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    Bill Clinton aidera Obama à conquérir la présidence


    Associated Press




    L'ancien président américain Bill Clinton a assuré mardi qu'il s'engage à faire tout son possible pour aider le candidat démocrate Barack Obama à conquérir la Maison Blanche. Il s'agit de sa première déclaration de soutien à celui qui fut le rival de son épouse depuis la fin des primaires.

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    Les relations sont encore compliquées entre le dernier président démocrate du pays et celui qui ambitionne de devenir le prochain, qui ne se sont pas encore parlé après le retrait de Hillary Clinton de la course à la candidature. M. Clinton a cependant fait savoir par son porte-parole qu'il s'engagerait aux côtés de M. Obama.


    «Le président Clinton est évidemment prêt à faire tout ce qu'il peut et qu'on lui demande pour garantir que le sénateur Obama devienne le prochain président des Etats-Unis», a déclaré Matt McKenna.

    «Un parti démocrate uni sera une force puissante au service du changement cette année, et nous sommes confiants que le président Clinton jouera un rôle important», a réagi le porte-parole de M. Obama, Bill Burton.


    M. Clinton ne sera en revanche pas présent lors du meeting qui réunira son épouse et le candidat Obama dans le New Hampshire vendredi, étant en Europe à l'occasion de l'anniversaire de 90 ans de Nelson Mandela, a fait savoir M. McKenna.

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    Welcome Back, Clinton




    By Mark Leibovich


    Hillary Rodham Clinton emerged today to claim her well-paid, perk-laden consolation prize — a return to the United States Senate, a place she has barely seen for the last 16 months.


    The New York senator, whose public appearances have been minimal since she ended her presidential bid just a few weeks ago, arrived at the Capitol a few minutes after 1 p.m. She stepped from a black Suburban outside to greet the requisite throng of 250-or-so camera-clickers, question-shouters and well-wishers who had gathered for her arrival.


    She skipped the first two groups and immersed herself in the well-wishers, meeting and greeting up a staircase and into a side entrance on the second-floor.


    She was greeted as she walked in the door by fellow Democratic Senators Debbie Stabenow, of Michigan, and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, the latter of whom had arrived a few minutes earlier, looked around and concluded that the media donnybrook was for her. “Oh, how sweet, all for me?” she said, kidding (apparently). “And it isn’t even my birthday today,” she said.


    It’s not Mrs. Clinton’s either, but she was met with a great show of warmth upon entering the weekly Democratic lunch. “I’m glad to be here, friends,” she said to Ms. Mikulski and Ms. Stabenow before entering the luncheon to sustained applause and clinking of glasses.


    As much as it might be a source of solace to her, Mrs. Clinton is hardly the first losing presidential candidate to return to the Senate, nor will she be the last. Eleven of her current colleagues have made similar returns, including John Kerry, three-and-a-half years ago, John McCain, 8 years ago and Ted Kennedy, 28 years ago. (The list does not include colleagues who explored campaigns but never ran, such as Evan Bayh and Russell Feingold last year; nor does it include Barack Obama, who is still a senator, but who has been seen as much around here in recent months as on a beach.)


    When asked earlier in the day if he had any advice for his newest ex-candidate colleague, Mr. Kerry replied — “Ah, compartmentalize,” and chuckled to himself. But in the senatorial tradition, all was civil and downright warm at times, at least outwardly. Mr. Kerry, a vocal and early supporter of Mr. Obama, went on to say how “proud” he was of Mrs. Clinton, and that “she set an extraordinary example for any candidate at any level.”




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    Obama Camp Hits McCain Aide Over Terrorism Remark


    By Michael Falcone


    On a conference call organized by the Obama campaign this morning, Richard Ben-Veniste, a member of the Sept. 11 Commission, stopped short of calling for the resignation of Charlie Black, a McCain campaign senior adviser, but accused him of politicizing terrorism.


    Mr. Ben-Veniste, a surrogate for Senator Barack Obama and a campaign adviser, said Mr. Black’s comment in an article in Fortune magazine that a terrorist attack on American soil between now and the election would be a “big advantage” for Senator John McCain provided a “very disappointing glimpse into the thinking of one of McCain’s closest advisers.”


