Obama photo causes stir

February 25, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
In the ever-evolving race between Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, things have once again turned nasty.

It's a picture of Barack Obama circulating on the Internet. A picture of the senator dressed up in a robe and turban.

A photo appeared on the Drudge Report on Monday, reportedly sent in by a Clinton staffer who suggested that if Senator Clinton dress to look like a Somali elder the picture would be on the cover of every magazine in the country.

Clinton won't deny a campaign staffer sent the photo, but accuses the Obama campaign of over reacting.

"Why is anybody concerned about this. This is one more attempt by my opponent's campaign to change the subject," said Senator Hillary Clinton (D) New York.

Obama's campaign says the photo, which was taken on a trip to Africa, is being circulated by the Clinton campaign as an attempt to feed false reports that he's Muslim.

The Obama campaign accused the Clinton camp of shameful fear mongering. Clinton's campaign manager fired back.

If Obama's campaign wants to suggest that a photo of him wearing traditional Somali clothing is divisive, they should be ashamed.

"it's really bad stuff, bad stuff," said 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis.

Michael Dukakis the Democratic presidential nominee in 1988 said it was obviously an attempt to portray Obama in a negative way.

The former governor of Massachusetts was himself hurt by a single picture, when he donned a tank commander's helmet and gave Republicans all the ammunition they needed to make fun of him.

"When you're running for the nomination you want to be as positive as you possibly can and I would hope that whoever is responsible for this either fesses up or stops it or something because this is desperation stuff," said Dukakis.

To be sure, elected officials often dress up in garb given them while their visiting other countries.

"I don't think they have a choice. If indeed, a Clinton staff were involved in this there will be a backlash and somebody will have to be fired. On the other hand it's almost certainly a taste of what we'll see in November," said ABC7 political analyst Bruce Cain.

Professor Cain is right, it's already happened. The Tennessee Republican party picked up the photo and is circulating it along with a diatribe against Obama's opposition to the war in Iraq.

And while the Clinton campaign isn't denying that a staffer sent the email, they aren't confirming it either.

Campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson told reporters he hasn't seen the e-mail sent to the Drudge Report -- and the campaign didn't sanction it.