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. janelle

    I'm not in the public eye, but I can tell you I haven't been proud of the way our country does things in a long, long time. Seven years of the ego-centric Bush has brought shame in so many ways to our country and its citizens. Clinton might have been a good President in a leadership way, but his personal life put the country to shame as well. To say he humiliated his wife, the office, and the country is putting it mildly. Finally we have someone, in a country of more than 200 million people, who inspires us, who gives us hope. Michelle Obama was stating the obvious. Give her a break!!

    February 19, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  2. TJ WILLIAMS, Los Angeles, CA

    So who put a nickel in the "barbie" doll? You can barely hear her voice over the air escaping out of her head. "I am proud of my country. I don’t know about you, if you heard those words earlier "...being an affluent white woman...I'm sure you're proud of the America you get exposed to. Please go back to your fake smile and fake wave.

    February 19, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  3. Q

    The first lady is going to fly around the world helping improve the image of the U.S. world wide. I don't want a first lady that will say the wrong things and has not always been proud of her country.

    February 19, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  4. Angela

    Hey Johnson – I would agree with everything that you are saying if the sound bite did NOT include 'for the first time in my adult life'

    Obama would be a GREAT president........in 9 years

    Go Hillary

    February 19, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  5. Jenny

    She was proud of the hope she sees in the country - if you read the whole statement.

    Let's face it if you were for Clinton you'll jump on this and if you're for Obama you won't. If you are truly undecided, and something like this makes your mind up - then you haven't really looked at the issues, and you have a short memory of the so called golden days of the Clintons.

    Scandels, lawsuits, drama, hey the Clintons say they love their country but that didn't stop them from hurting the country before and it won't now .

    I am losing interest in this whole election because if the Democrats don't stop this petty infighting - McCain will win . Another 4 years of Bush policies.

    February 19, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  6. Bill Vroom

    Hey, this is off topic, but I just came upon a wonderful Obama website at http://obamawill.com Very funy.

    My wife – who has favored Clinton – took a look and said it was the first Obama thing that made her like him. Go figure.

    February 19, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  7. Phyllis

    People say Michelle is arrogant. It appears she is harming her husband's campaign, just as Bill is harming Hillary's efforts.

    Why do we have to have these spouses spouting of anyway? They should stick to their own knitting.

    February 19, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  8. Ian, Canton, OH

    I am young and feel the same way Mrs. Obama does. What you old people don't understand, is that for the past several decades this country has been run not by patriots but by corrupt powerbrokers. There is an entire generation who have grown up watching this. That's why we have had record low voter turnout.
    Bush represents to many of us, the absolute lowest point we can remember. That's why Obama is doing so well, and exciting so many people, who long to be part of a country we can be proud of.

    February 19, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  9. RSP

    Many of you think this is "much ado about nothing", but remember that Michele and Barack Obama come to this nomination with baggage. As African-Americans they trace their heritage to slavery. There is a resentment toward whites because of it. It may be buried deep, but it is there. To many Americans, black Americans have a right and obligation to remember their difficult past, however, this is the mindset that Barack and his wife bring to the Oval Office.

    Are you ready for your country's leader to be looking at American policy through a lens of discrimination? It can't be helped, unfortunately. I wish Senator Obama had been a governor for 4 years-some type of leadership position-so we could see the history of his policy decisions. We don't know enough about him or his loyalties to vote him to the most powerful office in the land.

    Independents and young voters don't care about this-all they want is vision-That's not enough!

    February 19, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  10. AC in Alabama

    I will be voting for McCain if Obama wins the nomination.

    -Obama has to borrow speeches because the wheels came off the "Just Talk Express".
    -His wife hates her country. I guess liberating Iraq and Afghanistan is nothing to be proud of. No other country was going to do it. I guess Libya giving up there WMD program was not something to be proud of. The collapse of the Soviet Union, the technological advances of the 90's, etc. Michelle Obama hates her country.
    -She quit her job in hopes that she is going to be the next first lady. Reminds me of when John Edwards quit his job as Senator to run for President.
    -Obama is an occasional smoker.

    If he sweeps today I am sending John McCain a check.

    I doubt CNN will post this. They seem to be Hillary haters.

