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Campaign Notebook

On trail, senior takes tearful plea to Obama

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December 20, 2007

CONCORD, N.H. - When she turned 65 last summer, Sandra Burt was laid off from the manufacturing job she held for decades.

She tearfully told Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama at a small roundtable with voters yesterday that she and her husband can't afford her $2,900-a-month prescription drugs or to keep their home warm. Their dream of a comfortable retirement is gone.

"It's not a big dream, but it was our dream," she said. "I think, I've worked all my life for this?"

Her tale seemed to captivate Obama, who listened with red eyes. "What would you do?" she pleaded with him.

"No, look, it's outrageous," Obama said, going on to say how insurers, drug companies, and other special interests in Washington had broken the healthcare system.

"Can you fix it?" Burt asked.

"I know I can fix it if I've got the American people understanding that it needs to be fixed," Obama said, handing her a tissue.

Burt said she liked Obama, but is still deciding between him and John Edwards, with whom she has also shared her story.

"I've voted for a lot of people I thought was going to do some help, help for us, but then sometimes they get amnesia when they get in the White House," she said.

SCOTT HELMAN

Ads focus on Iraq; voters press on domestic issues

Polls suggest that voters are focusing more on domestic concerns than Iraq as casualties have declined and economic worries have risen, but the war is front and center in two new TV ads aimed at New Hampshire voters yesterday.

Democrat Bill Richardson's ad points out his pledge to withdraw all US troops by the end of his first year as president, which he contends sets him apart from the leading Democrats who all contemplate keeping some troops behind for security and other needs.

"We can accomplish nothing on domestic issues, which the other candidates have shifted to, until we get all of our troops out of Iraq and actually end this war," Richardson said in a statement.

Republican John McCain's new spot all but says, "I told you so." The announcer says that despite the naysayers, McCain pushed for more US troops and a new counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq.

"One man does what's best for America," the announcer concludes, "not what's easy."

The ad plays up McCain's credentials on defense and foreign policy - his areas of strength compared to his Republican rivals - and also highlights his reputation as a maverick, which McCain hopes will appeal to independent voters who helped him win the primary in 2000.

FOON RHEE

McCain calls for probe into alleged push-polling in N.H.

CONCORD, N.H. - Republican John McCain asked yesterday for an investigation of thousands of calls to New Hampshire voters disparaging him and supporting rival Mike Huckabee.

In a letter to the New Hampshire attorney general, McCain's campaign accused a Colorado-based nonprofit organization, Common Sense Issues, of illegally conducting "push polling," which is asking questions intended to influence voters while pretending to take a poll.

Common Sense Issues, which favors Huckabee, responded that the New Hampshire law that says the caller must identify the candidate they are working for or against doesn't apply to presidential primaries, only to other elections.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Brother of Dennis Kucinich is found dead in Ohio home

CLEVELAND - The youngest brother of Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich was found dead at his home yesterday.

Perry Kucinich, 52, was found face down by another brother and there were no signs of foul play, said Powell Caesar, a spokesman for the Cuyahoga County Coroner's office.

Dennis Kucinich flew from Washington to Cleveland after learning of the death and later issued a statement, saying his brother was a talented artist. "Although he struggled with mental illness, with the help of his family and friends, he was able to lead a productive life," Dennis Kucinich said.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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