- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 5, 2008

PRIMARIES

Clinton ‘never made a racist comment’

Former President Bill Clinton concedes some lingering bitterness over the Democratic presidential campaign, while asserting that he “never made a racist comment” about Sen. Barack Obama.

But Mr. Clinton also says in a nationally broadcast interview Monday that a double standard was applied by news organizations in the campaign that Mr. Obama of Illinois won over his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

Mr. Clinton told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that it would be “counterproductive” for him to talk about his misgivings over things said and done. He had been criticized for disparaging Mr. Obama’s victory in the South Carolina primary. Mr. Clinton said that talking about incidents harkening back to the days of the primaries would deflect attention from the question of who should be elected in November.

Mr. Clinton was interviewed in Rwanda, where he is visiting as part of his work with AIDS programs in Africa.

ENERGY

Cantor challenges Obama on drilling

RICHMOND | Rep. Eric Cantor attacked Democrat Barack Obama’s energy policy as naive or disingenuous, but wouldn’t discuss the possibility of being Republican John McCain’s running mate.

People who know about conversations between Mr. McCain and Mr. Cantor say the Virginia Republican has submitted personal documents for review by Mr. McCain’s team vetting possible vice-presidential ticket mates.

But Mr. Cantor wouldn’t address the question during a Monday morning teleconference intended to pre-empt Mr. Obama’s energy policy rollout later in the day.

Mr. Cantor said that if Mr. Obama is serious about his qualified support for offshore oil and natural-gas drilling, he’d ask House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to allow a vote on lifting the federal ban on drilling along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

Mr. Cantor said Mr. Obama either doesn’t understand domestic energy issues or “isn’t being straight” with Americans.

CAMPAIGN

Michelle Obama talks about family

Forget the pearls. Michelle Obama says her best accessory is her husband.

“Barack and I - as partners, as friends and as lovers - we accessorize each other in many ways,” said Mrs. Obama, wife of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. “The best thing I love having on me is Barack on my arm and vice versa, whether it’s having him standing there smiling at me, or watching him mesmerize a crowd or talk to some seniors in a senior center.”

Mrs. Obama discussed her marriage, fashion sense and how she balances motherhood and work in an interview with Ebony magazine. The issue hits newsstands nationwide on Aug. 12.

Should she become first lady, Mrs. Obama says her primary focus will be on their two daughters - Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7.

“My first job, in all honesty, is going to continue to be mom in chief,” she said, “making sure that in this transition, which will be even more of a transition for the girls … that they are settled and that they know they will continue to be the center of our universe.”

Mrs. Obama said the challenges women face in balancing their families and jobs should be highlighted in government policies - whether it’s through better health care or more family-leave time.

She also expressed her support for military wives and the additional stress they face when their husbands are away and have done multiple tours of duty.

“Tack on the fact that there is no sustained mental-health support for these families as they are struggling with loved ones who are coming back dealing with emotional issues,” she said. “You’ve got people in pain, and we don’t hear those voices a lot.”

Mrs. Obama, 44, has worked as a lawyer and hospital executive. She has been active in her husband’s campaign and is scheduled to speak to military spouses on Wednesday in Norfolk.

Convention

Kennedy creates

video greeting

BOSTON | Sen. Edward M. Kennedy will have a presence at the Democratic National Convention even if he can’t make it to Denver.

A Kennedy spokeswoman said Monday that the Massachusetts Democrat taped a five-minute video over the weekend to air during the party gathering at the end of the month. Crews visited his home on Cape Cod.

Mr. Kennedy suffered a seizure at his Hyannis Port house on May 17 and was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. He underwent surgery and recently completed a six-week course of chemotherapy and radiation.

Mr. Kennedy made a surprise visit to the Senate floor in July to cast a Medicare vote, but his immune system remains repressed and it’s not clear whether he can attend a large public event like the convention.

NEW YORK

Airports refuse flight auctions

The managers of New York City’s crowded airports say they will block a Bush administration plan to try to reduce flight delays across the country through an experimental auction of slots at their airports.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has issued a legal notice stating it will not accept any flights at its three major airports - John F. Kennedy, Newark Liberty International, and LaGuardia - that are the result of a government auction.

The bistate agency has long opposed the auction plan championed by the Bush administration as a way to reduce flight delays from those airports, which have a cascade effect, causing spillover delays all across the country.

STATE DEPARTMENT

End to violence urged in Georgia

The United States on Monday called for an end to violence in Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia, which in the past week has seen the deadliest clashes in the province in years.

“We’ve seen reports that at least six people have been killed and 21 injured in the Georgia region of South Ossetia in the last few days,” State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos said.

“We call for an immediate halt to violence and call for direct talks between the parties,” he said.

“These incidents underscore the need for an immediate increase in the number of OSCE monitors in South Ossetia,” said Mr. Gallegos, referring to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which has expressed concern about violence in the region.

Washington would also like to see “joint Georgian-Russian monitoring of the Roksky Tunnel, to stem the flow of illicit arms, ammunition and armed groups into the region,” he said.

The tunnel links Russia’s North Ossetia to the pro-Moscow breakaway region of South Ossetia. Georgia is a Eurasian nation that was once a Soviet satellite.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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