Democrat Barack Obama’s campaign has said that Michelle Obama never used the word “whitey” in a speech from the church pulpit as it launched a website to debunk rumours about him and his wife.
The rumour that Obama’s wife Michelle railed against “whitey” in a diatribe at Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ has circulated on conservative Republican blogs for weeks and was repeated by radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh. The rumour included claims of a videotape of the speech that would be used to bring down Obama’s candidacy this fall.
“No such tape exists,” the campaign responds on the site, www.fightthesmears.com. “Michelle Obama has not spoken from the pulpit at Trinity and has not used that word.”
The site is a response to the realities of a brave new world, where information travels 24 hours a day on blogs and voters are increasingly turning to the Internet for information. It’s a particular problem for Obama, a relative newcomer to national politics who is still unknown to many voters and has been the target of persistent misinformation campaigns online.
In another sign of the campaign moving into the general election race, the Democratic National Committee’s spokeswoman said on Thursday its political and field operations are relocating to Chicago, where Obama’s campaign is based.
Michelle 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.