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. Becky in Indiana

    This is just like the Clinton camp. Are we not all sick of junk like this?! The McCaing campaign needs to learn to stick to real issues, not drama.


    February 19, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  2. oh no she didn't

    Why doesn't the McCain family fight hand to hand with the Obama family, and the the winner gets to be president. Short fight. John time for you and Cindy to take your afternoon nap.

    February 19, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  3. -sun

    Well considering Mrs. McCain's Age, one could infere that she was quite proud that in her youthful days she was proud of the fact that african americans were merely inferiors beings that deserved no equal treatment in this society. Would it be rational for me to bring that up after her statement of "always" being proud of her country.

    Of course not. These politians seem to cross lines of common sense too often. It is ridiculous to focus on that small portion of Mrs. Obama's comment without the benefit of context. There are times I have not been proud of this country. The fact that we let religious extremist of the christian kind force their views onto any and everyone else that occupies this country and this planet, is not a particularly pride inspiring thing to me. Does it mean I do not love my country or that I should be here trying to make it better? I think not.


    February 19, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  4. Ruth Pierson

    I agree with Michelle Obama. I too am really proud that people are getting off their butts and getting involved – taking part in there future.

    I think the press and the candidates need to focus on the important issues and the "point " Michelle was making-not try and make a mountain out of a sand pebble.

    February 19, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  5. suzy

    I have never been impressed with Michelle Obama.
    She has made some other statements that have really bothered me.
    I agree that as long as it's in her husband's favor, then it's OK.
    She should be representing the Democratic Party, not just him.
    I don't see, and haven't seen, that she is behind the party, but just her husband.
    That to me is not what it is all about.
    And I'm also glad to see that attention is brought to his great oratory skills, and questioning what is really behind those words.
    I don't ever want to discourage anyone from voting, but is a blind vote for Obama based on "following the pied piper" really the right vote for America?
    I think not.
    And when you look at his junior status in the senate, and his wife's comments, do you still follow? I think not.
    Even "the media" this morning was raising the question – how could America put such a junior Senator into the most powerful office in our country? He is not ready, not yet.
    I still hope for a dream ticket (dream being the operative word!), but I hope more that we all come together when the nominee is decided.
    The important thing is to win the White House from the Republicans!!!

    February 19, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  6. Mark @ MIT

    Michelle probably didn't mean to say what she said, but she should still apologize to those of us who are offended by her remark.

    That said, her remark hasn't changed my voting preference: I was for Hillary before and I happily voted for her in today's early primary in Texas. Go Hillary!

    February 19, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  7. Regina

    Way to go Cindy, Michelle's words convicted her, it is the true language of the extreme Liberals

    February 19, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  8. anthony for hillary

    now HILLARY IS TO BLAME for what MICHELE SAID? wow, you obama freaks are OVER THE TOP!

    February 19, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  9. Matt

    Another non-issue that the Republicans hope to win on come November. I find it amazing that neither Hillary nor McCain will debate Obama on issues, but rather silly non-issues.

    February 19, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  10. Victor

    Pride leads to arrogance. Maybe honor would be a better word.

    February 19, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  11. Boy George

    haha, is this the best McCain can come up with for obama? it's gonna be a bad election for the republicans

    February 19, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  12. Louis

    American citizens, yes we should be proud to be in this country, but we should not be proud of the downward spiral we have caused in our foreign policies, our economy, and our war. I am also proud to be proud of a New America that wants to change (which Michelle meant). I hope this clears anything up for those out there that are missing heart. The difference between Obama and the other candiates is that the truly EDUCATED(religion, the world, politics, etc.) people in our country are behind him. Look at your statistics.

    February 19, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  13. John, Austin, Texas

    What is wrong with having an opinion? Last time I checked, this is the United States of America where speaking one's mind is considered an inalienable right. I served in the military and I must say that Mrs. Obama is a true patriot for saying what she did! Wake up America! Stop lending importance to these silly political games from the Clinton and McCain campaigns!

    February 19, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  14. Cami

    Give me a break. This is non news. I am roughly the same age as Michelle Obama, and let me tell you, it's been a while since I've been REALLY proud of this country; particularly in the past seven years.

    People who think you have to constantly express pride in your country or you're somehow unpatriotic drive me crazy. I happen to think the opposite is true. If you love this country, you speak up for the changes you believe in and try your best to help make those changes.

