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. MJ

    Sorry, this is my third post. I care about this because she's living off of our tax dollars. She's living in public housing. How do you think that's paid for? I just don't understand how a candidate, running for president, is not held more accountable. We should know the good and the bad. He should come out, make a statement and then move on. It would be suspicious if he had not already written it in his book. Even my 17 year old knew about it.

    November 1, 2008 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  2. barry j

    I guess this was supposed to be the "October surprise". Guess what???? This is November.........

    They didn't vet this move very well either.........

    JMHO

    November 1, 2008 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  3. Cathy, Peoria AZ

    Here is another reason to illustrate how McCain/Palin have become devisive: A women in Grosse Pointe Farms, Mi refused to give halloween candy out to children who's parents suport Senator Obama!
    These two individuals have done NOTHING but encourage the ugly tone this race has become.
    Shame on Senator McCain and Gov Palin, who in my opinion is more to blame, for the continued hatred!

    November 1, 2008 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  4. Hayes

    We can't be surprised by comments like this! It is consistent with Republican playbook that McCain has decided to follow. Don't let them distract us from what we have to do.

    Obama/Biden in 2008!

    November 1, 2008 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  5. I BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA SWEAR TO UPHOLD......

    AMERICA HUNG SADDAM HUSSEIN AND NOW IS ABOUT TO SWEAR A BARACK HUSSEIN IN THE OFFICE . IT WILL BE SO SWEAT FOR BARACK HUSSEIN TO PUT HIS HAND ON THAT BIBLE AND REPEAT AFTER CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS – I BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA.... YOU KNOW THE REST. A MIRACLE IS ABOUT TO UNFOLD. TUNE IN AGAIN SOON

    November 1, 2008 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  6. Rosa - Philadelphia, PA

    RAISE WHAT EYE BROWS. PEOPLE PLEASE!!! THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SEN. OBAMA OR WHAT HE CAN DO FOR THE COUNTRY. JUST ANOTHER DIRTY DEAL FROM THE GOP. MOVE ON WITH THIS NONSENSE. I TIRED OF ALL THE MUD SLINGING THAT, THE MCCAINS CAMPAIGN HAS BEEN DOING.

    MY VOTE STILL GOES TO SEN. OBAMA AND SEN. BIDEN.

    November 1, 2008 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  7. Michael, Los Angeles CA

    HAHAHAHAHAHA PALIN GOT PRANK CALLED LOOOOOOL!

    November 1, 2008 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  8. blkkbbeauty

    To ck and the rest of you dense Mccain supporters, Obama can not be held responsible for the actions of a 56 year old woman !! he is how ever responsible for his under age children.... do you see ? Do you get the picture or is your autism getting in the way... those of you that are responsible for their grown aunts and uncles please speak or forever hold your piece... also joe the plumber was a plant and it back fired he got what he deserved, this poor lady isnt bothering anybody !

    November 1, 2008 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  9. Dennis from Millbrae, CA

    BFD. Who cares? What does this have to do with Obama? We all probably have a relative somewhere in the family tree that has done something wrong. Does that somehow make us culpable? No! Just more of the Republican attack strategy, which is all they have to offer.

    November 1, 2008 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  10. Dimslie

    Palin's medical records???? Where are OBAMA AND BIDEN'S records? And, how about the Arab that paid for his Harvard law degree?

    November 1, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  11. New Yorker for Obama

    This article is misleading. Anyone who reads the comment should understand the aide is saying that the voters are suspicious of attacks like this. At this point no one is going to fall for petty campaign tricks like this one, especially about topics that have nothing to do with Obama, his policies or his character. The way this article is presented it seems like CNN is saying the news would make voters suspicious of Obama. Read it again people!

    November 1, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  12. mms

    they just make themselves look bad.everyone knows it's just another distraction and you can bet the bush administration was trying to help their buddy mccain.what a bunch of sleaze bags. farewell you bums ,it's going to feel so good to watch them lose!!

    November 1, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  13. Ms. J

    This is crazy. If the Republicans were not so desperate, would this really be a big issue? afterall, McCain is from Arizona. I wonder if he is making an issue about the number if illegal Mexicans living in his state, or is he depending on their "legal" Mexican – American children to help him lose this election. I pray that Obama wins. If he has not done nothing else during this election, he has given Americans hope again, something we lost in the past 8 years due to war, the economy, and natural desaster. Obama makes Americans believe again! He makes us see that we can be a great nation again. All McCain does is point the finger like a little spoiled brat, and never has any real solution to problems, other than "fight, fight, fight". And as for being a "American Hero", how are you a hero when most of the time you were a Prisoner of War? What make you a hero when you were caught by the enemy? I don't get it! Mccain is not interested in building America, he wants another title, and "President of the USA", other thean the Pope and God, id the biggest title in the world. Mccain needs to sitdown somewhere in a nursing home, tell war stories with other vets while eating graham crackers and cranberry jiuce. He is too old to be President, and out of touch with America today! We need a leader, and Obama is America leader to a brighter future.

