The Note’s Must-Reads for Friday, February 17, 2012

By Amanda VanAllen

Feb 17, 2012 3:17am

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’ Amanda VanAllen, Carrie Halperin and Alicia Tejada

MICHIGAN PRIMARY
ABC News’ Shushannah Walshe: “Rick Santorum, Ann Romney Tout Coal Mining Grandfathers and Rust Belt Roots in Michigan” Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are not known to agree, at least not recently, as they are waging an all out battle to win the Michigan primary, but this evening it was Santorum and Ann Romney who both spoke of a common family trait: their coalmining grandfathers. “My grandfather never saw the sun for six days a week, and it was on Sunday when they spent a lot of time in church that he saw the sun,” Ann Romney said of her Welsh grandfather. LINK

The Los Angeles Times’ Paul West and Seema Mehta: “Santorum and Romney are neck and neck in Michigan” Reporting from Detroit and Farmington Hills, Mich.— With a new poll showing a virtual dead heat in Michigan’s presidential primary, the leading Republican candidates veered Thursday from defensiveness to discomfort. Rick Santorum was forced to respond to attacks from Mitt Romney’s campaign on his fiscal conservatism and past support for organized labor. He said he offered “a vision” and was not “someone who’s just good at tearing other people down.” LINK

USA Today’s Jackie Kucinich: “Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum put emphasis on Michigan” The fight to win the presidential primary in Michigan took center stage on Thursday as both Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum made high-profile appearances and high-dollar ad buys in the hopes of securing an advantage there. Michigan’s Feb. 28 primary has become more important after Santorum won contests last week in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri, and polls in Michigan and nationally have shown the former Pennsylvania senator surpassing Romney. LINK

RICK SANTORUM
ABC News’ Shushannah Walshe: “Pro-Santorum Super PAC Rolls Out New Ad, Stays Positive” The super PAC ad wars are now raging in Michigan. The pro-Santorum super PAC released a new ad that will be running in this state for the next five days. It enters rotation Thursday evening and it is a mostly positive commercial touting Santorum’s anti-abortion rights record, calling him a “champion for life,” and saying he will create jobs and “cut wasteful spending.” LINK

ROMNEY/PAUL
New York Times’ Richard A. Oppel Jr. “Amid Rivalry, Friendship Blossoms on the Campaign Trail” Once there was a challenge of a softball game from the Ron Paul clan to the Mitt Romney clan. “They didn’t show up,” Mr. Paul says. “We didn’t schedule it. We really razz them about that, ‘You guys chickened out!’ “  LINK

OBAMA
The Hill’s Amie Parnes: “Obama and Al Green stay together but the president won’t sing” President Obama had a chance to use his pipes and sing another Al Green tune at a fundraiser Thursday night but he passed up the opportunity.Obama — who made headlines last month for singing the first line of Green’s popular hit “Let’s Stay Together,” at the famed Apollo Theater in New York — could have sung a duet with Green, who attended a fundraiser here on Thursday night. LINK

The Wall Street Journal’s Peter Nicholas: “Obama Campaign Weighs Santorum” President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign has begun discussing whether to attack Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum and try to define him for a general-election audience, potentially breaking from its focus on Mitt Romney. Obama campaign aides are stepping up their examination of Mr. Santorum’s record to assess his vulnerabilities and consider how their strategy might change if he becomes the GOP nominee.   LINK

SARAH PALIN
The New York Daily News’ Jonathan Lemire: “Sarah Palin: GOP nominee will be picked by bosses, not voters” Sarah Palin believes the wild GOP nominating race could be headed to a brokered convention — and she wouldn’t rule out throwing her name in the ring. Palin noted a lack of “enthusiasm” for any one Republican candidate and suggested that when the party bosses meet in Tampa in late August, the GOP may not yet have settled on a nominee. LINK

CONGRESS
Politico’s Alex Isenstadt “Hispanics poised for big gains on Hill”  Hispanics are poised for major gains in Congress this fall, ensuring a boost to their clout on Capitol Hill.  Latinos are positioned to seize at least a handful of new House seats, thanks to redistricting. California has three new Hispanic-majority districts, and Texas, depending on the final outcome of legal wrangling over congressional maps, is expected to have one or two. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEOS
Santorum on Bailouts: ‘Obama Just Following Suit’LINK
Elie Wiesel Criticizes Mitt RomneyLINK

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