June 4th, 2008
01:25 PM ET
13 years ago

Obama addresses rumors head-on at pro-Israel conference

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/04/art.obamaaipac.ap.jpg caption="Obama delivered a speech at AIPAC Wednesday."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Barack Obama directly addressed accusations that have been circulating by e-mail when he addressed a pro-Israel conference Wednesday.

"I want to say that I know some provocative e-mails have been circulating throughout Jewish communities across the country," the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said at AIPAC's annual conference.

"They're filled with tall tales and dire warnings about a certain candidate for president. And all I want to say is - let me know if you see this guy named Barack Obama, because he sounds pretty scary."

Rumors have been circulating at least since last year that Obama is a Muslim and does not support the Jewish state. He is a Christian and said at the conference he is a "true friend of Israel," earning applause.

He opened his speech by paying tribute to his rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton, calling her an extraordinary public servant who had made history alongside him in their 16-month race for the party's presidential nomination.

Obama clinched the nomination Tuesday night, but Clinton did not admit defeat in her speech after the polls closed.

Some Clinton supporters have begun to campaign for her to get the vice-presidential slot on Obama's ticket. Both campaigns deny that discussions on the subject have begun.

In his AIPAC speech, Obama also clarified a story he told last month that prompted a barrage of criticism from Republicans.

"My great uncle had been a part of the 89th Infantry Division - the first Americans to reach a Nazi concentration camp. They liberated Ohrdruf, part of Buchenwald, on an April day in 1945," Obama said.

Last month, he said an uncle had helped liberate the Auschwitz concentration camp, which was in fact liberated by the Soviet army.

soundoff (373 Responses)
  1. Paula

    How sad that these rumors have been flying around...One wonders whether Karl Rove has something to do with it!! I admire Obama and it is refreshing to hear a new voice. It does remind me of how I felt when Kennedy was campaigning..... Obama must continue to support Israel and get in touch with the Jewish community.

    June 4, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  2. Watermann

    Wow, Senator Obama has just finished his speach at AIPAC followed right now by Senator Clinton. Regarding Senator Obama, it was already sounding like a true American President. That man has really got what it takes. Don`t get me wrong. He is not only a speaker, but somebody who knows what, when and where to say. It has been a masterpiece of presidential foreign policy. Listening to Senator Clinton, it seems to me that she is respecting Senator Obama as the potential next President of the United States of America. This could be the beginning of a new "friendship" developing during the months to come. I am deeply impressed in front of my TV in Germany.

    June 4, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  3. faye, NV

    Why don't you guys let it a lone, start concerning your self with the question what am I?

    June 4, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  4. proud army and navy mom

    thank you for addressing these stupid emails. i had one sent to me.
    you have to be undereducated to believe it, or to busy or lazy too read.

    a very intelligent woman at my work told me not to vote for sen obama because he was a muslim, i rebuked her comments but she still was not convinced. in this case, i think it was fear of the unknown or just plain prejudice.

    June 4, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  5. Tim H

    Actually, he said an uncle had helped liberate the concentration "camps" in Auschwitz; clearly he was somewhat confused about geography, since Auschwitz was only one camp. Most likely he was thinking at the time that Auschwitz was a region.

    June 4, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  6. 2 x Ridiculous

    Ridiculous #1: Enough already – the man is not a Muslim. (Shouldn't matter if he is, but that is a moot point.)
    Ridiculous #2: However, show me any policy position he has that affirms his statement he is a "true friend of Israel."

    Oh wait – he has virutally no foreign policy track record. He sounds so good though, I'm sure I can believe him.

    Bottom line: As in so many areas, the Obama brigade is all "yes-we-can" and no "HOW-we-can." If he wins, I can only hope his leadership capabilities remotely resemble his ability to give a good speech. Too bad this election isn't for president of the Olymipic debate team...

    June 4, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  7. Steve, New York, New York

    America, for the love of heaven, don't vote against him because you dislike his color or his middle name (or you've heard some stupid rumor). Vote for (or against) him based on his POLICY.

    Though I fear that Hillary's larger-than-life ego might have ruined it for the Democrats this year. Hillary is the one who implied that McCain would be better-suited to be president (than Obama) – maybe Hillary can beg McCain to get on his ticket.

