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!

Jan 05, 2012

  • Is the Tea Party Over?

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    A year ago, the tea party movement looked like an irresistible wave sweeping through the Republican Party. Anyone who hoped to win this year's GOP presidential nomination, it seemed, would need to embrace tea party activists' stringent demands for smaller government, lower taxes and deep cuts in spending. But in Tuesday's Iowa caucuses, the three candidates who hewed closest to the tea party line — Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich — sank straight to the bottom of the pack.
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  • Obama Campaign Still Bracing for Matchup With Romney

    By Alexis Simendinger, RealClearPolitics

    Nothing in Iowa's murky caucus results amended the calculus for President Obama and his Chicago re-election team. According to their own statements Wednesday, they still believe Mitt Romney has the best chance to become the GOP nominee -- and are preparing accordingly.
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  • Iowa Vote Doesn't Resolve GOP Search for Identity

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    The Republicans' identity crisis is producing the most volatile presidential primary season in memory and threatening to dilute the conservative fervor that swept the party to huge wins in 2010. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is the pragmatic, establishment choice. But he has yet to attract more than a quarter of GOP voters, as his eight-vote Iowa caucus win showed.
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Jan 04, 2012

  • Romney Wins Iowa Caucus by 8 Votes

    By Jeff Zeleny, New York Times

    Mitt Romney’s quest to swiftly lock down the Republican presidential nomination with a commanding finish in the Iowa caucuses was undercut on Tuesday night by the surging candidacy of Rick Santorum, who fought him to a draw on a shoestring budget by winning over conservatives who remain skeptical of Mr. Romney.
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  • Iowa Caucuses Leave Two Key Questions Unanswered

    By Dan Balz, Washington Post

    Through most of the past year, the two main questions about the Republican nomination campaign were who would emerge as the most viable challenger to Mitt Romney and whether Republicans could learn to love the former Massachusetts governor. With the results from Iowa’s caucuses now tallied, those questions still have no answers.
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  • Newt Gingrich's Push for New Hampshire

    With John Harwood, CNBC

    Discussing Newt Gingrich's campaign message and the amount of money he needs to raise to compete effectively and round up an army of supporters, with CNBC's John Harwood, Larry Kudlow.

    Watch Videon on CNBC

  • Iowa Caucus: Rivals Seek to Rally Right Against Mitt Romney

    By John F. Harris and Jonathan Martin, Politico

    Mitt Romney won the Iowa caucuses Tuesday night over runner-up Rick Santorum by a margin so small he could count it on his fingers, the culmination of a months-long heartland slog in which he was never subject to a sustained assault by his more conservative rivals. That is about to change, with a vengeance.
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  • Regime Changes May Lead To Dangerous New Year

    by Tom Gjelten, NPR

    Big changes in 2011 — from the Arab Spring to the death of North Korea's dictator — create opportunities for 2012. But change can be scary, even when the regimes to be replaced are unpopular or repressive, because there's never a guarantee the new regime will be better.
    Listen to Story

  • Iowa GOP Caucus a Mixed Bag for Romney

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    It didn't take a final tally in the Iowa GOP caucus to conclude that two good things, and one bad thing, happened to Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor was assured late Tuesday of nothing worse than a close second-place finish, with a first spot possible, once all votes are counted.
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  • Iowa Rep. Steve King Upset with Boehner

    By Susan Davis, USA TODAY

    Iowa GOP Rep. Steve King is frustrated. A day after the conservative lawmaker opted against endorsing any of the Republican Party's presidential contenders competing in tonight's caucuses, he vented further about the party's leadership in Congress. King expressed "real clear frustration" with the leadership of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, for two offenses in 2011: ruling out the possibility of a government shutdown during the budget debate in the spring, and ruling out a U.S. default during the debt ceiling debate in the summer. The result is an empowered president and a weakened House GOP, King said in a radio interview Tuesday morning.
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  • Obama Among the Winners in Iowa

    By Tim Reid and Sam Youngman, Reuters

    After a dramatic, confusing night of suspense in the Republican Party's Iowa caucuses, the big winner may well have been a Democrat: Barack Obama. The president's re-election campaign had reason to smile early Wednesday, as Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum battled to a virtual dead heat in the caucuses that kicked off the campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.
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    GOP Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney addresses supporters after winning the Iowa Caucuses (CNN)

  • Whither Thou Goest, Iowa Caucus?

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    Tuesday's results are bound to revive the enduring debate over the oh-so-special role played by a state that's whiter, more rural and more evangelical than most of the country. Iowa's tradition of holding partisan caucuses instead of state-run primaries attracts only a fraction of the electorate but sets the tone for the entire nominating process. No fair? At this moment, with the race between Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney too close to call and Ron Paul coming in third, two of top three 2012 finishers in Iowa are highly unlikely to win the nomination.
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  • Iowa Caucus Results: Romney Edges Santorum; Paul Finishes Third

    By Karen Tumulty, Washington Post

    Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney beat former senator Rick Santor­um (Pa.) in the Iowa caucuses by just eight votes, a sign of a splintered and increasingly fractious field as the GOP presidential race moves to New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida.
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  • It’s a Tie!

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    The Iowa Republican caucus was a tie and a blowout. The finish was so close that statistics majors at Iowa State will probably see it as a question on the final. Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum essentially tied at 25 percent, with Ron Paul a breath behind at 21 percent.
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Jan 03, 2012

  • GOP Race has Yet to Fully Test Romney

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    Mitt Romney's surprisingly easy rise to the top of Iowa presidential polls, aided by his GOP rivals' in-fighting, masks vulnerabilities he will have to confront eventually. Even if he wins Tuesday's caucus, Romney has yet to excite his party's restless conservative base. Mitt Romney's surprisingly easy rise to the top of Iowa presidential polls, aided by his GOP rivals' in-fighting, masks vulnerabilities he will have to confront eventually. Even if he wins Tuesday's caucus, Romney has yet to excite his party's restless conservative base.
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    GOP Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney (CNN)

  • Iowa's Field of Mediocrities

    By John F. Harris and Alexander Burns, Politico

    The candidates say it on debate stages. Voters say it at campaign rallies. It is a staple of Republican rhetoric that 2012 is the most fateful election in decades — a big and perilous moment around which national destiny will hinge. Here’s what does not get said as often: This big moment on history’s stage is being filled by politicians who so far have looked way too small for the occasion.
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  • Twisting Race Hits First Turn as Iowa Votes

    By Jim Rutenberg and Jeff Zeleny, New York Times

    Mitt Romney has grown so confident of his Iowa prospects that on Monday night he dropped all humble pretense and proclaimed, “We’re going to win this thing.” At the same time, Rick Santorum insisted that his momentum carried its own whiff of victory. Both might be right.
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  • Iowa Caucuses: One Day Out

    By Karen Tumulty and David A. Fahrenthold, Washington Post

    One candidate made an appearance with the world’s largest tractor. Another showed up with the Duggars, the nation’s most famous large family. There were two Pauls in Des Moines and six Romneys in Davenport. This is Iowa, the day before the circus leaves town.
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  • Even Despots Don't Live Forever

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    It was a bad year for the villains of the world. Three of the biggest bad guys met their ends: Osama bin Laden, killed by U.S. commandos who stormed his villa in Pakistan in May; Moammar Kadafi, killed by Libyan insurgents who captured him (with the help of a NATO airstrike) in October; and Kim Jong Il, the ruler of North Korea, who died Dec. 17, reportedly of a heart attack.
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  • GOP Race for Iowa & 2012 Election

    With John Harwood, CNBC

    CNBC's John Harwood has the GOP candidate standings in Iowa.

    Watch video on CNBC