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Iowa Visits Stoke 2016 Speculation

Fried butter at the 2011 Iowa State Fair. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Morning Line

While one should never underestimate the allure of deep-fried butter, it would appear that 2016 presidential ambitions were the main factor drawing some folks to Iowa over the weekend.

Among them, 2012 Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who has said he would be “open” to launching another bid. The former Pennsylvania senator’s three-day visit included stops at the Iowa State Fair and a Lyon County GOP fundraiser.

He also addressed a gathering of social conservatives on Saturday, issuing a challenge to Republicans to reach out to working-class Americans with a message of economic populism.

“We don’t talk to them,” Santorum said, adding that the GOP needs to “start putting forth an agenda of ideas to raise up folks who want to vote for us.”

Santorum, who narrowly won the 2012 Iowa caucus, said the election showed a contrast between President Barack Obama, who “went out and talked to them,” with Republicans, who “marginalized them.”

“We need to reject this idea that if we just build the economy, all boats will rise and everybody will be fine,” Santorum said. “I don’t know about you, but most people I know have holes in their boats, and when that tide rises sometimes they don’t rise. Sometimes they sink.”

Attendees of the Family Leadership Summit also heard from Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who delivered plenty of red meat, blasting the Internal Revenue Service for targeting conservative groups and pledging to defund the president’s health care reform law. The Des Moines Register’s Jennifer Jacobs reports that Cruz also asked those in the crowd to pull out their cellphones and send a text that would link them to his grassroots network.

But Republicans did not have the state to themselves this weekend.

At a forum on Friday hosted by the Democratic women’s group Emily’s List, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill was on hand to help bolster the organization’s campaign to election a woman president in 2016.

And McCaskill made clear that when it came to that goal, she had one person in mind.

“Getting everyone excited now about what I hope will be that moment in 2017 when we all get to say, ‘Madam President,’ to Hillary Rodham Clinton,” McCaskill said.

The prospect of electing a woman president is a subject Clinton herself has raised in recent months, notes Philip Rucker of the Washington Post:

Unlike during her 2008 presidential campaign, when she waited until her concession speech to fully embrace the historic nature of her candidacy, Clinton these days talks freely about women breaking barriers. She has woven a theme of women’s empowerment throughout almost all of her public remarks in the seven months since she stepped down as secretary of state.

Clinton’s advisers said that there is no political agenda behind her recent remarks and that she has made no decision to launch a campaign. They said the comments are simply a natural continuation of her lifelong focus on advocating for women.

While Clinton remains quiet on her future plans, one of her potential rivals in 2016, Vice President Joe Biden, is stoking speculation with a September visit to Iowa to attend Sen. Tom Harkin’s annual steak fry. The event, a premiere stop for future Democratic presidential contenders, will also feature San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, who delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte last year.

As for the current occupant of the White House, it’s going to be a quiet week. Mr. Obama gave a press conference Friday before heading to Martha’s Vineyard on vacation, outlining his administration’s efforts to make its surveillance program more transparent and criticizing Republicans for attempting to defund his health care law.

Watch our lead segment from Friday’s show here or below:

Editor’s note: For the rest of the summer, the Morning Line will only publish once a week, on Mondays. Visit our home page for news and show segments, and follow @NewsHour for the latest.


Hold onto your hats! We’ve got a lot of exciting changes underway at the NewsHour.

Last week PBS announced that Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff have been named co-anchors and managing editors of the show, which has not had a permanent anchor since founder Jim Lehrer retired in 2011.

Gwen and Judy, who made history as the first female co-anchors of a political convention, will do it again on a nightly basis. They will both anchor Monday through Thursday and then Judy will anchor solo on Fridays so Gwen can host the program “Washington Week.”

Jeff Brown, Ray Suarez and Margaret Warner will have new exclusive beats, and will still appear on the show and offer the smart reporting and analysis you’re used to.

The shift comes as Hari Sreenivasan, just named a senior correspondent, prepares to launch our new NewsHour Weekend show beginning Sept. 7.

Gwen made the news the subject of this week’s “Gwen’s Take,” touching on the historic nature of the announcement. But she also outlined the importance of what we do:

There are plenty of places on television to find out what other people think about the issues of the day. But if you’re looking for news programs designed to help you decide what you think, the pool of destinations continues to shrink.

That’s where we come in. And if we make a little history on the way to that destination, so be it.


