April 2nd, 2008
06:50 PM ET
7 years ago

Rove: Obama's flag pin comments will be an issue

 Rove said Obama will be viewed by many as an elitist.

Rove said Obama will be viewed by many as an elitist.

(CNN) - It was an issue that caused a stir last fall, and one that former Bush strategist Karl Rove predicts may plague Barack Obama in the general election.

In a newly-published interview with GQ magazine, Rove says Obama's reluctance to wear a flag pin on his lapel may translate as elitism to many blue collar democrats.

"There are Democrats, particularly blue-collar Democrats, who defect to McCain because they see McCain as a patriotic figure and they see Obama as an elitist who's looking down his nose at 'em, which he is," Rove told the magazine.

"That comment where he said, you know, 'After 9/11, I didn't wear a flag lapel pin because true patriotism consists of speaking out on the issues, not wearing a flag lapel pin?’ Well, to a lot of ordinary people, putting that flag lapel pin on is true patriotism. It's a statement of their patriotic love of the country. And for him to sit there and dismiss it as he did…" Rove added.

The Obama campaign declined to comment on Rove's remarks.

In early October, an Iowa reporter asked Obama why he was not wearing a flag pin on his lapel, as many politicians do. The Illinois senator said he wore one shortly after 9/11, but later decided to show his patriotism in other ways.

"After a while, you start noticing people wearing the lapel pin but not acting very patriotic,” he said then. “My attitude is that I'm less concerned with what you're wearing on your lapel than what's in your heart. You show your patriotism by how you treat your fellow Americans, especially those ones who serve."

His Democratic rivals at the time dismissed it as a non-issue, but the comments were posted on several conservative blogs, and sparked several anonymous e-mails that questioned Obama's patriotism.

In the new interview with GQ, Rove suggested the comments were among those that showed Obama is "coolly detached and very arrogant."

"I think he's very smart and knows he's smart, but as a result doesn't do his homework," Rove also said.

In the wide ranging interview, Rove also praised Clinton's now-famous 3 a.m. as "gutsy."

"It was a gutsy, dangerous move - She figured out that she had to do something to raise the issue of: Is he fit to be president? And this was a way to do it," he said. "I happened to be in Texas a week before the ad popped, and all of her surrogates were hitting him pretty hard on the thinness of his experience. They were pretty brutal. And this ad sort of fed into that."

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Karl Rove
soundoff (144 Responses)
  1. Jeff in WI

    Two things

    [1] Karl carries no weight among independents, so his comments here will not cost Obama many, if any, votes.

    [2] His praise of CLinton demonstrates Karl is on board with Operation Chaos.

    April 2, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  2. HH

    Give me a break Karl Rove.
    Wearing a FLAG PIN. I didnt know you had to stoop to the Republican level and put fear in people. And to wear your patriotism on your lapel.

    WHAT A JOKE, the Republican party is. Another way to use 9/11 to share up votes.

    April 2, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  3. Its True

    Rove, is this all you got? a stupid lapel pin. The only pin I see is on your shoulders you "Pin Head". If you had it your way, a burning cross would signify patriotism. Karl is an idiot, if this is all you have on Obama then Republicans are done.

    April 2, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  4. Jay

    Barack has it right. Rove is just pandering.

    April 2, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  5. vanchava








    April 2, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  6. Yosemite Sam

    More hogwash from the lamest of partisan chicken hawks. This guy gets a lot of press for not saying anything.

    April 2, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  7. Sherri

    Let's focus on things that matter, like Clinton's tax returns!

    April 2, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  8. glhf

    Isn't this the same man who said the republicans would hold in 2006...?

    Mr. Bomb Iran Bomb Bomb Bomb...isn't winning any democratic votes except for the die-hard racists. Sorry to break it to you Rove.

    April 2, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  9. jhs

    I find it more appalling that he doesn't place his hand over his heart during the pledge or anthem. I was taught to do both in grade school!

    His wife doesn't seem to like America much either.

    April 2, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  10. Democratic no matter who wins

    Hey Carl do us all a favor and shut that pie hole! Has someone paid you to try and wreck the democrats? I wouldn't be surprised.

