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. Sunny

    I wonder if "O's" rival has anything to do with this...seems to me the rival will say and do just about anything to win this election!

    November 8, 2007 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  2. Elizabeth, Superior, WI

    Exactly HOW many different ways have been posted now, from us "die hard" Americans, as to how the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem are done? Even one copy-pasted from, and there's STILL no consensus.

    Awesome. Keep criticizing a Senator for being American the way he was taught. It's clearly displayed on this board that all of us know how to be Americans.

    November 8, 2007 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  3. Jenny, Dallas, TX

    This is ridiculous. What is the point, to suggest that Sen. Obama is unpatriotic? It is insane to suggest that not putting your hand over your heart is insulting the flag. You would think that in this time of crisis and war Americans would be wise enough to focus on real issues and problems. I am sad for people who find this significant.

    November 8, 2007 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  4. josh, chicago, il

    APK, it was not a vote for war...get your information straight.

    If bush had done what he promised, we wouldn't BE in Iraq. Better yet, if Obama had actually shown up to vote on the similar Iran resolution, maybe THEN he could call out Hillary.

    As of right now, he was ignorant on how to respect the National Anthem. This is not a big deal, but ahem, if you're running for President, you might want to know rules for simple things like this; he should have at least FACTCHECKED before he blathered to the press about what's right and wrong. Geez.

    Hillary 08!

    November 8, 2007 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  5. Doug, Minneapolis MN

    And what have kings, that privates have not too,
    Save ceremony, save general ceremony?
    And what art thou, thou idle ceremony?
    What kind of god art thou, that suffer'st more
    Of mortal griefs than do thy worshippers?
    What are thy rents? what are thy comings in?
    O ceremony, show me but thy worth!
    What is thy soul of adoration?
    Art thou aught else but place, degree and form,
    Creating awe and fear in other men?
    Wherein thou art less happy being fear'd
    Than they in fearing.

    William Shakespeare
    Henry V, Act VI, Scene I

    November 8, 2007 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  6. Steve Smith, New Brunswick, NJ

    I have never heard that holding your hand over your heart during the pledge of allegiance was a US code, As a kid in school that is how I learned to say the pledge, holding my hand over my heart, but thinking about it, I really don't see why you have to hold your hand over your heart. It is what is in the mind that counts

    November 8, 2007 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  7. Hank, Fort Myers, Fl

    Here's how it goes knucklehead: at the sound of the music...hands off genitals and left one goes over the heart...left one goes to left side. For God's sake, will he scratch his butt in salute to the military officers and SR. NCO's when he exits AF One. This guy is half-baked...his understanding of American traditions, his agenda, and his execution of this campaign. Please go home for about 8 years and come back when you're ready.

    November 8, 2007 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  8. dennis, lawrenceville, ga

    You've got to be kidding. Next time you're a public event notice how many people put their hand over their heart. Probably next to no one. And look for the men who don't remove their caps. Or people talking thru the anthem. Standing respectfully is appropriate.

    Let's focus on the important aspects of the campaign – like health care, the economy, product safety, etc.

    November 8, 2007 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  9. Robert, Shelton, CT

    This is news...give me a break.

    November 8, 2007 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  10. Maria, Houston

    Talking about "swift boating"? Mr. Clinton, THIS is a prime example of a real "swift boat" attack in its magnificent idiocy. Just makes me wonder, who's behind it....

    November 8, 2007 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  11. Terry, El Paso, TX

    Every citizen is assumed to be a patriot and there is no patriotism test in this country. If you don't want to put your hand on the Bible or don't want to stand during the Pledge of Alliegiance or don't want to say "Under God" or don't want to bow your head and close your eyes when someone is reciting a prayer then it is your business and no one else's.

    I personally question the patriotism of anyone who would demand it of you. An American patriot is ready first and foremost to defend the rights of all Americans on the battlefield or here at home. Our rights include the right to think as you please and the right to express those thoughts as you please – civilly, we hope. Those who wave the flag and denigrate others for expressing themselves are the kind of patriots who need to find another country. They're in the wrong one.

    That said, you are a moron if you believe that Obama refused to make the hand-over-the-heart gesture. You are crazy if you believe he is a Muslim. Where do you people get this stuff?

    November 8, 2007 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  12. Angry American, Charlottesville Virginia

    Is it more unpatriotic to profit off the killing of Americans or to not put your hand over your heart? If Barack Obama declines a slice of apple pie after dinner is he denying solidarity with fruit farmers, thus incurring their wrath? This patriotism thing is way overblown. No one cares about healthcare, social security, education, etc during an election – but they'll vote based on a photo.

