Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
March 6, 2015

January 24, 2014

Flying High With Former N.H. Sen. Bob Smith

Ex-Sen. Scott P. Brown may not have officially announced his candidacy for New Hampshire’s Senate seat, but former Sen. Bob Smith has — sort of.

Flying High With Former N.H. Sen. Bob Smith

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Republican lawmaker has filed papers for the New Hampshire Senate seat he held for 12 years — though he hasn’t exactly announced his candidacy formally.

He is, however, hitting the D.C. circuit in search of money and support. And HOH had the unplanned pleasure of sitting next to him on his return flight from Baltimore to Manchester, N.H., on Thursday.

If you ask Smith, he has every intention of beating sitting New Hampshire Democrat Jeanne Shaheen and fellow Senate alumnus Brown.

“I’m not running for my health. I’m serious,” Smith told HOH over the course of a roughly 45-minute discussion that ranged from the current race to the sheer magnitude of the universe. (He couldn’t seem to shake a recent Discovery Channel special on the solar system.) Full story

Boehner Waxes About Surly Drunks, His Tan

Speaker John A. Boehner finally graced “The Tonight Show” with an interview on Thursday, sharing bits and pieces about his upbringing, his famous tan and his high-pressure post with outgoing host Jay Leno.

The Ohio Republican seemed perfectly at ease on the late-night gabfest — he brought a hanky in case things got too heavy — casually chitchatting with Leno during a quick moving segment.

When probed about how his early life informed the man he is today, Boehner joked that learning how to negotiate with an army of siblings and, later, surly drunks, has proven integral to handling his day job.

And while he suggested that the caucus is largely unified behind its overarching goal, the GOP leader conceded there are still plenty of stumbling blocks to contend with along the way.


January 23, 2014

Overheard: Louie Gohmert on ‘These Young Women’

“The left tried to say I was attacking single moms, and if you listen to what I said, the whole point was it bugged the fire outta me that these young women, and the stories were usually very, very similar, they got bored with high school, and somebody’d say, ‘Hey, drop out, the government will send you a check for every child you can have out of wedlock.’ They have one child, and they find out, that’s really not enough to live on, have another and another.”

— Rep. Louie Gohmert on Fox News Thursday

By Jason Dick Posted at 1:36 p.m.

Gainer Doesn’t Want Hacks to End Up All Wet

Believe it or not, fellow congressional reporters, the Capitol Police are watching out for us every step of the way.

So sayeth the office of Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer, which took to Twitter Thursday to build its case against distracted walking by offering up the pratfalliest of warnings:

“Just wanting to keep everyone safe and avoid this,” Senate staff shared via social media.

Where were you all when Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., needed a spotter?


January 22, 2014

Vote for Your Favorite Capitol Quip

Vote for Your Favorite Capitol Quip

The five finalists for this week’s caption contest are ready for your votes.

Using the comments section below, vote for your favorite caption until 5 p.m. ET Thursday.

Here are this week’s finalists:

  • We may be trailing, but we’re gaining on you.
  • I know we’ve had our differences, but can we stop for a bathroom break?
  • This is the Tea Party! Please pull over. You have exceeded the spending limit.
  • We were expecting AAA.
  • Drop the baggage and come out of the bus with your hands out of the taxpayers’ pockets!

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on Jan. 26 and in the following print edition of Roll Call. The contest winner will receive a signed color print of his or her Capitol Quip cartoon from the cartoonist, R.J. Matson.

By Jason Dick Posted at 3:04 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Leaders Line Up to Critique SOTU

President Barack Obama will deliver his latest State of the Union address (now with online Easter eggs!) to the nation on Jan. 28, an annual temperature-taking that has spawned a cottage industry of alternative evaluations.

Leaders Line Up to Critique SOTU

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Academics from the free-market-loving Cato Institute aren’t even waiting to hear what “44” has to say this year, offering up their pre-buttal of POTUS’ read on the yearly status report on Friday. The “Libertarian State of the Union” luncheon (food courtesy of Cato) is scheduled to take place beginning at noon in Rayburn B-369, and will feature in-depth discussions about politically charged issues (Affordable Care Act, NSA information tracking, the congressional budget process) by Cato contributors Chris Edwards (tax policy), Julian Sanchez (technology/national security) and Ilya Shapiro (constitutional studies).

