May 19th, 2008
10:34 AM ET
12 years ago

Obama to GOP: 'Lay off my wife'

 Obama said his wife should not be an issue in the campaign.

Obama said his wife should not be an issue in the campaign.

(CNN) - Barack Obama sent a direct message to the Tennessee Republican Party on Monday: “Lay off my wife.”

In an interview with Good Morning America, Michelle and Barack Obama responded to the Web video unveiled last week attacking Michelle Obama’s comment earlier this year saying she was proud of America "for the first time in my adult life."

"The GOP, should I be the nominee, can say whatever they want to say about me, my track record," Obama said on Monday. "If they think that they're going to try to make Michelle an issue in this campaign, they should be careful because that I find unacceptable, the notion that you start attacking my wife or my family."

The four-minute video posted on YouTube coincided with a visit to Tennessee by Michelle Obama for a Democratic Party event.

It features several Tennesseans saying why they are proud of America while repeatedly cutting to her comments.

The Illinois senator also said his wife "loves this country,” and for anyone to “distort” or play “snippets of her remarks in ways that are unflattering to her is, I think, just low class.”

"Whoever is in charge of the Tennessee GOP needs to think long and hard about the kind of campaign they want to run, and I think that's true for everybody, Democrat or Republican," Obama also said in the ABC interview, adding, "These folks should lay off my wife."

The Tennessee Republican Party took heat in early February when it used Obama's middle name, Hussein, in a news release that questioned the Illinois senator's support of Israel.

That statement also included a photograph of Obama from a 2006 trip to Kenya, in which he is dressed in traditional attire.

Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan later said of that news release, "The RNC rejects these kinds of campaign tactics."

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (259 Responses)
  1. Just a Thought

    Didn't Michelle once say " I can keep my house in order?". Give her back some dirty politics. She deserves every bit of it.

    May 19, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  2. Democrats No Matter What!!

    McCain doesn't want his wife's drug habit and theft to get that drug money to come out, so he best to keep his fear-mongering party friends off of our next 1st Lady. She is not deserving of any bad mouthing, but Cindy, the elitist, can get it too.

    May 19, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  3. Cathi

    Truth hurts and the Republicans don't handle truth very well. All they know how to do is run 'smear campaigns'. John McCain let them smear him and his family, and he still kisses the SHRUB's behind.

    Good for Obama for defending his wife.

    May 19, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  4. Lisa Martin

    I agree with Obama. Say what you want about President Elect Obama, but his wife and children are off limits.

    May 19, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  5. TaraLynn

    Give me a break. If Obama does not want the media to address his wife and her comments, she should keep her mouth shut.

    What is he gonna do? This is just the beginning of the election season. Is he gonna take his toys and go home??

    May 19, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  6. Ilona Proud Canadian

    I think this is a very stupid thing for the GOP to have done.

    Who can argue now, that this leaves Cindy McCain as a fair target for the Democrats, and boy she really has some baggage!!!!!

    Why in the name of heaven would they do something like this?

    And by the way some of this baggage is very serious! Cindy McCain re: drugs, tax returns, and so much more. I wonder who is the less than smart individual who came up with this immature idea? I would have thought that by now McCain and the GOP would know that this is only going to boomerang right back in their faces. Cindy McCain, I am sorry to say this but it is so true.......What goes around comes around!!!

    May 19, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  7. Kim

    Obama is a calm and cool dude. Don't diss his woman though or he will pimp slap you GOP punks. WORD!

    May 19, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  8. virginia nielsen

    What a stupid illiterate people !!! Ky and WV people should watch the news in different channels and if they have a good judgement about facts they wouldn't be supporting Hitlery or McPain !!! Actually, he is a hero from another stupid war , just like Iraq, that shouldn't never happened!!! War mongers and lobbiests watch out because OBAMA is going to take this country by storm and put us back as the strongest nation on this planet, in a very good way !!! OBAMA 2008-2012 !!!

    May 19, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  9. Jessie

    Obama can't put his wife out there as his surrogate to campaign for him and represent him, then turn around and tell the media they aren't allowed to criticize her. What an arrogant jerk!

    May 19, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  10. vjh

    1. His reaction is what any honorable husbands would be
    2. Michelle's comments were taken out of context. Both Barack & Michelle have discussed this endlessly.
    3. Michelle has never spewed hatred, filth
    4. Neither are recipients of affirmative action.

