Ken Rudin

Ken Rudin is NPR's Political Junkie. For most of the past 20 years, Rudin has been the eyes and ears of political coverage as political editor. Rudin focuses on all aspects of politics, from presidential elections with the primaries, national conventions, debates and general election, to the races for the House, Senate and state governors. He has analyzed every congressional race in the nation since 1984.

In 2011, Rudin added to his duties by becoming part of the network's StateImpact project. This local-national journalism initiative will add editorial resources and reporters to NPR member stations in all 50 states, to better inform the public about the impact that the actions of state governments has on citizens and communities. Rudin mentors and advises these reporters on covering the effects politics and politicians have on people.

In addition to his role with StateImpact, Rudin continues to contribute NPR's political coverage. Every Wednesday, he can be heard on Talk of the Nation in the "Political Junkie" segment. In his "Political Junkie" weekly column on NPR.org, Rudin previews the politics of the week, and delves into campaign history, strategy and trivia, including the popular ScuttleButton contest.

Rudin was a key player on the NPR team that won the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton award for excellence in broadcast journalism in 2002 for coverage of campaign finance.

From 1983 through 1991, Rudin worked at ABC News, serving first as deputy political director and later as the off-air Capitol Hill reporter covering the House. He first joined NPR in 1991, as its first political editor. Rudin returned to NPR in 1998, after a three-year absence during which he was the managing editor of the Hotline, a daily political newsletter. He also wrote the "Political Graffiti" column for The Hill, a newspaper covering Capitol Hill.

A political junkie for many decades, Rudin has one of the most extensive collections of campaign buttons in the country, a collection that now surpasses 70,000 items. Rudin is a graduate of Pace University in New York.

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Political Junkie
9:12 am
Mon February 11, 2013

As With The Losses In '64 And '76, More Self-Examination In The GOP

Moderates triumphed at the '76 convention but their candidate, Ronald Reagan, lost the general election in the fall,
Anthony Camerano AP

Originally published on Mon February 11, 2013 9:51 am

Another defeat in the race for president has led to the inevitable round of soul-searching for the Republican Party. This time — unlike, say, in the aftermaths of the defeats of 1964 and 1976 — it is less clear how to get the GOP out of its rut.

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Political Junkie
9:40 am
Tue February 5, 2013

It's ScuttleButton Time!

Ken Rudin collection

Originally published on Tue February 5, 2013 2:22 pm

So what did you do during the blackout on Super Bowl Sunday? Other than, say, apply some deer antler spray?

For most Americans, it was trying to figure out the ScuttleButton puzzle on Super Bowl Sunday. Actually, it's always difficult trying to solve ScuttleButton while watching the game on Super Bowl Sunday. But now it's time to focus on the new puzzle.

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Political Junkie
10:18 am
Mon February 4, 2013

Ed Koch, New York City And The Politics Of Resentment And Race

Koch served as mayor for three terms (1978-89).
Ken Rudin collection

Originally published on Mon February 4, 2013 2:19 pm

For anyone who lived in New York during his tenure — and even if you didn't — Ed Koch was a larger-than-life figure, a feisty, combative and mostly-successful mayor who, for better or worse, dramatically changed the city and left his mark in the history books.

But how will history judge him?

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Political Junkie
8:00 am
Thu January 31, 2013

It's ScuttleButton Time!

Ken Rudin collection

What if everyone who was in this country illegally decided to try their hand at solving ScuttleButton each week? Would they be able to stay? Would that be considered "amnesty?"

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Political Junkie
4:48 am
Mon January 28, 2013

It's Splitsville Between GOP & Hillary Clinton; Fox Breaks Up With Sarah Palin

It's not what you think.
Ken Rudin collection

Originally published on Mon January 28, 2013 9:07 am

Washington, D.C., has never been a "love thy neighbor" kind of place, certainly not in the past four years when Republicans worked to stymie President Barack Obama at all costs, or the eight preceding years when Democrats had similar feelings about President George W. Bush.

So how do you explain the love affair of the past few years between Republicans and Hillary Clinton?

