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President Obama plans to outline an ambitious economic recovery plan for the Middle East and Northern Africa designed to spur economic growth and build on democratic reforms that began in Egypt and Tunisia and have swept to countries across the region this Spring.

In major speech at the State Department Thursday, Obama will announce U.S. steps to cancel nearly a billion dollars worth of Egyptian and Tunisian debt, establish a Egyptian-American private enterprise fund and guarantee up to a billion dollars in borrowing through the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation, a U.S. agency that mobilizes private-sector investment in new and emerging markets, according to senior administration officials.

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1||Today marked the one-week point of Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign, and what a week it was. Bold assertions, embarrassing revelations, apologies and retractions, the week was half campaign, half destruction derby. Left, right or "literati minion," few were left feeling that the former House Speaker had made any progress toward the White House. Without further ado we give you The Week O' Newt:||HO/RTR/Newscom&&

2||On Wednesday, May 11, Gingrich announced his candidacy with the help of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. An announcement video featured close-up shots of Gingrich, silver hair and assuring grin fully deployed, promising things like "full employment," "a balanced budget" and "longer lives." The synthesizer and piano score was decent, too.||youtube/ngingrich&&

3||The night of the announcement, Gingrich went on Sean Hannity's show to talk about motivation, right and wrong.

"The reason that I came here tonight to announce that I am a candidate for president of the United States is because I think if you apply the right principles to achieve the right results, that we can win the future together," Gingrich said. "And I don't think that having a president who applies the wrong principles and gets the wrong results is going to lead to winning the future."

Later in the interview, Gingrich revealed that, in considering whether or not to run, he and his wife Callista Gingrich had sat down and concluded that "either I really believe the things I've said my whole life or I would be a fraud."||jeffmalet/

4||May 13, Gingrich made the first stop and delivered the first speech of his campaign at the Georgia Republican Party's convention in Macon, Georgia. The former Georgia congressman -- who was battling allergies, according to The Washington Post -- called the 2012 contest the most important election since 1860, and said the nation stood at a crossroads.

"Down one road is a European centralized bureaucratic socialist welfare system in which politicians and bureaucrats define the future," he said. Down the other road is a proud, solid, reaffirmation of American exceptionalism."

Oh, and he called President Obama a "food stamp president."||n03/n03/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

5||And then came Meet the Press. Of all the notable moments of The Week O' Newt, this was perhaps the biggest. For weeks, Gingrich had been distancing himself from Rep. Paul Ryan's plan to replace Medicare with a voucher system. But on Sunday, Gingrich really went to town.

"I don't think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering," Gingrich told host David Gregory, talking about the House GOP budget. Gingrich called the plan "too big a jump" for the country.

Almost immediately, you knew this wouldn't go well for Newt. And it didn't...||

6||On Monday, Gingrich's spokesman Rick Tyler (more on him later) tried to minimize the fallout of his boss' comments on Meet the Press, blaming the media and claiming there was "little daylight between Ryan and Gingrich." But that didn't stop Ryan from taking a shot. "With allies like that, who needs the left?" he told conservative radio host Laura Ingraham. Other Republican leaders and conservative pundits soon joined in.

"I think that many have said now he's finished," Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) told WLS radio in Chicago on Tuesday. "I haven't had a chance to really dissect what in the world he's thinking ... so I probably would reserve judgment on that."

Gingrich later attempted to play the so-called "Palin Card," saying he was set up to stumble by David Gregory's questions and regretting that he "didn't go in there quite hostile enough."||jeffmalet/

7||After the Meet the Press dust-up, what Gingrich needed was a distraction. But distraction came in an unsightly form on May 17, when word arrived that Gingrich and his wife had accumulated several hundred thousand dollars in debt at Tiffany & Co. That's one heavy charm bracelet. ||newscom/miketheiler/upi&&

8||Tuesday night, Gingrich went on Greta Van Susteren's show to bury the Meet the Press controversy, one last time. He issued a stern warning to his political enemies, and backed up his words with airtight logic.

"Any ad which quotes what I said on Sunday is a falsehood, because I have said publicly those words were inaccurate and unfortunate," he declared.

