June 13th, 2008
11:58 AM ET
13 years ago

Obama’s helmet dilemma: safety or Dukakis goofiness?

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/08/art.obama.ap.jpg
caption="Sen. Barack Obama goes for a bike ride in Chicago, Illinois, last Sunday."]
(CNN) – As Barack Obama relaxed last weekend following his 15-month fight for the Democratic nomination, he struggled with an internal debate before going on a bike ride with his family – should he wear a helmet?

“I knew that the [Associated Press] was going to take a picture, and they were trying to portray it like Dukakis wearing that tank helmet,” Obama told donors at a $2,300-a-plate fundraiser in Chicago hosted by F.K Day, the president of World Bicycle Relief. “But I wanted to make sure that the children who saw that picture knew that even the Democratic nominee for president wears a helmet when he goes biking,” he said to hearty applause.

1988 Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis infamously donned a helmet for a photo-op in an M1 Abrams tank. It backfired and the picture was used by opponent George H.W. Bush in ads mocking Dukakis.

But despite scoring points from the bicycle-friendly crowd that included former Tour de France winner Greg Lemond, Obama acknowledged that the helmet didn’t make up for his stylishly-questionable get-up that included a polo shirt tucked into his jeans and sneakers.

“Now, obviously the rest of my apparel was apparently not up to snuff, because I got a hard time from all sorts of blogs,” he said, “Who said I looked like Urkel.”

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (243 Responses)
  1. BettiH, Indianapolis, IN.

    I love my future President Obama, but he is a bit nerdy on the bike with his helmet on.

    June 13, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  2. Charlotte

    Who is Urkel? I like the way Obama pulls the inane comments about he and Michelle apart in an intelligent way so everyone can laugh at the spin that the Republicans continue to throw out in the media. Keep your bike hat on Obama, it's safe and smart!

    June 13, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  3. Will

    Do you know why this is news? Obama wants to distract voters from the problems with his campaign where there are lobbyists and shady characters in every nook and cranny. The more we look at his goofiness, the less we look at his corruption.

    June 13, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  4. Dismayed

    Different republican candidate...same old nastiness!!! I have found that the so-called Bible-believing, family vaules "conservatives" are not so conservative when it comes to running a campaign. They use scare tactics, bullying, and defamation of a person's character to accomplish their goals. If someone criticized Laura Bush, republicans would demand an apology (public of course), an arm, a leg, and a vital organ. THEY are the ones we all should fear.

    June 13, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  5. OBAMA 08- OO8

    Come on people, I sit and read some of the blogs everyday. You know americans are getting more ignorant by the day. Some of the comments that are posted, are just ridiculus. Who cares he he had on a helmet or not? He still has to show safety and responsibilities to his daughters. If he didn't there would be someone waiting to say that he was not a responsible parent. We all need to take a step back and remember what is important. Whether you like him or HRC, you fail to realize that most are just a pay check away from losing what you're worked so hard for. Some not even a paycheck away. For those of you so pissed off, vote for McCain if you wanna. And you definitely will be less than a check away from being out on the streets! Because both he and HRC, share the same values. You better put the hatorade up,
    and stop acting as though we are the wealthy ones walking around, but really brokier than broke! 🙂 Have a wonderful day! NC for Obama!

    June 13, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  6. MD in OK

    Safety first!

    I just finished watching McShame speak at a townhall meeting in NJ. I can't believe some of the questions that were asked. It was obvious the crowd was full of his supporters- again.

    June 13, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  7. desiree

    lol. funny sense of humor..."urkle" tehe

    June 13, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  8. Paul In.

    I'm an avid Republican and I don't go along with Baraks policies for governing the US, but when it comes to wearing the helmet, I applaud this man for showing the children of the US about safety.
    I think we should get down to politics as news and leave these trivial matters to the Tabloids as news. I'm mean after all, George Bush wears a helmet when he goes bike riding and that doesn't make news.

    June 13, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  9. Ed, Santa Fe NM

    wow... talk about latching onto DRIVEL..... Nothing more important to obsess about?

    How about some hard-hitting news on McBush and his sleazy ties to Bush II ???

    June 13, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  10. HerbTee

    For God's sake, the man can't even have a private moment to ride his bicycle without some very stupid and FEARFUL people speaking ill, finding something wrong with him or have a problem with the way he's dressed. So pathetic. Go Barack...never mind the idiots, the racists, the fear-mongers and the haters out here!

    Obama for 2008

    June 13, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  11. Nando, Florida

    ED Wrote!!!

    June 13th, 2008 12:01 pm ET

    HILLARY 2012! That's all!

    No to the INTERN!

    Still knawing on that bone are you. Get over it she lost and we can care less!!!!!

    June 13, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  12. donahue

    i would love to see old mcBush trying to ride a bike... lol... He probably has a harley...

    June 13, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  13. Nikki

    Why are there people posting "go Hillary" and Hillary 2012" slogans on this blog? God does not promise anyone tomorrow, including Hillary Rodham Clinton. All we have is today.

    June 13, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  14. Will in Richmond, VA


    They have this guy under an atomic microscope. They are looking for any little molecule out of order.

    "SEE!! SEE!!! Misplaced proton.... He can't possibly be qualified to be president with that nucleus out of order like that!!!"

    And besides, EVERYBODY looks dorky in bike helmets. I'm pretty sure thats why a lot of people don't wear them.

    June 13, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  15. christina

    Whoa! This is definitely something completely new. Are you telling me that there's a President that will actually abide by the laws?!?!? I am Shocked and Appalled!

    OBAMA '08

    June 13, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  16. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    Well, his comparison to Urkel is correct. He's got about that much relevant experience.

    June 13, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  17. Dan, TX

    The republicans campaign strategy is all about personal destruction. Obama's campaign is about personal responsibility. Who do you think America is going to vote for? Bye Bye Republican Senators and Congressmen, you get tangled up with the RNC and you are toast.

    June 13, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  18. Praetorian, Fort Myers

    There is no comparison!!
    Dukakis–trying to play up to Democratic conservatives-and a father demonstrating proper bike safety to his kids–all kids by wearing a helmet–there is no relationship.

    At least in the minds of those who despise him for other reasons...like his lame resume and weak executive skills.

    June 13, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
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