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. Chris, Silicon Valley, CA, USA

    Kevin in FL,

    How do you feel about the DNC's decision that your vote (along with others in FL & MI) won't count?

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

    Of course Cindy loves this country. If you're white and blond, you can steal and get off with a slap on the wrist.

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

    I'm not sure anyone should be "proud" of what our great country has become under Bush. I never thought I would see such an erosion of civil rights. I never thought I would see us waterboarding (torture). I never thought I would see the evaporation of habeas corpus. Never thought we would send almost 3000 young men and women off to die (and more to be maimed for life) in a war in Iraq on trumped up pretexts to prove that Bush is more of a man than his father. God help us. I love America, but we can do better than this.

    February 19, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  4. Marilyn from Ohio

    So, for the first time she is really proud of her country? What has her husband (Barack Obama) been doing in previous years that didn't convince her to be proud of her country and his accomplishments?? I cannot vote for Obama because I do not believe he can lead our country in the direction I hope for it to go and as a lifelong Democrat, I will note vote in this November election if he is the nominee and I cannot vote for McCain or any Republican. Mrs. Obama makes negative comments about Hillary Clinton, such as she didn't know if she could vote for her if she was the nominee. If Bill Clinton had made a comment like that about Barack Obama, it would be played every 90 seconds on TV. Mrs. Obama should learn in life, everything can't be just her way.

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

    Was she McCain's third or second wife? Anyway, she's proud of her country. Me, I'm still married to my first wife, and I'm proud of my rock-n-roll.

    February 19, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  6. Independent in IA

    If this is the first time in her adult life that she is "proud of her country" then she has NO business trying to get into the White House. Frankly, she shouldn't even be invited as a guest to that symbol of America's greatness.

    What absolute arrogance.

    February 19, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  7. DSOTM

    GET OFF IT, McCAIN! Patriotism IS the last refuge of a scoundrel.Everyone is proud of how you served your country in the last war that was a mistake.

    February 19, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  8. Richard, St. Paul, MN

    I don't believe anything that comes from Cindy (tee-hee) McCain. She's just his latest trophy wife. She'd look good standing on top of a wedding cake, but brains? I doubt it....

    February 19, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  9. Julie

    Yeah, it's amazing how she can only be really proud of her country when people back her husband.

    One of things I really hate about Obama (and now his wife) is they completely disregard ANY of the efforts ANYONE made in the last 20 years. Somehow EVERYONE else has been wrong and Obama is the ONLY one who could have done better. What an ego this man must have.

    February 19, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  10. trups


    My interpretation of Michelle's comments. Anyone who has lived through these difficult seven years where the Constitution has been 'rewritten', lives have been lost, years of hardwork washed away with one big wave, more veterans remain in unstable conditions, the world despises our interference,...... should I say more?

    We have to hope for a new day, a new beginning and I must say, PETTY COMMENTS, BICKERING, BITTERNESS, etc will send the sun away.... sometimes I think that God too must be fed up of people trying to hope for betterment in their lives.

    Grow up America..... and be proud of the values the founding fathers gave us..... change being one of them.

    February 19, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  11. Randy

    Well, this comment can only be good news for the Clinton Campaign.

    February 19, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  12. Patrick Peavy Plano,TX

    It's like they said when Obama made the comments about the our soldiers in Iraq's "wasted lives"-A gaffe in Washington is a politician telling the truth. Michelle,Michelle, Michelle how could you?

    February 19, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  13. BK

    Obama is simply a motivational speaker with no plan to do the things he claims. It is simply a false statement because no matter what you have to tangle with the republicans to get anything done and Hillary has proven she can stand up to them.

    February 19, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  14. Sue, Michigan

    I will state right here that I am not so proud of our country at this moment-not when we support torture, allow this President to shred the parts of the Constitution that subvert his mission, allow the very important race for the Democratic bid to be reduced to a mincing of words, and base our votes not on research, but the latest poll of 500 people. This is not the America I was proud of in my youth. In THAT America, people listened, truly listened, to the candidates in the several months (not years!) before a
    convention, had pride in this country's ability to help other countries without bombing them first, and held accountable leaders who broke the laws they were sworn to uphold. When we get some gumption back and impeach Bush and Cheney, then I will be proud of my country and its leaders again. And that includes Clinton and Obama, who should be in Washington supporting the impeachment.

    February 19, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  15. Carol

    The Obama's keep opening mouths and inserting feet.

    Barack Obama is James Frey.

    Oprah endorsed James Frey’s book ‘A Million Little Pieces." It turned out to be a fake.

    February 19, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  16. Praetorian, Ft. Myers, FL

    Whether she was conveying heartfelt feelings–or simply miscommunicated–A woman with a graduate degree from one of the best Universities in the world could have done better.

    Either way–her comments ignored a whole lot of American history over the course of her own lifetime.

    Those of us who were there sacrificing and creating the successes of the past 40 years (which enabled her black husband to run for public office, not to mention her own professional career)–don't appreciate being rendered irrelevant.

    February 19, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  17. Starbuck

    The point is that while I am certainly proud to be an American, I am not very proud of bone headed stunts, but there are times when I am indeed very proud: the upsurge in participatory democracy is certainly one.

    February 19, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  18. Anne, San Diego, CA

    The WIVES of the candidates are not running for office, so I really don't care what dumb things they say. What do the CANDIDATES themselves say? That is all that matters.

    February 19, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  19. K

    this woman comes from modest means, goes to Harvard law School on the taxpayer and institutional dime...comes out and makes a fortune, marries another Harvard educated and paid for graduate, shares the american dream with the biggest crook in chicago (Rezco) , lives in a several million dollar home and then gets a free ride from the american press to the white house....and still...she is not proud of this country....she is not satisfied with what this country has had to offer her............give me a break....wake up america....

    February 19, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  20. Karen From Houston

    It would behoove Cindy McCain to be quite because her past is not stellar. This is a woman who was addicted to pain killers and actually stole drugs from her employer. That had to be a PROUD moment as well. Don't sling dirt unless you can handle the dust.

    February 19, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  21. Tonto

    Oh Please guys. Who can say they have been proud of the way the country has been going in the last 7 years of the George Bush era? And by the way..who is Cindy?

    February 19, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  22. Jackson

    what does Obama's spokesman mean that it wouldn't be possible in any other country? ... slam America then slam the other democratic countries ... looks like Michelle Obama is showing the true sentiments of the church she and Obama have attended for 20 years ... anti-white sentiment. Sad but true.

    February 19, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  23. kathleen, illinois

    Wait a minute, please. Are we all out to get Michelle for making
    a mistake in words. Now the Republicans will never let Michelle
    live this down. All I know, is Michelle is a good American in every
    way. This is Old Politics Tricks. How long are the American people
    going to believe this bull.

    February 19, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  24. John, N.H

    this is just the begining

    February 19, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  25. Lynn

    She is FINALLY proud of this country and he has a problem with our FLAG and THE NATIONAL ANTHEM. I have a big problem with both of THEM. Let's elect HILLARY in 08.

    February 19, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
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