The Note's Must-Reads for Monday October 1, 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 Jayce Henderson

SENATE RACES USA Today's Fredreka Schouten: " Outside Money Pours into Senate Races." The ads have hit hard: In one, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown is slammed as an out-of-touch politician who saddled his state's manufacturers with higher taxes by voting for President Obama's health care law. In another, he is savaged for his "failed record on energy."The attacks are not coming from his opponent, state Treasurer Josh Mandel, but from a constellation of outside groups. In all, Brown has tallied more than $19 million spent against him - more than three times the amount that third-party groups have pumped into the race on his behalf. LINK

FIRST PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE ABC News' David Kerley: " GOP Sends Mixed Messages on Romney Debate Expectations:" New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, never one to be shy when it comes to speaking his mind, today predicted that Mitt Romney would turn the presidential race around in the upcoming debate with President Obama.Romney, who is down in new polls both nationwide and in the battleground states of Iowa and Ohio, needs to do well in the debate Wednesday in order to gain momentum as the campaign heads into its final stretch. LINK

Politico's Glenn Thrush: " Obama: I'm just an 'OK' debater:" Barack Obama wants you to know that he's a really not so great as a debater. As part of his week-long effort to lower expectations ahead of Wednesday's first Obama-Romney debate in Denver - an obligatory ritual even the campaigns find tiresome - the president informed a crowd of 11,200 here Sunday night not to expect too much. LINK

The New York Times' John Harwood: " Debates Can Shift a Race's Outcome, but It's Not Easy." History shows that candidates have different ways to score through presidential debates: the forceful put-down, the surprising show of skill, the opponent's fumble, superior post-debate tactics. But it also shows that to fundamentally alter the direction of a campaign, a candidate usually has to accomplish all of those things. LINK

MITT ROMNEY The Boston Globe's Matt Viser: " Romney must change dynamics of race drastically to win" Mitt Romney enters the final 37 days of the presidential campaign in desperate need of a change - and fast - as President Obama's standing grows among swing state voters. Heading into perhaps the most crucial week of the general election, Romney is turning to the first presidential debate on Wednesday night and an updated jobs report 36 hours later as a chance to try to jolt his campaign after a three-week period that has left his supporters dispirited. LINK

PRESIDENT OBAMA The Hill's Mike Lillis: " McCain calls Obama 'inept' and 'ignorant' in reaction to Libya attack" Republicans continued this weekend to hammer the Obama administration over its response to the recent Libya attacks, with Sen. John McCain calling the president "inept" and "ignorant" in his handling of the episode. The Arizona Republican said the administration's initial claim that an anti-Muslim video incited the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was political spin that "doesn't pass the smell test." LINK

The LA Times' Kathleen Hennessey: " President Obama hits Nevada for debate practice " President Obama landed in southern Nevada on Sunday, where after a Sunday night rally he'll hunker down to prepare for his first debate against GOP rival Mitt Romney. Obama will be cramming for the Wednesday debate at Lake Las Vegas, a resort community in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson. LINK

The Washington Times' Stephen Dinan: " Obama widens lead, confidence against Romney" President Obama has opened a sizable lead over Mitt Romney in polling ahead of the election as both Democrats and Republicans are increasingly convinced that he is going to win re-election, according to The Washington Times/Zogby Poll released Sunday. In the latest poll, Mr. Obama drew 49.7 percent support while the Republican nominee garnered 41.1 percent. The previous Times/ Zogby polls showed the race a dead heat - including just before the national party conventions, when they were tied with 45.7 percent of the vote each. LINK

CAMPAIGN 2012 The Wall Street Journal's Laura Meckler: " Campaigns Search for Elusive Early Voters" With early voting under way in Iowa and about to begin in Ohio, the voters the two presidential campaigns are working hardest to motivate are a challenging group: those least likely to vote in the first place. President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney are making a broad push to lock in as many votes now as they can. LINK

The Washington Post's Jon Cohen and Dan Balz: " Tight race nationally as first debate approaches" On the eve of the first presidential debate, President Obama leads or is at parity with Mitt Romney on virtually every major issue and attribute in what remains a competitive general election, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. The new survey also highlights an emerging dynamic in the race: the disparity between the state of the race nationally and in battleground states, where campaigning and advertising by the two candidates has been most intense and where the election will be decided. LINK

OHIO BALLOTING Bloomberg's Margaret Cronin Fisk and Tom Schoenberg: " Democrats Target Ohio Ballot Rule as Republican Laws Fall." Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine's bid to preserve a law disqualifying provisional election ballots filed in the wrong precinct comes before a federal appeals court next week in the so-called battleground state. The 2006 measure is one of two voter regulations being litigated in the court. Similar laws were enacted by Republican- dominated legislatures across the country after the 2008 election - laws aimed in part at fighting voter fraud, proponents argued. Opponents contend they are a thinly veiled effort to limit votes for Democratic candidates. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEO " Mitt Romney, President Obama Ready Themselves for Debate" LINK

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