    But Mr. Ben-Veniste declined to go a step further and suggest that Mr. Black resign or be fired for his statement.


    “I don’t think it’s up to us to suggest how Senator McCain staffs his campaign,” Mr. Ben-Veniste said. “I think the remarks were so out of place that they call for some recalibration in the thinking and perhaps a greater adherence to principle here in staying away from the politics of fear.”


    He added: “I would suggest it would be a good idea to caution those whose candid thoughts have created this turmoil for Senator McCain.”


    Both Mr. Black and Senator McCain expressed regret over the comments on Monday, but the Obama campaign tried to keep the issue alive today with this call. The notion of another attack benefiting one candidate or another is reminiscent of Republican themes surrounding national security during the 2004 re-election campaign of President Bush and 2006 election cycles.


    In this season, of course, national security credentials played out during the primaries, with examples like Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 3 a.m. phone call advertisement and Mr. McCain’s consistent positioning on his military experience. As the campaign shifted into the general cycle, the McCain campaign and Republicans have frequently highlighted the senator’s experience and have criticized his Democratic opponent as unqualified to be commander-in-chief.


    Many have suggested that Mr. Obama may need to choose a running mate with a considerable background in foreign policy and national security to shore up that flank of the Democratic ticket. Others view the McCain mantle on foreign policy as a weakness for the Arizona senator because he is too closely tied to President Bush’s policies on matters like the Iraq war.


    On Monday, Mr. Black was forced to retreat from his comments about terrorism, saying they were inappropriate and that he deeply regretted them.


    Mr. McCain also distanced himself from the remarks.


    “I cannot imagine why he would say it. It’s not true,” Mr. McCain said at a news conference on Monday. “I’ve worked tirelessly since 9/11 to prevent another attack on the United States of America.”




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    Poll: Obama leads McCain by small margin

    By The Associated Press

    11:00 AM CDT, June 23, 2008





    Barack Obama, 50 percent

    John McCain, 44 percent


    Obama's slight advantage is basically unchanged since Hillary Rodham Clinton ended her campaign and endorsed Obama earlier this month. While six in 10 likely Democratic voters say they're more enthusiastic than usual about the election, only about a third of Republicans feel as energized. Obama is seen as likelier than McCain to understand peoples' problems and to stand up to special interests, while McCain is seen as the stronger leader. Seven in 10 worry that McCain's policies would be too similar to President Bush's, while half are concerned Obama's changes would go too far. Almost one in 10 say Obama would be a less effective president because he is black, while nearly one in four say McCain, 71, would be less effective because of his age. People prefer a Democrat to a Republican representing them in Congress by 10 percentage points.




    The USA Today-Gallup Poll was conducted from June 15-19 and involved telephone interviews with 1,310 likely voters. It had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.



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    McCain gambling on offshore drilling




    LM Otero / Associated Press


    SANTA BARBARA -- Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., walks to his motorcade after arriving in Santa Barbara. He thinks the nation's high gas prices will trump concerns about protecting the environment, especially in key Midwest states.


    For decades it has been a bipartisan political staple -- the jaunt to the beaches of Santa Barbara to profess opposition to oil drilling at the spot where a massive 1969 spill despoiled sea life and ocean waters, launching the modern environmental movement.


    With visits here and elsewhere, Republicans Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger used their environmental credentials to win the governor's office. George Bush the elder announced his support for a delay in oil drilling leases en route to victory in November 1988, when he became the last Republican to win the state in a presidential contest.


    John McCain returned to Santa Barbara this week not to assert his opposition to offshore drilling -- as he did when he ran for president in 2000 -- but to make the calculated gamble that high gas prices have trumped voters' desire to protect the environment.


    His newfound support for allowing states to decide whether to drill offshore, announced last week in Texas, carries risk. Having spent much of his campaign trying to distance himself from the current President Bush and Republican orthodoxy, McCain has now changed his tune to theirs on a hugely symbolic issue that has long helped motivate the independent voters whose support he needs to claim the White House.


    Diana Cuttrell of Santa Barbara is one of them, and she fiercely opposes McCain's new stance.


    "It's not going to solve the problem," she said of McCain's proposal to lift the federal moratorium on sea drilling. "It's a Band-Aid, basically. It's just pretty idiotic."


    In a visit to Fresno on Monday, McCain did not bring up offshore drilling, instead emphasizing alternative energy sources such as alcohol fuels and announcing a $300-million challenge to develop a more efficient electric car battery. In response to a question, he said he still did not favor drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge because it was pristine. When pressed, he declined to say whether the California coast was any less so, but argued that offshore drilling was safe.


    "I envision they would be somewhat further offshore but that would be, again, a decision by the people of this state," said McCain, who has said his views changed because of the impact gas prices are having on everyday Americans and concerns about the nation's dependence on foreign powers.


    McCain plans to take part in an environmental panel here today with Schwarzenegger, who spent much of his gubernatorial runs touting hydrogen-based cars. Schwarzenegger, who endorses McCain, forcefully brushed aside the unofficial GOP presidential nominee's position last week.


    "We made a decision a while back to say no drilling off our shores in California, and we are serious about that and we're not going to change that, no matter who is recommending other things," Schwarzenegger said, pressing for alternative fuel solutions.


    California has much more virulently opposed offshore drilling than have other states. Political analysts, including Republicans, said McCain's stance suggested a trade-off -- winning votes in key Midwest states on the issue at the cost of losing them in California.


    "McCain is essentially conceding what would have been an uphill fight in California in order to strengthen his opportunities in states like Michigan and Ohio," said Dan Schnur, a Republican consultant who worked for McCain in 2000. He added: "Whether this plays in Santa Barbara is much less important than how it plays in Columbus, Ohio."


    To a large degree, the nation's environmental leanings were sealed in January 1969, when an oil line blowout thrust 3 million gallons of syrupy crude into the Pacific. More than 10,000 birds died, too covered with muck to fly. Sea grasses were smothered. The sludge was so thick it stilled the ocean's waves. America watched it unfold on television.


    Out of the disaster, the largest of its kind until the Exxon Valdez marred Alaska's Prince William Sound 20 years later, came a national movement. Congress passed the National Environmental Policy Act later that year, and the state followed suit. Moratoriums have protected much of the coast in recent years, despite Bush's support for drilling. And opposition in California to offshore exploration has come to be largely bipartisan, with Democrats and Republicans competing over environmental bona fides.


    "It's not an issue here, it's a deeply held value," said consultant Don Sipple, who worked for Wilson and many other GOP candidates and lives in Montecito. "People will value an ocean more than they will oil platforms . . . and it's just not going to change."


    Los Angeles Times polls show that, in California, opposition to offshore drilling has not weakened even during past energy crises. But new national polls have shown that the country, burdened by exploding gas prices, supports drilling in sensitive areas.


    A Gallup Poll released last week said that 57% of Americans approved drilling offshore and in wilderness areas. The results were highly partisan: Republicans backed drilling by an 80% to 18% margin, while Democrats opposed it, 59% to 39%. Independents, a target of both McCain and Democrat Barack Obama, approved of drilling by a 56% to 43% margin.


    It is the last group whose reactions to McCain's switch will be key. In California, independents have consistently sided with Democrats against drilling. Kieran Mahoney, a Republican consultant in New York, pointed to a recent poll in Florida showing support there for offshore drilling.


    "The wings have been where they have always been," he said, referring to emphatic Democrats and Republicans. "I'm persuaded that the center of the country has moved on this."


    In the past, the debate pitted environmentalists against the oil companies -- hardly a fair fight, even in the best of times. But with gas prices spiking, Mahoney said, the mood has changed.



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    John McCain McCain Denounces Top Aide's Comments


    By Michael D. Shear


    A top aide to Sen. John McCain said a terrorist attack in the United States would benefit the Republican nominee politically, a comment that was quickly denounced by the candidate while

    campaigning in California.


