Don Gonyea

Although Don Gonyea is a NPR National Political Correspondent based in Washington, D.C., he spends much of his time traveling throughout the United States covering campaigns, elections, and the political climate throughout the country. His reports can be heard on all NPR programs and at NPR.org.

During the 2000 presidential campaign, Gonyea chronicled the controversial election and the ensuing legal recount battles in the courts. At the same time George W. Bush moved into the White House in 2001, Gonyea started as NPR's White House Correspondent. He was at the White House on the morning of September 11, 2001, providing live reports following the evacuation of the building.

As White House correspondent, Gonyea covered the Bush administration's prosecution of wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq and during the 2004 campaign he traveled with President Bush and Democratic nominee John Kerry. In November 2006, Gonyea co-anchored NPR's coverage of historic elections when Democrats captured control of both houses of the US Congress. In 2008, Gonyea was the lead reporter covering the entire Obama presidential campaign for NPR, from the Iowa caucuses to victory night in Chicago. He was also there when candidate Obama visited the Middle East and Europe. He continued covering the White House and President Barack Obama until spring 2010, when he moved into his current position.

Gonyea has filed stories from around the globe, including Moscow, Beijing, London, Islamabad, Doha, Budapest, Seoul, San Salvador, and Hanoi. He attended President Bush's first ever meeting with Russia's Vladimir Putin in Slovenia in 2001, and subsequent, at times testy meetings between the two leaders in St. Petersburg, Shanghai and Bratislava. He also covered Mr.Obama's first trip overseas as president.

In 1986, Gonyea got his start at NPR reporting from Detroit on labor unions and the automobile industry. He spent countless hours on picket lines and in union halls covering strikes, including numerous lengthy work stoppages at GM in the late 1990s. Gonyea also reported on the development of alternative fuel and hybrid-powered automobiles, Dr. Jack Kevorkian's assisted-suicide crusade, and the 1999 closing of Detroit's classic Tiger Stadium — the ballpark of his youth.

Over the years Gonyea has contributed to PBS's NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, the BBC, CBC, AP Radio, and the Columbia Journalism Review. He periodically teaches college journalism courses.

Gonyea has won numerous national and state awards for his reporting. He was part of the team that earned NPR a 2000 George Foster Peabody Award for the All Things Considered series "Lost & Found Sound."

A native of Monroe, Michigan, Gonyea is an honors graduate of Michigan State University.

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Election 2012
10:01 pm
Mon January 2, 2012

Modern Campaigning At Odds With Iowa Tradition

Former Massachusetts Gov. and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney addresses supporters during a campaign rally at the Weber Paper Company Monday in Dubuque, Iowa.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 9:10 am

Iowa's Republican Gov. Terry Branstad is a fierce advocate for the Iowa caucuses. At times over the past four months, he has seemed frustrated that candidates have not been in the state as much as in past years.

Branstad's message over and over to the candidates was not to ignore the voters of Iowa, because they take it personally.

"They want to see the candidates, and they take their responsibility very seriously," Branstad says.

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Election 2012
2:00 am
Mon January 2, 2012

Romney Looks To Finish Strong In Iowa

Concluding that he can win the Iowa caucuses, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney spent the weekend campaigning in western Iowa, a mostly conservative region. After months of making only periodic visits to the state, Romney is making an aggressive final push through Iowa.

Mitt Romney
3:37 am
Sun January 1, 2012

Romney Meets Friendly Crowd In Ice Cream Capital

Supporters seek autographs from Mitt Romney during a campaign event at the Family Table Restaurant Saturday in Le Mars, Iowa.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

A little over three hours outside Des Moines, Iowa, in the northwest corner of the state, is the city of Le Mars. A sign proclaims this is the Ice Cream Capital of the World.

Saturday, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney spoke in Le Mars at the Family Table restaurant. His speech, like all Romney campaign speeches, was about President Obama.

"This is an election to decide whether we're going to go further and further down the path of becoming more and more similar to a European welfare state, or whether instead we're going to remain an exceptional nation," he said.

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Election 2012
3:19 pm
Fri December 30, 2011

Confused About The Iowa Caucuses? Here's A Guide

On Jan. 3, Iowans will caucus at 1,774 precincts across the state, in the first contest of the 2012 presidential nominating process. Above, Iowans caucus in 2004 at St. John's United Methodist Church in Des Moines, precinct 87.
Shaun Heasley Getty Images

At 7 p.m. central time on Tuesday, Jan. 3, the first contest of the 2012 presidential nominating process takes place in Iowa.

As you've heard countless times, Iowans vote in caucuses, which are small political meetings held in 1,774 locations scattered around the state.

NPR political correspondent Don Gonyea has prepared this basic guide to next week's contest.

