The Note’s Must-Reads for Thursday, May 19, 2011

By Jayson

May 19, 2011 4:41am

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 www.abcnews.com

Compiled by ABC News Digital News Associates and Desk Assistants Jayce Henderson, Claudia Morales, Jacqueline Fernandez and Ben Waldron

PRESIDENT OBAMA / FOREIGN AFFAIRS:
The New York Times’ Helene Cooper and Ethan Bronner: “Focus Is on Obama as Tensions Soar Across Mideast” Few game-changing proposals are emerging to defuse tensions in the Middle East as a busy week of diplomacy unfolds with President Obama’s address to the region and his meeting with Israel’s prime minister. LINK

The Washington Post’s Joby Warrick and Liz Sly: “Obama imposes sanctions on Syrian leader, 6 aides” The Obama administration ramped up the pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday with economic sanctions that targeted his personal finances and linked him explicitly to human rights abuses in his government’s brutal, two-month-old crackdown on demonstrators. LINK

The Hill’s Sam Youngman: “President will call for a new chapter of support for Arab Spring” President Obama will declare that the U.S. is firmly in support of democracy in the Arab world in a major speech Thursday intended to show administration policy has caught up with rapidly unfolding events in the Middle East. White House officials on Wednesday touted Obama’s address as “beginning to turn the page to a more positive and hopeful future for U.S. policy in the region,” following the killing of terrorist Osama bin Laden and the near completion of the drawdown of American troops in Iraq. LINK

The Wall Street Journal’s Jay Solomon and Adam Entous: “Power Shifts on Foreign-Policy Team” When President Barack Obama lays out his vision for the Middle East in a speech Thursday,he will also be tacitly drawing attention to another upheaval: Tumult in the Arab world has accelerated a shift in the standing of Washington's foreign-policy power players. LINK

USA Today’s Mimi Hall: “Obama to detail Mideast policy” Two years after he traveled to Cairo on a mission to improve U.S. relations with the Muslim world, President Obama today will promote a new policy on the Middle East: economic development as a path to liberty and security. LINK

Bloomberg’s Nicole Gaouette and Julianna Goldman: “Obama Speech to Test Extent of U.S. Influence When President Barack Obama outlines his vision of U.S. policy in the Middle East today, his challenge will be to get people in the region to care. The excitement generated by Obama’s call two years ago for a “new beginning” in U.S.-Arab relations evaporated as people waited for changes that haven’t come, said Robert Danin of the Council on Foreign Relations and others who study the region. LINK

The Boston Globe’s Peter Schworm and Donovan Slack: “Obama raises funds and spirits in Boston visit” President Obama paid a quick but rewarding visit to Boston yesterday, rallying supporters at a pair of fund-raisers to energize a Democratic stronghold and bolster his campaign coffers. Jetting into town for the second time in three months, Obama addressed a crowd of 900 at the Boston Center for the Arts in the South End before dining with big-money benefactors at the Brookline home of advertising executive Jack Connors Jr. LINK

G.O.P. / ELECTION 2012:
The Washington Post’s Nia-Malika Henderson: “Moderate Jon Huntsman, possible 2012 candidate, tests the waters in today’s GOP” Jon Huntsman Jr. sets off Thursday on his first campaign-style swing through New Hampshire, testing whether his moderate brand of politics can find a place in today’s Republican Party. LINK

The NY Daily News’ Alison Gendar and Corky Siemaszko: “Rep. Peter King tells supporters L.I. Republicans want him to run for president” Long Island Republican Rep. Pete King let it be known Wednesday that his Nassau County constituents think that's a dandy idea. "I thought you might find it interesting that the Nassau County GOP feels that I should run for President," King wrote in an email to supporters. "What do you think?" LINK

The Wall Street Journal’s Sean Lengell: “Republicans stand firm against court nominee” The Obama administration’s most contentious judicial nomination yet faces a key test vote in the Senate on Thursday, with Republicans poised to block the nomination of Goodwin Liu on grounds he is a liberal activist who would play fast and loose with the Constitution from the bench. LINK

Politico’s Andy Barr: “Nikki Haley muscles up for 2012” Make way for Nikki Haley. With noted smackdowns of two top GOP 2012 contenders, a high-profile presence at the May 5 Fox News debate and a schedule heavy with cable news show appearances, the first-term Republican governor is signaling her intent to use South Carolina’s key early presidential primary to claim a place on the national stage. LINK

SENATE:
ABC News’ John R. Parkinson: “Paul Ryan Declines Senate Bid” Just a couple of days after Senate Democrat Herb Kohl announced his plans to retire from elected office at the end of his term in 2012, Rep. Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget committee, has ended speculation that he might run for the open seat. "For my family and me, the most important factor in making this decision was determining where I could make the biggest difference. LINK

The LA Times’ James Oliphant: “Senate braces for possible filibuster over Obama judge pick.” A recently formed outside money group is testing the limits of independent political spending, alarming campaign finance reform advocates. Indiana attorney James Bopp Jr., one of the lawyers who brought the watershed Citizens United case before the Supreme Court, registered the political action committee, the Republican Super PAC, with the Federal Election Commission last week. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEO:
Mitch Daniels on Newt Gingrich’s Campaign StartLINK
Newt Gingrich Glitter Thrower: I have One Bag Left’LINK

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