November 14th, 2007
08:47 AM ET
7 years ago

Obama defends himself against attacks

Obama addressed the United Auto Workers Union in Dubuque, Iowa Tuesday.

(CNN) – Sen. Barack Obama Tuesday dismissed an e-mail attack being circulated about him that questions his patriotism, and he vowed to vigorously defend himself from this assault as well as questions about his religious beliefs.

"I don’t mind them arguing with me about policy, but don’t let them question my patriotism," said Obama, responding to a question about the email following a speech before the United Auto Workers in Dubuque, Iowa. “And listen, I am not going to be swift boated at this race. If somebody comes at me I am going to come right back at them hard."

The e-mail purports to show Obama not placing his hand over his heart during a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance at a campaign event.

"We were not saying the Pledge of Allegiance,” Obama said. “We were singing the Star Spangled Banner."

Obama also took time to respond to a rumor that claims he was educated in a madrassa, and raised as a Muslim.

"If I were a Muslim I would let you know," he said. "But I am a member of Trinity United Church of Christ on 95th street on the South side of Chicago. We got the best choir in town and if you all want to come and worship with us you are more than welcome."

When the madrassa rumor first surfaced in January, CNN sent a correspondent to Jakarta, Indonesia, and determined it was false.

– CNN Producer Peter Hamby


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Iowa
soundoff (432 Responses)
  1. Cathy M in Tn

    Nit Picking! If that's the worse thing they can drum up on Obama then he is one lucky man who has led a good life. I consider voting for him just because he is less full of it then the rest. I'm just looking for honesty and a real desire to help people.

    November 13, 2007 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  2. Jake, San Diego CA

    Obama didn't do much for Illinois except raise taxes. He has zero leadership experience, not having run anything. You wouldn't hire someone for a job if they didn't have experience.

    Corporations hire graduates straight from college all the time, so I'm guessing the answer would be yes, they do.

    November 13, 2007 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  3. Coleman R. Brice, Asbury Park, NJ

    Proper American etiquette and protocol doesn't require placing your hand over your heart..

    Should Obama apologize for knowing appropriate American cultural traditions?

    I don't think so. Hillary is desperate and so are the pathetic evil war profiteers..

    November 13, 2007 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  4. Don Houston,TX

    Typical white American crap. I knew it would not take long before the bigots would come out of the woodwork.

    November 13, 2007 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  5. SCHOOL

    CNN..........The word Madrassa means "School", that is all it means, not reilgious school or anything else.. all it means is School. When u translate the word school into arabic u get the word Madrassa, and vice versa. Please understand this .. THANK YOU

    November 14, 2007 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  6. Stephen Falk Winnipeg Manitoba Canada

    Why does it even matter..
    "Cnn Sent a corespondent and determined it was false.."
    geez, what nonsense.

    November 14, 2007 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  7. Danny, Astoria, NY

    ... so what if Obama was a Muslim (which he isn't) ? Is this a Muslim-hating country? Is that the American anti-racism and anti-faschism? There is nothing wrong with Islam; besides, it's the latest of the three big religions from Middle East.

    November 14, 2007 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  8. Axel, RKDA, California

    I don't care if he is Muslim or not, I still have no plans to vote for him.

    November 14, 2007 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  9. Bekky, Minnesota

    I believe this is news and should be in the political ticker, because people care whether the next President is patriotic.... This article shows how honest Obama is.. He did not lie about the situation whatsoever. AND.. Do YOU put your hand on your HEART during the national anthem?! I doubt it.. most people do not, they stand with their hands in front of them, as Obama did. ALSO, please note that Hillary Clinton was just accused of planting questions during campaigns... How HONEST is that? It's not.. It's Clinton that cannot be trusted..

    Last thing... How can you gain experience, without being given a chance to gain it? A fresh mind is what is needed in this country!! And besides.. if you think it's experience that he lacks.. would you not have voted for President Kennedy, who was only 43 when elected President?
    *THiNK!*

    November 14, 2007 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  10. Matt Sutton, Medford Oregon

    Hey EJ, he was thinking that singing the National Anthem was a patriotic act in and of itself. Get it? If you watch the vid, he is actually the only candidate singing it.

    And if you want more of his "defense", check out this link in which he also states that he has LEAD the Pledge of Allegiance ON THE FLOOR OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE!!!! http://www.thonline.com/article.cfm?id=180214

    This whole attack on him is just a ridiculous attempt to play on the fears of uninformed Americans. If you fall for it, shame on you.

    November 14, 2007 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  11. ZZ, San Diego, CA

    Being a Muslim is not incompatible with being an American.

    November 14, 2007 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  12. Robert Rochester, MN

    The right has really embraced these efforts to play on the fear and bigotry of dimwitted people. He's a secret Muslim educated in a madrasa. Indeed! Barrack is a sleeper cell! Good job in sussing him out! How astonishingly pathetic.

