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. Angry Citizen

    John McCain, GOP, and Sarah Palin are a disgrace to the word human beings.

    November 1, 2008 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  2. zaraxoxo

    its just a filthy attempt to tarnish obamas name but macain go and get a life and watch history and destiny play it self becuase we all know destiny cannot be changed it can only be delayed only for so long...

    November 1, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  3. david

    Does anyone know where I can go to change my vote?

    November 1, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  4. jan

    obama lovers suck up and deal.. McCain/Palin 2008

    November 1, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  5. Tom

    I don't hold Obama responsible for the actions or inactions of his father's half-sister any more than I hold John McCain responsible for his brother's angry, profanity-laced rant to 911 the other night when he called the emergency number to complain about a traffic jam.

    November 1, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  6. College Student who is going to show up.

    I wouldn't trust this accusation, especially with the timing. You'd think if Obama knew that his aunt was living her illegally, he would refuse to take only $265. It's a paltry sum in comparison to the amount he has raised so far. Politicians and campaigns know not to make blunders like this for so little money. He probably did not know, since she was applying for amnesty at some point. Oh, and what convenient timing. Only 72 hours and this story MAGICALLY surfaces. No more mudslinging!

    OBAMA 08

    November 1, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  7. Annoyed with this

    You all react before you think, Obama has made it pretty clear that he has not established any type of relaionship or life with his father's side of the family.
    Instead of "White Republicians" admitting they refuse to vote for him because he is "Black" they rather use all these lies to cover well hidden bigotry and racism.

    This is the only truth that will stand still on this earth-because lies are the only thing that travels well ..past, present and future.

    Learn to accept ... and respect!!!

    November 1, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  8. jrzshor

    yes the timing is always off when it may ding obama. nasty nasty oafs who leaked this. shame on them. a pox upon them and their offspring. how dare anyone stand in the MAN'S way. for godsake he is our next presigod

    November 1, 2008 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  9. Jan C. in WR, GA

    Elle, how many of your relatives do you not know about? Should we hold you responsible for them? John McCain's brother called part of the state of Virginia un-American, are you holding John McCain responsible for it? Cindy McCain has family (sisters) that could use some help, but she is not helping them. Do you blame her?

    Obama stood up weeks ago and declared that families were off limits. He did this BEFORE he learned about his Aunt being here. He did it when people where talking about Sarah Palin's underage pregnant daugher. To this day he has maintained that declaration. When there where/are many things he could say about both John McCain's and Sarah Palin's family. This shows that he is a man of his word. One can say it about McCain, but it would NOT be the truth.

    So, in other words Elle "Get over it and get a life!"

    November 1, 2008 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  10. alfredo-PuertoRico

    Only 2 days to go before a landslide victory for Obama,,,and this guys are so desperate,and coming out with ‘ DIRT ’.What will they think of next.....sarah go back to nowhere......john Arizona waits for you and cindy ...... ‘ ITS ALL OVER ’ .....GO OBAMA ......

    November 1, 2008 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  11. Raider

    Gee when the Democrats in Ohio looked up Joe the Plumbers life in state computers nothing was said. Only when information does not favor the Democrats does the press follow the story. Be fair to both parties.

    November 1, 2008 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  12. Ron - Saint Louis

    Big deal! I have lots of friends and relatives and I have absolutely no control over them. Several of my family members are from Europe (mostly Germany and Ireland) and I believe all of them to be legal but don't know positively.

    Let's do was Barack Obama has been saying from day one, focus on the issues that will unite our country. Whether his aunt is here legally or illegally in no different than if John McCain crashed four Navy planes or five. We are talking about what they are going to do for us and reinvesting in America's image abroad.

    Obama/Biden '08

    November 1, 2008 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  13. Mish

    I care as much about Obama's aunt as I care about the cost of Palin's clothes...How is this relevant to running for president? If this aunt or clothing issue would decide someone's vote then that voter is just an idiot....They might as well have flipped a coin...Obama shouldn't be blamed for every other issue that arises from his friends or family as he obviously has many of them...Maybe John just needs more friends so more issues could be outlined in the media as well.

    November 1, 2008 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  14. Myownanalysis

    How many of us have cusins and aunts and the ones we barely know and how are we responsible for everyone.

    November 1, 2008 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  15. Librarian for Obama/Biden

    I don't think this reflects badly on Sen. Obama at all. If this relative is not someone he is close to and is an adult who runs her own affairs, then, what do her administrative immigration troubles and misguided campaign contributions have to do with him? The McCain campaign's desperate attempts to smear Sen. Obama does reflect badly on Sen. McCain.

    November 1, 2008 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  16. Independent but Leaning

    Who cares where the info came from- again, Obama is great at attacking those who expose him for who he truly is. heaven forbid we know the truth about this man who asks for our votes for president.

    November 1, 2008 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  17. Linda from Ohio

    Mccain camp and their supporters are so desperate....How he can be liable for every relatives....How does that matter? Whether Mccain and Palin responsible for every activities of their relatives.

    November 1, 2008 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  18. Jay

    More Hispanic votes for Obama ;-)

    Obama/Biden 2008/2012

    November 1, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  19. paul

    First off who cares about this. the other thing is Obama has a good deal of money and cant even spread his wealth around a bit to his own Aunt?

    Even his half brother is living in a run down shack. It sure does seem odd he has no problem telling us we need to spread our wealth around to others but he sure wants to keep his own money out of reach of his poor family members.

    Its a bit like the old saying, Do as I say! but dont do as I do.

    November 1, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  20. I smell an upset

    GUT CHECK once the curtain closes behind the voters will put McCain over the top.

    November 1, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  21. shahid

    This is a preemtive strike that Obama employs to suppress the real problem that his aunt is an illigal immigrant. How can he deny that he's not aware of his aunt living here in the US? And the media just sides with him. This is crazy.

    November 1, 2008 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  22. ba-Rock says

    republithugs are throwing everything including the kitchen sink boy. I tell you mccain does not want to go down in history as the one who lost to the black guy.

    wrong side of history mcfailin...sorry

    November 1, 2008 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  23. sue texas

    OLD GEEZER DOING WHAT HE DO BEST MC CAIN LOOKS RETARED WHEN HE TRIES TO RAISE HIS LITTLE SHORT ARMS UP

    November 1, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  24. Steve

    To Elle: what was he suppose to do, call the INS have her deported? That would also allow you, and the rest of the right-wing wack-jobs, to call him a hypocrite for running under a platform of inclusiveness, and at the same time throwing his aunt under the bus....
    there's a no win-win with people like you.

    Bottom line: another republican dirty trick!

    November 1, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  25. ml t

    Yes, time to unleash the most malicious lies. McShame, just bring it on. We are ready for it. But again, that's it? com/on, give us more.

    Obama/08, Obabma all the way!!!!

    November 1, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
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