The Note's Must-Reads for Thursday, February 16, 2012

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' Jacqueline Fernandez, Amanda VanAllen, Carrie Halperin and Erin McLaughlin

RICK SANTORUM ABC News' Shushannah Walshe and Michael Falcone: " Rick Santorum's Way to Win? Run a Campaign on a Shoestring Budget" Monday was Alice Stewart's first day on the job as Rick Santorum's national press secretary, but she never left her house.  The newly hired spokeswoman did not go into the Santorum campaign's headquarters, because the campaign didn't have one. LINK

ABC News' Shushannah Walshe: " Rick Santorum Campaign Formally Requests Secret Service Protection" The Santorum campaign has formally requested Secret Service protection, a campaign aide confirmed to ABC News. The campaign lawyer sent the Department of Homeland Security a letter today, but the aide told ABC News the candidate was not immediately informed. LINK

USA Today's Jackie Kucinich: " Santorum releases tax returns for 2007-10" Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum released four years of tax returns Wednesday night, the most for any Republican presidential candidate this year. The returns for 2007-10 show the income for Santorum and his wife, Karen, has grown since he left the Senate after being defeated in 2006. LINK

The Hill's Alexander Bolton: " Santorum searching for supporters in Congress" Rick Santorum's presidential campaign is stepping up its outreach to Republicans on Capitol Hill and expects that more lawmakers will soon endorse the former senator.  "There are a number of members who are now close to coming on board, and we expect these numbers to increase in the coming weeks," said a source close to the campaign, who noted that Santorum's wins in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri have changed the political dynamic.  LINK

MITT ROMNEY Washington Post's Dan Eggen: " Will Mitt Romney have enough money for the primaries ahead?" Will Mitt Romney have enough money for the battles ahead? The Republican presidential candidate is scrambling to shore up his coffers for a grueling run of primaries over the next month, contests that could go a long way toward deciding the outcome of a nomination fight that has become much tougher, and more expensive, than anticipated. LINK

The Los Angeles Times Paul West:' " Mitt Romney can't count on home-state advantage in Michigan" Mitt Romney left his native Michigan behind 46 years ago. He has returned repeatedly during a presidential pursuit that is now in its sixth year, but rarely with the desperation evinced now.  "Michigan's been my home, and this is personal," Romney says in a new TV ad that features vintage black-and-white photos, including one of a teen-aged Mitt and his square-jawed father, the state's late governor, George Romney. LINK

The Washington Times' Andrea Billups: " Romney finds tough times in Michigan" Michigan native son Mitt Romney is mounting a giant effort here to win back some love in the state of his birth, amid fresh signs he will have trouble winning the Feb. 28 primary or a general election matchup for the state's 16 electoral votes this fall against President Obama. The Detroit-born Mr. Romney, facing a strong challenge from rival Rick Santorum in what some call a must-win state, is the son of a former governor and attended high school here, but soon left his blue-collar home turf for an elite career path and undeniable corporate success elsewhere. LINK

SANTORUM/ROMNEY The Wall Street Journal's Danny Yadron and Patrick O'Connor: " Santorum to Face Romney Ad Blitz" Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum is about to feel the force that upended Newt Gingrich: Mitt Romney's sizable war chest. The Romney campaign and an independent group supporting his White House bid have booked nearly $2 million in television and radio ads in Michigan alone, as they seek to blanket the airwaves with positive messages about the Detroit native and likely negative attacks on his top rival, Mr. Santorum. LINK

PRESIDENT OBAMA Politico's Jennifer Epstein: " Obama: "We've been slogging through prose" President Obama appeared at two star-studded Los Angeles fundraisers on Wednesday night and, as he spoke to a crowd that included actor George Clooney, acknowledged that governing hasn't been easy. Mentioning former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo's quip that politicians campaign in poetry and govern in prose, Obama said he's written more of the latter than the former in his first three years in office. LINK

Washington Post's Michael A. Fletcher and David Nakamura: " Obama, GOP candidates more hopeful about factory jobs" For years, politicians have delivered the same grim message to the nation's long-suffering manufacturing heartland: Many of the jobs are gone, shipped overseas, never to be seen again. … But this year, in a White House contest defined by the economy and job creation, that harsh truth-telling has given way to a more hopeful pitch from Obama and the Republicans trying to replace him amid the strongest uptick in manufacturing employment in 15 years. LINK

The New York Daily News' Aliyah Shahid:   " President Obama banking on Hollywood fundaisers with Will Ferrell, Foo Fighters as approval rating jumps" There's no business like show business - even for the commander in chief. President Obama is banking on some star power tonight at two California fundraisers, including one featuring a performance by the Foo Fighters and another hosted by comedian Will Ferell.  LINK

NEWT GINGRICH The New York Times' Trip Gabriel: " Pro-Gingrich 'Super PAC' Ads Coming to Talk Radio" The "super PAC" supporting Newt Gingrich will take to the talk radio shows of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin on Thursday with new ads that ask, "Are you tired of the Republican establishment telling you to hold your nose and vote for their moderate candidates?" The 30- and 60-second ads link Mitt Romney to two past failed Republican presidential nominees, Bob Dole and John McCain. Their names are followed by the sounds of cars crashing. Mr. Gingrich is scarcely mentioned in the ads and even Mr. Romney is mostly an implied target. The real villain is the party "establishment," which, a narrator intones, "doesn't believe what we believe." LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEOS " Newt Gingrich Verite: An Odd Facebook Post" LINK

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