- Jeff Zeleny, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players16 hrs ago
The Fine Print
More than a decade after Clay Aiken made his singing debut on the stage of “American Idol,” he is taking to the political stage, competing for a very different sort of title: U.S. Congressman.
Running as a Democrat in North Carolina’s 2nd District, Aiken is making the case to voters that his voice is good for more than just singing.
“What people don't recognize is that in the months and weeks following 'American Idol,' I worked to set up an organization for kids with disabilities, and for the last 11 years I've helped grow that organization from one that had programs in North Carolina to one that has programs in states across the country,” Aiken told “The Fine Print.”
In an effort to get voters to focus on him as a candidate rather than a singer, Aiken has put a stop on the singing – at least for now – as he travels across in his native North Carolina, where he faces an uphill battle as a Democrat running in a conservative district.
Grading 'Common Core': Education Secretary Arne Duncan sticks up for controversial learning standardsJim Avila and Serena Marshall at Power Players2 days ago
School is back in session for much of the country and “Power Players” joined First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at a “prep rally” at the high school where Martin Luther King Jr. graduated back in 1944 at the age of 14.
It’s all part of an effort to pump up the nation's students beginning another controversial year in American education.
Watching from the wings, the man on the hot seat: Education Secretary Arne Duncan, kicking off a motivational bus tour through the South.
At 6-foot-6, the former Harvard basketball team captain is the tallest member of President Obama's cabinet and a regular opponent in presidential hoops, even serving up fancy passes during the 2014 NBA All-Star weekend celebrity game.
But Duncan's day job and toughest battles are in the classroom, where his opponents are often teachers unions, and some parents, opposed to his "Common Core" approach that demands higher standards for students and accountability for those who teach.
When asked if it concerns him that “Common Core” has become a political issue, Duncan said he’s happy folks are at least talking about education.
- Devin Dwyer, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players4 days ago
A novel new website dubbed Crowdpac is out to empower more average Americans to lend support to election campaigns nationwide in an era when big donors dominate.
“The idea of Crowdpac is to make it really easy for everyone to get involved in politics,” Crowdpac’s British co-founder and CEO Steve Hilton told “Power Players.”
Hilton, a former adviser to British Prime Minister David Cameron, has a reputation across the pond for his out-of-the-box strategies to try to provoke political change. Now living in the United States, he’s on a mission to make it easier for Americans to find like-minded candidates and give them some cash.
“People are concerned about the fact that typically it's the insiders, the big donors, the special interests,” Hilton said. “So you can search Crowdpac for the candidates that come closest to your position and that are running in tight races where your involvement can be effective.”
- Jonathan Karl, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players8 days ago
Documentary filmmaker Rory Kennedy has pulled off a minor miracle: She has found something new and compelling to say about the Vietnam War, a spellbinding story of heroism and heartbreak during one of America’s darkest hours.
Using a trove of never-before-seen footage of the United States’ 1975 military withdrawal, Kennedy’s “Last Days in Vietnam” tells the story of the U.S. soldiers and diplomats who defied orders from Washington to orchestrate an ad hoc evacuation of our allies in the final moments before Saigon fell.
“How we got to that point where people the Vietnamese were so desperately trying to get out of the country … we think then very few people knew that story and it's an extraordinary story,” Kennedy told “Politics Confidential” in an interview at Edgar Bar and Kitchen in Washington, D.C.
“The [U.S.] government said we just got to get the Americans out, it's falling too fast,” Kennedy said. “And a handful of Americans on the ground said not so fast. If we leave our Vietnamese friends and allies, our comrades, behind, they're going to be killed. They're going to be tortured.”
- Rick Klein, Olivier Knox, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players11 days ago
Pioneering journalist and author Gail Sheehy made a career out of telling the stories of other people’s lives.
Best known for her 1976 book “Passages,” which the Library of Congress named one of the 10 most influential books of our time, Sheehy is now telling the story of her own life’s journey in a memoir, “Daring: My Passages.”