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Political Junkie
12:07 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

It's ScuttleButton Time!

Ken Rudin collection

I have a confession to make.

Yes, sometimes it's true, I do bend the rules to suit ScuttleButton. Sometimes I completely violate the precepts that ScuttleButton was founded on. So yes, many of you who write in to complain do have valid points.

But this week I may have gone too far. You'll see what I mean once you figure out the puzzle. I just want you to know that there was a serious rule violation this week and that I'm aware of it.

Not that anything will change.

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Political Junkie
4:33 am
Tue January 22, 2013

Monday Was All About Obama. Now All He Needs Is A Cabinet.

President Barack Obama, center, makes a statement to the media before the start of a meeting with his Cabinet on Nov. 28, 2012.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Tue January 22, 2013 11:37 am

The day had history and symbolism written all over it: the inauguration of President Barack Obama, coming on the very day the nation was honoring the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The pomp, the ceremony, the speech, the festivities, the parade, the emotions, the hugs, the tears. It's all part of America's finest moment, and yesterday was no exception.

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Political Junkie
4:43 am
Tue January 15, 2013

It's ScuttleButton Time!

Ken Rudin collection

While you're gearing up for the Political Junkie D.C. Live Road Show on Wednesday evening — see below for details — why not try and solve this week's ScuttleButton puzzle first?

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Political Junkie
4:13 am
Mon January 14, 2013

This Particular Nomination May Not Be About Obama; It's About Chuck Hagel

Former U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., speaks at the White House on Monday after President Obama nominated him to replace U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Thu April 11, 2013 11:12 am

Democrats are fond of saying that Republicans are interested in only one thing, and that is to thwart President Obama at every opportunity. He proposes something, the GOP opposes it. He says it's day, they say it's night. In some cases, those complaints are justified; in others, it's just whining.

But it's a complex story about the opposition to Obama's choice of Chuck Hagel, the former two-term Republican senator from Nebraska, to become the next secretary of defense. It may not be about Obama at all.

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Political Junkie
4:53 am
Tue January 8, 2013

It's ScuttleButton Time!

Ken Rudin collection

The fiscal cliff drama? Over. The Redskins' season? Kaput.

There's only one thing left. ScuttleButton.

ScuttleButton, of course, is that once-a-week waste of time exercise in which each Monday or Tuesday I put up a vertical display of buttons on this site. Your job is to simply take one word (or concept) per button, add 'em up, and, hopefully, you will arrive at a famous name or a familiar expression. (And seriously, by familiar, I mean it's something that more than one person on Earth would recognize.)

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Political Junkie
4:18 am
Mon January 7, 2013

John Boehner Has Been Up And Down And Up Again. Where Is He Now?

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio bangs the gavel after being re-elected as House Speaker of the 113th Congress on Thursday on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 12:41 pm

As John Boehner finally got the votes to put him over the top, and his re-election as Speaker of the House became official, one had to wonder what was going on in his mind.

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Political Junkie
4:08 am
Mon December 24, 2012

Remembering Those Who Left Us In 2012

Ken Rudin collection

Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 12:43 pm

In political terms, 2012 was not the greatest of years. We witnessed an ugly, personal, petty, and often childish presidential election. Living in a "battleground" or "swing" state often meant being bombarded 24/7 by an incessant barrage of negative campaign commercials. And just as we were finally emerging from the campaign, we ended the year with an unfathomable tragedy, the gunning down of 20 children at an elementary school in Connecticut.

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Political Junkie
11:53 am
Thu December 13, 2012

It's ScuttleButton Time!

Ken Rudin collection

... And, it's the last ScuttleButton for 2012.

ScuttleButton, of course, is that once-a-week waste of time exercise in which each Monday or Tuesday (or, as they call today, "Thursday") I put up a vertical display of buttons on this site. Your job is to simply take one word (or concept) per button, add 'em up, and, hopefully, you will arrive at a famous name or a familiar expression. (And seriously, by familiar, I mean it's something that more than one person on Earth would recognize.)

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Political Junkie
11:11 am
Mon December 3, 2012

It's ScuttleButton Time!