    November 1, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  14. Arlington

    Question is not about the timing and source of the leak. Question is whether this matter should disqualify anyone from running for the highest office of the land. Look, someone applying for a job at government agencies such as the CIA or the FBI is required to undergo extensive background checks, which include among others investigating one's family relations and friends. Anything uncovered that is in violation of the law surely jeopardizes one's chances of getting that job. So, let's ask the right question here.

    November 1, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  15. Jen M.

    Jesus Christ, who cares? What does his aunt have to do with how HE is going to run the country? Last time I checked, the name on the ballot was "Barack Obama," not "some lady related to Barack Obama that he has nothing to do with."

    If someone is going to vote based on this "leak," then you have no business voting whatsoever. Vote based on the ISSUES that are important to you–whatever they may be and whoever you feel is best suited to take care of those issues–not what the status of Obama's estranged aunt is.

    November 1, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  16. Don

    You know, I would hate to think that I had to answer for what MY aunt does and does not do, where she is and where she isn't. This has absolutely nothing to do with Obama and how he would be as a president. This is a last ditch effort by the Republicans to get people to think about something other than how Obama is better for the job than the old as dirt McCain.

    Before you go pointing fingers at Obama and how he isn't 'fit' to be president because of what his aunt is doing, think about this. Would YOU like to answer for every member of your family? Do YOU keep up with their daily lives enough to know what is going on with them? Most of the people who are downing Obama over this don't keep in touch with their own families enough to know what they are doing or where they are at.

    The facts are the facts, Obama has a plan for this country. John McCain does not. Obama is more in touch with the common, everyday person. John McCain only is worried about the big companies that don't need help. McCain is a liar and the biggest threat of all, Palin should never be in a position where she could become president. McCain's age is a big issue with that. If he dies in office, we are 100% screwed.

    November 1, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  17. Paul

    I wonder if Obama will have ACORN take away her voter registration too. In this day and age when accountability matters, who has Obama ever held accountable? He was in Chicago political circles for many years, ACORN, Bill Ayers, Rev. Wright, Illinois Senate, and US Senate. Surely he's seen something illegal, and yet he's never held anybody accountable from his friends with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to questionable campaign contributions. McCain has held people accountable (Boeing Tanker), and so has Palin (see her bio). Obama is a shady character who is surrounded by people whom usually are on the wrong side of ethics. What do you think his White House will be run like? Would going to hold him accountable...the Democratic run House and Senate? Too many issues with him. McCain is know for being a genuine man and he will make a good President. He will hold people accountable.

    VOTE MCCAIN on TUESDAY!!!

    November 1, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  18. Elizabeth

    God but I'll be glad when this election is over.

    November 1, 2008 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  19. Renee

    Obama aunt is an adult and she must be responsible for her business. I am postive that you people don'nt know all about your relative business. Obama is responsible for his wife and childrens business. Obama is not President yet and if Obama have the honor to become the President than Obama will be responsible for the American people in the guldelines of what the Government involvement for the people.

    November 1, 2008 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  20. Mary Koral

    Clearly Obama is not responsible for his aunt, nor does he need to do more than return the money that she donated. I believe this is scurrilous behavior on the part of the McCain/Palin group and find it deplorable.
    Does it even matter? What should we check out in McCain's past?
    Arrgh! Go Obama! Go Diversity! Go Forward!

    Mary

    November 1, 2008 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  21. Griff

    There must be one Hell of a lot of African American's, Work on the Weekends.... The want the Monopoly Maybe?????

    November 1, 2008 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  22. dklovely

    it;s sad that this campaign has come to this. mccain has nothing run nothing but a negative campaign along with his running mate who is a joke .obama can't control this situation and i believe he had no knowledge of the matter and he still has my vote

    November 1, 2008 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  23. Mohamed

    McCin should campaign in Arizona....

    He will look so bad if he can't defend it....

    Don't worry about the poor Aunt in Boston...

    Boston will go blue anyway.

    Help mcCin to save Arizona's....senate seat. ha ha ha.

    November 1, 2008 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  24. Pat----- Penna.

    Would somebody please tell me where Obama was born?

    November 1, 2008 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  25. Pam

    CNN. Get back on track if you want to do the right thing as journalists, air this.
    History had shown us that in order to lead and maintain the economic

    November 1, 2008 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
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