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. justobserve

    It seems all the fuss was about someone else, not Obama himself, making the name Hussein a shame or related it to being a Muslim. So the question should have been "what is wrong with having the name Hussein as a middle name or with being a Muslim?" (Obama is a Christian, not a Muslim, and Muslism is not outlawed in the USA.)

    February 28, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  2. Angela

    If Obama is the nominee then this is the kind of thing that will be rampant between now and November – get used to it. People will make the comments and the RNC or Senator McCain himself will denounce it, so that they look like the good guys.

    But it is out there – and fear mongering works. As 'Petite Maoiste' says, being a muslim is not a bad thing. Being an extremist is. But many people do not make the distinction.

    February 28, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  3. J Bates

    But, if he has nothing to hide, why does his middle name bother him.
    Hillary all the way

    February 28, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  4. MPG

    Peter – you're right. That's exactly what it is...fear-mongering.

    And for those who imply that Obama is ashamed of his name or his heritage ......you're kidding right? He's never said or implied that. The argument, however, has been that the emphasis on his middle name is to evoke fear or distrust because he shares a name and background with our "enemy"......and to continue the perception that ALL people with Islamic/Arabic/Muslim names or heritage must be terrorists (you know, like all blacks are ignorant, lazy people on welfare ready to rob or kill you, all whites are red-neck, racists, all latinos are here illegally, and all republicans are neo-con, right-wing christians who have the only lock on intelligence, morality and are the true patriots of this country).

    February 28, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  5. vl

    Honestly, I don't think most Americans have trouble with his middle name. His PARENTS chose the name, not him. How stupid is this?

    It's his position on the ISSUES that are important to ME that I have a problem with.

    February 28, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  6. Mike

    Seriously? Guys? Please tell you don't vote if you are confused about this situation. This is politics 101.

    The problem is NOT his middle name. What the republicans are apologizing for, and rightfuly so, is using his middle name in an attempt to incite racist fears. They are NOT apologizing for using his middle name.

    Honestly, how can you claim to be an educated voter when everyone is completely missing or ignoring the entire POINT of an issue because they lack the complete ability to understand subtext at all unless it is spoon fed to them by political pamphlets.

    February 28, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  7. jyfranca

    O'bama is not retracting his name what media do is to give him more pillows.I know obama has good sleep.His end is in texas and ohio he must lose

    February 28, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  8. Len

    Barak Obama is not ashamed of his middle name. The reason that it is an issue is because the hate/fear mongers on the far right are trying to use names and pictures to scare people into not supporting him to be president. I would put his in the same category as the swift boating of John Kerry that occured in 2004.Words and visual images have a strong influence on people.Why do you think companies use commercials to help sell their products because the visual images work.

    February 28, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  9. ARundle

    I don't think Obama is ashamed of his middle name, but, the fact is that those it use it do so to give the mistaken impression that Obama is a muslim and therefore must be a terrorist. If his name were used in a respectful manner and not for the purpose of propaganda, I'm quite sure Obama would have no problem with it. Those who argue that "its his name, isn't it" (like Rush or Cunningham) are just acting obtuse and pretending they are not trying to encourage a stereotype and misconception.

    February 28, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  10. Dr. Feelgood (In MA)

    No one knows John McCain's middle name. hillary's is Rodham. Some people have names that are used. I don't understand why Barack is ashamed of his middle name. I applaud McCain for denouncing Cunningham's speech.

    The Obamites would say that those that use his middle name are afraid to debate Obama on the real issues. I strongly counter that. Obama can't debate on the issues because he doesn't know what they are. Too funny. Either way, it looks like John McCain will be our next president.

    Hillary is tough on Obama, but not nearly as tough as the GOP will be. Obama is toast. AND he is burning bridges with Clinton's supporters.

    February 28, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  11. Dave

    Some of you are really dense or are not aware of how shallow the American public is.

    There are people who still honestly believe that Iraq brought down the towers and this is 7 years after the fact. So you honestly believe those same people given a photo of Barack in a turban and emphasizing his middle name won't think that he could somehow be sympathetic to our enemies.

    It is obvious they are trying to tie his name (which to many appears to be a name of someone of Middle Eastern descent) to possible affiliations or sympathy towards those who intend to do America harm.

    Why you guys try to say that he is ashamed of his name is beyond me. It is how individuals are trying to use his name or imply something about him through its use.

    All you have to do is take today's climate back to WWII. Imagine if a white male of German (I can's think of a neighboring country) descent tried to run for Prez with the middle name Hitler.

    Now do you see?

    February 28, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  12. PDC

    All the people who say using his middle name is ok, think about it this way. When your mother wanted to get your attention for something you did wrong she'd use your full name.

    It may indeed be his name, but it's also insulting to use it in everyday conversation. Those of you who think this is ok, try it in your day to day life. Try it with your boss. When you get fired for being disrespectful, you can say, "It's your name isn't it? What are you hiding?"

    February 28, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  13. Carl

    I'm sure if his name were Barack John Obama, we would not be hearing his middle name nor would we even know it at this point! So, the fact that people have used his middle name in this race is a clear attempt to connect him with terrorists and is simple "fear mongering". I would like to think the American people are smarter than this, and the fact that the RNC has put an end to this style of tactics is a good jesture. This race should be about the issues rather than "OMG he has a middle name!" My last name is Solis, but I do not speek spanish..the horror!

