On the Radar

Check ON THE RADAR regularly each week to read the latest reporting by award-winning WASHINGTON WEEK panelists.

December 30, 2011

GOP Candidates on a Mad Dash in Iowa

By Charles Babington, Associated Press

Iowa's GOP presidential contest remains deeply unsettled, if not downright strange, just days before the Tuesday caucus. Rep. Ron Paul, drawing big crowds, got a surprise endorsement Wednesday night from Rep. Michele Bachmann's now-former state chairman. Former Sen. Rick Santorum, who has languished for months, suddenly seems to have momentum, just as ex-House Speaker Newt Gingrich may be losing his. And Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who began the campaign by de-emphasizing Iowa, might be poised to finish on top.
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Romney Looks More Confident in Iowa Vote Run-Up

By Sam Youngman, Reuters

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's campaign has a hint of a swagger about it as a good showing looks more likely next week in the Iowa caucuses, where his 2008 campaign crashed badly. While his staff dampened expectations of winning the caucuses vote this time, large crowds gathered at Romney events in the state and his Iowa poll numbers increased again.
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GOP Candidate Mitt Romney at a recent campaign stop in Iowa (CNN)

Oops! That Was the Year that Wasn't

By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

A year ago, soon after the Tunisian uprising, I demonstrated my powers of prediction in a column about the democracy movement in the Arab world. The revolution in Tunisia, I wrote, "arose from local circumstances that don't foretell what will happen anywhere else." Three weeks later, Egypt's Hosni Mubarak fell, and the Arab Spring was in full bloom. This brings me to the subject of today's column: A confession of my year's errors and omissions (along with a mention of one or two things I got right).
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Take That!

By Todd S. Purdum, Vanity Fair

There is no more perennial, or potentially perilous, reality of the modern presidential campaign than the planned, canned, not-always-grand one-liner—as this year’s Republican primary has reminded the world. Herman Cain’s whole campaign, to be honest, was a string of one-liners, until the punchlines ultimately knocked him out. Michele Bachmann has gotten off more than her share, including her description of her interchangeable, ersatz-conservative rivals as “Newt Romney,” and her one-word-association for Romney, when asked: “Hair.”
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Let the Election Games Begin

With John Harwood, CNBC

CNBC's John Harwood previews the Iowa Caucuses

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Ron Paul's Fans: Will They Vote GOP in 2012?

By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

Allen Huffman wouldn’t even be a Republican if not for Ron Paul. The Texas congressman’s promise to get rid of the income tax prompted the 42-year-old to register with the GOP and to caucus for Paul in 2008. Huffman has participated in phone banks at Paul’s campaign office about a dozen times in recent weeks, but don’t expect him to volunteer if Paul is not the GOP nominee.
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Romney Prepares Aggressive Iowa Finish

By Philip Rucker and Dan Balz, Washington Post

Mitt Romney unveiled plans Thursday for an aggressive finishing sprint in Iowa designed to lock down a victory in Tuesday’s caucuses that would leave his rivals scrambling to catch up. Romney is far from a clear favorite in Iowa: Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) continues to show strength in the polls and is banking on a well-regarded organization, and former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.) is on the rise. But no campaign can match Romney’s for the breadth and depth of its infrastructure, and for the first time the weapons he can deploy are all on display.
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December 29, 2011

Could Romney Score an Early Knockout?

By Sam Youngman and Jeff Mason, Reuters

Mitt Romney's campaign did its best on Wednesday to lower expectations, but no one was really buying it. As six of the contenders for the Republican nomination for president barnstormed across Iowa, there was a clear sense that Romney could be in position to lock down the nomination far sooner than could have been expected just a few days ago.
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Odd Notes, Mad-Dash Trips Mark Iowa Closing Sprint

By Charles Babington, Associated Press

Iowa's GOP presidential contest remains deeply unsettled, if not downright strange, five days before the Jan. 3 caucus. Rep. Ron Paul, drawing big crowds, got a surprise endorsement Wednesday night from Rep. Michele Bachmann's now-former state chairman. Former Sen. Rick Santorum, who has languished for months, suddenly seems to have momentum, just as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich may be losing his.
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Why Tea Party Freshmen Caved on Payroll Tax Deal

by Andrea Seabrook, NPR

Conservative Tea Party-affiliated lawmakers spent weeks vowing to oppose the short-term compromise bill extending payroll tax cuts and unemployment insurance. But in the end, the bill glided through the House, just before Christmas. The final moments of this latest congressional showdown were fascinating not because of what happened but because of what didn't happen.
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Iranian Oil Threat is Mostly Bluster, Say Observers

