February 19th, 2008
03:27 PM ET
10 years ago

Cindy McCain, Michelle Obama in patriotism flap

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/02/19/art.maccindy0219.ap.jpg caption="Cindy McCain said she was proud of the United States during a campaign event Tuesday."]
(CNN) - Tuesday morning seemed to bring the debut of yet another McCain-Obama flap – this time, Cindy McCain and Michelle Obama.

As she introduced her husband John McCain, the likely Republican nominee, at a campaign event, Cindy McCain told the crowd I “am proud of my country. I don’t know about you, if you heard those words earlier - I am very proud of my country.”

The comment seemed to be a response to a remark from Michelle Obama the day before. On Monday, the wife of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama told a Wisconsin audience that “For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country, because it feels like hope is making a comeback… not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change."

After Tuesday’s event, the McCains were asked if the Arizona senator’s wife had been responding to that comment. Cindy McCain did not directly answer the question, responding: “I just wanted to make the statement that I have and always will be proud of my country.”

On Monday, Obama spokesman Bill Burton released a statement in response to the controversy: “Of course Michelle is proud of her country, which is why she and Barack talk constantly about how their story wouldn't be possible in any other nation on Earth.

“What she meant is that she's really proud at this moment because for the first time in a long time, thousands of Americans who've never participated in politics before are coming out in record numbers to build a grassroots movement for change.”

UPDATE: In an interview with San Antonio radio station WOAI Tuesday, Barack Obama said his wife's comment has been taken out of context.

"Statements like this are made and people try to take it out of context and make a great big deal out of it, and that isn't at all what she meant," he said.

"What she meant was, this is the first time that she's been proud of the politics of America," he also said. "Because she's pretty cynical about the political process, and with good reason, and she's not alone. But she has seen large numbers of people get involved in the process, and she's encouraged."

- CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand

Filed under: Cindy McCain • Michelle Obama
soundoff (381 Responses)
  1. JP


    February 19, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  2. Charlie

    Obama,s Old Lady needs too "Bite the Rag"

    February 19, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  3. Rose, MD

    For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country too. We have an African American and a woman running for presidency.

    What is wrong with what Michelle said about being proud of her country. She mentioned in an interview with Larry King live that growing up this was not a possibility to her. People we all had defferent experiences growing up. What was normal for one person was not normal for the next.

    Let us just appreciate peoples comments based on their life experiences and thank God for your perfect and nothing impossible and all thins possible life. Most of us did not have that luxury. So don't criticize the next person just cherish your own life and thank God for it.

    February 19, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  4. jabu

    i really cannot believe that people that hope to lead out nation are even making this an issue.... its all GAMES GAMES GAMES as usual.... get off the playground folks... the US Presidency is serious business

    February 19, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  5. W.A.

    Come on CNN, let my comment through please...

    Relax and give me a break. This isn't news. I'm surprised to even hear Cindy McCain speak. And when she does, she tries to take a shot. How about talking about issues? Kudos to Huckabee even though I support Obama. Can these folks [McCains & Clintons] just run on their own merit, instead of trying to continue the cheap shots and divisive politics? They say Obama "lacks specifics", so why do they continue to go after him? Frankly, I think it's great.

    And for the Hillary supporters, how can you justify this comment? It's stupid and they [McCain's] are grasping at straws. Show a tad bit of unity here.

    JP SW, your comments are incorrect and filled with emotion without facts. It is common knowledge that the Republicans would rather go against Hillary because they will unite the Repub party. However, you continue to spin yourself into believing the contrary. Truly, give it a rest. Hillary and Bill injected race into this campaign hoping that it would catch on. Support Hillary based on facts, but stop with the race bating nonsense.

    February 19, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  6. JOe

    This is precisely the reason we need Obama in office. The fact that he and his beautiful wife haven't been schooled in the flawed way of modern American politics enough so as to mute their honesty and their ability to speak openly. What she said looks bad, but if you were watching the speech it was moving. She overcame incredible adversity to achieve what she wouldn't have been able to achieve in any other country in this world. She is clearly patriotic and proud, and in the context of her speech she was making a point about the great pride she felt currently – and how that pride in her country is being elevated by the response to the hopeful candidacy of her husband.

