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 12, 2012

  • Attack May Derail Effort to Force Taliban Into Talks

    By David E. Sanger, New York Times

    The outrage from the back-to-back episodes of the Koran burning and the killing on Sunday of at least 16 Afghan civilians imperils what the Obama administration once saw as an orderly plan for 2012: to speed the training of Afghan forces so that they can take the lead in combat missions, all while drawing the Taliban into negotiations to end more than a decade of constant war.
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Mar 09, 2012

  • Is Mitt Romney the New Bob Dole?

    By John F. Harris and Jonathan Martin, Politico

    Many Republican political professionals are worried that Mitt Romney’s public image is now defined by a word never associated with winning presidential campaigns — weakness — and are urging him to take dramatic steps to recast his reputation between now and the fall.
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  • Senate Rejects GOP Attempt to Advance Keystone XL

    By Richard Simon and Christi Parsons, Los Angeles Times

    With gas prices becoming a high-octane campaign issue, the Democratic-led Senate beat back a Republican effort to advance the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline project. Thursday’s vote to attach the project to a must-pass transportation bill failed 56 to 42, with 11 Democrats joining Republicans to support the measure. Sixty votes were needed for passage.
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  • Pro-Santorum Ad Hits Both Rivals

    By Janet Hook, Wall Street Journal

    Rick Santorum’s supporters, one day after clamoring for rival Newt Gingrich to drop out of the Republican presidential race, are heading to the Deep South to air a new ad arguing that neither of his rivals can win in the fall general election.
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  • Obama’s Super Paranoia

    By Major Garrett, National Journal

    In Obamaland, the 3 a.m. phone call has become the 3 a.m. e-mail. In their own way, both speak to a crisis mentality and a groping for security. The contexts couldn’t be more different, but the anxiety—real and imagined—is no less genuine. To review, the 3 a.m. phone call was in a TV ad Hillary Rodham Clinton ran against Obama in the heat of the Texas and Ohio primaries in 2008. It asked voters to ponder the fate of America if Barack Obama were president and a national crisis struck in the middle of the night.
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    President Obama speaks at a truck manufacturing plant in North Carolina (CNN)

  • Deep South Primaries Offer Little Hope for Romney, Opportunity for Santorum

    By Nia-Malika Henderson, Washington Post

    For Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, the Deep South primaries in Alabama and Mississippi on Tuesday will be a race for conservative primacy in the battle for the Republican presidential nomination. Unless one of them decisively puts the other away, however, Mitt Romney could be the big winner no matter where he finishes.
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Mar 08, 2012

  • Panetta: U.S. Has Potential Military Plans for Iran

    By Yochi J. Dreazen, National Journal

    The Pentagon is preparing an array of military options for striking Iran if hard-hitting diplomatic and economic sanctions fail to persuade Tehran to drop its nuclear ambitions, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told National Journal in an interview on Thursday.
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  • Obama Mines for Voters With High-Tech Tools

    By Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg, New York Times

    With a “chief scientist” specializing in consumer behavior, an “analytics department” monitoring voter trends, and a squad of dozens huddled at computer screens editing video or writing code, the sprawling office complex inside One Prudential Plaza looks like a corporate research and development lab — Ping-Pong table and all.
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    President Obama uses a laptop during a White House Twitter event in 2011 (The White House)

  • No Quit in these Presidential Candidates

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    Poor Mitt Romney. He won six of 10 states on Super Tuesday, including hotly contested Ohio. He lengthened his lead in the count of delegates who will actually choose the Republican presidential nominee. But he's still a long way from claiming victory. Why? Because there's no compelling reason for Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich or Ron Paul to drop out of the race. Each has a reason to keep fighting at least through April — and maybe all the way to the convention in August.
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  • Obama Campaign Team: Primary Race Weakens Romney

    By Alexis Simendinger, RealClearPolitics

    War with Iran is lurking, gas prices are rising, twisters are mowing through the heartland, but if Mitt Romney is having a bad day, President Obama's Chicago campaign team is chipper. Even if Romney won six of 10 Super Tuesday contests, the president's top campaign advisers told reporters Wednesday that the former Massachusetts governor -- still the focus of their battle plan -- is a weakened candidate because of his ultra-right policies, his rhetoric, and the negative advertising deployed to help him knock out opponents.
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  • Romney Camp Tells Rivals: You Can't Catch Him

