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. Mike, CS, CO

    Over the past 6 years I've realized why many people consider us idiots. I'm not anti-American. I'm just anti-stupid.

    November 8, 2007 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  2. Ken Boonville, NY

    I thought the same thing, sign the anthem and hand over the heart for the pledge. Also for the record, when I learned the pledge, it didn't have 'under god' in it.

    November 8, 2007 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  3. George, Richmond, Virginia

    The idiot should know that you place your hand over your heart during BOTH the Pledge of Allegiance and the Playing of the National Anthem. This idiot desires to be the Commander-In-Chief of our Armed Forces....I don't think so !!

    November 8, 2007 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  4. Gary, Austin, TX

    I think I'm actually more concerned that the lady singing the National Anthem couldn't sing the correct lyrics!

    November 8, 2007 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  5. Roger Monel

    I think that Hillary should stop played hard ball. We know that Obama is an African american,If Hillary want to play the race card try another deck.

    November 8, 2007 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  6. Jen Tx

    Wow I was getting worried that Hillary might actually get nominated. Thank you America for showing me that you are smarter then these TV stations, and Analyst always trying to tell us how to vote.

    OBAMA -08

    November 8, 2007 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  7. Case, Norfolk VA

    4 days in a row of absurd stories on Obama. If anyone doesn't get that CNN is on a hack mission against Obama they must be Fox News viewers confused on which channel they are watching.

    November 8, 2007 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  8. Kathryn Haak, Columbia, MO

    Seriously people, if Obama wasn't patriotic, would he really be running in the first place? I don't think so!

    November 8, 2007 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  9. Jimmy Twin Falls, ID

    No one buys that arguement Osama, opps I mean Obama

    November 8, 2007 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  10. rj, Fairview Heights, IL

    My goodness, why doesn't someone question the way the National Anthem was being sung? That's more of a travesty than Obama not placing his hand over his heart!

    November 8, 2007 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  11. Leonard Fair, Washington, DC

    So two things....why are there people on here accusing Hillary Clinton and her campaign of leaking this...I scanned the article twice thinking maybe I missed people need to get a gri....this ticker thing and the ability to hide behind the computer screen is turning some of you into hate mongering lunatics...secondly there is a new article just posted about Hillary not leaving a tip for some waitress in hypocrites that are on here saying how trivial this issue is(which it is) hurry up and post your comments on that..already know how thats gonna play out...what a joke

    November 8, 2007 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  12. aj huntington, ny

    I think this is very serious and very important. First Obama refuses to wear an American flag lapel pin. Wouldn't and American feel proud to have that pin on every day? Then, he stands quite disrespectfully without his hand on his heart. What is this guy – Anti-American?

    November 8, 2007 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  13. Marie Rochester Minnesota

    Can I just add that, from my memory of my Girls' State training, the hand should be shielding the heart and not covering the heart. When I salute the flag, it is with my elbow up and my down turned palm parallel to the ground. . .therefore shielding and not covering my heart.

    November 8, 2007 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  14. molly, phoenix, az

    why is this sort of rubbish important in a campaign? who really gives a flyin' fk? look at the issues. and vote gravel.

    November 8, 2007 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  15. Rodney Dallas TX

    So he doesn't place his hand over his heart when the National Anthem is playing and he doesn't place his hand on the bible when swearing into office. Do you all really want him in the White House.

    I am former military. It is taught that you salute the flag when the National Anthem is playing. If this man is going to be Commander-In-Chief of our armed forces, don't you think he should know this? This man is going to take us into change alright but I don't think it's the change any of us want.

    November 8, 2007 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  16. Steve, Landing, NJ

    I'd like to say, I never put my hand on my heart when I hear the national anthem, and I don't say the pledge of allegiance. This has nothing to do with how I feel about my country, and everything to do with how I feel about anthems and pledges. Ceremonial wankery aggravates me, and it aggravates me even more so that it is considered necessary in order for you to care about your country. All these things are is a form of brainwashing, conditioning you to show reverence to your country rather than critical thought. Reverence needs to be abolished, it's just a nicer name for delusion.

    November 8, 2007 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  17. San Diego, CA

    CNN is becoming annoying and foolish with these frivolous stories. There are many important issues for CNN to report on, but CNN is picking, choosing and contributing to the same bias of none news worthy. What happened to “CNN, the Most Trusted Name in news?” I guest it’s just a slogan...

    November 8, 2007 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  18. Free, Rochester NY

    You see, this is pointless news reporting right here. From the allegations to the response, it's really not important at all. Not when we are in debt, and fighting a war.

    CNN should cover ALL candidates, and their stances, and not worry about where their hands are. I myself do not salute the flag, as the flag is only a symbol of the government and presence... the constitution is the actual symbol of the country. What I care about is the actual political backround of the candidates, not their personal lives.. not how many dogs they have, not what off hand comment they might have made 10 years ago.

    Irrelevant article, and it is probably misquoted and misreported as well. Try to report properly CNN.

    November 8, 2007 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  19. Lance

    Once again its blatantly obvious that CNN has nothing better to do than to throw cheap shots at Obama. He made his explanation perfectly clear. My grandfather told me the same thing, you sing the anthem and put your hand over your heart for the pledge.

    Obama is the most patriotic man I've ever had the pleasure to meet. I got to shake his hand once after a rally. He cares deeply for this country and that will really count come election day.

    Obama 08

    November 8, 2007 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  20. BajanLuv, Newport News, VA

    To All,
    I am a vet of the US Army. I do not place my hand on my heart during the Anthem. I have been to military ceremonies where the audience just stands quietly when it's being played. Please, stop acting surprise like this is the first time you heard this. You were never going to vote for him any way. You either a part of Hil's campaign or a crazy person. You should never question someone's patriotism beccause you never want yours questioned. Just because you have not served in the military, it does not mean you are unpatriotic. He is doing what his grandfather taught him. This also has nothing to do with a citizenship test (yes, I took that one. BTW, look at the other pictures of him during the pledge.

    CNN: How about putting those pictures up with a headline as you did this one, then I would believe that you are not campaigning for Hillary. How about equal time for all candidates? What a concept!!!
    Please let me hear from you CNN!!!!
    Obama rocks!!!

    November 8, 2007 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  21. E, Stone Mtn. GA

    Isn't this America? CNN is getting too biased toward Hillary Clinton? As posted by K. Roe, Mason, Shouldn't Hilary's hand be over her mouth? Afterall, she voted for this war with no sound judgment. And now she complains it's all George Bush's fault?

    November 8, 2007 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  22. A.Thomas, ny, ny

    While Hillary was humble enough to admit her mistake of not giving a top performance in her latest debate, Obama has not admitted his mistake. Instead, he finds an excuse (putting his hand over heart not necessary) contray to the right protocol, and then blame others as a dirty trick.

    This incident shows that (a) Obama is naived & inexperienced politically; (b) he does not own up to his mistakes, and blames others instead.

    NOBama 08!

    November 8, 2007 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  23. Jay, Kenosha, WI

    Karen,NY wrote: If they want to play dirty politics so will we!

    Please don't. This is why the American political process is a joke.

    November 8, 2007 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  24. Tom Soppe, Portland, OR

    Next time I hear the pledge or anthem, I think I'll stick my hand in my pants during it. Just to spite all the petty pseudo-patriots who think stuff like this is important.

    Oh yeah, and I won't say "under God" either. That'll piss you folks off too before you finally get a life.

    November 8, 2007 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  25. Carol, MD

    We all know the comments are moderated. I didn't complain about my post. Okay, thanks.

    November 8, 2007 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
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