The Note's Must-Reads for Friday, February 7, 2014

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 and Janine Elliot

FOREIGN AFFAIRS / OLYMPICS ABC News' Mary Bruce: " Obama Explains Putin's Tough Guy 'Shtick'" President Obama thinks Russian President Vladimir Putin's "shtick" is to try to look like a "tough guy." Putin, after all, has carefully crafted a no-nonsense public image as a rugged outdoorsman. He's been photographed hunting, fishing and riding horses, all while bare-chested. Despite appearing standoffish in meetings with Obama, the U.S. president said his Russian counterpart has always treated him with "respect" and that "there's a surprising amount of humor" in their interactions. LINK

NY Times' Andrew Higgins and Peter Baker: " Russia Claims U.S. Meddling Over Ukraine" The tense Russian-American jockeying over the fate of Ukraine escalated on Thursday as a Kremlin official accused Washington of "crudely interfering" in the former Soviet republic, while the Obama administration blamed Moscow for spreading an intercepted private conversation between two American diplomats. An audiotape of the conversation appeared on the Internet and opened a window into American handling of the political crisis here, as the two diplomats candidly discussed the composition of a possible new government to replace the pro-Russian cabinet of Ukraine's president, Viktor F. Yanukovych. It also turned the tables on the Obama administration, which has been under fire lately for spying on foreign leaders. LINK

Bloomberg's Augustine Anthony, Daniel Ten Kate and Tom Lasseter: " Khan Sees Pakistani Taliban Talks Failing as Strike Looms" Pakistan peace talks with Taliban militants will probably fail and an ensuing military operation would lead to more terrorism, according to Imran Khan, head of the party that runs a province bordering Afghanistan.Negotiators representing Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government and Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan - known as the Pakistani Taliban, or TTP - called for a cease-fire yesterday after starting formal talks for the first time to end violence the government says has killed 40,000 Pakistanis since 2001. The TTP had named Khan as a negotiator, a post he turned down. LINK

USA Today's David Jackson: " Obama: We're working with Russia on Olympics security" President Obama said Thursday the United States is working with Russian authorities on security for a Winter Olympics that is shadowed by the threat of terrorism. "I think the Russians have an enormous stake, obviously, in preventing any kind of terrorist act or violence at these venues," Obama said in an interview with NBC Olympics, which is televising the Games in Sochi. "They have put a lot of resources into it." The United States is in "constant communications" with the Russians, Obama said, at the law enforcement, military and intelligence levels. LINK

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN The New York Daily News' Adam Edelman: " Vice President Biden blasts LaGuardia Airport as feeling like 'it's in some third world country'" Vice President Joe Biden, never one to hide what he's thinking, said Thursday that New York's LaGuardia Airport feels like it's "in some third world country." "If I blindfolded someone and took them at 2:00 in the morning into the airport in Hong Kong and said 'where do you think you are,' they'd say, 'this must be America, it's a modern airport,'" Biden said during a speech on infrastructure in Philadelphia. LINK

DEMOCRATS The Hill's Mike Lillis: " Pelosi: Obama won't drag down Dems" President Obama won't be a liability to Democratic candidates in this year's midterm elections, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday. Obama's approval ratings have dipped below 50 percent in most polls, leading the president reportedly to tell Senate Democrats this week that he'd avoid those places where a visit could harm a candidate's standing. But asked if the president might be "a drag" on the Democratic ticket, Pelosi didn't think twice. "Absolutely not," she said during a press briefing in the Capitol. "We're very proud of our president and what he stands for." LINK

Politico's Alexander Burns: " Democratic groups counter Kochs' Senate push" A collection of Democratic-aligned groups are launching a coordinated push in 2014 Senate races to counter heavy spending from the powerfully funded conservative organization Americans for Prosperity, Democratic strategists said Thursday evening. The nonprofit Patriot Majority USA will begin airing TV ads over the next week in North Carolina and Arkansas, home to two highly competitive Senate contests that have seen considerable outside spending on the right. In a third race, the Alaska-based super PAC Put Alaska First will air ads defending Democratic Sen. Mark Begich from an ad campaign initiated by AFP. Two other Democratic groups - Senate Majority PAC and the League of Conservation Voters - are already on the air in Iowa and New Hampshire, respectively. LINK

IMMIGRATION The Los Angeles Times' Lisa Mascaro and Brian Bennett: " Republicans back away from immigration reform" Just a week after Republicans raised hopes for a bipartisan overhaul of the nation's immigration laws, House Speaker John A. Boehner all but abandoned the effort Thursday, saying it would be "difficult" to get any legislation approved this year by his GOP majority. Boehner's sudden shift, coming after his high-profile unveiling last week of Republican immigration principles that were partly embraced by the White House, left immigration advocates fuming and renewed speculation that the speaker's tenuous grip on a rebellious rank-and-file was slipping again. LINK

The Washington Times' Stephen Dinan and Dave Boyer: " Boehner says no immigration deal until Obama enforces laws" Chances for a broad immigration bill to pass this year took a major hit Thursday when House Speaker John A. Boehner ruled out any action until President Obama proves to Republicans' satisfaction that he is serious about enforcing the laws and no longer will try to work around Congress. Just a week after Mr. Boehner appeared to jump-start chances for immigration by releasing House Republican principles for a bill, his comments erased most of that momentum. LINK

Washington Post's David Nakamura and Ed O'Keefe: " Boehner: Immigration reform stalls because GOP has 'widespread doubt' about Obama" A week after signaling that House Republicans would pursue an overhaul of immigration laws, Speaker John A. Boehner declared Thursday that his caucus is unlikely to move forward until President Obama gains their trust."There's widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws," Boehner (R-Ohio) said during a midday news conference at the Capitol. "And it's going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes." LINK

PENTAGON The Wall Street Journal's Julian Barnes: " Pentagon Drops Plan to Mothball USS George Washington Aircraft Carrier" The Pentagon has dropped a plan to retire one of its nuclear-powered aircraft carriers after the White House intervened to head off a brewing political fight. The military had proposed an early retirement of the USS George Washington, reducing the U.S. carrier fleet to 10, as part of plan to deal with cost cuts imposed by Congress. That touched a nerve among a bipartisan group of lawmakers, who called on Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in a letter last week to block the move and preserve what they argued is a potent symbol of American power. LINK

Rep CARLOS HENRIQUEZ The Boston Globe's Jim O'Sullivan, Martin Finucane and Michael Levenson: " House votes to expel Rep. Carlos Henriquez" The Massachusetts House voted today to expel Representative Carlos Henriquez, a Dorchester Democrat who had been convicted on two counts of misdemeanor assault in a July 2012 attack on a woman he knew. The House voted, 146-5, after about an hour and a half of debate that included Henriquez taking the floor to declare his innocence. "The truth always remains the same. The truth is, I never touched my accuser in any way, at any point in time, that would result in harm or injury," he said in remarks that lasted about six minutes. "Although a jury found me guilty … it does not change my truth." LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEOS " Obama Shares Laugh with Rep. Louie Gohmert" LINK " Clay Aiken to Run for Congress" LINK

BOOKMARKS The Note: LINK ABC News Politics: LINK George Stephanopoulos' Blog: LINK ABC News on Twitter: @ThisWeekABC | @ABCPolitics ABC News Mobile: LINK ABC News Apps: LINK ABC News YouTube: LINK

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