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Sheriff’s use of Obama’s middle name causing stir; Scott defending usage

By Staff | Oct 7, 2008

Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott called criticism of his use of Barack Obama’s middle name in a speech on Monday a “huge double standard” and said he had no particular intention when he chose his words.

“There was no intention,” he said. “I simply stated his name.”

While addressing the jam-packed crowd of 8,800 at the Germain Arena prior to Gov. Sarah Palin’s appearance, Scott said, “On Nov. 4, let’s leave Barack Hussein Obama wondering what happened.”

The crowd at Germain cheered wildly at Scott’s remark, but the Palin campaign was not too happy, according to a prepared statement sent to several news organizations.

The statement read: “We do not condone this inappropriate rhetoric which distracts from the real questions of judgment, character and experience that voters will base their decisions on this November.”

Scott said the campaign statement did not bother him and he vigorously defended his use of Obama’s full name.

“Why would I regret calling somebody by his middle name?” he asked.

“To me, I’m perceiving, I’m hearing, a huge, huge double standard,” he said.

Many political pundits charge the emphasis on Obama’s middle name, which is of Muslim-origin, is meant to reinforce rumors that he is a Muslim. Obama actually is a practicing Christian.

Republican presidential nominee John McCain himself chastised a supporter’s emphasis on Obama’s middle name in February, after a Cincinnati radio DJ referred to “Barack Hussein Obama” three times during his introduction of McCain.

McCain later told the press that such emphasis was not appropriate.

“I absolutely repudiate such comments,” McCain said in February. “It will never happen again.”

Scott, when told by a reporter that some people saw use of the name as an attempt to frighten people, responded, “Well, what is ‘Barack Obama’? That’s not ‘Mike Scott’ or ‘Jim Smith.'”

Steven Beardsley is a writer for the Naples Daily News. The Associated Press contributed to this report.