The presidential campaigns go to great lengths to carefully plan the backdrops for events, so the right images of supporters get beamed on television. When it goes badly -- think John McCain's speech on June 3 in Louisiana with ugly green banners -- critics pounce.
Now, Barack Obama, whose campaign is based partly on inclusiveness, is being accused of not including two Muslim women wearing headscarves at his rally Monday night.
The Associated Press spoke to one of them, who says campaign volunteers refused them seats directly behind Obama -- and in front of TV cameras -- because they wear head scarfs.
Hebba Aref, a 25-year-old lawyer born in the United States to Egyptian immigrants, wants a direct apology from Obama, who has been fighting rumors for the entire campaign that he is a secret Muslim. Headscarves have become a symbol of non-assimilation by Muslims in France and elsewhere in Europe.
Aref told the AP she had defended Obama against the rumors that he was Muslim.
Sitting elsewhere in the rally, she said it was difficult for her to accept Obama's message of unity among races. "As he's saying it, I'm thinking, 'Well, wait a minute, I was obviously ... profiled and discriminated against an hour ago,' " she told the AP.
Obama spokesman Bill Burton issued a statement saying such actions are "not the policy of the campaign."
"It is offensive and counter to Obama's commitment to bring Americans together and simply not the kind of campaign we run. We sincerely apologize for this behavior," the statement read.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.