Tennessee Dem leader suggests Obama has terrorist connections

With friends like these, who needs Republicans?

Published June 13, 2008 10:40PM (EDT)

In Tennessee, Democrats are doing the Republicans' dirty-work for them. Fred Hobbs, a member of the Tennessee Democratic Party's executive committee, recently expressed fear that his party's presumptive presidential nominee Barack Obama may have connections to terrorists, and suggested that one prominent Tennessee congressman harbors the same suspicions.

Wonkette points us to some gob smacking remarks that Hobbs made in a Nashville City Paper story about why the Tennesee Democratic Rep. Lincoln Davis, a superdelegate, has been slow to endorse Barack Obama for President.

Hobbs says he understands why Davis hasn't yet thrown his support to Obama, noting that he's "skeptical" of Obama himself: "Maybe [it's] the same reason I don't want to -- I don't exactly approve of a lot of the things he stands for and I'm not sure we know enough about him... He's got some bad connections, and he may be terrorist connected for all I can tell. It sounds kind of like he may be."

While Davis himself wasn't available to comment, his chief of staff, Beecher Frasier, told the paper he doesn't know for sure if Obama is "terrorist connected" but assumes he's not.

After the story ran, Frasier issued this statement clarifying his position: "No one in their right mind, including me, believes Senator Obama has ties to terrorism. It is truly ridiculous for anyone to try to make hay out of these comments."

The Tennessee Democratic Party issued a statement as well. It declared:

The Tennessee Democratic Party is united behind our party's nominee, Senator Barack Obama. Mr. Hobbs is obviously misinformed, and his statement highlights the perpetual efforts of the Republican Party, especially here in Tennessee, to turn internet smears and highly offensive gossip into their party's message against Senator Barack Obama as we head into the general election. Instead of debating the issues, the Tennessee Republican Party continues to rely upon slanderous and salacious tall tales. They are borrowing from the playbook first written by Richard Nixon and employed in the race against Congressman Harold Ford Jr. Tennesseans of every political persuasion are tired of these tactics.

Davis, who has gubernatorial ambitions, represents a rural district which went overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in the primary. He's currently seeking re-election to Congress, and has said he will not endorse Obama until the Democratic Party's convention in August.

By Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

MORE FROM Katharine Mieszkowski

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

2008 Elections Barack Obama War Room