    April 2, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |

    Rove trashed Obama at a college this weekend-hardly mentioning
    Clinton. What are his motives?
    Rove is an employee of FOX NEWS-who idolizes Rove's every word.
    Rove was on Greta on FOX last evening making mistatements about Obama.
    One was that Obama is not a professor. To clear that up, the College
    said that Obama is a "SENIOR LECTURER" there, which is equivalant to a professor. That is the truth.
    Rove is and will do and say anything to make McCain look good. But
    he is very tricky about it. Watch for the "dirt" from this man. He is

    OBAMA 2008

    April 2, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  12. Cam

    Why does he still talk.... EVERYONE knows that this guy can not be trusted... he's a typical washington that doesn't care for the American people.... get a life and do something that is more constructive rove!

    April 2, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  13. David, SC

    Any democrat who listens to Karl Rove is doing himself a great disservice. Rove has been a diehard Republican and remains so no matter what. There are books written about the dirty, underhanded, sneaky, lying, and outright false tactics that this man has used in the name of politics. This is no different. Who hired this guy, and why is he even speaking? By-the-way, where is Roves flag lapel pin in this picture? Talk about the pot calling the kettle BLACK!

    April 2, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  14. Sham

    I haven't seen Mccain wear one yet, and in fact, why isn't Rove wearing one in the picture???? Can you say hypocrite????

    April 2, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  15. kim portland, oregon

    oh shut up you bloated maniac troublemaker! you are a SMART man, and all the people in this country who form their own thoughts know EXACTLY what he was saying.

    there was sooo much FALSE patriotism with the yellow ribbon magnets and lapel pins. it made lazy, small-minded people feel better about themselves.

    if you criminals TRULY respect our troops, you wouldnt have lied to send them into an unwinnable war that you DIDNT EVEN HAVE AN EXIT STRATEGY FOR!!!!!! YOU creeps are the unpatriotic, unamerican people in this country. using OUR men and women to line YOUR pockets. you are filthy, vile "people" and i CANNOT WAIT to see how karma returns the favor. at a minimum, i would LOVE to see all of you in front of The Hague being tried for the war criminals you are!!!

    April 2, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  16. dzyjne

    Give me a break! Get a life! Go bother Ann Coulter!

    April 2, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  17. MB

    Obama's response is very true. Rove is irrelevant.

    April 2, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  18. history repeats

    thats absolutely ridiculous i think all that is, is karl rove trying to make an issue of it. trying to say something to make the people who are easily influenced in this country say "well heck yea hes right!!!" if you think wearing a flag lapel is patriotism then plain and simple you are shallow. this is just a dumb comment from someone, that i cant understand why, is not behind bars!

    April 2, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  19. Gary of El Centro, Ca

    I think trying to make an issue out of whether or not someone wears a lapel pin is just silly. If someone chooses to wear one, that's fine, more power to them. If someone chooses not to wear one, that's fine too, it doesn't make them any less patriotic. Just like all those little flags flying from people's car antennas after 9/11, many that flew them then are not flying them now.....does that mean they lost their patriotic standing? Are they less of an American now? Patriotic is as patriotic does......many people have draped themselves in the flag and then gone on to do very unpatriotic things. Get a life Rove.

    April 2, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  20. Andrew in Long Beach, CA

    Rove is a ciminal and shouldn't be allowed to express his criticism through the media at all. His idea of patriotism is whatever helps line his own pockets.

    April 2, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  21. TiminLA

    That's funny, Rove calling Obama arrogant. Doesn't thinking you're above the law qualify as arrogance?

    April 2, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  22. CaliforniaGold

    Hmm, I wonder why Karl Rove seems to be complimenting Hillary Clinton, and denigrating Barack Obama. Who wants the devil on their side?

    April 2, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  23. Carrie PA

    John McCain doesn't even wear a flag pin. Who cares!

    April 2, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  24. Kmp;

    Hey Rove go check out your buddy McCain he isn't wearing a pin either.

    You can show your patriotism without having to adorn yourself with a mere flag pin. And personally I find it insulting as a wife of a military man that is showing he doesn't support us, well personally if Bush hadn't enter into this war we wouldn't be having this arguement now would we.

    April 2, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  25. George, Los Angeles

    For the first time ever – I agree with Karl Rove.

    April 2, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
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