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. Cardetta, Houston Tx

    This message goes out to everyone that has any respect for humans. We (humans) would like to throw negative forces at any canidate that we don't like for one reason are the other. Yes, we should displays positive behavior at all times and make good intelligent decisions at all time. But for whatever reason we made a bad decision, should we be accountable for it the rest of our life. God doesn't operate in that matter, human does. As christian, we should be forgiving. We all have done or said something that is not of God. Your religion title is not important. Do you believe in God.? Do you pray and seek what he has to say? I voted for Bill Clinton, I believed he made some positive changes. Check his record. I love Bill and Hillary. Will I vote for Hillary? "no." Why, because I believe Obama has a better plan. Not because Hillary is not a good candidate, I believe that she is. I also believe that Obama is a stronger candidate when it comes to certain battles. Let stop throwing mud and focus on what is better for this country. A positive change for everyone future. Obama if any of the allegations that are being made against you are true, not for presidency, but , because you are a man of God, please make them right. My prayer gones out to all the candidates.

    January 23, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  2. Republican for Barack Hussein Obama

    Honorable Senator Barack Hussein Obama is not a Muslim.
    He is a Christian now ok.
    He says he is not a muslim so why can't we all just believe him and move on.
    I mean we know technically he is born a Muslim beacuse his father is a Muslim that is a fact in Muslim religion, just like you are Jewish if your mother is Jewish that is just a fact.
    But why can't we keep the religion out of politics. Let us bring Hope and unite the country. Let us hope that the Republicans and the Democrats will come together in November and unite the country. Lets us Hope and hope and hope. Hope is all we have

    January 23, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  3. lor maggia

    That was an terrible display of mean politics and smearing at the debate...we as a people looked awful. The continuing remarks are proof we've become proud to walk with smear on our faces. Would it be a shock to anyone if perhaps the ones behind this tactic are not from either party and 'we' have willingly and eagerly played into this game of manipulation. What a good laugh some are having as we took the bait of the 'feeding frenzy'. Why now discount the era of 'Clinton'? How easily we forget the hard working 'political machine' during his whole term...that threw everything at him including the kitchen sink at every second. Clinton fought 'every minute' and the machine was unyielding, unrelenting, with endless distractions and roadblocks in trying to prevent him from getting his job done...he stuck to the core of the basic Democratic principles...that all people are equal and deserve to live with dignity, prosperity and to never accept anything less than all the basic human and American rights that should be afforded to every single one of us. And in all this constant domestic battle all it took was a cigar...and Hillary rose above that; wiped the smear from her face and continued to work with her head and heart for Americans in the red and blue zones whose voices she heard. Kudos for her for her courage to stand up, wipe the smear(s), and to show all of us that we all must continue too and not cower...I wished I had her in my school yard; but we have her in our country to be on our side...to get the job done.

    January 23, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  4. Randy S. Lawton, OK

    'Barack started this attack on the night of the last debate'

    Jimmy in Springfield: The Clinton tag-team started laying in to Obama before the Iowa caucus. As soon as the numbers started slipping in the polls, they pulled the gloves off and went on the attack.
    They don't even care if what they said was true, as the subject of this article proves, too many people believe enything and everything they read; "If it's on the Internet, it must be true."
    We don't need someone in the White House that feels entitled to be there, we need someone that's humble and grateful to the American people for giving them the opportunity.

    January 23, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  5. bill

    I agree with several writers. I don't want an inexperienced politician running the country. We need a person who is used to running a large entity with business acumen and world wide experience and knowledge. Just because Barrack Hussein Obama is an engaging speaker who appeals to young people does not make him a good President. The Democrats are coming up short this election and this worries me. As a Democrat, I can't go for either Clinton or Obama.

    January 23, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  6. Mary B Gordon

    How many of these comments are coming from Ms. Clinton's office to fuel the fire?!
    Senator Obama, you are a composed, rational & most intellingent person. You are the best candidate & you have my vote.

    January 23, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  7. ana

    I used to like Obama, but he lost his cool. He's prefernce for personality attack is obvious as he lacks in substance on the issues. I am no huge fan of Hilary, but I was proud she responded to Obama and I am glad she's calling him on his record. We need to know who he is and what he has done other than being a great rhetorician. I used to like Obama, before I realized his only appeal is emotional, there is no substance, no content to his policy soundbytes. I am fed up with great talkers, I need to see WHAT and HOW these candidates are going to do to bring us back into a modern civilized world. Metaphors, pathos, soundbytes and platitudes are simply not going to do it. Wake up Dems, before you send us into pre-history with pathetic squabblings and rants. Drop the metaphors and bring in the facts. Got it?

    January 23, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  8. Phil San Filippo, San Diego, Ca

    Hmmm...funny how Hillary doesn't know where the rumor's originated!

    January 23, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  9. Rachel

    Why is Obama so against Muslims?? I might be missing the point, but if someone said he was Lutheran would he still be acting this way?? Everyone is equal, everyone is the same, but he is having a fit over being called a Muslim??

