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 27, 2012

  • Dole vs. Gingrich: The GOP Empire Strikes Back

    By Major Garrett, National Journal

    After arriving in Florida like a rolling ball of butcher knives, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is looking less edgy and more flabby by the hour. The last four polls in Florida now show Mitt Romney back ahead (the previous four had Gingrich up). That's at least in part because Republicans-–some conservative, some semiconservative, and some conveniently conservative–-are attacking Gingrich as a walking, talking party menace; a flu-like contagion who will lose the presidency and contaminate down-ballot Republicans with erratic extremism.
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  • The True State of Our Union: Introduction

    By Alexis Simendinger and Carl M. Cannon, RealClearPolitics

    Listening to Barack Obama’s lengthy State of the Union address in the same week the Republican presidential candidates held more debates in their incessant series was to visit two parallel universes. The economy is getting better. Nope, the economy is a disaster. We need to change the tax code so the rich pay “their fair share.” Oh, no: We need to change the tax code to starve Washington and put more money in all Americans' pockets. Business needs to be regulated. Business needs to be unfettered.
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  • Romney Stays on the Offense With Gingrich

    By Jim Rutenberg and Jeff Zeleny, New York Times

    Mitt Romney, facing his greatest challenge of the campaign so far, relentlessly pressed Newt Gingrich on Thursday night in their final debate before the Florida primary, seeking to regain the offensive against an insurgent challenge that has shaken his claim to inevitability.
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  • Santorum, Short on Cash, Fights Uphill Battle

    By Nia-Malika Henderson, Washington Post

    In his speech after finishing a distant third in the South Carolina primary, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum declared that he was one of “three winners” out of the first three GOP contests. It was a hopeful spin on a disappointing finish, and now San­torum faces a new reality here in Florida: He is short on cash, and he is the odd man out in what is shaping up to be a two-man contest.
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  • In Airport Run-In, Democrats See Help for Obama Among Hispanics

    By Helene Cooper, New York Times

    Democrats see the chance that President Obama’s heated exchange with Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona on the airport tarmac in Phoenix could help him with the Hispanic voters he came West to court this week.
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  • Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich Square off in Republican Debate

    By Dan Balz and Amy Gardner, Washington Post

    Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich sparred here Thursday night over immigration, taxes and wealth, lobbying, and colonizing the moon in a debate that underscored the potential consequences of a loss for either of the leading Republican presidential candidates in Tuesday’s high-stakes Florida primary.
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    Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney in Thursday's Florida GOP Debate (CNN)

  • In Florida, Gingrich Harnesses Anger of the Right

    By Sam Youngman, Reuters

    Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich was laughing. Not a politician's polite chuckle but a real laugh as a protester who had infiltrated the crowd at one of his rallies on Wednesday was escorted out.
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  • With Campaign Season Here, Obama Shows Some Swagger

    By Christi Parsons and Kathleen Hennessey, Los Angeles Times

    He's confronting Republicans in the House chamber and on a sunny tarmac in front of the cameras. He's singing Al Green and busting out corny jokes. He's trying out his Spanish and taking off the necktie. It looks like the sometimes-aloof, overly cerebral President Obama has gotten some of his mojo back.
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Jan 26, 2012

  • President Takes His Economic Message on the Road

    By Helene Cooper, New York Times

    Fresh from a State of the Union address he used to make his case for re-election, President Obama took to the road on Wednesday to build support for his economic message of fairness, calling for Congress to eliminate tax deductions for companies that move jobs overseas.
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  • Why Are There So Many Presidential Debates?

    By Karen Tumulty, Washington Post

    In the lore of the U.S. political system, debates are among the most hallowed of rituals. From Lincoln-Douglas on, they have been the moments when voters are supposed to have an opportunity to get to know their candidates, contrast their ideas, evaluate their mettle. But this campaign season, it might be fair to ask: Are Americans getting too much of a good thing?
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  • Can Sanctions Alone Get Iran To Negotiate?

    By Tom Gjelten, NPR

    In an effort to bring Iran to the negotiating table over its nuclear program through economic pain, both the U.S. and the European Union have imposed sanctions that should make it harder for Iran to sell its oil. But the global oil business is unpredictable, and sanctions are no guarantee.

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  • Obama Team Sees Romney Damaging Self with Independents for Fall Campaign

    By Dan Balz, Washington Post

    President Obama’s political advisers have long been preparing for a general-election contest against Republican Mitt Romney. What they have seen of the former Massachusetts governor in the past 30 days makes them think he will enter a fall campaign, if he survives a turbulent nomination battle, significantly weakened by self-inflicted wounds and a major strategic mistake.
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  • Obama Returns to Familiar Theme in Case for 2nd Term

    By Jackie Calmes, New York Times

    President Obama’s election-year State of the Union address on Tuesday echoed a theme that has run through his career: Government and citizens are responsible together for the common good, even as they celebrate individualism and free markets.
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  • Navy SEALs Rescue 2 Held Captive in Somalia

    By Nancy A. Youssef, McClatchy Newspapers

    American commandos dropped into Somalia on Tuesday night to rescue two aid workers who were held hostage, including an American, the Pentagon announced Wednesday.
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  • Obama’s Message Put to Test Where Voters Struggle

    By Julianna Goldman, Bloomberg News

    President Barack Obama is testing his populist message on a trip through five electoral battleground states where he is trying to persuade voters to stick with him even as their economic prospects remain clouded. From the rescue of the U.S. auto industry to the housing crisis, Iowa, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado and Michigan showcase the challenges on Obama’s path to re-election.
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    President Obama speaks in Chandler, AZ (CNN)

  • In Run-Up to Somalia Raid, Secrecy and Business As Usual

    By Yochi J. Dreazen, National Journal

    President Obama's business-as-usual demeanor as he delivered the State of the Union address on Tuesday evening masked a secret known only to him and a few others in the House chamber. Thousands of miles away, a strike team led by the Navy’s SEAL Team 6 were completing a successful operation to free two Western aid workers, an American and a Dane, held by Somali kidnappers since October.
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Jan 25, 2012

  • In Address, Obama Makes Pitch for Economic Fairness

    By Helene Cooper, New York Times

    President Obama pledged on Tuesday night to use government power to balance the scale between America’s rich and the rest of the public, trying to present an election-year choice between continued leadership toward an economy “built to last” and what he called irresponsible policies of the past that caused an economic collapse.
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  • Analysis: Obama Speech Puts Him in Campaign Arena

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    President Barack Obama, having watched his Republican adversaries pound him for weeks, got his turn Tuesday, using his State of the Union speech to land the first major counterpunch of the still-forming 2012 election. It came before a prime-time audience of millions that the GOP candidates can only envy, even if their fiery debates are turning heads.
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  • Hostage Rescued in Somalia Raid

    With Martha Raddatz, ABC News

    Navy SEALs parachuted into one of the world's most dangerous places.

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  • State of Hope—Or an Illusion?

    By Jim Tankersley, National Journal

    The American economy is better off today than it was three years ago. It could be much better off than it is. Indicators suggest that growth may be finally ready to take off from its post-recession bumps along the runway—but then again, that’s how the indicators looked this time last year.
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