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. Colin742

    I note some comments blaming Clinton for posting this picture but I have seen no evidence that Clinton or her supporters posted it. Not a good picture of her.

    November 9, 2007 02:49 am at 2:49 am |
  2. JB Boston MA

    I would guess 90% of people did not know that. Next time you are at a baseball game, look how many people have their hands over their hearts.

    November 9, 2007 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  3. Ed Vetter, Clarksville, Tn.

    A Picture is worth a thousand words. Obama, goofed and he should have admitted it. I think he beleives people should salute him. WRONG!

    November 9, 2007 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  4. Brandon, Tampa, FL

    Why the hell is this news?
    Don't they have more important things to worry about than a presidental candidate not putting his hand up for the National Anthem?

    November 9, 2007 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  5. ano to

    He was angry that it was a steak fry and not a chicken fry, So he was against everything that day!

    November 9, 2007 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  6. LJD, PA

    Who cares what Obama did or didn't do? Are we in elementary school? Hillary has to keep her hand over her heart so the thing doesn't pop out. The woman is so heartless and full of scandal.

    November 9, 2007 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  7. Brandie R tampa fl

    It's nice that you all have negative opinions on him. How 'bout I follow YOU around 24/7 with a camera?

    I'm CERTAIN I'd find something far worse than this about EVERY person in this COUNTRY. Beg to differ?

    If you don't think he has values or patriotism, you really don't know anything about him as a candidate, let alone as a human being.

    Go pass judgement on somebody else. Hey! How about yourself for once?!

    November 9, 2007 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  8. JC Topeka, KS

    Boy, every speech Obama makes he attacks Clinton. Someone calls him on whether or whether not you render respect to the colors while the national anthem is playing and it a Clinton dity trick.

    Barack if you live in a glass house don't throw stones. And if you are going to attack the big kids you had better expect to get attacked right back.

    November 9, 2007 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  9. Steve in SC

    Brandie in Tampa,

    You can follow me if you like. Just remember, I am not running for President!

    November 9, 2007 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  10. kevin, Long Beach, NY

    When applying for the most important job in the world (president of the United States), you would think the candidates would know the simplest things such as customs and courtesies when our national anthem is played. I don't think he's being unpatriotic, just ignorant. I don't know which is worse.

    November 9, 2007 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  11. Paul, Tampa, FL

    Why have all of the super patriots ignored the violation of the U.S. Code that Bush committed when he attached a depiction of the flag flying from his "W" on his campaign literature and bumper stickers during the last election? Any use of the flag in advertising is a violation subjecting the violator to a $100 fine per violation. I guess he must hate America like Obama.

    November 9, 2007 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  12. Mark McClimans, Naples, Florida

    At every sporting event that I've EVER attended, the majority of those in attendence put their hand over their heart during the National Anthem.....whether they sing or not! Sen. Obama is flat out wrong!!

    November 10, 2007 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  13. Matt, Milwaukee, Wi

    Let's see, you're supposed to put your hand over your heart AND face the flag if one is present. Wow. I could be wrong but I think I see a giant flag behind all those people and NO ONE is facing it! They're all unpatriotic slobs! Ya know what? When I was at boot camp we had an airman salute the Stars and Stripes with one finger and they still let him serve. Grow up people. It's a flag. It's a song. They're not religious idols. Those of you who will vote based on how a candidate recites the Pledge or sings the Anthem are plenty sick. What if this man were to be the greatest President in the history of this country? What if the world were to experience 1000 years of peace as a result of his election? You'll deny him the chance because he didn't hold his and over his heart. Our current Prez is greatly patriotic no one would argue, yet he violates the Consitution at every chance if it takes away from his fun playing army. OK so long as he holds his hand over his heart.

    CNN, the most trusted name in news? Yup. About as trusted as the Globe.

    November 10, 2007 01:55 am at 1:55 am |
  14. Kyu Reisch, Radcliff, Kentucky

    Obama supporters said, it is not a news, who cares. If you don't care about Presidential candidates' spirit, what do you care about? Obama supporters are misled by Obama, he is not honest, his words and actions are not matched. How could he expect us to trust him? One picture is worthier than thousand words.

    November 10, 2007 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  15. Eric, from THE Republic of Texas

    Come on folks... I can think of nearly a dozen legitimate policy disageements on which to question Obama, none of which involve a flag or whether he did or did not cover his heart.

    Taking a swipe at Obama for something like this is simply a waste of everyone's time and frankly, a waste of your adult brain cells.

    I don't agree with the guy, but this sort of alley-fight politics has got to stop. We can have our differences, but let us never forget that we are adults. We should behave as such.

    November 10, 2007 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  16. Robin Yulee Fl

    I cannot believe that ANY of you AMERICANS would even consider voting for Obama. What a sad, very sad, day when our society would even ALLOW a person to run for office that REFUSES to wear our beloved US FLAG pin OR does not know the US code of conduct of placing your hand over your heart during the playing of OUR national anthem. Are you people NUTS??? I guess you are. Put a guy in to RUN our country who does not have a passionate LOVE for OUR AMERICA? What would our forefathers think of this guy? Really...think about that: George Washington, Lincloln, Franklin??? I think they would DEPORT him...Another reason why AMERICA is continuing its spiral downward in morals, values, and patriotism....Sad....

    November 11, 2007 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  17. Steve, Landing, NJ

    Robin Yulee Fl, I think, to quote the vernacular, that you must be tripping. Or playing a cleverly ironic joke. Washington, Lincoln, Franklin? Where were their US-Flag pins? It's not as though we didn't have the technology for men's fashion accessories back then. "our beloved US FLAG pin"? How many US flag pins do you own? And why on earth do all these superficialities determine your opinion of who does and does not love this country? Shouldn't actions speak louder than jewelry? Shouldn't one's attempts to better the nation matter more than whether or not one has examined the proper code of US conduct in regard to a few arbitrary words and notes like the national anthem? Get a grip.

