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. bret, tucson, arizona

    Sorry Obama, but when the National Anthem is played, those in attendance place their right hand over their heart...but only if they are actually a patriot or are expressing good sentiment towards that particular nation.

    by not wearing the flag pin, on purpose, not putting your hand over your heart, you are very blatantly expressing your dislike of this nation and those who fought to make her great.

    shame on you.

    November 8, 2007 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  2. cicilia,Andover,mass

    All these stuff 3 days in a row is not newsworthy and is just crap CNN is bringing...Can we say Barack won last debate and now we can focus on stuff that doesn't matter on him.....
    Hillary is gown down and I don't think she will survive the coming elections...Americans are attentive than ever,

    November 8, 2007 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  3. David, Hagerstown, MD

    This is indeed a dirty trick... Very underhanded. That is, of course, the American way. Now imagine if someone who condones this becomes president. Hah... I'm going to Canada.

    November 8, 2007 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    I do not think he has the loyalty to our country.

    November 8, 2007 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  5. Vanessa, Fresno CA

    "Maybe if he had served his country in the military, he would know such basic flag etiquette."

    Served his country like, say, Bush did? No, wait a minute. Bush phoned in his military service and passed it off like the real thing.

    November 8, 2007 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  6. Bill St. Charles, IL

    This will really get the facists going.

    November 8, 2007 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  7. Adam, Chicago IL

    Bush can't even hold a book right-side-up and he is the president. Why do we care about this? Why is this article even in the news? Why don't we try looking at issus this time around as to not elect another nutcase?

    November 8, 2007 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  8. Gary J., Austin, TX

    I see Obama got it wrong again, During the singing of the National Anthem you place your hand over your heart If you are in the Military, You stand at attention with the right hand saluting the flag. I guess Sen. Obama enlisted to a different branch of the United States Army than I did..

    November 8, 2007 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  9. SE, CF ME

    I don't see what the problem is. Just looks to me like he thought he was a backup singer.

    November 8, 2007 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  10. Mike brown

    Seems to me CNN or FOX could interview the other 3 in the picture, report the answers from these people, and let the public get the real story. But the media today is not interested in facts, only viewership ratings.........

    November 8, 2007 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  11. enoch needles, jersey city nj

    the pledge of allegiance is a bunch of phony patriotic crap. the constitution deserves our allegiance and protection – not a piece of cloth. don't wear a flag pin – guess you're not a good american. don't salute the flag – bad american. sheep.

    November 8, 2007 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  12. Chris, Washington, D.C.

    I'd be irritated too, if every mundane action and non-action of mine was scrutinized and misconstrued to try to appear unpatriotic.

    Obama's got my vote. He seems to be the only candidate in recent memory with any class.

    November 8, 2007 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  13. Doug, New Jersey

    Obama gets the last laugh.

    Yup, keep on saying he doesn't respect America and that he is unpatriotic, all you are doing is shoring up his support amongst average Liberal Democrats and handing him the nomination. Seriously, I'm surprised that any democrat would put their hand on their hearts as the National Anthem is played, it is as if they don't know how to connect with their liberal Democrat supporters. You want the nomination dems? Show your loyalty to the Soros libs that now run your party and throw some blood on the flag (yup just as you did to the soldiers returning home from Vietnam), you will have every lib kissing your feet.

    November 8, 2007 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  14. Damian Denver, Colorado

    I wanted to educate everyone. The United States Code states that the hand is to be placed over the heart. Unfortunately, so many people are not aware of this protocol.

    36 U.S.C.A. § 301

    United States Code Annotated Currentness

    Title 36. Patriotic and National Observances, Ceremonies, and Organizations (Refs & Annos)

    Subtitle I. Patriotic and National Observances and Ceremonies

    Part A. Observances and Ceremonies

    Chapter 3. National Anthem, Motto, Floral Emblem (Refs & Annos) [FN1] March, and Tree

    § 301. National anthem

    (a) Designation.–The composition consisting of the words and music known as the Star-Spangled Banner is the national anthem.

    (b) Conduct during playing.–During a rendition of the national anthem–

    (1) when the flag is displayed–

    (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 should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold the headdress at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; and

    (C) individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note; and

    (2) when the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed

    November 8, 2007 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  15. Chris

    You put your hand on your heart when you are saying the pledge, but when you are singing you stand there like some dumb fool who isn't following along with everybody else. Get back to work. Big debt people and yeah, that debt is GOLD.

    November 8, 2007 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  16. JMN, Lexington, Virginia

    Mr. Obama is correct!

    I don't know when people started placing their hands over their hearts during the playing/singing of the National Anthem! It is correct to stand in quiet respect or to sing along ... hand over heart during the National Anthem is something relatively new ... and which I think detracts from placing one's hand over their heart in pledge during the Pledge of Allegiance.

    Let's all go back to grade school, where we first should have learned this!

    And ... to those who place their hands over their hearts during the playing of Lee Greenwood's "Proud to be an American" .... stop it! Recognize that it is a patriotic country/pop tune!

    I'm not a flag waving patriot ... but I try to be a respectful citizen.

    November 8, 2007 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  17. Frances Adkins Henderson TN

    I agree with this being a dirty political trick, It's time to really get on with issues plagueing our country and leave out this silliness.

    November 8, 2007 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  18. kalyn

    How silly, I know that you don't put your hand over your heart during the Star Spangled Banner. The real crime was the lady singing it, I can't believe they let her butcher such an important song.

    November 8, 2007 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  19. Evie, TS Florida

    I don't know ... my hand goes over my heart, I also cry (now) during our pledge and/or the anthem for our country.

    I am ready to raise our flag each morning in the national symbol of distress ... we have criminals running our country ... we know it, and still they laugh at us.

    November 8, 2007 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  20. Ryan Indianapolis

    I have seen Obama in the past not put his hand over his heart....But really it is not about him , it is about the CLINTONS feel as though Hillary has been exposed and will every dirty trick in the book to try and bury people.

    November 8, 2007 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  21. Pete, Washington

    I see the Clinton Machine is alive and sick. It's 'payback time' for making Hillary look bad during the debate. All those HillaryBots are blogging like crazy to take the spotlight off of Hillary and Bill. This is also an 'object lesson' to any and all candidates, that they may be next to get 'whacked', if they cross the Clintons.

    November 8, 2007 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  22. Chris Oklahoma City

    Maybe Mr. Barrack should take a look at Wikipedia he would learn that it is customary for American Citizens to place thier right hand over there heart and fce the music when the Star Spangled Banner is playing. Showing a sign of respect just as if you were wearing a hat, you would remove it.

    November 8, 2007 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  23. Richatd Fernandez, Doral,FL

    OH come on! They fought for the reason to be free! You can place you had wherever you want, that is what freedom is.

    Hillary needs to go back and remember the past when she completely ignored the people about Health insurance as 1st lady and decided to be a puppet for big corporations.

    For the people by the people.

    November 8, 2007 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  24. Mike, Panama City, FL

    Obama is crieng about this , Hey its politics , How do you like it now mr Obama to be the bullseye , Because you know they are going to talk about it all over fox and fox news radio , that Image is a powerful political tool .

    Everybody knows politics is not fair , IF you cant stand the heat get out of the kitchen -Hillary Clinton '08

    November 8, 2007 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  25. Scott, Los Angeles

    Forget the incident. Obama claims to have been taught the pledge of allegiance at the age of 1 or 2 !
    How many 12-24 month-olds can even complete a proper sentence, much less the Pledge.
    This bogus claim is either lying or exaggerating. Either way I think making this claim is worse than if he had disrespected the flag (which he did not).

    November 8, 2007 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
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