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. Starbuck

    OMG. Simple minds. Can folks get anything beyond a dumbed down sound bite? I know exactly what Michele Obama was talking about. Did anyone notice the word "very" in front of "proud."

    Were you very proud to find out about Abu Gharib? Were you very proud of Guantanamo? Were you very proud of the suspension of Habeas Corpus? Are you very proud of the "unitary" executive under Bush/Cheney?
    If you're ***always*** "very proud" then maybe you dont have very high standards.

    February 19, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  2. Donna

    I'm not voting for Cindy McCain. I'm not voting for Michelle Obama. It doesn't really matter to me how one spouse or the other phrases their pride in their country. This is a big "So what?" in my book.

    February 19, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  3. Faye

    In response to JP SW, I think that you all have little to do than to sit and speculate what should be said or how it is said. Michelle Obama has the right to freedom of speech and in case you all don't understand why Barak is still in the race is because some of your relatives voted for him how else would he be the front runner and guess what some more of your relatives, friends and coworkers will be voting for him in these upcoming elections, now go and get on the phone and call them and tell them that you think they should support the white woman that is straining to keep her pride in tact!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 19, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  4. Smart vote

    I'm sick of this Michelle and Obama. I don't like this kind of people. They are arrogant and have nothing to show to back it up but talk talk and talk. I wish they disappear already. I just can take them anymore. sick of them. Go away Obamas. Americans don't like you. Go back to Africa where people like you , then. sick of them. sick of them.

    February 19, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  5. marge

    "Jack February 19th, 2008 1:35 pm ET

    So in Michele Obama's adult life, she had nothing else to be proud of? This is just another way the Obama team is trying to make Obama into a God they think we should all worship.

    Good and bad, I have always been proud of my country".

    Unless you're an African American woman living in America (((Jack))) theres no way you can critque her statement! You know not of what you speak.

    February 19, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  6. Julie

    Geez, a whole lotta something about nothing – again.

    February 19, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  7. Richard

    I believe that the news media better be careful about continuing to fuel such silly political points to grab attention. This reporting only divides the country and for what to increase the profits of news organization.

    This story is NOT news. It is noise.

    What happened to reporting on issues?

    February 19, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  8. Jon Cruz

    CNN has blocked nearly every pro-Clinton comment I have made that has criticized Obama.

    Michelle Obama's statement was pretty clear. Why are Obama's handlers trying to spin it differently?

    Why did CNN not make a bigger deal when Michelle Obama said she wasn't sure if she would support Hillary Clinton if she were the nominee? Can you imagine what they would have done if Bill Clinton said he wasn't sure if he'd support Barack Obama?

    February 19, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |

    And this is how McCain is going to unite this country. I say divide.

    Here come the divisive, fear-war monger's.

    February 19, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  10. Anna

    CNN: the Crap News Network. If this is the best you can deliver, please stop. This is not a story. This is not journalism. This is mere gossip. If there's nothing else to report on regarding the election, you should focus on real issues like Kosovo's independence, Fidel's resignation, etc. etc.

    February 19, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  11. Mary

    Oh come on!...Cindy McCain will NEVER be in the same league as Michelle Obama...Keep parading her McCain...The more people see of her – and you, the better the Obamas will look to them.

    February 19, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  12. Dave

    The word 'really' does mean something in the English Language, doesn't it? Michelle Obama didn't say,'for the first time in my adult life, I'm proud of my country...' Well, I know Mrs. McCain has a good command of the English Language. I don't 'really' think she was responding to Mrs. Obama's statement.

    February 19, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  13. Lindsay

    I doubt CNN will post this because it is not pro-Obama, but that comment made me sick to my stomach. Say whatever you want, but apparently Michelle Obama likes the country only when things are going her way. Sorry, I like my country through thick and thin. Where's the "Hope" now Michelle? Can I have a mulligan on my Georgia vote?

    February 19, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  14. Dave

    The truest form of American patriotism is constructive dissent when necessary. We do not have to always be blindly proud of our country and ignore the fact that we know our leaders aren't doing the right thing and we are headed in the wrong direction. American pride is pride in the ideals our country was founded on and a determination to work hard to take it back in the right direction.

