October 5th, 2007
05:57 PM ET
14 years ago

Two of Obama's rivals weigh in on flag pin

Watch Richardson weigh in on Obama's lack of a flag pin.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Barack Obama's, D-Illinois, decision not to wear an American Flag pin was dismissed as a non-issue Friday by two of his rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, said she didn't know if it was a "serious issue" that Obama didn't wear a pin and added, "There are so many ways that Americans can show their patriotism." (Video: Clinton weighs in on the flag pin)

"Wearing a flag pin. Flying the flag. Pledging allegiance to the flag. Talking about the values of America. Teaching your children about what a great nation we have. Standing up for those values. Speaking out. There's just so many ways one can demonstrate patriotism," Clinton said in a press conference.

She added that she wears her pin "from time to time."

Meanwhile, CNN's Don Lemon asked New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who was wearing a flag pin at the time, what he thought of the matter.

"Patriotism is what you do and I don't think anyone should - if you feel good about wearing it, wear it,” he said. “I wear it. It's perfectly good to wear it. I love this flag. I love this country. I wear it. But patriotism is about what you do, not what you say."

Obama told a KCRG-TV reporter this week that he has made a conscious decision not to wear the pin.

"I decided I won't wear that pin on my chest,” the Democratic presidential candidate told the reporter in Iowa City, Iowa. “Instead, I'm going to try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great. Hopefully that will be a testimony to my patriotism."

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

soundoff (98 Responses)
  1. John B

    So CNN...
    you still think that wearing the pin is the measure of a candidates patriotism. Obviously you do, because you are making an issue of it, and defending your reporting of it. I think Sen. Obama's answre as well as the other candidates answers should put an end to this rediculous story.

    October 5, 2007 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  2. SyF, Chicago Illinois

    Obviously not wearing an American pin means your a traitor to America.


    October 5, 2007 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  3. william reed

    He's right. Politicians have been too quick to wave the flag to ward off dissent.

    October 5, 2007 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  4. William Reed, Jacksonville, FL

    He's right. Politicians have been too quick to wave the flag to ward off dissent.

    October 5, 2007 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  5. Jerry, NY

    Obama has basically big mouth to defend himself. He said he is against the war but if he was in the senate at that time, he would have done the same thing as other democrats. Now it is about the flag pin. Everybody has forgotten his trip to Kenya last year. Did he visit Kenya by wearing the flag pin or without it. True patriot....

    October 5, 2007 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  6. Bob, San Francisco, CA

    Symbols can be meaningless, especially when they become expected. I think this is what Obama means when he chooses not wear his pin.

    Who's the bigger patriot, the selfish slob who flys a flag but finds loop holes not to pay taxes, or the person who volunteers time in the community but doesn't have a flag?

    Has anyone heard David Cross do his routine about who's the bigger patriot with their flags made in Taiwan? Pretty funny stuff. I'm sure this posting will have a few responses from Archie Bunker types who'll say Obama is a commie or something.

    October 5, 2007 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  7. Dan, TX

    If it it is the only way to get the news media to give you time – not wearing a pin is a great idea!

    October 5, 2007 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  8. Ron, TX

    CNN will report on THIS, but fail to mention that the "HUGE ABC/WASHINGTON POST POLL" that shows Hillary ahead by 30% in a national poll was conducted by someone who used to be on Bill Clinton's payroll. And then they don't mention the AP/IPSO poll a few days later that shows the gap closer to 15% with Hillary not even breaking 40%.

    Great Job CNN.

    October 5, 2007 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  9. john SERVER

    hmm...I see Mr. Mooney has his finger on the edit button...LOL. Look at the pics of the other candidates on the Ticker...where's their pins? COMMIES...ALL OF THE. LOL.( I was unable to post from my usual email address, so it switched to another server. This post will be deleted within a few minutes...If it even gets past the self serving CNN censors.)

    October 5, 2007 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  10. Jason D, Montgomery Al

    "...I'm going to try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great." -
    Is Osama, I mean Obama saying that this country is not already great, and is that why he decides not to wear the flag? Furthermore, once HE has made our country great will he then wear the flag? I think wearing the flag is the most visible way for one to show pride in their country, and I for one would not support a man who refuses to do the simpliest of gestures.

    October 5, 2007 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  11. Mike, Virginia

    It's a flag not a rag and I think Obama needs to think about what he's telling the American people by not wearing one. Also he aparantly isn't concerned about our toops fighting over seas and Obama needs to be reminded "FREEDOM IS NOT FREE."

    October 5, 2007 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  12. Lance in Monrovia CA

    My Grandmother's Flag.

    When I was a child I asked my grandmother if I could play with the American flag I found wrapped in plastic that she kept neatly placed in the linen closet. I was curious about it. She smiled and brought it out so I could look at it properly. She unwrapped it carefully and placed it so I could see it. She explained to me that this flag, The United States Flag, was a very special thing, and that it wasn't to be played with ever. She explained that in fact members of our family had fought, and died to protect it. She talked to me about my Uncle Jake that was at Pearl Harbor on the USS Arizona, and how he watched from the docks as it went under.

