January 23rd, 2008
10:15 AM ET
14 years ago

Obama battles Muslim rumor head-on

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/01/22/art.obamaemail.ap.jpg caption=" Obama is stepping up his efforts to beat back a false e-mail rumor."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Democrat Barack Obama stepped up his efforts Tuesday to battle back against e-mails that falsely label him a Muslim, telling an interviewer the ongoing rumors were part of a "systematic political strategy."

"I think it's very important for people not to buy into the kinds of dirty tricks that we've become so accustomed to in our politics, and people need to understand I'm not and never have been of the Muslim faith," he told CBN's David Brody.

Related video: Obama confronts Muslim rumors

In e-mail messages that have been circulating as long as Obama has been a presidential candidate, the Illinois senator is said be a Muslim who refuses to recite the pledge of allegiance, and one who "joined the United Church of Christ in an attempt to downplay his Muslim background." In fact, Obama has never been a Muslim.

"I think that those who are of the Muslim faith are deserving of respect and dignity, but to try and feed into this fear-mongering and try to question my faith commitments and my belief in Jesus Christ, I think is offensive," Obama also said. "And I want to make sure that people are absolutely clear about what's going on with this, and if they get another one of these e-mails that they're deleting it and letting their friends know that it's nonsense."

Obama did not hypothesize who was behind the e-mails, but noted, "somehow they appear magically wherever the next primary or caucus is."

His comments are the latest in a heightened effort to beat back the Internet rumors ahead of South Carolina's Democratic primary Saturday.

In recent days, his campaign has launched a TV ad that quotes his now-famous 2004 speech in which he said, "We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes.” And in a new mailer to South Carolina Democrats – the latest in a months-long series of religious-themed messages in the state - Obama is called a "Committed Christian," who "felt a beckoning of the spirit and accepted Jesus Christ into his life." The mailer pictures the senator standing behind a pulpit, with an organ and a cross in the background.

soundoff (427 Responses)
  1. Karen


    January 23, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  2. New Yorker, NYC, NY

    About being muslim.

    I am prejudice against any Relgion.
    I am from NYC.
    btw : If you forgot What Happened on 09/11/01 In NYC. I was there to see it up close. When Majority of Faith Leader are against ppl of west and other Religions that scares me a little. Read More about Barrack Hussein Obama church in chicago.

    January 23, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  3. Yamaka

    Bea, thanks for the thoughtful comment!

    Senator Obama will win South Carolina because of the emotional response of Blacks there. This will create a backlash among Whites and Hispanics.

    Therefore, on Feb 5th he will lose big time. Obama is NOT a true Black American in a historical sense.

    If Blacks support him because of his "race/color" then he will lose the support of ALL OTHERS in US.


    January 23, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  4. James Brown ( Independent )

    I could care less what faith he is or if he even has one. He is the best man for the job.

    I am sick of a do nothing congress and a President that runs on self -will , and that is what Clinton brings to the table.

    January 23, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  5. Johnny Canuck

    What amazes me is you people don't grasp how utterly absurd it is that a country that is supposedly a secular democracy demands that it's political leaders proclaim their love of Jesus Christ.

    In real democratic countries politicians who talk about their religion are, rightfully in my opinion, viewed with suspicion. In America it's a prerequisite to achieving political office. How sad.

    January 23, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  6. Janice

    The people who believe these lies are probably the same people who believed the lies that have caused 3931 of our soldiers to die in Iraq.

    January 23, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  7. Chris, Middletown, CT

    The funniest thing about the Clinton supporters....they say "I would never vote for someone who can't take the pressure" – OMG....he's defending himself from the Clinton lie machine....he basically is setting the record straight....

    Now...Hillary says "she is used to the attacks" – ummm...because they are true??

    35 years experience....where?? as a surgeons wife?

    Was on the board of directors of Walmart and a partner in the Rose Law Firm (btw...where they did a midnight shredding of documents they were being investigated for) – and this counts to Hillarys 35 years experience??

