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Campaign Notebook

N.H.'s Episcopal bishop backs Obama's run

New Hampshire's Episcopal bishop, the Reverend V. Gene Robinson, endorsed US Senator Barack Obama's presidential campaign, saying Obama had a background in faith and activism to which he could relate.

Robinson became an internationally controversial figure in 2003 when he became the first openly gay bishop of the Episcopal Church.

His appointment created a schism that led many to leave the church. The international Anglican Communion has threatened to split from the American church.

The public endorsement of Obama could set off even more uneasiness within the church, which has not been overtly involved in electoral politics.

In a conference call with reporters yesterday, Robinson said that after the Obama campaign reached out to him he became impressed with Obama and "shared his values."

"His experience as a community organizer and as one that did it from a faith background represents the kind of change we need," Robinson said.

Robinson said he has never publicly endorsed a candidate before and will not use the pulpit to advocate for Obama. Yet, his endorsement of Obama is the latest sign in Robinson's growing political profile. Earlier in the year Robinson lobbied New Hampshire lawmakers to become the first state in the nation to approve same-sex civil unions without a court mandate. He also said he plans to enter into a civil union with his partner.

In addition, he has been a public advocate against the state's death penalty.

When it comes to gay marriage, Robinson says he disagrees with Obama's stance of only favoring allowing civil unions.

"At this moment we have no viable candidate who is where we would like them to be on these issues," he said.

Unlike many Democratic candidates in the past the Obama campaign has actively sought out religious groups. In New Hampshire, Obama volunteers organized discussions around the state about the interplay of faith and activism.

JAMES W. PINDELL

Tancredo remark draws fire
WASHINGTON -- Republican presidential hopeful Tom Tancredo says the best way he can think of to deter a nuclear terrorist attack on the United States is to threaten to retaliate by bombing Islamic holy sites.

The Colorado congressman on Tuesday told about 30 people at a town hall meeting in Osceola, Iowa, he believes such a terrorist attack could be imminent and that the United States needs to hurry up and think of a way to stop it.

"If it is up to me, we are going to explain that an attack on this homeland of that nature would be followed by an attack on the holy sites in Mecca and Medina," Tancredo said at the Family Table restaurant. "Because that's the only thing I can think of that might deter somebody from doing what they otherwise might do."

Mecca and Medina, in Saudi Arabia, are Islam's holiest cities. All able-bodied Muslims are required to make a pilgrimage there at least once in their lives. Tancredo's comments were recorded and posted on the website iowapolitics.com.

A Washington-based Islamic civil rights and advocacy group responded yesterday, calling Tancredo's statement "unworthy of anyone seeking public office in the United States."

In 2005, he drew international criticism after he told a radio talk show host that "you could take out" Islamic holy sites if terrorists ever launched a nuclear attack against the United States.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Edwards blasts News Corp.
WASHINGTON -- John Edwards criticized Democratic rival Hillary Clinton yesterday for taking more than $20,000 in donations from News Corp. officials, arguing that the company's Fox News Channel has a right-wing bias and Democrats should avoid the company.

Edwards led the Democratic candidates' boycott of Fox's plans to host a Democratic presidential debate. Now he is objecting to News Corp.'s purchase of Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones & Co. and highlighting the relationships that Clinton and other rivals have with the company's executives.

"The time has come for Democrats to stop pretending to be friends with the very people who demonize the Democratic Party," Edwards said in a statement.

He challenged his rivals to refuse contributions from executives of News Corp., and return any they had already received. The Edwards campaign said it would return less than $1,000 in donations from three Fox employees -- a worker at a local Fox station in Florida and two staffers from Fox Cable Networks -- even though they are not executives.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

No nukes for Obama
WASHINGTON -- Presidential hopeful Barack Obama said yesterday that he would not use nuclear weapons "in any circumstance" to fight terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan, drawing criticism from Hillary Clinton and other Democrats.

"I think it would be a profound mistake for us to use nuclear weapons in any circumstance," Obama said, with a pause, "involving civilians." Then he quickly added, "Let me scratch that. There's been no discussion of nuclear weapons. That's not on the table."

Obama was responding to a question by the Associated Press about whether there was any circumstance where he would be prepared or willing to use nuclear weapons in Afghanistan and Pakistan to defeat terrorism and Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

"There's been no discussion of using nuclear weapons and that's not a hypothetical that I'm going to discuss," Obama said.

Asked about Obama's speech and his comments about nuclear weapons, Clinton chided him about addressing hypotheticals.

"Presidents should be very careful at all times in discussing the use or non-use of nuclear weapons. . . . I don't believe that any president should make any blanket statements with respect to the use or non-use of nuclear weapons," Clinton said.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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