Media should back off Bristol Palin, Obama says

September 1, 2008

palin2.jpgMONROE, Mich. – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said on Monday the pregnancy of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s daughter was not relevant to the campaign and reporters should back off of it.

Obama also said he was offended by a suggestion from an unidentified McCain aide that his campaign might have had a hand in spreading rumors about Palin and her family.
“People’s families are off-limits and people’s children are especially off-limits,” Obama told reporters following a campaign event in Monroe, Michigan. “This shouldn’t be part of our politics. It has no relevance to Gov. Palin’s performance as a governor or potential performance as a vice president. So I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories,” he added.

There was no evidence Obama’s campaign had any role in stoking a rumor that Bristol Palin was actually the mother of Palin’s four-month-old. Reporters traveling with the campaign had been fascinated by the talk for days. Obama’s press aides even told reporters the rumors seemed far-fetched and they would have nothing to say about them.
Palin has been the subject of a rumor mill among liberal bloggers who have speculated that Palin faked her own pregnancy in order to cover up for her 17-year-old daughter, Bristol. These bloggers speculated that Sarah Palin’s fifth child, born in April with Down’s syndrome, was actually Bristol Palin’s child and that Sarah Palin was the grandmother. To rebut those rumors, Palin and her husband released a statement, first reported by Reuters, saying that Bristol was five months pregnant.
A senior McCain campaign aide was quoted in the Reuters story as suggesting that Obama’s campaign was linked to the bloggers who were spreading the rumors.
“I am offended by that statement,” Obama said when asked about it by a reporter. “There is no evidence at all that any of this involved us. Our people were not involved in any way in this and they will not be,” he added. “And if I ever thought there was somebody in my campaign that was involved in something like that, they’d be fired.” 

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

 Photo credit: Reuters/Matt Sullivan


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

How sad for a 17 year old to be thrust into the national media concerning a very private and personal matter. Sadder still that an ambitious mother of a pregnant 17 year old decides to expose her daughter to the media blitzgrig so that she can run for vice president. If she did, indeed, know prior to today’s announcement, if she indeed, knew while she was getting vetted, she should have passed, simply stating that her place was with her family now !

Posted by Gee Whiz in Georgia | Report as abusive

The Sarah Palin story is beginning to look more and more like the stories of so many poor families who live in trailer parks across the nation. Her sister tells some kind of marital horror-story (it takes two to tango). Palin uses her power as governor to try to get her ex-brother-in-law fired because of her sisters sorry marital problems. Now, it turns out that Palin has no control over her daughter who does not even follow one of her mother’s principle directives, sexual abstinence. I bet a lot or Republicans actually think her daughter had sex only once and had only the one partner. Whatever! Do we really think that this person is qualified to be heartbeat away (a weak and elderly heartbeat at that) from being the leader of the free-world. Please!!!

Posted by Jimmy | Report as abusive

[…] 1, 2008 Source: Reuters MONROE, Mich. – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said on Monday the pregnancy of […]

Posted by Media should back off Bristol Palin, Obama says « The Palin Report | Report as abusive

Why have pictures of Sara Palin been removed from the State of Alaska website???

Posted by Shelly | Report as abusive

Okay, so I went and looked at the loony-left website where they have some pictures of Sarah looking not-pregnant at a time when she should have.

Looks like she simply forgot to wear her fake-pregnancy prosthetic for these very public, some were even official-looking, pictures. Just didn’t plan ahead, happens all the time.

My guess is she really WAS pregnant and very unconcerned that she didn’t “show”. Probably even delighted, if I know womankind.

Posted by MSZ | Report as abusive

Congratulations to Sarah Palin’s daughter and congratulations to the soon to be grandma. I wish you the very best. Palin has really taken the country by storm. Any time you have the media trying so hard to discredit you, you must be quite a threat to someone. Somehow, I don’t think a self sufficient lady like Palin will suffer from this new found muckraking. A hearty, frontier lady governor who can survive in the toughest of elements will be just fine on her own. I love it. And God bless Geraldine Ferraro. She led the way in a very biased world and paved the way for the Palin’s amongst us.

Posted by CarDC | Report as abusive

Finally theres something I can agree with Mr Obama on! I can say I admire him for his statement. He is a smart man, with 2 daughters of his own, who will come of age during the peak of his political years.

