Tales from the Trail

Helloooooo out there…. Senator asks if anyone paying attention to speech

Senators go to the Senate floor and make speeches about issues near and dear to their constituents all day long — but whether anyone is actually listening is another matter. USA-CONGRESS/

Making speeches on the Senate floor gets the words into the official record, but often they are made to a near-empty chamber so it is never quite clear whether the words are heard.

That can be frustrating for politicians used to getting plenty of attention.

Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski got fed up when she was speaking about the budget fight and how a government shutdown would hurt port and airport operations. As she talked, she saw the senator who was presiding over the chamber, another Democrat, apparently checking her BlackBerry.

“I’m telling you, Madam President, this is not going to be good. But you know what’s not really good? Not only the consequences but the way we’re functioning here. Madam President, Hello? Madam President? I don’t know if my speech is not that attention-getting but could I have your attention?” Mikulski said.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand responded dutifully: “The senator has consumed ten minutes.”

2012 White House race may lose one tradition: candidates from the Senate

Barack Obama did it. So did Joe Biden, John McCain, Hillary Clinton and scores of others. They all ran for the White House while sitting members of the U.S. Senate.

The 2012 presidential campaign, however, may feature for the first time in more than a half-century no U.S. senators. USA/

John Thune had been the only current senator openly considering a run. But he announced on Tuesday that he’s decided instead to stay put.

What’s a friendly wager between friends, or senators?

trophyWhile Washington deals with freezing temperatures this Sunday, Super Bowl XLIV will kick off in sunny Miami Gardens, Florida, as the New Orleans Saints take on the Indianapolis Colts. But the snow has not dampened football fans’ spirits, and even a few senators are betting on the outcome.

Senators Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Evan Bayh of Indiana announced a friendly wager on Friday, each betting that their team will bring home that coveted Vince Lombardi Trophy.

What’s at stake?

Well, a win for the Saints in their first ever Super Bowl appearance means Bayh will be bringing Landrieu and her constituents Indiana popcorn, a local favorite.