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. Brian

    CNN lies

    Comments are moderated by CNN, in accordance with the CNN Comment Policy, and may not appear on this blog until they have been reviewed and deemed appropriate for posting. Also, due to the volume of comments we receive, not all comments will be posted.
    They use the excuse because of the amount of comments they receive not all will be posted, lies lies lies, they say that so if a comment is not to their liking or against the big guys/owners views of who they want to win they will not post it. Cnn is not unbiased reporting

    November 14, 2007 01:21 am at 1:21 am |
  2. BP, Columbia SC

    > "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?!
    Posted By E J, Phoenix, AZ : November 13, 2007 6:06 pm


    Calm down there, EJ. The prevailing custom during the pledge is to put one's hand over the heart. Not so with the national anthem.

    Next time you're at a sporting event look around. Hands folded in front, hands folded behind the back, hands on hearts. There's no one "right" way to position yourself during the anthem.

    November 14, 2007 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  3. Christian, Tampa FL

    The Muslim thing is ridiculous, both because it's incorrect and because people act like being a Muslim is inherently bad somehow. Dead wrong on both counts.

    This is what is so stupid about elections in our country. We have a candidate here with good policy ideas and a passion for genuine change, and all we can talk about are lapel pins and madrassas.

    November 14, 2007 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  4. pam Eugene, OR

    This one really reaks of the Clinton machine. Shrillary must be getting really nervous to sink this low. She is frightened and that makes me happy. She will flame out pretty soon now and we can get down to the business of healing our nation. Hillary is so divisive that it will take some time but let's get on with it and try to mend ourselves before we are stuck with 4 more years of the repugnants.
    NO to HRC

    November 14, 2007 01:41 am at 1:41 am |
  5. Bubba

    "Not Presidential material". Interesting. – Please explain what this means? We haven't had a good example in years.

    November 14, 2007 01:44 am at 1:44 am |
  6. ali asef, new york

    And what is wrong with being a Muslim Barack?

    November 14, 2007 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  7. Lou Dobbs, Plno TX

    He better not be a muslim! Islam is terrorism, and their prophet was a war criminal.

    November 14, 2007 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  8. Jason, Hill AFB UT

    Well I am glad to see that a man who feels he is qualified to run this country doesn't know enough about it to render proper respect to our flag. You can ask any kid in little league what are you supposed to do when the Star Spangled banner plays and they would know.

    November 14, 2007 02:04 am at 2:04 am |
  9. Robin, SF CA

    OK...and what is wrong with being a Muslim and patriotism? I am a Muslim American and an American Patriot. Obama = President? Definitley not. He doesn't have my vote. He is dishonest and feels that he needs to change who he is as a PERSON in order to win the hearts of true Americans. I think that is a no-go and only if he knew we can see straight through him.

    November 14, 2007 02:07 am at 2:07 am |
  10. Nadeem, Chicago, IL

    Why don't we focus on the really important stuff in this election like gay marraige again, or perhaps "strong leadership," such as that displayed by our President when planes hit the WTC and he sat around reading children's books?

    November 14, 2007 02:23 am at 2:23 am |
  11. Phil, Montclair, VA

    The problem isn't that he he might have been Muslim. The problem is that the church he does belong to is RASCIST. Unless you thought David Duke was a great candidate for national office, there is no reason anyone should vote for Obama. The Muslim rumors actually help Obama by deflecting attention away from the fact he's not only not qualified to lead a divierse nation, but actually committed to a rascist agenda.

    November 14, 2007 02:30 am at 2:30 am |
  12. Kyu Reisch, Radcliff, Kentucky

    Bryan, Obama said "we were not saying the Pledge of Allegiance...we were singing the Star Spangled Banner", what is the difference? Singing and saying are connected with patriotism, is it Presidential candidate's patriotism if he doesn't show his respect when people are singing The National Anthem?, what kind of President he will be in the future?
    He is not a material for the candidate and he lied to us. Think about his behavior, stop to wear the flag pin, no feeling about Star Spangled Banner and Pledge of Allegiance, where is his mind? I think he is disqualified for the President of United States of America. Bryan, don't you think it is a serious news and related to Obama's politics?

    November 14, 2007 02:38 am at 2:38 am |
  13. Paul Hasting, Berkeley, CA

    I personally feel Obama looks like and acts like a muslim. His credentails should be checked before he can stand in the race. We stand a big risk of having him as the future President of the most Powerful and responsible nation across the globe.

    November 14, 2007 02:50 am at 2:50 am |

    Obama '08
    He's real. He says how he feels.
    He's about hope. He's about change. Most importantly, he's for the people.
    Vote Obama.

    November 14, 2007 03:05 am at 3:05 am |
  15. Dave, California

    United States Code Title 36 Chapter 3 — National Anthem, Motto, Floral Emblem, and March
    §301. National anthem; Star-Spangled Banner
    The composition consisting of the words and music known as The Star-Spangled Banner is designated the national anthem of the United States of America.

