[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/02/28/art.barackobama.ap.jpg caption=" The RNC has denounced the use of Obama's middle name in a Tennessee GOP press release."](CNN) - Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan formally denounced Thursday the Tennessee Republican Party's use of Barack Obama's full name in a recent press release questioning the Illinois senator's commitment to Israel.
“The RNC rejects these kinds of campaign tactics," RNC Chairman Mike Duncan said in a statement. "We believe this election needs to be about the critical issues confronting our nation.”
The statement in question, which was released Monday, said the state party is joining a "growing chorus of Americans concerned about the future of the nation of Israel…if Sen. Barack Hussein Obama is elected president of the United States.” It also included a photograph of Obama from a 2006 trip to Kenya in which he is dressed in traditional attire worn by area Muslims.
The press release was sparked by recent praise for the Illinois senator from Nation of Islam Leader Louis Farrakhan, who has made several derogatory remarks about Judaism and has indicated his support for Obama. At Tuesday night's MSNBC debate, Obama said he denounced those comments and did not seek Farrakhan's support.
On Wednesday night the party removed both the photo and the reference of Hussein from the statement after Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander called to express his belief that using them had become a distraction, Tennessee GOP Communications Director Bill Hobbs told CNN.
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney