February 28th, 2008
02:55 PM ET
14 years ago

RNC denounces use of 'Hussein' in Obama's name

[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.

Full story

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • RNC
soundoff (313 Responses)
  1. CSteffe

    Oh wait, If John McCain also changes his first name to Obama, etc, maybe he will win the elction! New campaign strategy...

    February 28, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  2. Ron White

    My middle name is "Tater Salad", and if I ran for President, I would expect all of you to jump on my tater salad wagon....

    February 28, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  3. Jean

    What is wrong with using his complete name, including his given middle name? Since this primary has once again turned into a personality contest, shouldn't the public be aware of all aspects of the man? If he or his supporters have a problem with his middle name, then perhaps they have some explaining to do.

    February 28, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  4. tiffany

    it's not about him being ashamed, it's barely even about his middle name. What it's about is it being used to prod on those who want to claim he's a muslim extremeist. And no those people are not gone. I have many relatives who believe stupd stuff like that and who took Bill Cunningham's speech to heart, just when I was starting to get them to believe different. It's about looking at the real world that we live in. The fact is, there still is a large group of bigoted people and the republican party (or rather, some of the republican party) was knowingly (and they knew, they're not stupid) was using his name to entice those bigots.

    February 28, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  5. Jon

    You almost wondering if they (the RNC) are announcing they are denouncing it to just get that much more mileage out of the story.

    I don't think Obama himself has ever had any problem with his middle name or asked anyone to treat it/him differently.

    If this is the best attack his detractors can come up with he has nothing to worry about.

    February 28, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  6. Jenny

    It is not the fact that they are using his middle name (although to correct someone above, "Rodham" is Hillary's maiden name). They don't use John McCain's middle name, nor Mike Huckabee. Anyone who believe this is simply about a middle name is naive. The Right-Wing intend to use his middle name as an inflammatory item.
    The fact that they produce pictures that state he is in Muslim garb, without checking to facts is enough to prove just that.
    I am tired of the fear tactics the RNC uses. They are becoming the terrorists, terrorizing middle-America that just because Obama's middle name is Hussein he is linking to terror groups or the Middle-East for that matter. If someone's middle name was "Adolph" would that make them a Nazi?
    Start thinking America!

    February 28, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  7. zach

    Anyone who denies the fact that people like Bill Cunningham blatently using Obama's middle name is not a problem are in the dark.

    Yes, it is his name. No, it should not matter. But it does, there are several uninformed people that vote that would hear that name and be scared. It is unfortunate, but that is the way society in the US is right now. Cunningham knows this, that is why he said it the way he did. If you think it doesn't matter, then you are wrong or in denial.

    February 28, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  8. bellajj

    I really hope we can move beyond the silliness of politics, because after the current administration, we Americans have a whole lot of work to do, at home and across the globe.

    I could care less if Obama's middle name was Jimmy Crack Corn, Adolf, Snuffalagus or Huessin, neither do I can about the middle names of Clinton, McCain, and Hucabee, what I can about is the person who is the owner of that name, and the stance on the issues.

    Wake up, America! Wake up!

    February 28, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  9. Brandon

    There's nothing wrong with using his middle name if there are no alternative motives. I think most people are smart enough to know there is motive behind those that stress his middle name.

    I am surprised that there are some people that raise red flags when they hear his middle name is Hussein. FYI Barack is a junior and I'm pretty sure his dad was given his middle name when Sadaam was crawling in diapers or possibly even born. People that stress his name are extremely shallow.

    February 28, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  10. stacy

    Is there really something to fear from this man?

    February 28, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  11. Tom in Ohio

    The RNC knows exactly what they are doing. They want to make a big issue out of this in an effort to promote the continuous fear mongering. People are sick of this, and the fact of the matter is there are a ton of Americans of all different races and ethnicities who have non-American names, so get over it.

    We as Christians should embrace our Jewish brothers and sisters just as we should our Muslim, Hindu, Tao, Ba'hai, etc. ones. Islam is not a bad religion people. Unfortunately Al Quada and this war in Iraq has made everything think that though. Besides, Obama has said repeatedly he is Christian, so get over it!

    Can't say I'm surprised that the DNC is trying to play this out as a religious thing and tout that "many in the middle east" are concerned about O'bama becoming President. Doesn't the middle east consist of both Jewish and Muslim nations? Why didn't they just say Israel is concerned instead of trying to make it a huge regional concern?

    February 28, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  12. Scott

    This is typically Right Wing Nutso tactics. They play on peoples fears of muslims by making sure everyone knows his middle name, and perpetuating the myth he is Muslim (not that there should be anything wrong with him being one). The constitution is specific that no public official should have to make an affirmation of religion. Wish the republicans would actually read it from time to time. So they scare you with boogy-man tactics, then turn around and say, "oh we didn't know it would cause such a distraction" Again I agree with Peter, who points out that no one places emphasis on McCain's middle name. Wake up people.

