The Note’s Must-Reads for Tuesday, December 20, 2011

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 Digital News Associates Amanda VanAllen, Jayce Henderson and Desk Assistant Erin McLaughlin

LATEST POLL: ABC News' Gary Langer: " Gingrich, Romney Go to a Tie; More See Obama as Competitive" Newt Gingrich has relinquished sole front-runner status almost as quickly as he gained it, landing at a dead heat with Mitt Romney in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll. And as the GOP hopefuls battle it out, ratings of Barack Obama's prospects have warmed. Americans now divide about evenly on whom they expect to win the 2012 presidential election: Forty-nine percent plump for the eventual Republican nominee, 46 percent for Obama. LINK

NEWT GINGRICH / MITT ROMNEY: The New York Times' Michael D. Shear and Jeremy W. Peters: " In Murky Republican Contest, the Clearest Target Is Gingrich" A furious and sustained barrage of criticism aimed at Newt Gingrich appears to be reshaping the volatile Republican nomination contest once again with just two weeks left before voters begin weighing in. LINK

The Boston Globes' Sarah Schweitzer: " Gingrich, Romney tied in new poll" Newt Gingrich's lead has evaporated as Mitt Romney has pulled even with him, according to a CNN/ORC International Poll released today. One month ago, the former Massachusetts governor was trailing Gingrich by four percentage points. According to the new poll, both men are favored by 28 percent of Republicans and independents who lean toward the GOP. Ron Paul came in third place with support from 14 percent of the voters polled. Michele Bachmann came in a distant fourth, with 8 percent. LINK

The Washington Post's Jon Cohen and Dan Balz: " Poll: Gingrich, Romney in dead heat nationally" Two weeks before Iowans cast the first votes of the 2012 election cycle, Republicans nationally are sharply divided over whom their party's presidential nominee should be, with Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich locked in a dead-even race, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. LINK

NEWT GINGRICH: Los Angeles Times' Seema Mehta and Alana Semuels: " Gingrich lashed back after attacks from rivals" Facing slipping poll numbers, an angry Newt Gingrich lashed out at his Republican presidential rivals Monday, calling their criticism of him "reprehensible" and helpful only to President Obama's reelection. LINK

RON PAUL: ABC News' Jason Volack: " Ron Paul Attacked for Views on Health Care" Ron Paul's views on health care came under fire tonight at a campaign stop in New Hampshire, where his position on eliminating Medicaid was met with open hostility from the audience. Paul has called for the eventual elimination of Medicare and Medicaid and has suggested that charity hospitals should pick up the slack for the uninsured. That view got one woman in Manchester up in arms. LINK

RICK PERRY The Wall Street Journals' Danny Yadron: " Perry Crisscrosses Iowa in Search of Road to Revival" Rick Perry is barnstorming Iowa in a bus bearing the words "Faith, Jobs and Freedom," courting evangelical voters with warnings that the current president is waging a "war on religion." Mr. Perry, aiming to reintroduce himself to voters before the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, is casting himself as a political outsider equally conversant in job creation and scripture-with a heavy emphasis, at times, on the latter. LINK

Politicos' James Hohmann: " Rick Perry aims populist barbs" Rick Perry railed against bailouts Monday and accused his two main rivals of supporting them. "This Wall Street bailout is the single biggest act of theft in American history," the Texas governor told 60 Republicans at a Pizza Ranch in Manchester. "And Newt and Mitt - they were for it." LINK

Bloomberg's John McCormick:  " Romney Anticipates 'Gordon Gekko' Obama Attack as He Outlines 2012 Defense" Mitt Romney says he knows a photo in which he appears with other executives at Bain Capital LLC posing with cash in their hands, pockets and mouths will be used against him if he wins the Republican presidential nomination.  The 1980s image - called the "Gordon Gekko" photo by some Democrats, a reference to the Michael Douglas character in the movie "Wall Street" - offers an easy attack line at a time of high unemployment and sharp rhetoric against the nation's top money managers, investors and bankers. LINK

LOBBYING: The Washington Times' Luke Rosiak: " Democrats outpacing GOP in lobbyist cash race" The national political parties took more cash from lobbyists in the first half of 2011 than in any other six-month period on record, even during the wide-open election of 2008, and the Democratic Party's committees have easily outpaced their GOP counterparts despite President Obama's vilification of special-interest giving. LINK

OTHER: The Hill's Christian Heinze: " GOP 12: Jeb Bush teases Republicans?" Jeb Bush has an op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal that's not about a particular issue, but about a philosophy. That has some conservatives (including Byron York) wondering if it's a trial balloon for a run. LINK

New York Daily News' Alison Gendar: " Palin re-opens the door for a possible White House bid, saying it's 'not too late' for her to join GOP fray" The former GOP vice presidential candidate revived the possibility that she just might consider parachuting into the race for the 2012 Republican nomination for the White House."It's not too late for folks to jump in. Who knows what will happen in the future," she told FOX Business Network's "Follow the Money" in an interview set to air Monday night. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEOS: " Newt Gingrich Drops 15 Points in New Poll" LINK

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