Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 11, 2016

February 10, 2016

Trying to Make Sense of the Post-New Hampshire Republican Race


MANCHESTER, NH - FEBRUARY 09:  Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks after Primary day at his election night watch party at the Executive Court Banquet facility on February 9, 2016 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Trump was projected the Republican winner shortly after the polls closed.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The good news for Trump is that the New Hampshire result isn’t likely to narrow the field all that much and he could continue to benefit from a divided field. ( Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

If there were any doubts that Donald Trump was a serious contender in the Republican presidential race after he arguably under-performed in Iowa, New Hampshire’s results should be a wake-up call.

While one victory in the Granite State certainly doesn’t guarantee Trump the nomination, his significant margin (nearly 20 percent) isn’t easily dismissed. It’s becoming clear that he has a fairly high floor of support, although he could also have a lower ceiling than many of the other candidates.

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February 9, 2016

The $100 Jacket Politicians Use to Pretend To Be Normal People


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The barn jacket has become the go-to fashion accessory for candidates trying to appeal to the common folk. (Screengrab: David Trone for Congress)

David Trone has never run for office before, but he’s wearing the standard issue uniform of a politician in his first television ads: the barn jacket.

The wealthy Maryland Democrat thrust himself into the 8th District primary with close to a $1 million ad buy in the expensive Washington, D.C., media market. In the ad, entitled “Bet the Farm,” the owner of the Total Wine & More chain of stores dons a barn jacket to take viewers on a tour of the family farm where he grew up.

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Voters Don’t Fit Neatly Into Presidential Primary Lanes


UNITED STATES - JANUARY 27 - Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz speaks during pro-life campaign rally with former Texas Gov. Rick Perry in West Des Moines, Iowa, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Even picking up Trump supporters that listed Cruz as their second choice, that probably would not be enough for him to win the nomination. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The common narrative of the Republican presidential primary has two groups of candidates jockeying for position in establishment and anti-establishment lanes.

Under these parameters, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz would stand to be the primary, if not sole, beneficiary from Donald Trump’s departure, whether it be from losses or boredom. But that analysis is complicated by some data buried deep in the crosstabs of a pre-New Hampshire poll.

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February 8, 2016

Can Rubio Follow Romney’s Path to the Nomination?


Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio speaks at a town hall meeting February 7, 2016 in Londonderry, New Hampshire. / AFP / Don EMMERT        (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)

Rubio began his presidential campaign with more support on the right than Romney ever had. (Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images)

Is Marco Rubio a conservative who wants to overthrow the GOP establishment or a potential standard-bearer for party pragmatists?  He’s trying to be both, of course.

That strategy has been tried before – by Mitt Romney. And it worked, sort of. The question now, after Rubio’s debate performance on Saturday night, is whether Rubio can pull it off.

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February 7, 2016

Why Was Fiorina Denied Ad Time During the Debate?


STRATHAM, NH - FEBRUARY 03:  Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina waits to be introduced during a Timberland Town Hall at the Timberland Global Headquarters on February 3, 2016 in Stratham, New Hampshire. Democratic and Republican Presidential are stumping for votes throughout New Hampshire leading up to the Presidential Primary on February 9th.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Fiorina waits to be introduced during a town hall at the Timberland Global Headquarters last week in Stratham, N.H. ( Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Carly Fiorina didn’t make Saturday night’s Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire because she didn’t meet ABC’s polling threshold. But the network appeared to add insult to injury by not allowing her campaign to air television ads during the debate either. At least that’s what her campaign wanted you to believe.The public outcry on the lack of ad time appeared to start with a reporter’s tweet that was subsequently amplified by the Fiorina campaign. Full story

What the Hell Happened to Jeb Bush?


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Long political bloodlines and deep establishment connections are liabilities when Republicans are looking for something new and different. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It must be more than a decade ago when I got a glimpse of the man often referred to as “George W. Bush’s smarter, younger brother.”

Charlie Cook and I were scheduled to speak to a group of Florida business leaders during lunch, but before we began our shtick, the state’s sitting governor, Jeb Bush, was to offer some remarks.

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February 1, 2016

Ribble Retirement Creates Vulnerable GOP Open Seat


UNITED STATES - MARCH 24: Reps. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., left, and Reid Ribble, R-Wisc., leave a meeting of the House Republican Conference in the Capitol, March 24, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

With Ribble, right, out of the picture, there will be renewed Democratic interest in his seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Three-term Wisconsin Rep. Reid Ribble’s retirement leaves Republicans with yet another competitive open seat to defend.

Based on the 2008 presidential results, the 8th District looks like a great Democratic takeover opportunity. President Barack Obama carried the northeastern Wisconsin district, which includes Green Bay and Appleton, by 9 points and Democratic Rep. Steve Kagen was re-elected that same year by a similar margin.

