Politics Day

Hail Merry / Flickr

This week, controversy swirled around allegations that special access was given to Clinton Foundation donors when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State. 

Donna Hoffman, department head and associate professor of Political Science at the University of Northern Iowa, explains the emails show communication between the aides of the Clinton Foundation and Clinton as Secretary.

"There's no evidence that, 'Hey, I've given a donation so I must therefore be able to meet with Secretary Clinton,' but that's kind of the implication here, that there's the appearance of corruption."

Disney | ABC Television Group / Flickr

The ouster of Paul Manafort as campaign manager for the Trump campaign didn't come as a shock after Trump's sustained low polling numbers in the month of August. Dave Andersen, political analyst at Iowa State University, says the shakeup was necessary. 

"He's falling so far behind in the polls nationwide and on the state levels, that the campaign needs some fresh ideas and they need something to start working. I don't think the campaign has really been on the right foot since Corey Lewandowski left, and I'm kind of surprised they didn't consider bringing him back."

Michael Vadon (Trump) and Gage Skidmore (Clinton)

Donald Trump and his campaign are responding to accusations that the candidate encouraged "Second Amendment people" to commit violence against Hillary Clinton during a rally Tuesday. The Trump campaign says the notion that Trump was suggesting violence is "ridiculous" and that he was referring to voting instead. 

Photo by Clay Masters

With less than 100 days left until Election Day, Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump has flouted political conventions around religion, race, gender, and now military service. And he's refused to endorse fellow republicans John McCain and Paul Ryan. 

ABC News has been reporting that senior Republican officials are so confused by Trump’s behavior that they are exploring how they might be able to replace him.

Disney ABC Television Group / Flickr

Dianne Bystrom, an Iowa State University researcher who has been studying Hillary Clinton for more than 20-years, says the Democratic presidential candidate must walk a fine line in Thursday night’s acceptance speech.

“Certainly she must come across that she can be commander-in-chief. That she’s got that experience as Secretary of State. But I think this time around-- One of the things she avoided doing in two-thousand-eight that she seems more amenable to this year is talking about herself  as not only a mom, but a grandmother.”

Ida Mae Astute / ABC

The Republican National Convention was meant to unify Republicans and spotlight the best parts of Donald Trump’s unconventional candidacy. Instead, the focus has been on rumbling feuds within the party and unforced errors by the campaign.

On this politics day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with political analysts Tim Hagle of the University of Iowa and Hans Hassell of Cornell College about the convention being held in Cleveland, Ohio this week.

Trump photo by Michael Vadon, Clinton photo by Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

New swing-state polls released today show Donald Trump leading Hillary Clinton in Florida and Pennsylvania and tied in the critical battleground state of Ohio.

On this politics day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with political analysts Dave Andersen and Bruce Nesmith about results of the latest political surveys, Bernie Sanders endorsement of Clinton, and Donald Trump's announcement of his top three picks for a running-mate - Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

John Pemble

    

Iowa U.S. Senator Joni Ernst met with Donald Trump on July 4th, fueling speculation that Ernst is high on his list for running mates.

On this politics day edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with Donna Hoffman of the University of Northern Iowa and Kedron Bardwell of Simpson College about what Ernst would bring to the Trump ticket. 

They also discuss the impact of the FBI recommendation that no criminal charges be filed over Hillary Clinton’s use of private email servers while she was Secretary of State.

threefishsleeping / Flickr

A terrorist attack in Turkey has left 42 dead and more than 230 injured.

On this politics day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with political analysts about why Turkey was targeted in the attack. Joining the conversation: Kelly Shaw, political science lecturer at Iowa State University, Wayne Moyer, Rosenfield professor of political science at Grinnell College, and Jim McCormick, professor of political science at Iowa State University.

Nancy Pelosi / Flickr

Early Wednesday, John Lewis, a Democratic representative from Georgia, asked his colleagues to join him on the floor of the United States House of Representatives and began to speak.

Gage Skidmore

The U.S. House of Representatives erupted in shouting this week, after lawmakers held a moment of silence for the victims of the Orlando mass shooting, and Democrats protested the Republican-led chamber’s refusal to consider tighter gun regulations.

John Pemble

This week, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made headlines after her victory in California led many to declare her the first female nominee of a major party for president.

On this politics day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer discusses the week’s political news with analysts Donna Hoffman of the University of Northern Iowa and Steffen Schmidt of Iowa State University. They talk about how the general election battle is shaping up after the last big day of primaries, as well as what’s next for each of the remaining candidates.

Michael Vadon / Flickr

At a press conference yesterday,  ABC News’ Tom Llamas pressed Donald Trump for details on a discrepancy between charitable donations to veterans' groups he had claimed at a January rally in Iowa and actual records of those donations on the books. 

"Mister Trump, writing a million dollar check is incredibly generous, but that night of the Iowa fundraiser you said you had raised six million dollars," he said. "Clearly you had not. Your critics say you tend to exaggerate, you have a problem with the truth--is this a prime example?

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Last Saturday at the Iowa Republican Convention, Republican Party of Iowa Chair Jeff Kaufmann enthused that support was building for Trump.

“Every time I speak, I’m seeing more and more and more unity. Which means, bottom line is, we’re going to really, for all practical purposes, be able to start the Hillary vs. Trump contest long before we actually go into Cleveland.”

Ryan's Uneasy Relationship with Trump

May 19, 2016
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Asked by a reporter about a poll that found people found Trump a more trustworthy figure to lead the GOP than himself, Paul Ryan responded magnanimously.