    People really need to get their facts straight before spewing. You are showing extreme ignorance and it's a very scary thing. No wonder why this Country is in such a mess.

    May 19, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  11. Candy

    Obama, since your wife's been campaigning for you and vying to become the first lady, she should also be scrutinized. Please stop whining. This only makes you look like a whimp. By the way, I'll not vote for you in the general election. I'm fed up with you and your wife for everything you have done to Hillary.

    May 19, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  12. Kim, New York

    Good to see a man stand up for his wife! (Any GOP would do the same in the name of "Family Values.")

    Stick to the candidates, their character and background, but leave the wives/family out of it. To the Hillary supporters, Chelsey has been left alone considerably, with the exception of one question, which she refused to answer. Bill was a public figure who used his weight on his wife's behalf, so he was fair game. To the McCain supporters, Cindy has a host of issues that could, but have not been, explored.

    May 19, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  13. Oregon calling -

    I agree, the spouses should be off limits unless you give them all "fair" time. Call Clinton on her husband; also call McCain on his wife and her drugs.....
    Btw... all women should note that Hillary is said to be for women but how can she have a campaign office across the street from a nudey bar or strip bar if you will. And how can the follow someone that has no problem in "mis speaking about "sniper" fire?!?!? I am a middle age mixed ethnic American WOMAN that can not support a person like that. Yes, women in politics, but not this women in the White House ever again!

    May 19, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  14. Simone

    Isn't it funny that this world has become so numb to all the corruption bombarding us that we think a man who holds his wife with respect and his ability to defend her like any gentleman would – seems to be ripe for criticism! Thank you Barack for being the conservative liberal you are and the gentleman who cares about his family!

    May 19, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  15. Eternity

    You know what? They all thought, even the Democrats – Oh isn't that cute? He's running for President. They never imagined that he would end up being the front runner. A black man for President? Oh please, how ludicrous! Now who's laughing? All the way to the White House. And don't talk about Michelle. It's on then. The first poster said "Like Cindy doesn't have any skeletons in her closet." She is the skeleton in her closet and John too. They look like rejects from Night of the Living Dead, with his Casper the Ugly Ghost looking self. Anyway I digress. Obama '08. What GOD has put in motion, no MAN can stop!

    May 19, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  16. Vivian

    It just goes to show you McCain and the GOP have nothing to talk about!

    May 19, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  17. cevans. dallas, tx

    What does Barack defending HIS wife have to do with Hillary? He's not married to Hillary or Bill, idiots!!!! He has every right to defend his wife. And, furthermore if you have not had to deal with the racism in this country, then you probably can't (or choose not too) understand exactly where she's coming from. For most of you White americans this country has for the most part given you something to be proud of(or not). You haven't walked in Michelle's shoes, so how would you know? You are a bunch of hypocrites!!! Not to mention just plain EVIL!!!

    May 19, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  18. New York

    The Obama campaign put her out there to be scrutinized. Attacking what SHE SAID is not a personal attack.

    May 19, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  19. Jim - Phila. Pa.

    I just figured out why the Dems want Obammma. They don't Bill to be remembered as the worst president of the 21st century.

    May 19, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  20. Illinois

    Here we go with the "snippet" comments again. Poor Michelle. According to Obama, we aren't allowed to question her integrity. Too late for that one!! Obama and his camp felt it more than appropriate to constantly barrage President Clinton about his behavior. If they feel they have the right to go after Bill, then the GOP and Hillary supporters have more than enough reason to go after Michelle.

    Obama you're the one who started this. Quit your whining and crying. If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen!!!!

    May 19, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  21. Les-WA

    DREAM ON OBAMA!!!!!! You and your supporters have NO QUALMS attacking Chelsea, your wife is OPEN SEASON FOR ATTACKS!!!!

    May 19, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  22. NG

    A man should stick up for his wife, period.

    May 19, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  23. Jean


    May 19, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  24. Kristopher

    When you become a make your life as well as your families open to the public.

    his wife needs to calm down because the Republicans have not even started to unleash the attacks to come. Wait till the Fall when the real attacks come out.

    If Obama and his family can't handle it now then he should just drop out and make way for someone who can handle the mud slinging...Hillary Clinton.

    McCain for President 2008

    May 19, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  25. sepa

    I think her best role is to stay in the sideline like Ms. McCain.

    May 19, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
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