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By Times
February 29, 2008
Barack Obama was confronted for the second time in 48 hours yesterday with efforts by conservative Republicans to convince voters that he is a Muslim and anti-Semite.
In a taste of what the Democratic presidential front-runner can expect from Republican surrogates if he wins his party’s nomination, he has been frequently referred to this week by his full name – Barack Hussein Obama – and accused of consulting with anti-Semitic advisers.

John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, has twice been forced to rebuke members of his own party after the attacks. They followed the appearance of a photograph of Mr Obama dressed in traditional Somali dress, including a turban, on the Drudge Report website on Monday. The picture was taken during a visit to Africa by Mr Obama in 2006.

Matt Drudge, the website’s owner, said that the photograph was leaked by the Hillary Clinton campaign. The former First Lady said in a debate on Tuesday night that as far as she knew it did not come from her campaign.

Mr Obama is a Christian who has never worshipped at a mosque. He was raised by a secular mother and has been a member of the United Church of Christ in Chicago for 20 years. His Kenyan father, who left the family when he was 2, was Muslim.

Yet the rumours of his Islamism have been circulating for more than a year, beginning with an anonymous and untraceable e-mail. The internet gossip reached such levels that Mr Obama began debunking it in his stump speeches. His website has a section entitled “Barack is not and never has been a Muslim”. He told Jewish leaders in Ohio this week: “If anyone is still puzzled about the facts, I have never been a Muslim.” Mr McCain’s aides are concerned that such attacks will backfire. At a McCain rally in Ohio, Bill Cunningham, a conservative radio talkshow host, referred three times to Barack Hussein Obama. Mr McCain denounced the remarks.

On Wednesday the Tennessee Republican Party website published the photo of Mr Obama in Somali dress, called him Barack Hussein Obama, and accused him of being an antiSemite. Mr McCain denounced the website. He said: “If I am the nominee of the party, I will obviously assure everyone within my party that this has got to be a respectful debate.”

Meanwhile, Michael Bloomberg, the Mayor of New York, said that he would not launch a presidential bid as an independent.

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