June 14, 2008

Obama Web Site Confronts Rumors

By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - Democrat Barack Obama's campaign said Thursday that Michelle Obama never used the word "whitey" in a speech from the church pulpit as it launched a Web site to debunk rumors about him and his wife.The rumor that Michelle Obama 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 rumor 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 per 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 still is 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 Thursday its political and field operations are relocating to Chicago, where Obama's campaign is based. While other departments will remain in Washington, it's an effort to streamline the campaign and party efforts in one strategy instead of the overlapping efforts of past presidential elections.E- mails about Obama rank No. 2 on the list of "Hottest Urban Legends" on snopes.com, an Internet rumor-debunking site, behind e-mail greeting cards that could expose computers to viruses.Other false claims about the Illinois senator - that he's secretly a Muslim who refuses to say the Pledge of Allegiance and is intent on destroying America - spread widely during the primary campaign, and Obama made it a habit of telling audiences to respond to e-mail rumors to set the record straight.

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