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In his own words: Barack Obama speaks out on those pesky flag pins

May 14, 2008 | 10:07 pm

Of everything that's been debated and discussed in this 16-month-and-rolling presidential marathon, perhaps there's nothing smaller than a flag lapel pin that has generated such a large number of words.

About Barack Obama. When he wears one, why? When he doesn't wear one, why? And what's the big deal anyway, since neither Hillary Rodham Clinton nor John McCain consistently wear oThe flag lapel pin has become an emotional debate issue surrounding Illinois Senator and leading Democratic presidential candidate Barak Obama who's started wearing one again after months of notne. One reason it hasn't come up with them is that neither one made a comment last fall about the wearing of the little patriotic doodad making a statement about the war.

Tonight, Obama walked to the back of his chartered airplane on the return flight from Grand Rapids, Mich., to Chicago. He talked with reporters, including The Times' Michael Finnegan, about a number of topics.

Among them was today's endorsement by John Edwards. (Obama is pleased, called Edwards a senior voice in the party, hopes the endorsement causes Edwards supporters to take a look at him, could see the ex-senator in a cabinet and hopes Edwards will campaign soon with him, though no details have been discussed.)

But Obama also addressed the issue of the flag lapel pin, which has caused some emotional and satirical debate. After not wearing one for months, Obama has recently taken to wearing one more often.

Here from the campaign's own transcript is the Illinois senator's complete explanation:

"You know, I started wearing it again at that veterans event, because once again I had been handed the flag by a veteran who said it was important.

"This is an issue that is a phony issue, because I have never been opposed to a flag pin. I have worn flag pins in the past. When I was asked about it, I had worn flag pins after 9/11, and I have chosen not to wear one because I didn’t want to be perceived as wearing my patriotism on my chest but not promoting or advocating on behalf of veterans in a patriotic way.

"Some people took that as a slight against people who wore flag pins, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. It was a commentary on politicians and folks in Washington who sometimes are pretty good about saluting our soldiers when they come home but then don’t follow up with budgets that make sure they're getting treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

"So it’s a commentary about our politics, not about individuals who wear the flag with pride."

-- Andrew Malcolm

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