Interested parties can RSVP to attend in person ( or catch the fireworks on

Utah Republican Mike Lee will follow in the footsteps of Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. — last year’s mouthpiece — by delivering the “official” tea party response for 2014.

“For the Tea Party movement, 2014 is not just about taking back the Senate, but it is also about putting forward conservative ideas that will allow for America to prosper,” Tea Party Express Chairwoman Amy Kremer announced in a release.

Lee is scheduled to share his undoubtedly blistering assessment of Obama’s performance at the First Amendment Lounge at the National Press Club (529 14th St. NW) immediately following the president’s speech. Casual observers can watch from home via

The Green Party is hosting a virtual shindig. The group is planning to broadcast the entire SOTU online and will then toss its 2012 presidential candidate, Dr. Jill Stein, into the mix for a real-time Q&A about everything the country will have just heard. Sign up to participate via the GP Facebook page.

The Log Cabin Republicans are keeping a low profile. No marquee speakers or frenzied news conferences. But an aide tells HOH the group does expect to post something on its website and blast out an official response once Obama signs off for the evening.

Overheard: Charm City Mayor Charms Cable News

“Listen, I’m a big fan of the DNC chair. She has been a friend and a mentor and I was extremely flattered. It — it doesn’t feel much different. My daughter doesn’t think I’m much different.”

— Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, speaking on MSNBC Wednesday morning about Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s recent comments that the mayor is a rising star.

By Jason Dick Posted at 1:26 p.m.
media, Overheards

McCain: Richard Sherman’s a ‘Loudmouth From Seattle’

It wasn’t all serious business when Sen. John McCain showed up on a local Phoenix radio show Tuesday.

Arizona’s senior senator made sure to call out the Seattle Seahawks’ trash-talking cornerback Richard Sherman as a “loudmouth” and underscored his grudge against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

McCain said he was picking Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos over Sherman’s Seahawks in the Super Bowl.

“I think Denver. You know, everybody is such a Manning fan,” McCain told KFYI radio. “That loudmouth from Seattle sort of epitomizes the Seattle team to me. … I’m sure I’m going to get in trouble for that one, too.”

Full story

January 21, 2014

A Capitol Police Crackdown on 24/7 Texting?

We suspect most people are treading extra carefully now that D.C. streets and sidewalks are slowly but surely disappearing beneath a blanket of steadily falling snow.

A Capitol Police Crackdown on 24/7 Texting?

Kirsten Gillibrand, distracted walker? (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo.)" src="" width="445" height="305" /> Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, distracted walker? (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

But Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer wishes everyone — particularly social-media-obsessed reporters — would be just as mindful about digital distractions.

A colleague told HOH that a Capitol Police officer recently chided her for texting while on the move, a practice pretty much mandated by the confluence of rolling deadlines and a desire to be first among fleet-fingered fellow tweeters. Other reporters have, apparently, also been warned about racing around with their faces glued to lightly glowing screens.

Per Gainer, the situation has not yet reached actionable status. But he certainly sounds disappointed by the state of media affairs.

“In general there is no policy against distracted walking but one misses so many opportunities to meet and talk with others, explore the beauty of the Capitol corridors or report suspicious activity to say nothing of the increased likelihood of colliding with another distracted walker,” Gainer warned in an email.

He went on to wax philosophic about the profession as a whole, arguing, “Isn’t there a basic journalistic ethos demanding eagle-eye vigilance while out and about, walking the beat therefore requiring no rule but only self actualization?”

(Um, yeah. What he said.)

Capitol Hill Fox Flouts Snow Day

D.C. denizens may be cowering in fear ahead of Tuesday’s prospectively apocalyptic snowstorm, but not the Capitol Hill Fox.

Capitol Hill Fox Flouts Snow Day

(Courtesy HOH tipster)

A tipster spotted the furry rascal wandering around a desolate looking Hains Point.

“Foxes don’t take snow days,” our scout suggested, adding that the critter appeared to be favoring its right rear paw.

View Capitol Hill Fox sightings in a larger map

Not that we’re surprised by the show of bravado.

The CHF did say the storm wouldn’t deter it from making its own fun today:



Stay warm, buddy!

