The Note’s Must-Reads for Monday, February 13, 2012

By Amanda VanAllen

Feb 13, 2012 4:07am

 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’ Jacqueline Fernandez, Amanda VanAllen, Carrie Halperin and Ben Waldron

RICK SANTORUM
ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos: “Rick Santorum Says Mitt Romney Is ‘Desperate’; GOP Contest Will Be ‘Two Person Race’ By March” Still riding high off of his three-win streak in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado last week, Rick Santorum blasted Republican rival Mitt Romney on Sunday, saying the GOP frontrunner was getting “desperate” by trying to paint Santorum as anything less than a true conservative. “For him to suggest that I’m not the conservative in this race — you know, there’s — you reach a point where desperate people do desperate things,” Santorum told me on “This Week.” LINK

The Los Angeles Times’ Robin Abcarian: “Rick Santorum defends views on working women” Rick Santorum, still enjoying a surge in fundraising and attention after winning three states last week in the battle for the Republican presidential nomination, pushed back Sunday against the idea that his socially conservative views could alienate working women. Many pundits have suggested that Santorum’s views on gay marriage, abortion, contraception and working women could present formidable obstacles in attracting moderate and independent voters if he were to become the GOP nominee. LINK

MICHIGAN PRIMARY
The Wall Street Journal’s Neil King Jr.: “GOP Momentum is Michigan’s Prize” Michigan is emerging as the next big battleground in the 2012 Republican presidential contest as the leading contenders, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, duel for momentum heading into the pivotal month of March. Coming off his three wins last week, Mr. Santorum plans to wager heavily on challenging Mr. Romney in his native state, which the former Massachusetts governor won easily in 2008 and has been favored to win again on Feb. 28. LINK

MITT ROMNEY
Politico’s Jonathan Martin: “Romney worked the CPAC straw poll” Mitt Romney’s campaign, in need of a boost following a trio of losses last Tuesday, shelved their “no straw polls” policy and worked to win the CPAC vote. A Republican source confirms to me that Romney’s camp bought registrations at CPAC to ensure their victory at the straw poll. There was also a more visible presence LINK

The Hill’s Alexander Bolton: “Romney backers in Congress second-guessing campaign“  Supporters of Mitt Romney on Capitol Hill are second-guessing his campaign strategy after he got beaten soundly in thee contests this past week. They say the setback in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado put more pressure on Romney to win decisively in Michigan and Arizona on Feb. 28 to avert a messy and prolonged fight for the nomination.  LINK

The Washington Post’s Amy Shipley: “Romney’s Olympics Contributions Questioned”  Thirteen years ago, as details of an international bribery scandal came to light, federal investigators and news reporters swarmed to the downtown offices of this city’s 2002 Winter Games organizing committee. Top management officials resigned. Potential sponsors bolted. Morale sank. Robert Garff, chairman of the Salt Lake City Olympic committee, sought a “white knight” to lead the organization out of the humiliating mess. He homed in on Mitt Romney, a wealthy venture capitalist in Massachusetts who had lost a Senate race several years before. LINK

The NY Times’ Nicholas Confessore: “Romney Runs as an Outsider but Makes Room for Lobbyists.” They have hosted fund-raisers and raised millions of dollars for his campaign. They employed some of his top operatives after his first White House run, helped create the platform for his second bid and have deployed regularly to attack his Republican rivals on the campaign trail. For a candidate running against the entrenched interests of Washington, Mitt Romney keeps an awful lot of lobbyists around. LINK

RON PAUL
The Washington Times’ Seth McLaughlin “Republicans see need to give Paul a voice“Rep. Ron Paul and his loyal band of supporters were uncharacteristically missing from the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington last week — and high-profile Republican leaders say the party can’t afford for that to happen in November if the GOP is to win the White House. They pointed to, and applauded, the 76-year-old Texan’s unique ability to attract young, independent and first-time voters, giving his campaign a consistent level of energy and enthusiasm that is sometimes lacking in the other presidential camps.  LINK

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