One of the wackier sideshows in Iowa’s political theater happened earlier this summer  - when the Republican State Senate candidate in the 34th district declared the United States Government illegitimate, and dropped out of the race.

Randi Shannon then announced she was becoming a State Senator in something called the Republic for the United States of America.  Iowa Public Radio’s Sandhya Dirks took a closer look at the political fringe.


If you were hoping the political ads would go away after the Iowa caucuses…well, no luck. As you’re probably well aware, Iowa is a swing state in this presidential election.  Both President Obama and his Republican rival Mitt Romney are fighting hard for our six electoral votes in what's looking like a very tight race.

Reporter Anna Sale of WNYC (http://www.wnyc.org/) in New York is also a writer for the political blog, “It’s a Free Country.”  She's been spending the week in Iowa as part of a tour of key swing states.

Politics Day

Jul 18, 2012

Recent political ads from both presidential parties have caused hand-wringing on both sides of the isle. This Politics Day we talk with political experts Chris Larimer, associate professor of political science at the University of Northern Iowa, and Dennis Goldford, professor of politics at Drake University, about the latest developments on the political stage.

On Politics Day, IPR’s Dean Borg talks with two political scientists, Bruce Nesmith from Coe College and Donna Hoffman from the University of Northern Iowa, about the current strategies of President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney including the recent political gaffes and how the incidents may impact the candidates. Later on, Dean talks about the potential influence Ron Paul could have in Iowa’s Republican party in light of the coming GOP state convention.

Sarah McCammon / Iowa Public Radio

President Obama is becoming a familiar face in Iowa again. Yesterday, he made his third visit to the state this year, which he won in 2008.
Mr. Obama discussed renewable energy at a manufacturing plant in Newton before rallying about 2500 supporters at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

If Mr. Obama’s job four years ago was to woo voters, this time the message is more like “I Still Need You.”

"This election’s gonna be even closer than the last one. And by the way the last one was close. People don’t remember, it was close," he says.

Romney visits Iowa

May 16, 2012
Clay Masters/IPR

Iowa supporters of presumptive GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney showed up at a hotel in downtown Des Moines to get a firsthand look at the presidential candidate. Romney spent the majority of his speech talking economic issues.

Ron Paul isn't expecting to get the GOP nomination. He says he'll no longer campaign in states that haven't held primaries. But he and his supporters are pushing for delegates in states like Iowa - who've already voted but have yet to award delegates at the state convention.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon calls Syria one of the “most serious and gravest concerns of the international community.”  Greece still hasn’t formed a government, which has caused a slump on Wall Street.  Host Ben Kieffer talks with Jim McCormick, Chair of Political Science at Iowa State University and David Skidmore, Professor of Politics and International Relations at Drake University about these stories.  They also discuss an honor for former Iowa Supreme Court Justices and the Obama administration's evolving stance on same sex marriage.

At a time in our politics when every debate seems to be dominated by rancor and partisanship… retiring Representative Kurt Swaim of Bloomfield got up on the floor of the Iowa House last month and proclaimed his love for his colleagues, their staffs and the political system.  Host Ben Kieffer talks with Rep. Swaim and Representative Lance Horbach as they prepare to leave lawmaking behind.  He also speaks to Mike Glover, who recently retired as Senior Legislative and Political Correspondent for the Associated Press in Des Moines, about his long career covering Iowa politics.

Approval ratings for Congress are holding steady in the teens, but as bad as you think partisanship is – the authors of a new book say “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks.” Host Jonathan Ahl talks with some of Iowa’s former Congressmen to get their impressions of partisanship today, as compared to when they were serving in office. What’s your solution for getting our dysfunctional Congress back on track?

In critical swing states like Iowa, President Obama’s re-election campaign is already in full gear, with staff and volunteers on the ground. Meanwhile Governor Romney’s had to focus on one primary race after another, as he sews up the nomination. As Iowa Public Radio’s Kate Wells reports, the President’s campaign hopes their head start will make the difference in November.

President Obama makes another stop in our fair swing state of Iowa. Mitt Romney pivots toward the general election... campaigning with Florida Senator Marco Rubio, as the Veepstakes heat up. And the trial of John Edwards on federal campaign finance charges in North Carolina. Host Ben Kieffer talks with analysts Tim Hagle of the University of Iowa and Dennis Goldford of Drake University about these and other issues in our weekly political discussion.

Funding for Iowa’s public universities is still up for debate at the statehouse. Join guest host Jonathan Ahl as we discuss a multi-million dollar budget gap between what Senate Democrats and House Republicans have proposed for higher education. Later in the conversation we’ll talk about government transparency and about the pros and cons of a longtime effort to create an Iowa Public Information Board.

John Pemble / IPR

IPR's Joyce Russell and Sarah McCammon discuss the week ahead in the Iowa Legislature.

The scheduled date of adjournment has come and gone, at the Iowa legislature, along with lawmakers’ per diem expenses.  But are the extended hours at the Statehouse unusual?  Host Ben Kieffer looks back on memorable moments from past legislative sessions, with longtime political reporters.  They also discuss the work of the Iowa Caucus Review Commission, and the state’s looming Congressional races.  Guests include the Associated Press' Mike Glover, the Des Moines Register's Kathie Obradovich, and Iowa Public Radio's Joyce Russell.

