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White House sources tell me the shock was real today when President Obama was chosen for the Nobel Peace Prize.

No one was ready, instead focused on some upcoming battles on Afghanistan and health care, and staffers were preparing for Obama's planned speech this afternoon on financial regulatory reform.

Still, the team is playing catch up - they haven't even updated the White House blog yet, though the Barack Obama Twitter feed offered the one-word reaction above.

Robert Gibbs said Obama was "very surprised" and said that when he called the president with the news, "I believe he was asleep."

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2007 Nobel Peace winner Al Gore welcomed President Obama into the Nobel laureate club today. Speaking to a conference of environmental journalists in Madison, WI this morning, Gore called the Obama peace prize "thrilling."

Reported by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

Gore: "I think it's thrilling President Barack Obama has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. It's an honor for him... it's an honor for our country."

More: "Much of what he has accomplished already is going to be far more appreciated in the eyes of history as it has been by the Nobel committee in their announcement early this morning."

Gore speculated that Obama's focus on climate change was responsible for the award:

Gore "cited Obama's speech to the United Nations and his "success in changing the way the world is approaching the climate crisis."

Gore: "I think it will take some time before people put together all the different moves that linked his speech at the United Nations."

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) offered his congratulations to President Obama not one but twice on his weekly public radio show today. Pawlenty said he was "struggling" with the Nobel committee's decision, but in the end offered his good tidings.

From Minnesota Public Radio's transcript of the show:

"I would say regardless of the circumstances, congratulations to President Obama for winning the Nobel Prize. I know there will be some people who are saying 'Was it based on good intentions and thoughts or is it going to be based on good results?' But I think the appropriate response is when anybody wins a Nobel Prize that is a very noteworthy development and designation and I think the appropriate response is to say 'Congratulations."


"I do think the concern that is it's more about process and aspiration rather than results is a valid one but I do think overall when someone wins a Nobel Prize the appropriate response is to say 'Congratulations."

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In a statement sent to Greg Sargent, a Democratic National Committee spokesman comparing the Republican Party with the Taliban and Hamas.

"The Republican Party has thrown in its lot with the terrorists -- the Taliban and Hamas this morning -- in criticizing the President for receiving the Nobel Peace prize," Brad Woodhouse said in a statement.

The Taliban called the Peace Prize "unjust" and said President Obama has done nothing to create peace in Afghanistan. RNC chairman Michael Steele asked, "What has President Obama actually accomplished?"

The DNC statement continues:

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In response to an inquiry by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Congressional Budget Office chief Doug Elmendorf finds that medical malpractice reform would reduce the deficit by about $54 billion over 10 years.

"Combining the effects on both mandatory spending and revenues, a tort reform package of the sort described earlier in this letter would reduce federal budget deficits by roughly $54 billion over 10 years," Elmendorf writes. That $54 billion is comprised of an expected $41 billion reduction in mandatory spending, and about $13 billion in new revenues.

And just what sort of statutory changes would be needed to generate the reduction?

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President Obama in the Rose Garden just now said the Nobel Peace Prize is "a call to all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century."

Calling himself "surprised and deeply humbled," Obama said he does not feel he deserves to be in the company of the "transformative" and inspiring people who have earned the prize.

He said the prize often is given "as a means to give momentum to a set of causes."

"I will accept this award as a call to action," Obama said, outlining his goals - a world without nuclear weapons, confronting the threat of climate change and respectful of its peoples' diverse religions and practices.

"These challenges can't be met by any one leader or any one nation," he said.

He called for "unwavering commitment to the rights of all Israelis and Palestinians to live in security in nations of their own."

"This award is not simply about the efforts of my administration," he said, it's shared with everyone who fights for "justice and dignity."

Full text of his statement after the jump.

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Rush Limbaugh has already responded strongly to President Obama being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, declaring that this amounted to international praise of Obama's "intentions to emasculate the United States":

"This fully exposes the illusion that is Barack Obama," Limbaugh told POLITICO in an e-mail. "And with this 'award' the elites of the world are urging Obama, THE MAN OF PEACE, to not do the surge in Afghanistan, not take action against Iran and its nuclear program and to basically continue his intentions to emasculate the United States."

Limbaugh continued: "They love a weakened, neutered U.S and this is their way of promoting that concept. I think God has a great sense of humor, too."

We've gotten more detail on that press conference that Washington GOP lawyers Joesph diGenova and Victoria Toensing held in Phoenix yesterday, to talk about their hiring as special prosecutors probing Don Stapley, a Maricopa County official whose high-profile arrest by deputies of Sheriff Joe Arpaio caused a stir recently.

In an apparent effort to blend in, reports the Phoenix New Times, diGenova wore cowboy boots. But aside from that, the limelight-seeking power couple apparently didn't reveal too much.

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