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[February 16, 2008]  (AP) -- IN THE HEADLINES

Obama says country must do 'whatever it takes' to eradicate gun violence ... McCain admonishes Obama for hedging on whether he'd accept public funding ... Clinton presents case for middle class as she tries to hold onto her coalition ... Former President Bush to endorse McCain on Monday in Texas ... Obama garners sought-after SEIU endorsement ... Former President Clinton, campaigning in Texas, knocks Obama on health care ... Founder of '70s rock band tells Huckabee to quit playing his song

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.


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SEIU endorses Obama

WASHINGTON (AP) - Barack Obama won the support Friday of the 1.9-million member Service Employees International Union, a fresh sign of momentum in the Democratic presidential race with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"There has never been a fight in Illinois or a fight in the nation where our members have not asked Barack Obama for assistance and he has not done everything he could to help us," Andy Stern, the union's president, told reporters in announcing the decision.

The politically active union represents workers in health care, building services and other industries. It has donated more than $25 million to candidates in the past two decades, most of it to Democrats.

For Obama, the endorsement offers a chance to increase support in the primary states that are scheduled to vote in the next few weeks, particularly Ohio and Texas on March 4 and Pennsylvania on April 22.


Former President Clinton stumps in Texas

TEXARKANA, Texas (AP) - Former President Clinton said Democratic voters who support Barack Obama over his wife are missing out on an opportunity to back a universal health care system for the nation.

"It would be truly tragic if the Democratic Party walked away from universal health care for the first time in 60 years when we finally got the business community and the medical community in line behind us," Clinton said Friday during a campaign swing through East Texas in advance of the state's March 4 primary.

Hillary Rodham Clinton's health plan would require everyone to have health insurance and would provide government assistance to people who can't afford it. Obama has proposed government subsidies to help people buy insurance, but doesn't mandate that they purchase it. Her campaign says Obama's plan would leave up to 15 million people without insurance.


Rocker tells Huckabee to lay off song

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - The chief songwriter and founder of the band Boston has more than a feeling that he's being ripped off by Mike Huckabee.

In a letter to the Republican presidential hopeful, Tom Scholz complains that Huckabee is using his 1970s smash hit song "More Than a Feeling" without his permission. A former member of the band, Barry Goudreau, has appeared with Huckabee at campaign events, and they have played the song with Huckabee's band, Capitol Offense.

Scholz, who said Goudreau left the band more than 25 years ago after a three-year stint, objects to the implication that the band and one of its members has endorsed Huckabee's candidacy.

"Boston has never endorsed a political candidate, and with all due respect, would not start by endorsing a candidate who is the polar opposite of most everything Boston stands for," wrote Scholz, adding that he is supporting Democrat Barack Obama.



New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton campaigns in Ohio. Illinois Sen. Barack Obama holds rallies in Wisconsin.



Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee campaign in Wisconsin.



"If she wins in Texas and Ohio, she will win the nomination." - Former President Clinton, campaigning for his wife in Texas, which holds its primary March 4 along with Ohio.



Hawaiians voted for Democratic candidates in the last five presidential elections.


Compiled by Ann Sanner

[Associated Press]

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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