Gingrich also revealed that he had called Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) to apologize, and told him "I made a mistake." ||foxnews&&

9||Our humble contributions aside, when the tale of The Week O' Newt is told, as it surely will be, generations hence, no further words will be needed beyond those composed Wednesday by Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler:

The literati sent out their minions to do their bidding. Washington cannot tolerate threats from outsiders who might disrupt their comfortable world. The firefight started when the cowardly sensed weakness. They fired timidly at first, then the sheep not wanting to be dropped from the establishment's cocktail party invite list unloaded their entire clip, firing without taking aim their distortions and falsehoods. Now they are left exposed by their bylines and handles. But surely they had killed him off. This is the way it always worked. A lesser person could not have survived the first few minutes of the onslaught. But out of the billowing smoke and dust of tweets and trivia emerged Gingrich, once again ready to lead those who won't be intimated by the political elite and are ready to take on the challenges America faces.
||Christopher Fitzgerald/Chris Fitzgerald / Candidate Photos / New/Newscom&&

Running a professional Twitter account can be difficult enough as it is - you have to strike a balance between informing your followers, keeping them engaged, and making sure your content is original and relevant rather than so much white noise cluttering people's Twitter feeds. But that all becomes doubly challenging when whomever is running your professional, official Twitter account has his or her own, personal account as well because, sometimes, the wires can get crossed.

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With friends like these...

As the Des Moines Register reports, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has some nice things to say about possible Republican presidential candidate, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels:

"Sometimes I hear Mitch Daniels and I thought, maybe I oughta back him because it would be an opportunity to show that people who don't have charisma could be elected president," Grassley joked in a conference call with reporters today.

Grassley, who was asked about the importance of personal magnetism as opposed to policy in a presidential race, later made a point of saying his comments were "tongue in cheek."

Grassley also added to his "tongue in cheek" comment, with some praise for Daniels. "He seems to be a very, very good governor, has a good record. He had a good record as OMB director," Grassley said. "He is a person of substance and substance matters ... particularly at a time of 9 percent unemployment."

Tommy Thompson, the former Wisconsin governor and Bush-era Health and Human Services secretary who is widely expected to run for his state's open Democrat-held Senate seat, could now face some stiff opposition from his right -- namely from the right-wing activist group the Club For Growth, which came out strongly against him this afternoon.

The Club said in a statement:

"Tommy Thompson raised taxes as Governor, supported ObamaCare, and now he wants to run for the United States Senate? April Fools was weeks ago," said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola. "Wisconsin Republicans should recruit a pro-growth conservative to run, not recall some big-government pro-tax Republican whose time has come and gone. Club members are watching Wisconsin's Senate race closely.

Keep in mind that the Club is perhaps most known for the determination with which it backs primary challengers over establishment-backed moderate GOP candidates, and even GOP incumbents.

So a statement like this is not to be taken lightly, as Thompson mulls his final decision about running.

Tim Pawlenty, the man who many think will pick up the frontrunner baton in the 2012 Republican presidential nomination fight should Mitt Romney drop it, took to the airwaves yesterday to follow the lead of another high profile presidential contender: Sarah Palin.

On Fox News last night, Pawlenty deftly took up Palin's almost completely fact-free attack on the waivers from the new health care reform law that some businesses providing low-payout plans have received since the law passed. The Obama administration has exempted these less than ideal health care plans from new regulations, fearful that low-income employees will lose what little coverage they have before the exchanges open in three years.

Pawlenty, like Palin and a good part of the conservative blogosphere yesterday, called the practice of granting waivers "crony politics."

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Two months after Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) signed a sweeping rollback of public union's collective bargaining rights, voters there still overwhelmingly disapprove of their first-term governor, and a majority say the controversial law should be repealed, according to a Quinnipiac poll released today.

In the poll, 54% of registered voters said the collective bargaining law should be repealed, while 36% said it should not. And with the law potentially headed for a referendum in November, it looks like they may get their wish.

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Republicans in the Senate are poised to block one of the youngest and most promising liberal legal minds from ascending to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit more than a year after President Obama appointed him.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) Tuesday night filed a motion to limit debate on Liu's nomination. The motion requires 60 votes to pass, but Republicans are signaling strong opposition and may have enough votes to sink the motion and effectively filibuster the nomination when it comes to the floor Thursday.

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Newt Gingrich has taken some potshots at the press since his campaign went off the rails on Sunday's Meet The Press, but it's nothing compared to the spectacular anti-media tirade that his spokesman offered up today.

Asked by the Huffington Post's Michael Calderone for his take on Gingrich's treatment in the news, spokesman Rick Tyler launched into what could only be described as an epic poem recounting his candidate's heroic journey.

"The literati sent out their minions to do their bidding," Tyler wrote in an e-mail. "Washington cannot tolerate threats from outsiders who might disrupt their comfortable world."

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President Obama Wednesday announced tougher sanctions against Syria and its President, Bashar al Assad, as well as other senior officials in his government, in an effort to turn up the pressure on his regime and their increasingly deadly crackdown against peaceful protesters.

Previously, the United States has frozen assets and banned trade deals with senior Syrian government officials including al Assad in an effort to convince him to end the violent response rebel groups in Syria and their desire to institute democratic reforms.

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