KWIT

Wade Goodwyn

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That the freshman senator from Texas had a good night onstage at the latest Republican debate surprises nobody anymore — Ted Cruz is poised, articulate and smart. He's gaining ground in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, and he's positioning himself to capture supporters from Donald Trump or Ben Carson, should either falter. There's still a long way to go in this contest, but Cruz and his campaign are well-funded, well-organized and confident in his ability to outlast and overtake his rivals.

To walk into Ted Cruz's holding room at the National Religious Liberties Conference in Des Moines, Iowa, on Friday afternoon was to walk into quite the group of happy campers.

With a friendly motion and a quick smile, the Republican Senator from Texas, looking relaxed in short sleeves, his foot up on the coffee table, waves you over to the chair beside him. It's just the tiniest bit unnerving, the notion flashes across your mind, "He knows I'm with NPR, right?"

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When you don't know the facts of a given incident, it's human nature to attempt to fill them in yourself. But in the case of Bowe Bergdahl, there's no way you could concoct the narrative the Army's two-month investigation uncovered.

According to the testimony of Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl, who led the 22-member team during the investigation, Bergdahl, who was a private first class at the time, quietly slipped away from his bunk and sneaked out of Forward Operating Post Mest in eastern Afghanistan on the night of June 30, 2009.

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Army Sgt. Robert "Bowe" Bergdahl will be in a military courtroom in Texas Thursday, for the start of a hearing that will determine if he will face a court-martial on desertion and other charges. He could face a sentence of life in prison.

Whether the military proceeds with a court-martial will hinge, in part, on the events of the night of June 30, 2009. That's when Bergdahl went missing from his unit's outpost in a remote part of eastern Afghanistan.

Donald Trump's rallies tend to feel more like a playoff game or music concert than electoral politics. There's an expectation of entertainment — older couples are dressed up, and people are friendly and excited. Monday night's large rally at a basketball arena in Dallas was no exception.

"He's telling me everything I want to hear. I'm for change; I'm fed up with the 30 years of empty suits in Washington," said Brian Markum, an energy consultant who came to the rally with his wife.

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