Don Gonyea

You're most likely to find NPR's Don Gonyea on the road, in some battleground state looking for voters to sit with him at the local lunch spot, the VFW or union hall, at a campaign rally, or at their kitchen tables to tell him what's on their minds. Through countless such conversations over the course of the year, he gets a ground-level view of American elections. Gonyea is NPR's National Political Correspondent, a position he has held since 2010. His reports can be heard on all NPR News programs and at NPR.org. To hear his sound-rich stories is akin to riding in the passenger seat of his rental car, traveling through Iowa or South Carolina or Michigan or wherever, right along with him.

Gonyea has been covering politics full-time for NPR since the 2000 presidential campaign. That's the year he chronicled a controversial election and the ensuing legal recount battle in Florida that awarded the White House to George W. Bush. Gonyea was named NPR White House Correspondent that year and subsequently covered the entirety of the Bush presidency, from 2001-2008. He was at the White House on the morning of Sept. 11, providing live reports following the evacuation of the building.

As White House correspondent, Gonyea covered the Bush administration's prosecution of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. During the 2004 campaign, he traveled with both Bush and Democratic nominee John Kerry. He has served as co-anchor of NPR's election night coverage, and in 2008 Gonyea was the lead reporter covering Barack Obama's presidential campaign for NPR, from the Iowa caucuses to victory night in Chicago.

Gonyea has filed stories from around the globe, including Moscow, Beijing, London, Islamabad, Doha, Budapest, Seoul, San Salvador, and Hanoi. He attended President Bush's first-ever meeting with Russia's Vladimir Putin in Slovenia in 2001, as well as subsequent — and at times testy — meetings between the two leaders in St. Petersburg, Shanghai, and Bratislava. He also covered Obama's first trip overseas as president. During the 2016 election, he traveled extensively with both GOP nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. His coverage of union members and white working class voters in the Midwest also gave early insight into how candidate Trump would tap into economic anxiety to win the presidency.

In 1986, Gonyea got his start at NPR reporting from Michigan on labor unions and the automobile industry. His first public radio job was at station WDET in Detroit. He has spent countless hours on picket lines and in union halls covering strikes at the major US auto companies, along with other labor disputes. Gonyea also reported on the development of alternative fuel and hybrid vehicles, Dr. Jack Kevorkian's assisted-suicide crusade, and the 1999 closing of Detroit's classic Tiger Stadium.

He serves as a fill-in host on NPR news magazines Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, and Weekend All Things Considered.

Over the years, Gonyea has contributed to PBS's NewsHour, the BBC, CBC, AP Radio, and the Columbia Journalism Review. He periodically teaches college journalism courses.

Gonyea has won numerous national and state awards for his reporting. He was part of the team that earned NPR a 2000 George Foster Peabody Award for the All Things Considered series "Lost & Found Sound."

A native of Monroe, Michigan, Gonyea is an honors graduate of Michigan State University.

Rick Santorum had been expected to win Louisiana's Republican presidential primary Saturday, but the size of the victory was a surprise. The former Pennsylvania senator captured 49 percent of the GOP vote. Mitt Romney, who is the front-runner nationally, finished a distant second with nearly 27 percent. Santorum sees his win as evidence that the party still has big doubts about Romney.

Among those who voted for Santorum was 54-year-old Curt Thurmon in Shreveport.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

President Obama's re-election campaign is releasing a video Thursday that looks back on the accomplishments of his first term. The documentary-style film, directed by Academy Award winner Davis Guggenheim and narrated by actor Tom Hanks, is likely to go viral, but such video tributes are far from new in presidential politics.

Mississippi and Alabama were big wins for Rick Santorum in the fight for the GOP presidential nomination.

While never considered strong for Mitt Romney, those states further revealed the vulnerabilities of his campaign, specifically, problems identifying with many elements of the Republican base.

The next big contest is Tuesday in Illinois.

It's a state rich in delegates (69) and in something else that should be good news for Romney: more moderate Republicans. But he still needs to connect with even those voters.

Michigan and Arizona hold presidential primaries Tuesday, and in Michigan, where Mitt Romney was born, the race has been as hard-fought as anywhere in the country.

