Obama campaign calls photo a ‘smear’

A photograph circulating in the Internet of Democratic Sen. Barack Obama dressed in traditional local garments during a visit to Kenya in 2006 is causing a dustup in the presidential campaign over what constitutes a smear.

The photograph portrays Obama wearing a white turban and a wraparound white robe presented to him by elders in Wajir, in northeastern Kenya. Obama’s estranged late father was Kenyan and Obama visited the country in 2006, attracting thousands of well-wishers.

The gossip and news Web site The Drudge Report posted the photograph Monday and said it was being circulated by “Clinton staffers” and quoted an e-mail from an unidentified campaign aide.

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe immediately accused Clinton’s campaign of “the most shameful, offensive fear-mongering we’ve seen from either party in this election.”

Obama’s foreign policy adviser, Susan Rice, said the circulation of the photograph was divisive and suggests “that the customs and cultures of other parts of the world are worthy of ridicule or condemnation.”

The Clinton campaign did not comment on the distribution of the photo, but campaign manager Maggie Williams said the Obama campaign’s reaction was inflaming passions and distracting voters.

“Enough,” Williams said in a statement. “If Barack Obama’s campaign wants to suggest that a photo of him wearing traditional Somali clothing is divisive, they should be ashamed. Hillary Clinton has worn the traditional clothing of countries she has visited and had those photos published widely.

“This is nothing more than an obvious and transparent attempt to distract from the serious issues confronting our country today and to attempt to create the very divisions they claim to decry.”

In a teleconference with reporters, retired Air Force Gen. Scott Gration, an Obama adviser who accompanied the Illinois senator to Kenya two years ago, said the senator was there to learn how tribes were organizing themselves.

“And in the course of this, Senator Obama was given an outfit and as the guest that he was, the great guest, he took this outfit and they encouraged him to try some of it on,” Gration said. “It was a thing that we all do.”

In December, two Clinton Iowa volunteers resigned after forwarding a hoax e-mail that falsely said Obama is a Muslim possibly intent on destroying the United States. Obama is a member of the United Church of Christ and says he has never been a Muslim, but false rumors about Islamic ties are circulating on the Internet.


  1. WWWexler

    Clintonistas blew it this time.

    They should have disavowed any connection with the photo, not tried to justify it.

    Anyone who knows anything about this campaign knows that there has been an attempt to paint Obama as a Muslim, an African, grew up in a madrassa, not a Christian, blah blah blah. To have Clinton’s campaign spreading this bullshit AGAIN after they already fired someone for it in Iowa is quite astounding and shows just how desperate she is.

    Her last chance to redeem herself and walk away with some dignity is now destroyed. She will always be known for being a racist, a dirty politician, ruthless, do anything to win, including pulling out the race/religion card in a MAJOR way. Add that to her million dollar 527 attack dogs and you have completely trashed any notion of statesmanship, party loyalty, or anything else worth a damn to the Democrats. She votes like a Bush Republican anyway, so it will be no loss to have her lose her seat.


  2. keith

    Desperate candidates do desperate things.

    As Mr. Obama said, the campaign is now entering the “silly season”.

  3. knockknock

    Agreed. I’m wondering if Hillary might not be suffering from paranoia. That, they say, is when the sick person accuses other people of her own defects.

    Sounds like she should get a mental check-up.

    For an opponent to behave as she has (false accusations, indications of Hillary’s devastating jealousy like mocking Senator Obama’s inspirational speeches, failing to disclose her taxes or to acknowledge her husband’s responsibility for NAFTA which has resulted in today’s threats of manifest destiny in taking people’s homes for Highway 69, and so many other denials), just tells us how scared she is of Obama.

    We already knew she was a lethal pitbull when cornered, and this is what she does when she can find nothing wrong with her opponent.

    If she wins the Democratic nomination, republican McCain will be elected president.

  4. Walter F. Wouk

    If Hillary Clinton wins the Democratic nomination, the party will become the repository of collaborators and closet Republicans.

  5. NorthernNeighbour

    Re Obama in African dress.
    People in glass houses etc. Bill Clinton is well aware that Hillary is a member of the ‘Homo Sapiens’ and she is well–?
    Isn’t it surprising what some people will make of that statement!

  6. spartacus

    Hillary screams about Obama’s`tactics while she uses the worst of the worst: she claims he employs the tactics of Karl Rove, however, THIS KIND OF THING IS JUST WHAT ROVE WOULD DO. In other words: she accuses him of being exactly what SHE is. Desperate isn’t the word for what this is: it’s absolutely despicable. Karl Rove would be proud. She also compared Barack Obama to GW Bush. Just WHO resembles Bush at this moment?

  7. Alexandria Lupu

    I would think Obama would be proud of wearing the garments of his ancestors. What is the big deal?
    I don’t think the Clinton’s were behind this picture, no matter what the pundits say.