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Obama Defends His Patriotism; McCain Campaigns in Pennsylvania

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama is defending himself against questions about his patriotism, and vows to never use the issue against his opponents.

Senator Obama said Monday during an address in Independence, Missouri that he has always had a deep and abiding love for the United States.

Obama said he will never question the patriotism of others in the campaign and will not stand idly by when others question his own.

Meanwhile, Republican candidate John McCain campaigned Monday in Pennsylvania. He responded to remarks on Sunday by an Obama supporter, retired General Wesley Clark, who questioned whether McCain's service during the Vietnam War qualified him to be president. Senator McCain called the statement an "unnecessary" distraction from issues facing voters.

McCain said voters are more concerned about soaring gas prices, energy independence, and economic challenges in keeping their jobs and homes.

In other campaign news, Obama talked by telephone with former President Bill Clinton, whose wife, Senator Hillary Clinton, was Obama's rival for the Democratic presidential nomination. An Obama spokesman said Obama is honored to have the former president's support.

Obama's comments on patriotism come ahead of the U.S. independence day holiday on July 4.

After his campaign stops in Pennsylvania, McCain will make a trip this week to Latin America as he tries to demonstrate his expertise in foreign policy. McCain will visit Colombia and Mexico to discuss the war against drug trafficking, illegal immigration, free trade, and other issues.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.