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. Bob, Seattle

    Mr. Huckabee is the only sincere man, other than McCain, in the race – period. Mr. Huckabee and Mr. McCain are the only ones – unscripted. Mr. Huckabee and Mr. McCain are the only two people in the campaign on either side who are in the game for the folks. For the country. They both have heart and brains. Together, they will insure Republicans rule for the next 16 years.

    November 14, 2007 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  2. gregopelika alabama

    obama what a name . sounds like a terriost name , i believe it is . i beleive he is a terror to our way of life

    November 14, 2007 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  3. Leah, Springfield, MA

    I was never taught to hold my hand over my heart when I sing the Star Spangled Banner, so I've never done it. I guess that makes me a Muslim too.

    November 14, 2007 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  4. Herb, Pittsburgh, PA

    Will of New York City is absolutely right. Mouthing platitudes and wearing flag pins are meaningless actions if you despise the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and the individual liberty that are the foundations of our Republic. Let me assure you, if you despise these things, you are no patriot, no matter how many pledges you mouth and no matter how many pins you put on your chest.

    People, stop accepting everything you were taught in grade school. If you think the Pledge of Allegiance is something holy or patriotic, try "Googling" it and find out the truth of its origins. It was created by Francis Bellamy, a Christian socialist, in the 1890's. Now, what is so profoundly patriotic about that?

    "Seek the truth, and the truth will make you free."

    November 14, 2007 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  5. cms

    The thing that bugs me about the "flag flap" is how little critical thinking people do. On what planet would someone running for the President of the United States not put their hand over the heart during the Pledge of Allegiance. Even if you don't believe the guy is patriotic, surely you're smart enough to know if he's running for president, he'd at minimum FAKE it. Critical thinking people. When you read something, look at it yourself and ask yourself: Does this make sense?

    Vic - a little information is dangerous, especially when you don't bother to get the facts. Obama didn't get sworn in by placing his hand on the Koran, the congressman from Minnesota did. Because the congressman from Minnesota is a Muslim. The senator from Illinois is a Christian.

    November 14, 2007 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  6. Richard, West Palm Beach, FL

    obama what a name . sounds like a terriost name , i believe it is . i beleive he is a terror to our way of life


    Our country is in very sad shape when people decide who their leader should be based on his name alone. And Bush vetoes money for education.

    November 14, 2007 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  7. Corey, Bloomington, Indiana

    Wow, some of these comments make me weep for the country.

    Guess what? Obama DID NOT put his hand on the Koran when he was sworn in. You were lied to. Check facts people.

    Also, saying that they were singing the anthem wasn't his defence, he was just pointing out how stupid the email was and that they didn't bother to get it straight.

    If this is the worst thing you idiots can throw at him, great. The only problem is, Americans seem to care more about respect to a song than respect to the Consititution or respect to the lives of our soldiers who are dying because of our liar president.

    November 14, 2007 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  8. Maryann - Orlando, FL

    gregopelika – now that's a scary sounding name. Sounds almost like a 'terrorist' name!

    A big 'LOL' to Leah, Springfield, MA (nice name, BTW!)

    I want our next president sworn in on the CONSTITUTION instead of a religious book. Separation of church and state, people!

    I am a patriotic American, but I skip the 'under god' part of the pledge since I don't believe in fairy tales. I stand at attention during the National Anthem, but did not think it was neccesary to put hand over heart.

    I hope I don't get kicked out of the country because I'm not 'mainstream' patriotic. Some posters on here would like that, I'm sure.

    Stewart/Colbert 2008!!

    November 14, 2007 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  9. Ezekiel Herz, Santa Barbara, California

    This soo great. I haven't laughed that hard for a while. You don't even know the religion of your candidates, you think he's racist because he's christian and he didn's stitched his hand over his heart. What a bad, unpatriotic person.
    I don't think you deserve such a good leader as Obama. A country that has no more moral values can't have an honest president. Why don'T you vote another member of the Bush-family? Oh wait, Hillary is as good as that. I'm so glad I'm not american.

    The whole world is laughing about you.

    November 14, 2007 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  10. Richard, West Palm Beach, FL

    "The liberals who find joy in hearing about deaths of our soliders in Iraq"


    The people who cheer the deaths of our brave soldiers are a RIGHT-WING, RADICALLY RELIGIOUS group in Kansas that blames everything on homosexuality. They are the opposites of liberals and much closer to conservatives.

    The self-delusion that liberals cheer the deaths of our soldiers is nothing more than wishful thinking. If liberals didn't care about our troops they wouldn't be fighting so hard to bring them home safely. It is the Republicans that support the deaths of more troops by remaining in Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11.

    November 14, 2007 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  11. JC, Topeka, Kansas

    Well, about the only thing I can say at this time is I told you so. How does it feel to be on the receiving end of unwarranted attacks.

    Don't want to be a receiver, don't be a giver.

    November 14, 2007 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  12. David Branch, Waco, Texas

    So CNN, you will delete a sarcastic comment about the KKK, but you allow a highly racist expression like "dirty shine" (john, 7.40am). Strange editorial policy.

