Democrat Barack Obama’s campaign said Thursday that Michelle Obama never used the word “whitey” in a speech from the church pulpit as he launched a Web site to debunk rumors about himself and his wife.
“No such tape exists,” the campaign responds on the site, http://www.fightthesmears.com. “Michelle Obama has not spoken from the pulpit at Trinity and has not used that word.”
Michelle Obama has often been the target of conservative attacks, prompting Obama to demand his rivals “lay off my wife.” Much of the criticism came from her comment that her husband’s campaign has made her proud of her country “for the first time,” a remark that inspired a Tennessee Republican Party Web video questioning her patriotism.
The Obamas recently resigned from Trinity, where the Rev. Jeremiah Wright was the longtime pastor. Wright came under fire for sermons in which he cursed America and accused the government of conspiring against blacks. Video of the sermons spread quickly on the Internet and threatened great damage to Obama’s campaign.
Barack Obama bristled when a reporter asked him about the “whitey” rumor on his campaign plane last week, saying it was nonsense that shouldn’t be repeated in questioning by a mainstream reporter.
“It is a destructive aspect of our politics right now,” Obama told his traveling press corps. “And simply because something appears in an e-mail, that should lend it no more credence than if you heard it on the corner. And you know, presumably the job of the press is to not go around and spread scurrilous rumors like this until there’s actually anything, one iota of substance or evidence that would substantiate it.”
At the same time, his campaign was preparing the debunking site in a recognition that refusing to address rumors only perpetuates them.