By Steve Holland WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican Newt Gingrich sharply criticized President
Barack Obama’s handling of the U.S. economy on Wednesday as he launched an uphill battle for the presidency in 2012.Gingrich, who was speaker of the House of Representatives in the 1990s, borrowed a signature phrase from Obama — „Win the future” — to lay out why Republicans should pick him as their presidential nominee.”This is not about one person in the Oval Office. This is about millions of Americans believing we can win the future with the right policies leading to the right outcomes,” he told Fox News’ Sean Hannity.Gingrich, who has long flirted with a run for the Republican presidential nomination, joined a slowly forming field of challengers to the Democratic president. He preached a conservative message of low taxes, a balanced budget, less government and more domestic production of oil. „We have to make the argument that President Obama has the wrong policies and they lead to the wrong outcomes. It’s pretty straightforward — 9 percent unemployment is the wrong outcome,” he said, adding Obama’s „worldview is very far to the left.”[ For complete coverage of politics and policy, go to Yahoo! Politics ]Gingrich, 67, is a conservative famed for budget battles with President Bill Clinton after he led the „Republican revolution” in 1994 elections that brought his party to power in Congress.Gingrich announced his candidacy via a YouTube video posted on his Twitter account, inviting potential supporters „to join us in getting America back on the right track” and tearing into Democrats.”We Americans are going to have to talk together, work together, find solutions together and insist on imposing those solutions on those forces that don’t want to change,” he said. „There are some people who don’t mind if America becomes a wreck as long as they dominate the wreckage. But you and I know better,” he said.Credit for the 1990s economic boom is generally given to Clinton, a Democrat, but Gingrich claimed some of the credit for himself. He was House speaker from 1995 to 1999. ‘WE CAN DO IT AGAIN’ „As speaker of the House, I worked to reform welfare, to balance the budget, to control spending, to cut taxes, to create economic growth. Unemployment came down from 5.6 percent to under 4. And for four years, we balanced the budget and paid off $405 billion in debt. We’ve done it before. We can do it again,” he said.A Reuters-Ipsos poll released on Wednesday said Gingrich trailed Obama by 18 percentage points, 53 percent to 35 percent [ID:nN11223842]Gingrich is known within Republican circles as a politician who brings a lot of ideas to the table but who party officials believe will need to show a great deal of discipline as a candidate and not be tempted to comment on all issues of the day.Gingrich, who has appeared as a Fox News commentator and written books since resigning from the House in 1999, is taking steps to ease concerns among the religious right about his personal life. Gingrich is married to his third wife, Callista, with whom he had an affair in the mid-1990s while he was married to his second wife.He told a Christian television network this year he had sought God’s forgiveness over the affair. „What he is going to have to do is reintroduce himself to voters. People know who he is, but he has to reframe himself to voters to remind them of all the positive accomplishments he made as speaker,” said Republican strategist Ron Bonjean.(Editing by Peter Cooney)
Rebels: Gadhafi forces pushed back from Misrata By DIAA HADID and MAGGIE MICHAEL, Associated Press
TRIPOLI, Libya – Pressing to break a two-month siege, rebels in the port city of Misrata said they had captured the local airport and pushed Moammar Gadhafi’s forces ever further from the city’s western outskirts.The reported advances were the latest in a recent flurry of accounts of rebel victories, coinciding with intensified NATO airstrikes on Gadhafi’s forces in several areas of Libya. In all, NATO said Wednesday, the alliance has carried out more than 2,400 airstrikes since March 31 as part of the effort to assist the rebels and pressure Gadhafi to end his 42-year authoritarian rule.At least four air strikes appeared to target central Tripoli overnight. Their crashing sound was clearly audible from the hotel where foreign journalists are staying in the Libyan capital.Wailing ambulances were heard minutes after the last missile exploded, along with the thundering sound of military aircraft.It wasn’t immediately clear what the strikes hit. Reporters are not allowed to not leave their hotels without government minders.NATO strikes earlier this week hit an intelligence building and another structure used by parliamentarians.The strikes came hours after Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi made his first TV appearance since an April 30 NATO attack on his sprawling compound killed one of his sons. The brief TV appearance seemed designed to squelch the rumors that he had been hit by the bombing.Libyan TV showed Gadhafi meeting tribal leaders, but did not record him speaking. To authenticate the scene, the camera zoomed in on the date on a TV monitor in the room, and it read Wednesday, May 11. It was apparently recorded at the hotel where foreign correspondents must reside in Tripoli. Gadhafi did not make himself available to them.The last time Gadhafi had been seen in public was April 9, when he visited a school in Tripoli.According to the Libyan state news agency, JANA, one of the NATO strikes hit the North Korean Embassy in the capital, Tripoli. JANA said the mission was badly damaged by fragments of a NATO missile fired Monday.Even though some of the recent reports of ground combat are difficult to confirm, they seem to represent a major boost for the rebels’ military prospects after weeks of stalemate on several fronts.According to a rebel who identified himself as Abdel Salam, rebels were in total control of the airport in Misrata’s southern outskirts after two days of fighting. He said five rebels were