    Charlie Black, one of McCain's most senior political advisers, said in an interview with Fortune Magazine that a fresh attack "would be a big advantage to him." He also said that the December assassination of Benazir Bhutto, which he called an "unfortunate event," helped him win the Republican primary by focusing attention on national security.


    "His knowledge and ability to talk about it reemphasized that this is the guy who's ready to be Commander-in-Chief. And it helped us," Black told the magazine.


    Asked about the comments by reporters, McCain said "I cannot imagine why he would say it. It's not true. I've worked tirelessly since 9/11 to prevent another attack on the United States of America."


    His campaign also condemned the remarks, calling them "inappropriate."


    "Charlie deeply regrets his comments. They were inappropriate and he recognizes that the candidate we work for has devoted his entire adult life to putting protecting his country and placing its security before every other consideration," said Campaign Spokeswoman Jill



    Black told reporters in California exactly the same thing, according to the Associated Press: "I deeply regret the comments. They were inappropriate. I recognize that John McCain has devoted his entire adult life to protecting his country and placing its security before every other consideration."


    Dobson Hits Obama for "Distorting" Bible


    By Krissah Williams


    James Dobson, a long-time leader of conservative Christians, today accused Sen. Barack Obama of "deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to justify his own world view."


    Dobson's comments, which aired today on his Focus on the Family radio show, come as Obama's campaign plans to launch a broad appeal to evangelicals and Catholics.

    Dobson and Tim Minnery, a senior vice president at Focus on the Family, spent about 20 minutes of the show harshly critiquing a speech that Obama gave in 2006 to a group of liberal Christian leaders.


    In the speech, Obama argues for religious diversity and acceptance and prods liberals not to cede issues of faith to Republicans.


    "Whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers," Obama said in the speech. "And even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools? Would we go with James Dobson's, or Al Sharpton's?"


    Dobson said he had just recently learned of Obama's speech and that reading it caused his blood pressure to rise.


    "Why did this man jump on me? I haven't said anything near that?" said Dobson, whose comments were first reported by the Associated Press today, which received an early copy of Dobson's remarks.


    In response to Obama's contention that religious voters had an obligation to "translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values", Dobson asked: "Am I required in a democracy to conform my efforts in the political arena to his bloody notion of what is right with regard to the lives of tiny babies?"


    Minnery told the wire service that Dobson's office had recently been contacted by Obama's campaign for a meeting this summer.


    Joshua DuBois, director of religious affairs for Obama's campaign, said in a statement that a full reading of Obama's speech shows he is committed to reaching out to people of faith and standing up for families. DuBois, an Assemblies of God Minister, is leading an outreach effort for Obama that will include thousands of "faith forums" intended to connect people of faith and bridge religious divides.


    Dobson, who has not backed Sen. John McCain, has said he is dissatisfied with both major party candidates and has suggested that he will not vote for president this year.



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    Obama aide Clinton à régler ses dettes


    Associated Press




    Barack Obama a assuré jeudi à son ancienne rivale dans la course à l'investiture démocrate Hillary Clinton qu'il l'aiderait à payer ses importantes dettes de campagne.


    Le candidat démocrate à la présidentielle, qui s'exprimait devant les principaux donateurs de l'ex-First Lady, a annoncé qu'il lui verserait 2.300 dollars sur ses fonds personnels. C'est la contribution la plus élevée à laquelle la loi fédérale l'autorise.


    Hillary Clinton a plus de 20 millions de dollars de dettes.


    La sénatrice de New York présentait jeudi soir le candidat investi à ses principaux soutiens financiers à Washington. Les médias n'ont pas été autorisés à assister à la réunion.


    L'ancien sénateur du Maryland, Tom McMillen, présent dans la salle, a raconté que les quelque 200 invités se sont levés pour applaudir Barack Obama quand il a annoncé qu'il demanderait l'aide de ses partisans pour aider Hillary Clinton à régler ses dettes.

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    Obama et Clinton, ensemble


    Katie Beth Ryan


    Agence France-Presse


    Unity (États-Unis)


    Hillary Clinton et Barack Obama voyageaient ensemble vendredi pour aller dans un village au nom symbolique, Unity, tourner la page de leur lutte acharnée lors des primaires et appeler leurs militants à se rassembler pour la présidentielle américaine de novembre.


