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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News
2:47 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Austin Hosts Presidents Past And Present To Honor Civil Rights

Originally published on Thu April 10, 2014 6:12 pm

President Obama is in Austin, Texas, honoring the legacy of President Lyndon Johnson and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He's one of four U.S. presidents to appear at a civil rights summit this week.

Politics
3:28 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

For Political Conventions, Another Balloon Bursts

President Obama stands on stage with Vice President Biden and their families after accepting the party nomination during the final day of the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Thu April 3, 2014 5:34 pm

There's news today about the 2016 presidential campaign that has nothing to do with the growing list of would-be candidates with White House aspirations.

It's about the big nominating conventions the Democrats and Republicans hold every four years. Legislation the president signed Thursday afternoon means those huge political extravaganzas will no longer receive millions of dollars in taxpayer support. It's not the only change that's likely for conventions.

Let's start with a little time travel:

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News
2:25 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

GM Ignition Switch Controversy Comes To Capitol Hill

Originally published on Tue April 1, 2014 5:58 pm

General Motors CEO Mary T. Barra testified on Capitol Hill Tuesday, speaking before a House panel that is investigating how the company handled problems with its vehicles' ignition switch.

It's All Politics
3:04 am
Mon March 17, 2014

Google Glass: Coming Soon To A Campaign Trail Near You

Campaign workers and other political operatives are trying to find ways to use Google Glass on the campaign trail.
Frederic J. Brown AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 9:59 am

Google Glass is looking to be the next must-have digital device. The small computer you wear like eyeglasses allows you to surf the Web, email, text, take photos, shoot and stream live video and more — hands-free.

For now Google Glass is in very limited release, but even so, political professionals are eagerly exploring how it could become a powerful campaign tool.

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Politics
9:08 am
Sat March 8, 2014

CPAC Is A Siren Call To GOP Presidential Hopefuls

At CPAC this year, even Sen. Rand Paul's cardboard cutout was drawing attention. The Kentucky lawmaker was leading in the straw poll among attendees Friday.
Jim Lo Scalzo EPA/Landov

Originally published on Sat March 8, 2014 12:00 pm

Start with a big ballroom at a resort hotel just outside D.C. Add thousands of conservative activists. Stir in hundreds of political journalists, and you've got an irresistible attraction for any Republican presidential hopeful.

For those with their eye on the Oval Office, it's also an early audition before a key audience.

It's the annual Conservative Political Action Conference — CPAC for short — where there's always talk of the next presidential election. This year as many as 10 possible 2016 candidates were invited to speak during the three-day event.

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Politics
2:01 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

Dingell Dynasty Could Continue In Michigan

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 8:35 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

87-year-old John Dingell, the longest-serving member in the history of Congress, retires at the end of his current term. When he goes, another Dingell hopes to win his seat. Today, in the city of Dearborn, in the heart of Michigan's 12th district, Debbie Dingell, the congressman's wife, announced her candidacy. NPR national political correspondent Don Gonyea reports.

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Politics
2:05 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Texan's Final Campaign May Act As National Barometer

Originally published on Fri February 21, 2014 5:53 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

In northeast Texas, from the Dallas suburbs to Texarkana, Republican Ralph Hall is seeking an 18th term in Congress. Hall is 90 years old and the oldest member of Congress. At a time of deep voter anger with Washington, Hall's long incumbency and his age have drawn a crowded field of primary challengers. He's assuring his constituents that it will be his last campaign, but if there's an anti-incumbent wave building, his east Texas district may be an early barometer.

NPR national political correspondent Don Gonyea reports.

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Business
2:03 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Dealt A Recent Defeat, Union Organizers Plot A Future In The South

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 5:58 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The United Auto Workers Union suffered a major defeat when a drive to represent workers at a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee failed last week. Right now, leaders of the AFL-CIO are holding their winter meetings in Houston and that VW vote is a major topic.

NPR national political correspondent Don Gonyea has more.

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Politics
4:04 am
Sat February 8, 2014

Bidding Starts Early For Site Of Obama's Future Library

Presidents past and present were on hand for the opening ceremony for the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas in April 2013.
Kevork Djansezian AP

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 11:43 am

President Obama doesn't leave office until January of 2017, but already the competition has begun for the right to host his presidential library and museum.

