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!

Jul 30, 2012

  • Early Voting May Hold Key to 2012 Election

    By Alexis Simendinger, RealClearPolitics

    Campaign strategists working for President Obama and Mitt Romney say they're organized for an October election. And both candidates believe early voting in key battleground states could conceivably forecast the next president days and perhaps weeks before most voters turn out on Nov. 6. Early voting -- which has become a significant trend since 2004 -- helps explain why July’s campaign advertising for and against the presidential contenders has been so intense well before most of the country goes to the polls. It’s part of the reason why both candidates this summer have put a premium on mobilizing their respective bases, and wooing fence-sitters where they can.

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  • Eight Questions that will shape the 2012 campaign in the final 100 days

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    Question 1: Will the campaign be relentlessly negative to the end?
    Isn't the answer already obvious? President Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney have already spent $59 million to air more than 170,000 negative ads, according to Kantar Media's Campaign Media Analysis Group. And that doesn't include the handiwork of the super PACs, which are spending prodigiously and whose ads will be even more negative than those by the candidates.

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  • Bill Clinton to Have Leading Role at Party’s Convention

    By Jeff Zeleny, The New York Times

    Former President Bill Clinton is set to play a central part in the Democratic convention, aides said, and will formally place President Obama’s name into nomination by delivering a prime-time speech designed to present a forceful economic argument for why Mr. Obama deserves to win a second term.

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  • The Slow Agony of the Obama Recovery

    By Jim Tankersley, National Journal

    Under President Obama, America is experiencing one of its weakest recoveries from recession in the modern statistical era. This is the indisputable conclusion from the past three years of job-creation and economic-expansion data, reinforced by Friday’s Commerce Department estimate that gross domestic product grew by just 1.5 percent in the second quarter of this year. This is why surrogates for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney hammered Obama over the GDP number on Friday morning. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., said the figures were the “the latest sign of a failed economic agenda.” Glenn Hubbard, the dean of Columbia University’s business school and Romney’s top economic adviser, called the statistics “very disappointing for the future of the economy.”

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  • Mitt Romney's Overseas Tour

    With John Harwood, CNBC

    CNBC's John Harwood reports on Mitt Romney's overseas tour and the 100-day countdown until the presidential election.

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Jul 26, 2012

  • Assessing Romney's trip abroad, and both sides' negative ads

    With John Dickerson, CBS News

    What are the goals of Mitt Romney's trip in Europe? And how attack ads defining both Romney and President Obama? Charlie Rose and Erica Hill asked CBS News political director John Dickerson.

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  • Obama, Romney differ over guns after Colo. attack

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    The politics of guns leapt to the top of the presidential race Wednesday, as President Barack Obama embraced some degree of control of weapons sales and Republican Mitt Romney seemed to suggest an alleged mass killer in Colorado had obtained his weapons illegally even though he hadn't. Speaking to a mostly black audience in New Orleans, Obama said he would seek a consensus on combating violence. He said some responsibility also rests with parents, neighbors and teachers to ensure that young people "do not have that void inside them."

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  • Senate passes bill to keep tax cuts for the middle class

    By Lori Montgomery, The Washington Post

    The Senate on Wednesday narrowly approved a plan to preserve tax cuts for the middle class while letting them expire for the wealthy, a powerful if largely symbolic victory for Democrats who have been pushing to raise taxes on the rich for more than a decade. The measure is dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled House, where leaders are preparing to vote next week on their own plan to extend the George W. Bush-era tax cuts for households at every income level through 2013.

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  • The NRA has won

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    Politicians haven't always been allergic to gun control, not even Republicans. In 1968, after the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy and the Rev.Martin Luther King Jr., Congress — on a bipartisan vote — outlawed guns sales to felons and the mentally ill. In 1993, when Congress passed the Brady bill requiring background checks for gun purchasers, former President Reagan, who narrowly escaped assassination in 1981, was among its supporters. In 1994, when Congress passed a ban on assault weapons, 10 Republican senators supported the provision. And as recently as 2002, when Mitt Romney ran for governor of Massachusetts, he declared himself strongly in favor of "tough gun laws."

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  • Jeb to Keynote Convention Luncheon -- and More?

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    One of the many uncomfortable decisions surrounding the speaking lineup at the Republican nominating convention is how to juggle Florida Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Jeb Bush. Bush is a strong, bilingual speaker beloved by the Republican faithful and frequently mentioned as a future presidential candidate. Scott is not. But with the two former presidents with the Bush surname not coming to the convention, how can the party put the former governor on the stage and not the current executive?

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Jul 25, 2012

  • Mogul’s Latest Foray Courts Jews for the G.O.P.

