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Obama + Flag Pin + WV

Obama defends his patriotism, quarrels with McCain

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Wearing a flag lapel pin, Sen. Barack Obama emphasized his patriotism and support for a strong and humane military Monday, while Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton implored West Virginians to sustain her hopes of somehow denying him the Democratic presidential nomination.

Obama expects Clinton to win Tuesday’s primary in West Virginia, which has large numbers of working-class whites — a group that usually backs the former first lady — as well as a strong military tradition. He used his visit to Charleston to combat critics’ claims that he is not particularly patriotic or ready to be commander in chief, in part because he never served in the military, usually does not wear a flag pin, and opposed the Iraq war from the start.

On Monday, Obama broke from his usual practice by sporting the flag pin on his suit jacket and reading his speech instead of talking without notes. He told several thousand people at the Charleston Civic Center that patriotism means more than saluting flags and holding parades. He criticized Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain for opposing a Democratic bill to expand education benefits for veterans.

“At a time when we’re facing the largest homecoming since the Second World War,” Obama said of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, “the true test of our patriotism is whether we will serve our returning heroes as well as they’ve served us.”

Link to AP Story

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