'Election Cycle': A Journey Across America

ABC News' Michael Koenigs is cycling 1,000 miles to the presidential debates.

July 28, 2016, 6:22 PM
PHOTO: A New York City bike share program puts a weight limit on cyclists who participate.
A New York City bike share program puts a weight limit on cyclists who participate.
Getty Images

— -- ABC News' Michael Koenigs is cycling 1,000 miles across America to cover the presidential debates. Along the way, he’ll be interviewing politicians, pundits and voters about the major issues of the 2016 election.

How Some Chicagoans Are Trying to End the City's Cycle of Gun Violence

October 13, 2016

As the presidential candidates debate the cycle of crime in America, we decided to visit one of Chicago's neighborhoods hardest hit by violence -- Austin.

Over the past year, the murder rate in the U.S. has surged by 11 percent, the highest spike in nearly half a century. More than 3,000 people have been shoot and 500 murdered in Chicago alone as of late September -- surpassing the city’s total for all of 2015.

Chicago, the nation’s third-largest city, has endured more homicides this year than the more populous cities of Los Angeles and New York combined.

Clifton “Booney” McFowler served 27 years in prison for a gang-related murder before returning to his neighborhood in Austin, Chicago, with hopes of steering kids away from his previous path. He joined an organization called BUILD that seeks to stem the bloodshed by offering positive programming to kids -- ranging from flag-football to afternoon bike rides.

McFowler and the program's director, Adam Alonso, admit that it’s challenging to combat crime with limited resources, but they’re making progress with a core group of participants who regularly attend BUILD’s after-school programs.

“A majority of kids in the community come to us because we’re all they have in south Austin. There’s nothing else over there but BUILD. We can offer them opportunities other than gang-banging,” McFowler said.

In response to Donald Trump’s remarks about black and Hispanic people in inner cities “living in hell,” McFowler said, “I’d say to Donald Trump to put some of that money that he didn’t give, to pay his taxes so we can have the resources in my community. So we can thrive like the rest of the communities in America."

From Pedaling to Politics: Meet a Bicycle Shop Owner-Turned-Mayor

October 13, 2016

Mayor Chris Koos of Normal, Illinois, rarely walks to work. When he's not running the town as mayor, he's running a bicycle shop just a few blocks from city hall.

Koos started his cycling business nearly 36 years ago, long before he ran as a candidate in his first election 13 years ago.

As mayor of Normal, population 54,000, Koos is able to split his time between city hall and Vitesse Cycle Shop.

"Having that duality of roles here, being mayor and being a small business owner, I understand what small businesses need," said Koos.

On city council and later as mayor, he helped to develop a network of 43 miles of paved bicycle trails throughout the city.

"I always joke that I'm the only normal mayor in the United States," Koos said.

He's also likely the only major in the U.S. who also runs a bicycle shop

A Ride Through America's Corn Country

October 12, 2016

The United States is known as the "corn capital of the world," and I understood why after cycling past thousands of rows of corn growing in central Illinois.

More than 94 million acres in the U.S. is devoted to growing corn, an increase of 7 percent over last year, according to the latest report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

But, while global demand for ethanol and other corn products has increased, advances in harvesting and seeding technology have outpaced these demands, leaving many corn farmers with losses in recent years.

Corn prices have fallen to a seven-year low, and at the end of this harvest season, many farmers' corn storage bins will be full. Overall, total U.S. farm income is expected to fall to $71.5 billion in 2016, which would be down 12 percent from the previous year and would mark a third consecutive year of decline and the lowest level since 2009.

I pedaled along the historic Route 66 highway in central Illinois, then took a detour at McLean County where I stopped to meet a fourth-generation farmer named Brian Loeffler who is in the middle of corn harvest season.

Loeffler invited us to hitch a ride on his massive corn combine to see up close what the harvest looks like this year and to talk about how the nation's political landscape might impact his livelihood.

Real Reactions: Saint Louis Bar Patrons Analyze 2nd Debate

October 10, 2016

Moments after the second presidential debate concluded at Washington University on Sunday, I pedaled a few blocks away to Blueberry Hill to hear how regulars reacted to the political rhetoric.

Established in 1972 and located on the Delmar Loop, Blueberry Hill served as a second home to Chuck Berry, who has performed over 200 concerts in its basement venue. Saint Louis locals gather here not only to hear classic rock, but also compete at darts, table hockey and pinball.

'Election Cycle': A Journey Across AmericaAtlantic City Beachgoers Talk About Trump’s Legacy as a Casino OwnerOn Sunday night, many patrons had strong reactions to the political debate happening just down the street. While the city of Saint Louis leans Democratic, the state of Missouri has tipped toward the Republican nominee Donald Trump, according to ABC News’ latest electoral ratings.

The state has gone blue only twice in the last four decades -- both times for Bill Clinton, in 1992 and 1996. Mitt Romney won the state by 10 percentage points in 2012. During this election cycle, Hillary Clinton’s campaign has not invested significant time or political advertising in the state.

We asked voters about their favorite moments from the second debate and their views on the two candidates.

Election Cycle Stage 1: On the Road to the First Debate

September 29, 2016

It’s hard to say which candidate had the home court advantage at Hofstra University on Long Island, New York, on Monday night. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump's campaign headquarters are both located less than 35 miles away from Hofstra’s Macek Sports Complex. Both made the comfortable commute in black SUVs, while I pedaled in pursuit of the politicians.

Fortunately, the bike paths were not nearly as crowded as the Long Island streets, many of which were closed to motorized vehicles for security reasons. We made pit stops at Trump Tower and the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan, and Donald Trump’s boyhood homes in Jamaica Estates, Queens.

In June 1946, Mr. and Mrs. Trump brought their newborn son home to a Tudor-style home placed on the market earlier this year for $1.65 million. After six months on the market, the owner has agreed to auction the home starting at $849,000. The real estate agent described it as a “huge deal,” mimicking Trump’s rhetoric.

The students of Hofstra were excited to be hosting the most-watched television debate in recent history. Over 100 million people are estimated to have tuned into the event, nearly 40 million more than those who watched the 2012 presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, also hosted on Hofstra’s campus.

Atlantic City Beachgoers Talk About Trump’s Legacy as a Casino Owner

September 23, 2016

Atlantic City may be talked about more on the campaign trail than on reality shows. But, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have different narratives about Trump’s legacy on the boardwalk.

In a speech earlier this summer, Clinton used the backdrop of Trump’s failed casino, Trump Plaza, for a speech slamming the GOP nominee for "shameful" mismanagement.

And, in another speech in Detroit, she joked, "How can anybody lose money running a casino?"

After Trump Plaza opened in 1984, Trump eventually filed four business bankruptcies related to his casino holdings in Atlantic City. He filed for bankruptcy on the Taj Mahal in 1991, Trump Castle Associates in 1992, Trump Hotel Casino Resorts in 2004 and Trump Entertainment Resorts in 2009.

But Trump contended in previous debates that he never personally went bankrupt and tweeted, "I made a lot of money in Atlantic City and left 7 years ago, great timing (as all know). Pols made big mistakes, now many bankruptcies."

While the politicians dispute Trump’s impact on Atlantic City, ABC News asked locals and voters who were visiting the area for their views on both candidates.

Dr. Donald Trump Offers a Political Prognosis Different From His Namesake's

August 1, 2016

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