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Campaign Notebook

Romney plans his first town meeting on Web

Mitt Romney, already one of the more eager presidential candidates when it comes to working the Web, plans his first online-only town meeting tomorrow.

It will be held live at 7:30 p.m. via streaming video, giving people anywhere in the country a chance to ask Romney about issues and priorities. Web surfers will have to register by 7:15 p.m. to take part, the Romney campaign said.

Tomorrow is also the deadline to submit entries in a TV ad contest that Romney touts as the first time an amateur-produced spot will air on behalf of a presidential candidate.


Clark endorses Clinton

NEW YORK - Democrat Hillary Clinton was endorsed yesterday by retired General Wesley Clark, who sought the party's nomination in 2004 and whose sterling military credentials could bolster her bid to be the first female commander in chief.

Clark, the former supreme allied commander of NATO, praised the New York senator as "a remarkable person" with the skills and experience to be president.

"She will be a great leader for the United States of America and a great commander in chief for the men and women in uniform," Clark told reporters in a conference call with the former first lady.

Clinton welcomed Clark's endorsement as a "real sign of confidence" in her ability to lead the military as president. "He and I have been friends for 25 years, and I am deeply admiring of his leadership," she said.

But Clinton also sidestepped questions about a newspaper ad by the liberal group that criticized the top military commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus. She has refused to condemn the ad, which referred to Petraeus as "General Betray-Us."

"I have repeatedly not only expressed my strong admiration and support for our men and women in uniform but with respect to General Petraeus, I have also made my respect for him abundantly clear and I think that speaks for itself," she said.

Clark, an early critic of the Iraq conflict, was drawn into the 2004 contest through an enthusiastic online draft movement. He dropped out in February of that year after a poor showing in the early primaries, but considered running again this time.


Thompson works gun show

LAKELAND, Fla. - Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson walked through rows of assault rifles, pistols, and other firearms, signing autographs and greeting people at a gun show yesterday.

Despite his pitch for support, some of the gun advocates were not convinced that the former Tennessee senator was completely on their side.

"I was all for him until I started reading the votes," said gun dealer Ken Strevels, standing at a table lined with machine guns, including an enormous .50 caliber rifle held up by a tripod. "I'm not sure now. He's flipping on the vote. It's like he's working both sides."

A Gun Owners of America report said Thompson voted "anti-gun" 14 times on 33 votes the group tracked during his eight years in the Senate, ending in 2003.

Tim Smith, a Winter Haven dealer, said the report raises questions about whether Thompson is entirely progun. But among the Republican candidates in 2008, Smith said Thompson may offer the best choice.

"We really have nobody that we would consider a 100 percent progun candidate running," said Smith, who acknowledged that some of Thompson's votes came on issues that were "borderline antigun issues."


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