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. mmboucher (Florida)

    If Obama knew this don't you think he would have got a green card for her.

    November 1, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  2. TF

    Correction: Bill Ayers book with a dedication to Sirhan Sirhan was written in 1974, not recently. The name of the book was Prarie Fire and was essentially know as his communist manifesto.

    November 1, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  3. Gary

    I'm suspicious about Obama, who everyday has to whine about the truth being told about him and try to spin it into something he didn't know about or couldn't control. What a poser.

    November 1, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  4. Dr Jack Ryan

    NOBAMA, WHY DON'T YOU SPREAD YOUR WEALTH AND HELP YOUR AUNT AND BROTHER IN KENYA WHO LIVE IN DEPLORABLE CONDITIONS! YOU ARE THE MOST EVIL MAN I HAVE SEEN IN MY LIFETIME!!!

    November 1, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  5. Leslie

    Like this matters about the national security of our country, and the economy of everyone living in the US.

    November 1, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  6. BettyB

    I think this is ridiculous. Who cares. I think the fact Sarah Palin's new son-in-law dropped out of HS , shows the family does not put much value on higher eduacation . Most families would have done everyhting in their power to make sure he graduated. Also, what about this multi-millions dollar house she built using the same contractor that got the bid for her hometown sports arena. Why isn't there more light being shone on stuff like this.? Enquiring minds want to know..
    Just rememeber there is plenty of time for these people to come up with more dirt.
    McCain/Palin: If you win or lose you have lost your soul in doing so...

    November 1, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  7. tws1906 in NC

    The Republicans are really grasping for all the dirty can can get...my vote is already cast.

    OBAMA '08

    November 1, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  8. Independent in NC

    The word is "secessionist." You SECEDE from the union, not SUCCEED. To SUCCEED you attain SUCCESS, which I'm willing to bet you don't do very often given the frequent misuse of words.

    Obama's comment that all appropriate laws should be followed is very legal, but very cold to me. This is a blood relative, and the response is only "I didn't know, do what you legally have to do." No expression of sadness that she is going to be deported, or that he was unable to help her get citizenship (had he known)?

    Every time something like this is brought up, Obama distances himself from the person. He has yet to stand by any relationship that comes into question – Wright, Ayers, Rezko, Khalidi – he always barely knows the person or had no idea what was going on. Is he going to turn his back or distance himself from world issues if he receives criticism from other nations? Being President involves taking a stand when things get tough, and he hasn't proven that he can do that.

    November 1, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  9. Does it matter?

    And McCain's daughter is pro-choice. I'm sure any of the few people upset about Obama's aunt will overlook any issues with McCain's family.
    Also, what are the odds that some of the McCain family fortune WASN'T gotten with the sweat of illegal immigrants? Unlikely.
    Last point:

    November 1, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  10. Martin (England)

    It's funny how all these Conservatives getting "upset" about Obama's aunt dont' seem to be bothered that Bush's Grandfather was a Fascist who tried to overthrow the US government. Mind you Republicans hate America whereas an illegal immigrant obviously loves America so much they try to live their illegally.

    Illegal Immigrant = Someone who wasn't born in America but will do anything to be there.
    Republican = Someone born in America but hates it and doesn't deserve the citizenship.

    November 1, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  11. Terry

    Suspicious? O please.. You have the media throwing all this crap at McCain and Palin and The One's illegal relative is suspicious??? The only thing suspicious about it is him supposedly not knowing she's illegal. So not voting for the Koolaid Man. NOBAMA!

    November 1, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  12. ME

    Funny, CNN, how you moderate OUT ANY PRO McCAIN COMMENTS.
    ALL BIAS ALL BULLsh**

    November 1, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  13. godseeker

    So, this is the Republicans "October surprise". Any one who takes the McCain/Palin ticket seriously, should either examine their heads or take an IQ test, and I highly doubt it if it is more than 2 digit. The reason might be dogmatism, ignorance, or being ill-informed or uneducated or RACISM.
    Mufando.mazakani, look at in the mirror, the above scenario applies to you and the like of you.
    If you were half way a decent human being you would have realized that none of us had a choice of our color, race, ethnic background, parents etc. God created all of us in HIS image.
    McCain voted against celebrating MLK's birthday in Arizona. Any one who has eyes can see their rally doesn't represent USA, no diversity there at all. USA is not an all white country, never been and will never be.
    OBAMA/BIDEN '08

    November 1, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  14. Does it matter?