By Nancy A. Youssef and Jonathan S. Landay, McClatchy Newspapers

Amid an escalating war of words between the United States and Iran over the Strait of Hormuz, U.S. and European officials on Wednesday expressed confidence that there was no imminent threat to the passageway through which some 40 percent of the world's seaborne oil travels daily. Instead, they said, the latest Iranian threat to close the route reflected Tehran's anger at the U.S. pledge to impose sanctions on its nuclear program that for the first time directly target Iran's oil exports, the source of some 80 percent of its government revenue.
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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (CNN)

Top Bachmann Aide in Iowa to Support Paul

By Jeff Zeleny, New York Times

The top Iowa adviser to Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota announced Wednesday night that he was jumping ship to support the candidacy of Representative Ron Paul of Texas. Kent Sorenson, a state legislator who has been at Mrs. Bachmann’s side for months, made his decision in the closing days of the Iowa caucus campaign. It was a significant blow to Mrs. Bachmann, who has struggled to regain the fleeting summertime glory of winning the Iowa straw poll.
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December 28, 2011

Romney Targets Obama in Iowa Stretch

By Sam Youngman, Reuters

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney kicked off the last week before the Iowa caucuses warning that November’s presidential contest will be “an election to save the soul of America.” Romney, back in Iowa, assumed a frontrunner posture as his main rivals were mired in their own controversies.
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Obama to Name Two Fed Board Nominees

WIth David Wessel, Wall Street Journal

President Obama plans to nominate a Harvard University finance professor and a former private-equity executive to fill the two vacancies on the seven-member Federal Reserve Board.

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Iran Threatens to Block Oil Shipments, as U.S. Prepares Sanctions

By David E. Sanger and Annie Lowrey, New York Times

A senior Iranian official on Tuesday delivered a sharp threat in response to economic sanctions being readied by the United States, saying his country would retaliate against any crackdown by blocking all oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz, a vital artery for transporting about one-fifth of the world’s oil supply.
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Gingrich Fights Back, Aiming at Romney as Iowa Caucuses Heat Up

By Dan Balz and Amy Gardner, Washington Post

The Republican presidential candidates opened an intensive week of campaigning in wide-open Iowa on Tuesday with the embattled Newt Gingrich casting rival Mitt Romney as an establishment defender of big government and accusing Romney’s supporters of lying about his record.
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GOP Candidate Newt Gingrich addresses reporters at a recent campaign stop. (CNN)

Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson to Retire

By Susan Davis, USA TODAY

Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska has told supporters he will not seek re-election. His decision was first reported by Politico. In his statement, Nelson said: "Simply put: It is time to move on." Nelson, 70, was facing a tough fight for a third term. His retirement improves the GOP's chances of picking up the Nebraska Senate seat the Democrat has held since 2000, and it enhances the odds of a Republican takeover of the Senate in 2012.
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Republican Rivals Unleash Broadside on Paul in Iowa

By Jeff Zeleny and Michael D. Shear, New York Times

The Republican presidential candidates sharpened their criticism of Representative Ron Paul on Tuesday in an effort to keep his support from growing among voters who are frustrated with government and may be inclined to send a message to the Washington establishment by supporting him in the Iowa caucuses. Newt Gingrich said Mr. Paul, of Texas, was a “protest” candidate, and that he could not vote for the congressman if he won the party’s nomination. In a television interview, Mr. Gingrich, the former House speaker, declared that Mr. Paul’s “views are totally outside the mainstream of virtually every decent American.”
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Washington’s Year of Drama Leaves Little Done Regarding Debt

By Lori Montgomery, Washington Post

Reid Ribble, a Wisconsin roofing contractor-turned-Republican lawmaker, has helped change the way Washington talks about the national debt. That’s not to say he has done much about the debt itself. Nearly a year ago, Ribble and other newly elected House Republicans came to Capitol Hill on a single-minded mission to shove the federal debt to the top of the congressional agenda. They succeeded.
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Iowa Cacuses a Week Away

With John Harwood, CNBC

CNBC's John Harwood shares the latest update of the Iowa Cacuses. Also, Paul Equale, Equale and Assosciates president and Chris Krueger, Guggenheim Partners senior policy analyst weigh in.


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