The Note's Must-Reads for Thursday, July 19, 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, and Carrie Halperin

PRESIDENT OBAMA: The New York Times' Jim Rutenbeg and Mahorie Connelly: " Economic Fears Hurting Obama, Poll Indicates" Declining confidence in the nation's economic prospects appears to be the most powerful force influencing voters as the presidential election gears up, undercutting key areas of support for President Obama and helping give his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, an advantage on the question of who would better handle the nation's economic challenges, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll. LINK

MITT ROMNEY: The Washington Times' David Sherfinski: " In Ohio, fired-up Romney pledges to 'fight for soul of America'" Mitt Romney brought his newly aggressive style of attack against President Obama to Ohio on Wednesday, hammering the president for his recent comments on small businesses and pledging to "fight for the soul of America" in the face of mounting pressure to release more of his tax returns. Mr. Romney, at a town hall meeting in Bowling Green, noted that Mr. Obama has held a hundred fundraisers in the past six months, but no public meetings of his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. LINK

USA Today's Jackie Kucinich: " Romney rejects 'monster' comment" Mitt Romney wasted no time telling a woman at an Ohio town hall meeting he disagreed with her characterization of President Obama as a "monster." The woman, who described herself as an "angry mom," used the term at Romney's campaign event in Bowling Green, Ohio, as she described how the economy had hurt her son's businesses. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Danny Yadron and Colleen McCain Nelson: " Group Comes to Romney's Defense" In the exchange of attack ads that is defining the presidential race, Mitt Romney has been hindered by a feature of campaign-finance law. While Mr. Romney is outraising President Barack Obama, much of his money can't be used until he formally becomes the GOP nominee. LINK

The Boston Globe's Callum Borchers: " Mitt Romney surrogate says he wishes President Obama 'would learn how to be an American'" The Mitt Romney campaign struck a nerve Tuesday when oft-used surrogate John Sununu said he wished President Obama "would learn how to be an American" - an attack that conjured the belief among some conservatives that Obama was not born in the United States. The remark by Sununu, the former governor of New Hampshire, overshadowed the rest of a conference call with reporters that sought to focus attention on federal dollars given to Obama donors. LINK

The Washington Posts' Philip Rucker and Dan Eggen: " Romney's London fundraisers will take him to heart of scandal-plagued banking industry" Mitt Romney's overseas trip next week will take him to the heart of London's scandal-ridden banking industry, as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee holds two campaign fundraisers hosted by lobbyists and executives from more than two dozen financial institutions. The hosts of Romney's high-dollar reception and dinner on July 26 overwhelmingly represent banks, hedge funds and other financial institutions, some of which are embroiled in the Libor rate-fixing scandal. LINK

ANN ROMNEY: ABC News' Jonathan Karl: " DNC Regrets Offending Ann Romney, No More Horse Videos" It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now the Democratic National Committee is offering an apology of sorts to Ann Romney. At issue is a DNC video featuring footage of Ann Romney's dancing show horse. The DNC used the horse in mocking way to attack Mitt Romney for not releasing his tax returns (and dancing around the issue). LINK

DEMOCRATS / OTHER: The Hill's Bernie Becker: " Democrats hit Mitt with a tax bill" Congressional Democrats took aim at Mitt Romney on Wednesday by calling for legislation to require presidential candidates to disclose a decade of their tax returns and the value and location of accounts in tax-haven countries. The transparent effort to pressure Romney came from Democrats in the House and Senate, suggesting Congress's attention, more than ever, is on the 2012 fight for the White House. LINK

Politico's Stephanie Gaskell: " Retired SEAL launches anti-Obama PAC" A former member of the Navy's elite SEAL Team Six is launching an offensive against President Barack Obama. His weapon? A political action committee aimed at electing Mitt Romney.Ryan Zinke, now a Republican state senator in Montana, has created the PAC - aptly named Special Forces for America - to get Obama out of the White House. The president, the PAC announcement said, "conveniently took credit for killing Osama Bin Laden for political gain." LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEOS: " Tim Pawlenty on Mitt Romney's VP Pick" LINK

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