The magazine said the cartoon "combines... fantastical images"
Barack Obama's team has decried The New Yorker magazine for a cartoon cover depicting him in traditional Muslim garb and his wife as a terrorist.
The magazine says the cartoon is intended as a satirical comment about some of the distorted right-wing attacks on the Democratic senator.
An Obama campaign spokesman said the cartoon was "tasteless and offensive".
A spokesman for John McCain, Mr Obama's Republican rival in the presidential election, also criticised the cartoon.
The image, drawn by Barry Blitt and featured on the front cover of this week's New Yorker, shows Mr Obama wearing traditional Muslim dress, while his wife, Michelle, is dressed in combat trousers and carrying a machine-gun.
The couple are shown standing in the Oval Office, greeting one another with a "fist bump", with an American flag burning in the fireplace, and a portrait of Osama Bin Laden on the wall.
'Mirror to prejudice'
In a statement, The New Yorker magazine said the cartoon "combines a number of fantastical images about the Obamas and shows them for the obvious distortions they are."
New Yorker editor David Remnick defends the cartoon
The New Yorker said the cover, called "The Politics of Fear", was a critique of unfounded allegations that have tried to portray Mr Obama, a Christian, as a closet radical Muslim.
"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 statement said.
The portrayal of the Obamas "fist-bumping" one another was a reference to a campaign rally in St Paul, Minnesota, back in June, at which the couple were seen to "fist-bump", an action described by one Fox News commentator as a "terrorist fist-jab".
The presenter - E D Hill who subsequently lost her Fox News show - later apologised for the comments, and insisted that they had not been meant seriously.
The New Yorker said that this week's edition carried two "very serious" articles about Mr Obama.
But Obama spokesman Bill Burton dismissed the cartoon, saying: "The New Yorker may think... that their cover is a satirical lampoon of the caricature Senator Obama's right-wing critics have tried to create, but most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive. And we agree."
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