NPR Political Coverage

The inaugural 2016 debate for the White House Thursday will be the first time many voters will be tuning into the volatile GOP campaign for president, and candidates are praying they'll get a boost and not a bust from the face-off.

"The level of engagement has been very low," said Rick Wilson, a Florida-based national GOP strategist. "This will be a week where we will probably have record viewership on FOX News for a primary debate, and it's going to get a lot of attention and a lot of focus."

This story is part of NPR's series Journey Home. We're going to the places presidential candidates call home and finding out what those places tell us about how they see the world.

As Martin O'Malley neared the launch of his presidential campaign, the former Baltimore mayor and Maryland governor said he wouldn't think of announcing his bid "anyplace else," even as the city exploded with riots after the death of Freddie Gray, a young black man who was fatally injured while in police custody.

Independent-expenditure-only committees, also known as superPACs, released their latest funding numbers on Friday, and already it's clear that the committees' roles in 2016 will be gargantuan.

The numbers already are far higher than those of the three election cycles since the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling, which paved the way for the outside spending surge.

Empire Strikes PAC And Other Punny SuperPAC Names

Aug 1, 2015

This post was updated at 4:30 p.m. ET with comment from Xavier the cat's human.

Because superPACs aren't legally allowed to donate money directly to or coordinate with a political campaign, founders often give them patriotic but purposefully vague names. There's Keep the Promise (supporting Ted Cruz), Opportunity and Freedom (Perry), Priorities USA Action (Clinton), and Pursuing America's Greatness (Huckabee).

It's the end of the month, and that means another email dump from Hillary Clinton's time at the State Department. On Friday evening, more than 1,300 messages from Clinton's controversial private server were released to the public.

This post was updated at 6:45 p.m. ET

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton released eight years worth of tax returns Friday, showing that she and her husband Bill Clinton earned $139 million since 2007. They paid nearly $44 million in federal taxes during that period. The couple's effective federal tax rate ranged from 25 percent in 2007 to 36 percent last year.

The State Department's latest dump of Hillary Clinton's emails may dominate the news cycle in the coming days, but her campaign also released another crucial document on Friday — a clean bill of health for the Democratic front-runner.

The confirmation comes from Lisa Bardack, a New York-based doctor who has been Clinton's physician since 2001. In a letter, she declares Clinton "a healthy-appearing female," saying that Clinton exercises regularly, eats plenty of vegetables and fruits, doesn't smoke, and "drinks alcohol only occasionally."

Advocates and inmates working to overhaul the criminal justice system will have to wait at least a little longer for congressional action.

The Republican leader of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Charles Grassley, said he won't hold a public event on sentencing reform proposals until after the August recess, as language is still being drafted by a bipartisan working group. And in the U.S. House, lawmakers and their aides will spend at least the next five weeks making adjustments to a sweeping bill sponsored by 40 Democrats and Republicans, sources told NPR Friday.

Members of the Black Lives Matter movement are making sure the presidential candidates don't take their votes or their concerns for granted. The candidates are being confronted with activists who are responding to a string of deaths of African-Americans at the hands of police.

Democrats have traditionally won strong margins with black voters and that is unlikely to change in 2016. But in recent weeks, the Black Lives Matter movement has been a stumbling block for the Democratic candidates.

In the summer of 1975, Teamsters President James Riddle Hoffa — Jimmy Hoffa — was already a legendary figure in both U.S. labor history and in American pop culture.

As a teenager in Detroit, he took to union organizing early on in the grocery business. He was smart and tough. With an emphasis on tough. A master strategist, he knew how to pick his targets, organize strikes and boycotts, and he rose through the Teamster ranks earning the deep loyalty of truckers and warehouse workers in a city that was becoming an industrial powerhouse.

The economy is always a key issue in presidential campaigns.

But whose economy are we talking about? Many millennial voters are underemployed and crushed under thousands of dollars of student debt.

And perhaps nowhere is the problem more acute than in New Hampshire.

Seventy-six percent of the class of 2013 had loans. On average, each New Hampshire student was carrying $32,795 of debt, according to The Project on Student Debt. It's the nation's biggest student loan debt burden.

Updated at 5:30 p.m. on July 30 with comment from Trump's campaign.

Donald Trump may be good at building things — hotels, wineries, golf courses — but his biggest challenge may be to create a lasting campaign for president.

Despite — or perhaps because of — his bluster and controversial comments, Trump is leading in national and many early state polls. But longtime White House campaign veterans are skeptical he has an organization built for the long haul.

This post was updated at 10 a.m. ET Thursday

The latest in a series of undercover sting videos features a woman who says she worked for a company that harvested organs from fetuses aborted at Planned Parenthood.

President Obama was giving the final speech of his Africa tour, offering a critique of the young democracies on that continent, singling out the all-too-typical practice of leaders overstaying their terms in office.

"When a leader tries to change the rules in the middle of the game just to stay in office, it risks instability and strife," Obama said, aware that the president of Burundi, seated nearby, had recently defied that country's two-term limit.

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