McCain, Obama fight over soldiers’ bracelets

September 27, 2008

WASHINGTON – Republican White House hopeful John McCain tried to use a bracelet of a fallen U.S. soldier given on the campaign trail to drive home his point that he would not withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq based on an arbitrary timeline.

rtx8yrl.jpgThe mother of a soldier gave him a bracelet and asked him to promise “that you will do everything in your power to make sure my son’s death was not in vain,” McCain said in the first presidential debate, contrasting his views with Democratic rival Barack Obama, who has said he would withdraw forces within 16 months.

Obama shot back that he too had a bracelet from the mother of a soldier who asked that no other mother endure the loss she was experiencing.

“She asked me ‘can you please make sure that another mother is not going through what I’m going through,’” Obama said. “No U.S. soldier ever dies in vain because they are carrying out the missions of their commander in chief.”

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

- Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Bourg (McCain and Obama gesture during presidential debate)

44 comments

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I’d like to see a poll on this. But if I had to guess, I’d probably believe more mothers who have lost children in Iraq would prefer that no one else dies for a war that began with a lie and will not end. To suggest that we add any valor or virtue to a death in war by adding to the numbers of the fallen is illogical and sad.

Posted by Christopher Chopin | Report as abusive

Are bracelets the new yellow ribbons or flag pins?

Show your patriotism with an “I HAVE A BRACELET” T-shirt. Buying stuff is patriotic too.

http://www.zazzle.com/i_have_a_bracelet_ shirt-235498838677629076

Both Obama and McCain each have a bracelet of dead soldiers, but what we forget here was that we did not need to loose over 4000 lives in Iraq, a war that those men and women did not deserve to loose their lives. Our goal was to root out Terrorists in Afghanistan and Bin Laden. We still fighting Terrorists and Bin Laden, and they are still plan a worst attack than 9/11. What happened to those lives lost during 9/11. We have not have justice.

Posted by Jack | Report as abusive

Obama forgot the name on his bracelet! Watch the tape, he had to look down at the bracelet to remember. It made the stunt of the bracelet wearing he is doing even clearer. He almost said that the dead soldier gave it to him, forgot his name etc. I would not expect Reuters to report on this fact.

Posted by Stuart Ranald | Report as abusive

100-to-1 that the liberal news media tries to bury the peek at the bracelet story. It was like Danny Devito from Renaissance Man talking about carrying the name of a soldier for miles during a protest, but not being able to remember the name he carried.

Sad, really, that Obama, with all his razor sharp intellect, wouldn’t have just a little bit of room to bother to remember the name of a fallen soldier whose moniker he wears on his wrist.

Posted by Jere Krischel | Report as abusive

You are absolutely right Stuart! It was obvious that he had forgotten the name. If Obama were wearing a bracelet for any other reason than to say he is wearing a bracelet like McCain does, he would have known the name of ‘his’ soldier. But he didn’t. It is moments like this that reveal the true character of a man. McCain leads by experience and conviction. Obama follows.

Posted by BDK | Report as abusive

The difference is that McCain wears his bracelet because he has a deep connection to the soldiers fighting in Iraq. He made a promise to that dead soldier’s mother and he has lived each day since toward fulfilling that promise. He even called to comfort the woman on the anniversary of her son’s death. Obama wears his bracelet as a political ploy. It means so little to him personally that he doesn’t even know the soldier’s name … he had to read it from the bracelet during the debate. Shallow and insincere, that’s what Obama is.

Posted by Jim | Report as abusive

Besides not being able to remember the soldier’s name, do you really thing he even had this bracelet on? I don’t.

