The Note’s Must-Reads for Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Note’s Must-Reads are a round-up of today’s political headlines and stories from ABC News and the top U.S. newspapers. Posted Monday through Friday right here at

Compiled by ABC News Digital News Associates Jayce Henderson, Jacqueline Fernandez and Desk Assistant Amanda VanAllen

PRESIDENT OBAMA: The Washington Post’s Zachary Goldfarb and Lori Montgomery: “ Obama gets wins as Congress passes free-trade agreements” Congress resoundingly approved long-stalled trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama late Wednesday, authorizing the most significant expansion of trade relations in nearly two decades. LINK

Politico’s Glenn Thrush and Carrie Budoff Brown: “ For Obama campaign, it’s game on vs. Romney” Mitt Romney hasn’t won anything yet but President Barack Obama’s campaign team is confident enough that Romney is the probable – if not the presumptive – Republican nominee that they have begun aiming their fire almost exclusively at him. Obama and his Chicago campaign brain trust seem to have come to their conclusion about Romney at the exact moment many Republicans realized he might really go all the way. LINK

GOP / HERMAN CAIN: ABC News’ Ben Forer: “ 9-9-9 Plan Would Almost Double Taxes on Middle Class” Herman Cain is running on three numbers: 9-9-9. “Nine percent corporate business flat tax, nine percent income flat tax and a nine percent national sales tax,” he said, explaining the plan once again during Tuesday night’s Republican presidential debate. LINK

The Hills’ Sam Youngman: “ Obama team zeroes in on Romney” President Obama’s campaign team demonstrated Wednesday who it thinks will be the Republican presidential nominee — former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. David Axelrod, who’s in charge of keeping Obama in the White House, held a 25-minute conference call with reporters for the express purpose of targeting Romney. LINK

USA Today’s Catalina Camia: “ Herman Cain steps up defense of 9-9-9 tax plan” GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain defended his 9-9-9 economic plan, beating back growing criticism that his proposal would hurt people with lower incomes. “They’re wrong,” Cain said on ABC’s Good Morning America. “These independent analysts are making their analysis based on their assumptions. LINK

The New York Daily News’ Alison Gendar: “ Mitt Romney, GOP front-runner in 2012 presidential race, now focus of White House, Democrats barbs” The White House took its first all-out hit on Mitt Wednesday as Romney took command of the GOP presidential race. President Obama’s political Svengali David Axelrod went for the throat by casting Romney as a flip-flopping phony – a complaint often lobbed by the Republican’s Tea Party foes. LINK

The Los Angeles Times’ Maeve Reston and Robin Abcarian: “ Herman Cain, on the rise, says he ‘won’t fizzle’” A day after Herman Cain’s first debate appearance as a top-tier contender for the Republican presidential nomination, the former Godfather’s Pizza executive strode into the Ninety Nine Restaurant & Pub. The chief hawker of the “9-9-9? tax plan picked up an order of New England fried shrimp for, yes, $9.99, and ran smack into the question uppermost on voters’ minds. LINK

The Washington Times’ Paige Winfield Cunningham: “ House GOP revives abortion issue, irks Obama” After a six-month respite from fights over federal funding of abortion, House Republicans are revisiting the battle with a bill aimed at severing all ties between President Obama’s health care law and insuring, performing or obtaining abortions. LINK

The New York Times’ Trip Gabriel and Susan Saulny: “ With Three 9s, Cain Refigured Math for Taxes” It was a strategy session at 28,000 feet. Herman Cain, the Republican presidential candidate, and his advisers were on a campaign flight this summer between Atlanta and New Hampshire, tossing around policy ideas. LINK

The Wall Street Journal’s Neil King Jr. and Jonathan Weisman: “ Cain Vaults to Lead in Poll” Former restaurant-industry executive Herman Cain has catapulted to the lead in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, as GOP voters grow disenchanted with Texas Gov. Rick Perry and remain wary of former Massachusetts Gov. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEOS:Cain Says He Can Steal Black Voters From ObamaLINKObama’s Jobs Plan: What’s Next?” LINK

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