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Sarah McCammon

Sarah McCammon worked for Iowa Public Radio as Morning Edition Host from January 2010 until December 2013.

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South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott is playing an increasingly important role in his state's crucial Republican primary. He's also playing an important role in his party, as the only black Republican in the Senate at a time when the GOP is struggling to win minority support.

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Jewish and Christian leaders are urging elected officials to show compassion to refugees, amidst public debate over allowing Syrian refugees into the country.

A letter released on Wednesday by several leading evangelical Christian churches and other groups calls on elected officials to show "compassion and hospitality" to refugees fleeing violence.

President Obama is warning that the next person to step into his job will inherit the challenge of addressing climate change, and he says a Republican might not have as easy a time dismissing the challenge in office as GOP candidates do on the campaign trail.

Four years ago, libertarians were an important force in the Republican presidential race. In the campaign for the 2012 nomination, Ron Paul was routinely drawing big crowds on college campuses.

Evangelicals see the Bible as the ultimate source of guidance for every aspect of life. But how exactly to apply to that to difficult moral dilemmas isn't always clear.

And this week, as the question of what to do about the plight of refugees from Syria and Iraq in the wake of the Paris attacks has become a national political debate, it's also become a moral question — one evangelicals are divided over.

'Our Faith Tells Us ...'

There's a fierce political debate underway about how the U.S. should respond to refugees fleeing terror.

Presidential candidates have weighed in, with many Republicans calling for keeping refugees from Syria, or other countries with an ISIS presence, out of the U.S.

There will be a few empty seats around one Thanksgiving table this year: Donald Trump and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush are among those skipping Friday's Presidential Family Forum in Des Moines. The event is hosted by the conservative Christian group the Family Leader. President Bob Vander Plaats is seen as an evangelical kingmaker in Iowa.

As many leading conservatives call for stopping Syrian refugees from entering the United States, several evangelical Christian organizations are pushing back.

Since last week's attacks in Paris, at least 30 governors in this country, mostly Republicans, have called for keeping Syrian refugees out of the U.S.

This weekend marked a revival of sorts on the Bob Jones University campus in Greenville, South Carolina – but not the religious sort. It was the first time in more than a decade that a presidential candidate had made a major public appearance on the conservative Christian college campus.

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One year from today, voters will decide who becomes the next president of the United States. Over the past several days, we asked people around the country what they want to hear — and not hear — from candidates over the next 12 months.


Brenda Alston is a retiree from Orlando, Fla.

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At a time when Republicans have struggled to keep their party in order in Congress, while more than a dozen presidential candidates are taking primary shots at each other, Democrats like to

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In this presidential campaign, political outsiders are outshining experienced politicians.

To succeed with the conservative Republican base in the early-voting state of Iowa, Ted Cruz will need to win over supporters of both outsiders and insiders vying for the nomination.

At a restaurant in the Mississippi River town of Keokuk, Iowa, this week, the Texas senator addressed a full room over a loudspeaker.

"God bless the great state of Iowa," Cruz said. "I spent most of last week in Washington, D.C., so it is great to be back in America."

Iowa is undergoing a demographic shift. The first-in-the-nation caucus state is overwhelmingly white — Latinos still make up less than 6 percent of the state's population — but their numbers have more than doubled since 2000.

That means Latinos are an increasingly important group for both Republicans and Democrats to win over. Activists are stepping up efforts to engage Latinos in the 2016 election.

But they face some obstacles. The state's caucus system can be tricky for newcomers to navigate.

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The nation is halfway between census years. The next decennial U.S. Census is coming up in 2020. And for the first time, it'll be offered online. That means census officials have lots of work to do to make sure no one is left behind.

For several months this year, the Rev. Thurmond Tillman has been working for the Census Bureau. His main gig is at First African Baptist Church in Savannah, Ga., where's he's been a pastor for more than 30 years.

The sun isn't quite up, but Tillman is already on the road. He crisscrosses coastal Georgia and South Carolina in his black sedan.

House lawmakers in South Carolina have voted to slash funding for two of the state's largest public colleges in retaliation for the introduction of books with gay themes into the schools' freshman reading programs.

In February, the South Carolina House of Representatives voted to cut $70,000 — the entire cost of the programs — from the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina Upstate.

The Senate is debating the state budget this week, and multiple efforts to reinstate the funds have thus far failed.

In a mobile classroom — basically a trailer outfitted with a desk and some chairs — music teacher Chris Miller works with a group of active kindergartners dressed in green and khaki school uniforms. He teaches them the basics: musical concepts, artists and styles of music.

"Everybody repeat after me," he says. "Wade in the water." Kids sing back, "Wade in the water."

Broadlawns Medical Center has been serving low-income residents of Des Moines, Iowa, and the surrounding countryside for decades. Now there's a twist in Broadlawns' mission as a public hospital: helping people sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

On a recent Saturday morning, Jerrine Sanford traveled half an hour from the small town of Runnells to get her insurance questions answered at a hospital-run event.

Sanford, 47, is out of work because of a back injury. She's worried about the law's requirement that everyone have health insurance or pay a penalty.

Drought is mostly seen as a bad thing — and for good reason. It dries up crops, destroys landscaping and stops ships from moving. But even the lack of rain clouds has a bright side.

Good For Grapes

Last summer it seemed like all Midwestern farmers were upset over the lack of rain. But not all of them were; those growing grapes were embracing the drought.

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