The Note’s Must-Reads for Thursday January 26, 2012

By Amanda VanAllen

Jan 26, 2012 3:29am

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.

NEWT GINGRICH
ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe: “Gingrich Asked About Marital Past, Role In Clinton Impeachment” Newt Gingrich today was forced to confront head-on charges of hypocrisy after last week he angrily dismissed questions about his extra-marital conduct when a little over a decade earlier, as Speaker of the House, he had led impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton for his own affair. “When you were Speaker of the House, you criticized President Clinton for having an extramarital affair,” Univision correspondent Jorge Ramos said to Gingrich during a forum Wednesday in Miami. LINK

ABC News’ Jonathan Karl: “Newt To the Moon” Newt Gingrich really wants to go to the moon — and to Mars.  And he would give statehood to a space colony, if it had a big enough population. But before a I get to that, a quick note about Gingrich’s crowds in Florida:  They are enormous and they are enthusiastic. LINK

USA Today’s Jackie Kucinich: “Gingrich touts moon base, Mars travel in Florida” Newt Gingrich told several thousand people today there will be a “permanent base on the moon” and other revolutionary space-focused programs by the end of his second term as president. The GOP presidential candidate said he had “a romantic belief it is really part of our destiny,” adding that the current state of the space program is a “tragedy.” LINK

The Washington Times’  Lori Montgomery: “”Gingrich opens door for illegal immigrants“  Fighting to curry favor with Florida’s large pool of Hispanic voters, Newt Gingrich on Wednesday called for a guest-worker program for most illegal immigrants, but his campaign could not say whether those people would be on a path to citizenship – the key question in the immigration debate.  Under close questioning by Univision’s political host, Jorge Ramos, Mr. Gingrich said he would grant quick citizenship rights to illegal immigrants who join the military or to those who have been in the U.S. between 20 and 25 years. He said the rest of the estimated 11 million should be given access to a guest-worker program. LINK

MITT ROMNEY
The Wall Street Journal’s Neil King Jr. and Sara Murray: “Romney Battles Likability Deficit” Mitt Romney is working hard to make voters dislike Newt Gingrich and President Barack Obama. But Mr. Romney has yet to crack a tougher nut: persuading voters to like him. The likability challenge has dogged the former Massachusetts governor for years. Voters applaud his competence, his business record and his image as a family man. “But it has been very hard for him to translate all that into likability,” said Sally Bradshaw, a Florida GOP strategist who helped manage the Romney campaign there in 2008 but is unaligned this year. LINK

The Boston Globe’s Brian C. Mooney: “Romney money edge washed away in Fla.” With at least $15 million already pouring into advertising for the last week of the campaign, next Tuesday’s Florida primary looms as a potential death match in the Republican presidential nominating contest. A $5 million contribution from the wife of casino baron Sheldon Adelson to a super PAC supporting Newt Gingrich has all but erased the huge media advantage enjoyed by rival Mitt Romney. LINK

The Hill’s Alexander Bolton: “Rubio gets off the 2012 bench” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) stepped into the fight for the Republican primary vote in Florida on Wednesday, lending his star power to help Mitt Romney beat back an attack on his immigration stance.  Rubio, who has pledged neutrality in the race and is considered the odds-on favorite to be the GOP’s vice presidential nominee, chastised Newt Gingrich’s campaign for airing a Spanish-language radio ad that labeled Romney “the most anti-immigration candidate.”  LINK

ROMNEY/GINGRICH
The Washington Post’s Sandhya Somashekhar and Amy Gardner: “Romney, Gingrich trade attacks on immigration” The Republican presidential race turned into a pitched battle for Hispanic voters on Wednesday, with Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney hurling insults over immigration policy as each looked for ways to court a critical constituency. LINK

LATINO VOTE
Politico’s Juana Summers and Ginger Gibson: “Florida primary 2012: Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney hone Hispanic pitches” As the race for Florida tightens, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich spent Wednesday trying to persuade the Hispanic community that they aren’t hostile to immigrants. In separate interviews with Univision’s Jorge Ramos, the two Republicans fought over who had the more humane immigration policy and whether Gingrich was pandering when he dubbed Romney “anti-immigrant.” LINK

The Los Angeles Times’ Alana Semuels, Paul West and Seema Mehta: “Romney and Gingrich battle for Florida’s Latino vote” Mitt Romney is defending an increasingly precarious position among Florida’s Latino voters, a key voting bloc whose growth and diversity has complicated efforts to unify it behind one prospective nominee in Tuesday’s Republican primary. Newt Gingrich opened the newest front against Romney on Wednesday by mocking his comment in Monday’s debate that illegal immigrants will “self-deport” when they can’t find jobs. Gingrich called Romney’s position an “Obama-level fantasy.” LINK

The New York Times’ Michael Shear & Trip Gabriel: “Candidates Scramble to Win Hispanic Votes in Florida” The leading Republican candidates spent Wednesday appealing for the votes of South Florida’s Hispanic voters, with the campaigns of Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich skirmishing over an advertisement that branded Mr. Romney as anti-immigration. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEOS:
Newt Gingrich Talks Moon Base, Space ExplorationLINK
Newt Gingrich Draws Huge Crowds in FloridaLINK

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