Posted by hunny | Report as abusive

Submitted by Mark Rosenkranz on September 1, 2008 – 6:26pm. News
“John McCain and Sarah Palin support the human rights and the sanctity of unborn children. Unborn children don’t have a voice. Everyone reading this, was born because of the grace of God. Pro-choice is not pro-choice. It is pro-murder. In our judicial system if someone murders a pregnant woman, that person will be convicted for two lives. The moment of conception, life begins.”

Posted by Mark Rosenkranz | Report as abusive

I fully agree that a candidate’s private family life should stay private, especially the children’s. As a parent and a grandparent of a loving Downs child my heart goes out to the Palin family. Sarah Palin’s politics on social issues, however, are open to discussion and this has made her vulnerable. Ms. Palin would if she could use her office to define each American family’s options about birth control, pregnancy, choice, and religious instruction. Creationism, for instance, is a conservative religious belief based on a literal interpretation of the Bible. It has no basis in science, yet Ms. Palin wants it taught in every child’s science class. The Palin family’s decisions about deeply personal choices should be theirs alone, not that of the Supreme Court, the Religious Right or the party in power. And so should yours.

Posted by BBox | Report as abusive

I agree with Obama’s statement about Bristol being dragged into the frenzy. However, I question Palin’s motive and judgement to pursue this position, and McCain’s judgement for tackling Palin dispite these issues.

In my opinion, Palin has serious family issues to resolve including long term care and welfare for her special needs newborn, and now a teenage pregnancy to contend with. To think she will be off and married will end the stressors would be foolish. She has 5 children to raise, and as VP, she will be forced to decide on family needs, and flying accross the world at a moment’s notice. VP spot is crucial, especially in the case if the President becomes incapacitated for whatever reason.

I dont think either candidate has thought these issues out serious.

Posted by bob | Report as abusive

[…] Bristol Palin, is pregnant. Consistent with what I said this morning, I’m going to go with Sen. Obama on this one and say that Democratic pundits and the media should leave the Palin family alone. The private life […]

Posted by Bristol Palin and Abstinence Only Education « Blue Dawg Blog | Report as abusive

[…] Credit where Credit is due: Obama reaction to Palin story […]

Posted by Bristol Palin: Punished with a Baby? « The Dude’s Blog | Report as abusive

Fine if she and her daughter did not opt for an abortion. Unfortunately, adoption would have been a terrific example to young girls across the country.

Posted by Beermeister | Report as abusive

“A senior McCain campaign aide” accused Obama’s campaign of spreading the rumors about Palin.

Why am I not surprised? It is so typical of McCain and his people to try to capitalize on this sad, ugly affair by faulting Obama. Shame on you all!

Barack Obama takes the high road in declaring this stuff to be off limits, and should be commended. I am impressed by this man and his high character. And I look forward to voting for him in November to be the next president of our great nation.

Still, Sarah should go home and care for her family in this time of need. Her place is not on the campaign trail. Her daughter needs her.

Posted by SuaveDave | Report as abusive

Actually Sarah Palin is the person who chose to accept the VP job, knowing that the media will learn of all her secrets. She put her political career before her daughter.

Posted by Cath | Report as abusive

Haven’t we all learned that in todays mass media climate when you run for political office, nothing is private any longer? NOTHING! This is not news.

Posted by Cath | Report as abusive

Oh puhleez….. God Bless Geraldine Ferraro????? God Bless the world. God Bless Hillary Clinton for showing such class and a prime example of good parenting. Chelsea is a class act — educated and refined; polished in the midst of a republican lynch hunt against her parents. When Ms. Pallin accepted the VP slot, she was fair game. If you can’t govern your home, do you think you can govern the nation? By the way, what does soon-to-be grandpa have to say about all this???? What a joke!!! Oops… McC is a joke and is insulting our intelligence.

Posted by elle | Report as abusive

Bible thumpers… if you believe in pro life, how come you believe in the death penalty? And don’t tell me it’s different… a human life is a human life. Care to answer without quoting the bible???

