Sarah McCammon

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

This has been a tough year for celebrity deaths — and a sad week for fans of Prince, who died Thursday at age 57. But as flashes of purple filled my social media feeds from friends mourning Prince's death, I just felt numb — and like an outsider, watching a ritual I couldn't fully join.

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"New York values" got a lot of love from Republicans in New York City on Thursday night.

All three Republican presidential hopefuls attended the New York State Republican Gala, a $1,000-a-plate fundraiser for the state GOP. It took place just days before New York's primary, which comes amid an unusually contentious campaign for the nomination.

Donald Trump is no typical politician — and his wife Melania is not a typical political spouse.

Melania Trump says she's spending most of her time at home, caring for the couple's 10-year-old son, Barron. But lately, the former model and native of Slovenia has been more visible on the campaign trail for the Republican front-runner.

Ted Cruz has made no secret of his dislike of what he calls "New York values." But now Cruz needs the support of New York voters if he is to stop Donald Trump from winning the Republican presidential nomination.

According to Donald Trump, he's got an amazing relationship with women.

"I respect women. I love women. I cherish women!" Trump said at political conference last year, but it's a version of a line he repeats often on the campaign trail.

His poll numbers and recent comments, though, tell a slightly different story. Trump's favorability numbers with female voters are low enough that they could cause a problem for him should he be the candidate in the general election.

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Politicians of all stripes have to sometimes contend with attracting supporters that don't quite fit the image they are trying to portray.

Donald Trump has received support in recent days from governors and a U.S. senator, but also a well-known white supremacist.

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Eminent domain isn't one of those issues — like abortion or foreign policy — that's guaranteed to come up every election cycle. But the slightly wonky debate over when property owners should be forced to give up land for the public good is coming up this year — especially in South Carolina, where Republicans hold their primary this weekend.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is known for being one of the most disliked men in Washington. As he tries to win over voters, his wife Heidi Cruz is trying to vouch for his character and show people that he has a softer side.

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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.

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.

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.

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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."

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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 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."

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