Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 31, 2014

September 2, 2012

Checking in With Camp Freddy in Charlotte

HOH checked in Saturday morning with Billy Morrison, guitarist for the rock supergroup Camp Freddy. The band played the Republican National Convention last week and will kick off the Democratic National Convention on Monday night.

The sort-of-jam band features guitarist Billy Morrison (Billy Idol and the Cult), lead guitarist Dave Navarro (Jane’s Addiction and the Red Hot Chili Peppers), drummer Matt Sorum (Guns ‘n Roses and Velvet Revolver), lead singer Dovovan Leitch (actor) with Chris Chaney (Jane’s Addiction) slapping the bass. Hallmarks of a Camp Freddy show: There are at least three band members at any given time and there will be several surprise guests. Full story

By Neda Semnani Posted at 10:40 a.m.

September 1, 2012

Clint Eastwood In Reverse

Dear Republican National Convention/GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney:

Just a quick note to reaffirm that the most memorable part of your closing act has nothing to do with any platform/campaign promises but rather the (invisible) company you keep.

Clint Eastwood In Reverse

(Courtesy Empty and Meaningless)

(What if their little stunt leads to empty polling places in November?)


August 31, 2012

Former Democratic Staffer Charged With Assaults

Capitol Hill veterans might remember Donny Ray Williams Jr. as a 10-year Congressional staffer. That was in better times.

The 36-year-old, who was the staff director of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on State, Local and Private Sector Preparedness and Integration, was indicted on Tuesday in D.C. Superior Court on 10 counts, most of which relate to first- and second-degree assaults he allegedly perpetrated between July and December of 2010. He pleaded not guilty today. Full story

Hey, Capitol Hill: You’ve Got Crabs!

Good news for those folks in town this Labor Day Weekend or touching down in between conventions. Sonoma has crabs!

Hey, Capitol Hill: Youve Got Crabs!

Sonoma on Capitol Hill is hosting an all-you-can-eat crab feast on Sunday. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

Full story

Overheard on the Campaign Trail

“I’m usually packin’, so I need a two-X.”

— A person who, after attending a veterans lunch Thursday in Abingdon, Va., for Senatorial candidate George Allen, was looking at tea party T-shirts being sold by another person who attended the lunch.

Every Day, Washington, D.C., Is Eastwooding

Every Day, Washington, D.C., Is Eastwooding

A picture of Georgetown's Duke Ellington School of the Arts' landmark Adirondack chair Eastwooding. (Photo Courtesy "Prince of Petworth")

During his speech at the Republican National Convention on Thursday, director Clint Eastwood spoke to an empty chair symbolizing President Barack Obama. Across the Internet, this practice is now called “Eastwooding.”

In Washington, D.C., we’re a city of big chairs, which have long represented any person we’ve wanted them to.

Full story

Pedal Through the Conventions in Bus-Cycles

For all the squishy, closeness of the conventions, getting around is always difficult.

Public transport is a pain, Uber limos have a wait and, at least in Tampa, Fla., a $50 minimum. Your co-workers have bogarted the rental, and walking is for hobos and coastal elites.

Full story

August 30, 2012

Dirty Harry’s RNC Speech Makes Twitter’s Day

TAMPA, Fla. — GOP convention mystery speaker Clint Eastwood may have inadvertently distracted web crawlers from staying tuned for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech.

The grizzled Hollywood icon elected to bypass the jugular and shoot for America’s funnybone, conducting a somewhat rambling and often bizarro conversation with an empty chair theoretically occupied by absentee President Barack Obama.

While some attendees on the convention floor seemed to lap up the unscripted presentation, others were seen nervously checking their watches. Reaction from the Twittersphere ranged from bemusement to sympathy.

Critics pummeled the former mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea with all kinds of colorful commentary.

Meanwhile, an @InvisibleObama account rapidly amassed more followers than your average Member of Congress.

Not So Usual Suspect Stumps for GOP

TAMPA, Fla. – Actor Stephen Baldwin wants everyone to know that all of Tinsel Town is not automatically in the bag for President Barack Obama.

Not So Usual Suspect Stumps for GOP

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The evangelical Christian arm of the Baldwin clan was floating around the CNN Grill in Tampa, posing for pictures with starry-eyed fans and chatting with roving reporters.

Baldwin told HOH he’s psyched to hear Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s keynote address, but doesn’t believe there’s any heavy lifting to do.

“I don’t really think he needs to say too much … [I] think things are going so well,” he surmised, adding, “I just hope the American public sees him as somebody relateable.”

The born-again entertainer is Team Romney now, but suggested that no one should write-off former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.) just yet.

