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In a solemn East Room ceremony Wednesday, Mr. Obama told the family of Staff Sgt. Robert Miller that the 24-year-old soldier had been “born to lead,” and met his “testing point” with extraordinary courage.

On that snowy day, Mr. Obama said, “like so many times before, Rob was up front.” The president recounted the gripping story of Sgt. Miller’s leadership of a nighttime patrol near the Pakistan border on Jan. 25, 2008, when a much larger force of insurgents opened fire.

Comrades said Sgt. Miller continued advancing, firing and hurling grenades, even after he was wounded twice in the chest.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Ad targets rival over foster parents

CONCORD | Democratic New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch is criticizing Republican rival John Stephen in a new television ad over Mr. Stephen’s decision while he was health and human services commissioner to let some felons be foster parents.

Mr. Stephen changed the rules in 2004 to let social workers decide whether someone would make a good foster parent even if he or she had a criminal record. Mr. Stephen said anyone convicted of a violent crime or a crime against a child would still be banned.

Stephen spokesman Greg Moore said Mr. Lynch is trying to divert attention from a new law allowing early release of felons.

Mr. Lynch is seeking his fourth two-year term as governor. A recent poll shows he is well ahead in the governor’s race.

Mr. Stephen ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2002 and 2008. Libertarian John Babiarz also is on the ballot.

CAMPAIGN

Poll: O’Donnell trails in Delaware

A new poll shows Republican Christine O’Donnell distantly trailing Democrat Chris Coons in a Delaware Senate race that Republicans were heavily favored to win until the “tea party”-backed Ms. O’Donnell pulled off an upset in the GOP primary last month.

The survey released Wednesday by Fairleigh Dickinson University-PublicMind found Mr. Coons leading Ms. O’Donnell 53 percent to 36 percent.

Unlike many underdog candidates, Ms. O’Donnell’s problem is not name recognition. After weeks of publicity from her surprise primary win and sometimes quirky background, some 97 percent of people surveyed said they had heard of her.

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