Friday, February 29, 2008

Obama Snubbed S.F. Mayor During Gay Marriage Fight

From The Advocate on February 8, 2008: "During his Senate run for Illinois, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is said to have declined to have his picture taken with San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom, who at the time was in the center of a national turmoil over his decision to allow same-sex marriage in the city.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported Tuesday that the snub took place at a fund-raiser in 2004 hosted by former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown.

"I gave a fund-raiser, at his [Obama's] request at the Waterfront restaurant," Brown told the Chronicle. "And he said to me, he would really appreciate it if he didn't get his photo taken with my mayor. He said he would really not like to have his picture taken with Gavin."

While the Obama campaign has denied the rumors, Newsom's staff has corroborated the event. In a Reuters interview in January 2007, Newsom alluded to the event when asked about his thoughts on potential Democratic candidates Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Al Gore. He was also asked about his peers' reaction to his allowing same-sex marriages, which some allege helped Republicans by introducing a wedge issue in an election year.

Newsom said he received harsh reactions from other politicians, Democrats and Republicans alike.

"One of the three Democrats you mentioned as presidential candidates, as God is my witness, will not be photographed with me, will not be in the same room with me," Newsom told Reuters, "even though I've done fund-raisers for that particular person -- not once, but twice -- because of this issue."

San Francisco supervisor Bevan Duffy told the Chronicle that the mayor's endorsement of Hillary Clinton over Obama, which was announced six months ago, was due to repaying political favors. Newsom says that the snub did not influence his decision, though Brown thinks otherwise.

"I think he has harbored this resentment for years," Brown said about Newsom in the Chronicle story. "I would guess that is part of the rejection of the Obama campaign."

During the same campaign season, then-Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry also worked to avoid San Francisco, following the controversy. Brown said that he doesn't blame Obama for his caution because of the heavy conservative vote in southern Illinois.

Newsom, who attended a Town Hall meeting with the Clinton campaign on Monday, said he still looked forward to voting for Obama -- in eight years. (The Advocate)"