  • Attorney General Eric Holder Monday will outline a change in minimum sentences for low-level drug offenses.
  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Friday that he hoped Republican opposition to the president’s policies is not based on race.
  • As the president begins his vacation, Walter Shapiro explains why Democrats like Martha’s Vineyard.
  • Twitter has registered to lobby.
  • Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber says he will veto a measure loosening a ban on state schools using Native American mascots.
  • Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Sunday that the organization’s debate boycott is aimed at companies putting Hillary Clinton programming “on the air” and not those responsible for producing the content. The comments came after Priebus was asked on CNN about reports Fox Television studios might produce a Clinton miniseries for NBC. The RNC sent letters last week to NBC and CNN calling on the outlets to cancel productions about Hillary Clinton or risk not being allowed to host any of the 2016 GOP primary debates.
  • Jesse Benton, who previously ran Ron Paul’s presidential campaign, told a conservative activist in a phone conversation earlier this year that he was “sort of holding my nose” by serving as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign manager because it would “be a big benefit” to Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul if he ran for president in 2016.
  • NewsHour partner Kantar Media CMAG is tracking Obamacare-related tweets.
  • Texas state senator Wendy Davis told members of the National Press Club last week that she is only considering running for governor or for her state senate seat, dispersing all rumors of a possible candidacy for lieutenant governor. “Some of you probably have never heard of my name before June,” Davis said in reference to her quick rise to stardom in the Lone Star State after her 11-hour filibuster of the abortion bill known as the SB5. She used the speech to talk about her signature issue of education policy, along with women’s health, veterans’ rights, voting and transportation.
  • In her weekly Cook Political Report column, Amy Walter discusses the War for Women.
  • Organizing for Action is looking for ways to help Georgia Senate candidate Michelle Nunn, taking its closest step yet toward electoral politics.
  • RealClearPolitics went door-knocking with Anthony Weiner.
  • Florida Gov. Rick Scott is evaluating voter rolls to purge non-citizens from the list.
  • Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-La., will not seek re-election in 2014, and instead will serve in Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration.
  • Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg waded into immigration reform by making his first public remarks on the topic at the premiere of Jose Antonio Vargas’ film “Documented” in San Francisco last week.
  • Matt Cooper tells the story of relationships on Twitter.
  • Outgoing Hotline Editor-in-Chief Reid Wilson rounds up the five rules of politics he’s learned from years of 6 a.m. #HotlineSort.
  • Sunlight highlights Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ political influence over the years.
  • The only surviving TV news archive from the civil rights era in Virginia now will be available to the public online.
  • The Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia released this beautiful color-coded map showing population distribution and racial makeup across the U.S.
  • The New York Times’ Dan Barry uncovers the secret behind the “Nick Beef” gravemarker next to Lee Harvey Oswald’s final resting place.
  • Christina was on “Up with Steve Kornacki” this weekend, discussing congressional politics, early reviews in Iowa, Chris Christie, the news coverage of the IRS targeting scandal, the Clinton film, New Jersey’s Senate primary and the awesomeness of our NewsHour news.
  • For the record, we like Apple Jacks, Peanut Butter Toast Crunch and Frosted Mini-Wheats.
  • Very clever, Zillow.
  • FanGraphs evaluates presidential first pitches. George W. Bush and John F. Kennedy rate highly. William Howard Taft and Dwight Eisenhower, not so much.

NEWSHOUR: #notjustaTVshow

  • Newshour Desk Assistant Mallory Sofastaii looked at the role young people play in the implementation of Obamacare. The NewsHour heard directly from young adults impacted by the health care reform law.
  • Christina did a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” on Friday, touching on everything from marijuana legalization to journalism ethics, and getting into an intense discussion about maple syrup and Showtime’s “Dexter.” But perhaps most interesting was a spin on a classic AMA question. See her video response to “Would you rather fight 100 Barbara Mikulski-sized John Thunes or one John Thune-sized Barbara Mikulski?” here.
  • David Brooks and Ruth Marcus offered analysis on Mr. Obama’s press conference and the president’s relationship with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
  • Following the sale of the Washington Post to Jeff Bezos, Don Graham granted the NewsHour his only television interview. Watch:

  • NewsHour’s Lorna Baldwin writes about a gathering of Golden Retrievers in Scotland. No, really.
  • Congressional correspondent Kwame Holman hung out with goats and historian Richard Norton Smith at Washington’s Congressional Cemetery, and we can’t help but use the phrase “Herd on the Hill.”
  • NewsHour reporter-producer Larisa Epatko put together this handy primer for what it means when an embassy is shut down.
  • Are you a PBS nerd? Take the quiz!






























Simone Pathe, Katelyn Polantz and desk assistant Ariel Min contributed to this report.

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