How It Works

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Presidential Race
4:48 pm
Tue December 13, 2011

As Caucuses Loom, Iowans Bemoan Lack of Face Time

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks Tuesday at the Lincoln Cafe in Belle Plaine, Iowa. Among GOP candidates, Santorum had the state to himself on Tuesday.
Chris Carlson Associated Press

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 9:38 pm

The Iowa caucuses — the first contest of the 2012 presidential nominating season — take place in three weeks. That means there's precious little time for candidates to make their case and close the deal with Hawkeye State Republicans.

But candidates were tough to find in Iowa on Tuesday. Only former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum — a big underdog in the race — was there. In fact, many Iowans note that this year candidates have spent fewer hours in the state than before recent presidential caucuses.

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Presidential Race
4:09 pm
Tue December 13, 2011

Why Candidates Aren't Campaigning As Hard In Iowa

With three weeks to go until the Iowa caucuses kick off the Republican nominating contest, the candidates are not registering much of a presence in Iowa.

Politics
1:48 am
Sun December 11, 2011

'Newt-Romney' Dominates Iowa Debate

Republican presidential candidates former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich squared off in the ABC debate in Des Moines, Iowa, Saturday night.
Charlie Neibergall AP

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 8:42 am

Six GOP presidential hopefuls met in a two-hour-long debate in Des Moines, Iowa, Saturday night, and this time the gloves came off.

This was the first such event since former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich moved into the front-runner spot. It had been anticipated that Gingrich and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney — the top two in most polls — would square off as each hopes to win the Iowa caucuses, now just over three weeks away. They did, and the jabs got personal at times.

'Let's Be Candid'

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Newt Gingrich
12:06 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

Gingrich's Most Important Adviser: Himself

Newt Gingrich, whose run for president nearly derailed earlier this year when many of his top staffers quit, now sits atop the polls. As a result, his campaign organization is growing. Here, he arrives at a town hall meeting last week in Staten Island, N.Y.
Michael Nagle Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 7, 2011 8:29 pm

Back in June, the news out of the Newt Gingrich presidential campaign was dire.

Top staffers quit over differences about strategy, with some citing doubts about the candidate's seriousness — especially when he and his wife went on a cruise to the Greek Islands while his rivals stumped through New Hampshire and Iowa.

But now it's December, and Gingrich suddenly sits atop the polls. As a result, his organization is growing — as is the campaign brain trust. But Gingrich's most important adviser remains himself.

A Front-Runner's Staffing Needs

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Around the Nation
10:01 pm
Wed November 30, 2011

Occupy Protesters Consider Political Future

Occupy Wall Street protestors have been removed by police from public spaces in Los Angeles and Philadelphia this week. Some cities still have active 24-hour protests in place, though earlier this month the original Occupy encampment — on Wall Street — was also shut down.

Now activists in New York and elsewhere are talking about the movement's next phase, including the degree to which Occupy activists get involved in the 2012 election.

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Politics
5:51 am
Sun November 20, 2011

GOP Hopefuls Open Up In Bid For Christian Vote

Republican presidential candidates Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former CEO of Godfather's Pizza Herman Cain talk after a forum sponsored by The Family Leader Saturday. Both men let their emotions show during the roundtable.
Charlie Neibergall AP

Originally published on Sun November 20, 2011 11:51 am

Six Republican presidential hopefuls gathered in Des Moines, Iowa, Saturday, and each made a pitch for the state's very important Christian conservative vote.

The event was not a debate, but a roundtable discussion. The candidates sat side-by-side at what was described as a Thanksgiving table, complete with pumpkins and autumn leaves. Not present at the table was former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who chose not to attend.

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Commentary
6:12 am
Sat November 12, 2011

American Bluegrass, Imported By A Czech Band

The Czech band Druha Trava will perform in Wichita, Kan., Saturday night. The band is on its U.S. tour.
Don Gonyea NPR

Originally published on Thu November 17, 2011 6:41 am

NPR's Don Gonyea normally reports on politics, but he finds other stories along the way, like this one about a touring bluegrass band from the Czech Republic.

The first time I heard Druha Trava play was April 2009. I was covering President Obama's trip to the Europe. There was a big outdoor speech in Prague, and the band was playing Czech versions of Bob Dylan songs.

I did a short radio postcard story back then, figuring it was the kind of experience that every music fan knows: You stumble upon a great band somewhere and never see them again.

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Election 2012
5:37 am
Sun October 23, 2011

No 'Perfect Candidate' Yet For Iowa Conservatives

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition forum on Saturday in Des Moines, Iowa. Six GOP presidential candidates attended the banquet, seeking an edge in the Jan. 3 Iowa caucus.

Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Sun October 23, 2011 2:30 pm

Four years ago in the Iowa caucuses, evangelical voters rallied behind former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who won an upset victory and shook up the Republican field in the process.

