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!

Aug 16, 2012

  • Romney seeks to undercut Obama's likability lead

    By Charles Babington, The Associated Press

    Mitt Romney is portraying the outwardly calm President Barack Obama as a man seething with animosity and power lust as the Republicans seek to undermine one of the Democrat's greatest campaign strengths — his personal likability.

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  • Obama, Romney trade jabs over Medicare

    By Christi Parsons, The Los Angeles Times

    President Obama and Mitt Romney sparred over the future of Medicare on Wednesday in a battle to shape public opinion on the proposal byPaul D. Ryan, Romney's running mate, to revamp the popular healthcare program for the elderly and the disabled.

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  • Choice of Paul Ryan shifts the focus from economy to ideology

    By Jeff Zeleny, The New York Times

    Four years ago, John Brooks cast his ballot for Barack Obama, becoming one of the voters won over by his promise for changing Washington. This time, he had been undecided, but he said Mitt Romney made his decision easier by placing Representative Paul D. Ryan on the Republican ticket.

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Aug 15, 2012

  • This Congress could be least productive since 1947

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    Congress is on pace to make history with the least productive legislative year in the post World War II era. Just 61 bills have become law to date in 2012 out of 3,914 bills that have been introduced by lawmakers, or less than 2% of all proposed laws, according to a USA TODAY analysis of records since 1947 kept by the U.S. House Clerk's office.

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  • Paul Ryan to meet major donors behind closed doors

    By Sam Youngman, Reuters

    Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan will meet behind closed doors with donors and fundraisers in Las Vegas at the Venetian hotel, owned by casino mogul and formidable campaign donor Sheldon Adelson. The Wisconsin congressman will meet with members of the Nevada finance team on Tuesday evening - his first such event as part of Mitt Romney's campaign - but members of the media will not be allowed to attend.

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  • Romney, Obama fates hinge on shrinking sliver of undecideds

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    They make up only a sliver of the electorate, roughly 4 to 7 percent. We’re talking 1 million to 2 million people at the most, in just a handful of critical states. They tend to be younger, female, and clueless about politics. They are the undecided. Better yet, they could be the deciders—the voters who pick the winner of the presidential election in an increasingly polarized environment. Some polls suggest there are fewer fence-sitters in 2012 than in recent elections, yet this race will see record-setting spending of at least $2.5 billion by the campaigns, national parties, and other political groups.

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  • Obama returns to Iowa in bid to reignite the fervor

    By Helene Cooper, The New York Times

    This prairie state is the place where his unlikely bid for presidency began. But now it is 2012, and the big question for President Obama is whether, four years after that historic run, Iowa can do for him what it did in 2008.

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  • Obama, Romney talk energy in battleground states

    By Christi Parsons and Seema Mehta, Los Angeles Times

    President Obama visited an Iowa farm Tuesday where a family grows corn and soybeans while also generating wind energy with several turbines on their 1,000 acres. Republican Mitt Romney spent time at an Ohio coal mine, speaking in front of hard-hat-wearing workers whose livelihood depends on continued demand for their often-maligned product.

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Aug 14, 2012

  • The Ryan Boost: Romney and his new running mate are electric on the campaign trail, but how long can the fun last?

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    Bob White, Mitt Romney's partner at Bain Capital and close campaign confidante, gave Paul Ryan the ultimate compliment. "We would have hired him at Bain," he told a campaign colleague. The buoyant 42-year-old Ryan did look a bit like the junior partner in the duo's first sit-down interview with Bob Schieffer on 60 Minutes, matching Romney with a checked shirt and blazer. As Ryan kicked off his first two days of campaigning he was crisp, effective, and eager to show that the boss' confidence was not misplaced. "We know who we are. We know what we believe. Now let's go do it," said Ryan Sunday.

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  • Mitt Romney chose Paul Ryan to shift the campaign debate; will the gamble pay off?

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    It doesn’t take a political genius to see where the contest between President Obama and Mitt Romney is heading. With Rep. Paul Ryan on the Republican ticket, the campaign is looking at a full-throated debate over the future of Medicare. Are Romney and Ryan ready? There is plenty in Ryan’s budget blueprint — and by implication, Romney’s platform — that will spark debate and controversy. The size and shape of Romney’s and Ryan’s proposed tax cuts already are under attack by Obama and the Democrats. The domestic spending cuts in Ryan’s plan have been singled out by Democrats, who say they would shred the social safety net.

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  • Obama Rejoins Campaign Trail in Iowa and Finds a Brand-New Rival There

    By Helene Cooper and Trip Gabriel, The New York Times

    President Obama and Representative Paul D. Ryan went head-to-head Monday for the first time since Mr. Ryan ascended to the Republican presidential ticket. In an early test of themes that will undoubtedly dominate the campaign in the remaining months, the two men parried on welfare, the unemployment rate and the role of government. Mr. Obama painted his rival as a conservative ideologue whose refusal to compromise has led to the Washington gridlock that has alienated many Americans.

