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 05, 2012

  • Generational warfare: The case against parasitic baby boomers

    By Jim Tankersley, National Journal

    My father taught me how to throw a baseball and divide big numbers in my head and build a life where I’d be home in time to eat dinner with my kid most nights. He and my mother put me through college and urged me to follow my dreams. He never complained when I entered a field even less respected than his. He lives across the country and still calls just to check in and say he loves me.

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  • Democrats try to regroup in wake of the debate

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    After President Obama's disappointing debate performance, Wednesday, some Democratic strategists lamented that Obama missed opportunities to strike at what they saw as his GOP rival's inconsistencies on policy matters.

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Oct 04, 2012

  • News Analysis: A Clash of Philosophies

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    Somewhere in the wonky blizzard of facts, statistics and studies thrown out on stage here on Wednesday night was a fundamental philosophical choice about the future of America, quite possibly the starkest in nearly three decades. As President Obama and Mitt Romney faced off for the first time, their largely zinger-free styles may have disguised a fierce clash of views not only over taxes, spending and health care, but over the very role of government in American society in a time of wrenching problems.

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  • Romney’s Big Night

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    When Barack Obama entered the debate hall at the University of Denver Wednesday night, the air was clear and warm. When he left, the winds where whipping and the temperature had dropped 20 degrees. Coincidentally, that was also the same number of undecided voters who thought the president had a good debate. In two different polls of undecided voters by CNN and CBS, Obama received grim reviews. In the CBS poll, 46 percent thought Romney had done the better job. Only 22 percent thought Obama prevailed. In the CNN poll, 67 percent thought Romney had performed well. Only 25 percent could say the same of Obama. In another poll conducted with a group of “Wal-Mart Moms” in Las Vegas, Romney also scored high. His image climbed 20 points, while Obama’s moved just 5. Many of the women had “somewhat tuned out Mitt Romney,” according to the findings reported by a bipartisan polling team. “After seeing him this evening several are now re-engaged and want to learn more about him. They were somewhat disappointed with President Obama’s performance. They do not believe he made the case for how another four years will be different or better.” Read more

  • Romney goes on offense, forcing Obama to defend record

    By Dan Balz and Amy Gardner, The Washington Post

    An energetic Mitt Romney launched a series of attacks against President Obama here Wednesday night, calling into question the president’s record on the economy, health care and the deficit, and arguing that he would take the country in a fundamentally different direction. Obama sought to parry Romney’s criticisms, charging that his presidential rival favors a top-down approach to the economy that would reward the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the middle class and that the details of the Republican’s proposals don’t add up. But he found himself on the defensive repeatedly during their first debate, held at the University of Denver.

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  • Analysis: Romney's aggressive debate cheers GOP

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    Challenger Mitt Romney used Wednesday's debate to put President Barack Obama on the defensive on health care, jobs and other issues. The president's reluctance to fire back harshly gave new hope to Republican partisans. Romney managed to highlight his top campaign themes — calling for lower tax rates, less regulation, the repeal of "Obamacare" — while largely fending off Obama's demands for details on how to pay for his proposals or safeguard Americans' health and well-being.

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  • On Economy, Romney Blurs Contrast

    By Jim Tankersley, National Journal

    Apparently Mitt Romney likes government regulation, loves Medicare the way it is, agrees fairly regularly with President Obama, and does not, in fact, want to cut taxes very much. Those are gross simplifications of Romney’s economic platform, and ones very much at odds with the antitax, antiregulation, pro-entitlement-reform campaign the former Massachusetts governor has waged for more than a year. But if you were tuning into the presidential race for the first time on Wednesday night, you’d be forgiven if you thought the simplifications were actually the crux of Romney’s plan for the country.

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Oct 03, 2012

  • Question 1: What’s at stake in the first debate in Denver?

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    First debates usually attract the biggest audience, and so for both President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney, this is a high-stakes event. But it’s clearly much bigger for Romney.

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  • In 90-minute debate, 2 candidates stand on equal footing

    By Jeff Zeleny, The New York Times

    President Obama will have the first word at the presidential debate. Mitt Romney will have the last word. But even before they step onto the stage and shake hands here Wednesday evening, voters across the country are already starting to have the final word.

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  • The only debate question that matters

    By Jim Tankersley, National Journal

    There are plenty of important questions Jim Lehrer should ask Barack Obama and Mitt Romney during Wednesday night’s first presidential debate, but only one Big Question. Lehrer should keep asking it until he gets a real answer, even if it takes all 90 minutes.

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  • Claims likely to surface in debate and facts behind them

    By Jackie Calmes and John Harwood, The New York Times

    The first presidential debate is likely to focus on economic issues as President Obama and Mitt Romney clash over the size and role of government. Here are some topics that could come up.

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  • How campaigning for president became a socially acceptable thing to do

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    In the early days of the presidency, no man worthy of the office would have dared campaign for it. Now, as I write in my series How to Measure for a President, the strength of a candidate’s campaign is used as proof of his fitness for office. Here, with the help of Gil Troy’s See How They Ran is a tour of how we got here.

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  • Republicans face voter ID law setback

    By Pete Williams, NBC News


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Oct 02, 2012

  • Before debate, Romney calls Obama weak on foreign policy

    By Sam Youngman, Reuters

    Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney launched a fresh attempt on Monday to paint President Barack Obama as weak on foreign policy, saying he had let U.S. leadership atrophy, while the two candidates prepared for their critical first debate on Wednesday.

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  • 10 quotes that haunt President Obama

    By John F. Harris and James Hohmann, Politico

    Ahead in the polls, looking strong in key swing states: This must be exactly what Barack Obama dreamed his reelection campaign would look like, five weeks from Election Day and on the eve of the first debate.

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  • Analysis: Will the debates make a difference?

    By Amy Walter and Michael Falcone, ABC News

    Last week Mitt Romney opened an Ohio bus tour on the same day that a new poll in the state showed him lagging behind President Obama by a 10 point margin.

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  • Campaigns search for elusive early voters

    With Laura Meckler, Wall Street Journal

    With early voting under way in Iowa and about to begin in Ohio, the voters the two presidential campaigns are working hardest to motivate are a challenging group: those least likely to vote in the first place. Laura Meckler has details on The News Hub.


  • Report: Nearly 90 percent of Americans would see taxes rise if ‘fiscal cliff’ hits

    By Lori Montgomery, The Washington Post

    Nearly 90 percent of Americans would face higher taxes next year if Congress lets the nation hurtle over the “fiscal cliff,” the year-end precipice of tax hikes and spending cuts that threatens to throw the nation back into recession.

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Oct 01, 2012

  • Gwen Ifill debunks five myths about presidential debates

    By Gwen Ifill for The Washington Post

    As President Obama and Mitt Romney take the stage in Denver on Wednesday for the first of their three debates, they won’t just face off against each other. They’ll also be competing with the rich history of presidential debates — the zingers, questions and comebacks that will be replayed and invoked over and over in the coming weeks. I’ve had the privilege to moderate the two most recent vice presidential debates, and I’ve heard many misconceptions about these events and their impact on a race. Here are a few of the most common.

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  • Obama, Romney in tight race nationally as first debate looms

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    On the eve of their first presidential debate, President Obama leads or is at parity with Mitt Romney on virtually every major issue and attribute in what remains a competitive general election, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

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