The Note’s Must-Reads for Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Compiled by ABC News Digital News Associates Jacqueline Fernandez, Jayce Henderson and Desk Assistant Amanda VanAllen PRESIDENT OBAMA: ABC News’ Russell Goldman: “ President Obama: America ‘Not Better Off’ Today than Four Years Ago” Calling himself an “underdog,” President Obama today said the faltering economy is a drag on his presidency and seriously impairing his chances of winning again in 2012.  “Absolutely,” he said in response to a question from ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos about whether the odds were against him come November 2012, given the economy. “I’m used to being the underdog. But at the end of the day people are going to ask — who’s got a vision?” LINK

The Hills’ Sam Youngman and Ian Swanson: “ Obama says he’s 2012 ‘underdog’” President Obama on Monday took the extraordinary step of declaring himself the underdog in the 2012 race for the White House. He acknowledged that voters are not better off than they were four years ago, and face a mortgage crisis, unemployment above 9 percent and a bumpy stock market. LINK

CHRIS CHRISTIE: The New York Times’ Michael Shear and Jeff Zeleny: “ Primary Date of Jan. 21 Adds Urgency for Christie” Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey is under even more pressure to make a decision about running for president after South Carolina’s move Monday to schedule its Republican primary for Jan. 21. LINK

Bloomberg’s Lisa Lerer and Terrence Dopp: “ Christie Late Entry Into Presidential Race Would Mean Money, Staff Crunch” As New Jersey Governor Chris Christie deliberates whether to plunge into the presidential race, he is rapidly running out of time to mount an effective campaign, say Republican strategists and fundraisers.  ”It’s a big job,” said John Catsimatidis, the billionaire supermarket tycoon who has raised tens of thousands of dollars for Christie. LINK

The Wall Street Journal’s Stu Woo, Neil King Jr., and Steve Eder: “ Fund-Raiser Offers Clues on Governor’s Intentions” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has kept the political world in suspense for weeks over his presidential intentions, told prominent California fund-raisers and donors as recently as last Wednesday he had no plans to seek the White House. One assurance took the form of a pledge Mr. Christie made to Meg Whitman, the newly appointed Hewlett-Packard Co. chief executive, said two people familiar with the matter LINK

RICK PERRY: The Washington Post’s Dan Balz and Jon Cohen: “ Rick Perry slips, Herman Cain rises in bid for GOP nomination, poll finds” After a quick rise in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has experienced an almost equally dramatic decline, losing about half of his support over the past month, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. LINK

The Washington Times’ Ralph Hallow: “ Stumbles aside, Perry to remain a top contender” Although Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been hurt by poor debate and straw-poll performances — and in recent days by associations with a racial slur — top Republican officials think he nonetheless can survive the blows and remain a major contender for the party’s presidential nomination. LINK

JOBS: The New York Daily News’ Lore Croghan and Alison Gendar: “ President Obama’s jobs bill a tough sell, Sen. Chuck Schumer says” New York’s senior senator said even the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate was balking at paying for President Obama’s jobs bill. “The main hang up is not the jobs bill itself,” Sen. Charles Schumer said Sunday. Obama has been calling on lawmakers to pass his $447 billion jobs bill in nearly every speech for almost a month and proposed paying for it with spending cuts, tax hikes on the wealthy and closing corporate tax loopholes. LINK

The Los Angeles Times’ Kim Geiger: “ Republicans see ‘golden opportunity’ in Obama’s jobs push” If President Obama wants to portray Republicans as obstructionists, a group of GOP strategists have set out a plan to make that strategy politically dangerous for him. As Obama stepped up pressure on Congress on Monday to pass his jobs bill, the Karl Rove-backed group American Crossroads released a detailed plan to use Obama’s words against his fellow Democrats in the Senate, some of whom are facing tough re-election battles in 2012. LINK

OTHER: Politico’s Alex Isenstadt: “ House GOP freshmen have no safe seats” The 87 House freshmen who helped the GOP seize the majority by capitalizing on a deep reservoir of anti-establishment resentment are discovering that anger hasn’t gone away — and it could even threaten their fledgling careers. Some tea party darlings from 2010 are fearful of tea party challengers in 2012, facing charges they’ve turned their backs on the movement’s small-government beliefs. LINK

USA Today’s Gregory Korte: “ Congress looks at ways to fix budget process” The last time Congress passed all of its spending bills by the Oct. 1 deadline, Seinfeld was on television and people were dancing the Macarena. For the 14th year in a row, Congress missed the deadline for the fiscal year that began Saturday — as it did last year, passing eight stopgap spending measures that often brought the government within days or hours of shutting down. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEOS: Bachmann Flubs Line in Campaign VideoLINKABC News Supreme Court Preview on ‘Top Line’LINK  

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