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Obama’s Third-Party History
New documents shed new light on his ties to a leftist party in the 1990s.

By Stanley Kurtz

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Barack Obama campaigns for the Illinois state senate in the mid-1990s.


On the evening of January 11, 1996, while Mitt Romney was in the final years of his run as the head of Bain Capital, Barack Obama formally joined the New Party, which was deeply hostile to the mainstream of the Democratic party and even to American capitalism. In 2008, candidate Obama deceived the American public about his potentially damaging tie to this third party. The issue remains as fresh as today’s headlines, as Romney argues that Obama is trying to move the United States toward European-style social democracy, which was precisely the New Party’s goal.

In late October 2008, when I wrote here at National Review Online that Obama had been a member of the New Party, his campaign sharply denied it, calling my claim a “crackpot smear.” Fight the Smears, an official Obama-campaign website, staunchly maintained that “Barack has been a member of only one political party, the Democratic Party.” I rebutted this, but the debate was never taken up by the mainstream press.

Recently obtained evidence from the updated records of Illinois ACORN at the Wisconsin Historical Society now definitively establishes that Obama was a member of the New Party. He also signed a “contract” promising to publicly support and associate himself with the New Party while in office.


Minutes of the meeting on January 11, 1996, of the New Party’s Chicago chapter read as follows:

Barack Obama, candidate for State Senate in the 13th Legislative District, gave a statement to the membership and answered questions. He signed the New Party “Candidate Contract” and requested an endorsement from the New Party. He also joined the New Party.

Consistent with this, a roster of the Chicago chapter of the New Party from early 1997 lists Obama as a member, with January 11, 1996, indicated as the date he joined.

Knowing that Obama disguised his New Party membership helps make sense of his questionable handling of the 2008 controversy over his ties to ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). During his third debate with John McCain, Obama said that the “only” involvement he’d had with ACORN was to represent the group in a lawsuit seeking to compel Illinois to implement the National Voter Registration Act, or motor-voter law. The records of Illinois ACORN and its associated union clearly contradict that assertion, as I show in my political biography of the president, Radical-in-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism.

Why did Obama deny his ties to ACORN? The group was notorious in 2008 for thug tactics, fraudulent voter registrations, and its role in popularizing risky subprime lending. Admitting that he had helped to fund ACORN’s voter-registration efforts and train some of their organizers would doubtless have been an embarrassment but not likely a crippling blow to his campaign. So why not simply confess the tie and make light of it? The problem for Obama was ACORN’s political arm, the New Party.

The revelation in 2008 that Obama had joined an ACORN-controlled, leftist third party could have been damaging indeed, and coming clean about his broader work with ACORN might easily have exposed these New Party ties. Because the work of ACORN and the New Party often intersected with Obama’s other alliances, honesty about his ties to either could have laid bare the entire network of his leftist political partnerships.

Although Obama is ultimately responsible for deceiving the American people in 2008 about his political background, he got help from his old associates. Each of the two former political allies who helped him to deny his New Party membership during campaign ’08 was in a position to know better.

The Fight the Smears website quoted Carol Harwell, who managed Obama’s 1996 campaign for the Illinois senate: “Barack did not solicit or seek the New Party endorsement for state senator in 1995.” Drawing on her testimony, Fight the Smears conceded that the New Party did support Obama in 1996 but denied that Obama had ever joined, adding that “he was the only candidate on the ballot in his race and never solicited the endorsement.”

We’ve seen that this is false. Obama formally requested New Party endorsement, signed the candidate contract, and joined the party. Is it conceivable that Obama’s own campaign manager could have been unaware of this? The notion is implausible. And the documents make Harwell’s assertion more remarkable still.

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   06/07/12 06:09

No suprises here - Even Ray Charles could have seen this revelation -

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   06/07/12 08:55

That is a priceless comment, it made my day! : )

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Michael Alan
   06/07/12 11:34

Oh I wish there was a like button!

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   06/07/12 11:59

Stevie Wonder wasn't available for comment.

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who cares
   06/07/12 19:20

sad that there are so many uneducated voters.

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   06/07/12 12:15

The revelation that Romney was still a progressive Big Government politician hit me when he tried to act like a conservative during the GOP debates.

This is why I cringed whenever I heard Romney double-flip out of his mouth.

So after a thorough vetting of what Romney truly stands for, it is readily apparent that he is more of the same of failed promises of Hope and Change just like promised by Obama.

If nothing really changes, whether by Obama or Romney, why hope for better days?

