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News Analysis: A Clash of Philosophies

Essential Reads

Somewhere in the wonky blizzard of facts, statistics and studies thrown out on stage here on Wednesday night was a fundamental philosophical choice about the future of America, quite possibly the starkest in nearly three decades. As President Obama and Mitt Romney faced off for the first time, their largely zinger-free styles may have disguised a fierce clash of views not only over taxes, spending and health care, but over the very role of government in American society in a time of wrenching problems.

In Romney and Obama Speeches, Selective Truths

Essential Reads

To listen to Mitt Romney tell it, President Obama is a job-killing, free-spending, big-government liberal who made the recession worse with his policies and endangered free-market capitalism. The president has spent tax dollars “at a pace without precedent in recent history,” Mr. Romney says, and “added almost as much debt as all the prior presidents combined.”

The Backstory: Traveling with the President

Web content

What's it like to be a reporter covering a president who's also running for re-election? Gwen Ifill gets the "Backstory" from Peter Baker of The New York Times who explains what it's like traveling on on Air Force One with President Obama, the time pressures and fine line between official duties and campaigning.

Obama is Both Commander, Campaigner in Chief Ahead of bin Laden Anniversary

Essential Reads

Rarely has a president blended the role of commander in chief with that of campaigner in chief quite as vividly as President Obama has done in the days surrounding the first anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death.

When’s a Campaign Not a Campaign? (See Obama, Gingrich)

Gwen's Take

Just when you thought it was safe to go back outside, it turns out the campaign lull we thought had just begun hasn’t occurred at all.

We were assured by the Democrats that the president’s travels to three battleground states this week were absolutely, positively, not about politics. Ignore those arenas full of students shouting “Four more years.” This was all about policy, they insisted.

Perry Dismisses Gingrich’s Complaint of ‘Negative’ Campaigning

On The Radar

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas said Tuesday that he was not concerned by a complaint from a Republican rival, Newt Gingrich, that the tenor of the presidential primary race had grown too negative and indicated that he had no plans to stop drawing contrasts in the final two weeks before the Iowa caucuses. “As long as no one is misstating the facts, I don’t consider that to be negative,” Mr. Perry said. “It’s always in the eye of the beholder.”

Obama Campaign Treating Romney Like Nominee — By Attacking

On The Radar

Updated Republicans are months away from their first presidential primaries and caucuses, but the Obama campaign already is giving Mitt Romney the nominee treatment — trying to define him irrevocably as a shape-shifter, with an eye to the 2012 election.