A new foundation has been set up to raise money and to begin the site selection process, and there are already bids in the works from Chicago, Honolulu and elsewhere.

A Tradition Of Archives

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It's All Politics
4:26 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

RNC Highlights Black History Month With Radio Ads

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus is seen at the Jan. 24 RNC winter meeting in Washington. Priebus celebrates the achievements of black Republicans in a series of new radio ads designed to honor Black History Month.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Tue February 4, 2014 5:27 pm

Leaders of the Republican Party acknowledge they have a problem attracting minority voters — especially African-Americans, 93 percent of whom voted for President Obama in 2012, compared with just 6 percent for GOP nominee Mitt Romney.

That chasm is at the heart of a new initiative by the Republican National Committee during February. In its first-ever Black History Month ad campaign, the RNC has launched radio spots aimed at African-American audiences in a handful of cities: Washington, D.C.; Detroit, Cleveland and Atlanta.

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Politics
7:41 am
Sat January 25, 2014

Eyes On 2016, GOP Revisits The Rebranding

Mike Huckabee, left, sits with RNC Chairman Reince Priebus before Huckabee spoke at the Republican National Committee winter meeting in Washington on Thursday,
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Sat January 25, 2014 10:14 am

Republican Party leaders gathered in Washington this week for their annual winter meetings. They approved new rules for the 2016 presidential primaries designed to create a more orderly path to the GOP nomination — and, the party hopes, to the White House.

But this week's meeting also provided an opportunity to see how far Republicans have come in an effort begun a year ago to reach out to new voters — especially young people, minorities and women.

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Politics
4:04 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

An Unconventional Contender Emerges As GOP Ponders 2016 Convention

Visitors crowd the Las Vegas Strip to celebrate the new year.
Glenn Pinkerton AP

Originally published on Fri January 24, 2014 5:29 pm

Every four years a handful of cities battle to host the big nominating conventions for the major political parties. The competition for 2016 has already begun, with a surprising and aggressive player making a bid for the Republican National Convention: Las Vegas.

Certainly it's a place that knows how to host a big convention, but for the GOP to give Vegas the nod, the party will have to look past the city's well-earned reputation as "Sin City."

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It's All Politics
2:35 pm
Tue December 24, 2013

Amid Declining Popularity, The Tea Party Prepares To Fight

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) greets supporters during a tea party rally in front of the U.S. Capitol in June. Paul was a rising star in the tea party movement this year, filibustering a CIA nomination in March.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 6:02 pm

It's easy to forget that the tea party movement is still less than 5 years old. Its successes include the 2010 midterm elections, when it helped the GOP win back the U.S. House.

It was once again a noisy and resurgent player in American politics in 2013. But that doesn't mean it was a year of victories: The movement's campaign to repeal Obamacare failed, and public approval hit near-record lows after the tea party forced a partial government shutdown. Even tea party events aren't as large as they once were.

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20 Years Of NAFTA
3:28 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

What Has NAFTA Meant For Workers? That Debate's Still Raging

An auto worker tightens bolts on a Focus at a Ford plant in Michigan in October. Labor unions predicted in 1993 that NAFTA would send many U.S. manufacturing jobs to Mexico, and they continue to argue that the pact prompted a race to the bottom for workers.
Mira Oberman AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:31 pm

Two decades ago, the strongest critics of the North American Free Trade Agreement were members of labor unions. They warned that the trade deal would mean the loss of manufacturing jobs to Mexico and lower wages for U.S. workers.

Today, 20 years since NAFTA's passage, unions feel as strongly as ever that the deal was a bad idea.

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Politics
2:34 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Without Opponent, Sen. Kay Hagan Already Faces Re-Election Fight

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 8:45 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

In North Carolina, the ads are starting early - the political ads, that is. Republicans are setting their sights on defeating first-term Democrat Kay Hagan. Senator Hagan's GOP opponent won't be known until the spring but her support for President Obama and the Affordable Care Act has already hurt her with voters. She's also being targeted by outside groups, spending millions of dollars hoping to unseat her. NPR national political correspondent Don Gonyea reports.

