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 05, 2012

  • After a Rollicking Primary, a Different Kind of Fight in November

    By John Harwood, New York Times

    If anything is stable in this presidential race, it is the idea that 2012 is a volatile campaign year. In part that reflects the last two elections, when Democrats and Republicans in turn won big victories, and the expectation that November represents a tiebreaker. Even more, it reflects a roller coaster Republican primary campaign, which at different moments has elevated Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney.
    Read More

Apr 04, 2012

  • Obama Resets Campaign Debate, But Not to Jobs

    By Jim Tankersley, National Journal

    Any day now, someone is going to grab the wheel of the 2012 presidential election and yank it toward the issue that American voters overwhelmingly worry about: jobs. There are still 13 million Americans looking for work; the average time someone spends unemployed has soared to nearly 10 months. So the candidates can’t keep fighting over gas prices, contraception, and the specter of some ambiguously far-off debt crisis – can they?
    Read More

    Mitt Romney won primaries in Wisconsin, Maryland and Washington, D.C. (CNN)

  • Judge Pokes Obama Over Court Comment

    By Laura Meckler, Wall Street Journal

    It seems President Barack Obama’s challenge to the Supreme Court–in which he said overturning his health-care law would amount to an “unprecedented, extraordinary step”–is not going over well in certain conservative judicial quarters. On Tuesday, a three-judge panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ordered the Justice Department to explain whether courts indeed have the right to strike down a federal law.
    Read More

  • Though Time is on the Clock, the Game is Over

    By John Dickerson, CBS News/Slate

    As a young football fan, I learned that my team was doomed once the television announcers started to thank the producers, directors, and cameramen. They could interrupt the play-by-play because nothing was likely to happen on the field to spark the magical comeback I was hoping for. The opposing quarterback, untroubled by madness or sorcery, would take a knee, and the clock would run out.
    Read More

  • Al Qaeda Warning Aimed at New York

    With Pierre Thomas, ABC News

    A new warning appears online, styled after a Hollywood movie poster.

    video platform video management video solutions video player

    Watch Video on ABC News

  • Mitt Romney Wins Wisconsin, Maryland, D.C. Primaries

    By Dan Balz and Philip Rucker, Washington Post

    Mitt Romney captured presidential primaries in Maryland, the District and battleground Wisconsin, the biggest prize of the day, to complete a momentum-building, three-contest sweep Tuesday that cemented his status as the almost certain Republican nominee and put new pressure on rival Rick Santorum to reassess his candidacy.
    Read More

Apr 03, 2012

  • Cost-Per-Delegate Madness: Paul Spent $496,000

    By Major Garrett, National Journal

    In honor of budget week and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., endorsing GOP front-runner Mitt Romney, I decided to run some numbers. Not budget numbers, everyone has done that this week. These are numbers on what's been spent for the two most important commodities in a nominating contest: votes and delegates. And if Supreme Court justices can be cheeky and snarky in oral arguments, why can't I be a bit cheeky at this stage of the GOP primary?
    Read More on National Journal

  • Supreme Court: Strip searches in jail OK

    With Pete Williams, NBC News

    Watch Video on NBC News

  • Obama: Supreme Court Will Uphold Health Law

    By Alexis Simendinger, RealClearPolitics

    If the Supreme Court rejects all or part of the 2010 health reform law, the majority of justices will have heeded their political analyses and not their interpretations of the Constitution and legal precedent, President Obama suggested Monday. Five times the president described himself as “confident” or “pretty confident” that the court will uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act this summer.
    Read More

  • Santorum Defies Mounting Pressure to Bow Out

    By Dan Balz, Washington Post

    “I’m not talking about this anymore,” Rick Santorum said here Sunday outside the Riverside Brewery and Restaurant before a gaggle of cameras and reporters. “We’re just focused on doing well here in Wisconsin.” What Santorum doesn’t want to talk about is what so many others want to talk about, which is how long he will stay in the contest for the Republican presidential nomination. He is confronted by that question at almost every stop along the campaign trail and in every television interview he gives. He’s tired of it.
    Read More

  • Wisconsin: Big GOP Primary Prize

    With John Harwood, CNBC

    CNBC's John Harwood explains why the GOP primary in Wisconsin is critical.

