The Note’s Must-Reads for Monday, October 17, 2011

Compiled by ABC News Digital News Associates Jacqueline Fernandez, Jayce Henderson and Desk Assistant Amanda VanAllen

2012 ELECTIONS: ABC News’ Rick Klein: “‘ World News’ Political Insights: Money Race Points to Two-Man GOP Race” If you’re looking for some clarity in the fluid race for the Republican nomination, the numbers show that while much as changed, the fundamentals remain the same.  Fundraising figures released over the weekend demonstrate that only two Republican candidates — Mitt Romney and Rick Perry — enter the dash to the nomination with both the financial support and the campaign infrastructure that equip them fully to compete. LINK

The Washington Times’ Luke Rosiak: “ GOP hopefuls having trouble raising money nationally” Each of the Republican presidential candidates has sought the appearance of strength by dominating a niche in the increasingly fragmented political landscape, but could run into difficulties scaling those successes nationally, campaign-finance reports released over the weekend suggest. LINK

PRESIDENT OBAMA: The New York Times’ Nicholas Confessore and Griff Palmer: “ Big Cash Edge Powers Obama in Drive for ’12” President Obama is exploiting his early lead in campaign fund-raising to bankroll a sprawling grass-roots organization and information technology apparatus in critical general election battlegrounds. He is doing so even as the Republican candidates conserve cash and jockey for position in what could become a drawn-out nominating battle. LINK

The Wall Street Journal’s Laura Meckler and Carol E. Lee: “ Obama Targeting a Few, Crucial States  President Barack Obama starts a three-day bus trip Monday through North Carolina and Virginia that brings fresh attention to the kinds of voters he will rely on as he works to assemble a majority next year in the Electoral College. Those two states hadn’t backed a Democrat for president for decades, but their large numbers of minority voters and an influx of white, professional workers helped Mr. Obama carry them in 2008. Now, they have re-emerged as potential leverage in the hard-fought battle to come. LINK

The Boston Globe’s Tracy Jan: “Key backing for Obama slips in N.C.” When Lucille Richmond cast her ballot for Barack Obama three years ago, she, like many African-Americans, embraced the historic opportunity to help elect the nation’s first black president.  But waiting in line at the county employment security commission last week, the 52-year-old grandmother – who lost two food preparation jobs and is searching for full-time work – can’t muster the will to support Obama for a second term. LINK

HERMAN CAIN: USA Today’s  Jackie Kucinich and Martha T. Moore: “ Herman Cain builds effort around plan for tax overhaul” Herman Cain, who seems to have come out of nowhere during the past 10 weeks to become a leader in national polls for the Republican presidential nomination, has been thinking about running for the White House for a long time. LINK

The New York Daily News’ Alison Gendar: “ Herman Cain defends 9-9-9 tax plan on ‘Meet the Press’ arguing that ‘most people will pay less’” Newly minted GOP rock star Herman Cain today acknowledged that some Americans would see bigger tax bills under his “9-9-9? tax plan, the cornerstone of his bid for the White House. “Some people will pay more,” Cain said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” LINK

RICK PERRY: The Washington Post’s William Booth: “ Rick Perry takes military-style tack to protect” A little before dawn on a sticky summer night in June, one of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s Ranger Reconnaissance Teams was running a clandestine operation along the Rio Grande when its surveillance squad came across a Dodge Durango pickup truck loaded with bales of Mexican marijuana. LINK JOBS: The Hills’ Sam Youngman: “ Obama wants $35 billion for teachers, first-responders first” President Obama is returning to the road this week to press Congress to start passing the American Jobs Act, beginning with $35 billion for states to put teachers and first-responders to work. But White House officials said Sunday that Obama will not be sending a separate piece of legislation to Congress, referring questions about the process to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). LINK

The Los Angeles Times’ Peter Nicholas: “ Obama gets back on the bus to push jobs act” President Obama climbs back on board his big, black armored bus this week to shore up his popularity in a couple of battleground states and revert to Plan B in his campaign to pass a $447-billion jobs package, focusing on specific elements of the bill that he wants Congress to approve right away. Obama’s American Jobs Act was blocked by Senate Republicans and two Democrats in a procedural vote last week, setting in motion a plan to salvage the bill by breaking it up and submitting it piece by piece. LINK

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