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Don Gonyea

Donald Trump is the apparent GOP presidential nominee after his two remaining rivals ended their White House bids.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich suspended his campaign Wednesday evening in Columbus. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz dropped out of the race Tuesday night after a disappointing loss in Indiana.

The rapid moves in the past 24 hours bring to a close a wild GOP primary season that leaves the one-time unlikely candidate as the party's apparent nominee.

You might have heard of the famous butter cow — a life-sized cow made of butter that headlines every Iowa State Fair. But perhaps you didn't know that in 1952, the fair also featured butter sculptures of that year's presidential candidates Dwight D. Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson.

It's just another example of the symbiotic relationship between politicians and the fair — and it's only gotten deeper over the decades.

Evangelical voters are a major force in Iowa Republican politics. A force that can tip the balance in the state's marquee event: the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses.

Jeb Bush is walking back an answer on the Iraq war, in which he had said he would have authorized the invasion — even knowing what we know now.

"I interpreted the question wrong, I guess," he told conservative Sean Hannity on Hannity's radio show Tuesday afternoon. "I was talking about given what people knew then, would you have done it, rather than knowing what we know now. And knowing what we know now, you know, clearly there were mistakes."

Still, Bush did not say the invasion was a "mistake," or that he would not have authorized it.

Baseball fans endure the long winter in part because they know, come March, the game will again come alive. They can't wait for their radio, TV, computer screen or smartphone to come alive with scenes from warm climates featuring men in crisp uniforms pitching and catching.

Major League Baseball's spring training is underway, but at this stage, wins and losses aren't really important. It's all about fundamentals: getting ready for the regular season and hopefully the playoffs.

During President Obama's State of the Union address this week, 14 members of the College Republicans at Ohio State University gathered in a meeting room at their student union on campus in Columbus, Ohio.

The president's speech, which they watched on a giant flat-screen TV, was punctuated with groans, rebuttal, criticisms and sarcasm from this young audience. These students worked hard, to no avail, to deliver the much prized battleground state of Ohio to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Latino voters were a key to President Obama's victory in November, turning out in big numbers and supporting Obama by more than 2 to 1 over Republican Mitt Romney.

Now, many of those voters say it's time for Obama to do something he did not do in his first term: push hard for and sign a comprehensive immigration overhaul.

Let's start with a group of Latinos — young and old, some U.S. citizens, some not — heading from Florida to Washington, D.C., for Obama's inauguration and for meetings with members of Congress. As caravans go, it's a small one: 13 people in two vans.

The final days of an election cycle bring an obsession with the short term — the very short term. Daily tracking polls. A relentless get-it, post-it, blog-it news cycle. Trending topics on Twitter telling us something (though it's not always clear what).

But for just a moment, let's slow it down, look at what's happening over a somewhat longer time frame, and see what it tells us about what the country will look like for the winner of the presidential race.

The Long View

In this election, Christian conservatives seem to be more against President Obama than they are for Mitt Romney. But they do like GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, who used a speech Friday to vouch for Romney.

At the annual gathering of religious conservatives in Washington, D.C., there was also talk of this week's violence in the Middle East.

The Values Voter Summit got under way first thing Friday morning, with a speech from Tony Perkins, whose Family Research Council organizes this event.