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. pd

    How will she be able to serve as a role model to young Americans and represent the US around the world, when she has implied that this country has not given her anything to be proud of until now? I can tell you that while there have been times I've been disappointed in the actions taken by our country, I have been overwhelmingly proud of my country and what past generations have accomplised. This is unacceptable rhetoric on a potential First Lady's part.

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

    I will just say if anyone other then Michelle Obama said this we would hear about it for weeks. I am not saying her intentions were bad but just that it would be questioned for weeks. If anyone else said if thier candidate didnt win they may not support nomineed it would have exploded. Both of these comments were almost ignored.

    February 19, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  3. JC, Hot Springs, Arkansas

    If Barack is nominated, the Republicans will crucify him and his wife. I hope he's ready.

    February 19, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  4. Ben

    I love my kids. But if my kids tortured someone or sold guns to Iran, I wouldn't be really proud. Anyone who is really proud of the way our country has behaved over the past thirty years is better off becoming a citizen of China or Russia, where they do a whole lot more of that kind of crap. Because America is remembering what it stands for this year, and the Obama administration will make America a beacon of liberty and hope it hasn't been since JFK. And will make us ALL proud.

    February 19, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  5. Blarddnise

    I find Michelle Obama's comment to a freudian type slip where she has told us all what she really feels. If her husband is leading with momentum she is proud, if not, she sees no reason to be proud of America.

    This makes me sad

    February 19, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  6. Dem

    eve..... what does michelle obama's statement even have to do with clinton and mccain? i can't say that i've been proud of everything the leaders of this country have done (especially in the last 7 years), but i have ALWAYS been proud to be an American.... ALWAYS!

    HOPE doesn't change things. ACTIONS do.

    HILLARY '08!!

    February 19, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  7. Maryland

    I love my Country but I have to admit......for the last 8 years I have not been 'PROUD" of this country. Particularly because of our decision to "invade" Iraq.

    It is very, very dangerous for people to "unconditionally" support everything their Country does, even when you know their actions are wrong.

    February 19, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  8. nygirl

    Hillary all the way!!!

    February 19, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  9. Fowler

    Is Cindy McCain's daughter?

    February 19, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  10. Can't wait to vote in Ohio

    If you are going to critcize someone for something they've said at least get the quote right. She said 'really proud'. Not that she had never been proud, but that she was heartened by the hope for change that people seem to feel right now.

    And I have to say, as a woman Michelle Obama's age, it's been a long time since I could say I was 'really proud' of being an American. Thankful yes, but proud, not always. Let's see, since I've been an adult (or almost) we've had Wategate, The Iran Contra deal, Bill's lying to us on national television about matters that shouldn't even be discussed on the nightly news, and a war we never should have started. So...I can understand where she's coming from.

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

    This is ridiculous. Now its a pissing contest on who is more patriotic or parsing words and statements to make up some fake controversy. Are these journalists or muckrackers. Are these the same ones who report on bill clinton saying that someone is not being truthful as if that's not the pot calling the kettle black. And if someone used that expression they'd make up another phoney flap and call it racial. Go find some real news to report and get back to me in the morning. This is so bogus, can't believe its even a discussion. And to the public, stop acting so stupid, its not that the media are wolves but that the people are sheep. And I cite that as an interpolation of Julius Caesar by William Shakespear in case I get called out for plagarism.

    Here is a typical CNN fake story "Is racism or sexism worse" I mean come on, which do you prefer, strick nine or rat poison.

    February 19, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  12. John

    Good grief is this how low CNN gets or is there more to come.

    Obama set the political agender right at the start of this race all other candidates have jumpped on his bandwagon.
    "Change" we can Believe in
    "Wahington is broken"
    "yes we can"
    Even the Republicans jumped on these themes.
    Mimicing is the most sincere form of approval/Flattery Barack.
    Hit Hillary hard where it counts and hurts the most in the ballot box

    February 19, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  13. Lee

    I can't believe people waste their time on such inconsequential nonsense when there are serious issues that need to be discussed and considered in this campaign.

    February 19, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  14. Mike

    Does NO ONE ELSE SEE Obama said "REALLY " proud? She NEVER SAID she wasn't proud before...just that NOW she's REALLY PROUD...GET IT?

    THIS is the Political mindset that HAS to change! Bickering over nothing!
    The "I gotcha Politics"! Away with it!

    Mrs. McCain should not have STOOPED so LOW!

    Would everyone please grow up, and start thinking about AMERICA?

    February 19, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  15. Vee

    For God's sake..no wonder why polls said Hillary supporter are less educated..they are so NARROW minded...
    I am not proud of America lately..because of Iraq war and etc...I could easily relate to what Michelle said..I am also proud and excited that so many young people are showing interest in politics...there are moments for being proud
    Pls ppl- be open minded and be constructive..dont whine over small things...
    No wonder why McCain is going to win this time...at least Reps are united..

    February 19, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  16. Al Sefati

    Patriotism should not mean agreeing with whatever your government does!
    Yes all of us US citizens should love and adore our beautiful country but we must admit mistakes and errors made by our governments.

    February 19, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  17. U.S. Army Vet.

    I find it interesting that most, if not all, of the political stories here on CNN have been about the Clintons and McCains, and when they report on Obama, they report such trivial and marginal reports that are blown out of proportion.

    Come on CNN be fair; we all know that Hillary is in financial trouble and CNN feels that it should subsidized her campaign.

    February 19, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  18. L.W.

    Save the Drama, Vote Obama!

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

    There is no excuse for this type of comment
    She is out there on the campaign trail and has the audacity to be disrespectful to this country.
    Maybe Michelle Obama should try campaigning in Iran instead!

    February 19, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  20. Texasboo

    Divisive politics once again and selective media coverage. Reading is Fundamental and here is the ENTIRE QUOTE:

    "What we have learned over this year is that hope is making a comeback. It is making a comeback. And let me tell you something - for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change. And I have been desperate to see our country moving in that direction and just not feeling so alone in my frustration and disappointment. I've seen people who are hungry to be unified around some basic common issues, and it's made me proud."

    I guess words do matter huh?

    February 19, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  21. lets think okc

    I think we can find alot out about people when something just slips. I think that the changes Sen Obama wants to make are so drastic we may not recognize whats left. Freemarket, freedom of speech, private ownership. Would a country without these be a country that the Obamas could "really" be proud of? Maybe that is a little far fetched but the more you take from the govt, the more they take from you! I am not only talking about you tax dollars. Obama is not the Messiah! He may have some good qualities, he probably is a good man, but he is not the Savior of the world! Our country has some issues OK but to say that we are so screwed up that you have never been able to be thankful and proud is just too much for me!!

    February 19, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  22. ILoveAmerica

    Obviously, Michelle Obama simply meant to say that she now feels prouder of her country than ever before. But she is obviously a person who has always been proud of her country. And we should all be proud of Michelle, who is one of the most positive and kind-hearted persons you could ever hope to meet.

    February 19, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  23. Vincent

    The McCains should enjoy the moment because they will never make the Whitehouse home. If for some bizarre turn they did, there would be an exodus from this country.
    The McCains are truly a thing of the past so enjoy it while it lasts, hopefully we will never see politicians like this again.

    February 19, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  24. GH

    good grief......everyone with one iota of common sense knows what she meant. You Hill Jacks need to get a grip.

    February 19, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  25. Llen

    And we should care about Cindy McCain because...?

    February 19, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
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