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

Posts by Stuart Rothenberg

269 Posts

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.

Full story

February 7, 2016

What the Hell Happened to Jeb Bush?


bush_event138_012316

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

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.

Full story

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.

Full story

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.

Full story

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

January 10, 2016

Can Rubio Win Even If He Loses?


Rubio does not fit the typical Republican presidential candidate demographic. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rubio does not fit the typical Republican presidential candidate demographic. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Can a candidate win the Republican presidential nomination without winning one of the first three contests – Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina? We may just find out this year.

History, of course, has already provided something of an answer. Democrat Bill Clinton didn’t win a contest in 1992 until March 3rd in the Georgia primary. He had already “lost” the Iowa caucuses, the New Hampshire primary, the Maine caucuses and the South Dakota primary. (Fortunately for Clinton, no one in the field won more than one of the first four contests, and his solid second-place finish in the Granite State was regarded as a  victory of sorts.)

Full story

January 6, 2016

Predicting the Future and Other Delusions


WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 23: Manager Matt Williams #9 of the Washington Nationals argues with home plate umpire Mark Ripperger #90 after Jonathan Papelbon (not pictured) was thrown out of the game in the ninth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Nationals Park on September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Matt Williams, manager of the world champion Washington Nationals, former manager of the Washington Nationals, argues with home plate umpire Mark Ripperger in a September game. (Greg Fiume/Getty Images File Photo)

Barry Ritholtz, a financial planner and asset manager, writes a regular column in The Washington Post’s business section. I read him religiously, and his last column of 2015, on financial prognosticators, offered important observations for anyone interested in politics, sports or Wall Street.

I include all three subjects because they have so much in common. And more important, all three are covered the same way by the media.

Full story

January 3, 2016

Will ‘Electability’ Sink Trump?


BILOXI, MS - JANUARY 02:  Supporters of the Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump wait to hear him speak at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum on January 2, 2016 in Biloxi, Mississippi. Trump, who has strong support from Southern voters, spoke to thousands in the small Mississippi city on the Gulf of Mexico. Trump continues to split the GOP establishment with his populist and controversial views on immigration, muslims and some of his recent comments on women.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Trump supporters line up to hear him speak at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, Mississippi, on Saturday. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Most national polls show Republican frontrunner Donald Trump trailing likely Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and faring worse than other GOP hopefuls against her.

That raises an obvious question: Could doubts about Trump’s strength in a general election derail his bid for the Republican nomination, or would GOP caucus attendees and primary voters simply ignore poll numbers that suggest Trump would be a risky bet in November?

Full story

December 17, 2015

And the GOP Nominee Will Be…


UNITED STATES - JUNE 18: Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., prepares to address the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority conference which featured speeches by conservative politicians at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, June 18, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

What are Paul’s chances of being the GOP nominee? (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

RealClearPolitics political analyst Sean Trende is one of the clear-eyed, analytic observers of American politics, and I usually find myself nodding in agreement when I read his invariably thoughtful stuff.

That didn’t happen when I was reading his Dec. 10 piece, “Laying Odds on the GOP Presidential Race.”

Full story

December 13, 2015

Stu in Review: Dumb Stuff I Wrote This Year


UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 1: Democratic Presidential candidate Martin O'Malley speaks to reporters as he leaves the House Democrats' caucus meeting in the Capitol Visitor Center on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rothenberg jumped the shark when he dismissed Sanders and identified O’Malley as a potential alternative to Clinton. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When you write dozens of columns each year, as I have been doing for a long time (some people think far too long), you look back at some of them with embarrassment.

Sure, there are plenty of columns of which I remain proud and that look thoughtful, even prescient (“prescient” is a word I try to use at least once each year to show that I did study my SAT words many decades ago) months and years after I penned them. But that doesn’t excuse the clunkers.

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December 10, 2015

GOP’s Brand In More Trouble Than Its Candidates


Donald Trump 2016 is xxxx. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

An ongoing civil war in the GOP, especially one in which Trump was a combatant, would be a heavy burden for any Republican nominee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“Political brands are important,” I wrote more than a year and a half ago in a lede that was much less interesting than the entire column. Now, though, I am wondering whether political party brands are so different from soap brands or over-the-counter medicine brands, which loyal consumers often stick with no matter what the competition is selling.

Full story

December 6, 2015

Rothenberg’s End of the Year Awards


What if Trump won. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It has been almost 20 years since I started writing a best/worst end of the year column. Since I’m committed to doing them until I finally get one right, here goes this year’s attempt.

Weirdest Political Development of 2015 Full story

December 2, 2015

Who Is the Second Most Vulnerable Senate Incumbent in 2016?


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Johnson’s re-election race, along with those of Ayotte and Toomey, are at the core of the battle for control of the Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There is little doubt about the identity of the most vulnerable senator seeking re-election next year. It’s Illinois Republican Mark S. Kirk, who hopes to win a second term in a very Democratic state in a presidential year. His prospects are bleak.

But who ranks just behind Kirk as the second most vulnerable senator up next year?

Full story

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