November 14th, 2007
08:47 AM ET
15 years ago

Obama defends himself against attacks

Obama addressed the United Auto Workers Union in Dubuque, Iowa Tuesday.

(CNN) - Sen. Barack Obama Tuesday dismissed an e-mail attack being circulated about him that questions his patriotism, and he vowed to vigorously defend himself from this assault as well as questions about his religious beliefs.

"I don’t mind them arguing with me about policy, but don’t let them question my patriotism," said Obama, responding to a question about the email following a speech before the United Auto Workers in Dubuque, Iowa. “And listen, I am not going to be swift boated at this race. If somebody comes at me I am going to come right back at them hard."

The e-mail purports to show Obama not placing his hand over his heart during a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance at a campaign event.

"We were not saying the Pledge of Allegiance,” Obama said. “We were singing the Star Spangled Banner."

Obama also took time to respond to a rumor that claims he was educated in a madrassa, and raised as a Muslim.

"If I were a Muslim I would let you know," he said. "But I am a member of Trinity United Church of Christ on 95th street on the South side of Chicago. We got the best choir in town and if you all want to come and worship with us you are more than welcome."

When the madrassa rumor first surfaced in January, CNN sent a correspondent to Jakarta, Indonesia, and determined it was false.

- CNN Producer Peter Hamby

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Iowa
soundoff (432 Responses)
  1. Monica, Georgia

    . He was saying that his religious right were being violated. Hes a muslim, theres no doubt about it, if he wins this election, bye bye America.

    Posted By Chris, Porum Oklahoma : November 14, 2007 8:37 am
    I do not believe he is muslim first of all. But even if he was that does not mean bye bye America. That pretty much was the most ignorant statment possible. The taliban extremists were the ones who attacked us not the muslim people. People please get your facts straight

    November 14, 2007 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  2. Brent, Phila, PA

    Jesus Christ, would you people knock it off? Let's worry about something important...

    November 14, 2007 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  3. Aron, New York, New York

    Reading these comments makes me embarrassed to be American. We launched a war of aggression under the leadership of an elected drunken corrupt idiot with totalitarian tendencies, but we don't think twice about it. But this very intelligent, articulate man with a voting record that speaks to very strong principles is accused of being "Muslim," as though that's a sin, and castigated for not putting his hand over his heart?

    "Hey, launch as many wars as you want, destroy the economy fine, just be sure to go to the right church and keep your hand on your chest for the symbolism."

    Is that really what we stand for?

    November 14, 2007 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  4. Joel, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

    To put an end to these Quran rumors, the Representative who took an oath on the Quran was Keith Ellison, not Barak Obama.

    And this was an informal ceremony. The formal swearing-in of Representatives uses no holy book at all.

    November 14, 2007 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  5. John H, Aurora, CO

    I thought democrats hated anyone who happens to be a Christian?

    November 14, 2007 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  6. Grady, Socorro, NM

    Now, I disagree with Obama on a lot of issues, but I have to say, attacking him like this is not only stupid, it's horrendous.

    1. By assuming he is Islamic because of his race, this exemplifies racism.
    2. Even if he were Islamic, who cares? Last I heard, anyone is allowed to take the presidency regardless of religion. If you agree with his platform, his religion should mean absolutely nothing.

    November 14, 2007 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  7. fred, dallas texas

    I think a closet muslim that is black and running for president in todays world is a good statement about America. The fact that he is a democrat even speaks louder. So, when you liberal wig heads go off on this country on how bad we are..........Please just look at your own party......before you spread your gloom and doom propaganda.

    November 14, 2007 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  8. pat huntington ny

    Its pathetic that this is what presidential campaigns have come down to.

    November 14, 2007 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  9. GC, Lambertville, NJ

    E J, Phoenix, said,
    "We were not saying the Pledge of Allegiance,” Obama said. “We were singing the Star Spangled Banner."

    And that's a defense?! What in the world is this guy thinking?!"

    Actually...that is a defense. It's not required that we put our hands to our hearts when sing the national anthem. It never has been. If you don't like the guy, fine. But don't resort to ingorant and jingoistic comments like that.
    As for job experience...everyone in the world lacked experience at one point or another. You get experience by getting the job. Obama wouldn't be running the country by himself. We've had to deal with a moron in the White House for so long that anyone would be better than what we have.

    November 14, 2007 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  10. roger, conway sc

    Ike, Woodbridge VA...As a southern white male and I consider myself very diverse, I could not agree with you more, I am not supporting Obama because I feel that Hillary has the most experience BUT if Obama is the Democratic nominee yes I will support him...being a white male democrat in the south is not always easy..

    November 14, 2007 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  11. shannon, dekalb county, il

    My family and I, including my 2 year old son and 11 year old daughter put their hand to their heart whenever something patriotic is displayed, recited or performed. As a potential leader of the FREE world, one would think RESPECT is one of the main qualities one would possess. You remove your hat when indoors, you offer your seat to your elders and you shake hands with soldiers. You change your name to a good old fashioned AMERICAN name and you put your hand on your heart when ANY one of our ANTHEMS is played. This is how you win the presidency.

    November 14, 2007 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  12. leefrand, Scottsdale, AZ

    You may have noticed, he never said that he was NOT a Muslim, only that "If I were a Muslim I would let you know." Then he goes on to say where he goes to church.
    If he said he WAS NOT a Muslim anywhere, I apologize.

    November 14, 2007 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  13. Matt, Houston, TX

    (quote)If hes not a muslim, then why did he take the oath of senatro in illinois on the Quran, he made a big deal about it. He was saying that his religious right were being violated. Hes a muslim, theres no doubt about it, if he wins this election, bye bye America.(end quote)

    Posted By Chris, Porum Oklahoma : November 14, 2007 8:37 am

    You are referring to Keith Ellison, who is the Representative of Minnesota, who took the oath of office on Thomas Jefferson's Quran; not Barack Obama.

