The Note’s Must-Reads for Wednesday, March 28, 2012

By Jayce Henderson

Mar 28, 2012 3:44am

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, Amanda VanAllen, Carrie Halperin, and Alicia Tejada

MITT ROMNEY:
ABC News’ Greg Holyk: “Record Number See Romney Negatively; Obama Outpaces Him in Popularity” Mitt Romney trails Barack Obama by 19 points in basic popularity as the 2012 presidential contest inches closer to the main event, with a record 50 percent of Americans in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll now rating Romney unfavorably overall. Thirty-four percent hold a favorable opinion of Romney, the lowest for any leading presidential candidate in ABC/Post polls in primary seasons since 1984. LINK

The Washington Times’ Seth McLaughlin: “Romney faces hurdle gaining Hispanic votes” GOP front-runner Mitt Romney’s pledge to stick to the positions he has taken on the primary trail could hurt him in a general election matchup with President Obama, particularly with Hispanic voters over the question of immigration. LINK

Bloomberg’s Lisa Lerer and Kathleen Hunter:  “Romney Gains Backers as Party Leaders Push to End Race“  Republican leaders across the party’s ideological spectrum are lining up behind front-runner Mitt Romney in an escalating effort to conclude the presidential primary battle and close ranks before the general election.  Even as Rick Santorum vowed from the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court (1000L) to continue his challenge to Romney, calls for an end to the contest echoed yesterday across Capitol Hill.  LINK

The Los Angeles Times’ Maeve Reston:  “Romney plays it straight with Leno on ‘Tonight Show’” Making his first turn on NBC’s “Tonight Show” this election cycle, Mitt Romney mostly played the straight man Tuesday — but allowed himself a jab at his rival Rick Santorum for losing his cool over the weekend. Santorum created a kerfuffle by scolding New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny in Wisconsin on Sunday after the journalist asked him to clarify his remark during a speech that Romney was “the worst Republican in the country” to run against President Obama. LINK

RICK SANTORUM:
ABC News’ Arlette Saenz: “Santorum Says Gingrich Cutbacks Prove It’s a Two-Person Race” Rick Santorum said he understands the financial pressures that led Newt Gingrich to cut a third of his staff and to scale back on his campaign events, and said the news this evening is more evidence that the Republican presidential chase is a two-person race. “One of the things I was told very early on in presidential politics is that you run for president as long as the money hangs on. LINK

USA Today’s Catalina Camia: “Santorum raises money off clash with reporter” Rick Santorum continues to raise money off his heated exchange with a New York Times reporter, this time invoking words of support from Sarah Palin. “I think it is high time that conservatives find the courage to expose the media for what they are: defenders and enablers of Obama’s liberal agenda,” Santorum wrote in his fundraising pitch. LINK

NEWT GINGRICH:
The Washington Post’s Nia-Malika Henderson and Aaron Blake: “Newt Gingrich scales back campaign” Newt Gingrich, who once led the Republican presidential field only to see his standing diminished after a string of losses, will reduce his campaign schedule and lay off a third of his staff in a strategy shift that underscores his fading chances of claiming the party’s nomination. LINK

The Boston Globe’s Kasie Hunt: “Newt Gingrich scales back his campaign“  Newt Gingrich is dramatically curtailing his campaign schedule and laying off about a third of his campaign staff as he focuses on a last-ditch effort to win the Republican presidential nomination at the convention in Tampa.  LINK

Politico’s Mike Allen and Ginger Gibson:  “Exclusive: Newt Gingrich cuts staff, aims at Tampa“  Newt Gingrich is cutting back his campaign schedule, will lay off about a third of his cash-strapped campaign’s full-time staff, and has replaced his manager as part of what aides are calling a “big-choice convention” strategy, communications director Joe DeSantis told POLITICO. LINK

The Hill’s Justin Sink: “Gingrich reduces staff, cuts schedule in bid to save his campaign“  Newt Gingrich will reduce his campaign schedule and lay off a third of his staff in order to keep his presidential bid afloat until the Republican National Convention, according to a senior aide. Campaign manager Michael Krull, who took over after a mass resignation staged by staffers last June, will be replaced by deputy campaign manager Vince Haley. LINK

The Wall Street Journal’s Danny Yadron: “Newt Gingrich Cuts Staff, Replaces Manager” Newt Gingrich’s struggling and cash-strapped presidential campaign will lay off about a third of its staff, replace its manager and hit the road less often, campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond said Tuesday night. Campaign manager Michael Krull will be succeeded by Vince Haley, a longtime Gingrich aide. Mr. Hammond declined to specify which other staff members would be let go. Mr. Krull didn’t immediately return a request for comment. LINK

RON PAUL:
The New York Times’ Richard Oppel Jr.: “Strength and Weakness in the Campaign of Ron Paul” Whatever happened to Ron Paul? He came in second in the New Hampshire primary. He has raised more money than any Republican candidate except for Mitt Romney. His campaign rallies still draw thousands of fervent supporters, far more than any of his rivals’. College students give him rock-star treatment, and he is planning rallies at 30 campuses over two months. LINK

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