Posted by elle | Report as abusive

Sarah Palin:
-> Has never been abroad and no-one knows her.
-> Has governed less than 10,000 people in the least populated state in the union for less than 2 years.
-> Knows nothing of national security.
-> Would probably flunk a rigorous exam on foreign policy and affairs.
-> Beleives creationism is equivalent to evolution (can’t stop laughing at that one).
-> Believes that abstnence is the only birth control choice for anyone who is not married and that sex education should not be taught in schools, but yet is dealing with the very “private matter” of the teenage pregnancy of her daughter. So much for that form of birth control for her daughter.
-> Thinks it was fair to go after Bill Clinton about his sex life and her party tried to impeach him, but it is ok for us to leave her family alone when dealing with the pregnancy thing. I guess Bill Clinton should not have had privacy with his personal business. Such double standards.
-> Is not a substitute for Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton knows Congress and is on the right side of women’s rights and issues.

I do not want a gun toting NRA fanatical, shove down one’s throat opinion to be prolife, creatonism fool, beauty queen sports anchor wanna be to be a heartbeat away from leading this country. How can she hold any conversation about foreign affairs and know who she is speaking to?
-> I don’t doubt she is a good woman to a lot of people, but that does not inherently make her qualified for the position of vice president.
-> It matters not how you ultra conservatives out there spin it (like some of the idiot republican analysts on tv); the question of her readiness for this office will be discussed no matter how vigorously defended. She should do her family and and the country a big favor and drop out of this race. Go take care of your four healthy children, your down syndrome child, and your once drunk driving husband. Leave the country to be run in the hands of people who can and who are much, much, much, much, much, much, more qualified!

Posted by JPT | Report as abusive

The liberal left is all up in arms over a pregnant 17 year old young lady. Isn’t this the very result of your pushing the woman’s movement, lower wages from an expanded workforce compelling both parents to work in order to afford a home in which to live? All of a sudden, you liberals are conservative? Get off the drugs and clean up your act. Woodstock is over.

Posted by pete | Report as abusive

Back off? Are you kidding me?? For a major candidate we knew nothing about, this is very telling. It shows that she & her family are completely irresponsible. 5 kids & a full time job? A baby at 44?? An unwed teenage daughter pregnant? This has to be a joke! What was wrong with capable statesmen like Tom Ridge & what has gone wrong with my once great Republican Party? They’ve gone crazy! Maybe there still is time to change the running mate???

Posted by Ron Sampson | Report as abusive

I was a strong Obama supporter – but his inability to deal with tough situations is starting to make me nervous. He has shown no ability to deal with confrontation – even when he is not the one being confronted. I think the media has been giving him a pass (lucky him) but NO ONE, and I don’t care how popular or open minded or liberal one is, can get away with telling the Media or bloggers to “back off” – why should they… it pretty important that Sara Palin’s daughter is pregnant out of wed lock. Sarah is showing off her down syndrome baby like a trophy – and dragging her kids all over this Country the past two days putting them up on stage. So, NO OBAMA screw you, I will go read what ever internet drama, rumor, scandal I want. And I will discuss it with who ever I want – and let my opinion fall as it may. Furthermore, why are children off limits??? It wasn’t off limits for Dick Cheney – he had some TOUGH questions to answer – but he survived. I am sure Sara is quite capable of defending herself. Obama your not the boss of me – and if you want my vote you “BACK OFF”!!!

Posted by TripsyDaily | Report as abusive

Yikes! My grammar and typing sucks…

Posted by TripsyDaily | Report as abusive

I wholeheartedly agree with Obama! Whatever situation Palin’s family is experiencing has little bearing on her political talents.

Having said that, I agree with “BBox”‘s commentary. Whatever choices Palin and her family have made, those choices should NOT be regulated by the government! Creationism, like any other personal belief, should be taught in the home, not a public school. Creationism is a personal choice, a belief system, not an established set of natural laws. If one wishes to learn about Creationism, let them go to the places that teach those subjects best — a place of worship. I don’t worship science; I study it. I don’t bow down to the “Almighty Newton” and I don’t expect anyone else to bow down either. Remember, science shows us “how”; creationism postulates “why”.