Santorum, Duggars to Double Team 2014 March for Life

Updated 1:55 p.m. | 2012 presidential hopeful Rick Santorum will be back in Washington on Wednesday to rally the faithful — including assorted members of the ever-expanding Duggar clan — during the 41st annual March for Life.

Jim Bob Duggar, the most procreatingest patriarch on TLC, is expected to join Team Santorum for a meet-and-greet with Patriot Voices, the political action group founded by the former Republican senator from Pennsylvania. The pre-march confab, now in its second year, is scheduled to take place from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill (400 New Jersey Ave. NW).

Josh Duggar, the Arkansas ex-pat who relocated to the D.C. area last year to become executive director of the Family Research Council’s Action arm, is also expected to participate in the event at the Hyatt. Full story

January 20, 2014

Howard Dean Pokes Fun at ‘Dean Scream’

It’s rare that a public figure can poke fun at himself. Rarer still to do so as a means of political fundraising. But former Vermont Gov. and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean did just that, using the 10th anniversary of his full bull-goose looney “Yeeaarrgghh” speech after falling short in the Iowa caucuses to plug Democracy for America, the successor of his Dean for America organization.

Howard Dean Pokes Fun at Dean Scream

(Courtesy Democracy for America)

The ask, in emailed form, even provides the text of the Dean Scream:

“It’s hard to believe it was ten years ago tonight. On this day a decade ago — January 19, 2004 — I gave one of the most famous speeches in the history of American politics. Or perhaps “infamous” would be more accurate.

I’m guessing you might remember the climactic moment of that night, as I enthusiastically rallied my presidential campaign supporters in the aftermath of a disappointing finish in the Iowa Caucus:

‘Not only are we going to New Hampshire, Tom Harkin, we’re going to South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico! And we’re going to California and Texas and New York! And we’re going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan, and then we’re going to Washington, D.C., to take back the White House!


While the ‘Dean Scream’ became fodder for late night comedians, including a hilarious version by Dave Chappelle I still laugh about, I also feel very proud of the state-by-state preamble to my unforgettable rallying cry. Because, when I said we were heading to New Hampshire and South Carolina and Oklahoma… and to Washington, DC to take back the White House… it turns out I wasn’t kidding.”

Dean goes on to say this was kinda sorta the start of the 50-state strategy he hung his hat on as DNC chairman, a position he was elected to in 2005. The next year, Democrats retook the House and Senate, and in 2008, the White House.

But let’s give it to Dean. Most solicitations for political money are either painfully earnest or a bit of a snoozer. He had the moxie to take one of the most cringe-worthy moments in American politics and OWN it.

And, for what it’s worth, here’s the Chappelle skit:


January 19, 2014

Who’s Driving The Bus? | Capitol Quip

Whos Driving The Bus? | Capitol Quip

Despite the partisan gridlock of the past few years, as well as the opposition of conservatives, the recent $1 trillion-plus omnibus appropriations bill sailed through Congress. What happened? This brings us to this week’s Capitol Quip.

Send us a caption for this week’s contest by leaving it in the comments section. Editors will pick five finalists on Wednesday, and everyone can vote for the winner through Thursday.

To see our previous winners, check us out on Pinterest.

By Jason Dick Posted at 7:05 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Clearing Out The Cupboard | Capitol Quip

Clearing Out The Cupboard | Capitol Quip

Thanks to the many readers who contributed captions for last week’s Capitol Quip contest. Here’s the winning entry, as voted by readers of Heard on the Hill.

The winner will receive a signed color print suitable for framing from Roll Call cartoonist R.J. Matson. Check out our past winners on Pinterest.

By Jason Dick Posted at 7 p.m.
Capitol Quip

January 17, 2014

Capitol Hill Fox: Our Once and Future King

We’re not ready to plunge into a Whovian wormhole and declare that the Capitol Hill Fox has been around for centuries. But stunning new evidence could send others spiraling.

The Architect of the Capitol’s unearthing of a faded photo of a man cradling a fox in front of the Capitol back in 1919 is just the latest piece of the mind-scrambling puzzle that is the CHF.

There are some who believe the red-haired rascal may be new in town. Administration types suspect the CHF is not working alone.

And still others are totally confused about the seemingly misdirected media worship. Full story

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