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!

Oct 15, 2012

  • Obama’s prep session goal: don’t repeat mistakes of last debate

    By Helene Cooper, The New York Times

    To prepare for the second round of the presidential debates, President Obama retreated here this weekend — to the environs of this historic village where actors in 18th century garb wander about spouting off in colonial diction.

    Read more
  • Republicans outspend Democrats on TV advertising, but have fewer ads to show for it

    By Amy Walter, ABC News

    When it comes to spending on political ads, money isn’t everything.

    Data from Kantar Media’s CMAG, an ad tracking firm, showed that during the week of Oct. 4-Oct. 11 Mitt Romney, the RNC and Republican outside groups combined to outspend President Obama and his allies on on TV ads by about $5 million – $31.6 million to $28.05 million.

    Read more
  • Rebel arms flow is said to benefit Jihadists in Syria

    By David E. Sanger, The New York Times

    Most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West wants to bolster, according to American officials and Middle Eastern diplomats.

    Read more

Oct 12, 2012

  • Vice presidential debate: Biden's mission accomplished

    By Doyle McManus, the Los Angeles Times

    First things first: Vice presidential debates don't really matter. The half-life of Thursday's debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan will be exactly four days -- until next week’s rematch between President Obama and Mitt Romney.

    Read more
  • Biden, Ryan trade sharp words on foreign policy, economy during vice-presidential debate

    By Dan Balz and Philip Rucker, The Washington Post

    Vice President Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) tangled fiercely and noisily here Thursday night over the economy and foreign policy in a spirited debate that underscored the vast differences between the Democratic and Republican tickets on virtually every issue in the presidential campaign.

    Read more
  • Biden and Ryan quarrel aggressively in debate, offering contrasts

    By Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg, The New York Times

    It was the debate that President Obama and Mitt Romney did not have a week ago.

    Read more
  • Spirited Biden debate performance allows democrats to exhale

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    Democrats, you may exhale. But don't you dare rejoice.

    Vice President Joe Biden took some of the heat off his boss in the critical home stretch of the 2012 election, delivering a spirited debate performance that aimed to compensate for President Obama’s lifeless appearance on another stage one week ago.

    Read more from National Journal
  • Who won the Vice Presidential debate? Depends who you ask

    By Amy Walter, ABC News

    Partisan Democrats had a lot to be happy about last night’s vice presidential debate. Vice President Joe Biden turned in an aggressive and energetic performance that they wished they’d seen in President Obama.

    And while Republicans have cried foul on Biden’s behavior (GOP surrogates called him “rude”), they argue that Rep. Paul Ryan’s calm, unflustered demeanor and his solid performance on foreign affairs was appealing to swing voters, especially women.

    Read more

Oct 11, 2012

  • The no. 1 rule when no. 2s meet in battle? Be memorable. In a good way.

    By John Harwood, The New York Times

    Near the end of the first debate ever of vice-presidential candidates, Senator Bob Dole remembered his White House-prepared briefing materials on war casualties under various administrations — and used them.

    Read more
  • Romney shifts to more moderate stances on taxes, immigration, health care, education

    By Karen Tumulty, The Washington Post

    The final weeks of the presidential campaign are bringing Mitt Romney full circle, back to a question that has tugged at him for nearly two decades: What does he really believe?

    Read more
  • At hearing, Libya attack details remain murky

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    At the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, there was never any spontaneous street mob angered about an anti-Muslim video, as was asserted by administration officials after a brutal attack that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans, State Department officials told Congress Wednesday.

    Read more
  • Obama's Ohio silver lining

    By Major Garrett, National Journal

    Rattled, dismayed, and shaken, President Obama's national campaign is divided into two camps: impassive warhorses and anxiety-ridden newbies.

    The battle-scarred operatives have been doing nonstop psychic triage since the first presidential debate, calming nerves and reassuring the shaken that campaigns have their ups and downs.

    Read more from National Journal
  • Romney appears to pivot on abortion

    By Nia-Malika Henderson, the Washington Post

    Mitt Romney, buoyed by recent polls that show him ahead of President Obama after a strong debate performance, appears to have modified his stance on abortion, a key issue among social conservatives, a voting bloc that has been skeptical of the Republican nominee in the past.

    Read more
  • Rare consensus inside beltway

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    Let’s face it, the exit polls were not great at Nationals Park on Wednesday. The home team performed much like the incumbent did in last week’s presidential debate — lackluster, not a lot of pop at the plate and a defense that could not handle an aggressive assault.

    Read more

Oct 10, 2012

  • Big stakes for Biden and Ryan in VP debate

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    Rarely has a vice presidential debate been as crucial as the one between Vice President Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan on Thursday night will be. After Mitt Romney’s lopsided victory over President Obama in Denver last week, the exchange will arrive at a fluid and potentially pivotal moment in the campaign.

    Read more
  • Vice presidential debate could be a tale of two Ryans

    By Sam Youngman, Reuters

    Republican Congressman Paul Ryan is a changed man. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney's running mate made a name for himself as a bold fiscal crusader, willing to make big, unpopular cuts to entitlements to get U.S. finances in order.

    Read more
  • Romney refines message on taxes and abortion

    By Helene Cooper and Trip Gabriel, The New York Times

    Continuing to embrace a more moderate political persona, Mitt Romney offered assurances on Tuesday that he would protect tax deductions for the middle class on home mortgages and charitable donations.

    Read more
  • Candidates zero in on Ohio as Romney gains in polls

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    On Monday night, President Obama sounded like a candidate digging deeper for a late burst of speed and prepared to lean into the tape at a photo finish in November. Post-debate polls indicate Mitt Romney has edged past the president among likely voters, including in the Midwest, and on Tuesday both men rededicated themselves to the contest in Ohio with less than a month left in the race.

    Read more
  • Diminished GOP brand heightens Romney's challenge

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    Even with his strong debate performance, Mitt Romney needs every possible advantage to overtake President Barack Obama in the next four weeks. Not helping him much is the Republican Party he leads.

    Read more

Oct 09, 2012

  • With new vigor, Romney resets Ohio campaign

    By Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg, The New York Times

    If one place is emerging as a test of Mitt Romney’s ability to capitalize on a new dynamic in the presidential race, it is Ohio, where he is intensifying his advertising, deploying more troops and spending four of the next five days.

    Read more