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. NO MCCAIN

    EVERYONE LOVES OBAMA. HE IS A REAL PERSON, NOT LIKE SANTA CLAUS MCCAIN WHO COCNSTANTLY WEARS GEORGE BUSH'S RED SUIT, AND OF COURSE MARRIED TO BARBIE, WHO WE KNOW DOES NOT EXIST AT ALL. I DON'T SEE CINDY MCCAIN CARRYING CHILDREN IN SUDAN, THEIR COLOR MAY CHANGE THE COLOR OF HER HAIR...RIGHT?

    June 13, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  2. Robert in Toronto,ON

    I love the man but...seriously, B – you cannot go out on the streeet looking this maaaaaaaan! You givin us brothas a bad rap with!

    You need some Stacy and Clinton in your life. Quick!

    June 13, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  3. Derrick in Houston, Texas

    .....people are really questioning the fact that he wore a helmet to go bike riding with his kids? Now, if he hadn't had the helmet on then it would be a holy uproar.

    June 13, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  4. Mish

    For Gods sake CNN find some real news!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Go out and find some negative news about MCBUSH and get off
    Senator Obamas back!!!!!
    Its absurd how all your news is so biased against Obama!!!
    There is another candidate in case you didnt realize that!!!!
    Like this news....Pathetic!!

    June 13, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  5. WAKE UP

    okay..why is this a story? aren't there more serious issues?

    June 13, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  6. Darius

    Comparing Obama to Dukakis? Shame on you, CNN.

    June 13, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  7. Frances

    Wow, CNN, get a hobby.

    June 13, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  8. NoMcSame

    McSame can't ride a bike because of those robot arms that he has. They give me the creeps. Don't need to hear about how they got like that either. I don't really care because I don't like the guy. He was a POW but at least he made it back but he and Bush are sending kids off to DIE. No POWS in this fight they just make heads roll. Sad but true. Bring them home.
    No To McSame McKiller McFlipFlop.

    June 13, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  9. allen

    HA HA HA!
    Boy, frankness is refreshing.

    June 13, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  10. Safety First

    I think it was a good idea for Obama to show that he is concerned about bike safety.... It is a good thing he uses his head...

    OBAMA 08...

    June 13, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  11. New Day

    CNN Political Ticker: Lame, or a victim of a slow news day?

    June 13, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  12. Alex M

    CNN... are you serious? Why dont you get a real job.

    Obama '08

    June 13, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  13. BIG WIG

    Attacking Michelle like that is not nice. She is the first lady and thats thats. Respect. She did not make herself. Everyone is pretty in their own way. Don't judge a book by it's cover. We don't know her personally but what i've seen, I really do like and adore Michelle. She seems to be strong and confident.

    Go Michelle-Love you- Obama 08.

    June 13, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  14. Tony, NYC

    Mr. Obama, Could you please talk about Larry Sinclair for us! Im sure if this was NOT ture then you would have added it to your new website. But I did not see it listed on there. So are you saying this is true?

    June 13, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  15. Jim

    Jan from Boca, yeah lets have a c- president, look where that got us... grow up this isn't high school!

    June 13, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  16. Peter Damoah-Afari

    Can CNN find a good topic for people to read at all? What is all this about? Can't CNN tell us more about the great things that Obama is doing instead of these meaningless topics??

    June 13, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  17. JIM...TX

    Jan from Boca Raton...at least he's YOUNG enough to ride a bike:) Ever see Dubya riding his mountain bike at Crawford? Now there's a DORK!

    June 13, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  18. darren

    Elly, are you on the low? Trying to recruit?

    June 13, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  19. Kristen- Philadelphia, PA

    Glad he put safety first over looks. He is not my choice for his wardrobe selections.

    CNN I think yall just like posting random stuff up here to keep your blog going. I would prefer to debate over the issues affecting this country though. Not Obamas bike outfit or McCain’s daughter party affiliation.

    June 13, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  20. Eternity

    Let's see if John McCain can ride a bike, all the way back to Arizona!

    Obama, 08!

    June 13, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  21. Ron

    Jan from Boca Raton, FL, it's clear that no matter what he does you're just never going to like him. Do you really need to leave an insult like that on a more light-hearted story such as this? He knows that the press will snap photos of him whereever he goes, so he figured he should at least set the right example for children to wear safety helmets when bike riding. And for this too, you make a juvenile insult. Why don't YOU go away!

    June 13, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  22. Why is this news ??

    Okay, and why is this news ??????

    June 13, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  23. tina

    I think this is a great "image" picture. The image that he is trying to show is that he is setting a good example to his daughters on safety. Even dad looks goofy in a helmet. A great image to his daughters to spend time outside, unlike most kids that are addicted to video games.

    June 13, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  24. Aida

    Arrogant. Get over yourself.

    Previous article – It is sad that an African American candidate plays the race card or inserts race into speeches when it benefits him. Because all it does is show his true colors-I will do anything to win.

    June 13, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  25. David Cunard

    I hope he'll be better as a president than he is pedaling a bike – his toes should be on the pedals not the middle of his foot. If he can't learn to pedal properly . . .

    June 13, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
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