Posted by milehighboy | Report as abusive

I think it is important to remember that we know very little about global intelligence operations we are not supposed to.
Unfortunately, the world is a really hostile environment. People are being butchered in Africa, women abused and treated like dogs, children prostituted, hostages held, kidnappings, starvation diesase and famine. The middle east has its share of horrible acts against it’s own. Unfortunately oil and terrorism is a real issue.
We have an all volunteer military and I know some who have signed up for return duty in Iraq. They know what a difference they are making and overall and say “we have no idea how good we have it here at home”. A Mother knows thier son or daughter has made huge, deep decision when enlisitng. A mothers heart and soul should support and respect the decision their child makes. This is not like Vietnam. The washed up hippies forget we do have a voluntary military. If you ask those who have done a tour in Iraq what they think or feel is being accomplished you may be surprised at thier answer.
Meanwhile we have more deaths here in inner cities than in the war (one year span). They should be wearing bracelets for those deaths. Biden, McCain and Palin have sons in Iraq. They as parents don’t want to wear a bracelet to signify their death. I am confident as parents and leaders they will do their best to keep thier love ones safe while serving. Rambling onnnnn

Posted by MB Oakley | Report as abusive

There are a lot of bracelets in this world.
There are also necklaces, anklets, wristbands, headbands, earrings, nipple clamps, nose rings, nail hoops, eyelid swings, dreadlocks, lip piercings, naval steel, elbow bobs, knee caps, sandwich bags, double chins, bandanas, toothpicks, billy clubs, ball gags, peehole covers, hood ornaments, and sleep masks.
Let us not forget the names of each and every single specific soldier’s proper Christian legal birthname in particular, as they have died for this honorable country. Without them, we would be unable to have the freedom of debating the merits of political figurines like Obama and McCoy.
In the words of the little boy Dickens, God bless us every one!
God bless.
Amen.
Bracelets.

Posted by Daniel Singer | Report as abusive

But did you notice McCain’s reaction to Obama saying he had a bracelet too? He was none too pleased and looked extremely irritated seeing Obama neutralize one of his most hackneyed stump talking points. Score one to Obama.

Posted by Mark O | Report as abusive

McCain is a cantankerous ‘ol coot, ain’t he? Obama has such a pleasant way of speaking. It doesn’t sound like he’s chewing on his own cheek. And about the bracelets: Why does it matter again? WHY? Really.

Posted by Danny | Report as abusive

That’s the one thing that I saw that did not sit well with me. McCain has a deep connection to these soldiers, Obama wearing a bracelet wears the bracelet in vain and had to look down for the name! That’s disgraceful! He doesn’t understand the sacrifice of our troops and believes that wearing the bracelet of a slain soldier and not even remembering his name is not comparable to John McCain’s service and sincere commemoration to our fallen service men and women.

Posted by Tina (working mom) | Report as abusive

Yeah this bracelet thing may get enough momentum to become an internet meme… people are already making t-shirts as referenced above, here’s another one…

http://www.cafepress.com/newtangent.3108 20626

“John McCain’s service and sincere commemoration to our fallen service men and women”
You must be joking! The man voted AGAINST a recent vet bill to give veterans benefits like money for college when they get back from Iraq!! He said if they passed that bill, the soldiers would not reenlist but go to school instead.
There are many youtube videos of how shamefully he treated the POW-MIA women who went before Congress. He even pushed a woman in a wheelchair who was blocking his way to his office. He’s a hothead, and his nickname in high school was “McNasty”. He graduated at the bottom of his class at the Naval Academy. He crashed SEVEN planes while in service. It got to be a joke.
Nearly all Veteran groups are AGAINST McCain.
He lies, he lies, he lies…and he gets away with it.
Don’t need or want another lying President…been there; done that.

Posted by Hope | Report as abusive

[...] Update 3:22. No mention of Obama’s gaffe by Reuters reporter Jeremy Pelofsky. [...]

John McCain takes his commitment to service members personally. From John McCain’s service in the military he has a personal knowledge of the sacrifice a family makes when a love one dies in the service of his country. John McCain knows what it means to the family for him to wear the service member’s name on his wrist and knows the name of the service member without having to read it.
Barak Obama’s wearing of the bracelet doesn’t appear as based on a personal commitment to the service member’s memory since he couldn’t even remember the service member’s name.

Posted by Steve (retired 23 year service member(

Posted by Stephen P. Seniuk | Report as abusive

The character of both men was crystal clear during every moment of the debate. Who is Jim anyway?

