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. Suzanne Tarrant, St. Louis, Mo.

    I'm also wondering about the provenance of the Dick Morris-Hillary e-mail also circulating.

    November 8, 2007 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  2. Jim West Chester Pennsylvania

    Are we so wrapped up in our own self love that we cannot even handle a man not putting his hand on his heart during the pledge of allegiance?
    This is ridiculous.
    Even though I'm sure Obama will proclaim his love for his country we will never move forward as a society and as a country if we continue to assault anyone whose views or opinions are different than your own.
    How proud do you think those homeless veterans are of being Americans right now?.They risked everything for us and now the live under bridges.Would you assault them if they were not exactly fond of what this country as become?

    November 8, 2007 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  3. Hank, Fort Myers, FL

    Not placing your hand over your heart might be OK if you're an elementary school student, or an immigrant. But for someone who desires to become the Commander-In-Chief of the most powerful nation on earth–yeh,'s kinda stupid, and he should know better. He's a joke, and still half-baked. If he keeps searching, he may find a way to connect with the electorate–but not with me. When I pledge allegiance to the nation...that includes the nation's leadership...and even if he does somehow make it...he'll never get this veteran's allegiance. He is too half-baked and too naive, and too–ignorant of American traditions. Frankly, I am amazed that he has made it to this point. He has nothing to offer–other than discordance and BS.

    November 8, 2007 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  4. Peter Brooks

    Why is this a dirty trick? The picture is valid, real, and accurate.

    Obama didn't put his hand on his heart. The issue is why didn't he? Is he ignorant or arrogant?

    November 8, 2007 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  5. Shaniqua, Kansas City

    Those of you who OBAMA should have put his hand over his heart get a life. I go to sporting events and most people are still talking when the anthem is played or haven't you noticed. This will not change my opinion of Hillary, I'm still not voting for her...I will sit at home on election DAY !!!

    November 8, 2007 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  6. Steve, Landing, NJ

    Minor quibble with an above poster–

    I am a recently naturalized citizen (I've lived her since I was 2, so don't start on me about whether or not I know how to be an American) and there is NO, I repeat NO requirement to know anything about the national anthem or proper etiquette to be followed during such. Apparently that isn't the most important thing in the world, who knew?

    November 8, 2007 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  7. Chris, Pensacola FL

    Sorry Obama,I feel for you. I'm sorry the communists like Clinton and Soros are behind all this.

    I hope you rise up. I'm all for you over a woman being president. I'm really for Ron Paul, but I'll back you should he not get the nomination.

    November 8, 2007 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  8. PJ

    While not required, most Americans put their hand over their heart when they sing the national anthem.

    November 8, 2007 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  9. Kim, Midland, MI

    While singing the national Anthem...

    Republications put their hands in everyone elses pockets!

    November 8, 2007 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  10. Traumatized in Canada

    I am surprised nobody has yet commented on the real tragedy of that clip: that was the WORST rendition sung of the lovely American anthem that I have EVER heard! It was given with heart, I admit, but ZERO talent. Perhaps Obama, who was unfortunately standing the closest to the singer, was too much in shock to remember about his hand/heart thing...

    November 8, 2007 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  11. Lisa , Washington, Indiana

    probably billary and her crew
    she cant win honestly thats for sure

    November 8, 2007 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  12. John, Palm Beach Gardens, FL

    Never mind about them not facing the flag or holding their hand over the heart. They all looked like they were in pain hoping for it to end. That woman should have been flogged and hogtied for desecration of the National Anthem. Lady, the national Anthem is not your song. I couldn't even listen to it to the end. Save the jiving for the rap concerts and praising the lord sevices.

    November 8, 2007 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  13. Julia Hayden, Idaho

    Correct, you place your hand over your heart when you say the Pledge of Allegiance. I will vote for Obama because he is the more sincere than anyone else running. I hope he picks Al Gore for his VP. What a dynamic team they would be.

