November 8th, 2007
04:40 PM ET
2 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. Olivia - San Antonio - Texas

    C-L-I-N-T-O-N 2008!!!!

    November 8, 2007 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  2. chris, san diego, ca

    Either way, he wasnt standing at attention or placing his hand on his heart and he wasnt singing, so what is he so miffed about, he wasnt being very patriotic for someone that wants to be president. He should just throw the towel in now!

    November 8, 2007 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  3. Mike Brooks, Eugene, OR

    This nasty little trick is from the Clinton campaign. Her storm troopers are all over the web, the past few days, dishing out lies and distortions on all of the other candidates. I am pretty sure that she has a bunch of paid commentors on forums just like this one. CNN ought to be doing some research on this. All of this reminds me of the dirty tricks, the negative ads and campaign tactics of Bill Clinton's campaigns, ones copied by Rove. WE DO NOT NEED ANOTHER BUSH/CLINTON PRESIDENCY!

    November 8, 2007 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  4. Pete, T.S. FL

    This does matter, and not because it is a “Politician” it matters because it’s another adult failing to pay proper respect to our Flag, the very flag that is the symbol of our nation. I get very upset as I attend sports venues around our nation and witness the lack of respect to the flag. That lack of respect reflects our nation’s standards of today. I was taught better, I taught my kids and I know they will teach theirs!

    November 8, 2007 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  5. Seam, Philly PA

    CNN does a great job casting negativity in some people's mind, but it only works with weak minded people that are easily misled. Some Obama bashers are fools, because they come up with the wildest conclusions about the man. These same people love to bring judgement so quickly about Obama, but they haven't a clue who he really is.

    November 8, 2007 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  6. Ann Memphis, TN

    Who cares oh yes wacko conspiracy theorist? Your all nuts. Let’s talk about the 25% of homeless in America being vets including vets of the Iraqi and Afghani wars.

    November 8, 2007 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  7. John

    "To salute, all persons come to attention. Those in uniform give the appropriate formal salute. Citizens not in uniform salute by placing their right hand over the heart and men with head cover should remove it and hold it to left shoulder, hand over the heart. Members of organizations in formation salute upon command of the person in charge.

    The Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem

    The pledge of allegiance should be rendered by standing at attention, facing the flag, and saluting.
    When the national anthem is played or sung, citizens should stand at attention and salute at the first note and hold the salute through the last note. The salute is directed to the flag, if displayed, otherwise to the music. "

    So yes, he should have, but not required to.

    November 8, 2007 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  8. Jeff, PA

    All of you "Perfect Americans" are so hypocritical that it's funny. Take a look at yourself in the mirror. Only Americans talk bad about people when they have faults of their own. Ignorant people.

    November 8, 2007 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  9. Bill, Lakewood, CA

    I'd be more concerned about the woman singing, and hope she never sang it again. That was god awful

    November 8, 2007 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  10. the ghost of Richard Pryor

    I was there, and I asked Obama afterwards why he was holding his junk with both hands. He winked and said "Bush and Cheney stole everything else. I'm just checking."

    November 8, 2007 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  11. Ruth Bethinger

    I have been a patriotic American and have worked on bomber assembly lines during the war and have seen many presidents come and go.

    This is one of the most underhanded, meaningless attacks on Sen. Obama by Sen. Clinton's campaign. I have been to thousands of events, from politics to professional sports, in which most people do not put their hands on their hearts. This includes many former presidents. (Take a look at the picture circulating of Bush holding his stomach during the national anthem.) This has nothing to do with patriotism.

    Patriotism is about fighting for our nation, its constitution, and its people.

    November 8, 2007 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  12. Robert, Cleveland, OH

    So it's come to this. The election for the leader of the free world is an copy of The National Enquirer. Not that I'm surprised. It's about par for the nation that elected Dubya twice. With a media and citizenry like this, the days of Lincoln and Roosevelt are done.

    There will never be another great president. For the remainder of the existence of this country, there will never be another great president.

    November 8, 2007 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  13. Cheryl Des Moines Iowa

    Wow..interesting that we go after people for the most nit-picking things in the book...I admire Obama and think he is a man of character and strengh. I think he does need more experience in order to run this country but I stil will caucus for him because at least he has vision and heart and not a bunch of whiny rhetoric...he is willing to work with national leaders not just bomb other countries when we dont agree with their policies...thank you barak...