Posted by marie | Report as abusive

MLK said “I have a dream”.
Mr. Obama said “I have a bracelet”.
Unfortunately the quality of speechmaking seems to have declined a bit over time, so that the current result is to no longer uplift and inspire.

Posted by Marty | Report as abusive

Neither of them should have used a dead soldier to make their point. Seems like both of them are wearing and using the bracelets for political reasons, not ethical ones. At this point, I don’t believe a word either of them says about the soldiers or Iraq. Why should I when they both so obviously just want to basically take their you-know-what’s out and measure? Very immature.

Posted by Tina | Report as abusive

i think it looked cheap when obama shot back that he had a bracelet too. i never heard or seen obama during his stumps mention that bracelet. obama new mccain was going to mention that and he had to prepare beforehand by getting his own. cheap shot.

Posted by braceletman | Report as abusive

What Reuters casually didn’t report is that Obama massively FAILED when when he couldn’t remember the soldier’s name and had to read it. Pathetic, Obama is a prop just like his bracelet

Posted by Watch Dog | Report as abusive

The idea, which some espouse here, that if your son died in a conflict you would PREFER that his sacrifice be in vain rather than in an important VICTORY is ludicrous in the exreme. It is laughable. McCain said he would rather lose an election than lose a war. Obama has basically said the opposite. Obama has no principles, no moral center, only his craven lust for the Presidency. What is more, for all those “Code Pink” types commenting here—it was you who, in your giving aid and comfort the enemy,to AlQaeda, that caused more deaths to happen. You put bullets into the guns, and explosives into the IUD’s, that killed our soldiers in Iraq. You made the numbers of dead and casualties go up. That is what we mean when we say people are TRAITORS—they help the other side. You have to be careful when you open your mouth during Wartime—”lose lips sink ships”. You would have done better to support the war effort and our troops, rather than stabbing them in the back.

Posted by Pendamon | Report as abusive

America has not had a victory in a war since it started waging immoral wars like Korea,VietNam, Iraq and it never will.
It is not possible to WIN in Iraq. This is not a rah, rah football game.
We are occupying a country not waging a war, anyway. ;)

Posted by Hope | Report as abusive

McCain never has actually supported the Vets:

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, a non-partisan advocacy group, gave McCain a “D” in 2006, while Obama earned a “B+.” The Vietnam Veterans of America reported that on 31 “key votes” between 2001 and 2008 on issues including veterans’ health-care funding and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, McCain opposed its positions 15 times, while supporting it eight times. In contrast, Obama, since elected to the Senate in 2004, backed the group’s stands 12 out of 13 times. The Disabled Veterans of America said McCain supported its positions 20 percent of the time in 2006, compared to Obama’s 80 percent.

There are several examples of the conflicting McCain and Obama votes, including McCain’s opposition to five bills that would increase funding for veteran healthcare programs and related facilities.
In the most recent bill, McCain voted against increased benefits for Vets with the excuse that if you gave them educational benefits they would not reenlist but go to school instead! Mindblowing logic and very anti-veteran attitude.
Look it up. Do your homework.

Posted by Hope | Report as abusive

McCain’s lack of character has always been crystal clear.
Nicknamed “McNasty” in high school; graduated at the bottom of his class at the Naval Academy; considered a “hothead” by those in captivity with him in VietNam; crashed FIVE planes in his short career as a pilot; has voted against Veteran bills time and time again in the Senate; voted FOR torture after making a big deal about objecting to it.
The man is morally bankrupt and does not have the temperament to be President. AND he’s still stuck in a time-warp of fighting the VietNam War!
Veterans HATE him: http://www.vietnamveteransagainstjohnmcc ain.com/cin_mccain_lost_five_u.htm

Posted by Hope | Report as abusive

Mccain did not even try to mention the name of the soldier or the mother who gave him the bracelet, so your point about obama not remebering the soldiers name is really obsolete