“It's so much easier to write about other people's lives,” Sheehy told “Top Line” in a recent interview. “I had to actually figure out, what did my life add up to? … But I feel much better on the other end of it. I let go of a lot of guilt. I came to really appreciate people who had been helpful to me along the way.”
Looking back at the arc of her own career, coming up as a woman practicing journalism at a time when the field was largely dominated by men, Sheehy said she would tell her younger self not to be intimidated.
- Susan Saulny, Jordyn Phelps and Ali Dukakis at Power Players13 days ago
The recent killing of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, sparked a national discussion about racism in America today, but the Wall Street Journal’s Jason Riley says the country is having the wrong conversation.
“Every time we get a Ferguson or a Trayvon Martin, we start talking about relationships between the black community and the police department,” Riley said. “We start talking about racial profiling. We start talking about poverty and unemployment. But I think those are really side issues, and what they're really ducking is the real issue, which is black criminality, black crime rates.”
Riley, who has been dubbed as the “the right’s favorite new race guru” by Salon Magazine, is the author of a provocative new book called "Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed" in which he argues that “values and habits” within the black community, not “oppression from a manifestly unjust society,” are to blame for the challenges facing “the black underclass.”
- Jeff Zeleny, Richard Coolidge, Ali Dukakis and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players15 days ago
The Fine Print
Are die-hard Democrats and far-right Republicans inadvertently bankrolling the other party’s campaigns? As it turns out, partisan-charged transactions are taking place every day, and in an unlikely place: The grocery store checkout line.
With 2014 midterm elections now in full swing, how can you avoid filling the opponent's pockets with your bread and butter money? There's now an app for that: BuyPartisan.
“For the first time, we made it easy for people to be able to take a product that they see on their everyday grocery store shelves and be able to take their smart phone and … scan the barcode and instantly be able to figure out whether the political party behind the product that they’re buying matches their own values,” Matthew Colbert, CEO of Spend Consciously, Inc., told “The Fine Print.”
Colbert says the new smartphone application is designed to empower consumers by providing transparent information about the products on their grocer’s shelves. By scanning everyday items ranging from toilet paper to cereals through the smartphone app, BuyPartisan provides shoppers with a comprehensive breakdown of the company’s political profile in a matter of seconds.
- Rick Klein, Olivier Knox, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players18 days ago
Republicans are likely to win control of the Senate in November’s midterm elections, according to projections by the statistical prognosticators at FiveThirtyEight.
“We’re currently projecting that Republicans have a better chance than Democrats to control the Senate, but it's still up for grabs,” FiveThirtyEight political analyst Harry Enten said. “The current number that we're going for is a 62.2 percent chance that Republicans will take control of the United States Senate in November.”
Enten sat down with “Top Line” to discuss FiveThirtyEight’s Senate forecast, which has been updated since this interview’s taping Wednesday, and explained why it tells a story of GOP victory.
“We’re calculating the percentage chance that Republicans will win each seat, and then we're adding up those probabilities, and then we come up with an overall top line,” he said. “We believe that Republicans do have a better chance of controlling the Senate than Democrats.”
From typewriters to Twitter: White House correspondent Ann Compton on making history and covering itJonathan Karl, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players20 days ago
When 27-year-old Ann Compton arrived at the White House as an ABC News television correspondent in 1973, she broke a glass ceiling for women and launched a career that became, by many measures, legendary.
Over 41 years, Compton reported on seven administrations and covered 10 presidential campaigns, visiting all 50 states and six continents with presidents, vice presidents and first ladies. She was the first woman ever to cover the presidency full-time for a major American network.
“To come in as the first woman wasn't that intimidating," Compton told “Politics Confidential” during an interview on the balcony outside the vice president’s ceremonial office overlooking the West Wing. “To come in as somebody who was 26 years old, 27, alongside of colleagues who had been in the motorcade when John Kennedy was shot, or in Panmunjom when the armistice was signed in Korea, I was out of my league.”
She quickly proved her mettle, earning widespread admiration and an Emmy for her reporting on Sept. 11, 2001, when Compton was the only broadcaster aboard Air Force One with President George W. Bush.