April 2nd, 2008
06:50 PM ET
10 years ago

Rove: Obama's flag pin comments will be an issue

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/02/art.rove.gi.jpg caption=" Rove said Obama will be viewed by many as an elitist. "]

(CNN) - It was an issue that caused a stir last fall, and one that former Bush strategist Karl Rove predicts may plague Barack Obama in the general election.

In a newly-published interview with GQ magazine, Rove says Obama's reluctance to wear a flag pin on his lapel may translate as elitism to many blue collar democrats.

"There are Democrats, particularly blue-collar Democrats, who defect to McCain because they see McCain as a patriotic figure and they see Obama as an elitist who's looking down his nose at 'em, which he is," Rove told the magazine.

"That comment where he said, you know, 'After 9/11, I didn't wear a flag lapel pin because true patriotism consists of speaking out on the issues, not wearing a flag lapel pin?’ Well, to a lot of ordinary people, putting that flag lapel pin on is true patriotism. It's a statement of their patriotic love of the country. And for him to sit there and dismiss it as he did…" Rove added.

The Obama campaign declined to comment on Rove's remarks.

In early October, an Iowa reporter asked Obama why he was not wearing a flag pin on his lapel, as many politicians do. The Illinois senator said he wore one shortly after 9/11, but later decided to show his patriotism in other ways.

"After a while, you start noticing people wearing the lapel pin but not acting very patriotic,” he said then. “My attitude is that I'm less concerned with what you're wearing on your lapel than what's in your heart. You show your patriotism by how you treat your fellow Americans, especially those ones who serve."

His Democratic rivals at the time dismissed it as a non-issue, but the comments were posted on several conservative blogs, and sparked several anonymous e-mails that questioned Obama's patriotism.

In the new interview with GQ, Rove suggested the comments were among those that showed Obama is "coolly detached and very arrogant."

"I think he's very smart and knows he's smart, but as a result doesn't do his homework," Rove also said.

In the wide ranging interview, Rove also praised Clinton's now-famous 3 a.m. as "gutsy."

"It was a gutsy, dangerous move - She figured out that she had to do something to raise the issue of: Is he fit to be president? And this was a way to do it," he said. "I happened to be in Texas a week before the ad popped, and all of her surrogates were hitting him pretty hard on the thinness of his experience. They were pretty brutal. And this ad sort of fed into that."

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Karl Rove
soundoff (144 Responses)
  1. Herman LA, CA

    Give me a darn break!!!

    Wearing a dam flag pin on my collar is NOT going to put food on my table, nor is it going to lower gas prices, nor is it going to end this darn war, nor is it going end the foreclosure crises.

    So give me a break....

    End of story...

    April 2, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  2. Jeff Maurer

    I don't wear a flag pin either. Does that make me unpatriotic? I spent a year in Vietnam, and retired from the Marine Corps as a Lt. Colonel, so I would like to have some neocon tell me that I was not patriotic. Patriotism, as Barack says, is by doing not by simply wearing a lapel pin. Bush wears a flag pin, and he is not patriotic as far as I am concerned, as he lied in getting us into war, and he has failed to take care of our wounded troops coming home. Rove and Bush should be ashamed and I would have no problem standing face to face and telling them that they are not patriots, especially Bush who joined the National Guard during Nam, which was one way, besides going to Canada, for getting out of going over there. Give me a break....

    April 2, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  3. Mike

    Ahh the bias of CNN people. Amazing. Take the issue for what it is, not for who is saying it. Put your juvenile demo/cons politics aside and realize that this isn't either. This is either an issue or not an issue, the fact of the matter is this: He think because OTHER people wear the pin and are 'hypocritical' that HE can't wear the pin. Set an example Obama.

    For you psuedo-intellectual wannabe's, grow up. If you think political sides matter do us all a favor and slap yourself back to your desk jobs where you people actually need your opinion. Dissapointed that the majority of you are adults.

    The issue at hand: Obama's choices. Not Karl Rove. Save it for something else.

    April 2, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  4. Ryan, Los Angeles

    I'm a Hillary supporter and rooting for her all the way....but statements like this from Rove will definitely help galvanize our party IF Obama should win.

    Obama and Hillary supporters unite during the general election!! No more Rove and his buddies please.

    Flag lapel??? Really???

    April 2, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  5. Nicknas

    I and My family has served in combat for this nation for 3 generations with Honor and decorations. I DARE that fat pig to say to MY face that I am not patriotic because guess what? I have NEVER worn a flag pin in my LIFE. SO WHAT?

    April 2, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  6. Obama Supporter

    I guess Obama is above people like my grandfather who fought in the infantry in WWII. Fighting for your country vs "showing your patriotism in other ways"? I pick Grandpa. I wonder what alternate ways he has to express his faith in God.

    April 2, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  7. Pat

    Rove...you're not even relevant. Go somewhere....sit down and SHUT UP!!!

    April 2, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  8. AW NYer

    Karl Rove's brand of Patriotism should have him indicted and in jail. The smug, arrogant elitists are the cadre of Bushies in Office or who served in GW's Administrations who smirk at the Constitution, wrap themselves in the flag, devine their own truths, and then do whatever they think they can get away with.

    I doubt that you'll print this, but it's true. That's why we're in the domestic, international and morale mess we're suffering.

    April 2, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  9. gabriel

    who asked you karl? i thought you retired. please disappear.
    what is patriotism any way? blind adherence? flag pin. gimme a break.

    April 2, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  10. Larry from LA

    Mr. Rove please take your medication. I think we should not vote for Obama because he does not wear a flag pin. What are you kidding???

    April 2, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  11. B in NC

    How many of those people who complain about Obama not wearing a flag lapel pin wear one themselves? Hmmmmm? Not seeing one on Karl Rove in that picture...

    Everyone should carry around a bag of lapel pins to hand out to the whiners who don't wear one themselves.

    April 2, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  12. kenny cole

    Who cares who and what anyone wear,MR.ROVE you have no mouth in this one you are a disgrace to this country please shot up your mouth

    April 2, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  13. 58 old white ladies for OBAMA




    April 2, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  14. Louis

    Let me get this straight–if you don't wear a flag pin, you're unpatriotic. If you send 4,000 soldiers to their death in a war under false pretenses (no WMD, no link between Saddam and Al Quaida) you are a patriot. There will be a special place in hell for Rove and company.

    April 2, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  15. Terry

    I would guess America relishes the opportunity to have their shot at Karl (Marx) Rove. Let's remember his brownshirt politics are a huge reason for our economic and worldly woes.

    April 2, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  16. justin


    April 2, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  17. kenny cole

    NEUTRAL or what do you call yourself stick your HATRED up for yourself take off the color blind off your face and be mature

    April 2, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  18. Southerner For Obama

    Good Grief!!! Who in his/her right mind would even entertain or respond to such a lying, deceitful, low life as Rove? I see the Obama campaign chose to not respond. This tells me Rove's comments didnt deserve a comment. Way to go Obama

    Rove–Get a Life

    April 2, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  19. uchujin

    Spot on Andrew! Pretty much what I said that didn't get posted. I'd wager my patriotism (or that of Reverend Wright or Barack Obama) against Carl Rove's any day. I resent being made to feel like less of an American because I choose to criticize my government when its wrong, choose not to wear a lapel pin, recite the pledge of allegiance as an adult, sing the national anthem or put my hand over my heart when it plays, or fly the flag on every national holiday. This kind of BS jingoistic rhetoric leads to Fascism not freedom.

    April 2, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
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