The Note’s Must-Reads for Friday, January 27, 2012

By Amanda VanAllen

Jan 27, 2012 3:04am

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 www.abcnews.com

Compiled by ABC News’ Jayce Henderson, Jacqueline Fernandez, Amanda VanAllen and Carrie Halperin.

ROMNEY/GINGRICH
ABC News’ Michael Falcone and Amy Walter: “Analysis: Mitt Romney Wins Florida Debate, Newt Gingrich Looks Rattled And Uneven” On Thursday night Mitt Romney finally looked like a candidate who wants to win this election. On the debate stage Romney was confident and focused. More important, he was aggressive and disciplined, and never allowed his chief rival, Newt Gingrich, to get the upper hand. LINK

USA Today’s Susan Page and Jackie Kucinich “Romney and Gingrich come out swinging in latest debate” Republican presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich came out swinging Thursday night over their views on exploring space and dealing with Cuba, managing their personal finances and running their political campaigns in a debate five days before a pivotal Florida primary that may sort out their tumultuous competition. LINK

The New York Times’ Jim Rutenberg and Jeff Zeleny: “Romney Stays On the Offense With Gingrich” Mitt Romney, facing his greatest challenge of the campaign so far, relentlessly pressed Newt Gingrich on Thursday night in their final debate before the Florida primary, seeking to regain the offensive against an insurgent challenge that has shaken his claim to inevitability. LINK

The Los Angeles Times’ Paul West and Seema Mehta: “Aggressive Mitt Romney gets the best of Newt Gingrich in Florida debate“Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney aiming for a knockout blow in next week’s Florida primary, tore into Newt Gingrich in a televised debate Thursday night and vigorously defended his personal wealth as an asset in his presidential campaign.  Romney was aggressive from the outset, starting with the issue of illegal immigration. Gingrich stood by a Spanish-language radio ad he had aired that said Romney was “anti-immigrant.” Gingrich withdrew the ad after being admonished by Florida’s popular Republican Sen. Marco Rubio. LINK

MITT ROMNEY
ABC News’ Huma Khan: “Mitt Romney Hits Newt Gingrich on ‘Anti-Immigrant’ Line: ‘Repulsive’ and ‘Inexcusable’” Mitt Romney came out swinging in a highly-charged debate tonight that saw the former Massachusetts governor and Newt Gingrich clash with each other on a number of issues, from immigration to taxes to their connections to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.  Romney was quick to pounce on Gingrich and dominated much of the debate, which focused heavily on issues of concern to Florida’s Hispanic voters — namely, immigration and relations with Cuba. LINK

The Washington Times’ Seth McLaughlin: “Romney, Gingrich clash over immigration in Florida debate” Newt Gingrich played the role of political pinata in the debate here Thursday as his Republican rivals whacked away at his stances on immigration, previous support of a federal health care mandate and recent call for a new moon base — all just five days out from the state’s all-important presidential primary. LINK

The Boston Globe’s Christopher Rowland: “Romney turns more aggressive” Mitt Romney set out in Florida this week to prove that he could get down in the trenches and duke it out with Newt Gingrich. Last night, the former business turnaround expert left his uncertain performances of South Carolina behind and put his reengineered style on display.  LINK

NEWT GINGRICH
The Wall Street Journals’ Neil King Jr.: “Gingrich Leading as Fight Intensifies” Newt Gingrich is outpacing Mitt Romney among Republican voters nationwide, but he also is showing evidence of the vulnerabilities that could hurt the former House speaker in a general election, according to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. With the two rivals fighting it out in Florida after Mr. Gingrich’s big South Carolina victory last week, the poll found Republicans nationwide favoring Mr. Gingrich 37% to 28% over Mr. Romney. LINK

The Washington Post’s Joel Achenbach: “Is Newt Gingrich’s space plan science fiction?” The moon, a thin crescent, hovered in the western sky like a crystal bowl ready to catch a falling star. Cheers filled the air as Newt Gingrich’s campaign bus eased out of the parking lot of the Holiday Inn Express. He had just made an astonishing vow: By the end of his second term as president, the U.S. flag would once again be planted on the moon. America, he said, would have a permanent lunar base. LINK

RICK SANTORUM
The Hill’s Cameron Joseph: “Santorum scolds Gingrich, Romney for personal attacks” Rick Santorum defended both Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney for their past careers but blasted them both for attacking each other during Thursday night’s GOP debate. “These two gentlemen who are out distracting from the most important issues we have by playing petty personal politics,” Santorum said after Gingrich and Romney exchanged a heated back-and-forth on mortgage giant Freddie Mac.  LINK

GOP DEBATE
Politico’s Maggie Haberman: “Florida GOP debate: 7 takeaways” This was Newt Gingrich’s last chance to shine on the big stage before Tuesday. It did not go as hoped. Gingrich and Mitt Romney were supposed to be the main attractions, but Rick Santorum and Ron Paul won notice at the 19th GOP debate, hosted by CNN at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. LINK

 ABC NEWS VIDEOS:
“Newt Gingrich Attacks Romney on ‘Mud’ Ads” LINK

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