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. Dennis Daniel Bloomington IN.

    Some of you have lost the point. Again they are posting negative news in attempts to sway ignorant American votes. I agree with some posters this is not News worthy and doesn’t belong on CNN.
    We people are tried of the bickering so conduct your selves in a mature and respectful manner. As representatives we expect nothing less.

    November 13, 2007 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  2. Roy Fiveash, San Angelo, TX

    OK, not Pledge of Allegiance.... Now what is the proper etiquette for The Star Spangled Banner!!!! How about hand over heart!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 13, 2007 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  3. Rod Stroud, Dalton, MN

    When will we quit saying "It was the Star Spangled Banner, not the Pledge of Allegiance"? Can someone advise him of what the flag means and that we hold our hands over our hearts while that is played also.

    November 13, 2007 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  4. Deborah Klesc Jacksonville NC

    Kinda sounds like ahmadinajad,,,'if I were a terrorist I'd tell you'...just trust me!! yeah right! Both his father and stepfather were muslim as well as his brother and sister!....he has a lot more connection in that regard than we need in a United States President! By the way check out this 'church' he's a member sounds like all they are interested in is a black agenda!

    November 13, 2007 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  5. Robert, Shelton, CT

    Its sad that because of your name or apperance you are lumped into a faith category; I look "Jewish" supposedly and have an Italian last name, but I am neither Jewish or Catholic, I'm a proud Lutheran; faith has nothing to do with heritage; people need to realize that.

    November 13, 2007 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  6. Matt, Paris, Illinois

    Considering taxes in Illinois weren't raised while he was in the Illinois Senate, I'd say "xtina" isn't really from Chicago. But that's ok.

    November 13, 2007 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  7. Sal

    yeah ,hit a nervie,the church you joined 3 months before running uhh...
    OMG the best choir,that just proves more religious Gospel preaching,to Americans,get" real "get "substance " before you run for "President".

    November 13, 2007 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  8. Bob

    Obama just starts to experience a tip of iceberg of political scrutiny what Hillary Clinton has experienced and endured in the past 15 years. Saying you are nice to Republicans will not stop them attacking you. What a naïve person.

    Furthermore, he indeed did not show respect to our national flag as everyone else does. I am an immigrant who became a US citizen in 1998. Every time I hear the national anthem, I put my right hand on my heart after became a US citizen. How can this guy who is the US Senator and running for president of our country does not know this?

    November 13, 2007 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  9. John Smith, Austin, TX

    If you want to see change in how the country is run, vote Obama in 08!

    November 13, 2007 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  10. Dina. Sterling, VA

    I wish people here would stop using the word Madrassa to mean something awful. It's literal meaning in Arabic is "school", so you would say church madrassa, or elementary madrassa.... it is a shame how things get distorted in the translation.

    November 13, 2007 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  11. CT Daytona Beach, FL

    I distinctly remember Obama NOT standing in traditional American honor during the Star Spangled Banner (it's on utube – see for yourself) and the flap about his lapel flag... and the fact that this is an issue.... Hello? Born yesterday?

    November 13, 2007 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  12. One_American

    I suppose if he was a crack smoker, he would let us know that, too.

    Oh, wait... he is.

    November 13, 2007 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  13. RB CA

    2000 George Bush : I am an uniter, not a divider.

    Result: 8 years of anarchy.

    2008 Barack Hussien Obama: I am an uniter, Hillary is a divider.

    Result: Atleast 4 years of disaster.

    2000 & 2004: George Bush: I am the more likeable guy. The other person is a flip flopper.

    Result: Showed the true colors once elected.

    2008: Obama: I am the more likeable candidate. The other person is not.

    Result: Just imagine.

    At least with George Bush, he had been Governer of Texas so he had the experience and track record to back him up.

    With Obama, No track record except all votes which were highly liberal lfet-wing voting.

    Why should I believe Obama that he will unite? I am not a dreamy eyed person hoping for change. I am a pragmatic realist who has come across many people in US, in world, in business, who talk big. Only those who have a track record, have succeeded. Others were all con, who tried to fool people.

    Why would a person jump in the fray with no track record as a uniter? Because the person knows deep down he will never be a uniter and if he waits longer, it will be difficult to fool people.

