Obama's Staff

For my part, let me just say that I like the presidential campaign staff of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois.

They generally seem very nice and helpful, smart and professional.

I say this because they may be a bit beleaguered right now, having been trashed once again…by Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois.

In his first public comments about the controversial opposition research his campaign prepared about Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, trying to tie her to outsourcing in India, Obama today blamed -- for the third time in 5 months -- his staff.

"It was a screw-up on the part of our research team," Obama told the Des Moines Register (LINK). "It wasn't anything I had seen or my senior staff had seen."

The document in question linked Clinton and her husband to various companies that outsource American jobs to India, and included a headline that referred to Clinton as the Democratic senator from Punjab, a reference to a joke Clinton had made at a fundraiser.

The Obama campaign provided it to a reporter on a not-for-attribution basis, and the reporter shared it with the Clinton campaign, which shared it with the world.

Over at the website of South Asians for Obama 2008, one writer wrote (LINK) that the memo, "(a)lthough intended to draw attention to Senator Clinton's hypocritical position on outsourcing, the memo was laced with criticism of Senator Clinton's longstanding support among the Indian American community. In addition to being offended by the clear anti-Indian sentiment in the memo, we were particularly disturbed because the memo flies in the face of what we respect most about Senator Obama -- his inclusive message and his ability to relate to people of all backgrounds."

Said Obama today, "I thought it was stupid and caustic and not only didn't reflect my view of the complicated issue of outsourcing ... it also didn't reflect the fact that I have longstanding support and friendships within the Indian-American community."

He added that he takes "responsibility for it, as does our campaign. and we quickly apologized and are communicating that in various circles around the country."

Obama has blamed his staffers for other campaign mishaps.

In February, after Obama contributor David Geffen slammed Bill and Hillary Clinton in Maureen Down's New York Times column, the Clinton campaign demanded that Obama return money Geffen had raised for them. Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said "We aren’t going to get in the middle of a disagreement between the Clintons and someone who was once one of their biggest supporters. It is ironic that the Clintons had no problem with David Geffen when was raising them $18 million and sleeping at their invitation in the Lincoln bedroom." (LINK)

Obama later distanced himself from that comment, telling reporters he had been flying from Los Angeles to Iowa during the whole dustup and that, "I told my staff that I don’t want us to be a party to these kinds of distractions because I want to make sure that we’re spending time talking about issues. My preference going forward is that we have to be careful not to slip into playing the game as it customarily is played.”

In May, Obama blamed staffers for his missing an event with firefighters in New Hampshire. "I have to tell you, I wish I was there," Obama said over a speakerphone. "My staff had already scheduled some things and they couldn't wiggle out if it. They heard from me a little bit because I wasn't happy I couldn't be there personally." (LINK)

Boy, it must be tough to be so continually disappointed with your staff.

Not to mention to have a campaign you have so little control over!

-- jpt

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