The race for governor in Virginia is attracting national attention for several reasons. It pits a former Democratic National Committee chairman against a conservative attorney general who helped lead the charge against President Obama's health care law. It's also one of the few high-profile statewide races happening this year, which means it will be closely watched for insights into the national mood ahead of the congressional midterm elections of 2014.
It was the eve of a series of votes to end GOP filibusters of seven presidential appointees, and Democrats had vowed they would resort to the "nuclear option" and get rid of such filibusters altogether should any of those stalled nominees remain blocked.
All but two of the Senate's 100 members squeezed into the camera-free old chamber that the Senate used until just before the Civil War. Behind closed doors, they talked for more than three hours.
I buttonholed West Virginia Democrat Jay Rockefeller as he stepped out of that Monday night meeting.
The days are few and far between when President Obama has intentionally reminded us that he is the first African-American president.
Friday was one.
The president did something no other holder of his office has ever had the life experience to do: He used the bully pulpit to, as an African-American, explain black America to white America in the wake of last week's acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin.
President Obama gave an unexpected news conference Friday. He spoke for nearly 17 minutes about law enforcement, race and the African-American experience in the U.S. Audie Cornish speaks with Angelo Henderson, who speaks about things like that ever day as host of Your Voice with Angelo Henderson, a daily program on Radio One Detroit.
And it's with the president's comments that we begin our conversation with our Friday political commentators, E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post and David Brooks of the New York Times. Good to see you both again.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Later we'll head into the barbershop as we do just about every Friday. We'll hear from the guys on why financial planning advice from McDonald's to its employees fell flat and other news of the week, that's later. But first, we turn to Detroit. The city declared bankruptcy yesterday, making it the largest municipal bankruptcy in this country's history. It all comes after decades of decline from the city's bloom years as the center of the nation's auto industry.
In the penultimate edition of the podcast, NPR's Ken Rudin and Ron Elving summarize the political fallout of the Zimmerman verdict and the Senate deal reached on filibusters and also update the latest on the Wyoming and Montana Senate races. They also try to define the word "penultimate."
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Congress this week has convened its first hearings about the Voting Rights Act since the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of that law last month. The meetings offer some insights into what, if anything, lawmakers will do to restore the stricken section that enables the Justice Department to review in advance changes to state voting laws.