Ron Elving

Ron Elving is Senior Editor and Correspondent on the Washington Desk for NPR News, where he is frequently heard as a news analyst and writes regularly for NPR.org.

He was previously the political editor for USA Today and for Congressional Quarterly. He has been a Distinguished Visiting Professional in Residence at American University, where he is now an adjunct professor. In this role, Elving received American University's 2016 University Faculty Award for Outstanding Teaching in an Adjunct Appointment. He has also taught at George Mason and Georgetown University.

He has been published by the Brookings Institution and the American Political Science Association. He has contributed chapters on Obama and the media and on the media role in Congress to the academic studies Obama in Office 2011, and Rivals for Power, 2013. Ron's earlier book, Conflict and Compromise: How Congress Makes the Law, was published by Simon & Schuster and is also a Touchstone paperback.

During his tenure as the manager of NPR's Washington coverage, NPR reporters were awarded every major recognition available in radio journalism, including the Dirksen Award for Congressional Reporting and the Edward R. Murrow Award from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

In 2008, the American Political Science Association awarded NPR the Carey McWilliams Award "in recognition of a major contribution to the understanding of political science."

Ron came to Washington in 1984 as a Congressional Fellow with the American Political Science Association and worked for two years as a staff member in the House and Senate. Previously, he had been state capital bureau chief for The Milwaukee Journal.

He received his bachelor's degree from Stanford University and master's degrees from the University of Chicago and the University of California – Berkeley.

On Tuesday afternoon, President Obama declared May as Older Americans Month, National Foster Care Month, National Building Safety Month, Jewish American Heritage Month and National Physical Fitness and Sports Month.

The president also issued a statement on the investiture of the new king of the Netherlands.

While small and routine, these moves were all easy to understand, as were the accompanying proclamations from the White House press shop.

Now and then, an issue before the U.S. Supreme Court changes the course of the nation's political history — whether the justices like it or not.

It's happening again with gay marriage. This week the court heard oral arguments in two key cases. One could restore legal same-sex marriage in California; the other could end discrimination against gay married couples in the administration of more than 1,000 federal programs.

In the final hours of the latest budget crisis in Washington, several salient facts are increasingly clear.

First, the leaders of the two parties in the Senate might still put together a negotiated deal that would avert the combination of tax increases and spending cuts known as the fiscal cliff. The leaders would start with President Obama's top priorities, modify them to accommodate Republican preferences, throw in some measures that are GOP priorities and take the package to the floor.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

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And in our studio, NPR's senior Washington editor Ron Elving. Every couple of years, here we are around this time trying to figure out who has been elected to what. Tonight, what are you looking for? What are the important signs you're looking for in the numbers as they come in?

The latest and last NPR Battleground Poll for 2012 shows former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney holding the narrowest of leads in the national sample, but trailing President Obama in the dozen states that will decide the election.

The poll adds evidence that the Oct. 3 debate between the two men redefined the race. But the movement toward Romney that emerged after that night in Denver also seems to have stalled after the race drew even — leaving the outcome difficult to call.

In his third debate with President Obama, Mitt Romney dialed up "cool and cautious" on his mood meter. And that tells you a great deal about where this presidential race stands with two weeks to go.

If George McGovern often seemed miscast as a presidential candidate, he was at least as improbable as an icon of the anti-war movement.

The Vietnam War gave birth to an opposition movement unlike any America had seen in its previous wars. It was young, unconventional and countercultural, defiant of authority and deeply suspicious of government.

McGovern himself was none of these things.

President Obama beat at least one of his adversaries on the stage at Hofstra University last night. He easily outperformed that guy — whoever he was — who debated against former Gov. Mitt Romney two weeks ago in Denver.

That much was obvious — and necessary for the president. The question now is whether it will be sufficient to restore his momentum in the race itself.

Imagine a lawyer's lawyer, a fighter's fighter and a pol's pol. Now imagine one person as all three. That was Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who died Sunday at age 82.

