Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 4, 2015

August 28, 2012

Orrin Hatch: Republicans Hurt By Todd Akin, Still Have Shot at Majority

Sen. Orrin Hatch

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

TAMPA, Fla. — Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) conceded in an interview this morning that Rep. Todd Akin’s controversial remarks have endangered GOP prospects in the Missouri Senate race, along with the party’s chances of winning control of the Senate this fall.

“We’re going to take back the Senate, I believe, but it’s going to be very close,” Hatch said this morning. “It could go either way. I have to acknowledge that. The Akin race has hurt us to a degree.” Full story

Missouri: Anti-Abortion Group Launches TV Ad Against Obama

The Susan B. Anthony List, a group that advocates against abortion rights, announced this morning the launch of a television ad airing in Missouri that denounces President Barack Obama’s record on the issue.

The ad features a woman named Melissa Ohden, who tells a story of surviving an abortion. Full story

Black Caucus Slams Artur Davis Ahead of Speech

Former Democratic Rep. Artur Davis is drawing criticism for his decision to speak at the Republican National Convention. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are accusing former Rep. Artur Davis of “transparent opportunism” ahead of his speech to the Republican National Convention, scheduled for this evening.

Coming four years after the African-American and former Democrat served as a co-chairman of President Barack Obama’s campaign, Davis’ conversion to the GOP has clearly stung his former colleagues, who sounded off in an open letter released to the media this morning. In 2008, Davis seconded Obama’s nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

The letter, signed by 14 CBC members, accuses Davis of distorting Obama’s record and flip-flopping on “core principles you once held dear.”

“We can only conclude that, rather than a true conversion, your actions are the result of a nakedly personal and political calculation or simmering anguish after failing to secure the Democratic nomination for governor of the State of Alabama in 2010,” the members wrote.

Full story

Connecticut: New Polls Give Parties Mixed Senate, House News

Rep. Christopher Murphy is in a more competitive Senate race than once thought. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Two polls released today offer mixed news for Republicans and Democrats in competitive Connecticut Senate and House races.

A new poll commissioned by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee surveying the 5th district House race showed former state Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D) had a 9-point lead over state Sen. Andrew Roraback (R). Forty-four percent of those polled said they intended to vote for Esty, while 35 percent said they would back Roraback. Full story

August 27, 2012

GOP Sees No More Schedule Changes

Palm trees blow in the wind and rain outside the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

Republicans say they don’t intend any additional changes to the convention schedule as Tropical Storm Isaac heads to landfall along the Gulf Coast.

Republican strategist Russ Schriefer told reporters in a conference call today that the GOP will soon release a minute-by-minute guide to the convention lineup.

He said there are no major changes to the GOP’s message this week, and he spotlighted the speeches of Ann Romney, Chris Christie and Rick Santorum on Tuesday night.

Schriefer said Santorum would talk about the fight to pass welfare reform in the 1990s. Welfare reform has become a key plank in the Romney campaign, keying off the Obama administration showing a willingness to grant flexibility to governors in meeting work requirements. Full story

NRCC Leadership Weighs In on House Races

Rep. Steve Scalise (center), vice chairman for recruitment for the NRCC, talks with reporters at the Westin Tampa Harbour Island on Monday after a briefing on the impact of the Romney-Ryan ticket on House races. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

TAMPA, Fla. — The leadership of the National Republican Congressional Committee briefed reporters this afternoon and gave some hints of its fall campaign strategy.

The committee’s executive director, Guy Harrison, and recruitment chairman, Rep. Steve Scalise (La.), conveyed optimism for the fall, but they also showed some leg on campaign strategy. When asked whether Republicans intended to use House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as a foil in their campaign, Harrison indicated that President Barack Obama, rather, would be their primary target.

“I think people realize that Obama is affecting the economy a lot more than Nancy Pelosi,” Harrison said.

In the 2010 midterm elections, Republicans attempted to tie Democratic candidates to then-Speaker Pelosi to a degree not seen previously in American politics. The tactic proved quite successful.

Harrison was also dismissive of Democratic claims that Rep. Todd Akin’s comments about rape and abortion would cause GOP Congressional candidates political problems. Akin is the Republican Senate nominee in Missouri.

“You’ve seen a majority of our party say it’s important for him to step down,” Harrison said.”If [Democrats] want to talk about that in two months, feel free. We’re going to be talking about the economy.”

Full story

Operation Rescue: No Votes for Mitt Romney Until Todd Akin Gets Cash

The leader of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue wants GOP delegates to hold off on formally nominating Mitt Romney until funding is promised to the Senate campaign of Rep. Todd Akin (Mo.).

“Heaven sent a hurricane to hold off Gov. Romney’s coronation, so today we’re urging pro-life GOP delegates to abstain from any voting on Romney’s nomination until all GOP financial support for Todd Akin is reinstated and details of Romney’s income tax returns in connection with Bain’s Stericycle investment have been made public,” Operation Rescue President Troy Newman said.

Stericycle is a medical waste disposal company in which Bain Capital invested, according to Mother Jones. Other reports have said Romney had no specific connection to the investment in the company. Full story

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

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

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

(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

(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

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

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