For Romney, the campaign there has been personal. He often evokes the Michigan of his youth, when his father, George, ran American Motors and went on to become a very popular three-term governor.

But does that family legacy mean anything today?

If you were to go to a Romney event in Detroit or Kalamazoo or Traverse City, you'd be almost guaranteed to hear some Romney family history.

Campaigning in Michigan on Thursday night, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney reached out to Tea Party voters — a segment of the party that he has had a hard time winning over in previous states this primary season.

The conflict between the Catholic Bishops and the White House over contraceptive coverage has American Catholics choosing sides.

Catholics narrowly support the White House position in polls. There are potential political consequences: In presidential elections, Catholics are swing voters. They supported Al Gore in 2000, President George W. Bush in '04 and President Obama in '08.

The GOP presidential hopefuls are certainly using this issue. Framing it as a question of religious freedom is a guaranteed way to fire up the conservative base.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.

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Two candidates who never really caught fire in South Carolina were former Senator Rick Santorum, and congressman Ron Paul. Neither will acknowledge that it's now a two-man race between Gingrich and Romney. And each says the campaign goes on.

Iowa's Republican Gov. Terry Branstad is a fierce advocate for the Iowa caucuses. At times over the past four months, he has seemed frustrated that candidates have not been in the state as much as in past years.

Branstad's message over and over to the candidates was not to ignore the voters of Iowa, because they take it personally.

"They want to see the candidates, and they take their responsibility very seriously," Branstad says.

It seems Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney may at last be melting enough hearts to secure his front-runner status — for the moment, anyway. The Des Moines Register's final poll before Tuesday's Iowa caucuses put Romney ahead in what looks to be a three-man race.

The poll, released Saturday night, showed Romney in the lead at 24 percent. Congressman Ron Paul was a very close second at 22 percent, and a surprise surge put Sen. Rick Santorum third at 15 percent.

At 7 p.m. Central time on Tuesday, Jan. 3, the first contest of the 2012 presidential nominating process finally kicks into gear in Iowa.

As you've heard countless times, Iowans vote in caucuses, which are small political meetings held in 1,774 locations scattered around the state.

Here's a quick primer.

How It Works

The Iowa caucuses — the first contest of the 2012 presidential nominating season — take place in three weeks. That means there's precious little time for candidates to make their case and close the deal with Hawkeye State Republicans.

But candidates were tough to find in Iowa on Tuesday. Only former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum — a big underdog in the race — was there. In fact, many Iowans note that this year candidates have spent fewer hours in the state than before recent presidential caucuses.

Six GOP presidential hopefuls met in a two-hour-long debate in Des Moines, Iowa, Saturday night, and this time the gloves came off.

This was the first such event since former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich moved into the front-runner spot. It had been anticipated that Gingrich and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney — the top two in most polls — would square off as each hopes to win the Iowa caucuses, now just over three weeks away. They did, and the jabs got personal at times.

'Let's Be Candid'

Back in June, the news out of the Newt Gingrich presidential campaign was dire.

Top staffers quit over differences about strategy, with some citing doubts about the candidate's seriousness — especially when he and his wife went on a cruise to the Greek Islands while his rivals stumped through New Hampshire and Iowa.

But now it's December, and Gingrich suddenly sits atop the polls. As a result, his organization is growing — as is the campaign brain trust. But Gingrich's most important adviser remains himself.

A Front-Runner's Staffing Needs

Occupy Wall Street protesters have been removed by police from public spaces in Los Angeles and Philadelphia this week. Some cities still have active 24-hour protests in place, though earlier this month the original Occupy encampment — on Wall Street — was also shut down.

Now activists in New York and elsewhere are talking about the movement's next phase, including the degree to which Occupy activists should get involved in the 2012 election.

Six Republican presidential hopefuls gathered in Des Moines, Iowa, Saturday, and each made a pitch for the state's very important Christian conservative vote.

The event was not a debate, but a roundtable discussion. The candidates sat side-by-side at what was described as a Thanksgiving table, complete with pumpkins and autumn leaves. Not present at the table was former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who chose not to attend.

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