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. gil

    Rove, I really doubt that it will be an issue. You having your head firmly planted up your butt doesn't seem to be one, so why should the flag flap. (Although, you may want to take care that you don't leave it there too long, it will cut off the blood supply to your brain, and you may get smarter)

    April 2, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  2. Gary Little

    Am I missing something in the picture of Karl Rove that is attached to this story? Where is Karl's pin? How can the Pot call the Kettle...

    Rove, let's talk about real issues for a change.

    April 2, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  3. Sharon, Seattle

    Oh for gawds sake. Since when is a lapel pin mandatory and a sign of whether you are an elitist or a patriotic or not? People that have to wear something to prove who they are, usually aren't.

    Go to hell Rove. If anyone is an elitist, it's you and the Republicans who don't give a rats arse about the working people of this country.

    April 2, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  4. Sue

    Rove sounds like he is really afraid of Obama and he's definitely reaching. I truly hope people are smarter that Rove thinks they are. I'm a republican, I'll be voting for Obama and I totally understand what he's saying about a flag lapel pin. It's like wearing a cross–if you don't believe in what it represents, it's just a hunk of metal. But if you do understand and believe in the concepts and meaning behind the symbols-you don't need the symbol; the underlying belief is the important thing.

    April 2, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  5. Mike

    "especially one's that serve" Unlike you, right?

    April 2, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  6. April in Texas

    Is it in the politicians handbook that a flag pin is required? I doubt it seriously so get off your high horse Carl Rove and crawl back to the hole in which you came.

    Obama 08

    April 2, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  7. Why?

    Why are we listening to Rove, the architect of Bush's administration and policies? He has demonstrated his lack of ethics, his lack of decency, and his lack of understanding of the political landscape as it stands today. Even Bush, who also has demonstrated and incredible naivete, pushed Rove out. If Bush can't stand him, why should anyone else listen to him? Oh. Wait. I get it. It's comic relief!

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

    i could be wrong but in the photo "old turkey neck" seems to missing his lapel pin.
    so he should shut his pie-hole.
    and since when does get off calling people "elitist and arrogant"

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

    Karl Rove's obsession with commercialzed symbols of patriotisim can only mean one thing. He and Bush must own stock in the flag pin company

    April 2, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  10. sacto joe

    Yeah, and I remember all the flags on cars by all the airheads supporting Bush's Iraq blunder. I had a flag on my car too – until those idiots commandeered the flag as a "symbol" of support for Bush's war policies! Then the flag came down....

    This administration and Rove are always wrapping themselves in the flag.

    Pretty darned disgusting – patriotism abused for political ends. If you're a vet, write Rove a letter and tell him you're tired of the flag being manipulated by him.

    If you have to manipulate someone or something, go manipulate yourself, Rove!

    April 2, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |


    April 2, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  12. vince - phoenix




    THE FLAG – PIN...

    April 2, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  13. Sharon Tonkin

    I feel Obama is only loyal to himself. I have a son in the military and whether I did or not it's not just Iraq it's all the other wars that our men and women have fault for freedon and what their famlies have had to sacrefice for our freedon. Ofcourse it's more than wearing a pin but when we see that pin being worn it's a reminder of how pround we are as a nation standing together and if he thinks he is too good for that well then I have no use for him and no respect for him.

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

    Why isnt Karl Rove in jail?

    April 2, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  15. Chuck in Oregon

    Very interesting I must admit. However, I would like to point out that I do NOT see a lapel pin on Rove, Clinton, McCain, Gore, Dobbson, and the list goes on. So what is your point Rove. Are you using this as a way to again on the Behalf of the Clintons to question Obama's Patriotism? I would think that MR Rove would get his stuff in order before questioning the Patriotism of anyone.

    April 2, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  16. Ready for a new day

    I'm pretty sick of "Karl Rove" politics. Give it up. That dog don't hunt.

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

    I wonder what he's trying to do? Its pretty obvious he doesn't want McCain running against Obama.

    April 2, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  18. Susan MO

    I agree with Rove. We were first for Obama, but not now. Obama is critical, and often offensive. Not good for a president.

    April 2, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  19. True Patriotism

    I believe that wear a flag lapel pin does not in any way shape or form suggest that a person is truly patriotic about their country. Now as Mr. Obama has stated showing your patriotism consists of speaking out against the bad and supporting those who serve. That is true patriotism.

    April 2, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  20. John

    Rove no longer has credibility in this country. Clearly he is one of the most disliked political figures of the day. Why does CNN continue to lend his opinions credibility?

    April 2, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  21. Darth Vadik, CA

    I hate thos made in china flag pins too, only fake and insecure people wear them.

    April 2, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  22. Zoraida from Michigan

    Its ok, Rove, you wear a flag pin and you are disgrace for our politics. The pin to me, is just that; a pin, His actions have been speaking louder than that and anyone who would just jugde someone by a pin needs to go back to school; Hey, Bush and the VP wear one all the time and to this point they have killed way too many americans in this war... the pin means nothing.

    April 2, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  23. Joe

    The size of Karl Roves head is enormous almost big as Hillarys.

    I hope they don't where hats !

    April 2, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  24. Ralph V., AZ

    How can anybody believe this guy, now he's an expert on psychological human behavior. Is Carl Rove trying to be Carl Young? Owe, but that's an insult to Carl Young.

    This is a joke! What you wear, doesn't define what you believe in.

    Instead of making issues about nothing, he should be worried about his indictment on charges of perjury for lying to investigators related to his role in the CIA leak case.

    Go Obama!

    April 2, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  25. Rob

    I honestly don't understand some people's obsession with the flag pin. Do you see Russians, or Canadians, or Brittons, or Germans, or anybody else on planet earth wearing their flag on their lapel? I am glad someone is willing to put an end to the lapel pin. Neither Obama nor Clinton wear one.

    April 2, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
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