The Note’s Must-Reads for Friday, March 23, 2012

By Amanda VanAllen

Mar 23, 2012 3:54am

Compiled by ABC News’ Jayce Henderson, Amanda VanAllen, Carrie Halperin and Alicia Tejada

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

PRESIDENT OBAMA
ABC News’ Mary Bruce: “Obama Concludes Tour With Campaign-Style Pitch for Green Energy” President Obama wrapped up his two-day, four-state energy tour today with a rousing campaign-style speech in the battleground state of Ohio. The trip ended just as it began, with the president blasting Republicans who say more drilling is the best solution to spiking gas prices. LINK

The New York Daily News’ Aliyah Shahid:  ”Team Obama rips Rick Santorum for criticizing  Malia’s school trip to Mexico” Team Obama is hitting back at Rick Santorum for criticizing the dad-in-chief’s parenting skills.The President’s deputy campaign manager, Stephanie Cutter, said she’s astonished the Republican presidential candidate would criticize Obama for allowing his teen daughter to go on a school trip to Mexico. LINK

NEWT GINGRICH
ABC News’ Elicia Dover: “Gingrich Throws Romney Campaign Gaffe to the Alligators” Mitt Romney’s Etch-a-Sketch problem came up against a toy alligator in the hands of Newt Gingrich at a campaign stop here Thursday. The Republican presidential candidate was horsing around with a toy alligator head when he was handed an Etch-a-Sketch. LINK

The Hill’s Justin Sink “Campaign insists RNC rule won’t prevent Gingrich nomination” Newt Gingrich’s campaign emphasized Thursday that a Republican National Committee rule that could prohibit the former House Speaker for being eligible in the first round of voting at the Republican National Convention would not keep Gingrich from becoming the GOP nominee. LINK

MITT ROMNEY
The New York Times’ Michael Shear: “Romney Goes to Capitol Hill, Looking for Allies” Mitt Romney stepped up his efforts to rally Republicans around his candidacy on Thursday with several hours of private appeals to lawmakers on Capitol Hill and renewed pressure on his rivals to bow to political reality. LINK

The Washington Times’ Jennifer Harper: “Inside the Beltway: Lose-iana for Romney?” The short take on the Louisiana primary on Saturday: Pollsters predict that Mitt Romney will lose this one to Rick Santorum, who’s already wooed the Deep South with much down-home success. Numbers from a new Rasmussen Reports survey find Mr. Santorum in the lead with 43 percent of voter support, followed by Mr. Romney at 31 percent, Newt Gingrich at 16 percent and Rep. Ron Paul at 5 percent. LINK

The Wall Street Journal’s Cameron McWhirter and Siobhan Hughes: “Louisiana Unlikely to Join Romney Parade“  Republican leaders are increasingly closing ranks behind Mitt Romney as their party’s presidential nominee. But when this state goes to the polls on Saturday, expectations are high that it will register a note of dissent. LINK

Bloomberg’s Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Roxana Tiron: “Romney Fights Etch a Sketch Image in Bid to Seal Race” As he moves closer to clinching the Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney is facing fresh doubts about his commitment to core party principles after a top aide’s televised gaffe amplified critics’ charges that he is a political shape-shifter. The former Massachusetts governor is within reach of securing his party’s nod — well ahead of his rivals in convention delegates, polls and campaign cash after his win in the March 20 Illinois (BEESIL) primary.  LINK

Politico’s Jonathan Martin: “Mitt Romney lands prize on Hill visit“ Mitt Romney huddled privately with Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Thursday and came away with a big prize: something close to an endorsement from the Senate’s most outspoken conservative. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who backed Romney in 2008 but has remained on the sidelines this year as the former Massachusetts governor labors to win the nomination, said it’s time the rest of the field consider bowing to the inevitable. LINK

USA Today’s Jackie Kucinich: “Romney embraces delegate math again” Mitt Romney may not pay attention to the math that would effectively clinch the Republican nomination but his campaign sure does. In a memo released Thursday, titled “Rick Santorum—President Obama’s MVP,” Romney political director Rich Beeson said the former Massachusetts governor’s wins in Illinois and Puerto Rico “offered even greater clarity about where the race stands today.” LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEOS
Ann Romney on Campaign: ‘It’s Not About Toys’LINK

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