The Washington Post

Rep. Charles Rangel is hoping to dance his way to an Election Day victory

Rep. Charles Rangel greets a supporter before a graduation ceremony in New York on election eve. (Seth Wenig/AP)

Can you sing and dance your way to a 23rd term?

If you’re Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), you’d better hope so.

On Saturday afternoon, Rangel invited voters to boogie-woogie with him on the streets of Harlem.

The 84-year-old congressman’s long, storied and scandal-ridden political career could end Tuesday if he loses the Democratic primary. But the man has been relentless in his fight to hold on to his seat, and Saturday he shook up his campaign, literally.

Rangel spokesman James Freedland told the Loop that the lawmaker’s support is strong in the community but “he’s taking nothing for granted heading into the final days.”

To get people “fired up,” the 22-term congressman hosted a “flash mob” dance party outside the Harlem Shake restaurant. The invite referred to “Uncle Charlie” and said to “BRING EVERYBODY,” promising turns of the Electric Slide (circa 1976), the Cupid Shuffle and the Cha-Cha Slide. The street party featured Pras from the Fugees (circa 1996). Guess they’re aiming for a diverse generational demographic.

The Rangel team also promoted a “Vote for Rangel” rap written “by a very enthusiastic Rangel supporter,” the campaign said. They played it at the rally and blared it from a truck as they drove through the district.

Sample lyrics: “If you’re voting for Charlie, put your hand up high / Yeah, suit and tie / He’s Superfly / If you’re a Democrat, yeah, that’s the guy / Yeah, that’s my guy / Check the box.”

The rapper, according to the Rangel camp, is Londel Davis III, rap name Fireboy LD. Fireboy might just be Rangel’s biggest fan. His Facebook page is filled with Rangel pictures and news articles.

Now is this the best campaign ditty ever? Probably not. But for an octogenarian, not a bad effort.

(Witness it all online at and

Boots? What boots?

President Obama announced Thursday that he is dispatching up to 300 U.S. Special Operations troops to advise and train Iraqi forces as they battle Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants.

Granted, the Iraq situation is fast-changing and complex, but the announcement may have surprised some folks who’d followed previous White House statements on the matter.

On June 12, then-press secretary Jay Carney repeatedly told reporters that no troops would be sent to Iraq.

“Again, we’re not contemplating boots on the ground,” Carney said. There may be some air support action, he said, “but we’re not considering boots on the ground.”

Okay, that was a week before Obama’s June 19 announcement. But as late as Monday afternoon, June 16, the principal deputy press secretary — and now press secretary Josh Earnest — was telling reporters:

“I guess the other thing that I want to do here is reiterate something that the president said on Friday, which is that any of the military options that the president might consider, they would not include an open-ended military commitment. They would not include combat boots on the ground.”

But now that 300 troops are going over there, Loop fans have been asking: If they are not going to be wearing boots, what are they going to be wearing? Loafers? Wingtips? Some space-age boots with jet packs that let them hover over the ground? Flip-flops?

One senator’s pitch

With the World Cup in full swing and Team USA more than holding its own, Americans are paying more attention to the globe’s favorite pastime. Imagine the football (soccer) fever if the world competition were held in the United States.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) wants to make this happen, and he’s imploring FIFA, the sport’s international governing body, to hear him out. Casey, a prolific letter writer to heads of organizations, countries, etc., wants FIFA to take the 2022 World Cup from Qatar and give it to the runner-up country (which just happens to be the United States).

Why change? Casey cites Qatar’s human rights abuses of laborers, an issue that has made the choice of Qatar as host a very controversial one.

Casey acknowledged the switch would be unprecedented. “However, given these extraordinary circumstances, it would be prudent and fair to immediately begin preparations and make up for four years of lost time,” Casey wrote in a letter to FIFA President Joseph “Sepp” Blatter.

A report in London’s Sunday Times alleged corruption by a Qatari official in securing the games. FIFA Vice President Jim Boyce has said he would consider a revote if that’s true. Casey said he’d be open to a revote, though it might mean the United States wouldn’t get the event.

Granted, one senator taking on the all-powerful FIFA may be tilting at windmills, but there does seem to be significant sentiment in favor of moving the World Cup location. It’s unclear what else Casey could do — the all-powerful, nonbinding congressional resolution? — if FIFA doesn’t respond as he’d like, or at all.

Self-reliance update

We’ve written about the National Park Service’s policy, begun in April 2013, to remove trash cans from sites including the Iwo Jima Memorial, forcing visitors to take their trash with them when they leave.

The Park Service said the move would reduce the garbage by having self-reliant Americans clean up rather than rely on the federal government.

We thought most folks would just throw their trash on the ground if the cans were removed. And that seemed the case two months after the project began.

But George Washington Memorial Parkway officials were optimistic. “It’s a mind-set shift,” one told us, adding that the program has been successful in other parks.

But mind-sets and ingrained habits — like putting your trash in a receptacle — are not easy to change. A Loop fan who lives near the Iwo Jima Memorial told us that trash and litter have continued to be a constant problem — as a picture he sent last week indicated.

But Lee Werst, acting superintendent of the parkway, said that the program is succeeding. “We have had a reduction in trash coming out of there,” he said.

The photo, he said, might have been taken early in the morning after a parade the previous evening, but he assures us that the trash was picked up later that day.

— With Colby Itkowitz

The blog:
intheloop. Twitter: @InTheLoopWP.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.
Colby Itkowitz is the lead anchor of the Inspired Life blog. She previously covered the quirks of national politics and the federal government.

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