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 16, 2012

  • 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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  • 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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  • More Republicans Calling for Newt Gingrich to Leave GOP Race

    By Amy Gardner and Karen Tumulty, Washington Post

    A growing number of Republicans are calling for Newt Gingrich to drop out of the presidential race to hasten the selection of a nominee and turn the country’s attention to the fall campaign against President Obama. There is no sign that Gingrich is listening.
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  • Leon Panetta in Afghanistan: Attack Failed

    With Martha Raddatz, ABC News

    An attacker drove toward the runway as the defense secretary's plane landed.

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  • Gridlocked Out

    By Fawn Johnson, Beth Reinhard and Chris Frates, National Journal

    Sam Chaudhary sleeps on the couch in the boxy one-bedroom apartment, Liam Don on a mattress on the floor. Most of the place, such as it is—and it isn’t much, frankly—has been turned over to a business. Or, at the very least, the dream of one. There are five desks with five chairs, separated from the modest kitchen by a tall dry-erase board. The handwritten sign hangs in the window and reads “ClassDojo.” The rest of the beige-on-beige complex, it seems, is all single mothers and kids cruising on pastel-painted bikes.
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  • Obama, Cameron Stress Diplomatic Pressure on Syria, Iran

    By Alexis Simendinger, RealClearPolitics

    After meetings at the White House with British Prime Minister David Cameron, President Obama said Wednesday that the U.S. military “plans for everything” when weighing options to end the violence in Syria. He emphasized, however, that the U.S. and U.K. remain focused on pressuring Bashar al-Assad diplomatically and politically to relinquish power, and the two leaders discussed a commitment to humanitarian assistance to aid the suffering Syrian people.
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    President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron at the White House (CNN)

Mar 14, 2012

  • Illinois Primary Could Help Romney Stake his Claim

    By Dan Balz, Washington Post

    The Republican presidential candidates spent the past week honing their Southern accents and talking awkwardly about their love of grits. With their Southern swing behind them, they will return to the industrial heartland for a potentially pivotal primary Tuesday in Illinois.
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  • Fed: U.S. Banks Can Withstand Severe Downturn

    With David Wessel, Wall Street Journal

    The Fed cleared the way for many of the nation's largest banks to raise dividends and buy back shares as it released the results of its latest round of "stress tests." Colin Barr and David Wessel have details on The News Hub.

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  • The South Rises for Santorum

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    Mitt Romney said Rick Santorum was at the "desperate end of his campaign," by which he apparently meant the winning end. The Pennsylvania senator won the primaries in Alabama and Mississippi. He is now the leading conservative alternative to Mitt Romney, though Newt Gingrich promised to take his fight all the way to the Republican convention.
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  • Obama-Romney Race Toss-Up in Poll Showing Independents Critical

    By Julianna Goldman, Bloomberg News

    A strengthening economy and a contentious Republican primary have not translated into a wave of support for President Barack Obama, who runs even in a matchup against his likely challenger, Mitt Romney. Obama and Romney are backed by 47 percent of likely general election voters, while the president outruns the other Republican candidates, a Bloomberg National Poll conducted March 8-11 shows.
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  • Time and Math Work Against Santorum's White House Bid

    By Sam Youngman, Reuters

    Rick Santorum is winning the hearts of Republican conservatives but the cold realities of time and math are working against his presidential election effort. Santorum effectively became the only conservative challenger to Mitt Romney left standing when he narrowly won the Alabama and Mississippi primaries on Tuesday, as good as ending Newt Gingrich's presidential ambitions.
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    Rick Santorum Speaks in Lafayette, LA after winning primaries in Alabama and Mississippi (CNN)

Mar 13, 2012

  • Cliffs and Shock-Absorbency; New Afghanistan Language Confronts New Political Realities

    By Major Garrett, National Journal

    Shock-absorbency. Gen. John Allen, commander of all US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said on Monday that’s what defines the relationship between western forces and Afghanistan’s fragile government, semi-trained military and war-weary populace.
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    Soldiers in Afghanistan (CNN)

  • Santorum, Gingrich Make Final Pitches in Mississippi, Alabama

    By Janet Hook and Ryan Tracy, Wall Street Journal

    On the eve of a crucial primary in the Deep South, Rick Santorum intensified his effort to convince conservative voters that he alone has the untarnished conservative record Republicans need to take on President Barack Obama in this fall’s elections. He took that campaign theme to the heart of the Gulf Coast at a meeting of pro-drilling groups here. Mr. Santorum portrayed Newt Gingrich as a faux-conservative with a soft spot for global warming science and protecting endangered animal species.
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  • Soldier's Alleged Rampage in Afghanistan Leads to Violence

    With Martha Raddatz, ABC News

    Taliban militants opened fire on Afghan official visiting the massacre site.

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  • Romney Team Sees a Plus in Gingrich’s Persistence

    By Jeff Zeleny and Trip Gabriel, New York Times

    Mitt Romney has tried for weeks to snuff out Newt Gingrich’s presidential ambitions, but his stubborn survival has become a welcome relief for Mr. Romney. If Mr. Romney has a chance of winning the Alabama primary on Tuesday — his advisers believed the odds were strong enough to arrange a last-minute campaign visit on the eve of the election — it is largely because Mr. Gingrich’s candidacy remains alive.
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  • U.S. Officials Debate Speeding Afghan Pullout

    By Helene Cooper and Eric Schmitt, New York Times

    The Obama administration is discussing whether to reduce American forces in Afghanistan by at least an additional 20,000 troops by 2013, reflecting a growing belief within the White House that the mission there has now reached the point of diminishing returns.
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Mar 12, 2012

  • The Calculus Behind the Race to Tampa

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    When they hand out the bunting, funny hats, and elephant pins at Republican Party headquarters, no one talks about the math test. For the next several weeks and perhaps months, GOP politics are going to center around a complex debate about delegates that will remind us all of those math problems you hated in grade school:

    If Rick leaves Philadelphia headed for Tampa on a train powered by coal his grandfather mined and Mitt drives his Mustang to the same destination, how many attacks on the elite media will it take Newt to stop them?
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