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The Iowa State Fair: Our hits, misses and lessons learned
Political Theater, Episode 88

Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, says a quick hello to her son, Gunnar, as he works at a corn dog booth at the Iowa State Fair on Monday August 12, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

DES MOINES, Iowa — For all its quaintness and fun, the Iowa State Fair does a pretty good job of approximating politics at the national level, be it questions about electability and charisma or trade and agricultural policy.

“The debate within the party that is happening right now, is happening right in front of me at the Iowa State Fair between these two people,” CQ Roll Call senior politics writer Bridget Bowman says, recounting a conversation between a couple after hearing South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg speak at the Des Moines Register Political Soapbox on Aug. 13. The couple, both of whom told Bridget they were impressed with Buttigieg, were torn between what was more important for a Democratic candidate: offering bold ideas or being more likely to beat President Donald Trump.

The Iowa State Fair: Why do you have to come here to be president?
Political Theater, Episode 87

Iowa State Fair mascots walk by the Administration Building at the Iowa State Fair on Monday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Iowa plays a big role in presidential politics because of its first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses. Even by that standard, though, the Hawkeye State this time feels busier, more significant.

There are more than 20 Democrats running for president, and unlike in previous years, no one is writing the state off. There are also several competitive congressional races here. That means a very busy Iowa State Fair, because all these politicians want to meet voters, make their case at The Des Moines Register’s Political Soapbox, flip pork chops at the pork tent and eat.

When we stop talking to each other, democracy dies in silence
Social media is valuable for our political discourse, but it‘s time to tone down the rhetoric

A protester takes photos in front of the White House at an anti-Trump rally in July 2018. The anonymity of social media and its reach are rapidly changing the country’s political environment and not for the better, Winston writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — What happens to a democracy when people stop talking to one another about what matters to them and the country?  When people are afraid to speak their minds because they fear the personal blowback likely to come their way? Or worse, when they come to believe that their concerns, their views and their values just don’t matter to anyone anymore, and so they “turn off and tune out,” to quote an old line?

What happens?  That’s when democracy dies. Not necessarily in darkness but in silence. 

The Iowa State Fair: A day in the deep-fried life
Political Theater, Episode 86

People wait in the rain Sunday to hear Republican presidential candidate Bill Weld, a former Massachusetts governor, speak at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Yes, there are a lot of politicians who attend the Iowa State Fair to court voters. But there is so much else to this unique event, from the almost 70 fried foods on a stick, to giant slides, sea lions, butter cows and butter Big Birds; even arm-wrestling. A day in the life of the Iowa State Fair with Political Theater. 

Duncan Hunter’s trial appears on track to be postponed
California Republican faces avalanche of charges relating to alleged misuse of campaign cash

Rep. Duncan Hunter is seeking a delay in the start of his trial on campaign corruption charges. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawyers involved in Rep. Duncan Hunter’s trial on charges that he inappropriately spent $250,000 in campaign funds for massive bar tabs and elaborate vacations to Hawaii and Italy are asking a California judge to have the proceedings delayed until Oct. 29.

A joint status report filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California seeks to move the trial, currently scheduled to begin Sept.10, to October. But the date proposed by lawyers for both the California Republican and the government could change based on court schedules and the status of appeals. More will be known after a district court hearing scheduled for Tuesday.

‘Embrace it and take it all in’: Former Rep. David Young on the Iowa State Fair

Former Rep. David Young and Sen. Michael Bennet work the grill at the Pork Tent during the Iowa State Fair on August 11, 2019 (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call).

Duncan Hunter said person making ‘OK’ sign in photo was a ‘stranger.’ The man calls Hunter a friend
California Republican backtracks, but episode could foreshadow his 2020 strategy

California Rep. Duncan Hunter was photographed at a July Fourth parade with a man who has ties to white supremacists. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When a constituent who posed for a photo with Rep. Duncan Hunter was later found to have white supremacist ties, a Hunter staffer dismissed him as “a stranger in a parade who wanted to be in a picture” with the Republican congressman.

The photo showed Hunter at a July Fourth parade in his Southern California district, standing beside Kris Wyrick, who flashes an “OK” gesture — a sign appropriated by extremists in recent years to mean “WP” or “white power.”

Loebsack backed Obama over Clinton in 2007, but unsure about 2020 field
Retiring seven-term Democrat questions whether his backing would make a difference

Rep. Dave Loebsack speaks with reporters Friday at the pork tent at the Iowa State Fair. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

DES MOINES, Iowa — Back in late 2007, Rep. Dave Loebsack’s endorsement provided a boost to Barack Obama’s battle to deny the Democratic presidential nomination to fellow senator Hillary Clinton.

But with 13 current or former House and Senate colleagues vying for president in a crowded 2020 field of two dozen candidates — including Obama’s vice president, Joe Biden — the Iowa Democrat is questioning whether he should wade in at all.

Champion of US agriculture, former Illinois Rep. Paul Findley dies at 98
Republican congressman drew attention for his criticism of U.S. policy on Palestine

Illinois Rep. Paul Findley works in his Capitol Hill office in 1976. (CQ/Roll Call file photo)

Former Rep. Paul Findley, who represented his Springfield-based district for 22 years, died Friday at the age of 98. 

The Illinois Republican was commemorated by the man who succeeded him — Democrat Richard J. Durbin, now the state’s senior senator — as an “exceptional public servant” and friend.

The lessons of Toni Morrison: Words matter, now more than ever
Trump may be missing what America needs, but late author’s writings light a path forward

With the death of Nobel Prize laureate Toni Morrison, the world lost a giant when so many of our leaders are so small, Curtis writes. (Brad Barket/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — “Language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names.”

Of course, that language from Toni Morrison perfectly suits this time, when the names we give the things that scare us hardly seem enough.