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. Tm

    Welcome to America- where people are taught to be too stupid, apathetical, self centered to understand simple concepts like economics and therefore rely on garbage like this article in their attempts to make intelligent, rational decisions.

    George Carlin was right, this country is finished.

    November 8, 2007 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  2. Ted JAIMES, Lahaina, Hawaii.

    If this is not a real picture,I'm very relieved, because like, I, many of Mr. Obama's constituents were about not to vote for him!

    November 8, 2007 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  3. Dazed and Confused, DC

    I have been to thousands of public sporting events in my life. Invariably, hats are off and hands are over the heart when the National Anthem is played. I agree that this is a stupid issue. But Obama's BS response and feigned outrage is even more stupid. "I do it for the pledge, but not for the National Anthem." I mean, you can't make this stuff up!

    November 8, 2007 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  4. Larry, Naples, Texas

    Well, Obama doesn't help himself with his comment. Protocol is that during any palying of the National Anthem, those not in Uniform are to place their hands over their heart, as the other candidates did. Pledge or Anthem, Obama is showing a disregard for respect for our Nation.

    November 8, 2007 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  5. kevin, san jose california

    if this is the worst news you can get on Obama....hes doing pretty well.

    Obama 08' time to change the face of America

    November 8, 2007 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  6. Todd, Phoenix, AZ

    This article is a waste of space on this site. WHO CARES?!? Please report some real news...

    November 8, 2007 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  7. J.T. San Ramon, CA that I think about it, I was never taught to place my hand of my heart when singing the national anthem, I just do becuase everyone else does at the rodeo, the game or whatever. I have NEVER saluted the flag, what in the world is that other guy talking about? People are way too caught up in symbolism and need to come back and get caught up in substance. A little disappointed in CNN, this story is worthy of Fox News.

    Obama 2008!

    November 8, 2007 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  8. Ed, LA, CA

    I would question whether he and other candidates ALWAYS place their right hand over their heart when saying the pledge of allegiance or just because they are running for office and in the public eye.

    Politics and Politicians!!!!

    November 8, 2007 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  9. Former US Army Officer, Kansas

    Sorry Obama, during the playing of he National anthem you face the flag and render respect, either through a hand salute if in uniform or hand across the heart if not.

    November 8, 2007 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  10. jeremiah, columbus, ga

    actually, i've always placed my hand over my heart for the national anthem as well.

    November 8, 2007 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  11. Pete, Solomons, MD

    Hes even more clueless. You put you hand on your heart during both the Pledge and the National Anthem. He wants respect, and hes a new voice, outsider, etc. Evidently he missed Civics in school. Lame, lame, lame, blame someone else. At what point will the spin stop!

    November 8, 2007 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    Why no super macho-patriot uproar about other politicians who disregard and destroy the supreme law of this country, the U.S. Constitution?

    November 8, 2007 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  13. Erika Judd, Hagerstown, Maryland

    He was the only one singing along & the first to start clapping after the song ended. You'd have to be an idiot to see that he does not love this country.

    November 8, 2007 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  14. Hondo, Atlanta, GA

    Forget the "saluting issue" that was one of the worst rendentions of the National Anthem that I've ever heard.

    November 8, 2007 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  15. Corbett, Seattle WA

    This is another attempt by SOMEBODY to turn a meaningless gaffe into a watershed moment. Last year is was Howard Dean and his “scream.” I am actually glad that the TICKER is covering this because they are giving Obama a chance to minimize the significance of it. I hope he can do it, because its only going to get worse if he wins the primary.

    November 8, 2007 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  16. Dan, Akron Ohio

    Here in the US I put my right hand over my heart for both.

    November 8, 2007 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  17. Ron, TX

    Also, just a "for your information" kind of post... where is Bill Clinton? He needs to take some notes. THIS is a swift-boat style attack on Obama.

    Questioning Hillary because she can't answer a question without tripping over hself, that is a POLICY attack.

    November 8, 2007 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  18. Kevin, USAF Vet, Dover,DE

    Senator Obama is still in the wrong, IMHO


    The Salute
    To salute, all persons come to attention. Those in uniform give the appropriate formal salute. Citizens not in uniform salute by placing their right hand over the heart and men with head cover should remove it and hold it to left shoulder, hand over the heart. Members of organizations in formation salute upon command of the person in charge.

    The Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem
    The pledge of allegiance should be rendered by standing at attention, facing the flag, and saluting.
    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, otherwise to the music.

    November 8, 2007 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |

    This is the way it works, it reminds you of the fight in THE QUIET MAN, Marcus of Queensbury Rules. Ya, Right! It's a simple choice for Obama "Fight or Flight" Can he DANCE LIKE A BUTTERFLY, AND STING LIKE A BEE?"

    November 8, 2007 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  20. Lakisha St.Louis, Mo.

    This is a trick and real swiftboating by the Clinton Campaign. As an african american woman I personally feel offended by this racist tactic by the Clintons.
    I think they are a low group of people who will do anything for power. I could never support them unde these circumstances.

    November 8, 2007 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  21. Judi Fiest Castle Rock WA

    U.S. Code Title 36, Subtitle I, Part A, Chapter 3, Sec. 301 – National Anthem – (1)(A) all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. (B)men not in uniform ... remove (hat) with right hand ... hold (hat) at left shoulder, the hand being over the heart (2) when the flag is not displayed all present ... face toward the music

    November 8, 2007 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  22. Selma Bernstein Syracuse, New York

    Isn't it just a tad bit odd that ever since the latest polls show Hillary Clinton's lead slipping that the Clinton dirty tricks brigade launches this assault against Obama? Al Gore privately has told friends he did not want to run against Hillary Clinton because he knows how dirty they get when they cannot get something they want. If her lead slips further Obama had better be prepared for far dirtier tricks from Hillary and Bill.

    November 8, 2007 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  23. Brian, Garnerville, NY

    Maybe it's me...but how does that make it any better Obama? You don't appear to be singing either buddy...good luck with that.

    November 8, 2007 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  24. J, Seattle, WA

    If anyone votes for this loser they don't care how a presidential candidate should act

    November 8, 2007 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  25. Corbett, Seattle WA

    I can't believe that there is ONE Republican commenting on Obama's gaffe. Don't forget cowboys, your man Bush usually denigrates our national dignity 6 times before he finishes eating breakfast.

    November 8, 2007 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
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