Published April 02, 2004
| Associated Press
CHICAGO – Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Barack Obama (search) said Friday his party should not make his opponent's sealed divorce records a campaign issue.
Questions about Jack Ryan's (search) divorce from actress Jeri Ryan (search) surfaced just days before the Illinois Republican primary, when some of Ryan's opponents suggested the papers could be damaging.
Obama had said previously he would not bring up the divorce. But the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has been distributing e-mails with copies of news stories about the records.
Obama, speaking on WBBM-AM in Chicago, urged supporters, including the committee, to focus on other issues.
"People are concerned about jobs, they're concerned about health care, they're concerned about education, they're concerned about safety," he said.
Ryan, a former investment banker who now teaches, says the records are sealed to preserve his son's privacy.
"We do agree Illinois voters are ready for an issues-based campaign and we're ready to run one," Ryan spokeswoman Kelli Phiel said.
A California family court judge Monday delayed a decision on whether the records should be opened. The Chicago Tribune and WLS-TV have sued to have them unsealed.
Ryan, 44, has said Obama, a 42-year-old law professor and state senator, is too liberal for Illinois, an assertion Obama scoffed at Friday.
Obama said Ryan has subscribed to a radically conservative agenda championed by President Bush.
"I would argue that my views and the manner in which I've operated are probably closer to some of the moderate Republicans in this state like Jim Thompson and Jim Edgar," both former Illinois governors, he said.