Ron Elving

Ron Elving is Senior Editor and Correspondent on the Washington Desk for NPR News, where he is frequently heard as a news analyst and writes regularly for NPR.org.

He was previously the political editor for USA Today and for Congressional Quarterly. He has been a Distinguished Visiting Professional in Residence at American University, where he is now an adjunct professor. In this role, Elving received American University's 2016 University Faculty Award for Outstanding Teaching in an Adjunct Appointment. He has also taught at George Mason and Georgetown University.

He has been published by the Brookings Institution and the American Political Science Association. He has contributed chapters on Obama and the media and on the media role in Congress to the academic studies Obama in Office 2011, and Rivals for Power, 2013. Ron's earlier book, Conflict and Compromise: How Congress Makes the Law, was published by Simon & Schuster and is also a Touchstone paperback.

During his tenure as the manager of NPR's Washington coverage, NPR reporters were awarded every major recognition available in radio journalism, including the Dirksen Award for Congressional Reporting and the Edward R. Murrow Award from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

In 2008, the American Political Science Association awarded NPR the Carey McWilliams Award "in recognition of a major contribution to the understanding of political science."

Ron came to Washington in 1984 as a Congressional Fellow with the American Political Science Association and worked for two years as a staff member in the House and Senate. Previously, he had been state capital bureau chief for The Milwaukee Journal.

He received his bachelor's degree from Stanford University and master's degrees from the University of Chicago and the University of California – Berkeley.

Donald Trump did not dominate the sixth debate among the most prominent Republican candidates for president, but he may have been its prime beneficiary.

Trump held his own through an evening of challenges from the FOX Business Network moderators and from six rivals with him on stage. There were plenty of slings and arrows all around, yet Trump did nothing to discourage his fans while watching his main rivals carve each other up. He even had a moment of thoughtful connection while defending his "New York values."

It was perhaps fitting that the most memorable passage of President Obama's final State of the Union speech should come near its end.

After nearly an hour on the podium, Obama paused and slipped into a mode more suited to a pulpit. In the next few minutes, the president tried to address the state not of the American union but of American politics.

To deliver a presidential address to a joint session of Congress is surely a high privilege, but to do so at the start of one's eighth and final year in that office is a rare occasion indeed.

The U.S. had 43 presidents before Barack Obama, but only five of them stood before the Congress as Obama will this Tuesday night — as twice-elected incumbents beginning their final year with a report on the State of the Union.

'Twas the Night Before Christmas, Or A Virtual Visit From St. Marco

With apologies to Clement Clarke Moore, who first published his version 192 years ago today.

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the land
Not one candidate spoke — no, not even Rand.
Not a voice could be heard at a town hall or forum,
Not even Pataki or poor Rick Santorum.

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

Transcript

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Donald Trump entered the fifth Republican debate of this presidential contest on Tuesday night as the national front-runner by leaps and bounds. Other candidates have risen and fallen, but the legion of Trump's support has not wavered.

If anything, the billionaire's backing has swollen to even greater proportions since his call for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the U.S. That idea has taken a beating in the media and has been endorsed by exactly none of the other presidential hopefuls. Yet Trump's message continues to resonate with his legions of followers.

Only 19 percent of Americans — about 1 in 5 — say they trust the government "always or most of the time," according to a study released by the Pew Research Center on Monday. Yet clear majorities also favor the government taking "a major role" in fighting terrorism, responding to natural disasters, keeping food and drugs safe, protecting the environment, strengthening the economy and improving education.

Political leaders in the national and state capitals have begun raising barriers against refugees coming to the U.S. from Syria and Iraq, spurred by fear in the land that refugees might bring with them some of the dangers they were fleeing.

Hillary Clinton entered the second debate of the campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination with far less to prove than she had in the first, and, in the end, she probably achieved far less as well.

But for the time being, at least, she may be able to afford it.

The fourth debate among the leading Republican candidates for president filled the historic Milwaukee Theatre with cheers, laughter and occasional boos, but it probably did not alter the dynamics among the eight featured contestants.

No one seemed to stumble or scintillate so notably as to change the pecking order with the first voting, now fewer than a dozen weeks away in the Iowa precinct caucuses.

It is common knowledge that televised debates between presidential candidates began with Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy in the fall of 1960. But few remember that the very first debate to be broadcast featuring White House hopefuls happened a dozen years earlier, and it happened on radio.

Whatever else Jeb Bush's campaign for president might need right now, it doesn't need a renewal of the controversies about his father's and brother's years in the White House.

Yet the release of a new biography of the elder President Bush by journalist and author Jon Meacham has reopened some old wounds and renewed the debate over the Iraq War. Or perhaps that should be wars.

It was late summer when America began to "feel the Bern," and Sen. Bernie Sanders, the beneficiary of that warm-weather bump, still sees himself as hot on the campaign trail to the White House.

Sanders sat down Wednesday with Steve Inskeep, host of NPR's Morning Edition, to review his own remarkably resilient campaign. Inskeep asked the self-described Democratic socialist from Vermont if he sees a path to the Democratic nomination.