    Conduct during playing — During rendition of the national anthem—
    when the flag is displayed —
    all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart;
    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
    individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note; and
    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.

    It seems that the Senator doesn't even know the laws regarding this. I think we should be allowed to question his patriotism about this and not wearing the pin. Something is very wrong here.

    November 14, 2007 03:08 am at 3:08 am |
  16. Gus, miami fl

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

    k, you got your pat on the back cnn. now keep omitting news like the king of spain telling chavez to shut up...

    November 14, 2007 03:08 am at 3:08 am |
  17. John, Detroit, Michigan

    did he actually just bring up "swiftboating" after getting on President Clinton's case for reminding all the Democrats of what Republicans intend to do to them once the general election starts?

    okay, He got on Clinton's case for equating the illegal immigration issue to military service, and now he's equating an e-mail rumor to military service? he can't be serious.

    Obama is just sleazy.

    November 14, 2007 03:10 am at 3:10 am |
  18. Ellis, Providence

    "If I was muslim, I would tell you"!?!

    CNN, is there a reason you feel the need to misquote Obama's quote to make his grammar worse, making him seem stupid? Every little detail counts.

    November 14, 2007 03:16 am at 3:16 am |
  19. Ruth Bethinger, NYC

    Actually Sen. Obama stood up for hard issues in Illinois and won – I know because my son and his family live there. I get a little tired of the Hillary plants here repeating the "Obama has no experience" line that the Clinton campaign has been feeding. I guess the story is that Hillary Clinton has experience, but that experience is locked away in the Bill Clinton presidential library?

    Here are some of Obama's achievements in Illinois. He has done plenty more in the US Senate (including stopping nuclear weapon proliferation, increasing efficient car production, reforming campaign ethics laws, increasing veterans benefits, investigating Blackwater, requiring public disclosure of porkbarrel legislation, and the list goes on).

    November 14, 2007 03:21 am at 3:21 am |
  20. Jessie Phoenix AZ

    I saw that email. The only difference, I knew that he was singing the "Star Spangled Banner". As far as if he is a Muslim what would it matter if he was a practicing Muslim. Isn't religion ruining the world right now? We had Osama Bin Ladin a religous conservative who was the mastermind behind 9/11 and it happened because he didn't like Western society. At the same time we have Christians trying to turn the clocks back a few hundred years and essentially doing the same thing. Then we have Hillary who is just like Bush with thier heads in the lap of many Corporations. Now come on people lets talk about policy instead of worring about a candidate's religous beliefs or if he was singing the "Star Spangled Banner" or reciting the "Pledge of Allegiance"
    We need to get our country back on track before it gets any worse.

    November 14, 2007 03:26 am at 3:26 am |
  21. Erik, Paradise California

    Am I missing something? I thought it was appropriate to place your hand over your heart for BOTH saying Pledge of Allegiance AND while singing the Starred Spangles Banner. Wow...has he no clue at all?

    November 14, 2007 03:33 am at 3:33 am |
  22. Jordan

    What is the big dal with being a muslim in America today. You are demonising a whole race of people and it is akin to likening them to Naziz. Please start to take a mature and educated stance on this issue and realise that it is not a bad thing to be a muslim. Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world and more conerts are so called "white skins" than from any other race.

    November 14, 2007 03:36 am at 3:36 am |
  23. Michelle, Sierra Madre, CA

    My mother believed this rumor. And she's the type of woman who believes that if it is in print, it must be true.

    November 14, 2007 03:45 am at 3:45 am |
  24. Carsten, Seattly Wa

    I can't comprehend how this whole pledge of allegiance business has gotten so far. I consider myself to be very patriotic, and I haven't recited the Pledge of Allegiance or sung the Star Spangled Banner for 20 years. Who cares where his hands were? And whether he is a Muslim or not? To believe that, you have to be pretty ignorant, since he flaunts his Christian faith quite a bit. But again, who cares if he was a Muslim? It's not Muslims who are trying to destroy our way of life. It's Muslim Fundamentalists. Big difference. Just like it's not Christians who in fact are destroying our country. It's Christian Fundamentalists.

    November 14, 2007 03:51 am at 3:51 am |
  25. FromALikeMindedCitizen

    I hear this now a days – “…will not vote for Hillary. In fact, I personally don’t know of any Democrat who will vote for her…”

    So many people around here with so many friends with so many confirmed votes against Hillary.
    It’s disproportionate dogma.
    It’s a charade from a few dissenters, a few hundred at most, who consider their recurring angst a reflection of the attitudes of 120 million other likely voters.
    It’s hate as certitude, imbalance in love with nonsense.

    For what it’s worth, which is litle at all, I know somebody who says that all 27 members of her weekly book club swear that they’ll vote for Hillary.
    To which I say, as to all others who’ve seen the light and swear that their vision is true, what’s it prove besides hope’s being mistaken for fact?

    November 14, 2007 03:57 am at 3:57 am |
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