editorial

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.

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. 

‘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).

Giffords group launches pro-background check ads focused on Gardner, McConnell
First ads in a new roughly $750,000 buy hit airwaves this weekend

Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., is the focus of a new ad campaign by the gun control advocacy group Giffords. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

“Instead of making lesson plans, I’m making active-shooter plans.”

That’s what a woman identified as a Colorado schoolteacher named Jody says in a new issue ad campaign starting this weekend by the gun control advocacy group named for former Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The group’s aim is to push Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner to back a House-passed gun purchase background check bill.

Locking out ‘Team Mitch’ could cost Twitter
Decision by Republican campaign committees to withhold ad dollars from Twitter could have a tangible effect

Twitter locked out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign account. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The decision by Republican campaign committees to withhold ad dollars from Twitter could have a tangible effect.

The Republican National Committee, President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign as well as the House and Senate GOP campaign committees took that step in response to the social media platform’s temporary lockout of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign account.

With Iowa State Fair ahead, 2020 Democrats pitch to rural America
A trio of presidential hopefuls rolled out new plans Wednesday

Presidential candidates will be visiting the Iowa State Fair this week, along with the famous butter cow. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As Democratic presidential hopefuls get ready to visit the soapbox at the Iowa State Fair, they’re announcing big plans for investments in rural America.

Three senators seeking the 2020 Democratic nomination for president are the latest candidates with plans they hope will appeal to rural Iowa caucusgoers. Those include proposals from two members of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee: Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

Road ahead: Senate has plenty to do before August recess jet fumes
McConnell wants to clear budget deal, confirm nominations before recess

The August recess jet fumes are getting stronger on the Senate side of the Capitol. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate’s August recess jet fumes are getting stronger, but there is still an abundance of chamber business to take care of this week.

The House is in recess until Sept. 9, but the Senate needs to clear the bipartisan budget caps agreement that would also suspend the debt limit into the summer of 2021, following House action last week.

Donald Trump, who doesn’t drink, prefers the ‘look’ of American wine
President is considering imposing tariffs on French wine over country’s new digital tax

Trump wine was on display at The Palms Hotel & Spa in Miami Beach, Fla., in 2015. (Dylan Rives/Getty Images for SOBEWFF file photo)

President Donald Trump said Friday that while he is a well-documented teetotaler, he prefers the appearance of American wines to their French counterparts.

“I’ve always liked American wines better than French wines, even though I don’t drink wine. I just like the way they look,” Trump said in the Oval Office on Friday.

Photos of the Week: Stewart smirks, Stevens at rest and Mueller milieu
The week of July 26 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

Jon Stewart, former host of The Daily Show, smiles as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walks by at the Ohio Clock Corridor in the Capitol on Tuesday. The Senate voted 97-2 later in the day to pass HR 1327 — a bill that would authorize funding for 9/11 first responders to be compensated. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

It was a week for the history books on Capitol Hill. 

Washingtonians said goodbye to former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who died July 16 at age 99. Many on the Hill smirked at Jon Stewart’s now-famous smirk and, of course, the nation mulled over the Robert S. Mueller III hearings in the House.