November 3rd, 2008
12:44 PM ET
10 years ago

Fact Check: Do Obama's opponents say some U.S. regions are more pro-American or 'real' than others?

The Statement
Speaking at a campaign event Sunday. Nov. 2, in Columbus, Ohio, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama criticized the rhetoric of his Republican opponents. "Despite what our opponents may claim, there are no real or fake parts of this country," he said. "There is no city or town that is more pro-America than anywhere else - we are one nation, all of us proud, all of us patriots."

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The Facts
The Obama campaign pointed to several remarks made on the campaign trail, including ones from Republican nominee Sen. John McCain, his running mate Gov. Sarah Palin and a McCain aide speaking in Virginia, to support Obama's assertion.

Palin told a fund-raiser in Greensboro, North Carolina, on Oct. 16 that "we believe that the best of America is in the small towns that we get to visit, and in the wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard-working, very patriotic, very pro-America areas of this
great nation." She made a similar comment earlier that day in Elon, North Carolina.

Palin clarified her stance in an Oct. 21 interview with CNN's Drew Griffin, who asked her about the comments. Palin said she had been compelled to call regions where her rallies are held as the "true America" because of the moving patriotic spirit and fervor displayed at those events. "I certainly don't want that interpreted as one area being more patriotic or more American than another," she said. "If that's the way it's come across, I apologize."

Other comments cited by the Obama campaign, while tackling similar subject matter, do not match Obama's description as fully. McCain adviser Nancy Pfotenhauer said Oct. 18 on MSNBC that "as a proud resident of Oakton, Virginia, I can tell you that the Democrats have just come in from the District of Columbia and moved into Northern Virginia. And that's really what you see there. But the rest of the state, real Virginia, if you will, I think will be very responsive to Sen. McCain's message."

Asked if she wanted to retract her comment, she said, "I mean 'real Virginia' because Northern Virginia is where I've always been, but 'real Virginia' I take to be the this part of the state that is more Southern in nature, if you will. Northern Virginia is really metro D.C."

Another example Obama's campaign cited was an Oct. 23 interview of McCain and Palin with NBC's Brian Williams in which they were asked about their descriptions of some of their opponents as "elite." Palin said in her Sept. 3 nomination acceptance speech that "I've learned quickly these last few days
that, if you're not a member in good standing of the Washington elite, then some in the media consider a candidate unqualified for that reason alone." At the interview, she was asked exactly who was a member of the elite.

She said "I guess just people who think that they're better than anyone else," underscoring that it's a state of mind - not geography. McCain then said, "I know where a lot of them live" and cited Washington and New York City. He never characterized all residents of Washington or New York as "elite."

Verdict: Misleading. Obama accurately alludes to Palin's Oct. 16 comments. But while Obama continues making the claim, she has backed away from the statements and is not repeating them on the campaign trail. The comments by McCain and Pfotenhauer do not fully match Obama's description.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Fact Check
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