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!

Sep 06, 2012

  • 4 years later, scarred but still confident

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    He warned them in 2008, and when he formally opened his re-election campaign in May, he put it in his speech again. He will “never be a perfect president,” he said, a line he now repeats at stop after stop. The unspoken subtext: It’s not my fault if you didn’t listen or expected too much.

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  • Clinton delivers impassioned plea for Obama second term

    By Jeff Zeleny and Mark Landler, The New York Times

    Former President Bill Clinton and President Obama hugged onstage Wednesday night after Mr. Clinton delivered an impassioned plea on behalf of Mr. Obama’s re-election, the 42nd president nominating the 44th to a second term with a forceful and spirited argument that Democratic values would restore the promise of the middle class.

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  • Bill Clinton offers forceful defense of Obama’s record

    By Dan Balz and Philip Rucker, The Washington Post

    Former president Bill Clinton delivered a spirited defense of President Obama’s handling of the nation’s struggling economy here Wednesday night, criticizing the agenda and philosophy of Mitt Romney and accusing the Republican Party of ideological rigidity and an unwillingness to compromise.

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Sep 05, 2012

  • Obama didn't stop the middle-class free-fall

    By Jim Tankersley, National Journal

    The middle class in America today is not better off than it was four years ago, not better off than it was at the end of the Great Recession in 2009, not even better off than when President Clinton left office in 2001.

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  • ‘Are you better off?’ The answer is less clear than it was in 1980

    By John Harwood and Mark Landler, The New York Times

    When Ronald Reagan asked voters a week before the 1980 election whether they were better off than four years earlier, he turned a race that had been nip-and-tuck for months into a landslide victory — and showed how a pointed question can be a lethal political weapon.

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  • Can Obama break D.C. gridlock if re-elected?

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    Polarized, gridlocked, uncooperative, partisan, impossible. That's how Democrats -- including some of President Obama's past and current White House advisers -- described the nation's capital during several moderated discussion sessions Tuesday at the party's convention here.

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  • Dispatches from the Democratic National Convention

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    Barack Obama has said that his biggest mistake in office is that he hasn't told the right story to the American public. Maybe he should have let his wife tell it. First lady Michelle Obama delivered a powerful and deft defense of her husband, wrapping him in biography and the American story. She also started the process of rebutting the previous week's attacks.

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  • First lady Michelle Obama lauds husband’s values, vision

    By Karen Tumulty, The Washington Post

    First lady Michelle Obama declared Tuesday that her husband’s record in office has proved his values, his vision and his courage, as the Democrats opened their convention here with a wide-ranging appeal to the diverse constituencies and interests they must bring out in force to reelect the president.

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Sep 04, 2012

  • Dems' time to shine at DNC convention

    By John Harwood, CNBC

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  • Obama team sees convention as paving way to victory

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    President Obama and his campaign team believe a successful Democratic National Convention can help plow a path to victory in November. Having experienced the same phenomenon in Denver four years ago, they hope to bottle convention magic one more time.

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  • For Michelle Obama, a new image but an old role

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    When Michelle Obama spoke at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, she was warily viewed as a woman proud of her country “for the first time” and caricatured by The New Yorker as an Afroed and armed rebel soldier.

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  • Republicans try to counter Democrats' convention

    By Sam Youngman, Reuters

    Republicans prepared a counterpunch to the Democratic National Convention this week by introducing their new line of attack with a not-so-new question: "Are you better off than you were four years ago?"

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  • Obama makes detour to visit hurricane site

    By Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

    President Obama took a short detour from campaigning on Monday to inspect the damage wrought by Hurricane Isaac last week and the government response, a stop that took on outsized political overtones in this campaign season.

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Aug 31, 2012

  • Democrats outline convention schedule

    By Helene Cooper, The New York Times

    Just when it seemed as if there could not possibly be any more red, white and blue speeches ringing across the airways from the convention floor, the Democrats are unveiling their counterpunch to the Republican show that has been under way all week in Tampa.

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  • Obama team sharpens attacks on rivals’ character

    By Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

    As the Obama campaign heads into its convention next week, Democrats see openings both to fill in unpopular details of Mitt Romney’s agenda left unsaid by Republicans in Tampa this week and to raise new questions about Mr. Romney’s character after widespread criticism of misstatements by him and his running mate, Paul D. Ryan.

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  • The risks of Romneynomics

    By Jim Tankersley, National Journal

    It’s not 1981 in America. Three decades after the Reagan Revolution, the country’s economic problems have evolved. Economic data show this clearly — and so do polling data.

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  • Dispatches From the Republican National Convention

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    For those who didn’t think that Mitt Romney has had to overcome obstacles: Clint Eastwood. The actor’s 12-minute turn onstage at the Republican Convention was rambling and distracting. He spoke to an empty chair in which he pretended the president sat. A few times he pretended the president had suggested he and Romney have intercourse with themselves. Obama spokesperson Ben Labolt suggested that, as counter-programming, the Democrats next week would have Salvador Dali. President Obama got in on the fun by tweeting a picture of himself sitting in the Roosevelt Room chair. (This seat’s taken.) The convention that had seemed snakebit at the start, with Hurricane Isaac and tropical storm Todd Akin, appeared to be ending on the same cursed note.

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  • Romney vows to deliver country from economic travails

    By Jeff Zeleny, The New York Times

    Mitt Romney accepted the Republican presidential nomination on Thursday by making a direct appeal to Americans who were captivated by President Obama’s hopeful promises of change, pledging that he could deliver what the president did not and move the country from its worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

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  • Romney draws battle lines in GOP acceptance speech

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    Mitt Romney claimed the Republican presidential nomination here Thursday night with a promise to restore the nation’s economic strength and a critique of President Obama’s record, which he said has turned hope and change into failure and disappointment for the nation’s families.

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Aug 30, 2012

  • In Virginia, Obama sounds call for young voters

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    As President Obama wrapped up a two-day cross-country campaign jaunt targeted at college students, he offered a mild swipe at the GOP convention in Tampa -- and he voiced one request.

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