Frist: Protecting the Flag Isn't Pandering

The Associated Press
Sunday, May 28, 2006; 1:20 PM

WASHINGTON -- Amending the Constitution to prohibit flag burning may be considered political posturing in the nation's capital, says Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, but it's not pandering to the GOP's conservative base to pursue such protection.

"It's important to the heart and soul of the American people," said Frist, R-Tenn., who is considering a White House bid in 2008.

Asked on "Fox News Sunday" if flag burning and gay marriage were the most important issues the Senate can address in June, Frist said the agenda will focus on securing the country and its values.

"I'm going to Arlington Cemetery tomorrow, and I'm going to see that American flag waving on every single grave over there," Frist said the day before Memorial Day ceremonies at the military cemetery.

"And when you look at that flag and then you tell me that right now people in this country are saying it's OK to desecrate that flag and to burn it and to not pay respect to it _ is that important to our values as a people when we've got 130,000 people fighting for our freedom and liberty today? That is important."

Frist defended a constitutional ban on gay marriage because "that union between a man and a woman is the cornerstone of our society. It is under attack today." At work against such amendments to state constitutions are "activist judges, unelected activist judges," he said.


WASHINGTON (AP) _ Sen. Barack Obama is getting a push toward a presidential run from someone close to home _ his fellow Democratic senator from Illinois, Dick Durbin.

"I've sat down with him and said, 'You ought to look at this long and hard,'" Durbin, the Democrats' No. 2 leader in the Senate, told "Fox News Sunday."

"I know many people are saying wait, and he may decide to wait," Durbin said. "But he ought to take a hard look at it."

Obama, 44, who was elected to the Senate in 2004, has said he will not run for president in 2008. He was a state senator for seven years and came to national attention when he delivered the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

Durbin said Obama brings something special to politics.

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