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 21, 2012

  • Before debates, Romney faces a daunting path

    By Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg, The New York Times

    There are seven days until early voting begins in Iowa, less than two weeks until the first debate and 46 days left in the race for Mitt Romney to change the dynamic of a campaign that by many indicators is tilting against him.

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  • Obama: Lessons learned will guide second term

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    Learning on the job is a theme President Obama returns to with some frequency, not just because journalists press him to describe his mistakes in the last four years, but because Americans living through tough economic times want to know how Obama might apply the lessons of his first term if re-elected.

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Sep 20, 2012

  • In a tight Race, Obama draws on the levers of his power

    By Peter Baker and Eric Lipton, The New York Times

    For months, government lawyers and economists worked behind the scenes to develop a trade case against China. Then last month came a eureka moment: They confirmed the existence of a Chinese subsidy program for automobiles and parts that in their view violated international trade rules. They finished a complaint, circulated it among agencies and proposed a time frame for filing.

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  • To claim Virginia, Obama’s hopes rest on women

    By Karen Tumulty and Scott Clement, The Washington Post

    In a presidential campaign where women’s issues have taken a more prominent role than many expected, the crucial swing state of Virginia is becoming the Grand Canyon of gender gaps.

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  • Are businessmen better presidents?

    By Doyle McManus, The Los Angeles Times

    It's one of Mitt Romney's favorite lines: America needs a businessman in the White House. It's "a basic qualification" for the job, he said in his speech at the Republican convention last month, "one that's essential to [the] task."

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  • A ray of hope

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    Every day until the election, Slate will offer up one reason to be optimistic for your candidate.

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Sep 19, 2012

  • What's wrong with Romney the candidate

    By Gloria Borger, CNN

    In watching Mitt Romney's painful -- and self-destructive -- gaffe about the "47 percenters," it at first seemed inexplicable, as if the man was writing off half of the electorate.

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  • The coming war within the Republican party

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    After the presidential campaign ends, think tanks and universities will invite wise partisans to explain why their party lost and how to rebound. Some Republicans are already working on their talking points.

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  • Romney faces twofold challenge in getting campaign back on track

    By Karen Tumulty, The Washington Post

    As Mitt Romney struggles to put a cascade of missteps behind him, the Republican presidential nominee faces a twofold challenge: first, to steer the conversation back to the economy, and second, to prevent his recent difficulties from curdling into a perception that the race is becoming unwinnable.

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  • Democrats wield "the 47 percent" as new weapon

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    "The 47 percent" became a political catchphrase Tuesday as Democrats reacted with private glee and public head-shaking to Mitt Romney's secretly videotaped comment that Americans who don't pay income taxes believe they're "entitled" to government help.

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  • Wisconsin offers window into challenges facing Romney

    By Jeff Zeleny and Marjorie Connelly, The New York Times

    To Mitt Romney, the 10 electoral votes in Wisconsin may be more essential than extra, a critical backup plan if a first-tier battleground state falls out of reach. Seven weeks until the election, with Mr. Romney facing new questions about his ability to gain trust among voters experiencing economic hardships, his campaign is increasingly pointing to Wisconsin as a place where a statewide Republican resurgence could rub off on Mr. Romney.

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Sep 18, 2012

  • Romney’s ‘47 percent' talk explains his struggles with swing voters

    By Jim Tankersley, National Journal

    On pure philosophy alone, Mitt Romney’s Mother Jones moment offers two revealing glimpses into why he’s trailing President Obama even in a listless economy. Both revolve around how swing voters view economic policy.

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  • Mitt Romney’s real test: First presidential debate

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    September swoons are nothing new in presidential politics. Look back at almost any competitive election and you’ll find one of the candidates hitting turbulence — and pointed second-guessing — at this time of the year.

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  • Mitt Romney not impressed with Barack Obama's China complaint

    By Charles Babington and Julie Pace, Associated Press

    President Barack Obama lodged an unfair-trade complaint against China Monday and immediately used it as a wedge against Republican challenger Mitt Romney, whose beleaguered campaign hit another pothole — in the form of private remarks made to donors — just as it was trying to reassure anxious supporters.

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  • Top Romney strategist Stuart Stevens likely to stay despite criticism

    By Nia-Malika Henderson, The Washington Post

    Stuart Stevens, Mitt Romney’s chief campaign strategist, has emerged as the main target of finger-pointing within the presidential candidate’s brain trust amid criticism of the campaign’s direction from many Republicans and a slip in swing-state polls.

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  • Iranian official says blasts targeted nuclear sites

    By David E. Sanger and Rick Gladstone, The New York Times

    Iran’s most senior atomic energy official revealed on Monday that separate explosions, which he attributed to sabotage, had targeted power supplies to the country’s two main uranium enrichment facilities, including the deep underground site that American and Israeli officials say is the most invulnerable to bombing.

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Sep 17, 2012

  • Mideast unrest intensifies debate on U.S. intervention in Syria

    By Helene Cooper and Robert F. Worth, The New York Times

    In recent weeks, the growing death toll in Syria pushed that country’s civil war to the top of the Obama administration’s agenda, with some Arab leaders pressing harder for a greater American role in toppling Syria’s leader, Bashar al-Assad.

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  • Romney vs. Obama on foreign policy

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    In a presidential campaign dominated by voters' unhappiness with the economy, it took a tragedy — the killing of a U.S. ambassador by Libyan extremists — to prompt a real debate on foreign policy.

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  • Post-Arab Spring states: magnets for extremism

    By James Kitfield and Sara Sorcher, National Journal

    When the Arab awakening swept through the Middle East last year, with waves of democratic protesters swallowing tyrants in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, no one could confidently predict what kind of political order would emerge from the ruins. Certainly the stability of the old order of autocracies was shattered, hopefully along with their characteristic corruption and stagnation. In the long term, there is still reason to hope for a democratic transformation similar to the one that eventually emerged in Eastern Europe at the end of the Cold War.

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  • Obama hold slight edge

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    Middle East violence is shaking up a presidential race that otherwise looks stubbornly stable, and tight. President Barack Obama holds a tiny edge, Republican Mitt Romney is seeking a breakthrough message, and three debates are ahead in the campaign’s final seven weeks.

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