Obama: "No weakness in voting record"
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., defended his voting record as a state senator in Illinois, insisting Thursday that voting "present" was "standard practice" by lawmakers trying to force legislative compromise.Barack Obama
Obama's comments in an interview on ABC News' "Good Morning America" followed a New York Times report that showed he had voted present "nearly 130 times as a state senator" -- avoiding voting for or against legislation.
Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., Obama's top rival for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, contends Obama's legislative record shows he tried to avoid some tough decisions.
But Obama said that he led on a variety of controversial legislation, including the death penalty. He said the focus on an old issue reflected the final days of the campaign for the Iowa caucuses, in which the latest statewide poll suggests a statistical tie among Obama, Clinton and former Sen. John Edwards.
"Look, I understand we're in the last two weeks of a campaign, and we're going to be spending time combing over everything from my kindergarten records to these 'present' votes," Obama said. "On the critical issues that oftentimes have been controversial, I have been a leader."
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