November 8th, 2007
04:40 PM ET
11 years ago

Obama calls Internet accusation a 'dirty trick'

Watch a clip from Sen. Harkin's steak fry in Iowa last September.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Wednesday he is frustrated over the circulation of an e-mail that claims the Illinois senator refused to place his hand on his heart during the Pledge of Allegiance.

"This is so irritating," Obama said in response to a question about the claim at a town-hall event in Burlington, Iowa. "My grandfather taught me how to say the Pledge of Allegiance when I was one or two."

The e-mail in question shows a photo of Obama, as well as rival candidates Sen. Hillary Clinton and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson during Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin's steak fry in September. Harkin's wife, Ruth, is also pictured. Richardson, Clinton, and Harkin all have their right hands on their heart while Obama's hands are at his sides.

The e-mail goes on to say Obama "refused to not only put his hand on his heart during the Pledge of Allegiance, but refused to say the pledge."

Obama told the questioner the picture was actually taken during a playing of the national anthem and said, "During the Pledge of Allegiance you put your hand over your heart, during the National Anthem you sing."

"This is the classic dirty trick of the campaign," Obama said later Wednesday at an event in Cedar Rapids.

Related video: Watch Sen. Obama respond to the e-mail accusation.

- CNN's Dugald McConnell contributed to this report

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Iowa • South Carolina
soundoff (349 Responses)
  1. Ignatz Toecheese

    SO FREAKING WHAT? Of what comfort is it anyway to have to receit the pledge? We would all do as much for our country as possible, the pledge is just a comfort mind-set for some people, why do we have to go through indoctrination anyway?

    November 8, 2007 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  2. Tom, Ridgfield, CT

    Another lesson in not believing everything you read, especially on the Internet. Actually, I think we should be more offended by that particular rendition of the National Anthem - it was painful to listen to!

    November 8, 2007 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  3. Jaik , chicago, IL

    typical dirty tricks, this kind of stunt works on americans too, it just peels away a few % here and there. idiots everywhere, we get the government idiots deserve.

    November 8, 2007 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  4. Louise Wilkins, Greensburg Ky

    When your running for president of the United States of America, the least you can do is put your hand over your heart no matter if its the PLEDGE OR NATIONAL ANTHEM. Its called CYA. In this case CYH

    November 8, 2007 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  5. Joshua Houston, TX

    It is simply incredulous how so many people are now saying Obama is anti-American because of this photo and his choice not to wear the flag lapel, when he's running for President of the United States. This story is beyond reasoning. There has to be a more intriguing story to report on than this. You've disappointed me CNN.

    November 8, 2007 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  6. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    How many Americans know the Pledge of Allegiance or the National Anthem word for word. Check it out the next time you're standing next to someone during a ceremony of this type, I have. And yes, this is a dirty campaign trick of how low can one go, can you go real low.

    November 8, 2007 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  7. Shannon, El Paso TX

    Maybe part of whats wrong here is that more people aren't aware or don't care about proper Flag protocol. People who think it is unimportant need to think about the lack of respect you are showing to this country and all those who have sacraficed for it. As a former servicemember and the wife of an active servicemenber, I will tell you I find it offensive and disrespectful to me and that which I serve that people don't know proper protocol. It is a huge deal that someone who wished to lead this nation doesn't show it proper respect.

    November 8, 2007 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  8. Mary-Beth Frazee, Whitney TX

    This shows the difference between a Patriotic American and someone that wants to appear to be an American. Most Patriotic Americans put their hand over their heart during the National Anthem as well as the Pledge of Allegiance. Obama learned the rules from a book – not by living as an American.

    November 8, 2007 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  9. Barb Manhattan, KS

    Tell that loser that you place your hand over your heart during BOTH of them. I hope it get around the USA and everyone gets mad.

    November 8, 2007 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  10. Jonathan, Birmingham AL

    If Iraq war opposition is truly at a record high among Americans, why does anyone still support Clinton OR Obama? Neither of them will end the war, yet they supposedly lead the polls and represent the majority?

    CNN, quit trying to tell us who to vote for. Your lies and smears are becoming increasingly obvious. Don't you know that once everyone wakes up to your propaganda machine, you'll be out of a job. That's right, I'm talking about you, the obedient drone who will delete this comment, as usual.

    November 8, 2007 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  11. Dr Atomic

    Doug, I bet you mumble the part about us being 'one nation.' Clearly you hate most Americans for their political freedom. How likely is it that every Democrat shares the views of the most extreme party members? Are you a murderer like mad bomber Eric Rudolph? Why not, you're both Republicans? Slinging crap at the opposition party makes you resemble a monkey in a cage. Come on, all Democrats hate America? You're being played, brotha.
    That 'spitting on the veterans' and 'blood on the flag' stuff is apparently an urban legend. I'm surprised too, but apparently it was always "It happened to my friend's friend." Why would anyone, even a protestor, spit on a soldier anyway? Most of them were drafted.

    November 8, 2007 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  12. Steve, Landing, NJ

    A problem with conservatives, in general, is that they care more about symbols than the things they represent. They care more about wearing a flag pin than doing what's right for the country, they care more about posting the ten commandments in our schools than about following them in their lives, they care more about yellow ribbons on their cars than keeping our soldiers alive, they care more about declaring themselves patriots than about adhering to the values the country was founded on. Conservatives love their golden calves, all right.

