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. Jon

    Dear Mr. Obama, if you think for one minute your wife is off limits , you are nuts. As a First Lady , Michelle would be representing us and I personally feel that her comments, feeling and issues are all important as a First lady. So get over your elitness and quit your whining. If she and you have nothing to hide you have no worries, right?

    May 19, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  2. Alec B

    I think if Michelle Obama intends to be the First Lady she should tell her husband to let her speak for herself. She has made many comments along the campaign trail and regardless of what people's opinions on them are, it's only fair that the good and bad may be brought to our attention. Whether she's praising her husband or whatever she is saying, if she says it to the media to get it out there, then she has opened herself up to public scrutiny, it is the life of a politician and their family to be under the microscope and that's all she wrote.

    May 19, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  3. Clinton/McCain

    Now he's making threats!

    May 19, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  4. SZ

    If Bill and Chelsea aren't off-limits to your campaign and your supporters, neither is your wife, Senator.

    May 19, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  5. evelyn

    A woman's place is to stand beside her husband and she has done just that and should not be blamed for saying she is proud for the first time in her life being an american.She saw the vision just like her man and both are running with it. YES THEY CAN!

    May 19, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  6. Rich

    Democrats watch out for people who say that they will vote for McCain if Hillary isn't the nominee. A lot of them were Republicans from the start trying to help Bush Jr out in the general election. Democrats don't fall for it!!!!!! We can't afford 4 more years of Bush!!!!!

    May 19, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  7. Robin

    Obama needs to get a thicker skin. He takes everything so personal. The words clearly came out of his wife's mouth, she needs to own it, otherwise stop campaiging for the man.

    May 19, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  8. jb

    These folks are so two tounged, two faced. Why do they keep trying this stuff. So to answer a conservative pundit, yes America can be mean as hell. One must often wonder what kind of America do we have. I wish these politicians will stop referencing the American people. It is obvious that there are two Americas regardless how you want to split it up. Democrats speak for the American people, Republicans speak for the American people. I think our freedom of speech is in more danger than our right to bear arms. Leave the lady alone before someone is at your wife, maybe more ways than one. The song says Who's making love to your ole lady, while you are out making love. Same principle apply.

    May 19, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  9. Jaci

    If Democrats start attacking spouses, the Republicans would be in major trouble....
    All the scandals in the past year and adulterous behavior of the Family Values Crew...It would be best for them to step off.

    May 19, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  10. WHAT!!

    It's wrong for any party to attack the family of the nominee. That is a below the belt tactic.....and it makes them(REPUBS) look desperate. Wish we coukld just stay on the issues. It seems that the voters are more mature than those in power.

    May 19, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  11. Venus

    Go get em' Bam!

    Attacking Michelle won't work!

    CNN – Obama got 3-superdelegates today!

    May 19, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |

    It is sad that the GOP is not attacking Barack, but they are attacking his Spouse.

    Thanks GOD the DNC is talking about Cindy's former stealing and drug problem. Also, that she was having an affair with Mccain while he was still married and that she recently sold over $2 million dollars of stock from lets not even start GOP.....Cindy alone can bring down the Republican Campaign!

    May 19, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  13. Oh Boy...

    If Michelle Obama is on the table for attack, shouldn't Cindy McCain be? Shouldn't we talk about how many religious conservatives would consider her a prostitute for how she roped McCain in in the first place (remember, the same charge that was levied against Rudy Giuliani)? Should we mention that she is worth more than the Clintons and Obamas combined? Should we mention that John wrote an exemption into his own law that allowed him to fly around on her personal jet without reporting it as a campaign expenditure? Should we be allowed to discuss how McCain and Cindy met, and what their relationship was like prior to McCain's divorce?

    No, I'm sorry, that's going to be considered out of bounds. Look, I'm all for attacking Michelle Obama if attacking Cindy McCain is on the table. But it's not. And all you "independents" and Republicans supporting McCain know it. So stop whining about what Michelle said, or what Barack said, or what Bill or Hillary said. Why don't we focus on what they DID? At least, there's an argument in which your candidate can make a stand...

    May 19, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  14. Janey

    Since when is the outspoken wife of a president off limints? She made the anti-American comments and is a Harvard lawyer–give me a break! Sounds like Obama is making threats–who is he targeting? Scary man!

    May 19, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  15. Rudy NYC

    Didn't you yourself say that if your wife is on the campaign trail, then she is fair game? I'm not suggesting that these attacks are fair or unfair. but even you admitted that if she campaigns, she's fair game to fair attacks.

    May 19, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  16. Oscar, Rio Vista, CA

    What can you expect from the Tennessee GOP. They are so out of touch with what's happening in this country. Someone please tell them that we are now in the 21st century and today's voters care about the country and are sick and tired of these vicious personal attacks.

    Be careful GOP ........ your candidate's wife has a lot of skeletons in her closet, which you wouldn't want blasted all over U-Tube. Barbie's grandmother is not a saint.

    May 19, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  17. Tobias

    She ought to keep her big mouth shut if can't take it. She's the one who started this "not voting to the Democratic nominee" anyway when she said she wouldn't vote for Hillary if she won the nominee.

    May 19, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  18. goawaymongers

    Barack said it best! The republicans no-holds-barred personal attacks have found their way onto a portion of the Democratic party as well. It is so sad that people feel they can do this and not have to pay for it later. All this hatred in this election and all the hate you see on the blogs is about personality. The ISSUES have been put by the wayside.
    CHANGE is gonna come! Oh yes it will! (to quote a great song)

    May 19, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  19. J. Lenore Henry

    Re: Attack by GOP on Michelle Obama and Barrack's response: the latter should be reminded that Michelle, by virtue of being married to a US presidential hopeful, inevitably becomes a placed under a never ending public microscope – especially when she herself jumps into the ring in a public endorsement and campaigning for him. However, my advise to the soon-to-be President of the United States is to stay focussed, ignore the trivial, mindless prattle of mainly-white America and press on with campaign of Change We Can Believe In. We in the Caribbean are rooting for you, OBAMA

    May 19, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  20. Mistress Koloth

    She is fair game. She opened up her anti american trap and now she is going to have to pay for it. If Obama wants a chance at the White House, he had best shut her filthy mouth shut.

    May 19, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  21. mmartin arkansaw

    the gop is getting very crude ,already.they are not real men.real men don't attack other men's set a bad example for youngsters everywhere,by being so disrespectful.i guess we could attack mccain's wife,back,and we can just make this entire election about the wives.president obama has more integrity ,and would never attack another man's wife.for the first time,i'm REALLY proud of my country,AND my next president,president of the united states of america,president barack hussein obama!!republicans have no morals...

    May 19, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  22. Zagazaw

    David, Bill was the President, Hillary is Running base on the experience she aquire with Bill Clinton, and above all that lots of people support Hillary Because of Bill thats a huge difference.

    May 19, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  23. Tonya South Carolina

    A Real Man Stands Up When His Wife Is Being Attacked Thats How I Know He Would Be A Great President, I Didn't Even Have To Hear Him Say This But I Can Tell From The Statement That He Isn't Going To Take Any Bull Crap From No One...

    May 19, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  24. GARY


    May 19, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  25. Tangi


    May 19, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
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