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. Sammy

    The truth is the truth. But then people are people. Sometimes they will form opinions based on suddenly released information without the time to wait for vetting. So while the truth is the truth, the real question is why someone chose to sit on the story and not say anything until the last moment. What was the motive here? Why sit on the truth? Why now and not 5 days from now? If there is no difference, why not wait a few days so there isnt the appearance of ulterior motives?

    November 1, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  2. Jim

    Wow!!! You Obamaniacs are are real treat to listen to. Your savior can do no wrong.

    I just can't wait until the "one" lowers everyone's taxes (except the evil rich!), makes everything free and I don't have to worry about bettering myself because the government will take care of all of us!

    Oh, WAKE UP KNUCKLEHEADS!!! When the "evil rich" start moving jobs overseas to avoid Obama's taxes, you'll all be looking for the government to pay your way.

    Of course, I don't have to worry because I'm an evil, white-male, small business owner who gets to raise my prices and lay-off a few people to maintain my desired profit margin!!! HAHAHAHA!!! Either way one of you idiots is going to pay!

    November 1, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  3. granny65

    just more of mcgain's dirty politics this guy is as low as a person can getnever seen such dirty campaining in my life

    November 1, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  4. Desmond Michael

    This is just another instance where Senator Obama conveniently wasn't "aware" of his own relationships and affiliations. How many more scandalous acts do we have to find before we finally wake up and realize Obama is not ready to be president?

    Senator McCain is upfront and honest about everything and everyone, he is somebody we can trust. Obama, what else will he choose to 'turn a blind eye' away from once he's in the White House?

    Vote on your candidates morals and values, not their sweet-talk.

    November 1, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  5. diane

    Don't shoot the messenger. Obama's aunt has been in the news for the last week.The real story is that she llives in deplorable conditions in a slum neighborhood, and Obama can't help her out? This just shows that Obama doesn't personally 'spread his wealth' to his own family. What a loser.

    November 1, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  6. Repub;icans Hate America

    DP- There is no surprise with Mccain we know what he will do. re institute the draft and march on to more wars with other peoples children.

    November 1, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  7. Paul Wall in Dallas

    the issue of Barack Obama's aunt is a non-issue. it is a "we don't have anything to run for so we'll play dirty." and this, on a day, without coincidence, has seen xenophobic hatred rear its hideous head at McCain/Palin rallies-"kill him", "send him back", "terrorist", "Hussein" as it has throughout the recent weeks. the governor of Florida nodding approvingly at the chants of hatred with a proud smile on his face. so they pick on an elderly Kenyan woman.

    i'm from texas, it's a red state, and i hope against hope that a miracle happens.

    but for now all i can say to McCain/Palin is-KEEP YOUR HATE OUT OF MY STATE!

    November 1, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  8. Charlie Bradley

    I wouldn't be a bit surprised if the Nazi of Wasilla set this up. DONT YOU think Obama would KNOW if his aunt were here illegally? C'm On Sarah Falin, the American Peple aren't as stupid as you !!!!!!!!!

    November 1, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  9. spot

    And now before we have the election we have to add another hour of this dribble tomorrow at 2AM?

    Please let this be over soon.

    November 1, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  10. nancy

    (1) Obama is not responsible for his aunt or her actions. I feel sorry for her......being "outted" in this way. Leave her alone!

    (2) McCain & Palin: "he without sin throw the first stone"......I don't see or hear Obama talking about McCain ditching his first wife for CindylouWho or talking about Cindy's drug addiction or Palin's husband being in the AIP, and so on and so on and so on.........

    November 1, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  11. Bob

    This scumbag's aunt was probably registered to vote in the US.

    November 1, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  12. JML26

    "Who even cares about this?"

    You SHOULD care. I find it hard to believe that he was unaware of her status. I've also read elsewhere that she lives in total poverty as well. He has an aunt living illegally in the United States who is also living in poverty. He obviously makes a considerable amount of money, so what might this situation suggest about his character. Remember, actions speak louder than words.

    November 1, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  13. Tim

    Who cares....
    I'm not voting for his aunt..

    November 1, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  14. Mike Buck

    Senator McCain, Governor Palin, and their new financial advisor, Joe the Plumber, have been critical of Senator Obama’s tax plan and his comment of “spreading the wealth”. They claim that Senator Obama is going to take money from businesses and redistribute the wealth to those who don’t work for it. McCain and Palin are telling their crowds that Obama’s plan should be feared. Joe the Plumber and other Republicans are calling this plan “Socialism” to help spread the fear.

