MIDDLETOWN, Conn. - Filling in for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D., Mass.) and tying himself to the family's legacy, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama urged college graduates yesterday 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: President 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 Sen. Kennedy, who had planned to deliver the graduation address but canceled last week after he was found to have a brain tumor. Kennedy's stepdaughter, Caroline Raclin, is a member of Wesleyan's Class of 2008. Her mother, Kennedy's wife, Vicki, attended the ceremony.

- AP

Clinton defends staying in race

HORMIGUEROS, Puerto Rico - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton offered a spiritual defense yesterday for continuing her presidential campaign despite the long odds of overtaking her rival, Sen. Barack Obama.

Speaking to a full congregation at the Pabellon de la Victoria evangelical church, Clinton said: "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."

"If I had listened to those who had been talking over the last several months, we would not be having this campaign in Puerto Rico today," she said, alluding to calls for her to drop out of the race. Clinton is campaigning for Puerto Rico's primary on June 1, which offers 55 pledged delegates to the Democratic National Convention.

- AP

Libertarians' candidate is Barr

DENVER - The Libertarian Party yesterday picked former Republican Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia to be its presidential candidate after six rounds of balloting.

The party is meeting in Denver. Barr beat research scientist Mary Ruwart, who sought the party's presidential nomination unsuccessfully in 1983.

Barr left the GOP in 2006 over what he called bloated spending and civil liberties intrusions by the Bush administration.

- AP