As the political rumblings continued over the resignation of a top adviser to Sen. Barack Obama’s vice presidential search team, the Obama camp emerged with a new Web site Thursday aimed at debunking rumors about his campaign.
The exit of James Johnson, a former Fannie Mae chief executive, topped political headlines Wednesday after the well-known Washington insider left the Obama team due to controversy over his ties to a subprime mortgage lender.
Johnson’s departure came after The Wall Street Journal reported that he received more than $2 million in home loans at low interest rates arranged through Angelo Mozilo, chief executive officer of the embattled Countrywide Financial Corp.
“Jim did not want to distract in any way from the very important task of gathering information about my vice presidential nominee, so he has made a decision to step aside that I accept,” Obama said in a statement. “I remain grateful to Jim for his service and his efforts in this process.”
Johnson’s departure leaves the vice presidential search, at least for now, up to campaign advisers Caroline Kennedy, the niece of former President John F. Kennedy, and former Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder. The Obama campaign has not said whether it will replace Johnson, who also advised former Democratic candidates John Kerry and Walter Mondale.
As the Obama team heads into battle against likely Republican nominee Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.., in November, the launch of their new site, called “Fight the Smear” is designed to address a constant barrage of rumors about the candidate, his past and his family.
One of the rumors addressed on the site is the recent accusation from conservative commentators such as Rush Limbaugh and Roger Stone that a tape recording exists of Obama’s wife Michelle calling someone “whitey.” “Truth: No such tape exists,” the site proclaims.
The site’s creation diverges from Obama’s previous tactic on dealing with rumors — by not dealing with them. According to TIME magazine,, it was the “whitey” rumor that roused Obama’s frustration to take a more aggressive approach.
The Obama camp hopes that by diverting such “myths” to an online platform, they will lose steam before harming the campaign. The site contains links to various news sources to debunk the rumors surrounding such material as Obama’s faith and patriotism. The site also looks to capitalize on the growing number of Internet supporters who can “spread the word” to others.