    I asked her, "Then why do we have it, if we can't put it up all the time? Shouldn't we always have it up?"

    She smiled again with that weary strength she had, and said, "because this flag, is only for special occasions. Its to honor our country and it holds so much value, so much honor, that we should never, ever waste it or treat it like its just another object to hang up any old day. That's why we only put it up on special occasions, like The 4th of July."

    I never, ever have forgotten that conversation I had with my grandmother all those years ago. Ever since I have had great respect for my flag and I've never thought of it just as another object to be displayed or played with.

    I've always felt, ever since that day, that if we displayed our flag every day, we lose the meaning and specialness of the ones we honor with it. We lose the grandure that it represents. We lose the hope that it contains within its borders and within our own, because soon enough our flag becomes just another symbol, another thing that can be sullied, tattered, and ultimately forgotten.

    Today, I have found another reason that I will not only vote for Barack Obama, but do everything in my human power to see that he is the next President of The United States.

    Obama doesn't wear a flag pin on his lapel, as he told the reporter who asked today about the fact that every other politician does. Obama understands that our flag has been subverted and misused by being pulled out every day of the week, a constant fixture on the lapels of powerful men in the same way that the Nazi insignia on the lapel was such a fixture of Germany during WWII. In the hands of such men, our flag becomes a tool for propaganda instead of the symbol of honor that it is. These men and women that misuse our flag use it as a statement to their own ends, a statement of "You're either with us, or against us."

    To honor something, we must never allow it to become mundane. I don't need a badge or a flag on my lapel to tell me that I'm an American, or that I'm proud of my country, any more than I need another politician to tell me what I should or should not think.

    I am just as proud of my flag today as I was when I was a young boy talking to my grandmother about it. I have lost faith not in my country, but in men and women who wave the flag as a banner of division and fear, all to better hide their own nakedness and deceit.

    As Senator Obama said today, “My attitude is that I'm less concerned with what you're wearing on you lapel than what's in your heart. You show your patriotism by how you treat your fellow Americans, especially those ones who serve.

    In order to honor all those that the flag represents, I will keep my flag in the linen closet until another day when it truly is needed again.

    I can tell you for sure that one day I will wave my flag high is on the day that Barack Obama wins the Presidency of The United States.

    October 5, 2007 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  13. David Inwood Prince George BC

    Of course it's no big deal but many will see it as an insult anyway. It's a silly thing for him to do and speaks to his inexperience yet again.

    October 5, 2007 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  14. Brian H., Highland Park, NJ

    A Symbol Redefined…

    I recently returned to my childhood home in Holmdel, NJ. Save for some new paint on the walls, my home
    hasn't changed much since the "growing up days", and quite frankly, that's the way I like it. I am always comforted by the consistency and the routines of my mother and father. But on this recent trip home, it was the familiar routines which ironically, alerted to me to a profound change that has occurred very recently.

    In search of one of my old college books, I accompanied my Dad on his habitual weekend garage clean-up session. The familiar sound of Howie Rose broadcasting the Mets game emanated from the 15-year old portable radio and could be heard loudly and clearly from all ends of the garage. It
    was a Saturday like any other. After mutually rejoicing over a David Wright homerun, my Dad turned down the radio and walked over toward me in the garage with a respectfully folded American flag held carefully in his arms. He didn't even have to mutter the words he did because at that moment, we connected the way only fathers and sons can, and I knew exactly the words that were coming
    next. "I want to fly this flag again soon, Brian."

    Like many of our neighbors, we purchased our flag in the aftermath of a tragedy that brought our country together like none other either of us had ever experienced – September 11. We will never forget the fear we had that day until we heard the voice of my sister who was working in lower Manhattan. She was shaken up, but she would be okay. Like many of our neighbors, we attributed the violence
    and tragedy of that day to intolerance – to people not understanding the greatness of diversity, and the fruits of living in a global community. Like many of our neighbors, we understood that day that real patriotism did not mean love of land or borders, but rather, love of all people who reside in our country and the values that support such love. Like many of our neighbors, we understood that day that waving our flag meant that we were uniting and standing up to the values that attacked us that day and those which divide us – bigotry, intolerance, and hostility to differences. And sadly, like many of our neighbors, our flag is no longer waving in front of the house.

    A red bulb on the traffic light commands all to "stop," words on a page combine to convey a message,
    and a raised middle finger in a fit of outrage implies anger and frustration. They are each symbols whose meaning transcends their simple identity. The 13 stripes and the 50 stars and the red, white, and blue that adorns them is a symbol. And like other symbols, the U.S. flag has meaning.