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History
5:45 am
Sat November 16, 2013

How JFK Fathered The Modern Presidential Campaign

John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy, campaign in New York in 1960.
AP

Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 1:33 pm

When John F. Kennedy began his run for the White House more than 50 years ago, there was plenty of excitement and anticipation. He was energetic, handsome and from a famous Boston political family.

But his candidacy was far from a sure bet. At the time, few would have predicted the lasting impact his campaign would have on every election to follow.

Recognizing The Power Of TV

Kennedy made the most of his youth and novelty, says historian Robert Dallek, author of several books about JFK.

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Commentary
3:23 am
Sat November 9, 2013

Many Rooting For Down-On-Its-Luck Detroit And Its New Mayor

Mayor-elect Mike Duggan speaks at his election night celebration in Detroit on Tuesday.
Paul Sancya AP

Originally published on Sat November 9, 2013 4:55 pm

Detroit is a place where I worked for many years as a journalist, where I absorbed the town's rich automotive, labor and civil rights history, where I sat in blues clubs and watched baseball from the upper deck of old Tiger Stadium.

It's a place that I really think of as home.

Detroit elected a new mayor this week.

He is 55-year-old Mike Duggan, a longtime county official, and later a successful CEO of the region's leading medical center.

But one might reasonably ask why someone — anyone — would want the job of mayor of Detroit.

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Politics
10:07 am
Mon November 4, 2013

Veteran Pennsylvania Congressman Can't Escape GOP Civil War

From left, Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., walk to the floor of the House for the final series of votes on a bill to fund the government, in Washington on Sept. 28.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Mon November 4, 2013 3:26 pm

At 7 a.m. on a recent weekday morning, the Bedford Diner, in Bedford, Pa., is jumping.

Way in the back, some tables have been pushed together for a weekly prayer breakfast that's really a gathering of old friends — all military veterans, some of whom are retired. Art Halvorson, a 58-year-old regular here, is a real estate developer, a former career coast guard pilot and now a Tea Party-backed candidate going after seven-term Rep. Bill Shuster in next year's Republican primary.

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Politics
2:13 am
Mon November 4, 2013

Rep. Shuster To Face Tea Party Challenger Next Year

Originally published on Mon November 4, 2013 10:07 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now, during the government shutdown, many House Republicans said the policy was unwise, but persisted for weeks in voting with their speaker, John Boehner. One reason was party loyalty. Another reason, according to analysts, was fear. Lawmakers did not want to run the risk of a challenge in a Republican primary from candidates saying they weren't trying hard enough.

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Politics
2:43 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

Tea Party Activist: It Was Worth 'Getting In The Ring'

Sal Russo of the Tea Party Express speaks at the National Press Club in 2011. Russo predicts the Tea Party will be re-energized for the 2014 midterm elections.
Alex Brandon AP

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 8:09 pm

It's been a tough week for the Tea Party and its supporters in Congress. The Affordable Care Act survived the Capitol Hill standoff largely untouched. President Obama and the Democrats stared them down and won. And fights with establishment Republicans revealed the depth of division within the GOP.

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NPR Story
2:03 am
Fri October 18, 2013

Obamacare Fight Leads Sen. Roberts To Turn Against Old Friend Sebelius

Kathleen Sebelius stands with Sen. Pat Roberts (right), R-Kan., and former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole in 2009.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 11:28 am

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It's All Politics
3:39 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

GOP Establishment Grapples With A Tea Party That Won't Budge

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., is among the Republicans who want to pass a spending bill not tied to defunding or delaying the Affordable Care Act.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed October 2, 2013 5:56 pm

The old line in Washington is that the "establishment" controls everything.

But the fights that have resulted in the government shutdown have turned that cliche upside down.

This time, it's the Tea Party and its allies in Congress calling the shots. The "establishment" — on Capitol Hill and in the business community — has so far been on the outs.

You can hear the frustration in the voice of 11-term Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., as he runs a gantlet of reporters at the Capitol.

"I'm just more concerned about there not being a clean CR," he says amid the hubbub.

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It's All Politics
3:54 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Tea Party Strains GOP's Ties To Big Business

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, speaks at a Sept. 10 Capitol Hill rally against Obamacare.
Drew Angerer Getty Images

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 4:10 pm

Is the GOP still the "party of business"?

With the party's long-standing and ongoing push for lower taxes and fewer regulations — both in Washington and in state legislatures — Republicans can reasonably make that claim.