    November 14, 2007 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  14. Santosh

    Please folks! Let's stop the cynicism and re-aatract our focus on the big picture. Don't be so pessimistic. America is a country despite its many challenges, going on the right path. The President has done a really nice job trying to correct some of the weaknesses in our security institutions. The economy has been very strong. He's initiated the debate over some of the fiscal challenges that lie ahead. It's important that the next President (Dem or Rep) work on trying to pick up where Pres. Bush left off and continue to fight terrorism, look into solutions for social security and medicare, try again at some sort of an immigration overhaul and continue to expand trade.

    Please, let's focus which candidate will best be able to accomplish these things as this country moves forward.

    November 14, 2007 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  15. Ryan, Boston

    Wow, Clintons must be getting desperate. So good they will be out of the picture soon, I was sick of her mullet head.

    November 14, 2007 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  16. Todd, St. Louis, MO


    The guy who took the oath of office in a Quaran was Keith Ellison, a US House Representative from Minnesota:

    But I guess for people as closed minded as you are, all black people are the same, right? Just like all Muslims are terrorists?

    CNN needs to make you pass a US History 101 quiz before posting

    November 14, 2007 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  17. Will, NYC

    "First it was a little flag pin on his lapel that he refused to wear, and now this. Whether it be the 'Pledge of Allegiance' or the 'Star Spangled Banner', Americans place their hand over their heart. I didn't have a problem with his Muslim unbringing, by I to question his 'patriotism', but only because of his actions."

    Wow, what a great view! You can totally trash the constitution, undermine human rights, shame America and its history as long as you wear a little US flag pin when you do it. You, sir, are the epitome of why this country is currently in the toilet.

    November 14, 2007 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  18. jimmy, austin, tx

    Obama only ment to say that black people or half black people were welcome to worship at his church. He may not be muslim, but his church is just to racist for my comfort.

    November 14, 2007 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  19. Kevin D. King Alexandria, VA

    I do question Senator Obama's patriotism. Whether you say the Pledge of Allegiance or sing the Star Spangled Banner, you do show respect. People in uniform salute. People in civilian clothes place their right over their heart. What they do not do is stare blindly off into space. If Senator Obama cannot show respect during the singing of our National Anthem, then he has no business being a U.S. Senator let alone running for President of the United States.

    November 14, 2007 10:06 am at 10:06 am |

    Hank, Fort Myers, Fl

    You are absolutely right. This guy has consistently refused to do patriotic things like wearing the lapel pin of the U.S flag. Since 911 I have never seen any Muslim wearing the U.S flag and am not sure if they say the pledge of allegiance or even sing the national anthem or such things. That is probably the reason why he is not doing it. He also has never come clearly out to say publicly, that HE IS NOT A MUSLIM with emphasis and also say I AM A CHRISTIAN. I bet you he became a member of Trinity Church after thinking of being in the race and he knew then that it will be an issue. I want people to know that I have once watched a video of the extremists boasting and chanting that they have entered the U.S Congress and that the White House is next. This documentary video was aired within a year or two ago by either Fox news or CNN. We can not take this lightly. Mr. OBAMA, you need to publicly and categorically tell American people that YOU ARE NOT A MUSLIM and that YOU ARE A CHRISTIAN and that JESUS IS YOUR LORD AND SAVIOR. Stop playing around this topic. It is not enough to say you are a member of a church. Even OSAMA BIN LADEN can say that. Christianity is more than being a member of a church and it is more than having the best choir in the world. That is a joke and an insult to Christianity. Becoming a Christian is like having a spiritual heart surgery and when it happens you are excited to talk about it without being ashamed and it will show in your words and action. Christianity will make you to be PATRIOTIC too. So please come out and declare who you really are and stop insulting American people by saying you are a member of a church and have the best choir.

    November 14, 2007 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  21. Ernie. Truro, MA

    Right on, Barack! And he welcomes and answers hard questions. He doesn't plant creampuff ones.

    November 14, 2007 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  22. Tere, Buford, GA

    Bob Bayless of San Antone...thanks for the specific info on saluting the flag. I'm a 37 year-old American and never knew that there was to be a salute other than when the pledge was said. I thought it was optional during the anthem.

    November 14, 2007 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  23. Allison, NH

    Wow, some of these comments are dispicable. Do I really live in a society where people are so uneducated that they wouldn't vote for someone based on their religion? Even if Obama WAS Muslim (which he is not) – SO WHAT!?!?! The mentality that ALL muslims are terrorists is a completely bigoted viewpoint.

    It simply amazes me how people will come out in droves to slam Obama for not putting his hand on his heart while singing the Star Spangled Banner...and those same people support Bush who didn't even show up for his Veteran's Day photo op – you know...the one where the president comes out to support our troops on our national day of rememberance!!

    November 14, 2007 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  24. Joel, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

    >>Christianity will make you to be PATRIOTIC too.

    Jesus wept.

    November 14, 2007 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  25. Len, Fallbrook, CA

    I don't really care if the next President is a Muslim, Christian, Jew, or Bhuddist. I don't care if the next President is black, white, male, or female.

    What I care about is that the next President has some demonstrated experience in successfully running a business, city, state, whatever not just someone who spends taxpayer money at will, and when they want more, just raise taxes calling it paying "their fair share", better known as redistribution of wealth, but not their, and their friends wealth.

    The current crop of DEM hopefulls short and the GOP hopefulls are not much better.

    November 14, 2007 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
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