    November 14, 2007 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  13. A Kansas Vet, Kansas

    I was never taught to hold my hand over my heart when I sing the Star Spangled Banner, so I've never done it. I guess that makes me a Muslim too.

    Posted By Leah, Springfield, MA : November 14, 2007 11:55 am

    No Leah, that does not make you a muslim, just uneducated as to the proper showing of respect to the flag as stated in the US Flag Code. Don't worry the vast majority of Americas do not have the faintest clue as to how to render the proper respect so consider yourself in the majority.

    November 14, 2007 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  14. Evan Esteves, Boca Raton, FL

    Nice one there Doug from New Jersey...calling the other 1/2 of the country that doesn't vote Republican, "Evil, and hates America and hates our troops" is very AMERICAN of you! *rolls eyes* Your hypocrisy astounds me...

    November 14, 2007 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  15. Daniel

    This soo great. I haven't laughed that hard for a while. You don't even know the religion of your candidates, you think he's racist because he's christian and he didn's stitched his hand over his heart. What a bad, unpatriotic person.
    I don't think you deserve such a good leader as Obama. A country that has no more moral values can't have an honest president. Why don'T you vote another member of the Bush-family? Oh wait, Hillary is as good as that. I'm so glad I'm not american.

    The whole world is laughing about you.

    November 14, 2007 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  16. Travis from Chicago, IL

    For all you die-hard Republicans out there and for you confused Democrats, and also for the racists and Muslim hater, etc, we should put you all in one little portion of this great country and let you destroy yourselves. We don't need you in the general public. You are to dangerous and to hate filled to live amongst the citizens of this great country. you do us a diservice with all of your stupid comments. Did you even finish the 8th grade? You sound like a bunch of hill billys. You shouldn't be allowed to even claim this country as your own. We should create the hill billy country and place you right next to Iran. Any way as I digress. Barak Obama is an Americans' American. Good man and will be a great president. I believe all the other Democratic candidates have qualifications we need to improve the country as well. The Republicans candidates? Well, they don't matter becasue there is not one who makes sense and who the American people feel safe with leading the country. So stop attacking the good people out of anger because your party sucks. Be mad at yourselves America is hated. You are to blame. God Bless America and the "real American citizens." Oh and to the stupid woman who said Obama should get a "real American name," no name in this country is "American." Since our ancestors that came to the states whether voluntary or forced came from other countries with original names. You all disgust me with your stupidity.

    November 14, 2007 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  17. RuthieM

    Unbelievable that the media still allows these Bill and Hillary Clinton and Clinton campaign lies to still circulate about Obama. And if it isn't Clinton, which I guarantee it is, then whoever it is just shows the cowardness, they can't surface. I've sung the National Anthem all my life and it is when you pledge allegiance to the flag that you put your hand over your heart and that picture was not the pledge of allegiance it was the anthem dodos. What stupids! But no matter. Obama's gonna reign! OBAMA '08!!

    November 14, 2007 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  18. lynn

    When I hear Sen. Obama saying he believes (like Anne Frank, before she was killed) that most people have basic goodness in their hearts, and then see the total nastiness and racism turned towards him by some I want to become bitter. But Obama, being the man he is wouldn't want that. So I will correct those who are throwing these vicious lies out there, slandering this man who gave up a LUCRATIVE WALL STREET CAREER TO WALK THE COLD WINDY STREETS OF CHICAGO, to help the fatherless, homeless and poor, in the hopes that if they see the truth they will appeal to that which Obama sees in them, that the majority of people in this country wont believe these vicious lies.
    First of all, to those who are saying Obama was sworn in on the Quron, PLEASE, this is what makes me wonder if black people do indeed look the same to white people. THAT WAS CONGRESSMAN KEITH ELLISON FROM MINNESOTA, HE IS A MUSLIM. Obama's natural father was born a Muslim but practiced atheism as his mother. Not only that, but Obama had minimal minimal contact with his natural father since he left the family when Obama was TWO, Obama only seeing him once after that. Now, the racists will say but his STEPFATHER WAS MUSLIM. Yes he too, was muslim by birth, but DID NOT PRACTICE IT. Even if he did, Obama was principally raised by his grandparents. So there's something else these racists will throw out there-he went to a predominantly MUSLIM SCHOOL (leaving out the fact that it was in a predominantly Muslim country, Obama also attending Catholic school). But dont American diplomats w/children living overseas attend these types of schools?? Matter of fact, the Cnn rpt on this said the school was attended by a lot of American expatriates and officials. Are THERE CHILDREN EXCLUDED FROM EVER RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT or any other public office BECAUSE THEY WERE EXPOSED TO THIS DREADED RELIGIOUS SCHOOL ALSO. Does that make THEM now Muslim plants trying to take over "Merika"?? Just to get this right. People just can't see how racist this attack on Obama is, how disgusting!!! This man has worked as a public official for over 20 years!! He's helped homeless veterans, other veterans, he's on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for goodness sakes! They have a lot of influence.
    Obama is not the enemy, unless you're a racist, hateful person. Sadly Obama, maybe is finding out that this "magical place" as he called it at the 2004 convention, STILL HAS A LOT OF THOSE PEOPLE AND THEY CAN DO A LOT OF DAMAGE.

