RNC creates Obama Facebook site

CHICAGO The Republican National Committee is behind a Web site that brings up some controversial characters from Obama's past in a Facebook-style spoof.

The Internet has been good to Barack Obama. Video clips of his 2004 speech at the Democratic National Convention propelled him onto the national stage. Online donations have helped him raise record amounts of money.

But this Web site brings up relationships that may be familiar to those of us in Chicago, but Republicans hope will get an airing on the national stage.

It's a fake Facebook page piled high with political spin.

"Anyone might see this and say, 'Wow, I didn't know that yet,'" said Neal McCollam, Obama supporter.

And that's the goal of Barackbook.com - paid for and promoted by the Republican National Committee.

"I think a lot of Americans don't know a lot about Barack Obama, and legitimately, the Republican National Committee is getting the information out," said Pat Brady, Sen. John McCain's campaign deputy co-chair.

Among those listed as "friends" on Obama's fake Barackbook page is convicted fundraiser Tony Rezko. Click on his name and viewers are told that Rezko was among Obama's first political supporters and that Rezko sold Obama a piece of land next to his Hyde Park home.

Another click in the friend column, and you'll find an unflattering mug shot of William Ayers, the 60's radical-turned-distinguished professor, who Obama has said is just a casual acquaintance.

"There's nothing new here. It's stuff people have known for a long time -- probably some information in there they don't want to be on the Web," Brady said.

"Apparently, John McCain picked up on the Internet about as quickly as he picked up on the fact that the economy is going south and the war in Iraq is a complete blunder," said Alexi Giannoulias, (D) Illinois Treasurer.

Giannoulias said he is proud to call himself a friend of Barack Obama but isn't thrilled about seeing himself in the "friends" column along with old stories about questionable loans he made before being elected.

"They're trying to throw everything they can against the wall and see what sticks," said Giannoulias.

"What they're trying to do is an overall strategy to make Obama look like another Chicago politician -- though somewhat different in who he is but not what he is," said Paul Green, political analyst.

Barackbook.com also proximately features links asking people to donate to the Republican Party.

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