    Supports licensing illegal aliens – and her healthcare plan will insure "everyone" – including the 12 million "illegal" aliens....its almost like saying someone shouldn't be punished for perjury ....wait...Bill Clinton never served a day in jail...so...I guess some people aren't (other than losing his license to practice law for 5 years)

    Theres so much more....could you people please read up....

    January 23, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  8. Scott Austin, TX

    Oh, bravo Mary, well said! That was sarcasm if you couldn't tell.

    January 23, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  9. Susan in Texas

    The Clintons' tag-team wrecking crew reminds me of why I was so READY to see the Clintons leave the White House. If she's going to run on 35 years experience as the wife of Bill Clinton, then she's going to have to answer to some of his decisions. Hey, Wolfe Blitzer, why don't you ask Hillary this: Were Bill Clinton's pardons for sale?

    January 23, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  10. marie

    Hillary was 17yrs old when she helped in the Goldwater campaign.
    Ronald Regan’s speech “A Time for Choosing” is one of the top 100 speeches of the 20th Century. It’s worth reading – also it was his stump speech in 1964 for Barry Goldwater.

    Oh, and Hillary’s speech to the United Nations 4th World Conference on Women’s Rights in Beijing China (1995), “Women’s Rights are Human Rights”, it made the top 100 list also, it’s #35.

    Just Google for top American speeches of the 20th century. There are several different sources.

    Head On? Remember, once you cast your vote – they will not give it back, they will not give it back.

    January 23, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  11. hp

    Obama is a muslim or a christian, is not that important.
    Obam claimed to be a Uniter ??? Are you, Mr. Obama? You can not even unite your own party. You broke them apart. You divided us as a nation more than ever.
    Mr. Obama,
    – We're color blind. Stop telling us your "true" color.
    – We're color blind but we're not deaf. Don't shout but if you shout, we need to hear the real issue, real solution.
    – We're color blind but we're not brainless. Stop defend yourself. We need the leader to defend us.
    After all, you're not the inspirational person as you claimed... You're not different from them (the politics). You're just ONE of them.

    January 23, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  12. Fraser Vilma

    First of all CNN and their reporters are bias ....they clearly show they do not like the Clintons ... (they have showed and talked about Hilary when she was at the Coffee Shop ...when the person in the crowd asked her the question over and over >>>to try and breakdown her support ... she stood her ground and did not shed a tear ... I am proud of her standing among eight men ... to try to do good things for USA . .
    She was great at the debate ... answered promptly did not seem to have to look for words as Obama did , he sometimes went around the question .
    Question to him about Bill Clinton being the President for the Black people ,
    this is where he showed his qualities .... by the answer he gave >>>
    could he not have said thanks for the good things Bill was able to do for his fellowblack folks ? I am sure some Black people in the audience would have appreciated this by simply saying Great Job Bill . CNN -keeps showing Obama all the time , where's John and Hilary ... they only show when it's negative over and over .
    About who is sending these Bad Rumours about OBAMA ... could it be the Republicians .... are trying to stir trouble among Hilary and Obama ...... ( this is one for you CNN to send your reporters out there to find out ) .....
    What about the interview with Obama .... about the Ad .you guys are running this over and over looking for sympathy voters for Obama as he speaks of his Religion and the BIBLE .

    CNN -Wolf and the gang .... give Hilary a break >>>>>>>>>>>>>she is a woman
    well educated , and experienced .
    They are all great people .... may the best one win .
    Please do not leave out John Edwards .... give him some coverage too , he is a good man . I am not a supporter of any one ... just views CNN >. Question for you . If Obama wins , do you think he would do like Bush and chose someone outside ( like Chenney to tell him what to do ?) as he does not have the experience

    January 23, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  13. Jay

    I am sick and tried of all this talk about people wanting to know the candidate's policies. How many time will these candidates talk about their policies, JUST PAY ATTENTION AND YOU WILL HEAR THEM. They have had about 19 debates and if you still do not know what their policies are then you need to go back to school.

