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. Jim, Irmo, SC

    Who would believe this nonsense? The man running for president is not patriotic? Ridiculous. And, if anything, Obama has maybe made his Christian beliefs too much a part of the speeches that he gives. This is downright silly. Lets all just forget this nonsense and simply compare the candidates based on actual policy differences.

    November 13, 2007 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  2. Suzanne, Buchanan, GA

    Even if it was the Star Spangled Banner, he was still supposed to have his hand over his heart! He should know that.

    November 13, 2007 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  3. Tom, Middleburg FL

    I think the Democrat party has lost its mind. What are they thinking, even allowing a candidate named Barrak Hussein Obama to run this cycle. Is this some kind of message that Americans need to be self deprecating. Obama sounds like Osama who attmepted to destroy the U.S. on 911 by taking out tourism and the economy. Hussein is an evil dictator who we launched an attack against before he could hurt the U.S. Maybe if he changes his name to Smith or Jones yeah Barrack Smith for POTUS... It has a good ring to it.

    November 13, 2007 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  4. monica, rochester new york

    Don't worry Senator Obama, lies are the weapons of the weak and desperate. Only weak and desperate people will spread them or believe them. Good people whether they're for you or another candidate, won't accept blatant lies. God help anyone who wants their candidate to win so bad that they'd resort to deliberate and malicious lies.

    November 13, 2007 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  5. Mark Columbus, Ohio

    The Clinton attack machine is just getting started. Keep on watching these "circulated e-mails" to keep on popping up in news organizations from the Clinton campaign.

    November 13, 2007 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  6. Mountaineer, Morgantown ,WV

    Why some people are so concerned about Obama's religion. Who cares? People have a bad image of Islam because radical terrorists. We also have some radical self called Christians that promote hate and bigotry, people like Russ Limbaugh or Ann Coulter are good examples that of what Christian should not do.

    November 13, 2007 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  7. Sarah Gaylord, Portland Oregon

    Religion should not be a big issue interms of voting for a Presidential Candidates. We need to focus more on how the candidates or the future President can deal with the issues at hand. Muslim, Mormon, or Orthodox Jew, I don't care. Aslong they can fix the mess the is presented before us.

    November 13, 2007 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  8. Kim, Dallas, TX

    I am tired of the bipartisan government we have...all of the mudslinging and dishonestly. I want my country back from the war mongers who lied to get us into a war in Iraq that's not only costing us lives of our bravest, but is taking it's toll on our reputation worldwide and at home. I don't trust most of the presidential candidates, but Obama has my complete support. He is one of the few that could unite our country. Joe Biden would be the only other one I see hope for the future with.

    People that bye into the "gossip" that goes around meant to deface candidates are those who are party to the destruction themselves. They forward these ridiculous emails before even checking to see if they are correct. When is the last time you took the time to check to see if the e-mail that is forwarded is actually true? I don't listen to any of that garbage without checking it out. is a great place to find out what is true. Our country deserves for us to know the truth. Look what has happened with the leadership we have had. We need to know the truth about what is going on with these candidates.

    November 13, 2007 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  9. John B., Needham, MA

    "Madrassa rumor" is a polite term. "Madrassa lying smear" is more like it.
    There is no limit to the Repugs' dirty tricks.

    November 13, 2007 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  10. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Obama is least likely to be a Muslim than our your door neighbor. And you better believe this government has looked under the bottom of Obama's feet. We know there are Muslims out there, but it ain't Obama.

    November 13, 2007 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  11. Steve Zachar, Nashville, TN

    Actually, his defense is no defense at all. You're supposed to put your hand over your heart at the playing of the National Anthem, too. If he's a real patriot, shouldn't he know that?

    November 13, 2007 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  12. Muslim, Michigan

    so being a muslim is now a shameful thing? 1.5 billion people on this planet are muslim. 8 million of them are here and they are productive members of society. how we let being a muslim become a smear campaign is beyond me.

    November 13, 2007 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  13. Carter, Charlottesville, VA

    "We've got the best choir in town" is actually a great response. What would you have him say Portland guy/gal? It's a response to someone calling him a Muslim. He's saying "I'm not a Muslim, b/c this is where I attend church and I'm proud of it."

    EJ in AZ, it's an explanation b/c he's explained before that you place your hand on your heart during a pledge of don't do so when you sing the national anthem.

