May 19th, 2008
10:34 AM ET
11 years ago

Obama to GOP: 'Lay off my wife'

 Obama said his wife should not be an issue in the campaign.

Obama said his wife should not be an issue in the campaign.

(CNN) - Barack Obama sent a direct message to the Tennessee Republican Party on Monday: “Lay off my wife.”

In an interview with Good Morning America, Michelle and Barack Obama responded to the Web video unveiled last week attacking Michelle Obama’s comment earlier this year saying she was proud of America "for the first time in my adult life."

"The GOP, should I be the nominee, can say whatever they want to say about me, my track record," Obama said on Monday. "If they think that they're going to try to make Michelle an issue in this campaign, they should be careful because that I find unacceptable, the notion that you start attacking my wife or my family."

The four-minute video posted on YouTube coincided with a visit to Tennessee by Michelle Obama for a Democratic Party event.

It features several Tennesseans saying why they are proud of America while repeatedly cutting to her comments.

The Illinois senator also said his wife "loves this country,” and for anyone to “distort” or play “snippets of her remarks in ways that are unflattering to her is, I think, just low class.”

"Whoever is in charge of the Tennessee GOP needs to think long and hard about the kind of campaign they want to run, and I think that's true for everybody, Democrat or Republican," Obama also said in the ABC interview, adding, "These folks should lay off my wife."

The Tennessee Republican Party took heat in early February when it used Obama's middle name, Hussein, in a news release that questioned the Illinois senator's support of Israel.

That statement also included a photograph of Obama from a 2006 trip to Kenya, in which he is dressed in traditional attire.

Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan later said of that news release, "The RNC rejects these kinds of campaign tactics."


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (259 Responses)
  1. Gary for HILL Forever

    If you cannot take the heat, get out and drop out of the race now! You weak Intern!

    May 19, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  2. jeff

    If not it should be fair play to go after Cindy Mccain. What about her tax returns, private jet usage of campaign billed to his contributors? If fair to ask dems then return favor to republicans? What about contributors to clinton library, pardons, etc? How do people know part of her income could include lobbyist money given to him through her business dealings? What give her right to withhold information if Mccain wants to be above everybody come clean with her info also she is tied to him same as wright was tied to obama only closer I would think. YOu can certainly tell who wears pants in the mccain household how can he govern country when he can't gewt his wife to go along with full disclosure?

    May 19, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  3. jasunman

    If you don't want her to be an issue or have her injected into the campaign, stop putting her out on the stump on the campaign trail.

    May 19, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  4. JC

    I thought her name was Zacarro ...... or maybe that was a guy the IRS was after. We could all start discussing that again if she would like. Who cares what, what's her name Zacarro thinks about anything.

    May 19, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  5. Rebecca

    APPARENTLY, OBAMA HAS FORGOTTEN HOW HE CRITISIZED BILL CLINTON FOR COMMENTS CLINTON MADE DURING HIS WIFE'S CAMPAIGN EARLIER THIS YEAR.

    WHAT, IT'S OKAY TO GO AFTER A SPOUSE IF THE SPOUSE IS A MAN, BUT NOT IF THE SPOUSE IS A WOMAN?

    IN ADDITION TO BEING A SEXIST, OBAMA IS EXTREMELY ARROGANT. I AM CONCERNED THAT WE HAVE A PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE THREATENING THE GOP, BUT REFUSES TO SUPPORT HILLARY'S THREATS TO IRAN. OBAMA NEEDS TO DETERMINE ACCURATELY WHO HE SHOULD THREATEN AND WHO HE SHOULD NOT.

    May 19, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    MICHELLE IS FAIR GAME.......GO GET HER

    May 19, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  7. Hillary 08!!!!!!!

    Michelle OBAMA is NOT proud to be an American anyway!

    May 19, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  8. Rosey

    You know there is a lot out there on Cindy McCain. Just keep it up!

    May 19, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  9. Roger

    At least Michelle Obama is a mature woman. Not like Chelsea Clinton when everybody was trash talking her.

    May 19, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  10. Kevin Leo (Jonesboro, GA)

    Wow, the ignorance and hate on this blog can be crazy. When Barack doesn't respond back to his critics, he is labeled as being week and not man enugh. when he responds back to Hillary, he is labeled a sexist. When he responds back to McCain, he is labeled a crybaby.

    The problem with Barack is not Barack himself. It is all of these fair-weathered Democrats that can't accept the fact that he is his own man. In regards to Barack's defense of his wife, let's look at how he has campaigned against Hillary and now McCain. Has he drudged up Bill's storied personal past – no! Did he go after Bill in terms of his politics – absolutely. Has he gone after McCain's wife for her drug pst and addiction – no!

