November 1st, 2008
06:30 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama aide: Timing of news about his aunt 'suspicious'

Obama aide David Axelrod, pictured here at a Pennsylvania campaign office earlier this week, called the release of information about Sen. Obama's aunt 'suspicious.'
Obama aide David Axelrod, pictured here at a Pennsylvania campaign office earlier this week, called the release of information about Sen. Obama's aunt 'suspicious.'

(CNN) - Barack Obama’s chief strategist said Saturday that he thought the last-minute appearance of stories like this weekend’s news that the Illinois senator’s aunt may be living in the country illegally would make people “suspicious.”

The Associated Press has reported that Zeituni Onyango, a native of Kenya, has been living in Boston despite losing an appeal for asylum four years ago. Obama’s campaign issued a statement earlier Saturday that the Democratic nominee “has no knowledge of her status but obviously believes that any and all appropriate laws should be followed." The campaign also said it would return $265 in donations from Onyango, who is not legally permitted to donate to Obama because she is not a U.S. citizen.

CNN has been unable to independently verify the aunt's immigration status.

On the campaign trail in Nevada, Axelrod said the timing of the report might raise a few eyebrows. "The campaign issued a statement on that," he said. "And I don't have anything more to add to it, other than I think people are suspicious about stories that surface in the last 72 hours of a national campaign... I think that they're going to take that, they're going to put it in that context."

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers of Michigan questioned both the timing and the source of the news Saturday, sending a public letter to Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff requesting an investigation.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Extra
soundoff (1,449 Responses)
  1. james

    Typical desperation out of the RepubliCONS

    November 1, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  2. b from boston

    Obama's aunt has allegedly been in the country illegally for four years, and this story is *just now* breaking? Seems weird to me!

    November 1, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  3. Paul, Pennsylvania

    I would like to ask Mr MacShame and Sarah Pit-Bull a question :
    How can MacCain talk about Martin Luther King as a great man and after that use those racist tatics ???

    November 1, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  4. Ohio teacher

    By the way, when you contribute on Obama's site–you must declare yourself a US citizen or you cannot contribute.

    Someone set this up.

    November 1, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  5. Sharon

    I agree the timing and release of Obama's aunt is highly questionable. I believe Obama was unaware of his aunt's immigration status as reported. Republicans and John McCain have once again stopped very low. Please leave this poor woman alone. John McCain has already defamed two well respected professors at two of America's finest universities.

    McCain has no love or empathy for any American!! He only cares about winning any way he can!! And even if someone is hurt!!

    November 1, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  6. Mufando.Mazakani

    Personally anyone who can take a person such as Barak Obama serious as a candidate is lost – and I see most of the Americans doing this, is willing to give up the core values and believes of this Country, that founded this Country, why so many of us worked so hard to get here.. to see it thrown away because many young "ill informed" voters, many race fearing people would vote for a "Change" for the sake of change – Remember there was a change from "Stalin" to Hitler, and millions lost their lives, liberty and freedom... Change for the sake of Change = Disaster.... remember that when you vote ! I will when I am eligible for voting next year !
    Muf.

    November 1, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  7. karen hofstetter

    Obama is not responsible for what his Aunt does just as my kids are not responsible for what my brother does. I'm sure he did not even know it or he would have done somthing about it. This makes me sick to see all this dirty politics. I guess the other side is looking under the barrel since the bottom was not low enough!

    Obama/Biden 08

    November 1, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  8. California Native

    I have lost all respect for McCain – POW or not!

    I said last election that if Bush wins, I would consider moving to Canada. Well I didn't ONLY because I was too busy trying to save my 24 year old daughter's life who could not get private insurance because of a pre-existing medical condition. She died last year because she could not get the proper medical care as doctors do
    not want to help you if you are on Medicaid. THAT IS A (SAD) FACT!!

    If the McCain/Palin ticket wins this election, I WILL move to Canada this time!

    November 1, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  9. Georgia for Obama

    Sorry McCain/Palin I already voted for Obama/Biden to bad I got the news later about his aunt,,,,,who cares it to many poor African living badly over in Africa they need to bring his grandmother from Africa to live in USA ......Palin I dont believe that baby is Palin I believe it Brystol baby and where is Palin medical record nobody is bringing that issue up....

    Obama/Biden 08

    November 1, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  10. Dave

    What I want to see are Palin's medical records. They'll show she was a pregnant hockey mom when she got married.

    November 1, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  11. Funny!

    Give me a break!

    The Obama camp is always looking to point the finger of blame at someone else. News of Obama's aunt living in Boston has been out a week or so, and it is only natural that journalists were eager to learn all about her. People were excited to hear such a *celebrity* lived in the area, though it struck many as odd that she lived in subsidized poor housing. Strange, but one would've thought Obama would help out.

    Sometimes blind love will uncover blemishes by accident. It's ludicrous to blame the McCain camp for this one. Maybe the Clinton camp was to blame for Ayers and Wright and Rezko, huh?? And who do we blame for all the other blemishes in Obama's record? :-)

    November 1, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  12. Georgygal

    So the truth is suspicious? Maybe the public has a right to know. The Obama campaign just can't deal with the truth coming out. What else don't we know?