    November 8, 2007 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  14. Matt, Indianapolis, IN

    I'm not an Obama supporter, but that is hardly because he didn't put his hand on his heart during the Pledge of Allegiance. In fact, I think it's ridiculous that politicians say the Pledge of Allegiance or sing the national anthem in front of cameras in the first place. I'd rather them spend more time deepening that shallow puddle they call an agenda. I was hoping the days where you had to prove your patriotism by superficial means were over.

    November 8, 2007 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  15. Richard, Knoxville TN

    That was dumb. How dare you question another man's loyalty to this country. You don't have the right to question Obama's loyalty. If he chooses to sing the National Anthem with his hands in his pockets, it doesn't mean he is less loyalty than the other politicians standing next to him. (not directed to cnn but to a previous post)

    November 8, 2007 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  16. Rina, Columbia, TN

    They (Harkin's wife, Richardson, Clinton, and Obama) are all wrong they are not facing the flag with their hand over their heart!!!!!!

    U.S. Code states as follows:
    §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.

    §172. Pledge of allegiance to the flag; manner of delivery
    The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, 'I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.', should be rendered by standing at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. When not in uniform men 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 remain silent, face the flag, and render the military salute.

    November 8, 2007 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  17. joseph, austin, tx

    I can't count the number of times I've been to sporting events from High school to Profession sports and have observed most people not holding their hands over their hearts during National Anthem.

    Your right but how many presidential candidates are in those crowds? none, ok, the deal is there are certain things in this country that are done, if someone waives at you waive back, its just being respectful. No this isnt news and it didnt sway my vote because I wasnt voting for him in the first place.

    November 8, 2007 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  18. Maria, New York, NY

    Personally I always sit during the Pledge of Allegiance.

    November 8, 2007 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  19. Phillip,concord,NH

    Wow…three absurd stories in three days about Barack. You guys must be getting scared. Too bad your smear campaign won't work. Voters in Iowa aren't as ignorant as most others. Clinton will get smoked on Jan. 3rd. But hey…keep on turning CNN into the Clinton Nomination Network. Your news network is becoming less and less relevant every day you post this garbage.

    Posted By Dave, Milwaukee WI : November 8, 2007 1:22 pm

    It is GABBAGE, cheap politics that is taking us nowhere. I just don't know who is telling me what matters in this country anymore.....Hillary the lady I thought has the right mind has started to play preschool game.
    Well I might as well give Barack my vote because you know, I won't feel dupped and let alone at the end of the day....Go Obama!

    November 8, 2007 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  20. Jadee, Denver, CO

    I've never put my hand over my heart singing the national anthem. What time will I be burned at the stake? This is so durn ridiculous.

    November 8, 2007 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  21. a military wife, Parker Colorado

    All military and military families know that your hand is supposed to be over your heart or you are to stand at attention during the playing of the National Anthem–of course you can also sing. Maybe he is just unaware of how he is suppposed to behave. The others on the stage probably just have more experience and maybe respect.

    November 8, 2007 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  22. K. Ford Springfield, IL

    I actually believe that you should have your hand over your heart during both the Pledge and National Anthem. Is that really asking too much of Obama??

    November 8, 2007 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  23. Mary Jo, Nashville, TN

    Some of you people are disgusting Americans. I am not voting for Barack but I believe he is a good man and a good citizen of this country. This columns brings out all the sickos. Get a life or to go church or something!!!!

    November 8, 2007 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  24. Phillip,nashua,nh

    Wow…three absurd stories in three days about Barack. You guys must be getting scared. Too bad your smear campaign won't work. Voters in Iowa aren't as ignorant as most others. Clinton will get smoked on Jan. 3rd. But hey…keep on turning CNN into the Clinton Nomination Network. Your news network is becoming less and less relevant every day you post this garbage.

    Posted By Dave, Milwaukee WI : November 8, 2007 1:22 pm

    It is GABBAGE, cheap politics that is taking us nowhere. I just don't know who is telling me what matters in this country anymore.....Hillary the lady I thought has the right mind has started to play preschool game.
    Well I might as well give Barack my vote because you know, I won't feel dupped and let alone at the end of the day....Go Obama!

    November 8, 2007 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  25. Tim, Clinton City, Utah

    Obama stated

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

    Any politician currently elected or running for any US political position needs to know the following United States Code, Title 36, Chapter 10, Section 171, it states...

    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.

    For shame, for shame.

    November 8, 2007 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
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