WASHINGTON - Barack Obama's campaign says a satirical New Yorker magazine cover showing the Democratic presidential candidate dressed as a Muslim and his wife as a terrorist is "tasteless and offensive."
The illustration on the issue that hits newsstands Monday, titled "The Politics of Fear" and drawn by Barry Blitt, depicts Barack Obama wearing sandals, robe and a turban and his wife, Michelle, dressed in camouflage, combat boots and an assault rifle strapped over her shoulder - standing in the Oval Office.
The couple is doing a fist tap in front of a fireplace in which an American flag is burning. Over the mantel hangs a portrait of Osama bin Laden.
"The New Yorker may think, as one of their staff explained to us, that their cover is a satirical lampoon of the caricature Senator Obama's right-wing critics have tried to create," said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton. "But most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive. And we agree."
In a statement Monday, the magazine said the cover "combines a number of fantastical images about the Obamas and shows them for the obvious distortions they are."
"The burning flag, the nationalist-radical and Islamic outfits, the fist-bump, the portrait on the wall? All of them echo one attack or another. Satire is part of what we do, and it is meant to bring things out into the open, to hold up a mirror to prejudice, the hateful, and the absurd. And that's the spirit of this cover," the New Yorker statement said.
The statement also pointed to the two articles on Obama contained inside the magazine, calling them "very serious."
In Arizona, Republican John McCain said the cover was "totally inappropriate and frankly I understand if Senator Obama and his supporters would find it offensive."
Already the cover was generating controversy on the Internet.
The Huffington Post, a left-leaning blog, said: "Anyone who's tried to paint Obama as a Muslim, anyone who's tried to portray Michelle as angry or a secret revolutionary out to get Whitey, anyone who has questioned their patriotism - well, here's your image."