Domenico Montanaro | KUOW News and Information

Domenico Montanaro

Domenico Montanaro is NPR's lead editor for politics and digital audience. Based in Washington, D.C., he directs political coverage across the network's broadcast and digital platforms.

Before joining NPR in 2015, Montanaro served as political director and senior producer for politics and law at PBS NewsHour. There, he led domestic political and legal coverage, which included the 2014 midterm elections, the Supreme Court and the unrest in Ferguson, Mo.

Prior to PBS NewsHour, Montanaro was deputy political editor at NBC News, where he covered two presidential elections and reported and edited for the network's political blog, "First Read." He has also worked at CBS News, ABC News, The Asbury Park Press in New Jersey, and has taught high-school English.

Montanaro earned a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Delaware and a master's degree in Journalism from Columbia University

A native of Queens, N.Y., Montanaro is a die-hard Mets fan and college-basketball junkie.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Thursday's main Republican debate airs on Fox Business Network beginning at 9 p.m. EST.

The Kentucky county clerk who went to jail over her refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples will attend President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night, a group supporting her announced.

With voting in the first presidential nominating contests just weeks away, Bernie Sanders is trying to make a push before the end of the year.

His campaign announced that he has surpassed 2 million donations. The only other person to do that at this point in a presidential campaign was Barack Obama in 2011. (Clinton had 600,000 donations from 400,000 donors through the end of the third quarter — end of September.)

President Obama's rhetoric is a familiar punching bag for Republicans running to replace him. In particular, they focus on his reluctance to say the phrase "radical Islamic terrorism."

Inevitably, as news breaks of yet another international or domestic event — an explosion in Texas, a train derailment outside Philadelphia, a Molotov cocktail thrown into a nightclub in Egypt, a shooting in Colorado or California — there's one question never far from Americans' lips: "Is it terrorism?"

Even many who don't want to generalize wonder, "What do we know about the shooter — was he or she Muslim?"

President Obama struck an optimistic tone Tuesday on the second day of the Paris climate talks. But he also touched on the domestic political difficulty in a country still heavily reliant on coal — and when it comes to dealing with Republicans on the issue.

Editor's note: This story was originally posted last year. Some information was updated on Nov. 22, 2016.

The annual presidential turkey pardoning event at the White House is a strange one. This year is President Obama's eighth and last one, but he still seems confused.

"It is a little puzzling that I do this every year," Obama said in 2014.

"I know some folks think this tradition is a little silly," he said a year later. "I do not disagree."

The president has made the event something of an annual dad joke.

Assad must go.

That's been the Obama administration hard line since the U.S. charged the Syrian dictator, Bashar Assad, used chemical weapons against his own people.

But Hillary Clinton, Obama's former secretary of state, might not exactly agree.

"There is no alternative to a political transition that allows Syrians to end Assad's rule," Clinton said in her national-security address before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on Thursday.

Seem plain enough, right? Not exactly.

This post was updated at 9:23 p.m. ET

The next president will have to make some very big decisions about how to combat terrorism.

Paris, Beirut and the bombing of a Russian jetliner make that abundantly clear, 14 years after Sept. 11, the worst terrorist attacks on American soil. To listen to the presidential candidates, however, is to listen to two very distinctly different worldviews.

Updated at 1:22 a.m. ET

In the wake of controversy of any kind, even terrorist attacks, U.S. politics is never far behind. The American political response — from President Obama to the candidates vying to replace him — in the hours following the Paris attacks has been unsurprisingly split along party lines.

What is interesting, however, is that Democrats, who are set to debate Saturday night, have kept their responses generally to thoughts and prayers — with little in the way of policy prescriptions.

"Front-runner" can be a tenuous word. But when it comes to at least one group, Hillary Clinton is far and away the leader — the Democratic Party establishment.

There's no better measure of that establishment than unpledged party leaders and elected official delegates, better known as "superdelegates."

Among this group, Clinton leads Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders 359 to 8, according to an AP survey of the group that will help elect the nominee at the Democratic National Convention in July. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley has two people supporting him from this group.

