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Presidential campaigns hit New Mexico

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By Carol A. Clark

SANTA FE/ALBUQUERQUE — Sen. Edward Kennedy gave a rousing campaign speech in support of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama during a stop at Santa Fe Community College Thursday afternoon. Former president Bill Clinton did the same for his wife Hillary in Albuquerque on the University of New Mexico campus.At the Kennedy event, members of a capacity crowd of several hundred people, filling the SFCC Jemez Room and spilling out into the hall, craned their necks to catch a glimpse of the senior senator from Massachusetts. Kennedy spoke to Obama’s positions on the top issues of the day and called the Democratic senator from Illinois a person of strong commitment with the ability to inspire.He told the cheering audience he looks forward to working with Obama on immigration legislation and described his thoughts when he looks out his office window at the Boston harbor. His eight grandparents came to America through that harbor in 1848 with nothing but the clothes on their backs, he said. All they wanted was an opportunity for honest work, a chance to raise their families and worship in the faith of their choice like millions in the U.S. today, he said, adding that it’s time America has immigration laws consistent with its values.“When Barack Obama raises his hand as president of the United States, it will be a new day for the United States and a new day for the world,” Kennedy shouted with emotion.“Viva Kennedy!” yelled an excited man from the audience.During an interview following his public presentation, Kennedy said Obama’s inspirational speech following the Iowa caucus “caught his attention” and he began tracking the candidate from there. His children liked Obama and he said he, too, came to a point where he felt inspired by him.Kennedy said he is confident Obama holds Los Alamos National Laboratory in “high regard” but said he would have someone from the campaign provide a formal statement. In an e-mail late Thursday, Carl Monje, New Mexico director for the Barack Obama Campaign, stated, “Barack believes that the work done at Los Alamos, not only provides high-quality jobs for the people there, but also provides critical research for the entire country.”When asked whether he would accept a cabinet post if offered from Obama, Kennedy said he would be flattered but feels he can do more good in his position as senator.Kennedy mentioned he spoke with John Edwards, who recently resigned from the presidential race. He explained that it’s quite difficult for a former candidate who ran for so long to suddenly endorse another candidate. He does not know who, if anyone, Edwards will endorse, he said.During Clinton’s upbeat speech on behalf of his wife at Johnson Center, he did not touch on immigration reform. He told the predominantly young crowd that his wife’s presidency will improve the economy and environmental issues.He also discussed his wife’s vision for dealing with global warming and restoring science and technology education to make the U.S. internationally competitive.Clinton spoke of the dangers of recession and the mortgage crisis that has plunged millions of homeowners into foreclosure.Following his speech, two UNM students attending their first campaign event ever, discussed their feelings. “I was undecided until listening to Bill and also listening to Hillary (recently),” said fourth-year psychology major Katosha Candelaria, 21. “I like her views on school tuitions, helping the middle class and ending poverty.”Freshman Angelie Garcia, 19, said she is not a registered voter. She was clearly excited by Clinton’s rally for his wife. “If I was a registered voter, I would vote for Hillary because I agree with everything Bill said today, especially that she wants to try to end the war. I also like her plan for health care.”Clinton also made a visit to the Roundhouse Thursday. He spoke briefly to The Associated Press and said, “New Mexico has been great to me, and Hillary’s got a lot of friends here and a lot of supporters — and we want to win.’’Obama and Clinton are in a fierce battle to claim victory on Super Tuesday.One significant difference often brought up about the two candidates is the fact that Clinton voted in October 2002 to authorize President Bush to use force in Iraq, while Obama opposed the measure in a speech he gave as a member of the Illinois state Senate that same year.Obama is scheduled to appear later today in Santa Fe. Clinton is scheduled to speak in Albuquerque Saturday.The Associated Press contributed to this article.