With the 2012 Iowa caucuses just over 10 weeks away, conservative Christian Republican voters in Iowa are still searching for a presidential candidate. Saturday night they sized up six GOP hopefuls at a banquet in Des Moines, sponsored by the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition.

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Mitt Romney
1:30 pm
Thu October 20, 2011

In Iowa, Mitt Romney Makes His Presence Known

Mitt Romney, shown here at the Iowa State Fair in August, was back in the state on Thursday — his first visit since summer. At one point during his town hall on Thursday, he was asked why he's spent so little time in the state.

Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Mitt Romney's current run for the White House has not included a big presence in the first state that will actually vote: Iowa, which holds its caucuses on Jan. 3.

He failed to meet expectations at the Iowa caucuses in 2008. So for 2012, his campaign has focused instead on New Hampshire as the key to a series of primary victories that, they believe, will result in the former Massachusetts governor winning the GOP nomination.

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Politics
5:46 am
Sun October 9, 2011

Values Voters Lukewarm, But Romney Presses On

Originally published on Sun October 16, 2011 8:50 am

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Politics
6:18 am
Sat October 8, 2011

Values Voters Given Choice: Perry Or Romney's 'Cult'

Originally published on Sat October 8, 2011 10:55 am

Five presidential candidates appeared at the opening day of the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., on Friday, but the speech getting the most attention was one by a pastor from Dallas who introduced Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Every year in Washington, social conservatives from across the country gather for the summit, an event sponsored by the Family Research Council. In presidential years, the summit is a must-stop for GOP candidates.

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Rick Perry
10:01 pm
Thu October 6, 2011

For Rick Perry, A Restless Life On The Farm

Rick Perry's parents still live on Farm Market Road 618.

Don Gonyea NPR

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 9:21 am

Second in a series

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Politics
12:49 am
Tue October 4, 2011

Activists Press Obama To Renew Progressive Stand

Originally published on Tue October 4, 2011 7:52 am

Progressive activists played a big role in helping President Obama get elected. But in the years since, the big story of political activism has been the conservative Tea Party movement.

Hoping to reverse that trend, 2,000 people have registered for the annual "Take Back the American Dream Conference" this week in Washington, D.C. That's more than double the number at the 2010 event.

Shamako Noble, 31, of San Jose, Calif., comes every year and says he has learned that work can't stop, even after the election is over.

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Presidential Race
3:22 pm
Mon September 19, 2011

Will Tough Talk On Immigration Repel Latino Voters?

Republican presidential candidates (from left) Rep. Michele Bachmann, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry cover their hearts during the playing of the national anthem before a Republican presidential debate on Sept. 12.
Chris O'Meara AP

Originally published on Mon September 19, 2011 4:56 pm

Wherever he goes, GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry proudly waves the flag of conservatism, often introducing himself with, "I simply want to get America working again and make Washington, D.C., as inconsequential in your life as I can."

But the Texas governor, a favorite of conservatives overall, is taking criticism for being too moderate when it comes to immigration. The reason: In 2001, his first full year in office, he signed legislation that grants in-state tuition rates at Texas colleges and universities to some illegal immigrants.

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Politics
1:00 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

Mixed Feelings Abound As Obama Visits Iowa

President Obama listens to questions during a Monday town hall meeting in Decorah, Iowa.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Wed August 24, 2011 10:38 am

As President Obama travels on a three-day, three-state Midwestern bus tour to talk about the economy and jobs, one of the places he has visited is the city of Decorah in northeast Iowa.

The tiny college town — whose economy is doing considerably better than the nation as a whole — is friendly territory for the president. Obama carried the county by a wide margin in 2008.

Among voters now, you'll find plenty of loyalists — but also plenty of frustration.

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Election 2012
6:00 am
Sat August 13, 2011

Iowa Straw Poll Offers First Sip Of 2012

Later Saturday in Ames, Iowans will cast their ballots in the state's quadrennial straw poll, considered the first ballot-box test of the 2012 presidential field. NPR national political correspondent Don Gonyea reports on the tradition and this year's politics.

Politics
2:59 am
Thu August 4, 2011

Debt Deal May Erode Independent Support For Obama

During Washington's heated debate over the debt ceiling, President Obama and others in the administration canceled several campaign fundraisers as work on a compromise dragged on. But Wednesday night, Obama, who turns 50 Thursday, went out raising money at a pair of birthday-themed events in Chicago. The election is a long way off, but the country's long-term financial obligations seem certain to become a prime issue.

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Politics
3:03 pm
Tue August 2, 2011

Debt Impasse Over, GOP Hopefuls Turn To Spending

For the Republicans vying to replace President Obama, the debate on the campaign trail has taken a back seat to the debate in Washington.

Among the GOP presidential hopefuls, the dominant position on the deal is thumbs-down, though some reluctantly supported the agreement.

But now, the issue of federal spending promises to become one of the leading topics of discussion as voters size up the Republican field.

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