The Note’s Must-Reads for Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Compiled by ABC News Digital News Associates Jacqueline Fernandez, Jayce Henderson and Desk Assistant Erin McLaughlin

MITT ROMNEY ABC News' David Muir: " One eve of his Wall Street fundraiser, how Romney made his millions" At nearly every stop on the campaign trail, Mitt Romney offers his business resume as the primary reason he believes he's the right man to be president in this economy. In Dubuque, Iowa, Romney told a group of factory workers about an American brand he helped create. "I had the fun of getting involved in a startup. It's called Staples," said Romney.  Romney and his team at Bain Capital were largely responsible for Staples, and today the company has 90,000 employees. LINK

ABC News' Shushannah Walshe: " Ann Romney on Her Husband: "He'll stick with you in the hard times" Mitt Romney's wife Ann hit the stump Tuesday evening in this small town close to Cedar Rapids, exactly three weeks out from the Iowa caucuses, to persuade the crowd to vote for her husband by describing what an honest and trustworthy man he is. LINK

The New York Times' Ashley Parker: " As Rivalry Tightens, Romney Is Reflective" Mitt Romney - he of the inscrutable, overly polished and occasionally robotic mien - is striving mightily to humanize himself just three weeks before the first round of voting begins. And that means no topic, be it his experience with humble toilets ("a bucket affair") or his faith, is off limits. LINK

Politico's Maggie Haberman: " Christine O' Donnell endorses Romney" Former tea party candidate and U.S. Senate hopeful Christine O'Donnell has cast a, er, endorsement Mitt Romney's way. O'Donnell, who had indicated she was leaning Romney's way over the last few months, has cred and a voter list of tea partiers - but she also lost her general election in Delaware by a big margin. LINK

NEWT GINGRICH The Washington Post's Steve Hendrix: " Newt Gingrich: The GOP's eccentric big thinker and bomb-thrower" He's the smart one. That's what Newt Gingrich has been hearing since he was little Newtie, the boy who, his stepfather said, had read much of the Encyclopedia Americana by age 12. He's the smartest guy in the room, the professor-pol, the eccentric big thinker of the Republican Party with the near-textbook recall and the lawn-sprinkler spray of ideas. LINK

The Hill's Josh Lederman: " Gingrich Iowa staffer resigns after calling Mormonism a 'cult'" Newt Gingrich's political director in Iowa has resigned over comments he made disparaging Mitt Romney's religion. Craig Bergman told a focus group on last Wednesday that Mormonism is a "cult" and implied it could hurt Romney in a general election against President Obama, The Iowa Republican reported. The comment clashed with a vow Gingrich has made to avoid negative attacks during the Republican presidential primary. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Neil King Jr.: " Gingrich Surges, but Swing Voters Are Wary" Republican voters now heavily favor Newt Gingrich over Mitt Romney as the party's nominee, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey, but the poll also found deep unease with Mr. Gingrich among independents and swing voters who normally decide presidential elections. LINK

OTHER / GOP The Washington Times' Stephen Dinan: " GOP ties payroll tax to pipeline" House Republicans voted Tuesday to give President Obama the payroll-tax-cut extension he desperately wants, but only if he accepts major changes to unemployment benefits and speeds up a decision on building the Keystone XL pipeline, which the administration has sought to delay until after the 2012 election. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Seema Mehta: " Down the stretch, Perry plans a big push in Iowa" Struggling to ignite his sputtering presidential campaign, Rick Perry is aggressively courting Iowa's socially conservative voters over the airwaves and, in a 44-city, 14-day bus trip beginning Wednesday, hopes to make the pitch personal. The tour, full of stops on Main Streets and at the state's ubiquitous Pizza Ranch restaurants, is the kind of politicking that Iowans expect and in which Perry excels. The move follows a sharp shift in Perry's central campaign argument, from one focused on jobs to an effort overtly keyed to evangelical voters. LINK

New York Daily News' Alison Gendar: " Ron Paul within a point of Newt Gingrich in Iowa: poll" Don't place that final bet yet in the Republican Iowa primary - a new poll shows Texas Libertarian Congressman Ron Paul closing in on frontrunner Newt Gingrich. Over the past week, Gingrich's 9-point lead has shrunk to a single point over the folksy Paul, according to Public Policy Poling. Gingrich is clinging to a narrow 22% to 21% edge over Paul, with Mitt Romney at 16%, Michele Bachmann at 11%, Rick Perry at 9%, Rick Santorum at 8%, Jon Huntsman at 5%, and Gary Johnson at 1 LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEO Gingrich, Romney spouses in the spotlight LINK Romney took away jobs LINK

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