November 1st, 2008
06:30 PM ET
6 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. Jack Carlson

    More than it ikely is true and the money she sent to this campaign more than likely money from the Taxpayers.
    If Obama does not know about this matter, shows how much he cares about his family......his favorites are Ayers, Khalidi Raschid,
    Jeremiah Wright, Ferrakan so called Father Phelegers, and so forth...only those "who accidently live in his immediate neighborhood" ! LOL
    Jack Carlson
    Seattle Washington

    November 1, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  2. AIB

    This is a sad political attempt of distract the American people once again. I believe that an investigation should be put forward to see who was closely or remotely involved in the leak. That is dirty. I hope that some good lawyers will stand and fight for this.

    November 1, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  3. weneedstrongleadership

    Republican Terrorism

    I received the latest attempt by the Republican Party to instill fear in the public by perpetuating the weak link between Barack Obama and William Ayers. I was struck first by the arrogance of the Republican Party, which banks on ignorance to leverage votes, then by the irony of this blatant attempt at fear mongering, which depends on lack of knowledge to successfully misrepresent facts, and since terrorism is the loudest note trumpeted by the Party, I peeled away the rhetoric and discovered the truth within. Terrorism is not limited to car bombings. Terrorism includes policies, propaganda, coercion, or other “non-violent” means to create a sense of terror. It is a method of subjugation, and as such, typically demonstrates a lack of legitimacy and/or morality on the part of the perpetrator (or the Party). Unfortunately, as was the case in 1930’s Germany, when propaganda and messages of fear were used to stereotype an entire race of peoples as anti-Aryan, the Republicans use similar tactics to cast those who are not social conservatives as anti-American. The parallels are frightening—the Nazi party was based on social conservatism and nationalism—but when fear is the message (and motive) it speaks more to the opinion they have of the American people than to any so-called “greater good.” It is beneficial for the Republican Party to keep a majority of American citizens ignorant and uneducated. It is unfortunate for America, democracy, and freedom across the globe that this appears to be a toxin without a foreseeable antidote.

    November 1, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  4. Nee

    Obama also has a brother who lives in a slum on a dollar a day, but it doesn't matter what McCain brings up about Obama – it will be called "desperate" because he's bringing up issues that the media should have delved into long ago, but shirked their responsibilities out of the desire for a good story and ratings.

    November 1, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  5. Mike in CA

    Any one honest enough and not an idiot can guess without any doubt who leaked the information. Not that it matters in either case, but jut demonstrates the sleaze of the Mccain campaign.

    November 1, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  6. Texas Teacher

    For God's sake! They woman donated almost $300 for Obama to run for President! Like millions of Americans, she is supporting the future! Is she here legally? We don't know. But we do know that millions of people from south of the border are here illegally! They just do not happen to be related to anyone running for office.

    Who is surprised at when this comes out. McSame camp will look under rocks for anything. They do NOT have anything to run on BUT mud slinging! They do not care what they are insighting the lowest level of mentality in this nation to do! All they care about is winning.... at any cost! They are dispicable! Beneath contempt!

    November 1, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  7. Jeremy

    Hi David Axelrod! Can AP and CNN disclose the secrets covered in Gov Palin Medical records? I read from some Alaskan bloggers that she was treated for depression before she gave birth to her last child.

    She is your opponent but it is important she clears these rumors before they spread like bush fire in Nothern California!

    November 1, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  8. Voter

    Now they are vetting the candidate's aunts? Why is this even news?

    November 1, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  9. Jeanette

    Are you kidding!? That's the best they can come up with! When will they stop all the smears!Everybody is sick of it, even people who were planning on voting Rebulican are not because of all their sick endless attacks! JUST STOP ALREADY!!!

    November 1, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  10. Another grumpy old white woman for Obama

    Yeah, like that's going to happen. Dirty tricks and hogwash from the GOP. Can you spell corrupt?
    At any rate, who among us keeps tabs on everybody remotely related to us? Had Obama known, he would have done something about it.
    They are virtual strangers. I think he has seen her twice in his life.
    His fathers half sister. Reps and others , stop making excuses.
    We know why Obama is not getting your votes. You are just too cowardly to admit it.

    November 1, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  11. No McCain

    Why Obama Aunt's immmigration status is NEW? Hey CNN go and find some better news. This has nothing to do with Obama and certainly nothing to do with this election.....