Ken Rudin collection

We're close to reaching the breaking point. The White House knows it. Democrats and Republicans in Congress know it. Wall Street knows it, economists know it. We've been pushing this off for quite some time, and now it's time to take action.

Of course, I'm talking about solving this week's ScuttleButton puzzle.

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Political Junkie
4:33 am
Mon December 3, 2012

Gov. Christie Re-Election Bid In N.J. Heads Up 2013 Election Calendar

President Obama is greeted by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in Atlantic City, N.J., on Oct. 31 before visiting areas hardest hit by Superstorm Sandy.
Jewel Samad AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 8:01 am

We may be still catching our collective breath over the 2012 elections, but fear not, political junkies: The 2013 elections are already getting under way. Here is what's at stake:

Governor: New Jersey, where Gov. Chris Christie (R) has announced he will seek re-election, and Virginia, where Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) must step down after one term.

Mayor: The big attractions are New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, Detroit and Seattle.

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Political Junkie
3:17 pm
Mon November 26, 2012

It's ScuttleButton Time!

Ken Rudin collection

Originally published on Mon November 26, 2012 3:40 pm

It costs $143.70 for an up close center-court ticket to see the Washington Wizards, D.C.'s purported professional basketball team that has yet to win a game after 11 starts.

It costs nothing to play ScuttleButton, America's favorite button puzzle game.

So which is the better deal?

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Political Junkie
4:33 am
Mon November 26, 2012

The Tragedy Of The Demise Of Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.

Jesse Jackson Jr. resigned his House seat last Wednesday amid health and ethics concerns.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 5:20 pm

It is always sad to watch a once-highly regarded public official, with seemingly unlimited potential, self-destruct. It's even sadder when that person offering so much hope represented a congressional district that has long been suffering economically, that desperately needed advocates on its behalf, and where the two previous incumbents left a trail of shame.

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Political Junkie
1:08 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

Speaking Of Turkeys ... It's ScuttleButton Time!

Ken Rudin collection

Many of you will be out of town this week and likely to miss this week's ScuttleButton puzzle. So for that reason I'm going a bit easy on you with today's offering.

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Political Junkie
4:33 am
Mon November 19, 2012

Both Sides Itching For A Confirmation Fight Over Susan Rice

Some Republicans are betting that President Obama won't push for a Susan Rice nomination if it could jeopardize negotiations with the GOP on things like the budget, or immigration.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 5:23 pm

The election was over. As President Obama faced the press in the East Room of the White House on Wednesday, the anger and bitterness of his long battle with Mitt Romney seemed to have faded. Unlike President George W. Bush after his 2004 re-election — and his comments about having political capital and intending to spend it — Obama seemed a bit more humble victor, talking more about compromise and saying he was willing to hear other points of view to solve the nation's problems.

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Political Junkie
4:33 am
Tue November 13, 2012

It's ScuttleButton Time!

Ken Rudin collection

I know what you're thinking. Same old president. Same old Senate. Same old House.

And yes, same old ScuttleButton.

ScuttleButton, of course, is that once-a-week waste of time exercise in which each Monday or Tuesday I put up a vertical display of buttons on this site. Your job is to simply take one word (or concept) per button, add 'em up, and, hopefully, you will arrive at a famous name or a familiar expression. (And seriously, by familiar, I mean it's something that more than one person on Earth would recognize.)

Read more
Political Junkie
4:33 am
Mon November 12, 2012

Who Gets The Blame For The Romney Loss? The Tea Party Has A Theory.

Tea Party favorites: Bachmann (Minn.) barely survived; Mourdock (Ind.) lost a previously safe GOP seat; West (Fla.) refuses to concede.
Ken Rudin collection

Originally published on Mon November 12, 2012 5:38 am

It was an election that, once upon a time, many thought was stacked in Mitt Romney's favor.

