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 19, 2012

  • 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.
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  • 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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  • 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.

    Watch Video on Wall Street Journal

  • 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)