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Campaign Notebook

Gingrich doesn't regret decision to skip 2008 race

Gingrich said he got millions in pledges. Gingrich said he got millions in pledges.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich said yesterday that he could have been a contender, but has no regrets about skipping the race for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.

And he said he wanted to make sure he stayed out of jail.

Gingrich said he had been planning to launch a campaign website this week and had received several million dollars in pledges.

"I think we would clearly have been competitive financially within three weeks, and we literally had not even set up the website yet," he said. "But what hit me was it would have been an underdog campaign. I mean, clearly, if you were going to come from behind, I think it would have been a real campaign."

Spokesman Rick Tyler said Saturday that Gingrich opted out of the race after determining that he could not legally explore a bid and remain head of American Solutions for Winning the Future, his tax-exempt political organization.

"I thought there was a way that you could continue the momentum of those ideas while I began to prepare a presidential campaign," Gingrich said yesterday on ABC's "This Week." "What we learned yesterday morning was - I mean, it's literally - a go to jail, criminal activity."

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McCain takes on Burma

Buoyed by polls showing a slight uptick, as well as fund-raising he says is improving, Senator John McCain set out yesterday to win New Hampshire votes with his trademark straight talk.

The Arizona Republican blasted the "military thugs" in Burma who are attempting to maintain their junta despite protests of Buddhist monks.

He also said "we should make the Chinese pay a price" for supporting the regime.

McCain labeled President Vladimir Putin as "the dictator from Russia" as he called for US energy independence to curb oil imports from the former Soviet Union, Venezuela, and Iran.

In a 90-minute town hall meeting in Derry, N.H., McCain also challenged a woman in a wheelchair who said she needed medical marijuana to withstand the pain of her ailments.

"Every town hall meeting I have, someone shows up and advocates for medical marijuana, and, by the way, in all due respect, alleges that we are arresting the dead and the dying, and I still have not seen any evidence of that," McCain told his questioner.

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Obama to tout Iraq stance

Senator Hillary Clinton and her husband have criticized her key opponent in the race for the Democratic nomination for his lack of political experience.

Senator Barack Obama of Illinois gets their point.

"They want to make the argument that Senator Clinton is just an extension of the Bill Clinton presidency," he said yesterday while campaigning in South Carolina. "They've been the dominant political family in the Democratic Party for the last 20 years now. So it's not surprising that they want to focus on their longevity."

But Obama said his opposition to the Iraq war before combat began shows his experience. Clinton voted to authorize military action in Iraq, but Obama often reminds voters that he gave a speech in 2002 opposing the war.

Obama plans to spend the week revisiting that address and discussing the foreign policy challenges he says the war created. "On the single most important foreign policy issue of our time, I got it right," he said.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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