Essential Reads

Essential Reads is your one-stop source for the top stories of the day as reported by your favorite Washington Week panelists. It's a simple way to save time and stay informed about the news you need to know. Check it out every day!

Mar 01, 2012

  • Romney Won't Be A Pushover in November

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    Mitt Romney started as the odds-on favorite for the GOP nomination, and he's never really lost that spot. Still, he's had a rough six weeks. He's been attacked by his Republican rivals as both a heartless capitalist and a closet liberal. He's committed gaffes that make him sound like a caricature of a clueless rich guy. And the Democratic president he wants to replace has surged ahead of him (and all the other GOP challengers) in head-to-head polls.
    Read More

Feb 29, 2012

  • He’s Alive!

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    In the state where Mitt Romney was born, his campaign did not die. Despite his many advantages in Michigan, the race was a nail-biter. In the end, Romney won 41 percent of the vote to 38 percent for Rick Santorum. “We didn’t win by a lot, but we won by enough but that’s all that counts,” said Romney at his victory party, looking relieved to have survived another near-death experience. In Arizona, he clobbered the former Pennsylvania senator 47 percent to 26 percent. By the end of the night, Romney captured more than 30 new delegates. On that score, he is now well ahead of his rivals.
    Read More

  • Mitt Romney Survives Michigan Primary, Looks to Super Tuesday

    By Dan Balz, Washington Post

    February was supposed to be Mitt Romney’s month, a time when he could put distance between himself and his rivals for the Republican nomination with a series of contests on generally friendly terrain. Instead it turned into a grinding endurance test far more difficult than anything he or his campaign had imagined.
    Read More


    Mitt Romney delivering a victory speech in Novi, Mich (CNN)

  • As Gas Prices Spike, Obama May Tap Oil Reserve

    By Alexis Simendinger, RealClearPolitics

    Expectations are high that President Obama will tap the nation's oil reserves by this summer to respond to rising gasoline prices as he seeks a second term, according to analysts who stand on all sides of the question.
    Read More

  • Obama Targets UAW on Michigan Primary Day

    With Julianna Goldman, Bloomberg News

    Bloomberg's Julianna Goldman reports on President Obama's appearance in front of auto workers on the day of the Michigan primary. She speaks on Bloomberg Television's "Inside Track."

    Watch Video on Bloomberg News

  • Michigan and Arizona: Bruising GOP Primaries Brighten Obama’s Prospects

    By Major Garrett, National Journal

    When President Obama accused Republicans who opposed the auto industry bailout of peddling a “load of you know what,” he might have been describing the residue in Michigan and Arizona for Republicans now that the two primaries are over. Obama is in better shape in both states since the GOP circus came to town, with higher favorable ratings than before and with an elevated profile among key constituencies, like blue-collar voters and women who have new appreciation of his handling of the auto bailouts and the contraception issue. The bruising primary campaigns didn’t elevate Obama all by themselves.
    Read More

Feb 28, 2012

  • I’m One of You! No, Really!

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    Mitt Romney reminds voters at every campaign stop in Michigan that he is a local boy. He points out school friends, the cemetery where his parents are buried—his father picked the plot because it was the cheapest—and talks about vacations they took in his family’s rambler. In Traverse City on Sunday, he delighted the packed house on how he stole his first kiss from his wife Ann on a beach down the road. It seems to be working.
    Read More

  • Oil Prices Could Hurt Global Recovery

    With Eamon Javers, CNBC

    Oil prices remain at multi-month highs, causing concern that lofty prices could hurt the global economic recovery.CNBC's Eamon Javers reports.

    Watch Video on CNBC

  • Strife Spurs Rethinking of Afghan Mission

    By Nancy A. Youssef, McClatchy Newspapers

    As violence continued Monday in Afghanistan over the accidental burning of Qurans by U.S. troops last week, American military officials and analysts are beginning to question whether the United States needs to change its mission of training Afghan soldiers and police, a key plank of President Obama's withdrawal strategy.
    Read More

  • Tight Race in Michigan

    By Jeff Zeleny, New York Times

    Polls show Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum in a close race for Michigan’s Tuesday primary. Jeff Zeleny reports.
    Watch Video


    Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum (CNN)
     

  • Where Does The Economic Recovery Stand?

    With David Wessel, Wall Street Journal

    Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep talks to David Wessel, of The Wall Street Journal, and Zanny Minton Beddoes, of The Economist, about how to read the latest economic signs, and whether there are any bright areas for growth.