“I think it’s unfortunate that somebody like Santorum couldn’t have gotten the traction that some Christian folks had hoped. [But] the economy is the most important thing,” he said.

Of all the pending speeches, Baldwin said “mystery speaker” Clint Eastwood can make the most difference.

“I just think it’s going to show a whole lot of Americans and whole lot of voters that Hollywood isn’t just completely all on one side,” he told HOH.

Ayla Brown Serenades Tennessee GOP

Ayla Brown Serenades Tennessee GOP

Ayla Brown, daughter of Sen. Scott Brown, performs at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday night. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

TAMPA, Fla. — Fresh from her stint on the Republican National Convention main stage — our spotters tell us she ran through the “Star Spangled Banner” twice during warm ups (just to be sure) — Ayla Brown, an American Idol alumna and the daughter of Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown, brought her six-string to Tampa’s Glazers Children Museum to entertain members of the Tennessee delegation.

The aspiring country singer played four songs for the appreciative admirers, shared stories about her college basketball days (making sure to heap praise on the University of Tennessee Lady Vols) and plugged an upcoming album of patriotic recordings. She’s entering the studio Sept. 13.

Out of Gas

TAMPA, Fla. — Methinks this GOP conventioneer has had just about enough.

Out of Gas

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

From Empty Promises to Full Bellies

From Empty Promises to Full Bellies

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

TAMPA, Fla. — “Would you vote for me?”

The plaintive plea came not from GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, newly minted vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan (Wis.) or any other rising Republican star, but from a down-and-out exotic dancer running a grass-roots campaign to win a scheduled “Sarah Palin lookalike” contest at a local strip joint.

According to a number of absolutely despondent hospitality workers, times were tough enough before the Republicans co-opted their town to have a grand ol’ party.

Things are downright miserable now.

Smothering police presence (think: dozen-plus deputies in full riot gear on every other street corner) and natural geographic barriers — state delegations and attending media are scattered between Tampa, Clearwater (due west) and St. Petersburg (several miles to the south) — have blindsided businesses that fully expected to clean up this week.

Of course, some folks are doing better than others. Full story

Unfortunate Photo Crop of the Day

Updated 5:10 p.m. | “We Built It” has been the rallying cry of the GOP during this week’s Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.

The phrase — a dig at President Barack Obama’s comments about American infrastructure helping aid the success of businesses across the country — has been splashed across the Tampa Bay Times Forum, where the convention is being held, and has been injected into almost every speech.

Updated 5:10 p.m.

And one Internet prankster thought he’d have a little fun with the “We Built It” craze.

A photo — posted on the left-wing blog Left in Alabama’s Facebook page — shows the slogan in oversized capital letters conveniently pictured under the national debt calculator, which reads $15 trillion.

It turns out, the photo isn’t real. But that hasn’t stopped hundreds of people from falling for the prank by sharing it, liking it and commenting on it. Even your HOH team was fooled.

D’oh on our part!

August 29, 2012

Vermin Supreme: A Man for All Ages

TAMPA, Fla. — While everyone inside the Republican National Convention hall drones on about how GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney is the only hope for our collective future, electoral gadfly Vermin Supreme is chomping at the bit to lead us into the past.

We admire Supreme’s moxie.

But it seems more likely that we’ll all be vying for affordable plots on ex-Speaker Newt Gingrich’s fantasy “Moon Base” WAY before humanity experiences a Holocaust-free time line.

Ralph Nader Makes a Pitch for the Luddite Vote, Blasts GPO’s Net Focus

Serial presidential candidate Ralph Nader has found a new cause: trying to shame the Government Printing Office and the Joint Committee on Printing into forgetting what century it is.

The consumer gadfly thinks the government is focusing too much on online information at the expense of print.

“The Joint Committee is so inert that it would be considered un-newsworthy to write about them, but they’re the cause of many of the problems afflicting GPO and limiting ready and affordable access to public information,” Nader told Roll Call in an interview this afternoon.

Nader’s Center for Study of Responsive Law released a report today concluding that 50 million poor, elderly and rural residents are being “left behind” and “increasingly disconnected from their government” in the Internet age. The report, titled “The Peoples’ Printer: Time for a Reawakening,” recommends the GPO get a funding boost so it can print more copies of bills, hearing transcripts, the Congressional Record and other documents and sell them to distributors.

Nader says the GPO has played a vital role in disseminating government information for 150 years, but the printing office’s recent emphasis on providing information online “threatens the GPO’s self-proclaimed mission to ‘keep America informed.’”

Full disclosure: Nader holds a personal grudge against electronic reading materials. Full story

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