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. itiswhatitis

    This news is similar to Joe McCain's abuse of the 911 system last week when he swore at the operator. It is not relevant to the campaign. Obama has had very limited contact with his Kenyan relatives because he did not have a significant relationship with his father. I have not even seen cousins on my father's side in years. Does that make me responsible for their behavior? Why should Obama be responsible for the actions of this relative?

    November 1, 2008 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  2. RF

    Ok, enough already. Family should and must be off limit-period. I guess this is McShame's big October Suprise! Well Suprise Repubs, no one cares and shame on CNN for trying to bring this up for the second time in one day. Shame Shame Shame

    November 1, 2008 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  3. Corey W

    Much to do about nothing!

    November 1, 2008 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  4. martha

    Americans, please,,! What does this have to do with Obama? She`s his half-aunt..from kenya? Who cares?...please grow up..the republicans think you are stupid..WAKE UP!

    November 1, 2008 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  5. Stan

    No one cares about the immigration status of little old ladies from Kenya.

    Another McFail to add to the list.

    November 1, 2008 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  6. chris

    Get out and VOTE.

    Obama/Biden 08

    November 1, 2008 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  7. ddb

    SAD, I will vote for Obama now.

    November 1, 2008 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  8. Steve from Somerset

    No wonder Election Day follows so closely after Halloween.

    November 1, 2008 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  9. Lauren Hovanic, Ca

    I voted for Obama and Biden last week and stories like this make me feel even better then I already did about the choice that I made. McCain needs to realize that hate does not win an election, charecter does. Congrats to McCain on the Cheney endorsement...he is exactly who I would want to be on my side! Obama/ Biden 2008!

    November 1, 2008 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  10. Alex

    Who cares about this? I want McCain to give me a good reason to vote for him. I'm a conservative from Idaho, so my vote won't really matter, but I just don't feel like McCain will be any different from Bush.

    November 1, 2008 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  11. Ron & Susie

    If his aunt in living in the US illegally, there is no way he could not know it. We want him to tell the truth BEFORE he is in the White House. This is a important issue.

    Worried Democrats

    November 1, 2008 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  12. michele

    Who cares about Obama's aunt being here illegally. You think she's going to call up her nephew and say the judge ordered me out of here, but I'm going to stay and hide out in Boston. Now nephew, I don't want you to tell anyone, that's our little secret.

    Oh please, get a life!!!!!!!!

    November 1, 2008 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  13. hitobito

    McCain...you are a desperate old man! Time to retire to Arizona and take your maloxx!

    November 1, 2008 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  14. Dixie

    Unaware of Aunt's Status – Sounds like a real close family ?

    November 1, 2008 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  15. Nic

    Serously? Shoot I bet Obama has cousins twice removed whose great grandparents were refugees on a ship and never documented! Someone apprehend this man! The audacity!

    November 1, 2008 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  16. dmg

    For Pete's sake, is this tid bit of information suppose to change the campain? Obama/Biden08

    November 1, 2008 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  17. Brian

    If this news sways your vote, you are truly stupid.

    November 1, 2008 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  18. Judith D.

    I am so sick of the garbage McCain and Palin are pulling.I have no respect at all for either one of them.McCain thinks because he was a POW,he is entitled to the presidentcy.I pray that Obama makes it to the presidency on Tuesday.We need a strong and commited person in there.I think he will make a great president.

    November 1, 2008 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  19. Mike

    I am tired of the liberals leaving messages blaming everything on McCain. Maybe they should look at their candidate and ask him why he is not telling the truth. Hello, from day 1 Obama has been deceiving everyone just because he uses Change in his Campaign does not mean he is changing anything.

    November 1, 2008 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  20. FED UP!!!

    Why is everyone up in arms about Obama's Auntie? Has anyone requested the Medical and Psychological records of Sarah Palin?????

    November 1, 2008 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  21. Stan

    By the way, why is CNN harping this story when you haven't even confirmed it's merit? You've run it 3x and still, "CNN has been unable to independently verify the aunt's immigration status."

    Journalism Fail.

    CNN – The New FOX.

    November 1, 2008 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  22. Peg SE Ohio

    Just another example of a broken system. She's in public housing and she shouldn't even be in the country. Now, I must say, why was she denied asylum in the first place?

    November 1, 2008 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  23. vera in VA

    it's not so bad that he didn't know her status but the fact that he is rich and has so many family members that are very poor yet he offers no help when he learns about them: that's what bothers me . Is this how he is going to treat the poor in this country? like his relatives? I hope the african american voters give this some consideration. This is very disturbing to me. For his fathers sake he should try to help his brother and grandmother.

    November 1, 2008 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  24. Rosa - Philadelphia, PA

    ANSWER THIS RIDDLE???? WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH SEN. OBAMA??? THIS IS HIS AUNT RIGHT? WHO IS RUNNING IMMIGRATION DEPARTMENT???? SO, WHOM EVER IS RUNNING THAT DEPARTMENT GO AFTER THEM AND GIVE ME A BREAK.

    November 1, 2008 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  25. Jim

    Nice. This story has probably been sitting in McCain HQ for months, waiting to be put out at a time when it cannot be verified or denied in time to beat Tuesday. Whether it's true or false makes no difference now – there is no time to find out. It's a smear, pure and simple.

    What About Joe: As for your question, all the negative information about Joe the Plumber came out within 48 hours of McCain making him a player in this campaign. Nobody on the Obama side 'held' that information – the information was moot until McCain made Joe an issue.

    November 1, 2008 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
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