Yet some of the congressional Republican rhetoric in the battle over a continuing resolution, the debt ceiling and defunding Obamacare makes it clear that there's a significant amount of tension between the party and the business community.

Much of the strong language comes from the Tea Party and its friends on Capitol Hill.

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Politics
3:12 am
Thu September 26, 2013

Not All Republicans Embrace Big Business All The Time

The Republican Party in the past has had a close relationship with Wall Street and big business. But lately there's growing tension and disagreement as some Republicans in Congress consider a possible government shutdown. The Tea Party seems to have the strongest criticism of big business.

Politics
3:11 am
Tue September 10, 2013

Tea Party Won't Let Congress Forget Obamacare Issues

Originally published on Tue September 10, 2013 5:08 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne. Congress did not expect to spend September debating Syria. Many Republicans, instead, were planning battles over the budget and over the healthcare law that's about to take affect. Tea Party activists are going ahead with meetings on their issues. One event comes in Washington D.C. today. NPR's Don Gonyea has been talking with activists.

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News
2:49 pm
Sun July 14, 2013

The Civil Rights Stand Of A Young Gerald Ford

President Gerald Ford finishes giving a speech on Jan. 13, 1975. Ford was born 100 years ago Sunday.
Marion S. Trikosko Courtesy of Library of Congress

Originally published on Sun July 14, 2013 4:54 pm

President Gerald R. Ford, the only American to serve as both vice president and president without ever being elected to either office, was born 100 years ago Sunday.

Ford will be remembered for his role in the turbulent post-Watergate era. But a little-known story from his college days might also serve to define Ford's character.

The Gerald Ford We Know

In 1973, Ford was a congressman from Grand Rapids, Mich., who had risen through the ranks to become House minority leader. In those days before C-SPAN, Ford was barely known to most Americans.

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Politics
2:45 am
Tue July 2, 2013

Texas Democrats See Opportunity In Changing Demographics

Originally published on Tue July 2, 2013 6:36 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

All week, we are looking at demographic changes in the currently very red, very Republican Lone Star state. Democrats hope the growing size and potential voting clout of the Latin population will turn Texas blue.

Whether that happens or not, the Texas Democratic Party already bears little resemblance to what it looked like when it last dominated Texas politics decades ago.

NPR's Don Gonyea brings us the latest in our series Texas 2020.

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It's All Politics
3:25 am
Sat June 8, 2013

WWII Vets Have All But Vanished From The Halls Of Congress

Military pallbearers carry the coffin of the late New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg into the Senate chamber on Thursday. He was the only remaining World War II veteran in the Senate.
Douglas Graham AP

Originally published on Sun June 9, 2013 3:39 am

Sen. Frank Lautenberg was buried with military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday. There was a steady rain. Soldiers fired rifle volleys, a bugler played taps and mourners paid their final respects.

The New Jersey Democrat was 89 when he died this week — and his death marked a somber milestone.

For the first time since the end of World War II, there are no veterans of that war in the U.S. Senate. Lautenberg had been the only one remaining.

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Politics
1:35 am
Wed May 15, 2013

IRS Inquiries Crossed The Line, Tea Party Groups Say

Originally published on Wed May 15, 2013 7:51 am

Tea Party activists are calling for a full investigation, and possibly lawsuits, following revelations that the Internal Revenue Service flagged so-called patriot groups for extra scrutiny in applications for federal tax-exempt status.

Among those claiming unjust and unconstitutional targeting by the IRS is a group called TheTeaParty.net, which bills itself as the largest grass-roots conservative Tea Party organization in the country.

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It's All Politics
1:04 am
Thu May 2, 2013

How Will Obama Make His Case On Syria?

President Obama speaks at a news conference Tuesday. He addressed the use of chemical weapons in Syria and said he's weighing his options.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Thu May 2, 2013 8:09 am

The U.S. role in the civil war in Syria has been limited to humanitarian aid and nonlethal equipment for the rebels. But that may change with recent revelations about the use of chemical weapons.

Polls show that Americans are still not paying close attention to the conflict, but there is a reluctance to intervene — a byproduct of the experience in Iraq.

President Obama says he's weighing all options. Whatever he decides, he'll have to make a case to the U.S. public.

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