Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 1, 2014

Posts by Tom Williams

7 Posts

July 15, 2014

Small Victories

pelosi boehner006 071014 1 Small Victories

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Although it seems there’s not much to these pictures, it is a major victory in the effort to photograph the back-to-back weekly news conferences of Speaker John A. Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on the Hill.

The House leaders normally host a press conference every Thursday in Studio A of the Capitol Visitor Center. They speak alone from a lectern and it normally looks the same every week, except for what they’re wearing.

Pelosi’s avail is held first and usually wraps up at about 11:20 a.m., to allow some time before Boehner’s which starts at 11:30. As I was setting up a shot of her walking out, which wasn’t shaping up to be much, I realized Pelosi was ending late and Boehner would be there at any moment. I thought there was a good chance of them passing each other.

It was a long shot because if they did pass each other in the hall they would be with their respective entourages. The picture would have too many people.

I left the studio as Pelosi was still taking questions and went to the entrance of the green room, which members enter before proceeding to the studio. Boehner arrived on time. This was a good sign, because he was in the room by himself. I knew Pelosi would pass him on her way out. I figured they would at least say “hi” to each other.

Boehner was looking in the mirror and straightening himself out in preparation to go on stage. His security detail and staffers didn’t close the door or get in the way as I positioned myself closer. Pelosi finished up and entered the green room. She was preceded by two aids, who saw me and cleared out of the way.

pelosi boehner007 071014 1 Small Victories

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Boehner and Pelosi exchanged some pleasantries and I was able to make two usable frames. I was pleased to get a picture of the current and former House speaker in a candid moment together. Usually you only see leadership of opposing parties together in ceremonial settings.

It turned out to to be a good idea to try for the picture, but I got a big assist from a few staffers who realized a nice exchange was happening and allowed me to capture it.

June 16, 2014

Cantor Resignation: A Photojournalist’s Challenge

7 Cantor Resignation: A Photojournalists Challenge

Katie Patru stands outside of a news conference in the Capitol as her boss, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, announces he will be stepping down from the position. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

When House Majority Leader Eric Cantor unexpectedly lost his primary, I knew the next day would be a media zoo on Capitol Hill.

As a photographer, the first priority was to get a picture of Cantor. The most likely time to see him would be when he arrived to the Capitol. However, the one reporter who saw him told me he came in through the Senate carriage entrance. Most people were staked out at the center door of the Capitol on the East Front, which is his usual route.

The route change was an indication he didn’t want to be seen and we probably weren’t going to be able to take a picture of him. I don’t think any other press members saw him until his news conference later in the day.

Full story

By Tom Williams Posted at 2:01 p.m.
Around the Hill

June 3, 2014

On the Road: Mississippi Politics

MSPOL14 023 052814 445x292 On the Road: Mississippi Politics

Ashton Ware, 9, looks at stickers for Gene Taylor, Republican candidate for the 4th District of Mississippi in Hattiesburg on May 28. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

RollCall On the Road Logo300x300 On the Road: Mississippi PoliticsThis trip through Mississippi had a lot of challenges. Missing candidates, late schedules and zealous handlers can make it tough to get informative and creative images, and this swing through the Magnolia State might have generated more stories than art.

I was looking forward to covering Senate candidate Chris McDaniel because his campaign events sounded promising. We arrived bright and early in Philadelphia, Miss., at gas station/diner for a sit down with some locals at 7 a.m. While we were waiting, my colleague Kyle Trygstad interviewed a friendly gentleman (almost everyone I met was friendly) who told us the campaign had informed the locals that McDaniel wouldn’t be coming.

So we moved on for the next scheduled event, at an equipment auction outside of town. With the visuals of excavators, bulldozers and people bidding, I thought this had the potential to illustrate a campaign in the rural South. Soon we saw a McDaniel volunteer, who informed us that the candidate wouldn’t be attending this event either. Apparently, there was something wrong with the bus.

The two cancellations didn’t help me, but it did make a really good story for Kyle.

Full story

By Tom Williams Posted at 11:10 a.m.
On the Road

May 23, 2014

Meeting Real Life Heroes

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Retired Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole, a member of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders, talks with Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio., about legislation awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the group. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

I had the privilege of photographing some World War II vets this week. One 98-year-old gentleman was a co-pilot in the initial bombing runs over Japan. He was retired Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole, a member of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders, who is originally from Ohio. The Raiders were B-25 bomber pilots who volunteered for the first offense action against Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The 93-year-old man pictured below jumped into Normandy on D-Day. He works a few days a week at the World War II museum in New Orleans.

1 Meeting Real Life Heroes

Tom Brokaw and World War II veteran Tom Blakey, 93, of New Orleans, talk before a screening of “D-Day 3D: Normandy 1944,” which Brokaw narrated, at the IMAX theater in the the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

When you’re around the WWII vets, they are kind of treated like celebrities. People lined up to talk and take pictures with them. Personally, I am in awe that these now-frail, old men basically saved the world.

