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. PL

    What else can the republicans talk about. They lack a plan to get the country out of this mess. Before Monday they will play the race card. Watch

    November 1, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  2. ROGER IN THE VIRGINIA VALLEY.

    AS A LIFELONG REPUBLICAN(65+ YEARS), WHO VOTED FOR BUSH ALL FOUR TIMES. I HAVE BEEN APPALED AT THE DESPICABLE CAMPAIGN THAT MCCAIN AND PALIN HAVE RUN. THEY HAD SAID LITTLE ABOUT WHAT THEY WOULD DO TO HELP THEIR COUNTRY AND CITIZENS AND HAVE USED LIES AND SMEARS TO TRY AND MAKE PEOPLE MISTRUST OBAMA. WELL, I ONLY HAVE ONE VOTE AND LAST THURSDAY AS A REPUBLICAN I CAST MY ONE VOTE FOR SEN. OBAMA.

    November 1, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  3. Becky

    If Obama's aunt is here illegally, why do you people blame Obama. It is not in his place to check her status. It is the National Security to check into it and with all the other illegal immigrants.

    I am so sick and tired of all this hate and extreme attacks that McCain and Palin are making against the Obama/Biden ticket. They are stooping so low to do what they think will change people's minds. Those hypocrits will do anything to win any election. They can say all they want, but it will NOT CHANGE MY MIND!!!!

    OBAMA "08!! ALL THE WAY ON NOV. 4TH

    November 1, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  4. DIANA

    How sad that a major network like CNN., or should i say a has been major network as cnn thinks this is news.....LONG LIVE MSNBC
    RACHEL MADDOW......

    Too bad there are bigger fish to fry and MCCain?Palin know it part of it is beginning or already hit the internet.....have fun....

    OBAMA 08

    November 1, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  5. dan

    Unaware, unaware, unaware: BEWARE THE UNAWARE........

    November 1, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  6. jessica, va for mccain

    November 1st, 2008 7:27 pm ET
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    ALL YEAH YA'LL PEOPLE BLAME IT ON THE GOP!! OR MCCAIN !!!OR BUSH!!
    WELL MAYBE IT IS HER FAUGHT, LIEING WILL GET U NO WHERE UNLESS UR OBAMA AND ALL THESE DUMB PEOPLE VOTE FOR U!!

    OBAMA ANSWER FOR EVERYTHING PRESENT OR I WAS NOT AWARE OF THAT!!

    P. S. I SAWL OBAMA SPEECH LAST NIGHT THAT HE WAS GIVING ON CNN! HE SAID MCCAIN VOTED FOR BUDGET CUTS THAT INCREASED THE DEFECT!! CNN DID NOT MAKE ONE COMMENT ON THAT !! HOW CAN U VOTE FOR BUDGET CUTS THAT INCREASE THE DEFECT!! SPENDING LESS INCEASES THE DEFECT???AND

    PICKING A VP THAT HAS BEEN THIER FOR 31 YEARS, HOW IS THAT CHANGING HE HAS BEEN THIER FOR 31 YEARS WHY DID HE NOT DO IT ALREADY BIDEN!!!
    CNN IS OBAMA JUST SAY IT ALREADY

    VOTE MCCAIN!! HE IS THE RIGHT CHOOSE FOR US PROUD AMERICANS!!!!!

    November 1, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  7. Rajesh

    How convinient - ignorance is bliss. it is a shame on our processess and systems that one can be living illegally in a government housing. Why should any US citizen be objecting to checking of legal status at any time of any individual residing in this country ? Why would any US citizen allow their tax dollars to support illegal activities ?

    November 1, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  8. Not Joe!

    Palin does it again; the Republicans manufacture a fake call from the President of France, so that they can try to boost her foreign policy skills. This woman is a complete idiot and she does not know how to talk to anyone on the phone. Then she try’s to use his first name as if she knows him, but it was all fake, what a dummy. And cracks jokes about killing animals, and she does not know who the Prime Minster of Canada is, she just keeps proving how dumb she is! Then she curses at the guy!