Over the course of three decades in the U.S. Senate (1981-2011), Specter came to personify the pragmatic, independent operator who sized up the substance and politics of every issue for himself. His vote could be one of the hardest to get, and often the one that made the difference.

You may have noticed that the vice presidential debate took place on the same day as four crucial games in this year's baseball playoffs. In case you were distracted at all by the latter, here's some of what you may have missed:

In case anyone was wondering, this week's presidential debate demonstrated why incumbent presidents and others leading in the polls used to refuse to debate their challengers.

After John F. Kennedy used the first TV debates to boost his campaign against incumbent Vice President Richard Nixon in 1960, there simply were no debates until 1976. Running again with a big lead in 1968 and 1972, Nixon declined to debate and won both times. Lyndon B. Johnson also demurred in 1964 without damage en route to a landslide.

Early in his acceptance speech last night, President Obama laid out the voters' task in these words:

"On every issue, the choice you face won't be just between two candidates or two parties. It will be a choice ... between two fundamentally different visions for the future."

Party platforms are like contracts: No one bothers to read them until something bad happens.

We all know that parties to any agreement should study the fine print in advance, and surely that applies to the national political parties. The delegates really ought to spend some of their time in the host city studying the document they are voting to adopt.

But hey, it's a convention. It's a party. Who wants to sit in their hotel room and read?

Bill Clinton will add yet another chapter to his storied career tonight when the former president places in nomination the name of the current president, Barack Obama.

It will be the focal point of the evening and for some, perhaps, the most newsworthy moment of the entire convention. The old Clinton-Obama feud remains an endless source of political gossip, and the convention planners are happy to have the former president's supposedly unedited and unvetted remarks as a rare source of suspense. Maybe it will help the ratings.

The 2012 Republican National Convention may have been the first gathering of its kind to take its theme from a gaffe.

The second night of the Republican convention was an orchestrated buildup for Mitt Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan.

Ryan emerged at the evening's end to deliver the payoff speech and introduce himself to a national audience. He did a rousing job of it, delivering the session's most memorable material with stark intensity.

In case you missed it, the theme here in Tampa at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday was: "We Built It." Intended as a reference to building a business, the three words also suggested another construction project under way — a bridge to female voters.

When the Republican National Convention finally gets underway today here in Tampa, it will renew a civil war that's been raging — off and on — for more than a century.

Political conventions are famed for focusing the nation's attention on one name, but at this year's Republican National Convention here in Tampa, that name is not the nominee's.

You may already have made a mental note as to where you were when you heard the Supreme Court had upheld the health care law known as Obamacare. It's one of those moments that become touchstones of our memory, personal connections to the history we have witnessed in our lifetimes.

The Supreme Court may not be the source of such moments very often, but when its rulings reach this level of our awareness, they alter the course of our lives.

For weeks now, we in the news business have been telling you how much the Scott Walker recall election in Wisconsin matters to the country as a whole.

Gov. Scott Walker beat back a recall attempt in Wisconsin on Tuesday by doing what he had to do: turning out huge majorities in the Republican enclaves of the state — especially in its eastern half near Lake Michigan.

In the end, Walker wound up with about 53 percent of the vote, about 1 percentage point better than he had in winning the governorship the first time in November 2010.

Wisconsin votes on recalling its governor Tuesday, and much has already been made of that vote's potential implications beyond the state.

But for now, this historic moment belongs to the 3 million-plus Wisconsinites registered to vote. Most of them are expected to turn out, and those who do will be thinking about the implications for Wisconsin more than the prospects for fallout elsewhere.

The latest variant of the presidential election parlor game we call "What Were They Thinking?" asks why Mitt Romney chose this moment in his quest for the White House to become involved with Donald Trump.

Here's a contrarian guess by way of an answer: populism. Bear with me for a moment of explanation.

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