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  • In Iowa, Obama Tries to Summon Spirit of '08

    By Alexis Simendinger, RealClearPolitics

    Call it the heartland nostalgia tour, with a plan. President Obama on Monday embarked on a three-day journey by bus across the Hawkeye State -- an adventure plotted literally and figuratively to remind his supporters how they helped send him to the White House in 2008, and how Iowans can do it again in November. Three days in Iowa -- a commitment of time considered rare for a president immersed in such a tough campaign -- offered Obama a way to stop the clock, or at least slow it down. Investing in Iowa in August signaled his intention to focus on other swing states during the remainder of the race.

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  • New campaigner Ryan under fire from hecklers and Obama

    By Sam Youngman, Reuters

    Republican Paul Ryan got a taste of the rough side of a presidential campaign on Monday when protesters heckled him and President Barack Obama accused him of blocking emergency aid to drought-hit farmers. The new vice presidential hopeful from Wisconsin - who brings Midwestern credibility to White House hopeful Mitt Romney's campaign - mingled with locals at the Iowa State Fair, a popular spot for politicians keen to show their common touch in a state where Obama and Romney will be in tight competition.

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Aug 13, 2012

  • Mitt Romney’s chemistry experiment

    By John Harris and Alexander Burns, Politico

    Mitt Romney’s risky gamble in naming Paul Ryan as his running mate will hinge on whether the Republican nominee can use the choice to reshape voter attitudes about his own character and leadership style, and avoid becoming ensnared in a defensive debate about Medicare and other popular programs. An initial rush of favorable polling or publicity in the next few days, if it comes, won’t mean much for the Republican nominee, according to strategists in both parties and veterans of previous campaigns. Plenty of vice presidential selections enjoyed a similar rise — before plummeting into disaster.

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  • Mitt Romney campaign energized by Paul Ryan announcement

    By Jan Crawford, CBS News

    It was an emotional homecoming for Rep. Paul Ryan on Sunday. The Wisconsin congressman wiped away tears as thousands cheered for the native son, now the Republican nominee for vice president. "My veins run with cheese, bratwurst, and a little Spotted Cow, Leiney's, and some Miller," Ryan said.

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  • Rejoice! It’s Ryan! Conservatives are thrilled by Romney’s VP pick. So are Democrats. One camp is very wrong.

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    Mitt Romney has made his first presidential-level decision, picking Paul Ryan, the 42-year-old, seven-term Congressman from southern Wisconsin, as his running mate. The choice offers the first real hints about what kind of president Romney will be. Here's what we learned: He takes risks, he can adapt, and he's willing to campaign on a bold set of ideas rather than generalities. If you're looking for the attributes of presidential leadership, these are all strong qualities. The Ryan pick also tells us less flattering things about Romney: He's willing to discard what were once deeply held views about the necessity of business and executive experience and to cosset the GOP base for political reasons at the expense of independents.

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  • Both Sides Focus on the Republican Ticket’s New Face

    By Jeff Zeleny and Michael Barbaro, The New York Times

    Democrats moved aggressively on Sunday to wrap Mitt Romney in the politically charged details of budget-cutting proposals championed by his new running mate, Representative Paul D. Ryan, as Mr. Romney sought to capitalize on conservative enthusiasm for his choice without having to defend every element of Mr. Ryan’s positions.

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  • Ryan Could Make Wisconsin a True Battleground

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    Wisconsin Republicans were talking smack in early summer, insisting that Gov. Scott Walker’s victory in the June recall election proved the state was up for grabs in 2012. Neither Republican Mitt Romney nor President Obama believed the hype. Polls consistently showed Obama out front. And while both campaigns lavished tens of millions of dollars on other battleground states, they didn’t air a single television ad in Wisconsin. That’s about to change.

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Aug 10, 2012

  • Obama, Romney campaigns run provocative ads to draw attention in crowded media landscape

    By Nia-Malika Henderson and David Nakamura, The Washington Post

    The anti-Romney ad released this week by Priorities USA has been widely skewered as over-the-top and irresponsible, condemned for insinuating that Mitt Romney is to blame for the death of a woman whose husband lost his job and health insurance after Bain Capital bought his steel mill.

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  • The Real Women Behind Obama's Anti-Romney TV Ads

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    Live in Washington, D.C., Virginia, or a handful of other swing states? Watch television? Then there’s a good chance you’ve seen “Jenni,” the soft-spoken brunette starring in an ad attacking Republican Mitt Romney’s antiabortion position.

    Read more in the National Journal