- Obama said, “I have never said that I don’t wear flag pins or refuse to wear flag pins.” Actually, he did. He said last year, “I decided I won’t wear that pin on my chest” because it had become “a substitute for … true patriotism” during the run-up to the Iraq war.
- Obama denied his handwriting appeared on an old questionnaire that said he supported a ban on possessing a handgun, and he said he has never taken that position. Actually, his writing does appear on one of two versions of the questionnaire.
The Analysis below comes from Factcheck.org :
Obama: I have never said that I don’t wear flag pins or refuse to wear flag pins. This is the kind of manufactured issue that our politics has become obsessed with. …
Actually, last year he told an interviewer for station KCRG-TV in Cedar Rapids, Iowa:
Obama, Oct. 2007: I decided I won’t wear that pin on my chest. Instead, I’m gonna try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great and hopefully that will be a testimony to my patriotism.
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And ABC News quoted him as saying that wearing flag pins had become “a substitute for … true patriotism”:
Obama, Oct. 2007: You know, the truth is that right after 9/11, I had a pin. … Shortly after 9/11, particularly because as we’re talking about the Iraq war, that became a substitute for I think true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security. …
Conservative critics have attacked Obama repeatedly for these remarks and his lack of a flag pin. Obama said during the debate that this “distracts us from what should be my job when I’m commander in chief, which is going to be figuring out how we get our troops out of Iraq and how we actually make our economy better for the American people.”
Recently, at an April 15 rally in Washington, Pa., he accepted a lapel pin given to him by Philip Fiumara, a disabled Vietnam veteran. “It means a lot coming from you,” Obama said.
We take no stand on whether wearing a pin or not says anything about anybody’s patriotism. And Obama is within his rights to characterize discussion of the matter as a “distraction.” Those are matters of opinion. But as a matter of fact, Obama went too far when he denied ever saying, “I don’t wear flag pins.”
Obama was being misleading when he denied that his handwriting had been on a document endorsing a state ban on the sale and possession of handguns in Illinois.
Gibson: And in 1996, your campaign issued a questionnaire, and your writing was on the questionnaire that said you favored a ban on handguns.
Obama: No, my writing wasn’t on that particular questionnaire, Charlie. As I said, I have never favored an all-out ban on handguns.
Actually, Obama’s writing was on the 1996 document, which was filed when Obama was running for the Illinois state Senate. This is a story that has been evolving since last December, when Politico.com obtained a copy of the questionnaire the Obama campaign had completed for a Chicago nonprofit, Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization. One of the questions dealt with a ban on handguns and assault weapons, and Obama took a hard line:
35. Do you support state legislation to:
a. ban the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns? Yes.
b. ban assault weapons?Yes.
c. mandatory waiting periods and background checks? Yes.
Obama’s campaign later told Politico that the candidate “never saw or approved” the completed questionnaire, that his campaign manager had filled it out, and that she “unintentionally mischaracterize[d] his position.”
At the end of March, Politico published another story saying that Obama had actually been interviewed by the group on his answers to the questionnaire, and that he filed an amended version of it the day after the interview. His handwriting was at the bottom of the first page and some answers were modified, such as his response to a question about whether minors should be required to notify their parents or get their consent before having an abortion. The answers to the questions about gun bans, however, were not changed.
Two women who were closely involved with the group at the time as well as the group’s current chairman told Politico they didn’t believe that Obama had never seen or signed off on the questionnaire.
We asked campaign spokesman Tommy Vietor to help us sort out the issue, including Obama’s denial last night that his handwriting was on the amended questionnaire. Vietor simply sent us the comments he made to Politico, saying they remain accurate, and he would not elaborate. Here they are:
Politico.com, March 31, 2008: “Sen. Obama didn’t fill out these state Senate questionnaires – a staffer did – and there are several answers that didn’t reflect his views then or now,” Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for Obama’s campaign, said in an e-mailed statement. “He may have jotted some notes on the front page of the questionnaire at the meeting, but that doesn’t change the fact that some answers didn’t reflect his views. His 11 years in public office do.”