    Listen to Story on NPR

Feb 27, 2012

  • Syria, Iran and the Obama Doctrine

    By David Sanger, The New York Times

    Arm the Syrian rebels! And, while we’re at it, give the Israelis the tools they need — bunker-busters, refueling aircraft — so that if they decide to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities, they’ll get it right the first time. Both calls have resonated across Washington in recent days. The demand to level the playing field against the Syrian government — which is getting arms from Russia and Iran — came from Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Talk of increasing the credibility of Israel’s threat to flatten Iran’s far-flung nuclear facilities has arisen in many quarters, from the Republican presidential candidates to think tanks that have charged that the Obama administration has not yet made “all options are on the table” a credible threat.

    Read more
  • Romney defends wealth, Santorum touts values

    By Sam Youngman and Steve Holland, Reuters

    In a tight race to win the Michigan primary, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney strongly defended his wealth on Sunday and challenged voters to support someone else if they did not like his success.
    Read more

  • Revenge of the 'super PACs'

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    Chalk up another win for the law of unintended consequences. When federal courts ruled in 2010 against restricting donations to political action committees, Republican strategists rejoiced. Here, they thought, was a way for the GOP's deep-pocketed donors to gain an advantage over President Obama's fundraising machine. But look what happened. "Super PACs," as the newly empowered political action committees are known, have mutated like election-year Godzillas, wreaking havoc in an increasingly bloody Republican primary campaign.

    Read more
  • Obama’s Deficit Dilemma

    By Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

    President Obama was backstage at an auditorium at George Washington University last April preparing to give a major speech, when William M. Daley, then his chief of staff, spied an unexpected guest in the audience: Representative Paul D. Ryan, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee, whose budget plan Mr. Obama was about to shred.

    Read more
  • Rick Santorum presses culture wars attack

    By Nia-Malika Henderson, The Washington Post

    Rick Santorum has opened up a new and provocative front in the political culture wars as he boldly tries to cast the race for the White House as a battle between the secular and the religious. In back-to-back speeches over the weekend, the candidate described President Obama as “a snob” for focusing on the importance of a college education and disparaged the idea of a separation between church and state by attacking President John F. Kennedy, who made it a key point in his 1960 campaign.

    Read more

Feb 24, 2012

  • Conventional Wisdom

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    Disney may be in Orlando, but in Republican Party politics, Tampa is the home of Fantasyland. That's where the GOP convention will be held the week of Aug. 27. As the Republican race appears more likely to stretch into spring (or beyond), journalists and political operatives have started to imagine make-believe scenarios for what might happen if GOP delegates show up with funny hats, pins, and suntan lotion but no confirmed nominee.
    Read More

  • "Cool" Obama Returns GOP Fire on Gas Prices

    By Alexis Simendinger, RealClearPolitics

    President Obama said Thursday in Miami that Republicans who want his job and others in Congress are not telling America the truth. Whether the president's complaints had merit was not the news. What was noteworthy was how the GOP assaults leveled at the president during the campaign -- and the pile-up of televised presidential debates -- are registering with Obama.
    Read More

  • What Happens if Mitt Romney Wins Michigan?

    By Dan Balz, Washington Post

    For the past week, much of the focus of the Republican presidential race has centered on the consequences Mitt Romney will face if he loses Michigan’s primary. After a debate in Arizona on Wednesday, the question should be: What will happen if he wins his home state? Polls in Michigan show a tight race between Romney and former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.). Romney won Michigan four years ago, but there’s no guarantee he will do so again on Tuesday.
    Read More

  • Koran Burning in Afghanistan Fuels Bloody New Attacks on U.S. Forces

    By Yochi J. Dreazen, National Journal

    The deaths of a pair of American soldiers in Afghanistan Thursday highlights the bloody intersection of two dangerous aspects of the long war there: the growing Afghan fury over the burning of Korans and the continued killings of Western troops by their Afghan counterparts. An Afghan soldier shot and killed the U.S. soldiers at an outpost in eastern Afghanistan’s Nangarhar Province and then, according to a U.S. official familiar with the matter, fled into the large crowd of demonstrators outside the base. They were protesting reports that American troops had burned copies of the Koran, the holiest text in Islam.
    Read More


    Protests in Afghanistan over burnt Qurans (CNN)