    February 28, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  13. Marc

    Barack Hussein Obama is his real name, right? So, what's the problem...? Exactly...my next President, if I can help it, won't have Hussein as his middle name and he won't have ties to Muslim beliefs, won't interact with FarraCON and won't be the most liberal of liberals...besides, if Barack Hussein Obama wants to be President he should toughen up and accept the fact that his real name might deter people from voting for him...why can't we talk about it? I will do my best to talk it up with as many people as I possibly can. Can't hide from reality Barack!

    February 28, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  14. Sandy

    So every time someone says Hillary Rodham Clinton... we are to have a hissy fit???

    February 28, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  15. Pat

    Why should you change your reporting just because Obama is ashamed of his middle name.....just goes to prove that CNN is catering to Obama and I thought he was not beholding to anyone.
    yeah, right.

    February 28, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  16. Xavier, Washington, DC

    For all those asking "but isn't it his middle name", answer this question. What are the middle names of John McCain, John Edwards, Bill Richardson, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, and Rudy G.? Unless you look it up right now, you probably don't know. Why? Because they don't use their middle names. Neither does Barack. The only reason you know his middle name is because his opponants realized they could use it to instill fear and to appeal to people's negative bias against the name Hussein. It's a pitiful attempt to link him to a wicked dictator who, by the way, happened to be a Muslim. I guarantee if Barack's middle name was John, Malik, or Omar, you still wouldn't know what it is.

    February 28, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  17. sri

    Can somebody explain to me why the use of your own middle name,(not a made up one its your own name!!!) is causing all this outrage from obama suporters???

    February 28, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  18. PS in Virginia

    I applaud the RNC. Now the other republican talking heads on television need to apologize to those who are Muslim for implying that it is shameful to be a Muslim.

    February 28, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  19. RT

    You guys miss the point. Trying to exploit his middle name because it sounds "islmanic" or reminds people of "saddam" is trying to invoke the politics of fear, hate and anti-semitism. If I were a Muslim, I'd be outraged. This is clear, overt racism by politicians and the media. They are equating islam with terrorism. They are implying if you are a Muslim, you are a terrorist. The fact this is happening here in mainstream America, the land of tolerance, should be a bigger issue than the presidential race itself. The bottom line is they are trying to play on the underlying fear and racial tensions caucasians have against muslims and blacks. How can no one see this for what it really is!!!???

    February 28, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  20. Tina

    The Tennessee press release was misleading for far more important reasons, particularly with respect to the anti-semitism charges. Obama has strong ties to the Jewish community, has received major endorsements from Jewish groups, and has repeatedly denounced Farrakhan.

    For the RNC to tell their people not to use Barack's middle name is ridiculous. He's not ashamed of his name. There is nothing wrong with his name.

    What the RNC should have done is denounced the ENTIRE false, misleading, fear-mongering press release.

    February 28, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  21. Changing times

    Where does it say he asked them not to use his middle name?

    Obama is not ashamed of his name. But I am ashamed of all the shameful people in America who act like they are using his name innocently. They know it's a lie! They are using his name to inspire, fear and doubt because they know America on the whole is still a prejudiced nation not just against a black man, but against anything that is different from what has been defined as the main stream.

    Isn't it ironic, that that once defined 13 colonies.

    February 28, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  22. Kelley

    Obama is in no way ashamed of his name nor his heritage. Lets get real, there are plenty of people that are not informed about who this man is. Just look at the postings they will all refer to him being a Muslim, what is he hiding? I at this point in the campaign would not care if he was a Muslim. I believe in the constitution
    1. Freedom of Speech Farrakhan
    2. Freedom of Religion: Trinity Church
    3. Separation of Church and State:
    If everyone truly believes in the constituition and the "words" that are in it Why would religion, race or speech matter.

    Obama 08

    February 28, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  23. AP, NY

    I don't know if CNN would publish my comments since they seem of late to be publishing news with a negative overtone on OBAMA.

    For those of you who see nothing wrong with putting emphasis on OBAMA's middle name...its called fear-mongering!!! So quit the act. I am pretty sure he is comfortable with his name. If he wasn't he would have changed along time ago. Whats stopping him from doing that.

    Know it off people!!!

    February 28, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  24. steve in FL

    What!!?? It's his NAME.. what's so offensive about using it? If he's so offended by it, he should change it..

    February 28, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  25. Brenda

    I'm sure Barack Obama is very proud of his middle name. The difference here is that Barack doesn't normally use his full name. There are some folks who do- Hillary Rodham Clinton was an example given as was JFK. That's fine, and those people have chosen to do that. But that's not what Barack Obama normally does. No one refers to him as Barack Hussein Obama except these right wing conservatives who are trying to make people suspicious of some Muslim connection. Why are the same people not introducing John McCain with his full name? What's the problem? Is he not proud of it? Give me a break. We all know what's going on here. The republicans are desperate and it shows.

    February 28, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
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