    November 1, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  9. Jonesey

    Republicans are lunk heads. Completely duped by a philandering old coot with daddy worship issues.

    November 1, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  10. vanessa the stay-at home mom

    THIS IS THE REASON MCCAIN WILL LOSE! cOME UP WITH SOMETHING ELSE! THIS IS BULL AT ITS BEST. pAILIN DOES NOT KNOW WHAT THE FIRST AMMENDMENT IS AND THEIR TALKING ABOUT THIS!! WHAT EVER!! MCCAIN SUCKS AND SO DOES DUMB AZZ PAILIN!!!

    November 1, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  11. A Really Conservative Realist

    HEADLINE, NOTICE, ATTENTION….LAZY AMERICANS VOTE OBAMA INTO THE WHITEHOUSE.

    If any of you takes the time to read this you will either:
    1. get mad and have no defense,
    2. get mad and show ignorance by trying to respond.

    First please know that I am first and foremost a conservative. I am sometimes a Republican. Second, John McCain is NOT a conservative and sometimes a Republican. I will vote for McCain because he is, in fact, the lesser of two evils (pardon the cliche).

    Obama has three kinds of supporters: ideological liberals, fad voters and the lazy. He is none of the three.

    Ideological liberals are folks who believe that goverment can more honestly and adequately provide for the needs of its people than the peolpe themselves. I enjoy debating these people. They are often intelligent and will always be present in the civic debate. Examples include the last three Democratic presidents. They will vote Obama because they are not represented on the ticket elsewhere.

    Fad voters are most often young, immature, easily influenced and can be brilliant or stupid. Lots and lots of college students fall into this catagory. They are always present in every election. They voted Bush into office twice. They yield to savory politics. They will vote for Obama because he is inspiring and sophisticated. They love his rhetoric and ability to communicate his "ideas." The fad vote always goes to the better politician.

    Lazy folks may be brilliant or stupid as well. They may be young or old. They could be middle school drop-outs or PHD's. And get this……they will vote this year. They normally do not, because, well, they're lazy. But Obama is brilliant, and though I disagree at nearly every level with his ideology, we should all see his brillaince. He has awakened the lazy of our country by promising them the one thing they "need." They need someone to do for them what they should do for themselves. In this case, the lure is something for nothing. What they hear Obama say is "A vote for me is money for nothing." They don't care about his opinion on Russia, oil, "Green Technology", or any other policy for that matter. They simply want what they don't deserve. They find no shame in taking money they don't deserve.

    This is a tough time for someone as conservative as I am. Obama will win, I'm afraid. But take heart, bad ideas never create stability. In a few years, all Americans will have a chance to vote for chance once more. It is my hope, that BO's term as President will be a sort of awakening, if you will. And I hope that someone, whether Democratic or Republican, will emerge as a brilliant orator, as he is, with good ideas. Against the back-drop of what the next years will bring, good ideas will shine.

    November 1, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  12. daveT

    Who cares. Big deal. This is their "October surprise?" George Bush and McCain's immigration plan call for amnesty for illegal aliens. A work program with Mexico. So you GOP guys, including Lou Dobbs are all upset about all the Mexicans flooding into the U.S. "Stealing" jobs from Americans. Where's the outrage? The GOP is all about outsourcing jobs. Mexico, China, India you name it. So take your indignation and find something real to talk about.

    November 1, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  13. Obama is human

    You know – GOD forbid that Obama may be covering up something. GOD fordbid that this brings light onto a whole a subject that some people may have never thought of – put his aunt aside, how many other possible illegal contributions have been made to the Obama campaign that are simply not revealed? – To call this a leak is silly. To react to this in this way is more suspicious than simply saying, "you know. we made an error and need to make it right." – Then I wouldn't be as suspicious.

    November 1, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  14. Richard A. Spomer

    1. Obama broke his promise on financing.
    2. Obama has links to many terrorists.
    3. Obama is left radical much like the former USSR
    4. Obama will not keep his promises
    5. Obama says this war was a mistake
    6. Obama is trying to get local democrats to use all their time and resources for him only and not local candidates in state and government positions
    7. Obama has no military experience
    8. Obama has no leadership experience in Congress
    9. Obama's advisors are made up of lobbyists and who would have destroyed the economy back in 1999 with the repeal of the 1933 Act separating investment banks from commercial banks.
    10. Obama has no detailed plans showing budgets.

    November 1, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  15. fred

    i do think obama didnt know anything about his aunt i have aunts i dont know everything about them . and if you think you know everything about your aunt your nuts.

    November 1, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  16. Mark, B'ham., Al.

    This is just an example of how Obama will uphold the Laws of America if he does not ensure his Aunt is deported back to Kenya as she should have been since being order deported by a judge in 2004. She is a criminal as illegal immigants who use false identities are. Obama needs to prove he will uphold all the laws not just the ones he wants to. The immigration service will deport her on Obama's word.

    November 1, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  17. Joe from Oregon

    In what way does this reflect on Obama? Not in the slightest!

    He has already said he had no idea of her status and that he wants her to follow the law.

    If John McCain has a cousin with a drug conviction, does that make him a drug addict?

    Come on, people.

    I am undecided, and this story means nothing to me.

    November 1, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  18. Ann

    This kind of malicious dirt digging is characteristic of Rove/Republican Rush Liimgaubh tactics. Who cares at this point? This is not reflective of Obama. So much dirt could be dug up on McCain and Pallin, evidenced by the recent troopergate etc., that does matter. However, again Obama is above that. He is spending his time these last few days telling America what he will do for them not wasting voters' time spreading intended smut.

    Voters....say it loud and clear: ENOUGH OF THIS JUNK. VOTE OBAMA INTO OFFICE SO WE CAN MOVE ON AND TAKE THE HIGHER ROAD.

    November 1, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  19. Rich

    Wow. The Democratic spin machine must me working overtime on this one. I'm calling BS on Barack not knowing about dear Aunti's status. I'm sure the party did a very extensive background check on the entire family. And I must applaud the liberals at CNN for not making this the top story. If this was McCain or - heaven forbid - Palin, they would be ranting about it non-stop.

    November 1, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  20. Lost in Napels

    Most be desperate. I got a phone call from the McCain campaign on my cell phone today, had to tell them I was taking a walk and you are calling my cellphone and sorry I already voted for Sen. Barack Obama. Wonder where they are getting cell phone numbers from?
    I thought Sarah Palin was giving us a peek at her medical records????? You betcha we have not seen them yet!!! What happened?

    By the way are all your Republicans supporting all your aunts and uncles, since you are asking why isn't Obama? I have not seen some of mine in a long long time since we live far away!!!! Give me a break!!!

    November 1, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  21. John Q. Cynic

    Since McCains campaign seems to enjoy digging for any crimp in Obama's armor, and Obama won't bring it up because he's a man, McCain was hatched in Panama, not the US. If you want trash, read McCains bio, talk about a piece of trash, McCains it. Read McCains bio before you put your name to the ballot, unless your afraid to see what kind of a creep your voting for.

    November 1, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  22. ucheojo1

    Wheather you support or oppose...

    OBAMA will Win this election.

    McCain has messed up his reputation and record. I supported him last election.

    Now i will go independent.

    November 1, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  23. Ted:Canada

    Canada sends it’s DEEPEST SYMPATHY!

    Bush, Cheney, McCain, Palin and Cindy
    ALL ENDORCE EACH OTHER!
    Plus over 7,800 republican staffers still asleep at the switch in Washington!

    “FOUR MORE YEARS” of Republicans"

    Sincere CONDOLENCESS and heart felt SYMPATHY to
    the American people

    November 1, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  24. Bobbi

    This is it? So, his Aunt is here illegally and therefore he is not fit to be president?

    FUNNY THOUGH... we can't talk about Palin's family, (and isn't there alot to be said), but his family is an open book?

    I would give back the $260 dollars and not forget it was even mentioned!

    November 1, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  25. Susan

    guys VOTE.

    November 1, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
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