The Obama Africa Photo

By Ed O'Keefe

Feb 25, 2008 11:39am

This morning a photograph of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., dressed as a Somali Elder during a 2006 trip to Africa was posted on the Drudge Report.

Drudge claimed "stressed Clinton staffers" were circulating the photograph over the weekend, one of them writing, "Wouldn’t we be seeing this on the cover of every magazine if it were HRC?"

The Clinton campaign has yet to issue an official denial that its staffers had sent the email or circulated the photograph and the Obama campaign — believing the Clinton team is trying to feed into the internet rumor that Obama is some sort of Muslim Manchurian candidate — expressed outrage.

Said Obama campaign manager David Plouffe in a statement, "On the very day that Senator Clinton is giving a speech about restoring respect for America in the world, her campaign has engaged in the most shameful, offensive fear-mongering we’ve seen from either party in this election.  This is part of a disturbing pattern that led her county chairs to resign in Iowa, her campaign chairman to resign in New Hampshire, and it’s exactly the kind of divisive politics that turns away Americans of all parties and diminishes respect for America in the world."

The photo of Obama in native garb during a visit to Wajir had largely been posted in two places prior to today — on African websites such as this one, and on conservative websites where posters ludicrously claim Obama, a Christian American, is some sort of covertly Muslim operative.

Clinton campaign manager Maggie Williams, who is African-American, responded forcefully, saying: "Enough. 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," Williams went on. "We will not be distracted."

The Obama campaign publicized his August 2006 trip to Africa and even permitted a documentary film crew to come along for 2007′s "Senator Obama Goes to Africa."

– jpt

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