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Welcome to Playbook Deep Dive, the stories behind the power. From Congress and the White House to bar stools and back rooms, POLITICO's top reporters and Playbook authors bring you the most compelling and confounding stories that explain what’s really going on in Washington.

Popular episodes

Inside Biden’s slow-walk on Cuba

Jul 23 • 27:20

Cuba’s sweeping protests — and sweeping crackdown — are historic. But the situation is a political hot potato for Biden, whose sanction orders came nearly two weeks after the unrest began. His go-it-slow approach has emboldened Republicans, while Florida Democrats fear the president could blow an opportunity to reorient U.S.-Cuba policy and improve the party’s political ch...

Biden’s student debt promise comes due

Jul 16 • 27:56

$1.6 trillion — that's how much student loan debt there is in the United States. Progressives want to cancel student loan debt. Republicans say that's wildly unfair. And President Joe Biden is....waiting. Playbook co-author Tara Palmeri and education reporter Michael Stratford discuss the fight on Capitol Hill over student loans and whether Biden could tackle the problem t...

How the 'burbs turned blue

Jul 9 • 31:33

Michigan’s Oakland County, once a Republican stronghold, is turning blue. Playbook's Eugene Daniels and Zack Stanton (also a Michigan native — he's from the "knuckle"), talk about whether shedding these suburbs is a warning light for Trumpism. Plus: Former Michigan GOP leader Jeff Timmer on what he thinks losing this stronghold says about the strength of a Republican elect...

Weed is popular. So what's the holdup in Congress?

Jul 2 • 31:08

Eight — that’s how many states have passed some form of cannabis legalization since November. And even though marijuana is gainingpopularity in conservative states, that's not breaking through with GOP senators on Capitol Hill. Cannabis reporter Natalie Fertig and Playbook co-author Tara Palmeri discuss the growing cannabis dissonance between Republican senators and voters...

‘It’s a clusterf*ck’: The college kid who cracked the election industry

Jun 25 • 30:04

Matthew Caulfield was a college senior when he was given a seemingly simple assignment that took him more than five years and 3,000 emails to start to answer: How much did a voting machine cost? And how big, precisely, was the U.S. elections industry? Playbook co-author Eugene Daniels and reporter Ben Wofford dive into the mysterious world of voting technology companies an...

DC <3 NY: The drama-filled race for 'America's mayor'

Jun 18 • 34:52

It’s one of the top jobs in politics, period: mayor of the Big Apple. In a heavily left-leaning town, Tuesday’s crowded Democratic primary will essentially decide who will become the 110th mayor of New York City — an election that will determine who has the ear of powerful figures on Capitol Hill. POLITICO New York’s Sally Goldenberg and Playbook co-author Tara Palmeri unp...

The Capitol rioter next door

Jun 11 • 30:27

Imagine learning that someone you've known for 18 years is alleged to have been responsible for some of the worst violence on Jan. 6. How do you square that? Playbook co-author Rachael Bade and journalist Melanie Warner dive into the story of Jeffrey Sabol, one man whose alleged activity on Jan. 6 left many in his life confused and grappling for answers — about how a highl...

McConnell, Oklahoma and the education culture war

Jun 4 • 32:57

A century ago, a violent white mob razed the heart of Tulsa's thriving Black community. Now, Oklahoma — and Republicans on Capitol Hill — are swept up in a national culture war over how schools teach kids about racism and sexism. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has inserted himself into that battle. POLITICO's education editor Delece Smith-Barrow and Playbook co-aut...

Why UFOs are crashing into Congress

May 28 • 20:46

Talking about UFOs was once kryptonite for your political career. Now, senators are openly talking about UFOs, and the Pentagon is set to deliver a long-awaited report in June detailing what it knows — and what it doesn’t. So why the sudden change? POLITICO’s Bryan Bender and Playbook co-author Rachael Bade dissect why lawmakers including former Senate Majority Leader Harr...

Is Hill oversight dead? Inside the Jan. 6 commission fight

May 21 • 30:45

This week's vote on a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection exposed some serious rifts on the Hill — rifts that could get even wider as the bill heads to the Senate. POLITICO's Marianne LeVine and Playbook co-author Rachael Bade dig into the dynamics playing out among congressional leadership, from Mitch McConnell's 2022 calculations to Kevin McCarth...

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