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. Already voted for Obama in FL

    @ dp.......
    What world are you living in? Waiting in food lines and broke? with Obama in office? PULEEEZ!!! People are doing that right now and have been in record numbers every since GW took office in 2000. Remember that a Democrat Prez (Clinton) left us with a balanced budget and the largest surplus in history. When Dubya leaves in January, we will have the most debt this country has ever witnessed and an economy in a recession. McCain is just now starting to admit that the Bush economic philosophy is wrong but yet he voted with Bush 92% of the time. DC needs fresh energy, a fresh persona, fresh ideas, and no more Bush-like clones. Didnt your parents tell you about playing in the Bush's? You will get scarred. We've endured Jeb for 2 terms and thank goodness he's gone and Dubya's on the way out. Our American people deserve better leadership and frankly most people will be voting for the Columbia University, Harvard Law grad who has one wife, one car, and one house!!!

    And with my one vote, I along w/other exercised our early voting rights to vote for "That One"... The next POTUS Barack H. Obama!!!!

    November 1, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  2. Pete

    When Bush was president the economy exploded, housing skyrocketed, everyone drove SUV filled with cheaper gas, the stock market soared, the Big 3 made record sales, and DiCaprio made more money than some Wall Street CEO's.

    Two years ago when the Dems came into power, we now have record foreclosures, Barney Franks, Nancy Pelosi, the housing industry is in the toilet, $5.00 gas, record unemployment, Stock Market sinking like a rock, DiCaprio whining about everything, and Dems wanting four more years of this.

    PERFECT!

    November 1, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  3. Joe the Not Falling For It

    I just hope his third cousin twice removed has a clean record!

    After being stood up by Joe the not really a plumber, but a tax evader, McCain now has the backing of Dick Cheney. Cheney is asking us to vote for McCain!!

    Well, if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck:

    From Good Morning America 3/2008
    RADDATZ: Two-thirds of Americans say it's not worth fighting.

    CHENEY: So.

    RADDATZ: So? You don't care what the American people think?

    CHENEY: No

    Good going, John! I sure as heck DO NOT want 4 more years of this same ideology!

    I don't care about the aunt. I care about getting this Bush/Cheney-type of thinking out of the White House!

    Americans First! That's the real America! That's real patriotism!

    Obama/Biden 08!!!!

    November 1, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  4. w.l. jones

    We are all English speaking people in cluding Kenykain so what the problem?

    November 1, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  5. wag

    Peter:
    Mine took forever the other night too, finally did go through.

    November 1, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  6. StopPalinMadness

    this is typical Republican party's nonsense which is why I have divorced them until they learn to play a game of decency. Heck with you McCain/Palin.

    November 1, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  7. romeo

    the only thing that should matter is joe biden and barrack obama, not there famlies.

    November 1, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  8. Taylor

    The RNC and McCain Campaign have all come to the realization that they aren't sprinting this thing on to victory. What amazes me is that with all of the criticism they've received over the last couple of weeks for incorporating verbiage into their speeches such as, anti-American, palling around with terrorists, Muslim, Socialist, Communist, etc., they still either don't get it that the American people have had enough of the dirty tricks, or they are so desparate that they cannot stop the dirty momentum. It's kind of sad. The Republican Party will have no choice but to reinvent itself for a new generation of electorate.

    November 1, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  9. RGA

    I guess the McCain campaigne is really running out of ideas and running out of time. How low can you really go? Obama is the one running for President and he is a US citizen, correct?

    November 1, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  10. ray

    Pretty stupid to blame McCain for the fact that Americans now know Obama has a relative living illegaly in this country. Now the question is – will she be sent back? Or would she get citizenship because she is the Obama's aunt? Wonder if this is why this was kept a secret by the Obama campaign all this while...

    Its become common for the Obama campaign to blame everyone else for blemishes on Obama. Obama supporters forget that in the end, they are still Obama's blemishes.

    Everyone knows Obama will win – what people don't realize is the gloom about to descend on the country when the 'Democrat version of George W. Bush" takes office.

    November 1, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  11. Jan - Indiana

    WHO CARES ALREADY. I only care about the real issues.
    McCain – STOP GRABBING AT STRAWS!!!!!!!!

    November 1, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  12. Brian

    The frightened McCane folks are just a simple amusement to me now. It has settled in that Obama will win and it is funny watching them scurry around like rats these last few days.

    November 1, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  13. RA

    Oh Mufando... you say, "...there was a change from "Stalin" to Hitler, and millions lost their lives, liberty and freedom..." You single-handedly make Obamas case for better education. Perhaps you should read up on history before trying to apply it. On the other hand... you will fit into the Republican base much better if you don't.

    November 1, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  14. Lucy

    Suspicious? Why not just ask Karl Rove or Dick Cheney how long they knew about it. McLoser should just quit doing this and end his game like a man would, it's really too late for him to earn any respect from the American people.It's over McBushNasty. I had expected so much more from you, swamp dwelling sinister creep.

    November 1, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  15. Jan in CA

    Wow this is the kind of garbage they search long and hard for? No wonder their vetting process of Palin and Joe the plumber was so bad. They obviously have fools doing their work. Just dirty little tricks.

    November 1, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  16. PUMBU

    ANYONE WHO HAD ANY RESPECT FOR McCAIN, DID NOT KNOW HIM, HE IS A JOKE. SERIOUSLY THE GUY WANTS TO WIN, HE PUTS COUNTRY SECOND.

    November 1, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  17. Sean

    Yet another attempt to smear Obama over things that have no bearing on the election whatsoever. I have an uncle who's been in prison – does that mean that I must be a criminal?

    November 1, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  18. KB, NC

    Another distraction. It's a shame that we can't talk about stuff that really matters like the economy. McCain/Palin, you guys are really getting desperate in these last days!! News flash....we aren't voting for his aunt !!

    November 1, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  19. Jan - Indiana

    dp – YOU ARE AN IDIOT.

    November 1, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  20. Maggie from Virginia

    It would be more of an issue if she was some how granted citizenship because of Obama. It say's a lot of Obama that he didn't pull any strings for his relatives. That would be abuse of power.

    November 1, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  21. Reginald

    Me: Mr. McCain I am worried about the economy, the war, and the issue of healthcare, what can you tell me?

    McCain: Obama's long-lost estranged half-aunt that he barely even knows is here illegaly!

    Me: How does that help the economy?

    McCain: Obama is Scary! Ooga booga booga!

    I haven't heard a single idea from McCain in a month and a half. I'm voting Obama.

    November 1, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  22. Paul

    Wouldn't it be nice if news agencies adapted their reporting habits to reflect the majority of the nation's fatigue and disregard for cheap political slander and tactics? CNN has demonstrated a bias in the last 2-3 weeks to "make this a race" by giving disproportionate coverage to Pro-McCain / Anti-Obama storylines. What has CNN done to question how a vice presidential candidate can get away with failing to disclose medical records by the weekend before the election?????

    CNN – In the words of Amy Poehler, why don't you grow a pair and print this?

    November 1, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  23. gEnie

    I'm not surprise Mccain will do anything to change our mind of Voting Senator Obama, but that's not gonna happen because we can't afford to have mccain/Palin to lead this great Country. Obama/Biden our Hope and Peace.

    November 1, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  24. John in VA

    It's non-news, just like W's DUI

    November 1, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  25. Esther Cameron

    Do you realize the effect Obama's election will be on the rest of the world?
    Other countries are eagerly awaiting his victory, knowing that it will mean
    a chance for a new America, new policies, mended relations, restored
    integrity.

    November 1, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
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