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. cnn rocks

    karl rove get a life!

    April 2, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  2. Niky Ring

    A pin is not a substantive issue. Karl Rove is flailing wildly.

    April 2, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  3. John van Hooff

    If Obama can be accused of distorting what Mc Cain has said regarding his"100 years" than one can certainly say that Obama's stance regarding the flagpin is being distorted. Pretty simple and clear what the guy means. Personally, I see it as more patriotic to speak out against a war that should never have been waged, while not wearing a flagpin...than it is to be a politician who struts with a flagpin, while at the same time sending ill equipped 18 year old American soldiers to fight a war that is "un American" . That is if patriotism can be defined as a love of one's country.

    American at heart.

    April 2, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  4. small potatoes

    The race card will be played in response to every honest criticism made.

    If Obama is president, the entire USA will be labeled racist. Only the loudest thugs will have freedom of speech.

    All the little people, and the frightened media will keep their silence.

    The Majority has got to unite against this man

    April 2, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  5. Craig in Texas Democrat and supporter for Obama

    Oh yea and dont forget that to avoid be drafted to be a patriot for the US during the vietnam war he got a deferment and went to school and thats because he found out his draft number was highly likely to be drafted. Coward........ patriots are our men and women dying and spilling blood to keep our flag red. Rove is a coward and should never question someone patriotism a pin wont do it for me. Thats like someone eating a can of spinach and saying they Popeye.

    April 2, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  6. philip

    What do you expect from a pig but a grunt. Rove is the biggest sow of them all!

    April 2, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  7. Liz, Pittsburgh PA

    Who Cares !!!

    I am not going to vote for Obama in '08 bc I dont like him but it has nothing to do with a stupid flag pin. I would vote for McCain over Obama bc he has more experience not bc of a stupid flag pin.

    Women for Clinton '08 !!!

    PA's got your back Hill !!!

    April 2, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  8. Darth Vadik, CA

    If Carl Rove and Ann Coulter had a baby!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    that kid would be even more evil than the Prince of Darkness himself Dick Cheney.

    April 2, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  9. Michael from Seattle

    Obama is right on this one. If you think you can sum your pariotism up with a stupid flag pin then you have no idea what real patriotism is. This has got to be one of the silliest things I've ever heard.

    If their grand scheme was to Swift-boat Obama on a pin then they are more desperate than I thought.

    Do they think Americans are really this stupid?

    April 2, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  10. Franky

    You know, I got some advice for Rove....

    Hey, listen Rove, you could do whatever the heck you want, is your decision. But listen to yourself, let alone some people don't wanna see the Reps around this election, so all I'm saying is when you talk, you better make sure it don't come and bite you back. Plus, it does seem like you have a problem against my boy and that's fine, I mean, who doesn't??? All I'm saying Rove is if you guys wanna have a chance to win, then maybe you should do something instead of saying something...

    By the way, don't say that I didn't warn you......

    April 2, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  11. Jay

    This is so idiotic. When are we as a country going to focus on core issues that really affect our lives? When are Republicans like Karl Rove going to stop playing games about who is more patriotic than the other? We are all Americans, yet this man and his minions still cannot discuss any subtantial issues. Rove is such a national disgrace I can't even believe he is showing his face, let alone dictating what could be used in an upcoming election against a decent and honest individual. Barack Obama is just as patriotic as anyone else. Some of the most famous chickenhawks who never served our country put a lapel on, along with men and women who have served with dignity. Some of the same people don't wear a pin...and they love their country. Its your decision to wear what you want–case closed. Too many Republicans and some Democrats care more about fluffy non-issues like this...which is why I hope there will be a larger third-party movement in the future because this country needs to stay focused on REAL issues...for once.

    April 2, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  12. Ric

    Democrats for Mc Cain '08

    April 2, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  13. Dan, Idaho Falls, Idaho

    Where's Rove's pin? Did it get hooked on his panties when he tried to pull his head out of his......

    April 2, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  14. Bebble





    April 2, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  15. DM Arlington Texas

    Karl Rowe, has fail to realize that president Bush will not be able to protect him in the future. There is a jail cell with his name on it. He needs to put a flag pin on his mouth.

    April 2, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |

    What an idiot. And where is your pin, egghead?

    April 2, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  17. Lanny Davis

    Wearing flag pin is a nod to Bush's concept of patriotism ... if you want to wear one fine, but for this lying sack to say good old boys are patriots for wearing them is well worth its weight in salt

    April 2, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  18. Darth Vadik, CA

    Just like every other parasite on earth, they first get fat off of their host before finally killing the host and in eventually themeselves.

    April 2, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  19. Rosa

    Don't you just love the republicans? 4,000 plus dead in Iraq and yet they find more useless wedge issues to try to fool the Americans who are not paying attention. Oh gosh, you mean Rove you are through with God, gays and guns. Hopefully people will see that they are being used and vote the ticket which will help the economy for the rest of us.
    Why is this flawed man even news? +

    April 2, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  20. Dv

    If McCain is relying on Rove- then sorry old man- you are losing...

    If ppl hate Bush- they hate Rove more.

    April 2, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  21. Shawn Smith

    If we close our eyes and hold our breath, this story will be gone by morning. It is just taking up space.

    April 2, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  22. lies

    Since no attack or criticism sticks to teflon Obama, Carl is probably trying to damage Clinton and knock her out of the race to pave the way for a McCain win.

    April 2, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  23. Polkovnik

    I am a Vietnam veteran and retired career Army officer. I no longer wear the flag pin.
    For a time after 9/11 I did wear it, but no more. IMHO it's been co-opted by war wimps, and, disgracefully, has come to symbolize the "love of country" of summer soldiers and sunshine patriots. I prefer to wear the lapel pin of my senior Army decoration, or the Army Star.
    I am with Sen. Obama. Mr. Rove, who never served America in the military, can wear the flag pin all he wants. It's a free country.

    April 2, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  24. Sam

    Why isn't Rove in jail?

    April 2, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  25. D.Kimbro OHIO

    Another lunatic for Clinton. That figures. Why isn't this creature extinct. You have lied so much to the country, why should anyone believe anything from you. My instincts tell me that if Rover agrees with something run the other way.

    April 2, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
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