    November 1, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  13. John

    So what? Obama is running for president and not his aunt. There are over 50million illegals in USA and no one care about them. Why make this one a big deal when there are other important issues to discuss and solve.

    I guess most of the illegals do work and contribute to the national cake of the US of A like every other legal citizen.

    Vote for the right change.

    November 1, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  14. Tell the TRUTH just once McWar /Phailling

    On TPM scroll down a Canadian disc jock called Palin pretending to be "Sarkozy from France "and she bit big time its a must hear this . she made a big fool of herself. AGAIN

    McWar/Palin /In a Country torn up for last 8 years with lies,hate,war and then you two continue on in the Bush path with no solutions just more of same lies , lies over lies and hate just remember.
    IF YOU ARE NOT A PART OF THE SOLUTION THEN YOU ARE A PART OF THE PROBLEM .
    We all know you have no part of the solution as you both spend your time spreading hate and making up lies lies .

    You can wear that red leather jacket to gut a moose

    November 1, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  15. chippyarm

    Suspicious? It is all that and more. Is this the November surprise that McCain is pulling? It makes me sick that people will not see how cheap McCain's camp is for pulling this. The John and Sarah show are pulling it all out. I have faith in American's ability to read through this. This is the type of thing that will pull undecideds to Obama. It's funny how some Republicans are going with the Democrat, yet the Democrats are STAYING with the Democrat. That's pretty telling about the Republican's faith in their candidate. I live in Marietta (East Cobb) Georgia and see Obama stickers and signs. That tells me more than any poll can tell me. This is a place where W stickers (Yes, some still have them on their cars) have been replaced by Obama stickers.

    November 1, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  16. dp

    YOU WILL ALL BE SURPRISED WHAT WILL BE COMING OUT IN THE FUTURE. WE DO NOT KNOW THE 1/2 OF WHAT OBAMA STANDS FOR.
    I THINK ALL OF AMERICANS WILL BE TOTALLY SURPRISED IF HE GETS INTO OFFICE WHAT THIS COUNTRY WILL BECOME.
    WE HAVE FOUGHT HARD TO MAKE AMERICA WHAT IT USE TO BE BUT BUSH AND THE REPUBLICANS HAVE DESTROYED ANY TRUST WE HAD WITH FOREIGN COUNTRIES.
    WE ALL BE PROBALLY STANDING IN FOOD LINES AND NO MONEY IF OBAMA GETS INTO OFFICE

    November 1, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  17. Artie

    Who even cares about this?

    November 1, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  18. Peter

    Are all of my comments forever "awaiting moderation"?

    November 1, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  19. Pat

    Awww! Axelrod thinks it's "suspicious"? Is this the same Axelrod (Obama's "brain") who's the No. 1 smear fest producer on the political scene today? You know - the same Axelrod who was hired by Chicago's Daley to defend him against corruption charges.

    Hey, Axelrod, what's really "suspicius" is the slimy characters that Obama used to build his political career!

    November 1, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  20. Connie from Indiana

    Twelve million illegals in the USA and CNN chooses to keep this thing running. I am praying that they find out before the election that the repubs had a hand in this. If she lost her appeal four years ago why didn't immigration deport her then.Maybe CNN can investigate all of this .
    Connie from "BLUE" Indiana

    November 1, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  21. Cristiano-ronaldo from Paris

    Of course everything is done in purpose. Just before the election you need to speak about the aunt of Barrack.

    Comonnnnnnnnnn CNN give us a break?

    Why are you not serious????

    November 1, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  22. Shame on you

    CNN STOP TRYING TO MAKE THIS INTO A STORY! You've posted this earlier today with 100+ comments ALL saying that this is a non story and shame on you for trying to push Republican talking points that are:
    1. Not verified
    2. Republican slime
    3. Totally irrelevant

    Keep it up CNN and no one will watch you. Not to mention the next President Obama (God willing) will shut you out!

    November 1, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  23. Cheney Lover

    I hate to kick a man while he is down, but I recently heard that Obama's great-great-grandfather once stole a chicken while living in Kenya. Clearly this information and the the recent revelations about his aunt disqualify him from the presidency.

    Way to go, McCain! Don't give up!

    November 1, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  24. Truman

    I don't care if we're 72 hours from the election, or 3 years from the election. I don't care if it's some no name person, or a relative a presidential candidate. If you are here illegally, you are here illegally. Dems may try to cry foul since this is coming out at the last minute....just like when George Bush's DWI came out 48 hours before the election.

    November 1, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  25. Michael McCutchen

    I will be so glad when the silly season is over. I am so sick of the GOP trying to keep voters focused on anything but the fact that their policies violate all principles of economics including the nobel prize winning economic law of John Nash. Palin is a joke and McCain is an complete loser that sold his soul to win the nomination. If he had not been shot down three times and put in prison ( I guess that makes you a hero) he wouldn't be any better than Palin. Although, I must admit that I just love seeing them gettin' all " Mavericky ." What a joke.

    November 1, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
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