After photographing someone you have to get their information — name, age, etc. — and that usually leads into some conversation. So covering vets is fun because I do a little interview to find out about their experiences.

The Army vet below served a unit that helped liberate Paris. I insinuated that the Parisian ladies must have thought that was pretty cool. He responded in the affirmative with big smile and eyebrow raise.

2 Meeting Real Life Heroes

Retired Army Lt. Col. Alfred H.M. Shehab, 90, arrives to a Veteran’s Day ceremony in Maryland’s Crownsville Veterans Cemetery. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)


Meet Louis. His family started Cantania Bakery on North Capitol Street. I lived in the neighborhood and was fascinated that a bakery that specialized in Italian hard rolls (get them at Litteri’s and Mangialardo’s) was on a pretty blighted strip. When I asked him about it he gave a simple answer — the family started the place in 1932, when the neighborhood was mostly Jewish and Italian.

He served as a medic in Europe and volunteered for the war so his younger sibling didn’t have to go.

3 Meeting Real Life Heroes

Louie Caruso, 94, one of the founders of Catania Bakery on North Capitol Street, poses for a picture in the establishment. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

This picture below was taken near the Wall at the Vietnam Memorial. These two Vietnam vets hadn’t seen each other since one of them was flown off the battlefield in 1967. They just happened to run into each other. Both men were members of the Army’s Wolf Hounds.

(Please excuse the quality of this photo. It was taken in 2003 with an early generation of Nikon digital cameras. I can’t remember which one. Digital cameras didn’t produce nice images until the Nikon D3 in 2007. It’s also composed poorly and about a foot out of focus. It was shot with the aperture at f/5 which allowed all that crappy background to stay in focus. Now I shoot pretty much wide open to throw the background out of focus.)

4 Meeting Real Life Heroes

William “Easy” Smith, left, hugs his friend Luther Ingram near the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial on Veteran’s Day. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

This gentleman arrived with a busload of vets at the WWII memorial and walked through a crowd with a lot of handshakes and cheering. I don’t have a story with this, I just think he has a cool look with the shades and jean jacket.

5 Meeting Real Life Heroes

U.S. Navy World War II veteran Rocky Tankersley, 92, from Kansas City, Mo., greets youngsters who were on hand to welcome Honor Flight vets to the World War II Memorial on Veterans Day. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

May 16, 2014

Police Week: We Remember

cop Police Week: We Remember

Ofc. Marina Molina of the New York Police Department breaks down as she listens to the names of fallen officers from the state of New York during the 21st Annual National Peace Officers Memorial Service, held on May 15, 2002. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo) Click on the photo to make it larger.

People were very emotional at the first Peace Officer Memorial after 9/11. The thing I remember is that Ofc. Molina held her salute throughout the reading of the New York officers killed in the attacks, with the majority being from the Port Authority and the NYPD. Most put their hands down at some point. I kept thinking she physically couldn’t keep her arm up because it would be impossible to hold — but she did.

In 2001, 233 law enforcement officers gave their lives in the line of duty. Of those 233 Officers, 71 were killed in the September 11th terrorist attacks against the United States.

May 13, 2014

My View of West Virginia

photo 2 My View of West Virginia

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

The West Virginia House and Senate campaigns officially start after the primary elections on Tuesday. I was sent to cover some of the candidates in April and caught some great moments.


Full story

May 9, 2014

How I Found Metta World Peace on the Hill

mental health007 050714 445x296 How I Found Metta World Peace on the Hill

Reps. Grace F. Napolitano, left, and Tim Ryan, far right, talk with former NFL player Keith Mitchell and NBA player Metta World Peace on the House steps. The athletes and other mental-health advocates were on the Hill to bring attention to National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

I was in the Capitol on Wednesday, making my way to the House side for an event. I decided to walk across the East Front — just in case I ran into something. It would have been just as easy to walk inside, but you never know what you’re going to find outside. There was a big group gathered on House steps with members of Congress talking and taking pictures. I saw some stylish women and I thought they might be famous, so I stopped to inquire. They weren’t, but I was told that there were former pro athletes in the group so I knew that would make a picture if I could cut though the people milling about, get to the principles and line it up.

I honed in on Metta World Peace because he was the most famous of the bunch and I knew if I made a good frame, he would be in it. And I knew I needed him with a member. I shot about 30 frames of him in various stages of conversation, but none worked because the people around him made it messy.

He and another athlete, Keith Mitchell (I had to ask him who he was — hey, they wear helmets in the NFL) finally drifted to where the background was clean and the Dome was in sight, and they were talking to members. I realized that combination was the best I was going to get, so I fired off another round of frames and got some nice interaction with everyone clearly visible. The guy with the camera jumped in for a few seconds and initially annoyed me, but I think it’s fine because he isn’t blocking anything and also helps add to the energy of the scene.

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