    If you think otherwise, please share your thoughts. Onlyt intelligent, pragmatic people please.

    November 13, 2007 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  14. Julie Overvig

    Please CNN let's have a grownup conversation everyone is patriotic and I mean everyone Republicans,Democrats, Independents. Now let's talk about Pakistan,healthcare,the War,economy,Job security,Illegal aliens,Education...........

    November 13, 2007 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  15. Thomas, Chicago, IL

    Among Obama's many postive characteristics... proper use of the subjunctive!

    CNN headline: "Obama: If I was Muslim I'd tell you"
    Actual Quote: "If I were a Muslim I would let you know"

    Better off-the-cuff grammar than CNN's editors. Tisk tisk.

    November 13, 2007 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  16. James, North Arlington, NJ

    Wonder if anyone watched the video from "Star Spangled Bannergate"..? If you did you would have seen him singing along with the vocalist...and rocking... He was getting down with it.

    November 13, 2007 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  17. Karsen Rumpf, Iowa City, IA

    This is ridiculous. I don't put my hard over my heart during the star spangled banner. I bet Hilary had something to do with this because there is no dirt about Obama unlike Hilary where you can ask anyone that knows anything and they will tell you a dirty story about her politics. Obama is honest and he doesn't treat me like an idiot, unlike Hilary.

    November 13, 2007 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  18. Kim, Peabody MA

    I'm sorry OBAMA... Not respecting the pledge to the Flag is Unpatriotic!

    We need a true patriot like Pete Grasso.

    November 13, 2007 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  19. Chris Chicago, IL

    Hey Mr. O.

    If you are reading this then you probably are already losing the presidential race, so good luck, but I wanted to ask you another question; Are you a muslim?

    I'll drop this address in case you want to answer.

    November 13, 2007 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  20. Jeff, Chicago, Illinois

    I received the email about this story from the usual channels of half-informed, dim-witted, Republicans. In reading about it here, and upon reviewing the comments by others, I was disappointed to see that none of the comments mentioned how the email also tried to slur him by mentioning that "Hussein" is his middle name. Personally, I found that the most offensive. My brothers first name is Mark...should I be concerned that he is molesting hill interns? I have an uncle named Larry, and ironically another named Craig...maybe the two of them are double-teaming men in the Minneapolis airport!

    How about someone posting something that is not about mudslinging? We have real issues in the United States and the rest of the world. Real issues that need calm, intelligent, leadership.

    Wake up people.

    November 13, 2007 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  21. Cardinal -- Burbank, CA

    Not only zero leadership experience, as xtina said, but he needs to explain why he insisted on using the koran instead of the bible when he was sworn in. He's vague about everything, he has no concrete ideas about how to improve the economy in this country's recession, and he's all smoke and mirros when it comes down to how he genuinely feels about the issues.

    This man is NOT presidential material, unless he's a repug in dem's clothing.

    November 13, 2007 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |

    First, if this is how we determine patriotism we are in big trouble here folks. Second, we have major problems in this country which require serious thought, debate, answers and serious leadership to address those issues. Let's not get sidetracked by such inane issues such as this.

    November 13, 2007 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  23. diane, ringgold, georgia

    this is who i am voting for, so many people keep talking about experience, look at the mess " experience" has done to our country. we need honesty, not any more experience.

    November 13, 2007 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  24. Pete, Michigan

    As a life-long Democrat and a union member for 39 years, I think that you are our best hope to solve the problems of America. I love it when you came to Detroit and told the auto executives what they NEEDED to hear. You are a straight-shooter and someone we can trust. We know you are patriotic and someone who will restore America's reputation. It's probably those 'waco' republicans or hillary's people that are questioning your patriotism. They are just trying to distract you. I believe that you can help the auto industry become competitive again. We need new leadership. We're behind you 100%. Lead on Mr. Obama.

    November 13, 2007 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  25. Tim Wickens, Beaumont, TX

    I kind of wish he were muslim. At least if he were truly muslim he wouldn't be attending such a racist church...have you checked out the Trinity United Church of Christ principles on the web? All their goals promote the black community....Obama and his church really need to be a bit more open minded and inclusive!

    November 13, 2007 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
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