McCain to Discuss Abstinence in S.C.

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By JIM DAVENPORT
The Associated Press
Friday, February 16, 2007; 9:45 PM

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Most presidential candidates are trying to get people to say "yes." Republican Sen. John McCain will be encouraging South Carolina students to say "no." The Arizona lawmaker is scheduled to speak Sunday night to about 1,500 middle and high school students about abstaining from premarital sex. Abstinence and abortion loom large as issues in this first-in-the-South primary state in the heart of the Bible Belt.

"Senator McCain has a long legislative record of supporting abstinence-based initiatives in his record in the U.S. Senate," said Trey Walker, McCain's South Carolina campaign director. "He thinks that abstinence is healthier and should be promoted in our society for young people."

The event is to follow McCain's appearance at a hot dog and ice cream social.

McCain is courting Christian conservatives in his bid for the GOP nomination. Recently, Christian leader James Dobson said he wouldn't support McCain because of his opposition to a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. McCain opposes gay marriage but says it should be regulated by the states.

Alexia Newman, who runs the Carolina Pregnancy Center, said her student rally is costing about $22,000. McCain isn't putting money into the event, but "if he wants to support this rally, that'd be great," Newman said.

"We're excited he would want to come and endorse what we're doing," she said. "It's going to be a high-energy night."

___

BOSTON (AP) _ Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is offering a different explanation for why he voted in the 1992 Democratic presidential primary than he did 13 years ago.

In an interview taped for broadcast Sunday on ABC's "This Week," Romney said he voted for former Sen. Paul Tsongas, D-Mass., to support a candidate he thought might be the weakest opponent for President George H.W. Bush.

However, when Romney ran for the Senate in 1994, he gave The Boston Globe a different reason, according to the newspaper's story published on Feb. 3, 1994.

"Romney confirmed he voted for former U.S. Sen. Paul Tsongas in the state's 1992 Democratic presidential primary, saying he did so because Tsongas was from Massachusetts and because he favored his ideas over those of Bill Clinton," the Globe reported. Romney said he was sure the GOP would renominate Bush, for whom he voted in the general election.

Romney, who ran as a moderate in his Senate campaign and his winning race for governor eight years later, has been trying to convince the GOP faithful that he is a solid conservative.


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© 2007 The Associated Press

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