    People who are trying to dissect this comment and somehow turn it into something it wasn't just make me laugh. The last thing we need in the White House is another robot spouting blind patriotism as justification for his or her own personal agenda.

    February 19, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  15. anthony for hillary

    oh puhleeze…this is what the media chooses to focus on in "scrutinizing" mrs. obama? i am waiting for the day a real reporter writes a story based on actual fact finding. THE OBAMAS are not without their tarnish yet they are being GIVEN A FREE RIDE by the press. this latest story in the spin cycle does not rise to the level of reporting. it is more distraction from the real news – BARACK IS AN INEXPERIENCED LEADER, albeit a good speech giver.

    February 19, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  16. Jen, Gainesville

    We are know what Michelle meant. I was not proud of the country after we invaded Iraq. I was not proud of the country when the president was caught red-handed in a sex scandal with an intern at the workplace-the White House. I am never proud of the country for all the dirty smear politics.

    February 19, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  17. Terry

    Come on get a life people why do you let yourself get suckered into this BS. Every person on this planet has said or made comments that could be misconstrued in more ways than one, its called being human. Look we have a sitting president who can fill a book with his idiotic comments. Bill and Hillary made comments during there political years I a sure they would like to forget as would the American people. I am a proud veteran who served under Ronald Regan and I am not offended by Michele Obama’s comments. Obama 08

    February 19, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  18. B from Miami, FL

    To Johnson:

    It's not the "media", so stop blaming the messenger. Think about it. She said, "For the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country". I could never say that, for I am ALWAYS proud of my country, in good times and bad times. Stop making excuses for the Obamas. You just can't get away with saying something so unpatriotic, especially during election time.

    February 19, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  19. Emily

    Funny, If Hillary Clinton had uttered those exact words, CNN would be villifying her on every show. But because they came from Oprah's boy's baby mama "it's all good". She REALLY didn't mean it that way. Well, let's see, maybe Bill Clinton didn't REALLY mean anything racist with his Jesse Jackson comment. I didn't see his comment as racism, but I don't really think in color. If Jesse Jackson was white, won in SC, and still lost the nomination, and Bill made the same statement, guess what, it would have been ignored. Media is feeding the BS frenzy to try & stop Hillary, so McCain can win. Obviously it's a see-saw of favoritism and it's wrong. Reporters should be professional enough (like Wolf) to keep their political biases in check. Talk about wanting to be a super delegate....

    February 19, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  20. Independent

    How sweet, now McCaine has decided to make his trophy wife speak to the press!

    I feel the same way. This is the first time I am proud to be living in this country. Those that are ignorant don't understand how much this country is lacking. Try living in another country for some time and then you'll understand what she means.

    With our deteriorating reputation all over the world, her words are completely accurate. This is just another cheap ploy by the republican party to try and make the obvious winner look bad in this race. McCaine, you will have NO chance, unless you run against Hillary!

    February 19, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  21. Worthington-Aberdeen

    I guess when the country CAME TOGETHER for all the heroes lost on 911 ... the fireman, the policeman, the ordinary citizens of Flight 93 that fought back ... when all the American flags waved from every home and business ... that didn't do it for her.

    February 19, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  22. Obamacan

    I've seen her on the stump multiple times. She's used this line before and this time she just misspoke. People should not read one or several quote(s) and try to define a person.

    February 19, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  23. A independent, Chicago, IL

    Michelle's comments are being blown WAY out of proportion not to mention they are being taken out of context by most media sources.
    And Frankly, I agree with her, there are many things to be proud about America for but we haven't had too many of those in recent decades.
    So are you going to call me un-American for that comment? Tell me to find another country? Because my family has been in america since 1690, this is my country, my country that gives me the right to speak out against bigots and misguided leaders of our nation.
    To berate Michelle Obama for her comment is what is really un-american, and I feel ashamed that people make such attacks on free speech in the name of America, which is in the name of my ancestors who lost their lives in the revolutionary war, civil war, WWI, WWII and korea, who fought for our freedom.

    February 19, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  24. terry

    This is real dumb to argue over. The dems will fall for anything to tear down their own party.

    I'm an independent, but what a stupid story to make dems beat on each other...

    The crazy thing is: the dems fall for these headlines all the time and then just pummel each other.

    February 19, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  25. Johnny Z

    Wow, another day another controversy that is 100% media manufactured and completely lacking in any substance whatsoever....

    February 19, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
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