    November 12, 2007 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  18. Justin, MN

    You idiots all need to get a grip. Really.

    If this issue is THAT politically important, then we just need to start from scratch...

    November 12, 2007 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  19. Sam Bass Chicago Illinois

    Just another example of a social-liberal's attitude. He tries to hide it but at moments like this it surfaces. I thought my kids to place their hand over their heart whether the pledge or the anthem is played. What is so hard about showing respect for our country through respecting those events, the anthem and the flag?

    November 16, 2007 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  20. S Dufrene, Dallas, Texas

    Excuse me, but this story is not irrelevant. If he believes it is his right to not place his hand over his heart in respect to this country... he has no business even running for President.
    What kind of idiots in the country want a President that refuses to salute to the flag of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

    November 19, 2007 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  21. dan

    things like this is exactly the reason young people today are fed up with politics. typical political bs... viva la Ron Paul!

    December 29, 2007 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  22. William Midkiff

    This pretty well proves what I've been thinking. For a presidential candidate to pull this sort of thing shows only that he is not loyal to this country. His name and his actions should tell everyone in America he shouldn't even be running for dog-catcher over here. I can only pray that Bill Clinton is wrong...that the American people do not have short memories, and this action (protest) will remain in their memories long enough for them to keep him out of the presidency.

    December 31, 2007 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  23. Stacie

    Well I'll let ya know one thing, after all this fuss...I bet not ONE of us will ever thinking twise about putting our hands over our hearts during the National Anthem again. lol

    January 8, 2008 01:55 am at 1:55 am |
  24. misty c., arizona

    Ok folks, my turn. When I heard that Obama supposedly refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance, I didn't take it for gospel. I checked for myself. I had to know... does he feel the same way I do about our country. If my presidential candidate could not or would not pledge (solemn promise) his allegiance (devotion, loyalty) to the United States of America...why would I want pledge my allegiance to him?

    What's the big deal? When I say the Pledge of Allegiance, I am pledging my loyalty to my country & fellow Americans. When I hear the National Anthem, I listen to the words...and again, I am pledging my loyalty. To those who referred to the improper cheering or clapping at the end, if you really pay attention, it's usually starts around the verse " for the land of the free and the home of the brave”. For me, those words kick butt!!

    I'm one of those who are still undecided as to who I want as President. I really don't care what sex, race or in all honesty party the future President is.

    Many of you touched on important issues that need to be addressed by our candidates. Crime, healthcare, childcare, the homeless, “illegal” aliens and heck, let's throw in social security. And we definitely cannot forget the war. I remember why we first went. We were mad, scared, outraged. I remember my husband calling me at work, telling me about the first tower, and then watching the second, then hearing of the pentagon and the brave "Patriots" who died as they fought to take back control of the plane. I remember how many people were behind Bush then. We wanted revenge! We wanted justice & Saddam refused to let us in to get it.

    And yes, I was blessed, my son signed up after the terrorist attack, went to Iraq & made it home safely. I still have friends who are there.

    Please, don't misunderstand, I am not "for" the war, but I am for America & the many soldiers now and all those past who have fought & died for us. I will not dishonor them by talking trash about my Country, the President or the Military in general. I am what they are there for. Think about it...anyone still afraid of being attacked again...anyone...anyone…

    During a Veteran’s Day Parade, as the veterans walk by, I am usually unable to control the sheer emotion of gratitude that comes over me. I am honored that they cared enough to fight for me. And I cry for those who have died for me. When I meet anyone currently in the military or a veteran, I make sure to thank them.

    Our country & its bill of rights, all the freedoms we now have, speech, religion, etc. Too many people are getting ridiculous about their rights & freedom to do what they want, when they want. Don't want to say the pledge of alligance, hey, it's your right not to. Don't want to use a Bible to be sworn in, hey, that' your right too. Don't think the 10 commandments should be in the courthouse, hey, whatever. I am not against the rights of others, I leave others alone, you can believe / feel what you want. BUT, you shouldn’t have the right to voice your rights sooo much, that you have just stomped all over mine , and now my rights are being altered or taken . Here’s an example, I really don’t want to go around singing, “I’m dreaming of a white, holiday” or “O, holiday tree O, holiday tree, how beautiful your branches.” Our government was built on a faith based for those of you who are offended...please, stop touching any and all money that reads "In God We Trust" ...( sorry, I couldn't resist :o) )

    ok, I started to get off topic a while ago. The point is this, it is important for our possible President to be patriotic, he or she must love & believe in this country.
    For those of you who are not or do not, answer me this...why do so many people risk their very lives just to get a chance to live here? We do not have to fear being jailed, beaten, raped or killed if we speak against our government. We just have to worry about being shot on the freeway, in schools, or even our homes. Our possible President must love & desire to help all the people, no matter the color, race, social status or religion. If they are caught in a situation like this one, they should be able to say, "you know what, I made a mistake," or "in my family, we were taught to show respect this way, and I apologize if I offended you"... not try to throw the blame elsewhere.

    And yes, they must be able to figure out a way to safely get our troops home.
    This does not mean we go & protest at the funeral of a soldier.

    For those of you who read through my little tirade, I thank you & I hope I did not overly offend.

    Thank you again from
    A Patriot. A Wife. A Mother. A Daughter. A Christian. An American.

    January 29, 2008 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
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