    November 8, 2007 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  14. Ryan, Ogden, Utah

    Haha, So, all those people at sporting events who start shouting and screaming right before the national anthem is over , are they all un-american also for not STRICTLY OBEYING some retarded 'offical way of doing the pledge of alligance/national anthem'?

    I remember playing football and holding my helmet up high and start yelling before it was over, ralling the team to gether and nearly over-riding the singer.

    Man, I must be so un-american, I should probably just move out I guess according to some of you die-hards.

    November 8, 2007 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  15. cora

    I can't say anymore. Mr Chad Conyers said it all. Thank you sir. Mr. Obama has shown irritability on little things but what happens when huge things happen,is he gonna hit somebody?

    November 8, 2007 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  16. Anthony, Hartford, CT

    Well, it looks like this is a non-issue story being as it wasn't during the Pledge of Allegiance.
    But, the ploy worked...look at all of the clansmen who booted up their computers today...

    November 8, 2007 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  17. Dave , Richmond VA

    I think it very interesting, how obama has flag issues. Remember his refusal of wearing an AMERICAN flag pin on his jacket. Maybe, his lack of respect for the pledge, he is trying to show where he stands on country's symbolisms. Does anybody know if he converted to jahovah witness latetly?

    November 8, 2007 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  18. Kerry Prattville, Alabama

    Maybe I'm just old school, but here goes anyway. Whether or not he puts his hand over his heart doesn't bother me nearly as much as those of you commenting, and stating that it doesn't matter. That's the problem with the American society, in my opinion. It's hard to find anyone who is patriotic anymore. Go back 50 years, and people actually cared about this country. Now, people only care what they can profit from it. Society is so quick to turn their back on our government. I'm 34, and When I hear the national anthem, I stop whatever I'm doing, take off my hat, face the flag, and cover my heart. Unless I'm in uniform, then I Salute. It's a simple thing to do. It takes little effort, and I can tell you, that when I go somewhere, and I see fellow Americans do the same, it makes me proud! Proud to server in the United States Air Force for the last 16 years. Those of you who can't make the simple effort to pay respect to the flag, and don't see the significance of such a simple act, are the ones who disappoint me. It saddens me to think where the liberals are taking this country. Still, I'll defend her with my life, if need be, along with your right's to disrespect our flag.

    November 8, 2007 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  19. Traumatized in Canada

    I am surprised nobody has commented on the REAL tragedy of this video clip: that is the WORST rendition of the lovely American Anthem that I have EVER heard! My ears are bleeding! Perhaps Obama, who was closest to the 'singer', was too shocked to remember the hand/heart thing...

    November 8, 2007 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  20. Jim D... Memphis, TN

    That typical of the "Osama Obama" type... They have the "Don't Tell Me What Is Correct Mentality"...

    November 8, 2007 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  21. CBC NY

    Oh stop whining. Sometimes it happens, though it is a PR faux pas. I'm not surprised that some of you are more concerned with whether or not a candidate places their hand over their heart than you are with the fact that American power, political and economic, is declining RAPIDLY. Vote for whomever you'd like, but don't let some inane BS like this determine who you vote for.

    November 8, 2007 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  22. gshell fl


    November 8, 2007 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  23. Ray, Philadelphia PA

    I think we need to concentrate on politicians who refuse to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.

    Dodd, Kucinich, Paul, Feingold and a few others are ACTIVELY working to protect our Constitution and our unalienable rights.

    This kind of irrelevant nonsense isn't worthy of anyone's attention.

    November 8, 2007 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |

    I don't say the pledge of allegiance either. once upon a time I pledged allegiance to the the U S, enlisted in the marine corps and went off to war in a little place called vietnam. when I came home, my country turned it's back on me along with 3 million others. we owe you nothing and you owe us nothing. we're even. with george w bush in office, you don't place your hand over your heart. you place both hands over your eyes and hope when you take them away it was all just a bad dream.

    November 8, 2007 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  25. Sam Lutz, FL

    I wish CNN would just come out and endorse Hillary Clinton. It's pretty obvious with all of their "subtleties" that they are focusing negatively on all of the other candidates.

    November 8, 2007 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
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