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. marcus

    Silence...... (head bows in shame)..... (tear)......Please God don't let them actually make a issue out of that.
    It seriously would mean the end of the world

    April 2, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  2. You don't say

    It came out of Carl Rove's mouth and we are supposed to care. Keep working at FOX News trying to convince people your really not a criminal. We all know you were a major player in severly damaging our country (Bush's brain). If that's patriotism, give me whatever is the opposite of you. Oh, wait, that would be Obama. He is so hated by anyone WITH a brain, his words can only end up garnering support for the Dems.

    April 2, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  3. ohhh he is so afraid of Obama

    just like Rush, Ann Coulter and also like Hillary, so they will say anything...
    face it............. you all listd above, you all fear Senator Obama will be our next president...
    since you all three can not agree to disagree but you like to impose on people i can see you all making issue of the tie the senator wears.........

    very sad the state of politics in our country.

    at least Senator McCain can have a civil debate with Senator Obama
    this is why the three of you: clinton, Rush, Coulter and Rove are so ugly not just physically but as human beings.

    April 2, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  4. Tyler - OK

    Why is anyone listening to or even observing what Karl Rove is saying? The man is nothing short of a criminal. When did this whole American flag lapel thing become such a big issue. I would never consider wearing one, simply because in my eyes it trivializes the flag. Something, which so much blood has been shed over should receive more reverence than to be simply touted about on a lapel.

    Elitism, I would argue not; I'm sure many people just don't want to jump on the lapel pin band wagon. Just another attack on Obama, a virtually unblemished candidate.

    April 2, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  5. Larry

    Karl Rove is one of the most unpatriotic and cynical persons ever to serve? this country. His kind of detestible rubbish doesn't deserve the attention of CNN. Please let him wallow unnoticed in his brutish darkness.

    April 2, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  6. Grif

    Obama! The All "None American" Judge for yourself..

    You don't get a second chance, Think Big!!
    Before you Vote for this Man???

    Just another "Third World Country" could be you're Destiny.

    Scare Tactics??? You Bet.......

    April 2, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  7. JB

    Obama's supposedly infamous flag pin comments were that he doesn't think patriotism should be bound up in whether you wear a pin or not. Which is true. It's utter nonsense, and if this is the best the republicans can do, they will be toast in the fall

    April 2, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  8. Lana

    So Obama won't wear a flag button, but he offers to kiss a girl to get her to wear his button. Shows which button he thinks is more important. Shows very poor judgment, too.

    April 2, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  9. Philip

    Rove is trying to start a forest fire in the middle of the ocean. Serving as Obama has as a United States senator is more than sufficient patriotism.
    It is possible to wear a flag pin while refusing to vote, or pay taxes. Both are prime examples of what average citizens do for their country. Your clothes can be red white and blue, but they are an empty statement without actual participation.

    April 2, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  10. Jason, San Diego

    The man worked for the state of Illinois, and now represents them in the Senate. He busting his back-side to be the next president of the USA. Isn't that patriotism? This obsession with empty symbols is such a clear marker of the Bush Administration's "with us or against us" policy. When will Bush, Rove, and the rest of those fat-cats realize that they work for me and you, and they should have absolutely zero expectations of us, or anyone else they are supposed to serve. I don't care if Bush wants to wear a flag pin, a Love It or Leave It t-shirt, or a red-white-and-blue leather body suit: Bush has done a crummy job, and that's what matters.

    Obama will do the best job, lapel pin or not.

    Go Obama 08!

    April 2, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  11. Bill

    More desperation from Karl Rove – a man to whose goal in life is to divide America. Does anyone take this man seriously anymore?

    April 2, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  12. Angel

    Dems should listen to what Rove has to say!

    He has constructed the two best railroading presidential campaigns to seat one of the worst presidents in modern history. This man knows how to WIN...he's succeeded TWICE and we should listen to his formula so we don't give this one away, too.

    April 2, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  13. Eric from Boston

    How is it unpatriotic to believe that it is more important to fight for what you believe in than merely say it?

    If this "issue" affects any voters' perspectives, it's not a failing of Senator Obama, it's a failing of the voters.

    Karl Rove's name has lost a lot of weight since his publicity works last made a difference.

    April 2, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  14. zina

    Wow...if they're going to focus on his patriotism. We have this in the bag. I know the American public are way too smart to fall for this B.S.

    Thanks, Karl!

    Obama '08

    April 2, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  15. WhiteWoman for Obama

    Are your words hold credibility? I think not, give it up Rove (fat honkie)

    April 2, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  16. Stop Rove

    Hey Rove, you were not able even to keep you little post in the Bush admin. Who the heck asked you for advise? Go and enjoy you retirement with you bloody hands.

    April 2, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  17. Gnomepark

    Petty.....irrelevent...Hey Rove! Crawl under a rock and stay.

    April 2, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  18. Tony From Michigan

    Last time I looked no one cared what Rove had to say.
    Karl Rove is not the person who should be talking about if a person is patriotic or not after all the things he has done to other people in the name of patriotism. Can everyone say CRIMINAL

    April 2, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  19. kathy in ohio

    Oh yes it will be an issue, and so will everything else he has done that the media has blown off. Well i will be voting McCain like many other dem. Oh Cnn you have not even mentioned once today that Hillary is beating McCain in all the poles for the General Election and OBAMA is not.
    But you have mentioned at least 15x that he is up 2pts in PA polls. Well when we have a rep. in the white house again, it is the media that elected them because they wouldnt go after their golden boy so everyone could see he has major flaws. YOU NEED TO TAKE SOME LESSONS FROM LOU DOBBS. The rep. are licking their chops.

    April 2, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  20. The Tax Man Commeth...

    Shut up Rove...you're about to go to jail!

    April 2, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  21. CG Houston, TX

    If a flag lapel pin is a measure of patriotism, then the 10's of millions of Americans who go through life each and every day without ever wearing a flag pin are out for the count.

    Maybe the 10's of millions of non-flag wears should throw our support behind only those candidates who, like ourselves, do not wear flag lapel pins.

    April 2, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  22. D Grant

    I’m pretty sure that Rove is on Hillary’s payroll.

    April 2, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  23. brandon

    Why are you giving this SOB iar time. He was the one who directed the demise of the USA under that gutless Pres. and destroyed too meny good honest poeple.
    He has his nerve to take about enyone other than himself.
    Why hasn't he been commited

    April 2, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  24. Mr. Coffey, Raleigh, NC

    I can buy my patriotism with a 25 cent pin from China? That will give me free reign to kick the little guy. Sign me up.

    I think I'd rather earn my patriotism by looking out for my fellow American and stand up for truth, justice and liberty for all.

    April 2, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  25. 08-Dem

    As the saying goes...Consider the source. Karl Rove? Give me a break.

    April 2, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
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