    L'école primaire du village du New Hampshire (nord-est), qui compte 1100 âmes, «et encore, en comptant toutes les vaches», selon un habitant, devait être prise d'assaut par des militants démocrates venus de toute la région.


    Le thème officiel du rassemblement: «S'unir pour le changement».


    C'est la première réunion publique de l'ex-Première dame et du sénateur de l'Illinois, depuis que le 3 juin M. Obama s'est adjugé l'investiture démocrate.


    Dès jeudi soir, les deux anciens rivaux se sont retrouvés pour une réunion empreinte d'émotion avec des bailleurs de fonds dans un grand hôtel de Washington.


    Barack Obama a signé un chèque de 2300 dollars (le maximum autorisé par la loi) pour aider Mme Clinton à éponger ses dettes de campagne, évaluées à 22,5 millions de dollars, dont 11,4 millions puisés dans sa fortune personnelle.


    Il s'est fait chaleureusement applaudir en annonçant qu'il avait demandé à ses principaux soutiens financiers de «sortir leur chéquier et se mettre au travail (...) - il faut s'occuper de la dette qui reste (à Mme Clinton)», a-t-il dit.


    En retour, Mme Clinton, qui était restée discrète après avoir apporté son soutien public à Barack Obama le 7 juin, a demandé à ses partisans d'oublier leur éventuelle amertume, parce qu'«il faut que l'élection de Barack Obama comme prochain président des Etats-Unis soit la priorité de notre vie».


    Mais certains participants anonymes cités par la presse ont confié que la réunion avait été tendue.


    «C'était comme quand votre Maman vous force à aller chez Tante Ida, et elle vous pince la joue et vous êtes là, dans des habits inconfortables, et vous n'attendez qu'une chose, c'est de partir», a raconté un bailleur de fonds de Mme Clinton cité sous le couvert de l'anonymat par la chaîne de télévision ABC.


    Depuis qu'il s'est adjugé la victoire, M. Obama ne manque pas une occasion de rendre hommage à son ancienne rivale, et il lui est même arrivé de tancer des militants qui avaient hué son nom.


    Jeudi soir, il a confié l'admiration qu'avait suscitée la candidature de Mme Clinton jusque chez sa grand-mère, qui dans sa vie professionnelle avait gravi un à un les échelons d'une banque, passant d'un poste de secrétaire à celui de vice-présidente.


    Il s'est également félicité que sa propre fille de 9 ans, Malia, «prenne pour argent comptant que bien sûr une femme puisse être présidente».


    Mercredi, M. Obama avait expliqué qu'il comptait sur l'ex-Première dame pour faire campagne en son nom, «elle peut être extraordinairement efficace», avait-il dit lors d'un point de presse à Chicago. «Evidemment on sera limité par son emploi du temps, mais je me réjouis de mener une campagne vigoureuse avec elle».


    M. Obama avait pris garde aussi de minimiser l'absence de Bill Clinton, très offensif contre lui durant les primaires. «Je comprends que l'ancien président ne veuille pas voler la vedette», avait-il dit, tout en assurant compter sur son aide: «il est un politicien brillant, il a été un président remarquable, je voudrais qu'il m'aide, non seulement pour faire campagne mais aussi pour gouverner».


    Un porte-parole a publié mardi un communiqué laconique pour exprimer le soutien de M. Clinton à Barack Obama.


    À Unity, un républicain, Ken Hall, espère que le meeting «fera du bien pour rassembler tout le monde».


    Lors de la primaire démocrate du 8 janvier, les électeurs du village s'étaient divisés à parts égales, accordant 107 voix à Mme Clinton et autant à M. Obama, alors qu'au niveau de l'Etat, la sénatrice de New York l'avait emporté sur le fil en faisant mentir tous les sondages.




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    «C'est l'économie, imbécile!».

    Bill Clinton, l'auteur du fameux «it's the economy, stupid!»


