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Playbook Deep Dive


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.

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.


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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.






Strange but true: Bernie's pragmatic turn

Bernie Sanders is behaving a lot like a pragmatist (just don’t say it to his face). As the Senate Budget chair and a member of Sen. Chuck Schumer’s leadership team, the 79-year-old progressive is one of the most powerful people in Washington and finally has the opportunity he’s been waiting for his whole career: to pass a reconciliation bill with sweeping social reforms. If successful, the $3.5 trillion bill would be the biggest ever passed by Congress. The trick: Can he get it past the...


Inside Biden’s slow-walk on Cuba

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 chances in a former swing state. POLITICO’s Sabrina Rodríguez and Marc Caputo unpack the political minefield with...


Biden’s student debt promise comes due

$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 through executive action. Tara Palmeri is a Playbook co-author for POLITICO. Michael Stratford is an education reporter...


How the 'burbs turned blue

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 electoral map. Eugene Daniels is a Playbook co-author for POLITICO. Zack Stanton is Playbook deputy editor for POLITICO. Jeff...


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

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 in their home states, and why Chuck Schumer shouldn’t be optimistic about passing federal legislation. Tara Palmeri is a...


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

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 and the voting rights debate happening right now in Congress. Eugene Daniels is a Playbook co-author for POLITICO. Ben...


The drama-filled race for 'America's mayor'

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 unpack the race while producer Olivia Reingold pounds the pavement to find out what New Yorkers really think. Tara Palmeri...


The Capitol rioter next door

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 highly educated, middle-aged man with so much to lose could participate in what FBI Director Christopher Wray called “domestic...


McConnell, Oklahoma and the education culture war

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-author Ryan Lizza delve into the tug-of-war, its implications for 2022, and how McConnell is turning what was once the...


Why UFOs are crashing into Congress

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 Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) are concerned about national security and forcing UFOs into the political...


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

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 McCarthy's quest to become speaker. Rachael Bade is a Playbook co-author for POLITICO. Marianne LeVine is a congressional...


A GOP civil war? Don’t bet on it

If you’ve paid any attention to the news lately, you’ve probably heard this line: There’s a “civil war” raging within the GOP. Republican leadership is duking it out in the open after losing the White House, the House and the Senate; just this week, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy ousted his No. 3, Rep. Liz Cheney. On this Playbook Deep Dive, political analyst Jeff Greenfield digs into a contrarian argument with Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza: There is no civil war. This is a purge of...


The Black correspondents at the White House

White House reporters have access to the highest seat in the country — and they’re a small group. An even smaller group? Reporters of color. On today’s episode of Playbook Deep Dive, Eugene Daniels gets honest with fellow Black White House correspondents April Ryan (TheGrio) and Ayesha Rascoe (NPR) about everything from microaggressions to death threats. “Covering the White House from Bill Clinton to now, race touches everything,” says Ryan. “Everything.” Plus, a look at the first Black...


Money, MTG and the D.C. power machine

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has made a name — and recently, fundraised over $3 million — on becoming a political celebrity by oiling gears in the "outrage machine," promoting extremist beliefs and false conspiracy theories and bypassing establishment media and establishment Washington. In Congress, she may not have committee assignments, but she's got an increasingly valuable email list and a growing war chest. What her rise reveals about the power (or lack thereof) of the party’s...


The senators at the center of the 50-50 split

“If we miss this opportunity, God help us.” Joe Manchin and Lisa Murkowski. Two moderate senators smack in the middle — and on either side — of a split 50-50 Senate. On our first episode of Playbook Deep Dive, the two friends open up in a rare interview with POLITICO’s Burgess Everett. They get personal: about reconciliation, frustration over the Senate’s hurdles — even why Murkowski hogs the best fishing holes. And Manchin reveals a major endorsement, heard first on this show. Rachael Bade...


BONUS: Why California’s fracking ban went bust

California is the country’s leader when it comes to climate policies. But not even Democrats could impose a ban on fracking despite holding all levels of power in California. On POLITICO Energy, Colby Bermel explains why.


Bonus: How a fake reporter infiltrated the White House press corps

On this bonus episode of POLITICO Dispatch: Who is “Kacey Montagu”? Christopher Cadelago tells the wild and weird story of how a fictitious correspondent rose from the depths of internet role playing to the White House briefing room. Subscribe to POLITICO Dispatch here:


Coming soon: Playbook Deep Dive

Playbook Deep Dive is a new weekly podcast from Politico — for the stories that seem stranger-than-fiction, but are all too real. Underneath all the theater, backstabbing and strategy in DC are colorful characters and real life consequences. You know those stories that stop you in your tracks? That's what we're going to tell each week. Featuring Playbook authors, reporters from all across the Politico newsroom, and characters from all over DC. Launching April 23.


The hellish future of post-Covid travel & a special tribute at the end of this show

Five cities, four countries and 15 days locked down in Australia: Global Translations author Ryan Heath talks to Playbook's Tara Palmeri about his 68-hour travel journey to get Down Under. He peers inside the hellish future of global travel and explains why it might be more expensive for travelers. Plus, a surprise ending to this special Nerdcast episode. Tara Palmeri is a POLITICO Playbook co-author. Scott Bland is a politics editor at POLITICO. Ryan Heath is a senior editor at Politico and...


Fili-fix the Filibuster?

Black civil rights leaders, voting rights advocates and elected officials are putting more and more pressure on Senate Democrats to nix the filibuster. The argument? Keep the filibuster OR pass voting rights legislation... 'cause you can’t do both! Playbook author Eugene Daniels and reporter Zach Montellaro dig into the politics behind the filibuster and voting rights legislation. Eugene Daniels is a co-author of POLITICO Playbook. Zach Montellaro is a campaign reporter and author of the...