    Meanwhile, I talked to my brother-in – law in Alaska who was telling me about the money that each Alaskan receives from the state every year, whether they work or not. The past two years have included an additional $1,200 making the total over $3,500 per person.. This money comes from taxing big business interests in Alaska. This wealth is redistributed to each of Alaska’s citizens every year. My brother-in-law has received a check every year since 1980 and this year his household receives over $10,000. Palin brags about this and calls it “taking on big business”.

    So to summarize, the state government in Alaska, led by Sarah Palin, taxes businesses and “spreads the wealth” to citizens of all ages, whether they work or not, thus making Governor Palin a “Maverick” Socialist. I think I see how this works!

    November 1, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  15. Other

    Mufando.Mazakani, et. al., need to provide thoughtful comments and not knee-jerk rhetoric: "Remember there was a change from "Stalin" to Hitler, and millions lost their lives, liberty and freedom… Change for the sake of Change = Disaster…."

    This kind of unsubstantiated language is okay for middle-schoolers who haven't yet learned the weight of words or the art of rhetoric. Seems this kind of logic and language is part and parcel to the McCainians and Palinites out there.

    If you've run out of ideas, provide language that "Others" people, provide language that spawns fear and prejudice, and by all means provide the reasons why the opponent is three days away from destroying the US.

    I don't buy it. I already voted these kinds of words, of hate, fear, supression, didn't influence me one bit.

    Obama/Biden 08

    November 1, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  16. for obama nj-dp

    and by the way what about the article that mccain was in an accident in virgina in 1960's where someone was killed or injured and it was hushed up, and vanity fair was trying to get the story, i just read that on msnbc last week, let's get more on that, and the allege anti american relationship regardiing palin's husband, let's hear more about that

    November 1, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  17. matthew

    Why hasn't PALIN released her MEDICAL RECORDS yet?? What's the deal?? The election is Tuesday!!

    She's hiding something.

    November 1, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  18. Evan

    Who knows whether McCain is behind this... certainly someone in the government needs to get fired. It's a sad testimony when the current president can't campaign openly for his party without turning voters away, and must resort to leaked information as a scare tactic in order to have any effect in McCain's direction for this election.

    I do hope voters will see this for what it is. I mean, seriously, his AUNT?! Who cares?! The question should be why we didn't see fit to grant this poor woman asylum. This isn't a problem for Obama- this is yet another demonstration of the problem with Bush and the Republican party.

    November 1, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  19. NC

    I will be so glad when this election is over, I am so sick of hearing about Obama. I guess next we will be hearing he can walk on water! He is scary!

    November 1, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  20. George from Westerville

    Wow ... this is really ... uh ... non news. Who cares? I have lots of aunts and uncles, can't keep track of all of them and their status. Obama is inspirational, calm, intelligent and has some great plans to move our country forward. McCain and his sidekick have been erratic and spewing hatred and division. What more do we need to know folks? If you have not already voted, DO SO THIS TUESDAY PLEASE!

    November 1, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  21. Thomas

    In a statement, McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds responded, "Barack Obama and Dick Cheney aren't just cousins; they've shared support for the Bush energy policy and the out-of-control spending that John McCain has fought to oppose," he said.

    So what your saying is that Dick Cheney's great aunt is living in the country illegally , “suspicious.

    Tucker Bounds is such a Punk.

    November 1, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  22. for obama nj-dp

    and you are always talking of the good character of john mccain, but i thought the bible says fornication was a sin.........isn't that correct

    November 1, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  23. Dori

    When are we going to prosecute Bush and Cheney for crimes against humanity. Also, why is Michael Vick in jail and not Palin. The only difference between the two is lipstick. Where's PETA. Such hypocrisy in this country.

    November 1, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  24. gerri

    John McCain doesnt mind,he loves our immigration policy.

    November 1, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  25. Griff

    CNN keep talking about the Congo! 1959! Brazaville. I have followed Africa and it's problems for most of my adult-Life.. What changes CNN? I remmber some guy called Lamumba? Then Tanganyika 1964.. The Idi Amin 10yrs later... From East to West of Africa. I can pick every little Country in Africa, and Nothing changes... Why CNN?
    Now you want to Elect Barack Obama! A None Native of anything/Anywhere on this Planet... Why not invite Osama himself to be a Leader of a Super-Power... How nieve can you be???????????

    November 1, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
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