- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sen. Barack Obama often mocks himself for having an unusual name, and his supporters have accused Republicans of purposely flubbing it for the chance to link him with terrorist Osama bin Laden.

So it was with humor that Mr. Obama brushed off an Obama-Osama switch yesterday during the annual Associated Press lunch in Washington.

The exchange began when Denver Post publisher and newspaper megachain owner Dean Singleton, also chairman of the AP, asked Mr. Obama about his position about troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Can you imagine shifting a substantial number of Afghanistan — a substantial number to Afghanistan where the Taliban has been gaining strength and Obama bin Laden is still at large?” Mr. Singleton asked.

Mr. Obama interrupted, without missing a beat: “I think that was Osama bin Laden.”

The audience erupted in laughter and applause.

“If I did that, I’m so sorry,” Mr. Singleton said.

“No, no, no. This is part of the — part of the exercise that I’ve been going through over the last 15 months, which is why it’s pretty impressive I’m still standing here,” said the aspirant to the Democratic presidential nomination.

CNN had to run an on-air apology last year after showing an image of the al Qaeda leader with the headline “Where’s Obama?” MSNBC’s Chris Matthews once talked about Mr. Obama while an image of bin Laden flashed on the screen. Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney twice misspoke the names Osama and Obama while talking about terrorism last fall.

Even Obama supporter Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, has mixed up the names.

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