"I hope it's Donald Trump: he's getting the nomination. He's wrapping up the nomination. Good lord, I hope it is, because the person who's getting the nomination of our party is the person to lead our party."

Randy Bayne / Flickr

In a speech after his victory in the West Virginia primary Tuesday, Bernie Sanders made a nod towards unity in his party. 

"Our message to the Democratic delegates who will be assembling in Philadelphia is while we may have many disagreements with Secretary Clinton, there is one area we agree, and that is we must defeat Donald Trump."

Amy May / Iowa Public Radio

Hillary Clinton took four of five states that held primaries last night in the Northeast, bringing her closer to having a lock on the democratic nomination for president. Kedron Bardwell, Associate Professor of Political Science at Simpson College says he thinks challenger Bernie Sanders' supporters will support Clinton in the general election. 

"The Sanders supporters for the most part will stick with Hillary," he says. "The issues that Sanders cares about - it's not as if the Democratic Party has changed their positions that these issues are important."

By refusing to schedule a hearing for President Barack Obama's nominee Merrick Garland, U.S. Senator Charles Grassley has started a conversation about the importance and composition of the United States Supreme Court. E.J. Dionne, a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post, says the controversy is an example of how the court has become increasingly politicized. 

Senate Democrats / Flickr

President Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, a choice deemed appropriate by Republicans like Senator Orrin Hatch from Utah. Tim Hagle, associate professor of political science at the University of Iowa,  says that doesn't mean the Senate will hold a hearing.

"We've had a variety of ways that the Senate has approached that duty over the years. [...] Given the stakes this time, Republicans seem, at least for now, to be willing to say, 'We're just not going to move forward on this.'"

Nicu Buculei / Flickr

Every four years, the post-caucuses sigh of relief comes with a pessimistic prognostication: the caucuses are done for. Much like pre-caucus think pieces on why Iowa doesn't deserve its first-in-the nation status, the proclamation comes from political pundits, deflated candidate volunteers, and strung-out news junkies.

Clay Masters

Twelve days before the Iowa caucuses, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad says a Ted Cruz victory in the Iowa caucuses would be a big mistake and very damaging to Iowa.

“I think it would be a big mistake for Iowa to support him,” says Branstad. “I know he’s hitting the polls, but the only one that counts is the one they take on caucus night.”

Kevin Chang / Flickr

When President Obama announced his proposed changes to gun laws, pro-Second Amendment groups like the National Rifle Association responded negatively, calling the proposals ineffective and a distraction from terrorism concerns. Some Iowa gun owners, however, are supporting Obama's plans.

"I'm an avid hunter and I would like to say that I support what the President has got going on," says one caller. "I've never once thought of my guns as anything less than killing machines."

Marc Nozell / Flickr

All eyes are on Iowa in advance of the February 1st precinct caucuses, but just eight days later, the first primary in the nation takes place in New Hampshire. Though the state experiences the same frenzy of candidate attention Iowa does, candidate appearances and electorate makeup differ.

One key difference? The importance of faith background on voting.

DonkeyHotey / flickr

With less than seven weeks until the Iowa caucuses, the nation is relying on Iowa polls for a best guess as to who will emerge a winner.

On this politics day edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with one of the nation’s top pollsters, J. Ann Selzer, whose latest poll shows Senator Ted Cruz jumping 21 percentage points among likely GOP caucus-goers.

Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

Ted Cruz has surged to a virtual tie with Donald Trump according to the latest Quinnipiac poll of likely Republican caucus-goers here in Iowa. Trump continues to lead the polls, even after suggesting that there should be a database keeping track of Muslims in America. 

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Hans Hassell of Cornell College and Wayne Moyer of Grinnell Colleg about the new polls and about GOP rhetoric regarding whether the United States needs more intense screening procedures before welcoming Syrian refugees. 

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

In a night full of sound bites, one candidate's lack of substance may have helped him stand out in a crowded field of candidates. Ben Carson, one of the 'outsider' candidates, didn't go into much policy in the third Republican debate.  Donna Hoffman, associate professor of political science at University of Northern Iowa, says that didn't hurt him.

"He has this huge likability factor but he's not being very specific in terms of policy, and so far that's working for him."

That's viable for Carson now, but Hoffman's unsure of its endurance as a long-term strategy.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Republican congressional leaders and the White House reached a budget agreement earlier this week that would modestly increase spending over the next two years, cut some social programs, and raise the federal borrowing limit. The House passed the bill on a 266 to 167 vote late Wednesday and a Senate vote is expected soon to follow.

Many House and Senate Republicans contend that House Speaker John Boehner gave away too much in order to reach a deal, and there are critics of the fact that lawmakers met in private to discuss the agreement.

Michael Vadon / Flickr

Bernie Sanders has surprised much of the political establishment with his rapid rise. One thing that shouldn’t surprise anyone is his core platform, says John Dillon, news director at Vermont Public Radio. Dillon has covered Sanders for more than 25 years and says the candidate has focused on economic inequality from his earliest campaigns.

“Even when he was running as a third party candidate for U.S. senator and governor in the state of Vermont back in the 70s, he talked about these issues that he’s talking about today.”

Iowa Historical Society

From Howard Dean’s famous scream to campaign buttons, bumper stickers, and other memorabilia, a new exhibit at the Iowa History Museum takes a a look back at four decades of the Iowa caucuses.

Mstyslav Chernov

The crisis at the Serbia-Hungary border continues, as the Hungarian government closes the border, leaving hundreds of refugees and migrants stranded.

On this politics day edition of River to River, political experts Jim McCormick and Wayne Moyer talk with Ben Kieffer about the migrant crisis.

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