    So many people get caught up in American symbolism and think patriotism merely means saying the pledge with a hand over your heart and putting US flag bumper stickers on pickup trucks.

    February 19, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  15. Chandler McGrew

    “I just wanted to make the statement that I have and always will be proud of my country.”

    Really? Were you proud of it when you first learned of Japanese Internment or black slavery? Were you proud of it when you saw images of black men being lynched or shot with high pressure hoses? Were you proud of it when you learned of the McCarthy Era or Lieutenant Cally? Such a blanket statement is no less ridiculous taken out of context than Michelle Obama's.

    February 19, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  16. Ron, TX

    Oh come on! Voters are turning out in RECORD numbers! Tens of thousands of people are coming out at events for the -primaries-! 15,000 here, 20,000 there, even hitting 25,000 people! This is absolutely monumentous. The American people are finally starting to realize that this is THEIR government! THEIR votes! THEIR politicians! You can't make change without the people of America demanding change. And here they are, finally demanding that something gets done in Washington.

    And how people are finally responding to Washington, that is something to truly be proud of America for...

    February 19, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  17. Venecia

    Is Cindy McCain proud that America ran on the back of slaves? Did she feel proud of her country when people had to die just for basic civil rights? Was she proud of her country when Japanese people were put into internment camps in Arizona? Was she proud when the country's military abused prisoners in Iraq? Did she feel proud when so many Americans were left without help and support during and after Katrina? This is still the case today. When you mindlessly and pompously claim to always be proud of your country that's when the need for improvement and reparation gets ignored. But it must be hard to see the need for change when you sit in high society all your life.

    February 19, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  18. U.S. Army Vet.

    Michelle Obama's comments have been taken out of context. Anyone who cannot see this is stupid and foolish. See through the poisonous lies and innuendo, people. Read the entire article.

    Obama 08!

    February 19, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  19. Backlash

    p.s....wife stealing cindy mccain shouldn't talk. she and her clariol color #4 should really be quiet.

    February 19, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  20. Jared

    This reminds me of when she said "I would have to think about voting for sen. clinton" after barack said "we're going to unite behind whoever's the nominee"

    February 19, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  21. david

    First time she's EVER been proud of her country? Well, that tells you something you Obama Zombies.

    McCain loves his so much he wants to keep killing them.

    Be smarter than than America. Vote for Hillary !!!!!

    February 19, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  22. Beth

    Her explanation of what she "really meant" does not ring true. What she original said is what she really meant.

    February 19, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  23. Everett

    The more and more this goes on the worst it gets for the country. John McCain and his camp just needs to sit back and let Obama and Clinton eat each other up. Then once they divide the Democrat party you come in and win a November election and then go on to have a crapy 1st term and We'll all sit back and watch as Republicans will keep defending him no matter how worst he makes this recession. Then, we'll watch this ALL happen over again in 2012.

    Al Gore, Jeb Bush or ANYONE NEW in 2012!!!!

    February 19, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  24. Dave

    I don't think we should be raking anyone over the coals over this – Mrs. McCain and Mrs. Obama included.

    Let's try to focus on what the person was trying to say – we have a lot to be proud of!

    Both Mrs. McCain and Mrs. Obama are essentially saying they are proud of our country, and that's a good thing all around folks!

    Please, let's not turn this into a battle of "i'm more patriotic than her."

    The voters are ready for substance – not blind patriotism. We should be beyond that!

    February 19, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  25. AJ, IL

    OK, CNN let's wait till 8pm E.T. tonight to start reporting political news. Grabbing onto Michelle Obama's comments which seem harmless is ridiculous. Then to highlight, Cindy McCain's comments as a direct response to Michelle Obama's comments is distracting.

    I'm not going to bad-mouth John McCain's 20 year younger, rich attractive wife. But it was pretty telling to see GH Bush endorsing McCain. Everyone on the stage at that endorsement was older than 70, except Cindy McCain.

    Obama in 08!

    February 19, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
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