Posted by AJ Lehman | Report as abusive

In all fairness, women of old had families at 15 years and older and they were not ridiculed and scorned. The only difference is that now the American people have become so hypocritical and intolerant of mistakes that they have forgotten we are supposed to be a nation of christians who do not judge and cast stones. I am not saying that this is very good judgment but that is not up to me or anyone other Bristol, Levi and her family. Also I recall not to long ago that Brittney Spears sister had a baby at 17 and was on the ‘perfect’ disney show (I love Disney!) and no one spoke loudly about that. We are better than this America.

Posted by Jennifer | Report as abusive

Republicans are the very apotheosis of hypocrisy. If one of Obama’s daughters were to become pregnant as a teenager and not be married, can you just envision the moral outrage of every right-wing Christian fundamentalist? They would not hesitate for a second to point out the terrible moral failings of the Obamas and of their daughter. What, no abstinence from premarital sex?! What, poor parental guidance and failure to instill sound moral values in their children?! Scorn upon scorn would be heaped upon the Obamas! But when it’s one of their own who has the moral failings, who does not instill sound moral values in their children, why then there’s absolutely nothing wrong with teen pregnancy. Ya gotta love the spin. Nobody can spin like the Republicans.

Posted by FBH | Report as abusive

What’s the Reuter’s policy on malicious and false anonymous attribution. “Senior McCain Aide” lies about Obama and the Palin rumors. Come on, Reuters, just say who it was…

Posted by Common Sense | Report as abusive

Let us keep off the family issues. It is not fair. Palin has a right to run for office despite the daughter’s personal issues. The daughter’s personal issues are just that … personal. Let people discuss the real issues that are affecting the world and how Obama/McCain can resolve these and not pregnancies of the family members.

Posted by Bradley Kisia | Report as abusive

I get extremely annoyed with the way some people go on about the Democrats better leave Palin alone about this as if they have even said anything. McCain’s aides have the nerve to even suggest that the Obama campaign was behind this. Just because the McCain chooses to stoop to such levels doesn’t mean everyone else will. The Obama camp has never degraded themselves to this. You all know that Obama has always said that his wife and family are off limits and are not part of the campaign and therefore should be left alone. I would have expected nothing less than this statement from him. It’s unfortunate that Bristol is being placed in this situation, but Sarah should have known that this was going to happen. All she can do know is try and shield her daughter as much as possible and if she is turning 18 soon, that is going to prove to be rather difficult. Maybe she should leave her at home in Alaska, after all she is five months pregnant and should be taking it easy.

Posted by Terri | Report as abusive

I do commend Senator Obama for his statement that families are off limits, but can’t totally chalk it up to him being an unselfish sympathetic father…I am sure he has some skeletons in his family’s closet (i.e. religion?) not to mention that with two girls on the verge of adolescence I am sure he is starting to see what fun the teen years will really be.

I do take offense to all of those people out there saying “Palin needs to be a mom now” or she should “be home with her kids” I have never heard this said about any male political figure irregardless of his family’s situation. Does this mean that a father plays a less important role in a child’s life or has less responsibility than the mother? If you argued it that way I bet you’d have more than one father, republican or democrat, taking offense.

Kudos to McCain for giving Palin the VP nod and not judging a working mother by the stereotypical idea that her first priority is ensuring that her family is unrealistically perfect and if this is not the case that any career or personal ambition must be sacrificed. Kudos as well to Palin for standing by what she believes and what she wants to accomplish and for not falling into this same working-mother stereotype as so many professional women are forced to do.

Posted by CB | Report as abusive

How she is going to have time to take care of her 5 children and one of them being mentally disabled and help run the United States as vice president? Sounds like a full time job for both parents with just the kids alone.

Posted by natheya | Report as abusive

Hey TripsyDaily, I believe Barack Obama gave that direction to his staff only. The media, and we, the American people, have all the right to voice our opinion. This all goes to ‘judgement’. McCain selecting this unknown, unexperienced, bible beating right winger, whose values are clearly not heard in her own home is a good example of ‘judgement’. We really need get back on course! Do you seriously believe that McCain and Palin will be making the decisions?

Posted by Greg Olson | Report as abusive

For Palin to preach abstinence and the result is that her unmarried 17-year old daughter gets pregnant is a concern. Her abstinence policy seems ineffective, right at home. If she can’t manage her own kids, how will she manage a VP position?

