November 8th, 2007
04:40 PM ET
3 years ago

Obama calls Internet accusation a 'dirty trick'

Watch a clip from Sen. Harkin's steak fry in Iowa last September.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Wednesday he is frustrated over the circulation of an e-mail that claims the Illinois senator refused to place his hand on his heart during the Pledge of Allegiance.

"This is so irritating," Obama said in response to a question about the claim at a town-hall event in Burlington, Iowa. "My grandfather taught me how to say the Pledge of Allegiance when I was one or two."

The e-mail in question shows a photo of Obama, as well as rival candidates Sen. Hillary Clinton and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson during Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin's steak fry in September. Harkin's wife, Ruth, is also pictured. Richardson, Clinton, and Harkin all have their right hands on their heart while Obama's hands are at his sides.

The e-mail goes on to say Obama "refused to not only put his hand on his heart during the Pledge of Allegiance, but refused to say the pledge."

Obama told the questioner the picture was actually taken during a playing of the national anthem and said, "During the Pledge of Allegiance you put your hand over your heart, during the National Anthem you sing."

"This is the classic dirty trick of the campaign," Obama said later Wednesday at an event in Cedar Rapids.

Related video: Watch Sen. Obama respond to the e-mail accusation.

– CNN's Dugald McConnell contributed to this report


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Iowa • South Carolina
soundoff (349 Responses)
  1. John from America

    King George says:"If you lived in Iraq and had lived under a tyranny, you'd be saying, 'God, I love freedom,' because that's what's happened," he said. "And there are killers and radicals and murderers who kill the innocent to stop the advance of freedom. But freedom's happening in Iraq. And we're making progress."

    The utter destruction of the country of Iraq and the continuing "Civil War" will result in this country being exactly what we want the least – "A Fundamentalists Islamic Country" hating America and eventually throwing us out and depriving us of the oil that we are now spending a Trillion Dollars trying to get!

    President Jimmy Carter had it right back in 1973 – we needed then to have a sustained policy to ensure energy independence from foreign suppliers. President Carter shifted the Department of Energy from Nuclear Weapon Development to Energy Research and Development. As soon as the "amiable dunce" took office (Ronald Reagan) those R&D efforts were almost completely stopped. The country went on a binge of rebuilding "battleships" and developing new "UNNEEDED" weapon systems until he almost accidentally started WWW 3.

    The current resident of the White House is a spoiled brat rich kid who with his GOP neocons think that you can just steal what you want in the world rather than develop our own energy resources!

    Yes there are ~ 30% of people still supporting this effort. Most are living in areas where pork barrel defense spending is making their lives better, the rest are "uninformed" at best!

    Wake up America – if we don't put our country to work fixing our own problems we will find ourselves in the next "great depression". Those rich folks pulling in 1 Million to 1 Billion a year don't care, they have their "walled communities" and they can afford to hire their own "Blackwater Security". Wake up America and throw the "Greedy Old Party" out of office. It is going to take 10 – 20 years to get a fix on these problems but, if you keep electing the GOP, you only hasten the trip to the "bread line".

    WE cannot afford to continue King Georges adventures!

    November 8, 2007 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  2. Demopulicapendent, Chattanooga, TN

    It's amazing how politics bring out the silliness in so many people. It's worse than listening to the parents at a little league game every call that goes against me makes me want to kill the official, while everyone that doesn't "I got away with" Why don't we play fair. Democrats, Republicans, whoever. This county is full of hypocrits on BOTH sides and the numbers are getting larger daily.

    November 8, 2007 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  3. smith, huntsville, texas

    either way he doesnt seem to be singing and his whole posture is one of boredom! Please do not vote for him

    November 8, 2007 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  4. Steve, Landing, NJ

    I choose to interpret his failure to display a meaningless symbol in a way that I find consistent with my personal opinion on said meaningless symbol as an attack on the arbitrary values I personally assign to that meaningless symbol, regardless of his intent.

    Also, I fear him because he's spent more than two weeks outside of the USA. People who have experience with and sympathy for people from different walks of life intimidate me.

    I'm self-centered enough to believe that the above-mentioned arbitrary interpretations and insecurities, based entirely on my personal choices and weaknesses though they are, are irrefutable fact, and anyone who doesn't share them is attacking everything of value in this nation.

    November 8, 2007 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  5. Rudy Saldivar, Grand Prairie, TX

    I am a former Marine. I never put my hand over my heart during the National Anthem, but I do for the Pledge. I believe that former military people have the option of also standing at the position of attention during the Anthem which is what I do. (To assume this position, bring the heels together sharply on line, with the toes pointing out equally, forming an angle of 45 degrees. Rest the weight of the body evenly on the heels and balls of both feet. Keep the legs straight without locking the knees. Hold the body erect with the hips level, chest lifted and arched, and the shoulders square.Keep the head erect and face straight to the front with the chin drawn in so that alignment of the head and neck is vertical. Let the arms hang straight without stiffness. Curl the fingers so that the tips of the thumbs are alongside and touching the first joint of the forefingers. Keep the thumbs straight along the seams of the trouser leg with the first joint of the fingers touching the trousers.)