    The bleached, pre-screened, and deeply vetted canned remarks of the other candidates are a testament to what is wrong with American politics. The campaign process has turned from a positioning of yourself and your honest opinions on the issues to a Survivor-like competition, where the last one left standing; the one who made the least "gaffes" ends up on top. That is not the right way to pick our leaders. That is what got us into the mess that we've been in, the stalemate between the parties and the bitter partisanship that precludes any sort of collaboration. That is precisely what Obama is campaigning against – he is advocating a return to the days when politicians were able to speak more honestly without being so cautious about each word. Such a mentality stifles the intellectual exchange of ideas that we as a nation of freedom rely on. If candidates weren't so afraid of being misquoted or taken out of context resulting in a bold-letter headline across drudge and a slew of attack ads to follow, then they'd be more capable to say what the mean and speak to the American people without insulting their intelligence with catch phrases, ten word summaries, and meticulously researched and "focus grouped" applause lines.

    A vote for Obama is a vote to at least make a significant push in the direction of normalcy, honesty, and a better result that has always come from the intellectually honest exchange of ideas. Even between those who disagree with one another.

    Nothing's impossible, but I am skeptical as to the chances of that happening under either Clinton or McCAin.

    February 19, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  7. JA Cook

    How pathetic that our politics continually comes down to trivial minutiae and how it can be twisted and misrepresented for political gain.

    I long for the day when we can see intelligent discussions about real issues and the media won't participate in dragging down the level of discussion.

    I'm ready for change.

    February 19, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  8. Coby Austin, Tx.

    You see how the media turns everything said around. Then you have people saying "If you don't like our country, leave" I'm not saying any names (JPSW). Not only that but we may not have the problems that other countries have but we've had some very serious problems dealing with aspects of our country that we shouldn't be proud of. Stop acting like the U.S. is flawless. Course she's proud of her country. I hope Obama wins this nomination and the presidency just to piss you negative, cynic, word twisting media and bloggers off! You guys are pathetic.

    February 19, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  9. Maxine

    Funny how the two sides-Clinton and McCain come out the day before Tuesday to start things with Obama.

    If you listened to what Michelle said it was about the unity that has come out in support of her husband. Reminding all of us that race shouldn't matter-but of course if you want to read something bad into it go for it McCains and Clintons-I see what kind of strategy your camps are running. How this saddens me to see how far we will go to get elected.

    February 19, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  10. josh


    February 19, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  11. Paul

    Anyone who is always proud of his or her country is ignorant. America is not perfect and has made plenty of mistakes. That doesn't change the fact this is a great place to live and the country has accomplished some wonderful things, but jeez, think critically once in a while.

    February 19, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  12. Lola

    She sticks with her man, not to the country. Nice start for the "Change".

    February 19, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  13. krupal

    There she goes again. Michelle obama has put her foot in her mouth, again. When she clearly said "for the first time..." why is Bill Burton twisting and changing and adding words to hers when her intent was clear. Does Barack Obama have anything to say about this, as a candidate?

    I understand his spouse, like Hillary's, helping on the stump, but why can't the comments be positive and inspiring instead of being critical and judgmental.

    February 19, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  14. VA


    February 19, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  15. Harsh Reality

    Despite this petty bickering, the TRUTH is that many Americans are polarized against the Clintons but have no feeling against Obama. If HRC wins, she has no chance of winning the moderates or stealing Republicans and the race against McCain will be very close. Plus, McCain will beat her over the head with "Well, you voted for the war too!" and "You were for the war before you were against it."

    If Obama wins, the election will be about the war, and since most Americans - including many moderate Republicans - are against the war, it will be a blow-out.

    People also forget that the Clintons couldn't get along with anybody their first terms and the government became seriously gridlocked. That was the real legacy of the Clinton administration: Gridlock.

    February 19, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  16. JKH

    I am a 43 year old woman who was born and raised to be a proud American and in my 25 years of adulthood my pride has only grown stronger. Not only for the great things that our country has done for its own citizens but for those around the world. As corny as this may sound to some, at night when I say my prayers I do thank God for being born in the US and for the wonderful community I live in. We have much to be thankful and proud of.

