- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Building the Romney Iowa team

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney was tuning his Iowa campaign machine today, adding Iowa House Speaker Brent Siegrist as an advisor to the exploratory committee.

“Iowa is a critical state, and we are building a strong organization with talented and experienced people,” said Mr. Romney, former Massachusetts governor. “With the help of this experienced leadership, I know our exploratory committee will continue to have a strong presence in Iowa.”

Last week, Mr. Romney toured Iowa, home of the first Republican presidential caucus Jan. 21, 2008.

Mr. Siegrist, a Council Bluffs Republican, joins Iowa State House Republican Leader Christopher Rants and Gentry Collins, the campaigns state director who formerly served as executive director of the Iowa Republican Party.

— S.A. Miller, Capitol Hill corresponent, The Washington Times

Moving on

After more than two years working for a congressman under a cloud of ethical suspicion, Melanie Roussell is calling it quits.

Roussell was Rep. Bill Jefferson’s communications director for the past two and half years, handling press that by all accounts was unfavorable.

Last spring, Roussell managed to handle the sordid affair with grace and charm, even managing to nab a coveted “Most Beautiful People” nod.

“This has been an exciting, challenging, and inspirational journey for me,” she said in a statement issued last night announcing she is “Moving on.”

And she’s going out with a smile.

“I could not have imagined a better boss, better co-workers or a better district to represent,” she said.

In her farewell note, Roussell thanked her colleagues and members of the press for their “confidence, trust and patience in times of quiet and crisis.”

She gets a week off - today is her last day with Jefferson and next Tuesday starts her new gig as press secretary for the House Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. John Conyers of Michigan.

No word yet on how her replacement, Remi Braden-Cooper, is equipped to deal with scandal.

— Christina Bellantoni, Capitol Hill correspondent, The Washington Times

This door is your door, that door is our door

Freshman Sen. Bernie Sanders is a man of the people, and proved it earlier today when he arrived at a global warming hearing.

Perhaps the Vermont independent didn’t know that senators have the privilege to come in a Special Door at the front of the committee room. A friendly staffer pointed Sanders to the Special Door as he appeared at the Public Door, but he ignored her and pushed through spectators crowding around to enter the room. He squeezed past scribes and hearing attendees, some of whom chuckled that he didn’t take the easier route.

As he arrived at his seat on the dais, freshman Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota came in through the Special Door. She spotted him inching his way through the standing-room only crowd and smiled.

— Christina Bellantoni, Capitol Hill correspondent, The Washington Times

Anti-war crowd sends Senate loud message

At a hearing this morning called by Russ Feingold, Wisconsin Democrat, into whether Congress has the authority to end the war by cutting off funding, people wearing anti-war t-shirts and buttons filled four rows.

Several times they shouted down senators delivering their opening remarks. One woman demanded to know why President Bush’s daughter aren’t being sent to fight.

At one point, a row of women stood and held aloft a handmade banner calling for an end to the war. Several sat and wept.

Capitol Police were summoned but despite the disruptions, Democrats running the hearing permitted the protestors to remain.

— Charles Hurt, Capitol Hill bureau chief, The Washington Times

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