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. Adam - TX

    MIchelle Obama is a disgrace.

    Of course the biased media will quickly turn this around and try to justify what she meant to say.

    This campaign is only for the moment. They are not looking out for America's best interest. Any educated voter should be able to see through the scripted rhetoric and realize this campaign is riding on a false hopes for America.

    The campaign should be ashamed of themselves.

    February 19, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  2. kevin from alaska

    At John McCain reallies he sings Weird Al-style parodies about bombing Iran and he and his supporters laugh about it. Iran: a country accused of being a threat despite intelligence suggesting otherwise, a country with a large civilian population, a country that Cheney and folks want to invade. That sounds a lot like Iraq to me.

    Is that the America you're proud of?

    February 19, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  3. Anacostia

    cindy mccain's had too many surgeries – the law shouldn't allow it. at least michelle is "natural".

    February 19, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  4. Grif

    Change for all the: TOTO"s, not just Borack Obama's...

    Uhuru, Kwa Yoti (Kiswailli) Ask Obama!

    February 19, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  5. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Kevin in Fl: Be careful who you call a fake until you know Cindy McCain and then you will clearly know who the fake is. Apparently you have did some reading on Michelle Obama's background so take the time to check out Cindy McCain's background.

    February 19, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  6. Cathy

    Much ado about nothing....

    February 19, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  7. Jim Schumacher

    Senator Obama makes me feel proud to be an American.

    There have been times in the past that I was very proud of my country, such as when the Kennedy Civil Rights Act became law in 1964, but there were other moments when I was not so proud to be an American, such as when President Bush invaded Iraq for no clear reason.

    February 19, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  8. Joseph

    The families of the dead Iraq citizens are wondering what we have to be proud of.

    February 19, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  9. Janel, St. Paul, MN

    Oh brother!

    My admiration for Cindy McCain just went down a few notches. What a petty thing to say.

    Michelle Obama did not mean that she has never before been proud of her country. In all her speeches she talks about the opportunities she values as an American. In this speech, she stated her pride in America because for the first time large numbers of Americans are taking part in the political process. I've heard her speak before many times. . .this time her position wasn't clearly stated.

    I'm wondering. . .has Cindy McCain or anyone writing these blocks ever failed in articulating a position?

    Really now!!

    February 19, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  10. JC

    okay here we go again. I too can say for a long time i'm proud to be an afro-american in my adult life! This country has been running itself in the ground for the last few years since I can remember. I was just thinking the other day when was the last time i have seen a sign on a product saying "made in the USA" we have pretty much marketed our "american" status away that it is almost impossible to be "truly american". Let's get back to the political scene at hand and be happy that in what's left of being an american we still have the right to choose in a democracy a president of any color or gender. Lets get back to making the USA the USA it should be. OBAMA 08!

    February 19, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  11. Eric, Newtown, PA

    This is a non-story except for those who want to read something into it and give themselves the vapors. To the critics of Michelle Obama: Really, if you were on stage for months at a time, you think every sentence out of your mouth would come out exactly as you'd like it to? Michelle Obama and Barack Obama have both spoken at length throughout this campaign about how his story would be possible in no other country on earth. Obviously they're proud Americans. But some people insist on ginning-up the fear machine and trying to create phony hysteria.

    February 19, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  12. Mario Uy Streamwood IL

    Keep digging Michelle. First, it was the "Now or Never." Now, it's the "proud of my country" thing.

    So prior to this, Michelle was proud of this county, but not "really." So she was faking it all her life. Did I get that right?

    Like I said, keep digging.

    February 19, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  13. Will

    So Michelle has never been proud of America until Obama ran for president. This is really sad.

    February 19, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  14. Sam of Carolina

    If Obama loses because of things such as this, I, and a large of America will be let down.

    Obama can change america if the hard core democrats will let him do it.
    I am a Republican, but I can see that Obama can be the JFK of our generation. Democrats, please don't let the Clinton Machine bring down this man and bring down our chance for change.

    The McCain camp of course wants to bring down Obama. If Obama wins McCain has a tough fight.
    IF Clinton wins, people like me will go to McCain. The Youth will stay home and not vote. The conservatives will all band together and fight against Clinton.
    Obama can change this nation. Clinton can keep us on the same course.

    February 19, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  15. John, Las Vegas, NV

    Whenever you want to find the most negative comments about our country, all you have to do is look for comments from foreigners overseas and for comments from left-leaning Democrats like Michelle Obama. If you want to find people who take pride in the U.S.,, warts and all, look for a Republican to comment. McCain 08

    February 19, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  16. Larry, Apex, North Carolina

    WHAT controversy?!? This is non-story...give us some REAL news!

    February 19, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  17. Joseph

    Should we be proud of our actions in Iraq?

    February 19, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  18. mary Cusack

    michelle obama is an arrogant elitist. If I have to put up with her for eight years being first lady looking down at us.. I'm moving to Ireland

    February 19, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  19. leo

    Boy, I wonder how all of us would fare if every comment we made in public could be interpreted, reported and then commented on by the media and our rivals. This is the part of politics, on both sides, that I am ashamed of. I think we have more important issues to debate.

    February 19, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  20. wcw in houston



    bra and panties tickle-fight for the presidency!

    February 19, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  21. S. Shay

    Who is Cindy McCain and why should anyone care?

    February 19, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  22. A proud American

    I've been proud of my country since I can remember... my father served PROUDLY in Vietnam and instilled that sense of pride when he told me that America is the greatest nation on Earth. Although our leaders make mistakes, in no way does it change my father's message. Those who despise America do so for only one reason– envy. Our noble nation has on more than one occasion saved the world from certain doom, and we are still doing it in the fight against Islamic extremism. These facts alone should make all Americans proud– for Michelle Obama to say "for the first time" is shameful– our way of life has made it possible for her and ALL people to succeed in this nation, and if she can only be proud because her husband is winning then I say to hell with her.

    February 19, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  23. colorblind

    CNN keep this junk off the ticker.... your just giving the Billary crew more crap to whine about..... at least post this one... i promise not to be so hard on CNN in the future... but "give me a break"

    February 19, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  24. Kristy

    Sorry folks, but I haven't been proud of my country in a long time either:

    – Waging an unwarranted war
    – Implementing educational legislation that hurts students and schools more than helps them
    – Shipping jobs overseas
    – Idolizing celebrities who are drug abusers, rapists, and thieves
    – Allowing the greed of corporate stock holders to ruin our economy
    – Watching the Canadian Mounties respond in New Orleans before FEMA or any other national program did
    – Seeing headline after headline detailing school shootings and having the same old gun laws that don't protect innocent children

    WE NEED CHANGE!! Am I proud to be an American? Yes! My grandfathers both fought in WWII and my dad is a Vietnam vet. I feel like this country has to try harder to make them proud of their sacrifices. Blind, undeserved pride is foolish.

    February 19, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  25. Philip, Elkhart IN

    Mr. Obama,

    Please seal up your party's nomination today so it can move forward.



    February 19, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
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