    November 1, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  12. Benjamin

    John McCain spent more time as a prisoner of war than Obama has in the U.S. Senate.

    John McCain has observed, been involved in, and learned from all the major domestic and foreign events of the last 50 years. He served under President John F. Kennedy in the Cuban Missile Crisis. He has served with Presidents Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush Jr. He has experienced powerful economies and weak economies. He knows war and peace. He is the man we need in these difficult times. He will be president on day one.

    November 1, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  13. David

    I love it when people like "dp" (6:56) say crazy things like, "You'll be surprised at all the things that will be uncovered after so-and-so gets elected..." It's like McCain saying he knows how to get bin Laden.

    If you've got something to say, say it! What are you waiting for?

    Oh, and did you hear about McCain's health? They're holding all the news until after the election! Big secret! Don't ask me how I know, I just know.

    November 1, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  14. Sarsar

    The activities of Obama's aunt are as relevant to the election as are those of Bristle Palin and Levi Johnson and the sister of Cindy McCain. "Families are off limits." This is a non-issue. Stick to what really matters.

    November 1, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  15. Glenn; Bakersville, NC.

    Anyone with any sense knew that the Republicans are going to try and turn anything they can into a last minute spoiler. Desperation knows no bounds and beleive me these folks are truly there. Less than 72 hours left until the tyrannical reign of the facist party is over, and Sen McCain goes back to the senate. Gov. Palin will still get back to Alaska in time for gun season too! It's a win – win for all of us!

    November 1, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  16. Jimmy

    OH NO! I voted for Obama already!

    I'll have to see if I can get my ballot back!

    I am SOOOOOO sorry, America!

    November 1, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  17. James

    What is suspicious is that he wants to spread our hard earned income around to people who do not deserve it and will not work. But his relatives live in horrible means and he does not spread his wealth to them at all. Selfish, take a look in the mirror.

    November 1, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  18. Dori

    Do all right-wing Whack-jobs type in all-caps?? FOR REAL??? LOLOLOL!!! It's so easy to see how that those kinds of people are responsible mainly for the degradation, ruination, and downfall of this country. I can't wait until we have some INTELLIGENT people back in charge of things!

    November 1, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  19. Lynne

    LMAO! Is this the best ya got Rethuglikkans?? LOL!! Oh, I'm sure you're gonna next say she has the secret tape of Obama's birth in a Kenyan hut with a medicine man holding up the baby Obama and then signing his Kenyan birth certificate.......LOL!!

    OBAMA-BIDEN BABY!

    November 1, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  20. John

    Do you suppose Palin is withholding her medical record because she has something to hide. Of course she has something to hide, why else.
    Maybe she had an abortion.
    Nothing wrong with that, it is a woman's decision but she knows she has egg on her face and she is afraid to show.

    We need a real leader not a fake!

    Obama 2008

    November 1, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  21. slickingdom in N.J.

    I am a Barack Obama supporter but if his aunt is in the country illegally
    she should have to go back to her homeland just like all 5 million illegal
    immigrants in the U.S. This is one of the problems the the upcoming
    administration will have to solve. This issue has put a deep burden
    on the economy.

    Obama/Biden '08/'12

    November 1, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  22. PULEEEZZZ!! lets tell some truth

    LEAVE the AUNT out of it... What a cheap shot!!! like WHAT ABOUT SARAH"S daughter havind SEX before marriage.. NOW THAT SAYS SOMEHTING about how poorly Sarah runs her family...IM NOT AN EVANGELICAL and my kids didnt get knocked up .. PLEASE EXPLAIN THIS TO ME...OBAMA NOW!!!!!

    November 1, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  23. Texas Teacher

    Dave.... the fruit does not fall far from the tree. But that does not matter one whit. What matters is that the woman is totally unqualified to be in the position she is in! And what else matters is that McCain chose her to run with him!

    I hate the way McCain and Palin simple attack Obama on any and everything. They have no plan! They just want to win at any cost.... ANY COST! And We, the People, we don't matter one whit to them! Just as we meant nothing to Bush/Cheney! Money is the only thing that means anything to the Republican party. I am glad that people are waking up to that fact!

    November 1, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  24. Freereader

    Where are the parents of that daughter McCain and Cindy adopted? They probably have them working at one of their many houses. Somebody ought to check.

    November 1, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  25. jojodancer1119

    This is really a non-issue. He still has my vote.

    November 1, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
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