Knowing this, a Romney presidency can but only be a conservative trail of tears that sees Americans reduced to nothing more than voiceless sheep used for their votes.

The only saving grace of liberty is that you can be happy.

Will you be truly happy if you are forced to vote for Romney?

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Mike Baker
   06/07/12 12:58

Dear LibertyGirl,
Please stop pretending that you're a disgruntled conservative. The truth is that you're a far left Obama zombie who's here trying to turn real conservatives against Romney. Anyone who is to the right of Mao knows that an Obama victory is the greatest threat to the survival of the USA since the civil war, and regardless of whether Romney is the perfect candidate, they will vote for him to save the country. Please go back to The Kos or the Huffington Post where you belong.

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   06/07/12 13:24

Only difference between Romney and Obama is that now Romney will be able to cram through legislation the American people hate with a Republican majority in Congress. Look who the campaign donors are. Goldman Sachs will continue to run the country. Nothing will change.

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   06/07/12 13:44

we MUST fill the house and senate with CONSERVATIVES!!!!

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Bob D.
   06/07/12 13:45

Oh sure, kinda like when Obama and his cronies crammed Obamacare down our throats. Hypocrites like you are spotted easily on this site.

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Les D.
   06/07/12 14:09

Massachusetts Health Care Insurance Reform Law?

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Yeah Yeah Yeah
   06/07/12 18:20

Please tell me specifically how your life has gotten worse since Obamacare.

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   06/07/12 20:40

This is impossible to say since nothing of this disaster has yet been implemented. Waiver after waiver and a strategy to make certain that the pain can only start AFTER the 2012 election cycle have hidden the tempest from sight. But the threat is real and will be brought to an end before implementation can staart.

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   06/08/12 12:52

President Obama, promised that if I liked my current health insurance plan, I'd be able to keep it under the ACA.

As of January 1, 2011, my plan, which I liked, had for years, and covered my children and me, was discontinued by my employer. This was DIRECTLY due to the passage of the so-called Affordable Health Care Act.

Specific enough for you?

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   06/08/12 13:04

The cost of medical services I needed such as X-rays, and of my health insurance with a high deductible increased immediately 25% across the board with the passage of the Stimulus (it contained a requirement for all health providers to report treatment to federal government, not just file claims with insurance companies, as phase-in for national health records database - so much for HIPPA and medical privacy - no longer private from the feds) and premiums for all must now cover elimination of the waiting period for pre-existing conditions to be covered, and for young adults to remain on their parent's policies as "children" until age 26.
The impact on my wallet for myself and my spouse was severe enough to cause us to a) drop health insurance and b) go without medical care and dental care that was sorely needed.

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   06/08/12 14:02

My premium costs have gone up by almost 50%, and I no longer can even purchase the insurance that I had three years ago. My copay is also now $50 instead of $20.

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   06/08/12 16:28

Since Obamacare...well this has nothing to do with healthcare but it IS IN IT...I now have a paper trail to my purchase of gold for my grandkids which I would not have had if it were not for Obamacare. There are other 'things' in that bill that have already kicked in that many are not aware of. Who knows what? I guess only Pelosi knows.

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Yeah Yeah Yeah
   06/07/12 18:22

Please tell me specifically how your life has gotten worse since Obamacare.

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American taxpayer
   06/07/12 19:01

Obamacare hasn't taken effect yet, so you're not going to see the disaster it will create until after he is re-elected (if). He planned it that way. If the people realized what the program is really about, there'd be a fallout that would make the tea party look like senior citizens at bingo night.

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   06/07/12 21:16

Since running a business is taken from the forecasting view, I'd say a lot of businesses are worried about their costs of capital, which means that they are very wary of undertaking expansion.

If Obama is re-elected, you can bet that he will allow the tax on dividends and capital gains to increase back to their old levels. When that happens, the tax on dividends will increase from 15% to 39.6%, and when Obamacare goes into effect, it will slap and additional 3.8% on top of that for a grand total of 43.4%.

Do you understand how that will affect stock prices, and what that will do to businesses trying to raise capital, and the effect on Cost of Capital? To investing in general?

Do you understand what that will do to people who are currently unemployed, and how that will make it damned hard for business to maintain their current levels of employment? How increasingly difficult it will make businesses acquire capital?

Do you have a clue at all about what effects Obamacare will have in the aggregate?

My guess is that come 2014 you will pose your clueless question once. You won't want to ask it again.

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