    Watch Video on CNBC

Apr 02, 2012

  • In Wisconsin, Romney Nears the Tipping Point

    By Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg, New York Times

    Mitt Romney is on the cusp of taking firm control of the Republican nominating contest for the first time, neutralizing his most powerful critics and rallying a broad spectrum of conservatives behind him as party leaders grow increasingly eager to take on President Obama.
    Read More

  • Santorum Vows to Stay in Race

    By Philip Rucker and Dan Balz, Washington Post

    Rick Santorum insisted Sunday that he would remain in the Republican presidential race for the long haul, defying mounting pressure from party elders to coalesce around front-runner Mitt Romney and focus on the fall contest against President Obama. Santorum vowed to stay in the race until it is clear that the former Massachusetts governor has secured the 1,144 delegates required for the nomination, something that is unlikely until just about the end of the primaries in June.
    Read More

    Rick Santorum in Pewaukee, WI (CNN)

  • Obama Postpones Many Issues Until Elections

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    Missile defense isn't the only area in which President Barack Obama will have "more flexibility" if he's re-elected. Immigration, the Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline, gay marriage, tax policy and other issues could invite bold initiatives by a president who knows he will never run for office again, especially if his party gains ground in congressional elections.
    Read More

  • Santorum Faces Brutal April, Slim Hope for May

    By Sam Youngman, Reuters

    For Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, it is shaping up to be a cold and lonely spring. Trailing Mitt Romney in the polls, the conservative former senator is pinning his slim hopes on surviving difficult primary votes in April that favor his rival, and then trying to recover in May when the calendar looks better for him.
    Read More

  • Why Ron Paul Draws Big Crowds but Fails to Catch on

    By Nia-Malika Henderson, Washington Post

    At first glance, Benjamin Stolz would appear to be the perfect prize for Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul. Stolz, a freshman at the University of Maryland, agrees wholeheartedly with Paul on a range of issues — from seeing foreign intervention as too costly to agreeing that government spending should be cut. Stolz, an enthusiastic 18-year-old who has never voted, also admires Paul’s frankness and the Texas congressman’s ability to draw diverse crowds.
    Read More

Mar 30, 2012

  • Chief Justice Roberts May Cast Deciding Healthcare Vote

    By Joan Biskupic, Reuters

    During three days of historic healthcare arguments at the Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts presided with a steady calm and folksy charm. From his center seat on the nine-member bench, Roberts gently mediated as colleagues interrupted one another's questions this week.
    Read More

  • Senate Thwarts Obama Bid to End Oil/Gas Subsidies

    By Alexis Simendinger, RealClearPolitics

    President Obama and the Democratic majority in the Senate tried Thursday to use tax benefits enjoyed by oil and gas companies as a partisan weapon against the sting of rising gasoline prices. It didn’t quite work -- the Senate, with help from four Democrats, defeated a procedural measure aimed at ending the tax benefits -- but the president and his congressional allies argued with gusto that big oil companies and the Republicans who support them are hurting American consumers.
    Read More

  • Labor Pains

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    Mitt Romney should be good to go, ready to pivot toward the general election—and there would be no better place to start than Tuesday’s primary in Wisconsin. The state hasn’t voted for a Republican nominee since Ronald Reagan, but close elections in 2000 and 2004 branded it a battleground. Two years after President Obama solidly won the state with 56 percent of the vote, Republicans staged a comeback by winning the Governor’s Mansion, a Senate seat, and two House seats. In Wisconsin, moderates—and cheese-heads—rule.
    Read More

    House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., endorsed Mitt Romney this week (CNN, file photo)

  • Poll: Senate Democrats Lead in Florida, Ohio

    By Janet Hook, Wall Street Journal

    Propelled by strong support among women in two swing states, Senate Democrats in Ohio and Florida are sitting on wide leads over their Republican challengers, according to a pair of Quinnipiac University polls that bodes well for Democratic efforts to keep their Senate majority.
    Read More