The Note’s Must-Reads for Thursday, November 17, 2011

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

PRESIDENT OBAMA The New York Times’ John Broder: “ Re-election Strategy Is Tied to a Shift on Smog” The summons from the president came without warning the Thursday before Labor Day. As she was driven the four blocks to the White House, Lisa P. Jackson, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, suspected that the news would not be good. What she did not see coming was a rare public rebuke the president was about to deliver by rejecting her proposal to tighten the national standard for smog. LINK

Politico’s Jonathan Allen and Alex Isenstadt: “O bama’s ‘lazy’ remark catches fire with GOP” A video clip of President Barack Obama calling America “a little bit lazy” is quickly becoming a focus of Republican campaigns, and GOP operatives say it will get plenty of play not only on the presidential battlefield but also in down-ballot congressional races. Obama was talking about America’s pursuit of foreign investment, but the context may not matter as much as the punch line.  LINK

NEWT GINGRICH ABC News’ Huma Khan: “ Newt Gingrich to Release Freddie Mac Records, Denies Lobbying” He may be climbing in the polls, but Newt Gingrich has little time to bask in his renewed popularity as he finds himself defending his role and pay at Freddie Mac. Gingrich’s campaign said today they will release all the documents they legally can of his contract with the once-beleaguered housing giant. LINK

The Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty: “ Newt Gingrich, on the rise, says, ‘Hopefully, I’m going to be more disciplined” For months, Newt Gingrich has had a front-row seat from which to observe what happens when a Republican presidential candidate emerges from the pack to be touted as the next great insurgent hope and the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. LINK

USA Today’s Jackie Kucinich: “ Gingrich’s think tank work, op-eds facing scrutiny” In the 12 years since he resigned as House speaker, Newt Gingrich has written dozens of columns and given speeches promoting work by various companies while failing to disclose that those firms were paying members of a think tank that Gingrich founded and ran, an analysis of his writing shows. In a series of op-eds stretching over several years, Gingrich repeatedly advocated for various health-care related issues, including electronic health care records, ways to improve the health care sector and medical malpractice reform without acknowledging the issues were directly connected to the members of the Center for Health Transformation, a for-profit think tank he founded in 2003. LINK

The New York Daily News: “ Newt Gingrich defends million-dollar contracts with Freddie Mac” Rising in polls and receiving greater scrutiny, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich found himself on the defensive Wednesday over huge payments he received over the past decade from the mortgage giant Freddie Mac. Gingrich, who now is near the top in polling on the GOP race, said he didn’t remember exactly how much he was paid, but a person familiar with the hiring said it was at least $1.6 million for consulting contracts stretching from 1999 to early 2008.  LINK

The Los Angeles Times’ Michael A. Memoli: “ Newt Gingrich claims GOP lead in Fox poll; Romney edges Obama” Newt Gingrich now holds a slim advantage over Mitt Romney in a new Fox News survey, the first to give the former House speaker the lead among Republicans nationwide. Gingrich surged from 12% to 23% since the previous Fox poll in late October, thanks to shifts from previous front-runner Herman Cain and the sliding Rick Perry. LINK

The Wall Street Journal’s Nick Timiraos and Brody Mullins: “ Gingrich’s Freddie Ties Draw Scrutiny”  Consulting work Newt Gingrich performed for Freddie Mac is drawing new scrutiny, now that the Republican presidential candidate has risen in polls on the backs of tea-party supporters and other conservatives skeptical of Washington institutions. Mr. Gingrich, the former House speaker, was hired by Freddie Mac for two stretches after leaving Congress, beginning in 1999 and again in 2006, during periods when the housing-finance company faced growing threats from policy makers who wanted to clips its wings, people familiar with events said.

PERRY The Hills’ Emily Goodin and Christian Heinze: “ Perry challenges Pelosi to debate part-time Congress plan” Rick Perry has challenged House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to debate him next week about his plan for a part-time Congress. In a letter to Pelosi (D-Calif.) obtained by The Hill, the Texas governor wrote: “I am in Washington Monday and would love to engage you in a public debate about my Overhaul Washington plan versus the congressional status quo. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEOS Cain on Kissinger Job Offer: ‘Not Serious’LINKTop Lines: Gingrich Gets Paid, Cain Gets Camera-ShyLINK

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