killed and 105 injured.He said rebels are also pushing west from Misrata, toward the nearby city of Zlitan, hoping to then advance farther toward Tripoli.”This is a major victory,” Abdel Salam said. „The Gadhafi forces have been suffering lack of supplies … Their morale was very low after being defeated several times and pushed back.”The rebels control most of eastern Libya, but Misrata — about 125 miles (200 kilometers) southeast of Tripoli — is the only rebel stronghold in the west. Local doctors say more than 1,000 of its residents have been killed in the fighting and shelling during the siege by Gadhafi’s forces.In Tripoli, a government spokesman denied the Misrata rebels’ claims of success.”This is nonsense,” said Moussa Ibrahim. „We control the airport and we also control the sea port.”Access to the port has been limited but not halted. The International Committee of the Red Cross has a chartered ship floating in the harbor which delivered medical supplies and baby food on Tuesday and is now being used to support ICRC work in the city. Ibrahim did acknowledge that the war was creating severe shortages of many commodities in Tripoli.”The NATO airstrikes and the sea embargo … are badly influencing the lives of daily Libyans,” he said. „We have some shortages in fuel, food and medicine. It makes it difficult to go to schools, hospitals and factories.” There was evidence of Tripoli‘s economic plight at its colorful Abu Salim market — the largest in the capital. While residents strolled through the displays of bejeweled robes and glittery shoes, traders said the number of customers had fallen drastically since the conflict began in mid-February. „In normal times, you wouldn’t have space to move,” said a trader who requested anonymity, fearing disapproval from Libyan authorities. The trader said fuel shortages, a slowdown of goods arriving by sea, and the dwindling value of the Libyan dinar had pushed up prices for many goods — more than doubling in some cases. He said most of the customers in the bazaar were young women and their mothers, looking to buy new clothes — a tradition of brides before they marry. „They have no choice — they have to do it,” he said. In Benghazi, the rebels’ headquarters city in eastern Libya, the opposition National Transitional Council received its highest-ranking foreign visitor Wednesday — Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski. He said the people of Poland and the European Union „wish victory to the Libyan people in making this transition to democracy.” Sikorski recalled that Poles rid themselves of communist rule two decades ago. „If we could have done it … so can you,” he said. Sikorski refused to answer to questions about whether Poland will be sending arms to the rebels, who say they are outgunned by Gadhafi’s forces and can’t overthrow him without heavier weapons. „In diplomacy, you don’t talk publicly about everything you discuss,” he told a news conference. In Geneva, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for „an immediate, verifiable cease-fire” in Libya, and said Gadhafi’s government had agreed to another visit by a special envoy. Ban said he spoke with Libya‘s prime minister by phone late Tuesday to urge a cease-fire and demand unimpeded access for U.N. humanitarian workers in Libya. He also called on Gadhafi’s forces to stop attacking civilians. Ban said the prime minister, Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, agreed to receive a special U.N. envoy who would now travel to Tripoli to undertake „negotiations for a peaceful resolution of the conflict and unimpeded access for humanitarian workers.” Michael reported from Cairo. Michelle Faul in Benghazi and Slobodan Lekic in Brussels also contributed to this report.
Arnold Schwarzenegger: Maria Shriver & I ‘Love Each Other Very Much’
Arnold Schwarzenegger has spoken out for the first time since he and Maria Shriver announced their separation.”I just talked to Maria an hour ago before I came here and we both were saying the same thing we are amazed to be extremely blessed to be surrounded by so many wonderful people and so many wonderful friends,” Schwarzenegger said at the 63rd Israel Independence Day Celebration at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles on Tuesday night.PLAY IT NOW: Arnold Schwarzenegger & Maria Shriver Split: Were There Warning Signs? „We both love each other very much,” the actor and former Governor of California continued. „We are very fortunate that we have four extraordinary children and we’re taking one day at a time.”Adding, „But the bottom line is I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you to all the people for their great, great support.”VIEW THE PHOTOS: Celebs Who Moved To Splitsville In 2011 On Monday, after 25 years together, Schwarzenegger, 63, and Shriver, 55, announced their split in a joint statement saying that this is „a time of great personal and professional transition.””After a great deal of thought, reflection, discussion, and prayer, we came to this decision together,” the statement continued. „At this time, we are living apart, while we work on the future of our relationship. We are continuing to parent our four children together. They are the light and the center of both of our lives.”On Tuesday, the couple’s daughter, Katherine Tweeted, „Just wanted to thank everyone for the sweet comments and ur concern and love in this changing time! It means a lot!”VIEW THE PHOTOS: Hottest Hollywood Dads! Their son, Patrick also Tweeted on Tuesday, writing, „Appreciate all your messages. Small speed bump I’n life, luckily we own hummers, we will cruise right over it. All will be okay. #peace”Copyright 2011 by NBC Universal, Inc. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.VIEW THE PHOTOS: Hollywood’s Hottest Moms & Their Loveable Little Ones Related Content from AccessHollywood.com:VIEW THE PHOTOS: Celebs Who Moved To Splitsville In 2010 PLAY IT NOW: Access Hollywood Live: Katherine Schwarzenegger Says ‘Rock What You’ve Got’More from Access: [ Arnold Schwarzenegger Maria Shriver Break-Ups ]