    Growing up, the symbolism of that flag was generally well understood and accepted by my peers and me. Images of the flag being driven into the ground by heroes in Iwo Jima, reminded members
    of my generation of the courage exhibited by the "Greatest Generation," who nobly stood up to tyranny around the globe. Images of that flag being driven into lunar soil in 1969 reinforced the notion
    that our country boldly supported all advancements of "mankind." The image of the massive flag in the outfield of Shea Stadium at the first baseball game played after September 11th, is an image I will never forget. It symbolized the resilience of our country. We suffered an incredible tragedy but we were back and arguably, even more committed to the ideals the flag symbolized than ever before.
    I am unable to tell you the exact date our flag came down but I can confidently attribute the decision to the change in symbolism the flag has come to represent.

    During the past few years, our country has pursued a foreign policy rooted in ignorance and arrogance, while simultaneously turning on a blind eye on the domestic needs here at home. Our soldiers today are as brave and courageous as those at Iwo Jima. Sadly, they have been misled by persistent lies that brought them abroad initially under false and jaded pretenses and they have been neglected by the very same government that sent them into harm's way through abominable medical treatment, inadequate body armor, and extended tours of duty. Greater shame does not exist than the mistreatment of American troops by their government.

    On the home front, we have witnessed our government abandon a great American city in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina during its most vulnerable moment. The TV images of poor, hungry, innocent faces asking the government of this land of plenty to provide their bodies with water continue to haunt me. We have watched the working class and middle class in this country feel the squeeze of fiscal policy that has only rewarded the most privileged among us at the expense of the many. Equally abhorrent,
    we have witnessed abuse of executive power at levels far surpassing even the darkest days of the Nixon

    Like many of our neighbors, Dad and I know that we're not alone in longing for the days when our flag is not tainted by the blunders of this administration. We are yearning for the flag to again symbolize the values that have made this country great. As Alexis de Toqueville famously stated, "America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great." Let us all reject the ignorance and arrogance of this administration and return to being good, both at home and abroad.

    Posted By Brian H. Highland Park, NJ : October 5, 2007 4:22 pm

    October 5, 2007 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  15. FairAndBalancedSupporter, Portland, OR

    If this was Bush the Democrats and CNN would be all over his rear on this!

    October 5, 2007 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  16. Common Sense

    Well now that that's all cleared up, we can all point and laugh at the 350 people that wasted their time on the other post.

    OBAMA 08!

    October 5, 2007 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  17. LadyP228 Detroit, MI

    A PIN?


    A PIN?


    October 5, 2007 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  18. Brad, Stockton, CA

    Although something as foolish as a pin, which is probably made in China, is in my opinion, not even an issue or a newsworthy story, I am happy to see that other candidates apparently feel the same way. Patriotism is about doing; it is not about clothing or fashion accessories. If you want to wear a pin, wear a pin; if you don't want to wear a pin, don't wear a pin. I will support the candidate of my choice, regardless of whether he or she wears a flag pin.

    October 5, 2007 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  19. Grant Holdom, Wellington, New Zealand

    The days of Nationalism and provincialisms are over. Being a good person is more important than being a good American. Obama is showing he's a humanitarian and an internationalist.

    October 5, 2007 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  20. brian, cleveland ohio

    this gesture will cost him a realistic shot at the nomination....millions of americans of all political perspectives will be alienated.....is this a subconcious attempt to self destruct??? does he really want to be president???

    October 5, 2007 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  21. Julia, MD

    I am an Obama supporter and I appreciate that the other candidates aren't trying to make a political issue out of something that shouldn't be.

    Like they've all said, patriotism is about action and Obama shows (and has been showing for years) how much he loves this country and cares about its citizens.

    I think that CNN readers (regardless of whom they support) should take note and stop all this mudslinging. It seems as though people are so eager to see the person they support as the next president that they don't consider what effect this might all have in the general election. And more importantly, that the candidates are all just people deserving of respect. Some of the things people write are absolutely atrocious.

    October 5, 2007 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  22. Joshua, Garner, NC

    The next step for politicians will be U.S. Flag tattoos... on their foreheads. The flag pin issue with Mr. Obama is absolutely ridiculous as it is not a measure of one's patriotism, but rather a mere "fashion" decision. Let's allow that old adage to take precedence: "Actions speak louder than words" (or flag pins in this case).

    October 5, 2007 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  23. Titus, Reevesville South Carolina

    Why is this even an issue. Choosing not to wear a flag pin should not be the determining factor on how patriotic he is. Think about it, the guy is runing for President. I think that is patriotic enough.

    October 5, 2007 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |

    Not wearing the pin is a sign of tantrums from Obama because Hillary is ahead in the polls. Am not for Hillary anyway. But it shows that Obama is throwing tatrums because with all the money he raised, he is still far behind Hillary. He is like saying, " am done with this country" But who cares.

    October 5, 2007 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  25. Kris, Albuquerque, NM

    It's one thing to not wear a flag pin, (an act that doesn't mean much of anything at all), it's a completely different matter to make an issue out of it, and advertizing issue. There is no reason that he could not wear the pin and make changes at the sime time. There must be some other reason behind it.

    October 5, 2007 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
1 2 3 4