    January 23, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  14. Jimmy, Springfield, IL

    Barack started this attack on the night of the last debate. I watched it as he went straight on the attack against Hillary when asked an all together totally unconnected question. Then Hillary hits back and Barack's team of losers suddenly pounch on her. Months before the primaries, he had been attacking her left, right and center and when suddenly Bill shows up to defend his wife he cries foul. Would he bet that if I attacked Michelle he would not stand up? Then I guess it's better to vote for anyone else but Osama Hussein Barack.

    January 23, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  15. Geri

    It's o.k for everyone to condemn the Clintons whether they know if they started the e-mails or not. I could personally care less who started it. I'm tired of all the crap the Clintons are taking over Obama's whining & crying over everything that is said about him. He has no idea how to run a country, doesnt claim to be biracial, just wants to be the first black president. God help us all if that happens.

    January 23, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  16. Janina

    Thank you Erick about the information on Obama's father's tribe in Kenya, the Luo tribe. Obama's candidacy offers a great opportunity to learn more about Africa. In Obama's book, Dreams From My Father, his father, Barack, Sr., said all of Barack's siblings in Africa excelled in school so that reflects what you say about the Luos value of education. Also, Barack's father earned his PhD from Harvard. His mother, Ann Dunham, was a well-educated lady as well. Many people do not understand that Arabs infiltrated Africa, but that many Africans remained faithful to their own religions rather than adopt Islam. It would be helpful to hear from scholars about Africa's religious and general history in this regard and research the subject on our own as well.

    January 23, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  17. Johnny Canuck

    "John from NC" said: Folks, these are FAIR questions to ask of ANY Presidential Candidate of ANY COUNTRY or democracy, not just the United States of America.

    Actually John, they're neither fair nor typical of what any candidate would be asked in any real secular democratic country. The obsessive concern with the religious beliefs of political candidates is a phenomenon exclusive to the United States and other religious theocracies. Look at election coverage from Britain, France,
    Australia, Canada, etc. and see if you hear candidates talking about their faith in Jesus Christ. Faith should be a personal matter. In America, it's political.

    January 23, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  18. BobW Rochester, NY

    "I also agree with Bob W from NY. He may have converted to Christianity, but at one time he was a Muslim."

    That is NOT what I said. You are not born into Islam, you choose to Islamic. They don't even have a "conversion". If you want to be a Muslim, you practice the faith. If you don't want to be a Muslim, you are not one.

    Please don't misquote me.

    January 23, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  19. Surrealist, Fort Myers, FL

    Nobody cares.

    Even if he was a muslim–that should make no difference.

    January 23, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  20. Jinny Lee

    Oh, God we're such an easy and gullible group aren't we.....we listen and accept the crap out of the mouths of media, religious fanatics, politicians, etc. etc.....it's time to put our brains back in business.....

    January 23, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  21. ALA

    This is obviously REPUBLICAN subterfuge. Let the Democrats fight like dogs over the table scraps and bones that are sling to them, only for the fat cat Republicans to feast come election day. Why do we do we let this happen to us all the time? Why?!

    January 23, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  22. BobW Rochester, NY

    "He's not a muslim, OK, OK we understand that – who cares? Can Obama explain being a so called prominent member of a radical church with a spiritual adviser who endorses and promotes racists? I think that's the bigger question here – a champion of equality with the guidance of a racist? Interesting."

    We need a fact check on asile ten! Look it up. It isn't true. The church nor it's leadership promotes racism.

    January 23, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  23. Joe Vanderbosch, Appleton, WI

    This doesn't matter too much.

    Whatever moron thinks Obama is a muslim because of an email, probably wouldn't be voting Democrat anyways.

    January 23, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  24. CJ, Franklin, TN

    What is even more troubling to me is the vast amount of uneducated people who believe this just because it is spoken.

    January 23, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  25. Eric

    Hillary supporters should be ashamed of themselves for using Barack's middle name against him and corrupting his first name to Osama. I have seen this over and over from Hillary supporters on the ticker.

    Its not that I believe the Clintons would approve of these derogatory statements, its just that I find it sad how low alledged democrats will sink to slander a fellow democrat. If you are using this kind of hateful language you don't belong in the democratic party (Jimmy, Springfield ILL).

    January 23, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18