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 21, 2012

  • Romney Scores Big Win over Santorum in Illinois

    By Sam Youngman, Reuters

    Republican Mitt Romney cruised to an easy victory over top rival Rick Santorum in Illinois on Tuesday, moving him one step closer to clinching the party's volatile battle for the presidential nomination. Romney's comfortable win gave him a fresh burst of momentum in the White House campaign and new ammunition for his argument that it is time for Republicans to rally around his campaign and end an increasingly bitter nominating battle.
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Mar 20, 2012

  • GOP Budget Plan Cuts Deeply into Domestic Programs, Reshapes Medicare, Medicaid

    By Rosalind S. Helderman and Lori Montgomery, Washington Post

    House Republicans laid down a bold but risky election-year marker Tuesday, unveiling a budget proposal that aims to tame the national debt by reshaping Medicare and cutting deeply into Medicaid, food stamps and other programs for the poor, while reshuffling the tax code to sharply lower rates.
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  • Why Rick Santorum and David Axelrod Agree About Mitt Romney

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    On the eve of the Illinois primary, Rick Santorum looked deep into the heart of Mitt Romney and came up empty. "He doesn't have a core," Santorum said on CBS's This Morning. “He’s been on both sides of almost every single issue in the past 10 years.” Does that sound familiar? If you wonder where you've heard that before, it came from President Obama's top strategist David Axelrod, who first said Romney lacked a “core” last October. It was then repeated by David Plouffe, a senior adviser to Obama who ran his 2008 campaign.
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  • On Primary’s Eve, Romney Cuts to General Election

    By Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg, New York Times

    Republican voters have yet to give Mitt Romney a green light to begin a formal campaign against President Obama, so Mr. Romney paid a visit to the president’s old neighborhood here on Monday for yet another audition to show he is tough enough to win the general election.
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  • GOP Candidates Face Illinois Primary Today

    With John Harwood, CNBC

    CNBC's John Harwood has the story on whether there will be a brokered Republican convention.

    Watch Video on CNBC

  • Obama Heading West to Counter His Energy Critics

    By Alexis Simendinger, RealClearPolitics

    President Obama this week will wend his way through Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Ohio to explain why he has little power to lower gasoline prices, and why he has a long-term energy strategy that he believes can reduce the effects of pump price fluctuations in the long term. When would the president's strategy pay off? The benefits of Obama's approach are ongoing, the White House said Monday, even if gasoline prices keep rising because of global market activity out of the president’s control.
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  • Romney Aims for Illinois Win to Widen Republican Lead

    By Sam Youngman, Reuters

    Front-runner Mitt Romney appears poised to widen his lead in the Republican presidential race with a victory on Tuesday in Illinois, where polls show he has a comfortable edge over top rival Rick Santorum. Romney hopes a solid win in Illinois will give him a fresh burst of momentum in the volatile White House campaign and add urgency to calls for Republicans to rally around the former Massachusetts governor and end an increasingly bitter nominating battle.
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    Mitt Romney in Peoria, IL (CNN)

Mar 19, 2012

  • Pentagon Finds Perils for U.S. if Israel Were to Strike Iran

    By Mark Mazzetti and Thom Shanker, New York Times

    A classified war game held this month to assess the American military’s capabilities to respond to an Israeli attack on Iran forecast that the strike would lead to a wider regional war, which could draw in the United States and leave hundreds of Americans dead, according to American officials.
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  • Illinois Next Crucial Stop in GOP Race

    With John Dickerson, CBS News

    The Republican presidential hopefuls continue to stump for support. CBS News political director John Dickerson talked about delegate math with "CBS This Morning: Saturday" co-host Rebecca Jarvis, ahead of Tuesday's key contest in Illinois.

