Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Obama and the bracelet .. watch for yourself what he said in our interview

A red-state friend of mine told me last night that the father of a soldier killed in Iraq was upset with Sen. Barack Obama for exploiting his son's death by showing off the bracelet that Obama wears that bears the soldier's name.

Sure enough, there are quite a few news stories and blog posts that are taking Obama to task about why he unveiled the bracelet during last week's debate. If you didn't see the exchange, McCain was showing off his bracelet first and Obama followed that he too wore one.

The father's comments were actually made back in March on Wisconsin Public radio and weren't made -- as was implied -- after the debate. The father also isn't the one who gave Obama the bracelet, it was his ex-wife who did.

Having interviewed Obama during a campaign stop in New Philadelphia on Sept. 3rd, I asked him about the bracelet during our one-on-one interview. I had noticed its reflection during his remarks and I wondered what it was. Initially, I thought it was for a cause of some type .. or maybe for Lance Armstrong. I didn't know what, if anything, was written on it, but as a reporter I'm naturally curious.

Furthermore, I only brought it up after the formal interview. I had asked Sen. Obama about evening the benefits for the Guard and Reserve troops with their Active Duty counterparts and in doing so, I referenced that I was one of them having served in Iraqi Freedom with the Ohio National Guard.

After the interview, Obama surprised me by coming back to me to ask a few followup questions about my service. It's at the end of that exchange that's where this video picks up. Take a look:

Again, let it be clear .. I asked him about the bracelet. He wasn't flaunting or volunteering it.

A few days ago, the woman who gave Obama the bracelet came out to defend him against the criticism. You can read the story by clicking here.

I think the words of the Gold Star Mother are the ones that should ring true on this debate, and not what others interpret the ex-husband's comments from six months ago to mean.

Anyway, I would have asked the same question had it been McCain in town with something shiny on his wrist ... but I thought you might like to see what Obama said .. uncut .. when asked about the same bracelet here in Ohio.


Anonymous said...

There is no doubt that some --even here in the response section of your blog-- will twist this story into something hateful or disrespectful about Obama . . . or about their perception of a bias on your part, Eric. I think this is a nice story that deserves the light of day like you have given it here. It is what I like best about your blog, that is gives a peak or two at parts of a story we wouldn't see otherwise. Keep up the good work.

Rita said...

We are very lucky to have you reporting the news on military stories. We know we're going to get a real story rather than sensationalism crap I can see on another channel.
I wear my husbands bracelet when he was serving in Iraq as a reminder of what it was like while he was gone and that he could deploy again. In other words I don't take his being home for granted. The bracelet also is a reminder that we still have many soldiers waiting to come home.
Thanks for the great job you do.

Level_Head said...

The video was interesting, thanks.

Overall, I was intrigued that the Associated Press confirmed the story I'd written.

The whole point I was trying to make is that Tracy Jopek had, reportedly, asked him not to USE the bracelet on as part of his campaign speech. This was, from the evidence, because she was not comfortable with how he used it the first time he spoke about it.

She wanted the Iraq war to end "successfully". And obviously, her son supported the mission, and so did his father.

It is possible to support a candidate in general, and disagree with certain positions; it is true with me, certainly.

Mrs. Jopek did confirm, in the AP stories, that she had written to him and asked him not use use the bracelet "in speeches and debates".

As you said, the words of this Gold Star mother should count. And she confirmed what her former husband said.

Notice that during last week's debate, Senator Obama took a very different tone from what had been his practice. He stated that "no soldier dies in vain" if he's acting under orders.

Mrs. Jopek appreciated this comment, and apparently has forgiven Senator Obama for using it at the debate.

But I suspect that had she heard his prior tone, his "don't let any more die in vain" speech, she'd have been less happy.

Clearly Tracy Jopek is an Obama supporter, and that's fine. But it is fortunate for the Obama campaign, I think, that he changed his position on this issue, or this bracelet would be a larger problem for him.

===|==============/ Level Head

Eric Mansfield said...

Lots of ways to interpet the wearing of a bracelet by a political candidate. Lots of ways to interpret McCain's wearing and mention of his bracelet too.

For the record, if/when I get a chance to interview McCain or Palin, I'll ask them the same question about our Guard and Reserve forces that I've asked Obama and Biden.

And, if the tables had been turned and I'd noticed McCain wearing a wrist band last month, I'd have asked him about it too. I'm just curious by nature.

buck said...

Eric...nice job. Leaving out the whole bracelet issue, I think it was just classy for Obama to care to ask about your service. It seemed sincere.

JoGot said...

Don't stop asking. I love what I saw, the lights were off, the conversation real. No, pre planned script or 1/2 and 1/2 answers. No chance to conjour a pre-rehursed answer. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for giving us this glimps of reality in the world of sequin flash.

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that in this blog and the article nobody brings up the issue that he didn't know the name of the saoldier,and he fumbled around to look at the bracelet in order to read it, this leads me to believe that his wearing of the bracelet in just a ploy.

buck said...

anonymous...right, Obama wearing a bracelet is a ploy. That kind of accusation is absurd. If the mom of a deceased veteran asked you to wear a bracelet, would you say "no, because it will be construed as a ploy?" Are you kidding? How insensitive is that? If that's the case, it can go both ways. McCain raised the issue first in the debate with the bracelet.