The Note's Must-Reads for Friday May 18, 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' Carrie Halperin and Amanda VanAllen

MITT ROMNEY ABC News' Matt Negrin: " Mitt Romney Defends His Wright Quote: 'I Stand by What I Said, Whatever It Was'" What began as the resurrection of one of the most animated characters in the 2008 campaign on Thursday ended with Mitt Romney being forced to answer to reporters and consequently offer up a flub of an answer on whether he supports negative ads. After a leaked "super PAC" proposal to make ads about President Obama's former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Romney tried to distance himself from the document, saying it was the "wrong course." LINK

The Boston Globe's Michal Rezendes: " Banking sector puts its money on Mitt Romney" When the head of JPMorgan Chase met with shareholders to answer for a trading loss of more than $2 billion Tuesday, it was against an evolving political backdrop: Donors from big banks are betting on Mitt Romney to defeat President Obama and repeal new restraints on risky, large-scale investments. "There's no doubt that there's been a big diminution of support for the president," said William M. Daley, Obama's former chief of staff and a former top JPMorgan Chase executive. LINK

The New York Daily News'  Alison Gendar and Jonathan Lemire: " Mitt Romney denounces a 'proposal' by conservative billionaire Joe Ricketts' Super PAC to resurrect the Rev. Jeremiah Wright as a campaign issue" Mitt Romney basked in the satisfaction of an impressive cash haul Thursday - but then had to rebuke a right-wing group for a planned raced-based attack on President Obama. Conservative billionaire Joe Ricketts allegedly plotted to have his Super PAC run $10 million in TV ads to resurrect the 2008 campaign issue of Obama's past connection to racially incendiary pastor Jeremiah Wright. LINK

USA Today's Jackie Kucinich and Catalina Camia: " Romney, RNC take in $40 million in April" Mitt Romney and the Republican Party raised a combined $40.1 million in April, a figure that nearly matches the Democratic haul last month and shows the Republican Party coalescing around its presumptive nominee.  LINK

RACIAL ISSUES Politico's Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman: " With memo, race issue flares in campaign" Race has suddenly become a flashpoint in the 2012 presidential race - with the Obama campaign on Thursday accusing Mitt Romney of "reacting tepidly" to a secret plan that would play up Barack Obama's race and his connections to controversial pastor Jeremiah Wright. In one of the most intense and emotional confrontations since Romney emerged as the de facto Republican nominee, the former Massachusetts governor first backhandedly, then more forcefully rejected a GOP consultant's plan that would have launched a $10 million ad blitz Democrats think reeked of racism. LINK

The Washington Posts' Karen Tumulty and Rosalind S. Helderman: " Mitt Romney distances himself from racially fueled proposal to attack Obama" Mitt Romney wants to talk about the economy. But his ostensible allies keep interrupting him, and his own party is threatening to drown him out. A reality of modern campaigning is that any candidate - even one as buttoned-down and disciplined as Romney - has to contend with stronger political crosswinds than in the past. LINK

 Bloomberg's Julie Hirschfeld and Jonathan D. Salant: " Wealthy Donor Refused to Fund Race-Tinged Obama Attack" Mitt Romney denounced a plan drafted by Republican strategists to run a racially tinged advertising campaign against President Barack Obama focusing on his former pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright Jr.  "I want to make it very clear I repudiate that effort," Romney told reporters today after a campaign event in Jacksonville, Florida. "I hope that our campaigns can respectively be about the future and about issues and about a vision for America." LINK 

SUPER PAC The New York Times' Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg: " G.O.P. 'Super PAC' Weighs Hard-Line Attack on Obama" A group of high-profile Republican strategists is working with a conservative billionaire on a proposal to mount one of the most provocative campaigns of the "super PAC" era and attack President Obama in ways that Republicans have so far shied away from. Timed to upend the Democratic National Convention in September, the plan would "do exactly what John McCain would not let us do," the strategists wrote. LINK


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