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. John, Detroit, Michigan

    isn't it common knowledge to put your hand over your heart during the national anthem? Why does Barack think he's above it? TOOL!

    November 8, 2007 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  2. Jeff

    Why is this news? Anyone stupid enough to believe someone running for president of the country would not do the pledge of alligence is brain dead. Why is this even a article...what a waste of thought.

    November 8, 2007 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  3. Tom Hannigan, Starkville, Mississippi

    Talk about double speak! Yes, some people have circulated incorrect emails saying that he refused to pledge allegiance. As a veteran, I think failing to place his hand over his heart and face the music or the colors being presented during the playing of our national anthem is far worse! There is US Code establishing the correct behavior, and if he had looked around, as the complete video shows, nearly everyone else was doing the appropriate thing! Shame on him, period. I'd forgive a momentary lapse of attention, but not intentional misbehavior and double speak!!

    November 8, 2007 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  4. Chip Schott

    What's lost in that story is what a perfectly HORRIBLE version of the national anthem that was. Embarrassing.

    November 8, 2007 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  5. Christine Minot, ND

    It is very sad and unfortunate to know that these are the things people are concerned with when there is a "war" going on that is taking away so many of our loved ones daily.

    November 8, 2007 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  6. Karen,ny

    GAIL..they are so low that a snake couldn't crawl under them. If they want to play dirty politics so will we! They will never accomplish helping anybody like this.

    November 8, 2007 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  7. D & D New Haven, CT.

    Since Barack is the only one in the photo who knows when to put your hand on your heart...he just won my vote!!!
    Good job.

    November 8, 2007 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  8. Ivan, Chicago, Illinois

    Did you think running for the Presidency was a tea party. If you thinks it's rough now just wait till the general election. The Republican's believe that all is fair in love and war and to them politics is war just ask Hillary she's been through this before and survived.

    November 8, 2007 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  9. Shawn, Denver CO

    I'm not an Obama supporter, but this article is hilarious to me. If you wanted to be petty, you should be more afraid of the people posting comments here that don't know Obama is right. In fact, I remember as a soldier in uniform having to go out of my way to point this out to people at baseball games.

    You people are a bunch of sheep!
    (and, no, the House Sgt at Arms didn't confirm crap, or he would be an idiot as well)

    November 8, 2007 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  10. Brandie R. Tampa FL

    Obama haters need to find something more productive to do with their time. Go show SUPPORT for SOMEONE. Stop wasting time putting a GOOD MAN down. People in this country are so consumed & self-righteous that they have to put anyone and everyone down instead of focusing on getting good things out–about their own candidates.

    November 8, 2007 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  11. bob, towson, md

    here's the real story:

    National Anthem Butchered Again

    November 8, 2007 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  12. Bobby Williams Shreveport,La

    How many times have you been to a game or any event where people do not have thier hand on thier Heart during the National Anthem

    November 8, 2007 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  13. mountain man

    Obama just doesn't get it. Photos don't lie he should just admit he made a mistake and move on. Stop trying to blame the clintons for your own inexperance.

    November 8, 2007 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  14. Tammy Perry

    Thank you Obama! I can't tell you how many times I've seen people put their hands over their heart for the national anthem. Why??? When did this become the correct thing to do?

    November 8, 2007 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  15. Mike ,Panama City , FL

    In this campaign everybody will and knows that if you slip , that you can expect wide media coverage on it .

    Now the image is going to be a BIG problem for Obama and it is going to be used in every way possible as a Political tool, no doubt !

    November 8, 2007 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  16. Well Seasoned, Enterprise, AL

    Betcha he's got "Hail to the Chief" down pat ...

    November 8, 2007 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  17. Dave, Cheverly, MD

    Christine, ND

    I agree, that singing rendition in this video was horrible. That explains Obama's participation. I think the audience could not tell if she was singing Happy Birthday or what? Or maybe he was thinking, “ Are we being Punked” Is Ashton Kutcher out there?

    November 8, 2007 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  18. John Apple, New York, NY

    Unfortunetly, in certain parts of America if your name is Barack Hussein Obama and you are running for President, you have to be sensitive to any attacks on your patriotism. I'm not voting for Obama but it's not because of this.

    November 8, 2007 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  19. Bethany, St. Louis MO

    I've never put my hand over my heart while singing the national anthemn

    clearly, I should now flee America for being so unpatriotic.

    I can't wait to cast my vote for OBAMA!

    November 8, 2007 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  20. Ms. L

    All my life I've only seen people place their hands over their hearts during the Pledge. OH DEAR, I GREW UP AMONG TERRORISTS! Up until now I've been equally divided between candidates, but now I think I might vote Obama just because I can.

    "I wonder if Hillary Clinton put her hand on her heart when she voted for the Bush-Cheney war in Iraq."
    Excellent. Props to you and to the guy who posted the quote from Henry V.

    November 8, 2007 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  21. Gary, St. Louis, MO

    The US Flag Code states:

    "During a rendition of the national anthem when the flag is displayed all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart."

    An American should KNOW this.

    November 8, 2007 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  22. Linda Boonville, NY

    I also learned in school, hand on your heart during the pledge, and sing with the National Anthem. There are people out there that will look for anything.

    November 8, 2007 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  23. Steve, Newport Beach, CA

    I am extremely happy to read that Obama did speak out re: did he or didn't he "refuse" to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the very Country he wants to be President and Commander in Chief of. After all, his platform is "Restoring the Trust of the American People in it's Leaders."
    If he had chosen to exercise his "Rights" to Speak out and Act Against this Nation rather than Repair and Build Her UP, then I would have exercised My Rights to Vote for someone else and exercise My Rights of Free Speech and Faith.

    November 8, 2007 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  24. Stephen Walker, Attalla, AL

    If you look closely,Sen. Obama is holding his stomach, as if he is suffering from nausea. When one listens to that rendition of the National Anthem, it should come as no surprise that he may be feeling a litle sick.

    November 8, 2007 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  25. Susie, Austin, TX

    Obama says he is irritated by the claims that he didn't place his hand over his heart during the Pledge of Allegiance. Well now he knows what it feels like when "people and the media" blow things out of proportion. I’m irritated that people actually believe that he didn’t vote for the war. The writer “Sarah” said, “I won't elect a president who didn't have the good judgement to say no to this war.” Well, I wouldn’t want to vote for one that misleads his own supporters in order to gain advantage.” Obama was a State Senator in 2002 and not a US Senator. He was not eligible to vote! He couldn’t have voted for or against the war even if he had wanted to! He needs to clarify that to his supporters and quit misleading them. In my opinion, he is the candidate not be trusted.

    November 8, 2007 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
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