    November 8, 2007 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  6. Ronald Paulino

    You put your RIGHT hand over your heart when saying the pledge or observing the national anthem, UNLESS you are in a military uniform. Singing is optional.

    November 8, 2007 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  7. Kelly Tampa, FL

    I'm putting my hands over my face and laughing during the next sporting event I go to. Does that make me un-American?
    This crap is so not worth the time wasted. I don't care if he burns a freaking flag...as long as he works to get this country back into shape.
    If how he shows his patriotism is all you people are concerned with, we're in a whole lot more trouble than I thought.
    Anyone for some Victory Vodka to go with your Victory Cigarettes? Remember, Big Brother is watching...

    November 8, 2007 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  8. Lisa, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

    the U.S. Flag Code addresses etiquette during the playing of our National Anthem: "During rendition of the national anthem when the flag is displayed, all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart." Mr. Obama goofed.

    November 8, 2007 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  9. zack, nj

    This is so silly and not worth the attention. It's obvious someone is just picking on Obama. What's next, he doesn't know all the words to the anthem? OH NO!!!

    November 8, 2007 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  10. Sophie, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    Um...who cares? I don't always put my hand over my heart. It doesn't make you any less patriotic if you don't. It's your actions as a working part of the country that makes the difference...not where your hands are. Please...get a life CNN this is not news.

    November 8, 2007 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  11. Connie, Tn.

    Much ado about nothing! Get a life people, there are much greater problems facing this country like our out-of-control national debt.

    November 8, 2007 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  12. Paul

    I have no idea who I am supporting for Prez, but this is pathetic. He 'refused' to say the Pledge of Allegiance. Anyone buying into this, I have some good swamp land for ya.

    November 8, 2007 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  13. Brian Cosey, Lakeland, Georgia

    171. Conduct during playing
    During rendition of the national anthem when the flag is displayed, all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. Men not in uniform should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should render the military salute at the first note of the anthem and retain this position until the last note. When the flag is not displayed, those present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed there.

    And this is the man you want to lead this country ??????

    November 8, 2007 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  14. Devo, San Antonio, TX

    This is what passes for news nowadays. Sad.

    November 8, 2007 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  15. Prince, Memphis, Tn

    "During the Pledge of Allegiance you put your hand over your heart, during the National Anthem you sing."

    Yo Barack,Not that it matters; but most people place their hand/hat over their heart for the National Anthem.

    November 8, 2007 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  16. Brian, Lexington, KY

    Well in my opinion if he wants to be the U.S. President then it is our anthem that he should be responding to and living by!
    I have fought for this country, and have earned my right to say "If you don't like it, Leave it".
    America does not need a president who has many other non-american beliefs, and who refuses to acknowledge the american anthem!
    This is just a simple start of what America will have to face if he is elected!!!

    November 8, 2007 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  17. Renée La Forest

    http://uscode.house.gov/download/pls/36C3.txt

    The following is the actual language in the code:

    Conduct During Playing.- During a rendition of the national anthem-
    (1) when the flag is displayed-
    (A) all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart;
    (B) men not in uniform should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold the headdress at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; and
    (C) individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note; and
    (2) when the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed.

    So it seems that the U.S. Code says that the right hand over the heart is the correct posture and that only those in uniform are required to salute.

    November 8, 2007 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  18. Brent, Columbus, Ohio

    During the National Anthem you are to face the flag, put your right hand over your heart, and sing.

    November 8, 2007 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  19. Erika, Colorado

    If you are Joe average, then this would not matter.

    But if you are campaigning to be the future President of the United States of America, then this is a huge faux pas.

    November 8, 2007 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  20. Bea, Hoboken, NJ

    This picture has been posted in many right wing blogs for days now. To me it's a non issue, even though I'm not an Obama fan.

    Although, he is mistaken when he says that the hand over the heart is only for the Pledge of Allegiance.

    November 8, 2007 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  21. Tony, Tulsa, OK

    Oh, Senator, so you mean there is such a thing as swiftboating?

    November 8, 2007 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  22. Lianette, Arlington, Texas

    All I know is that Obama could complain and critizice the Hillary or the other candidates but when it comes to him, tricks.........tricks............tricks. I don't think it is a trick.. You said before, you don't want to use the Patriotic pin. Of course you don't want to honor the Pledge either. Although, I could careless about the pin, but with all respect the Pledge of Allegiance. Sorry, I can't buy that.

    November 8, 2007 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  23. Dr Atomic

    When Hillary is the president, will you pledge allegiance to the republic for which she stands? Those days of blind obedience to the president flew off on a copter with Nixon. It's still a good country, but we waterboard people these days, and I don't notice us being one nation anymore, either.

    November 8, 2007 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  24. Linda in Highland

    oh come on... at the age of 1 or 2 you were taught the Pledge of Alegiance...my oh my..you must have been an exceptionally bright child...geez!!! face it Obama...you got busted big time....look at the other 3 ..they ALL have their hands over their hearts...so EVEN if they were playing the National Anthem...YOUR LIPS STILL ARE NOT MOVING!!! you are busted and a liar!

    November 8, 2007 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  25. joseph, austin, tx

    I know that it isnt the bigget issue today, but come on just put your hand over your heart, and show respect for your country.

    November 8, 2007 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
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