Posted by JOHNNIE | Report as abusive

MATTHEW STANLEY.
yes, mccain DID share the name of the fallen soldier who’s bracelet he wears with pride. how could he forget? after the years of torture and devotion to the service of his country, do you really think that john mccain would not have this name branded on his heart?

of course, the media just lets fall by the wayside obama’s disgraceful “me too!” moment. he was so anxious to share his childish “me too!” that the truth had to come out. with his inability to remember the soldier’s name without looking down to READ it off the bracelet just proves that his bracelet wearing is nothing more than a political stunt…his “secret weapon” he can whip out at the right moment to say “look! me too!.” how sad and disgraceful that this family was dishonored last night by his inability to remember this soldier’s name.

in these unscripted moments we are able to gain small glimpses into the true character of these guys. keep your eyes open…media blinders off!

Posted by jen | Report as abusive

[...] John McCain and Barack Obama wear “hero bracelets” engraved with the names of fallen soldiers in [...]

What I thought was funny was that Obama had to look at his wrist to either read the name of the soldier because he didn’t even remember on pretend he had on to best McCain. I know Obama is playing to the ignorant and the unintelligent, but even some of the children picked up on that. I think he should save his tricks for his followers that don’t know any better.

Obama’s fumbling for the soldier’s bracelet was the gaffe of the night. It was painful to watch. And of course you have to go to blogs or web comments to read about it. Noticed by everyone I spoke to who saw the debates. McCain clearly understands the loss any war causes and his words were eloquent and heartfelt. The Obama search for the bracelet to read the name spoke volumes in contrast.

Reuters didn’t do an explosive story on Obama looking at his bracelet while talking about it? Proof of the vast liberal media conspiracy? Give me a break. I’m sure Rush and Bill will blather on for hours about braceletgate.

Posted by Jon | Report as abusive

I think you can anticipate a McCain future and an Obama future based purely on the bracelet comments.

Moving forward, what can McCain do such that those who have died in war, will… thanks to McCain’s actions… have not died in vain? If he is not elected does that mean, too bad… they died in vain?

What’s his plan? Does he want to go out and kill? And then we all sleep better at night knowing our kids, now and thanks to McCain, have not died in vain.

Or is this more simply, he’s making sure they did not die in vain. If he wins the game we all win… even the dead. If he looses the dead loose.

Posted by Phila Free | Report as abusive

I’m an Iraq Veteran, and the only way the lives of those who’ve died in Iraq and Afghanistan are wasted or ‘spent in vain’ is when gutless whiners try and force a defeat by leaving before the job is done. The only thing that can beat us in the long run is our own public. Regardless of what you see reported, the vast majority of Iraqis are grateful for the chance to become a strong free people. They just don’t want to be set up and then left high and dry when we loose our nerve and run home. How many millions died in Vietnam and Cambodia after we chickened out there? 3 million? Oh yeah, that’s ok, because they weren’t Americans, right? How many Kurds died when we encourages them to fight Saddam, then left them to die in the desert? How many Sunni and Kurds would die if we ran away from Iraq and left it to be overrun by Iran? From 1942 to 1945, we lost 403,000 service members. Three years. I invested a potion of my life in Iraq. Some invested all of their lives in it. The only way it would have been for not is if we don’t finish the job.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

I’m an Iraq Veteran, and the only way the lives of those who’ve died in Iraq and Afghanistan are wasted or ’spent in vain’ is when gutless whiners try and force a defeat by leaving before the job is done.

Mike, I couldn’t agree with you more!

Thank you and God Bless

Posted by Judy | Report as abusive

Hey you Reuter you forgot to mention,

OBAMA FORGOT THE SOLDIERS NAME. HE HAD TO READ IT OFF THE BRACLET.

How disgraceful…….

Posted by LM | Report as abusive

The problem that I have is that Sen. Obama could not recall the soldier’s name on his bracelet. It fits an existing pattern…whenever it comes to communicating with active duty troops/veterans and with working class folk, the wheels come off. Sen. Obama does much better in reaching out to highly educated voters and committed progressives.

