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Candidates practice pitches

In campaigning, presidential hopefuls try out sports analogies and pro- and antiwar rhetoric.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published May 13, 2007


LAKE GENEVA, Wis. - Note to Sen. Sam Brownback: Wisconsin is Brett Favre country.

The Republican presidential hopeful drew boos and groans Friday at the Wisconsin Republican Party convention when he used a football analogy to talk about the need to focus on families.

"This is fundamental blocking and tackling, " he said. "This is your line in football. If you don't have a line, how many passes can Peyton Manning complete? Greatest quarterback, maybe, in NFL history."

Oops, wrong quarterback to mention in Wisconsin, once described by Gov. Tommy Thompson as the place "where eagles soar, Harleys roar and Packers score."

Realizing what he had said, the Kansas Republican slumped at the podium and put his head in his hands.

"That's really bad, " he said. "That will go down in history. I apologize."

His apology brought a smattering of applause and laughter. He tried to recover, saying former Packer Bart Starr may be the greatest of all time, but the crowd was still restless.

"Let's take Favre then, " Brownback said. "The Packers are great. I'm sorry. How many passes does he complete without a line?"

"All of them!" more than one person yelled from the back.

"I'm not sure how I recover from this, " Brownback said. "My point is we've got to rebuild the family. I'll get off this."

Thompson apologizes again for comment

Republican Tommy Thompson cited a dead hearing aid and an urgent need to use the bathroom in explaining on Saturday why he said at a GOP presidential debate that an employer should be allowed to fire a gay worker.

Speaking to reporters after giving an address at the state GOP convention, Thompson also said he was suffering from the flu and bronchitis and had been admitted to a hospital emergency room three days before the May 3 debate.

Thompson, who is 65, said he thought he was being asked if there were enough laws already to address discrimination in the workplace. The question at the debate was, "If a private employer finds homosexuality immoral, should he be allowed to fire a gay worker?"

Thompson replied: "I think that is left up to the individual business. I really sincerely believe that that is an issue that business people have got to make their own determination as to whether or not they should be."

In other campaigning

Republican Mitt Romney told graduates of Hilldale College in Michigan on Saturday that the U.S. military must be strengthened because evil exists in the world. Romney said he wants to add at least 100, 000 troops and re-equip the military because of armaments lost during fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to accelerate the nation's missile defense system. "The right course for America in a world where evil still exists is not acquiescence and weakness, it is assertiveness and strength, " Romney said.

Democrat John Edwards appealed to graduates at New England College in New Hampshire on Saturday to join him in demanding an end to the war in Iraq. "The irresistible power of America lies in your hands, in the hands of the American people, " he said. "We can't wait for the next elected leader to solve this country's problems." Edwards also launched a Web site - support thetroopsendthewar.com - that outlines his plan to end the unpopular, 4-year-old war.

Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton criticized President Bush on Saturday as running a "government of the few, for the few and by the few." The $150-per-plate Ohio state party dinner in Columbus drew about 3, 000 people and generated $550, 000 after expenses for the party, the most money the dinner has ever raised, the party said. "For six long years our hardworking middle class families have been invisible to this president, " Clinton said. Clinton came to Ohio from South Carolina, where she gave the commencement address at historically black Claflin University earlier on Saturday.

Democrat Barack Obama urged about 3, 000 supporters Saturday in Kansas City to help send members to Congress who will oppose the war in Iraq. During his half-hour speech, Obama also touched on his proposal for universal health care, which he said would be at least in part driven by $75-billion in savings from improved technology in the field. He also criticized the Bush administration for what he called "its lack of energy policy."