    November 14, 2007 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  13. Ryan, Chicago IL

    "We were not saying the Pledge of Allegiance,” Obama said. “We were singing the Star Spangled Banner."

    And that's a defense?! What in the world is this guy thinking?!"

    So he is not as fake as other politicians...big deal

    November 14, 2007 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  14. Stin, Honolulu, HI

    I'd say that Bryan from Baton Rouge is the only one who's got it right. Who cares about any of this superficial crap that distracts us from legitimate political concerns? E.J. from Phoenix - I'm sure that throughout your childhood you placed your hand over your heart and numbly recited the Pledge because you were told to do so, but we don't all make it a practice to cover our heart during the national anthem, so yes - it absolutely is a defense. And Portland, the guy was trying to lighten the mood up with his choir comment, so stop making judgements based on anecdotes. Read a book, get a clue, and realize that there's more problems with America than a corporate-sponsored two-party system.

    November 14, 2007 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  15. Alex, Seattle, WA

    Out of curiousity, what if Obama really was a Muslim? Or what if he was Jewish, Hindu, or a Buddhist? Does an American's religion really determine whether one is fit to be a presidential candidate? I guess we still have a long way to go...

    November 14, 2007 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  16. Brian The Truth Seattle

    If this guy is elected it really does show how Fat and dumb America has become. No Experience, does not talk anything that has not been said 100's of times by others to be elected blah blah blah, has been totally absent on his states votes because he's to busy pushing his groundless campaign, only supposedly may put his hand over his heart when it is the Pledge of Allegiance(as required) not the Star Spangled Banner, actually tried to say it was and internet trick that showed only him with his hands in front of himself. He was brought up Muslim. We GOT the best choir in town, thats a reason to be President and plus he can't speak in proper terms.
    Rah Rah you go Barak Hussein Obama

    November 14, 2007 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  17. Canadian Opinion

    There is NO WAY this Will Smith look-a-like is going to be President of the USA. America isnt ready for a cool, black guy to be in charge. Too bad...but maybe in 10 years or so? Lets hope...

    November 14, 2007 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  18. LK, Columbus, OH

    ""We were not saying the Pledge of Allegiance,” Obama said. “We were singing the Star Spangled Banner."

    And that's a defense?! What in the world is this guy thinking?!"

    What are you talking about??? Go to a sporting event and watch people during the Star Spangled Banner - maybe some people put their hand over their heart but far from everybody.

    November 14, 2007 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  19. Ian

    Obama didn't do much for Illinois except raise taxes. He has zero leadership experience, not having run anything. You wouldn't hire someone for a job if they didn't have experience.

    -----------
    "We were not saying the Pledge of Allegiance,” Obama said. “We were singing the Star Spangled Banner."

    And that's a defense?! What in the

    People like these two shouldn't even be allowed to vote...Hate to break it to you, but the only experience Hillary has is being the husband of a President. She hasn't done anything either.

    Second, to vote for someone because of the Star Spangled Banner?? Give me a break. Anyone can do a better job than Bush, and Hillary is not that person

    November 14, 2007 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  20. U MAD?

    "And that's a defense?! What in the world is this guy thinking?!"

    You don't put your hand over your heart for that song. What are you thinking?

    "Obama didn't do much for Illinois except raise taxes. He has zero leadership experience, not having run anything. You wouldn't hire someone for a job if they didn't have experience."
    Zero experience is better than any experience, maybe he will actually listen to experts about things instead of acting based on his "knowledge" like our current white house does.

    Plus hes not in the pocket of lobbies as much as these other tools are, that is reason enough to vote for him.

    November 14, 2007 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  21. Daniel, NY

    Lots of great early-state polls tonight, and good news for Obama who has tied Hillary Clinton in TWO new Iowa polls! Hillary does crush him in a new South Carolina survey though.

    November 14, 2007 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  22. Juanito, Washington, DC

    How can anyone support Hillary?

    Watch this video and then tell me how you can still support this woman?

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AyqAR4lJCmw&w=640&h=390]

    November 14, 2007 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  23. The Truth The great nw

    The truth You vote for him we lose
    Finally and officially, Barack Obama is running for president. His symbolic announcement, in the Land of Lincoln, called for a new era in politics. Obama downplayed his thin federal experience while championing his record on the state and local level, and he talked about the need to change Washington, set priorities, and "make hard choices."

    "What's stopped us is the failure of leadership, the smallness of our politics–the ease with which we're distracted by the petty and trivial, our chronic avoidance of tough decisions," Obama said in his announcement speech. But a closer look at the presidential candidate's record in the Illinois Legislature reveals something seemingly contradictory: a number of occasions when Obama avoided making hard choices.

    While some conservatives and Republicans surely will harp on what they call his "liberal record," highlighting applicable votes to support their case, it's Obama's history of voting "present" in Springfield–even on some of the most controversial and politically explosive issues of the day–that raises questions that he will need to answer. Voting "present" is one of three options in the Illinois Legislature (along with "yes" and "no"), but it's almost never an option for the occupant of the Oval Office.