    By Sam Youngman, Reuters

    Mitt Romney's campaign told his Republican presidential rivals on Wednesday they could not catch him and nudged them to quit the race even though he failed to deliver a knockout blow in the biggest round of nominating contests.
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  • Pentagon Leaders Reject Military Intervention in Syria

    By Nancy A. Youssef, McClatchy Newspapers

    Any U.S. military effort to protect civilians in Syria zone would take weeks to implement, the top Pentagon civilian and military officials said Wednesday, underscoring the limited U.S. options for ending President Bashar Assad's violent campaign against Syrian rebels.
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Mar 07, 2012

  • Romney’s Rivals Have Scant Hope of Closing the Delegate Gap

    By Karen Tumulty, Washington Post

    Though Mitt Romney’s opponents continue to insist there is a road to the Republican presidential nomination for them after the Super Tuesday contests, the arithmetic suggests otherwise. How long it will take for the other contenders and their supporters to figure that out — and to make peace with it — is another question.
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    Mitt Romney in Boston, Mass. (CNN)Mitt Romney in Boston, Mass. (CNN)

  • Obama Scolds G.O.P. Critics of Iran Policy

    By Jackie Calmes and Mark Landler, New York Times

    President Obama on Tuesday forcefully rebuked Republicans on the presidential campaign trail and in Congress for “beating the drums of war” in criticizing his efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis over Iran’s nuclear program, underscoring how squarely the national security issue had entered the election-year debate.
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  • Netanyahu and Obama Still Divided Over Iran

    By Yochi J. Dreazen, National Journal

    President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have been working hard to present a united front on Iran, the nation at the heart of a simmering dispute between the two close allies. But there is no disguising the fact that the two leaders remain sharply divided on the way forward.
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  • How the Economy Changes the Campaign

    With David Wessel, Wall Street Journal

    Is the economy getting better, or do people perceive that it is getting better? David Wessel discusses the impact of the economy on the presidential campaign.

    Watch Video on Wall Street Journal

  • With No Knockout Punch, a Bruising Battle Plods On

    By Jeff Zeleny, New York Times

    Mitt Romney won the delegates, but not necessarily the argument. His quest to win the Republican presidential nomination has always resembled a detailed, methodical business plan. Mr. Romney, who spent much of his life fixing troubled corporations, must now decide whether steps are necessary to repair his lethargic candidacy.
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Mar 06, 2012

  • How Santorum Became the GOP’s Rocky Balboa

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    I am my campaign. That was Rick Santorum's message at the Dayton Christian School in Miamisburg, Ohio, the day before Super Tuesday. The former Pennsylvania senator recounted how pundits had sniffed at him and how he'd been down in the polls for so long. But he slogged on, as he does today, even though he says he's being outspent 12-to-1 in this key battleground state. Only someone who could muscle through so much adversity can beat Barack Obama, he tells the crowds.
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  • Candidates Hammer Obama Over Iran, but Approaches Differ Little

    By Helene Cooper, New York Times

    To rein in Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, Mitt Romney says he would conduct naval exercises in the Persian Gulf to remind Iran of American military might. He would try to ratchet up Security Council sanctions on Iran, targeting its Revolutionary Guards, and the country’s central bank and other financial institutions. And if Russia and China do not go along, he says, the United States should team up with other willing governments to put such punitive measures in place.
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  • Santorum and Romney Court Blue-Collar Voters in Ohio

    By Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg, New York Times

    If Mitt Romney defeats Rick Santorum in the bellwether primary here on Tuesday, it will be in no small part because he managed to win over one of the most hotly contested and elusive segments of the electorate: white working-class voters. At a metal works in Canton and a welding factory in Youngstown, in mailboxes and on the radio, Mr. Romney’s intense focus on these Republican-leaning voters was in evidence on Monday as he made his closing appeal in Ohio — if not as an everyman, then at least as a chief executive who knows how to generate blue-collar jobs and get factories running again.
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