Slate Political Gabfest

The Chicken in Every Burrito Bowl Edition

Friday, April 17, 2015

Emily Bazelon, David Plotz, and John Dickerson discuss the newly launched presidential campaigns of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican contender Marco Rubio. They also talk about the recent action by Congress over the Obama administration


Slate Political Gabfest

Whistlestop: The Art of Political Umbrage-Taking

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

In this episode of Slate's bite-sized podcast about presidential campaign history, chief political correspondent John Dickerson recounts the election of 1840, during which a candidate took to the trail for the very first time.


The Takeaway

Lobbyists Aim to Charm State Attorneys General

Thursday, October 30, 2014

More lax disclosure requirements and revolving-door restrictions have allowed lobbyists and lawyers to have more access to try to sway the opinion of state attorneys general.

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On The Media

Bad Campaign Memoirs

Friday, April 25, 2014

It used to be that politicians' lives were recounted after their careers, by professional biographers. Today, writing a memoir has become de rigueur for political aspirants looking to garner votes. Manoush speaks with Politico's Casey Cep, who says these books amount to little more than press releases that consistently fall flat.

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The Takeaway

SCOTUS Strikes Down Limits on Campaign Contributions

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

The high court's decision frees the nation's wealthiest donors to contribute to as many candidates and party organizations as they want...and thereby have greater influence in federal elections.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Meet the Candidates: NYC Public Advocate

Monday, August 26, 2013

Daniel Squadron, NYS Senator, Reshma Saujani, former Deputy Public Advocate, Cathy Guerriero, Staten Islander who teaches at Columbia Teachers College and NYU Steinhardt School of Education, and Letitia James, Brooklyn City Council Member, make their case for NYC Public Advocate.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Sasha Issenberg shows how cutting-edge social science and analytics are reshaping the modern political campaign, upending the way political campaigns are run in the 21st century. In The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns Issenberg writes about the techniques—including persuasion experiments, innovative ways to mobilize voters, heavily researched electioneering methods—and shows how they’re being used.

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Transportation Nation

PHOTO TOUR: Presidential Campaign Vehicles Over The Years

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan addresses a crowd in Wellsville, Ohio during the 1896 campaign. Bryan was the first candidate to successfully embrace "whistle-stop" campaigning, harnessing the power of a young rail network to reach masses of voters. (Photo via link:

(Tom Lisi -- Transportation Nation) Every presidential candidate does it: hop from town to town trying to shake as many hands, kiss as many babies, and spread that in-person charm to as many swing state voters as possible.

This touring style of campaigning didn’t take place until the U.S. had developed a comprehensive railroad system in the latter 19th century. Before then, candidates courted the mostly white male, property-owning electorate through newspapers. In the earliest presidential elections, it was considered unseemly for politicians to tout themselves in public. No longer.

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

In the age of super PACs and mega donors, candidates routinely charter flights across the country to get to and from big fundraisers -- but the bus is the standard bearer. Romney campaign buses have worn slogans such as "Conservative, Businessman, Leader" and "Every Town Counts." The Romney campaign bus, above, with its candidate in Tarlton, OH, at times does not even have the former governor on it, and will instead transport local politicians to rallies, or go on missions to taunt Obama supporters.

(Photo by White House Photographer Pete Souza)

President Obama, pictured here leaving Ireland in 2011, has to use Air Force One to travel by air, whether it’s official state business or part of his campaign trail. The president is supposed to reimburse taxpayers when the plane is being used for travel to fundraising events or stump speeches. One watchdog organization estimates that it costs over $180,000 an hour to operate Air Force One.

(Puck magazine, collected by Library of Congress

The grassroots-style campaign for president became tradition by the time of Reconstruction, but, arguably, the first candidate to turn it into a national phenomenon was the populist Democratic nominee of 1896, William Jennings Bryan. Bryan conducted a six-week "whistle-stop" tour leading up to the election, usually giving 20 to 30 speeches a day.

Photo via Truman Presidential Library. (link:

Before Air Force One, there was U.S. Car No. 1. The Ferdinand Magellan was specially armored to carry President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during World War II. Harry Truman used the Magellan for his famous whistle-stop campaign during the 1948 election. One of the most famous moments of campaign history: Truman stood on the Magellan's observation platform, newspaper triumphantly hoisted high, holding the famously incorrect headline, “Dewey defeats Truman.”


(Photo by News bureau of United Air Lines-United Air Lines)


President Eisenhower was considered all but a lock for re-election in 1956, but at the Republican convention that year, a delegate wrote in “Joe Smith" for Vice President to protest the unanimity of the GOP nominations. Here, Democratic opponent Adlai Stevenson meets a Chicago supporter named Joe Smith before embarking on a tour of speeches with his campaign plane, the Joe Smith Express.


(Photo by Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

With more campaign cash to go around, focus on the presidential primaries has grown over time. Coach buses allow candidates to travel to many destinations in one state, and have room for the media to come along for the ride. John McCain’s “Straight Talk Express” had a welcoming reputation among the press corps during his 2000 primary run.

Photo via Reagan Presidential Library

The Eisenhower administration retired the The Ferdinand Magellan due to lack of use in 1958. But it made a comeback in 1984 when President Reagan used it for one-day trip in Ohio. Campaigns have since brought back the nostalgic whistle-stop style, including President Obama in 2008 when the Illinois Senator campaigned on a restored Pullman car. McCain, who opposed Amtrak funding, carried on whistle-stopless.

FDR loved traveling by rail. He even had his own entryway to Grand Central Terminal in NYC, where a car specially designed for him* still sits, entombed and dusty, below the active station as we reported in our story on the lost subways of NYC. See pic here.