Certainly, Sarah can’t control her kids absolutely, though she seems to be somewhat of a control freak (Troopergate?). Palin’s judgment is the real issue, in combination with McCain’s.

And, why is the right-wing not outraged at the promiscuity, here? There seems to be blind obedience (or justification) here, more than a genuine concern for America. Vote your conscience or your party (regardless)?

Apparently, the Christian-Right abandons their own moral high-ground when it suits them, despite loss of family values and possible abuse of power concerns.

I was a McCain supporter, but am switching to Obama because of John’s selection of Sarah Palin.

America needs a focused administration with good policies that work to dig our way out of the mess GW Bush left us!

Posted by Frustrated Republican! | Report as abusive

I thought it was a classy response from Obama, whatever your political views.  /2821/Family-Off-limits

Posted by BaxterJ | Report as abusive

Obama has so much class. If the tables were turned McCain would have stumped as low as he could go, to try to get his numbers up. There is nothing that says “low class” more than attacking someone’s children (*ahem* McCain calling Obama’s girls “Brats”) But consistent with his tact and candor, Obama has refused to use this latest discovery as a means to build up his own campaign by tearing down the other. Kudos to you Obama. That is real leadership I can believe in!!!

Posted by Hannah B | Report as abusive

Why can’t Christians realize that their proselytizing convictions on the laws of man are in so many ways parallel to the very religious fanaticism that they claim to oppose.

Posted by John Ashcroft | Report as abusive

She has next to no experience in government. When ask about national security back ground or knowledge regarding foreign affairs the best Ms. McCain could come up with was “she lives right by Russia.” She has only traveled outside the country twice in her life. She belonged (as did her husband “Mr. first Dude”) to a 3rd party which among other things supports allowing Alaska to secede from the United States and feels the only thing wrong with the John Birch Society was it was to liberal! She tried to have a local Librarian fired for not banning books. Used her political office to try to have fired and smear a state trooper who is in a custody battle with her sister. Is being investigated for this and is worried enough about the outcome to have recently “lawyered up.” Currently has pretty messy family issues, recently gave birth to a son with Downs Syndrome and has a 17 year old daughter who is pregnant. Ironically she has fought sex education in the schools and availability of contraception for minors. Believes that for 9 months a woman has no right to control what is happening to her own body and is basically nothing more than a baby container. She does not believe in a women’s right to choose to end a pregnancy, even if she has been raped. Does not believe human pollution has anything to do with global warming (even Bush has had to back down on this one). Is so in bed with big oil she is willing to watch as the polar bear and beluga whales become extinct, rather than slow the possibility of drilling. She would open up one of the last great wilderness on earth to exploitation by oil interests. Laughs when hearing a fellow Republican woman being called a bitch in public (she and the woman had disagreed on several issues) I guess this does make her on par with McCain who thinks it is alright to call your wife a cunt in public. Has an undergraduate degree in Journalism for a small obscure university. She has been repeatedly described as stubborn with a vicious streak – even by family and friends. (nick name Sarah Barracuda) Did fund raising and accepted money from the same sources as Sen. Ted Stevens. Pushed for the “bridge to no where – the flipped when convenient to do so. She has been named Sen. John McCain’s VP selection for the Republican ticket. Sen. McCain is 72 years old and has reoccurring cancer as part of his health history. One can not help but question Mr. McCain’s judgment regarding her selection.

Posted by Rebecca Burt | Report as abusive

LOL @ you lot. Here we have Obama saying that it is innapropriate to talk about family and you sit here doing exactly what he suggests is unaaceptable.

Posted by DangerRus | Report as abusive

If Palin wants to put her career ahead of her family (which this job will require), thats fine. Thats her choice. No problem…

What’s interesting is that her story is overshadowing her seriously right wing policies that are similar to Bush. If she were another established GOP male, this pick would be getting slammed.

Posted by Matt Silbert | Report as abusive

I don’t know if ‘legally’ having sex with a minor is termed rape in united states? But in several countries a minor’s consent for sex is no consent.
I think her boyfriend is legally a rapist and Sarah palin officially endorses this. Is this the conservative agenda? Or are conservatives becoming increasingly hypocritical these days? Sin and turn to cross!! Good philosophy!!

Posted by Roy | Report as abusive