Aides to Barack Obama today angrily denounced Hillary Clinton's campaign for allegedly circulating a 2006 photo of Obama dressed in Somali garb in a ploy to make him look foreign.
The Drudge Report, the provocative news-and-gossip website regularly in the thick of political controversy, published the photo this morning and reported that Clinton staffers had sent it around over the weekend. The photo (see the Drudge post here) shows Obama during a visit to Wajir, a region of his father's native Kenya.
"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," Obama's campaign manager, David Plouffe, said in a statement. "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."
Clinton's campaign manager, Maggie Williams, responded by saying: "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. We will not be distracted."
But notice that nowhere in the Clinton campaign's statement is a denial that her staffers circulated the photo. Asked directly whether Clinton aides had in fact sent it around, Clinton spokesman Phil Singer said he did not know. He wrote in an email, "There are [approximately] 700 people who work here. I haven't seen any email. I don't know that one even exists. The only source is Drudge. I'm not spending my day playing 20 questions about this item on The Drudge Report. You are welcome to spend your day doing so."