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

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.

"The Second Amendment."

If you've lived in America, you've heard those words spoken with feeling.

The feeling may have been forceful, even vehement.

"Why? The Second Amendment, that's why."

The same words can be heard uttered in bitterness, as if in blame.

"Why? The Second Amendment, that's why."

Or then again, with reverence, an invocation of the sacred — rather like "the Second Coming."

Week In Politics

Feb 24, 2018

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American politics have always been rife with individuals who invoked the Almighty and sought divine leverage to achieve their own agendas.

Partisans on both the right and the left have revered such figures – when they agreed with their ends – and reviled them when they did not.

But it is hard to think of any clergy in any era who have ascended quite so far in the national political consciousness as Billy Graham.

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We're going to go through some of the bits and pieces of this political week with NPR senior editor and correspondent of the Washington desk, Ron Elving. Ron, thanks so much for being with us.

President Trump's first State of the Union address was billed as a bid for unity, a call for all to rise above party and faction in pursuit of national ideas and ideals.

In fact, scattered throughout the 80-minute speech were several moments that might qualify as outreach. But if you blinked, you might have missed them.

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Recent FBI investigations relevant to the 2016 presidential election have become the latest battleground in our deeply divided and partisan politics.

Some Republicans, disappointed by the lack of charges over Hillary Clinton's emails and distressed by the continuing probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, suddenly perceive corruption in the FBI. Democrats counter that the casting of doubt on the nation's top national law enforcement agency is an unprecedented outrage.

Ask Republicans about Democrats, or vice versa, and sooner or later you will hear: "They're out of touch with the American people."

That statement was part of the soundtrack on Capitol Hill over the first weekend of the partial government shutdown, repeated so often that one ceases to hear it.

It's an all-purpose way of condemning the hated "other" party. And it conveys the assumption that whoever is speaking is not out of touch with the American people.

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Going to turn now to NPR's Ron Elving. Ron, thanks very much for being with us.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Scott.

SIMON: You heard Democratic Senator Van Hollen. We had Republican Congressman Cole. What points do they make that stand up for you?

Capitol Hill Republicans are nervous about November. The margins of their majority are dwindling in both chambers. It's looking like a good year to run as a Democrat, and President Trump isn't helping with his weak polls and potent controversies.

This past week brought a series of stunning reports about President Trump and his White House, reports some Americans found hard to believe. But one quote attributed to the president should have surprised no one: the one in The New York Times where the president asked, "Where's my Roy Cohn?"

A Senate election in Alabama. A Republican tax bill moving through Congress. Violent protests in the Middle East following U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

What could these widely disparate matters have in common, besides heavy news coverage? It turns out that they all have enabled President Trump to send a message to one distinct and crucial category of his supporters.

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LIANE HANSEN, BYLINE: I'm Liane Hansen. A woman who served as personal assistant to Clarence Thomas for over two years has accused him of sexually harassing her. National Public Radio has learned that the woman...


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Senate Republicans are moving closer this week to a vote on their tax bill. The effort looks a lot different than another time Congress really took on taxes. The Tax Reform Act of 1986 was a real moment of bipartisanship.

The news did not improve this week for Roy Moore, the Alabama Republican nominee for a U.S. Senate seat who is facing sexual assault allegations. While new accusers came forward, several of Moore's previous, prominent supporters took a step back.

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If the Republican Party has spent the last 30 years looking for another Ronald Reagan, the Democrats have spent the last 70 looking for another Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The latter case of longing is likely to intensify with Robert Dallek's new single-volume biography, Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Political Life, a 700-page tome devoted to demonstrating "what great presidential leadership looks like."

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The word debase - debase has been trending on Merriam-Webster's website.


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This week, President Trump steps into the role of consoler in chief in Puerto Rico and Las Vegas. He also moved toward a couple of policy changes he's hinted about previously and plopped a mystery in front of the press one night after dinner.

President Trump continues to learn things about his job and the rest of us continue to learn things about Donald Trump.

Last week, faced with one natural disaster festering in Texas and another impending in Florida, Trump used a storm relief bill to save Congress from a fiscal disaster of its own making.

Moreover, he did it by shunning his own party's leaders in the House and Senate and cutting a deal instead with the leaders of the opposition.

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Some years back a hit song filled the summertime airwaves with its chorus of "See You In September."

It was meant to be a lover's promise of joyful reunion at summer's end.

But to use those words in Washington, D.C., right now sounds more like a warning ... or even a threat.

If you picked up a print copy of The New York Times on Friday, you may have noticed something unusual about it — something missing. There were no front-page headlines about President Trump, no pictures of him — not even a little "key" to a story on an inside page.

The name Trump did appear in one story, a profile of John W. Nicholson Jr., the Army general commanding U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The president was necessarily mentioned in that story, but the story was not about the president.

Five years ago, before he was a candidate for president, Donald Trump was pretty sure he knew what to do about Afghanistan. It was a losing proposition, "a complete waste" in terms of "blood and treasure."

"Why are we continuing to train these Afghanis who then shoot our soldiers in the back?" he asked on Twitter in 2012. "Afghanistan is a complete waste. Time to come home!"

More recently, candidate Trump was less certain about exactly when the U.S. should exit the struggle that he had railed against continuing.

President Trump is only the latest man in the White House to see his plans, his governing coalition and his popular standing all at risk because of a racially charged issue.

If you've heard of Edwin Stanton, it's probably because of what he did after Abraham Lincoln's assassination in 1865. Even as the Civil War president lay dying, Stanton went to work in an adjoining room — issuing orders to protect other leaders, directing generals' movements and informing the nation of Lincoln's death. He also began the search for the assassin and his co-conspirators.

"He did not announce that he was taking charge: he simply was in charge," writes historian Walter Stahr in Stanton: Lincoln's War Secretary.