Asma Khalid | KUER 90.1

Asma Khalid

Asma Khalid is a political correspondent for NPR who co-hosts The NPR Politics Podcast.

These days, she's covering the 2020 presidential campaign.

Asma's also reported on the 2014, 2016 and 2018 elections. In 2016, she focused on the intersection of demographics and politics and was awarded the Missouri Honor Medal for her coverage.

Before joining NPR's political team, Asma helped launch a new initiative for Boston's NPR station WBUR where she reported on biz/tech/and the future of work.

She's reported on a range of stories over the years — including the Boston Marathon bombings and the trial of James "Whitey" Bulger.

Asma got her start in journalism in her home state of Indiana (go Hoosiers!) but she fell in love with radio through an internship at BBC Newshour in London during grad school.

Updated at 4:52 p.m. ET

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, laid out a key plank of his economic agenda for the country — dubbed "Build Back Better" — in a half-hour speech Thursday, offering a competing vision of economic nationalism that President Trump has trumpeted in recent years.

John Farner considers himself a lifelong Republican. He worked on George W. Bush's 2000 campaign and then took a job in the administration's Commerce Department.

But Farner was skeptical when he saw Donald Trump step onto the GOP stage. And in 2016, he chose not to vote for any presidential candidate.

This November is different, Farner said. The past 3 1/2 years have made it clear that he needs to pick a side, that it's no longer sufficient to simply abstain.

One of a series of reports looking at Joe Biden's potential running mates


Many progressives are loudly calling for Joe Biden to pick Elizabeth Warren as his running mate. They insist the liberal senator, who's long been a darling of the left, would help the presumptive Democratic nominee win over skeptical young voters.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

On a recent morning, Kim Gates helped hand out free boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables in an underserved area of Grand Rapids, Mich.

Lately, the retired schoolteacher from the nearby tiny town of Caledonia has been trying to volunteer with minority communities and read more about racism.

The 63-year-old white woman had always voted for the candidate she thought was best for the job — like, for instance, Michigan's recent Republican governor, Rick Snyder. She said she never considered herself political until Donald Trump's victory in 2016.

In late April, more than 200 black women who are leaders and activists within the Democratic party signed an open letter to the presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden calling on him to select a black woman as his running mate.

"It is a fact that the road to the White House is powered by Black women and Black women are the key to a Democratic victory in 2020," they wrote.

Zach Rodriguez, a 22-year-old Republican from Kenosha, Wis., says he was disgusted when he watched video footage of George Floyd being killed by police.

"It was appalling," Rodriguez said, noting he was glad to see protesters in his hometown take to the streets.

"In the past, we saw a lot of 'Black Lives Matter' versus 'All Lives Matter.' In this case, I think it's really starting to hit home, especially in the Republican Party. Black lives do matter," he said.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

If you're a supporter of President Trump, longing for the excitement and MAGA-kinship of a big rally, Trump's campaign has built the next best thing. It's a massive digital operation that creates an interactive world where Trump is flawless and Republicans are saviors, while Democrats and Joe Biden are wrong and dangerous.

They encourage supporters to "forget the mainstream media" and get their "facts straight from the source," an insular information ecosystem featuring prime time programming, accessed in its most pure form through the new Trump 2020 app.

At a town hall in New Hampshire this past February, long before Joe Biden was the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, he outlined two basic criteria for his potential running mate:

"One, that they are younger than I am," the 77-year-old candidate told the crowd. "No, I'm not being facetious, and No. 2, that they are ready on Day 1 to be president of the United States of America."

The secretary of the Senate's office said on Monday that it cannot comply with former Vice President Joe Biden's request to search for and release any records of an alleged sexual harassment complaint from Tara Reade.

On Friday, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee had formally written to Secretary of the Senate Julie Adams asking for help in determining whether Reade had filed a written complaint 27 years ago, as she says she did while working as a staff assistant in Biden's Senate office.

Updated at 5:59 p.m. ET

Editor's note: This story contains graphic descriptions of an alleged sexual assault.

More than a month after being publicly accused of sexual assault by a former Senate staffer in the 1990s, former Vice President Joe Biden says the allegations "aren't true. This never happened."

"Nobody has been tougher on China than me," President Trump proclaimed at Tuesday's coronavirus briefing.

When the Trump administration has been criticized for how it has handled the coronavirus outbreak, the president has been inclined at times to blame the Chinese and then accuse his Democratic opponent Joe Biden of being "weak on China."

Biden's campaign has been trying to turn that argument back on Trump, seeing lots of material to work with as the president has touted an improved trading relationship with China.

Editor's note: This story contains a graphic description of an alleged sexual assault.