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Political Junkie
4:33 am
Mon November 5, 2012

What To Look For On Election Day: The Battle For The White House & Congress

A voter reads her ballot as she prepares to cast her vote during the last day of early voting in Miami on Nov. 3.
Alan Diaz AP

Originally published on Tue November 6, 2012 6:02 am

Tuesday, as those who follow politics probably know, is Election Day. The battle between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney has been contentious, expensive, personal, illuminating, ugly, frustrating, petty, enlightening and, above all, long. And it is expected to be close.

This week's Political Junkie column is an attempt to guide you to what's at stake on Tuesday, both in the contest for the White House as well as the 33 Senate and 435 House seats on the ballot.

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Political Junkie
9:15 am
Wed October 31, 2012

It's ScuttleButton Time!

Ken Rudin collection

In the wake of the devastation of the East Coast these past horrific days, this is not the time to be cute or clever. So we'll just cut to the chase and offer this week's ScuttleButton puzzle.

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Political Junkie
9:13 am
Mon October 29, 2012

Republicans On Path To Retaining Control Of The House

A bicyclist rides through the plaza on the east side of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Sun November 4, 2012 10:34 am

The 2010 elections, in which Republicans had a net gain of 63 seats in the House, was one for the record books. It was the most impressive showing by the GOP since 1938, when their net House pick up was 80 seats, and the best showing by any party in the House since 1948, when the Democrats added 75 seats. The sweep of two years ago more than wiped out the gains made by the Democrats in the House of 2006 (31 seats) and 2008 (20 more).

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Political Junkie
4:48 am
Tue October 9, 2012

Is The V.P. Debate A Sideshow Or Something More?

Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) shakes hands with Sen. Dan Quayle (R-Ind.) before their vice presidential debate at the Omaha Civic Auditorium in Omaha, Neb., on Oct. 5, 1988.
Ron Edmonds AP

Originally published on Tue October 23, 2012 8:28 am

The reviews are in and, agree with them or not, most people thought Mitt Romney bested Barack Obama in Wednesday's presidential debate. The two don't meet again until Oct. 16, but in the meantime, there will be the vice-presidential face-off this Thursday.

How much pressure is riding on Vice President Joe Biden and Republican challenger Paul Ryan?

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Political Junkie
2:04 pm
Tue October 2, 2012

It's ScuttleButton Time!

This can be yours!
Lauren Rock NPR

Today, at 6 p.m. Eastern time, is the deadline for you to send in your Electoral Vote predictions for Obama and Romney. It is a strict deadline, but worth it. The winner gets a Political Junkie t-shirt!

Of course, you can also get a shirt by solving this week's ScuttleButton puzzle, but the odds are much steeper. But you have several days to send in your answer for that one.

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Political Junkie
4:48 am
Mon October 1, 2012

Will The Debates Determine The Outcome? History Says It's Debatable

Ken Rudin collection

Originally published on Mon October 1, 2012 1:20 pm

The candidates have gone through the primaries and caucuses, the delegate counts and the conventions. At this point, they're traveling the country, trying to make their case. Now comes the most widely anticipated event in the race for the White House: the presidential debates.

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Political Junkie
12:41 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

It's ScuttleButton Time!

Ken Rudin collection

I know what you're thinking. How could anyone expect President Obama to have time to meet with foreign leaders at the U.N. when he needs to deal with those terrorists at "The View," especially that notorious Barbara bin Walters?

Just know that nothing can take me away from ScuttleButton.

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Political Junkie
4:12 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

As Polls Show Romney Trailing In Swing States, Obama Edges Towards 270 Goal

It's true that Mitt Romney trails President Obama in most key battleground states, but the margins are in single digits
Mark Lennihan AP

Originally published on Thu September 27, 2012 3:04 pm

The election is not over, we are told time and time again, and it's not. There are still some 40-plus days to go, there are still debates to be had. It's true that Mitt Romney trails President Obama in most key battleground states, but the margins are in single digits. And, lest we forget, it's not that presidential candidates down in the polls haven't come from behind to win in the past.

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Political Junkie
12:41 pm
Mon September 17, 2012

It's ScuttleButton Time!

Ken Rudin collection

People are attacking our embassies around the world for one reason, and one reason only: They want to stop the spread of ScuttleButton puzzles.

But they will not succeed.

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