Politics

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Four years ago, pledges were en vogue in the early going of the Republican presidential primary. But a prominent one, that landed some of the candidates in hot water, is being nixed this time around.

Merriam-Webster has released its latest list of new entries, and unsurprisingly, a good share of the words are the products of the internet ("NSFW," "meme," and "clickbait" are among this year's rookie entries). But most years, politics and current events popularize new concepts enough to drag them into the official lexicon.

Updated at 1:45 p.m. ET

Republican Scott Walker dismissed any controversy over a law he signed in Wisconsin requiring women seeking abortions to get an ultrasound, referring to ultrasounds in an interview on a conservative radio show as "just a cool thing out there."

Updated to reflect that Santorum is now officially in the race.

After taking the silver medal in the 2012 GOP presidential primary, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is making a second bid for the White House. But Santorum faces a very different — and much larger — field than four years ago.

Updated to reflect that Santorum is now officially in the race.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is praying for political lightning to strike twice.

Even after pulling an upset win in the Iowa caucuses four years ago and going on to survive the longest against eventual nominee Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential hopeful is again the underdog in a much more crowded 2016 field.

As candidates hit the campaign trail, NPR looks at four major issues the next president will face from Day 1 in office.

When President Obama took office back in 2009, "cybersecurity" was not a word that everyday people used. It wasn't debated. Then, mega-breaches against consumers, businesses and the federal government changed that.

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When the Supreme Court returns for its next term in October, among the cases it has agreed to hear is a challenge to a fundamental practice that has governed American elections for generations.

When public-policy makers talk about a state's population, they generally mean the number of human beings living in that state — as counted or estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau.

That applies to a host of political actions, including the apportionment of seats in Congress and the Electoral College votes that choose the president.

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Presidential candidates are doing what they have to do at this point in the campaign season — they're raising money and strutting their biographies and electoral viability to voters. We haven't heard much yet about policy papers or what they would actually do if they win. But those policy issues will matter — as the campaign picks up steam and especially once the next president steps into the Oval Office on Day 1.

As candidates hit the campaign trail, NPR looks at four major issues the next president will face from Day 1 in office.

For seven years, Michael Hall has been guiding tourists to the top of Seattle's Space Needle and back. It's a unique vantage point from which to watch the ups and downs of Americans' paychecks.

One of the most basic facts about the Trans-Pacific Partnership is also the most important: It's huge.

The trade deal got over a big hurdle Friday when the Senate voted in favor of giving the Obama administration "fast-track" authority to negotiate the deal with Canada and 10 Asian nations.

That leaves the U.S. House, and it's unclear it has the votes yet. If it passes, though, TPP, which has angered many in the president's party, would be by far the largest free trade agreement the U.S. has in effect.

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And we turn now to politics. When Rick Perry ran for the White House four years ago, he talked a lot about cutting down the size of the federal government, including in this televised debate among Republican candidates.

The Rick Perry that Iowans were promised in 2012 may have finally shown up — four years too late.

The former Texas governor's much-heralded first presidential run quickly cratered four years ago, beset by stumbles from a candidate who was still recovering from back surgery and never seemed to find his footing on a national stage.

But in May in campaign stops in Northwest Iowa, the likely GOP presidential hopeful was back to his gregarious, confident self on the first of three days he spent barnstorming a state that could make or break his 2016 comeback hopes.

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The Senate worked late into the night Friday and early Saturday, but still failed to agree on extending government surveillance programs under the USA Patriot Act before the Memorial Day holiday.

Lawmakers blocked votes on both a House-passed bill and a short-term extension of the Patriot Act provisions that allow government surveillance programs.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says lawmakers will try again on May 31, the day before the provisions expire.

The Senate voted 62-37 late Friday to grant President Obama additional trade powers, which the president plans to use in pushing through an extensive new agreement with a group of Asian countries.

The administration's Trans-Pacific Partnership has been opposed by labor groups and some Senate Democrats because of concerns that the deal could cost some U.S. workers their jobs.

The perils of running behind in such a crowded field became painfully apparent to lagging GOP presidential hopefuls this week. Fox News announced that the first 2016 GOP debate on Aug. 6 in Cleveland would be limited to the top 10 candidates, based on an average of the last five national polls. As of now, it's very possible former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina (the only woman in the field), 2012 runner-up Rick Santorum and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., could be among those excluded from the event, while someone with more name ID like reality TV star Donald Trump could make the cut.

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The Clinton Foundation on Thursday night disclosed that it earned $12 million to $26 million for speeches given by Hillary, Bill and Chelsea Clinton. The speeches given by Hillary herself were largely at two types of organizations — universities and financial institutions — and have already created headaches for the candidate in the lead-up to the 2016 race.

Voters in Ireland are deciding whether the country will amend its constitution to make same-sex marriage legal.

The vote on Friday follows months of debate in the heavily Catholic country. Opinion polls suggest the referendum will pass and Ireland will become the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage in a national vote.

But, as NPR's Ari Shapiro points out, "Polls in this part of the world have been totally wrong in the past.

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