    By Jeff Zeleny, The New York Times

    A Republican group backed by the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson is starting a new effort in battleground states to win over Jewish voters who could be persuaded to turn away from President Obama and support Mitt Romney. The group, the Republican Jewish Coalition, plans to begin a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign in the coming weeks called “My Buyer’s Remorse,” targeting voters in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, aides said. The campaign uses testimonials from people who say they regret supporting Mr. Obama because of his economic policies and his posture toward Israel, in hopes of cutting into the wide advantage Democrats have held over Republicans among Jewish voters.

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  • Romney, speaking to VFW, slams Obama on leaks, planned defense budget cuts

    By Nia-Malika Henderson and Scott Wilson, The Washington Post

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney outlined Tuesday an assertive American nationalism that would guide his foreign policy, calling for a more aggressive posture in confronting the United States’ rivals and more consistency in dealing with its allies. Romney advisers had billed the half-hour speech before the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention here as a major foreign policy address, one his campaign originally said he intended to give months ago. The presumptive GOP nominee has spoken little about foreign policy recently, but on Tuesday he did so sharply on an issue generally considered a strength of President Obama’s.

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  • New Obama Ads Were Filmed in the West Wing

    By Peter Baker and Michael Shear, The New York Times

    Two ads released in the last two days were filmed just a few feet from the Oval Office in the West Wing workplace of his chief of staff, an unusual — but not unprecedented — use of the official space of the White House for campaign purposes. Speaking directly to the camera in one ad, Mr. Obama urges voters to see the election as a big choice between competing visions for the country. The backdrop? The floral couch, rust-colored pillows and white mantel in the room that currently serves as Jack Lew’s office.

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  • Romney Adviser: Cut Entitlements to Spare Defense, Save Jobs

    By Jim Tankersley, National Journal

    President Obama and Congress should spare defense from planned budget cuts by reducing entitlement spending instead, a campaign adviser to Gov. Mitt Romney said on Tuesday, arguing that defense has a greater impact on jobs than spending on social programs. “If you want to reduce the impact of government cuts on creating jobs, you should be looking more at entitlements” than military spending, John Lehman – an investment banker, a former secretary of the Navy under President Reagan, and a special adviser and co-chair of Romney’s Defense Working Group – said in an interview.

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  • NBC-WSJ Poll Shows Obama with Slight Lead

    With John Harwood, CNBC

    A recent poll shows how much the economy is playing into the presidential election. CNBC's John Harwood breaks down the results of a recent poll.

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Jul 24, 2012

  • President Criticizes Romney Over Foreign Policy

    By Helene Cooper and Richard A. Oppel Jr., The New York Times

    President Obama directed a sharp assault on Mitt Romney’s foreign policy credentials on Monday, as the weekend political truce that followed the shooting rampage in Colorado dissolved into the more familiar political punch and counterpunch. In a speech before the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention here, during which he never once mentioned Mr. Romney by name, Mr. Obama nonetheless directly took on the latest salvo from the Romney camp — Mr. Romney’s recent assertion that America under Mr. Obama is in decline.

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  • Obama announces Transition GPS effort in Nevada as he courts military families

    By Amy Gardner and Nia-Malika Henderson, The Washington Post

    President Obama, resuming a three-day swing up the West Coast after pausing to visit victims of the deadly shooting in Colorado, turned on Monday to military families as he announced a new effort to help service members transition back to civilian life. Republican Mitt Romney returned to the campaign trail as well, calling once more for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act at a business roundtable in Costa Mesa — but refraining from harshly criticizing the president.

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  • Shooting Disrupts Political Campaigns

    With Laura Meckler, The Wall Street Journal

    Politics came to a pause Friday as tragedy in Colorado trumped the partisan attacks that have come to define the political discourse. President Obama said "Such violence, such evil is senseless. It's beyond reason," Laura Meckler has details on Lunch Break.

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  • How Aurora, Colo., Shooting Suspect Bought Ammo

    With Pierre Thomas, ABC News

    James Holmes easily purchased ammunition online.

    Watch more at abcnews.com
  • How Obama Defies Gravity

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    Nevada should be a state Barack Obama has no chance of winning. In an election about the state of the economy, no state has been harder hit. The unemployment rate is 11.6 percent, the highest in the nation. Sixty-one percent of the homes are worth less than the mortgage on them, also the highest in the nation. Las Vegas is in the middle of the desert, but everyone there is underwater. Still, Barack Obama has a shot in Nevada. He won Nevada by 12 points in 2008 and an average of polls right now shows the president ahead by 5 points (and perhaps more if you believe pollsters underestimate the Hispanic vote). Analysts in both parties say the state is the president’s to lose. Nevada is the most acute example of the key political dynamic in this election: The weight of a bad economy should sink the incumbent, but a combination of fortunate demographics and superior organization in the battleground states might rescue him in the end.

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