ABC News’ Teddy Davis and Arnab Datta Report: Part way through Tuesday’s debate, Obama press secretary Bill Burton emailed reporters asking: "Did John McCain just refer to Obama as ‘that one’?"
"Folks are going to remember that," Burton told ABC News in a separate email.
Showing the power of a well-timed email, McCain’s reference to Obama as "that one" became a topic of discussion in the spin room following the debate.
Obama strategist David Axelrod called it "odd."
"Senator Obama has a name," said Axelrod. "You’d expect your opponent to use that name."
Asked about the Obama campaign’s effort to draw attention to the reference, McCain adviser Steve Schmidt sought to brush it off.
"I think it is diversionary on their part," said Schmidt, referring to the Obama campaign.
McCain’s "that one" reference came when the Arizona senator was contrasting his opposition to the 2005 Bush energy bill which was, in McCain’s words, "loaded down with goodies, billions for the oil companies," with Obama’s support for the measure.
"You know who voted for it? You might never know. That one," said McCain, gesticulating towards Obama. "You know who voted against it? Me."
Tuesday’s town-hall style presidential debate took place on the campus of Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.
It was moderated by NBC’s Tom Brokaw.
Career gadfly Philip Berg has a new conspiracy theory — Barack Obama’s actually an African.
Berg, a 64-year-old Montgomery County attorney who in 2004 filed an unsuccessful federal lawsuit accusing the Bush administration of involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks, made the claim in another federal suit.
Obama is lying about his U.S. citizenship, Berg’s suit asserts, and actually was born in Kenya, according to Obama’s grandmother, brother and sister. Only U.S. citizens by birth can be president.
Berg’s proof? Widely debunked online accounts.
“Obama cheated his way into a fraudulent candidacy and cheated legitimately eligible natural born citizens from competing in a fair process …” Berg says in the complaint.
The lawsuit offers several scenarios:
Obama was born in Kenya. His mother is a U.S. citizen. Normally, her citizenship would transfer to the baby. But the suit says it doesn’t in his case because the law at the time obligated her to spend at least five years after age 14 in the U.S. She had him at age 18.
Even if Obama was born in Hawaii as a U.S. citizen, the suit says, he later lost his citizenship when he moved with his mother to Indonesia and she remarried.
The lawsuit was filed last week in Philadelphia against Obama, the Democratic National Committee and the Federal Election Commission.
At least one independent watchdog group has rejected as spurious claims against Obama’s U.S. citizenship: FactCheck.org.
“If this in any way had the slightest tinge of legitimacy,” said Mitchell Bunkin, a political science professor at Bucks County Community College, “[Obama's] opponents would have blown this up.”
Democratic consultant Dan Fee says Berg should be forced to pay all court fees and legal fees for everyone in the case “when it gets dismissed.”
“It’s a silly lawsuit,” Fee said. “People like that should go back to hunting for the abominable snowman. It’s just a waste of everyone’s time.”
In response to previous citizenship challenges, Obama’s campaign has posted his birth certificate, showing he was born in Hawaii on Aug. 4, 1961, on the campaign Web site.
Berg’s suit claims that the birth certificate posted on Obama’s Web site is “altered and forged.” FactCheck.org said it sent staffers to examine the original certificate and concluded it was authentic.
Berg is a Democrat who supported Hillary Clinton, lives in Lafayette Hill and served as deputy state attorney general from 1972 to 1980. He has unsuccessfully run for governor, state Senate, Montgomery County commissioner and the Colonial School Board in Plymouth Meeting.
Berg’s blog indicates he has spoken about his 9/11 lawsuit in cities around the world.
He could not be reached for comment Wednesday, and the Obama campaign did not respond to a request for comment. The Federal Election Commission said it was unfamiliar with the case and couldn’t comment.
Charles Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice, said he’s unaware of any other federal suit challenging Obama’s citizenship.
Berg asked a federal judge Friday to suspend Obama’s candidacy pending resolution of the case. U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick shot down that request, but ordered the Democratic National Committee and the FEC to respond by Oct. 21 to Berg’s lawsuit.
GRAPHIC: Headshot of Berg;Photo By Berg
LOAD-DATE: August 29, 2008