Obama favors steps to end gun violence
MILWAUKEE (AP) - Democrat Barack Obama said the country must do "whatever it takes" to eradicate gun violence but believes in an individual's right to bear arms.
The Illinois senator's remarks Friday came a day after a man gunned down five people at Northern Illinois University in a suicidal rampage inside a lecture hall.
Campaigning in neighboring Wisconsin, Obama said he spoke to the university's president Friday morning by phone and offered whatever help his Senate office could provide in the investigation and improving campus security.
Obama, a former constitutional law instructor, said some scholars argue the Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees gun ownership only to militias, but he believes it grants individual gun rights.
Campaigning in Ohio, Obama's rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton echoed Obama's comments.
"Obviously we have to first and foremost do everything we can to take reasonable steps to keep our children safe," she said. "And while safeguarding and respecting our Second Amendment rights, we have to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, terrorists, gang members and people with mental health problems."
Republican Mike Huckabee said Thursday's ambush in DeKalb, Ill., is "a reminder again of how vulnerable life is."
"Obviously no president can say you're going to go out there and prevent people from doing crazy things," Huckabee said at campaign stop Friday morning in Brookfield, Wis. "Hopefully what you can do is to make sure when crazy things happen, there is a national base on it, and your heart, your prayers and your thoughts go to those people."
Last April, Huckabee had said a concealed handgun carried by a faculty member or student at Virginia Tech might have reduced the toll from the shooting spree by a student there.
McCain scolds Obama on campaign funds
OSHKOSH, Wis. (AP) - Republican John McCain admonished Democrat Barack Obama for hedging on whether he would accept public funding as promised if he wins his party's nomination or use his prolific fundraising operation.
"I made the commitment to the American people that if I were the nominee of my party, I would accept public financing," McCain said Friday in Oshkosh, Wis. "I expect Senator Obama to keep his word to the American people as well."
Obama spokesman Bill Burton on Thursday called public financing "an option that we wanted on the table," but said "there is no pledge" to take the money and the spending limitations that come with it.
McCain said that if Obama becomes the nominee and decides against taking public money, he might do the same.
Clinton tries to hold coalition
CINCINNATI (AP) - Hillary Rodham Clinton declared herself the "candidate of, from and for the middle class of America" as she worked to keep her Democratic coalition in Ohio intact against a hard-charging Sen. Barack Obama.
Clinton has relied on working-class Democrats for much of her support in six weeks of presidential primary contests across the country and is counting on them even as Obama racks up important union endorsements.
The New York senator is running a three-pronged strategy as she heads into the high-stakes March 4 primaries in Ohio and Texas. She is honing a tough new populist message, she is sharpening her criticism of Obama and she is presenting herself as the candidate who is better schooled in the intricacies of government policy.
The former first lady demonstrated the new approach at a round-table session on economic issues. With the conversation on policy over, she easily slipped into her combative persona.
"We're going to end every single tax break that still exists in the federal tax code that gives one penny of your money to anybody who exports a job. Those days are done," she said, her voice rising.
Former President Bush to endorse McCain
WASHINGTON (AP) - Former President George H.W. Bush will endorse John McCain in Texas on Monday, Republican officials said.
The endorsement represents another step in McCain's tightening grip on the Republican presidential nomination. The officials spoke Friday on condition of anonymity because the formal announcement is next week.
The current President Bush has not yet formally endorsed McCain because Mike Huckabee in still in the race, but he strongly signaled his support last weekend in a cable television interview.