Partly false claim: Barack Obama, Ilhan Omar, Kirsten Gillibrand, Bill de Blasio, Beto O'Rourke, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren and Eric Holder are not using real names

A post here on a page called "Trump Red" that had been shared over 500 times as of February 25, 2020 claims that 10 prominent Democratic figures "are so fraudulent that they don't even use their real names with the American people." Some of the “real names” given in this post are incorrect. Other “real names” refer to nicknames, maiden names or middle names held by these figures. Such variations are common, and not evidence of fraud.

1. “Obama’s Real Name is Barry Soetoro”

President Barack Obama was born Barack Hussein Obama, II, as shown here on his birth certificate here . As reported by Reuters here , his stepfather was named Lolo Soetoro. "Barry" was a nickname here for Barack growing up. 

2. “Ilhan Omar’s Real Name is Ilhan Esmi”

Representative Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., was married to a man named Ahmed Nur Said Elmi (as referenced here ), but there is no evidence of a connection to the name “Esmi”.

3. “Kirsten Gillibrand’s real name is Tina Rutnick”

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., was born Kirsten Elizabeth Rutnik (as mentioned here ), not "Rutnick." She went by "Tina," (as referenced in a story here ) until she reached her 20s. In 2001, she married Jonathan Gillibrand (as referenced here )

4. “Bill DeBlasio’s real name is Warren Wilhelm Jr”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (whose last name is two words, not one) was born Warren Wilhelm, Jr, but this is no longer his legal name. Four years after his father's suicide, 18-year-old Bill changed his name to Warren de Blasio-Wilhelm (as mentioned in a story here ), citing his mother's Italian family as the "single most important influence” in his life. In 2002, he officially shed his father's names. (More here ). 

Bill de Blasio speaks with WNYC about his father's suicide here in 1979

5. “Beto Orouke is Robert Orourke”

The last name of the former Democratic congressman from Texas is spelled O'Rourke, not "Orourke." His full name is Robert Francis O'Rourke (as referenced here ), but has gone by "Beto," a nickname for "Roberto" since his childhood. (More here )

6. “Bernie Sanders is Bernard Gutman”

Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., was born Bernard Sanders (as referenced here ). "Bernie" is a common nickname for Bernard. The false claim that his last name is actually "Gutman" may come from a document here listing passengers from Antwerp, Belgium processed through Ellis Island in 1921. The name of Sanders' father was recorded as "Eliasz Gitman," whose mother's name was written as “Jetti Gutman.” Senator Sanders can be seen looking at this document with historian Henry Louis Gates, Jr. at the 31:03 mark in the October 3, 2017 episode here of "Finding Your Roots" on PBS. Also in that episode, Sanders can be seen reviewing his father’s Certificate of Naturalization, which names him as "Elias Sanders." Bernie Sanders' father's 1928 Petition for Naturalization can be found here

7. “Kamala Harris is Maya Harrison”

Kamala Harris was born Kamala Devi Harris to Shyamala Gopalan and Donald Harris (as referenced here ). Donald Harris is a professor, emeritus at Stanford University. (Link here ). Her younger sister, who served as her campaign chairwoman before she ended her presidential run in December 2019, is named Maya. (More here )

8. “Elizabeth Warren is Liz Herring”

Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass, was born Elizabeth Herring (as referenced here ). Growing up in Oklahoma City, she was known as "Betsy" to her mother and "Liz" to her classmates (More on that here ). She took the last name of her first husband, Jim Warren, when they married in 1968. After they divorced in 1980, she did not change her last name back to Herring, nor did she take the last name of her second and current husband, Bruce Mann, (as mentioned here ) when they married in 1980 (Click here for more facts on her).

9. “Cory Booker was known as Tony Booker”

The middle name of Senator Cory Booker, D-N.J., is Anthony (as mentioned here ). Reuters could not find any information to suggest that he has ever gone by "Tony," a common nickname for Anthony.

10. “Eric Holder is Eric Himpton”

Himpton is the middle name of former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (as referenced ). Reuters could not find any information to suggest that he has ever gone by "Eric Himpton."


Partly false: the ten Democrats with allegedly false names either go by their birth names, their nicknames, their married names, and/or their legal names.