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Sikh Fundraiser Criticizes Obama

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

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WASHINGTON — 

The fundraiser who held a gathering for Hillary Rodham Clinton with members of the Sikh community said Tuesday it was "unacceptable" for Barack Obama's campaign to circulate a memo critical of her financial ties to Indian-Americans.

Rajwant Singh, national chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, said he welcomed "Senator Obama's regret of his campaign's misconstrued remarks." But he called on Obama to apologize directly to the Indian community.

"He needs to be more specific and needs to understand the pain it has caused," he said.

Obama gave an interview Monday to India Abroad, a newspaper for Indian expatriates, in which he conceded that the concerns of Indian-Americans over his campaign memo "are entirely justified."

"My support among Indian-Americans, South Asians and Asian Americans generally has been very strong and that's the culture within which I was raised, as having grown up in Hawaii and Asia myself," he told the newspaper.

Singh, in an e-mail and in an interview, took issue with the campaign's characterization of Clinton as the "Democrat from Punjab." The reference was to Singh's joking introduction of Clinton at the fundraiser as the senator "not only from New York but also Punjab."

Singh said he did not consult with the Clinton campaign before issuing his statement.

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