National Convention and will be speaking in Tampa this year. Davis is “in it for himself,” according to the ad.

Biden is still planning to come to Florida — probably on Tuesday — but pulled out of Monday events in Tampa so local law enforcement could focus on storm preparations rather than providing security ahead of Tropical Storm Isaac, which is projected to strengthen into a hurricane as it makes its way up Florida’s Gulf Coast.

President Barack Obama, meanwhile, will continue campaigning in battleground states during the convention. Obama will be taking a tour of college towns in Iowa, Colorado and Virginia on Tuesday and Wednesday.

First Lady Michelle Obama will appear on the Late Show with David Letterman on Wednesday. The appearance should air not long after Ryan gives his acceptance speech that night.

Race Rating Change: Linda McMahon Makes Gains in Connecticut


Race Rating Change: Linda McMahon Makes Gains in Connecticut

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Thanks to heavy and effective television advertising and a disciplined campaign, former WWE CEO Linda McMahon has pushed her Senate race against Rep. Chris Murphy (D) from Likely Democratic to Leans Democratic.

At the beginning of this cycle, many Washington Republicans wrote off her campaign. National Republicans now compliment her campaign’s execution over the past year. They make no pretense that this race is on par with tossups in Virginia or Massachusetts, but insist it is much more competitive than it seems on the surface. Full story

August 24, 2012

GOP Finalizes Prime Time Convention Line-up

TAMPA, FLA. — After a flurry of juggling today, presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign and Republican convention organizers signed off on the speakers who will appear in prime time during next week’s GOP convention in Tampa.

Last minute changes were made after the broadcast networks decided not to cover Monday evening, when Romney’s wife, Ann, was scheduled to address  delegates in the Tampa Bay Times Forum arena. Mrs. Romney is considered among her husband’s most valuable campaign surrogates, and after considering several options, the campaign chose to move her speech to Tuesday and move New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez to Wednesday.

Reports surfaced this afternoon that the campaign was considering pushing Mrs. Romney’s speech to Thursday, and moving Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) to Tuesday. The campaign said Rubio offered to make the switch but it preferred to leave him in his original slot, as the speaker who will offer the final nominating speech for Romney before the former Massachusetts governor formally accepts the GOP presidential nomination. Full story

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