    I respect Barack even more for standing up for his wife, especially when the comments that they are trying to use against her were so butchered and skewed to make her look bad.

    May 19, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  11. matilda Johnson

    I agree. Leave her alone please!

    May 19, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  12. james from ny

    i know there is more impotant issue to debate here....but Michelle need to make us proud and dress better.....what in world is this outfit.....for CHrist sake you are a potential first lady Michelle.....look apart from chenequa and them.....

    go Obama, win for american and every other nation that will be better when you become president...............................HEY MICHELLE, IM SERIOUS, check up with a stylist....

    May 19, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  13. Michelle

    Here we go...let's listen to him whine about having to deal with a little negative press. That's the problem with him being babied by the media for the entire primary season. We need a strong leader....Hillary 2008–the only smart choice! If not her, then it's McCain, never Obama!!

    May 19, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  14. Jen

    Oh my.... let me wipe the tears of laughter out of my eyes....

    The woman does not strike me as someone who needs to be poo-poo'd and protected. She's smart, she was speaking her mind as a PUBLIC FIGURE, and she can handle the criticism. Obama is just as bad as the GOP he's yapping about, making this more important than the issues.

    I can picture it now.... "Lay off my country." OOH, scary.

    May 19, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  15. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    When your wife opens her mouth, she invites response, as any lawyer well knows. Children are off limits, however, unless someone suggests that bringing them on Sundays to the same pews where people cheered Wright's soundbites is not responsible parenting.

    May 19, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  16. doug

    she makes herself an issue by putting her two cents in. and if they can attack Bill Clinton then they can attack your wife. omg this country is in big trouble.

    May 19, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  17. GEORGE SARTIN

    IF YOURE IN THE POLITICAL SPOTLIGHT, YOURE FAIR GAME, Bill Clinton didnt tell obama to lay off of his wife, he has enough sense to know that its politics be democrat or republican.

    May 19, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  18. JustJunk

    America is tired of Repuglican tactics of smear or fear.

    If they can't address the issues of todays world after 8 years of failed Republican leadership then please quietly leave the building and let adults run the country.

    May 19, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  19. keepitreal

    Obama is threatening the GOP for quotinghis wife? what does he intend to do to them is they do not stop.. which they will not...

    the heat is just warming up for you Obama......

    everyone read and vote for Hillary... she knows her way around the kitchen!!!!

    May 19, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  20. Richard

    If the Obama's can used their arrogant mouth then they should be able to take what ever comes their way. If she is out there mouthing off, take what comes back. Obama's are NOT true Americans.

    Clinton/McCain 2008!

    May 19, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  21. MD

    Republicans sell their own mother for a penny, if they thought it would help them cling to power.

    The Democratic arm in Tennessee should attack Cindy McCain about her real estate dealings with Keating.

    Republicans aren't going to lay off, just because you ask them to. Attack, when attacked. If they are smart, which they are not, the Republicans get the picture.

    Also, Hillary attacked Obama for months. Every time she did that, her negatives went through the roof. McCane will suffer the same fate.

    In the last three local elections, the Republicans tried to link the Democratic candidate to Obama and some cased to Wright. They FAILED, and now Democrats are occupying historically Republican seats. This type of attack shows how desparate the Republicans are, and how little else they have to attack Obama with.

    May 19, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  22. cognitivelystagnant

    The way things are is not necessarily the way things HAVE to be ... I think it is naive and culturally stagnating for our country if people continue to allow politicians to get away with these stupid games because they believe that "that's just the way it is". How sad. By promoting that view point, you are contributing to the continuation of a politics of deceit and false promises. You are suggesting that it is ok. Obama's desire to keep his family out of the line of attack is a desire to change some of the political game ... I certainly hope our country is still able to adapt and change, as continuing on the current path may be leading us towards disaster.

    May 19, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  23. joe from oregon

    oh.... Obama is crying because his wife is getting picked on. Poor baby, Barack. Don't cry. Hey. If you can't take a bloody nose once in a while, then go home and crawl under your bed. You have been attacking Bill Clinton for things he said so your wife is now fair game for the things she said. If you don't want people to say things against her, then perhaps she should eliminate her roll in your campaign and do what you said Hillary did during her 8 yrs as first lady (all of which isn't true) and that is stay at home and serve tea and cookies. Do you honestly believe the RNC is afriad of you Obama? Geezz. You are more disconnected than ever with how the world works.

    May 19, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  24. JANICE

    OK, BARACK DON'T WANT HIS WIFE ATTACK ! WELL BILL CLINTON SHOULD NOT BE ATTACK LIKE !

    May 19, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  25. Roger

    Why should the GOP lay off his wife? Because Obama said so? Who does he think he is?

    May 19, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
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