    ~Carl from Pa

    Obama '08

    February 28, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  14. KK-OHIO

    His middle name is not an issue for the people who support him. Why not just stick to the issues-if you can. I live in cincinnati-and Willie Cunninghham is the most racist and decisive person I have ever met. It's no surprise that racist people like him. Obviously Barack is proud of his full name. America needs to grow up-with all the damage that has been done by this past administration-you should be grateful that someone has stepped forward that may be able to ease the tension that has been caused in the middle east.

    February 28, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  15. Chanda- Cincinnati

    Its is truly a shame that this man's name has become such a hot topic. With the ste of the economy, the middle east, Korea lurking around the corner, public education, poverty, forclosures, etc. etc. etc. I would think reasonably intelligent people would have something better to talk about. People still try to capitalizeon the wave of Muslim fear that 9/11 ushered into this country. Although that was the platform George W. got re-elected on, I am glad to see that the RNC will not continue those fear mongering ways. I don't believe Barack has ever said he was ashamed of his name, and he shouldn't be...its his grandmother's last name in Kenya. The surname Hussein in Africa and the middle east is as common as Smith or Johnson is here in the US. My last name is Manson, but I am not going to walk around in fear that people are going to equate me to the infamous Charles Manson. Its his name, and you people who try to spin more out of it than that..(i.e. he is muslim or he took his oath of office on the Koran) really need to grow up and become educated. Who ever you vote for, don't base it on race, gender, or the irrational fear of a name

    February 28, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  16. Ind.

    How ironic for the republcans to try to demonize the middle name of Barack "Hussein" Obama. Our country has American heros dieing in (Iraq) a muslim country. The same same peolple that we demonize we also seek their help to fight insurgents. It is beyond childish and it can undo the little good will we have in the middle east. This republican party has hit a new low. It's a bad idea. This can do more harm then good. Going down this path is to win an election is not surprising. What does that say about our country to others in the world?

    February 28, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  17. LJ

    I fully understand the concern. As a woman in a predominately male work environment I can tell you I have been called dear and sweetie in ways that are completely innocent and actually endearing. I have also been called the same words in a way that is insulting, degrading and down right repulsive at time.

    Its not the words that matter, its the context. If people were simply using his middle name for clarification (as though we had 2 Baracks or Obamas running) it would be one thing, but each quetnionable incident has used his middle name to perpetuate anti-Islamic sentiment which is an insult not only to Obama but to the majority non-violent Muslims. Read the posts on CNN and tell my where you see his middle name used in any way but as an insult?

    February 28, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  18. Carole in Tennesee

    IT IS his name!!! i don't understand why the public loves this man, check his backgound AMERICA. Where are we headed with him, what has he done for this country as a Senator?? His talk is cheap, he is saying whatever it takes to be elected, even stealing words from other people. What is his power over you, please look at the facts!!

    February 28, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  19. jennifer

    Hey Reality Check,
    Why don't you tell all of us what Hillary's middle name is.
    Here's a hint...It isn't Rodham.

    February 28, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  20. Nt

    Exactly the point Peter. It is the kind of fear mongering that certain radical sections of the republican party wants to use. It is the inference that some Muslims hate Jews and that some how he is loyal to islam. Islam is a great faith; no one is questioning that. As a centrist republican, I'm very happy McCain and the RNC rejected it.

    February 28, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  21. Chris

    I find it so interesting that for those people leaving comment saying " oh it's his name right?" or "it is his name" are missing the point here. Yes it's his name but everyone on this board knows that since 9/11 and the invasion into IRAQ, it would not be a wise to use it!!! Because as you can see some folks like on this board lack the intelligence to move and see beyond racial stereo typing!!!

    February 28, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  22. laura

    Why is it not appropriate to use Obama's real name. His name is Barack Hussein Obama and he should be proud of it and not ashamed of it. What is the big deal. Is the media darling offended? If so why doesn't he change his name to OPRAMA!!!!!!!!

    February 28, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  23. Obamista NYC

    This is ludicrous!!!!

    Why should something like a person's name have such an impact on whether he's electable? We instead should look at the core values that matter...

    I'm not muslim, however my parents both chose to give me traditional Arabic names. These names do have meaning and are common in other parts of the world like Africa and Asia. My name is Rasheeda Safiyah - does this make me a muslim? I don't denounce anyone's religion, however I am proud to say that I am Christian.

    Furthermore, why do peope insist on believing that a person who is a muslim is bad? Or has ties to extremist muslim terrorist?

    Who are we to judge a person's character based on his or her name?

    And why must we make this such a huge issue in a presidential campaign. That's why people look at Americans as imbecils because often lack intelligence and focus on the real problems. We're so superficial! I can't stand this!

    Obama '08.

    February 28, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  24. Michael Dunn

    Who cares about the use of the middle name? It's the content of the the Tennessee release that's disturbing; typical garbage that comes out of these idiots! I'm glad to see that they have denounced the statements but shouldn't they also "reject" them? I'm hoping this is just a Republican rouge and is not indicative of the Republican party in general.

    February 28, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  25. DJ

    "He should start going by Barry again and put an apostrophe between the 'O' and 'Bama' so people just think he's Irish. Barry O'Bama? Oh, he sounds like a great guy!"

    Kyle, that is hilarious, but oh so true!

    February 28, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
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