The View's Sara Haines talks coming home to Iowa, Taco John's, and hosting daytime's biggest show

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ABC network star Sara Haines spends weekdays sandwiched between Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg on the set of "The View" in New York City, but the Newton native feels as at home with a best friend from childhood in the drive-thru of her hometown Taco John’s.

“The Newton Taco John’s is kind of famous in its own right,” Haines said in a Aug. 17 phone call during a summer visit to Iowa. “The french fries are gone now, but they are remembered in our hearts and talked about.”

One-liners like that helped Haines garner a permanent co-hosting position on "The View" panel in 2016 after two seasons in a featured role. Her down-to-earth presence adds balance to the punchy daytime talker.

Sara Haines on set of "The View."
Sara Haines on set of "The View."

The show returns for its 26th season this September, following a second consecutive year ranked as the country's No. 1 daytime show, with lighter conversations and a permanent panel after a season-long search for a new conservative co-host.

Producers added former Trump White House communications director Alyssa Farah Griffin to the panel in an Aug. 4 show during its season 25 finale week and promoted longtime fan favorite and recurring fill-in co-host Ana Navarro, a CNN commentator and political strategist.

The pair will co-host the show’s upcoming 26th season alongside moderator Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Sunny Hostin, and Haines.

More: 'The View' (finally) replaces Meghan McCain with conservative co-host and another familiar face

What it's like behind the scenes on 'The View'

In recent years, the show has made headlines and courted tabloid rumors for reported behind-the-scenes tension among co-hosts, but Haines said the show's 25th and 26th seasons remind her of early days sitting at the "Hot Topics" table.

“When I joined (in 2016), there was this chill camaraderie — definitely disagreements but then it was done — and then there was a time that was more fiery and this last season has felt back to normal,” Haines said.

Among an opinionated panel of women that includes former CNN legal analyst Hostin, outspoken comedian Behar, and moderator mainstay Goldberg, Haines has emerged as the table's maverick with middle-of-the-dirt road political leanings and an Iowa nice demeanor.

“We can disagree and none of us take it personally. Conversation has gotten back to ideas, which is what it should be,” Haines said. “You walk away (everyday) and leave it behind and come back — it feels good again.”

Haines has left "The View" behind before and came back, too.

What else has Sara Haines been doing outside of Iowa?

The 44-year-old, who has three young children with husband Max Shifrin, departed the program in 2018 to headline her own show "GMA3: Strahan and Sara" with former professional football player Michael Strahan before adding multi-hyphenate Keke Palmer to the fold.

ABC cancelled the third hour show, "Strahan, Sara, and Keke," in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic and national conversations about race.

The 1996 graduate of Newton High School returned full time to "The Viewfor season 24 in 2020 after a short stint as a recurring panelist the previous season, during the pandemic's peak.

When many network shows shut down production during the COVID-19 pandemic, “The View” largely remained on-air but many of the show’s co-hosts worked remotely and retreated to at-home makeshift sets.

Except Haines, the show’s solo panel member to work in-person from “The View” studio in New York City, who said the technical disconnect between hosts led to awkward Zoom-like lags and zero laughs without the show’s studio audience.

"I literally would sit there and tap the mic and say, 'Is this on?'" Haines said. "I told Joy, 'I've never felt less funny.'"

Sara Haines on set of "The Chase."
Sara Haines on set of "The Chase."

The "Good Morning America" alum also hosts "The Chase," a popular hourlong ABC game show that features contestants competing head-to-head against professional quiz show legends known as "Chasers."

Haines said "The Chase" gives her a break from the hard-hitting political debates and pop culture discussions on "The View."

"‘The View’ is about tuning in. It's an honor to sit at that table but you have to know where you stand and read into a lot," Haines said. "‘The Chase’ is about tuning out and to me, it's unifying families, all different ages, no politics, and it's just a game."

Related: Do you know these famous Iowans? From Elijah Wood to characters like Hawkeye, there's a quite a few

How does Sara Haines spend her time in Iowa?

Away from the busy lights of game show scenes and talk show sets in New York City, Haines finds refuge in her hometown of Newton.

"For five years, I was in New York City to pursue a dream," Haines said. "After awhile, my brother (Joe) said 'I think you'd enjoy it a lot more if you stop comparing it to Iowa.'"

Her parents and siblings no longer live in the Des Moines metro area, but Haines flies home about once a summer to see her childhood best friend Emily Allen and other close friends from high school.

The former "Today Show" contributing correspondent touched down in Des Moines the week of Aug. 15 and has posted updates, including a tour of Newton High School and pictures inside Des Moines International Airport, for her Instagram followers.

"There's a meaning of life that rests in these simple places," Haines added. "It's easier to flock to places with false glam, money, and power but these places focus on barbecues, families, beer, and the simplest things that we had growing up."

During summer pit stops in Newton, Haines picks up doughnuts from Casey's General Store, shares Giovanni's Pizza Restaurant taco pizza slices, stops for a sandwich at PJ's Deli, and orders potato olés from the Taco John's drive-thru.

Related: 12 more famous Iowans from a 'Yellowstone' actor to 'Music Man' composer

If there's extra time for a visit to the Iowa State Fair, which Haines calls "the cherry on top of the state," the five-time Daytime Emmy nominee rides down the famous Giant Slide, sips lemonade, stops by the beer tent, and enjoys eating gyros.

The former NBC production coordinator said staff members at the network would ask "does your family have a farm?" and talk about the Iowa State Fair after finding out she grew up in Iowa.

Haines grew up in gymnastics and spent summers tumbling in front of audiences at the fair.

"I'm such a proud Iowan and that fair is so nostalgic," Haines said. "It's hot, it's uncomfortable, and it's awesome."

It's fair to say that Newton is full of pride for Sara Haines: the hometown girl who grew up with a dream of going to New York City, worked to see it come true, and still has a heart that belongs in Iowa.

"The View" returns for its 26th season this fall with Haines, Hostin, Behar, Goldberg and new permanent co-hosts Farah Griffin and Navarro.

More: Actor Jason Momoa dines at Tasty Tacos in Iowa on the heels of his Oscars appearance

Jay Stahl is an entertainment reporter at The Des Moines Register. Follow him on Instagram, Twitter, or reach out at

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Iowan Sara Haines talks hometown of Newton, hosting 'The View'