Danielle Kurtzleben

Danielle Kurtzleben is a political reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk. In her current role, she writes for npr.org's It's All Politics blog, focusing on data visualizations. In the run-up to the 2016 election, she used numbers to tell stories that went far beyond polling, putting policies into context and illustrating how they affected voters.

Before joining NPR in 2015, Kurtzleben spent a year as a correspondent for Vox.com. As part of the site's original reporting team, she covered economics and business news.

Prior to Vox.com, Kurtzleben was with U.S. News & World Report for nearly four years, where she covered the economy, campaign finance and demographic issues. As associate editor, she launched Data Mine, a data visualization blog on usnews.com.

A native of Titonka, Iowa, Kurtzleben has a bachelor's degree in English from Carleton College. She also holds a master's degree in Global Communication from George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs.

Update: This post was updated at 6:55 p.m. ET to reflect Fox's announcement of debate participants.

The Republican presidential field has just had the most exciting fight for 10th place America has ever seen.

It also just might have been a meaningless fight.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

The State Department's latest dump of Hillary Clinton's emails may dominate the news cycle in the coming days, but her campaign also released another crucial document on Friday — a clean bill of health for the Democratic front-runner.

The confirmation comes from Lisa Bardack, a New York-based doctor who has been Clinton's physician since 2001. In a letter, she declares Clinton "a healthy-appearing female," saying that Clinton exercises regularly, eats plenty of vegetables and fruits, doesn't smoke, and "drinks alcohol only occasionally."

"Well, if I ever ran for office, I'd do better as a Democrat than as a Republican," Donald Trump told Playboy in 1990. "And that's not because I'd be more liberal, because I'm conservative. But the working guy would elect me. He likes me."

Hillary Clinton laid out some lofty goals for her presidency in a speech on Friday.

"My mission from my first day as president to the last will be to raise the incomes of hardworking Americans so they can once again afford a middle-class life," she said. "This is the defining economic challenge not only of this election but our time."

Congress is one tiny step closer to funding America's highways, as the Senate decided Wednesday night to open debate on their transportation bill as the July 31 deadline looms. The Highway Trust Fund has been in dire straits the last few years, spending more than it's taking in. Because it gets its money from the federal gas tax, the trust fund has suffered as cars have grown more fuel-efficient and some Americans have cut back on their driving.

Barack Obama said before the New Hampshire primary during his contentious primary with Hillary Clinton in 2008 that she was "likable enough." The quip got him in trouble with Clinton supporters, but Clinton's likability is at the heart of her candidacy in 2016.

Clinton has a massive lead among Democratic candidates, but polls out in key swing states Wednesday raise warning signs for her candidacy.

Donald Trump held a kickoff event for his South Carolina campaign on Tuesday, and his speech was, to put it mildly, a doozy. Speaking in Sun City, S.C., without the aid of a TelePrompTer — because "Maybe when you run for president you shouldn't be allowed to use a TelePrompTer, because you find out what you're getting" — he was defensive, brash, angry, funny and self-aggrandizing.

In a Monday speech, Hillary Clinton focused on a trend that millions of Americans know all too intimately: declining incomes.

The Clinton campaign is calling the phenomenon of stagnant wages "the defining economic challenge of our time," and as debates and primaries draw ever closer, it's becoming clear that jump-starting Americans' wages is going to be the defining challenge of the election. Candidates are furiously trying to differentiate themselves on how to deal with unstoppable phenomena.

A Recent, Scary Problem

Jeb Bush released more tax returns than any other presidential candidate in history. Over 33 years, the former Florida governor's campaign said he paid an average effective tax rate of 36 percent.

... depending on how you calculate it.

That's a confusing number, and it obscures three decades in which Bush's income climbed slowly, then explosively.

Jeb Bush's presidential candidacy announcement this week, after months of campaigning, came as no surprise. One small surprise that did pop up in his remarks, however, was a lofty goal he has set for himself as president — to grow the economy at a 4 percent rate if he's elected.

He expounded on the claim Wednesday in Iowa.

The Obama administration finds itself in the rare position of fighting alongside House Republicans this week as it tries to overcome Friday's stinging defeat to its massive trade package, the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Imagine publishing a list of all of your recent sexual partners in the local paper. That was what one 2001 Florida law, enacted under then-Gov. Jeb Bush, required of some women in the state.

Huffington Post reporter Laura Bassett brought the so-called Scarlet Letter law to national attention in a Tuesday piece. Here's a rundown of what exactly that law did, and why it was passed in the first place.

What did the law do?

President Obama is once again poised to go it alone on labor policy, this time on overtime. The Labor Department is expected in the coming weeks to release a rule making millions more Americans eligible for overtime work — currently, all workers earning below $455 a week, or $23,660 a year, are guaranteed time-and-a-half pay for working more than 40 hours a week. The law may raise that as high as $52,000, Politico reports.

It's the early presidential campaign season, and candidates are loudly courting voters in high-profile appearances nationwide. But in quiet, closed-press fundraisers, they're also asking well-heeled elites for the cash to keep campaigning. That cash grab is so fast-paced, it would make even hot Silicon Valley startups jealous.

Run Warren Run, the unofficial organization that for half a year pushed for the Massachusetts senator to seek the presidency, disbanded on Tuesday. Its backers nevertheless "declared victory" for their cause in a Politico magazine post, noting how her "agenda and message have transformed the American political landscape" in the campaign's six-month life.

Three controversial provisions of the Patriot Act expired Sunday night, ending — among other things — the government's ability to collect bulk metadata on Americans' phone calls and emails.

The fight pits Sen. Rand Paul and other legislators fighting for greater privacy against fellow Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell and others who are in favor of extending the legislation as is. But if the lawmakers are looking to their constituents for direction, they might not get much help.

The Nebraska state Legislature voted Wednesday to repeal the death penalty in the state. The 30-19 vote overrides Gov. Pete Ricketts' veto of a law the Legislature passed last week getting rid of the policy.

Nebraska's Legislature voted Wednesday to abolish the death penalty, overturning Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts' veto. The state's unicameral legislature overwhelmingly approved the measure in a series of three previous votes.

The repeal comes as other states have experienced complications with new lethal-injection cocktails. But Americans overall still support the practice.

Support for the death penalty has slowly fallen over the past couple of decades, from a high of 80 percent in favor in the mid-1990s to just over 60 percent currently, according to Gallup.

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