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. v.ananthan

    Chelsea was asked to comment about her fathers past behaviour by Obama supporters...

    NOW Michelle Obama is getting some of it back....

    May 19, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  2. AmericanFirst

    When a wife (or husband) of a candidate goes out and stumps for their spouse, the words that they say and the opinions they express are fair game. Michelle is speaking on Obama's behalf. I'm sorry she was not proud of America until Obama started winning primaries. If we cannot challege the words someone speaks and repeats, then this would not be a such a great country!

    May 19, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  3. AJ

    If he uses his wife in his campaign, then she is fair game as to what she says.

    May 19, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  4. Tim

    Well if Obama's wife is going to campaign for her husband then any and all things said are open to scrutiny (cannon fodder) from an opposing view point. By the way since when did America have to start electing the extra baggage when electing a president. Some advice for all candidates; keep your spouses out of the lime light as we are not electing them but the candidate. We do not elect two for one but only one holds the highest seat in this nation.

    May 19, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  5. sprkl12000

    Most people with some degree of sense understood what Michelle meant by her comments...I don't have to have things spelled out for me unlike some folks I guess...and I agree because it has been a very long time (since Bush took over actually) that I have been full of pride considering how our country has been acting and viewed around the can you be proud of a country that couldn't even take care of its own citizens after a natural disaster??!!!

    He can defend his wife if he chooses to...get over it folks and get a life!!!

    May 19, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  6. Uncle Sam

    For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of Sen. Obama.

    May 19, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  7. White female voter

    Michelle Obama willl be the most impressive First Lady this country has ever seen.
    Republican attacks on her will backfire.

    May 19, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  8. Party Crasher

    Comedy Central,

    Your comments about controlling your wife either means that you are a male sexist that believes that a wife should be two steps behind her husband and never speak until spoken to.


    You are a woman that really does not understand the double standard that you just represented in your comments.

    Either are not intellegent. And that in a nut shell is one of the reasons why its hard for someone to be proud of this nation.

    May 19, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  9. Steve

    This is laughable. Obama's wife has injected herself into this campaign. This woman has called down the thunder with her comments and the Republicans are going to unleash the demons of hell against her. The 527's (swiftboaters) will have a field day.

    May 19, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  10. Shawn

    Very smart lady;


    Anyone who thinks they are a "very smart lady" and talks like that should go back to school.

    Sticks and stones very "smart" lady!

    May 19, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  11. mjc

    stop complaining obama, if you want to parade your wife around and have her campaign for you, its fair game. the clintons have had it thrown at them for their entire public careers, they even went after their daughter who has nothing to do with anything. you want michelle out there as your mouthpeice then its fair game. she wants a say in your prospective white house, get used to it.

    you know, you and michelle obama should be thanking hillary, she is one of the only first ladies in RECENT HISTORY to be involved, paving the way for other first ladies to take up issues and speak on policy. but michelle is jealous and angry. she is obama's biggest liability in this campaign. loose lips sink ships.

    its all fair game obama, you complaining, not ready for the white house, thin record having wimp.

    May 19, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  12. Fola

    If this election is going to be about debating the candidates' wives, it s a debate the GOP cannot win. Cindy has a lot of junks in her trunks that will make the whole world sick. Lay off Michelle, GOP, you may not like what you'll get afterall!!

    May 19, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  13. Party Crasher

    Very Smart lady,

    Judging by your statement, you title is an oxymoron, also I do think you are a mean people.

    Read you statement twice out loud and you too will understand why your title is an oxymoron.

    May 19, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  14. Roy B

    Just consider the source. The Republican Party cannot run based on their record which includes the following accomplishments:

    Foreclosures: at the highest point in 30 years

    Oil/Gasoline Prices: at the highest point ever

    War: Bogged down and no one knows the path to victory. Costs so far top $1 Trillion and over 4,000 young Americans killed. (essentially funded training ground for terrorism).

    Emploment : Economy is stagnating and the number of unemployed is growing.

    What can be said that is positive?

    May 19, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  15. Ronald

    I hear the TN GOP will be handing out free white sheets at their Convention.

    May 19, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  16. Jim Doyle

    Fair enough to say that the spouses of presidential candidates should be scrutinized, but have the Republicans ever said anything about Michelle's accomplishments as a woman, as a mother, as a wife, as a professional? (sorry, I think she's a lawyer, but can't be sure) Anyway, this isn't scrutiny, it's muckraking, pure and simple, and trying to make an issue out of something that is not an issue. Just what the Repugnants do best. And by the way, where has the Obama campaign been smearing Bill and Chelsea? Where have you heard them smearing McSame, or his ice-queen wife?

    Go Obama!

    May 19, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  17. Darth Vadik, CA

    Hey Barack,

    this is what they do, they even attack their own wives, Remember the "black child" Cindy McCain attack in 2000.

    It only means they got nothing on you, do what you're doing, stay above it ans smack the moth********s down, for the bas****s that they are.

    May 19, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  18. Craig

    Awwww....poor Michelle....and just when she was FINALLY proud to be an American........maybe she should break out a flag pin.....

    (get over it Barack Hussein Obama – she is fair game – welcome to the big leagues.... you haven't even begun to get under the microscope yet)

    From someone who has ALWAYS been proud to be an American.

    May 19, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  19. larry King Live

    what a wuss....Nobama baba .....please help me media to get my message out i am a wuss....please help me help me......wuss i am ....please help me.....

    May 19, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  20. Debby

    "Lay Off My Wife" Can you imagine if Sen. Clinton said that about her husband after what was said about him during this campaign. Hey get the wifey off the campaign trail if she can't handle it. I wonder if the GOP will put out her thesis that she wrote in college that would be an eye opener. Sen. Obama sounds a little BITTER.

    May 19, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  21. Scott, Wichita

    Another of the many examples of his hypocrisy

    Lay off Cindy McCain, then, Obambies

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

    This is rather frustrating. We have all seen how much control this unelected and protected person has over her spouse. Barack can not give a speech without reminding us that Michelle is smarter, possesses a greater inner strength, and even has better manners. Why didn't she run? She appears better qualified- Just ask him. Now, much like what was seen in the Hillary/Chelsea debacle, the family can openly campaign, they can address thousands on behalf of their candidate, but the listeners can not question them? Ridiculous! Be prepared America. By electing Obama, you will empower Michelle Obama to form policy without having to answer for it. This will be rather damaging to Barack's credibility. Men in America are seeing the real Barack- I only hope they are paying close attention.

    May 19, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  23. AJ, IL

    Hell yeah! Obama you tell 'em. Just like the screwed up GOP to attack Obama's wife and any other American that doesn't go along with their agenda as unpatriotic. The GOP can't discuss the issues because most of them are on the wrong side of them, so they pull the old Karl Rove and pratice the politics of personal destruction.


    Obama in 08!

    May 19, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  24. DAVID


    May 19, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  25. Nuwan Samaranayake

    If you are running for the highest public office in this nation nothing is off-limit. Obama has to realize that. His wife, his children, his family and everything about them is going to be used. That is politics. If Obama can not stomach that then he should have stayed home.

    I also strongly disagree with the way her wife made that comment. She should have worded it differently.

    May 19, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
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