    November 14, 2007 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  19. Kevin, Princeton NJ

    Ok, looking through the ticker, people should be noticing a slight trend.

    Democratic articles are all about the competition between candidates, Flags falling on candidates, non-patriotism, background, staged performances, shady business, etc. Stop reacting to this nonsense reporting and start demanding information about the issues. Shouldn't we be asking the question "What are you going to do for America?" instead of "Can you win the election?"

    Vote for the candidate that best supports your views and will best help America, not the one you think has the best chance of winning. That's what the voting's about, get back on task and CNN, stop giving us non-news.

    November 14, 2007 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  20. Dan Brown, Collinsville,TX

    I am saddened by the state of religion claimed by many of our political candidates, including Obama. "We got the best choir" has nothing to do with salvation. I have yet to hear a to the point experience of conversion & practice of that conversion.

    November 14, 2007 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  21. Gitahi, Dallas TX

    Whoever posted that Obama took his oath on the Koran is thinking about Rep. Keith Ellison. So, that clears that up.
    The problem here does not seem to always be that people are just finding a way that they think they can attack a person. I believe that people are given wrong information and honestly believe it. Everyone just needs to get their facts straight.
    And, yes, Barack Obama has repeatedly referred to himself as a Christian. And , no, he did not convert from Islam. He has always been a Christian.
    Just wanted everyone to have the facts, if these are the kinds of things that matter to you.
    Posted By Jason, Columbia, SC : November 14, 2007 9:19 am

    Chris, please take the time to educate yourself. Obama DID NOT take his oath to the senate on the Quran! Only one individual in the history of the United States has EVER done this…and it wasn’t Obama nor was it an oath in the Senate! It WAS Keith Ellison from Minnesota during his pledge to the House of Representatives!
    If you don't take the time to research the facts, you shouldn't be allowed to vote! Quit spewing RNC rhetoric and learn the facts!
    The hatred for muslims in this country is sickening, and goes against the very principles of Christianity (you know, the actual teachings of Christ, rather than the Jerry Falwell/Pat Robertson hate/spin machine).
    Your ignorance and racism are appalling and sad.
    Posted By Rob, Sand Diego CA : November 14, 2007 9:37 am

    How incredibly unitelligent many of you are. The individual who was sworn in on the Quran was Keith Ellison, NOT Barack Obama. It is interesting how most of you speak with such confidence in your discussion on politics and global affairs, as it seems most of you are merely anti-Muslim bigots who really have no knowledge of politics. I suggest reading a book…Maybe even a few books…
    Posted By AT, Washington DC : November 14, 2007 9:36 am
    I think the intelligent people and fact checkers were asleep when the fat and dumb people were posting lies about Obama. Keith Ellison is the one who swore on the Koran NOT Brack Obama. I am thankful for these three and many more posters who have their facts straight. Unfortunately, this truth will go unnoticed by the "fat and dumb" people in this site trying to bring Obama down. Take warning 1...I will not be swiftboated in this race...I am gonna hit back hard"

    November 14, 2007 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  22. KD, cherry hill NJ

    obama is a very smart man. he should one day be a great president. but c'mon democrats – you have to be smart too. do you really think when elections come next year if obama is the nominee the republicans will go crazy over is name.
    "osama obama" will be one thing that people can look over. but when you have the name hussein in your name as in his legal name -barack HUSSEIN obama-, i don't know how you can get away w/ not getting caught to the republican smearing.
    i can just see now how chris mathews and the rest of the gas bags salvating for this scenario. rudy will get a cake walk!

    November 14, 2007 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  23. wufpakmom, Illinois

    What in the name of (insert preferred deity name here) is wrong with you people? For the last, last, absolutely LAST time, Obama did not take his oath of office on the Koran. The person who did so was Keith Ellison, the representative from the 5th Congressional District in Minnesota. He is a practicing Muslim and more power to him. And for all you poor, misguided souls who will refuse to even consider listening to Obama's message because you "think his name means he's the enemy?" Gee whiz. Keith Ellison. My, that's a name to strike fear into the hearts of the populace, isn't it?

    Why don't you just grow a set and admit it – the real reason you won't hear Obama's message is because it is coming out of the mouth of a man of color. And you absolutely cannot stand that. You cannot tolerate the notion that there is a Black man of courage and character; a polished, thoughtful and articulate speaker who does not whip the crowd into a frenzy because of the "Preacher at the Revival" quality of his rhetoric, but through the power and simplicity of the message.

    And as far as this ridiculous non-story about where his hand was or was not during the National Anthem? I would remind you of Samuel Johnson's comment, particularly with respect to the "patriotism" of the current administration:

    "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel".

    November 14, 2007 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  24. Vince Los Angeles, CA

    To all you morons who insist on claiming that Obama swore in on the Koran


    It is absolutely amazing how ignorant the majority of our citizens really are

    New congressman chooses to be sworn-in on Koran, not Bible

    November 14, 2007 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  25. Vince Los Angeles, CA



    It is absolutely amazing how ignorant U.S. citizens really are.

    November 14, 2007 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
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