Tony Podesta: 2008 poll-test emails about father's heritage didn't bother Obama

Lobbyist Tony Podesta on Friday downplayed the latest WikiLeaks release that showed his brother John in a conversation about poll-testing personal attacks against then-Sen. Barack Obama regarding his father’s Muslim heritage.

John Podesta is now Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman. The poll question about Obama, as written in the 2008 emails, included:

" - Obama (owe-BAHM-uh)'s father was a Muslim and Obama grew up among Muslims in the world's most populous Islamic country."

But Tony Podesta told The Hill the question was never actually used.


“I think pollsters ask all kinds of questions, but the real test of character is whether or not any of that material was ever used by the Clinton campaign and wasn’t,” he said. “The other test of character is did Donald Trump run around the country for five years saying that the first African-American president isn’t American.”

Podesta said there should be no comparison between Trump’s questioning of Obama's birthplace and the conversation in the leaked emails.

“The notion that somebody asked and polling question and creating that as a moral equivalence seems preposterous to me,” he said.

“Donald Trump runs all over the country and runs all over the television perpetrating a racist myth against President Obama.”

Podesta pointed to President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama’s endorsement of Clinton as evidence that the polling question is a non-issue.

“If you look at what Michelle Obama said yesterday in New Hampshire or what President Obama said on the campaign trail, they’re not worried about Hillary Clinton on some stray polling question that occurred eight years ago.”

- Jonathan Easley contributed to this report