The Note's Must-Reads for Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Compiled by ABC News' Jayce Henderson, Amanda VanAllen and Carrie Halperin

FISCAL CLIFF ABC News' Devin Dwyer John Parkison, and Sunlen Miller: " Obama, GOP Mount 'Fiscal Cliff' Campaign Blitz" Tis the season for spreading holiday cheer and, this year, urgent messages about the "fiscal cliff." President Obama, Republican lawmakers and an army of independent advocacy groups have mounted an aggressive new public campaign to highlight the stakes in a deal to avoid an economically toxic package of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts could take hold in 35 days." LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Janet Hook and Carol E. Lee: " Democrats Harden Budget Positions " The White House and congressional Democrats hardened their budget positions on Tuesday and signaled they are prepared for partisan jockeying before any agreement to block impending spending cuts and tax increases can be reached with Republicans. Sen. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.), a rare liberal who has supported changes in Medicare and other entitlements as part of a broad budget deal, made clear he wouldn't back them under a short-term agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff. LINK The Washington Post's David Nakamura Zachary Goldfarb: " Obama public relations effort aims to avoid 'fiscal cliff'" The White House signaled Tuesday that it will try to marshal the momentum from President Obama's reelection triumph into another victory at the negotiating table, launching a full-fledged public relations effort to avoid a "fiscal cliff" that could jolt the nation back toward recession. Administration officials said Obama will hit the road this week for a campaign-style series of events with ordinary Americans, including a visit to a toy manufacturer in suburban Philadelphia on Friday. LINK

TAX RATES The Hills' Alexander Bolton: " Democrats raise their asking price for a deficit agreement" Democrats are increasing their demands on what should be in a deficit deal, seeking to shield entitlement programs and insisting on raising the nation's debt ceiling this year. In the wake of President Obama's reelection and Democratic gains in Congress, party leaders are growing bolder as the Dec. 31 deadline for extending the Bush-era tax rates and stopping automatic spending cuts approaches. LINK

SUSAN RICE The New York Daily News' Joseph Straw and Corky Siemaszko: " Susan Rice's attempt to make nice with Capital Hill critics of Benghazi remarks backfires" So much for Susan Rice's charm offensive. The UN ambassador's attempt to make nice with her harshest critics backfired Tuesday after she met face to face with three Republican senators threatening to block her promotion to secretary of state. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Paul Richter: " GOP senators unswayed after meeting with Susan Rice" Susan Rice would seem to have everything going for her: close ties to President Obama, charter membership in the Washington foreign policy establishment, and seasoning after four years as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. But her path to becoming America's top diplomat looks increasingly rocky. LINK

The Washington Times' Shaun Waterman: " Senators 'troubled' by Rice answers on Libya" Republican senators said Tuesday that they have even more questions about the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, after meeting with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan E. Rice, who has become a lightning rod for criticism of the Obama administration's handling of the attack. "I want to say that I'm more troubled today," Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire said after she and fellow Republicans Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina met with Mrs. Rice for an hour Tuesday morning behind closed doors on Capitol Hill. LINK

GENERAL ALLEN The New York Times' Elisabeth Bumiller and Scott Shane: " Investigation Into General Narrows Look at E-Mail" Two and a half weeks after Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta announced an inquiry into e-mail exchanges between Gen. John R. Allen of the Marines and a socialite in Tampa, Fla., some 15 investigators working seven days a week in the Pentagon inspector general's office have narrowed their focus to 60 to 70 e-mails that "bear a fair amount of scrutiny," a defense official said. LINK

GAY RIGHTS Bloomberg's Greg Stohr: " Marriage Cases Thrust Supreme Court Into Gay-Rights Fight" The U.S. Supreme Court is raising the stakes in the same-sex marriage debate as it considers taking up the issue for the first time, testing momentum built by advocates through electoral wins in four states this month. The justices are scheduled to confer privately on Nov. 30 on 10 pending appeals, including clashes over the U.S. Defense of Marriage Act, which blocks gays from receiving federal marriage benefits, and a California ballot measure that outlawed same-sex nuptials there in 2008. The high court may say as early as that afternoon which cases it will consider. LINK

OTHER Politico's Scott Wong: " McCain and Hillary's bipartisan bond" Sen. John McCain renewed his attacks on U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice on Tuesday, but he's gone soft on Hillary. As she wraps up her tenure at Foggy Bottom and mulls over a possible 2016 White House bid, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's decade-old bipartisan friendship with McCain appears to have helped shield her from GOP fire - even as her agency finds itself in the thick of a partisan battle over Benghazi. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEO "Are Republicans Willing to Bend on No New Tax Pledge? LINK

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