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!

Apr 27, 2012

  • Can You Be Honest With Me?

    by John Dickerson, Slate

    Expecting presidential candidates to be candid with voters is such a quaint idea you'd expect to find it on Pinterest. There it is, next to the adorable confectionery and wedding dog photos. Well, I like quaint, and if you also like a Dr. Seuss saying stenciled on an ambiguous decorative item, then join me on my search for candor in the 2012 presidential campaign. I need your help.

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  • Twitter becomes a key real-time tool for campaigns

    By Karen Tumulty, The Washington Post

    The bully pulpit has a new kind of altar call: “Tweet them. We’ve got a hashtag. Here’s the hashtag for you to tweet them: #dontdoublemyrate.” President Obama repeated that Twitter hashtag twice more during a Tuesday speech opposing an increase in student loan interest rates. For good measure, he even had his Chapel Hill, N.C., audience chant it back to him.

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  • Supreme Court moves to center of presidential race

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    The Supreme Court, suddenly at the heart of presidential politics, is preparing what could be blockbuster rulings on health care and immigration shortly before the fall election. The court, sometimes an afterthought in presidential elections, is throwing a new element of uncertainty into the campaign taking shape between President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

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  • On Day of Reckoning, Recalling Horror That Swallowed Liberia

    By Helene Cooper, The New York Times

    When I heard the news Thursday that Charles G. Taylor, the former president of Liberia, had been found guilty of war crimes in Sierra Leone, I immediately telephoned one of the people whose life had been ripped apart by his soldiers: my sister Eunice, back home in Liberia.

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Apr 26, 2012

  • Two Parties Find a Way to Agree, and Disagree, on Student Loan Rates

    By Peter Baker and Jennifer Steinhauer, New York Times

    As President Obama wrapped up a barnstorming tour of college campuses in swing states on Wednesday, Democrats and Republicans agreed that they wanted to avoid a steep increase in the student loan interest rate this summer. But the chief issue remained unsettled: how to pay the cost of doing so.

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  • Supreme Court Examines Arizona Immigration Law

    With Pete Williams, NBC News

    Watch Video on NBC News
  • Obama to Launch Campaign With Ohio, Va. Rallies

    By Alexis Simendinger, RealClearPolitics

    Ohio and Virginia -- he's back! President Obama and wife Michelle will officially launch the president's re-election campaign May 5 with rallies in Columbus and Richmond, his campaign announced Wednesday.

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  • 10 Questions for Timothy F. Geithner

    By John Harwood, New York Times

    The attacks on Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner that marked the early part of the Obama administration have died down somewhat as the economy has recovered. But struggles in Europe have created new economic challenges as Mr. Geithner serves out the remaining months of Mr. Obama’s first term, as the president implored him to.

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  • U.S. High Court Appears to Back Arizona on Immigration

    By James Vicini and Joan Biskupic, Reuters

    Conservative justices who hold a majority on the U.S. Supreme Court appeared to endorse Arizona's immigration crackdown on Wednesday, rejecting the Obama administration stance that the federal government has sole power over those who illegally enter the United States.

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Apr 25, 2012

  • Romney says ‘Better America Begins Tonight’

    By Dan Balz and Philip Rucker, Washington Post

    Mitt Romney, whose first campaign for the White House ended in failure and disappointment, claimed the Republican nomination Tuesday night after a five-state sweep and turned his full focus to the general election with a charge that President Obama has been a failure in office and a promise of a better America.

    GOP Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney's victory address in Manchester, NH (CNN)

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  • Victory on Arizona Immigration Law Could Cost Republicans in the Long Run

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    If the Supreme Court rejects the Obama administration’s challenge to the Arizona immigration law, the ruling would be widely viewed as a victory for the Republican Party, whose leadership spearheaded the law in the state and championed its spirit nationwide. But at what cost?

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  • Rob Portman is Likely Veep Pick

    With Major Garrett, National Journal

    National Journal's White House correspondent Major Garrett talks to Charlie Rose and Erica Hill about Mitt Romney's five-state primary sweep and the upcoming presidential race.

