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Obama Backs Law That Aids McCain

Saturday, March 1, 2008

THE ELIGIBILITY QUESTION

Obama Backs Law That Aids McCain

FORT WORTH -- Barack Obama's campaign announced that he will co-sponsor legislation introduced Thursday by political ally Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) to ensure that John McCain can become president, even though the senator from Arizona was born in the Panama Canal Zone.

The issue of McCain's eligibility was raised in a New York Times article noting that the constitutional requirement that a U.S. president be a "natural-born citizen" has never been fully defined.

McCaskill's bill would establish the eligibility of anyone born to a U.S. citizen who is serving overseas as an active or reserve member of the U.S. armed forces. McCain's father was a Navy officer serving in the Panama Canal Zone when McCain was born there in 1936.

"Senator McCain has earned the right to be his party's nominee, and no loophole should prevent him from competing in this campaign," Obama said.

-- Shailagh Murray

PRO-OBAMA VIDEO

'Yes We Can,' The Sequel

Barack Obama's campaign is enjoying another hip, tuneful, B-list-celebrity YouTube moment -- this time with an overt appeal to Spanish-speaking voters -- courtesy of musician will.i.am.

The new video, called "We Are the Ones," comes days before the critical Texas primary. Some polls in the state suggest most Hispanics favor Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The video is based on a line Obama delivered in a speech: "We are the ones we've been waiting for," and it features celebrities such as Jessica Alba, George Lopez, Luis Guzman, Ryan Phillippe, John Leguizamo, Kate del Castillo, Malcolm Jamal Warner and Macy Gray. The vibe is one of youthful diversity, with characters in scruffy downtown chic, filmed in black and white.

The work is reminiscent of will.i.am's previous pro-Obama effort, released in early February, "Yes We Can," which had at least 11 million hits on YouTube as of Friday. Director Jesse Dylan -- Bob's son -- worked on both. The only Spanish in the first work, though, was "S¿ se puede" -- "Yes, we can."

The fight for the Latino vote has inspired several Spanish-language music video tributes to Obama on the Internet, including a reggaeton tune, a corrido and a cumbia.

Not to be outdone, the Clinton campaign this week released its own Mexican cumbia, a Latino campaign theme song called "Hillary, Hillary Clinton," and featuring noted Tejano musician Johnny Canales. Latino supporters of Clinton in the Washington area also created a Spanish-language music video called "Oye Hillary."

-- David Montgomery

TONING IT DOWN

On Stump, Clinton Is a Changed Man

MANSFIELD, Ohio -- Former president Bill Clinton admitted that the choice between "Hillary" and "her opponent" is complicated for Democrats. "The truth is, most people like them both," he told a crowd Friday in Findlay, Ohio. "They both speak elegantly and articulately."

"One said, 'You should vote for me because I embody change, because we need to change Washington and we don't want anybody who was there before,' " he continued. "The other candidate, Hillary, says, 'You should vote for me because I've spent a lifetime -- driven by my religious convictions and my personal upbringing -- in the belief that my job was to see that other people had the same chances in life that I've had.' I believe that's the better side of the argument."

It's a polite kind of compare-and-contrast. After drawing headlines last month for his sharp criticisms of Obama, Clinton is a changed man on the stump, having been limited by his wife's staff. The former president says he's hampered in other ways, too. In a crowded gym in Findlay, he said, "I know every time I get up to speak, people say, 'Aw, he's got to do this, they're married. I've got to discount about 50 percent of what this guy says. He's got to be here.' "

Clinton finds himself on the defensive about the importance of experience in public life. "Vice President Cheney and others have given experience a bad name," said Clinton, "but it really is not irrelevant."

The former president has generally avoided the media in recent days. One of his traveling aides said Friday that Clinton will not do interviews with local reporters in Ohio as he stumped through the state, although he did an interview this week with the Daily Texan, the student newspaper at the University of Texas in Austin, which endorsed Hillary Clinton last week.

He told the newspaper: "You don't have to be against Obama, just like the people who are for Obama don't have to be against her. You just have to decide who would be the best president."

-- Perry Bacon Jr.

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