Clinton sharpens attack in US presidential race
Sen Hillary Clinton sharpened her attack on Friday against rival Barack Obama before new contests for the Democratic presidential nomination, casting herself as a champion of the US middle class and saying voters faced a choice between "speeches and solutions."
Clinton, under pressure to slow Obama's momentum after eight consecutive losses, honed her economic message to appeal to middle- and lower-income voters before the next round of Democratic contests in Wisconsin and Hawaii on Tuesday and Texas and Ohio on March 4.
"It is time we had a president who was a fighter, a doer and a champion for the American middle class," Clinton said as she visited a popular Cincinnati restaurant, Skyline Chili, for an economic round-table.
"I am a candidate of, from and for the middle class of America," added Clinton, who grew up in a comfortable middle-class suburb of Chicago, then went on to attend Wellesley College and Yale Law School. She often talks at her campaign events about how she relied on government loans to help fund her education.
The New York senator stressed her proposals for a 90-day moratorium on home foreclosures and a cap on credit card interest rates, and the elimination of tax breaks for companies that export jobs overseas. She has also vowed to work to eliminate tax breaks that let Wall Street money managers pay lower tax rates.
"We are going to change the tax code. It is wrong that an investment money manager on Wall Street making $50 million a year gets a lower tax rate than a teacher, a nurse, a truck driver, an auto worker making $50,000 a year," Clinton said.
The former first lady, who would be the first female US president, tried to use Obama's skill as a public speaker against him, again accusing him of offering rhetoric rather than substance.
"This primary election offers a very big choice to the voters of Ohio," she said. "You can choose speeches or solutions."
Clinton's criticisms came as a new poll showed her trailing Obama in Texas by 6 percentage points. The American Research Group survey, which had a margin of error of 4 percentage points, showed Clinton with 42 percent support versus 48 percent for Obama.
Both Texas and Ohio are considered "must win" states for Clinton, who is lagging Obama in the race for pledged delegates awarded by the state-by-state contests to pick a Democratic nominee for president. The delegates will choose the Democratic candidate at a nominating convention this summer.
Clinton has spent the past several days campaigning in those two states, delaying a push into Wisconsin even though that state holds its primary on Tuesday. Clinton will begin a four-day swing through Wisconsin on Saturday.
Obama, campaigning in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where a new poll showed him with a 5-point lead over Clinton, rejected her attacks and accused her of being part of the problem in Washington.
"I understand Senator Clinton periodically when she is feeling down launches attacks as a way of trying to boost her appeal. But I think this kind of gamesmanship is not what the American people are looking for," the Illinois senator said.
Obama scored another big endorsement, winning the support of the 1.9 million-member Service Employees International Union, whose president, Andy Stern, said the executive board had overwhelmingly favored the Illinois senator.
"We do think he has the experience and the vision we need in our next president," Stern said.
Republican front-runner John McCain also scored a big endorsement -- that of former President George HW Bush, the father of the current president. McCain told a news conference he would travel to Houston on Monday to meet with the elder Bush.
McCain is almost certain to be the Republican presidential nominee for the November general election after defeating his main rival, former Massachusetts Gov Mitt Romney, and winning his endorsement. McCain's nearest rival is former Arkansas Gov Mike Huckabee, who is running a distant second.
Salman Rushdie, the acclaimed author who was hospitalized on Friday with serious injuries after being repeatedly stabbed at a public appearance in New York state, is off a ventilator and his condition is improving, his agent and a son said on Sunday. One of Rushdie's sons said his father remained in critical condition but was able to say a few words after getting off the ventilator.
The de facto US embassy in Taipei said the delegation is being led by Senator Ed Markey, who is being accompanied by four other lawmakers on what it described as part of a larger visit to the Indo-Pacific region.
The EU on Sunday said it was "particularly concerned" about worsening conditions for women and girls in Afghanistan after the country's ruling Taliban violently broke up a women's rally. Taliban fighters on Saturday fired in the air and beat up protesters taking part in a women's "bread, work and freedom" march in Kabul. It also stressed that "Afghanistan must also not pose a security threat to any country" per UN Security Council resolutions.
A fire that broke out Sunday in a Coptic Christian church in Egypt's capital Cairo killed 41 people, church officials said. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi declared on his Facebook page that "I have mobilised all state services to ensure that all measures are taken". Copts are the largest Christian community in the Middle East, making up at least 10 million of Egypt's 103 million people. Egypt has suffered several deadly fires in recent years.
An explosion at a retail market in the Armenian capital Yerevan on Sunday sparked a fire, killing one person and injuring 20, the emergency situations ministry said. Photos and videos posted on social media showed a thick column of black smoke over the market and successive detonations could be heard. The ministry said there were 10 firefighting trucks on the spot and another 10 were on their way.