    November 8, 2007 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  13. D. Kelly San Antonio

    If Obama actually said "During the Pledge of Allegiance you put your hand over your heart, during the National Anthem you sing.", then he is wrong and should have known better. United States Code Title 36 Chapter 3 — National Anthem, Motto, Floral Emblem, and March

    Clearly states what to do.
    " National anthem; Star-Spangled Banner

    1. The composition consisting of the words and music known as The Star-Spangled Banner is designated the national anthem of the United States of America.

    2. Conduct during playing — During rendition of the national anthem—
    1. when the flag is displayed —
    1. all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart;
    2. men not in uniform should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold the headdress at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; and
    3. individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note; and
    2. when the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed.

    November 8, 2007 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  14. Jeff, Washington, DC (no state)

    Senator Obama is simply wrong. The United States Code (passed by the House and Senate and signed into law by the President) provides that when a flag is displayed, "all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart." When a flag is not displayed, "all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed."

    Not that I think he intentionally lied about what good citizens should do during the National Anthem. I just think he didn't know.

    That's a shame.

    November 8, 2007 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  15. jim mac billings mt

    we shouldnt be upset my Obamas stance-what we should find offensive is the disgusting way the national anthem is being sung-sounds like a cat fighting on a fence-shes disrespectfull–he isnt

    November 8, 2007 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  16. Johnny Lopez, New Boston Texas

    Obama can say what he wants but as a child and as a Air Force Vet I was taught that even during the playing of the National Anthem, you face the flag or music ,If in uniform you salute, if not remove your hat and cover your heart with your hat or hand and sing along. This is forgotten by too many of our citizens.

    November 8, 2007 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  17. christian Good, Melville, NY

    you know what i see alot on these blogs you can see people that have to be employed to just post ridiculous comments like for instance LAKISHA said a few blogs up that "she is an african american and offended about the racism that the clintons are inflicting by doing this to obama" number 1 NICE AFRICAN AMERICAN NAME just the fact that they are calling the clintons RACISTS about this ridiculous story should show anyone with a brain that is a fake post. lakisha thinks the clintons are racists!!! lol then you have people saying since obama is upset about this article "he doesnt have the mental toughness to run this country" well if you judge a candidate on this story and you can see that because of this ridiculous video that this man cant be president then you have no business voting OR blogging because you need to see what a candidate stands for NOT WHAT AN ARTICLE STATES ABOUT THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE!!!!!!!

    November 8, 2007 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  18. Tyrese Gail Williams Los Angeles California

    As a young black woman I am deeply disgusted by the dirty tricks the Clinton campaign is pulling out of their large grab bag full of dirty tricks they plan to use if the race draws closer. The Clintons know only one way to win and that is by the politics of personal destruction. What they did this time is a high tech lynching of a Black man and despite reports to the contrary all blacks are NOT voting for Clinton!!

    November 8, 2007 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  19. John, Lincoln, Nebraska

    Of course this is a "dirty trick" photo. And, unfortunately, it works on too many people including my religious right sister-in-law who could not wait to send it to me to make some sort of statement, I guess.

    As for appropriate times to put your hand over your heart, I fear many Americans are ignorant about this. I have been in many parades where the flag passes and the on-lookers just stand there or ignore it. And, just watch people at a sporting event when the Nation Anthem is sung. Many people don't know they should stand up or they totally ignore what is going on.

    Let he who is not guilty......

    November 8, 2007 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  20. RF, Hillsborough, NJ

    Conservatives can't come up with a real reason to trash Obama to they have to make one up. Who cares about this.

    November 8, 2007 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  21. Martin, Redwood City, CA

    "This is so irritating..."
    Please! After all that noise about Hillary's poor debate performance, it now makes me wonder how Mr. Obama will handle himself when the going gets really tough! I suspect those that say Mr. Obama will require a lot of on-the-job training are right. He has some work to do on his leadership skills, coping with stress and lack of control over what other people say. I suspect our next President will get irritated about a lot more serious things for 4 years! The world needs a strong leader with stamina, not a whiner!

    November 8, 2007 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  22. Chris, Atlanta GA

    As many people have pointed out do place your hand over your heart when the national anthem is playing (unless you're military in uniform).

    For those of you who do not understand why this is important...I shake my head with sadness. This is the only country in the world where its own citizens do not have civic pride. You'd better believe the German Chancellor, British Prime Minister, or even the President of Tonga are all very familiar with the customs and courtesies surrounding their anthem and flag. Obama's goal is to be the one man the rest of the world associates with AMERICA (yes, in capital letters). If he can't (or doesn't) show pride in our national anthem...what else is missing?

    ...And yes, I am an Obama supporter. I find his rationale for this picture very distrubing, however.

    November 8, 2007 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  23. Fred Findley Lake Wales, Florida

    no responsibility-no problem except no vote either

    November 8, 2007 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  24. Mike Pipher - Bloomington, IN

    So many of these posts ask the question, "Why is this news?" The answer is that Obama's camp has made it newsworthy. They are desperate to find some way to spin this away from their guy. This event was two months ago and this photo has been gaining headway on the Internet ever since. Most people blew it off until an actual video of the event showed the photo to be accurate, and simultaneously showed Obama's true colors. Increasingly, people are realizing this guy has no business asking people to hand him the reins of government when he has no regard nor respect for the values so many people hold dearly about the U.S.

    November 8, 2007 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  25. freedomlovingpatriot, Chicago IL

    Read the Code (whatever that is). It says "should" not "sahll". Guess what people, the US is a free country. Railing about these silly rules is for those who claim patriotism and to support US ideals, but have no concept of what FREEDOM is. Everyone is FREE to show (or not show) their patriotism as they see fit. The real story here is that there are people in this country who actually believe this is a reason not to vote for someone. That's scary!

    November 8, 2007 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
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