Nebraska's Ben Sasse was elected to the U.S. Senate a year ago this week, one of a dozen Republicans who first won seats that day as their party captured its first majority in the storied chamber in eight years.

And like many of the 5,000 men and women who preceded him in the Senate, he soon came to regard that old sobriquet "World's Greatest Deliberative Body" with a certain irony — if not bitterness.

The Republican presidential race entered a new phase Wednesday night as the outsider candidates, who dominated the first two debates, were upstaged by several of their office-holding rivals — and by a budding controversy over the conduct of the third debate itself.

When John Boehner announced his resignation last month, he said he wanted to "clean the barn" before he left. What he is accomplishing this week should put him in the Barn Cleaning Hall of Fame.

If the votes go as planned — always a question mark in the current House — Boehner will end his week and his career having engineered the choice of his successor, stabilized the nation's fiscal trajectory for the next two years and wrapped up most of the other major legislation pending in the chamber.

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

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now we want to look ahead to the week in politics in this country. Joining us is NPR senior editor and correspondent Ron Elving. Hi, Ron.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Michel.

Joe Biden summoned the attention of the nation at noon Wednesday in the Rose Garden of the White House, where he shared his thoughts and feelings about running for president.

"Unfortunately," the vice president said, "I believe we're out of time — the time necessary to mount a winning campaign for the nomination."

Biden said he had thought that even this late in the year, the window of opportunity might still be open for him.

"I've concluded that it's closed," Biden said.

Updated 10:40 a.m. EST

Paul Ryan made it all but official Tuesday night.

He told his fellow Republicans he had returned from a 10-day recess visit home to Wisconsin with a new attitude toward being speaker of the House.

After weeks of being ostensibly uninterested and even hostile to the idea, Ryan had found a reason to seek the most powerful post in Congress and the second spot in the presidential succession (after vice president).

The House is back for its first business day after a 10-day break, and the first item of business is a big one: finding a leader.

Speaker John Boehner has said he is resigning at month's end. The Republican conference met to choose a successor, but Boehner ended the session when his No. 2, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, withdrew as a candidate.

Though it holds immense power, the House speakership seems like the worst job in Washington these days. Current Speaker John Boehner wants to leave, but after House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy suddenly dropped out of the contest, it could be anybody's race. Rep. Paul Ryan doesn't want to do it, though he's been prodded, and it's not clear any other candidate has enough consensus to win on the House floor.

This fall, we have seen a sitting House speaker announce his resignation because he no longer feels confident he can control his own party on the floor of the chamber.

We have also seen the House's No. 2 official, the majority leader, withdraw his own candidacy to succeed the speaker because he does not feel he can control his own party on the floor of the chamber.

Both of the leading Democrats probably helped themselves in their party's first debate of the 2016 presidential campaign, held in Las Vegas and carried by CNN. But Hillary Clinton, the candidate with the most to lose, may have come away having gained the most.

The longtime front-runner has been beset by controversy, falling poll numbers and a brittle relationship with the media. A bad performance before this season's first national audience would have deepened doubts about her candidacy.

Hats off to Bernie and Ben!

The ultimate outsiders have acquired the ultimate insider's credential: enormous war chests of political money.

In the third quarter of this year, Sen. Bernard Sanders, the Vermont independent running for president as a Democrat, raised $26 million. Ben Carson, the retired brain surgeon seeking the Republican nomination, raised $20 million in that same short three months.

You may never have offered to swear something "on a stack of Bibles," but you probably recognize that folksy phrase as a variation on saying, "Honest to God."

And when you hear: "Raise your right hand, do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth...," you may very well have your left hand on a Bible.

Why are we making such a monumental fuss over the visit of Pope Francis to America?

So he is the first pope ever to speak to Congress, and he will also visit the White House, New York City and Philadelphia. While millions are excited to the point of frenzy, millions more ask what it's all about.

There are many reasons, of course, starting with the vital significance of the pope in the practice and history of Roman Catholicism. But the visit also matters because of the history of Roman Catholicism in America.

Don't bet on John Boehner being ousted as House speaker during the latest round of wrangles on Capitol Hill this month. He's likely to survive into 2016 and finish this, his third term, as the boss of the House majority Republicans.

Boehner might have any number of reasons to retire, not least of them a sense of frustration. That was evident in comments he made in an interview that was published this past weekend.

Donald Trump was once again at center stage at Wednesday night's debate hosted by CNN — the second debate among the GOP candidates for president This time, however, he had a harder time holding the spotlight.

Again and again throughout the seemingly interminable three-hour spectacle, the attention of the audience migrated to the the smallest figure on the set: Carly Fiorina.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton currently dominate the 2016 presidential story, not only in the polls but in the news. Virtually everything either of them says is instantly seized upon to be celebrated or condemned by various media.

Now that 34 senators have committed to support President Obama on the Iran nuclear agreement, that deal looks certain to survive the opposition of Republicans in Congress.

But Congress still faces an ugly September and fall, as other crises await members returning from five weeks of vacation, namely:

  • A potential government shutdown
  • Once again hitting the debt ceiling
  • The highway fund running out of money
  • A lapse in authority for the Export-Import Bank

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