The Note's Must-Reads for Wednesday, December 28, 2011

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

IOWA CAUCUS USA Today's Susan Page and Jackie Kucinich: " GOP candidates sharpen their tongues before caucuses" One week before the opening presidential caucuses, former House speaker Newt Gingrich declared Tuesday that he wouldn't vote for rival Ron Paul if the Texas congressman won the Republican nomination, calling him "out of the mainstream" and suggesting he would even consider supporting President Obama instead.  LINK

MITT ROMNEY Wall Street Journal's Neil King Jr. and Sara Murray: " As Iowa Nears, Romney Sounds Confident" Mitt Romney isn't about to predict victory in Iowa, the state that tripped him up four years ago. But he and his usually staid campaign are taking on a swagger not seen all year. LINK

Washington Times' Stephen Dinan: " Romney looks past Iowa to Obama, Gingrich calls for two-man debate with leading rival" Saying President Obama is risking "the soul of America," Mitt Romney kicked off his stretch run to Tuesday's Iowa caucuses with his eyes squarely on the general election, even as the rest of the Republican presidential field took aim at one another.  LINK

The New York Times' Ashley Parker and Michael Barbaro: " The Retooled, Loose Romney, Guessing Voters' Age and Ethnicity" When Mitt Romney introduces himself to voters, he has a peculiar habit of guessing their age or nationality, often incorrectly. (A regular query: "Are you French Canadian?") When making small talk with locals, he peppers the conversation with curious details. ("We stayed in the Courtyard hotel last night," he told a woman at a diner. "It's a LEED-certified hotel.") LINK

The Washington Post's Philip Rucker: " For Romney, stealth campaign brings real hopes of winning Iowa" On his first trip to Iowa this spring, Mitt Romney was asked a question that has been hanging over his campaign ever since: Could he win the Iowa caucuses after exhausting his time and money here four years ago for a debilitating second-place finish? LINK

NEWT GINGRICH Politico's James Hohmann: " Newt Gingrich goes negative" Newt Gingrich arrived in Iowa with just a week to go and a lot of ground to make up before the Iowa caucuses. After kicking off a 22-stop bus tour - cut from an originally-planned 44 stops - at a country club in Dubuque, Gingrich pivoted from trying to stay above-the-fray to blasting Mitt Romney for governing Massachusetts as a moderate, raising taxes and costs on business and growing the size of his state's government. LINK

The NY Daily News' Alison Gendar: " Newt Gingrich targets GOP rivals Ron Paul and Mitt Romney in TV attack ads" Newt Gingrich, targeted in millions of dollars in attack ads, used some free television time Tuesday to get some licks in against Ron Paul and Mitt Romney. The former House Speaker has been significantly outspent in Iowa as the GOP field has flooded television and radio with ads in the lead-up to the state's Jan. 3 caucus. LINK

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