    We aren't talking about a "present" vote on whether to name a state office building after a deceased state official, but rather about votes that reflect an officeholder's core values.
    For example, in 1997, Obama voted "present" on two bills (HB 382 and SB 230) that would have prohibited a procedure often referred to as partial birth abortion. He also voted "present" on SB 71, which lowered the first offense of carrying a concealed weapon from a felony to a misdemeanor and raised the penalty of subsequent offenses.

    In 1999, Obama voted "present" on SB 759, a bill that required mandatory adult prosecution for firing a gun on or near school grounds. The bill passed the state Senate 52-1. Also in 1999, Obama voted "present" on HB 854 that protected the privacy of sex-abuse victims by allowing petitions to have the trial records sealed. He was the only member to not support the bill.

    In 2001, Obama voted "present" on two parental notification abortion bills (HB 1900 and SB 562), and he voted "present" on a series of bills (SB 1093, 1094, 1095) that sought to protect a child if it survived a failed abortion. In his book, the "Audacity of Hope," on page 132, Obama explained his problems with the "born alive" bills, specifically arguing that they would overturn Roe v. Wade. But he failed to mention that he only felt strongly enough to vote "present" on the bills instead of "no."

    And finally in 2001, Obama voted "present" on SB 609, a bill prohibiting strip clubs and other adult establishments from being within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, and daycares.

    If Obama had taken a position for or against these bills, he would have pleased some constituents and alienated others. Instead, the Illinois legislator-turned-U.S. senator and, now, Democratic presidential hopeful essentially took a pass.

    November 14, 2007 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
  24. The truth

    Here vote for him
    Finally and officially, Barack Obama is running for president. His symbolic announcement, in the Land of Lincoln, called for a new era in politics. Obama downplayed his thin federal experience while championing his record on the state and local level, and he talked about the need to change Washington, set priorities, and "make hard choices."

    "What's stopped us is the failure of leadership, the smallness of our politics–the ease with which we're distracted by the petty and trivial, our chronic avoidance of tough decisions," Obama said in his announcement speech. But a closer look at the presidential candidate's record in the Illinois Legislature reveals something seemingly contradictory: a number of occasions when Obama avoided making hard choices.

    While some conservatives and Republicans surely will harp on what they call his "liberal record," highlighting applicable votes to support their case, it's Obama's history of voting "present" in Springfield–even on some of the most controversial and politically explosive issues of the day–that raises questions that he will need to answer. Voting "present" is one of three options in the Illinois Legislature (along with "yes" and "no"), but it's almost never an option for the occupant of the Oval Office.

    We aren't talking about a "present" vote on whether to name a state office building after a deceased state official, but rather about votes that reflect an officeholder's core values.
    For example, in 1997, Obama voted "present" on two bills (HB 382 and SB 230) that would have prohibited a procedure often referred to as partial birth abortion. He also voted "present" on SB 71, which lowered the first offense of carrying a concealed weapon from a felony to a misdemeanor and raised the penalty of subsequent offenses.

    In 1999, Obama voted "present" on SB 759, a bill that required mandatory adult prosecution for firing a gun on or near school grounds. The bill passed the state Senate 52-1. Also in 1999, Obama voted "present" on HB 854 that protected the privacy of sex-abuse victims by allowing petitions to have the trial records sealed. He was the only member to not support the bill.

    In 2001, Obama voted "present" on two parental notification abortion bills (HB 1900 and SB 562), and he voted "present" on a series of bills (SB 1093, 1094, 1095) that sought to protect a child if it survived a failed abortion. In his book, the "Audacity of Hope," on page 132, Obama explained his problems with the "born alive" bills, specifically arguing that they would overturn Roe v. Wade. But he failed to mention that he only felt strongly enough to vote "present" on the bills instead of "no."

    And finally in 2001, Obama voted "present" on SB 609, a bill prohibiting strip clubs and other adult establishments from being within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, and daycares.

    If Obama had taken a position for or against these bills, he would have pleased some constituents and alienated others. Instead, the Illinois legislator-turned-U.S. senator and, now, Democratic presidential hopeful essentially took a pass.

    November 14, 2007 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  25. The Admiral St. Augustine Fl.

    Lies, lies, lies. That's all the Republicans know. They have nothing but failed policies, record corruption and staggering debt. Nothing. So they must lie like they always have. The reason the Republicans are becoming a failed party is because now average people can call them on their BS with a little reasearch via the Net and the Blogs. There was a time when this type of crap would have been taken as fact by many more people than today. Not anymore, and it scares the hell out of the Repubs. because they have NOTHING.

    Unless you count hating everyone whose not in their base of support that is. Gays, Blacks, Mexicans, Atheists, and everyone not listed, are not going away so their platform has rotted from under them. Therefore they resort to this.

    Vote Democrat in 08'.

    November 14, 2007 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
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