Filling in for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and tying himself to the family's legacy, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama urged college graduates Sunday to "make us believe again" by dedicating themselves to public service.
"We may disagree as Americans on certain issues and positions, but I believe we can be unified in service to a greater good. I intend to make it a cause of my presidency, and I believe with all my heart that this generation is ready and eager and up to the challenge," Obama told Wesleyan University's Class of 2008.
The Illinois senator peppered his speech with references to the Kennedy legacy: John F. Kennedy urging Americans to ask what they can do for their country, the Peace Corps and Robert Kennedy talking about people creating "ripples of hope."
He devoted special attention and praise to Edward Kennedy, the longtime Massachusetts senator who had planned to deliver the graduation address but was diagnosed last week with a cancerous brain tumor.
Kennedy has endorsed Obama in the nominating contest against fellow Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton and has campaigned for him.
Kennedy's stepdaughter, Caroline Raclin, was among Wesleyan's 737 graduates Her mother, Kennedy's wife, Vicki, attended the ceremony.
Only briefly did Obama veer into campaign territory, rattling off a list of education changes he promised to make as president. The rest of the 25-minute speech urged students to focus on more than "the big house and the nice suits and all the other things that our money culture says you should buy."
"At a time of war, we need you to work for peace," Obama said. "At a time of inequality, we need you to work for opportunity. At a time of so much cynicism and so much doubt, we need you to make us believe again. That's your task, Class of 2008."
Clinton invokes faith
Campaigning in Puerto Rico, Hillary Rodham Clinton offered a spiritual defense Sunday for continuing her presidential campaign.
"There isn't anything we cannot do together if we seek God's blessing and if we stay committed and are not deterred by the setbacks that often fall in every life," Clinton said.
Clinton is campaigning for Puerto Rico's primary Sunday, which offers 55 pledged delegates to the national Democratic convention. The New York senator is expected to win the contest.
In an op-ed piece in Sunday's New York Daily News, Clinton revisited her reference to the June 1968 assassination of Robert F. Kennedy when she was asked whether she would stay in the presidential race.
"I was making the simple point that given our history, the length of this year's primary contest is nothing unusual," Clinton wrote. "But I was deeply dismayed and disturbed that my comment would be construed in a way that flies in the face of everything I stand for - and for everything I am fighting for in this election."
Libertarians pick Barr
The Libertarian Party chose former Republican Rep. Bob Barr to be its presidential candidate Sunday. Barr left the GOP in 2006 over what he called bloated spending and civil liberties intrusions by the Bush administration.