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  • Warmth of Campus Spotlight Beckons Obama Back

    By Peter Baker, New York Times

    The arenas are rocking, the students are whooping and President Obama is feeling the love. “I love you back, I really do!” he calls out to thousands of young people packed to the rafters. When one shouts, “We believe in you!” he yells back, “I believe in you!” When he emphasizes a point, he calls out, “Can I get an amen?” For a president facing a tough re-election and a stubborn economy, there is no better amen corner, no more invigorating audience, than on campus.

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  • Marco Rubio Is This Election’s Sarah Palin

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    Marco Rubio is this year’s Sarah Palin. As a possible vice presidential pick, he is popular with the grassroots. He is an envoy to a key part of the electorate and has crossover political appeal. He has successfully bucked his party establishment, and those who have seen him work say he’s skilled. He’s an easy and talented campaigner, and he’d wow them in Tampa the way Palin did in St. Paul, Minn.* He is also fundamentally at odds with his potential running mate’s message and criteria for his vice president.

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Apr 24, 2012

  • Boehner: 1-in-3 Chance Democrats Could Take House

    By Naftali Bendavid, Wall Street Journal

    House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) is sending a cautionary message about the danger that the Democrats could retake the House in November, saying there is a one-in-three chance the GOP will lose its majority. “I would say that there is a two-in-three chance that we win control of the House again, but there’s a one-in-three chance that we could lose,” Mr. Boehner told Fox News in an interview to air Tuesday. “We’ve got a big challenge and we’ve got work to do.”

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    House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio (CNN, File Photo)

  • Working-Class Concerns Don’t Cause Romney or Obama Pain

    By Lisa Lerer and Julianna Goldman, Bloomberg News

    Amanda Thomas wanted to share with Mitt Romney her long list of worries: a health-care law that will hurt her husband’s business, the debt that will burden her 2-year-old daughter’s generation, and the financial anxieties of her parents in their golden years. “I’m worried about my baby and I’m worried about my parents,” she told the Republican presidential candidate, sitting at a picnic table in the Pittsburgh suburb of Bethel Park, Pennsylvania.

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  • State Attorneys General: New Republican Power

    By Joan Biskupic, Reuters

    In the ornate Chinese Ballroom of Washington's Mayflower Hotel, nine Republican state attorneys general gathered last month at a long, white-cloth covered table for an unusual news conference. One by one, as TV news cameras rolled, they catalogued their many lawsuits against President Barack Obama's administration.

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  • Redistricting Takes Some of the 'Swing' out of House Fights

    By Susan Davis, USA TODAY

    In the next decade, the battle for control of the House of Representatives will hinge on fewer races, incumbents will be tougher to beat, and the polarization that has come to define the institution in recent years is all but certain to continue. The process is wrapping up on 2012 redistricting — the once-a-decade politics-fueled redrawing of district lines because of population shifts — and one result, political analysts say, is the continued reduction of swing districts in which either party has potential to win and make up the battlefield that helps determine a majority.

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  • Review of White House Staff Shows No Misconduct in Colombia

    By Peter Baker, New York Times

    The White House said on Monday that it had investigated its own staff members and concluded that none of them were involved in the prostitution scandal in Colombia that has ensnared members of the Secret Service and the military. Kathryn Ruemmler, the president’s counsel, conducted a review of the White House advance team that traveled to Cartagena in advance of President Obama’s trip there this month and “produced no indication of any misconduct,” said Jay Carney, the White House press secretary.

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Apr 23, 2012

  • Administration Torn on Secret Service Scandal Response

    By Helene Cooper, The New York Times

    Just before Air Force One begins its descent, a group of agents huddle in a cabin near the back to study a map, a diagram and a step-by-step itinerary detailing the president’s every move once he steps off the plane. It is an old ritual, this last operational run-through for the special agents of the presidential protective division, the most elite of the Secret Service agents and the last barrier between the commander in chief and a host of threats. This ritual is a big reason President Obama has been so reluctant to criticize the Secret Service, as the agency reels from a scandal over suspected misconduct involving prostitutes during a trip to Cartagena, Colombia.

    (CNN)

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