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. Liz

    I see Michelle as a woman of heart, stature, and intellectual ability, and a speaker who chooses words carefully. I'm grateful her truth came out sooner than later.

    Hopefully, those words will simplify the "tough choice" facing the voters in TX, OH, PN, HI and WI. Superdelegates may finally rest in peace.

    February 19, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  2. Sarah L, Fayetteville, AR

    I'm tired of the notion that patriotism means never being critical of America. There's nothing wrong with what Michelle Obama said. She didn't say she hates America–she offered an honest statement about her personal pride in this country.

    We've had 8 years of a leader and followers who unflinchingly support everything America does. That is not patriotism. That is the sort of shortsightedness that leads to nothing but failure.

    February 19, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  3. Bukky, Baltimore

    Um I'm 24 years Old and THIS is the first time that I am proud of this country.

    After the failure of Reganomics and his choice to ignore the AIDS crisis... the nonsense fall out of Bill having sex, the debacle that is the Bush presidency... What is there to be proud off. We have constantly failed as a country.

    For the first time in History this country is looking PAST race (for the most part) This is something I am proud of.

    February 19, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  4. Electress

    And you thought Bill Clinton was a loose cannon on the campaign trail.

    Last year Michelle said, our view is that if can't run your own house, you certainly can't run the white house. This was here swipe at
    Hillary. But the chilling words "for the lst time in my adult life, I am
    proud of my country" is beyond belief. It cuts down all people, black and white, hispanics, asian, male and female.

    I am so proud of the many soldiers who with honor fight as proud
    Americans. This campaign is taking the limelight away from the war,
    and this war isn't over.

    So many people are voting for Hillary because she is the best
    candidate, she stands proud of Americans, and her family.
    Doesn't get any better than that.

    February 19, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  5. satish

    FYI eclecticbrotha:
    Barack Obama has nothing to do with the chant "Yes We Can" it was first used by United Farm Workers Union in 1972

    February 19, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  6. TLC

    RSP –
    African-American's don't have any other history to trace back to other than slavery. If you read your history books, these people were taken from their home country; forced to provide free labor to people who looked upon them as animals; were raped and murdered; were separated from their spouses ona whim; told to give up their native language and beliefs.

    But, getting back on subject, Michelle and Barack don't necessarily bring that to the oval office with them; have you looked around lately? How many people are of mixed nationality? Very few can identify solely with one racial or ethnic background. America has become what it's always perported itself to be, a melting pot.

    February 19, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  7. Joseph

    I haven't been proud of my country in my entrire adult life.

    For my entire adult life we have endured Clinton-Clinton-Bush-Bush. What is there to be proud of?

    If Obama gets elected president, then I will be proud. If McCain or Clinton is elected, well, I guess that I will have to wait some more.

    February 19, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  8. The Democratically Enlightened Citizen

    Amen Joseph, amen.

    February 19, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  9. mary

    Obama isn't proud when the pledge of alliance is said or he would put his hand over his heart. Now his wife is finally proud to be an American. Do we really know these who these people are? My vote will go to a true blue American!!!!!!

    February 19, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  10. Christian, Tampa FL

    I am a voter that has not been proud of his country in a long time. Barack Obama makes me proud to be an American, but McCain represents all the reasons why I've been disillusioned with an arrogant foreign policy and Big Brother style of government.

    If McCain is elected president over Obama, I will not be a proud American. He represents the same old Republican nonsense and I will be ashamed of my fellow countrymen if we elect a President based on fears over taxes and terrorists, instead of the hope of a new direction for this wayward government.

    February 19, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  11. Paul

    Ok, I think this is just ridiculous. I just hope that people give me enough grace when I speak (or type) and take the time to get to know me as a person. Who personally knows Michelle Obama? I am willing to bet that there isn't a single soul on this comment board who really knows her well enough to judge her comments. How quickly we all scrutinize the little comments made by those who are in the public forum. When it comes to our own lives we often make broad strokes when trying to make a point.

    When it comes down to who to vote for, I haven't landed on one side or another, but this definitely is not what I would consider newsworthy or helpful when choosing who to vote for.

    February 19, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  12. milk

    She went to Princeton and Harvard and now has a job paying her $212,000 a year. She has a husband in the Senate and two children more than likely born in U.S. hospitals. And she is not proud till now!! Liberals like her truly make me sick!!

    February 19, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  13. Lucas, Nashville TN

    I have not been proud of my country since about September 12th 2001... till now. In fact, I was not proud of my country under Clinton during his fiascos with Waco and his deregulation of media.

    It comes and goes.

    Only mindless sheep are "always proud".

    The rest of us are REAL... and vote for such. Hence, Obama.

    Perhaps some pompous Hillary supporters need an enema of free thought.

    February 19, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  14. Dave, Santa Barbara CA

    I am an American, but I am proud of some aspects of America.

    It's American arrogance that has caused much of the world to hold their noses.

    February 19, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  15. Nick, Rochester, NY

    Michelle is the real bad news. She never learned to hide her sentiments and vote "present". I wrote to you earlier that their followers have Che Guevara pictures and Cuban flags hanging on the walls of one of their Texas offices, I think it is the Dallas office. You did not post my contribution. Now you see what America-haters we are confronted with in the Obamas and their followers.

    February 19, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  16. Justin

    People are stupid. She never said she wasn't proud of her country. She said now that she is REALLY proud of her country. Always read the fine print before you act like you know everything.

    February 19, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  17. pat

    Michelle Obama is already too big for her britches.

    February 19, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  18. citizen3591


    This is as irrelevant as the Clinton campaign's complaint that Obama incorporated the good ideas of other politicians into his speech.

    End of comment. I have no more words to waste on this.

    February 19, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  19. Ken, California

    I don't understand how the Obama's supporters are still supporting him. Time to wake up and accept the reality. Sorry but the concert is over.

    February 19, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  20. Truth Seeker

    M. Obama and B. Obama take a lot of "pride" in words, and speaking from the heart. I think we all have to take M. Obama at her word: For the first time in her adult life she is really proud of America. Call it arrogant, self indulgent, elitest, dismissive of all the hard work undertaken from everybody from the Peace Corps to the Armed Services, and all the progress made to make America a better place, the fact is, these people view themselves as savior. If you want to vote for a self annointed political messiah, go right ahead.

    February 19, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  21. linda

    I would love to see the wives of O bama and Mc Cain face off in a debate. Mc Cain would be squashed like a bug.

    February 19, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  22. Joyce, Indiana

    Does anyone really know what the Obamas think about this country ? What country would they like the United States to be more like??

    February 19, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  23. Mary

    Michelle Obama is only a generation and a few years old. She is right to say in her lifetime. Cindy McCain is older and richer tthan most.
    This too is the first time in a long time even for me at age 56, (Since JFK) have we felt such life.

    February 19, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  24. Vince Los Angeles, CA


    We haven't had very much to be proud of in the last 8 years......FOR THE FIRST TIME IN A LOOOOONG TIME I'M FINALLY PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN.....and if you don't like that you know where you can stick it!!!

    February 19, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  25. Herb

    With the desperation of the Clinton campaign Senator McCain is seeking to use this as an issue of substance. How sad...it's unfortunate that the entire text was not quoted, only the part that could be used as fodder for candidate like McCain to try and kiss up to the real Conservatives that know just who know what a back stabber he truly is! I thought you were better than that Mr. McCain...how sad.

    February 19, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
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