    November 13, 2007 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  14. Dooze, Mountain View, California

    The poster trying to mock 'The best choir in town' phrase makes me's an expression so you should understand it that way and even if it wasn't what makes it a non-presidential material? It is meant for even the layman American to knock it off!

    November 13, 2007 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  15. Brandon (Living in Tokyo, Japan)

    Flag pin? Hand over the heart during the pledge? Really? Is this a presidential election or are we starting a pep squad?

    Obama is clearly a thinking man who deos not see the world in terms of good vs. eveil. He is too well travelled and his experience is too diverse to pretend otherwise.

    America has made mistakes domestically and abroad, big ones. It's America the beautiful, not America the infallable. To question blind patriotism is not unpatriotic; in fact, it's heroic.

    November 13, 2007 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  16. Glen, Anchorage, AK

    "The best choir in town? You've gotta to be kidding me. This guy is no presidential material."

    Sounds like he's more presidential than most in my opinion. It's time we had a new direction and somebody that doesn't come from the same mold we've been using since Washington.
    BTW CNN your late people were blogging about this over a week ago, not to mention rumors are not news.

    November 13, 2007 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  17. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Even at this late date in the campaign, I still question Obama's electability in the general, as I do Hillary's. This death wish will end in either an electable nominee or a long slow loss of a slam dunk into the White House.

    November 13, 2007 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  18. Matt Middletown Virginia

    Would it matter if the guy is a muslim?geez what the hells a matter with people

    November 13, 2007 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  19. Frank, Manhattan, KS

    Who cares if he is a Muslim? That is nothing but anti-Muslim fear and bias.

    November 13, 2007 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  20. fair,washington,dc

    The obsession you folk have with Hillary Clinton can't be healthy....I mean this is an article about Obama and you have folk talking about Hillary Clinton...if yall are so sure she can't win seems to me you would want her to get the nomination...but therein lies the guys know who can beat you in 08...I wouldn't be surprised if Republicans aren't donating to other Dems campaigns

    November 13, 2007 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  21. Eric, Chicago (Serving elsewhere in US Army), Illinois

    This has 'C-L-I-N-T-O-N' written all over it (as long as we're subjecting the public to media-driven side-stories on the personal lives of candidates, why can't I just throw out the assumption (unfounded, of course) that the Clintons did it?

    What's good for the goose...

    Oh, and 'Xtina', I am from Chicago, as well. Exactly what tax did Obama raise? He's a US Senator. He cannot just 'raise taxes'. That's an irresonsible statement by an irresponsible person, Xtina. I call you on it and add this...

    All I know is that, serving in the US Army, two weeks after taking the oath of office for the US Senate, Obama took Illinois from being in the bottom five states of veterans benefits and took us up to the top 30. Within two weeks. Why do you hate the troops, Xtina?

    November 13, 2007 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  22. Jeff from Jersey

    This reminds me of the disgusting email that circulated before '02 and '04 presidential elections that had pictures of the World Trade Center and a completely fabricated lie and video that was supposed to have Ollie North warning the Iran-Contra hearings about Bin Laden and Al Gore stumbling over Osama's name.
    It was all a pack of lies tied to the terrorist attacks.
    Bin Laden was actually a friend of the US in 1987 when those hearings took place.Oliver North himself said that he was talking about a Libyan terrorist named Abu Nadel and never once mentioned Bin Laden because he didn't know anything about him.In more than 15,000 pages of testimony Bin Laden was never mentioned.

    This is how low the conservatives will go to get their candidate and their agenda in the whitehouse.This is just more of the same.

    November 13, 2007 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  23. s.o.w. florida

    Who cares what a persons religious beliefs are, as long as they are qualified to run this country.

    November 13, 2007 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  24. Reggie, Germany

    E.J. what cave do you live in??? Have you gone to any sporting events or watched any Olympic Games how many people or Athletes do you see placing their hands over their heart at the playing of the National Anthem??? This is just some concocted story designed to get non thinking idiots like you all riled up. This has nothing to do with Baracks patiotism or love for his country!!!

    November 13, 2007 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  25. RHH, Columbia, MD

    I remember back in the day they used to judge political candidates on their platform... now we're analyzing religion and how someone stands during various songs. Nice.

    November 13, 2007 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
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