    Steven Hurst


    Associated Press




    «C'est l'économie, imbécile!». La formule employée il y a 16 ans par Bill Clinton lors de sa conquête victorieuse de la Maison Blanche semble plus que jamais d'actualité: c'est bien sur cette question que pourrait se jouer la présidentielle du 4 novembre entre Barack Obama et John McCain, alors que le ralentissement économique actuel aux États-Unis inquiète les Américains.


    La signaux négatifs s'accumulent: le marché a dévissé la semaine dernière, le chômage est en hausse, les cours du pétrole atteignent des niveaux records et les prix des logements ont chuté. Des évolutions qui ont relégué au second plan la question de la guerre en Irak, dont beaucoup avaient pourtant prédit qu'elle dominerait la campagne électorale.


    Barack Obama utilise le thème du ralentissement de l'économie américaine pour attaquer John McCain. Il décrit le candidat républicain comme s'inscrivant dans la continuité des politiques menées par un président George W. Bush devenu très impopulaire.


    De son côté, John McCain joue sur un autre registre, cherchant à mettre en avant ses compétences en matière de sécurité et de politique étrangère. L'ancien héros de la guerre au Vietnam estime que les États-Unis sont en passe de gagner la guerre en Irak et juge imprudente la proposition de son rival de procéder à un retrait des soldats américains déployés dans le pays durant les 16 premiers mois de sa présidence.


    Bill Clinton, l'auteur du fameux «it's the economy, stupid!», avait réussi à l'emporter sur le président sortant George Bush père en 1992 alors que l'économie américaine traversait une mauvaise passe, et ce bien que son adversaire jouissait d'une forte popularité au sortir de la guerre du Golfe.


    Sa victoire avait révélé l'ampleur de l'inquiétude des Américains sur les questions économiques. Or, à en croire les sondages, l'économie est à nouveau la principale préoccupation des électeurs, devant les dossiers de politique étrangère, en particulier l'Irak.


    Les candidats des deux grands partis cherchent par ailleurs à courtiser le vote hispanique avec le dossier de l'immigration. Le sort des clandestins en provenance d'Amérique latine, notamment du Mexique, est un des enjeux clés de la campagne, et une source d'inquiétude pour une classe ouvrière qui craint des pertes d'emplois à cause de la concurrence d'une main-d'oeuvre bon marché.


    John McCain fait de la réforme de l'immigration, question ô combien importante pour les Hispaniques, sa «grande priorité». Il a co-parrainé une loi bipartisane au Sénat l'an dernier qui aurait réformé le système d'immigration et amélioré la sécurité de la frontière, un texte qui divisait les républicains, ses détracteurs demandant uniquement un renforcement de la surveillance frontalière.


    Mais le texte a été enterré et durant la course à l'investiture républicaine, le sénateur de l'Arizona a souligné la nécessité de renforcer d'abord la frontière avant d'introduire d'autres réformes, qu'il juge toutefois toujours nécessaires.


    McCain et Obama se sont exprimés séparément ce week-end devant des participants à la conférence de l'Association nationale des responsables latinos élus et nommés. Il s'agissait de la première des trois apparitions qu'ils doivent faire en un mois devant des organisations hispaniques, signe de l'importance de cet électorat particulièrement influent dans des Etats disputés comme le Nevada, le Colorado et le Nouveau-Mexique.


    Durant son discours, Barack Obama a accusé son rival de se détourner d'une réforme globale de l'immigration. Reste que le vote latino est loin d'être acquis au sénateur de l'Illinois. Durant les primaires démocrates, les Hispaniques ont affiché une nette préférence pour Hillary Clinton en votant presque deux fois plus pour elle que pour M. Obama.


    De son côté, John McCain espère profiter de la récente poussée du Parti républicain dans l'électorat hispanique. M. Bush a ainsi obtenu environ 40% du vote hispanique en 2004, un chiffre record pour un candidat républicain à l'élection présidentielle.


    McCain et Obama sont favorables à la possibilité pour des millions d'immigrés clandestins aux États-Unis d'accéder à la citoyenneté.

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