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  • Sanctions' Squeeze On Iran Tightens

    By Tom Gjelten, NPR

    The squeeze on the Iranian economy due to international sanctions is turning into a stranglehold. The latest sign of Iran's economic trouble is a new drop in the country's oil output. And last week brought a new punishment: Iranian banks were barred from participating in a key international clearinghouse.
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  • Santorum-Romney Battle Reveals Stark Divide in the GOP

    By Dan Balz, Washington Post

    The big, cheering crowd in the school gymnasium here Friday night spoke to the distance Rick Santorum has traveled since those lonely days when his candidacy was dismissed as a hopeless exercise. It spoke also to the divide that now defines the Republican presidential campaign.
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    Mitt Romney on the Campaign Trail (CNN)

  • War And Semantics

    By James Kitfield, National Journal

    In the last week alone, Americans have been told definitively that “Afghanistan is ready right now to take all security responsibilities completely” (Afghan President Hamid Karzai); that Afghans will take “full responsibility for security in 2014” (President Barack Obama); that the U.S. and its allies will shift to a support role next year and “won’t be in a combat role after 2014” (British Prime Minister David Cameron); and that U.S. officials are negotiating a “strategic partnership” agreement to allow U.S. troops to continue both supporting Afghan forces and conducting counter-insurgency “night raids” well beyond 2014.
    Read more from National Journal

  • Mitt Romney Wins Puerto Rico

    With John Harwood, CNBC.

    CNBC's John Harwood has the story on Mitt Romney's delegate lead, and what he needs to do to stop Rick Santorum's momentum.

    Watch Video on CNBC

Mar 16, 2012

  • Unmired at Last

    By Greg Ip, The Economist

    Since Florida’s property market collapsed and its economy tanked, Hillsborough County has endured almost nonstop austerity. In the past five years the government of the county, halfway up the state’s Gulf coast, has eliminated a quarter of its 6,000 positions through attrition and lay-offs. It has scaled back after-school child care. Workers’ pay has been frozen for three years.
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  • Obama Says There's No 'Silver Bullet' on Gas Prices

    By Christi Parsons and Neela Banerjee, Los Angeles Times

    President Obama launched a fiery defense of his energy policy Thursday amid growing pressure to stem rising gasoline prices, perhaps by releasing oil from the nation's emergency petroleum reserve. Obama avoided mentioning the Strategic Petroleum Reserve option, but acknowledged the pain Americans feel at the pump and mocked Republicans for "acting like 'We've got a magic wand and we will give you cheap gas forever.' "
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  • Taliban, Afghan President Warn U.S. Troops

    With Martha Raddatz, ABC News

    Soldiers cautioned after Leon Panetta's runway scare in Afghanistan.

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    Watch Video on ABC News

  • Let the Campaign Begin; Biden Rips Romney, Gingrich, and Santorum in Toledo Speech

    By Major Garrett, National Journal

    Mitt Romney may dismiss Newt Gingrich as a whinning wannabe, and Rick Santorum's campaign may say it's time for the former speaker to bow out. Santorum may call Romney a weak front-runner, and Romney may call Santorum "desperate." But it doesn't matter to Vice President Joe Biden.
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  • Obama's "Road" Commercial: Paved With Bombast

    By Alexis Simendinger, RealClearPolitics

    The 17-minute Obama commercial titled "The Road We've Traveled," released Thursday night to great fanfare by the president's campaign, could have carried a subtitle much like this: "How an underappreciated president with a big heart and stiff spine saved the world, kept his promises, delivered enduring change, and is poised to do more if voters only realize what's at stake."
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    President Barack Obama in Largo, MD (CNN)

  • Early Glimpse of Missouri Caucuses Shows Support for Santorum

    By Jeff Zeleny, New York Times

    Mitt Romney and his campaign advisers pride themselves on vigorously pursuing every delegate in every corner of the country in their quest to secure the Republican presidential nomination. That was not the case here Thursday evening at the Chariton County caucus inside the Railyard Steakhouse, where Republicans voted to send their full share of delegates to the district and state conventions in support of Rick Santorum.
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Mar 15, 2012

  • Stop, Right Now! You’re Making a Scene!

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    The Mitt Romney campaign would like Republican voters to stop and think like Mitt Romney for a moment: rationally and without getting overly emotional about things. Have voters seriously contemplated the chaos that Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are promising at the Republican convention in Tampa?
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