According to Speech Wars, a database of campaign speeches by Barack Obama and John McCain, the only time the word “Yemen” was mentioned by either man in the 2008 campaign was this reference in a September 2006 speech from Obama:
Unfortunately, job losses and foreign competition are just the half of it. Because the second headline that caught my eye was in Saturday’s New York Times, and it read, “Suicide Attacks Foiled at 2 Oil Sites in Yemen.”
This news is disturbing, but not surprising. For years, Al Qaeda has been trying to attack Middle Eastern oil refineries as a way to wreak havoc on the U.S. economy.
Note that this speech actually came before Obama was an announced candidate for president.
According to the Washington Post’s database, the first time President Obama mentioned the country of Yemen in any speech or public statement came in his December 28 remarks*.
* UPDATE: Well, this is annoying. Yemen was mentioned in Obama’s big Afghanistan speech, yet that speech doesn’t come up in the Post’s search. Apparently the Post database only searches for “keywords,” not the actual text, making the whole thing much less useful than it was touted.
A search of the White House site shows various other administration officials mentioning Yemen, and the president mentioning Yemen in passing while discussing the past the work of ambassadors Jonathan Addleton and Alberto M. Fernandez. So the president mentioned the potential terrorist threat from Yemen once in his public remarks before the attempted bombing on Christmas.