The Note's Must-Reads for Tuesday, December 27, 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 Jayce Henderson, Amanda VanAllen and Desk Assistant Nadine Selim

PRESIDENT OBAMA: The Hill's Jamie Klatell: " Obama's Approval Numbers Climb in to Positive Territory" More people view President Obama favorably than unfavorably for the first time since July, according to Gallup's tracking poll of the president's job approval rating. LINK

The NY Daily News' Alison Gendar: " Obama's Approval Rating Tops Disapproval Rating for the First Time Since July" President Obama's victory last week over Republicans on the payroll tax cut was a Christmas gift that keeps on giving. Buoyed by his successful battle to avoid taking more money out of the paychecks of some 160 million Americans, the President's approval rating topped his disapproval rating in a Gallup poll for the first time since July. LINK

IOWA CAUCUS: The New York Times' Jeff Zeleny: " Iowa Caucus Near, Race Is Still Up in the Air" Mitt Romney and his allies are making an assertive final push this week to increase his chances of a strong finish in the Iowa caucuses, the outcome of which could help determine the length of the Republican presidential nominating battle. LINK

RICK PERRY: The Hill's Jamie Klatell: " Perry Ad Pushes for Part-Time Congress"  Texas Gov. Rick Perry's campaign launched a new television ad Monday that pushes the Republican presidential hopeful's plan for a part-time Congress in Washington. The ad, which Perry's campaign said will run on broadcast and cable stations in Iowa, plays to the anti-Washington message that all the Republican candidates and President Obama have touched on. LINK

MITT ROMNEY: ABC News' Amy Walter: " Romney Maintains Lead in New Hampshire" Mitt Romney holds onto his sizeable lead in New Hampshire with 39 percent of the vote, according to a new Boston Globe poll released Sunday. Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul are tied for second place, with each garnering 17 percent of the vote among the state's likely Republican voters. LINK

Politicos' Maggie Haberman: " 'I don't see any scenario where we're not the nominee'" John Heilemann catches a Mitt Romney adviser in a recent moment of candor: [Romney's] focus reflected a strategy from which his campaign has rarely deviated all year long. But it was also born of a confidence in Team Romney so deep it borders on serene: that the nomination is, if not in entirely the bag, then about to stuffed there soon. LINK

NEWT GINRICH: ABC News' Huma Khan: " Gingrich Narrowly Tops Romney in Latest Gallup Poll" Newt Gingrich's lead over rival Mitt Romney narrowed to three percentage points in Gallup's latest national Republican tracking poll. Among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, the former speaker garners 26 percent of the vote, compared with 23 percent for Romney. That has narrowed sharply from the 15-point lead Gingrich enjoyed in early December. LINK

The Wall Street Journals' Brody Mullins and Janet Adamy: " Gingrich Applauded Romney's Health Plan" Newt Gingrich voiced enthusiasm for Mitt Romney's Massachusetts health-care law when it was passed five years ago, the same plan he has been denouncing over the past few months as he campaigned for the Republican presidential nomination.  LINK

The NY Daily News' Helen Kennedy: " Report: Newt Gingrich's divorce papers contradict his claim wife Jackie wanted split She told judge she didn't want to dissolve marriage" One of Newt Gingrich's messiest political problems resurfaced Monday when CNN posted papers from his first divorce that contradict his claims his wife sought the split. A confidant of the former House speaker also told CNN that Gingrich said he dumped Jackie Battley - his one-time high school geometry teacher - in 1980 because she wasn't "young enough or pretty enough" to be First Lady. LINK

RICK SANTORUM: The Boston Globe's Glen Johnson: " Rick Santorum, topped with NRA cap, shoots for conservative vote in Iowa" Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum sought to underscore his conservative credentials today with a shotgun-toting pheasant hunt alongside a conservative congressman whose endorsement could sway votes in next week's Iowa caucuses. LINK

RON PAUL: The Washington Post's David Fahrenthold: " Ron Paul's House record marked by bold strokes, and futility" The passage of H.R. 2121, in fall 2009, unfolded without drama. It allowed for the sale of a customhouse in Galveston, Tex. The House debate took two minutes, and the vote took eight seconds. The ayes had it. But something historic was happening. On his 482nd try, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) had authored a bill that would become law. LINK

OTHER: The Hill's Rachel Leven: " Lack of New Campaign Rules Adds to Outside Spending Groups' 2012 Influence" The lack of government regulation in the wake of the Citizens United decision has campaign finance experts worried that outside groups will be spending like they never have before. The Federal Election Commission has been deadlocked on most attempts to create new regulations and hasn't passed any new ones this year. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEO: " President Obama Courts Youth Vote" LINK

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