Obama Apologizes For Punjab-gate

By Politics
Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) issued a round of apologies yesterday for a memo generated by his campaign staff that referred to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) as a senator from the Indian region of Punjab and criticized her record on outsourcing.

Pointing the finger at his campaign staff, Obama told the editorial board of the Des Moines Register that he "thought it was stupid and caustic." Obama said that the memo "not only didn't reflect the complicated issue of outsourcing . . . it also didn't reflect the fact that I have long-standing support and friendships within the Indian American community," according to a story on the paper's Web site.

Obama also wrote a letter of apology that was posted on the Web site of the South Asians for Obama group yesterday afternoon. The memo, compiled by Obama campaign staff members and initially sent to reporters on the condition that they could not attribute it to the campaign, was later circulated by Clinton advisers as evidence the Obama campaign is not as elevated as it has promised.

"The memo's caustic tone, and its focus on contributions by Indian-Americans to the Clinton campaign, was potentially hurtful, and as such, unacceptable," Obama wrote.

"In sum, our campaign made a mistake. Although I was not aware of the contents of the memo prior to its distribution, I consider the entire campaign -- and in particular myself -- responsible for the mistake. We have taken appropriate action to prevent errors like this from happening in the future."

-- Anne E. Kornblut

Speaking of Apologies . . .

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) yesterday called and apologized to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney for an e-mail one of his supporters sent out criticizing Mormonism, Romney's religion.

In an e-mail last month, former state representative Emma Nemecek, the southeastern Iowa field director for Brownback's presidential campaign, asked a group of Iowa Republican leaders to help her fact-check a series of statements about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including one that says, "Theologically, the only thing Christianity and the LDS church has in common is the name of Jesus Christ, and the LDS Jesus is not the same Jesus of the Christian faith."

Brownback has frequently attacked his 2008 Republican primary opponent for his recently taken position opposing abortion, but John Hart, a spokesman for Brownback, said the e-mail was inappropriate.

Brownback, on a four-day, 27-city tour of Iowa this week, called Romney between stops in Winterset and Adel to apologize for Nemecek's e-mail.

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