*An earlier version of this sentence incorrectly referred to this car as the Ferdinand Magellan.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Novel Politics

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Political strategist Bridget Siegel talks about her new book, Domestic Affairs: A Campaign Novel, in which she translates her experience on past campaigns (including Obama/Biden, Hillary Clinton, Kerry/Edwards, and Andrew Cuomo) into the realm of fiction.

Comments [8]

The Takeaway

Republicans Struggle for a Unified Response to Obama's Immigration Order

Monday, June 18, 2012

This past Friday, President Obama announced a shift in his administration’s immigration policy that changes the lives of hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens, but the Republican Party is struggling to rally around a unified response.

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The Takeaway

The Agenda: Economic Reports and Their Impact on the Campaigns

Monday, June 04, 2012

Motoko Rich and Todd Zwillich discuss what's in store for the week ahead. On the list: several reports on economic indices, the campaigns' reactions to last week's poor job figures, the fate of Wisconsin's Governor Scott Walker, and presidential fundraising in New York City.

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Transportation Nation

Help Storyboard a Pro-Infrastructure Super Bowl Commercial

Sunday, February 06, 2011

(Matt Dellinger - Transportation Nation) During this Sunday’s Super Bowl you will see beer ads, insurance ads, fast food ads, and car ads. But you will not see any public service announcements on behalf of funding infrastructure investment. At least not this year.

If House republicans get their way, the level of transportation funding will decrease, not increase, over the coming year. That, despite the wishes of a let’s-build-stuff coalition so broad that it finds the AFL-CIO agreeing with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. So why don’t these groups pool their resources and start a public campaign, some wonder.

Former Governor of Pennsylvania Ed Rendell is fond of describing the billboards that the Laborers' International Union of North America erected around the his state. “Bridge Ahead Structurally Deficient,” they read. “Ask Senators Casey and Specter to help.”

“They wanted to put another sign at the other end of the bridge that said ‘Glad you made it!’, but the lawyers talked them out of it,” Rendell remarked at the Texas Transportation Forum in January. "My goal is: Super Bowl 2012, to have an ad on infrastructure."

So c’mon, Transportation Nation readers. Let’s brainstorm. What would a pro-infrastructure Super Bowl spot look like? Football theme? Sex sells? Blockbuster spokespersons? Hollywood production values? Let’s assume a big budget. Comment to the left. Let's get this going!

Matt Dellinger is the author of the book Interstate 69: The Unfinished History of the Last Great American Highway. You can follow him on Twitter.

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The Takeaway

An Exit Interview with Utah's Sen Bob Bennett

Monday, November 22, 2010

This past election season was dominated by coverage of the Tea Party — and many outgoing politicians were ousted by Tea Party-backed candidates. Senator Bob Bennett (R-Utah) was among the first and most surprising of these casualties, losing to Tea Party-supported Mike Lee in Utah's Republican convention, back in May.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Haitian Presidential Campaign

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ricot Dupuy, director and station manager of Radio Soleil, checks in on Haiti, from the upcoming November 28th presidential elections to the violent cholera protests that erupted earlier this week.  

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The Brian Lehrer Show

30 Issues: Comptrolling New York's Finances

Monday, October 11, 2010

Thomas DiNapoli, New York State comptroller (D), talks about his reelection campaign. Then Harry Wilson, Republican/Conservative state comptroller candidate and member of President Obama's Auto Task Force, gives his take on the office of Comptroller.


Transportation Nation

Election report: Give us Transportation, Just Don't Make Us Pay for It

Monday, September 20, 2010

(Wilkes-Barre, PA -- Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)How’s President Obama’s plan to spend $50 billion on infrastructure selling?Judging by my interaction with musician Debbie Horoschock in Luzerne County, PA last week, not too well.

“It should all be fixed,” she told me, of the president’s proposal to spend money fixing rail, roads, and airports.So she thinks that would be a good thing to spend money on?“No.But they should be fixed.”How are they going to be fixed without money? “I don't know how they are going to be fixed without money. But we need money to fix the damn roads.”

Horuschock, who had long black hair and plays in a polka band, was out shopping on a Thursday afternoon in the Wilkes-Barre farmers market (by the way, when you get out of major cities, farmers markets are a good cheap place to get vegetables, not lightening rods for the young and well-to-do.)In 2008, like the majority of this hardscrabble county, she voted for Obama for President.But everyone she knows is out of work (this area has the highest unemployment in the state), and there’s just no money to pay for anything.

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It's A Free Country ®

It's A Free Country...So What?

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Every schoolyard argument seems to devolve to the exclamation that “It’s a free country.” “It’s a free country” usually ends a conversation, but here, it’s a conversation starter. Our mission here is twofold: to provide you lively political content and to partner with you to build a unique interactive community.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Meet the Candidates: New York State Senate, 33rd District

Friday, September 03, 2010

Pedro Espada Jr., Democratic New York State Senator for the 33rd district, and his opponents, Gustavo Rivera and Daniel Padernacht discuss the campaign. 

Comments [40]

The Brian Lehrer Show

Republican Senate Nomination: Meet the Candidates

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Joe DioGuardi, David Malpass, and Bruce Blakeman, candidates for the U.S. Senate running for the nomination to challenge Kirsten Gillibrand, discuss the campaign.

Comments [27]

Studio 360

Presidential Performances

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Stunts are becoming standard strategy this campaign season: John Kerry arrived on the stage of the Tonight Show on a motorcycle. Few have forgotten George W. Bush landing last May on the deck of an aircraft carrier. Andy Lanset looks at past Presidents and presidential hopefuls, who really knew how ...