Voters in Louisiana get to start their weekend off seeing this ad:

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

After a Sunday night meeting, in which the Republican campaigns largely agreed on a framework to negotiate as a group with TV networks for upcoming debates, the Trump campaign has decided it will negotiate independently.

"Just like the CNBC debate, we will negotiate with the media," Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told NPR. "We're going to make sure we're going to work with the networks to make sure the candidate's interest is at the forefront to negotiate the best deal."

West Virginia isn't exactly Obama Country.

And that was made quite obvious hours before the president was set to speak there on efforts to combat prescription drug abuse and heroin use. Protesters lined up with signs.

Here are a couple, courtesy of NPR's Don Gonyea.

Sign 1, which is a little hard to read because of a shadow, reads:

"OBAMA YOU'RE NO Martin Luther King get your AL SHARPTON BEHIND OUT OF West Virginia."

Sign 2 reads:

After thinking about it for months, Vice President Joe Biden concluded Wednesday that his window "has closed" on a potential run for president.

Biden has had a long and colorful life and career. Here are five things to know about him, some of which might have complicated a run for president:

1. Biden is no stranger to tragedy

Donald Trump and Jeb Bush were at it again.

Trump upped the ante in criticizing Jeb Bush by slamming his brother George W.'s presidency and at least partially blaming the elder Bush brother for Sept. 11.

"When you talk about George Bush, I mean, say what you want, the World Trade Center came down during his time," he told Bloomberg. When the questioner said he couldn't blame Bush for terrorist attacks, Trump responded this way: "He was president, OK? ... Blame him, or don't blame him, but he was president. The World Trade Center came down during his reign."

Let's not bury the lede. Here's Bernie Sanders dancing:

The Vermont senator taped a segment on the Ellen show Wednesday that will air Thursday. There was some seriousness early on, but it was mostly light fare. He joked about his hair and played along in a lightning round when he was asked:

Chaos ensued in the halls of Congress Thursday when Rep. Kevin McCarthy unexpectedly took himself out of the running to replace John Boehner as speaker of the House.

The reason for the pandemonium and, yes, even tears: No one knows where this goes from here.

Here are the four likely ways it gets resolved:

It's hard to deny that the NRA has won the gun debate over the past 20 years.

Despite mass shootings — and despite some 80 to 90 percent of Americans saying they are in favor of background checks — no legislation expanding on the 1993 Brady Bill has passed Congress.

What's going on? Well, the debate over guns is hardly ever solely about background checks or other seemingly popular measures intended to curb gun violence.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Updated at 12:15 p.m. ET.

Arne Duncan will step down as President Obama's education secretary in December, a White House official confirms to NPR.

Obama has selected Deputy Education Secretary John B. King Jr. to replace Duncan. King is a former New York State education commissioner. (President Obama is making a personnel announcement at 3:30 p.m. ET.)

The fight to replace John Boehner is on.

California Republican Kevin McCarthy announced Monday he is running to replace Boehner as House speaker.

"If elected Speaker, I promise you that we will have the courage to lead the fight for our conservative principles and make our case to the American people," McCarthy wrote in a letter to rank-and-file GOP colleagues announcing he is running.

That line is a nod to one of the chief criticisms of Boehner, that he didn't fight hard enough for conservative principles.

Some people do drink holy water, hoping for a little extra help from above.

But no one steals the pope's.

That is, no one, except Rep. Bob Brady. The Pennsylvania Democrat, a Roman Catholic, apparently eyed the glass atop the lectern next to Pope Francis during his address to Congress. Once Francis was done, Brady nabbed it, sneaked it back to his office — and drank it.

It's a new day, and it might not be the same again.

"My, oh my, what a wonderful day..." House Speaker John Boehner sang as he took to the podium in the Capitol Friday to announce his intention to resign as speaker of the House at the end of October.

But he isn't the only one reacting gleefully — conservatives are, too.

Boehner's resignation happens to coincide with the Values Voter Summit taking place in Washington Friday. Many at the conservative confab of religious voters were overjoyed.

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