    January 23, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  10. Rick Salazar

    really its the people they should care about
    not ones beliefs
    what does beliefs have to do with how Obama is going to help the community

    January 23, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  11. Steve, Lyons, CO

    "I have trouble believing that Clinton, Obama, Romney, and Giuliani care about the American people. They have raised 90 million, 80 million, 60 million, and 45 million respectively."

    They have no choice. Until the people DEMAND public financing, candidates have no choice: raise money to be heard, or don't win. It's that simple.

    Instead of belittling candidates stuck in the system, demand that your representatives vote for public financing.

    January 23, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  12. Voters tired of Obama and race

    Obama's spiritual adviser, J Wright gave Trumpeter Award to a man it said "truly epitomized greatness. Louis Farrakhan. maybe for Wright and some others, Farrakhan "epitomized greatness." For Americans, Farrakhan epitomizes racism, particularly in the form of anti-Semitism. Over the years, he has compiled an awesome record of offensive statements, even denigrating the Holocaust by falsely attributing it to Jewish cooperation with Hitler "They helped him get the Third Reich on the road." His history is a rancid stew of lies. Any praise of Farrakhan heightens the prestige of the leader of the Nation of Islam. His anti-Semitism and particularly his false insistence that Jews have played an inordinate role in victimizing African Americans.
    Farrakhan's dream has vilified whites and singled out Jews to blame for crimes large and small, either committed by others as well or not at all. (A dominant role in the slave trade, for instance.) He has talked of Jewish conspiracies to set a media line for the whole nation. He has reviled Jews in a manner that brings Hitler to mind. And yet Wright heaped praise on Farrakhan. According to Trumpet, he applauded his "depth of analysis when it comes to the racial ills of this nation." He praised "his integrity and honesty." He called him "an unforgettable force, a catalyst for change and a religious leader who is sincere about his faith and his purpose." These are the words of a man who prayed with Obama just before the Illinois senator announced his run for the presidency. Will he pray with him just before his inaugural?
    The New York Times recently reported on Obama's penchant while serving in the Illinois legislature for merely voting "present" when faced with some tough issues. Farrakhan, in a strictly political sense, may be a tough issue for him. This time, though, "present" will not do.

    January 23, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  13. Republican in NY

    The polls are RIGHT!

    Hillary supporters are really uneducated...Probably never been to school. Only thing they know is blindly follow the Hill-Harry.

    January 23, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  14. michaelhamilton22

    My name is Steve.

    That's not true, and I just wrote it down.

    January 23, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  15. michaelhamilton22

    Above comment is directed towards first post in thread.

    January 23, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  16. Cindy

    I have lot of respect for Obama, But he'll not get my vote

    January 23, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  17. Daniel from Kansas





    Let us join our hearts and minds and voices and bring a positive, uplifting, experienced, and honest candidate to the highest job in the world.

    Don't we need that now?

    January 23, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  18. pete

    there you go. Clinton, who says she cares about blacks in south carolina, flys out to california to get an edge on obama, and leaves her husband to get the black vote in south carolina.


    January 23, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  19. Eddie


    January 23, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  20. Another John Doe

    This constant biggering between Obama and Hillary and their supporters makes me so sick to my stomach that I am just gonna vote republican or independent if there will be someone.

    January 23, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  21. Cindy

    not all Black will vote for Obama stating with me as one sorry, I do have a lot of respect for the guy, but he just not ready to be a president Mcain will eat him alive.

    January 23, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  22. Belinda

    Obama says this is the "United States of America". Hillary and Bill infer that Muslim is bad, black is bad, living in the inner city of Chicago is bad, saying anything good about another person, BAD. She criticized Bush for pandering to the Saudis and called him pathetic. Does she and Bill think taking Saudi money is pathetic?? Can she maybe get the price of oil lowered with their being in bed together? Oh, I forgot, that is a Muslim nation and they must be bad even though their money is good. She is pathetic!

    We have the right to worship in ANY WAY WE CHOOSE or will that change too under the Clinton administration.

    Maybe they can form a new band "Smears for Fears" and sing about ruling the world.

    January 23, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  23. Mary

    I sure hope the Obama campaign reads some of these blogs. They need to get in the face of Bill Clinton and let Barack do what he does best, inspire people to do better. I can't believe that smart people actually believe this crap about Senator Obama. We all know what the Clintons are capable of doing, just look at what they did for 8 years in the White House. The thought of Bill Clinton back in the White House makes me want to take a shower.

    January 23, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  24. BD

    HRC won't beat John McCain. It will be funny to watch actually. Can't use that 35 years of experience or her Rose Law Firm and Walmart Board experience against McCain.

    Will people give Obama a second look in 2012? That will be the big question.

    January 23, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  25. New Yorker, NYC, NY

    Erik Viker,
    The U.S Consitution Does state that. But it restrict Gov't from asking that question. But the U.S. Citizen has the right every which question it want to a person running for president . That right is protected by 1st Amendment.

    When ppl like JFK were asked about his religous belief then i thinks its fair game. I am stanuch believer in all the Amendent of the U.S. Cons. and Separation of Religion and Gov't. By know what person believes i can make judgment if that person is Presidential or not.

    January 23, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
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