    February 19, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  11. Maria Sotomayor

    Why wouldn't Cindy always be proud of her country and how her country and it's laws have protected people like her. Michelle, on the other hand is in awe at how someone like her managed to arrive in spite of the laws and system that somehow is designed to protect those like Cindy! I can relate to Michelle!

    Maria Sotomayor,
    Hispanic working woman from Arizona!

    February 19, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  12. cate

    Amorphous. Intangible.
    Identifies as a dual-nationality.
    "Change" is cliche, a wilting promise.

    Tested. Dissected.
    Sees Americans as Asian, Latino, African, Caucasian....more.
    Hell-bent on getting healthcare for all.

    Nuff said.

    February 19, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  13. Ryan

    Nice try McCain and Hillary supporters. Too bad it won't work. Try again.

    February 19, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  14. John NV

    Michelle Obama…just another example of a leftist who deep inside loathes America. You see this attitude in the liberal media with countless stories on American atrocities in Iraq but no coverage of Medal of Honor winners.

    Looks like Randy Berger nailed it. A lot people are making living insulting America on TV, much more is listening to each word of this insults. Michel is playing cool; she is trying to get votes from the left wing electorate.

    February 19, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  15. David

    Now is the time to bring forth Cindy McCain's background and qualifications for the position of First Lady. Let the news media cross examine her qualifications as a possible 1st Lady in "OUR" White House. What will she have to contribute, if any, to the Republican party, beside being just a spouse and bake cookies, etc. We, the American people have the right to know. Let her explain her qualifications as the 1st Lady. Waiting to see if CNN can make this happen. We'll see!!!!!!!

    February 19, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  16. Mike Jones

    Mrs. McCain needs to go back to being the "other woman". She is no match for Michelle Obama. Stick a fork in it you husband stealer.

    February 19, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  17. jb

    oh my god! who are you people on here? you're all frikkin crazy. this is totally a non-issue. a complete media fabrication! get a grip people! jeez!

    February 19, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  18. irreverently

    I wish Michelle hadn't said it that way, but if you look at the ENTIRE video, and not just that one phrase, you will see that this whole issue is overblown. She was talking about voter apathy as a result of the status quo and bitter partisan politics where the people's business has not gotten done for the last 20 years (her adult life). She said traveling around the country has shown her how much people do care. So her pride is twofold - 1, she had not seen much evidence that people cared before, but now as she has as she said "had the privilege" to travel around and seen it for herself she is proud; 2, now that people are energized, she is proud that people are expressing their voice and their desire for change. She didn't burn the flag on the stage, for crying out loud. She was expressing a positive experience, not negative.

    February 19, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  19. KC

    Michelle Obama....welcome to the media's "Clinton Rules", where the mainstream media takes every word out of context and blows it out of proportion.

    February 19, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  20. williams

    Would you be proud of Ronald Reagan?
    Would you be proud of the failure of Affirmative Action?
    Would you be proud of our educational system?
    Would you be proud of the debacle we call healthcare?
    Would you be proud of the Urban Poor?
    Michelle Obama is right, I am proud that I am able to agree with her opinion without fear, Barack Obama will lead the way to a new, more secure America, remember what we forgot in the George Bush years, we are only as strong as our weakest citizen...dont leave the forgotten behind...

    February 19, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  21. Lori

    Trophy Wife?? That cracked me up. They've been married for what..nearly 30 yrs? Paaalease. Just because she looks great she's a trophy wife?

    February 19, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  22. Peg




    February 19, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  23. Ted

    This "story" about who has more patriotism, Mrs. Obama or Mrs McCain is perhaps the most pathetic story I have ever seen on CNN. What level has our media sunk to? Let's try to stick to issues, not idiocy.

    February 19, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  24. NoWorry

    Michele Obama said on national television: "This is the first time in my adult life that I can say I am proud of my country. "

    I just can not believe that Michele Obama said so. It is unacceptable no matter how you interpret what she said. Good or bad, I love America without any conditions. I just don’t believe that Michele Obama is ready for being the first lady and Obama is ready for being American president. Period.

    February 19, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  25. B en

    I recall McCain stating that he will not participate in a dirty campaign. So I guess he is going to let his * trophy wife sling his dirt.

    February 19, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
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