    And McCain's daughter is pro-choice. I'm sure any of the few people upset about Obama's aunt will overlook any issues with McCain's family.
    Also, what are the odds that some of the McCain family fortune WASN'T gotten with the sweat of illegal immigrants? Unlikely.
    Last point: THE HEAD OF THE AP IS A MCCAIN SUPPORTER.

    WHO DECIDES WHAT YOU KNOW?

    November 1, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  15. rcbr

    Oh, the smell of desperation is in the air.

    Now, CNN, where are the stories about Palin and the AIP?

    November 1, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  16. showmestategal

    Is anything really suspicious in the Dirty campaign that mc Cain & the republicans are running we have seen it before and so has John himself when he ran against a bush........Nothing surprises me about it but how easy it is to use the internet to get the TRUE facts if needed!
    I hope & Pray that the voters are not so gullible this time & have learned a lesson as to how far the republicans will GO to win at Our expense--To Dishonor such an Person as Senator mc Cain at his time in life is Inexcusable & shows unconsciousnable CHARACTER for all republicans involved.

    November 1, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  17. SD

    THIS STORY SOUNDS LIKE ANOTHER BS REPUB PLANT STORY....

    1. Obama hasn't spoken to her in over a year
    2. Timing of this story
    3. I.C.E. is "still" working on confirming her immigration status.
    4. Apparently, she is in subsidized housing

    Sounds like in a day or two, this story will be accurately DEBUNKED

    Hey Palin........when's the next AIP meeting? Can I come????

    Hey John, how's your ex wife who you screwed around on when she was crippled in that accident???

    If this were England or Canada, you would've been CHARGED with inciting HATE SPEECH and jailed!

    GOOD F-NG RIDDANCE TO YOU FAKE "CHRISTIAN", "PRO-AMERICA", "PRO FAMILY" RACIST PRICKS IN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY on TUESDAY. May you all move to Saudi Arabia! Maybe then you'll appreciate America!

    November 1, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  18. What is wrong

    Another point I must make.

    Obama and Dick Cheney are 8th cousins. Is Obama accountable for Dick Cheney?

    Give me a break people.

    November 1, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  19. floridian

    Why are the Democrats so interested in finding out why this was "leaked"? Why isn't the media or the nation's leaders (Pelosi, Reid, and their ilk) clammering to find out why Sen. Obama's aunt is still in this country AND living in subsidized housing? That is where the anger and frustration should be pointed and not at who leaked the story. If she was Gov. Palin's kin the comments to this column would be spitefully aimed at her and caling for her to get out of Dodge.

    November 1, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  20. ga gurl

    Obama/Biden 08
    THIS IS WHATS ON MY CAR AN IN MY YARD.........4SHO

    Well all i got to say is that MacCain an Sarah Pit-Bull is trying there best not to get Obama in the whitehouse.What has his aunt has to do with his campaign ?why are they hattin on him so bad? Is it cause he is a black man that raised more money than that old wrenkle man that want to follow bush? we need change an can't get it rite mac Cain is not gonna do it. Every time you turn around they are trying to come up with something. MacCain just for get it cause we are getting ready to put Obama in the black house.Just check out the polls an see who is on top.

    McCain, I got news for you, too little too late
    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 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  21. Jimmy in Georgia

    Anyone who is in charge of the country should expect their background to come out. Just as out fearless leader Clinton. He is the only President to ever to be known for be an unfaithfull President and no one cared. This shows that the people in our country doesnt care anymore and that is sad. The reason this story came out is to show that if he has family living in the country ilegally, then what is he going to do about helping the country when he lets illegal people in the country?? This is a valid story because we need to get back to helping Americans living in the USA and not Mexicans and everyone else living in the USA. Can people be so blind to not be able to see this....

    November 1, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  22. Vic

    Registered Republican "voted" Obama/Biden 08

    November 1, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  23. wag

    Well, another dirty trick by McCain and Soccer Mom and the campaign
    wonder how many more in the next two days? They really are desparate.....

    November 1, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  24. James

    Here's a little set math:

    {Rezko, Ayers, Wright} = No one cares
    {Guy to have a beer with, Character} = Barely relevant (as the last 8 years prove)
    {Socialism claims} = Red-baiting
    {Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, FHA, Sallie Mae, VA} = {Socialism but no one complains about it}
    {Economic Policy, Monetary Policy Taxes, Jobs, Foreign Policy, IQ, "Book learnin'"} = Matters alot

    November 1, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  25. Florida Voter

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

    How can you allow this to get past your moderators? Out of all the worthy comments you receive, positive and negative, this is the garbage you choose to publish? Let's see if this comment ends up on your website.

    CONCERNED Florida Voter

    November 1, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
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