    June 4, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  8. Nana

    CNN where is the bulk of the speech Obama gave at the AIPAC? All you reported was that Clinton wants to be the VP. Why couldn't you just report what was in Obama's speech? I guess I'll have to find that information elsewhere.

    June 4, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  9. Sadie

    Too bad Israel is just as corrupt as the US. It never surprised me the two nations got along so swimmingly.

    June 4, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  10. Bill

    Obama says a lot of untrue things and then "clarifies" them when he gets caught.

    June 4, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  11. HAJ

    Obama, stand strong!

    June 4, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  12. Kevin

    Hillary as VP? I hope not.

    June 4, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  13. mjc

    cnn, could you report on what he actually said that is important, not him trying to be cute and charming?

    im listening to clinton speak now and she's talking about serious policy. what did obama say?

    come on cnn, its called reporting.

    June 4, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  14. Terry

    Watched Obama give his speech he covered all aspects of the Jewish American interests and concerns. At the moment of this post I am watching Hillary give her speech and the audience response is no where near as vocal than when Obama spoke. In fact they had to take a break after Obama's speech there was no way she could follow a well written speech by Obama. I think this was a big mistake for McCain not to speak here. By the way Obama not only had one-liners in his speech but he laid out plans on how his administration will approach his ideas.

    June 4, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  15. Susie

    Can people stop saying that Obama is a Muslim? He is clearly not one. People are so desparate to find dirt on this man but is coming up empty that they are resorting to spreading stupid rumors about him. Give it up! He's not a Clinton!

    June 4, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  16. Dennis

    Only in America would people actually believe things like that he's a Muslim or that he isn't patriotic...which, by the way, shouldn't be a big deal even if he were.

    June 4, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  17. mayahh

    LIFT UP YOUR HEAD OBAMA

    June 4, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  18. dave

    And what if he were Muslim? We have freedom of religion in this country, but some Americans always seem to forget that. The laws that allow people to be Christian and Jewish in the United States, are the same laws that allow people to be Muslim. I haven't seen the tacit racism of these emails challenged – I've only seen that he has to keep repeating that he's Christian. I think he should step up a little more to defend peoples' right to be Muslim, and remind the American people of the obvious fact that being Muslim does not equal being a terrorist. To not do so empowers those who use racism and bigotry to achieve political ends.

    June 4, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  19. Veterans for Obama

    I can't wait for an Obama vs McCain debate. The American people will clearly see what a real President of the modern world sounds like.

    Obama 08/12

    June 4, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  20. Stud

    He's so awesome!

    June 4, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  21. day dreamer

    Man...that is scary that some people still believe that he is a Muslim. I guess that you will always find people that get their info from emails and believe them. I heard that Microsoft is giving away money also....yeah it's true I read it in an email.

    June 4, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  22. Ryan

    Good.....put some of these stupid statements from people to rest.

    June 4, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  23. Mike D. from San Diego

    Good for him for attacking the internet rumors head on. Republicans can't win in November on a "look what we've done" platform. Their only chance is fear and they know it. They're going plant rumors and emails from now until November...what a bunch of scumbags.

    June 4, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  24. Billy J Austin, TX

    Billy J Austin, TX June 4th, 2008 11:09 am ET
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    <please note the time that is 30 min earlier than comments posted AFTER this.... (what's the deal? why is my comment any less worthy than others on here that are not even on topic?)

    He isn't my first choice, but I would never, in a thousand years, believe this guy is not anything other than what he says he is, when it comes to his patriotism, or good will towards our allies, especially Israel and Europe.

    The primary is over, my horses were out early (Edwards/Biden/Clark) I am ready to get behind this guy and keep my fingers crossed he can be half the excecutive, his speeches make him sound like.

    June 4, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  25. Ron

    We can no longer afford to bury our heads in the sand and think that leaders and rouge nations will simply go away. Nor can open a dialog of deplomacy at the end of a gun barrel. Presidential Nominee Obama has the right direction; we need to meet with these leaders and find a peace, even if it is awkward and flawed that will lessen tensions and open communications between nations. It will be a difficult road and many organizations and individuals will oppose it and do harm to others to stop it but it is a necessary step in the quest for peace.

    June 4, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
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