    November 8, 2007 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  13. holly, honolulu, hi

    wow, with issues such as war, homelessness, health care, gangs, homicides, drunk driving...i'm so glad that we'd rather spend our time deciding whether or not he should place his hand here or there during the national anthem/pledge. i can't believe some of you are actually making a big deal over this! if you think that military would be offended by this...i'd think they'd be a little more offended by having to stay in iraq for 15 months dying for who knows what.

    November 8, 2007 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  14. Dave, Cheverly, MD says, “When the national anthem is played or sung, citizens should stand at attention and salute at the first note and hold the salute through the last note. The salute is directed to the flag, if displayed,”

    That means NONE of the Candidates in this picture has it correct. SO WHAT!! Can they ALL answer questions about how and were they are planning to take this country if elected? NO ONE is falling for this swift boat style stuff it’s so 2004 ish.. But thanks for making us all go get re-educated on the flag.

    November 8, 2007 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  15. Julie, Houston, TX

    This is just bogus gop bruhaha – they can't face the issues so they pull juvenile stunts like this. I guess they forgot that theres a war going on and gas is creeping toward $3 a gallon, and the nation is uneasy – but hey, he didn't put his hand on his heart! What a crock, but typical gop tactic.

    November 8, 2007 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  16. Greg, Albany New York

    I'm sure George puts his hand over his heart for patriotic stuff. 500 billion to the war, 600 billion vetoed for childcare and education? Sounds patriotic to me!

    November 8, 2007 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  17. Ich bin frei!

    Hysterical. More hard hitting political news from CNN. Har har har. Such trivialities are exactly what a petty and childish public deserves.

    November 8, 2007 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  18. Ellen, Pasadena, CA

    Sorry, I grew up in NY and we were taught to put our hand on our heart during the pledge, not the anthem! (Now I sit during the anthem at ballgames, in protest for our policies, like I did during the Vietnam War.)

    November 8, 2007 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  19. Anne Billington, Cleveland, OH

    This issue is ridiculous...I'm not an Obama fan, but let's get real. Who cares about such silly issues.

    November 8, 2007 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  20. Mike Jackiw, Fox River Grove, IL

    The personal attacks on Obama, comparing him to Bin Laden, and assaulting his time in Indonesia, are beneath contempt and show the cowardly attitude of his opponents. The fact is that for the Anthem people do and do not cover their hearts. In one school I attended we did, in another we did not. The Pledge is the only 100% time you should salute by covering your heart. As for those taking personal attacks, please go to another nation, we don't want fascists here. Thank you.

    November 8, 2007 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  21. baron,bonn-germany

    l guess this is one of those dirty trick obamas opponents try to bring up so they can potray him as a moslim fundamentalist. Well, he is a great senator and for sure a futur president. We love him here in Europe.He gets us fired up too.

    November 8, 2007 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  22. Philip, Elkhart IN

    This is just more negativity from Hillary's camp. I am shocked at how negative a campaign she is putting forth.

    November 8, 2007 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  23. christian, selden, ny

    Obama bin laden; Sorry, but this is flat out anti-American, all the men and women that have fought and died for America and our freedom, and you cannot show your patriotism!
    What is it your running for again?

    Posted By ano to : November 8, 2007 1:30 pm

    wonder if Hillary Clinton put her hand on her heart when she voted for the Bush-Cheney war in Iraq.

    That is, if she has a heart.

    Posted By APK Meadville, PA : November 8, 2007 1:32 pm

    Whether its the national anthem or Pledge of Allegiance, the right hand goes over the heart unless you're in military uniform. A major gaffe by this U.S. Senator.

    Posted By Mark Golembiowski: Chicago, IL : November 8, 2007 1:32 pm

    You place your hand over your heart and face the flag during the anthem. I guess they didn't teach him that in Indonesia.

    Posted By Brian Tampa : November 8, 2007 1:36 pm


    November 8, 2007 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  24. Sharon Columbus ND

    Actually ALL are supposed to be facing the flag too if they are saying the Pledge or singing the Anthem and in the picture it is behind all of them! All this is a bunch of political garbage, how about working on matters that count.

    November 8, 2007 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  25. Independent Voter, TN

    I think Obama should be smart enough as a U.S. senator and presidential candidate to to know that his every move and word will be scrutinized as he pursues the nation's highest office.

    Most average Americans readily put their hands over their hearts when pledging allegiance or singing the national anthem. I know that it always makes an impression on me when they pan athletes at games and I see someone who seems disinterested during the anthem. Subconsciously, I question their appreciation of this country.

    Therefore, I have to question whether his instincts are up to the challenge of holding the office of the presidency.

    November 8, 2007 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
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