As we enter the waning days of the legislative session, behind-the-scenes negotiations on the big issues remaining to be resolved begin in earnest.  Lawmakers have yet to agree on budget targets, education reform or commercial property tax relief.  But, how will upcoming elections impact those negotiations?  Host Joyce Russell  talks with Democratic and Republican leaders about the issues lawmakers want to take on the campaign trail this fall… and how that may impact debate over issues yet to be decided. 

Politics Day

Apr 10, 2012

A recall election of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker is set for June 5th.  That comes a year after Walker signed a bill removing collective bargaining rights from some public sector unions.  Join host Ben Kieffer as we take a look at our neighbors to the northeast in what some political analysts are calling a microcosm of what might occur on a national level.  Plus former Pennsylvania senator and winner of the Iowa caucuses Rick Santorum has suspended his campaign and U.S.

2012 Gender Gap

Apr 4, 2012

The latest USA Today/Gallup Poll shows President Obama with an 18-point lead among women in 12 possible battleground states. That’s prompted Republican Mitt Romney to start talking more about his wife Anne on the campaign trail. We'll explore the growing gender gap among voters and how it could impact the 2012 election. Ben's guests are Dianne Bystrom of the Carrie Chapman Center for Women and Politics, Chris Larimer of the University of Northern Iowa's Political Science Department, former Iowa Senate Republican Mary Kramer and former Iowa Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge.

Politics Day

Apr 3, 2012

Oral arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court over the Affordable Care Act don’t seem to have done anything to garner support for the law, or the court.  A new survey by the Pew Research Center shows an increasing number of people view the law more negatively, and view the court less favorably.  Host Jonathan Ahl talks with guests Dave Peterson and Steffen Schmidt of Iowa State University about these shifting perceptions.  They also analyze results from the three latest primary contests including Wisconsin.

Not since Bush v Gore in 2000 has the Supreme Court considered such a politically charged issue. Join us as Ben talks about the constitutionality of the health care law with University of Iowa political scientist Tim Hagle and Coe College political scientist Bruce Nesmith.  They'll also look at the return visit to Iowa by Vice-President Joe Biden to talk manufacturing jobs.

Is this fact or fiction? On the surface the question seems to be easy enough to answer, but truth comes in a number of different shades. On this Talk of Iowa Charity speaks with author and essayist John D’Agata of the University of Iowa and fact checker Jim Fingal about their book, “The Lifespan of a Fact” (W.W. Norton) and the definition of truth.

The hunt for the GOP nomination continues with the Illinois primary. We'll analyze the latest election results and focus on the money race in the election, as President Obama's campaign raised 45-million dollars in February. We'll also look at politics closer to home, with the official review of the 2012 Iowa caucuses. Ben's guests are Grinnell College Political Science Professor Wayne Moyer and New Hampshire political analyst Arnie Arnesen.

Politics Day

Mar 13, 2012

Earlier this week a U.S. soldier allegedly shot and killed sixteen Afghan civilians. President Barack Obama has called the killings tragic while questions re-emerge about the U.S. strategy. Join guest host Jonathan Ahl as we talk about the way forward in Afghanistan.  Plus we’ll discuss the effect Alabama and Mississippi primaries will have on the race for the GOP Presidential nomination. Our guests are Dennis Goldford of Drake University and Jim McCormick of Iowa State University.

Join host Ben Kieffer as he talks with A.J.

Who won and lost in the GOP race on Super Tuesday? Iowa State University Political Scientist Steffen Schmidt and University of Iowa Professor Emeritus Bruce Gronbeck break down the results of Tuesday's votes. They'll also look at the clash between President Obama and Republicans over Iran's nuclear ambitions.

On the eve of Super Tuesday, and eight months away from the general election, Ben hosts a political roundtable forum at the University of Northern Iowa. Taped Friday, March 2, panelists discuss the GOP race and examine candidate strategies leading up to November. Ben's guests are political scientists Donna Hoffman, Chris Larimer and Justin Holmes from the University of Northern Iowa and James Q. Lynch of the Cedar Rapids Gazette.

Politics Day

Feb 28, 2012

Join host Ben Kieffer as we look at the results of the GOP primaries in Michigan and Arizona.  How much closer does the outcome bring the GOP to a nominee as we march toward Super Tuesday next week?  Our analysts are Tim Hagle of the University of Iowa and Dave Peterson of Iowa State University.

Politics Day

Feb 21, 2012

The latest polls show Mitt Romney retaking the lead in Michigan, although the race for the republican presidential nomination is still extremely tight.  Join host Ben Kieffer as we talk about that race and the lead up to Super Tuesday.  We’ll also discuss the controversy over requiring insurance coverage for contraception and now, some prenatal testing, and how it’s impacting the discussion of faith in the campaign.

Politics Day

Feb 14, 2012

Chinese Vice President, Xi Jinping, the man who is expected to become the next leader of China, is in the United States this week.  Included on his visit, is a trip to Muscatine, Iowa, a place he visited in 1985. Xi will also visit Des Moines for an official state dinner.  Join host Ben Kieffer as we take a look at what Xi’s visit means as the Obama administration seeks to shift the emphasis of U.S. strategy toward the Asia-Pacific region.

Politics Day

Feb 7, 2012

Join host Ben Kieffer as we talking about the U.S. closing its embassy in Syria this week amid growing violence there. What can or should the U.S. do?  Also, new U.S. sanctions are imposed on Iran as tensions rise between that country and Israel.  And, will GOP caucus results in Minnesota and Colorado show Mitt Romney remaining at the front of the pack?  Ben’s guests are political scientists Jim McCormick of Iowa State University and Bruce Gronbeck of the University of Iowa.