Posted by Kevin | Report as abusive

We all knew the bracelet story was coming. Anyone who has followed McCains camp has heard him trot it out more than once. Wearing a bracelet means nothing to me for supporting the troops.

McCain needs to be questioned on why he’s failed to support the troops and has voted against supporting them over 27 times.

Posted by Indie | Report as abusive

How skillfully Pelofsky writes his headline to make this a “fight” over a bracelet, implying that McCain started a fight. How deceptively he evades the obvious fake sentiment behind Obama’s response: “I have a bracelet, too, uh, uh…” (let’s see, what was that guy’s name? uh?)

Posted by Deborah | Report as abusive

How skillfully Pelofsky writes his headline: “McCain, Obama fight over soldiers’ bracelets.” It wasn’t a “fight” for McCain–it was very meaningful. How deceptively this reporter evades the irony of this particular interchange between the two candidates. Barack Obama popped up like kindergartner: “I have a bracelet, too. From, uh, uh…” (what was that guy’s name? Oh, yeah…) Obama is not real.

Posted by Debbie | Report as abusive

Hey, don’t be so hard on Obamuh: it wasn’t really a bracelet, it was his ultraportable teleprompter.

Posted by Alec Guinness | Report as abusive

Mike and Judy,
How do you like the way McCain has actually voted on bills having to do with Veterans? Don’t you even care about your own self-interest?
My husband is a veteran of the VietNam war and he realized, as did Senator Kerry, that some wars can not be “won”. I was gung-ho for the VietNam war when it began because of government propaganda but came to realize we had been sold a bill of goods just as we have over the Iraq invasion. McCain is stuck in a dangerous time warp in his own mind and thinks he is still fighting the war in VietNam. Many people think he has PSTD. Let’s see his medical records…which consist of thousands of pages and he only let a couple of selected reporters view them for an hour or two. He’s had cancer 4 times (that we know of).
Sorry, but that it is simplistic thinking that we can “win” the occupation of Iraq. The Iraqis want us out; Obama will accomplish this in a responsible way. We can’t keep spending billions of dollars a month there, do you think??? For a hundred years, do you think?
McCain doesn’t even know how to use a COMPUTER. He’s never sent an email. He’s a wealthy out-of-touch admiral’s son who almost flunked out of the Naval Academy who married a wealthy woman whose father had ties to the Mafia, was an ex-con and a felon. Google it!

Posted by Hope | Report as abusive

Please refer to the first blogger, Christopher Chopin, who says:

“I’d like to see a poll on this. But if I had to guess, I’d probably believe more mothers who have lost children in Iraq would prefer that no one else dies for a war that began with a lie and will not end.”

Let’s not forget that Sadam Hussein lied to the world, proudly proclaiming his hatred for America and his desire to attack us. He even lied to his own generals about his possessing these weapons. Furthermore, it is completely naive to claim that the war will not end, simply because it hasn’t ended by now. Suck it up and get a clue.

Remember, more people thought it was a good idea to go along with Hitler, until it became painfully obvious that they were wrong, or dead. Why do liberals hate to admit that our involvement in Iraq has contributed to our safety for these last 7 years? Perhaps some of the guilt of success that liberals carry around with them would be relieved if we were attacked again and the “chickens came home to roost.” Would that make you losers happier?

The United States isn’t perfect, but it’s the best there is. Liberals need to stop throwing out the baby with the bath water in every argument. It’s making you look stupid.

Posted by Mark Edmonds | Report as abusive

the simplicity with which others decide the motivations of the candidates is incredulous. this was meaningful; that wasn’t. what a mourning mom feels and doesn’t as if it is known or identical in every case. demeaning the bracelets or their wearers. It scares me that some people that have posted actually vote.

Posted by S R Norman | Report as abusive

Marie- Jim was the moderator you tool!

Posted by Nichole | Report as abusive

The mother, Tracy Jopek, told AP yesterday she was “ecstatic” that Obama had mentioned her son. “I don’t understand how people can take that and turn it into some garbage on the internet,” she said.

Posted by MAMichael | Report as abusive