Five Stories You'll Care About in Politics This Week

Senate showdown over Patriot Act and Martin O'Malley joins 2016 race.

ByABC News
May 30, 2015, 11:31 PM
Negotiations are ongoing in the Senate to prevent the NSA from having to wind down anti-terrorism programs by the end of the weekend with Sen. Rand Paul and Sen. Mitch McConnell at the helm of the debate.
Negotiations are ongoing in the Senate to prevent the NSA from having to wind down anti-terrorism programs by the end of the weekend with Sen. Rand Paul and Sen. Mitch McConnell at the helm of the debate.
Getty Images

— -- We’ve learned about cool ultrasounds, that Nashua is not Exeter, and that campaign guitars need tune-ups. Common Core is uncommonly lonely. Lonely candidates just need to show up near Hillary Clinton. Clintons and Bushes have nothing on Sepp Blatter. Did someone say bladder? Rand Paul has done talking and talking on the Senate floor. But who would have guessed that Bernie Sanders’ writings would join Denny Hastert’s doings in being the most interesting things to happen around these parts?

With a deadline looming this weekend, and hogs (both kinds) ready in Iowa next weekend, here’s a glimpse at some of the stories your ABC News political team will be tracking in the week to come:


Get ready for a Sunday-evening showdown in the Senate, with key provisions of the PATRIOT Act set to expire and presidential ambitions playing out in full inside Congress. Negotiations are ongoing to prevent the National Security Agency from having to wind down anti-terrorism programs by the end of the weekend. But the super PAC supporting Sen. Rand Paul’s candidacy is nonetheless hyping “the brawl for liberty,” releasing a video featuring a shirtless (though creatively Photoshopped) Paul taking on, among others, the “capitulating Canadian” who’s also known as Sen. Ted Cruz. Rand is standing virtually alone this time -- against the Senate majority leader who’s endorsed his campaign, plus against the other three senators running for president -- but he might be OK with that. Paul is dominating the early foreign-policy and national-security debate in a way that fits his libertarian leanings, and shutting down NSA programs would mark a defining moment for him.


Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert lived through the so-called “culture of corruption” that contributed to his party’s ouster from power in the House nearly a decade ago. But he appears to have done it while keeping a dark secret that he’s alleged to have decided was worth $3.5 million to keep. The mystery of who “Individual A” is and what Hastert might have done to him or her might be matched by wonder over the fact that Hastert kept it quiet for all these years. Hastert is too far removed from power for immediate or obvious political fallout. But several 2016ers served with him in Congress, and Hastert made his policy mark as the congressional field general for Jeb Bush’s brother.


The non-Hillary portion of the Democratic field is coming into view. Martin O’Malley is expected to make his campaign official over the weekend, with a Baltimore backdrop that will surely cut several different ways for the former mayor and governor. Clinton herself remains in a quieter phase of her campaign, at least until her first big rally June 13. But with trade talk intensifying, e-mails emerging, and O’Malley and Bernie Sanders picking up their paces, Clinton will be pressed in new directions in the coming days. Oh, and if you had “Bernie Sanders rape fantasies” in campaign bingo, just take your money and go home now.


If you thought George Pataki would be the last candidate vying for one of those 10 debate invites -- well, oops. Former Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Lindsey Graham are both expected to join the rapidly growing field in the coming days, with announcements scheduled in their respective home states of Texas and South Carolina. George W. Bush’s lieutenant governor and John McCain’s bestie join a muddled GOP field that could wind up topping 15 by the time Donald Trump joins them. Each will be looking for breakout moments, but in fact the same could be said about all of their rivals. A recent national poll showed a five-way tie for first for the Republican nomination, with all getting a whopping 10 percent of Republican voters.


Angst over Iowa’s importance in this election cycle will be eased for at least a day or two. You can thank the inaugural “Joni Ernst’s Roast and Ride” for drawing the major 2016ers to the Hawkeye State, in an event that combines the freshman GOP senator’s interest in all things hog and Harley. The candidates will be grilling pork chops, and a few will even climb aboard motorcycles -- all to try to make an early mark in the first-caucus-in-the-nation state. A heralded summer straw poll scheduled for August has been losing its luster. But Iowa will be critical to perhaps half of the Republican field -- and all who hope to make marks among social conservatives.