Tara Reade, a former junior staffer in Joe Biden's Senate office, has accused the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee of sexually assaulting her in 1993, when she was working as a staff assistant. The Biden campaign denies the accusation and says the alleged incident "absolutely did not happen."

In February 2009, the country was in the midst of the worst economic downturn it had experienced since the Great Depression. Unemployment was over 8%, job losses were widespread, and economic anxiety was spreading.

Congress passed a massive economic rescue package, just as it has to avoid economic peril from the coronavirus outbreak, known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It included tax cuts, expanded unemployment support, infrastructure projects and money for a range of Democratic domestic priorities, such as green jobs and high-speed rail.

A day after Bernie Sanders dropped out of the presidential race, Joe Biden, now the presumptive Democratic nominee, made an overture to progressives.

On Thursday he rolled out two new policy proposals:

  1. Lower the age of Medicare eligibility from 65 to 60.
  2. Forgive student debt for low-income and middle-class families who attended public colleges and universities and some private institutions.

Updated at 6:06 p.m. ET

President Trump and his likely Democratic opponent Joe Biden spoke about the country's response to the coronavirus pandemic on Monday, a conversation that had been discussed between the two sides since last week.

After Bernie Sanders suffered three straight weeks of big losses across the country, the Vermont senator returned home to "assess his campaign."

Joe Biden is a classic retail politician — a man who loves to shake hands, give hugs, take selfies and look voters directly in the eye, one-on-one. But now he can't do any of those things.

Instead, because of the coronavirus outbreak, his campaign is grounded: no rallies, no travel. It's all virtual fundraisers, live-streamed speeches, remote TV interviews, Facebook videos and volunteer Slack channels.

Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg has decided against creating a super PAC that was expected to spend unlimited sums to take on President Trump and instead is transferring $18 million to the Democratic National Committee.

"While we considered creating our own independent entity to support the nominee and hold the president accountable, this race is too important to have many competing groups with good intentions but that are not coordinated and united in strategy and execution," Bloomberg's team wrote in a memo to Tom Perez, the chairman of the DNC.

Updated at 6 p.m. ET

The leading Democratic presidential candidates slammed the Trump administration on Thursday for its response to the worsening coronavirus pandemic.

Last summer, when Elizabeth Warren was bringing out thousands of people at mega-rallies who would wait long into the night in seemingly never-ending "selfie" lines, progressive groups were torn. They saw both Warren and her fellow presidential candidate Bernie Sanders as allies for their causes.

A year ago, some New Hampshire progressives, who had elevated Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders to a decisive victory in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary there, told NPR they weren't so sure they wanted to see him run for president again.

Back in 2016, as she campaigned for Hillary Clinton, Laura Hubka could feel her county converting.

"People were chasing me out the door, slamming the door in my face, calling Hillary names," Hubka recalled.

Hubka is the chair of the Democratic Party in Howard County, Iowa. It's a tiny county of just about 9,000 people on the Minnesota border, and it's mostly white, rural and, locals say, religious.

Cory Booker is a politician who sounds like a preacher.

"We may be down in a valley right now," he said during an Iowa campaign stop this week, "but I promise you, if you stand with me, if you caucus with me, if we stand for that spirit, I promise you, we will get to the mountaintop and we'll do it, because together as Americans, we know we will rise."

Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, entered the Democratic presidential primary a month ago. He's already spent more than $100 million on advertising.

Bloomberg and Tom Steyer, another billionaire in the Democratic contest, have in total spent about $200 million so far, according to Advertising Analytics, a firm that tracks campaign ad expenditures.

This weekend, one of the most high-profile Latinas in Congress, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is campaigning for Bernie Sanders in Nevada and California.

When Elizabeth Warren arrived in Austin to teach law school at the University of Texas in the 1980s, colleagues say she was nothing close to the unapologetic progressive firebrand voters see today.

"She was quite consistently pro-business," said Calvin Johnson, who taught law school with Warren at the University of Texas. "And I'm sure she would not like to be called 'anti-consumer,' " he added. But, in his view, the future Massachusetts senator was "absolutely anti-consumer" on some positions at the time.

When news broke that California Sen. Kamala Harris was dropping out of the presidential race on Tuesday, some fellow Democratic candidates quickly began ringing alarm bells. Harris was the only nonwhite candidate to have qualified for the next presidential debate on Dec. 19.

"What we're staring at is a DNC debate stage in a few days with no people of color on it, that does not reflect the diversity of our party or our country," former Housing Secretary Julián Castro said. "We need to do better than that."

Updated at 3:25 p.m. ET

California Sen. Kamala Harris is dropping out of the presidential race, citing a lack of funds. She informed her campaign staff of the decision on a conference call and later sent an email to supporters, in which she wrote "my campaign for president simply doesn't have the financial resources we need to continue."

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