The Note's Must-Reads for Tuesday, March 13, 2012

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

Compiled by ABC News' Jayce Henderson, Jacqueline Fernandez and Amanda VanAllen

PRESIDENT OBAMA: ABC News' Devin Dwyer: " Confident Man: President Obama Sheds 'Underdog' Status" When it comes to the fight to keep his job, President Obama doesn't appear fazed by the specter of rising gas prices, an increasingly treacherous war in Afghanistan, or biting attacks from his Republican opponents. Instead, as Obama has been unambiguously telling Americans, he's got a lock on a second term in the White House. LINK

The New York Times' Dalia Sussman: " President Recapturing Groups Won by G.O.P. in 2010" While President Obama is locked in a tight race for re-election, the latest New York Times/CBS News poll found him faring well against the top Republican candidates among some important groups that abandoned Congressional Democrats in 2010. LINK

The Washington Post's Steven Mufson: " Voters blame president for gas prices, experts say not so fast" How much does the president have to do with the price of gasoline? A lot, say American voters. According to oil experts and economists, not so much - at least in the short term. Today's oil prices are the product of years and decades of exploration, automobile design and ingrained consumer habits combined with political events in places such as Sudan and Libya, anxiety about possible conflict with Iran, and the energy aftershocks of last year's earthquake in Japan.   LINK

MITT ROMNEY / RICK SANTORUM: The Washington Times' Seth McLaughlin: " Who says Romney can't win in the South?" The showdown between Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich over which candidate is the true "conservative alternative" to Mitt Romney was supposed to be the big story in Tuesday's GOP contests in Alabama and Mississippi - but polls show the former Massachusetts governor is poised to rewrite the narrative that he can't win in the Deep South. LINK

The New York Daily News' Rheana Murray: " Pro-Santorum pastor wants Romney to renounce his 'racist' Mormon faith" A Florida pastor is calling for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to publicly renounce his "racist Mormon religion." Rev. O'Neal Dozier, a supporter of fellow GOPer Rick Santorum, also insisted that the former governor of Massachusetts should bow out from the presidential race. LINK

SOUTHERN PRIMARIES: ABC News' Matthew Jaffe: " GOP's Long Primary Slog Set for Southern Swing in Alabama and Mississippi" The long slog that the Republican presidential primary has become will swing through the Deep South Tuesday when voters in Alabama and Mississippi head to the polls, but a decisive result of any kind seems unlikely to say the least. For frontrunner Mitt Romney, who appears all but certain to secure the nomination eventually, a victory in either state would be a massive boost, giving him a sorely needed southern success. LINK

USA Today's Catalina Camia: " Polls: Three-way tossup in Alabama, Mississippi" Hold on to your hats because it looks like the Alabama and Mississippi primaries tomorrow are going to be close. Newt Gingrich has a slight lead over Mitt Romney, 33% to 31%, among likely Republican voters in Mississippi, according to surveys by Public Policy Polling. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Janet Hook and Patrick O'Connor: " GOP Race Tightens in South" Mitt Romney on Monday urged Alabama voters to help him bag a surprise win, while Rick Santorum downplayed his chances in the region, in yet more signs of how the Republican presidential race has taken an unexpected turn in the Deep South. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Michael Finnegan and John Hoeffel: " Republicans make final push before Southern primaries" Reporting from Biloxi, Miss., and Tuscaloosa, Ala.- The top three Republicans running for president closed their Mississippi and Alabama campaigns Monday with distinctly different appeals in the staunchly conservative Southern states, whose verdicts in Tuesday's primaries could alter the course of the party's nominating season. LINK

OTHER: Bloomberg's Greg Giroux: " Super-PACs Dominate GOP Ads in Alabama, Miss." Television advertisements in Alabama and Mississippi promoting rival Republican presidential contenders have been paid for almost entirely by independent political action committees instead of the candidates' campaigns.  So-called Super-PACs supplied 91 percent of the 5,592 campaign ads that aired on broadcast television stations in the two states in the past month, according to data from New York- based Kantar Media's CMAG, which tracks advertising. LINK

The Hill's Kevin Bogardus: " Liberal groups vow to expose corporate money in campaigns" Liberal interest groups, watchdogs and unions on Monday threatened to boycott, protest and publicly embarrass corporations that spend money trying to sway the outcome of the November election.   Gathered Monday at the Washington headquarters of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the groups issued a call to arms for the 2012 campaign, vowing to aggressively challenge companies that contribute to super-PACs and 501(c) nonprofit groups. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEOS: " Romney Wants Hugs From 'Just the Girls'" LINK

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