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. Joe Reg

    Impossible, the repubs lost all
    senses of common decencies.

    The are going down hill.

    May 19, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  2. Tom

    Its pretty simple – if your wife (or husband) is going to stump for you, talk in town hall meetings, go on the talk show circuit, introduce Oprah and be a vocal voice on your behalf – Michelle is fair game.

    If she is going to silently stand by him and not hit the circuit, she should be left alone.

    Regardless of the ad tone, this fair game politically and the voters should decide the outcome........

    May 19, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  3. Quick

    If Obama is elected, the 60's all over again and maybe worse. Wake up America and see what this man is doing to divide this country. Also, if his wife doesn't want all this stuff said, then don't talk. Get a real job Michele or is that beneath you as well.

    May 19, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  4. larry King Live

    please dis-own your wife please please please..........

    May 19, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  5. CJ

    Welcome to the world of Politics Mr Obama! I guess since you are such a "freshman politician" you have never really noticed what it is like to have your life under a microscope??? Come on now, you want to be the President of our country, and you can't even handle the criticism you are facing about your wife? Just wait, you haven't seen anything yet! Once you are the nominee the heat is really going to be turned up. Maybe your wife needs to learn how to "turn a phrase" like you do. Then you won't have to worry about her putting her foot in her mouth. If you can't stand the heat now, what are you going to do in front of the whole world?????

    May 19, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  6. 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 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  7. John

    I hear there is a new video about to be released showing Michelle Obama speaking at Reverand Wright's church in Chicago and using the term "WHITEY" in reference to white people. Is this true?

    May 19, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  8. Desmond Sequeira

    Michelle OBAMA's spontaneous affirmation about the USA finding its soul again, after what feels like a lifetime of Bush,are to be commended. She was reflecting the mood of the entire country except, of course, for the likes of those pathetic Tennessee Republicans who are already descending to the lowest of lows.

    The undiscerning among the Republicans are already running so scared of OBAMA that they are attacking his wife. And the presidential campaign has not yet begun!

    May 19, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  9. Dumber than dumb!!!

    Lay Off my wife. Are you kidding me. And you want to be president. WHY? Your wife has foot in mouth disease. What's your problem. Mr Obama, you will never be elected president, never. I can't wait for you to be off the front page. You have pulled the wool over many eyes but not mine!

    May 19, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  10. Comedy Central

    Party Crasher...reread the was pointing out the Obama supporter hyprocrisy. You completely missed the boat!!!! LOL

    May 19, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  11. Living in the USA

    Yall remember when that reporter was talking about the way that Chelsea was holding the mike. Hiliary complained and he got suspended. Let's tlak about John McCain wife investments she had in Sudan and the refusal to show her income tax statements. I know why his wife is proud to be an American. As a rich, white female she has benefited greatly and she knows it.

    May 19, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  12. No Obambi

    My God,

    He sends his wife all over the country to represent him, then says no one can comment on the public comments she makes directly related to his campaign.

    I can't believe an intern is this close to gaining the presidency of the United States of America.

    May 19, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  13. Danny a Democrat in Tennessee

    Obama has little experience and a short track record of being very (too) liberal (for some of us). We should look at his wife, pastor, friends and those he trusts and confides in, to find out who he trully is. We should also do this with Sen.McCain (& Hillary). All I can say to Barack & Michelle is "if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen". He should have thought about this prior to getting in this campaign. They are all fair game.

    May 19, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  14. Joe Reg

    The republicans are going down
    no matter how dirty the get,
    or how desperate they get.

    Obama is unstoppable.

    Go Obama go.

    May 19, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  15. Skott

    Don't look for the Republicans to ease up. I swear to God, they sit in a back room, wringing their hands, devising ways to be mean and cruel to others. That is when they are not busy devining schemes to get money from the general public into the corporate accounts of themselves and their friends. Wake up people . . . they are Republicans. They have no sense of justice, kindness or morality.

    May 19, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  16. Janet, Pa., via Toronto

    Mrs. Obama is just expressing what all Real American believe, in the out pouring of individuals taking a real interest in this Election Year.

    GOP can only play this negative route – its in their blood.
    Anyone who wants to speak/advertise negative attitudes are just belittling themselves. GOP proved this, not only these 8 years, but years before in history. Bullying by the GOP is their only measure, and this time it isn't working , and they are truly afraid of this Movement.

    Senator Obama and Mrs. Obama, are showing a higher level of want can/has been acheive, no matter what background one comes from, with hard work and dignity, the American Dream is there for those willing to take the challenge.

    Truth and Honesty is here and now with CLARITY! The Voices of Americans are being heard LOUD AND CLEAR!

    May 19, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  17. Judy

    Remember folks-you start the dialogue about Cindy's drugs and you're going to open Barack's bragging about his drug use in his book. Do you really want to go there?

    May 19, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  18. Cindy

    Obama is handling this right. I hope the GOP understands... his request is appropriate. Going after Michelle will cause rough Dems to go after Cindy McCain.

    Republicans and Democrats would be wise to agree on this point.

    May 19, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  19. Belle


    GOP PRESSURED Senator Clinton over NAFTA...when she did not say anything in support of it...she was crucified in the press by the GOP.

    Obama's wife, if he is elected will be the First Lady. She will be a target...get over it!

    May 19, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  20. Roger

    Lay off his wife but it's ok to throw a race card at Hillary's husband?

    Every day this man says something that makes me sick.

    May 19, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  21. Kim, KY

    Cry me a river...Can anybody say anything that even remotely disagrees with something he or his wife said??? This man actually thinks he has what it takes to be the President of the US...Give me a break...if he can't even handle a little criticism from the media and the GOP how could he handle threats from foreigh countries??? After all Hillary has put up with over the years not to mention this primary season-and hasn't whined or cried about any of it...GO HILLARY..Please superdelegates wake up before we get stuck with another Repub president...WOW!!!

    GO HILLARY or MCCain if it comes to that...

    May 19, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  22. NotMyChoiceForFirstLady

    People thought Hillary was pushy and too involved in her husband's administration as first lady. Michelle is going to be much worse than Hillary.

    May 19, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  23. Ralph

    Washington really does not know how to deal with a great man like Obama. Every attack, just strengthens him further and weakens his opponent. It happened to Hillary, now watch it work even more dramatically with McCain.

    May 19, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  24. DY

    haha are you kidding me? Obama MUST BE DILUSIONAL to think that his wife won't be targetted. This is politics dude. Take the heat or get out of the kitchen!

    I will not be voting for Obama!

    Hillary or McCain!

    May 19, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  25. Bill

    If she is out stumping for her husband, then she is fair game.

    Let's review, Sen. Obama was upset about Pres Bush talking about no room for appeasement. Now you are upset about politics involving what Michelle Obama said. Sweetie (reference to way he addressed a female reporter), would you like a tissue? Carter II is not the change America needs.

    May 19, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
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