The Note's Must-Reads for Thursday, December 22, 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  Amanda VanAllen,  Jayce Henderson and Desk Assistant Erin McLaughlin

ROMNEY/GINGRICH ABC News's Susan Archer: " Romney and Gingrich Trade barbs on Who 'Can Take the Heat'" Following his endorsement from New Hampshire Speaker Bill O'Brien, Newt Gingrich took questions from the press in Manchester. The focus was on the negative ads a Romney Super PAC has been running on Gingrich in Iowa, where Gingrich is polling neck-in-neck with the former Massachusetts governor. LINK

The Washington Times' Seth McLaughlin: " Romney boards 'Earn It' bus, fumes past Gingrich" Mitt Romney, back atop the GOP field in the latest Rasmussen Reports poll in Iowa, kicked off his "Earn It" bus tour here on Wednesday with another jab at Republican rival Newt Gingrich, who has been sharply criticizing the former Massachusetts governor's "negative" campaigning. LINK

NEWT GINGRICH The Hills' Justin Sink: " Gingrich: Romney's 'baloney' attacks an 'embarrassment to the American system'" Newt Gingrich accused Mitt Romney of "defending the right to lie" and "drowning people in dirt" in a guns-blazing rebuttal of the former Massachusetts governor's attack ads in early campaign states. "I have faith that the people of Iowa can see baloney, they understand baloney, this is baloney, they want the real thing," Gingrich said during an interview Wednesday on the Laura Ingraham show. LINK

New York Daily News' Aliyah Shahid: " Newt Gingrich heckled by Occupy Des Moines protesters; apparently hacked" Newt Gingrich's week just keeps getting worse. The Republican presidential candidate - who has sunk in several polls over the past few days-was harassed Wednesday by Occupy Des Moines protesters during an endorsement event in Iowa. Later, it got so heated that the ex-House Speaker was eventually chased down the stairwell of the state capitol and into his car, according to the Des Moines Register. LINK

The New York Times' Scott Shane: " In Islamic Law, Gingrich Sees a Mortal Threat to U.S." Long before he announced his presidential run this year, Newt Gingrich had become the most prominent American politician to embrace an alarming premise: that Shariah, or Islamic law, poses a threat to the United States as grave as or graver than terrorism. LINK

Politicos' Jonathan Martin and James Hohmann: " Newt Gingrich's no-message message" For three precious campaign days in Iowa this week, Newt Gingrich has driven a consistent message: he's unhappy with the negative attacks that are raining down on him here. The problem: That's seemingly his only message. LINK

Bloomberg's Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Lisa Lerer:  " Gingrich Summer Slump Forces Catch-Up" By the time Newt Gingrich finally arrived at Hy-Vee Supermarket in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, the crowd had overflowed the store's small cafe, past the flower shop and into the aisles.  "He's got most of the things I'm looking for," said Bruce Weber, a 70-year-old retiree who waited more than 45 minutes to see the former U.S. House speaker.   LINK

MITT ROMNEY: The Washington Post's Jia Lynn Yang: " Mitt Romney's private-equity past puts 'creative destruction' in spotlight" As Mitt Romney touts his business experience in the Republican presidential primaries, he has started facing questions about his abiding faith in "creative destruction." That's the idea that when new ways of doing business replace the old, closing factories and laying off scores of workers are painful but necessary steps to building a more efficient economy. LINK

Los Angeles Times' Maeve Reston: " Mitt Romney hits his stride in New Hampshire" Projecting a front-runner's confidence, Mitt Romney wound his way through the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state Wednesday, doing his best to charm the state's mercurial voters just three weeks before votes are cast. Traveling New Hampshire's wooded byways in a 42-foot blue and white bus wrapped with his slogan - "Believe in America" - the candidate swatted away the complaints of his chief rival, Newt Gingrich, about independently financed ads that Romney partisans are leveling against the former House speaker in Iowa. LINK

The Wall Street Journals' Neil King Jr., Sara Murray and Patrick O'Connor: " Romney Takes Aim at Obama Again" An increasingly confident Mitt Romney is looking beyond his Republican rivals and again focusing his attacks on President Barack Obama, using a three-day swing through New Hampshire to frame his candidacy as a choice between the president's "entitlement society" and the "merit society" Mr. Romney envisions. In an interview late Wednesday, Mr. Romney reflected a new tone-a more biting version of his earlier rhetoric against the president-predicting Mr. Obama will resort to "a politics of envy and divisiveness and demonizing of business and business people that will shock" voters. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEOS: " Famous Wives vs. Angry Protesters" LINK " New Hampshire Primary 2012: Now I Get It" LINK " Newt Gingrich Heckled and Followed" LINK

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