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Revenge of the Old Fogies


UNITED STATES - JANUARY 26 - Kenny Jackson, from Knoxville, Iowa, smoke a cigarette as he dons a shaved head in support of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders before a meeting at the United Steelworkers Local 310L in Des Moines, Iowa, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Kenny Jackson, of Knoxville, Iowa, shows who he’s supporting before Sanders spoke to a meeting of the United Steelworkers Local 310L in Des Moines on Jan. 26, 2016. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

While the decision makers at news organizations from the Public Broadcasting System to CNN and the three major networks scramble to appeal to younger viewers, often by skewing younger with their hosts and commentators, Republican and Democratic voters in Iowa and nationally have embraced a remarkably “mature” handful of top tier candidates.

And by “mature,” I really mean old.

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January 31, 2016

Handicapping the GOP Race Past Iowa


NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - JANUARY 14:  Republican presidential candidates (L-R) Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) participate in the Fox Business Network Republican presidential debate at the North Charleston Coliseum and Performing Arts Center on January 14, 2016 in North Charleston, South Carolina. The sixth Republican debate is held in two parts, one main debate for the top seven candidates, and another for three other candidates lower in the current polls.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

While Trump, center, and Cruz, right, have established themselves as front-runners, Rubio has broken away from other establishment candidates. (Scott Olson/Getty Images File Photo)

Have we entered a new period in American politics, when establishment candidates on the GOP side don’t win their party’s nomination? That is the question I posed in a June 4, 2015 column. It is still a relevant question.

While I answered that it is a mistake to assume that the establishment candidate would inevitably win the GOP nomination, I doubted that combative candidates such as Donald Trump and, to a lesser extent, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, could pass the smell test for most Republicans.

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January 29, 2016

It’s Official: Put a Fork in Kasich’s Candidacy


DES MOINES, IA - JANUARY 28:  Republican presidential candidates (R-L) Ohio Governor John Kasich, Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) participate in the Fox News - Google GOP Debate January 28, 2016 at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa. Residents of Iowa will vote for the Republican nominee at the caucuses on February 1. Donald Trump, who is leading most polls in the state, decided not to participate in the debate.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Kasich, right, debates with Bush, center, and Rubio on Thursday in the Fox News-Google GOP Debate in Des Moines. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Feel free to believe that there is a glimmer of hope for Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination. If that gives you comfort or plays to your own preferences, be my guest. I certainly wouldn’t want to make you uncomfortable.

But even if you believe that, try also to understand that Kasich’s campaign is done. You can stick a fork in it. He will not be the GOP nominee for president in 2016. Recent endorsements from two New England newspapers prove that.

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January 27, 2016

Ratings Changes in 5 House Races


While voters in Iowa and New Hampshire are poised to kick off the presidential primaries, the national House landscape continues to take shape.

You can read updated analysis on 102 districts across the country in the Jan. 25 issue of The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report, but here is a quick list of ratings changes for five seats, in coordination with Roll Call.
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January 26, 2016

Hillary and Jeb: Destined to Play the Long Game?


UNITED STATES - JANUARY 24 - Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton greets the crowd during a Get Out the Caucus event with Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., at Vernon Middle School, in Marion, Iowa, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Clinton greets the crowd during a Get Out the Caucus event with Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., at in Marion, Iowa, on Sunday. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

In a previous election cycle, or maybe a previous decade, Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush might, at this point, be coasting to their parties’ nominations. This cycle, however, both resemble tragic heroes — politicians who have worked hard to prepare themselves for the presidency yet face possible rejection by voters.

Some Clinton and Bush supporters hope their candidates have an advantage that is still being underestimated: their ability to remain in their respective presidential nominating contests until voters decide to turn to them.

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Presented by Proctor and Gamble

Politicians Who Cry Wolf in Fundraising Emails


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Wyden isn’t the only member in a safe race to claim imminent doom in a fundraising email, only a recent offender. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Fundraising emails are mind-numbing. The sheer volume (both in quantity and apocalyptic language) has a way of desensitizing potential donors and reporters alike. But some pleas for money go beyond exaggerating.

Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon certainly isn’t the only lawmaker in a safe race to claim imminent electoral doom in a fundraising email, but his campaign is a recent offender.

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January 25, 2016

NRSC Names Huey IE Director


NRSC Senior Advisor Daniel Huey will be the committee’s independent expenditure director for the 2016 cycle. The committee also picked Chelsea Hawker as deputy director for the IE.

“Together with our great candidates and their state-of-the-art campaigns, Daniel and Chelsea’s talent will again prove to be our competitive advantage, said NRSC Executive Director Ward Baker in a release first obtained by Roll Call. “Our committee’s confidence that we will protect the majority stems from having an unparalleled team working relentlessly to elect a group of outstanding candidates.”

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January 19, 2016

Goldwater vs. McGovern in 2016?


UNITED STATES - JANUARY 15 - Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at an event at the Living History Farms Visitor Center in Urbandale, Iowa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2016. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

(Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

The strangest election in our lifetime continues to get stranger.

Very rarely, one party decides to make a suicidal statement about its views and values. It happened in 1964 and again in 1972, for example. But this time, both parties are at least flirting with the idea of nominating candidates who, under normal circumstances, appear unelectable in 2016. Full story

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