    The 2008 campaign and the Obamas are not the sole center of the United States of America. Perhaps a suggestion of a little humility and a lot of thankfulness for those who have sacrificed for our country.

    February 19, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  17. AS16

    There is no chance HIllary Clinton can beat McCain because independents will not vote for her over McCain. Obama, on the other hand, will win draw independents away from Clinton.

    For the comments above that conclude they won't vote for Obama because of what his wife said, I just don't see the logic.

    It's like the logic that HIllary Clinton's experience as First Lady makes her more experienced to be President. It does not. She has a few more years than Obama in the US Senate. HOWEVER, it is her ONE and ONLY elected position. Can we remember that Obama had 7 years in the Illinois State Senate? Using the Clinton logic, I suppose that means Michelle Obama has 7 years of experience as a State Senator?


    February 19, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  18. ezz

    the obama camp makes mistake number two in little as two-three days. You wait and see the republicans are going to have a field day with these flaps (you all seen scaraborough yesterday???? he absolutely gave it to Michelle). I just hope the obamas dont go crying to media cause the republicans dont care what Chris Mathews think, they dont care what pundits who are for Obama think, they will rip every little mistake that team Obama makes. And all you obama supporters, please dont give CNN (who has so far showed bias for Obama) any crap about this article. I remember when Bill Clinton said "jesse jackson won South Carolina, and you all called him a racist, when in fact he was just stating the facts, jesse jackson did win s. carolina along with many other heavy african american populated states. If the obama camp can turn facts into a race issue, trust me the republicans will turn this into a patriotism issue. Apologize ms. obama and dont be so full of yourself, which she is by the way.

    HILLARY 08!!!!
    OBAMA 08!!!!!

    Proud dem that supports both candidates and you obama fanatics grow up! I voted for Obama in Illinois! And I will vote forever wins the demo primaries.

    February 19, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  19. Eric, California

    The Obama campaign has succeeded in making the American people united... AGAINST the OBAMAS!


    February 19, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  20. OBAMA 08

    Cindy should remember to tell John what she said. And only if she can remember. These 2 are a prize.Personally i would rather have Bush for another 4 years.If she tangles with Michelle Obama, she will need her pills to recover.

    February 19, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  21. Carolina Democrat

    Sounded like a Freudian silp to me....My guess it she meant to say " I've never been prouder to be an American than right now" and it came out badly (the slip part) " I've never really been proud until now." A sign of her true feelings....happens all the time. Now we have an insight on how whe really feels.

    February 19, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  22. Prescott Barnes

    To quote Thomas Jefferson,

    "Revolution is the truest form of patriotism."

    Get it together kids. This is getting revolting.

    February 19, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  23. Jake

    Cindy McCain probably meant nothing by her statement. There is no way that you can be proud of every single thing that our nation has done AND you cannot be proud of the unseen future. Caring for you country is more than thinking that it is always right. Caring for a child means letting it know when it is doing good things and bad things.

    February 19, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  24. xtina

    First Obama doesnt salute the flag, then he doesn't want to wear a flag pin, and you don't hear the Obamas praising our finest men and women of the military. I want to hear a candidate say America is great and Americans are great !

    Michelle + her husband attended the best schools, are living the American dream, and have achieved a lot. Their children attend private school. They are wealthy now. At what point did America fail her?

    February 19, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  25. Randy in MN

    CNN probably won't post it but I'll write anyway.

    Look, leave this woman alone. She did not say she was not proud of this country. I saw somewhere else where they said she insisted that she was ashamed of this country. She said this is the first time in her adult life she has been "really" proud of this country. Who has been "really" proud of this country over the past 8 (even 16) years? I love this country just like Mrs. Obama and I am proud of it....but how many of you can say you are "really" proud? Please explain. This country has come a long way....an African American and a woman running for President. I'm very proud of that. This war, the scandals, investigations, and alleged perjury accusations all are nothing to be proud of. What has congress done over the past 16 years to make you "really" proud? We are moving to new lows in this country.

    February 19, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
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