Ken Rudin's Political Junkie is the essential show for anyone who is curious and passionate about politics ... which includes most of us. Each week, veteran political analyst Ken Rudin explores policy debates, campaign strategies and the newsmakers making it happen in Washington and in state capitols across the country. Politicians, journalists and experts of all stripes join Ken to share smart analysis and rich historical context behind the issues shaping our national dialogue today.
Whether you're a seasoned political junkie or a casual observer of politics, you’ll enjoy hearing informed conversation about national and regional campaigns, deep dives into noteworthy moments in political history, and intriguing tidbits of political trivia. Political Junkie is the show that aims to make politics accessible, engaging, and -- dare we say it -- fun.
Charges Of Hypocrisy And Betrayal In The Carolinas
Of the 23 Republican Senate seats up this year, the one held by North Carolina’s Thom Tillis was always going to be hotly contested. But few thought that Lindsey Graham’s seat in South Carolina would become a barn-burner, which it has. Jamie Lovegrove of the Post and Courier of Charleston reports on how Democrat Jamie Harrison, armed with record-breaking money totals, has a chance of becoming the first to oust a GOP senator in South Carolina history. And Jeff Tiberii of radio station WUNC wonders whether late adultery charges leveled against Democrat Cal Cunningham will jeopardize what had looked like a good shot at knocking off Tillis.
More White House Obfuscations of the Truth
For many, it’s more anger than sadness to learn that President Trump has contracted Covid-19, given his long campaign of mocking and belittling those who wear masks and underplaying the severity of the virus. Also distressing is the fact that the White House has not exactly been transparent in disclosing the timeline and severity of Trump’s illness … following a long tradition of shading the truth when it comes to a president’s health.
And then, with Mike Pence and Kamala Harris set to square off on Wednesday, we go through some of the greatest hits of VP debates in history.
An earlier version of this post had an invalid audio file – this has been corrected.
The Notorious Mitch McConnell
Yes, Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham and others have come up with reasons why a vote for President Trump’s Supreme Court justice nominee will happen, while defending their decision to deny the same for President Obama’s court nominee four years ago. Carl Hulse of the New York Times is not surprised by the development, saying charges of hypocrisy don’t matter when there is an opportunity to name another conservative to the Supreme Court.
And it was 21 years ago this month when Bill Bradley, the former basketball star and New Jersey senator, challenged Vice President Al Gore for the Democratic presidential nomination. Gina Glantz, Bradley’s campaign manager, talks about the roadblocks they faced.
Soon To Be Unemployed?
And they’re off! With less than eight weeks to go, and early voting starting even sooner, President Trump and challenger Joe Biden have begun their battle in earnest for the White House. NPR’s Ron Elving talks about what’s at stake, both for the candidates and the nation.
One state that has rarely gotten a second look in November is Minnesota, which hasn’t voted for a Republican since Richard Nixon in 1972. But David Schultz of Hamline University says that with strong pockets of conservative strength in the state added to a backlash in the aftermath of the George Floyd demonstrations and looting, Donald Trump has a chance to end the GOP losing streak.
And just as the presidential race is tightening, so is the battle for control of the Senate. Jessica Taylor of the Cook Report says Democrats have a shot at winning enough seats to attain the majority, but only if everything falls into place. And there’s no guarantee of that.
Music used in the podcast:
Generals and Majors by XTC
Not to Touch the Earth by The Doors
Strange by R.E.M.
My Old Kentucky Home, Goodnight by John Prine
Fire Down Below by Bob Seger
Great Moments in Presidential Debates
Presidential debates don’t necessarily decide who will occupy the White House. But history has shown that regardless of what effect they do have, they are often memorable — for better or worse.
Our “Great Moments in Presidential Debates” special starts with Alan Schroeder, an expert on the subject, assessing Ronald Reagan‘s great lines in his 1980 debate with President Carter and 1984 with Walter Mondale. He also discusses the role the Kennedy-Nixon debates had in 1960 and what, if anything, the vice-presidential debates mean in the grand scheme of things.
Marvin Kalb, who in 1984 was a correspondent for NBC News, recalls his role in that famous second Reagan-Mondale debate. Jon Margolis, then a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, talks about his participation in the VP debate between Lloyd Bentsen and Dan Quayle in 1988. And Bob Schieffer, the former host of CBS’ Face the Nation, talks about how he prepared for his role as moderator in the 2004, 2008 and 2012 debates.
And what’s a discussion about debates without Saturday Night Live? We end our program with memorable SNL debate skits from the past.
Photo via Getty Images
Music used in the podcast:
Don’t Ask Me by Public Image Limited
Question by The Moody Blues
The Dangling Conversation by Simon & Garfunkel
Casual Conversations by Supertramp
Caught in the Beat by Broke for Free
No New Tale to Tell by Love and Rockets
Looking For Four More
Now it’s the Republicans’ turn. Their convention may have been the most unorthodox of all, with the White House being part of the festivities. Former Congressman Vin Weber, a Minnesota Republican who avoided Trump in 2016, explains why he has changed his mind and will support the president this year.
Several wild conspiracy theorists who call themselves part of a QAnon movement have won Republican primaries for seats in the House and Senate. Joseph Uscinski of the University of Miami, an expert on conspiracy theorists, says it may be premature to fear a party takeover from these fringe figures.
And Anthony Brooks of WBUR sizes up next week’s Democratic Senate primary in Massachusetts between incumbent Ed Markey, who is 74 years old and has been in Congress since the mid 1970s, and challenger Joe Kennedy III, the congressman who is 35 years younger and who is calling for generational change.
Music used in this podcast:
You Can’t Always Get What You Want by The Rolling Stones
I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party by The Beatles
They’re Coming to Take Me Away by Napoleon XIV
Elenore by The Turtles
Are You Experienced? by The Jimi Hendrix Experience