The Note's Must-Reads for Wednesday, April 11, 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, Amanda VanAllen, Carrie Halperin, and Erin McLaughlin

MITT ROMNEY: The New York Times' Trip Gabriel: " Romney Turns Attention to Obama, Focusing on Women's Job Losses" On the day that Rick Santorum withdrew from the race, Mitt Romney's turn toward the general election addressed one of his biggest vulnerabilities according to polls: a gender gap that shows women currently prefer President Obama by large margins. LINK

The Washington Times' Seth McLaughlin: " It's game on, with Obama as Romney's rival" The general election campaign unofficially kicked off Tuesday with Mitt Romney continuing to sharpen his criticism of President Obama, saying a second term for the incumbent would be dangerous because he is not being upfront about the policies he plans to pursue. LINK

Boston Globe's Glen Johnson: " With Santorum's exit, Romney completes nomination quest" In 2002, Mitt Romney triumphantly returned to Massachusetts as the savior of the trouble-plagued Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City. He elbowed aside acting Governor Jane Swift and won the state's GOP gubernatorial nomination on the strength of his reputation as a turnaround artist. He settled into office in January 2003. LINK

Bloomberg's John McCormick and Lisa Lerer: " Romney Could Feel Santorum Sting Even After Rival's Exit" Mitt Romney may continue to feel Rick Santorum's presence even as the former Pennsylvania senator exited the Republican presidential race, effectively assuring the front-runner's nomination. Santorum, who made his announcement yesterday, spent much of the last four months portraying Romney as a phony while offering himself as the candidate who best understood the needs of the lower middle-class. LINK

RICK SANTORUM: ABC News' Michael Falcone, Shushannah Walshe, and Arlette Saenz: " Why Rick Santorum Decided To Call It Quits" It was the perfect storm. Rick Santorum's decision to cut short his quest for the Republican presidential nomination on Tuesday came after an intense weekend of thought, prayer and conference calls. According to top sources in the campaign, the former Pennsylvania senator did not reach his decision until late Monday night after a series of conversations with his family and closest aides. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Colleen McCain, Danny Yadron and Patrick O'Connor: " Santorum Exits GOP Contest" Rick Santorum suspended his campaign for the White House on Tuesday, clearing the way for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to claim the Republican presidential nomination and end the primary season after three months and 37 contests. LINK

The Washington Post's Sandhya Somashekhar: " Santorum followed a clever, emotional strategy to political resurrection" Rick Santorum's journey did not take him to the White House. But it represented a stunning turnaround for the former senator from Pennsylvania, who rose from being a political castoff to reshape the Republican presidential race and resurrect his political fortunes. LINK

Politico's Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman: " Rick Santorum asks supporters: What's next?" The curtain had barely fallen on his 2012 presidential campaign before Rick Santorum asked his top supporters: what's next? With his insurgent White House bid, Santorum cut himself a path back to national prominence. Starting on the night of the Iowa caucuses and proceeding through a series of conservative Southern and Midwestern primary contests, Santorum gradually regained much of the standing he lost when the voters of Pennsylvania ran him out of office six years ago. LINK

The Hill's Daniel Strauss and Cameron Joseph: " Santorum exits GOP race, clears way for Romney nomination" Rick Santorum's exit from the presidential race on Tuesday essentially guaranteed Mitt Romney the Republican nomination and began the general-election phase of the campaign. The move, which came after a string of Romney primary wins and amid growing calls from the party for the former Pennsylvania senator to throw in the towel, also increased Santorum's standing within the party. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Seema Meeta: " Rick Santorum's departure from presidential race leaves future doors open" Rick Santorum's decision to leave the Republican presidential race boosted two candidacies: Mitt Romney was spared two more weeks of struggle before he could be crowned the presumptive nominee even as Santorum set the stage for a future run for office. LINK

The New York Daily News' Alison Gendar and Thomas M. Defrank: " Rick Santorum suspends campaign for 2012 Republican nomination" The inevitability is now the reality: Mitt vs. Bam for the White House. Rick Santorum's announcement Tuesday that he will stand down has cleared the way for Mitt Romney to declare victory - and launched the fall campaign with a vengeance.   LINK

NEWT GINGRICH: USA Today's Catalina Camia: " Newt Gingrich's check bounces for Utah ballot" Newt Gingrich insists his presidential campaign is going all the way to the GOP convention in Tampa. But first the candidate needs to get on the ballot in Utah. The Salt Lake Tribune reports Gingrich's $500 check to pay the filing fee has bounced. If the former House speaker doesn't pay up by April 20, the story says, his name won't appear on the ballot. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEOS: " Mitt Romney on Santorum Exit: 'Good Day for Me'" LINK " Rick Santorum Drops Out of 2012 Race, Full Speech" LINK

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